Alexander the Great

1. ALEXANDER THE GREAT. Born at Pella, 356 B.C., son of Philip, king of Macedon; not named, but described prophetically: "an he-goat" )symbol of ogility, the Graeco-Macedonian empire) coming from the W. on the face of the whole earth and not touching the ground (implying the incredible swiftness of his conquests); and the goat had A NOTABLE HORN (Alexander) between his eyes, and he came to the ram that had two horns (Media and Persia, the second great world kingdom, the successor of Babylon; under both Daniel prophesied long before the rise of the Macedon-Greek kingdom) standing before the river (at the river Granicus Alexander gained his first victory over Darius Codomanus, 334 B.C.) and ran unto him in the fury of his power, moved with choler against him (on account of the Persian invasions of Greece and cruelties to the Greeks), and smote the ram and broke 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: 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" (Daniel 8:5-8).

The "he-goat" answers to the "leopard" (Daniel 7:6) whose "wings" similarly marked the winged rapidity of the Greek conquest of Persia. In 331 B.C. Alexander finally defeated Darius, and in 330 burned Persepolis, the Persian capital. None, not even the million composing the Persian hosts, could deliver the ram, Persia, out of his hand. But "when he was strong, the great horn Alexander was broken." The Graeco-Macedonian empire was in full strength at Alexander's death by fever, the result of drunken excesses, at Babylon. At the time it seemed least likely to fall it was "broken." Alexander's natural brother, Philip Aridaeus, and his two sons Alexander AEgus and Hercules, in 15 months were murdered; "and for it the he-goat came up four notable ones, toward the four winds of heaven": Seleucus in the E. obtained Syria, Babylonia, Mede-Persia; Cassander in the W. Macedon, Thessaly, Greece; Ptolemy in the S. Egypt, Cyprus, etc.; Lysimachus in the N. Thrace, Cappadocia, and the northern regions of Asia Minor.

The" leopard" is smaller than the "lion" (Daniel 7:4; Daniel 7:6); swift (Habakkuk 1:8), cruel (Isaiah 11:6), springing suddenly on its prey (Hosea 13:7). So Alexander, king of a small kingdom, overcame Darius at the head of an empire extending from the AEgean sea to the Indies, and in 12 years attained the rule from the Adriatic to the Ganges. Hence the leopard has four wings, whereas the lion (Babylon) had but two. The "spots" imply the variety of nations incorporated, perhaps also the variability of Alexander's own character, by turns mild and cruel, temperate and drunken and licentious. "Dominion was given to it" by God, not by Alexander's own might; for how unlikely it was that 30,000 men should overthrow hundreds of thousands. Josephus (Ant. 11:8, section 5) says that Alexander meeting the high priest Jaddua (Nehemiah 12:11-22) said that at Dium in Macedonia he had a divine vision so habited, inviting him to Asia and promising him success.

Jaddua met him at Gapha (Mizpeh) at the head of a procession of priests and citizens in white. Alexander at the sight of the linen arrayed priests, and the high priest in blue and gold with the miter and gold plate on his head bearing Jehovah's name, adored it, and embraced him; and having been shown Daniel's prophecies concerning him, he sacrificed to God in the court of the temple, and granted the Jews liberty to live according to their own laws, and freedom from tribute in the sabbatical years. The story is doubted, from its not being alluded to in secular histories: Arrian, Plutarch, Diodorus, Curtius. But their silence may be accounted for, as they notoriously despised the Jews. The main fact is strongly probable. It accords with Alexander's character of believing himself divinely chosen for the great mission of Greece to the civilized world, to join the east and west in a union of equality, with Babylon as the capital.

"Many kings of the East met him wearing (linen) fillets" (Justin). Jews were in his army. Jews were a strong element in the population of that city which he founded and which still bears his name, Alexandria. The remission of tribute every sabbatical year existed in later times, and the story best explains the privilege. When Aristotle urged him to treat the Greeks as freemen and the Orientals as slaves, he declared that "his mission from God was to be the more fit together and reconciler of the whole world in its several parts." Arrian says: "Alexander was like no other man, and could not have been given to the world without the special interposition of God."

He was the providential instrument of breaking down the barrier wall between kingdom and kingdom, of bringing the contemplative east and the energetic west into mutually beneficial contact. The Greek language, that most perfect medium of human thought, became widely diffused, so that a Greek version of the Old Testament was needed and made (the Septuagint) for the Greek speaking Jews at Alexandria and elsewhere in a succeeding generation; and the fittest lingual vehicle for imparting the New Testament to mankind soon came to be the language generally known by the cultivated of every land. Commerce followed the breaking down of national exclusiveness, and everywhere the Jews had their synagogues for prayer and reading of the Old Testament in the leading cities. preparing the way and the place for the proclamation of the gospel, which rests on the Old Testament, to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles.