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The Seventy Weeks CHAPTER VIII
DANIEL'S LAST VISION
We come now to a prophecy (#Dan 10,11,12) which is closely related to that of the Seventy Weeks; and forasmuch as this climax of Daniel's visions throws much light upon those which preceded it, and forasmuch also as it is seldom studied as it should be, we propose to examine it with all possible care. It will be found to contain, particularly in the latter part, matters of much importance because of their bearing upon the subject of prophecy in general.
Before entering upon this interesting part of our study, it would be well to notice the relation, one to another, of the four visions which occupy the last six chapters of the Book of Daniel.
The vision of the four beasts of chapter VII is the most comprehensive of all. It fills the whole period of time from the rise of the Babylonian empire, figured (as commonly shown in Babylonian sculptures which exist until the present) as a lion having eagle's wings, through that of Medo-Persia, then that of Greece, to and including the entire period of the Roman empire down to the very end thereof, when human government as a whole is to be displaced by the Kingdom of God under the sovereignty of the Son of man. In this vision there are references to "the saints of the Most High," who are persecuted under the fourth beast, but the Jewish nation is not seen at all.
The vision of chapter VIII, that of the ram and the he goat, is much more limited in scope, being confined to the period of the Medo-Persian and Greek empires. This is definitely stated in the explanation given by Gabriel (#Da 8:20-25) so that we must needs find the fulfilment of all the details of this prophecy during the Persian and Macedonian eras. It fits into and fills out the broad outline of the preceding vision.
The vision of chapter IX is yet more definite and specific. It too fits into the broad outline of chapter VII, but it has to do mainly with the affairs of Daniel's people and city down to the destruction of the latter and the scattering of the former. The connection between this vision and the last one of the entire series is very close. In fact the additional revelations contained in chapters X, XI and XII were given to Daniel in response to his earnest prayer (#Da 10:12), in order to enlighten him as to matters which were to befall his people during the period of the seventy weeks which had then just begun (for the supplemental vision was "in the third year of Cyrus, King of Persia," (#Da 10:1). A new era of national life for Israel had now begun; and this second term of Jewish history, starting with the return from Babylon in the first year of Cyrus (B.C. 457) is called "the latter days," to distinguish it from the first era of Israel's national existence, which is called "the former days." This will be more fully explained later on. The prophecy of the Seventy Weeks had filled Daniel's soul with grief; for while it foretold the coming of the Messiah, and gave the time thereof, instead of showing that His advent would mean deliverance and prosperity for Daniel's people, it declared that Messiah would be cut off, and that a terrible judgment was to follow. So Daniel mourned and chastened himself for three full weeks, while he set his heart to understand the matter. In response to this desire an angelic being of wondrous beauty and glory was sent to him, who spoke to him, saying: "O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright; for unto thee am I now sent."
By this it clearly appears that this fresh communication from heaven was for the express purpose of enabling Daniel to understand matters concerning his people which had not been disclosed by the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.
Furthermore, upon carefully examining this new communication to Daniel (which occupies chapters XI and XII) it is found to be a complete account, in the form of a continuous historical narrative, of the second period of Jewish national existence, from the reign of Cyrus (when the vision was given) to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies under Titus. And not only so but--and this is a matter of the deepest interest--the fulfilment of every statement in this long prophetic narrative is found to be recorded in histories of indisputable authenticity, which have come down to our day. We, therefore, regard this part of our study (Daniel X, XI and XII) as of exceptional importance and interest. For that reason we would ask special attention to it, and particularly to the exposition of the latter part of chapter XI and first part of chapter XII.
The eleventh chapter of Daniel makes difficult reading for those who are unacquainted with the history of the times to which the prophecy recorded therein relates. The latter part of the chapter has proved difficult also for expositors, among whom there is a wide difference of opinion as to the persons and events referred to. Down to the end of verse 30 there is practical agreement among expositors as to the meaning of the prophecy, and the events by which its several predictions were fulfilled. We are not aware of any sound and competent teacher who does not see, in verses 1-30, the main outlines of Persian history, the rise of Alexander of Macedon, the division of his empire between his four generals, the incessant wars between the Seleucids (kings of Syria, "the north") and the Ptolemies (kings of Egypt, "the south"), and the career of Antiochus Epiphanes--that odious persecutor of the Jews, spoken of as the "vile person" (v. 21). Indeed, so closely does the history of those times correspond with the prophecy, that Porphyry and other infidels have cited that correspondence as proof that the prophecy of Daniel must have been written after the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes.
