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Vision of a Ram and a Goat


In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after the one that had appeared to me at first. 2In the vision I was looking and saw myself in Susa the capital, in the province of Elam, and I was by the river Ulai. 3I looked up and saw a ram standing beside the river. It had two horns. Both horns were long, but one was longer than the other, and the longer one came up second. 4I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. All beasts were powerless to withstand it, and no one could rescue from its power; it did as it pleased and became strong.

5 As I was watching, a male goat appeared from the west, coming across the face of the whole earth without touching the ground. The goat had a horn between its eyes. 6It came toward the ram with the two horns that I had seen standing beside the river, and it ran at it with savage force. 7I saw it approaching the ram. It was enraged against it and struck the ram, breaking its two horns. The ram did not have power to withstand it; it threw the ram down to the ground and trampled upon it, and there was no one who could rescue the ram from its power. 8Then the male goat grew exceedingly great; but at the height of its power, the great horn was broken, and in its place there came up four prominent horns toward the four winds of heaven.

9 Out of one of them came another horn, a little one, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the beautiful land. 10It grew as high as the host of heaven. It threw down to the earth some of the host and some of the stars, and trampled on them. 11Even against the prince of the host it acted arrogantly; it took the regular burnt offering away from him and overthrew the place of his sanctuary. 12Because of wickedness, the host was given over to it together with the regular burnt offering; it cast truth to the ground, and kept prospering in what it did. 13Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one that spoke, “For how long is this vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled?” 14And he answered him, “For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”

Gabriel Interprets the Vision

15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I tried to understand it. Then someone appeared standing before me, having the appearance of a man, 16and I heard a human voice by the Ulai, calling, “Gabriel, help this man understand the vision.” 17So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I became frightened and fell prostrate. But he said to me, “Understand, O mortal, that the vision is for the time of the end.”

18 As he was speaking to me, I fell into a trance, face to the ground; then he touched me and set me on my feet. 19He said, “Listen, and I will tell you what will take place later in the period of wrath; for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21The male goat is the king of Greece, and the great horn between its eyes is the first king. 22As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power.


At the end of their rule,

when the transgressions have reached their full measure,

a king of bold countenance shall arise,

skilled in intrigue.


He shall grow strong in power,

shall cause fearful destruction,

and shall succeed in what he does.

He shall destroy the powerful

and the people of the holy ones.


By his cunning

he shall make deceit prosper under his hand,

and in his own mind he shall be great.

Without warning he shall destroy many

and shall even rise up against the Prince of princes.

But he shall be broken, and not by human hands.

26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true. As for you, seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”

27 So I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days; then I arose and went about the king’s business. But I was dismayed by the vision and did not understand it.

Daniel again confirms his original statement. But before he descends to the interpretation, he makes a preface concerning the faithfulness and certainty of the oracle, lest the Church should hesitate to embrace his utterance as really proceeding from God. In doing this, he uses no artifice as rhetoricians do; but God wished to stir up both him and all the pious to meditate upon this prophecy, the knowledge of which was then so peculiarly necessary and useful. He says, therefore, when he sought the understanding of this vision, there appeared to him a form like that of a man Now God had anticipated this desire of the Prophet, by the answer which the angel received from Christ, who in reply had partly explained the sense of this vision. Now Daniel, finding himself anticipated by God who did not wait for his inquiry, gathers courage, and trusting in God’s readiness to furnish an answer, he wishes to learn the matter more clearly; not that he was altogether ignorant of the subject, but he did not yet perceive with sufficient clearness what was useful to himself and the whole Church. We see then, how the answer of Christ only afforded him a taste of the vision, and only urged him forwards towards the full comprehension of it. Many are immediately satisfied with but moderate information, and as soon as they understand a portion of any subject, they reject every addition, and many too often settle down at the first elements, and their obstinacy prevents that complete knowledge which is necessary. Daniel therefore shews himself to be far distant from such fastidiousness, as he was rendered more attentive by hearing from Christ’ lips the rea1 object of the vision. When I was attentive 1 sought to understand it, says he, behold! there stood before my face (or near it) like the aspect of a man We ought probably to interpret this passage of Christ, who is now called like a man, as formerly. (Daniel 7:13.) For he had not yet put on our flesh, so as to be properly entitled to the name of a man; but he was here like a man, because he wished to allow the holy fathers a taste from which they might understand his future coming as Mediator, when he should put on human nature as God manifest in flesh:. (1 Timothy 3:16.) Thus Daniel speaks suitably as before when he says, Christ appeared to him under the aspect of a man But this adds to the same purpose, —

