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observe, that the 36th verse, and those following it in the eleventh chapter, form very literal predictions of the character, and deeds, and events of the reign of a king, who succeeded, -not any Syrian king,—but the Maccabees, and their descendants the Asmoneans. The effect of the latter error has been, that they have quite misunderstood the twelfth chapter of the prophecy, which, in our view, contains as signal a prediction of the Advent of the Saviour, and of the mighty blessings to mankind, which have resulted from it, as is to be found in the volume of the Old Testament.
We will inquire into the nature of the parallelism between the terms of Daniel and Paul, which has exercised such a powerful influence over the plan of interpretation, of our more recent distinguished commentators,-in illustrating the 36th verse, to which we now proceed.
V. 36th. q “And the king shall do according to his will ; and he shall exalt and magnify himself above every God, and shall speak marvellous things concerning the God of gods, and shall flourish till wrath is complete (or till the completion of wrath); for a short work shall be done.”
It is quite obvious, from the successive tenor of the prophet's language, that, by this emphatic introduction of the king, we are not referred backward to any individual, before named as a king, and whom we are to understand as meant here ; for, where the term last occurs, two kings are named in conjunction, in the 27th verse :-"Both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief ; and they shall speak lies at one table.” The two, who do this, are the king of the south, and a vile person, who stood up in the
estate of the king of the north ; which latter we have seen is Antiochus Epiphanes. The vile person is no where else named a king, but in this 27th verse, in conjunction with the king of the south. It would be an incorrectness of language, of an extreme kind, to re-introduce either of these kings, in such an emphatic way, without giving any indication which of the two is meant; and no indication of the kind occurs in the text. But further :-it becomes quite apparent, when we look forward to the 40th verse, that this king, in the 36th verse, is neither a king of the south, nor a king of the north ; for, in that 40th verse, a king of the south pushes with him, and a king of the north comes against him. To discover the king of the 36th verse, then, we must look for a sovereign power, existing at the same time with, but distinct from, a sovereign power of the south, and another of the north. We have eras, marked in the terms of the prophecy, between which we are to look for his existence ;--the one era, the end, or appointed time named in the 35th verse ; and the other a different end, named in the 40th verse, where we are told, “ At the time of the end, a king of the south shall push with him.” We have seen, that the end, in the 35th verse, may be satisfactorily interpreted of the end of that Asmonean dynasty, which exercised, in one person, the functions of both high priest and sovereign. We have not yet seen what era is meant, by the end, in the 40th verse; but on examining that passage, we perceive, that, as the term, end, is set down in immediate connection with a king, or sovereignty, of the south, we shall probably best, looking at the prophecy only, interpret it, the end of the sovereignty of the south. We are led then to look for
the king in the 36th verse, as existing after the extinction of the Asmonean dynasty, and at the time of the end of the king of the south, whom, in the former part of the prophecy, all the commentators have interpreted to be the Græco-Egyptian kingdom and its sovereigns.
The prophet employs the emphatic Hebrew article in naming this king of the 36th verse. He is not a king, but the king. From this we are naturally led to infer, that there is something peculiar in his sovereignty, distinguishing him, in some remarkable way, from all the kings named in this prophecy. In accordance with this indication, we find a king,—at the time, when we see we are directed, by the tenor of the prophecy, to look for him,-in Herod, commonly called the Great ; in whose sovereignty there were peculiarities remarkably distinguishing him from all others here introduced. The other kings, named by Daniel in this prophecy, were kings of foreign nations. Herod was the king of Daniel's people ; and he was the only king after Daniel's time, who held, to the end of his life, the sovereign power over all that people, independently of, and separate from, the priestly authority. He is styled emphatically, by the Evangelist Matthew, Herod the king ;* and, by Luke, Herod the king of Judea.+ Let us go on to see, how literally and fully the character and actions of this king, and the more remarkable events, that occurred during his reign, agree with the predictions of the prophet, from the beginning of this 36th verse, to the end of the eleventh chapter.
* Matthew ii. 1.
| Luke i. 5.
Qur chief authority for the character and actions of Herod is Josephus. He has transmitted to us a most cir. cumstantial, and, at the same time, highly consistent and characteristic, account of the life of that singular tyrant, which gives us full information of the transactions, during his reign, within Judea itself. But there are, in this part of the prophecy, predictions of events,—which occurred, at the same period, beyond the boundaries of the Jewish kingdom, and yet involved the fortune of Herod's sovereignty,to which Josephus makes only brief references. The details of these events are found in writers of the transactions of the Augustan period of Roman history. Plutarch, in his Life of Mark Antony,--the most consistent, clear, and instructive, of all the lives he has written,-gives us a circumstantial detail of the particular events we refer to. He is an authority every way competent for wisdom, gravity, impartiality, and, for the most part, accuracy respecting facts. Not to multiply quotations unnecessarily in testimony of facts, which have never been disputed, we will refer to his authority for these events, making our quotations from the translation of his Lives, by the Langhornes.
The first part of the character of the king in the 36th verse, " he shall do according to his will," applies correctly to Herod. He was a self-willed and arbitrary tyrant. Josephus says of him, “ A man he was of great barbarity towards all men equally, and a slave to his passion ; but above the consideration of what was right.”* But “ he did according to his will,” also, in another sense, in which, we are taught, from other parts of Daniel's prophecies, to understand these terms. It is said of the ram with two horns,-interpreted by Gabriel to mean the kings of Media and Persia, - that he did according to his will." * The like is said of the mighty king in the 3d verse of this xi. chapter, who is plainly Alexander the Great ; and in verse 16th of the same chapter, it is said of another king,—whom the commentators have proved to be Antiochus the Great,--that “ he shall do according to his will, and none shall stand before him.” Now, these were successful warriors, who overpowered, in that capacity, all opposition to their will. We all know of the conquests of Cyrus, and other Persian kings; of those of Alexander the Great ; and of Antiochus the Great, during the earlier part of his reign, to which the prophet is referring in the terms last quoted. Herod was also a most successful warrior ; although within a more limited field. Josephus adds to the terms we last introduced from him," Yet was he favoured by fortune as much as any man ever was, for, from a private man, he became a king ; and though he were encompassed with ten thousand dangers, he got clear of them all, and continued his life till a very old age ; but then, as to the affairs of his family and children, in which, indeed, according to his own opinion, he was also very fortunate, because he was able to conquer his enemies, yet, in my opinion, he was herein very unfortunate.”
* Antiq. xvii. 8. 1.