Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 25: Daniel, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
THE VISION OF THE FOUR BEASTS
Our preceding volume having closed the historical portion of Daniel’s Prophecies, our second volume is occupied with Calvin’s comments upon those Prophetic Visions, which have ever excited the deepest interest in the minds of thoughtful Christians. The interval of time from the first verse of this chapter to the beginning of Daniel 10 is about twenty-two years. The vision of this chapter is the only one written in Chaldee, and its similarity to that of 2 may account for the same language being used in both.
The most appropriate method of illustrating these Lectures, is that of quoting the views of various eminent Reformers and later divines who have ably discussed the Prophet’s language, and then comparing them with the solutions proposed by our Lecturer.
Da 7:4. — The lion with eagle’s wings is supposed to bear some likeness to the vulture-headed Nisroch, with which the late Assyrian discoveries have rendered us familiar. Vaux, in his “Nineveh and Persepolis,” page 32, quotes the inquiry of Beyer in his notes to Selden’s work De Diis Syriis, as to a connection between this far-famed Assyrian deity and the representation recorded in this verse. Rosenmuller explains the plucking of the wings as a deprivation of any ornament, or faculty, or innate vigor, and quotes Cicero, Ep. ad Att., lib. 4, ep. 2, in reference to this deplumatio. The last clause, “a man’s head was given to it,” is well explained by Jerome of Nebuchadnezzar’s return to his kingdom after his banishment, and his receiving the heart which he had lost. The frontispiece on the title-page of Bonomi’s “Nineveh and its Palaces,” is a most accurate representation of this verse. The work contains many excellent engravings, explanatory of the symbolic language of this Prophet.
Da 7:5 — The raising of the bear on one side is interpreted by Theodoret and Jerome of the invasion of the Chaldean empire by the Persian. The protrusions from its mouth are thought by Wintle to be “tusks,” but Rosenmuller objects to this supposition. Wintle’s notes are on the whole so very judicious, that we do not hesitate again to recommend the reader to peruse them, as in most instances they confirm the interpretations adopted in these Lectures. Hippolytus, as quoted by Oecolampadius in loc., explains the three “ribs” of the three people, Assyrians, Medes, and Babylonians. The opinion of our Reformer, volume 2, page 16, is sound and satisfactory.
Da 7:6. — “Four wings on its back.” This symbolical representation occurs in the Nineveh sculptures. See Bonomi, page 257, and elsewhere.
Da 7:7. — The Fourth Beast of this verse has so usually been treated as the Roman Empire, that it simply becomes necessary to cite the exceptions to this opinion. Rosenmuller records an attempt to refute this interpretation by J. C. Becman, in a dissertation on the Fourth Monarchy, published in 1671, at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, and gives a slight sketch of his argument. Dr. Todd, in his able “Lectures on Antichrist,” has made use of every possible argument against applying this to the Roman Empire, and his theory has been fairly stated and ably opposed by Birks in his “First Elements of Sacred Prophecy.” London, 1843. With reference to this fourth beast, Dr. Todd believes it to be still future; and hence his expositions are classed with those of the Futurists. Our readers will remember, that as an expositor of prophecy, Calvin is a Praeterist, and that his general system of interpretation is as remote from the year-day theory of Birks, Faber, and others, as from the futurist speculations of Maitland, Tyso, and Todd. Notwithstanding the disagreement between these Lectures and the writings of Birks, we strongly recommend their perusal by every student who would become thoroughly proficient in the prophecies of Daniel. The first step towards progress, is to surrender all our preconceived notions, and to prepare for the possibility of their vanishing away before the force of sanctified reason and all-pervading truth.
The Jewish commentators are specially careful to deny the application of this fourth empire to the Romans. Rabbis Aben Ezra and Saadiah interpret it of the Turkish sway, and extend it to times stilt present and yet future. The Son of man they hold to be Messiah, who in their opinion has not yet arrived. A different interpretation has been suggested by Lacunza in La Venda del Messias en Gloria, y Magestad, translated by the Revelation E. Irving. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1827. Parte 2 Fenemeno 1. The opinion that the fourth empire is Alexander and his successors, is contained in Venema’s Dissert. ad Vaticin. Daniel emblem. 4to. Leovard, 1745.
Rabbi Sal. Jarchi understands the three ribs of Da 7:5, to be those things of Persia, Cyrus, Ahasuerus, and Darius who destroyed the Temple. The ten kings he thinks to be the emperors of Rome from Julius Caesar to Vespasian. The mouth speaking proud things of Da 7:8, he refers to Titus, thus adopting the supposition that the fourth empire is heathen Rome.
Maldonatus expounds the passage of heathen Rome, and feels his wrath stirred up against those “Heretics and Lutherans” who bring it down to Papal times, and rejoices in the opportunity of quoting Calvin, “their master,” against “the absurdity” of his disciples. See Comment. in Dan., page 673. But the learned Jesuit ought to have known that the celebrated Abbot Joachim, the founder of the Florentine order at the close of the 12th century, interpreted this empire of the mystic Babylon and the Papal Antichrist. He did not hesitate to apply the dates of this prophecy to the definite period of three years and a half, from A.D. 1256 to 1260. He was a bold forerunner of those modern expounders, who take exactly the same view of the Papacy as himself. See British Mag., volume 16, pages 370 and following; also pages 494 and following; and Liber de Flore Telesforus Cusentinus. Fol. 29, a. apud Todd, page 460.
THE TEN HORNS
The controversy which has arisen between commentator’s respecting these ten horns, refers first to the question, were they “kings” or “kingdoms?” And next, if “kings,” who are they? and if kingdoms, what are they? They are usually supposed to be the kingdoms into which the Roman Empire was divided. Vitringa in his Commentary on the Apocalypse, page 788, enumerates them after his own method, and the variety in the reckoning of these kingdoms is so great, that it has been used by many writers as an objection to their being kingdoms at all. Augustine (De. civit. Del., lib. 20, c. 23) considers the number “ten” to be indefinite, and to include all the kings of the Roman Empire. Willet, in loc., has collected a variety of interpretations from different writers; while Tyso gives a table of twenty-nine distinct lists, shewing that sixty-five different kingdoms and persons have been suggested. Elucidation of the Prophecies. 8vo, London, 1838, pages 100-114.
Rosenmuller treats them as kings. With him the fourth empire is not Rome, but that of the Seleucidae and Lagidae. By this assumption ten kings are easily found among those who reigned over both Egypt and Syria between Alexander and Antiochus Epiphanes, who on this plan is the Little Horn. He simply states his opinion without supporting it by any arguments. It by no means requires any, as the statement itself becomes its best refutation. This view was adopted by Bertholdt, and has been overthrown by Hengstenberg, with his usual learning and ability. See pages 164 and following, of the work cited in volume 1. The determination of some German writers to make Antiochus Epiphanes the Little Horn, has induced them to divide the four empires thus: — the Chaldean, Median, Persian, and Macedonian, the last including the various kingdoms which sprung from it. See Eichorn Einl., 4to, Ausg., B. 4, page 48; also the works of Jahn, Dereser, De Wette, and Bleek, ap. Hew. pages 161-169.
Some light is thrown on this subject by Fry in his Second Advent, volume 2, page 16, edit. 1822, London. He translates this and other visions and prophecies of Daniel with great clearness, and the hundred pages which he devotes to their explanation are well worthy of perusal. They contain many judicious quotations from Sir Isaac Newton, Mede, Faber, and the most celebrated English expounders of prophecy. As he considers the fourth beast the Roman Empire, and extends its duration throughout the modern history of Europe, he adopts the views of Bishop Chandler and Faber, as to the ten horns being ten kingdoms into which that empire was divided after the irruption of the barbarians. The northern nations parceled out the Roman Empire among themselves. These nations invaded the empire and settled within it. Now, it appears from history, that there were ten principal kingdoms into which the Roman Empire was divided. These ten primary kingdoms are then enumerated according to Machiavel; but it is beyond our province to pursue this view of the subject further; it is enough to refer to Fry’s translations of difficult passages of this Prophet, as clear, sound, and judicious. The Editor deems it his duty to point out the best opinions and explanations wherever he may find them; and to direct the reader’s attention especially to those which illustrate our Reformer’s Commentary.
THE LITTLE HORN
The Expositor who sympathizes most with our Lecturer among writers of our own day, is the late Professor Lee, of Cambridge. In his translations of the Hebrew Scriptures he is unrivaled; no scholar of our age can approach him in the extent of his learning or the soundness of his erudition. His expository system of the prophecies of Daniel and St. John will meet in these days with the most vehement condemnation, and it happily does not fall within the province of the Editor of these Lectures to express any other opinion, than that they throw light upon the views of our Reformer. It will be sufficient at present to refer the reader to his valuable work, entitled “An Inquiry into the Nature, Progress, and End of Prophecy,” Cambridge, 1849. He discusses the subject of our second volume from page 152, to page 230, and translates the Hebrew and Chaldee text of Daniel, adding valuable explanatory notes. Before the student is competent to pass an opinion on the Professor’s hermeneutical conclusions, he should be intimately familiar with his elaborate verbal criticisms.
The fourth kingdom he holds to be the Roman, and specifies, especially, “the Lower Roman Empire;” the ten horns are “a series of kings, each serves constituting a universal empire for the time being” The Little Horn is said to be “the latter rule of the Roman power,” (p. 165.) All reference to Antiochus Epiphanes is denied; and the argument is concluded by the following sentence, — “By every consideration, therefore, it is evident that the Little Horn of Daniel’s seventh and eighth chapters is identically the same, and that this symbolized that system of Roman rule which ruined Jerusalem, and then made war upon the sainted servants and followers of the Son of man; and in this he prospered and practiced, until he in his turn fell, as did his predecessors, to rise no more at all,” (p. 168.)
This vision has been ably and fully illustrated by Professor Bush of New York, in “the Hierophant,” 1844; and as the American Professor’s “exposition” is exceedingly clear, and full, and instructive, a few quotations from it are inserted here. “We propose, if possible, to ascertain the true character of the judgment here depicted, and by a careful collation of other Scriptures to determine its relations to the series of events connected with the second coming of Christ and its grand cognate futurities.” “This Little Horn,” he asserts, “is unquestionably the ecclesiastical power of the Papacy,” and “the judgment commences a considerable time prior to the transition of the beast from his pagan to his Christian state.”... “This horn did not arise till after the empire received its deadly wound by the hands of the Goths.” This divergence from the sentiments of our Reformer compels us to avoid quoting at greater length Professor Bush’s scheme of interpretation. It is ably planned and carefully executed. He supposes the Little Horn to prevail against the saints for 1260 years; adding, “nothing is more notorious than that the Roman Empire, after subsisting not far from the space of 1260 years from its foundation, did succumb to the sword of its Gothic invader, and about A.D. 476 became imperially extinct, under its then existing head.” This forms another period for the supposed termination of the 1260 years, very different from that usually maintained by British authors. It is said to be renewed again in the time of Charlemagne, and the testimony of Sigonius, Hist. de Reg. Ital., Book 4, page 1.58, is quoted in proof of this. See Hierophant, page 156.
THE ANCIENT OF DAYS — THE SON OF MAN
Da 7:9 and Da 7:13
This expression is treated actively by Wintle, — “He that maketh the days old,” and, consequently, ready to expire or cease. The Deity he supposes to be meant by this term, and refers us for an explanation of the human attributes assigned to the Divine Being, to Dr. Sam. Clarke’s Sermons, volume 1, Discertation 5. Grotius very appositely reminds us that the ancient thrones and since circles had wheels; and Rosenmuller treats them as indicating the velocity with which God beholds and judges all things. Some Jewish writers read thrones were taken away; implying’ the overthrow of the dominions of this world, and the setting up of flint of Messiah. Both Rabbis Levi and Saadias apply this passage to the future prosperity of Israel alone.
