1. Theus," King of the N." (Daniel 11:6.) Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, to end the war with him, give Berenice his daughter to Antiochus, who divorced Laodice to marry Berenice. But Ptolemy having died, Betentre aid "not retain the power of the arm," i.e., she was unable to be the mainstay of peace; for on Ptolemy's death Antiochus took back Laodice, who then poisoned him and caused Berenice and her son to be slain. "But out of a branch other roots stood up" in the place of Philadelphus (margin) Ptolemy Euergetes, Berenice's brother, who avenged her, overran Syria, and slew Laodice, "carrying captives into Egypt their gods, princes, and vessels of silver and gold." He restored to Egypt many of the idols carried away formerly by the Persian Cambyses, whence the idolatrous Egyptians surnamed him Euergetes (benefactor). He "continued four more years than the king of the N.," Antiochus.
2. Antiochus the Great, the grandson of Antiochus Theus, and son of Seleucus Callinicus, "came and overflowed and passed through," recovering all the parts of Syria taken by Euergetes, and reached "even to his (border) fortress," Raphia, near Gaza. Here "the king of the S.," Ptolemy Philopator, Euergetes' son, "shall fight with" Antiochus, and Antiochus's "multitude (70,000 infantry and 500 cavalry) shall be given into his hand." 10,000 were slain and 4,000 made captive. Ptolemy's "heart was lifted up" by the victory, so that though he "cast down many ten thousands, he was not strengthened by it" through his luxurious indulgence. For Antiochus "returned after certain years" (14 after his defeat at Raphia) against Philopator's son, Ptolemy Epiphanes.
"In those times many stood against the king of the S.," Epiphanes, namely, Philip of Macedon and "robbers of the people," factious Jews, who, revolting from Ptolemy, helped Antiochus unconsciously, "establishing the vision," i.e. fulfilling God's purpose of bringing trials on Judaea, "but falling," i.e. failing in their aim to make Judaea independent. So Antiochus, overcoming the Egyptian general Scopas at Paneas, near the Jordan's sources, forced him to surrender at Zidon, a "fenced city." Thus Antiochus "did according to his own will, standing in the glorious land (Judaea) which by his hand was consumed," Hebrew perfected, i.e. perfectly brought under his sway, or else desolated by being the arena of conflict between Syria and Egypt. The "upright ones with him" were Israelites, so called from their high privileges, though their practice of violence in support of a pagan king is reprobated.
Next he thought, by wedding his "daughter" Cleopatra to Ptolemy Epiphanes, ultimately to gain Cilicia, Lycia, and even Egypt itself; "corrupting her," i.e. making her his tool; but "she did not stand on his side, but on that of her husband." Then he "took many of the isles'" in the AEgean in his war with the Romans. But Scipio Asiaticus routed him at Magnesia 190 B.C., and so "caused the reproach Offered by him (to Rome's allies) to cease."
Then, compelled to cede his territory W. of Taurus, "he turned his face toward the fort of his own land," i.e. garrisoned the cities left to him. Finally, trying to plunder Jupiter's temple at Elymais, he "fell" in an insurrection of the inhabitants. Selenens succeeded," raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom," or, as Maurer explains, "one who shall cause the taxgatherer to pass through the glorious kingdom," Judaea; i.e. inheriting it by hereditary right. "Within a few days (12 years, "few" in comparison with Antiochus's 37 years) he was destroyed, neither in anger nor in battle," but poisoned by Heliodorus.
3. Antiochus IV. succeeded, surnamed Epiphanes, "the Illustrious," for establishing the royal line against Heliodorus. Nicknamed Epimanes, "madman," for his great unkingly freaks, carousing with the lowest, bathing with them in public, and throwing stones at passers by. Hence, and because of his craftily supplanting Demetrius, the rightful heir, he is called in Daniel 11: "a vile person." He "came into the kingdom by flatteries" to Eumenes and to Attalus of Pergamus, and to the Syrians high and low. With his "flood" like hosts the Egyptians and Ptolemy Philometer, "the prince of the covenant," were "overflown from before him." Philometor was in covenant with him by right, being son of Cleopatra, Antiochus's sister, to whom Antiochus the Great had promised, as dowry in marrying Ptolemy Epiphanes, Coelosyria and Israel.
Philometor's generals in trying to obtain these covenanted promises were defeated, and Pehsium, the key of Egypt, was taken 171 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes "worked deceitfully," feigning friendship to young Philometor, and" with a small people" or force, "peaceably" in pretense, he took Memphis and "the fattest places," and seized Philometer. Thus he" did that which his fathers had not done," namely, gained Egypt, and "scattered among (his dependents) the prey." "He forecast his devices against the strongholds" of Egypt. He gained all except Alexandria. Retiring Judaea, where the Jews in joy at the report of his death had revolted, he took Jerusalem. He then "stirred up his power with a great army against the king of the S.," Ptolemy Physcon (the gross), made king by the Egyptians because Philometer was in Antiochus's hands. The Egyptian king did "not stand," for his own nobles "forecast devices against him."
