The visions and prophecies of this chapter look only and entirely at
the events that were then shortly to come to pass in the monarchies of
Persia and Greece, and seem not to have any further reference at all.
Nothing is here said of the Chaldean monarchy, for that was now just at
its period; and therefore this chapter is written not in Chaldee, as
the six foregoing chapters were, for the benefit of the Chaldeans, but
in Hebrew, and so are the rest of the chapters to the end of the book,
for the service of the Jews, that they might know what troubles were
before them and what the issue of them would be, and might provide
accordingly. In this chapter we have,
I. The vision itself of the ram, and the he-goat, and the little horn
that should fight and prevail against the people of God, for a certain
II. The interpretation of this vision by an angel, showing that the
ram signified the Persian empire, the he-goat the Grecian, and the
little horn a king of the Grecian monarchy, that should set himself
against the Jews and religion, which was Antiochus Epiphanes,
The Jewish church, from its beginning, had been all along, more or
less, blessed with prophets, men divinely inspired to explain God's
mind to them in his providences and give them some prospect of what was
coming upon them; but, soon after Ezra's time, divine inspiration
ceased, and there was no more any prophet till the gospel day dawned.
And therefore the events of that time were here foretold by Daniel, and
left upon record, that even then God might not leave himself without
witness, nor them without a guide.
The Vision of the Ram and Goat.
B. C. 553.
1 In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision
appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which
appeared unto me at the first.
2 And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that
I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of
Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai.
3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood
before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns
were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher
came up last.
4 I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward;
so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any
that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his
will, and became great.
5 And as I was considering, behold, a he goat came from the
west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground:
and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.
6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen
standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his
7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with
choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns:
and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he
cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was
none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.
8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was
strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four
notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
9 And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed
exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and
toward the pleasant land.
10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it
cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and
stamped upon them.
11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host,
and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of
his sanctuary was cast down.
12 And a host was given him against the daily sacrifice by
reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the
ground; and it practised, and prospered.
13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto
that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision
concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of
desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden
14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred
days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
I. The date of this vision,
It was in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar, which
proved to be his last year, as many reckon; so that this chapter also
should be, in order of time, before the fifth. That Daniel might not be
surprised at the destruction of Babylon, now at hand, God gives him a
foresight of the destruction of other kingdoms hereafter, which in
their day had been as potent as that of Babylon. Could we foresee the
changes that shall be hereafter, when we are gone, we should the less
admire, and be less affected with, the changes in our own day; for
that which is done is that which shall be done,
Then it was that a vision appeared to me, even to me, Daniel.
Here he solemnly attests the truth of it: it was to him, even to him,
that the vision was shown; he was the eye-witness of it. And this
vision puts him in mind of a former vision which appeared to him at
the first, in the first year of this reign, which he makes mention
of because this vision was an explication and confirmation of that, and
points at many of the same events. That seems to have been a dream, a
vision in his sleep; this seems to have been when he was awake.
II. The scene of this vision. The place where that was laid was in
Shushan the palace, one of the royal seats of the kings of
Persia, situated on the banks of the river Ulai, which surrounded the
city; it was in the province of Elam, that part of Persia which lay
next to Babylon. Daniel was not there in person, for he was now in
Babylon, a captive, in some employment under Belshazzar, and might not
go to such a distant country, especially being now an enemy's country.
But he was there in vision; as Ezekiel, when a captive in Babylon, was
often brought, in the spirit, to the land of Israel. Note, The soul may
be a liberty when the body is in captivity; for, when we are bound, the
Spirit of the Lord is not bound. The vision related to that country,
and therefore there he was made to fancy himself to be as strongly as
if he had really been there.
III. The vision itself and the process of it.
1. He saw a ram with two horns,
This was the second monarchy, of which the kingdoms of Media and Persia
were the two horns. The horns were very high; but that which
came up last was the higher, and got the start of the former. So the
last shall be first, and the first last. The kingdom of Persia, which
rose last, in Cyrus, became more eminent than that of the Medes.
