Commentary on Daniel (chapter 7 - 9)
Verse 1. "In the first year of Belshazzar, King [reading regis for regias] of Babylon, Daniel beheld a dream. And a vision of his head [came to him] upon his bed. And when he wrote the dream down, he comprehended it in a few words and gave a brief summary of it, saying. . .."
This section which we now undertake to explain, and also the subsequent section which we are going to discuss, is historically prior to the two previous sections. For this present section and that which follows it are recorded to have taken place in the first and third years of the reign of King Belshazzar (Jer. 39). But the section which we read previously to the one just preceding this, is recorded to have taken place in the last year, indeed on the final day, of Belshaz-zar's reign. And we meet this phenomenon not only in Daniel but also in Jeremiah [cf. Jer. 35 and Jer. 34] and Ezekiel (Ezek. 17), as we shall be able to show, if life spares us that long. But in the earlier portion of the book, the historical order has been followed, namely the events which occurred in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and Belshazzar, and Darius or Cyrus. But in the passages now before us an account is given of various visions which were beheld on particular occasions and of which only the prophet himself was aware, and which therefore lacked any importance as signs or revelations so far as the barbarian nations were concerned. But they were written down only that a record of the things beheld might be preserved for posterity.
Verses 2, 3. "And during the night I saw in my vision, and behold, the four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea, and four great beasts were coming up out of the sea, differing from one another."
The four winds of heaven I suppose to have been angelic powers to whom the principalities have been (p. 528) committed, in accordance with what we read in Deuteronomy: "When the Most High divided the nations and when He separated the children of Adam, He established the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the angels. For the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the line of His inheritance (Deut. 32:8). But the sea signifies this world and the present age, overwhelmed with salty and bitter waves, in accordance with the Lord's own interpretation of the dragnet cast into the sea (Matt. 13). Hence also the sovereign of all creatures that inhabit the waters is described as a dragon, and his heads, according to David, are smitten in the sea (Ps. 73). And in Amos we read: "If he descends to the very depth of the sea, there will I give him over to the dragon and he shall bite him" (Amos 9:3). But as for the four beasts who came up out of the sea and were differentiated from one another, we may identify them from the angel's discourse. "These four great beasts," he says, "are four kingdoms which shall rise up from the earth." And as for the four winds which strove in the great sea, they are called winds of heaven because each one of the angels does for his realm the duty entrusted to him. This too should be noted, that the fierceness and cruelty of the kingdoms concerned are indicated by the term "beasts."
Verse 4. "The first beast was like a lioness and possessed the wings of an eagle. I beheld until her wings were torn away, and she was raised upright from the ground and stood on her feet like a human being, and she was given a human heart."
The kingdom of the Babylonians was not called a lion but a lioness, on account of its brutality and cruelty, or else because of its luxurious, lust-serving manner of life. For writers upon the natural history of beasts assert that lionesses are fiercer than lions, especially if they are nursing their cubs, and constantly are passionate in their desire for sexual relations. And as for the fact that she possessed eagle's wings, this indicates the pride of the all-powerful kingdom, the ruler of which declares in Isaiah: "Above the stars of heaven will I place my throne, and I shall be like unto the Most High" (Isa. 14). Therefore he is told: "Though thou be borne on high like an eagle, thence will I drag thee down" (Obad.). Moreover, just as the lion occupies kingly rank among beasts, so also the eagle among the birds. But it should also be said that the eagle enjoys a long span of life, and that the kingdom of Assyrians had held sway for many generations. And as for the fact that the wings of the lioness or eagle were torn away, this signifies the other kingdoms over which it had ruled and soared about in the world. "And she was raised up," he says, "from the ground"; which means, of course , that the Chaldean empire was overthrown. And as for what follows, "And she stood upon her feet like a human being, and she was given a human heart," if we understand this as applying to Nebuchadnezzar, it is very evident that after he lost his kingdom and his power had been taken away from him, and after he was once more restored to his original state, he not only learned to be a man instead of a lioness but he also received back the heart which he had lost. But if on the other hand this is to be understood as applying in a general way to the kingdom of the Chaldeans, then it signifies that after Belshazzar was slain, and the Medes and Persians succeeded to imperial power, then the men of Babylon realized that theirs was a frail and lowly nature after all. Note the order followed here: the lioness is equivalent to the golden head of the image.
Verse 5. "And behold another beast like a bear stood up on one side; and there were three rows in his mouth and in his teeth; and they said to him: 'Arise up and devour flesh in abundance.' "
The second beast resembling a bear is the same as that of which we read in the vision of the statue (2:32): "His chest and arms were of silver." In the former case the comparison was based on the hardness of the metal, in this case on the ferocity of the bear. For the Persian kingdom followed a rigorous and frugal manner of life after the manner of the Spartans, and that too to such an extent that they used to use salt and nasturtium-cress in their relish. Let us consult the record of the childhood of Cyrus the Great (i.e., "The Education or Training" of Cyrus). And as for the fact that the bear is said to have "stood up on one side," the Hebrews interpret it by saying that the Persians never perpetrated any cruelty against Israel. Hence they are described in the Prophecy of Zechariah also as white horses (Zech. 1). But as for the three rows or ranks that were in his mouth and between his teeth, one authority has interpreted this to mean that allusion was made to the fact that the Persian kingdom was divided up among three princes, just as we read in the sections dealing with Belshazzar and with Darius that there were three princes who were in charge of the one hundred and twenty satraps. But other commentators affirm that these were three kings of the Persians who were subsequent to Cyrus, and yet they fail to mention them by name. But we know that after Cyrus's reign of thirty years his son Cambyses ruled among the Persians, and his brothers the magi, and then Darius, in the second year of whose reign the rebuilding of the Temple was commenced at Jerusalem. The fifth king was Xerxes, the son of Darius; the sixth was Artabanus; the seventh, Artaxerxes who was surnamed Makrokheir, that is Longimanus ("Long-handed"); the eighth, Xerxes; the ninth, Sogdianus; the tenth, Darius surnamed Nothos ("Bastard"); the eleventh, the Artaxerxes called Mnemon, that is, "The Rememberer"; the twelfth, the other Artaxerxes, who himself received the surname of Ochus; the thirteenth, Arses, the son of Ochus; and the fourteenth, Darius the son of Arsamus, who was conquered by Alexander, the king of the Macedonians. How then can we say that these were three kings of the Persians? Of course we could select some who were especially cruel, but we cannot ascertain them on the basis of the historical accounts. Therefore the three rows in the mouth of the Persian kingdom and between its teeth we must take to be the three kingdoms of the Babylonians, the Medes, and the Persians, all of which were reduced to a single realm. And as for |75 the information, "And thus they spake to him: 'Devour flesh in abundance,' " this refers to the time when in the reign of the Ahasuerus whom the Septuagint calls Artaxerxes, the order was given, at the suggestion of Haman the Agagite, that all the Jews be slaughtered on a single day (Esth. 3). And very properly, instead of saying, "He was devouring them" the account specifies, "Thus they spake unto him...." This shows that the matter was only attempted, and was by no means ever carried out.
Verse 6. "After this I beheld, and lo, there was another beast like unto a leopard, and it had four wings of a bird all its own, and there were four heads to the beast, and power was given to it."
The third kingdom was that of the Macedonians, of which we read in connection with the image, "The belly and thighs were of bronze." It is compared to a leopard because it is very swift and hormetikos, and it charges headlong to shed blood, and with a single bound rushes to its death. "And it had four wings...." There was never, after all, any victory won more quickly than Alexander's, for he traversed all the way from Illyricum and the Adriatic Sea to the Indian Ocean and the Ganges River, not merely fighting battles but winning decisive victories; and in six years he subjugated to his rule a portion of Europe and all of Asia. And by the four heads reference is made to his generals who subsequently rose up as successors to his royal power, namely Ptolemy, Seleucus, Philip, and Antigonus. "And power was given to it" shows that the empire did not result from Alexander's bravery but from the will of God.
Verse 7. "After this, I beheld in the night-vision, and behold, there was a fourth beast, terrible and wonderful and exceedingly strong. He had large iron teeth, devouring and crushing, and everything that was left he stamped to pieces under his feet."