He does not use the particle implying fitness, but says he heard the voice of a man, because he treats no longer of either a man or a figure, but of a voice. It is sufficient to say at once, he was like a man, not really so, but only under the image and appearance of one. Christ therefore appeared as a man, and is called one, since Scripture often records how angels often appeared under the form of men, and are called indiscriminately, either angels or men. (Judges 8:3, etc.) So in this place Daniel relates the appearance of a man, or the aspect of one, improperly indeed, but without any danger of mistake; for he afterwards admonishes the faithful, how this person was not clothed with the substance of flesh, but had only a human form and aspect. I heard then a human voice in the midst of the river We gather from this that the same person is here intended of whom mention was lately made, because he commands the angel; whence this can be referred to Christ alone.

Gabriel, says he, teach him. We observe the speaker from the midst of the river here commanding Gabriel, as if superior to him. For Gabriel as the name of an angel, is sufficiently known from other passages of Scripture; (Luke 1:19, 26;) and its etymology, “The strength of God,” is very suitable to this meaning. Without ally doubt, the angel here receives his commands from Christ. Thus, we see the supreme power and authority represented under the form and aspect of a man, as well as obedience portrayed in Gabriel, who discharges the duty enjoined upon him. From this Christ’s divinity is inferred, as he could not issue orders to angels, without either having special authority, or being God himself. But when the phrase “like a man” is used, we are taught his manifest superiority to man. And what does this imply? not angelic nature but divine. Christ by thus presenting himself under a human form, shews, by a kind of foreshadowing, how he would become a man, when the fullness of time arrived. Then he would really manifest himself as the head of the Church, and the guardian of the salvation of the pious. For he proves himself to have power over all angels, when he orders Gabriel to discharge the office of the Prophet’s instructor. We will put off the remainder.

I will not repeat what I have already explained. I will proceed with what I had commenced, namely, the Prophet’s need of instruction, because he could not understand the vision without an interpreter; wherefore the angel was ordered to explain his revelation of God more fully. But, before he narrates this, he says, he was frightened at the approach of the angel. Without doubt, this reverence was always present to his mind. Whenever he perceived himself called or taught by God, he was doubtless struck with fear; but here some special feeling is expressed, as God desired to influence his mind to set us an example, and to render us more attentive. Here Daniel explains his own mind to us, commending the magnitude and importance of the vision, lest we should read with carelessness what he will afterwards relate, and not treat the occasion with sufficient seriousness. For God used the angel as his servant to explain his intention to the Prophet; at the same time he inwardly touched his mind by his Spirit to show us the way, and thus he would not only train us to docility, but also to fear. He says, then, he was frightened and fell down This, as I have said, was usual with the Prophet, as it ought to be with all the pious. Paul also, in celebrating the effect and power of prophecy, says, if any unbelievers should enter into the assembly and hear a prophet speaking in God’s name, he would prostrate himself, says he, upon his face. (1 Corinthians 14:25.) If this happened to unbelievers, how great will be our troubles, unless we receive most reverently and humbly, what we know to have been uttered by the mouth of God? Meanwhile, we should remember what I have lately touched upon, — the importance of the present oracle as here commended to us by the Prophet; for he fell upon his face through his fright, as he will repeat in the next verse.

Nor is the following exhortation superfluous; understated, says he, O son of Adam It would be of little use to us to be moved and excited for a time, unless our minds were afterwards composed for hearing. For many are touched by fear when God appears to them; that is, when he compels them to feel the force and power of his sway; but they continue in their stupidity, and thus their fright is rendered profitless. But Daniel here makes a difference between himself and the profane, who are only astonished and by no means prepared for obedience. At the same time, he relates how his own excitement was effected by the assistance of the angel. The fear, then, of which we have lately made mention, was preparation for docility; but; this terror would have been useless by itself, unless it had been added, that he might understand We ought to understand how piety does not consist merely in acknowledging the fear of God, but obedience is also required, preparing us to receive with tranquil and composed feelings whatever we shall be taught. We ought diligently to observe this order.

