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but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the 33 people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the
iv. 10, xi. 24, Pesh.); and possibly the word may have the definite sense of make apostates here (cf. R.V. pervert).
by flatteries] by specious representations, or promises, pointing out for example the advantages that would accrue to those who renounced their Judaism. Cf. the promises held out (1 Macc. ii. 18) to Mattathias (“thou and thy house shall be in the number of the king's friends, and thou and thy sons shall be honoured with silver and gold and many gifts '). Mattathias turned a deaf ear to such inducements; but the prospect of Antiochus' favour might easily influence men who were less staunch in their convictions.
but the people that do know their God shall shew strength] i.e. exhibit firmness, constancy (cf. Deut. xii. 23 be strong, firm, not to eat the blood'; Josh. i. 7; 1 Ch. xxviii. 7), neither to yield to temptation nor to desert their religion for fear of the consequences. The decree of Antiochus led to numerous martyrdoms, many of the loyal Israelites submitting to death, even with torture, rather than renounce their faith. Cf. 1 Macc. i. 62 f. ‘And many in Israel were strong (i.e. firm: the Gr word used stands for pin in 1 Sam. xxx. 6; Ezr. x. 4, and elsewhere), and were fortified (like a strong city,-Óxupóôngav) in themselves, not to eat unclean things (kouvá). And they chose to die, that they might not be defiled with the meats, nor profane the holy covenant; and they died.'
and do] they also will do, or act, in the pregnant sense of the word (cf. on viii. 12), in their cause, not less than the ambitious heathen king (viii. 12, 24, xi. 28, 30) in his.
33. And they that be wise) as the same word is rendered in A.V. of xii. 3, 10. The verb means properly to shew understanding and discernment, such as may lead a man to act judiciously and bring him success; hence it is sometimes rendered prosper, or have good success, &c. See examples of the word in Josh. i. 7, 8, 1 Sam. xviii. 5, Ps. ii. 10, Prov. x. 5, 19 he that refraineth his lips sheweth understanding,' i.e. 'acts judiciously,' Is. lii. 13. Here it is used, as a term of approbation, to denote those who, in a time of severe trial, shewed wisdom, by choosing the right course, and strenuously refusing to give up their faith. The name given to the loyal party in the Maccabees is the Hasidaeans, i.e. hasîdîm, or 'godly': see 1 Macc. ii. 42, ‘Then were gathered together unto them (i.e. unto Mattathias and his friends, who appear to have been the first to assume the aggressive against Antiochus' decree) a company of Hasidaeans (ouvaywyn Aoldalwv),
mighty men out of Israel, every one that offered himself willingly (= 373M9, Jud. v. 2; 2 Ch. xvii. 16; Neh. xi. 2) for the law. And all they that fled from the evils were added to them, and became a stay unto them'; 1 Macc. vii. 13; 2 Macc. xiv. 6.
shall cause the many to understand] The wise' (maskilím), the leaders of the patriotic party, will, by their influence and example, teach the masses, especially such as were halting between two opinions, to understand their duty.
sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many 34 days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with
a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. 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 : because it is yet for a time appointed.
yet they shall fall, &c.] alluding to the persecutions and martyrdoms in which many of the loyal Jews perished; see 1 Macc. 60, 63, ii. 31–38; 2 Macc. vi. 10, 11, 18—31 (the aged scribe Eleazar), vii. (the mother and her seven sons). “Fall,' here and vv. 34, 35, is properly stumble (v. 14).
many days) viz. till an effectual stand was made by the Maccabees.
34. In the midst of their trials a little help' will arise, to assist them. The allusion is to the rising of the Maccabees. First of all, Mattathias, either alone or assisted only by his sons, resisted openly Antiochus' demands, and slew one of the officers sent to enforce them (1 Macc. ii. 15—28): then others gradually joined themselves to him, and carried the resistance further (ib. vv. 39-48): finally, after Mattathias' death, his son Judas Maccabaeus carried on the struggle. His first victory was gained over Apollonius, who invaded Judah with a considerable army; and shortly afterwards, Seron, commander of the host of Syria, coming to avenge Apollonius' defeat, was routed with the loss of 800 men, by Judas at the head of a 'small company' ('Ioúdas...Olcyoorbs), i Macc. iii. 10—24. After this, further successes were gained by Judas over Antiochus' generals Lysias and Gorgias (ib. iii. 38—iv. 35), the result of which was that, by the end of B.C. 165, the Jews recovered possession of Mount Zion, and the Temple was re-dedicated (ib. iv. 36—61). The occasion was celebrated by a festival, lasting eight days (v. 59), which was observed annually afterwards, and is referred to in John X. 22 (τα εγκαίνια).
but many shall join themselves (Is. xiv. I, lvi. 3) unto them with flatteries] or smooth sayings, i.e. plausible, but insincere, protestations of loyalty. In consequence of the severity shewn by Judas, and the leaders of the patriotic party, many joined them from mere terror, and were ready, if a favourable opportunity offered itself, to turn traitors. On the severity of Judas and the patriots towards the Hellenizing Jews, comp. allusions in 1 Macc. ii. 44, iii. 52, 8, vi. 21–27, vii. 5-7, 24 (where Judas, it is said, 'took vengeance on the men that had deserted from him '), ix. 23.
