From August 2009

Daniel 11:21-45; The Reign of Antiochus Epiphanes; Cruelty and Impiety of Antiochus; The Death of Antiochus; Note, When God’s time shall come to bring proud oppressors to their end none shall be able to help them, nor perhaps inclined to help them; for those that covet to be feared by all when they are in their grandeur, when they come to be in distress will find themselves loved by none; none will lend them so much as a hand or a prayer to help them; and, if the Lord do not help, who shall? B.C. 534

0

The Reign of Antiochus Epiphanes; Cruelty and Impiety of Antiochus; The Death of Antiochus.

B. C. 534.


Daniel 11:21-45

21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.   22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.   23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.   24 He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.   25 And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him.   26 Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.   27 And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.   28 Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.   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.   30 For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.   31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.   32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. 33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.   34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.   35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.   36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.   37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.   38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.   39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.   40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.   41 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.   42 He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.   43 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.   44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.   45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

All this is a prophecy of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, the little horn spoken of before (ch. viii. 9) a sworn enemy to the Jewish religion, and a bitter persecutor of those that adhered to it. What troubles the Jews met with in the reigns of the Persian kings were not so particularly foretold to Daniel as these, because then they had living prophets with them, Haggai and Zechariah, to encourage them; but these troubles in the days of Antiochus were foretold, because, before that time, prophecy would cease, and they would find it necessary to have recourse to the written word. Some things in this prediction concerning Antiochus are alluded to in the New-Testament predictions of the antichrist, especially v. 36, 37. And as it is usual with the prophets, when they foretel the prosperity of the Jewish church, to make use of such expressions as were applicable to the kingdom of Christ, and insensibly to slide into a prophecy of that, so, when they foretel the troubles of the church, they make use of such expressions as have a further reference to the kingdom of the antichrist, the rise and ruin of that. Now concerning Antiochus, the angel foretels here,

I. His character: He shall be a vile person. He called himself Epiphanes–the illustrious, but his character was the reverse of his surname. The heathen writers describe him to be an odd-humoured man, rude and boisterous, base and sordid. He would sometimes steal out of the court into the city, and herd with any infamous company incognito–in disguise he made himself a companion of the common sort, and of the basest strangers that came to town. He had the most unaccountable whims, so that some took him to be silly, others to be mad. Hence he was called Epimanes–the madman. He is called a vile person, for he had been a long time a hostage at Rome for the fidelity of his father when the Romans had subdued him; and it was agreed that, when the other hostages were exchanged, he should continue a prisoner at large.

II. His accession to the crown. By a trick he got his elder brother’s son, Demetrius, to be sent a hostage to Rome, in exchange for him, contrary to the cartel; and, his elder brother being made away with by Heliodorus (v. 20), he took the kingdom. The states of Syria did not give it to him (v. 21), because they knew it belonged to his elder brother’s son, nor did he get it by the sword, but came in peaceably, pretending to reign for his brother’s son, Demetrius, then a hostage at Rome. But with the help of Eumenes and Attalus, neighbouring princes, he gained an interest in the people, and by flatteries obtained the kingdom, established himself in it, and crushed Heliodorus, who made head against him with the arms of a flood; those that opposed him were overflown and broken before him, even the prince of the covenant, his nephew, the rightful heir, whom he pretended to covenant with that he would resign to him whenever he should return, v. 22. But (v. 23) after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully, as one whose avowed maxim it is that princes ought not to be bound by their word any longer than it is for their interest. And with a small people, that at first cleave to him, he shall become strong, and (v. 24) he shall enter peaceably upon the fattest places of the kingdom of Syria, and, very unlike his predecessors, shall scatter among the people the prey, and the spoil, and riches, to insinuate himself into their affections; but, at the same time, he shall forecast his devices against the strong-holds, to make himself master of them, so that his generosity shall last but for a time; when he has got the garrisons into his hands he will scatter his spoil no more, but rule by force, as those commonly do that come in by fraud. He that comes in like a fox reigns like a lion. Some understand these verses of his first expedition into Egypt, when he came not as an enemy, but as a friend and guardian to the young king Ptolemæus Philometer, and therefore brought with him but few followers, yet those stout men, and faithful to his interest, whom he placed in divers of the strong-holds in Egypt, thereby making himself master of them.

III. His war with Egypt, which was his second expedition thither. This is described, v. 25, 27. Antiochus shall stir up his power and courage against Ptolemæus Philometer king of Egypt. Ptolemy, thereupon, shall be stirred up to battle against him, shall come against him with a very great and mighty army; but Ptolemy, though he has such a vast army, shall not be able to stand before him; for Antiochus’s army shall overthrow his, and overpower it, and great multitudes of the Egyptian army shall fall down slain. And no marvel, for the king of Egypt shall be betrayed by his own counsellors; those that feed of the portion of his meat, that eat of his bread and live upon him, being bribed by Antiochus, shall forecast devices against him, and even they shall destroy him; and what fence is there against such treachery? After the battle, a treaty of peace shall be set on foot, and these two kings shall meet at one council-board, to adjust the articles of peace between them; but they shall neither of them be sincere in it, for they shall, in their pretences and promises of amity and friendship, lie to one another, for their hearts shall be at the same time to do one another all the mischief they can. And then no marvel that it shall not prosper. The peace shall not last; but the end of it shall be at the time appointed in the divine Providence, and then the war shall break out again, as a sore that is only skinned over.

IV. Another expedition against Egypt. From the former he returned with great riches (v. 28), and therefore took the first occasion to invade Egypt again, at the time appointed by the divine Providence, two years after, in the eighth year of his reign, v. 29. He shall come towards the south. But this attempt shall not succeed, as the two former did, nor shall he gain his point, as he had done before once and again; for (v. 30) the ships of Chittim shall come against him, that is, the navy of the Romans, or only ambassadors from the Roman senate, who came in ships. Ptolemæus Philometer, king of Egypt, being now in a strict alliance with the Romans, craved their aid against Antiochus, who had besieged him and his mother Cleopatra in the city of Alexandria. The Roman senate thereupon sent an embassy to Antiochus, to command him to raise the siege, and, when he desired some time to consider of it and consult with his friends about it, Popilius, one of the ambassadors, with his staff drew a circle about him, and told him, as one having authority, he should give a positive answer before he came out of that circle; whereupon, fearing the Roman power, he was forced immediately to give orders for the raising of the siege and the retreat of his army out of Egypt. So Livy and others relate the story which this prophecy refers to. He shall be grieved, and return; for it was a great vexation to him to be forced to yield thus.

V. His rage and cruel practices against the Jews. This is that part of his government, or mis-government rather, which is most enlarged upon in this prediction. In his return from his expedition into Egypt (which is prophesied of, v. 28) he did exploits against the Jews, in the sixth year of his reign; then he spoiled the city and temple. But the most terrible storm was in his return from Egypt, two years after, prophesied of v. 30. Then he took Judea in his way home; and, because he could not gain his point in Egypt by reason of the Romans interposing, he wreaked his revenge upon the poor Jews, who gave him no provocation, but had greatly provoked God to permit him to do it, Dan. viii. 23.

1. He had a rooted antipathy to the Jews’ religion: His heart was against the holy covenant, v. 28. And (v. 30) he had indignation against the holy covenant, that covenant of peculiarity by which the Jews were incorporated a people distinct from all other nations, and dignified above them. He hated the law of Moses and the worship of the true God, and was vexed at the privileges of the Jewish nation and the promises made to them. Note, That which is the hope and joy of the people of God is the envy of their neighbours, and that is the holy covenant. Esau hated Jacob because he had got the blessing. Those that are strangers to the covenant are often enemies to it.

2. He carried on his malicious designs against the Jews by the assistance of some perfidious apostate Jews. He kept up intelligence with those that forsook the holy covenant (v. 30), some of the Jews that were false to their religion, and introduced the customs of the heathen, with whom they made a covenant. See the fulfilling of this, 1 Mac. i. 11-15, where it is expressly said, concerning those renegado Jews, that they made themselves uncircumcised and forsook the holy covenant. We read (2 Mac. iv. 9) of Jason, the brother of Onias the high priest, who by the appointment of Antiochus set up a school at Jerusalem, for the training up of youth in the fashions of the heathen; and (2 Mac. iv. 23, &c.) of Menelaus, who fell in with the interests of Antiochus, and was the man that helped him into Jerusalem, now in his last return from Egypt. We read much in the book of the Maccabees of the mischief done to the Jews by these treacherous men of their own nation, Jason and Menelaus, and their party. These upon all occasions he made use of. “Such as do wickedly against the covenant, such as throw up their religion, and comply with the heathen, he shall corrupt with flatteries, to harden them in their apostasy, and to make use of them as decoys to draw in others,” v. 32. Note, It is not strange if those who do not live up to their religion, but in their conversations do wickedly against the covenant, are easily corrupted by flatteries to quit their religion. Those that make shipwreck of a good conscience will soon make shipwreck of the faith.

3. He profaned the temple. Arms stand on his part (v. 31), not only his own army which he now brought from Egypt, but a great party of deserters from the Jewish religion that joined with them; and they polluted the sanctuary of strength, not only the holy city, but the temple. The story of this we have, 1 Mac. i. 21, &c. He entered proudly into the sanctuary, took away the golden altar, and the candlestick, &c. And therefore (v. 25) there was a great mourning in Israel; the princes and elders mourned, &c. And (2 Mac. v. 15, &c.) Antiochus went into the most holy temple, Menelaus, that traitor to the laws and to his own country, being his guide. Antiochus, having resolved to bring all about him to be of his religion, took away the daily sacrifice, v. 31. Some observe that the word Tammidh, which signifies no more than daily, is only here, and in the parallel place, used for the daily sacrifice, as if there were a designed liberty left to supply it either with sacrifice, which was suppressed by Antiochus, or with gospel-worship, which was suppressed by the Antichrist. Then he set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar (1 Mac. i. 54), even an idol altar (v. 59), and called the temple the temple of Jupiter Olympius, 2 Mac. vi. 2.