2. He saw this ram pushing all about him with his horns
westward (towards Babylon, Syria, Greece, and Asia the less),
northward (towards the Lydians, Armenians, and Scythians), and
southward (towards Arabia, Ethiopia, and Egypt), for all these
nations did the Persian empire, one time or other, make attempts upon
for the enlarging of their dominion. And at last he became so powerful
that no beasts might stand before him. This ram, though
of a species of animal often preyed upon, became formidable even to the
beasts of prey themselves, so that there was no standing before
him, no escaping him, none that could deliver out of his hand,
but all must yield to him: the kings of Persia did according to
their will, prospered in all their ways abroad, had an
uncontrollable power at home, and became great. He thought
himself great because he did what he would; but to do good is that
which makes men truly great.
3. He saw this ram overcome by a he-goat. He was considering the
ram (wondering that so weak an animal should come to be so
prevalent) and thinking what would be the issue; and, behold, a
This was Alexander the Great, the son of Philip king of Macedonia. He
came from the west, from Greece, which lay west from Persia. He
fetched a great compass with his army: he came upon the face of the
whole earth; he did in effect conquer the world, and then sat down
and wept because there was not another world to be conquered. Unus
Pellæo juveni non sufficit orbis--One world was too little for
the youth of Pellæ. This he-goat (a creature famed for
comeliness in going,
went on with incredible swiftness, so that he touched not the
ground, so lightly did he move; he rather seemed to fly above the
ground than to go upon the ground; or none touched him in the
earth, that is, he met with little or no opposition. This he-goat,
or buck, had a notable horn between his eyes, like a unicorn. He
had strength, and knew his own strength; he saw himself a match for all
his neighbours. Alexander pushed his conquests on so fast, and with so
much fury, that none of the kingdoms he attacked had courage to make a
stand, or give check to the progress of his victorious arms. In six
years he made himself master of the greatest part of the then known
world. Well might he be called a notable horn, for his name
still lives in history as the name of one of the most celebrated
commanders in war that ever the world knew. Alexander's victories and
achievements are still the entertainment of the ingenious. This
he-goat came to the ram that had two horns,
Alexander with his victorious army attacked the kingdom of Persia, an
army consisting of no more than 30,000 foot and 5000 horse. He ran
unto him, to surprise him ere he could get intelligence of his
motions, in the fury of his power. He came close to the
ram. Alexander with his army came up with Darius Codomannus, then
emperor of Persia, being moved with choler against him,
It was with the greatest violence that Alexander pushed on his war
against Darius, who, though he brought vast numbers into the field,
yet, for want of skill, was an unequal match for him, so that Alexander
was too hard for him whenever he engaged him, smote him, cast him
down to the ground, and stamped upon him, which three
expressions, some think, refer to the three famous victories that
Alexander obtained over Darius, at Granicus, at Issus, and at Arbela,
by which he was at length totally routed, having, in the last battle,
had 600,000 men killed, so that Alexander became absolute master of all
the Persian empire, broke his two horns, the kingdoms of Media
and Persia. The ram that had destroyed all before him
now is himself destroyed; Darius has no power to stand before
Alexander, not has he any friends or allies to help to deliver him
out of his hand. Note, Those kingdoms which, when they had power,
abused it, and, because none could oppose them, withheld not themselves
from the doing of any wrong, may expect to have their power at length
taken from them, and to be served in their own kind,
4. He saw the he-goat made hereby very considerable; but the great
horn, that had done all this execution, was broken,
Alexander was about twenty years old when he began his wars. When he
was about twenty-six he conquered Darius, and became master of the
whole Persian empire; but when he was about thirty-two or thirty-three
years of age, when he was strong, in his full strength,
he was broken. He was not killed in war, in the bed of honour,
but died of a drunken surfeit, or, as some suspect, by poison and left
no child living behind him to enjoy that which he had endlessly
laboured for, but left a lasting monument of the vanity of worldly pomp
and power, and their insufficiency to make a man happy.