At last Antiochus, when checked at Alexandria, met the Egyptian king at Memphis, and "both spoke lies at one table," trying to deceive one another. In his capture of Jerusalem, guided by Menelaus the high priest "against the holy covenant," he took away the golden altar, candlestick, vessels of gold and silver from the temple, sacrificed swine on the altar, and sprinkled swine broth through the temple; his spoils from it amounted 1800 talents. A second time he openly invaded Egypt, but his invasion was not successful "as the former," Popilius. Laenas, the Roman ambassador, arriving in Graeco Macedonian ships ("of Chittim") and compelling him to return. Finding that God's worship had been restored at Jerusalem, "he had indignation against the holy covenant." He "had intelligence (correspondence) with them that forsook the holy covenant," Menelaus and others, who had cast off circumcision and treated all religions as equally good for keeping the masses in check, and adopted Greek customs and philosophy.
Antiochus's general, Apollonius, dismantled Jerusalem, and from a high fortress slew the temple worshippers. Antiochus commanded all on pain of death to conform to the Greek religion, and consecrated the temple to Jupiter Olympius or Capitolinus. Identifying himself with that god "whom his fathers knew not," and whose worship he imported from Rome, he wished to make his own worship universal. The Jews were constrained to profane the sabbath and monthly on the king's birthday to eat of the idol sacrifices, and to go in procession to Bacchus, carrying ivy. This was the gravest peril that ever betel the theocratic nation; hence arose the need of a prediction so detailed as Daniel 8; 11. Porphyry the opponent of Christianity, had to admit the accurate correspondence of the facts to the prediction, but explained it away by alleging the latter to have been written after the events.
But as Messianic events are foretold in Daniel, Jesus' adversaries, the Jews, would never have forged the prophecies which confirm His claims. Daniel 9 would comfort the faithful Jews amidst the "abominations" against "the covenant," with the prospect of Messiah, who would confirm it. Bringing salvation, yet abolishing sacrifices, He would show that the temple services which they so missed were not indispensable to real worship. Language is used (Daniel 11:31-45) which only in type applies to Antiochus, but exhaustively to Antichrist. Antiochus "took away the daily sacrifice, and placed (on the 15th day of Cisleu, on Jehovah's altar) the abomination (idol, Jupiter Olympius' image) that maketh desolate," i.e. that pollutes the temple.
The Maccabees (see 1 and 2 Maccabees in Apocrypha), "who knew their God, were strong" in their determination not to deny Him, and "did exploits." Judas, son of the patriot Mattathias, took as his motto the initials of Mi Camokah Baelim Jehovah (Exodus 15:11), "Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods?" Allusion occurs to the martyrs under Antiochus in Hebrews 11:35-37; "others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." Seven brothers and their mother submitted to a torturing death rather than deny their faith, the third saying, "Thou takest us out of this present life, but the King of the world shall raise us up who have died for His laws unto everlasting life" (compare Daniel 12:2). Two women who circumcised their infant boys were cast down with them headlong from the wall. Eleazar when forced to eat swine's flesh spit it out, choosing to suffer death at fourscore and ten rather than deny the faith (compare the apocryphal 2 Maccabees 6 and 2 Maccabees 7).
Some were roasted alive "by flame" in caves, whither they had fled to keep the sabbath. The first of the seven brothers, after his tongue was cut off, was fried to death in a heated pan. The persecution lasted three years; then, by the Maccabees, who defeated Antiochus's troops under Lysias, the Jews were "holpen with a little help," i.e. saved from extinction until the times of the Romans. Antiochus, while invading Egypt, hearing "tidings out of the E. and out of the N. of a revolt of his vassal Artaxias, king of Armenia, in the N., and Arsaces of Parthid in the E., went forth with great fury, on the way took Arad in Judah, devastated Phoenicia (according to Porphyry), "planting the tabernacles of his palace between the seas" (the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean), attacked the temple of Nanae at Elymais, ("the desire of women," the Syrian Venus; but the antitypical reference is to Messiah, whom Antichrist shall try to supplant,) to replenish his treasury, so as to renew the war with the Jews.
But, failing, "he came to his end" at Tabes, and "none helped him" (1 Maccabees 3:10-37; 1 Maccabees 6:1-16; 2 Maccabees 9:5). "The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, smote him with an incurable plague; for as soon as he had spoken these words (that he would make Jerusalem a common burying place of the Jews) a remediless pain of the bowels came upon him," etc., 164 B.C. The prominence given to Antiochus in Daniel is because it was the turning point in Jewish history, deciding whether Greek worldly refinements were to stifle Israel's true faith. Persecution was God's appointed way to save His people from seductions which had wellnigh made them compromise their witness for His truth.
Antiochus was the unconscious instrument. At first he followed the liberal policy of his predecessors; but when it suited his purpose to plunder the Jews and destroy their polity, he did not hesitate, and the corruptions prevalent and the rivalries of Jason and Menelaus for the high priesthood afforded him the occasion. Disregarding his hereditary gods himself (Daniel 11:37-39), and only recognizing the Roman war god or "god of forces," he regarded "fortresses" as the true temples (the Hebrew for "forces" may be translated "fortresses"), and was incapable of appreciating the power which true religion can call forth. Thus he is the vivid type of the last Antichrist, whose terrible, though short, persecutions shall drive Israel to their Savior, and so usher in their coming glory (Zechariah 11; 12; 13; 14; Daniel 12; Ezekiel 37; 38; 39).