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Prophetic Expositions, vol. 2

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    Having introduced the Roman power, and that in such a way as to demonstrate the certainty of its identity, and having terminated the 70 weeks, we are next taken back, in the order of time and events, to the first direct connection between the Roman government and the Jews, the church of God; for such they were at that time. From thence we are taken down, in a direct line of events, to the final triumph of the church, in the resurrection of the Just, and the everlasting reign of Jesus Christ. The object of the divine messenger, was not merely to give a prophetic history of the Gentile nations, but to make Daniel understand what should befall his people in the latter days. Thus far he had given the history of the Roman conquests of the Gentile world; their collision with other kingdoms, and their civil and domestic history. This done, he goes back and traces their history as connected particularly with the church, and introduces them at the point where the church first became dependent on them by entering into a mutual league.PREX2 45.2

    Chap 11:23. “And after the league made with him, he shall work deceitfully; for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.”PREX2 46.1

    “The league made with him.” “Him” must refer to the subject of prophecy, which is the Romans, as has just been proved. The revelation was to show what should befall the church. It was to make a league with the Romans. That league was made, and it is the first ever made between the Jews and Romans, B. C., 61. (See Josephus, Ant., B. 12, chap. 10, sect. 6.) “But now, as the high-priest, Alcimus, was resolving to pull down the wall of the sanctuary, which had been there of old time, and had been built by the holy prophets, he was smitten suddenly by God, and fell down. This stroke made him fall down speechless upon the ground; and, undergoing torments for many days, he at length died, when he had been high-priest four years. And when he was dead, the people bestowed the high-priesthood on Judas; who, hearing of the power of the Romans, and that they had conquered in war, Galatia, and Iberia, and Carthage, and Lybia; and that, besides these, they had subdued Greece, and their kings, Perseus, and Philip, and Antiochus the Great also, he resolved to enter into a league of friendship with them. He therefore sent to Rome some of his friends, Enpolemus, the son of John, and Jason, the son of Eleazer, and by them desired the Romans that they would assist them, and be their friends, and would write to Demetrius that he would not fight against the Jews. So the senate received the ambassadors that came from Judas to Rome, and discoursed with them about the errand on which they came, and then granted them a league of assistance. They also made a decree concerning it, and sent a copy of it into Judea. It was also laid up in the capitol, and engraven in brass. The decree itself was this: ‘The decree of the senate concerning a league of assistance and friendship with the nation of the Jews. It shall not be lawful for any that are subject to the Romans, to make war with the nation of the Jews, nor to assist those that do so, either by sending them corn, or ships, or money; and if any attack be made upon the Jews, the Romans shall assist them, as far as they are able; and again, if any attack be made upon the Romans, the Jews shall assist them. And if the Jews have a mind to add to, or to take anything from this league of assistance, that shall be done with the common consent of the Romans. And whatsoever addition shall thus be made, it shall be of force.’ This decree was written by Eupolemus, the son of John, and by Jason, the son of Eleazer, when Judas was high-priest of the nation, and Simon, his brother, was general of the army. And this was the first league that the Romans made with the Jews, and was managed after this manner.”PREX2 46.2

    The reader will also find this history related at large, in 1 Maccabees, eighth chapter.PREX2 48.1

    It seems from Maccabees, that the Romans interposed in behalf of the Jews; and the senate wrote to their enemies to refrain from their oppression and affliction of the Jews, and threatened them if they persisted. The war between the Jews and Macedonians ended 158 B. C.PREX2 48.2

