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countenance and understanding dark sentences shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power : and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand, and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many : he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes, but he shall be broken without hand. And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true : wherefore shut thou up the vision, FOR IT SHALL BE FOR MANY DAYS.-Dan. viii.
A ram, with two horns, one higher than the other, was the emblem of the united kingdom of Media and Persia, as is still to be seen on the ruins of Persepolis. The one horn was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. Media was at first the greater, as it was also the more ancient kingdom; but Persia, under Cyrus, assumed the sovereignty, and the name of Media soon merged in that of the Persian empire. His conquests extended westward, and southward, and northward. And after Babylon fell, no other kingdom could withstand the power of Persia; and, recent as was then its origin or its name among empires, the Assyrian and Egyptian monarchies, which vied with each other in antiquity and splendour, could not stand before it, and could neither retard its ascendency nor maintain their own. But great as was its power, even more suddenly than it arose, it was suddenly to be overthrown: and the subverter of its dominion was to come from the west.
The preceding visions had represented the earthly glory, and the tyrannical character of all the great successive kingdoms. But, in the present, the national symbol is adopted, in reference both to Persia and Macedon. Previous to the days of Daniel, and even from their origin as a nation, the Macedonians were designated in history as the Ægeada, or the goats people, their first king, Ceraunus, the leader of a large band of migratory Greeks in quest of a settlement, having fixed the seat of his empire on a spot to which a flock of goats fled, as he passed, for shelter from a storm,—the oracle having previously commanded him to seek the goats as his guide to empire. But the symbols, however applicable and appropriate, may,--in respect to the Median and Persian kingdom, united under Cyrus, and the Macedonian, or, as generally termed the Grecian empire, founded by Alexander the Great,-be here dropped from the explicitness of the interpretation. Ver. 20, 21.The ram which thou sawest having two horns, are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia : and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Prophecy here assumes the explicitness, and requires to be viewed with the minuteness, of historical detail.
He came from the west over the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground. Ver. 5. Alexander, on ascending the throne of his father Philip, in the twentieth year of his age, reduced to obedience the Illyrians and Thracians, from the borders of Macedon to the banks of the Danube. Having subdued the Thebans, who disowned him as a leader, and burnt their city, and overawed all his enemies in Greece, he was appointed Generalissimo of the Grecians in their general confederacy against their common enemy, the Persians. Traversing Thrace, he passed the Hellespont, subdued Bithynia, Phrygia, Cilicia, and all the other countries of the Lesser Asia, Syria, Egypt, and Babylonia, Armenia, Media, Persia, India, Bactria, Parthia, and Hyrcania, all the provinces of the Persian empire, and extended his conquests even beyond its bounds. He waxed very great. Conquering kingdoms wherever he went, often passing over them with the speed of a courier, and bearing the tidings of his conquests, exclusive of partial excursions, he held on in a triumphant course and circuit of above twelve thousand miles, with a rapidity unparalleled by any single conqueror. He was the first king of Grecia, who, retaliating her wrongs on Persia, established an empire in the east, and lorded over Asia. His bright and rapid career is traced from its first rise to its sudden extinction.
He came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power, ver. 6. The soldiers of Greece, with Alexander at their head, and the troops of Persia, faced each other for the first time in Asia, on the banks of the Granicus. The hostile armies were drawn up on the opposite banks. Alexander rejected with disdain the counsel he received, to desist from an immediate attack. He assailed them as they were standing before the river. Plunging into the stream, he encountered and overthrew them in the waters and on the bank : a moments delay would have been destruction ; but he rushed impetuously into the midst of the enemy, and slew, with his own hand, the first of their generals and the fiercest of their chiefs.
The king of Greece came close, (ver. 7.) unto the king of Persia. The modern theory of the art of war, that of breaking the line, was practically illustrated by Alexander, whose great principle of warfare was to march in column, and with his Macedonian phalanx to penetrate to the centre of the Persian host, where Darius was stationed, or, in other words, to come close unto the king. Twice, with extreme difficulty, Darius so narrowly escaped from his hands, that his chariot, lance, and spear were taken, a first and a second time. And after routing all his armies, and subjugating his kingdom, so closely was he pur
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sued by Alexander,—who, with only a few cavalry, traversed a desert by the nearest route in hopes of seizing him alive,—that, when about to be overtaken at last, Darius, slain by the hands of his soldiers in their despair of saving him, had scarcely breathed his last, or, according to one historian, had not expired, when the conqueror of Asia was at his side.
There was no power in Persia to stand before him ; he cast down their empire to the ground, and stamped upon it. He brake the kingdom of Media and Persia Ver. 7, 20. He passed the Granicus, with less than half the number, in confronting defiance of a hundred thousand troops. He slew a greater number at the battle of Issus, as Greek and Roman historians relate ; and in the battle of Arbela, the death-blow of the Persian empire, an army of a million had not power to stand before him, and with such fury did he assail them, that nearly a third part of the mighty host lay dead upon the field.
The Bactrians, Scythians, Armenians, Syrians, and Parthians, and many savage mountaineers besides, were confederated with the Medes and Persians against the close band of intrepid Greeks, headed by Alexander, but none could deliver them out of his hand.
And when he was strong the great horn was broken. Ver. 8. : No host on earth could encounter him. But the description of the momentary fall of the frangible authority of a mortal, was as easy a task in the hands of an inspired penman, as that of the rapid career of the desolator of kingdoms. Though no power could stand before him, or deliver out of his hands, while his commissioned work remained to be done, yet, according to the same word of the Ruler among the nations, who raiseth up and who casteth down, so soon as ever the measure of his greatness was full, and the name of Great was won by the sacrifice of many thousands, the conqueror of the world became a corpse. It was the resolution of him whose purposes had never been thwarted, and who was taking to himself the name of a god, to fix the seat of his universal empire at Babylon, and from thence to rule the world he had conquered. But it was not so written in the word of the living God. Alexander the Great would have healed Babylon ; but it was not healed. And he who had triumphed over the face of the earth, to whose prowess no city could refuse to yield, who built Alexandria and divers other cities, could not stay the decline of one, against which the word of the Lord of Hosts had gone forth, nor rebuild a temple which was devoted to everlasting desolation ; but after having achieved all the predicted wonders of his brief but most eventful history, on the immediate completion of his conquests and establishment of his unrivalled authority, and in the thirtyfourth year of his age, in the very bloom of his manhood, and the very fulness of his just ripened glory, he died, at Babylon, on his first attempt to do that which it was written in Scripture was not to be done. And it was when he was strong that the great horn was broken.
For it came up four notable ones, toward the four winds of heaven. Ver. 8. Now, that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. Ver. 22. The words of prophecy glide as smoothly over the lapse of ages as over the track of a single destroyer,— the founder of kingdoms. The Grecian sovereignty over the west of Europe, great part of Asia, and the most renowned and fertile region in Africa, did not end with the first great king who set it up. Out of the same nation, and under his chief captains, four notable kingdoms, though inferior in power, arose towards the four winds of heaven, viz. Macedon and Greece, under Cassander, in the west ; Thrace, and