But there has been a disagreement as to the application of verses 31-35, and as to who is meant by "the people that do know their God," who "understand" and "instruct many." Some of the older commentators, as Bishop Newton, leap over some centuries at this point, and locate the fulfilment in the times of the gospel, making "the people who do know their God," &c. to be the apostles and preachers of our era. But this is quite inadmissible, according to the plain terms of the prophecy itself, as we shall point out. And indeed the great body of competent expositors finds the fulfilment of these verses (31-35) in the doings of that remarkable family of Asmoneans, generally called the Maccabees, who arose for the deliverance of the Jews in the reign of Antiochus, and who faithfully served their people as rulers and priests for 130 years. We shall presently show, by authentic histories of those times, that this part of the prophecy was fulfilled with literal exactitude.
Verse 35 brings us to within half a century of the nativity of Christ, up to which date the prophetic narrative refers, in regular order, to all the main points of Jewish history, passing over nothing of importance. This creates a strong presumption that the prophecy, in its remaining portion, continues to follow the course of Jewish history without any break. For it is impossible to conceive of any reason why the narrative should follow the course of events for the greater part of the period of "the latter days," and then, when the most important events of the period were reached, should abruptly break off and fly away to the remote future, passing over a score of centuries at a single bound.
The strongest magnifying glass fails to reveal the slightest sign of such a remarkable "break." On the contrary, the several clauses of the prophecy at this point (see verses 35 and 36) are directly connected together by the particle "and." If, therefore, the reader, in passing from verse 34 to verse 35 (or, as some say, from verse 35 to verse 36) is carried in the twinkling of an eye across a period of more than two thousand years, there is not a thing in the text to apprise him thereof, or even to suggest such an extraordinary thing. Where those who assert it obtain their information is a deep mystery to us.
We recall again that the one clothed in linen had declared to Daniel that he had come to make him understand what was to befall Daniel's people "in the latter days" (#Da 10:14). The prophecy makes it perfectly clear that the period here designated as "the latter days" is that second term of Jewish history which began at the restoration from Babylon (two years before this vision was given to Daniel in the third year of Cyrus, (#Da 10:1) and ended with the destruction of Jerusalem, and the scattering of the people by Titus, in A.D. 70.
There is little room for doubt as to the meaning of the term "the latter days;" for the angel, after having declared that the purpose of his coming was to inform Daniel of the things which were to happen to his people "in the latter days," began from that very time to tell of the successors of Cyrus on the throne of Persia, of the rise of Alexander the Great, and of events in the reigns of his successors for hundreds of years, next ensuing. This proves conclusively that "the latter days" was this second term of Jewish history following the restoration from Babylon, and makes it impossible to assign any other meaning to it. Moreover, the Scripture contrasts this period with the first period of their history, which it calls "the former days" (#Zec 8:11), just as it distinguishes the prophets of that first period as "the former prophets" (#Zec 1:4; 7:7; 7:12).
It would be strange indeed if an account of "the latter days" of the Jewish people, whether the account were historic or prophetic, were to give with detail the chief events thereof from the very beginning down to about 30 years before the birth of Christ, and then suddenly to break off and fly away to a far distant future, ignoring all those greatest events, and without giving the slightest indication of any interruption in the orderly and continuous flow of the narrative.
Of evidence in support of the idea of such a "break" there is absolutely none. The idea rests upon no other basis than that many modern commentators, being unaware of the historical fulfilment of the latter part of this prophecy (notwithstanding that its fulfilment is marvellously complete and exact, as we hope to show) and ignoring the limitations of the prophecy itself, have surmised and contrived a fulfilment which (they say) will take place at the end of this present gospel dispensation. We expect, in the course of our study of this chapter, to show plainly, not only that there is no evidence whatever for the supposed "break" at verse 35 or 36, but that the idea is altogether inadmissible. THE "THING" REVEALED TO DANIEL
The three visions given to Daniel, all within the space of a few years, (1) that of chapter 8, the Ram and the He Goat, (2) that of chapter 9, the Seventy Weeks, and (3) that of chapter 10-12, "That which is noted in the Scripture of Truth" (#Da 10:21), all relate to events which were to take place in the new term of Jewish national existence, which began with the going forth of the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem in the first year of Cyrus.
1. As to the first vision, the ram with two horns is declared to be "the kings (or kingdom) of Media and Persia;" and the he goat is declared to be "the king (kingdom) of Grecia;" and "the great horn is the first king," i.e., Alexander the Great (#Da 8:20,21). This vision astonished Daniel, and made him sick with distress, but he did not understand it (#Da 8:27).