The fourth empire is the Roman Empire, which now occupies the entire world, and concerning which it was said in connection with the image, "Its lower legs were of iron, and part of its feet were of iron, and part of clay." And yet from the iron portion itself Daniel calls to mind that its teeth were iron, and solemnly avers that they were large in size. I find it strange that although he had set forth a lioness, a bear and a leopard in the case of the three previous kingdoms, he did not compare the Roman realm to any sort of beast. Perhaps it was in order to render the beast fearsome indeed that he gave it no name, intending thereby that we should understand the Romans to partake of all the more ferocious characteristics we might think of in connection with beasts. The Hebrews believe that the beast which is here not named is the one spoken of in the Psalms: "A boar from the forest laid her waste, and a strange wild animal consumed her" (Ps. 79:14). Instead of this the Hebrew reads: "All the beasts of the field have torn her." While they are all included in the one Empire of the Romans, we recognize at the same time those kingdoms which were previously separate. And as for the next statement, ". . .devouring and crushing, and pounding all the rest to pieces under his feet," this signifies that all nations have either been slain by the Romans or else have been subjected to tribute and servitude.
". . .But it did not resemble the other beasts which I had previously seen" (Vulgate: "...which I had seen before it"). In the earlier beasts he had seen various symbols of fright-fulness, but they were all concentrated in this one.
". ..and it had ten horns." Porphyry assigned the last two beasts, that of the Macedonians and that of the Romans, to the one realm of the Macedonians and divided them up as follows. He claimed that the leopard was Alexander himself, and that the beast which was dissimilar to the others represented the four successors of Alexander, and then he enumerates ten kings up to the time of Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, and who were very cruel. And he did not assign the kings themselves to separate kingdoms, for example Macedon, Syria, Asia, or Egypt, but rather he made out the various kingdoms a single realm consisting of a series. This he did of course in order that the words which were written: ".. .a mouth uttering overweening boasts" might be considered as spoken about Antiochus instead of about Antichrist.
Verse 8. "I was looking at the horns, and behold, another small horn rose up out of the midst of them, and three of the earlier horns were torn away before it. And behold, there were in that horn eyes like unto human eyes, and a mouth uttering overweening boasts."
Porphyry vainly surmises that the little horn which rose up after the ten horns is Antiochus Epiphanes, and that the three uprooted horns out of the ten are Ptolemy VI (surnamed Philometer), Ptolemy VII (Euergetes), and Artaraxias, King of Armenia. The first two of these kings died long before Antiochus was born. Against Artarxias, to be sure, we know that Antiochus indeed waged war, but also we know that Artarxias remained in possession of his original kingly authority. We should therefore concur with the traditional interpretation of all the commentators of the Christian Church, that at the end of the world, when the Roman Empire is to be destroyed, there shall be ten kings who will partition the Roman world amongst themselves. Then an insignificant eleventh king will arise, who will overcome three of the ten kings, that is, the king of Egypt, the king of Africa, and the king of Ethiopia, as we shall show more clearly in our later discussion. Then after they have been slain, the seven other kings also will bow their necks to the victor. "And behold," he continues, "there were eyes like unto human eyes in that horn." Let us not follow the opinion of some commentators and suppose him to be either the Devil or some demon, but rather, one of the human race, in whom Satan will wholly take up his residence in bodily form. ". . .and a mouth uttering overweening boasts..." (cf. II Thess. 2). For this is the man of sin, the son of perdition, and that too to such a degree that he dares to sit in the temple of God, making himself out to be like God.
Verse 9. "I beheld until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of days took His seat. His garment was as white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was composed of fiery flames and its wheels were set on fire. From before His presence there issued forth a rushing, fiery stream."
We read something similar in John's Apocalypse: (Rev. 4:2 ff.) "After these things I was immediately in the Spirit, and lo, a throne was set up in heaven, and one was seated upon the throne; and He who sat upon it had the likeness of jasper and sardine stone, and there was a rainbow round about the throne like the appearance of emerald. Around the throne there were twenty-four other thrones, and upon the twenty-four thrones there sat twenty-four elders, clothed in shining garments; upon their heads was a golden crown, and lightning flashes issued from the throne, and voices and thunder. And in front of the throne there were seven torches of burning fire, which were the seven spirits of God. And in front of the throne lay a glassy sea like unto crystal." And so the many thrones which Daniel saw seem to me to be what John called the twenty-four thrones. And the Ancient of days is the One who, according to John sits alone upon His throne. Likewise the Son of man, who came unto the Ancient of days, is the same as He who, according to John, is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5), the Root of David, and the titles of that sort. I imagine that these thrones are the ones of which the Apostle Paul says, "Whether thrones or dominions. . ." (Col. 1:16). And in the Gospel we read, "Ye yourselves shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 10:28). And God is called the One who sits and who is the Ancient of days, in order that His character as eternal Judge might be indicated. His garment is shining white like the snow, and the hair of His head is like pure wool. The Savior also, when He was transfigured on the mount and assumed the glory of His divine majesty, appeared in shining white garments (Matt. 17). And as for the fact that His hair is compared to perfectly pure wool, the even-handedness and uprightness of His judgment is shown forth, a judgment which shows no partiality in its exercise. Moreover He is described as an elderly man, in order that the ripeness of His judgment may be established. His throne consists of fiery flames, in order that sinners may tremble before the severity of the torments [of hell], and also that the just may be saved, but so as by fire. The wheels of the throne are set aflame, or else it is the wheels of His chariot which are aflame. In Ezekiel also God is ushered on the scene seated in a four-horse chariot (Ez. 1), and everything pertaining to God is of a fiery consistency. In another place also a statement is made on this subject: "God is a consuming fire" (Deut. 4:24), that we might know that wood, hay and stubble are going to burn up in the day of judgment. And in the Psalms we read: "Fire goeth before Him, and He shall set aflame all His enemies round about Him" (Ps. 96:3). A rushing, fiery stream proceeded from before Him in order that it might carry sinners to hell (Gehenna).
Verse 10. "There were millions ministering unto Him, and a billion stood by His side."
This was not intended to be a specific number for the servants of God, but only indicates a multitude too great for human computation. These are the thousands and tens of thousands of which we read in the Psalms: "The chariot of God is attended by ten thousands; thousands of them that rejoice. The Lord is among them" (Ps. 67:18). And in another place: "He who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flaming fire" (Ps. 103:4). Now the duty of angels is twofold: the duty of one group is to bestow rewards upon just men; the duty of the other is to have charge over individual calamities.
". .. The court was in session, and the books were opened." The consciences of men, and the deeds of individuals which partake of either character, whether good or bad, are disclosed to all. One of the books is the good book of which we often read, namely the book of the living. The other is the evil book which is held in the hand of the accuser, who is the fiend and avenger of whom we read in Revelation: "The accuser of our brethren" (Rev. 12:10). This is the earthly book of which the prophet says: "Let them be written on earth" (Jer. 17:13).
Verse 11. "I looked on because of the sound of the lofty words which that horn was uttering."
The judgment of God descends for the humbling of pride. Hence the Roman Empire also will be destroyed, because the horn was uttering the lofty words.
". . .And I saw that the beast was slain and its body perished."
In the one empire of the Romans, all the kingdoms at once are to be destroyed, because of the blasphemy of the Antichrist. And the empire shall not be an earthly empire at all, but it is simply the abode of the saints which is spoken of here, and the advent of the conquering Son of God.
Verses 13, 14. "And behold, there came One with the clouds of heaven like unto the Son of man."
He who was described in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar as a rock cut without hands, which also grew to be a large mountain, and which smashed the earthenware, the iron, the bronze, the silver, and the gold is now introduced as the very person of the Son of man, so as to indicate in the case of the Son of God how He took upon Himself human flesh; according to the statement which we read in the Acts of the Apostles: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up towards heaven? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him going into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
". . .And He arrived unto the Ancient of days, and they brought Him before His presence, and He gave unto Him authority and honor and royal power."
All that is said here concerning His being brought before Almighty God and receiving authority and honor and royal power is to be understood in the light of the Apostle's statement: "Who, although He was in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and was found in His condition to be as a man: He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:6-8). And if the sect of the Arians were willing to give heed to all this Scripture with a reverent mind, they would never direct against the Son of God the calumny that He is not on an equality with God.
".. .And He is the one whom all the peoples, tribes, and language-groups shall serve. His authority is an eternal authority which shall not be removed, and His kingdom shall be one that shall never be destroyed... ."
Let Porphyry answer the query of whom out of all mankind this language might apply to, or who this person might be who was so powerful as to break and smash to pieces the little horn, whom he interprets to be Antiochus? If he replies that the princes of Antiochus were defeated by Judas Maccabaeus, then he must explain how Judas could be said to come with the clouds of heaven like unto the Son of man, and to be brought unto the Ancient of days, and how it could be said that authority and royal power was bestowed upon him, and that all peoples and tribes and language-groups served him, and that his power is eternal and not terminated by any conclusion.
