21. And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
Historians agree in representing Antiochus Epiphanes to have been of a very crafty disposition, and some state his departure from Rome to have been by stealth. He was most probably dismissed by the Romans, on the news of his father's death, as they were content with his brother Demetrius. They had other hostages besides, who were among the chief nobles of the land, as well as this third son of the king. However this was, all are agreed in relating his cunning. He was so cruel and fierce, that Polybius says he was called Epimanes by way of a nickname, and as he assumed the name of Illustrious, he was called the Madman, on account of his turbulent disposition. He was a monster puffed up with various vices; being of a slavish and flattering temperament, he endeavored to acquire the favor of Rome by artifice, as we shall afterwards discover. But when he was not actuated by fear, his cruelty and ferocity were beyond all bounds. For this reason he is called contemptible. He was held in some esteem at Rome, and was received by a portion of his people with great applause. But he was not endued with any heroic or even regal qualities, for he always flattered the Romans, and insinuated himself into the favor of the citizens in this way, until he came to his kingdom as a suppliant; and then the angel calls him a contemptible or despicable person. Another reason equally probable may be brought forward, namely, his seizing upon the throne by fraud and wickedness, after setting aside the legitimate heir. For Seleucus left a successor whom this perfidious plotter deprived of his rights, and thus fraudulently acquired the kingdom for himself. We know of what importance God makes every one's calling, and how he restrains men from rashly arrogating anything to themselves, as they ought always to be satisfied with that station which is assigned them by God. As, therefore, Antiochus seized on the kingdom without any right to it, and drove out the lawful heir, he was contemptible before God, and would never have been king at all except; by violence and tyranny on his part, as well as by deceit. and cunning devices. I have no hesitation in stating that the angel here censures the perverse conduct of Antiochus, by calling him despised through the absence of all nobleness of feeling.
He next adds,
1 That is, they shall not commit to him. -- Calvin.
2 That is, they shall not confer the glory of the kingdom. -- Calvin.