2. A few years later, that is, in the first year of Darius (#Da 9:1), Daniel became aware of God's purpose, as foretold by Jeremiah, to bring the captivity of Israel to an end after seventy years. This led him to seek the Lord earnestly by prayer, with fasting and ashes, thereby speaking, and praying, and confessing his own sin and the sin of his people, and making supplication for the people, the city, and the sanctuary of God. The response from heaven to this prayer was the coming of Gabriel to Daniel with the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. This prophecy also has to do with the era of the Persian, Greek and Roman empires, down to and including the coming and crucifixion of Christ.
3. The effect of this second vision was to cause still greater distress to Daniel; for although the promised restoration from the captivity of Babylon had come, and the seventy years' desolations of Jerusalem were now ended, here was the prediction that Messiah was to come at a specified time, but instead of being victorious, and setting His people on high over the nations, He was to be "cut off," the city and sanctuary were to be destroyed "as with a flood," and desolations of unmeasured length were determined. Hence we find Daniel, in the third year of Cyrus, mourning three full weeks, during which time he ate no pleasant food, neither did flesh nor wine come into his mouth (#Da 10:1-3).
Again there comes to this devoted man of God a response from heaven in the person of a celestial being, from whose words we learn that the object of Daniel's fasting and praying was that he might be given understanding of the previous visions. For the angel said, "Thy words were heard, and I am come for (because of) thy words .... Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days" (#Da 10:11-14). So this long and detailed prophecy, recorded in chapter 11, was given for the express purpose of making Daniel understand what he had not been able to understand concerning what was to befall his people during the additional term of seventy weeks of national life which had been granted to them.
Thus the great subject of the prophecy is declared to be the history of the people of Israel, for whom Daniel had been interceding. By keeping this fact in view we shall carry along with us a clear light whereby we may be able to explore the terms of this prophecy.
The importance of the "thing" which the angel came to make clear to Daniel is indicated by the pains taken by the former to encourage and strengthen the man greatly beloved, who now was in advanced years, weakened by fasting, and overcome with sorrow (#Da 9:18,19).
We shall now proceed to show the fulfilment of the details of this prophecy. It is not difficult to do this with the help of reliable histories--particularly I and II Maccabees, and Josephus. These are not, of course, inspired writings, but they are authentic and trustworthy histories, which have, in the providence of God, come down to us from ancient times, that by their records the faith of His own people might be encouraged, and that those who reject His Word might be without excuse.
THE PERSIAN ERA
The first four verses of Daniel 11 foretell events which are familiar matters of history. This shows that the prophecy was to have a very literal fulfilment; and it shows also that the fulfilment was to begin from that very time. For verse 2 declares that four more Persian kings were to arise (after Cyrus). It further foretells that the fourth king would be immensely rich, and that he would stir up all his realm against Greece. This was the famous Xerxes, who, after long preparations in every part of his realm, invaded Greece with a huge army and navy, but was ignominiously defeated by land and sea, thus preparing the way for the downfall of the Persian empire (see Anstey's Bible Chronology, p. 239).
ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Verses 3 and 4 predict the rise of a mighty king who should rule with great dominion, and accomplish his will. His kingdom, however, was to be broken and divided into four parts, but not to his own posterity. This was literally accomplished in the career of Alexander the Great, who, after his conquest of Persia and of the world, died without children, and whose vast dominions were divided between his four generals. These did not rule "according to his dominion," for their kingdom was again and again "plucked up, even for others beside themselves." ALEXANDER'S SUCCESSORS
After the partition of Alexander's dominions, the Jewish people came into contact with only two of the four kingdoms which succeeded him--the Seleucids, the kings of Syria ("the king of the north") and the Ptolemies, rulers of Egypt ("the king of the south"). These waged incessant warfare against each other, and the Jews suffered in turn from each.
Verses 5 to 19, inclusive, of Daniel 11 describe the wars and intrigues between the king of the north (Syria) and king of the south (Egypt). (#Da 11:5-19) At first the kings of Egypt prevailed. The prophecy foretold this; for it says, "And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion" (v. 5).
Verse 6 says: "And in the end of years they shall join themselves together"--that is, the king of the north and king of the south shall form a league--"for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm. But she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times."