Verses 17, 18. "These four great beasts are the four kingdoms which shall arise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High God shall take the kingdom."
The four kingdoms of which we have spoken above were earthly in character. "For everything which is of the earth shall return to earth" (Eccl. 3:20). But the saints shall never possess an earthly kingdom, but only a heavenly. Away, then, with the fable about a millennium!
". . .And they shall possess the kingdom unto eternity, even forever and ever. ..."
If this be taken to refer to the Maccabees, the advocate of this position should explain how the kingdom of the Maccabees is of a perpetual character.
Verse 25. "And he shall utter (variant: "he utters") speeches against the Lofty One." Or else, as Symmachus has rendered it: "He utters speeches like God,"
so that one who assumes the authority of God will also arrogate to himself the words of divine majesty.
". . .And he shall crush the saints of the Most High, and will suppose himself to be able to alter times and laws."
The Antichrist will wage war against the saints and will overcome them; and he shall exalt himself to such a height of arrogance as to attempt changing the very laws of God and the sacred rites as well. He will also lift himself up against all that is called God, subjecting all religion to his own authority.
". . .And they shall be delivered into his hand for a time, and times, and half a time."
"Time" is equivalent to "year." The word "times," according to the idiom of the Hebrews (who also possess the dual number) represents "two years." The half a year signifies "six months." During this period the saints are to be given over to the power of the Antichrist, in order that those Jews might be condemned who did not believe the truth but supported a lie. The Savior also speaks of this period in the Gospel, saying: "Unless those days had been cut short, no flesh would be saved" (Matt. 24:22). In the final vision we shall assert the inappropriateness of this period to Antiochus.
Verse 26. "And the court will sit in judgment, that (Antichrist's) power may be taken away and be crushed in pieces and utterly perish even unto the end."
This refers to Antichrist, that is, to the little horn which uttered the lofty words, for his kingdom is to be permanently destroyed.
Verse 27. "But kingdom and power and a vast realm comprising all that is under heaven shall be conferred upon the nation of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and whom all kings shall serve and obey."
Here the reference is to Christ's empire, which is eternal.
Verse 28. "Thus far is the end of the word."
That is, "the end of that word and discourse which the Lord revealed to me in this present vision."
". ..I, Daniel, was much troubled with my thoughts, and my countenance was altered within me; but I preserved the word in my heart."
Up to this point the Book of Daniel was written in the Chaldee and Syriac language. All the rest that follows up to the very end of the volume we read in Hebrew.
Verse 1. "In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar, a vision appeared to me. I, Daniel, after what I had seen at the first. ..."
This vision came two years after the previous revelation, for the latter was beheld in the first year of Belshazzar, whereas this was beheld in the third year. And so he informs us: ". . .after that which I had seen at the first."
Verse 2. "I saw in my vision while I was in the castle of Susa, which is in the region of Elam"
Or else we may render, as Symmachus has translated it, ".. .in the city of Elam," from which of course the region took its name, just as the Babylonians were named from Babylon. So also the Elamites were thus named from Elam, in consequence of which the Septuagint translates it: "the region of Elamais." And Susis is the chief city of the region of the Elamites, and there, according to Josephus' account, Daniel erected a lofty tower fashioned of square blocks of marble, and of such outstanding beauty that it seems newly built even up to the present day. There also the remains of the kings of the Persians and Medes lie buried, and the custodian or sacristan and priest of that locality is a Jew. "While I was in the castle at Susa. ..." Not that the city itself is a castle, for as we have stated, it is a chief city of great power; but rather that the city is so solidly built that it looks like a castle.
"And I saw in the vision that I was over the gate of Ulai."
Instead of this Aquila translated:". . .over the Ubal of Ulai"; Theodotion rendered: "above Ubal"; Symmachus: "above the swamp of Ulai"; the Septuagint: "above the gate of Ulai." But it should be understood that Ulai is the name of a place, or else of a gate, just as there was in Troy a gate called the Skaia, and among the Romans there is one called Carmentalis. In each case the name has originated from special circumstances.
Verse 3. "And I lifted up my eyes and saw."
Yet of course one only sees in dreams things which appear as shadowy representations, naturally, and as mere likenesses, rather than our being able to behold the reality of the objects themselves.
"And behold, a ram stood in front of the swamp (or: in front of the gate ---- the word being UBAL in the Hebrew), having lofty horns, one of which was higher than the other and growing yet larger."
He calls Darius, Cyrus's uncle, a ram. He reigned over the Medes after his father, Astyages. And the one horn which was higher than the other, and growing still larger, signified Cyrus himself, who succeeded his maternal grandfather, Astyages, and reigned over the Medes and Persians along with his uncle, Darius, whom the Greeks called Cyaxeres.
Verse 4. "After this I saw the ram pushing with its horns westward and northward and southward...."
Not that he saw the ram itself, that is, the ram of Cyrus or Darius, but rather the ram of the same kingdom as theirs, that is, the second Darius, who was the last king of the Persian power, and who was overcome by the king of the Macedonians, Alexander the son of Philip. And as to the fact that Darius was a very powerful and wealthy king, both the Greek and the Latin and the barbarian historical accounts so relate.
Verse 5. "And I myself understood. ..."
On the basis of the previous visions which had symbolized the second kingdom by the ram and the he-goat, Daniel now also understood that he was looking at the empire of the Medes and Persians.
"And behold, there was a he-goat which was coming from the West above the surface of the whole earth, and yet without touching the ground. ..."
So that no one will think that I am attaching a private interpretation to this, let us simply repeat the words of Gabriel as he explained the prophet's vision. He said, "The ram whom thou sawest to possess two horns is the king of the Medes and Persians." This was, of course, Darius the son of Arsames, in whose reign the kingdom of the Medes and Persians was destroyed. "There was in addition a he-goat, who was coming from the west," and because of his extraordinary speed he appeared not to touch the ground. This was Alexander, the king of the Greeks, who after the overthrow of Thebes took up arms against the Persians. Commencing the conflict at the Granicus River, he conquered the generals of Darius and finally smashed against the ram himself and broke in pieces his two horns, the Medes and the Persians. Casting him beneath his feet, he subjected both horns to his own authority.
"And (he had) a large horn. ..." refers to the first king, Alexander himself. When he died in Babylon at the age of thirty-two, his four generals rose up in his place and divided his empire among themselves. For Ptolemy, the son of Lagos, seized Egypt; the Philip who was also called Aridaeus (var.: Arius), the (half-) brother of Alexander took over Macedonia; Seleucus Nicanor took over Syria, Babylonia, and all the kingdoms of the East; and Antigonus ruled over Asia Minor. "But (they shall not rise up) with his power" (chap. 8:22), since no one was able to equal the greatness of Alexander himself. "And a long time afterward" there shall arise "a king of Syria who shall be of shameless countenance and shall understand (evil) counsels," even Antiochus Epiphanes, the son of the Seleucus who was also called Philopator.
Verse 9. After he had been a hostage to Rome, and had without the knowledge of the Senate obtained rule by treachery, Antiochus fought with Ptolemy Philometor, that is, "against the South" and against Egypt; and then again "against the East," and against those who were fomenting revolution in Persia. At the last he fought against the Jews and captured Judea, entering into Jerusalem and setting up in the Temple of God the statue of Jupiter Olympius. "...and against the power of heaven," that is, against the children of Israel, who were protected by the assistance of angels. He pushed his arrogance to such an extreme that he subjected the majority of the saints to the worship of idols, as if he would tread the very stars beneath his feet. And thus it came to pass that he held the South and the East, that is, Egypt and Persia, under his sway.
Verses 11, 12. And as for the statement, "And he glorified himself even against the Prince of Power," this means that he lifted himself up against God and persecuted His saints. He even took away the endelekhismos or "continual offering" which was customarily sacrificed in the morning and at even, and he prevailed to the casting down of the "place of His sanctuary." And he did not do this by his own prowess, but only "on account of the sins of the people." And thus it came to pass that truth was prostrated upon the ground, and as the worship of idols flourished, the religion of God suffered an eclipse.
Verse 13. "And I heard one of the saints speaking, and one saint said to another saint (I do not know which one), who was conversing with him." Instead of "another one which one I do not know"
---- the rendering of Symmachus (tini pote) which I too have followed ---- Aquila and Theodotion, and the Septuagint as well, have simply put the Hebrew word (p-l-m-n-y) phelmoni itself. Without specifying the angel's name, I should say that the author indicated some one of the angels or other in a general way.
