Week 15 - The End of the Greeks
Daniel 11:17 - 11:35
Much of the historical background summary is copied from
which in turn copied, augmented, and reformatted from
The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation by Philip Mauro. This
weeks section takes us again to the time of the Macabees, with more detail
than the vision of Daniel 8. Verse 36 begins the reign of Rome, with Herod the
Great on the throne in Judea.
- 11:17 Having restored Judea to Seleucid rule, Antiochus aims to restore
the Seleucid empire to the limits it had under Seleucus Nicator. He plans to enter Egypt with his
whole strength, including Judea (the "upright ones" who like him now). But
first, he makes an alliance with the freshly defeated Ptolemy by giving him his
own daughter in marriage. I think "corrupting her" means that in aquiescing
she betrays her own heart. The dowry is Clo-Syria and Judea, and in return,
Ptolemy promised to remain neutral in any conflict with Rome which Antiochus
might egage in. He hoped through his daughter to restore Syria, Cilicia, and
Lycia to Seleucid rule - and finally Egypt itself. But his daughter sided with
Ptolemy, and defeated his scheme.
- 11:18 Antiochus III then turned his attention to Asia Minor in 197 B.C.
and Greece in 192 and "took many" of the Ægean isles from Rome, even crossing
the Hellespont. However, Rome dispatched general Lucius Scipio Asiaticus (a
"prince") to "cause the reproach to cease", which he accomplished "for his
own behalf" (for his own glory) by routing Antiochus at Magnesia in 190
"without his own reproach" (untarnished reputation).
Antiochus III the Great mounted the most vigorous military campaigns of
any of Alexander’s successors, but his dream of reuniting the empire
was never realized.
- 11:19 Antiochus returned to his own country in 188. The crushing taxes
to support the exhorbitant cost of the war with Rome was compounded by
tribute imposed by the victorious Rome, and furious citizens assassinated
him a year later.
- 11:20 His son Seleucus IV Philopater (187-176 B.C., brother of Cleopatra)
rules in his place. Rome must have its taxes, so Philopater sends Heliodorus
through Judea to impose taxes. Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Simon the Benjamite
hates Onias the High Priest. To spite him, Simon tells Apollonius the
Governor about "hidden" temple funds (actually a belevolence fund for
widows and orphans). Heliodorus soon returns under orders to appropriate
the funds to reduce the national debt. 2 Maccabees 3
See Zech. 9:8, "No oppressor shall pass through any more."
After a relatively short reign of twelve years. Heliodorus, the
instrument of Seleucus' sacrilege, became the instrument of his
punishment. Seleucus' brother Antiochus was a political hostage in Rome.
The Romans decide that Seleusus' only son and heir, Demetrius, would make a
better hostage, and exchange Antiochus for him. With Demetrius in Rome,
Heliodorus poisons Seleucus, "neither in anger nor in battle".
Heliodorus the tax collector, himself lasts only a few days as
Antiochus Epiphanes, Seleucus' brother, by the help of Eumenes,
king of Pergamos, seizes the throne in 175 as regent for the infant brother
of Demetrius (whom he murders soon after).
- 11:21 Antiochus takes for himself the name Epiphanes which means “the
Illustrious One.” But he was considered so untrustworthy that he was nicknamed
Epimanes, "the Madman." The throne rightly belonged to Demetrius Soter, a son
of Seleucus IV Philopator, but Antiochus IV Epiphanes seized the throne through
intrigue,"flattering" Eumenes and Attalus of Pergamos to help him, and, as he
had seen candidates at Rome doing, canvassing the Syrian people high and low,
one by one, with embraces [LIVY, 41.20].
- 11:22 When young Ptolemy Philometer's guardians demanded that Epiphanes
return Clo-Syria and Palestine promised by Antiochus III as Cleopatra's dowry,
Antiochus Epiphanes preemtively invaded Egypt with overwhelming forces.
The "prince of the covenant" is Ptolemy (but possibly
the deposes of Onias), the son of Cleopatra, Antiochus' sister, who was joined
in covenant with him. Philometer's generals were vanquished, and Pelusium, the
key of Egypt, taken by Antiochus, 171 B.C. Young Ptolemy is captured, but
allowed to continue ruling as a puppet king to avoid alarming Rome. Alexandria
appoints Ptolemy VIII his brother as king, and they agree to rule
Egypt jointly to avoid a civil war.
At this point Jason
the Helenizer offers Antiochus 160 talents of silver to be appointed high
priest instead of Onias. But when he sends Menelaus with the taxes, Menelaus
outbids Jason by 300 talents, and is appointed high priest instead.