5. He saw this kingdom divided into four parts, and that instead of
that one great horn there came up four notable ones, Alexander's
four captains, to whom he bequeathed his conquests; and he had so much
that, when it was divided among four, they had each of them enough for
any one man. These four notable horns were towards the four
winds of heaven, the same with the four heads of the leopard
the kingdoms of Syria and Egypt, Asia and Greece-Syria lying to the
east, Greece to the west, Asia Minor to the north,
and Egypt to the south. Note, Those that heap up riches know not
who shall gather them, nor whose all those things shall be which they
6. He saw a little horn which became a great persecutor of the
church and people of God; and this was the principal thing that was
intended to be shown to him in this vision, as afterwards,
&c. All agree that this was Antiochus Epiphanes (so he called
himself)--the illustrious, but others called him Antiochus
Epimanes--Antiochus the furious. He is called here (as
a little horn, because he was in his original contemptible;
there were others between him and the kingdom, and he was of a base
servile disposition, had nothing in him of princely qualities, and had
been for some time a hostage and prisoner at Rome, whence he made his
escape, and, though, the youngest brother, and his elder living, got
the kingdom. He waxed exceedingly great towards the south, for
he seized upon Egypt, and towards the east, for he invaded
Persia and Armenia. But that which is here especially taken notice of
is the mischief that he did to the people of the Jews. They are not
expressly named, or prophecies must not be too plain; but they are here
so described that it would be easy for those who understood
scripture-language to know who were meant; and the Jews, having notice
of this before, might be awakened to prepare themselves and their
children beforehand for these suffering trying times.
(1.) He set himself against the pleasant land, the land of
Israel, so called because it was the glory of all lands, for
fruitfulness and all the delights of human life, but especially for the
tokens of God's presence in it, and its being blessed with divine
revelations and institutions; it was Mount Zion that was beautiful
for situation, the joy of the whole earth,
The pleasantness of that land was that there the Messiah was to be
born, who would be both the consolation and the glory of his people
Israel. Note, We have reason to reckon that a pleasant place which
is a holy place, in which God dwells, and where we may have opportunity
of communing with him. Surely, It is good to be here.
(2.) He fought against the host of heaven, that is, the people
of God, the church, which is the kingdom of heaven, the church-militant
here on earth. The saints, being born from above, and citizens of
heaven, and doing the will of God, by his grace, in some measure, as
the angels of heaven do it, may be well called a heavenly host.
Or the priests and Levites, who were employed in the service of the
tabernacle, and there warred a good warfare, were this host
of heaven. These Antiochus set himself against; he waxed great
to the host of heaven, in opposition to them and in defiance of
(3.) He cast down some of the host (that is, of the
stars, for they are called the host of heaven) to the ground,
and stamped upon them. Some of those that were most eminent both in
church and state, that were burning and shining lights in their
generation, he either forced to comply with his idolatries or put them
to death; he got them into his hands, and then trampled upon them and
triumphed over them; as good old Eleazar, and the seven
brethren, whom he put to death with cruel tortures, because they
would not eat swine's flesh,
2 Mac. vi. 7.
He gloried in it that herein he insulted Heaven itself and exalted
his throne above the stars of God,
(4.) He magnified himself even to the prince of the host. He set
himself against the high priest, Onias, whom he deprived of his
dignity, or rather against God himself, who was Israel's King of
old, who reigns for ever Zion's King, who himself heads his
own host that fight his battles. Against him Antiochus magnified
himself; as Pharaoh, when he said, Who is the Lord? Note, Those
who persecute the people of God persecute God himself.
(5.) He took away the daily sacrifice. The morning and evening
lamb, which God appointed to be offered every day upon his altar to his
honour, Antiochus forbade and restrained the offering of. No doubt he
took away all other sacrifices, but only the daily sacrifice is
mentioned, because that was the greatest loss of all, for in that they
kept up their constant communion with God, which they preferred before
that which is only occasional. God's people reckon their daily
sacrifices, their morning and evening exercises of devotion, the most
needful of their daily business and the most delightful of their daily
comforts, and would not for all the world part with them.
(6.) He cast down the place of his sanctuary. He did not burn
and demolish the temple, but he cast it down, when he profaned it, made
it the temple of Jupiter Olympius, and set up his image in it. He also
cast down the truth to the ground, trampled upon the book of the
law, that word of truth, tore it, and burnt it, and did what he could
to destroy it quite, that it might be lost and forgotten for ever.
These were the projects of that wicked prince. In these he practised.
And (would you think it?) in these he prospered. He carried the matter
very far, seemed to have gained his point, and went near to extirpate
that holy religion which God's right hand had planted. But lest he or
any other should triumph, as if herein he had prevailed against God
himself and been too hard for him, the matter is here explained and set
in a true light.
[1.] He could not have done this if God had not permitted him to do it,
could have had no power against Israel unless it had been given him
from above. God put this power into his hand, and gave him a host
against the daily sacrifice. God's providence put that sword into
his hand by which he was enabled thus to bear down all before him.