" 'How long shall be the vision concerning the continual sacrifice and the sin of the desolation that is made, and the sanctuary and the strength be trodden under foot?'"
One angel asks another angel for how long a period the Temple is by the judgment of God to be desolated under the rule of Antiochus, King of Syria, and how long the image of Jupiter is to stand in God's Temple (according to his additional statement: "... and the sanctuary and the strength be trodden under foot?").
Verse 14. And he answered him, " 'Until the evening and the morning, until two thousand three hundred days; and then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.' " If we read the Books of Maccabees and the history of Josephus, we shall find it there recorded that in the one hundred and forty-third year after the Seleucus who first reigned in Syria after the decease of Alexander, Antiochus entered Jerusalem, and after wreaking a general devastation he returned again in the third year and set up the statue of Jupiter in the Temple. Up until the time of Judas Macca-baeus, that is, up until the one hundred and eighth year, Jerusalem lay waste over a period of six years, and for three years the Temple lay defiled; making up a total of two thousand three hundred days plus three months. At the end of the period the Temple was purged. Some authorities read two hundred instead of two thousand three hundred, in order to avoid the apparent excess involved in six years and three months. Most of our commentators refer this passage to the Antichrist, and hold that that which occurred under Antiochus was only by way of a type which shall be fulfilled under Antichrist. And as for the statement, "The sanctuary shall be cleansed," this refers to the time of Judas Maccabaeus, who came from the village of Modin, and who being aided by the efforts of his brothers and relatives and many of the Jewish people the generals of Antiochus not far above Emmaus (which is now called Nicopolis). And hearing of this, Antiochus, who had risen up against the Prince of princes, that is, against the Lord of lords and King of kings, was earnestly desirous of despoiling the temple of Diana which was located in Elimais, in the Persian district, because it possessed valuable votive offerings. And when he there lost his army, he was destroyed without hands, that is to say, he died of grief. As for the mention of evening and morning, this signifies the succession of day and night.
Verse 15. "And it came to pass that when I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it."
He beheld the vision by way of a picture or likeness, and he failed to understand it. Consequently, not everyone who sees comprehends what he has seen; it is just as if we read the Holy Scripture with our eyes and do not understand it with our heart,
".. .And behold, one stood before me who resembled the appearance of a man."
Angels, after all, are not actually men by nature, but they resemble men in appearance. For example, three persons appeared as men to Abraham at the oak of Mamre (Gen. 18), and yet they certainly were not men, for one of them was worshipped as the Lord. And so the Savior also stated in the Gospel: "Abraham beheld My day; he beheld it and rejoiced" (John 8:56).
Verses 16, 17. "And I heard the voice of a man in the midst of the Ulai, and he cried out and said: 'Gabriel, make this vision intelligible.' And he came and stood near to where I was standing." The Jews claim that this man who directed Gabriel to explain the vision to Daniel was Michael. Quite appropriately it was Gabriel, who has been put in charge of battles, to whom this duty was assigned, inasmuch as the vision had to do with battles and contests between kings and even between kingdoms themselves. For Gabriel is translated into our language as "the strength of, or the mighty one of, God." And so at that time also when the Lord was about to be born and to declare war against the demons and to triumph over the world, Gabriel came to Zacharias and to Mary (Luke 1). And then we read in the Psalms concerning the Lord in His triumph: "Who is this king of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle; He is the King of glory" (Ps. 23:8=24:8). But whenever it is medicine or healing that is needed, it is Raphael who is sent, for his name is rendered as "the healing of," or "the medicine of God"---- that is, if one cares to accept the authority of the Book of Tobias. And then, when favorable promises are made to the people, and hilasmos, which we might render as "propitiation" or "expiation," is the thing required, then it is Michael who is directed to go, for his name means, "Who is like God?" Of course the significance of the name indicates the fact that the only true remedy is to be found in God.
"And he said to me: 'Son of man, understand that in the time of the end the vision shall be fulfilled.'" Inasmuch as Ezekiel and Daniel and Zechariah behold themselves to be often in the company of angels, they were reminded of their frailty, lest they should be lifted up in pride and imagine themselves to partake of the nature or dignity of angels. Therefore they are addressed as sons of men, in order that they might realize that they are but human beings.
Verses 18, 19. "And he touched me and stood me upon my feet, and said to me. .. ." Overcome with terror, the prophet was lying on the ground face downward upon his hands and knees, but at the angel's touch he was raised up to a standing position in order that he might without perturbation attend to and understand what was spoken.
Verse 26. "Thou therefore seal up the vision, because it shall come to pass after many days." Having explained the vision which we have examined above to the best of our ability, the angel Gabriel adds at the end: "Thou therefore seal up the vision, because it shall come to pass after many days." By the mention of a seal, he showed that the things spoken were of a hidden character and not accessible to the ears of the multitude, or susceptible of comprehension prior to their actual fulfilment by the events themselves.
Verse 27. "And I, Daniel, languished and was sick for some days. And when I rose from my bed, I performed the king's tasks." This is the same thing as we read in Genesis about Abraham, for after he had heard the Lord speaking to him, he averred that he was but dust and ashes (Gen. 18). And so Daniel states that he languished as a reaction to the horror of the vision, and suffered illness. And after he had risen from his sick-bed, he says he performed the tasks assigned to him by the king, rendering to all men all that was due them and bearing in mind the gospel principle: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Luke 20:25).
"And I was amazed at the vision, and there was no one who could interpret it." If there was no one who could interpret it, how was it that the angel interpreted it in the previous passage? What he means is that he had heard mention of kings and did not know what their names were; he learned of things to come, but he was tossed about with uncertainty as to what time they would come to pass. And so he did the only thing he could do: he marveled at the vision, and resigned everything to God's omniscience.
Verses 1, 2. "In the first year of the Darius who was the son of Ahasuerus of the race of the Medes and who reigned over the kingdom of the Chaldeans, in the first year of his reign. ..." This is the Darius who in cooperation with Cyrus conquered the Chaldeans and Babylonians. We are not to think of that other Darius in the second year of whose reign the Temple was built (as Porphyry supposes in making out a late date for Daniel); nor are we to think of the Darius who was vanquished by Alexander, the king of the Macedonians. He therefore adds the name of his father and also refers to his victory, inasmuch as he was the first of the race of the Medes to overthrow the kingdom of the Chaldeans. He does this to avoid any mistake in the reading which might arise from the similarity of the name.
Verse 2. "I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years concerning which the word of the Lord had come to the prophet Jeremiah, that seventy years would be accomplished for the desolation of Jerusalem." Jeremiah had predicted seventy years for the desolation of the Temple (Jer. 52:29), at the end of which the people would again return to Judaea and build the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. But this fact did not render Daniel careless, but rather encouraged him to pray that God might through his supplications fulfil that which He had graciously promised. Thus he avoided the danger that carelessness might result in pride, and pride cause offense to the Lord. Accordingly we read in Genesis (chap. 9) that prior to the Deluge one hundred and twenty years were appointed for men to come to repentance; and inasmuch as they refused to repent even within so long an interval of time as a hundred years, God did not wait for the remaining twenty years to be fulfilled, but brought on the punishment earlier which He had threatened for a later time. So also Jeremiah is told, on account of the hardness of the heart of the Jewish people: "Pray not for this people, for I will not hearken unto thee" (Jer. 7:16). Samuel also was told: "How long wilt thou mourn over Saul? I also have rejected him" (I Sam. 16:1). (p. 540) And so it was with sackcloth and ashes that Daniel besought the Lord to fulfil what He had promised, not that Daniel lacked faith concerning the future, but rather he would avoid the danger that a feeling of security might produce carelessness, and carelessness produce an offense to God.
Verse 4. "'I beseech Thee, O Lord God, who art mighty and terrible....'" That is, Thou art terrible towards those who despise Thine injunctions.
"'...Who keepest covenant and mercy towards those who love Thee and keep Thy commandments.' " It is not therefore the case that what God promises will come to pass without further ado, but rather, He fulfils His promises towards those who keep His commandments.
Verse 5. " 'We have sinned, we have behaved wickedly and impiously, and we have departed....'" He reviews the sins of the people as if he were personally guilty, on the ground of his being one of the people, just as we read the Apostle does also in his Epistle to the Romans.
