24. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
24. Et roborabitur fortitudo ejus, et non in fortitudine sua, et mirabilia evertet, prosperabitur, et efficiet, et perdet, repetit idem verbum, robustos, et populum sanctorum.
25. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
25. Et pro intelligentia sua prosperabitur dolus in manu ejus, et in corde suo magnificabit se, et in pace perdet multos, vel fortes, et contra Principem principum stabit, vel exsurget, et absque manu frangetur.
We have previously given a brief explanation of all these subjects. But here the angel removes all doubt, lest we should still anxiously inquire the meaning of the ram which Daniel saw, and of the he-goat which followed and prostrated the ram. The angel, therefore, here pronounces the ram to represent two kingdoms, which coalesced in one. Cyrus, as we have said, granted it for a time to his father-in-law Cyaxares, but yet; drew the whole power to himself, and the Persians began to extend their sway over all the realms of the East. But God in this vision had respect to the beginning of that monarchy. When, however, the Persians and Medes, were united, then the ram bore two horns; then the he-goat succeeded, and he threw down the ram, as we have already seen. In that he-goat there was first one great horn and then four small ones. The angel then answers concerning the he-goat representing the kingdom of the Greeks. There is not the slightest doubt here, since Alexander seized upon the whole East, and thus the Persian monarchy was utterly destroyed. In the he-goat, therefore, the kingdom of Greece or Macedon was displayed, but the horns will mark something special.
That great, horn, says Daniel, was the first king, namely, Alexander; afterwards four smaller horns arose in his place. We have already explained these. For when much blood had been shed, and the greater part of the leaders had been slain, and after the followers of Alexander had mutually attacked and destroyed each other, those who remained divided his dominions among themselves. Cassander the son of Antipater obtained Macedon; Seleueus, Syria; Ptolemy, Egypt; and Antigonus his own fourth share. In this way the smaller horns succeeded Alexander, according to the clear testimony of profane history. From the frequency with which God sets this prophecy before us, we gather his intention of giving us a conspicuous sign of his majesty. For how could Daniel conjecture future events for so long a period before they happened? He does not pronounce mere enigmas, but; narrates things exactly as if they were already fulfilled. At the present time Epicureans despise the Scriptures and laugh at our simplicity, as if we were too ridiculous. But they rather display their own prodigious madness, and blindness, by not acknowledging the prediction of Daniel to be divine. Nay, from this prophecy alone we may prove with certainty the unity of God. If any one was inclined to deny that first principle, and utterly reject the doctrine of his divinity, he might be convinced by this single prophecy. Not only is this subject treated here, but Daniel points with his finger to the God of Israel as the only one in whose hand and will are all things, and from whom nothing either escapes or is concealed. From this prophecy alone the authority of Scripture is established by proofs perfectly sure and undoubted, as the Prophet treats with perfect clearness events at the time unknown, and which no mortal could ever have divined.
First of all he says, The ram which, thou sawest, having two horns, means the kings of the Medes and Persians This had not then occurred, for that ram had not yet risen and seized upon Babylon, as we have stated already. Thus Daniel was raised up as it were to heaven, and observed from that watch-tower things hidden from the minds of men. He afterwards adds, The he-goat is the king of Greece. Philip, the father of Alexander, although a strenuous and a most skillful warrior, who surpassed all the kings of Macedon for cleverness, yet, superior as he was, never dared to cross over the sea. It, was sufficient for him if he could strengthen his power in Greece, and render himself formidable against his neighbors in Asia Minor. But he never dared to attack the power of Persia, or even to harass them, and much less to overcome the whole East. Alexander, inflamed rather by rashness and pride than by good judgment, thought nothing would prove difficult to him. But when Daniel saw this vision, who ever would have thought of any king of Greece invading that most powerful monarchy, and not only seizing upon the whole of Asia, but obtaining sway in Egypt, Syria, and other regions? Although Asia Minor was an extensive region, and well known to be divided into many rich and fertile provinces, yet it was but a small addition to his immense empire. Nay, when Nineveh was conquered by Babylon, and the Chaldeans became masters of Assyria, this also was an addition to the Persian monarchy. We are familiar with the amazing riches of the Medes, and yet they were entirely absorbed. Darius drew with him 800,000 men, and quite buried the earth under his army. Alexander met him at the head of 30,000. What comparison was there between them! When Xerxes came to Greece he brought with him 800,000 men, and threatened to put fetters upon the sea; yet Daniel speaks of his incredible event just as if it had already taken place, and were matter of history. These points must be diligently noticed that the Scriptures may inspire us with the confidence which they deserve.
