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being just expired) when he heard of his brother's death, and that Heliodorus was endeavouring to seize the crown; and, not finding himself in a situation to recover it by open force, he ingratiated himself with Eumenes, king of Pergamus, by "flatteries" and promises, and, by his mean, was quietly established upon the throne, B. C. 175.
And, with the arms of a flood, shall they [Heliodorus and the other competitors for the crown, Ptolemy Philometer, &c.] be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also, the prince of the covenant; [the Highpriest of the Jews] and, after the league made with him, he shall work deceitfully, ver. 22, 23. By means of the forces of Eumenes, Antiochus soon overpowered all his enemies, and, being bribed by Jason the apostate, brother of Onias III., he deposed that good man, and established Jason in the pontificate, B. C. 175; but, notwithstanding this league, with the latter, being offered a still higher price, by Menelaus (another brother of Onias) he sold him the high-priesthood, and Jason was obliged to fly out of the country.
For, he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people; he shall enter peaceably upon the fattest places of the province; and, he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his father's fathers; he shall scatter among them [his own followers] the prey, and spoil, and riches. By degrees, Antiochus secured to himself the whole kingdom, and, consistent with his plan of ingratiating himself with his adherents, and attaching them to him by flatteries and favors, he divided amongst them the spoil taken from his opponents. Yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time, ver. 24. Anticipating an attack from the king of Egypt, he put all his fortresses into the best state of defence.
And, he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South, with a great army; and, the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but, he shall not stand; for, they shall fore
cast devices against him. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat, shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow. [Bishop Newton says, be overflown,] and many shall fall' down slain, ver. 25, 26. These verses describe the first expedition of Antiochus Epiphanes into Egypt, B. C. 171, in which he succeeded, partly, by force of arms, and, partly, by the treachery of Ptolemy's ministers and friends; so, that the king of Egypt, fell into the power of Antiochus, and Ptolemy Evergetes II. (or Physcon) was declared king in his stead, B. C. 170.
And, both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table. Antiochus and Ptolemy, mutually endeavoured to deceive and destroy each other; the former, promising to restore the crown of Egypt to his nephew, the latter, professing to be satisfied in holding it as an appendage to the crown of Syria, while at the same time, he was meditating how he might throw off the yoke, and recover the throne by violence. But it shall not prosper; for, yet the end shall be at the time appointed, ver. 27. Such hypocrisy was not suffered to succeed, being contrary to the appointment of God, who, for his own purposes, had allowed these two kings mutually to punish each other.
Then shall he [Antiochus] return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land, ver. 28. In his way home, laden with the spoils of of Egypt, Antiochus hearing of the faction carrying on between the two impious brothers, Jason and Menelaus, supported by their respective adherents, hastily concluded that the whole province was in a state of revolt, and, therefore, marching to Jerusalem, (where he learnt that the Jews, upon a report of his death, had made great rejoicings,) he besieged, and took it, put 40,000 of the inhabitants to the sword, took as many more captives, forced his way into the most sacred recesses of the temple, and, as a still farther pollution of it, he caused a sow to be sacrificed upon the high altar, and
sprinkled the floor with a broth made of some of the flesh; after which "exploits," he returned to Antioch.
At the time appointed, he shall return, and come toward the south; but, it shall not be as the former, or as the latter. For, ships of Chittim [a general name for Greece and Italy] shall come against him; therefore, he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant; so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant, ver. 29, 30. On former occasions, Antiochus had carried every thing before him; but now [B. C. 169] Ptolemy having claimed the protection of the Romans, the senate sent embassadors to meet him in Egypt, commanding him immediately to withdraw his army, and renounce his hostile intentions upon that country. Antiochus, not daring to disobey the commands of the Senate, marched his troops back; but, unable to contain the mortification which the interference of the Romans had occasioned him, he vented all his fury upon the Jews, and, after plundering Jerusalem, began a most dreadful persecution against the inhabitants who came to worship at the temple, in all which, he was assisted by Menelaus, and others who had forsaken the holy covenant, and apostatised to the Grecian idolatry, B. C. 168. Here concludes the prophecy, as far as it relates to the kings of Syria and Egypt; the best commentary upon it, will be found in the detailed history of those countries. The whole prophecy has, by some, been supposed to relate to Antiochus Epiphanes, and, fully accomplished in him. For a refutation of this notion, see Bishop Newton, Dis. XVII.