Verse 7. " 'Justice belongeth unto Thee, O Lord, but for us there is only confusion of face. .. .'" It is of course just that we suffer what we deserve.
Verse 8. " 'Unto Thee belongeth mercy, O Lord our God, and also propitiation. . . .' " Concerning the same God of Whom he had previously said, "To Thee, O Lord, belongeth justice," he now says (since the Lord is not only just but also merciful): "To Thee belongeth mercy." He says this in order that he might call upon the Judge to show mercy, after His sentence has been imposed.
Verse 11. "'And (the curse) has come upon us drop by drop.'" That is, Thou hast not poured out upon us all of Thy wrath, for we should not have been able to bear it, but Thou hast poured forth a mere droplet of Thy fury, in order that we might return unto Thee once we have been immeshed in Thy snare.
" 'The malediction and the curse which were written in the book of Moses, the servant of God. .. .' " In Deuteronomy we read the curses and blessings of the Lord (Deut. 27), which were afterwards uttered in Mount Gerizim and Ebal upon the righteous and upon the sinners.
Verse 13. "'All this evil has come upon us, and we have not entreated Thy face, O Lord our God, that we might turn back from our iniquities and consider Thy truth.'" Their obduracy was so great that even in the midst of their toils they would not entreat God, and even if they had entreated Him, it would not have been a genuine entreaty, because they had not turned back from their iniquities. Yet to consider the truth of God is equivalent to turning back from iniquity.
Verse 14. " 'And the Lord hath kept watch over the evil and hath brought it upon us. .. .'" Whenever we are rebuked because of our sins, God is keeping watch over us and visiting us with chastenment. But whenever we are left alone by God and we do not suffer judgment but are unworthy of the Lord's rebuke, then He is said to slumber. And so we read in the Psalms as well: "The Lord has risen up as one (B) who was slumbering or as a man out of a drunken sleep" (Ps. 77=78). For our wickedness and iniquity inflames God with wine, and whenever it is rebuked in our case, God is said to be keeping careful watch and to be rising up out of His drunken sleep, in order that we who are drunken with sin may be made to pay careful heed unto righteousness.
Verse 15. "'And now, O Lord our God....'" Daniel remembers God's ancient kindness in order that he may appeal to Him for a similar act of clemency.
Verse 17. "'And show Thy face upon Thy sanctuary, which lies desolate.'" By deed fulfil that which Thou hast promised in word, for the approximate period of desolation has elapsed.
Verse 18. "For Thine own sake, O my God, incline Thine ear and hear; open Thine eyes and behold our desolation ...." This appeal is couched in anthropomorphic language (anthropopathos), with the implication that whenever our prayers are heard, God seems to incline His ear; and whenever God deigns to have regard to us, He appears to open His eyes; but whenever He turns His face away, we appear to be unworthy of attention either from His eyes or His ears.
Verse 20. "Now while I was yet speaking and praying and confessing my sins and the sins of my people, Israel, so as to present my petitions in the presence of my God on behalf of the holy mountain of my God. ..." And so, as we have pointed out above, he not only thought upon the sins of the people but also upon his own sins, as being one of the people. Or else it was by way of humility, although he had not personally committed sin; his purpose being to obtain pardon by reason of his humility. Observe what he said here: "I was confessing my sins." For there are many passages in Scripture where confession does not imply an expression of repentance so much as an expression of praise to God.
Verse 21. "While I was still speaking in my prayer, behold the man Gabriel, whom I had seen at the beginning of the vision." He calls the previous vision preceding this one the beginning. The effect of his prayer was considerable, and the promise of God was fulfilled which says, "While thou art yet speaking, lo, I am at hand" (Isa. 58:9). And Gabriel appears not as an angel or archangel, but as a man (vir), a term used to indicate the quality of virtue rather than specifying his sex.
". . .he quickly flew to me and touched me at the time of the evening sacrifice." It is stated that he flew, because he had made his appearance as a man. It is said that it was at the time of the evening sacrifice, in order to show that the prophet's prayer had persisted from the morning sacrifice even unto the evening sacrifice, and that God for that reason directed His mercy towards him.
Verse 22. "And He instructed me and spoke to me, saying. ..." The vision was so obscure that the prophet needed the angel's teaching.
" '.. .Now, 0 Daniel, I have come forth that I may instruct thee and that thou mayest understand.'" That is, I have been sent to thee and have come forth, not from the presence of God in the sense of departing from Him, but only in the sense of coming unto thee.
Verse 23. " 'From the very beginning of thy prayers the word went forth and I myself have come to show it to thee, because thou art a man of desires.'" That is, at the time when thou didst begin to ask God, thou didst straightway obtain His mercy, and His decision was put forth. I have therefore been sent to explain to thee the things of which thou art ignorant, inasmuch as thou art a man of desires, that is to say a lovable man, worthy of God's love ---- even as Solomon was called Idida (var: Jedida) or "man of desires." I have been sent because thou art worthy, in recompense for thine affection for God, to be told the secret counsels of God and to have a knowledge of things to come.
" 'Thou therefore pay heed to the word and understand the vision.' " Thus Daniel is told, "Pay diligent heed, in order that thou mayest hear and understand what thou seest." We too should do this, for our eyes have been blinded by the shadows of ignorance and the darkness of sins.
Verses 24----27. " 'Seventy weeks are shortened upon thy people and upon thy holy city, that transgression may be finished, and sin may have an end, and iniquity may be abolished, and everlasting justice may be brought to bear, and that the vision and prophecy may be fulfilled that the Holy One of the saints may be anointed. Know therefore and take note that from the going forth of the word to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ the prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, and the street shall be built again, and the walls, in distressing times. And after sixty-two weeks Christ shall be slain, and ( the people that shall deny Him) shall not be His. And a people, with their leader that shall come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. And the end thereof shall be devastation, and after the end of the war there shall be the appointed desolation. And he shall confirm the covenant with many in one week; and in the middle of the week both victim and sacrifice shall fail. And there shall be in the Temple the abomination of desolation, and the desolation shall continue even unto the consummation and the end.' "
Because the prophet had said, "Thou didst lead forth Thy people, and Thy name was pronounced upon Thy city and upon Thy people," Gabriel therefore, as the mouthpiece of God, says by implication: "By no means are they God's people, but only thy people; nor is Jerusalem the holy city of God, but it is only a holy city unto thee, as thou sayest." This is similar to what we read in Exodus also, when God says to Moses, "Descend, for thy people have committed sin" (Ex. 32:7). That is to say, they are not My people, for they have forsaken Me. And so, because thou dost supplicate for Jerusalem and prayest for the people of the Jews, hearken unto that which shall befall thy people in seventy weeks of years, and those things which will happen to thy city.
