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2016 February 16
The Family of Darius Before Alexander (1565-1570)
Paolo Veronese (1528-1588)
National Gallery, London, England, United Kingdom
Image Source: Wikipedia
Explanation: In Daniel 8 Daniel records a vision he had of a ram which had a large and a small horn. The ram made conquests until it was defeated by a he-goat with a prominent horn. The goat also made great conquests. But its horn was broken, and four horns replaced it. From one of these horns came a small horn which became very powerful and, among other things, defiled the sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem in an act which Daniel 8:13 calls "the transgression of desolation," more commonly known as "the abomination of desolation" (Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14). The angel Gabriel interprets these symbols as kings, first of Media and Persia, then of Greece. Then will come a successor king who will severely persecute God's people, but he will be destroyed by the Prince of Princes. The first succession of power is widely understood to be the conquest of Darius III by Alexander. In this interpretation, the four horns would be Alexander's successors (the Antigonid, Ptolemaic, Seleucid, and Attalid dynasties). And the "the transgression / abomination of desolation" would be the Grecian king Antiochus Epiphanes (the little horn, a king of fierce countenance). Also, judging from the NT passages above, the term "abomination / transgression of desolation" applies to the Roman desecration of the temple with idol worship by the Roman General (later, Emperor) Titus in AD 70. Thus, the term has a wider application than just one act by one person. It refers to an act of desecration of God's Temple. Even though Daniel's description of the desecrater applies to only one person, the type of desecration can be done by more than one person. In regard, then, to this Grecian king, Antiochus Epiphanes, the comments of Albert Barnes on verses 23-25 are particularly helpful - (see bold headings below).
And in the latter time of their kingdom - When it shall be drawing to an end. All these powers were ultimately absorbed in the Roman power; and the meaning here is, that taking the time from the period of their formation - the division of the empire after the battle of Ipsus (see the notes at Daniel 8:8), until the time when all would be swallowed up in the Roman dominion, what is here stated - to wit, the rise of Antiochus - would be in the latter portion of that period. The battle of Ipsus was fought 301 b.c., and the Roman power was extended over all those regions gradually from 168 b.c. - the battle of Pydna, when Perseus was defeated, and Macedonia was reduced to a Roman province, to 30 b.c., when Egypt was subjected - the last of these kingdoms that submitted to the Roman arms. Antiochus began to reign, 175 b.c. - so that it was in the latter part of this period.
When the transgressors are come to the full - Margin, accomplished. That is, when the state of things - the prevalence of wickedness and irreligion in Judea - shall have been allowed to continue as long as it can be - or so that the cup shall be full - then shall appear this formidable power to inflict deserved punishment on the guilty nation. The sacred writers often speak of iniquity as being full - of the cup of iniquity as being full - as if there was a certain limit or capacity beyond which it could not be allowed to go. When that arrives, God interposes, and cuts off the guilty by some heavy judgment. Compare Genesis 15:16: "The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." Matthew 23:32: "fill ye up then the measure of your fathers." 1 Thessalonians 2:16: "to fill up their sins alway." The idea is, that there is a certain measure or amount of sin which can be tolerated, but beyond that the Divine compassion cannot go with safety to the universe, or consistently with the honor of God, and then the punishment may be expected; then punishment must come. This is true, doubtless, of individuals and nations, and this period had arrived in regard to the Jews when Antiochus was permitted to lay their temple, city, and country waste.
A king of fierce countenance - Stern and severe. This expression would be applicable to many who have held the kingly office, and no one can doubt that it may be applied with strict propriety to Antiochus.
And understanding dark sentences - Gesenius (Lexicon) explains the word here rendered "dark sentences" to mean artifice, trick, stratagem. This will better agree with the character of Antiochus, who was more distinguished for craft and policy than he was for wisdom, or for explaining enigmas. The meaning seems to be that he would be politic and crafty, seeking to make his way, and to accomplish his purpose, not only by the terror that he inspired, but by deceit and cunning. That this was his character is well known. Compare the notes at Daniel 8:25.
Shall stand up - Shall succeed, or there shall be such a king.
And his power shall be mighty - He shall be a powerful monarch. Though not as mighty as Alexander, yet his conquests of Egypt and other places show that he deserved to be numbered among the mighty kings of the earth.
But not by his own power - That is, it shall not be by any strength of his own, but by the power which God gives him. This is true of all kings and princes (compare John 19:11; Isaiah 10:5, following), but it seems to be referred to here particularly to show that the calamities which he was about to bring upon the Hebrew people were by Divine direction and appointment. This great power was given him in order that he might be an instrument in the Divine hand of inflicting deserved punishment on them for their sins.
And he shall destroy wonderfully - In a wonderful or extraordinary manner shall he spread desolation. This refers particularly to the manner in which he would lay waste the holy city, and the land of Judea. The history in the books of Maccabees shows that this was literally fulfilled.
And shall prosper - Antiochus was among the most successful kings in his various expeditions. Particularly was he successful in his enterprises against the holy land.
And practice - Hebrew, "do." That is, he shall be distinguished not only for "forming" plans, but for "executing" them; not merely for "purposing," but for "doing."
And shall destroy the mighty and the holy people - The people of God - the Jewish nation. See the notes at Daniel 8:9-12.
And through his policy - The word rendered "policy" here (sekel) means, properly, intelligence, understanding, wisdom; and then, in a bad sense, craft, cunning. So it is rendered here by Gesenius, and the meaning is, that he would owe his success in a great measure to craft and subtilty.