Answering to this very definite prophecy we have historical records of an alliance between the two rival kingdoms, when Ptolemy Philadelphus gave his daughter Berenice in marriage to Antiochus Theos of Syria, upon condition that he should put away his wife, Laodice. But, as foretold in the prophecy, this league did not last; for Ptolemy died soon after, and then Antiochus put away Berenice, and took back his former wife, who subsequently requited him by procuring his murder, and also the murder of Berenice.
The brother of the latter, Ptolemy Euergetes (referred to in the prophecy as "one out of her roots"), undertook to avenge her death by an invasion of Syria, in which he was successful. This appears to be what is foretold in verses 7, 8 and 9, which tell of one who should "enter into the fortress of the king of the north," and who should "prevail," and should "also carry captives into Egypt, their gods with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold."
ANTIOCHUS THE GREAT
Later on, however, under Antiochus the Great, the Syrians became the more powerful. That monarch prosecuted the war against Egypt with vigour, and at first with some success, as indicated in verse 10. But, as verse 11 foretold, the king of Egypt was moved with fury against him, and defeated him with great loss. Yet, though he "cast down many ten thousands" he was not permanently "strengthened thereby" (v. 12). For, about fourteen years later, Antiochus renewed the war, fulfilling the words: "For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former." In this expedition he was aided by reprobate Jews, spoken of in the prophecy as "robbers of thy people" (vv. 13, 14). For this aid rendered by the Jews Antiochus was, for a time, very favourable to them. When he entered Palestine he was received by them with great demonstrations of joy; and so as foretold, "he stood in the glorious land" (v. 16); but in the end this proved to be a calamity for the Jews, for he fulfilled the words, "And he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed."
Further, in the attempt to accomplish his designs against Egypt, Antiochus gave his daughter Cleopatra in marriage to Ptolemy Epiphanes. But this did not work to his advantage, for she sided with her husband, instead of her father. Reference to this political incident may be seen in the words, "And he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her; but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him" (v. 17). Then he turned to make war against the Romans, but was defeated by Scipio Africanus; after which he returned to his own land, and was slain by his people, who were aroused to fury by the burdensome taxes exacted by him to defray the expenses of his unsuccessful war and the tribute laid upon him by the Romans. It is easily seen that these incidents, which brought the career of Antiochus the Great to a close, respond to the predictions of verse 19.
THE RAISER OF TAXES
In the foregoing paragraphs we have simply condensed the historical information which has been gathered with painstaking care by able expositors, such as Prideaux ("Connection of the Old and New Testaments"), Pusey ("Lectures on Daniel"), Anstey ("Romance of Bible Chronology") and Taylor ("Daniel the Beloved").
There is some uncertainty as to who is meant by "a raiser of taxes" (or, as the margin reads, "one that causeth an exactor to pass over") mentioned in verse 20. Taylor applies this verse to the son of Antiochus, who succeeded him, and who had to raise enormous sums in taxes in order to pay the annual tribute to the Romans, and we may accept this as correct (since we seem to be following here the succession of events in Syria); but a close correspondence to verse 20 is also found in the career of one Jason who "stood up" in Palestine at that time, obtained the high priesthood by bribery, and lost it shortly thereafter (II Maccabees, ch. 4).
ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES. THE "VILE PERSON"
Verse 21 foretells the rising up of a "vile person." Nearly all expositors of repute are agreed that this "vile person" (an expression signifying one greatly abhorred and detested) was Antiochus Epiphanes successor to Antiochus the Great as king of Syria. This odious person occupies a very large place in the prophecy; for verses 21 to 35 are taken up with the foretelling of his abominable actions toward the Jews. In I Maccabees 1:10 he is described as "a wicked root." His deeds of cruelty and sacrilege far surpassed anything the Jews had suffered under previous rulers. Many pages in Maccabees and Josephus are devoted to the history of this tyrannical king, and his ill treatment of the Jews.
In the prophecy (#Da 11:21,23) it was foretold that, "he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.., and after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully." This was fulfilled quite literally, for Josephus relates that the king (Antiochus), having determined to make war on the king of Egypt, "came up to Jerusalem, and, pretending peace, got possession of the city by treachery" (Bk. II, 5, 4). The Cambridge edition of the Bible cites II Maccabees 4:7, 10, 23-31 in connection with the foregoing verses.
Again, according to the prophecy (#Da 11:24), this "vile person," after entering peaceably upon the fattest (i.e., the richest) places of the province, would do "that which his fathers had not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches," etc. In agreement with this is the fact that none of the predecessors of Antiochus had ever interfered in the slightest degree with the worship, laws, or religious observances of the Jews; nor had they ever violated the temple in any way. Thus, in plundering and profaning the temple, and in his acts of cruelty and sacrilege (to which we will refer below), Antiochus Epiphanes did "that which his fathers had not done, nor his fathers' fathers."