It now follows: Because there shall be an end of the vision at a fixed time. Some join לעת-קף legneth-ketz, making the sense “at the end of the time,” קף ketz, in this sense being in the genitive case by way of an epithet, as the Hebrews commonly use it. They elicit this sense — the vision shall be for a prefixed time. But others prefer — the end of the vision shall be for a time. I think this latter sense is better, as the former seems to me forced. On the whole, it is not of much consequence, yet as that form of expression is the easier, namely, the end or fulfillment of the vision should be at a definite time, I had rather follow that interpretation. The angel asserts, then, that this was no vain speculation, but a cause joined with its effect, which should have its completion at a stated period. There shall be an end, then, of the vision in its time; meaning, what you now behold shall neither vanish away nor be destroyed, but its end shall happen when the time shall arrive which God has determined. קף, ketz, is often taken in this sense. Hence there shall be an end of the vision,; that is, the vision shall be completed when the fitting time shall arrive. We ought to bear in mind this exhortation of the angel, because unless we are certainly persuaded of the fixedness of anything when God speaks, we shall not be ready to receive whatever he pronounces. But when we are convinced of this saying, God never separates his hand from his mouth — meaning, he is never unlike himself, but his power follows up his word, and thus he fulfills whatever he declares; this becomes a sure and firm foundation for our faith. This admonition of the angel ought to be extended generally to the whole of Scripture, since God does not throw words into the air, according to the common phrase. For nothing happens rashly, but as soon as he speaks, his truth, the matter itself and its necessary effect, are all consistent. It follows: —

The Prophet repeats what he had said, namely, how he had been frightened by the magnitude of this vision; meanwhile, he was raised up by the angel, lest he should remain in that state of stupor. Yet these two clauses must be noticed: Daniel was astonished at the outset, for he could not otherwise be sufficiently composed to listen to the angel’s voice; but at the same time another clause is added, stating, the angel set him upright in his place. Whenever God addresses us, we must necessarily be subject to fear and dread, to produce humility, and to render us docile and obedient. Fears the true preparation for obedience; but, as we formerly said, another feeling ought to follow; namely, as God has previously prostrated and cast us down, he will also raise us up, thereby preparing us for listening; and this disposition cannot arise except our minds are sedate and composed. The Prophet then expresses both these states of mind here. This, as I have said, is common to all the pious; but a peculiarity is noticed here, lest the readers of the vision should become torpid, and receive it carelessly; for they ought to collect all their senses, conscious of their inability to understand it, unless the fear of God should precede, and thus form the mind for obedience. While he was speaking with me, therefore, I fell into a swoon with my face upon the ground; that is, I lay astonished, and he touched me. I have already stated the opinion of others, that the angel approached him, but it is only tolerable. He now adds: —

Those who read the noun קף ketz, end,” in the genitive case in Daniel 8:17, understand in this place the word “vision” again, as if the Prophet had said, “At the time of the end there shall be a vision.” But as מועד, meveged, or moed, signifies a “time fixed and settled beforehand,” there is nothing superfluous in that method of speech; then ketz, as I have said, is properly taken for the effect itself, and it would be harsh and far-fetched to say “at the time of the end there shall be a vision,” in the, sense of the filling up of the vision. For this word expresses all which such interpreters wish it to imply. Besides, all are agreed as to the matter itself, since the angel bears witness to his being the interpreter chosen by God, who explains futurity to the Prophet. Behold, therefore, says he, I will explain to thee He here acquires confidence for himself from his office, as he had accepted the commands divinely laid upon him. And we should remark this also, since our faith will never rest or become firm unless the authority on which it is founded be fixed. As then the angel declares himself to be executing an office divinely enjoined upon him, ought we to put confidence in men who conduct themselves with rashness, and, though they assume authority in God’s name, yet have no certain and lawful calling? We may learn, then, how neither angels nor men ought to be held in such honor as to induce us to receive whatever they bring forward, unless the Almighty has appointed them to be his ministers and interpreters.