    “He shall work deceitfully; for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.” That the Romans were a comparatively small people at the time of the league entered into with the Jews, is a fact; and the rapidity of their triumphs from that time until they became masters of the world, will be best shown in a few words by presenting the general index to Rollin’s history, under the term “Romans,” from the league with the Jews onward. “The Romans declare the Jews their friends and allies; they acknowledge Demetrius king of Syria; conquer the Ligurians, and give their territory to the people of Marseilles; defeat Andriscus, and two more adventurers, who had possessed themselves of Macedonia, and reduce that kingdom into a Roman province, etc.; declare war against the Carthaginians; order them to abandon Carthage; besiege and demolish it entirely; decree of the senate for separating several cities from the Achæan league; troubles in Achaia; the Romans defeat the Achæans, and take Thebes; they gain another victory over the Achæans, take Corinth, and burn it; reduce Greece into a Roman province; renew the treaties made with the Jews; inherit the riches and dominions of Attalus, king of Pergamus; reduce Aristonicus, who had possessed himself of them; Ptolemy Apion, king of Cyrenaica, and Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, leave the Romans their dominions at their deaths; the Romans reduce those kingdoms into Roman provinces; they reestablish the kings of Cappadocia and Bithynia, expelled by Mithridates; first war of the Romans against Mithridates; massacre of all the Romans and Italians in Asia Minor; the Romans gain three great battles against the generals of Mithridates; they grant that prince peace; second war of the Romans with Mithridates; they are defeated by that prince in a battle; gain a great victory over him, and compel him to retire into Armenia, to Tigranes, his son-in-law; declare war against Tigranes, and defeat him in a battle; second victory of the Romans over the united forces of Mithridates and Tigranes; they again gain several victories over Mithridates, who had recovered his dominions; subject Tigranes, king of Armenia; drive Antiochus Asiaticus out of Syria, and reduce that kingdom in to a Roman province-The Romans, by the will of Alexander, king of Egypt, are declared heirs of his dominions; end of the war with Mithridates; the Romans drive Ptolemy out of Cyprus, and confiscate his treasures; they invade Parthia, and are defeated; they declare Ptolemy Auletes their friend and ally; reduce Egypt into a Roman province; Cappadocia is also reduced into a Roman province.”—[Rollin, Harpers’ ed., vol. II., pp. 687, 688.]PREX2 48.3

    Verse 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.”PREX2 50.1

    “He shall enter peaceably.” A great part of the tributaries and dependencies of Rome were left it by will of the kings. The following remarks from Rollin will illustrate the text. “Alexander, being driven out in this manner, went to Pompey, who was then in the neighborhood, to demand aid of him: Pompey would not interfere in his affairs because they were foreign to his commission. That prince retired to Tyre, to wait there a more favorable conjuncture.PREX2 50.2

    “But none offered, and he died there some time after. Before his death, he made a will, by which he declared the Roman people his heirs. The succession was important, and included all the dominions Alexander had possessed, and to which he had retained a lawful right, of which the violence he had sustained could not deprive him. The affair was taken into consideration by the senate. Some were of opinion that it was necessary to take possession of Egypt, and of the island of Cyprus, of which the testator had been sovereign, and which he had bequeathed in favor of the Roman people. The majority of the senators did not approve this advice. They had very lately taken possession of Bithynia, which had been left them by the will of Nicomedes; and of Cyrenaica and Lybia, which had been also given them by that of Apion; and they had reduced all those countries into Roman provinces.PREX2 50.3

    “This is the fourth example of dominions left to the Roman people by will; a very singular custom, and almost unheard of in all other history, which undoubtedly does great honor to those in whose favor it was established. The usual methods of extending the bounds of a state, are war, victory and conquest. But with what enormous injustice and violence are those methods attended, and how much devastation and blood must it cost to subject a country by force of arms! In this there is nothing cruel and inhuman, and neither tears nor blood are shed. It is a pacific and legitimate increase of power, the simple acceptance of a voluntary gift. Subjection here has nothing of violence to enforce it, and proceeds from the heart.PREX2 51.1

    “Attalus, who was the first, if I am not mistaken, that appointed the Roman people his heirs, had not engaged in any strict union with that republic during the short time he reigned. As for Ptolemy Apion, king of Cyrenaica, the Romans, far from using any arts to attain the succession to his dominions, renounced it, left the people in the full enjoyment of their liberty, and would not accept the inheritance afterwards, till they were in some measure obliged to it against their will. It does not appear that they employed any solicitations, either public or private, towards Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, or Ptolemy Alexander, king of Egypt.”—[Rollin, Harpers’ ed., vol. II., p. 269.]PREX2 51.2