Note, We ought to eye and own the hand of God in all the enterprises
and all the successes of the church's enemies against the church. They
are but the rod in God's hand.
[2.] God would not have permitted it if his people had not provoked him
to do so. It is by reason of transgression, the transgression of
Israel, to correct them for that, that Antiochus is employed to give
them all this trouble. Note, When the pleasant land and all its
pleasant things are laid waste, it must be acknowledged that sin is the
procuring cause of all the desolation. Who gave Jacob to the spoil?
Did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned?
The great transgression of the Jews after the captivity (when they were
cured of idolatry) was a contempt and profanation of the holy things,
snuffing at the service of God, bringing the torn and the
lame for sacrifice, as if the table of the Lord were a
contemptible thing (so we find
&c., and that the priests were guilty of this
and therefore God sent Antiochus to take away the daily
sacrifice and cast down the place of his sanctuary. Note, It
is just with God to deprive those of the privileges of his house who
despise and profane them, and to make those know the worth of
ordinances by the want of them who would not know it by the enjoyment
7. He heard the time of this calamity limited and determined, not the
time when it should come (that is not here fixed, because God
would have his people always prepared for it), but how long it
should last, that, when they had no more any prophets to tell
them how long
which psalm seems to have been calculated for this dark and doleful
day), they might have this prophecy to give them a prospect of
deliverance in due time. Now concerning this we have here,
(1.) The question asked concerning it,
[1.] By whom the question was put: I heard one saint speaking to
this purport, and then another saint seconded him. "O that we
knew how long this trouble will last!" The angels here are called
saints, for they are holy ones
the holy myriads,
The angels concern themselves in the affairs of the church, and enquire
concerning them, if, as here, concerning its temporal salvations, much
more do they desire to look into the great salvation,
1 Peter 1:12.
One saint spoke of the thing, and another enquired
concerning it. Thus John, who lay in Christ's bosom, was beckoned to by
Peter to ask Christ a question,
[2.] To whom the question was put. He said unto Palmoni that
spoke. Some make this certain saint to be a superior angel
who understood more than the rest, to whom therefore they came with
their enquiries. Others make it to be the eternal Word, the
Son of God. He is the unknown One. Palmoni seems to be
compounded of Peloni Almoni, which is used
for Ho, such a one, and
(2 Kings 6:8)
for such a place. Christ was yet the nameless One. Wherefore
asked thou after my name, seeing it is secret?
He is the numberer of secrets (as some translate it), for from
him there is nothing hidden--the wonderful numberer, so others;
his name is called Wonderful. Note, If we would know the mind of
God, we must apply to Jesus Christ, who lay in the bosom of the Father,
and in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and
knowledge, not hidden from us, but hidden for us.
[3.] The question itself that was asked: "How long shall be the
vision concerning the daily sacrifice? How long shall the
prohibition of it continue? How long shall the pleasant land be made
unpleasant by that severe interdict? How long shall the
transgression of desolation (the image of Jupiter), that great
transgression which makes all our sacred things desolate, how long
shall that stand in the temple? How long shall the sanctuary and the
host, the holy place and the holy persons that minister in it, be
trodden under foot by the oppressor?" Note, Angels are concerned
for the prosperity of the church on earth and desirous to see an end of
its desolations. The angels asked, for the satisfaction of Daniel, not
doubting but he was desirous to know, how long these calamities should
last? The question takes it for granted that they should not last
always. The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the
righteous, though it may come upon their lot. Christ comforted
himself in his sufferings with this, The things concerning me have
and so may the church in hers. But it is desirable to know how long
they shall last, that we may provide accordingly.
