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Daniel 8:9

9. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.

9. Et ex uno illorum egressum est cornu unum parvum, et magnificatum fuit eximie versus Meridiem, et ad Orientum, et ad glorium. 5252     Or, desire; some translate it in the genitive, and understand “desirable land;” for Judea was often called the desirable land, because God of his own free will chose to be worshipped there; but we may receive it simply for glory.” — Calvin.

 

Now God shews his Prophet what peculiarly concerned the welfare of his Church. For it was of very great importance to warn the Jews of the calamities which were about to oppress them. There is nothing which more torments the minds of men than their becoming bewildered in false imaginations, and thinking the world the sport of chance, while they never ponder over the providence of God nor reflect upon his judgments. Hence, with this design, God wished to teach the Prophet and all the pious the nature of their future afflictions, since they would thus understand how events never happened by chance, but all these scourges proceeded from God; for the same God both determines and executes his decrees, as he also predicts future events. For if nothing had been predicted, the pious would have glided gently downwards to despair in consequence of their heavy afflictions. We know also how magnificently the prophets extol the grace of God when they promise return and deliverance. Isaiah, too, has elsewhere spoken to this effect: Not in haste nor in tumult shall ye go forth, but with a standard displayed. Again, The wealth of all the nations shall flow towards you; kings shall come, and submit, and bow the knee to thee. (Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 55:12; Isaiah 55:6.) The Jews were permitted to return to their own land; but we know how cruelly they were harassed by all their neighbors, so that they did not dwell in that corner of the world without the greatest difficulties. The building of both the city and the Temple was hindered by many enemies, till at length they became tributary to the kings of Syria. Antiochus, indeed, who is here alluded to, advanced with cruel tyranny against the people of God. If this had not been predicted, they would have thought themselves deceived by the splendid promises concerning their return. But when they perceived everything occurring according as they had been opportunely forewarned, this became no slight solace in the midst of their woes; they could then determine at once how completely it was in the power of God to relieve them from so many and such oppressive evils. With what intention, then, had God predicted all these things to his Prophet Daniel? clearly that the Jews might look forward to a happy result, and not give way to despair under events so full of anxiety and confusion. This, then, was the utility of the prophecy, with reference to that particular period.

When the Prophet says, Out of one of those four horns a little horn arose, Antiochus Epiphanes is most distinctly pointed out. The title Epiphanes entails “illustrious,” as, after the capture of his father, he was detained as a hostage at Rome, and then escaped from custody. Historians inform us of his possessing a servile disposition, and being much addicted to gross flattery. As he had nothing royal or heroic in his feelings, but was simply remarkable for cunning, the Prophet is justified in calling him the little horn He was far more powerful than his neighbors; but the horn is called little, not in comparison with the kingdoms of either Egypt, or Asia, or Macedon, but because no one supposed he would ever be king and succeed his father. He was the eldest of many brothers, and singularly servile and cunning, without a single trait worthy of future royalty. Thus he was the little horn who escaped secretly and fraudulently from custody, as, we have already mentioned, and returned to his native country, which he afterwards governed.

He now adds, This horn was very mighty towards the south, and the east, and “the desire”’ for unless he had been checked by the Romans, he would have obtained possession of Egypt. There is a remarkable and celebrated story of Pompilius, who, was sent to him to command him to abstain from Egypt at the, bidding of the senate. After he had delivered his message, Antiochus demanded time for deliberation, but Pompilius drew a circle with the staff which he held in his hand, and forbade him to move his foot until he gave him an answer. Though he claimed Egypt as his own by right of conquest, yet he dared not openly to deny the Romans their request; at first he pretended to be merely the guardian of his nephew, but he certainly seized upon the kingdom in his own name. However, he dared not oppose the Romans, but by changing his ground wished to dismiss Pompilius. They had been mutual acquaintances, and a great familiarity had arisen between them while he was a hostage at Rome; hence he offered to salute Pompilius at the interview, but he rejected him disdainfully, and, as I have said, drew a line around him, saying, “Before you go out of this circle answer me; do not delude me by asking time to consult with your councilors; answer at once, otherwise I know how to treat thee.” He was compelled to relinquish Egypt, although he had formerly refused to do so. The language of the Prophet, then, was not in vain, The small horn became mighty towards the south, that is, towards Egypt, and the east; for he extended his kingdom as far as Ptolemais. In the third place, he uses the word glory; that is, Judea, the sanctuary of God, which he had chosen as his dwelling, and desired his name to be invoked. Thus this small horn extended itself to the glory, or the land of glory or desire. There is nothing doubtful in the sense, though the interpretation scarcely agrees with the words. It afterwards follows: —


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