He then says, I will announce to thee what shall happen even at the end of the wrath. Without doubt, the angel asserts by this phrase the suddenness of God’s wrath. We are aware how instantaneously on the return of the people their enemies attacked them in Judea, and never ceased to inflict upon them numberless troubles. Wherefore, as soon as the Jews had returned from exile, God began to exercise them in various ways, and not without sufficient reason. Every one privately studied his own interests, but without any regard for the temple and any desire for the worship of God, and thus they were given up to avarice and caprice. They also defrauded God himself in tithes and offerings, as is evident from the prophets Malachi and Haggai. (Haggai 1:12; Malachi 3:8.) From that period God began to punish them, but deferred his vengeance till the time of Antiochus. The angel, therefore, calls the end of the vengeance that severer punishment which God inflicted after the people had abused his forbearance. Therefore I will teach thee, or lay before time, what shall happen at the close of the vengeance, because, says he, it shall be the time of the end. He here repeats what he had said concerning the effect of the prophecy, meaning, the fulfillment should take place at its own appointed season. We must; now notice the noun moed, because it is here opposed to our fervor and intemperance. Haste in desiring anything leads, as they say, to delay; for as soon as God bears witness to anything, we wish it to be fulfilled at the very first moment, and if he suspend its execution only a very few days, we not only wonder but cry out with vexation. God, therefore, here admonishes us by his angel that he has a settled time, and thus we are to learn to put a bridle on ourselves, and not to be rash and unseasonably hasty, according to our usual habit. We ought, then, to remember the explanation given, and perceive how the effect of the vision is shewn here, and thus it will obtain from us its just reverence. It follows: —

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 7373     The edit. Gen., 1617 read Merces incorrectly: that of Vincent, 1571, and the French of Perrin, 1569, are correct, as in the text. — Ed 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.

By the word “Javan” the Hebrews designate not only the Greeks but the: Macedonians, and the whole of that tract which is divided by the Hellespont, from Asia Minor as far as Illyricmn. Therefore the meaning is — the king of Greece.

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.

After the angel had explained the Grecian monarchy, he records the future origin of a king who should be hard of face Without the slightest doubt, he implies the iniquity of Antiochus by this phrase. He was notoriously destitute of any nobleness of mind, and remarkable for low cunning, and to this disposition was added an impudence which faltered at nothing. This is the sense in which I take the words hard of face The following phrase asserts his cunning, when it says, he shall be skilled in enigmas This is equivalent to saying, he should excel in cunning, and should not be easily deceived. By these two epithets he does not compliment, but rather defames Antiochus Epiphanes, by representing him as hardened as the wicked usually are, without the slightest particle of either reason, or equity, or shame. He next blames his craftiness and deceit, by stating he should be skilled in enigmas He afterwards adds, his power shall be strengthened, and yet not by his own might Some are of opinion that Antiochus Epiphanes is here compared to Alexander, as the angel had previously stated the inferiority of the four kings to the first; for they were prefigured by four small horns. For the most powerful of them all did not reign over a fifth part of the dominions which Alexander had acquired for himself by violence and war. Others, again, explain this passage as if the power of Antiochus would be great, but still very unlike that of Alexander, and far inferior to it, according to the sense, not in his, i.e., Alexander’s, strength,. Many, however, refer this to Antiochus, although they do not agree among themselves. Some, again, want a kind of correction, as if the angel implied that the power of Antiochus should be great, but not quite openly so. Hence his valor shall be strengthened, not meaning by “valor” that heroic spirit with which kings are usually endowed, nor any increase in magnanimity; nor yet that Antiochus should imitate such monarchs as these, but his strength should lie concealed. He should creep on by clandestine acts, and not contend in open battle according to the practice of those who excel in courage; he should secretly try many schemes, and thus stealthily extend his empire. This makes a tolerable sense. Others, again, think this ought to be referred to God, since the strength of Antiochus was not the result of his own industry or valor, but of the judgment of God, who armed him with it, because he wished to use him as a scourge to execute his punishments on the Jews. His fortitude, therefore, shall be strengthened, yet not by his own valor, as this entirely depended on the just designs and vengeance of God. Although this last sense is more profitable, and contains much useful instruction, yet I fear it is distorted. And thus the last clause is either a correction of the preceding words, meaning” because he should not increase with ingenuous earnestness,” or else, the angel is still comparing his strength with the power of Alexander. His power, therefore, shall be strengthened, and yet not bear comparison with Alexander’s; or, his power shall be strengthened, but not by habits of war nor by open magnanimity, but he shall grow great by fraudulent and clandestine arts; because he was on the one hand most impious, and on the other, of a servile disposition, as we have formerly said.

