THE WILFUL KING
The subject here commenced is of the deepest interest, and needs peculiar caution in its treatment. The words in which it is conveyed are obscure in themselves, and, consequently, all the early translations of them are imperfect. Calvin has thrown great light upon the original phraseology, but still reference may be profitably made to some modern translators. The sixteenth chapter of the "Two Later Visions of Daniel," is occupied with this discussion; various views are clearly and fairly stated; some conjectures are refuted, and some conclusions enforced which differ very materially from Calvin's. The translation of obscure passages adopted in this work are excellent, as well as those given by Elliott in his notes to pages 1327 and following, of volume 3 of his Horae Apocalypticae. Professor Lee's translations are exceedingly full and explanatory, while his hermeneutical views agree more with Calvin's than either Elliott's or Birks'. See his Inquiry into the Nature, Progress, and end of Prophecy, Book. 2, chapter 2, page 189 and following. Wintle's notes are much to the point. And Bishop Newton traces the analogy between this king and Antichrist in his Dissertation., volume 3, chapter. 26. The annexed comments from Birks, page 271 and following, will explain some grammatical difficulties.
Daniel 11:37. -- "He shall not regard the elohim of his fathers." The clause is ambiguous, as the word "elohim" may receive two opposite constructions. Bishop Newton and others think it to mean, the one true God; but Mede, with many able writers, render it correct]y, the gods of his fathers, implying the false deities of the heathens. Arguments are then given in support of this view, and objections forcibly answered. "Neither shall he regard the desire of women." The meaning of this phrase is shortly discussed. The received view, that it refers to the Messiah, is set aside, and it is taken the enlarged sense of despising and trampling upon these humanizing affections of which women are the object. Elliott, after a good Hebrew criticism, applies it to the Messiah, fortifying his opinion by Faber on the Prophecies, pages 380-385, volume 1, edit. 5; so Lee in his preface, page 126, to Euseb. Theophania -- "This occurring as it does in a context speaking of deities, was probably intended to designate the Messiah."
Daniel 11:38. -- "But in his estate with Eloah he will honor Mahuzzim." We now enter upon the second part of this description, which exhibits the new worship set up by the Willful King. Here several questions of some difficulty will arise. I will first offer what appears to me the most natural translation, and consider afterwards the chief points in dispute one by one.
"But in his estate with Eloah, he will honor Mahuzzim; even with an eloah whom his fathers knew not, he will honor them with gold, and with silver, and with precious stones, and with pleasant things. And he will offer to the strongholds of Mahuzzim, with a foreign eloah whom he will acknowledge; he will increase their glory, and will cause them to rule over many, and will divide the land for gain." The meaning of the word Mahuzzim, fortresses or strongholds, is next described, and in conclusion, it is decided, that Mahuzzim "must here denote guardian deities or tutelary persons, who receive worship as protectors and guardians, defenses and fortresses, from their votaries." Professor Lee's translation is as follows,-- "But in his estate he shall honor the god of forces; and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and with pleasant things." "Nero was the first of this series." "Domitian was the first emperor who generally persecuted, and who, during his lifetime, assumed the title of the Lord God, and insisted upon being worshipped as a deity." This is the Professor's interpretation, page 192. The translations of Mede, Bishop Newton, and Dr. Gill, vary slightly from each other, but none of them are so correct as that given above. The original word, translated "offer," has very wide and various meanings. In Exodus 10:25, it is rendered "sacrifice" to the Lord our God, and is very frequently used in this sense. The words, "a foreign god whom he will acknowledge," are probably an explanation of the previous phrase, "a god whom his fathers knew not;" implying that the worship of this divinity was borrowed by the Willful King from some other nation, and was unknown to his fathers.
"Such, in conclusion," says Birks, "are the results which flow from a careful inquiry into the natural meaning of this passage. The Willful King here described is one which might be expected to rise after the renewed persecution of the faithful, when imperial help had been given them, and to continue perhaps for ages, until the restoration of Israel. His title as the king, and the time appointed him in the words of the angel, prove him to be the same with the Little Horn, speaking great words against the most High. He will reject every form of heathen worship, commended to him by the long practice of his fathers, utter proud speeches of surprising arrogance, and of real blasphemy against the God of heaven, trample under his feet the strongest instincts of domestic love, and thus magnify himself against God and man. He will, however, adopt a foreign eloah derived from the Jews for his own; but will turn the very worship he pays to the Son of God into the key-stone to a wide and spreading system of idolatry, in which he will pay reverence to a multitude of guardian powers, and cause them to receive homage and worship from his people." The comments of this able writer on Daniel 11:36-39 are so contrary to the views of Calvin, that it is only necessary here to state their variance with those of our Reformer. Some explanations are worthy of notice, as, for instance, the following-- "These words apply accurately to the local persecutions of believers under the Arian emperors, and the fierce and savage cruelties of the Vandals against the confessors of the faith. When, however, the time of the end, or the predicted three times and a half should begin, these persecutions would gradually become more systematic and severe. So that the prophecy at once proceeds to describe the king, who would prosper in the time of the end, and by whom the fires would be kindled afresh with more than Pagan cruelty, against the followers of God."
Elliott in his Horae Apocalypticae, volume 3, page 1294, has devoted a section to the elucidation of this chapter. His comments upon the Hebrew words of the original text are valuable, displaying great judgment, and throwing much light upon the Prophet's meaning. His chronological list of the kings of Syria and Egypt is correct, and very clearly explains the history of this prophetic period. This prophecy, he states, naturally divides itself into two parts: first, that from Daniel 11:1-31, sketching the times of the Persians and Greeks; secondly, that from Daniel 11:32 to the end of Daniel 12, sketching the sequel. His comments upon the whole of Daniel 11 to verse 35, are illustrative of Calvin's views in these Lectures; but this writer interprets verse 36 and following, in accordance with the expositions of Mede and the two Newtons. These are so fundamentally at variance with Calvin's writings, that it would be out of place to dwell upon them here. Elliott's notes on the Hebrew words throughout the latter portion of this chapter are most excellent, and may be trusted as scholarlike, sound, and judicious.
Chapter 6 of the "First Elements of Sacred Prophecy" is occupied by a refutation of Dr. Todd's theory. The details of the fulfillment of each verse are plainly and accurately stated, and the objections of the Fourth Donnellan Lecture are shewn to be futile. This work is chiefly devoted to the refutation of the Futurist theories, which are directly opposite to that of Calvin. See particularly pages 135-149.
Fry in his Second Advent, chapter. 5, sect. 21, has collected the views of various English Commentators, but they all vary exceedingly from those of Calvin.