4. He persecuted those who retained their integrity. Though there are many who forsake the covenant and do wickedly against it, yet there is a people who do know their God and retain the knowledge of him, and they shall be strong and do exploits, v. 32. When others yield to the tyrant’s demands, and surrender their consciences to his impositions, they bravely keep their ground, resist the temptation, and make the tyrant himself ashamed of his attempt upon them. Good old Eleazar, one of the principal scribes, when he had swine’s flesh thrust into his mouth, did bravely spit it out again, though he knew he must be tormented to death for so doing, and was so, 2 Mac. vi. 19. The mother and her seven sons were put to death for adhering to their religion, 2 Mac. vii. This might well be called doing exploits; for to choose suffering rather than sin is a great exploit. And it was by faith, by being strong in faith, that they did those exploits, that they were tortured, not accepting deliverance, as the apostle speaks, probably with reference to that story, Heb. xi. 35. Or it may refer to the military courage and achievements of Judas Maccabæus and others in opposition to Antiochus. Note, The right knowledge of God is, and will be, the strength of the soul, and, in the strength of that, gracious souls do exploits. Those that know his name will put their trust in him, and by that trust will do great things. Now, concerning this people that knew their God, we are here told,

(1.) That they shall instruct many, v. 33. They shall make it their business to show others what they have learned themselves of the difference between truth and falsehood, good and evil. Note, Those that have the knowledge of God themselves should communicate their knowledge to those about them, and this spiritual charity must be extensive: they must instruct many. Some understand this of a society newly erected for the propagating of divine knowledge, called Assideans, godly men, pietists (so the name signifies), that were both knowing and zealous in the law; these instructed many. Note, In times of persecution and apostasy, which are trying times, those that have knowledge ought to make use of it for the strengthening and establishing of others. Those that understand aright themselves ought to do what they can to bring others to understand; for knowledge is a talent that must be traded with. Or, They shall instruct many by their perseverance in their duty and their patient suffering for it. Good examples instruct many, and with many are the most powerful instructions.

(2.) They shall fall by the cruelty of Antiochus, shall be put to the torture, and put to death, by his rage. Though they are so excellent and intelligent themselves, and so useful and serviceable to others, yet Antiochus shall show them no mercy, but they shall fall for some days; so it may be read, Rev. ii. 10, Thou shalt have tribulation ten days. We read much, in the books of the Maccabees, of Antiochus’s barbarous usage of the pious Jews, how many he slew in wars and how many he murdered in cold blood. Women were put to death for having their children circumcised, and their infants were hanged about their necks, 1 Mac. i. 60, 61. But why did God suffer this? How can this be reconciled with the justice and goodness of God? I answer, Very well, if we consider what it was that God aimed at in this (v. 35): Some of those of understanding shall fall, but it shall be for the good of the church and for their own spiritual benefit. It shall be to try them, and to purge, and to make them white. They needed these afflictions themselves. The best have their spots, which must be washed off, their dross, which must be purged out; and their troubles, particularly their share in the public troubles, help to do this; being sanctified to them by the grace of God, they are means of mortifying their corruptions, weaning them from the world, and awakening them to greater seriousness and diligence in religion. They try them, as silver in the furnace is refined from its dross; they purge them, as wheat in the barn is winnowed from the chaff; and they make them white, as cloth by the fuller is cleared from its spots. See 1 Pet. i. 7. Their sufferings for righteousness’ sake would try and purge the nation of the Jews, would convince them of the truth, excellency, and power of that holy religion which these understanding men died for their adherence to. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church; it is precious blood, and not a drop of it should be shed but upon such a valuable consideration.

(3.) The cause of religion, though it be thus run upon, shall not be run down. When they shall fall they shall not be utterly cast down, but they shall be holpen with a little help, v. 34. Judas Maccabæus, and his brethren, and a few with them, shall make head against the tyrant, and assert the injured cause of their religion; they pulled down the idolatrous altars, circumcised the children that they found uncircumcised, recovered the law out of the hand of the Gentiles, and the work prospered in their hands, 1 Mac. ii. 45, &c. Note, Those that stand by the cause of religion when it is threatened and struck at, though they may not immediately be delivered and made victorious, shall yet have present help. And a little help must not be despised; but, when times are very bad, we must be thankful for some reviving. It is likewise foretold that many shall cleave to them with flatteries; when they see the Maccabees prosper some Jews shall join with them that are no true friends to religion, but will only pretend friendship either with design to betray them or in hope to rise with them; but the fiery trial (v. 35) will separate between the precious and the vile, and by it those that are perfect will be made manifest and those that are not.

(4.) Though these troubles may continue long, yet they will have an end. They are for a time appointed, a limited time, fixed in the divine counsels. This warfare shall be accomplished. Hitherto the power of the enemy shall come, and no further; here shall its proud waves be stayed.

5. He grew very proud, insolent, and profane, and, being puffed up with his conquests, bade defiance to Heaven, and trampled upon every thing that was sacred, v. 36, &c. And here some think begins a prophecy of the antichrist, the papal kingdom. It is plain that St. Paul, in his prophecy of the rise and reign of the man of sin, alludes to this (2 Thess. ii. 4), which shows that Antiochus was a type and figure of that enemy, as Babylon also was; but, this being joined in a continued discourse with the foregoing prophecies concerning Antiochus, to me it seems probably that it principally refers to him, and in him had its primary accomplishment, and has reference to the other only by way of accommodation.

(1.) He shall impiously dishonour the God of Israel, the only living and true God, called here the God of gods. He shall, in defiance of him and his authority, do according to his will against his people and his holy religion; he shall exalt himself above him, as Sennacherib did, and shall speak marvellous things against him and against his laws and institutions. This was fulfilled when Antiochus forbade sacrifices to be offered in God’s temple, and ordered the sabbaths to be profaned, the sanctuary and the holy people to be polluted, &c., to the end that they might forget the law and change all the ordinances, and this upon pain of death, 1 Mac. i. 45.

(2.) He shall proudly put contempt upon all other gods, shall magnify himself above every god, even the gods of the nations. Antiochus wrote to his own kingdom that every one should leave the gods he had worshipped, and worship such as he ordered, contrary to the practice of all the conquerors that went before him, 1 Mac. i. 41, 42. And all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king; fond as they were of their gods, they did not think them worth suffering for, but, their gods being idols, it was all alike to them what gods they worshipped. Antiochus did not regard any god, but magnified himself above all, v. 37. He was so proud that he thought himself above the condition of a mortal man, that he could command the waves of the sea, and reach to the stars of heaven, as his insolence and haughtiness are expressed, 2 Mac. ix. 8, 10. Thus he carried all before him, till the indignation was accomplished (v. 36), till he had run his length, and filled up the measure of his iniquity; for that which is determined shall be done, and nothing more, nothing short.

(3.) He shall, contrary to the way of the heathen, disregard the god of his fathers, v. 37. Though an affection to the religion of their ancestors was, among the heathen, almost as natural to them as the desire of women (for, if you search through the isles of Chittim, you will not find an instance of a nation that has changed its gods, Jer. ii. 10, 11), yet Antiochus shall not regard the god of his fathers; he made laws to abolish the religion of his country, and to bring in the idols of the Greeks. And though his predecessors had honoured the God of Israel, and given great gifts to the temple at Jerusalem (2 Mac. iii. 2, 3), he offered the greatest indignities to God and his temple. His not regarding the desire of women may denote his barbarous cruelty (he shall spare no age or sex, no, not the tender ones) or his unnatural lusts, or, in general, his contempt of every thing which men of honour have a concern for, or it might be accomplished in something we meet not with in history. Its being joined to his not regarding the god of his fathers intimates that the idolatries of his country had in them more of the gratifications of the flesh than those of other countries (Lucian has written of the Syrian goddesses), and yet that would not prevail to keep him to them.

(4.) He shall set up an unknown god, a new god, v. 38. In his estate, in the room of the god of his fathers (Apollo and Diana, deities of pleasure), he shall honour the god of forces, a supposed deity of power, a god whom his fathers knew not, nor worshipped; because he will be thought in wisdom and strength to excel his fathers, he shall honour this god with gold, and silver, and precious stones, thinking nothing too good for the god he has taken a fancy to. This seems to be Jupiter Olympius, known among the Phœnicians by the name of Baal-Semen, the lord of heaven, but never introduced among the Syrians till Antiochus introduced it. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds, in the temple of Jerusalem, which is called the sanctuary of strength (v. 31), and here the fortresses of munitions; there he shall set up the image of this strange god. Some read it, He shall commit the munitions of strength, or of the most strong God (that is, the city Jerusalem), to a strange god; he put it under the protection and government of Jupiter Olympius. This god he shall not only acknowledge, but shall increase with glory, by setting his image even upon God’s altar. And he shall cause those that minister to this idol to rule over many, shall put them into places of power and trust, and they shall divide the land for gain, shall be maintained richly out of the profits of the country. Some by the Mahuzzim, or god of forces, that Antiochus shall worship, understand money, which is said to answer all things, and which is the great idol of worldly people.

Now here is very much that is applicable to the man of sin; he exalts himself above all that is called god or that is worshipped; magnifies himself above all; his flatterers call him our lord god the pope. By forbidding marriage, and magnifying the single life, he pretends not to regard the desire of women; and honours the god of forces, the god Mahuzzim, or strong holds, saints and angels, whom his followers take for their protectors, as the heathen did of old their demons; these they make presidents of several countries, &c. These they honour with vast treasures dedicated to them, and therein the learned Mr. Mede thinks that this prophecy was fulfilled, and that it is referred to 1 Tim. iv. 1, 2.

VI. Here seems to be another expedition into Egypt, or, at least, a struggle with Egypt. The Romans had tied him up from invading Ptolemy, but now that king of the south pushes at him (v. 40), makes an attempt upon some of his territories, where upon Antiochus, the king of the north, comes against him like a whirlwind, with incredible swiftness and fury, with chariots, and horses, and many ships, a great force. He shall come trough countries, and shall overflow and pass over. In this flying march many countries shall be overthrown by him; and he shall enter into the glorious land, the land of Israel; it is the same word that is translated the pleasant land, ch. viii. 9. He shall make dreadful work among the nations thereabout; yet some shall escape his fury, particularly Edom and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon, v. 41. He did not put these countries under contribution, because they had joined with him against the Jews. But especially the land of Egypt shall not escape, but he will quite beggar that, so bare will he strip it. This some reckon his fourth and last expedition against Egypt, in the tenth or eleventh year of his reign, under pretence of assisting the younger brother of Ptolemæus Philometer against him. We read not of any great slaughter made in this expedition, but great plunder; for, it should seem, that was what he came for: He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and all the precious things of Egypt, v. 43. Polybius, in Athenæus, relates that Antiochus, having got together abundance of wealth, by spoiling young Philometer, and breaking league with him, and by the contributions of his friends, bestowed a vast deal upon a triumph, in imitation of Paulus Æmilius, and describes the extravagance of it; here we are told how he got that money which he spent so profusely. Notice is here taken likewise of the use he made of the Lybians and Ethiopians, who bordered upon Egypt; they were at his steps; he had them at his foot, had them at his beck, and they made inroads upon Egypt to serve him.