I realize that this question has been argued over in various ways by men of greatest learning, and that each of them has expressed his views according to the capacity of his own genius. And so, because it is unsafe to pass judgment upon the opinions of the great teachers of the Church and to set one above another, I shall simply repeat the view of each, and leave it to the reader's judgment as to whose explanation ought to be followed. In the fifth volume of his Tempora, Africanus has this to say concerning the seventy weeks (and I quote him verbatim): "The chapter which we read in Daniel concerning the seventy weeks contains many remarkable details, which require too lengthy a discussion at this point; and so we must discuss only what pertains to our present task, namely that which concerns chronology. There is no doubt but what it constitutes a prediction of Christ's advent, for He appeared to the world at the end of seventy weeks. After Him the crimes were consummated and sin reached its end and iniquity was destroyed. An eternal righteousness also was proclaimed which overcame the mere righteousness of the law; and the vision and the prophecy were fulfilled, inasmuch as the Law and the Prophets endured until the time of John the Baptist (Luke 16), and then the Saint of saints was anointed. And all these things were the objects of hope, prior to Christ's incarnation, rather than the objects of actual possession. Now the angel himself specified seventy weeks of years, that is to say, four hundred and ninety years from the issuing of the word that the petition be granted and that Jerusalem be rebuilt. The specified interval began in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, King of the Persians; for it was his cupbearer, Nehemiah (Neh. 1), who, as we read in the book of Ezra, petitioned the king and obtained his request that Jerusalem be rebuilt. And this was the word, or decree, which granted permission for the construction of the city and its encompassment with walls; for up until that time it had lain open to the incursions of the surrounding nations. But if one points to the command of King Cyrus, who granted to all who desired it permission to return to Jerusalem, the fact of the matter is that the high priest Jesus and Zerubbabel, and later on the priest Ezra, together with the others who had been willing to set forth from Babylon with them, only made an abortive attempt to construct the Temple and the city with its walls, but were prevented by the surrounding nations from completing the task, on the pretext that the king had not so ordered. And thus the work remained incomplete until Nehemiah's time and the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes. Hence the captivity lasted for seventy years prior to the Persian rule. At this period in the Persian Empire a hundred and fifteen years had elapsed since its inception, but it was the one hundred and eighty-fifth year from the captivity of Jerusalem when Artaxerxes first gave orders for the walls of Jerusalem to be built. Nehemiah was in charge of this undertaking, and the street was built and the surrounding walls were erected. Now if you compute seventy weeks of years from that date, you can come out to the time of Christ. But if we wish to take any other date as the starting point for these weeks, then the dates will show a discrepancy and we shall encounter many difficulties. For if the seventy weeks are computed from the time of Cyrus and his decree of indulgence which effectuated the release of the Jewish captives, then we shall encounter a deficit of a hundred years and more short of the stated number of seventy weeks. If we reckon from the day when the angel spoke to Daniel, the deficit would be much greater. An even greater number of years is added, if you wish to put the beginning of the weeks at the commencement of the captivity. For the kingdom of the Persians endured for two hundred and thirty years until the rise of the Macedonian kingdom; then the Macedonians themselves reigned for three hundred years. From that date until the sixteenth (i.e., the fifteenth) year of Tiberius Caesar, when Christ suffered death, is an interval of sixty years. All of these years added together come to the number of five hundred and ninety, with the result that a hundred years remain to be accounted for. On the other hand, the interval from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes to the time of Christ completes the figure of seventy weeks, if we reckon according to the lunar computation of the Hebrews, who did not number their months according to the movement of the sun, but rather according to the moon. For the interval from the one hundred fiftieth year of the Persian Empire, when Artaxerxes, as king thereof, attained the twentieth year of his reign (and this was the fourth year of the eighty-third Olympiad), up until the two hundred and second Olympiad (for it was the second year of that Olympiad which was the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar) comes out to be the grand total of four hundred seventy-five years. This would result in four hundred ninety Hebrew years, reckoning according to the lunar months as we have suggested. For according to their computation, these years can be made up of months of twenty-nine (variant: twenty-eight) and a half days each. This means that the sun, during a period of four hundred ninety years, completes its revolution in three hundred sixty-five days and a quarter, and this amounts to twelve lunar months for each individual year, with eleven and a fourth days left over to spare. Consequently the Greeks and Jews over a period of eight years insert three intercalary months (embolimoi). For if you will multiply eleven and a quarter days by eight, you will come out to ninety days, which equal three months. Now if you divide the eight-year periods into four hundred seventy-five years, your quotient will be fifty-nine plus three months. These fifty-nine plus eight-year periods produce enough intercalary months to make up fifteen years, more or less; and if you will add these fifteen years to the four hundred seventy-five years, you will come out to seventy weeks of years, that is, a total of four hundred and ninety years."
Africanus has expressed his views in these very words which we have copied out. Let us pass on to Eusebius Pamphili, who in the eighth book of his Euangelike Apodeixis ventures some such conjecture as this: "It does not seem to me that the seventy weeks have been divided up without purpose, in that seven is mentioned first, and then sixty-two, and then a last week is added, which in turn is itself divided into two parts. For it is written: 'Thou shalt know and understand that from the issuing of the word (command) that the petition be granted and Jerusalem be built until Christ the Prince there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.' And after the rest which he relates in the intervening section, he states at the end: 'He shall confirm a testimony (covenant) with many during one week.' It is clear that the angel did not detail these things in his reply to no purpose or apart from the inspiration of God. This observation seems to require some cautious and careful reasoning, so that the reader may pay diligent attention and inquire into the cause for this division (variant: vision). But if we must express our own opinion, in conformity with the rest of the interpretation which concerns this present context, in the angel's statement: 'From the issuing of the word that the petition be granted and that Jerusalem be built, until the time of Christ the Prince,' we are only to think of other princes who had charge of the Jewish people subsequent to this prophecy and subsequent to the return from Babylon. That is to say, we are to think of the arkhiereis [high priests] and pontiffs to whom the Scripture attaches the title of christs, by reason of the fact that they have been anointed. The first of these was Jesus [Jeshua] the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and then the rest who had that office up until the time of the advent of our Lord and Savior. And it is these who are intended by the prophet's prediction when it states: 'From the issuing of the word that the petition be granted and Jerusalem be built even unto Christ the Prince there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks.' That is to say, the purpose is that seven weeks be counted off, and then afterward sixty-two weeks, which come to a total of four hundred and eighty-three years after the time of Cyrus. And lest we appear to be putting forth a mere conjecture too rashly and without testing the truth of our statements, let us reckon up those who bore office as christs over the people from the time of Jeshua, the son of Jehozadak, until the advent of the Lord; that is to say, those who were anointed for the high priesthood. First, then, as we have already stated, subsequent to Daniel's prophecy, which occurred in the reign of Cyrus, and subsequent to the return of the people from Babylon, Jeshua the son of Jehozadak was the high priest, and together with Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, they laid the foundations of the temple. And because the undertaking was hindered by the Samaritans and the other surrounding nations, seven weeks of years elapsed (that is to say, forty-nine years), during which the work on the temple remained unfinished. These weeks are separated by the prophecy from the remaining sixty-two weeks. And lastly, the Jews also followed this view when they said to the Lord in the Gospel-narrative: 'This temple was built over a period of forty-six years, and shalt thou raise it up in three days' (John 2:20). For this was the number of years which elapsed between the first year of Cyrus, who granted to those Jews who so desired the permission to return to their fatherland, and the sixth year of King Darius, in whose reign the entire work upon the temple was finished. Furthermore Josephus added on three more years, during which the periboloi (precincts) and certain other construction left undone were brought to completion; and when these are added to the forty-six years, they come out to forty-nine years, or seven weeks of years. And the remaining sixty-two weeks are computed from the seventh year of Darius. At that time Jeshua the son of Jehozadak, and Zerubbabel (who had already reached his majority) were in charge of the people, and it was in their time that Haggai and Zechariah prophesied. After them came Ezra and Nehemiah from Babylon and constructed the walls of the city during the high priesthood of Joiakim, son of Jeshua, who had the surname of Jehozadak. After him Eliashib succeeded to the priesthood, then Joiada and Johanan after him. Following him there was Jaddua, in whose lifetime Alexander, the king of the Macedonians, founded Alexandria, as Josephus relates in his books of the Antiquities, and actually came to Jerusalem and offered blood-sacrifices in the Temple. Now Alexander died in the one hundred and thirteenth Olympiad, in the two hundred thirty-sixth year of the Persian Empire, which in turn had begun in the first year of the fifty-fifth Olympiad. That was the date when Cyrus, King of the Persians, conquered the Babylonians and Chaldeans. After the death of the priest Jaddua, who had been in charge of the temple in Alexander's reign, Onias received the high priesthood. It was at this period that Seleucus, after the conquest of Babylon, placed upon his own head the crown of all Syria and Asia, in the twelfth year after Alexander's death. Up to that time the years which had elapsed since the rule of Cyrus, when computed together, were two hundred and forty-eight. From that date the Scripture of the Maccabees computes the kingdom of the Greeks. Following Onias, the high priest Eleazar became head of the Jews. That was the period when the Seventy translators (Septuaginta interpretes) are said to have translated the Holy Scriptures into Greek at Alexandria. After him came Onias II, who was followed by Simon, who ruled over the people when Jesus the son of Sirach wrote the book which bears the Greek title of Panaretos ("A Completely Virtuous Man"), and which is by most people falsely attributed to Solomon. Another Onias followed him in the high priesthood, and that was the period when Antiochus was trying to force the Jews to sacrifice to the gods of the Gentiles. After the death of Onias, Judas Maccabaeus cleansed the Temple and smashed to bits the statues of the idols. His brother Jonathan followed him, and after Jonathan their brother Simon governed the people. By his death the two hundred and seventy-seventh year of the Syrian kingdom had elapsed, and the First Book of Maccabees contains a record of events up to that time. And so the total number of years from the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia, until the end of the First Book of Maccabees and the death of the high priest Simon is four hundred twenty-five. After him John occupied the high priesthood for twenty-nine years, and upon his death Aristobulus became head of the people for a year and was the first man after the return from Babylon to associate with the dignity of high priesthood the authority of kingship. His successor was Alexander, who likewise was high priest and king, and who governed the people for twenty-seven years. Up to this point, the number of years from the first year of Cyrus and the return of the captives who desired to come back to Judaea is to be computed at four hundred and eighty-three. This total is made up of the seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks, or sixty-nine weeks altogether. And during this whole period high priests ruled over the Jewish people, and I now believe that they are those referred to as christ-princes. And when the last of them, Alexander, had died, the Jewish nation was rent in this direction and that into various factions, and was harrassed by internal seditions in its leaderless condition; and that too to such an extent that Alexandra, who was also called Salina, and who was the wife of the same Alexander, seized power and kept the high priesthood for her son, Hyrcanus. But she passed on the royal power to her other son, Aristobulus, and he exercised it for ten years. But when the brothers fought with each other in civil war and the Jewish nation was drawn into various factions, then Gnaeus Pompey, the general of the Roman army, came upon the scene. Having captured Jerusalem, he penetrated even to the shrine in the temple which was called the Holy of holies. He sent Aristobulus back to Rome in chains, keeping him for his triumphal procession, and then he gave the high priesthood to his brother, Hyrcanus. Then for the first time the Jewish nation became tributary to the Romans. Succeeding him, Herod, the son of Antipater, received the royal authority over the Jews by senatorial decree, after Hyrcanus had been killed; and so he was the first foreigner to become governor of the Jews. Moreover when his parents had died, he handed over the high priesthood to his children, even though they were non-Jews, utterly contrary to the law of Moses. Nor did he entrust the office to them for long, except upon their granting him favors and bribes, for he despised the commands of God's law."