OecoIampadius supposes Christ to be here signified as the lamb slain from the beginning of the world, and therefore “Ancient.” After quoting Chrysostom and Basil on the phrase, “The books were opened,” he pointedly inquires, “But what need of books? every man’s conscience will be its own open volume.” The Christian tone of this commentator’s sentiments renders his writings far more valuable than most of those of his own and of succeeding ages. It treats this chapter with his usual skill and spirituality, differing however in some points from the general tenor of these Lectures. It enumerates the four visions of these last six chapters: the first and last of them, he states, relate to the persecutions to arise under Antichrist the second, in Daniel 8, to the profanation of the Temple under Antiochus; and the third, in the ninth chapter, to its devastation under Titus. He does not take the word “kings” for the monarch simply, but includes under the term their counselors, warriors, and ministers of state. “A king” with hint, refers to a monarch’s successors as well as himself. He quotes at length from Eusebius, Evan. Dem., book 15, the well-known passage in which this vision is recorded at full length. His illustrations of the first three beasts is judicious, and we have previously stated (volume 1, page 427) his view of the fourth empire as coinciding with Calvin’s. He refutes the comments of Polychronius and Aben Ezra, who apply the fourth kingdom to Alexander’s successors; and objects to Jerome, and Lactantius, and Ireneus, who treat the ten kings as ten monarchies springing from heathen Rome. The number ten is not taken literally, but mystically, for a perfect number, that is, one made up by adding one and two, and three and four. The ten horns, he thinks, follow the fourth beast, existing during his; own age and leading on directly to Antichrist. He approves of Apollinarius, who interprets the 8th verse of Antichrist, and then explains, very copiously, his sentiments as to where he is to be found. “Very possibly,” he remarks, “the Gregories, the Alexanders, and the Julii, did not displease God so strikingly while occupying the Papal chair: God only is their judge. But during this reign such innumerable enormities are committed as are worthy of the true Antichrist, and thus rebound upon their heads.” He then runs the parallel between Mohamed and the Papacy, and with great accuracy and spirit treats the false prophet as the Antichrist of the east, and the Roman Pontiff as corresponding to him throughout the west. The “eyes of a man” of Da 7:8, are explained of the bland and benignant appearance of this insinuating personage, while the blasphemies of his mouth are interpreted of the impious boastings of Mohamed and the Pope. The manner in which both Mohamed and the Papacy have “changed the times,” is amply discussed, and the language of both Daniel and St. John made applicable to the modern history of the religions of the Crescent and the Cross throughout both Asia and Europe.
In commenting on Da 7:9, he refers it to the future destination of Antichrist, and comparing’ this passage with St. John, states his view of the three and a half years, or forty-two months, or half-week. Seven is a perfect number representing perpetuity, and God who is perpetually angry stops half way in his course of punishment. Oecolampadius is severe upon the Chiliasts, similar to the Futurists of our day, who expect one personal Antichrist yet to be revealed. Although he calls them “semi-Jews,” yet their solution of this great problem of prophecy may after all turn out to be the right one, and Christendom hereafter may yet vindicate their far-seeing sagacity. The remainder of the chapter is connected with the second coming of Christ to judgment, and the final victory of the saints when the harvest of the world shall be gathered in, and “the righteous shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” The introduction of the Antichrist and the Papacy with the Mohammedan imposture, existing as they have done for many years since the first advent, and as it is assumed they will do till the second advent, gives the tone to the comments of Oecolampadius very different from that of Calvin. It becomes highly instructive to compare and contrast them, as in this way we may derive profit from both, and correct our own presumption, if we are tempted to esteem either as necessarily and exclusively perfect.
Da 7:9. — “The thrones were cast down” — Authorized Version. Professor Bush agrees with Calvin, volume 2, page 32, in preferring were set, placed, or arranged, bringing forward as his supporters, Jerome, Arias Montanus, the Syriac, Arabic, and Genevan versions, besides Luther’s and Diodati’s. “The saints who are subsequently said to have possessed the kingdom formed the celestial conclave, and sat upon the encircling thrones.” He prefers the meaning, “Permanent of days,” or, “Enduring of days,” to the common rendering “Ancient of days.” Cocccius favors this expression, and also Michaelis, who assigns the primary sense of enduring and abiding to the Hebrew word. See also Job 31:7, and Isa 33:18. The designation, enduring of days, undoubtedly carries with it a latent contrast to the many vicissitudes, and the transient nature of the thrones and kingdoms here shadowed forth as the antagonist dominions to that of God everlasting. He then quotes Calvin’s remarks on this verse as “singularly appropriate and striking.” His garment (literally) was as the white snow. The resplendent white of his spotless garments indicated the exquisite equity, justice, and impartiality of his judgments, while the locks of his hair, purer than the washed wool of the fairest fleeces, indicate nothing of the imbecility of extreme old age, but the considerate gravity, the ripened reflection, the mature wisdom, the enlightened experience, the venerable authority, and the calm decision, which are naturally associated with the “hoary head.” Referring to the fairy throne and the burning wheels, he adds, “As the entire gorgeous apparatus described by the Prophet, has reference primarily to a period anterior to new Testament times, when the kingdom of God had not yet obtained that fixedness which is attributed to it in subsequent visions, therefore his throne is represented with the accompaniment of wheels. The scene, he states, “Is a judgment which transpires on the earth in the providence of God, and not a judgment at the end of the world, as often understood by the readers of revelation.”... “The scenery is to be regarded as ideal and not real. It is the celestial shadow of a terrestrial reality. The whole scene, which is impartially described as transpiring in heaven, does really take place in the providence of God on earth, so these judges and co-assessors are really men, who are made agents in executing the divine purposes relative to the overthrow of the anti-Christian dominion represented by the Beast and the Little Horn.” The professor, though differing from Calvin on some points, strongly corroborates his opinions on others. The statements on pages 26 and 28 of this volume are expanded and enforced in various passages in the Hierophant. For instance, on page 109, “That the vision and scene does not refer to what is usually termed ‘the last judgment’ to take place at some future period, and simultaneously with the final resurrection and consummation of all things, is obvious from the whole tenor of the vision. The judgment is a local judgment, and the object of it, not the whole race of men, but a particular despotic, persecuting, idolatrous, and blasphemous power, which the counsels of heaven have doomed to destruction.” This is entirely in accordance with Faber. See Calvin of Proph., volume 2, page 108.
Da 7:13 — The Son of Man. He is usually admitted to be the Messiah. Hengstenberg remarks upon our Lord’s reasons for using this designation of himself. He aptly compares various passages in St. Matthew’s Gospel with those of this chapter, and shews how they bear upon the genuineness of Daniel’s prophecies.)
Oecolampadius refutes the notions of the Jews who treat the phrase “the Son of man,” as their own nation. He argues against Rabbi Saadias and the Chiliasts, and after fully upholding the union of the divine with the human natures in Christ, he approves of the instructive comments of Chrysostom and Cyril. His coming to the Ancient of Clays is explained by St. Paul’s assert. ion, He shall deliver up the kingdom to his Father; and thus the victory of the saints becomes that final triumph of righteousness, which shall be visibly displayed at the second advent of the Redeemer.
The possession of the kingdom by the saints of the most high, (Da 7:22,) was interpreted by the early Fathers, of the general spread of Christianity after the first advent. Professor Lee, in replying to Dr. Todd, has collected their testimony to the reign of Christ and his saints, as spread far and wide in the very earliest period of the Gospel history. His list of authorities will support the system of interpretation adopted by Calvin
See Tertullian adv. Jud., page 105. Ed. 1580.
Irenoeus. Edit. Grabe, pages 45, 46, 221, etc.
Justin Martyr. Edit. Thirlby, pages 369, 328, 400.
Cyprian. adv. Jud, Book 2, passim, and De Unit. Eccl., page 108. Edit. Dodwell. Euseb. Hist. Eccl., Book 8, and elsewhere. De, Vit. Const., Book 1, chapters 7, 8, and his other writings.
Fabricii Lux. Sanct. Evan. contains similar extracts from the earliest Fathers to the same purpose.
For the Professor’s own view, see his Treatise on the Covenants, page 112 and following. He is ably supported by Professor Bush, who correctly limits this vision to the first establishment of the reign of Messiah, and the early preaching of the Gospel. The American Professor throws great light on the passage, by a clear and comprehensive criticism on the Hebrew words. His remarks on the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven, are ingenious. He does not understand the word “clouds” in its ordinary sense, but as denoting “a multitude of heavenly attendants.” He quotes 1Th 4:17, from which he concludes that the meaning is not that we shall be caught up into the clouds, but in multitudes. The Son of man being brought to the Ancient of days is said to set forth the investiture of the Son of man with that vice-regal lordship, which he, in the divine economy, held over the nations of the earth and through the perpetuity of time. “The paramount question to be resolved, is that of the true epoch of this ordained assumption by the Messiah of the majesty of the kingdom. He then determines the question exactly as Calvin does, by saying, “This we think is plainly to be placed at the Savior’s ascension.”... “It is in this passage of Daniel that we find the germ of nearly all the announcements of the New Testament, relative to the founding of that spiritual monarchy.”... “Conceiving the clouds then, in the Prophet’s vision, as being really clouds of angels, we shall be better prepared to understand the drift of the New Testament narrative, Ac 1:9. It was by this cloud of celestial attendants that he was brought, in the language of Daniel, to the Ancient of days, for him to receive the seals, as it were, of that high office which he was to fill as head of the universal spiritual empire now to be set up.” There is, therefore, we conceive, no greater mistake in regard to the whole rationale of this prophecy, than to understand the judgment and the coming of the Son of man here mentioned, as the final judgment and final coming of Christ synchronical with an anticipated physical catastrophe of the globe.
Professor Bush quotes Calvin on Da 7:12 with approbation, and adds the Rabbinical paraphrase of Jaachiades, in support of their joint conclusions. Vitringa, in his Dissertations on the Emblems of this Prophet, page 504, elicits a different sense. He makes the “life” and the “dominion” identical. Sir J. Newton maintains that the three beasts were, in the eye of prophecy, still living in his day, and were to be sought for where their geographical seat existed at the time of their ascendancy. — Observ. on Daniel, page 31. Although Bishop Newton and others agree with him, there is no foundation for this ingenious conjecture. Mede’s view is different still, and Bush points out “a serious and probably an insuperable objection to it;” while he glides off himself to the “leading despotisms of the East, including perhaps those of Russia and Turkey,” contrary to the sentiments expressed in page 26 of this volume See pages 162, 163.
An important question has arisen among Commentators, as to the import of the word “kings” in Da 7:17. Does it refer to persons or to dynasties? Professor Bush argues for a symbolical sense, and quotes Theodotion, who renders it “kingdoms.” It is next asserted, that the term kingdom is not to be applied to “a purely regal form of government,” but to “any form of national existence in which we can recognize in established ruling power.” Havernick remarks, that “kings” here stands in the concrete for dynasties or kingdoms, the representation of kingdoms for the kingdoms themselves. The word “kingship” expresses this idea of Havernick’s better than kingdom. Bush treats it as a denomination potiore, which he aptly translates “a titling from the chief.”
Da 7:18. — The Saints of the Most High. This phrase is said by Bush to indicate the Jews, “as forming a part at least of the saints who are to be the possessors of the kingdom here spoken of.” There are strong grounds for believing that the holy people which were to be destroyed and scattered, (Da 8:24, and Da 12:7,) were the Jews. Daniel’s grief was occasioned, in great measure, by a foresight of the cruel oppressions to which his own people were to be subjected during the dominion of the Beast and Little Horn.” The plural form of the word, which Calvin accurately preserves and notices, is said to recall, “that holy and devoted people who are born from above.” Bush translates sancti altissimorum, the saints of the most High Ones.
THE PROPHETIC MEANING OF “A TIME.”
It is important to determine accurately the meaning of this and similar phrases. The word “time” is, as Calvin remarks, naturally indefinite, while its use in this Prophet leads to the conclusion that it means “years.” The passage in Da 4:16, “Seven times,” is usually understood to mean seven years, although nothing can fairly rest upon this interpretation. The phrase of this verse is usually taken to mean half of seven times, and is used again in Da 12:7. The other passages which refer to periods of time are expressed more definitely, for instance, 2300 “evenings and mornings,” Da 8:14-26; the seventy weeks or seven, Da 9:24; the 1290 “days,” Da 12:11, and the 1335 days, Da 12:12. “The terms in the first four instances,” says Bickersteth, in his Practical Guide to the Prophecies, edit. sixth, 1839, page 184, “are in themselves quite ambiguous and general. There is nothing to determine, respecting the number 2300, and the seventy weeks, whether years or days be intended; but analogy would lead us to suppose that all were to be interpreted on a common principle.” He goes on to say, “It appears from Da 12:7, that the close of the three times and a half is closely connected with the gathering of the Jews; and from Zec 1:18-21, that the power of the four Gentile monarchies is then broken; and this confirms the extended meaning of both. God looks at the whole course of this world’s history as but a few days. Daniel, when he heard the period of the times and a half announced by the angel, understood not, and on inquiry received the answer, The words are sealed to the time of the end; and an intimation is given, that even when unsealed, only the wise would understand. We thus learn that the meaning couched under this expression was purposely concealed for a time, but was afterwards to be unfolded to the wise. The promise is not of a fresh revelation, but of an explanation of a period already given. And there seems to have been a wise end in this veiling of the time, as it would have been staggering to the faith, and deadening to the hopes of the Israelites, if the whole of the interval had been openly and explicitly declared,” page 186. This excellent man was an advocate of the symbolizing sense of chronological expressions; thus on the “seven times,” he says; “this seems plainly to denote the season during which the Gentile dominion of the four monarchies should be corrupt and worldly, as afterwards exhibited in the four beasts coming up from the sea.” Again, “the seven times” would then answer to “the times of the Gentiles” mentioned by our Lord. He also makes the following statements — “The time, times, and half a time, the forty-two months and 1260 days, are the same interval; the time, times, and half, of Daniel and the Revelation are the same period; a prophetic day is a natural year; the three and a half times are the half of seven times, the whole season of Gentile power, and the same with the latter times of St. Paul. A time denotes 360 years, and chronos is equivalent to kairos,” (p. 365.) As these assertions are not to be found anywhere in Holy Scripture, Calvin has manifested his wisdom, by expounding the text as he finds it, and avoiding all conjectural statements. As a specimen, however, of a scheme on the opposite principles to those maintained in these Lectures, we will quote one final passage on this subject, headed Particular Times, (p. 366.) “The time, times, and half, and 1260 days of Revelation are the same period. The forty-two months have a date rather later, like the two dates of the seventy years’ captivity;” (yet observe the previous extract. — Ed) “The 1290 and 1335 days of Daniel both commence with the 1260 days of Revelation, or time, times, and a half, of both prophecies; the seven times of the Gentiles begin with the subjection of Israel under Shamanezer; the three and a half times begin with Justinian’s eternal code, A.D. 532-3; the forty-two months close nearly with the 1335 days; the forty-two months begin A.D. 604, or A.D. 607-8, with the re-union of the ten kingdoms, or the public establishment of idolatry; the 1335 days end in A.D. 1867-8.” The arguments in favor of this theory, directed chiefly against the Futurists, are found in the “First Elements of Sacred Prophecy,” from chapter. 12, page 308, to the end of the volume. Similar discussions are contained in “The Morning Watch,” passim, especially one on “The Sacred numbers,” volume 5, pages 273-285, London, 1832. The reader who is curious in such numerical calculations will find much to his taste in the volumes of this periodical.