VII. Here is a prediction of the fall and ruin of Antiochus, as before (ch. viii. 25), when he is in the height of his honour, flushed with victory, and laden with spoils, tidings out of the east and out of the north (out of the north-east) shall trouble him, v. 44. Or, He shall have intelligence, both from the eastern and northern parts, that the king of Parthia is invading his kingdom. This obliged him to drop the enterprises he had in hand, and to go against the Persians and Parthians that were revolting from him; and this vexed him, for now he thought utterly to ruin and extirpate the Jewish nation, when that expedition called him off, in which he perished. This is explained by a passage in Tacitus (though an impious one) where he commends Antiochus for his attempt to take away the superstition of the Jews, and bring in the manners of the Greeks, among them (ut teterrimam gentem in melius mutaret–to meliorate an odious nation), and laments that he was hindered from accomplishing it by the Parthian war. Now here is,

1. The last effort of his rage against the Jews. When he finds himself perplexed and embarrassed in his affairs he shall go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to make away many, v. 44. The story of this we have 1 Mac. iii. 27, &c., what a rage Antiochus was in when he heard of the successes of Judas Maccabæus, and the orders he gave to Lysias to destroy Jerusalem. Then he planted the tabernacles of his palace, or tents of his court, between the seas, between the Great Sea and the Dead Sea. He set up his royal pavilion at Emmaus near Jerusalem, in token that, though he could not be present himself, yet he gave full power to his captains to prosecute the war against the Jews with the utmost rigour. He placed his tent there, as if he had taken possession of the glorious holy mountain and called it his own. Note, When impiety grows very impudent we may see its ruin near.

2. His exit: He shall come to his end and none shall help him; God shall cut him off in the midst of his days and none shall be able to prevent his fall. This is the same with that which was foretold ch. viii. 25 (He shall be broken without hand), where we took a view of his miserable end. Note, When God’s time shall come to bring proud oppressors to their end none shall be able to help them, nor perhaps inclined to help them; for those that covet to be feared by all when they are in their grandeur, when they come to be in distress will find themselves loved by none; none will lend them so much as a hand or a prayer to help them; and, if the Lord do not help, who shall?

Of the kings that came after Antiochus nothing is here prophesied, for that was the most malicious mischievous enemy to the church, that was a type of the son of perdition, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth and destroy with the brightness of his coming, and none shall help him.

- Matthew Henry Commentary

Daniel 11:5-20; The Affairs of Egypt and Syria; The Reign of Antiochus Magnus; The Fall of Antiochus Magnus; The rise and power of two great kingdoms out of the remains of Alexander’s conquests; This world is full of wars and fightings, which come from men’s lusts, and make it a theatre of sin and misery; Note, No word of God shall fall to the ground; but what He had designed, what He has declared, shall infallibly come to pass; and even the sins of men shall be made to serve His purpose, and contribute to the bringing of His counsels to birth in their season; and yet God is not the author of sin. B.C. 534

1

The Affairs of Egypt and Syria; The Reign of Antiochus Magnus; The Fall of Antiochus Magnus.

B. C. 534.


Daniel 11:5-20

5 And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.   6 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 the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.   7 But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail:   8 And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north.   9 So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.   10 But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress.   11 And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.   12 And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it. 13 For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.   14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.   15 So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.   16 But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.   17 He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.   18 After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.   19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.   20 Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.

Here are foretold,

I. The rise and power of two great kingdoms out of the remains of Alexander’s conquests, v. 5.

1. The kingdom of Egypt, which was made considerable by Ptolemæus Lagus, one of Alexander’s captains, whose successors were, from him, called the Lagidæ. He is called the king of the south, that is, Egypt, named here, v. 8, 42, 43. The countries that at first belonged to Ptolemy are reckoned to be Egypt, Phœnicia, Arabia, Libya, Ethiopia, &c. Theocr. Idyl. 17.

2. The kingdom of Syria, which was set up by Seleucus Nicanor, or the conqueror; he was one of Alexander’s princes, and became stronger than the other, and had the greatest dominion of all, was the most powerful of all Alexander’s successors. It was said that he had no fewer than seven-two kingdoms under him. Both these were strong against Judah (the affairs of which are particularly eyed in this prediction); Ptolemy, soon after he gained Egypt, invaded Judea, and took Jerusalem on a sabbath, pretending a friendly visit. Seleucus also gave disturbance to Judea.

II. The fruitless attempt to unite these two kingdoms as iron and clay in Nebuchadnezzar’s image (v. 6): “At the end of certain years, about seventy after Alexander’s death, the Lagidæ and the Seleucidæ shall associate, but not in sincerity. Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, shall marry his daughter Berenice to Antiochus Theos, king of Syria,” who had already a wife called Laodice. “Berenice shall come to the king of the north, to make an agreement, but it shall not hold: She shall not retain the power of the arm; neither she nor her posterity shall establish themselves in the kingdom of the north, neither shall Ptolemy her father, nor Antiochus her husband (between whom there was to be a great alliance), stand, nor their arm, but she shall be given up and those that brought her,” all that projected that unhappy marriage between her and Antiochus, which occasioned so much mischief, instead of producing a coalition between the northern and southern crowns, as was hoped. Antiochus divorced Berenice, took his former wife Laodice again, who soon after poisoned him, procured Berenice and her son to be murdered, and set up her own son by Antiochus to be king, who was called Seleucus Callinicus.

III. A war between the two kingdoms, v. 7, 8. A branch from the same root with Berenice shall stand up in his estate. Ptolemæus Euergetes, the son and successor of Ptolemæus Philadelphus, shall come with an army against Seleucus Callinicus, king of Syria, to avenge his sister’s quarrel, and shall prevail; and he shall carry away a rich booty both of persons and goods into Egypt, and shall continue more years than the king of the north. This Ptolemy reigned forty-six years; and Justin says that if his own affairs had not called him home he would, in this war, have made himself master of the whole kingdom of Syria. But (v. 9) he shall be forced to come into his kingdom and return into his own land, to keep peace there, so that he can no longer carry on the war abroad. Note, It is very common for a treacherous peace to end in a bloody war.

IV. The long and busy reign of Antiochus the Great, king of Syria. Seleucus Callinicus, that king of the north that was overcome (v. 7) and died miserably, left two sons, Seleucus and Antiochus; these are his sons, the sons of the king of the north, that shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces, to recover what their father had lost, v. 10. But Seleucus the elder, being weak, and unable to rule his army, was poisoned by his friends, and reigned only two years; and his brother Antiochus succeeded him, who reigned thirty-seven years, and was called the Great. And therefore the angel, though he speaks of sons at first, goes on with the account of one only, who was but fifteen years old when he began to reign, and he shall certainly come, and overflow, and over-run, and shall be restored at length to what his father lost.

1. The king of the south, in this war, shall at first have very great success. Ptolemæus Philopater, moved with indignation at the indignities done by Antiochus the Great, shall (though otherwise a slothful prince) come forth, and fight with him, and shall bring a vast army into the field of 70,000 foot, and 5000 horse, and seventy-three elephants. And the other multitude (the army of Antiochus, consisting of 62,000 foot, and 6000 horse, and 102 elephants) shall be given into his hand. Polybius, who lived with Scipio, has given a particular account of this battle of Raphia. Ptolemæus Philopater, having gained this victory, grew very insolent; his heart was lifted up; then he went into the temple of God at Jerusalem, and, in defiance of the law, entered the most holy place, for which God has a controversy with him, so that, though he shall cast down many myriads, yet he shall not be strengthened by it, so as to secure his interest. For,

2. The king of the north, Antiochus the Great, shall return with a greater army than the former; and, at the end of times (that is, years) he shall come with a mighty army, and great riches, against the king of the south, that is, Ptolemæus Epiphanes, who succeeded Ptolemæus Philopater his father, when he was a child, which gave advantage to Antiochus the Great. In this expedition he had some powerful allies (v. 14): Many shall stand up against the king of the south. Philip of Macedon was confederate with Antiochus against the king of Egypt, and Scopas his general, whom he sent into Syria; Antiochus routed him, destroyed a great part of his army; whereupon the Jews willingly yielded to Antiochus, joined with him, helped him to besiege Ptolemæus’s garrisons. They the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision, to help forward the accomplishment of this prophecy; but they shall fall, and shall come to nothing, v. 14. Hereupon (v. 15) the king of the north, this same Antiochus Magnus, shall carry on his design against the king of the south another way.

(1.) He shall surprise his strong-holds; all that he has got in Syria and Samaria, and the arms of the south, all the power of the king of Egypt, shall not be able to withstand him. See how dubious and variable the turns of the scale of war are; like buying and selling, it is winning and losing; sometimes one side gets the better and sometimes the other; yet neither by chance; it is not, as they call it, the fortune of war, but according to the will and counsel of God, who brings some low and raises others up.

(2.) He shall make himself master of the land of Judea (v. 16): He that comes against him (that is, the king of the north) shall carry all before him and do what he pleases, and he shall stand and get footing in the glorious land; so the land of Israel was, and by his hand it was wasted and consumed, for with the spoil of that good land he victualled his vast army. The land of Judea lay between these two potent kingdoms of Egypt and Syria, so that in all the struggles between them that was sure to suffer, for to it they both bore ill will. Yet some read this, By his hand it shall be perfected; as if it intimated that the land of Judea, being taken under the protection of this Antiochus, shall flourish, and be in better condition than it had been.

(3.) He shall still push on his war against the king of Egypt, and set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, taking advantage of the infancy of Ptolemy Epiphanes, and the upright ones, many of the pious Israelites, siding with him, v. 17. In prosecution of his design, he shall give him his daughter Cleopatra to wife, designing, as Saul in giving his daughter Cleopatra to David, that she should be a snare to him, and do him a mischief; but she shall not stand on her father’s side, nor be for him, but for her husband, and so that plot failed him.