And some of them that be wise (v. 33) shall fall, to refine among them (among the people at large), and to cleanse, and to make white) The martyrdom of some of the godly leaders in the struggle would have the effect of testing the faith of the people at large, and of confirming and perfecting the character of those who were loyal. Cf. xii. 10.
to refine) the word means properly to smelt gold or silver ore (or alloy), so as to free the noble metal from impurities; it is then often used figuratively, sometimes of testing, sometimes of purifying, by severe
Silver Tetradrachm. Head of Antiochus, with diadem (in other coins of this type a star is seen distinctly on the forehead: Babelon, Les Rois de Syrie, XII. 3, 4).
Reverse: pollo, seated on omphalos, holding arrow and bo Inscription: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ (“Of King Antiochus').
Silver Drachm. Head of Antiochus, radiate. Reverse : Eagle, with closed wings, standing on thunderbolt. Inscription: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ (Of King Antiochus, God Manifest ').
3. Silver Tetradrachm. Head of Antiochus, as Zeus, with laurels.
Reverse : Zeus, wearing himation over shoulder, seated on throne: holds Nike (Victory), who crowns Inscription; and rests on sceptre. Inscription: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ NIKH OPOY (“Of King Antiochus, God Manifest, Victory-bearer').
4. Copper Pentechalcon. Head of Zeus-Serapis, wearing laurel. wreath, ending above in cap of Osiris.
Reverse : Eagle, with closed wings, standing on thunderbolt. Inscription: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ (Of King Antiochus, God Manifest). This coin was struck in Egypt, and illustrates Antiochus' conquest of that country (cf. Babelon, p. c).
(From casts taken from coins in the British Museum. The descriptions from Gardner's Coins of the Seleucid Kings of Syria, XI. 2, XII. 13, XI. 9, XII. 11.)
And the king shall do according to his will; and he 36 shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, discipline: cf. Is. i. 25, “and smelt away as with lye thy dross'; Jer. vi. 29, 'in vain the smelter smelteth, for the evil are not separated'; ix. 6 Behold, I will smelt them, and try them'; Zech. xiii. 9.
until the time of the end] the fall of the maskilim will continue till the final end of the present order of things (viii. 17), which the author pictures as coinciding with the close of Antiochus' reign (v. 40).
for (it is) yet for the time appointed) the end has not come yet; it has still to wait for the moment fixed in the counsels of God : cf. v. 27 end.
36—39. The presumptuousness and impiety of Antiochus. Many of the older expositors supposed that at this point there was a transition from Antiochus to the future Antichrist, and that vv. 36-45 related exclusively to the latter; but whatever typical significance might be legitimately considered to attach to the character and career of Antiochus as a whole, it is contrary to all sound principles of exegesis to suppose that, in a continuous description, with no indication whatever of a change of subject, part should refer to one person, and paft to another, and that 'the king of v. 36, and 'the king of the south of v. 45 should be a different king from the one whose doings are described in vv. 21–35. The fact that traits in the N.T. figure of Antichrist are suggested (apparently) by the description in vv. 36—39, does not authorize the inference that these verses themselves refer to Antichrist (cf. the Introd. p. xcvii).
36. according to his will] as viii. 4, xi. 3 (of Alexander); xi. 16 (of Antiochus the Great).
magnify himself] Is. X. 15. So v. 37.
above every god] Antiochus acquired a reputation for piety among the Greeks by his splendid presents to temples (cf. on v. 24); but by the manner in which he patronized, and selected for honour, particular deities (as Zeus Olympios, or Jupiter Capitolinus), he might be said, especially from an Israelitish point of view, to set himself above them all.
Antiochus, moreover, assumed divine honours. This is particularly evident, as Babelon has pointed out?, on his coins. His best portraits appear to be those on the coins of his early years, which bear simply the inscription 'King Antiochus. At a later period of his reign a star appears on his forehead, implying that he has assumed divine honours. Then in coins with the legend, King Antiochus, God' (or God Manifest'[Epiphanes]), the star disappears, but the portrait is idealized, the features approximating in type to those of Apollo. Other coins of the same type exhibit the head surrounded by a diadem with rays,another mark of divine rank. Lastly, on coins with the legend King Antiochus, God Manifest, Victory-bearer,' the head approximates even to that of Zeus Olympios, whose distinctive epithet Nernpópos (“Victorybearer') the king himself assumes. See the accompanying Plate. 1 In the instructive Introduction to
de Syrie (Catalogue Coins in the National Library at Paris), 1891, p. xcii-iv.
2 Babelon states that Antiochus Epiphanes is the first Seleucid king who is represented constantly on his coins with a crown of rays.