Brooks, in his useful compendium, “Elements of Prophetical Interpretation,” has devoted Daniel 10 to “Time mystically expressed.” He examines at full length the argument of Maitland, who contends for the literal meaning of days, in “An Inquiry into the grounds on which the prophetic period of Daniel and St. John has been supposed to consist of 1260 years.” Brooks brings forward the usual reasonings by which the literal meaning of the word “day” is supposed to be overthrown, and combats Maitland with much spirit. He settles it rather positively, that “the literal meaning of a time is a year, and then considers the expression of this verse 25, “may signify, mystically, if calculated by lunar time, a period of 1260 years.” Some, it is added, “have considered that a time means mystically a century of years.” Vitringa states this to be the view of the Waldenses, who hoped for a speedy termination to their persecutions, and were persuaded that the anti-christian power which opposed them could only last 350 years. Bengelius at one time adopts, and at another rejects the year-day explanation, and modifies it according to his pleasure in his “Introduction to the Interpretation of the Apocalypse,” translated by Robertson, pages 147, 212, 258. “Another important principle to be kept in view is, the high probability that there may be a mystical fulfillment of some of the dates and facts connected with the chronological prophecies, and a literal fulfillment likewise.” Speculations of this kind are by no means in the spirit of Calvin’s comments; he carefully avoids all such expressions as “mystical days,” yet the reader will find in this little volume many extracts from writers of repute, illustrating the prominent features of Daniel’s prophecies.
Professor Bush, in the Hierophant, page 180, comments with great critical ability upon the Hebrew word signifying “time” in this verse. He compares it with the word ןמז, zemen, correctly rendered “season” in the authorized version. The leading sense of this word, he states, “is that of a fixed, prescribed, determinate season,” and in this respect it differs from the more general word time, as the Greek kairos, “season,” differs from chronos, time. As to the other word ןדע gneden is used for the most part in a wider sense, and answers more accurately to the Hebrew תע Gneth, “time.” “We find mention made in the last chapter of Daniel of two other periods, one of 1290, the other of 1335 years.” The additional numbers expressing 30 and 45 similar periods, are called supplementary terms. At page 241 there is an able letter to Professor Stuart of Andover, U.S., on prophet, in designations of time. This learned writer is like Calvin, praeterits, and consequently his writings on this subject; are an able elucidation of the principles of these lectures. He approves of Davidson’s statement in his “Sacred I-Hermeneutics,” that days are days, and years years. So the writer maintains with no small skill and power of argumentation. Professor Bush, on the other hand, replies, “the grand principle into which the usage of employing a day for year is to be resolved, is that of miniature symbolization.” The argument between the two American divines is then carried on at some length; it is only necessary here to refer to it, on the general principle which we have adopted in illustrating these lectures, namely, to shew that Calvin’s decision meets with many able supporters and expounders among British, Continental, and American writers, as well as numerous, earnest, and voluminous opponents.
THE PLACE OF THE VISION.
Differences have arisen as to the reality of Daniel’s transfer to Shushan and the banks of the Ulai or Choaspes. Dr. Blayney thinks Elam was a province of Babylon over which Daniel actually presided; but in its more extended sense it comprised the whole country on either side of the Eulaeus, one side being Elymais, and the other Susiana. See Pliny, Nat. Hist., Book 6. “Susiana,” says Birks, “close to the Tigris, was distinct from Persia Proper, and might still be under the power of Belshazzar.”
In this eighth chapter the Hebrew language is resumed, and used in all the following visions. This has been considered emblematical of the subject-matter which relates mainly to the future state of Israel, and of the kingdoms in political relation to it. The visions of this chapter clearly refer to the Persian and Grecian empires. These are intimately connected with those persecutions under which the Jews groaned so heavily, through the profanation of their Temple, and the removal of their daily sacrifice. These distresses continue for 2300 days till the sanctuary is cleansed. The reader will find these points clearly and historically illustrated in “the two later visions of Daniel” previously referred to, — Daniel 1 and 2. The exposition of the Duke of Manchester is worthy of notice. He compares and connects the visions and prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9, and differs from the usual schemes hitherto submitted to our notice. See pages 392-397. “The vision embraces a period of time commencing from after the conquest of India by Darius, until the last end of the indignation, for the ram was pushing westward, northward, and southward, but not eastward.”
THE RAM AND THE HE-GOAT.
The clearest modern exposition with which the Editor is acquainted is that of Birks, and it will be sufficient for our purpose to make a few extracts from his work. “The ram is expounded by the angel to be the kings of Media and Persia.” It is clear, then, that the word kings is not used in a personal sense. It is plain they are the two ruling dynasties or powers, confederate in conquest, and of which Media was superior at first, and Persia after the sole reign of Cyrus. The ram itself, and not the two horns, denotes the compound Median and Persian power. The ram was seen “pushing westward, and northward, and southward.” These words are a very clear prediction of the conquests of Cyrus, though, perhaps, they may include the later conquests of Egypt by his son Cambyses. “The vision was in the sixth or seventh year of Cyrus, when his career of victory had already begun,” (p. 10.) Two objections to this explanation are then answered; one is, that the chronology seems to require a later commencement, and the other, that the place of the ram before the river, has been thought to imply the previous establishment of the Persian empire. The most natural sense of the words “before the river,” is, “with its face to the river.” The accomplishment of this prophecy is then traced through Herodotus, and Xenophon. The narratives of Herod. Book 1:71-95, respecting the overthrow of Croesus, and 152-216, respecting his victories in Upper Asia, clearly support this view of the fulfillment.
The he-goat is so clearly fulfilled in Alexander, that, no further remark seems required. Birks has translated at length the passages in Diodorus, and given a correct summary of the chronology of this period. See also Alexander in Plutarch, chapter 24, Diod. Sic., lib. 17, section 46, and Quint. Curtius, lib. 4, section. 4, 19.
ALEXANDER AND HIS SUCCESSORS
The classical passages from which correct information is obtained respecting the kingdom of Macedon, Syria, and Egypt, as far as they illustrate Daniel’s prophecies, are as follow: —
Quintus Curtius, fol. Col. Agripp., 1628, page 670 and following. This is the edition of Raderus under the title of Q. Curtii Rufi de Alexandro M. historiam Mathaei Raderi S. J. Commentarii.
Diodori Siculi, lib. 18, page 587. Wesseling, Amst., 1746, volume 2, page 258.
Polybius, 126, cap. 10, volume 4, page 353 and following. Schweigheuser’s edition.
Atheneous, Deipnosophist, lib. 5, cap. 5, and lib. 10, cap. 10.
Photius, cod. 82, and cod. 92 in epit., lib. 9.
Justin, lib. 13.
Crosius, Hist., lib. 3, chapter 23.
Dexippus and Artrian in fragments preserved by Photius.
Biblioth., cod. 82, and cod. 92.
Andrew Schott, in his edition of flee Bibliotheca of Photius, has given a tabular view of the various divisions of Alexander’s kingdom, classifying them according to the authority of each of the above-mentioned authors. See fol. Gen., 1612, page 230.
Venema, in his dissertations on the emblematical prophecies of Daniel, gives a full statement of every event, with a separate classical authority for each. His object was to shew that Alexander’s kingdom was divided into ten after his death, and that the portion of this prophecy interpreted by Calvin of the Roman empire was really fulfilled by the Greeks. Dr. Todd has quoted the original Latin, (p. 504 and following,) from Dissertation. 5, section. 3 to 12, pages 347 to 364. 4to. Leovard, 1745.
THE WONDERFUL NUMBERER — ONE HOLY ONE
SPEAKING TO ANOTHER.
A very peculiar Hebrew word is used to designate the second Holy One. Lowth intimates its connection with the Logos. It may properly be translated, “To the excellent one.” The original word ינומלפ, palmoni, is supposed to be formed of two nouns ינולפ, peloni, and ינומלא, almoni, which are found in Ru 4:1, and 2Ki 6:8 Glass. gram., 4, 3, 864, as quoted in Poole’s Syn., calls them fictitious nouns, being used when the real name is purposely concealed, like the ὁ δεῖνα of the Greeks. Hence it does not signify any angel, but some remarkable one. Calvin’s opinion that it refers to Messiah is held by many other interpreters, as given by Poole in loc. Wintle adopts another view, — “the numberer of secrets,” or, “the wonderful numberer,” from the two words אלפ, phla, “wonderful,” used by Isaiah of Messiah in the well-known passage in chapter. 9, and הנמ, “to number,” which has already come before us. He refers to Glass. Philippians page 644, 4to, and translates, “And another saint said unto that excellent one that was speaking.” Holy One is preferable to saint in this passage. Gesenius adopts the statement of Glasse; the quadriliteral arising from the combination of two words in common use. See also “The Times of Daniel,” page 399, and “The Morning Watch,” volume 5, page 276, where palmoni is translated “the numberer of secrets.”
Da 8:13. — The Vision of the Daily Sacrifice. The translation of this passage is of great importance, Professor Lee translates as follows: —
11 By him the daily sacrifice was to be taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was to be cast down.
12 And an army was to be given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, (i.e., because the transgressors had now come to the full: see note, page 165,) and it cast the truth to the ground, and it practiced and prospered.
13 How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?
14 The answer is, unto 2300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
The wording of the Hebrew is peculiar here and highly deserving of remark. It stands literally thus, — “Until (the) evening (and) morning, or it may be until the evening of the morning, two thousand and three hundred, and the sanctuary (lit. holiness) shall be sanctified.” Evening and morning, I take here to be a mere periphrasis for a day; and so our translators have taken it, Ge 1:5. The day here had in view, continues Professor Lee, “must mark the period of Daniel’s seventieth week — the numbers given above must be understood indefinitely, and as intended to designate a considerable length of time.” Referring again to Da 8:11, he states, this consummation could not be effected by Antiochus Epiphanes: he only suspended the service of the Temple for about three years and a half. By every consideration, therefore, it is evident that the Little Horn of Daniel’s seventh and eighth chapters, is identically the same, and that this symbolized that system of Roman rule which ruined Jerusalem, and then made war upon the sainted servants and followers of the Son of man; and in this he prospered and practiced, until he in his turn fell, as did his predecessors, to rise no more at all. (P. 168.) Wintle, with his usual judgment, translates, “until the evening (and) morning 2300.” “I insert the word and, because the vau is repeated at Da 8:26. I am inclined to think this vesperamane should induce us to understand these days in the first instance literally, rather than of months and years.” The great difficulty, he states, is to reconcile this period with the tyranny of Antiochus; while he does not forget the reference to Antichrist, of whom Antiochus was the type. See, also Sir Isaac Newton, Obs., chapter 9. Rosenmuller has collected various explanations, especially C. B. Bertram; Kirms, in his historical and critical commentary, page 39; Melancthon, page 131; and Eichhorn in Apoc., t. 2, page 60. “The Times of Daniel” also contains a translation of this passage which is worth notice, page 400, although it is not so scholar-like as that quoted above.
The opinion that this period refers to the rise and duration of the Mohammedan power in the East, is ably advocated by Fry, “Second Advent,” volume 2, page 43 and following; where various explanations of the dates are given at length.