(4.) His war with the Romans is here foretold (v. 18): He shall turn his face to the isles (v. 18), the isles of the Gentiles (Gen. x. 5), Greece and Italy. He took many of the isles about the Hellespont-Rhodes, Samos, Delos, &c., which by war or treaty he made himself master of; but a prince, or state (so some), even the Roman senate, or a leader, even the Roman general, shall return his reproach with which he abused the Romans upon himself, or shall make his shame rest on himself, and without his own shame, or any disgrace to himself, shall pay him again. This was fulfilled when the two Scipios were sent with an army against Antiochus. Hannibal was then with him, and advised him to invade Italy and waste it as he had done; but he did not take hid advice; and Scipio joined battle with him, and gave him a total defeat, though Antiochus had 70,000 men and the Romans but 30,000. Thus he caused the reproach offered by him to cease.

(5.) His fall. When he was totally routed by the Romans, and was forced to abandon to them all he had in Europe, and had a very heavy tribute exacted from him, he turned to his own land, and, not knowing which way to raise money to pay his tribute, he plundered a temple of Jupiter, which so incensed his own subjects against him that they set upon him, and killed him; so he was overthrown, and fell, and was no more found, v. 19.

(6.) His next successor, v. 20. There rose up one in his place, a raiser of taxes, a sender forth of the extortioner, or extorter. This character was remarkably answered in Seleucus Philopater, the elder son of Antiochus the Great, who was a great oppressor of his own subjects, and exacted abundance of money from them; and, when he was told he would thereby lose his friends, he said he knew no better friend he had then money. He likewise attempted to rob the temple at Jerusalem, which this seems especially to refer to. But within a few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger nor in battle, but poisoned by Heliodorus, one of his own servants, when he had reigned but twelve years, and done nothing remarkable.

V. From all this let us learn,

1. That God in his providence sets up one, and pulls down another, as he pleases, advances some from low beginnings and depresses others that were very high. Some have called great men the foot-balls of fortune; or, rather, they are the tools of Providence.

2. This world is full of wars and fightings, which come from men’s lusts, and make it a theatre of sin and misery.

3. All the changes and revolutions of states and kingdoms, and every event, even the most minute and contingent, were plainly and perfectly foreseen by the God of heaven, and to him nothing is new.

4. No word of God shall fall to the ground; but what he has designed, what he has declared, shall infallibly come to pass; and even the sins of men shall be made to serve his purpose, and contribute to the b ringing of his counsels to birth in their season; and yet God is not the author of sin.

5. That, for the right understanding of some parts of scripture, it is necessary that heathen authors be consulted, which give light to the scripture, and show the accomplishment of what is there foretold; we have therefore reason to bless God for the human learning with which many have done great service to divine truths.

- Matthew Henry Commentary

Daniel 11:1-4; Ruin of the Persian Monarchy; Here is a brief prediction of the setting up of the Grecian monarchy upon the ruins of the Persian monarchy, which was now newly begun; He foretells Alexander the Great’s conquests and the partition of his kingdom; See what decaying perishing things worldly pomp and possessions are, and the powers by which they are got; Never was the vanity of the world and its greatest things shown more evidently than in the story of Alexander. B.C. 534

0

D A N I E L.

CHAPTER 11


The angel Gabriel, in this chapter, performs his promise made to Daniel in the foregoing chapter, that he would “show him what should befal his people in the latter days,” according to that which was “written in the scriptures of truth:” very particularly does he here foretel the succession of the kings of Persia and Grecia, and the affairs of their kingdoms, especially the mischief which Antiochus Epiphanes did in his time to the church, which was foretold before (ch. viii. 11-12). Here is, I. A brief prediction of the setting up of the Grecian monarchy upon the ruins of the Persian monarchy, which was now newly begun, ver. 1-4. II. A prediction of the affairs of the two kingdoms of Egypt and Syria, with reference to each other, ver. 5-20. III. Of the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes, and his actions and successes, ver. 21-29. IV. Of the great mischief that he should do to the Jewish nation and religion, and his contempt of all religion, ver. 30-39. V. Of his fall and ruin at last, when he is in the heat of his pursuit, ver. 40-45.

Ruin of the Persian Monarchy.

B. C. 534.


Daniel 11:1-4

1 Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.   2 And now will I show thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.   3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.   4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.

Here, 1. The angel Gabriel lets Daniel know the good service he has done to the Jewish nation (v. 1): “In the first year of Darius the Mede, who destroyed Babylon and released the Jews out of that house of bondage, I stood a strength and fortress to him, that is, I was instrumental to protect him, and give him success in his ward, and, after he had conquered Babylon, to confirm him in his resolution to release the Jews,” which, it is likely, met with much opposition. Thus by the angel, and at the request of the watcher, the golden head was broken, and the axe laid to the root of the tree. Note, We must acknowledge the hand of God in the strengthening of those that are friends to the church for the service they are to do it, and confirming them in their good resolutions; herein he uses the ministry of angels more than we are aware of. And the many instances we have known of God’s care of his church formerly encourage us to depend upon him in further straits and difficulties.

2. He foretels the reign of four Persian kings (v. 2): Now I will tell thee the truth, that is, the true meaning of the visions of the great image, and of the four beasts, and expound in plain terms what was before represented by dark types.

(1.) There shall stand up three kings in Persia, besides Darius, in whose reign this prophecy is dated, ch. ix. 1. Mr. Broughton makes these three to be Cyrus, Artaxasta or Artaxerxes, called by the Greeks Cambyses, and Ahasuerus that married Esther, called Darius son of Hystaspes. To these three the Persians gave these attributes–Cyrus was a father, Cambyses a master, and Darius a hoarder up. So Herodotus.

(2.) There shall be a fourth, far richer than they all, that is, Xerxes, of whose wealth the Greek authors take notice. By his strength (his vast army, consisting of 800,000 men at least) and his riches, with which he maintained and paid that vast army, he stirred up all against the realm of Greece. Xerxes’s expedition against Greece is famous in history, and the shameful defeat that he met with. He who when he went out was the terror of Greece in his return was the scorn of Greece. Daniel needed not to be told what disappointment he would meet with, for he was a hinderer of the building of the temple; but soon after, about thirty years after the first return from captivity, Darius, a young king, revived the building of the temple, owning the hand of God against his predecessors for hindering it, Ezra vi. 7. 3. He foretels Alexander’s conquests and the partition of his kingdom, v. 3. He is that mighty king that shall stand up against the kings of Persia, and he shall rule with great dominion, over many kingdoms, and with a despotic power, for he shall do according to his will, and undo likewise, which, by the law of the Medes and Persians, their kings could not. When Alexander, after he had conquered Asia, would be worshipped as a god, then this was fulfilled, that he shall do according to his will. That is God’s prerogative, but was his pretension. But (v. 4) his kingdom shall soon be broken, and divided into four parts, but not to his posterity, nor shall any of his successors reign according to his dominion; none of them shall have such large territories nor such an absolute power. His kingdom was plucked up for others besides those of his own family. Arideus, his brother, was made king in Macedonia; Olympias, Alexander’s mother, killed him, and poisoned Alexander’s two sons, Hercules and Alexander. Thus was his family rooted out by its own hands. See what decaying perishing things worldly pomp and possessions are, and the powers by which they are got. Never was the vanity of the world and its greatest things shown more evidently than in the story of Alexander. All is vanity and vexation of spirit.

- Matthew Henry Commentary

Daniel 10:10-21; Daniel Alarmed and Comforted; Note, Strength and comfort commonly come by degrees to those that have been long cast down and disquieted; they are first helped up a little, and then more; Note, When God gives strength and power unto His people He makes them sensible of their own weakness; Let God enable us to comply with His will, and then, whatever it is, we will stand complete in it: “Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis–Give what thou commandest, and then command what thou wilt.” B.C. 534

1

Daniel Alarmed and Comforted.

B. C. 534.


Daniel 10:10-21

10 And, behold, a hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.   11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.   12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.   13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.   14 Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.   15 And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.   16 And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.   17 For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.   18 Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,   19 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.   20 Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.   21 But I will show thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.

Much ado here is to bring Daniel to be able to bear what Christ has to say to him. Still we have him in a fright, hardly and very slowly recovering himself; but he is still answered and supported with good words and comfortable words. Let us see how Daniel is by degrees brought to himself, and gather up the several passages that are to the same purport.

I. Daniel is in a great consternation and finds it very difficult to get clear of it. The hand that touched him set him at first upon his knees and the palms of his hands, v. 10. Note, Strength and comfort commonly come by degrees to those that have been long cast down and disquieted; they are first helped up a little, and then more. After two days he will revive us, and then the third day he will raise us up. And we must not despise the day of small things, but be thankful for the beginnings of mercy. Afterwards he is helped up, but he stands trembling (v. 11), for fear lest he fall again. Note, Before God gives strength and power unto his people he makes them sensible of their own weakness. I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble, Hab. iii. 16. But when, afterwards, Daniel recovered so much strength in his limbs that he could stand steadily, yet he tells us (v. 15) that he set his face towards the ground and became dumb; he was as a man astonished, who knew not what to say, struck dumb with admiration and fear, and was loth to enter into discourse with one so far above him; he kept silence, yea, even from good, till he had recollected himself a little. Well, at length he recovered, not only the use of his feet, but the use of his tongue; and, when he opened his mouth (v. 16), that which he had to say was to excuse his having been so long silent, for really he durst not speak, he could not speak: “O my lord” (so, in great humility, this prophet calls the angel, though the angels, in great humility, called themselves fellow-servants to the prophets, Rev. xxii. 9), “by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me; they break in up on me with violence; the sense of my sinful sorrowful state turns upon me when I see thy purity and brightness.” Note, Man, who has lost his integrity, has reason to blush, and be ashamed of himself, when he sees or considers the glory of the blessed angels that keep their integrity. “My sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength to resist them or bear up a head against them.” And again (v. 17), like one half dead with the fright, he complains, “As for me, straightway there remained no strength in me to receive these displays of the divine glory and these discoveries of the divine will; nay, there is no breath left in me.” Such a deliquium did he suffer that he could not draw one breath after another, but panted and languished, and was in a manner breathless. See how well it is for us that the treasure of divine revelation is put into earthen vessels, that God speaks to us by men like ourselves and not by angels. Whatever we may wish, in a peevish dislike of the method God takes in dealing with us, it is certain that if we were tried we should all be of Israel’s mind at Mt. Sinai, when they said to Moses, Speak thou to us, and we will hear, but let not God speak to us lest we die, Exod. xx. 19. If Daniel could not bear it, how could we? Now this he insists upon as an excuse for his irreverent silence, which otherwise would have been blame-worthy: How can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? v. 17. Note, Whenever we enter into communion with God it becomes us to have a due sense of the vast distance and disproportion that there are between us and the holy angels, and of the infinite distance, and no proportion at all, between us and the holy God, and to acknowledge that we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness. How shall we that are dust and ashes speak to the Lord of glory?