He shall cause craft to prosper in his hand - He shall owe his success in a great measure to a crafty policy, to intrigue, and to cunning. This was true in an eminent sense, of Antiochus. See his history in Prideaux, above referred to, and the books of Maccabees. Compare the notes at Daniel 11:21. The same character is given of him by Polybius, "Relig." lib. xxi. c. 5, tom. iv. p. 501, ed. Schweighauser; Appian, "de reb. Syr" xlv. t. 1, p. 604, ed. Schweigh. Compare 2 Macc. 5:24-26. He came to the kingdom by deceit (Prideaux, iii. 212), and a great part of his success was owing to craft and policy.
And he shall magnify himself in his heart - Shall be lifted up with pride, or esteem himself of great consequence.
And by peace shall destroy many - Margin, "prosperity." The Hebrew word (shalevah) means, properly, tranquility, security, ease, carelessness. Here the phrase seems to mean "in the midst of security" (Gesenius, Lexicon); that is, while they were at ease, and regarded themselves as in a state of safety, he would come suddenly and unexpectedly upon them, and destroy them. He would make sudden war on them, invading their territories, so that they would have no opportunity to make preparation to meet him. Compare Daniel 11:21, Daniel 11:24. It would seem to mean that he would endeavor to produce the impression that he was coming in peace; that he pretended friendship, and designed to keep those whom he meant to invade and destroy in a state of false security, so that he might descend upon them unawares. This was his policy rather than to declare war openly, and so give his enemies fair warning of what he intended to do. This description agrees every way with the character of Antiochus, a leading part of whose policy always was to preserve the appearance of friendship, that he might accomplish his purpose while his enemies were off their guard.
He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes - Notes, Daniel 8:11. Against God, the ruler over the kings of the earth.
But he shall be broken without hand - That is, without the hand of man, or by no visible cause. He shall be overcome by Divine, invisible power. According to the author of the first book of Maccabees (1 Macc. 6:8-16), he died of grief and remorse in Babylon. He was on an expedition to Persia, and there laid siege to Elymais, and was defeated, and fled to Babylon, when, learning that his forces in Palestine had been repulsed, penetrated with grief and remorse, he sickened and died. According to the account in the second book of Maccabees (2 Macc. 9), his death was most distressing and horrible. Compare Prideaux, iii. 272-275. All the statements given of his death, by the authors of the books of Maccabees, by Josephus, by Polybius, by Q. Curtius, and by Arrian (see the quotations in Prideaux), agree in representing it as attended with every circumstance of horror that can be well supposed to accompany a departure from this world, and as having every mark of the just judgment of God. The Divine prediction in Daniel was fully accomplished, that his death would be "without hand," in the sense that it would not be by human instrumentality; but that it would be by a direct Divine infliction. When Antiochus died, the opposition to the Jews ceased, and their land again had peace and rest.
Moreover, special note should be made of Gabriel's revelations in Daniel and in the New Testament. In a series of revelations (Daniel 8:16-27; Daniel 9:21-27; Luke 1:19-25; Luke 1:26-38) to Daniel and to Elizabeth and Mary, Gabriel reveals some key features of the Messiah. These are his destruction of the abomination, his death, his forerunner, his virgin birth, his accession to David's throne, his title as the Son of God, and his everlasting kingdom. In contrast to this, a spirit calling himself "Gabriel" appeared to Mohammed and contradicted each of these features of the life and nature of Jesus. This makes Islam the most thoroughly Antichrist system on earth. It was specifically designed by the spiritual forces behind Islam to be a complete and utter contradiction to Christ.
Today's painting records a historical event which some believe is a fulfillment of the first set of prophecies in today's chapter, which seems to refer to the defeat of Darius III by Alexander. (See the discussion above).
[ THEMATICALLY AND CHRONOLOGICALLY RELATED SCRIPTURES: Daniel 7. Daniel 8. Daniel 9. Daniel 10. Daniel 11. Daniel 12. ]
[ CHRONOLOGY: GENERAL. Patriarchs (Traditional). Judges # 1. Judges # 2. Kings # 1. Kings # 2. Prophets # 1. Prophets # 2. NT # 1. NT # 2. NT # 3. ]
[ MAPS: Maps # 1. Maps # 2. Maps # 3. Maps # 4. Maps # 5. ]
[ COMMENTARIES, ETC: GENERAL: Bible Study Tools; Bible Hub: Study Light; Blue Letter Bible // PSALMS: Monergism: Precept Austin: The Treasury of David; John Gill; John Calvin - Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
[ MUSIC: GENERAL: The Cyber Hymnal // PSALMS: Genevan Psalter (Instrumental). VARIOUS ARTISTS: Micha'el Ben David. Sons of Korah. Fernando Ortega. Janet Isaac Morrison. Music of the Bible Revealed - Suzanne Haik-Vantoura. Dr. David Erb. Gregorian Chants. ]
1. Spiritual Struggle in Babylon (1:1 - 6:28)
2. Spiritual Struggle in the Heavenlies (7:1 - 12:13)
2. Spiritual Struggle in the Heavenlies (7:1 - 12:13)
B. The Struggle Between the Ram, the Goat, and the Saints - Resolved by God Destroying His Enemies (8:1-27)
1 In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first.
2 And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai.
3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
4 I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.
5 And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.
6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.
7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.
8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
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.
10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.
11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
12 And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.
13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?
14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.
16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.
17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.
18 Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright.
19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.
20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.
27 And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.
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