    Extension of dominion by these means was never before known. They did that which neither their fathers, nor fathers’ fathers had done.PREX2 51.3

    “He shall scatter among them the prey and spoil,” etc. The lenity of the Romans toward the nations who thus peaceably came under their yoke, will be best illustrated by extracts from Rollin’s History, vol. II., p. 270, Harpers’ ed., 1841:PREX2 52.1

    “The other nations suffered nothing of that kind; and, generally speaking, of all foreign yokes, none ever was lighter than that of the Romans. Scarce could its weight be perceived by those who bore it. The subjection of Greece to the Roman empire, even under the emperors themselves, was rather a means to ensure the public tranquillity, than a servitude heavy upon private persons, and prejudicial to society. Most of the cities were governed by their ancient laws, had always their own magistrates, and wanted very little of enjoying entire liberty. They were by that means secured from all the inconveniences and misfortunes of war with their neighbors, which had so long and so cruelly distressed the republic of Greece in the times of their ancestors. So that the Greeks seemed to be great gainers in ransoming themselves from these inconveniences by some diminution of their liberty.PREX2 52.2

    “An evident proof of the wisdom of the plan adopted by princes, of leaving their dominions to the Romans after their death, is, that their people never exclaimed against that disposition, nor proceeded to any revolt of their own accord, to prevent its taking effect.PREX2 52.3

    “I do not pretend to exculpate the Romans entirely in this place, nor to justify their conduct in all things. I have sufficiently animadverted upon the interested views and political motives which influenced their actions. I only say, that the Roman government, especially with regard to those who submitted voluntarily to them, was gentle, humane, equitable, advantageous to the people, and the source of their peace and tranquillity.”PREX2 52.4

    It was by this moderation and kindness, rather than by the power of their arms, that the Romans gained their influence and secured the good will of their tributaries.PREX2 53.1

    Thus far we have a general history of the Roman conquests until the final and decisive stroke in the downfall of Egypt, the last division of the Greek empire, and the universal supremacy of the Roman power. That point was not to be achieved without a struggle. The last clause of the 24th verse should be read in connection with the 25th, as follows:PREX2 53.2

    “And he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds even for a time. And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south; 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.”PREX2 53.3

    Against the strong holds, even for a time.” Bishop Newton, who applied this to Antiochus Epiphanes, interprets it thus; that Antiochus went to fortify his own strong holds, and forecast his devices against his enemies from thence. The construction seems to me to be a correct one, so far as the strong holds are concerned. I would render the passage thus, “From the strong holds.” The strong holds are the citadel or metropolis of the empire the city of Rome. The date of this characteristic I should understand to be, when they had gained universal dominion. From that time the government of Rome would, in its strong holds, forecast ways and means of holding the nations, their tributaries, in obedience and subjection.PREX2 53.4

    Even for a time.” A prophetic time of 360 years, as in Daniel 7:25.PREX2 54.1

    The chronology of its date is thus given: “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.”PREX2 54.2

    The amount of it is, Rome would come against Egypt with a great army, and Egypt would come against the Romans with a very great and mighty army; but in the issue, Egypt, the king of the south, shall fall. When the battle in which Egypt is conquered by the Romans, takes place, the prophetic time to the existence of the seat of empire in the west will commence. As this battle was a most important event in the history of Rome’s triumph, I shall give it at large. Mark Antony, a Roman general, and one of the triumvirate who had sworn to avenge the death of Julius Cæsar was brother-in-law to Augustus Cæar, by the marriage of his sister. Antony having been sent to Egypt, by the government, on, business, had been captured by the charms and arts of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt. His passion was so strong for her that he gave himself up to the most flagrant debauchery, and finally espoused the Egyptian interests, sent a divorce to his wife, Octavia, the sister of Augustus, ordering her to leave his house immediately with her children. This, together with other indignities offered by Antony to the Roman people, induced Cæsar Augustus to declare war against Egypt, at the head of whose affairs Antony was then placed. A reference again to Rollin, (vol. II., p. 346,) will illustrate this point.PREX2 54.3

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