II. The blessed angel that was employed by Christ to converse with him gave him all the encouragement and comfort that could be. It should seem, it was not he whose glory he saw in vision (v. 5, 6) that here touched him, and talked with him; that was Christ, but this seems to have been the angel Gabriel, whom Christ had once before ordered to instruct Daniel, ch. viii. 16. That glorious appearance (as that of the God of glory to Abraham, Acts vii. 2) was to give authority and to gain attention to what the angel should say. Christ himself comforted John when he in a like case fell at his feet as dead (Rev. i. 17); but here he did it by the angel, whom Daniel saw in a glory much inferior to that of the vision in the verses before; for he was like the similitude of the sons of men (v. 16), one like the appearance of a man, v. 18. When he only appeared, as he had done before (ch. ix. 21), we do not find that Daniel was put into any disorder by it, as he was by this vision; and therefore he is here employed a third time with Daniel.

1. He lent him his hand to help him, touched him, and set him upon his hands and knees (v. 10), else he would still have lain grovelling, touched his lips (v. 16), else he would have been still dumb; again he touched him (v. 18), and put strength into him, else he would still have been staggering and trembling. Note, The hand of God’s power going along with the word of his grace is alone effectual to redress all our grievances, and to rectify whatever is amiss in us. One touch from heaven brings us to our knees, sets us on our feet, opens our lips, and strengthens us; for it is God that works on us, and works in us, both to will and to do that which is good.

2. He assured him of the great favour that God had for him: Thou art a man greatly beloved (v. 11); and again (v. 19), O man greatly beloved! Note, Nothing is more likely, nothing more effectual, to revive the drooping spirits of the saints than to be assured of God’s love to them. Those are greatly beloved indeed whom God loves; and it is comfort enough to know it.

3. He silenced his fears, and encouraged his hopes, with good words and comfortable words. He said unto him, Fear not, Daniel (v. 12); and again (v. 19), O man greatly beloved! fear not; peace be unto thee; be strong, yea, be strong. Never did any tender mother quiet her child, when any thing had grieved or frightened it, with more compassion and affection than the angel here quieted Daniel. Those that are beloved of God have no reason to be afraid of any evil; peace is to them; God himself speaks peace to them; and they ought, upon the warrant of that, to speak peace to themselves; and that peace, that joy of the Lord, will be their strength. Will God plead against us with his great power? will he take advantage against us of our being overcome by his terror? No, but he will put strength into us, Job xxiii. 6. So he did into Daniel here, when, by reason of the lustre of the vision, no strength of his own remained in him; and he acknowledges it (v. 19): When he had spoken to me I was strengthened. Note, God by his word puts life, and strength, and spirit into his people; for if he says, Be strong, power goes along with the word. And, now that Daniel has experienced the efficacy of God’s strengthening word and grace, he is ready for any thing: “Now, Let my lord speak, and I can hear it, I can bear it, and am ready to do according to it, for thou hast strengthened me.” Note, To those that (like Daniel here) have no might God increases strength, Isa. xl. 29. And we cannot keep up our communion with God but by strength derived from him; but, when he is pleased to put strength into us, we must make a good use of it, and say, Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears. Let God enable us to comply with his will, and them, whatever it is, we will stand complete in it. Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis–Give what thou commandest, and then command what thou wilt.

4. He assured him that his fastings and prayers had come up for a memorial before God, as the angel told Cornelius (Acts x. 4): Fear not, Daniel, v. 12. It is natural to fallen man to be afraid of an extraordinary messenger from heaven, as dreading to hear evil tidings thence; but Daniel need not fear, for he has by his three weeks’ humiliation and supplication sent extraordinary messengers to heaven, which he may expect to return with an olive-branch of peace: “From the first day that thou didst set thy heart to understand the word of God, which is to be the rule of thy prayers, and to chasten thyself before thy God, that thou mightest put an edge upon thy prayers, thy words were heard,” as, before, at the beginning of thy supplication, ch. ix. 23. Note, As the entrance of God’s word is enlightening to the upright, so the entrance of their prayers is pleasing to God, Ps. cxix. 130. From the first day that we begin to look towards God in a way of duty he is ready to meet us in a way of mercy. Thus ready is God to hear prayer. I said, I will confess, and thou forgavest.

5. He informed him that he was sent to him on purpose to bring him a prediction of the future state of the church, as a token of God’s accepting his prayers for the church: “Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? If thou knewest on what errand I come, thou wouldst not be put into such a consternation by it.” Note, If we rightly understood the meaning of God’s dealings with us, and the methods of his providence and grace concerning us, we should be better reconciled to them. “I have come for thy words (v. 12), to bring thee a gracious answer to thy prayers.” Thus, when God’s praying people call to him, he says, Here I am (Isa. lviii. 9); what would you have with me? See the power of prayer, what glorious things it has, in its time, fetched from heaven, what strange discoveries! On what errand did this angel come to Daniel? He tells him (v. 14): I have come to make thee understand what shall befal thy people in the latter days. Daniel was a curious inquisitive man, that had all his days been searching into secret things, and it would be a great gratification to him to be let into the knowledge of things to come. Daniel had always been concerned for the church; its interests lay much upon his heart, and it would be a particular satisfaction to him to know what its state should be, and he would know the better what to pray for as long as he lived. He was now lamenting the difficulties which his people met with in the present day; but, that he might not be offended in those, the angel must tell him what greater difficulties are yet before them; and, if they be wearied now that they only run with the footmen, how will they contend with horses? Note, It would abate our resentment of present troubles to consider that we know not but much greater are before us, which we are concerned to provide for. Daniel must be made to know what shall befal his people in the latter days of the church, after the cessation of prophecy, and when the time drew nigh for the Messiah to appear, for yet the vision is for many days; the principal things that this vision was intended to give the church the foresight of would come to pass in the days of Antiochus, nearly 300 years after this. Now that which the angel is entrusted to communicate to Daniel, and which Daniel is encouraged to expect from him, is not any curious speculations, moral prognostications, nor rational prospects of his own, though he is an angel, but what he has received from the Lord. It was the revelation of Jesus Christ that the angel gave to St. John to be delivered to the churches, Rev. i. 1. So here (v. 21): I will show thee what is written in the scriptures of truth, that is, what is fixed in the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The decree of God is a thing written, it is a scripture which remains and cannot be altered. What I have written I have written. As there are scriptures for the revealed will of God, the letters-patent, which are published to the world, so there are scriptures for the secret will of God, the close rolls, which are sealed among his treasures, the book of his decrees. Both are scriptures of truth; nothing shall be added to nor taken from either of them. The secret things belong not to us, only now and then some few paragraphs have been copied out from the book of God’s counsels, and delivered to the prophets for the use of the church, as here to Daniel; but they are the things revealed, even the words of this law, which belong to us and to our children; and we are concerned to study what is written in these scriptures of truth, for they are things which belong to our everlasting peace.

6. He gave him a general account of the adversaries of the church’s cause, from whom it might be expected that troubles would arise, and of its patrons, under whose protection it might be assured of safety and victory at last.

(1.) The kings of the earth are and will be its adversaries; for they set themselves against the Lord, and against his Anointed, Ps. ii. 2. The angel told Daniel that he was to have come to him with a gracious answer to his prayers, but that the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood him one and twenty days, just the three weeks that Daniel had been fasting and praying. Cambyses king of Persia had been very busy to embarrass the affairs of the Jews, and to do them all the mischief he could, and the angel had been all that time employed to counter-work him; so that he had been constrained to defer his visit to Daniel till now, for angels can be but in one place at a time. Or, as Dr. Lightfoot says, This new king of Persia, by hindering the temple, had hindered those good tidings which otherwise he should have brought him. The kings and kingdoms of the world were indeed sometimes helpful to the church, but more often they were injurious to it. “When I have gone forth from the kings of Persia, when their monarchy is brought down for their unkindness to the Jews, then the prince of Grecia shall come,v. 20. The Grecian monarchy, though favourable to the Jews at first, as the Persian was, will yet come to be vexatious to them. Such is the state of the church-militant; when it has got clear of one enemy it has another to encounter: and such a hydra’s head is that of the old serpent; when one storm has blown over it is not long before another rises.

(2.) The God of heaven is, and will be, its protector, and, under him, the angels of heaven are its patrons and guardians.

[1.] Here is the angel Gabriel busy in the service of the church, making his part good in defence of it twenty-one days, against the prince of Persia, and remaining there with the kings of Persia, as consul, or liege-ambassador, to take care of the affairs of the Jews in that court, and to do them service, v. 13. And, though much was done against them by the kings of Persia (God permitting it), it is probably that much more mischief would have been done them, and they would have been quite ruined (witness Haman’s plot) if God had not prevented it by the ministration of angels. Gabriel resolves, when he has despatched this errand to Daniel, that he will return to fight with the prince of Persia, will continue to oppose him, and will at length humble and bring down that proud monarchy (v. 20), though he knows that another as mischievous, even that of Grecia, will rise instead of it.

[2.] Here is Michael our prince, the great protector of the church, and the patron of its just but injured cause: The first of the chief princes, v. 13. Some understand it of a created angel, but an archangel of the highest order, 1 Thess. iv. 16; Jude 9. Others think that Michael the archangel is no other than Christ himself, the angel of the covenant, and the Lord of the angels, he whom Daniel saw in vision, v. 5. He came to help me (v. 13); and there is none but he that holds with me in these things, v. 21. Christ is the church’s prince; angels are not, Heb. ii. 5. He presides in the affairs of the church and effectually provides for its good. He is said to hold with the angels, for it is he that makes them serviceable to the heirs of salvation; and, if he were not on the church’s side, its case were bad. But, says David, and so says the church, The Lord takes my part with those that help me, Ps. cxviii. 7. The Lord is with those that uphold my soul, Ps. liv. 4.