Verse 25 of the prophecy foretells this ruler's military expedition against Egypt (II Mac. 5:1). The histories give a full account of this campaign. In fact the Cambridge edition of the Bible, and some others, have in the margin a note on this verse which reads, "Fulfilled B.C. 170."
Verses 28-30 tell of his return in a second expedition against Egypt, and of its failure: "For the ships of Chittim shall come against him. Therefore he shall be grieved (disappointed or made despondent) and return and have indignation against the holy covenant," &c. (#Da 11:28-30) The record of this unsuccessful expedition against Egypt, and of the fury of Antiochus which he proceeded to vent upon the Jews, is given in Maccabees and Josephus. Anstey thus condenses their account."B.C. 168. Popillius met Antiochus Epiphanes four miles from Alexandria, drew a circle round him in the sand, and forced him to cease his war in Egypt. Whereupon Antiochus began his savage persecution of the Jews, which led to the rise of Mattathias and the Maccabees."In the Cambridge Bible verse 28 has a note, "Fulfilled B.C. 169;" and verse 30 a note, "Fulfilled B.C. 168." At verse 31 it cites I Mac. 1:59; II Mac. 6:2. At verse 32 it cites I Mac. 1:62, II Mac. 6'19, 7:1. At verse 34 it cites I Mac. 3:17; 4:8; II Mac. 2:21. And at verse 35 it cites I Mac. 6:12.
This brings us to the climax of the wicked deeds of Antiochus, which the prophecy foretells distinctly, and which the histories record with great detail. We refer to his gross impiety and sacrilege in respect to the temple, the sacrifices, and the religious customs of the Jews. Verse 30 speaks of his coming to an understanding "with them that forsake the holy covenant." For many of the Jews apostatised at that time, forsaking God, and turning against all their religious customs. Thus in I Maccabees 1:41-43 & 52 we read:"Moreover, King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, and everyone should leave his laws. So all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king. Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the Sabbath. Then many of the people were gathered unto them, to wit, every one that forsook the law; and so they committed evils in the land."The fulfilment again is most exact. Verse 31 of Daniel 11 foretold that "Arms shall stand on his part," or more literally, "arms from him shall stand." This was fulfilled by Antiochus' sending an army into Judea (I Mac. 1:29 et seq.).
They also "polluted" at this time the sanctuary of strength and caused the daily sacrifice to be taken away; for it is recorded in I Maccabees 1:44 et seq. that Antiochus sent letters commanding them to follow strange laws, and forbidding "burnt offering and sacrifice, and drink offerings in the temple; and that they should profane the Sabbath and festival days; and pollute the sanctuary of the holy people."
We quote here from Dr. Taylor's well written account of the deeds of this atrocious character:"When he was informed of the satisfaction with which the news of his reported death was received by the Jews, and especially of the attempt made by the rightful high priest to regain his position, he chose to believe that the entire Jewish nation had revolted; and, marching with all haste, he laid siege to Jerusalem and took it, slaying in three days more than forty thousand persons, and taking as many more captives to be sold as slaves. Not content with this, he forced his way into the Temple, entered the very Holy of Holies itself, and caused a great sow to be offered in sacrifice upon the altar of burnt offering, while broth, made from the same unclean flesh, was sprinkled by his order over the sacred precincts for the purpose of defiling them. On his departure he took with him the altar of incense, the golden candlestick, the table of shew bread, and other sacred vessels, to the value of eighteen hundred talents of gold ..... Two years after the commission of these enormities, returning from another invasion of Egypt, where he had been checkmated by the Romans, he vented his disappointment upon the Jews, and detailed his army, twenty two thousand men, under Apollonius, with orders to destroy Jerusalem. On his arrival at the holy city Apollonius conducted himself peaceably, concealing his purpose till the Sabbath; but on that day, when the people were assembled in their synagogues, he let loose his soldiers upon them, and commanded them to slay all the men, but to take captive all the women and children. These orders were only too faithfully obeyed, so that the streets were filled with blood ..... Thus the sad description in the seventy ninth Psalm was verified, '0 God, the heathen are come into Thine inheritance; Thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps. The dead bodies of Thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of heaven, the flesh of Thy saints unto the beasts of the earth. Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them. We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.'"The words "and shall place the abomination which maketh desolate" (#Da 11:31) call for special examination, because of their recurrence in (#Da 12:11), and of their use by the Lord Jesus Christ, in (#Mt 24 Mr 13). We have already shown, and expect to refer to the matter again, that the expression "the abomination which maketh desolate" means an armed heathen force. Such a force was placed by Antiochus in the city of David (I Mac. 1:34, 35).
