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Hystaspes. “The fourth shall be far richer than they all.” This rich king was Xerxes the Great. He was the richest of all the Persian monarchs. “ He shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia." His expedition against Greece is one of the most memorable wars of antiquity. His army and the followers of his camp are computed at 5,283,220 men. And as he was the last Persian king that invaded Greece, he is mentioned last, although there were eleven other kings who reigned after him on the Persian throne.
Verse 3. “A mighty king shall stand up," &c. Expositors are all agreed that Alexander the Great is here predicted.
Verse 4. "His kingdom shall be broken and divided towards the four winds of heaven, and not to his posterity."
In fifteen years after the death of Alexander, his entire family had become extinct; and there was none to inherit either his riches or glory. His kingdom was then divided among four of his generals. 1. Seleucus had Syria ; 2. Lysimachus, Asia Minor; 3. Ptolemy possessed Egypt; 4. Cassander had Greece and the neighboring countries.
From the fifth to the fourteenth verse we have a very striking prophecy of the wars carried on between the king of the north, Syria, and the king of the south, Egypt. For an explanation of which, see Clarke.
Verse 14. “And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south, (Egypt;) also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision, but they shall fall.”
The times here spoken of, were after the death
of Ptolemy Philopater, and while Ptolemy Epiph. anes was a minor, only four or five years old. Antiochus, king of Syria, thought this a favorable time to invade and conquer Egypt. Accordingly, he engaged Philip, king of Macedon, in his interests, and also brought powerful forces from the east. Egypt itself also rebelled at the same time. Thus many stood up against the infant king of Egypt, with the design of conquering and dividing the kingdom between them." The robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves." “ Whilst,” says Rollin, “they (Antiochus and Philip) were meditating to dispossess a weak and helpless infant of his kingdom by piece-meal, Providence raised up the Romans against them, who entirely subverted the kingdoms of Philip and Antiochus, and reduced their successors to almost as great calamities as those with which they intended to crush the infant king.” Thus they, Philip and Antiochus, who stood up against Egypt, fell.
Verses 15–19, continue the wars between the king of the north, Antiochus, and the king of the south, Egypt, until the death of Antiochus; when, verse 20, we are introduced again to the Roman history after the conquest of the four kingdoms of the Macedonian empire, and the assumption of the imperial form of government. Then shall stand up in his estate, “or on his base," a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom. This raiser of taxes, who inherited or stood “on the base" of those eastern kingdoms, was Augustus Cesar, the first Roman emperor. He stood in the height of the glory of the Roman dominions. He also made a decree that all the world should be taxed. Luke ii. 1. In his estate there stood up a vile person, Tiberius Cesar, under whose reign the Prince of the covenant, Jesus Christ, was broken. Thus we are brought down to one of the grand points to which all the prophets point, the sacrificial death of the Savior.
Next, we are taken back to the union first formed between the people of God, the Jews, and the Romans, the last of the four great earthly kingdoms which should exist, and which is to continue to exist until the end.
ROMAN, JEWISH, AND CHRISTIAN HISTORY.
After the death of the Savior, predicted in the 22d verse, we are taken back, verse 23d, to the origin of the connection between the church and the Romans. “After the league made with him (the power predicted verses 20-22,) he shall work deceitfully; for he shall come up and become strong with a small people.” The league here spoken off, is the first ever made between the Jews and Romans. The Jews having been long harassed by the Syrians, and having no prospect of assistance from the neighboring nations, sent ambassadors to Rome, and entered into a league, offensive and defensive, with the Roman senate. This league was formed about B. C. 162. And soon after, Demetrius, the Syrian king, at the order of the Roman senate, left off to afflict the Jews. (Josephus' Ant., B. 12, chap. x.) From this time the Romans, who had been hitherto a small people, began rapidly to extend their power and enlarge their domin. ions. The Roman government did that which none of their predecessors had done. The fattest provinces of the world became to them an easy prey. The Jewish rulers weré appointed and continued in office at the dictation of the Romans.
" He shall scatter among them the prey." Rome is said to have done more toward the conquest of the world by her policy and crafti. ness than by her arms. Scattering the prey and spoil among those they conquered, was one of her favorite modes of conciliating the feelings of her most inveterate foes. But when these means failed to win over their enemies to the Roman interests, the sword decided the contest.
From the 25th to the 27th verse we have the history of the final conquest of Egypt by Augustus Cesar, by the termination of a war carried on against Mark Antony, a brother-in-law of Cesar, and Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, whose cause Mark Antony had espoused. For a history of this war, see Rollin's Ancient History, vol. viii.
Verse 28. " Then shall he return into his own land with great riches." After the conquest of Egypt, B. C. 30, Cesar returned to Rome in triumph, being master of all the dominions of Alexander the Great.
“And his heart shall be against the holy covenant ; and he shall do exploits, and return into his own land."
The next warlike exploit of the Romans, after the conquest of Egypt, B. C. 30, of any considerable importance, was the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish nation; after which he returned again to his own land. ... Verse 29: "At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south ; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.”
“Come toward the south.” The time appointed for the division of the Roman empire; the seat of government was removed from Rome to Constantinople, toward, not to, the south; but on the way to the south by a land passage. “ Not as the former,” the Syrian kings going to war with Egypt; “nor as the latter,” the Romans marching against Egypt. But he shall merely remove the seat of his empire toward the south.
“The ships of Chittim shall come against him." The hordes of northern barbarians shall invade his dominions, and conquer the portion he has vacated by removing to Constantinople.
“And have indignation against the holy covenant, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.” Julian, the apostate, exhibited his malice against the Christians, and did all he could to restore Paganism and put down Christianity. To effect this, he made use of apostates from the Christian faith, to betray the cause they had forsaken. The Pagans, also, in the empire, believed the distress they suffered from the Huns, &c., was in consequence of the wrath of their gods for suffering the Christians to live among them. “Arms shall stand on his part." The Romans shall defend themselves by arms for a season, and preserve independent the eastern empire. “And they (the barbarous nations) shall pollute the sanctuary of strength,” (Rome,) by offering to their pagan deities human sacrifices. “And shall take away the daily sacri. fice," "and they shall place the abomination that