THE SEVENTY WEEKS
A great variety of opinions have been published upon this interesting period; it would be impossible to enumerate them all, and it will be sufficient to allude to those which illustrate Calvin’s assertions. The titled author of “The Times of Daniel” writes as follows, — “I endeavored to shew in the chronology that there were two periods of seventy years, — one, the service of Babylon, the other the desolation of Jerusalem, and that the desolation’s terminated with the first year of Darius Nothus. I hope to establish presently that the termination of each of these periods is a fresh epoch,” page 400. “The decree dates from the time of Daniel’s prayer. The command came forth, therefore, in the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus,” page 402. He then strongly approves of the rendering of the passage by Hengstenberg. “Seventy weeks are cut off over thy people and over thy holy city.” Exactly Calvin’s use of the preposition super. And he adds, most Commentators observe that “cut off” is used figuratively for determined. Mede is also quoted to the same effect, works, fol. page 497. I am still able to follow Dr. Hengstenberg in the following clause, “to restrain transgression and to seal sin.” All senses of the verb, says he, unite in that of restraining. To seal sin, holds forth God’s judicial hardening of persons in sin. This passage, the Duke thinks, was fulfilled “before the passover, in the year A.D. 67.” The terminus a quo is said to be the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, whose date is given in Ptolemy’s Canon An. Nabonassar 325, which, according to the method of verifying the date here used, is b.c. 424, “which, added to the year when apostasy was no longer restrained, A.D. 66, makes 70 weeks or 490 years.” Original views of the “sealing” and the sixty-two weeks are also proposed, to which we can only refer: see pages 410-422. The closing calculation, that “we may look for the cleansing of the sanctuary A.D. 1877,” is so adverse to the interpretation of these Lectures, that we must be content with this passing allusion to it.
The opinions of certaii1 celebrated writers upon this point are here collected. Clement of Alexandria, according to the late Bishop of Lincoln, page 383, explains it thus: “The Temple was rebuilt in seven weeks: then, after an interval of sixty-two weeks, the Messiah came. then, after an interval of half a week, Nero placed an abomination in the Temple of Jerusalem: and, after another half-week, the Temple was destroyed by Vespasian.” Theodoret closes the period three years and a half after the suffering of Christ: “and so they begin the last week at the baptism of Christ,” says Willet. He quotes Zonaras, tom. 1, Annal., who commences the period at the 20th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and ends the 62 weeks at the death of Hyrcanus. From this point to Christ’s baptism they reckon seven weeks more, and then in the midst of the last week, Messiah was slain; so there remained afterwards three years and a half for the preaching of the Gospel. Eusebius begins the 69 weeks in the sixth year of Darius Itystaspes, and ends them in the first year of Herod, about the death of Hyrcanus. He begins the 70th week at Christ’s baptism, and ends the period three years and a half afterwards. Tertullian, by beginning in the first year of Darius, counts 490 years, to the destruction of Jerusalem.
OEcolampadius confesses this passage to be one of the most difficult in Scripture, and can scarcely satisfy himself with any solution. He rather unwisely introduces chronological tables of the events of Scripture, from Adam to the time of the Herods. “With Christ,” he says, “is the fullness of the times and the completion of the seventy weeks.” He quotes the expressions of Jewish authorities, and refers to the cruelty of Herod, and the anointing of Jesus as Messiah. “They are not weeks of days, or of jubilees, or of ages,” he asserts, but of years. They most probably begin at either the first year of Cyrus, or the second of Darius. He calculates it both ways: the first period closing at the death of Antiochus the brother of Alexander, and the other at the reign of Herod. He afterwards adopts the division of this period into three parts, and explains his method of reckoning the seven weeks. The question is discussed with great judgment, and its perusal will amply repay the attentive student of this remarkable prophecy.
J. D. Michaelis has elucidated this subject, in a letter to Sir John Pringle, which the English reader will find noticed in the Monthly Review, O. S., volume 49, page 263 and following. Dr. Blayney, in a Dissertation, Oxford, 1775, 4to, contradicts the Professor’s opinions: see Monthly Review, O. S., volume 52, page 487 and following. John Uri also published at Oxford, 1788, an “Interpretation, paraphrase, and computation of this passage.” Faber’s well-known Dissertation, London, 1811, only needs to be mentioned to be valued; while that of Dr. Stonard, London, 1826, is exceedingly elaborate, being a masterly scholastic work. Dr. Wells has prefixed to his “Help to the Understanding of Daniel,” some observations on the chronology of this prophecy. From him we learn the different methods of Scaliger, Mede, and Bishop Lloyd, while his own paraphrase and his solution of some of the difficulties in the schemes of preceding writers, are worthy of attentive perusal. Willet presents us with “The several interpretations of Daniel’s seventy weeks dispersedly handled before, summed together,” in his 55th question on this chapter, and continues the subject through the ten succeeding questions. From his comments, we ascertain the views of J. Lucidus, lib. 7, De emendatione teenporis, Osiander, Junius, Montanus in apparat., lib. Dan., and others. His remarks on Calvin are worthy of notice here. “M. Calvin beginneth these years in the first year of Cyrus, and endeth them in the sixth of Darius the son of Hystaspes, the third king of Persia; but this cannot be; for they that give the most years unto Cyrus and Cambyses, allow but the one 30 and the other seven; excepting only Luther, who following Eusebius De Demon. Evan., giveth to each of them 20 years. Then add the six years of Darius, they will make but 43. How, then, can the seven weeks be here fulfilled? Beside, that Darius, in whose sixth (year), the Temple was re-edified, called Darius of Persia, was not Darius Hystaspes the third king of Persia; but before this Darius, three other kings are named Cyrus, Assuerus, Artashasht, Ezr. 4:6, 7.” This reference to Calvin occurs in his 58th question, — “When the term of seven weeks, that is 49 years began and when it ended,” page 323, Edit., 1610. One remark of Wintle’s is most important, as its correctness vindicates Calvin from every charge of inconsistency in his interpretation of these prophecies. “The original word rendered weeks throughout the prophecy, strictly signifies sevens, which word is adopted in Purver’s translation, and may be referred either to days or years.” Professor Jahn also adopts the same correct and simple translation, and his satisfactory criticism is found in his Appendix to Enchir Hermen., Fasc. 1, page 124 and following. Vienna, 1813. The subject is also discussed by the present Editor, in his Norristan Prize Essay for 1834, page 81. Dathe also, in his Prophetic Majores, Edit. 3d., Halae, 1831, translates as follows, “The seventy, yea the seventy, are drawing to a close.” The only difference in the original is in the pointing of the Masorets; and thus the chronology which they introduced, requires all the ingenious apparatus of the profound astronomy of Sir Isaac Newton to reconcile it with the historical facts. See his Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel, part 1, chapter. 10. Archbishop Seeker has dwelt much on this point, and every commentator on the Prophet has treated it with more or less wisdom and discretion. Wintle is on the whole very judicious. Professor Lee’s translation of the passage, and explanation of the Hebrew words, is exceedingly valuable. His exegetical comments admit of some variety of opinion as to their value. The seventy weeks, says he, were not “to be considered chronological in any sense, but only to name an indefinite period, the events of which, as in most similar cases, should make all sufficiently clear,” Bk. 2, chapter 1, page 160. This chronological period, and the dependent minor divisions, are ably treated by Rosenmuller, who has devoted more than usual space to their illustration. He quotes some of the best opinions of the most celebrated German writers, and throws great light upon the historical points connected with the inquiry. See his comments on this chapter. 9, pages 313-324.
Broughton has quoted largely from Jewish Rabbis; he treats Daniel’s prayer as a compendium of theology, and applies Gabriel’s answer to the baptism, miracles, and life of our Lord.
Professor Stuart, whom we have already quoted, has treated this subject with great precision by commenting critically on the Hebrew words. He adopts the rendering seventy sevens, or “seventy heptades are determined upon thy people. Heptades of what? of days or of years? No one can doubt what the answer is. Daniel had been making diligent search respecting the seventy years; and in such a connection, nothing but seventy heptades of years could be reasonably supposed to be meant by the angel.” An argument is also drawn from the double gender of the plural of this word, which is noticed by Ewald, Gram. Heb., section. 373. London, 1836. Many other arguments in favor of its general sense of “sevens” are added, implying that the connection only determines whether years or days be intended. Professor Bush brings forward the opposite views to those of Stuart, and discusses the subject with the utmost exactness of Hebrew criticism. Mede should also be consulted, works, Bk. 3, chapter. 9, page 599. Hengstenberg treats the form of the word as rarticipial and indicating a septenized period, like hebdomas in Greek, septimana in Latin, settimana in Italian, and semaine in French. Views in accordance with these are found in “The Morning Watch,” volume 5, page 327. London, 1832. This article is the more worthy of perusal, as it presents us, in an intelligible English form, the criticism of Professor Jahn, extracted from his Appendix ad Enchiridion Hermeneutica, Fasc. 1, page 124 and following. Edit., Vienna, 1813. The English translation of the passage, in accordance with Jahn’s critical exposition, is worthy of notice, particularly by those readers who wish to keep before their minds the most valuable explanations which have ever been published by British, Continental, and American Divines.
HIPPOLYTUS, NICOLAUS LYRANUS, etc.
“Hippolytus,” says Mosheim, “whose history is much involved in darkness, is also esteemed among the most celebrated authors and martyrs of this age.” (Volume 1, page 270, edit. 1823.) Although the learned Benedictines have assisted in dispelling this darkness in their History of the Literature of France, volume 1, page 361, yet the greatest light has been thrown upon the life and opinions of this writer by the Chevalier Bunsen in his work, “Hippolytus and his Age,” 4 vols., 1852. Dr. Christopher Wordsworth has also discussed the same subject, giving an English version of the newly discovered philosophumena, with an introductory inquiry into the authorship of the treatise, and on the life and works of the writer. It is out of our province to enter on the important questions raised by these well-known writers; we must confine ourselves strictly to whatever illustrates Daniel. He wrote commentaries on various parts of the Old and New Testaments, and among these Bunsen enumerates one “On the Prophets, in particular on Ezekiel and Daniel,” volume 1, page 282. A fragment of his comment on Daniel is preserved in the edition of Fabricius, in which the Greek text is printed from a Vatican MS., tom. 1, page 271, “named by Theodoret and by Photius, c. 203. Jerome says Hippolytus’ historical explanation of the seventy weeks did not tally with history and chronology. Fabricins, 1, page 272. We have a genuine fragment of this explanation in Fabricins, 1, page 278, on Daniel’s life and times.” The Syrian MSS. discovered in the Lybian Desert, and explored by Cureton, contain, says Bunsen, quotations from the Commentary on Daniel by Hippolytus. Calvin, most probably, knew no more of his view of the seventy weeks than he found in Jerome. The existence of his treatise on Antichrist was known to the Reformers chiefly from ancient writers who had given a list of his works, but especially from Jerome. From Fabricius, Appendix ad. I. 1, page 2, we learn that a forgery was published in 1556., and that the genuine work was first edited in 1661 from two French MSS, A Latin translation was added in 1672. “His calculations,” says Bunsen, “based upon Daniel and the Apocalypse, are quite as absurd as those which we have been doomed to see printed, and praised, and believed in our days. He makes out that. Antichrist will come 500 years after Christ, from the tribe of Dan, and rebuild the Jewish temple at Jerusalem.” This remark has caused the censure of a writer in “The Record,” who accuses Bunsen of making’ this bishop and martyr “the mouthpiece of his own unbelief in the prophecies of Daniel.” “Some writers have conceived,” says Bunsen, “that Hippolytus alludes, in his interpretation of the ten horns of the fourth beast in Daniel, to some great convulsions of the empire in his time; but this opinion seems to me entirely unfounded. All I can find in these passages indicative of the time in which they were written, (section. 28, 29,) is the existence of a very strong, iron, military government; and this seen as to point to the time when the power of Septimius Severus was firmly established, after fierce contests and sanguinary battles. The rest relates to things to come, to the last age of the world, which he thought about three centuries distant.” (Volume 1, page 274.) On page 290 we have three lists of the works of this “father,” as noticed by Eusebius, Jerome, and Lycellus. Eusebius does not mention his work on Daniel; both Jerome and Lycellus do; and Nicephorus adds it among others to the Eusebian list; and on page 242 many of his works are recorded as existing among the Escurial manuscripts. See the Catalogue des Manuscrits Grecs de la Bibliothbque de l’Escurial, par E. Miller, 8vo, Paris, 1848. Cardinal Main, in his “Scriptorum Veterum nova Collectio,” volume 1, part 2, gives such figments of Hippolytus’ Daniel as were formerly inedited, (pp. 161-222.) On page 205, ver. 13, he illustrates Daniel’s phrase, “the old of the days,” referring it to God the Father, the Master of all, even of Christ himself.