(2.) The answer given to this question,
Christ gives instruction to the holy angels, for they are our
fellow-servants; but here the answer was given to Daniel, because for
his sake the question was asked: He said unto me. God sometimes
gives in great favours to his people, in answer to the enquiries and
requests of their friends for them. Now,
[1.] Christ assures him that the trouble shall end; it shall continue
2300 days and no longer, so many evenings and mornings
(so the word is), so many nychthemerai, so many
natural days, reckoned, as in the beginning of Genesis, by the
evenings and mornings, because it was the evening and the morning
sacrifice that they most lamented the loss of, and thought the time
passed very slowly while they were deprived of them. Some make the
morning and the evening, in this number, to stand for two, and then
2300 evenings and as many mornings will make but 1150 days; and about
so many days it was that the daily sacrifice was interrupted: and this
comes nearer to the computation
of a time, times, and the dividing of a time. But it is
less forced to understand them of so many natural days; 2300 days make
six years and three months, and about eighteen days; and
just so long they reckon from the defection of the people, procured by
Menelaus the high priest in the 142nd year of the kingdom of the
Seleucidæ, the sixth month of that year, and the 6th day of the
month (so Josephus dates it), to the cleansing of the sanctuary, and
the reestablishment of religion among them, which was in the 148th
year, the 9th month, and the 25th day of the month,
1 Mac. iv. 52.
God reckons the time of his people's afflictions he is afflicted.
Thou shalt have tribulation ten days.
[2.] He assures him that they shall see better days afterwards: Then
shall the sanctuary be cleansed. Note, The cleansing of the
sanctuary is a happy token for good to any people; when they begin to
be reformed they will soon be relieved. Though the righteous God may,
for the correction of his people, suffer his sanctuary to be profaned
for a while, yet the jealous God will, for his own glory, see to the
cleansing of it in due time. Christ died to cleanse his church, and he
will so cleanse it as at length to present it blameless to himself.
The Vision of the Ram and Goat.
B. C. 553.
15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the
vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood
before me as the appearance of a man.
16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which
called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the
17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was
afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O
son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.
18 Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my
face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright.
19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in
the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the
end shall be.
20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings
of Media and Persia.
21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great
horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four
kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the
transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance,
and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and
he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise,
and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper
in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by
peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the
Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told
is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be
for many days.
27 And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward
I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at
the vision, but none understood it.
Here we have,
I. Daniel's earnest desire to have this vision explained to him
I sought the meaning. Note, Those that rightly know the things
of God cannot but desire to know more and more of them, and to be led
further into the mystery of them; and those that would find the meaning
of what they have seen or heard from God must seek it, and seek it
diligently. Seek and you shall find. Daniel considered the
thing, compared it with the former discoveries, to try if he could
understand it; but especially he sought by prayer (as he had done
and he did not seek in vain.
II. Orders given to the angel Gabriel to inform him concerning this
vision. One in the appearance of a man (who, some think, was
Christ himself, for who besides could command angels?) orders Gabriel
to make Daniel understand this vision. Sometimes God is pleased
to make use of the ministration of angels, not only to protect his
children, but to instruct them, to serve the kind intentions, not only
of his providence, but of his grace.
III. The consternation that Daniel was in upon the approach of his
When he came near I was afraid. Though Daniel was a man of great
prudence and courage, and had been conversant with the visions of the
Almighty, yet the approach of an extraordinary messenger from heaven
put him into this fright. He fell upon his face, not to worship
the angel, but because he could no longer bear the dazzling lustre of
his glory. Nay, being prostrate upon the ground, he fell into a deep
which came not from any neglect of the vision, or indifference towards
it, but was an effect of his faintness and the oppression of spirit he
was under, through the abundance of revelations. The disciples in the
garden slept for sorrow; and, as there, so here, the spirit was
willing, but the flesh was weak. Daniel would have kept awake, and
IV. The relief which the angel gave to Daniel, with great encouragement
to him to expect a satisfactory discovery of the meaning of this
1. He touched him, and set him upon his feet,
Thus when John, in a similar case, was in similar consternation, Christ
laid his right hand upon him,
It was a gentle touch that the angel here gave to Daniel, to show that
he came not to hurt him, not to plead against him with his great
power, or with a hand heavy upon him, but to help him, to
put strength into him
which God can do with a touch. When we are slumbering and grovelling
on this earth we are very unfit to hear from God, and to converse with
him. But, if God design instruction for us, he will be his grace awaken
us out of our slumber, raise us from things below, and set us
2. He promised to inform him: "Understand, O son of man!
Thou shalt understand, if thou wilt but apply thy mind to understand."
He calls him son of man to intimate that he would consider his
frame, and would deal tenderly with him, accommodating himself to his
capacity as a man. Or thus he preaches humility to him; though he be
admitted to converse with angels, he must not be puffed up with it, but
must remember that he is a son of man. Or perhaps this title puts
honour upon him: the Messiah was lately called the Son of man
and Daniel is akin to him, and is a figure of him as a prophet and one
greatly beloved. He assures him that he shall be made to know
what shall be in the last end of the indignation,
Let it be laid up for a comfort to those who shall live to see these
calamitous times that there shall be an end of them; the indignation
it shall be overpast,
It may intermit and return again, but the last end shall be
glorious; good will follow it, nay, and good will be brought out of it.
