by Sir Robert Anderson
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The Coming Prince
Sir Robert Anderson
DANIEL AND HIS TIMES
"DANIEL the prophet." None can have a higher title to the name,
for it was thus Messiah spoke of him. And yet the great Prince of the Captivity would
himself doubtless have disclaimed it. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the rest, "spake
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;" (2 Peter 1:21) but Daniel uttered no
such "God-breathed" words. Like the "beloved disciple" in Messianic times, he beheld visions,
and recorded what he saw. The great prediction of the seventy weeks was a message
delivered to him by an angel, who spoke to him as man speaks with man. A stranger
to prophet's fare and prophet's garb, he lived in the midst of all the luxury and pomp of an
Eastern court. Next to the king, he was the foremost man in the greatest empire of
antiquity; and it was not till the close of a long life spent in statecraft that
he received the visions recorded in the latter chapters of his book.
1. My belief in the Divine
character of the Book of Daniel will, I trust, appear plainly in these pages. The
distinction I desire to mark here is between prophecies which men were inspired to
utter, and prophecies like those of Daniel and St. John, who were merely the recipients
of the revelation. With these, inspiration began in the recording what they
To understand these prophecies aright, it is essential that the leading events of
the political history of the times should be kept in view.
2.To quote Daniel 1:12
in opposition to this involves an obvious anachronism. The word "pulse,"
moreover, in the Hebrew points generally to vegetable food, and would include a dish
as savory as that for which Esau sold his birthright (comp, Genesis 25:34). To eat
animal food from the table of Gentiles would have involved a violation of the law;
therefore Daniel and his companions became "vegetarians."
The summer of Israel's national glory had proved as brief as it was brilliant. The
people never acquiesced in heart in the Divine decree which, in distributing the
tribal dignities, entrusted the scepter to the house of Judah, while it adjudged
the birthright to the favored family of Joseph; and their mutual jealousies and feuds, though kept in check by the personal
influence of David, and the surpassing splendor of the reign of Solomon, produced
a national disruption upon the accession of Rehoboam. In revolting from Judah, the
Israelites also apostatized from God; and forsaking the worship of Jehovah, they
lapsed into open and flagrant idolatry. After two centuries and a half unillumined
by a single bright passage in their history, they passed into captivity to Assyria;
and on the birth of
Daniel a century had elapsed since the date of their national extinction.
Judah still retained a nominal independence, though, in fact, the nation had already
fallen into a state of utter vassalage. The geographical position of its territory
marked it out for such a fate. Lying half-way between the Nile and the Euphrates,
suzerainty in Judea became inevitably a test by which their old enemy beyond their
southern frontier, and the empire which the genius of Nabopolassar was then rearing
in the north, would test their rival claims to supremacy. The prophet's birth fell
about the very year which was reckoned the epoch of the second Babylonian Empire.
He was still a boy at
the date of Pharaoh Necho's unsuccessful invasion of Chaldea. In that struggle his
kinsman and sovereign, the good king Josiah, took sides with Babylon, and not only
lost his life, but compromised still further the fortunes of his house and the freedom
of his country. (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:20)
3. "Judah prevailed
above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's"
(1 Chronicles 5:2).
4.The disruption was in
B. C. 975, the captivity to Assyria about B. C. 721.
The public mourning for Josiah had scarcely ended when Pharaoh, on his homeward march,
appeared before Jerusalem to assert his suzerainty by claiming a heavy tribute from
the land and settling the succession to the throne. Jehoahaz, a younger son of Josiah,
had obtained the crown on his father's death, but was deposed by Pharaoh in favor
of Eliakim, who doubtless recommended himself to the king of Egypt by the very qualities
which perhaps had induced his father to disinherit him. Pharaoh changed his name
to Jehoiakim, and established him in the kingdom as a vassal of Egypt (2 Kings 23:33-35;
2 Chronicles 36:3, 4).
5. B. C. 625.
In the third year after these events, Nebuchadnezzar, Prince Royal of Babylon, set out upon an expedition
of conquest, in command of his father's armies; and entering Judea he demanded the
submission of the king of Judah. After a siege of which history gives no particulars,
he captured the city and seized the king as a prisoner of war. But Jehoiakim regained
his liberty and his throne by pledging his allegiance to Babylon; and Nebuchadnezzar
withdrew with no spoil except a part of the holy vessels of the temple, which he
carried to the house of his god, and no captives save a few youths of the seed royal
of Judah, Daniel being of the number, whom he selected to adorn his court as vassal
princes. (2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chronicles 36:6, 7; Daniel 1:1, 2) Three years later Jehoiakim
revolted; but, although during the rest of his reign his territory was frequently
overrun by "bands of the Chaldees," five years elapsed before the armies
of Babylon returned to enforce the conquest of Judea.
Jehoiachin, a youth of eighteen years, who had just succeeded to the throne,
at once surrendered with his family and retinue, (2 Kings 24:12) and once more Jerusalem
lay at the mercy of Nebuchadnezzar. On his first invasion he had proved magnanimous
and lenient, but he had now not merely to assert supremacy but to punish rebellion.