The interest excited by the recent publications of Bunsen and Wordsworth, makes it desirable to state that fresh light has been thrown upon his life and times. Cave, in his elaborate work, is unsuccessful respecting Hippolytus. He takes up the opinion of Le Moyne, a French ecclesiastical writer of the seventeenth century, who conjectured that he was bishop of Portus Romanus, Aden in Arabia. The additional supposition that he was an Arabian by birth is also a mistake. He was bishop of the “portus,” a harbor of the city of Rome, during the time of the Emperor Alexander Severus, at the beginning of the third century. He suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Maximus the Thracian, about A.D. 236. The Chevalier’s narrative of the manner in which a lost book of his has been recovered is worthy of notice. “A French scholar and statesman of high merit, M. Villemain, sent a Greek to Mount Athos to look out for new treasures in the domain of Greek literature. The fruits of this mission were deposited, in 1842, in the great national library, already possessed of so many treasures. Among them was a MS. of no great antiquity, written in the fourteenth century, not on parchment, but on cotton paper, and it was registered as a book ‘on all heresies,’ without any indication of its author or age. [...] It fell to the lot of a distinguished Greek scholar and writer on literature, a functionary of that great institution, M. Emmanuel Miller, to bring forward the hidden treasure. In 1850 he offered it to the University Press at Oxford, as a work of undoubted authenticity, and as a lost treatise of Origen, ‘Against all Heresies.’” It was published in 1851, and Bunsen, on reading it, pronounced it not to be the work of Origen, but of Hippolytus; and in letters to Archdeacon Hare, he has thrown great light upon the subject, and enabled us to per, use some fragments of his comments on Daniel and the Antichrist, which Calvin could only have known through Eusebius and Jerome.
It is worthy of notice that Sir Isaac Newton, in his “Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel,” etc., quotes Hippolytus thus, — “If divers of the ancients, as Irenaeus, Julius Africanus, Hippolytus the martyr, and Apollinaris bishop of Laodicea, applied the half week to the times of Antichrist, why may not we, by the same liberty of interpretation, apply the seven weeks to the time when Antichrist shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming.”
Nicolaus de Lyra received his name from the place of his birth, Lire, a small town in Normandy. He flourished at the beginning of the fourteenth century: he was one of the Society of the Friars Minors at Verneuil, although he is supposed to have been born a Jew. his oostills were repeatedly printed at the close of the fifteenth and the early part of the sixteenth centuries, and were familiar to the biblical students of Calvin’s day. He was a good Hebrew scholar, and has enriched his comments with the best specimens of Rabbinical learning. He is a good interpreter of the literal sense; but his views were attacked by Paulus Burgensis, Paul bishop of Burgos, who was a converted Jew, and defended by Mattathias Doring. His works, with those of his opponent and champion, were published at Duaci, A.D. 1617; also at Antwerp, A.D. 1634, in 6 vols. folio. See also Hart. Horne, volume 2, part 2, chapter 5. In the Morning Watch, volume 1, page 147, he is considered as a forerunner of the Reformation. Luther is there said to have written of him thus: “Ego Lyram ideo arno, et inter optimos pono, quod ubique diligenter refiner et persequitur historian.”
“Burgensis.” A notice of Paul of Burgos is found in Allport’s edition of Bishop Davenant on Justification, volume 2, page 86, note.
The Africanus here mentioned was Julius Africanus of Nicopolis, (Emmaus,) a friend of Origen’s, and rather his senior in years. He is a very early writer on chronology, about A.D. 232; and his epistle concerning the history of Susannah, together with Origen’s reply, is in Wetstein’s edition, annexed to the dialogue against the Marcionites. Mosheim calls him “a man of the most profound erudition, but the greatest part of whose learned labors are unhappily lost.” Cent. 3, part 2; see also Gieseler’s Eccl. Hist., volume 1, page 145, American translation. The treatise to which Calvin probably refers is the fragment on the genealogy of Christ preserved by Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., lib. 1, chapter. 7, especially as Eusebius himself had just quoted this chapter of Daniel (Da 9:24) at the close of his sixth chapter. Other writings of his are quoted by Eusebius, lib. 6, chapter. 31, entitled “Concerning Africanus.”
Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis, flourished in the second century. He is included by Gieseler among the writers against the Montanists, and is united with Melito of Sardis by Eusebius, as writers of great repute. See Euseb. Eccl. Hist., lib. 4, chapter. 26, 27. In the latter chapter he gives a list of his works. See also lib, 5, chapter. 16, 19. Another of the fourth century is mentioned by Mosheim as Bishop of Laodicea. An account of this writer is found in the English edition of Bailey’s Dictionary.
ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
Various questions have arisen respecting the correct interpretation of this phrase. The prophecy has been supposed to be accomplished first under Antiochus Epiphanes, and again by the Roman armies under Titus. Hengstenberg’s remarks were chiefly in reply to Bertholdt, Com. 2, page 584, and in explanation of our Savior’s comments, as recorded by St. Matthew. He thinks “it was then regarded by the Jews as relating to a still future occurrence — the yet impending conquest and destruction of Jerusalem.”
“A sufficient proof of this is afforded by the passage, Josephus Arch. 10:1 l, 7, ‘Daniel predicted also the Roman supremacy, and that our country should be desolated by them.’” The passage De Bell. Jud. 4:6, 3, is also quoted with this conclusion, “How general the reference of the prophecy then was to a future destruction of the city, appears from the express observation of Josephus, that even the zealots had no doubt of the correctness of this interpretation. The same interpretation is found also in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Gemarah.” (P. 215.) This reference to “thee zealots” is explained in a note to Bishop Kidder’s Demonstration of the Messias, pt. 2, page 11. They were slain standing on the battlements of the temple, and their carcasses and blood were scattered and sprinkled about the sanctuary before its final destruction. This is supposed to be a fulfillment of the prediction. Professor Lee states, “It is to be understood rather of the Roman armies, with their heathen ensigns, stationed over against the Temple, than of anything else.” (Book 2, chapter. 2, page 202.) He translates thus, “For the overspreading of abominations he shall make it (i.e., Jerusalem) desolate; even until the consummation (i.e., the complete end) and (until) that determined shall be poured upon the desolate, rather desolator;” meaning, “the people of the prince who should come as a desolator and destroy the city and the sanctuary.” (Book 2, chapter. 1, page 142.) “Let it be remembered,” says he, “all is here indefinite. No mathematical measure of time or portion of time is therefore to be thought of. The occurrence of their several events will supply the only measures of time now to be had recourse to.”
The early Reformers, Oecolampadius, Bullinger, and Osiander, treated the word “overspreading” in its literal sense of “wing,” and applied it to the wings or pinnacles of the Temple; the first of these three takes it for “the very altar and holy place where the winged cherubim were.” Augustine in his Epis. 80, ad Hesychium, interprets it of the legions and wings of the Roman armies which compassed and defiled the Temple. Irenoeus, lib. 5, ad. haer., explains it of Antichrist., whom he imagined should sit in the Temple at Jerusalem, and be worshipped as Messiah. Rosenmuller illustrates the use of the word wing from Isa 8:8, and 18:1, and also from Cicero, Offic. lib. 2, chapter 13. C. B. Michaelis objects to the usual sense of the “abomination of desolation’s,” while Gesenius and Winer refer the wing to the pinnacle of the Temple. Rosenmuller prefers the active sense of “the desolater,” according to the marginal reading of our authorized version, and applies the passage to Antiochus Epiphanes, quoting 1 Macc. 1:11, 63, as fulfilling the prediction. Dr. Wells approves of this translation, but he interprets the desolater to mean “the Gentile people inhabiting the (once) countries of the Roman Empire.” (Paraphrase, page 101.)
THE VISION ON THE BANKS OF THE HIDDEKEL
This vision is referred to by Bertholdt and Griesinger in an attempt to shew its contradiction to Da 1:21, but their cavils have been ably answered by Hengstenberg, pages 54, 55. The error in the Alexandrine translation of this verse is discussed on page 239. With regard to the fasting of Da 10:2, Staudlin assumes that Daniel abstracted himself as far as possible from sensible objects, in order to obtain very high revelations, and that the reason why only Daniel saw the appearance lies in the fact, that only he had been fasting a long season and doing penance, and had thereby sharpened and sanctified his vision; see N. Beitr., page 279, ap. Heng., page 120. The celestial appearance of Da 10:5 and 6 is said to be “identical with the angel of the Lord, and thus also with Michael. Daniel finds himself on the banks of the Tigris, and sees hovering over its waters a human form clothed in linen, with a golden girdle about his loins.” Hengstenberg objects to the opinion that this is a representation of Gabriel. He is so terrified by the voice of the apparition that he fails into a deep swoon, and for a long time cannot recover, whereas with Gabriel, on his former single appearance, Daniel 11, he converses quite fiercely and without restraint. The angel of the Lord is present in calm silent majesty, and works with an unseen power. The man clothed in linen cannot be, as Staudlin assumes, absolutely identified with the Most High God, but is as distinct from him as the angel of the Lord from the Lord himself. For he swears not; by himself, but, with his right hand lifted up to heaven, by the eternal God. The supposition of a distinction between the man clothed in linen and Gabriel has the analogy of Da 8:16 in its favor. The names Gabriel and Michael are peculiar to Daniel, and occur only in such visions as from their dramatic character demand the most exact description possible of the persons concerned and the bringing of them out into stronger relief. This opinion is discussed more at length on pages 136-188.
Rosenmuller objects to consider this vision as either an ecstasy or dream. He quotes Theodoret and Jerome on the phrase, “desirable food,” and explains the period of the Prophet’s fasting according to the view of C. B. Michaelis. The attire of Da 10:5 is that of the high priest, although it is by no means certain that this representation portrayed “the prince of the army of Jehovah.” The likeness to chrysolite is said to be not with respect to color, but clearness and brilliancy. Bochart and Calmer suppose Uphaz and Ophir to be the same place; see Wintle’s note, which is full of information. In illustration of the “voice,” Da 10:6, Rosenmuller quotes Iliad 11:1. 148 and following, and enters fully into the Jewish theory of various orders of angels, in the first of which were Michael and Raphael. On this very interesting subject he has selected with great judgment. the opinions of various ancient interpreters, especially Theodoret and Jerome, as well as those of Luther, Geier, Gesenius, and Winer. “The hand that touched him,” observes Wintle, “was probably one of the attendant angels. The form of the superior spirit was scarcely visible by Daniel, and therefore it seems likely to have been one of an inferior order, whose hand he could discover as reached out unto him. (Da 10:18.) The Son of God is seldom introduced to human notice without a retinue of angels.”
Da 10:13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia is supposed by some writers to be either Cyrus or Cambyses opposing the building of the Temple; and by others to refer to those guardian angels which the Orientals believed to protect different countries. Wintle adopts Theodotion’s translation of the last clause of this verse, as the sense then becomes very clear; but Rosennmuller prefers the Syriac version, “I was delayed there,” in preference to “I left him there.”
MICHAEL THE PRINCE
The appearance of angels, as recorded in these prophecies, has always given rise to much inquiry and conjecture. Henstenberg contends for the identity of Michael and the angel of the Lord, as recognized by the elder Jews, perhaps on the testimony of tradition. He contends against the assertion of Bertholdt, that the Jews derived their distinction between superior and inferior angels from the Persians, after the end of the Babylonish captivity, (2, 528.) Gesenius recognizes angel-princes, “as the earthly monarch is surrounded by his nobles, so here is Jehovah by princes of heaven.” Traces of a gradation of rank among the angels are also found in Job 33:23, according to the explanation suggested by Winer. “We go further,” adds Hengstenberg, “we can shew that those angels of higher rank who play a particular part in our book, are the very same that meet us in just the same character in the oldest books. We have already pointed out in the Christoloqie, that the doctrine of the angel or revealer of God, runs through the whole of the Old Testament, who in a twofold respect, first as the highest of all angels, then as connected with the hidden God by a oneness of essence, appears as his revealer. He then argues for the identity of Michael with the angel of Jehovah, the leader of the Israelites, the prince of the army of Jehovah, according to Ex 32:34, and Jos 5:13, and Zec 1:5. In some passages in the Talmud, Michael as the angel of Jehovah is associated with the Shekinah. See on this interesting point Baumgarten-Crusius Bibl. Theol., pages 282, 287. Jerome on Zechariah 1; and Danz in Meuschen, Illustrations of the New Testament from the Talmud, pages 718, 733.
HISTORICAL PROOFS. THREE KINGs OF PERSIA.
“The speaker in this last vision is the Son of God himself. There are two things which in my judgment may be clearly proved; that the princes of Persia and Javan, as also Michael and Gabriel, are created angels; and that the speaker in this last vision is the angel of the covenant, the Son of God... The phrase, ‘to strengthen him,’ is also very significant. The word is mahoz, the same which occurs in the plural mahuzzim, at the close of the prophecy. Here it plainly denotes a tutelary or guardian power, exercised on behalf of Darius by the Son of God. At the close of the vision it must bear a similar meaning. The Mahuzzim are those tutelary powers, whether saints, angels, or demons, who are objects of great horror to the willful king.” — Birks, page 33. Herodotus is still a safe guide in the interpretation of this prediction. His narrative of Cambyses and Darius Hystaspes, amply illustrates and confirms it. The canon of Ptolemy agrees in the same account, only Smerdis is omitted, as usual, because his reign was less than a year. In the reign of Darius, the third successor of Cyrus, the rebuilding of the temple was renewed, under the exhortations of Haggai and Zechariah. “The fourth king,” who is far richer than all, and stirs up all against the realm of Greece, plainly answers to Xerxes, the son and successor of Darius. Those three reigns reach forward through fifty years of the world’s history, A.D. 534-485.