It follows, He shall make wonderful havoc, and shall prosper, and shall proceed, that is, shall execute, and shall destroy the strong, and the people of the saints. By עצומים, gnetzumim, I understand not only the Jews, but also other neighboring nations; as if the angel had said, Antiochus shall be conqueror wherever he shall extend his arms, until at length he shall subdue Judea, and miserably afflict the people of God. Wherefore, he shall strike or destroy the brave, and the people of the saints, that is, the holy people, as we saw before. And according to his understanding shall his craftiness prosper in his hand The conjunction “and may be here superfluous; in this sense the passage is usually received, thus reading it on in one context; according to his understanding he shall prosper, although there is the conjunction “and” in the way, but this is frequently superfluous in Hebrew. It means, deceit shall prosper in his hand Here the angel confirms the former assertion respecting the servile cunning of Antiochus, as he did not act with ingenuous manliness, but with his audacity and hardihood he united malicious arts and craftiness unworthy of a king. Craft, therefore, shall prosper in his hand, and that too, as far as he understands it. Some suppose the sharpness of Antiochus to be noticed here, as if the angel had said, Craftiness shall prosper in his hand, in consequence of his possessing superior ability and penetration. But the passage may be suitably explained in this way, — Antiochus shall act prosperously according to his mental perception, and shall be so assisted by’ his craftiness, as to obtain whatever he shall grasp at.

It follows next; He shall magnify himself in his heart, or he shall raise himself, and bear himself magnificently; although this expression implies boasting and pride, and is taken in a disadvantageous sense. He shall be insolent, therefore, in his heart. The angel seems to distinguish here between the scheming and penetration of Antiochus, and his pride of heart; for, although he should obtain great: victories, and should subdue many nations according to his desires, yet he would oppress the Jews, and then, should be magnified in heart; that is, should be puffed up with greater pride than before, on account of those continuous successes. And in peace he shall destroy many, or the brave; for the word רבים rabbim, signifies either. Some translate, on account of his prosperity, because the Lord wished to relax the reins, so that no one should hinder the course of his victories. On account, then, of that success, he shall destroy many. Profane men, indeed, who understand nothing of God’s providence, have said that folly and chance prevail more in war than skill or arms; but the success of generals does not spring from either chance or fortune, but as God pleases to conduct the affairs of the world in various ways, so in some eases the evil and unskillful warriors succeed, while others make many fruitless efforts and trials, although they are superior in counsel, and are provided with the very best ornaments. But I rather incline to another sense which interpreters do not mention; namely, Antiochus should destroy and lay waste many nations without any trouble, with the greatest ease, and as it were in sport. Wherefore the Prophet signifies, or the angel who addresses the Prophet., that Antiochus should be the conqueror of many nations, not only because he should be endowed with great cunning, and should carry on the war more by treachery than by open violence, but as it is reported of Timotheus the Athenian general: He will take cities and lands, and subject them to himself, through fortune spreading her net for him while he is indulging in sleep. The angel, therefore, seems to point out this listlessness, by predicting much devastation by the hand of Antiochus in apparent ease and calmness. Others expound it thus, — nations shall be laid waste by that robber which have given him no occasion for attack, because they have never stirred up any hostility against him; but when they attempt to cultivate peace, he wearies them without the slightest pretext. But this interpretation seems to be forced.

He afterwards adds, And against the Prince Of Princes he shall stand, or rise up, and he shall be destroyed without hand, or shall be ruined. The ו, vau, is put adversatively; yet he shall be destroyed without hand. This was far more galling to the Prophet, and to the whole people, for the angel to predict the contests of Antiochus, not only with mortals, but with God himself. Some understand שר-שרים, sar-sarim, of the high priest, but this is too confined and spiritless. I have not the least doubt that God is here meant by the Prince of Princes Wherefore the complete sense is, — Antiochus should be not only bold, and cruel, and proud towards men, but this madness and full should proceed so far as to lead him to attack and resist God. This is the full sense. But a consolation is soon added, when the angel says, he should be destroyed without hand It would, indeed, have been almost intolerable for the Jews to hear only of the insolence of Antiochus in contending against God, unless this correction had been added — the end of the contest must be the self-destruction of Antiochus by his own impiety. He shall be destroyed then. But how? without hand, says he. For after subduing so many nations, and after obtaining whatever he wished, what more could be hoped for as far as man is concerned? Who would dare to rise up against him? Clearly enough, if the kings of Syria had been content with their own boundaries, they need not have feared any one, for no enemy would have molested them; but they provoked the Romans to attack them, and when they wished to invade Egypt, they did not prosper in their attempts. Whichever be the meaning, the angel here announces the sufficiency of the divine power without any human aid, for the destruction and overthrow of Antiochus. Some think this prophet refers to Antichrist, thus they pass by Antiochus altogether, and describe to us the appearance of Antichrist, as if the angel had shewn to Daniel what should happen after the second renovation of the Church. The first restoration took place when liberty was restored to the people, and they returned from exile to their native land, and the second occurred at the advent of Christ. These interpreters suppose this passage to unfold that devastation of the Church which should take place after the coming of Christ, and the promulgation of the gospel. But as we have previously seen, this is not a suitable meaning, and I am surprised that men versed in the Scriptures should so pour forth clouds upon clear light. For, as we said yesterday, nothing can be clearer, or more perspicuous, or even more familiar, than this prophecy. And what is the tendency of ascribing so violently to Antichrist what even mere children clearly see to be spoken of Antiochus, except to deprive Scripture of all its authority? Others speak more modestly and more considerately, when they suppose the angel to treat of Antiochus for the purpose of depicting in his person the figure of Antichrist. But I do not think this reasoning sufficiently sound. I desire the sacred oracles to be treated so reverently, that no one may introduce any variety according to the will of man, but simply hold what is positively certain. It would please me better to see any one wishing to adapt this prophecy to the present use of the Church, and to apply to Antichrist by analogy what is said of Antiochus. We know that whatever happened to the Church of old, belongs also to us, because we have fallen upon the fullness of times.