- Matthew Henry Commentary

Daniel 10:1-9; Vision near the River Hiddekel; Daniel’s solemn fasting and humiliation, before he had this vision; A glorious appearance of the Son of God to him, and the deep impression it made upon him; ‘and the voice of His words like the voice of a multitude: The ‘vox Dei–voice of God’ can overpower the ‘vox populi–voice of the people'; Note, We must take heed lest our reverence of God’s glory, by which we should be awakened to hear His voice both in His word and in His providence, should degenerate into such a dread of Him as will disable or indispose us to hear it. B.C. 534

1

D A N I E L.

CHAPTER 10


This chapter and the two next (which conclude this book) make up one entire vision and prophecy, which was communicated to Daniel for the use of the church, not by signs and figures, as before (ch. vii. and viii.), but by express words; and this was about two years after the vision in the foregoing chapter. Daniel prayed daily, but had a vision only now and then. In this chapter we have some things introductory to the prophecy, in the eleventh chapter the particular predictions, and ch. xii. the conclusion of it. This chapter shows us, I. Daniel’s solemn fasting and humiliation, before he had this vision, ver. 1-3. II. A glorious appearance of the Son of God to him, and the deep impression it made upon him, ver. 4-9. III. The encouragement that was given him to expect such a discovery of future events as should be satisfactory and useful both to others and to himself, and that he should be enabled both to understand the meaning of this discovery, though difficult, and to bear up under the lustre of it, though dazzling and dreadful, ver. 10-21.

Vision near the River Hiddekel.

B. C. 534.


Daniel 10:1-9

1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.   2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.   3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.   4 And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;   5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:   6 His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.   7 And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.   8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.   9 Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.

This vision is dated in the third year of Cyrus, that is, of his reign after the conquest of Babylon, his third year since Daniel became acquainted with him and a subject to him. Here is,

I. A general idea of this prophecy (v. 1): The thing was true; every word of God is so; it was true that Daniel had such a vision, and that such and such things were said. This he solemnly attests upon the word of a prophet. Et hoc paratus est verificare–He was prepared to verify it; and, if it was a word spoken from heaven, no doubt it is stedfast and may be depended upon. But the time appointed was long, as long as to the end of the reign of Antiochus, which was 300 years, a long time indeed when it is looked upon as to come. Nay, and because it is usual with the prophets to glance at things spiritual and eternal, there is that in this prophecy which looks in type as far forward as to the end of the world and the resurrection of the dead; and then he might well say, The time appointed was long. It was, however, made as plain to him as if it had been a history rather than a prophecy; he understood the thing; so distinctly was it delivered to him, and received by him, that he could say he had understanding of the vision. It did not so much operate upon his fancy as upon his understanding.

II. An account of Daniel’s mortification of himself before he had this vision, not in expectation of it, nor, when he prayed that solemn prayer ch. ix., does it appear that he had any expectation of the vision in answer to it, but purely from a principle of devotion and pious sympathy with the afflicted people of God. He was mourning full three weeks (v. 2), for his own sins and the sins of his people, and their sorrows. Some think that the particular occasion of his mourning was slothfulness and indifference of many of the Jews, who, though they had liberty to return to their own land, continued still in the land of their captivity, not knowing how to value the privileges offered them; and perhaps it troubled him the more because those that did so justified themselves by the example of Daniel, though they had not that reason to stay behind which he had. Others think that it was because he heard of the obstruction given to the building of the temple by the enemies of the Jews, who hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose (Ezra iv. 4, 5), all the days of Cyrus, and gained their point from his son Cambyses, or Artaxerxes, who governed while Cyrus was absent in the Scythian war. Note, Good men cannot but mourn to see how slowly the work of God goes on in the world and what opposition it meets with, how weak its friends are and how active its enemies. During the days of Daniel’s mourning he ate no pleasant bread; he could not live without meat, but he ate little, and very sparingly, and mortified himself in the quality as well as the quantity of what he ate, which may truly be reckoned fasting, and a token of humiliation and sorrow. He did not eat the pleasant bread he used to eat, but that which was course and unpalatable, which he would not be tempted to eat any more of than was just necessary to support nature. As ornaments, so delicacies, are very disagreeable to a day of humiliation. Daniel ate no flesh, drank no wine, nor anointed himself, for those three week’s time, v. 3. Though he was now a very old man, and might plead that the decay of his nature required what was nourishing, though he was a very great man, and might plead that, being used to dainty meats, he could not do without them, it would prejudice his health if he were, yet, when it was both to testify and to assist his devotion, he could thus deny himself; let this be noted to the shame of many young people in the common ranks of life who cannot persuade themselves thus to deny themselves.

III. A description of that glorious person whom Daniel saw in vision, which, it is generally agreed, could be no other that Christ himself, the eternal Word. He was by the side of the river Hiddekel (v. 4), probably walking there, not for diversion, but devotion and contemplation, as Isaac walked in the field, to meditate; and, being a person of distinction, he had his servants attending him at some distance. There he looked up, and saw one man Christ Jesus. It must be he, for he appears in the same resemblance wherein he appeared to St. John in the isle of Patmos, Rev. i. 13-15. His dress was priestly, for he is the high priest of our profession, clothed in linen, as the high priest himself was on the day of atonement, that great day; his loins were girded (in St. John’s vision his paps were girded) with a golden girdle of the finest gold, that of Uphaz, for every thing about Christ is the best in its kind. The girding of the loins denotes his ready and diligent application to his work, as his Father’s servant, in the business of our redemption. His shape was amiable, his body like the beryl, a precious stone of a sky-colour. His countenance was awful, and enough to strike a terror on the beholders, for his face was as the appearance of lightning, which dazzles the eyes, both brightens and threatens. His eyes were bright and sparkling, as lamps of fire. His arms and feet shone like polished brass, v. 6. His voice was loud, and strong, and very piercing, like the voice of a multitude. The vox Deivoice of God can overpower the vox populivoice of the people. Thus glorious did Christ appear, and it should engage us,

1. To think highly and honourably of him. Now consider how great this man is, and in all things let him have the pre-eminence.

2. To admire his condescension for us and our salvation. Over all this splendour he drew a veil when he took upon him the form of a servant, and emptied himself.

IV. The wonderful influence that this appearance had upon Daniel and his attendants, and the terror that it struck upon him and them.

1. His attendants saw not the vision; it was not fit that they should be honoured with the sight of it. There is a divine revelation vouchsafed to all, from converse with which none are excluded who do not exclude themselves; but such a vision must be peculiar to Daniel, who was a favourite. Paul’s companions were aware of the light, but saw no man, Acts ix. 7; xxii. 9. Note, It is the honour of those who are beloved of God that, what is hidden from others, is known to them. Christ manifests himself to them, but not to the world, John xiv. 22. But, though they saw not the vision, they were seized with an unaccountable trembling; either from the voice they heard, or from some strange concussion or vibration of the air they felt, so it was that a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves, probably among the willows that grew by the river’s side. Note, Many have a spirit of bondage to fear who never receive a spirit of adoption, to whom Christ has been, and will be, never otherwise than a terror. Now the fright that Daniel’s attendants were in is a confirmation of the truth of the vision; it could not be Daniel’s fancy, or the product of a heated imagination of his own, or it had a real, powerful, and strange effect upon those about him.

2. He himself saw it, and saw it alone, but he was not able to bear the sight of it. It not only dazzled his eyes, but overwhelmed his spirit, so that there remained no strength in him, v. 8. He said, as Moses himself, I exceedingly fear and quake. His spirits were all so employed, either in an intense speculation of the glory of this vision or in the fortifying of his heart against the terror of it, that his body was left in a manner lifeless and spiritless. He had no vigour in him, and was but one remove from a dead carcase; he looked as pale as death, his colour was gone, his comeliness in him was turned into corruption, and he retained no strength. Note, the greatest and best of men cannot bear the immediate discoveries of the divine glory; no man can see it and live; it is next to death to see a glimpse of it, as Daniel here; but glorified saints see Christ as he is and can bear the sight. But, though Daniel was thus dispirited with the vision of Christ, yet he heard the voice of his words and knew what he said. Note, We must take heed lest our reverence of God’s glory, by which we should be awakened to hear his voice both in his word and in his providence, should degenerate into such a dread of him as will disable or indispose us to hear it. It should seem that when the vision of Christ terrified Daniel the voice of his words soon pacified and composed him, silenced his fear, and laid him to sleep in a holy security and serenity of mind: When I heard the voice of his words I fell into a slumber, a sweet slumber, on my face, and my face towards the ground. When he saw the vision he threw himself prostrate, into a posture of the most humble adoration, and dropped asleep, not as careless of what he heard and saw, but charmed with it. Note, How dreadful soever Christ may appear to those who are under convictions of sin, and in terror by reason of it, there is enough in his word to quiet their spirits and make them easy, if they will but attend to it and apply it.

- Matthew Henry Commentary

Why Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State is a Prime Requirement for Israel-Palestinian Peace

0

From Gloria-Centre.Org

Why Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State is a Prime Requirement for Israel-Palestinian Peace

August 20, 2009

ATTENTION WEBMASTERS.  You are welcome to post this entire article as long as you give a direct link to the article on our site and to http://www.gloria-center.org

One of Israel’s highest priorities in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) is recognition by the PA and Arab states as a “Jewish state.” The purpose of this demand is to ensure a lasting peace with Israel as it exists rather than some formal declaration which would thereafter be subverted in every possible way.

[For Israel's peace plan go here; for a summary of the two sides' negotiating positions, go here]

Remember, after all, that the Middle East is full of countries which, when you recognize them, you accept their self-definition. Here are some of the names of countries which you accept when you recognize them: The Arab Republic of Egypt, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Islamic Republic of Iran, or even—as in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan or Saudi Arabia—designating them as being under the rule of a single family.

The Palestinian Authority’s constitution for a Palestinian state—which will probably have the word “Arab” and possibly “Islamic” in its name—states that country is Arab in nationality and that the official religion is Islam.