The same Eusebius offered another explanation also, and if we wanted to translate it into Latin, we should greatly expand the size of this book. And so the sense of his interpretation is this, that the number of years from the sixth year of Darius, who reigned after Cyrus and his son, Cambyses, ---- and this was the date when the work on the temple was completed ---- until the time of Herod and Caesar Augustus is reckoned to be seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks, which make a total of four hundred eighty-three years. That was the date when the christ, that is to say, Hyrcanus, being the last high priest of the Maccabaean line, was murdered by Herod, and the succession of high priests came to an end, so far as the law of God was concerned. It was then also that a Roman army under the leadership of a Roman general devastated both the city and the sanctuary itself. Or else it was Herod himself who committed the devastation, after he had through the Romans appropriated to himself a governmental authority to which he had no right. And as for the angel's statement, "For he shall establish a compact with many for one week (variant: "a compact for many weeks"), and in the midst of the week the sacrifice and offering shall cease," it is to be understood in this way, that Christ was born while Herod was reigning in Judaea and Augustus in Rome, and He preached the Gospel for three years and six months, according to John the Evangelist. And he established the worship of the true God with many people, undoubtedly meaning the Apostles and believers generally. And then, after our Lord's passion, the sacrifice and offering ceased in the middle of the week. For whatever took place in the Temple after that date was not a valid sacrifice to God but a mere worship of the devil, while they all cried out together, "His blood be upon us and upon our children" (Matt. 27:25); and again, "We have no king but Caesar." Any reader who is interested may look up this passage in the Chronicle of this same Eusebius, for I translated it into Latin many years ago. But as for his statement that the number of years to be reckoned from the completion of the temple to the tenth year of the Emperor Augustus, that is, when Hyrcanus was slain and Herod obtained Judaea, amounts to a total of seven plus sixty-two weeks, or four hundred eighty-three years, we may check it in the following fashion. The building of the temple was finished in the seventy-sixth (here and in the other place read: "sixty-seventh" ---- Migne) Olympiad, which was the sixth year of Darius. In the third year of the one hundred and eighty-sixth Olympiad, that is, the tenth year of Augustus, Herod seized the rule over the Jews. This makes the interval four hundred and eighty-three years, reckoning up by the individual Olympiads and computing them at four years each. This same Eusebius reports another view as well, which I do not entirely reject , that most authorities extend the one week of years to the sum of seventy years, reckoning each year as a ten-year period. They also claim that thirty-five years intervened between the passion of the Lord and the reign of Nero, and that it was at this latter date when the weapons of Rome were first lifted up against the Jews, this being the half-way point of the week of seventy years. After that, indeed, from the time of Vespasian and Titus (and it was right after their accession to power that Jerusalem and the temple were burned) up to the reign of Trajan another thirty-five years elapsed. And this, they assert, was the week of which the angel said to Daniel: "And he shall establish a compact with many for one week." For the Gospel was preached by the Apostles all over the world, since they survived even unto that late date. According to the tradition of the church historians, John the Evangelist lived up to the time of Trajan. Yet I am at a loss to know how we can understand the earlier seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks to involve seven years each, and just this last one to involve ten years for each unit of the seven, or seventy years in all.
So much for Eusebius. But Hippolytus has expressed the following opinion concerning these same weeks: he reckons the seven weeks as prior to the return of the people from Babylon, and the sixty-two weeks as subsequent to their return and extending to the birth of Christ. But the dates do not agree at all. If indeed the duration of the Persian Empire be reckoned at two hundred and thirty years, and the Macedonian Empire at three hundred, and the period thereafter up to the birth of the Lord be thirty years, then the total from the beginning of the reign of Cyrus, King of the Persians, until the advent of the Savior will be five hundred and sixty years. Moreover Hippolytus places the final week at the end of the world and divides it into the period of Elias and the period of Antichrist, so that during the [first] three and a half years of the last week the knowledge of God is established. And as for the statement, "He shall establish a compact with many for a week" (Dan. 9:27), during the other three years under the Antichrist the sacrifice and offering shall cease. But when Christ shall come and shall slay the wicked one by the breath of His mouth, desolation shall hold sway till the end.
On the other hand Apollinarius of Laodicea in his investigation of the problem breaks away from the stream of the past and directs his longing desires towards the future, very unsafely venturing an opinion concerning matters so obscure. And if by any chance those of future generations should not see these predictions of his fulfilled at the time he set, then they will be forced to seek for some other solution and to convict the teacher himself of erroneous interpretation. And so, in order to avoid the appearance of slandering a man as having made a statement he never made, he makes the following assertion ---- and I translate him word for word: "To the period of four hundred and ninety years the wicked deeds are to be confined as well as all the crimes which shall ensue from those deeds. After these shall come the times of blessing, and the world is to be reconciled unto God at the advent of Christ, His Son. For from the coming forth of the Word, when Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, to the forty-ninth year, that is, the end of the seven weeks, [God] waited for Israel to repent. Thereafter, indeed, from the eighth year of Claudius Caesar [i.e., 48 A.D.] onward, the Romans took up arms against the Jews. For it was in His thirtieth year, according to the Evangelist Luke, that the Lord incarnate began His preaching of the Gospel (Luke 1). According to the Evangelist John (John 2 and 11), Christ completed two years over a period of three passovers. The years of Tiberius' reign from that point onward are to be reckoned at six; then there were the four years of the reign of Gaius Caesar, surnamed Caligula, and eight more years in the reign of Claudius. This makes a total of forty-nine years, or the equivalent of seven weeks of years. But when four hundred thirty-four years shall have elapsed after that date, that is to say, the sixty-two weeks, then Jerusalem and the Temple shall be rebuilt during three and a half years within the final week, beginning with the advent of Elias, who according to the dictum of our Lord and Savior (Luke 1) is going to come and turn back the hearts of the fathers towards their children. And then the Antichrist shall come, and according to the Apostle he is going to sit in the temple of God (II Thess. 2) and be slain by the breath of our Lord and Savior after he has waged war against the saints. And thus it shall come to pass that the middle of the week shall mark the confirmation of God's covenant with the saints, and the middle of the week in turn shall mark the issuing of the decree under the authority of Antichrist that no more sacrifices be offered. For the Antichrist shall set up the abomination of desolation, that is, an idol or statue of his own god, within the Temple. Then shall ensue the final devastation and the condemnation of the Jewish people, who after their rejection of Christ's truth shall embrace the lie of the Antichrist. Moreover this same Apollinarius asserts that he conceived this idea about the proper dating from the fact that Africanus, the author of the Tempora, whose explanation I have inserted above, affirms that the final week will occur at the end of the world. Yet, says Apollinarius, it is impossible that periods so linked together be wrenched apart, but rather the time-segments must all be joined together in conformity with Daniel's prophecy.