No doubt the Holy Spirit wished to teach us how to bear our cross by making use of this example, but as I have already said, it seems to me far too frivolous to search for allegories. We should be content with true simplicity, and transfer to ourselves whatever occurred to the ancient people. (1 Corinthians 10:11.) With how much reason does the Apostle say there should be false teachers in the kingdom of Christ, as there were formerly false prophets! (2 Peter 2:1.) So we must determine, that the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning, will always find those whom he will stir up and impel to persecute the Church. The devil contends at this very day, not only by fallacious doctrines, and impious errors, and impostures, but also by cruel tyranny, as he inflames many impious men to madness, and thus harasses the sons of God. As the Jews ought not to quail under the calamities which oppressed them, through Daniel’s predictions concerning Antiochus, so the same doctrine ought in these days to fortify us, lest the novelty of our calamities should appall us, when the Church is oppressed by heavy burdens, and tyrants rage and storm, with fire and sword. (Romans 8:28:) For the fathers experienced similar trials, to whom Christ had not then pointed out the way of life, and who did not comprehend so clearly as we do our duty to be conformed to the only-begotten Son of God, because he is the first-born in the Church; he is our head and we are his members. This was not so fully unfolded to those holy men, who still endured under so many afflictions, when they might suppose the Church completely buried, as it is certainly surprising that they did not yield a hundred times over to so many and such dreadful calamities. Therefore this doctrine will be best accommodated to our instruction, if we are convinced of the justice of our condition not being better than that of the fathers. What, therefore, happened to them? These wicked ones should be destroyed, namely, the Jews:, who professed themselves to be the elect people of God, and the holy family of Abraham, and in numberless ways had obstinately provoked God’s wrath; thus the Church was miserably harassed. Antiochus, especially, like a sweeping tempest, reduced all things to ruin, till the people felt themselves utterly undone, and to all human appearance were without the slightest hope. As God punished so severely the wickedness of his ancient people, it does not surprise us when we feel his present chastisements, as in these days the land is full of sinfulness, and we do not cease perpetually and purposely to provoke God’s wrath. (1 Thessalonians 3:3.) Lastly, to avoid the penalty due to our sins, let us consider the end of our calling, the subjection of our whole life to the cross. This is the warfare to which our heavenly Father destines us. As this is our lot, we ought to look into this mirror, and there behold the perpetual condition of the

Church. It is therefore no matter of surprise, if, instead of one Antiochus, God should raise up many who are hardened and invincible in their obstinacy, and in their cruelty make many attempts with clandestine arts, and plot for the destruction of the Church. If the fathers experienced this, it does not surprise us, if we in these days undergo similar sufferings. This, I say, is a useful analogy, and does not distort the simple sense of Scripture. Now, let us go on, —