SECTION IV. contains the history of, first, the Jews, and then the Christians, under the fourth empire, till the time of the end, or period of 1260, or years.
And arms shall stand on his part [or, in his place after him] and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and, they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate, ver. 31. This verse,
contains a concise sketch of the Roman power which succeeded to that of the Grecian. In consequence of the persecutions carried on by the Syrian tyrants, successors to Antiochus Epiphanes, Judas Maccabeus applied for assistance to the Romans, who, by their alliance, protected them from their hostile neighbours. Palestine, however, soon became tributary to Rome, as forming a part of the province of Syria. To the Asmonean dynasty, succeeded the reign of Herod, who was specially appointed by the Romans. This prophecy covers the period of the incarnation, ministry, and crucifixion of our SAVIOUR; but, without detailing any of those events, it proceeds to point out the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman "arms," under Titus, the total cessation of the daily sacrifice, the pollution of the sanctuary, by the idolatrous standards of the Romans, being placed in the temple, and the desolation, or dispersion, of the Jews, A. D. 70. " And, such as do wickedly against the covenant, shall he [the Roman power] corrupt by flatteries; but, the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people, shall instruct many; yet, they shall fall by the sword, and by flame; by captivity and by spoil, many days, ver. 32, 33. The Jews had now ceased to be the peculiar people of God; the Christian church had succeeded, and to this, and its adherents, the prophet now alludes. The Romans used every effort, whether of flattery, persuasion, or persecution, to induce the primitive Christians to conform to their idolatrous worship; many apostatised, but those who knew their God," continued faithful, firm, and "strong," during the numerous and horrible persecutions which afflicted the Christian church for the " many days that intervened between the martyrdom of Stephen, and the conversion of Constantine the Great to Christianity, A. D. 312.
"Now, when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help, but many shall cleave to them with flatteries,"
ver. 34. The Christians were" helped with little help," by Constantine the Great, who, upon his conversion, put. an end to the tenth persecution, A. D. 313, and granted full liberty to the Christian religion, A. D. 323, which, yet made little spiritual progress at this time; for, many cleaved to the Christians with flatteries, professing their religion as a matter of political expediency, because it was patronised by the Emperor, and, without imbibing its vital principles, and saving doctrines. Heresies and sectaries, also, sprung up in the church, weakening, by vain disputes, the cause they pretended to support and preserve in purity.
"And, some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end [or termination of the period of 1260 days] because it is yet for a time appointed," ver. 35. This verse is supposed to allude to the martyrdoms and cruelties exercised upon the Protestant Dissenters from the papal errors, as the Waldenses, Albigenses, &c. upon whom, horrid barbarities were committed by the Papal crusaders, (see Millot's Hist. of France) and, these, continued through the struggles of the Protestants, Wickliffe, A. D. 1370; Luther, A. D. 1517; and Calvin, A. D. 1543; at the period of the Reformation; and will, (to a certain degree) continue till the time of the end, when that appointed by God shall
SECTION V. Ver. 36, to the end of the chapter, describes the reign of Antichrist, or (according to Faber) of infidelity in France, particularly manifested during the French Revolution, and which will be finally subdued with the other enemies of CHRIST's church" at the time of the end." A different interpretation has been given by Bishop Newton, and others, of this branch of the prophecy, which they have considered as little more than a repetition of the exploits" of the little horn of the fourth Beast; and, indeed, the points of correspondence in the two prophecies, are sufficiently strong to form an argument on that side of