Verse 32 of the prophecy speaks of two classes of Jews, (1) "such as do wickedly against the covenant;" and (2) those "that do know their God." Of the former it is said that they shall be corrupted "by flatteries;" and of the latter that they "shall be strong, and do exploits."
Concerning the first class it is recorded in I Mac. 1:11 et seq. that "In those days there went out of Israel wicked men who persuaded many, saying: Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen, that are round about us .... Then certain of the people were so forward herein that they went to the king, who gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathen." Many Jews, including even Jason, the brother of Onias the high priest, were corrupted and won over to Antiochus by flattery and self-interest (II Mac. 4:7-14).
THE UPRISING OF THE MACCABEES
The second class of persons spoken of in verse 32 of Daniel 11, "those that do know their God," is easily and completely identified in Mattathias, the godly and patriotic priest, and his five sons, who led a successful revolt against Antiochus, and in those of his family who ruled Israel as governors and priests for 130 years. These were indeed made "strong" through "knowing their God," and performed "exploits" of greatest valour particularly Judas, who was surnamed Maccabeus, that is the Hammer of God. This nickname of Judas has been applied to the whole family, but they are properly the Asmonean Princes.
There is no need to speak of the heroic "exploits" of Judas and his brothers, Jonathan and Simon, who succeeded him, for they are well known. But the terms of verses 33, 34 and 35 call for some explanation. (#Da 11:33-35)
Verse 33 reads: "And they that understand among the people shall instruct many." Upon good authority we can say that the tense of the Hebrew verb used calls for the rendering "they that cause to understand." Likewise in chapter 12:3 the literal rendering would be "they that cause to be wise." These terms aptly designate those who have the Word of God and who teach others therein those who impart to others the knowledge of the ways of God, and who cause them to be "wise unto salvation."
This description, therefore, applies particularly to Mattathias and his family, who not only were priests by their birthright, and thus the divinely ordained teachers of Israel, but were true priests, faithfully performing their duty to God and to His people.
Further verse 33 says: "Yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity and by spoil (many) days." This was most literally fulfilled in the history of the Asmoneans. Judas himself, and a great part of his army, were slain by the sword (I Mac. 9:17, 18). Jonathan also was slain with a thousand men (I Mac. 12:48). The chief tax collector set Jerusalem on fire (I Mac. 1:31; see also II Mac. 7). Forty thousand captives were carried away by Antiochus (II Mac. 5:14).
Verse 34 says: "Now when they fall they shall be holpen by a little help" (or better, by the help of a few); "but many shall cleave to them by flatteries."
To be "helped" in Scripture means to be helped effectually; and what is here pointed out is that the Maccabees should accomplish their great victories with the "help" of a small number; and this was wonderfully fulfilled in that Judas, time and again, defeated, with very small forces, large armies of Syrians, Idumeans, and others (I Mac. 2:28;3:9-11) &c. But later on, many did cleave to them by flatteries, professing friendship to them, &c. (I Mac. 10). Thus Alexander Bala, successor to Antiochus Epiphanes, made with Jonathan a league of mutual assistance and friendship (I Mac. 10:65).
Verse 35 of Daniel 11 foretells that some of them of understanding, or that cause to be wise--that is to say the teachers of God's people--shall fall, to try them, and to purge them, and to make them white, unto the time of the end. The family of Mattathias continued for several generations to serve the people of Israel in the capacity of priests and teachers (I Mac. 10:21; 14:35; 10:24; and Josephus Ant. XIII 8, 1). Of these "some" fell by violent deaths and by captivity (I Mac. 6:46; 9:18; 9:36, 42; 12:41-48; Ant. XIV 4, 5; XIV 13, 10; XV 6, 2). And this continued to the very "end" of the Asmonean era; for the last of the family, Aristobulus, who held for a short time the high priesthood, was murdered at the command of Herod (Ant. XV 3, 3).
The words "unto the end" would most naturally be taken to mean the end of the Asmonean era, which had a very definite beginning and an equally definite end; for it is in connection with the history of that family that the term is used. But if it be taken that verse 35 describes a state of things which was to continue to the time of the end (the final era) of this period of Jewish national existence, it would be true in that sense also. For to this final era verse 35 brings us.
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