Da 11:2 The fourth king was Xerxes. The four last books of Herodotus, and the eleventh of Diodorus, are entirely occupied with his invasion of Greece. The Greek play of AEschylus, called the Persae, written within eight years to celebrate the triumph of the Greeks, is useful in conveying a vivid impression of this predicted invasion. Willet may be consulted, as he enters very fully into all the historical details, and gives his authorities in abundance; but his arrangement is very cumbrous; and his want of critical skill often renders his judgment valueless. He has raw materials in abundance, but seldom produces it “ready made to hand.” See Quest. 6, for various opinions on the identity of this fourth king, page 398, Edit. 1610.
Da 11:3-5 “The mighty king who shall stand up,” clearly refers to Alexander. The exposition of Calvin is substantially correct throughout this chapter; it will be sufficient to add a few dates and references.
Diodorus, lib. 18, chapter. 43, narrates the career of Ptolemy the son of Lagus, who received Egypt as his share, and successfully repelled the attacks of Perdiccas. Lib. 19, chapter. 79, continues the exploits of Ptolemy. Justin, lib. 13, chapter. 6, and 16, chapter. 2, confirms the statement of Diodorus.
Da 11:5 “One of his princes shall be great.” This refers to Seleucus Nicator, the founder of the kingdom of Syria. His strength is related by Appian, de Bel. Syr. sect. 164, who says he could stop a bull in his career by laying hold of him by the horn. The Arabs called the era of the Seleucidae Dilcarnain, two-horned. — See Prideaux, Connex., part 1, b. 8; Justin 19, chapter. 12, and 55, 56, 58, 62, 90, 91, 100; Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, chapter. 8; Grey on Hist. of the Seleucidae, 8:35
Da 11:6-9 We have here the marriage of Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus, with Antiochus Theus, the grandson of the great Seleucus. Birks has drawn up an elaborate list of each king of Syria and Egypt, from A.D. 323 to 164; and states the following monarchs as referred to in the corresponding verses of this chapter; viz.,
5. Ptolemy Soter, and Seleucus Nicator.
7, 8. Ptolemy Philadelphus, and Antiochus Theus.
9. Ptolemy Euergetes, and Scleucus Callinicus.
10. Seleucus Corarams, and Antiochus Magnus.
11, 12. Ptolemy Philopator.
14, 17. Ptolemy Epiphanes.
20. Seleucus Philopator.
21. Antiochus Epiphanes.
25. Ptolemy Philomotor.
He has also treated the details of the history so plainly, that we may satisfy ourselves by simply referring to chapters 6 to 11, pages 73-171. Wintle’s notes are also very explanatory; both these authors supply all the Historical Proofs which the reader of Calvin’s Daniel can require.
The annexed authorities will explain some of the historical allusions of the text.
Villius, page 298, was Publius Villius, the Roman ambassador to the court of Antiochus, who there held a conference with Hannibal.
P. Popilius Leanas, page 317. The narrative is founded on Valerius Maximus, 6, chapter. 5; Livy, 45, chapter. 12; Paterculus, 1, chapter. 10. Calvin probably adopted this anecdote from Jerome. See Fry, volume 2, page 55.
Valerius Soranus, page 349 — a Latin poet of the period of Julius Caesar.
Alexander, king of Syria, page 358. The events of his career are detailed by Josephus, Ant., 13, chapter. 9.
Physcon, page 359. See Josephus as before, and Athenaeus, 2, chapter. 23.
Carrae, page 364. For the death of Crassus there, see Lucan 1. verse. 10.5, and Pliny, lib. 5. c. 14.
THE WILFUL KING
The subject here commenced is of the deepest interest, and needs peculiar caution in its treatment. The words in which it is conveyed are obscure in themselves, and, consequently, all the early translations of them are imperfect. Calvin has thrown great light upon the original phraseology, but still reference may be profitably made to some modern translators. The sixteenth chapter of the “Two Later Visions of Daniel,” is occupied with this discussion; various views are clearly and fairly stated; some conjectures are refuted, and some conclusions enforced which differ very materially from Calvin’s. The translation of obscure passages adopted in this work are excellent, as well as those given by Elliott in his notes to pages 1327 and following, of volume 3 of his Horae Apocalypticae. Professor Lee’s translations are exceedingly full and explanatory, while his hermeneutical views agree more with Calvin’s than either Elliott’s or Birks’. See his Inquiry into the Nature, Progress, and end of Prophecy, Book. 2, chapter 2, page 189 and following. Wintle’s notes are much to the point. And Bishop Newton traces the analogy between this king and Antichrist in his Dissertation., volume 3, chapter. 26. The annexed comments from Birks, page 271 and following, will explain some grammatical difficulties.
Da 11:37 — “He shall not regard the elohim of his fathers.” The clause is ambiguous, as the word “elohim” may receive two opposite constructions. Bishop Newton and others think it to mean, the one true God; but Mede, with many able writers, render it correctly, the gods of his fathers, implying the false deities of the heathens. Arguments are then given in support of this view, and objections forcibly answered. “Neither shall he regard the desire of women.” The meaning of this phrase is shortly discussed. The received view, that it refers to the Messiah, is set aside, and it is taken the enlarged sense of despising and trampling upon these humanizing affections of which women are the object. Elliott, after a good Hebrew criticism, applies it to the Messiah, fortifying his opinion by Faber on the Prophecies, pages 380-385, volume 1, edit. 5; so Lee in his preface, page 126, to Euseb. Theophania — “This occurring as it does in a context speaking of deities, was probably intended to designate the Messiah.”
Da 11:38 — “But in his estate with Eloah he will honor Mahuzzim.” We now enter upon the second part of this description, which exhibits the new worship set up by the Willful King. Here several questions of some difficulty will arise. I will first offer what appears to me the most natural translation, and consider afterwards the chief points in dispute one by one.
“But in his estate with Eloah, he will honor Mahuzzim; even with an eloah whom his fathers knew not, he will honor them with gold, and with silver, and with precious stones, and with pleasant things. And he will offer to the strongholds of Mahuzzim, with a foreign eloah whom he will acknowledge; he will increase their glory, and will cause them to rule over many, and will divide the land for gain.” The meaning of the word Mahuzzim, fortresses or strongholds, is next described, and in conclusion, it is decided, that Mahuzzim “must here denote guardian deities or tutelary persons, who receive worship as protectors and guardians, defenses and fortresses, from their votaries.” Professor Lee’s translation is as follows, “But in his estate he shall honor the god of forces; and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and with pleasant things.” “Nero was the first of this series.” “Domitian was the first emperor who generally persecuted, and who, during his lifetime, assumed the title of the Lord God, and insisted upon being worshipped as a deity.” This is the Professor’s interpretation, page 192. The translations of Mede, Bishop Newton, and Dr. Gill, vary slightly from each other, but none of them are so correct as that given above. The original word, translated “offer,” has very wide and various meanings. In Ex 10:25, it is rendered “sacrifice” to the Lord our God, and is very frequently used in this sense. The words, “a foreign god whom he will acknowledge,” are probably an explanation of the previous phrase, “a god whom his fathers knew not;” implying that the worship of this divinity was borrowed by the Willful King from some other nation, and was unknown to his fathers.
“Such, in conclusion,” says Birks, “are the results which flow from a careful inquiry into the natural meaning of this passage. The Willful King here described is one which might be expected to rise after the renewed persecution of the faithful, when imperial help had been given them, and to continue perhaps for ages, until the restoration of Israel. His title as the king, and the time appointed him in the words of the angel, prove him to be the same with the Little Horn, speaking great words against the most High. He will reject every form of heathen worship, commended to him by the long practice of his fathers, utter proud speeches of surprising arrogance, and of real blasphemy against the God of heaven, trample under his feet the strongest instincts of domestic love, and thus magnify himself against God and man. He will, however, adopt a foreign eloah derived from the Jews for his own; but will turn the very worship he pays to the Son of God into the key-stone to a wide and spreading system of idolatry, in which he will pay reverence to a multitude of guardian powers, and cause them to receive homage and worship from his people.” The comments of this able writer on Da 11:36-39 are so contrary to the views of Calvin, that it is only necessary here to state their variance with those of our Reformer. Some explanations are worthy of notice, as, for instance, the following— “These words apply accurately to the local persecutions of believers under the Arian emperors, and the fierce and savage cruelties of the Vandals against the confessors of the faith. When, however, the time of the end, or the predicted three times and a half should begin, these persecutions would gradually become more systematic and severe. So that the prophecy at once proceeds to describe the king, who would prosper in the time of the end, and by whom the fires would be kindled afresh with more than Pagan cruelty, against the followers of God.”
Elliott in his Horae Apocalypticae, volume 3, page 1294, has devoted a section to the elucidation of this chapter. His comments upon the Hebrew words of the original text are valuable, displaying great judgment, and throwing much light upon the Prophet’s meaning. His chronological list of the kings of Syria and Egypt is correct, and very clearly explains the history of this prophetic period. This prophecy, he states, naturally divides itself into two parts: first, that from Da 11:1-31, sketching the times of the Persians and Greeks; secondly, that from Da 11:32 to the end of Daniel 12, sketching the sequel. His comments upon the whole of Daniel 11 to verse 35, are illustrative of Calvin’s views in these Lectures; but this writer interprets verse 36 and following, in accordance with the expositions of Mede and the two Newtons. These are so fundamentally at variance with Calvin’s writings, that it would be out of place to dwell upon them here. Elliott’s notes on the Hebrew words throughout the latter portion of this chapter are most excellent, and may be trusted as scholarlike, sound, and judicious.
Chapter 6 of the “First Elements of Sacred Prophecy” is occupied by a refutation of Dr. Todd’s theory. The details of the fulfillment of each verse are plainly and accurately stated, and the objections of the Fourth Donnellan Lecture are shewn to be futile. This work is chiefly devoted to the refutation of the Futurist theories, which are directly opposite to that of Calvin. See particularly pages 135-149.
Fry in his Second Advent, chapter. 5, sect. 21, has collected the views of various English Commentators, but they all vary exceedingly from those of Calvin.
THE POLLUTION OF THE SANCTUARY
Da 11:36, etc.
The various occasions on which the sanctuary was polluted by heathen foes are as follows: —
1. By Antiochus Epiphanes, when he set up the image of Jupiter Olympius on the divine altar. The daily sacrifice was then taken away, and Acra fortified so as to overlook the Temple.
2. The Romans polluted it under Pompey the Great, as recorded by Josephus, Antiq., 14, Section 4, 2, 6. It was transitory and quickly repaired, although this was the first step towards the complete loss of liberty.
3. The next profanation occurred under Crassus, who carried off the gold and the treasures which Pompey had left. Eleazer the priest, who had the custody of the vail of the Temple, gave him a beam of solid gold as a ransom for the whole, and yet he afterwards carried away all the wealth of the sacred edifice. (Antiq., 14, 7, 1.)
4. When Herod obtained the kingdom, a.c. 38, the Romans under Sosius took the city by storm; the Jews took refuge within the Temple, but were unmercifully massacred by their cruel foes. (Antiq., 14, 16, 3.) So again a slaughter took place in the Temple by Archelaus on the first passover after Herod’s death, while the cruelties of Sabinus form a similar instance. (Wars, 2:3, 2.)
5. When Titus pitched his camp on the Mount of Olives, and the Romans brought their ensigns within the Temple, and offered sacrifices to them. (Wars, 6:6, 1.)
6. During the reign of Hadrian, after the revolt of Barchochebas, a temple was built and consecrated to Jupiter Capitolinus on the very site of the sanctuary.
THE CONQUEST OF THE GLORIOUS LAND
The sober views of our Reformer form a striking contrast to the speculations of some modern writers. Birks, for instance, considers the spread of the Turkish power as accomplishing this verse. He quotes Rycault’s History of the Ottoman Kings, and considers the conquest of Thessalonica and the subjugation of Greece by Amurath II., A.D. 1432, as the intended fulfillment. In 1514, Selim the third Turkish Emperor overthrew the Sultan of Egypt, and obtained possession of Aleppo. After other victories, he turned aside to visit Jerusalem.