He tells him
"At the time of the end shall be the vision; when the last end
of the indignation comes, when the course of this providence is
completed, then the vision shall be made plain and intelligible by the
event, as the event shall be made plain and intelligible by the
vision." Or, "At the time of the end of the Jewish church, in
the latter days of it, shall this vision be accomplished, 300 or
400 years hence; understand it therefore, that thou mayest leave it on
record for the generations to come." But is he ask more particularly,
"When is the time of the end? And how long will it be before it
arrive?" let this answer suffice
At the time appointed the end shall be; it is fixed in the
divine counsel, which cannot be altered and which must not be pried
V. The exposition which he gave him of the vision.
1. Concerning the two monarchies of Persia and Greece,
The ram signified the succession of the kings of Media and
Persia; the rough goat signified the kings of Greece; the
great horn was Alexander; the four horns that rose in his
room were the four kingdoms into which his conquests were cantoned, of
They are said to stand up out of the nations, but not in his
power; none of them ever made the figure that Alexander did.
Josephus relates that when Alexander had taken Tyre, and subdued
Palestine, and was upon his march to Jerusalem, Jaddas, who was them
high priest (Nehemiah mentions one of his name,
fearing his rage, had recourse to God by prayer and sacrifice for the
common safety, and was by him warned in a dream that upon Alexander's
approach he should throw open the gates of the city, and that he and
the rest of the priests should go forth to meet him in their habits,
and all the people in white. Alexander, seeing this company at a
distance, went himself alone to the high priest, and, having prostrated
himself before that God whose name was engraven in the golden plate of
his mitre, he first saluted him; and, being asked by one of his own
captains why he did so, he said that while he was yet in Macedon,
musing on the conquest of Asia, there appeared to him a man like unto
this, and thus attired, who invited him into Asia, and assured him of
success in the conquest of it. The priests led him to the temple, where
he offered sacrifice to the God of Israel as they directed him; and
there they showed him this book of the prophet Daniel, that it was
there foretold that a Grecian should come and destroy the Persians,
which animated him very much in the expedition he was now meditating
against Darius. Hereupon he took the Jews and their religion under his
protection, promised to be kind to those of their religion in Babylon
and Media, whither he was now marching, and in honour of him all the
priests that had sons born that year called them Alexander. Joseph.
2. Concerning Antiochus, and his oppression of the Jews. This is said
to be in the latter time of the kingdom of the Greeks, when
the transgressors are come to the full
that is, when the degenerate Jews have filled up the measure of their
iniquity, and are ripe for this destruction, so that God cannot in
honour bear with them any longer then shall stand up this king,
to be flagellum Dei--the rod in God's hand for the chastising of
the Jews. Now observe here,
(1.) His character: He shall be a king of fierce countenance,
insolent and furious, neither fearing God nor regarding man,
understanding dark sentences, or (rather) versed in dark
practices, the hidden things of dishonesty; he was master of
all the arts of dissimulation and deceit, and knew the depths of
Satan as well as any man. He was wise to do evil.
(2.) His success. He shall make dreadful havoc of the nations about
him: His power shall be mighty, bear down all before it, but not
by his own power
but partly by the assistance of his allies, Eumenes and Attalus, partly
by the baseness and treachery of many of the Jews, even of the priests
that came into his interests, and especially by the divine permission.
it was not by his own power, but by a power given him from above, that
he destroyed wonderfully, and thought he made himself a great
man by being a great destroyer. He destroys wonderfully indeed, for he
[1.] The mighty people, and they cannot resist him by their
power. The princes of Egypt cannot stand before him with all their
forces, but he practises against them and prospers. Note, The mighty
ones of the earth commonly meet with those at length that are too hard
for them, that are more mighty than they. Let not the strong man then
glory in his strength, be it ever so great, unless he could be sure
that there were none stronger than he.
[2.] He destroys the holy people, or the people of the holy
ones; and their sacred character does neither deter him from
destroying them nor defend them from being destroyed. All things
come alike to all, and there is one event to the mighty and to the
holy in this world.
