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Causes which are apparently the slightest, are sometimes productive of the most momentous events; and the fate of empires is often dependant on the private history of kings. And the circumstantiality with which the anticipated history of the successive kings of the south and of the north, or of Egypt and Syria, is narrated by the prophet, and every prominent event traced to its source, gives palpable illustration that, in the sight of the Eternal, there is no darkness in the most distant ages, and no secret in all the hearts of the children of men.
Ver. 5. And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes (i. e, of Alexander's princes); and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion, his dominion shall be a great dominion, or as rendered by the Septuagint, and the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes shall be strong above him, &c. Ptolemy the first, or Ptolemy Lagus, the founder of his dynasty, was on the original divison of the kingdom of Alexander, the king of the south, or of Egypt. He was king of the south before the kingdom of Syria was established; and as he is first named in the prophecy, he was the first to reduce Judea and to take Jerusalem. Mild in his government over the Egyptians, they yielded him a willing obedience; and, levying many troops, instead of fearing his enemies, he became an object of their dread. Lybia, Cyrenaica, and part of Arabia bordering on Egypt, were included in his dominions. Having aided the Rhodians in the famous siege of Rhodes by Demetrius, who was hence forced to raise it, he acquired the name of Soter, or the Deliverer. He conquered Cyprus, took Tyre, ravaged Cilicia, and reduced to his obedience the whole coast of Phænicia, and the greater part of Syria. He was, thus, strong, and he promised at first to unite under his sovereignty both Egypt and Syria.—But one of the princes of Alexander was strong above him. Seleucus, the first of the Seleucidæ, began his sovereign career by establishing his authority in the east. He is not designated, as all his successors are called and were, the king of the north but one of the princes. On the subdivision of the great empire, that title did not at first rightly pertain to him, till his conquests were extended over Syria, and that kingdom was his own; while Ptolemy was, from the first, as he is called, the king of the south. Strong as Ptolemy, the king of the south, was, Seleucus, one of Alexander's princes, was strong above him. Having subjected to his dominion Persia, Media, Babylon, Assyria, Bactria, and Hyrcania, he overthrew Antigonus, who had subdued the greater part of Syria and Asia Minor; he established himself on the throne of Syria; and extending his conquests still farther to the west and north, he conquered and slew Lysimachus, who had conquered Demetrius, and added their joint dominions to his own. He is distinguished in history from all the princes of his race, by the title of Nicator, or conquerer,-an honour which was earned by being, as Justin terms him, “the conqueror of the conquerors ;” and. he was the last survivor, as well as the greatest, of the princes of Alexander. He had dominion ; and his dominion was a great dominion, extending, for a season, with the exception of Egypt, over all the conquests of Alexander. Many large and celebrated cities owed their origin to Seleucus; among which may be specified Seleucia, called by his name, and Antioch, so called from the name of his father and of his son, which was afterwards the seat of the government of his successors, thenceforth distinguished successively in the prediction by the appellation of the king of the north.
During the reigns of Antiochus Soter, the son and immediate successor of Seleucus, and of Ptolemy Philadelphus, the second of the Ptolemies, these rival kingdoms were stirred up to mutual warfare, and the coast of Syria was partially ravaged by the Egyptians. Antiochus Soler, after reigning nineteen years, was succeeded by his son Antiochus Theos, while Ptolemy Philadelphus continued to reign in Egypt. A war was carried on with great violence between them for a long period; and the eastern part of the empire having revolted, and Parthia having cast off the Syrian yoke, the consequences threatened to be disasterous to the king of Syria, or of the north, whose kingdom for the first time, was thus placed in jeopardy. Years having thus elapsed, the mode by which the war between these kings was terminated, and which deeply and permanently affected the interests of both kingdoms, as well as the Jews, is thus recorded in the prediction:
And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north, to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the power of his arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm (or seed): but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, (or rather, as on the margin, he whom she brought forth,) and he that strengthened her in times. Ver. 6. Human policy is too seldom based in righteousness; and peace, when founded on inhumanity and injustice, often leads to renewed and more desolating wars. As a bond of future union between Syria and Egypt, a matrimonial alliance was concluded between the daughter of the king of the south, and the king of the north. For, as the price of peace, the Syrian monarch divorced his wife Laodice, and married Berenice the daughter of Ptolemy. Along with her father, and accompanied by a dowry so
large, as to confer on him the name of the dowrygiver, the daughter of the king of the south came to the king of the north ; and their union was celebrated with a splendour becoming such an agreement between kings: and the sons of Antiochus
Theos, by Laodice, being formally disinherited by a solemn treaty, a lasting union between the kingdoms was devised, and gave the prospect of many years of peace, by the stipulated succession of the children of Berenice, the descendants alike of both the kings, to the throne of Syria--But she did not retain the power of the arm. Policy giving way to a revived affection, Antiochus recalled his repudiated spouse, and the king of Egypt's daughter was abandoned in her turn. Distrusting the volatile affection of her husband, and bent on securing the kingdom for her son Seleucus Callinicus, Laodice caused Antiochus to be poisoned ; and after being besieged in a fortress to which she fled, Berenice also was taken and slain. Her Egyptian attendants, they that brought her, were likewise murdered ; and her son was in like manner killed. Ptolemy Philadelphus, who bore towards her the tenderest affection and care, (as an instance of which he caused water from the Nile to be regularly transmitted for her use,) and who had strengthened her in times, was dead when her troubles and dangers began. Neither did Antiochus retain the kingdom, .nor did his son by Berenice, according to the agreement, succeed to it: she was given up together with those that brought her; her son was slain, and her father, who had strenghthened her, died.
The family compact, by which the peace and amity of Egypt and Syria was to be cemented, was thus broken and disannulled by the murder of the king of the north, and of the daughter of the king of the south, who had come to make an agreement with him; and a new cause of fiercer animosity
brought the two kingdoms again into violent collision. Though her father was dead, her husband, her son, and her attendants slain, the death of Berenice was not unavenged. Ptolemy III. succeeded to his father Philadelphus, and was hastening, with all his forces, to the relief of his sister, when he received the tidings of her murder. His bope of saving her life was changed into a desire and determination of avenging her death. Many cities, whose inhabitants were shocked at the cruelty of Laodice, revolted from her son Seleucus Callinicus, who, then without a rival, had succeeded to the throne; and the king of Egypt entered them without a combat. He united their troops to his own, and headed a great army. Having slain Laodice, and subjected to his authority, or brought into his alliance, numerous cities of Syria and Gullicia, he passed the Euphrates and the Tigris, and made himself master of Babylon and Seleucia. Wherever he went Callinicus could not withstand him; and all, throughout the realms of the king of the north yielded before him, and nothing stayed his progress, till an insurrection in Egypt called him back to the protection, from internal enemies, of his own dominions. But he returned not from the land of Babylon without a spoil. He entered Egypt, on his return, with the abundant booty of 40,000 talenis of silver (about six millions), many vessels of silver and gold, and a prize still more highly valued by the idolatrous Egyptians, for which they conferred on him his title of Euergetes, or Benefactor, viz. two thousand five hundred idols, many of which Cambyses in a former age had carried away from Egypt, and which were objects of worship alike to the Egyptians and to the
his hands, but Ptolemy.Euergetes survived him several years, and lived to see the death of the king of the north-to secure whom in the kingdom, his sis.