But the most important reason is to counter various tricks like that of the “Right of Return,” which is based on a false reading of a single non-binding UN document that the Palestinians and Arabs rejected more than fifty years ago. Note that this demand—that all Palestinians who ever lived in what is now Israel or are descendants of such people—can come and live in Israel. Naturally, there first goal would be to destroy that country and the result would be horrible violence, bloodshed, and instability.

Don’t believe anyone who tells you this isn’t a serious demand on the PA’s part or that they will—as they tell credible people in private—not really implement it once Israel promises to let them do it. It is an absolutely central demand and if any Palestinian leader dared give it up publicly his life span—politically at least—would be very limited.

Now, however, Professor Shlomo Avineri, possibly Israel’s greatest public intellectual at present, has given a good explanation as to why recognition as a Jewish state is so important for Israel:

“Israel has never called into question the existence of the Egyptian political entity. On the other hand, the Palestinians, through their rejection of the [1947] UN Partition Plan, refused to recognize the Jewish state and embarked on a war to destroy it. This is, after all, the root of the conflict. Indeed, the Palestinian narrative is based on the rejection of the existence of a Jewish nation-state in any part of the territory they call Palestine.

“If you declared war against the Jewish state, does not the signing of a peace treaty with that state obligate you to accept it? This does not mean the Palestinians are asked to accept the Zionist narrative, but it is incumbent upon them to alter their narrative, which rules out the existence of a Jewish state.

“This is exactly what Israel did at Camp David and Oslo. Under the terms of binding international agreements, Israel committed itself to recognizing “the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arab nation.” [Prime Minister] Menachem Begin was the first to do this. This is not tantamount to relinquishing the Zionist narrative; it is a willingness to accept the legitimacy of a competing narrative and to seek a compromise. We only ask of the Palestinians that which we ourselves have done in the past.”

Note by the way something extremely important: To accept the existence of a Palestinian Arab state, Israel or Zionist ideology does not have to make any change whatsoever in its world view. It is not exclusionary. Palestinian nationalism is. For it to accept the existence of Israel–in real terms or even by signing a final peace treaty–requires a political and intellectual revolution.

And one of the ways you know peace is not near is that this revolution has barely begun. Examine Palestinian media, education, the statements (in Arabic) of leaders, mosque sermons, and so on, and you find few hints that there is acceptance of Israel’s long-term, much less permanent, existence. Of course, Hamas makes little secret of its view on the subject.

Fatah’s view is more complex. In private, some of its leaders know they cannot defeat Israel but won’t say so publicly and hope that a long-term battle of attrition will do what force of arms cannot.

Avineri’s last point is particularly important: Israel has already recognized the Palestinians as an Arab people who will, of course, have an “Arab state.” Remember that it is on this very basis that the Palestinians will always demand that every Jewish settler must be removed from their territory.

A two-state solution is supposed to mean: Two states for two peoples. That is the best solution, though of course this doesn’t mean there will be a solution for a very long time, a distinction many people seem not to understand.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org. To see or subscribe to his blog, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/.

Obama’s Failing Initiative in the Middle East: Lack of Change You Can Believe In

0

From Gloria-Centre.Org

Obama’s Failing Initiative in the Middle East: Lack of Change You Can Believe In

ATTENTION WEBMASTERS.  You are welcome to post this entire article as long as you give a direct link to the article on our site and to http://www.gloria-center.org

By Barry Rubin

Presidents must be optimistic when presenting initiatives. To keep up support they have to insist that things are going well, progress is being made, and all will be well.

At the same time, though, a president better have a realistic assessment of what’s happening. In other words, he can’t believe his own propaganda. Does Barack Obama understand this? Not clear.

Now he has had President Husni Mubarak visit him. Mubarak is near the end of his term. On the positive side, he has maintained stability in Egypt, held back the Islamists, and been pretty friendly to the United States.

On the negative side, Egypt has remained stagnant, his regime has been repressive, and he often either hasn’t helped the United States or at least not all that much.

In the old days, if Mubarak came to Washington to visit Republican presidents, liberal Democrats would complain that such an anti-democratic dictator was given red carpet treatment. Liberal Democratic presidents would press for more human rights in Egypt.

But by taking a classical liberal position, despite his administration’s mistakes, George W. Bush made liberal Democrats sound like, say, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, a classical 1950s realpolitik conservative. .
Most important for Obama is the state of the peace process. Here’s what he said:

“There has been movement in the right direction and I came in from the start saying that all parties concerned had to take some concrete steps to restart serious negotiations to resolve what has been a longstanding conflict that is not good for the Israeli people and is not good for its neighbors. And I think that the Israeli government has taken discussions with us very seriously. George Mitchell has been back and forth repeatedly; he will be heading back out there next week. And my hope is that we are going to see not just movement from the Israelis, but also from the Palestinians around issues of incitement and security, from Arab states that show their willingness to engage Israel.”

Note by the way his slight pro-Israel tilt here. This might be the signal that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to some sort of freeze on building apartments in settlements. Israel gets praised for taking discussions “seriously.”

The construction of his own last sentence could be read to say that Israel has moved and now it is the Arabs’ turn. Or it could be read to say, which amounts to the same thing, we’re even-handed and not just making demands of Israel. This is different from Phase One Obama policy.

He then added:

“If all sides are willing to move off of the rut that we’re in currently, then I think there is a extraordinary opportunity to make real progress. But we’re not there yet. I’m encouraged by some of the things I’m seeing on the ground. We’ve been seeing reports in the West Bank in particular that checkpoints have been removed in some situations. The security forces of the Palestinian Authority have greatly improved and have been able to deal with the security situation on the West Bank in a way that has inspired not just confidence among the Israeli people, but also among the Palestinian people.”

Well, true, if the sides are willing to move, there can be progress. Consider the banality of that tautology. And if, as the old Yiddish proverb goes, my grandmother had wheels she could be a baby buggy.

He is also careful to praise both sides evenly here: Israel is good because it removed checkpoints; the Palestinians are good because their forces have learned to kill people better. (Remember that if they use these skills against Israelis in future.)

Still, it is easy to disassemble Obama’s optimism. None of the Arabs have responded to him. The Palestinian Authority, which lives off of U.S. subsidies and money obtained from U.S. fundraising efforts, told them not to. Slap, slap. As far as I know, there was no U.S. anger or pressure to make them stop doing that.

The Saudis also said “No.” Slap, slap. Right in the midst of their Washington visit.

Even the Jordanians said “No,” even though they’d probably be happier than any other Arab government. They must be too afraid of being isolated. More afraid of others than of Obama, that’s for sure.

Now, Mubarak arrives in Washington and he says, “No,” too.

Oh, wait, there is a breaking development: Oman and Qatar say that if Israel freezes settlement construction they might let it reopen its trade offices in their countries. (But they won’t send any representative to Israel.

So that’s it. There are rumors that the administration is about to present a peace plan. I’m not going to speculate until I see the text.

But this situation sent me back via mental time machine to 1982 when President Ronald Reagan unveiled his peace plan. Within a few hours it was dead in the water. And that was 27 years ago almost to the day.

In the Middle East, people don’t really seem to believe in change. Maybe this shows the Obama administration it has to comprehend the region. I propose a slogan: Lack of change you can believe in. The watchword is not “Hope” but rather “Nope.”

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org. To see or subscribe to his blog, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/

Obama Administration Succeeds…In Alienating Both Sides

0

From Gloria-Centre.Org

Obama Administration Succeeds…In Alienating Both Sides

ATTENTION WEBMASTERS.  You are welcome to post this entire article as long as you give a direct link to the article on our site and to http://www.gloria-center.org
A new poll, conducted jointly by Israeli and Palestinian institutions, shows that President Obama is not too popular with either Israelis or Palestinians. If he presents a peace plan of his own and then tries to pressure both sides into it, that dislike will soar upwards, making implementation of any such program even more impossible.

Just 12 percent of Israelis believe Obama’s policies support their country. Given the strong pro-Americanism in Israel (probably higher than any other country in the world) and the close historic relations between the two countries, this is a stunning (negative) achievement.

But what about the Palestinians, do they accept Obama’s tremendous effort to gain their confidence: the Cairo speech, the criticism of Israel, the—in his own words—opening up some space between Washington and Jerusalem (the capital of Israel, for those who don’t know it)?

No. The same poll found that 64 percent of Palestinians feel that Obama is on Israel’s side. And no matter what he does, it is unlikely to change more in his favor.

This peacemaking stuff isn’t so easy as it seemed, right?

Another interesting result of the poll is that 59 percent of Israelis feel that the Fatah conference’s resolutions show that this organization—which controls the Palestinian Authority (PA)—is not a partner for peace.

While the world media generally reported on the conference as a festival of moderation, Israelis didn’t miss the fact that not a single word was spoken of friendship or sympathy or to indicate any compromise or flexibility toward them. In fact, the meeting has even further set back the chance for progress toward peace.

Neither side has confidence in the current U.S. government as a mediator. The administration has alienated Israelis without gaining the support of Palestinians, or at least the willingness to do anything to help its policies succeed.

In the United States or European capitals, this kind of information—which all of those directly involved are well aware of—is simply not heeded. The idea prevails there that peace can be quickly and easily achieved if only there is the right plan or amount of pressure.

Guess which view is going to prove right.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle East (Routledge), The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

The Trouble with Washington: The Middle East Doesn’t Exist Solely in Their Minds

0

From Gloria-Centre.Org

The Trouble with Washington: The Middle East Doesn’t Exist Solely in Their Minds

August 24, 2009

ATTENTION WEBMASTERS.  You are welcome to post this entire article as long as you give a direct link to the article on our site and to http://www.gloria-center.org

Washington, DC

It is hard to convey the enormous gap between Middle East reality and Washington thinking. To try to explain here what things are actually like in the region is to invite ridicule. People in the Nation’s Capital—even if they don’t read regional languages or follow events really closely—are convinced they know everything. This is an old Washington phenomenon which has over the years been applied to many issues and often ended in failure or even disaster.

As a very successful lobbyist told me, “An idea in Washington is something you can express between floors on an elevator.”

And so such people—I won’t mention names but you can see it in the media as well as hear it in conversation—believe that President Barrack Obama’s approach is really great. (Come to think of it, this is where his advisors get it from in the first place and turn it into policy.) He would appeal over the heads of leaders to the people and the masses would say: “No more settlements! Peace with Israel! Two-state solution! Why didn’t we ever think of that?”