The learned scholar Clement, presbyter of the church at Alexandria, regards the number of years as a matter of slight consequence, asserting that the seventy weeks of years were completed by the span of time from the reign of Cyrus, King of the Persians, to the reign of the Roman emperors, Vespasian and Titus; that is to say, the interval of four hundred and ninety years, with the addition in that same figure of the two thousand three hundred days of which we made earlier mention. He attempts to reckon in these seventy weeks the ages of the Persians, Macedonians, and Caesars, even though according to the most careful computation, the number of years from the first year of Cyrus, King of the Persians and Medes, when Darius also bore rule, up to the reign of Vespasian and the destruction of the Temple amounts to six hundred and thirty.
When Origen came to deal with this chapter, he urged us to seek out what information we do not possess; and because he had no leeway for allegorical interpretation, in which one may argue without constraint, but rather was restricted to matters of historical fact, he made this brief observation in the tenth volume of the Stromata: "We must quite carefully ascertain the amount of time between the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, and the advent of Christ, and discover how many years were involved, and what events are said to have occurred during them. Then we must see whether we can fit these data in with the time of the Lord's coming."
We may learn what Tertullian had to say on the subject by consulting the book which he wrote against the Jews (Contra Judaeos), and his remarks may be set forth in brief: "How, then, are we to show that Christ came within the sixty-two weeks? This calculation begins with the first year of Darius, since that was the time when the vision itself was revealed to Daniel. For he was told: 'Understand and conclude from the prophesying of the command for me to give thee this reply. ...' Hence we are to commence our computation with the first year of Darius, when Daniel beheld this vision. Let us see, then, how the years are fulfilled up to the advent of Christ. Darius reigned nineteen years; Artaxerxes forty years; the Ochus who was surnamed Cyrus twenty-four years; Argus, one year. Then Darius II, who was called Melas, twenty-one years. Alexander the Macedonian reigned twelve years. And then after Alexander (who had ruled over both the Medes and the Persians, after he had conquered them, and had established his rule in Alexandria, calling it after his own name), Soter reigned there in Alexandria for thirty-five years, and was succeeded by Philadelphus, who reigned for thirty-eight years. After him Euergetes reigned for twenty-five years, and then Philopator for seventeen years, followed by Epiphanes for twenty-four years. Furthermore the second Euergetes ruled for twenty and nine years, and Soter for thirty-eight years. Ptolemy for thirty-seven years, and Cleopatra for twenty years and five months. Furthermore Cleopatra shared the rule with Augustus for thirteen years. After Cleopatra Augustus reigned forty-three years more. For all of the years of the reign of Augustus were fifty-six in number. And let us see (variant: we see) that in the forty-first year of the reign of Augustus, who ruled after the death of Cleopatra, Christ was born. And this same Augustus lived on for fifteen years after the time when Christ was born. And so the resultant periods of years up to the day of Christ's birth and the forty-first year of Augustus, after the death of Cleopatra, come to the total figure of four hundred and thirty-seven years and five months. This means that sixty-two and a half weeks were used up, or the equivalent of four hundred and thirty-seven years and six months, by the day when Christ was born. Then eternal righteousness was revealed, and the Saint of saints was anointed, namely Christ, and the vision and prophecy were sealed, and those sins were remitted which are allowed through faith in Christ's name to all who believe in Him." But what is the meaning of the statement that the "vision and prophecy are confirmed by a seal"? It means that all the prophets made proclamation concerning Himself, saying that He was going to come and that He would have to suffer. Hence we read shortly thereafter in this Tertullian passage, "The years were fifty-six in number; furthermore, Cleopatra continued to reign jointly under Augustus...." It was because the prophecy was fulfilled by His advent that the vision was confirmed by a seal; and it was called a prophecy because Christ Himself is the seal of all the prophets, fulfilling as He did all that the prophets had previously declared concerning Him. Of course after His advent and His passion (variant; the passion of Christ), there is no longer any vision or prophecy (variant: or prophet) which declares that Christ will come . And then a little later Tertullian says, "Let us see what is the meaning of the seven and a half weeks, which in turn are divided up into a subsection of earlier weeks; by what transaction were they fulfilled? Well, after Augustus, who lived on after Christ's birth, fifteen years elapsed. He was succeeded by Tiberius Caesar, and he held sway for twenty-two years, seven months and twenty-eight days. In the fifteenth year of his reign Christ suffered, being about thirty-three when He suffered. Then there was Gaius Caesar, also named Caligula, who reigned for three years, eight months and thirteen days. Nero reigned for nine years, nine months and thirteen days. Galba ruled for seven months and twenty-eight days; Otho for three months and five days; and Vitellius for eight months and twenty-eight days. Vespasian vanquished the Jews in the first year of his reign, bringing the number of years to a total of fifty-two, plus six months. For he ruled for eleven years, and so by the date of his storming Jerusalem, the Jews had completed the seventy weeks foretold by Daniel."
As for the view which the Hebrews hold concerning this passage, I shall set it forth summarily and within a brief compass, leaving the credibility of their assertions to those who asserted them. And so let me put it in the form of a paraphrase (paraphrastikds) in order to bring out the sense more clearly. "O Daniel, know that from this day on which I now speak to thee (and that was the first year of the Darius who slew Belshazzar and transferred the Chaldean Empire to the Medes and Persians) unto the seventieth week of years (that is, four hundred and ninety years) the following events shall befall thy people in stages. First of all, God shall be appeased by thee in view of the earnest intercession thou hast just offered Him, and sin shall be canceled out and the transgression shall come to an end. For although the city at present lies deserted and the Temple lies destroyed to its very foundations, so that the nation is plunged into mourning, yet within a fairly short time it shall be restored. And not only shall it come to pass within these seventy weeks that the city shall be rebuilt and the Temple restored, but also the Christ, who is the eternal righteousness, shall be born. And so shall the vision and the prophecy be sealed, with the result that there shall be no more any prophet to be found in Israel, and the Saint of saints shall be anointed. We read concerning Him in the Psalter: 'Because God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows' (Ps. 44:8 =45:7). And in another passage He says of Himself: 'Be ye holy, for I also am holy' (Lev. 19:2). Know therefore that from this day on which I speak to thee and make thee the promise by the word of the Lord that the nation shall return and Jerusalem shall be restored, there shall be sixty-two weeks numbered unto the time of Christ the Prince and of the perpetual desolation of the Temple; and that there shall also be seven weeks in which the two events shall take place which I have already mentioned, namely that the nation shall return and the street shall be rebuilt by Nehemiah and Ezra. And so at the end of the weeks the decree of God shall be accomplished in distressing times, when the Temple shall again be destroyed, and the city taken captive. For after the sixty-two weeks the Christ shall be slain, and the nation who shall reject Him shall go out of existence" ---- or, as the Jews themselves put it, the kingdom of Christ which they imagined they would retain shall not even be. And why do I speak of the slaying of Christ, and of the nation's utter forfeiture of God's help, since the Roman people were going to demolish the city and sanctuary under Vespasian, the leader who was to come? Upon his death the seven weeks or forty-nine years were complete, and after the city of Aelia was established upon the ruins of Jerusalem, Aelius Hadrian vanquished the revolting Jews in their conflict with the general, Timus Rufus. It was at that time that the sacrifice and offering (ceased and) will continue to cease even unto the completion of the age, and the desolation is going to endure until the very end. We are not, say the Jews, greatly impressed by the fact that the seven weeks are mentioned first, and afterwards the sixty-two, and again a single week divided into two parts. For it is simply the idiomatic usage of the Hebrew language, as well as of antique Latin, that in quoting a figure, the small number is given first and then the larger. For example, we do not, according to good usage say in our language, "Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years"; on the contrary the Hebrews say, "Abraham lived five and seventy and one hundred years". And so the fulfilment is not to follow the literal order of the words, but it shall be accomplished in terms of the whole sum, taken together. I am also well aware that some of the Jews assert that as for the statement about the single week, "He shall establish a covenant with many for one week," the division is between the reigns of Vespasian and Hadrian. According to the history of Josephus, Vespasian and Titus concluded peace with the Jews for three years and six month. And the three years and six months are accounted for in Hadrian's reign, when Jerusalem was completely destroyed and the Jewish nation was massacred in large groups at a time, with the result that they were even expelled from the borders of Judaea. This is what the Hebrews have to say on the subject, paying little attention to the fact that from the first year of Darius, King of the Persians, until the final overthrow of Jerusalem, which befell them under Hadrian, the period involved is a hundred and seventy-four Olympiads or six hundred ninety-six years, which total up to ninety-nine Hebrew weeks plus three years ---- that being the time when Barcochebas, the leader of the Jews, was crushed and Jerusalem was demolished to the very ground.