The next verse is also supposed to predict his conquests; and the facts detailed by Rycault, volume 1, pages 246-248, respecting the conquest of Judea, Arabia, and Egypt, at the commencement of the sixteenth century of the Christian era., are asserted to fulfill Da 11:41 to 43. The last verse of this chapter is also supposed to be accomplished by the historical events recorded by Rycault, volume 1, pages 249-251. A similar opinion is given by the author of “The Revelation of St. John Considered,” Append. 1, page 467. Elltott’s sentiments are similar to these, but less precise, and not very clearly expressed. Mede and Bishop Newton think the closing verses of this chapter remain yet unfulfilled. Professor Lee treats this as accomplished by Constantine and Licinius; see pages 19.5-197, and gives as his authority Hist. Univers., volume 15, pages 582-584.
Before the reader has arrived at this “point of observation,” he will probably have decided whether the Praeterist or the Futurist interpretations of these verses is the more acceptable to his own mind, and will value these references according to the conclusions to which he has already arrived.
THE SEALING OF THE BOOK
It will not be necessary here to add more than a quotation from Hengstenberg, who answers objections with his usual success, — “The command to the Prophets to shut up and seal the prophecies relates only to a symbolical action, to be understood of something internal; and after the removal of the mere drapery, the imperatives are to be resolved into futures, thus — these prophecies will be closed and sealed till the time of the end, in nearly the same manner as Zechariah (Zec 11:15) is commanded in a vision to take the instruments of a foolish shepherd, to intimate that some day ungodly rulers will ruin the people [...] But the external acceptation of the words is still more strongly opposed by chapter 12:9. There the angel answers Daniel’s request for more precise disclosures respecting the prophecy, by saying that he cannot furnish him with them because it is closed and sealed up till the last time.” The objections here answered are those of Bertholdt, Comm., page 795; De Wette; Bleek, pages 186, 207; and Sack, Apol., page 285. Alexander, W. L., (Edinburgh,) in his Congregational Lectures, seventh series, 1841, has a short but explanatory criticism on the meaning of “to seal” and “to shut up;” see Lecture 7, page 372.
THE EXPRESSIONS RELATIVE TO TIME
The variety of opinion as to the expressions of Time in this chapter renders it difficult to illustrate our author with sufficient brevity. The wisdom of the early reformers is conspicuous. OEcolampadius agrees with Calvin in treating these periods of days, as implying long and indefinite times — “multiplicatione dierum longum tempus antichristianae impietatis agnoseas” — by the multiplication of the days you will perceive the lengthened period of the anti-christian impiety. Junius and Polanus, as quoted by Willet, consider the days to be literal ones, and the accomplishment to have taken place during Maccabean times. He also gives the views of Hippolytus and Nicolaus de Lyra, to whom Calvin has previously referred. Melancthon adds together the 1290 and the 1335 days, making seven years and three months, beginning b.c. 145, and ending b.c. 151, when Nicanor was overcome. Bullinger understands them of the times of Antiochus, and Osiander of the duration of Antichrist, but thinks this prophecy does not properly, “but by way of analogue, concern the latter times.” The opinions of those modern interpreters who adopt the principles of Mede will be found in the works already quoted. He reckons the years from the time of Antiochus, b.c. 167, which brings us down to the 12th century, when the Waldenses and Albigenses protested against the tyranny of the Papacy; and between the forty-five years, 1123 and 1168 A.D. a great secession occurred from the dominion of the Pope, by which he thinks the prophecy to have been fulfilled. Bishop Newton, Dissertation. 26, page 387, writes as follows, — “It is, I conceive, to these great events, the fall of Antichrist, the re-establishment of the Jews, and the beginning of the glorious millennium, that the three different dates in Daniel of the 1260 years, 1290 years, and 1335 years, are to be referred.” Here the word “years” is used as if it occurred in the scriptural text.
Professor Lee considers that the events which occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus fulfilled the prediction of verse. 1. “The children of thy people,” found written in the book, are said not to be the Jews at large, but the holy remnant who embraced Jesus as Messiah, and escaped to carry the tidings of salvation to the ends of the earth. The many who slept in the dust of the earth were to awake “in a first resurrection with Christ,” Ro 6:3-6, and “some to shame and everlasting contempt, i.e., awakened to hear through the preaching of the gospel, the judgments denounced against unbelief, and to feel this in a general overthrow.” The resurrection is here interpreted of our regeneration and union with the Savior through the Spirit, and the precise period of its accomplishment is confined to the early spread of the gospel among mankind.
The “time, times, and a half” of Da 12:7, “must, of necessity, signify the time that should elapse from the fall of Jerusalem, to the end of Daniel’s seventieth week; for, according to the prediction enouncing this, the Temple and the City were to fall in the midst of this week,” page 199. In direct contrast to this extract, Elliott’s reference of this chapter to times yet future occurs in volume 2, page 1343. Assuming the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days to be years, the former period is said to close at the French Revolution in 1790 A.D., the second at the Greek Revolution in 1820 A.D.; and as they are “unhesitatingly” pronounced to be all three “measured from one and the same commencing epoch,” the last date must terminate A.D. 1865. Frere terminates the 1290 days in A.D. 1822, and the 1335 in A.D. 1847. See his Letter dated September 9, 1848, to the Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, October 1848. Wintle refers this verse to the struggle with anti-christian powers, when Michael should stand up “to defend the cause of the Jews, and to destroy the enemies of true religion.” Note in loc.
The Duke of Manchester has devoted an Appendix to the discussion of these expressions. He justly observes; if they “are to be taken literally, then the important events of the latter part of this prophecy will be within the compass of a man’s life, and will relate to the actions of an individual. If, on the other hand, the 1290 and 1335 are years, they will extend far beyond the life of any individual, and must therefore be applied, not to a person, but to a system. Thus the whole character of the prophecy will be different.” “The prophecy of Daniel 10-12 is not symbolical, nor even figurative, but is literal. The expression translated days in Daniel 8 is different from the term rendered days in Daniel 12. The character of the prophecy, Daniel 10-12, is rather what we may call biographical, for it details the actions of individuals. I see no more warrant for saying the willful king denotes a system, than for saying the vile person, or the raiser of taxes, or a dozen other kings, mentioned in the prophecy, denote systems. The genius of the prophecy, therefore, seems to require that the measure of time connected with the actions of the willful king, should be suitable to the reign of an individual king, and not elongated into times suitable to the continuance of a system from generation to generation. ‘Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the 1335 days,’ seems to imply that some individuals would endure for the whole 1335 days.” Thus far the noble author’s remarks are completely in the spirit of Calvin, but a few sentences afterwards, he supposes the “abomination of desolation” to belong to the last days of the world, thus giving countenance to the Futurist expositions. The curious reader may consult a Review in “The Morning Watch,” volume 5, page 161, of Faber’s Second Calendar of Prophecy, in which many ingenious speculations are brought forward illustrative of Daniel’s expressions relative to Time. The various numbers of this work contain a multiplicity of laborious investigations of this subject, chiefly based upon the year-day theory.
MODERN DISCOVERY THROWING ITS LIGHT
ON DANIEL’S PROPHECIES.
We now conclude these our Dissertations by a further allusion to the subject which occupied our attention in the Preface. — the marble commentary on the inspired text presented by the Nineveh monuments. Three thousand years have passed over the Assyrian mounds, and at length, while we are closing our volume, the grave is giving up its dead at the call of the intellect of modern Europe. The crusted earth, beneath which Nineveh has been so long inhumed, has now revealed the monumental history of its grandeur, the imperishable witness of its incomparable renown. We must leave the interesting narrative of the discovery of these unrivaled treasures, and the description of these singular sculptures; our attention must be directed solely to the inscriptions, by the reading of which alone these monuments become available for our purpose. Had we been unable to read them, “all the excavations must have been to no purpose, and the sculptured monuments would have been worthless as the dust from which they have been torn.” Well may we ask, in the language of an able review of Layard’s second series of monuments of Nineveh, May 16, 1853, “By what splendid accidents, then, has it happened that illumination has been thrown into the heaps, and that art, inferred for 3000 years, becomes, when brought to light, in an instant as familiar to us all as though it were but the dainty work of yesterday? How comes it that these arrow-headed, or, as they are, more generally styled, cuneiform characters, which bear no analogy whatever to modern writing of any kind, and which have been lost to the world since the Macedonian conquest, are read by our countrymen with a facility that commands astonishment, and a correctness that admits of no dispute? The history is very plain, but certainly as remarkable as it is simple. Fifty years ago the key that has finally opened the treasure-house was picked up, unawares, by Professor Grotefend of Gottingen. In the year 1802 this scholar took it into his head to decipher some inscriptions which were, and still are to be found on the walls of Persepolis, in Persia. These inscriptions, written in three different languages, are all in the cuneiform (or wedge-like) character, and were addressed, as it now appears, to the three distinct races acknowledging, in the time of Darius, the Persian sway — viz., to the Persians proper, to the Scythians, and to the Assyrians. It is worthy of remark that although the cuneiform character is extinct, the practice of addressing these races in the language peculiar to each still prevails on the spot. The modern governor of Bagdad, when he issues his edicts, must, like the great Persian king, note down his behest’s in three distinct forms of language, or the Persian, the Turk, and the Arab who submit to his rule will find it difficult to possess themselves of his wishes. When Grotefend first saw the three kinds of inscription, he concluded the first to be Persian, and proceeded to his task with this conviction. He had not studied the writing long before he discerned that all the words of all the inscriptions were separated from each other by a wedge, placed diagonally at the beginning or end of each word. With this slight knowledge for his guide, he went on a little further. He next observed that in the Persian inscription one word occurred three or four times over, with a slight terminal difference. This word he concluded to be a title. Further investigation and comparison of words induced him to guess that the inscription recorded a genealogy. The assumption was a happy one. But to whom did the titles belong? With no clue whatever to help him, how should he decide? By an examination of all the authorities, ancient and modern, he satisfied himself at least of the dynasty that had founded Persepolis, and then he tried all the names of the dynasty in succession, in the hope that some would fit. He was not disappointed. The names were Hystaspes, Darius, and Xerxes. Although the actual pronunciation of these names had to be discovered, yet by the aid of the Zend (the language of the ancient Persians) and of the Greek, the true method of spelling was so nearly arrived at that no doubt of the accuracy of the guess could reasonably be entertained. The achievement had been worth the pains, for twelve characters of the Persian cuneiform inscription were now well secured. Twenty-eight characters remained to be deciphered before the inscriptions could be mastered. Grotefend here rested.
“The next step was taken by M. Bournouf, a scholar intimately acquainted with the Zend language. In 1836 he added considerably to the Persian cuneiform alphabet by reading twenty-four names on one of the inscriptions at Persepolis; but a more rapid stride was made subsequently by Professor Lassen of Bonn, who, between the years 1836 and 1844, to use the words of Mr. Fergusson, the learned and ingenious restorer of the palaces of Nineveh and Persepolis, ‘all but completed the task of alphabetical discovery.’
“While progress was thus making in Europe, Colonel Rawlinson, stationed at Kermanshah, in Persia, and ignorant of what had already been done in the west, was arriving at similar results by a process of his own. He, too, had begun to read the Persian cuneiform character on two inscriptions at Hamarian, the ancient Ecbatana. This was in 1835. In 1837 he had been able to decipher the most extensive Persian cuneiform inscription in the world. On the high road from Babylonia to the east stands the celebrated rock of Behistun. It is almost perpendicular, and rises abruptly to the height of 1700 feet. A portion of the rock, about 300 feet from the plain, and still very perfect, is sculptured, and contains inscriptions in the three languages already spoken of. The sculpture represents King Darius and the vanquished chiefs before him — the inscriptions detail the victories obtained over the latter by the Persian monarch. This monument, at least 2350 years old, deciphered for the first time by Colonel Rawlinson, gave to that distinguished Orientalist more than eighty proper names to deal with. It enabled him to form an alphabet. Between the Colonel and Professor Lassen no communication whatever had taken place, yet when their alphabets were compared they were found to differ only in one single character. The proof of the value of their discoveries was perfect.
“Thus far the Persian cuneiform character! To decipher it was to take the first essential step towards reading the cuneiform inscriptions on the walls at Nineveh. But for the Persepolis walls, the Behistun rock, and Colonel Rawlinson, it would have been a physical impossibility to decipher one line of the AssyriaI1 remains. In the Persian text only forty distinct characters had to be arrived at; and when once they were ascertained, the light afforded by the Zend, the Greek, and other aids, rendered translation not only possible, but certain to the patient and laborious student. The Assyrian alphabet, on the other hand, has no fewer than 150 letters; many of the characters are ideographs or hieroglyphics, representing a thing by a non-phonetic sign, and no collateral aids whatever exist to help the student to their interpretation. The reader will at once apprehend, however, that the moment the Persian cuneiform character on the Behistun rock was overcome, it must have been a comparatively easy task for the conqueror to break the mystery of the Assyrian cuneiform inscription, which, following the Persian writing on the rock, only repeated the same short history. Darius, who carved the monument in order to impress his victories upon his Assyrian subjects, was compelled to place before their eye the cuneiform character which they alone could comprehend. The Assyrian characters on the rock are the same as those on the bas-reliefs in the Assyrian palaces. Rawlinson, who first read the Persian inscriptions at Behistun, and then by their aid made out the adjacent Assyrian inscriptions, has handed over to Layard the first-fruits of his fortunate and splendid discovery, and enabled him for himself to ascertain and fix the value of the treasures he has so unexpectedly rescued from annihilation. As yet, as may readily be imagined, the knowledge of the Assyrian writing is not perfect; but the discovery has already survived its infancy. All other year or two of scholastic investigation, another practical visit to the ancient mounds, and the decipherment will be complete! Fortunate Englishmen! Enviable day-laborers in the noblest vocation that can engage the immortal faculties of man! What glory shall surpass that of the enterprising, painstaking, and heroic men who shall have restored to us, after the lapse of thousands of years, the history and actual stony presence of the world-renowned Nineveh, and enabled us to read with our own eyes, as if it were our mother tongue, the language suspended on the lips of men for ages, though written to record events in which the prophets of Almighty God took a living interest!”