The more I hear, the more I’m reminded of how much this resembles the Bush administration’s shortcomings in this regard. It was going to show the benefits of democracy and, voila, the region would embrace it. Centuries of political culture, decades of ideology, the structure of dictatorial regimes will all melt as fast as a frozen dessert in an expensive K Street restaurant.

In turn, this mentality recycles basic elements of American elite political culture which seem to exist across the spectrum of partisan commitment and ideology:

–If history doesn’t matter to us, why should it matter to them?

–If we’ve abandoned religion can they really take it serously?

–If war is always foolish and there’s nothing worth dying for, they must be desperate for peace.

–If all that matters is material possessions and a nice life-style, let’s give them that and they’ll leave us alone.

And so on.

More than a half-century ago, a Republican senator from Kansas uttered the much-ridiculed line that the United States would help raise Asia up and up until it reached the level of Kansas City. That basic notion persists, though in contemporary administration parlance it would be Cambridge, Massachusetts or the Upper West Side of Manhattan, or the appropriate neighborhood in Los Angeles.

But don’t Obama and his crew believe in the celebration of differences, cultural relativity, and different strokes for different folks, all is equally valid?

Well, not really. It’s very superficial. Yes, you have the right to your forcing hijabs on women, religion, and world view. But suicide bombing is merely a career choice for those who have nothing better to do. Underneath everything all people are exactly the same, aren’t they? They all want a nice home, a good education for their kids, a chicken in the pot, and a car or two in the garage.

What multiculturalism gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. To stretch the point a bit but to convey the reality better, according to prevailing doctrine:

–If you suggest that everyone should think the same because there are universal values, that’s “racist.”

–But if you suggest that people in different parts of the world are profoundly different, that’s also “racist.”

–And if you suggest that you honestly believe your own culture is superior, that’s also…”racist.”

–If, however, you suggest that someone else’s anti-democratic, ideologically extreme, less-coinciding—–with-reality, more stagnant society or culture is superior to that of the West, that’s…really terrific.

–And if you can figure out a good way to assume they are precisely like you, want to be even more so (because after all isn’t your society the epitome of everything anyone must want), and help them to do so, that’s foreign policy. High-five!

Make no mistake: that sense of superiority to all the rubes out in the world’s sticks (old American slang for suburbs and small towns) is still very much there.

[Brief digression: I grew up here and know this first-hand: They have equal contempt for all those outside Washington and a few other enclaves. And the worst snobs are those who come from flyover-land and intend never to go back there. Sometimes, as with Obama's famous speech dissing small-town people as a bunch of biased gun-lovers who actually believe there's a deity--the saps--that basic loathing slips out.]

Here’s how it manifests itself in foreign policy: the belief that we can make you an offer too good to refuse. We can persuade you to do what we want by offering you so much, by showing you where you went wrong. Because we are smarter than you, more advanced, and not caught up in your stupid little details of meaningless petty quarrels. If you get a degree in it, they call that “conflict management.”

To truly understand this mentality, consider how in the film “Don’t Mess with the Zohan” the deepest desire of the master terrorist (from Hizballah?) is to own a chain of fast food restaurants. The mental message is: We respect you and your culture! But of course we know you really want to be like us.

From popular culture we go to administration terrorism advisor—talk about a charlatan—John Brennan who explains that Hizballah (and probably Hamas when he isn’t speaking in public) can’t be terrorists because they are in politics and some of them are even lawyers.

They don’t really mean it, you see, and are just behaving that way because they are enraged, haven’t been treated right, or haven’t been offered enough. Since Washington political culture isn’t too much into history, all the past events disproving this thesis are neglected.

For people in this world, like Brennan, an intransigent radical Islamist who believes that he knows precisely what the deity wants and will impose it on the world with automatic weapons is simply someone who hasn’t met him yet.

Nothing is more amusing than watching people in the inside-the-Beltway elite either predict the imminent success of Obama’s Middle East program or, among those who are brighter, now start to be puzzled about why it isn’t working.

I can think of no better way to end than with a joke that perfectly illustrates this mentality. It is most often told about Henry Kissinger, but having seen Kissinger in operation first-hand he’s one of the people who succeeded in Washington who least deserves it. I’ll leave the details on that for another time but I will tell the joke in a generic fashion:

A backpacking student and a high-level foreign policymaker are on a small plane. The plane develops engine trouble and the pilot says: “I’m sorry but there are only two parachutes and one of them is mine.”

The policymaker says, “Well, since I’m the only one capable of making Middle East peace I’m too valuable to the world to lose, so I’m taking the other one.” With that, he grabs a pack and leaps from the plane.

“I’m sorry, son,” says the pilot, “but I guess you’re sunk.”

“Don’t worry about me. There’s still a parachute left. The world’s greatest policymaker just leaped out of the plane holding my backpack. “

Yep, that about sums it up.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Report.

Let’s Pretend We’re Making Arab-Israeli, Israel-Palestine Peace.

0

From Gloria-Centre.Org

Let’s Pretend We’re Making Arab-Israeli, Israel-Palestinian Peace

August 26, 2009

ATTENTION WEBMASTERS.  You are welcome to post this entire article as long as you give a direct link to the article on our site and to http://www.gloria-center.org

Here’s one of my favorite stories explaining how the Middle East works. It was told by Muhammad Hussanein Heikal, the famed Egyptian journalist. Like all Heikal’s stories, it may or may not be true, which is also part of the lesson being taught.

When Muammar Qadhafi first became Libya’s dictator, Heikal was dispatched to meet and evaluate him by Egypt’s ruler, Gamal Abdel Nasser. After returning to Cairo, Heikal was quickly ushered into the president’s office.

“Well,” said Egypt’s president, “what do you think of Qadhafi?”

“He’s a disaster! A catastrophe!”

“Why,” asked the president, “is he against us?”

“Oh no, far worse than that,” Heikal claims to have replied. “He’s for us and he really believes all the stuff we are saying!”

The point was that the Egyptian regime took the propaganda line out of self-interest that all Arabs should be united into one state under its leadership, all the Arab monarchies overthrown, Israel wiped off the map immediately, and Western influence expelled, but it knew itself incapable of achieving these goals and to try to do so would bring disaster. Indeed, when Nasser had tried to implement part of this program in 1967, he provoked Israel into attacking and suffered his worst disaster.

Come to think of it, Arab regimes are still playing this game of systematically purveying radicalism, hatred, and unachievable goals to distract their populace, excuse their own failings, focus antagonism against foreign scapegoats and seek regional ambitions.

Western governments do this kind of thing a bit differently.

In this regard, recent statements by a number of leaders including President Barack Obama, prime ministers Gordon Brown and Benjamin Netanyahu, and others, establish an important principle:

Actually achieving Middle East peace is of no importance. The only thing that is important is saying that progress is being made and that peace will come soon.

I don’t mean that as a statement of cynicism but as an accurate analysis of what goes on in international affairs at present. What’s achieved by pretending there is progress and there will be success? Some very real and—in their way—important things:

–World leaders are saying that they are doing a great job, doing the right things, remaining active and achieving success.

–By saying peace is near, the issue is defused. Why fight if you are about to make a deal?

–Israel (and anyone else from the region who joins in—see below) shows that it is cooperating so others should be patient and not put on pressure.

–Since the West is taking care of business, Arab states supposedly will feel comfortable working with it on other issues, like Iran for example.

I want to stress that this behavior is not as silly as it might seem. Often this is how indeed politics do work. Moreover, pretending is better than a sense of desperation which would lead to very bad mistakes being made by energetically doing stupid and dangerous things. Certainly, it inhibits strong pressure or sanctions against Israel.

The freeze on construction within settlements is a scam. If Israel gives something on this issue, the Western governments declare victory and go home, so to speak. That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons for not doing so, but the virtually open cynicism of the U.S. and European strategy is striking.

When the U.S. president portrays the possibility of two tiny states, Oman and Qatar, letting one-man Israeli trade offices re-open as a major triumph in confidence-building , despite being his sole achievement after months of top-level diplomacy, what can one do but snicker?

Finally, since Israel-Palestinian peace is not within reach, pretending it is while knowing the truth is not such a bad alternative. It is certainly progress since the Obama administration came into office and originally pursued a policy based on the idea that it could achieve peace in a matter of months.

What is the downside here?

There are three problems. The first is if Western leaders believe their own propaganda. Because if peace is “within reach” but isn’t actually grasped, then someone must be blamed. That someone will, of course, be Israel.

Why? Because if the West blames the Palestinians, leaders presume that Arabs and Muslims will be angry and not cooperate on other matters. There could be more terrorism and fewer profitable deals and investments. They gain nothing.

But if they insist that everything is going well there is no need to blame anyone. This is the phase we are now entering.

The second problem, however, is that neither the Palestinians nor Arab regimes will join in the optimism. Their line is: The Palestinians are suffering! The situation is intolerable! Something must be done! And since we will make no concessions or compromises, the only solution is for the West to pressure Israel to give more and more while getting nothing in return.

Since this is not going to happen too much if Israel resists, they fall back on their alternative approach. Ok, so since you aren’t forcing Israel to give us what we want you have to give us other things, like money and you cannot demand we help you.

The best outcome is that certain Arab states, since they have other interests at stake, will downplay the conflict altogether and focus on more pragmatic needs. The radicals—principally Iran and Syria—will never do so, of course, and will claim that the situation shows how the West cannot be trusted and must be defeated.

What’s the third problem? That certain actions which might promote regional stability, or even Arab-Israeli peace, are not taken. These include two especially important tactics:

–More energetic efforts to overthrow the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. As long as Hamas is running about half the Palestinian territories and outflanking Fatah in militancy, there won’t be any peace. Keeping Hamas from taking over the West Bank, isolating it, and maintaining sanctions against it is a good policy and can preserve the status quo. It is not, however, the best policy and the pressure on Hamas could erode over time.

–More pressure on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to moderate and compromise. The PA and its positions are the main barriers to peace. As the PA possibly becomes more radical, the likelihood of violence increases. Thus, while in the short- to medium-run the “feel good” and status quo policy may work, it also has risks and limits.

Still, it is the best that can be expected at present.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.