[3.] The methods by which he will gain this success, not by true
courage, wisdom, or justice, but by his policy and craft
by fraud and deceit, and serpentine subtlety: He shall cause craft
to prosper; so cunningly shall he carry on his projects that he
shall gain his point by the art of wheedling. By peace he shall
destroy many, as others do by war; under the pretence of treaties,
leagues, and alliances, with them, he shall encroach on their rights,
and trick them into a subjection to him. Thus sometimes what a nation
truly brave has gained in a righteous war a nation truly base has
regained in a treacherous peace, and craft has been caused to prosper.
[4.] The mischief that he shall do to religion: He shall magnify
himself in his heart, and think himself fit to prescribe and give
law to every body, so that he shall stand up against the Prince of
princes, that is, against God himself. He will profane his temple
and altar, prohibit his worship, and persecute his worshippers. See
what a height of impudence some men's impiety brings them to; they
openly bid defiance to God himself though he is the Kings of kings.
[5.] The ruin that he shall be brought to at last: He shall be
broken without hand, that is, without the hand of man. He shall not
be slain in war, nor shall he be assassinated, as tyrants commonly
were, but he shall fall into the hand of the living God and die by an
immediate stroke of his vengeance. He, hearing that the Jews had cast
the image of Jupiter Olympius out of the temple, where he had placed
it, was so enraged at the Jews that he vowed he would make Jerusalem
a common burial-place, and determined to march thither
immediately; but no sooner had he spoken these proud words than he was
struck with an incurable plague in his bowels; worms bred so fast in
his body that whole flakes of flesh sometimes dropped from him; his
torments were violent, and the stench of his disease such that none
could endure to come near him. He continued in this misery very long.
At first he persisted in his menaces against the Jews; but at length,
despairing of his recovery, he called his friends together, and
acknowledged all those miseries to have fallen upon him for the
injuries he had done to the Jews and his profaning the temple at
Jerusalem. Then he wrote courteous letters to the Jews, and vowed that
if he recovered he would let them have the free exercise of their
religion. But, finding his disease grow upon him, when he could no
longer endure his own smell, he said, It is meet to submit to God,
and for man who is mortal not to set himself in competition with
God, and so died miserably in a strange land, on the mountains of
Pacata near Babylon: so Ussher's Annals, A.M. 3840, about 160
years before the birth of Christ.
3. As to the time fixed for the continuance of the cessation of the
daily sacrifice, it is not explained here, but only confirmed
That vision of the evening and morning is true, in the proper
sense of the words, and needs no explication. How unlikely soever it
might be that God should suffer his own sanctuary to be thus profaned,
yet it is true, it is too true, so it shall be.
VI. Here is the conclusion of this vision, and here,
1. The charge given to Daniel to keep it private for the present:
Shut thou up the vision; let it not be publicly know among the
Chaldeans, lest the Persians, who were now shortly to possess the
kingdom, should be incensed against the Jews by it, because the
downfall of their kingdom was foretold by it, which would be
unseasonable now that the edict for their release was expected from the
king of Persia. Shut it up, for it shall be for many days. It
was about 300 years from the time of this vision to the time of the
accomplishment of it; therefore he must shut it up for the
present, even from the people of the Jews, lest it should amaze and
perplex them, but let it be kept safely for the generations to come,
that should live about the time of the accomplishment of it, for to
them it would be both most intelligible and most serviceable. Note,
What we know of the things of God should be carefully laid up, that
hereafter, when there is occasion, it may be faithfully laid out; and
what we have not now any use for, yet we may have another time. Divine
truths should be sealed up among our treasures, that we may find them
again after many days.
2. The care he took to keep it private, having received such a charge,
He fainted, and was sick, with the multitude of his thoughts
within him occasioned by this vision, which oppressed and overwhelmed
him the more because he was forbidden to publish what he had seen, so
that his belly was as wine which has no vent, he was ready to
burst like new bottles,
However, he kept it to himself, stifled and smothered the concern he
was in; so that those he conversed with could not perceive it, but he
did the king's business according to the duty of his place,
whatever it was. Note, As long as we live in this world we must have
something to do in it; and even those whom God has most dignified with
his favours must not think themselves above their business; nor must
the pleasure of communion with God take us off from the duties of our
particular callings, but still we must in them abide with God.
Those especially that are entrusted with public business must see to it
that they conscientiously discharge their trust.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'Daniel' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".