The great horn, says he, which was between his eyes was the first king, and when it was broken, four others sprang up. Alexander, as we have mentioned, perished in the flower of his age, and was scarcely' thirty years old when he died, through the influence of either poison or disease. Which of the two is uncertain, although great suspicion of fraud attaches to the manner of his death; and whichever way it happened, that horn was broken. In his place there arose four horns, which sprang up, say's he, from that nation. Here we must notice this, since I very much wonder what has come into some persons' minds, to cause them to translate it |from the nations| and yet these are persons skilled in the Hebrew language. First, they show great ignorance by changing the number, and next, they do not comprehend the intention of the angel. For he confirms what he formerly said concerning the unity of the kingdom and its division into four parts, and he assigns the reason here. They shall spring, says he, from a nation, meaning the Greeks, and all from a single origin. For by what right did Polemy obtain the empire? solely by being one of Alexander's generals. At the beginning, he dared not use the royal name, nor wear the diadem, but only after a lapse of time. The same is true of Selcucus, and Antigonus, and Cassander. We see, then, how correctly the kingdom of the Greeks is represented to us under the figure of a single beast, although it was immediately dispersed and torn into four parts. The kingdoms, then, which sprang from the nation meaning; Greece, shall stand, but not in full strength The copula is here taken in the sense of |but;| the four kingdom shall stand, but not by his strength, for Alexander had touched upon the Indian sea, and enjoyed the tranquil possession of his empire throughout the whole east, having filled all men with the fear of his industry, valor, and speed. Hence, the;angel states the four horns to be so small, that not one of them should be equal to the first king.
And at the end of their reign, when the wicked shall be at their height, one king shall stand By saying at the end of their kingdom, he does not mean to imply the destruction of the four kingdoms had ceased. The successors of Antiochus were not directly cast down from their sway, and Syria was not reduced into a province till about eighty or a hundred years after Antiochus the Great had been completely conquered. He again left heirs, who, without doubt, succeeded to the throne, as we shall see more clearly in the eleventh chapter. But this point is certain -- Perseus was the last king of Macedon, and the Ptolemies continued to the times of Julius Caesar and Augustus, and we are well aware how completely Cleopatra was conquered and ruined by Antony. As women succeeded to the throne, we could not place the destruction of the Macedonian empire under Antiochus Epiphanes. But the angel means, at the end of their kingdom, when they had really come to the close of their reigns, and their final ruin was at hand. For when Antiochus Epiphanes returned to his country, he seemed to have re-established his power though it very soon afterwards began to die away. Similar circumstances also happened to Egypt and to Macedon, for the reign of all their kings was precarious, and although not directly overthrown, yet they depended on the Romans, and thus their royal majesty was but fleeting. At the end, therefore, of their kingdom, that is, when they arrived at the height, and their fall led them on to ruin, then, says he, when the wicked were consummated or perfected. Some apply this to the professed and outward enemies of the Church, but I rather approve of another opinion, which supposes the angel to be speaking of the impious, who provoked God's wrath, till it became necessary for grievous and severe penalties to be inflicted on the people, to whom God had so magnificently promised a happy and a tranquil state. This, however, was no common temptation, after the prophets had treated so fully of the happy and prosperous state of the people after their return from captivity, to behold the horrible dispersion, and to witness these tyrants making their assault not only upon men, but upon the temple of God itself. Wherefore the angel, as before, fortifies the Prophet and all the rest of the pious against this kind of trial, and shews how God had not changed his counsels in afflicting his Church, to which he had promised tranquillity, but had been grievously provoked by the sins of the people. He then shews the urgent necessity which had compelled God to exercise this severity. When, therefore, the impious had come to their height, that is, when they had arrived at the highest pitch, and their intolerable obstinacy had become desperate. We perceive how the angel here meets the trial, and instructs the pious beforehand, unfolding to them the inviolability of God's word, while the people's impiety compelled him to treat, them severely, although he had determined to display liberality in every way. Then, he says, a king shall stand with a fierce countenance But the rest tomorrow.