The angel again confirms the assertion that no part of this vision was shewn to the Prophet in vain, because not even the slightest portion of it should fail of its effect. The necessity of this method of confirming our faith is notorious, because, although the events may be well known to us, yet we cannot acquiesce in God’s word, unless he should testify so repeatedly to the truth of his assertions, and sanction by such repetition whatever appears to us ambiguous. When it becomes perfectly obvious that the angel discourses upon obscure events, and such as were utterly incredible at the time, it does not surprise us when he announces again, that the Prophet had seen nothing which God would not accomplish. This vision, therefore, says he, is truth. He calls it “the vision of the evening and morning,” because while the angel was treating of the six years and almost a half, he used this form of speech. And we said this was purposely expressed, lest any one should extend it to years or months, as some did; as if the angel had said, — Behold! by calculating single days up to six years and about a half, the completion of this prophecy when the Temple shall be cleansed, shall be accurately discovered. Again it is asserted, that the vision is certain, because God had computed day by day the time of the profanation of the Temple until the period of its cleansing. Do thou, therefore, says he, seal or close the vision, because it is for many days. It may surprise us why God should wish what he had explained to his servant to remain concealed. For Daniel was not instructed in futurity for his own private advantage, but for the common usefulness of the whole people. It seems, therefore, contrary to his office to be commanded to close up the vision, and to keep it in complete obscurity. But the angel means, if the greater part of the people should reject this prophecy, this formed no reason why Daniel should hesitate. Be thou, therefore, the guardian of this prophecy, as if God had deposited a treasure in the hands of his servant, and had said, “Pay no regard to any who despise this prophecy; many may deride thee, and others think thou art narrating fables, and very few will have confidence in thee but do not relax on this account, but faithfully guard this treasure,” since it is for many days; that is, although its effect is not immediately apparent, because God will suspend for some time the punishments of which entreats, and will not restore the Temple all at once, nor wrest His people immediately out of the hand of the tyrant. In consequence, then, of his deferring his judgments as well as his pity for many days, do thou close up this visions, that is, keep it to thyself, as if thou art alone. Thus God does not simply command his Prophet to be silent, or to conceal what he had learnt, but rather confirms him in his consistency, lest he should estimate this prophecy according to the ordinary opinions of his countrymen. And at the same time he shews, that though the Jews did not pay attention to what Daniel announced to them, yet nothing whatever should be in vain. It follows, —

Again, Daniel shews himself to have been so touched with the secret instinct of God, that he knew for certain this vision to have been divinely presented to him. For God wished so to affect his servant, that he might embrace with greater reverence what he both heard and saw. I have already referred to our want of attention in listening to God’s word as it deserves unless some kind of fear precedes it which may rouse our minds by some means from their torpor; but this prophecy had a special intention. In an ordinary case, God did not humble his servant; but by the disease which is here mentioned, he wishes to show how this prediction related to some event of serious magnitude. Daniel, therefore, states himself to have been astonished, as if suffering under some defect, and afflicted by disease This disease did not happen to the Prophet naturally, but it fell upon him in consequence of his being suddenly terrified. And he afterwards shews this, by saying, no one understood the prediction. Here, then, he admonishes all the pious, neither to hear nor read this narrative with carelessness, but to summon up their utmost attention, and to perceive that God here shews them things of the greatest importance, and which vitally concern their salvation. This forms a reason why Daniel ought to suffer dejection and to be afflicted by disease. He next says, he returned to the king’s business, meaning his ordinary occupation. We infer from this expression, the grievous error of those who think him to have been in Persia at this period, because he could not return to his duties, unless he were present in the king’s palace. But why is this added? To assure us that the Prophet was not drawn off from the duties which the king had assigned to him, although God had chosen him to perform the peculiar office of Prophet and teacher of his Church. This is a rare instance, and ought not to be drawn into a precedent, according to the usual phrase. Which of us, for instance, would be sufficient for those duties of political government assigned to Daniel, and also for those incumbent upon a pastor and teacher? But God made use of his servant Daniel in an extraordinary way, because he had many reasons for wishing him occupied in the king’s palace. We have previously seen how God’s glory was illustrated by his position, for Daniel admonished Belshazzar of his approaching death, when his enemies had already partially captured the city. And the utility of this was proved by Cyrus and Darius sparing the Jews. As long as the Chaldeans held the supreme power, Daniel was of no slight benefit to those miserable exiles; for even if he lived under cruel tyrants, yet he had some authority remaining, and this enabled him to alleviate many of the sufferings of his nation. God, therefore, was consulting the advantage of the whole people, when he desired Daniel to proceed in the course of his usual duties. Besides this, he wished to confer upon him the extraordinary gift of prophecy, an endowment, as I have said, peculiar to Daniel. It now follows, —

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