Accordingly he ransacked the city for everything of value, and "carried away
all Jerusalem," leaving none behind "save the poorest sort of the people
of the land." (2 Kings 24:14)
6. Berosus avers that this
expedition was in Nabopolassar's lifetime (Jos., Apion, 1. 19), and the chronology
proves it. See App. I. as to the dates of these events and the chronology of the
7. 2 Kings 24:1, 2. According to Josephus (Ant.,
10. 6, Ch. 3) Nebuchadnezzar on his second invasion found Jehoiakim still on the
throne, and he it was who put him to death and made Jehoiachin king. He goes on to
say that the king of Babylon soon afterwards became suspicious of Jehoiachin's fidelity,
and again returned to dethrone him, and placed Zedekiah on the throne. These statements,
though not absolutely inconsistent with 2 Kings 24, are rendered somewhat improbable
by comparison with it. They are adopted by Canon Rawlinson in the Five Great Monarchies
(vol. 3, p. 491), but Dr. Pusey adheres to the Scripture narrative (Daniel,
Jehoiachin's uncle Zedekiah was left as king or governor of the despoiled and depopulated
city, having sworn by Jehovah to pay allegiance to his Suzerain. This was "King
Jehoiachin's captivity," according to the era of the prophet Ezekiel, who was
himself among the captives. (Ezekiel 1:2)
The servitude to Babylon had been predicted as early as the days of Hezekiah; (2
Kings 20:17) and after the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy respecting it, Jeremiah
was charged with a Divine message of hope to the captivity, that after seventy years
were accomplished they would be restored to their land. (Jeremiah 29:10) But while
the exiles were thus cheered with promises of good, King Zedekiah and "the residue
of Jerusalem that remained in the land" were warned that resistance to the Divine
decree which subjected them to the yoke of Babylon would bring on them judgments
far more terrible than any they had known. Nebuchadnezzar would return to "destroy
them utterly," and make their whole land "a desolation and an astonishment."
(Jeremiah 24:8-10; 25:9; 27:3-8) False prophets rose up, however, to feed the national
vanity by predicting the speedy restoration of their independence, (Jeremiah 28:1-4)
and in spite of the solemn and repeated warnings and entreaties of Jeremiah, the
weak and wicked king was deceived by their testimony, and having obtained a promise
of armed support from Egypt, (Ezekiel 17:15) he openly revolted.
Thereupon the Chaldean armies once more surrounded Jerusalem. Events seemed at first
to justify Zedekiah's conduct, for the Egyptian forces hastened to his assistance,
and the Babylonians were compelled to raise the siege and withdraw from Judea. (Jeremiah
37:1, 5, 11) But this temporary success of the Jews served only to exasperate the
King of Babylon, and to make their fate more terrible when at last it overtook them.
Nebuchadnezzar determined to inflict a signal chastisement on the rebellious city
and people; and placing himself at the head of all the forces of his empire, (2 Kings
25:1; Jeremiah 34:1) he once more invaded Judea and laid siege to the Holy City.
The Jews resisted with the blind fanaticism which a false hope inspires; and it is
a signal proof of the natural strength of ancient Jerusalem, that for eighteen months
(2 Kings 25:1-3) they kept their enemy at bay, and yielded at last to famine and
not to force. The place was then given up to fire and sword. Nebuchadnezzar
"slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had
no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age; he
gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small,
and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of
his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and
brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and
destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. And them that had escaped from the sword
carried he away to Babylon, where they were servants to him and his sons, until the
reign of the kingdom of Persia: to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah."
(2 Chronicles 36:17-21)
As He had borne with their fathers for forty years in the wilderness, so for
forty years this last judgment lingered, "because He had
compassion on His people and on His dwelling place." (2 Chronicles 36:15) For
forty years the prophet's voice had not been silent in Jerusalem; "but
they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets,
until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy."
Such is the sacred chronicler's description of the first destruction of Jerusalem,
rivaled in later times by the horrors of that event under the effects of which it
still lies prostrate, and destined to be surpassed in days still to come, when the
predictions of Judah's supreme catastrophe shall be fulfilled.
8. 2 Chronicles 5:16. This period is no doubt the forty
years of Judah's sin, specified in Ezekiel 4:6. Jeremiah prophesied from the thirteenth
year of Josiah (B. C. 627) until the fall of Jerusalem in the eleventh year of Zedekiah
(B. C. 587). See Jeremiah 1:3, and 25:3. The 390 years of Israel's sin, according
to Ezekiel 4:5, appear to have been reckoned from the date of the covenant of blessing
to the ten tribes, made by the prophet Ahijah with Jeroboam, presumably in the second
year before the disruption, i. e., B. C. 977 (1 Kings 11:29- 39).
9. The horrors of the siege
and capture of Jerusalem by Titus surpass everything which history records of similar
events. Josephus, who was himself a witness of them, narrates them in all their awful
details. His estimate of the number of Jews who perished in Jerusalem is 1, 100,
000. "The blood runs cold, and the heart sickens, at these unexampled horrors;
and we take refuge in a kind of desperate hope that they have been exaggerated by
the historian." "Jerusalem might almost seem to be a place under a peculiar
curse; it has probably witnessed a far greater portion of human misery than any other
spot upon the earth." --MILMAN, Hist. Jews.
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