The following narrative of discoveries which have been made since our Preface was written, will most appropriately close our attempt to illustrate in every possible way these valuable Lectures: — “When Mr. Layard returned to the scene of operations in 1848, he lost no time in proceeding with his excavations. During his absence a small number of men had been employed at Kouyunjik by Mr. Rassam, the English vice-consul, who, as the agent of the British Museum, had carried on the works suspended by Mr. Layard, though rather with the view of preventing interference on the part of others than of prosecuting excavations to any great extent. Mr. Rassam’s labors, limited as they were, had not been fruitless. He had dug his way to new chambers, and had exposed additional sculptures. The latter were of great interest, and portrayed more completely than any yet discovered the history of an Assyrian conquest, from the going out of the monarch to battle to his triumphal return after a complete victory. The opinion formerly entertained by Mr. Layard with respect to this palace was now confirmed. He was convinced that the ruins at Kouyunjik constituted one great building, built by one and the same king. He was still further satisfied that Kouyunjik and Khorsabad were contemporary structures, and that the north-west palace at Nimroud had a much higher antiquity than either.”
That portion of the subject which applies most to our purpose is the result obtained from the inscriptions with which the sculptures are accompanied. In the language of the review already quoted — “The king of Assyria himself is represented superintending the building of the mounds upon which the palace with its bulls is to be built. This king, as the cuneiform inscription shews, is Sennacherib; and the sculptures, as Rawlinson and the initiated are permitted to read, celebrate the building at Nineveh of the great palace and its adjacent temples — the work of this great king. The inscriptions on the bulls at Kouyunjik record most minutely the manner in which the edifice was built, its general plan, and the various materials employed in decorating the halls, chambers, and roofs. Some of the inscriptions have a thrilling interest. They indicate that the Jews, taken in captivity by the Assyrian king, were compelled to assist in the erection of the palaces of their conquerors, and that wood for the building was brought from Mount Lebanon, precisely as Solomon had conveyed its cedars for the choice woodwork of the temple of the Lord. There is an awful strangeness in thus being brought face to face, as it were, with the solemn mysteries of the Bible and with our own earliest sacred recollections.
“During the month of December (1848) the treasure-seekers were rewarded with a rare harvest. A facade of the south-east side of the palace at Kouyunjik, forming apparently the chief entrance to the building, was discovered. It was 180 feet long, and presented no fewer than ten colossal bulls, with six human figures of gigantic proportions. The bulls were more or less injured; some of them were even shattered to pieces, but fortunately the lower parts of all remained untouched, and consequently the inscriptions were preserved. Two of these inscriptions contained the annals of six years of the reign of Sennacherib, ‘besides numerous particulars connected with the religion of the Assyrians, their gods, their temples, and the erection of their palaces.’ There can be no reasonable doubt of the accuracy of the translation made of these writings, and now given in Mr. Layard’s volume. 202 The very differences and variations that occur when the cuneiform character is submitted to more than one translator attest to the correctness of the general interpretation. Colonel Rawlinson has translated into English the particular inscriptions of which we speak; and Dr. Hincks, an equally competent scholar, has done the same — both independently of each other; and there is no material discrepancy in their views. The inscription informs us that in the first year of his reign Sennacherib defeated Berodach-Baladan, king of Car-Duniyas, a city and country frequently mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions. It is not for the first time that the reader hears of this king, for he will remember how, When Hezekiah was sick, ‘at that time Berodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah,’ who boastfully shewed to the messengers all the treasures of his house. The Assyrian monument and holy writ thus begin to reflect light upon each other. But this is only a gleam of the illumination that follows. In the third year of his reign, according to the inscriptions, Sennacherib overran with his armies the whole of Syria. ‘Hezekiah,’ so runs the cuneiform writing, ‘king of Judah, who had not submitted to my authority, forty-six of his principal cities, and fortresses and villages depending upon them of which I took no account, I captured, and carried away their spoil. I shut up himself within Jerusalem, his capital city.’ The next passage, says Mr. Layard, is somewhat defaced, but enough remains to shew that he took from Hezekiah the treasure he had collected in Jerusalem — thirty talents of gold and eight hundred talents of silver, besides his sons, his daughters, and his slaves. The reader has not waited for us to remind him that in the 2nd Book of Kings it is written how ‘in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib, king of Assyria, come up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them... And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah, king of Judah, three hundred talents of silver and Thirty Talents of Gold And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house.’ It is something to have won from the earth such testimony on behalf of inspired Scripture. It is also something to have obtained from holy writ such evidence in favor of the monumental records of long-buried Nineveh.
“At a later period a chamber was discovered in which the sculptures were in better preservation than any before found at Kouyunjik. The slabs were almost entire, and the inscription was complete. The bas-reliefs represented the siege and capture, by the Assyrians, of a city of great extent and importance. ‘In no other sculptures were so many armed warriors seen drawn up in array before a besieged city.’ The sculptures occupied thirteen slabs, and told the whole narrative of the attack, the conquest, and the destruction of the enemy. The captives, as they appear in the bas-reliefs, have been stripped of their ornaments and fine raiment, are barefooted and half-clothed. But it is impossible to mistake the race to which they belong. They are Jews; for the stamp is on the countenance as it is impressed upon the features of their descendants at this very hour. The Assyrian sculptor has noted the characteristic lines and drawn them with surprising truth. To what city they belong we likewise know, for, above the figure of the king, who commands in person, it is declared, that ‘Sennacherib, the mighty king, king of the country of Assyria, sitting on the throne of judgment before the city of Lachish, gives permission for its slaughter.’ That it was slaughtered we have good reason to believe, for is it not written in the Bible that Sennacherib had quitted Lachish, having vanquished it, before his generals returned with the tribute extorted from Hezekiah?
“If evidence were still wanting to prove the identity of the king who built Kouyunjik with the Sennacherib of the Old Testament, it would be sufficient to call attention to one other most remarkable discovery that has been made in these mysterious mounds. In a passage in the south-west corner of the Kouyunjik palace, Mr. Layard stumbled upon a large number of pieces of fine clay, bearing the impressions of seals, which there can be no doubt had been affixed, like modern official seals of wax, to documents written on leather or parchment. The writings themselves have, of course, decayed, but, curiously enough, the holes for the string by which the seal was fastened are still visible; and in some instances the ashes of the string itself may be seen, together with the unmistakable marks of the finger and thumb. Four of these seals are purely Egyptian. Two of them are impressions of a royal signet. ‘It is,’ says Mr. Layard, ‘one well known to Egyptian scholars, as that of the second Sabaco, the AEthiopian of the twenty-fifth dynasty. On the same piece of clay is impressed an Assyrian seal, with a, device representing a priest ministering before the king, probably a royal signet.’ We entreat the reader’s attention to what follows. Sabaco reigned in Egypt at the end of the seventh century before Christ, the very time at which Sennacherib ascended the throne. ‘He is probably the So mentioned in the 2Ki 17:4 as having received ambassadors from Hoshea, king of Israel, who, by entering into a league with the Egyptians, called down the vengeance of Shalmaneser, whose tributary he was, which led to the first great captivity of the people of Samaria. Shalmaneser we know to have been an immediate predecessor of Sennacherib, and Tirhakah, the Egyptian king, who was defeated by the Assyrians near Lachish, was the immediate successor of Sabaco II. It would seem, that a peace having been concluded between the Egyptians and one of the Assyrian monarchs, probably Sennacherib, the royal signets of the two kings, thus found together, were attached to the treaty, which was deposited among the archives of the kingdom.’ The document itself has perished, but the proof of the alliance between the two kings remains, and is actually reproduced from the archive-chamber of the old Assyrian king. The illustration of Scripture-history is complete, and the testimony in favor of the correct interpretation of the cuneiform character perfect.”
Long as this extract is, it gives but a slight specimen of the surprising amount of scriptural illustration derived from this new and unexpected source. We add a last and final one: — “Ten years have scarcely elapsed since the first discovery of ruins on the site of Nineveh was made, and already there lies before us an amount of information, having regard to the history of the old Assyrian people, of which we had previously not the most distant conception. When Mr. Layard published, in 1849, the account of his first Assyrian researches, the monuments recovered were comparatively scanty, and the inscriptions impressed upon them could not be deciphered. Now, a completed history can be traced in the sculptured remains, and the inscriptions may be followed with the same facility as the Greek or any other character. That they may be read with immense profit and instruction is evident from the startling facts which they have hitherto revealed. Some of these facts we venture briefly to place before the reader. We have previously hinted that the earliest king of whose reign we have any detailed account is the builder of the north-west palace at Nimrod, the most ancient edifice yet beheld in Assyria. His records, however, furnish the names of five, if not seven, of his predecessors, some of whom it is believed founded palaces, afterwards erected by their successors. The son of this king, it is certain, built the center palace of Nimroud, and raised the obelisk, now in the British Museum, upon which the principal events of his reign are inscribed. Upon that obelisk are names corresponding to names that are found in the Old Testament. The fortunate coincidence furnishes at once the means of fixing specific dates, and enables Mr. Layard to place the accession of the Assyrian monarch who built the oldest Nimroud palace at the latter part of the tenth century before Christ. The builder of the palace of Khorsabad is proved to have been the Sargon mentioned by Isaiah. The ruins of his palace supply the most complete details of his reign; and from the reign of Sargon a complete list has been obtained of all the kings down to the fall of the empire. The son of Sargon was Sennacherib, who ascended the throne in the year 703 b.c. We know from the Bible that Sennacherib was succeeded by his son Esarhaddon, and we now ascertain from the monuments that one of the palaces at Nimroud was the work of his reign. The son of Esarhaddon built; the south-east palace on the mound of Nimroud; and, although no part of his history has been as yet recovered, there is good reason for concluding him to have been the Sardanapalus who, conquered (b.c. 606) by the Medes and Babylonians under Cyaxares, made one funeral pile of his palace, his wealth, and his wives.
“While it is certain that there is no mention of Nineveh before the 12th century b.c. Mr. Layard is still of opinion that the city and empire existed long before that period. Egyptian remains found at Karnak refer to a country called Assyria, and the enterprising explorer is not without hope that further investigation will supply him with still more ancient records than any he now possesses. The monuments of Nineveh, as far as they go, corroborate all extant history in describing the monarch as a thorough Eastern despot, ‘unchecked by popular opinion, and having complete power over the lives and property of his subjects; rather adored as a god than feared as a man, and yet himself claiming that authority and general obedience in virtue of his reverence for the national deities and the national religion.’ The dominion of the king, according to the inscriptions, extended to the central provinces of Asia Minor and Armenia northward; to the western provinces of Persia eastward; to the west as far as Lydia and Syria; and to the south to Babylonia and the northern part of Arabia. ‘The empire appears to have been at all times a kind of confederation formed by many tributary States, whose kings were so far independent that they were only bound to furnish troops to the supreme lord in time of war, and to pay them yearly a certain tribute.’ The Jewish tribes, it is now proved, held their dependent position upon the Assyrian king from a very early period; and it is curious to observe that, wherever an expedition against the kings of Israel is mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions, it is invariably stated to have been undertaken on the ground that they had not paid their customary tribute.
“At every step sacred history is illustrated, illuminated, and explained by the speaking stones of Nineveh; and in this regard alone the Assyrian discoveries have a significance beyond any revelation that has been made in modern times. Even the architecture of the sacred people may be rendered visible to the eye by comparing it with that of the Assyrian structures; and certainly not the least instructive result of all Mr. Layard’s labors is the ingenious analogy drawn by Mr. Fergusson in his ‘Palaces of Nineveh and Persepolis Restored,’ between the temple of Solomon and the palace of the Assyrian king.”
Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon. Being the result of a Second Expedition, undertaken for the trustees of the British Museum. By Austin H. Layard, M.P. London: Murray, 1853.
Layard’s Monuments of Nineveh. Second Series. London: Murray, 1853.