13. For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.
13. Et redibit rex aquilonis, rex Syriae, et statuet multitudinem magnam praeut antea, et circiter finem temporum annorum, ad verbum, veniendo veniet cum exercitu magno, et cum opibus magnis.
14. And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.
14. Et temporibus illis multi stabunt contra regem AEgypti, et filii dissipatores populi tui sese attollent, ad stabiliendam visionem, et corruent.
Here the angel prophesies of other wars. For he first describes the war which was carried on by Antiochus against the Egyptians, after the death of Philopater, who left as his heir, a little son named Ptolemy Epiphanes. When, therefore, he perceived the land deprived of its king, he drew up an army and invaded Egypt. As the Egyptians had no strength to resist him, an embassy was sent to Rome; and we know how eager the Romans were to become involved in all the business of the world. With the view of extending their empire still further and wider, they sent immediately to Antiochus the Great, and commanded him to desist from the war; but after many trials he failed of success, until he engaged in a very desperate battle with Scopas, and at length obtained a victory. In the meantime, the Egyptians were far from idle: although they hoped to be able to subdue the empire of Antiochus by the assistance of the Senate, yet they carefully fitted out an armament of their own under their General Scopas, who was successful in many of his plans, but was finally defeated in the borders of Judea. The angel now describes this war. The king of Syria shall return, he says; meaning, after the death of Ptolemy Philopator, he rested for a while, because he had been unsuccessful with his forces, and they were so entirely disorganized that he had no confidence in the success of any expedition. But he thought Egypt would give him no trouble, as it had lost its head and was like a lifeless corpse. Then he was elevated with fresh confidence, and returned to Egypt. And he shall arrange a greater multitude than at the first He had a large and powerful army, as we have said, and a noble armament of cavalry: he had 70,000 foot, and was still collecting greater forces. The angel signifies the future arrival of the king of Syria, after the interval of a certain time. At the end of the times of the years he shall surely come, that is he shall break forth. The angel seems to use this expression for the sake of increasing its certainty; for he at first despised the Romans in consequence of their great distance from him, and he had no fear of what afterwards occurred. He never supposed they had such boldness in them as to cross the sea against him.
He afterwards adds, And in those times many shall stand against the king of the South, or Egypt. The angel hints, that Antiochus the Great would not be his only enemy; and historians inform us of his treaty and alliance with Philip king of Macedon, for carrying on this war. Without doubt, the two kings stirred up the whole of Asia Minor, and they were so unitedly powerful, that many were excited to take part with them. It seemed to be all over with the kingdom of Egypt, and thus the angel says, many should stand up against the king of the South He adds, and his sons dissipation. The Hebrews call |robbers| phrytsym pheritzim. The root of this word is phrph, pheretz, which signifies to break or dissipate, and sometimes to destroy. Without doubt, the angel here uses the word to imply factious men, for the people had no other chance of standing, except by remaining quiet and united. The word then applies to those who violated that unity; for when any one attached himself to foreign monarchs, Judea became exposed as a prey to either the Syrians or Egyptians. Some interpreters apply this passage to the younger Onias, who seized on Heliopolis, and drew some exiles with him, and there built a temple, as we learn from Josephus and the Book of Maccabees. For he pretended to have the prophecy in Isaiah 19, on his side, where it is said, And there shall be an altar to God in the midst of Egypt, (Isaiah 19:19.) Without doubt, the Prophet here predicts the enlargement of God's kingdom through the propagation of his religion throughout the whole world. As Egypt was to the last degree devoted to idolatry, Isaiah here shews how the pure and perfect worship of God should prevail in Egypt. As if he had said, Even the Egyptians who have, hitherto endeavored to abolish true and sincere piety, shall be added to God's people, and shall worship him acceptably. We know the Prophet to be here treating figuratively of the spiritual reign of Christ, and to be always bringing forward the shadows of his own time. By the word |altar| he simply means the worship of God. That impostor, Onias, when he erected his profane temple and polluted the sacred altar, boasted in his fulfillment of this prophecy of Isaiah.
This then is the meaning of the passage. The sons -- dissipaters of thy people -- shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; that is, under a fallacious pretext of fulfilling Isaiah's prediction, and yet they shall fall. It may also have all indefinite meaning, as if the angel declared that; these multitudes should not come forth unless by God's secret counsel. We know how much this thought tends to lighten the sorrow of the pious, and how much consolation it brings, when we recognize all the tumults of the world as springing from the fixed counsel of God. Nothing then appears to happen at random, but mortals are agitated because God desires to inflict his punishments upon them, and the Church is often shaken because God wishes to prove and examine the patience of his people. We may, therefore, take this prophecy absolutely; as if the angel had said. These apostates and dissipaters never proposed to fulfill this prophecy of Isaiah's, and yet there was nothing confused, or out of order in all these events, as God was fulfilling what he had testified by his own Prophets. Wherefore we may receive this prediction simply, just as we do other similar ones scattered throughout the prophets. We have already heard how the Prophet was forewarned of the many distresses of the Church, on purpose to lead the faithful to acquiesce in the providence of God, when they saw things so disturbed throughout the world. It afterwards follows, --