After installing the young Ptolemy as a puppet king, Antiochus goes to Egypt,
and feigning friendship with young Ptolemy, as if he wished to help order his
kingdom for him, takes possession of Memphis and all Egypt ("the fattest
places") as far as Alexandria with only a few people. His forces were small to
throw off suspicion. Having gained a foothold, he now makes his plans
to capture Alexandria and the strongholds of Egypt.
- 11:25,26 Antiochus gathers a great army for the conquest of Egypt.
Ptolemy gathers an even greater army - but it is disorganized and is swept
away with great losses in 170BC. Ptolemy's trusted advisers and dependents
utterly fail him.
- 11:27 The Egyptians had a large army but were defeated
and Antiochus professed friendship with Egypt. The victor and the vanquished
sat at a table together as though friendship had been established, but the goal
of both to establish peace was never realized for they both were deceptive.
Antiochus carried great wealth back to his homeland from his conquest. On his
return he passed through the land of Israel. After his disappointment in Egypt
(he had hoped to take all of Egypt but failed) he took out his frustrations on
the Jews by desecrating the temple in Jerusalem. Evidently he opposed (set his
heart against) the entire Mosaic system (the holy covenant). After desecrating
the temple, he returned to his own country.
“Moreover, King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one
people, and everyone should leave his laws. So all the heathen agreed according
to the commandment of the king. Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to
his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the Sabbath. * * * Then
many of the people were gathered unto them, to wit, every one that forsook the
law; and so they committed evils in the land.”(1Ma 1:41-43,52)
- 11:29 "At the time appointed"—"the time" spoken of in Daniel 11:27,
Ptolemy Philometer, suspecting Antiochus' designs with Physcon, hired
mercenaries from Greece. Whereupon Antiochus in 168 advanced with a fleet and
an army, demanding the cession to him of Cyprus, Pelusium, and the country
adjoining the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile. This was not
successful as was the former expedition.
- 11:30 Popilius Loenas, the Roman ambassador, met
him at Eleusis, four miles from Alexandria, and presented him the decree of the
senate; on Antiochus replying that he would consider what he was to do,
Popilius drew a line round him with a rod and said, "I must have a reply to
give to the senate before you leave this circle." Antiochus submitted, and
retired from Egypt; and his fleets withdrew from Cyprus. This was a humiliating
defeat for Antiochus Epiphanes (he will lose heart) but he had no alternative
but to return in rage to his own land.
For a second time (v 28) Antiochus took out his frustration on the Jews,
the city of Jerusalem, and their temple. He vented his fury against the holy
covenant, the entire Mosaic system (v 28), favoring any renegade Jews who
turned to help him (v 32).
- 11:31 Antiochus sent his general Apollonius with 22,000 soldiers
into Jerusalem on what was purported to be a peace mission. But they attacked
Jerusalem on the Sabbath, killed many people, took many women and children as
slaves, and plundered and burned the city. We covered the gory details
in Daniel 8.
- 11:32 "In those days there went out of Israel wicked men who persuaded
many, saying: Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen, that are round
about us .... Then certain of the people were so forward herein that they went
to the king, who gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathen."
I Mac 1:11
- 11:33 This description applies particularly to Mattathias and his family,
who not only were priests by their birthright, and thus the divinely ordained
teachers of Israel, but were true priests, faithfully performing their duty to
God and to His people.
Judas himself, and a great part of his army, were
slain by the sword (1Ma 9:17,18). Jonathan also was slain with a thousand men
(1Ma 12:48). The chief tax collector set Jerusalem on fire (1Ma 1:31; see also
2Ma 7). Forty thousand captives were carried away by Antiochus (2Ma 5:14).
- 11:34 Judas, time and again, defeated, with very small forces, large armies
of Syrians, Idumeans, and others (1Ma 2:28; 3:9-11) etc. But later on, many did
cleave to them by flatteries, professing friendship to them, etc. (1Ma 10).
Thus Alexander Bala, successor to Antiochus Epiphanes, made with Jonathan a
league of mutual assistance and friendship (1Ma 10:65).
- 11:35 The family of Mattathias continued for several generations to serve
the people of Israel in the capacity of priests and teachers (1Ma 10:21; 14:35;
16:24); and (Josephus Ant. XIII 8, 1). Of these "some" fell by violent deaths
and by captivity (1Ma 6:46; 9:18; 9:36, 42; 12:41-48); (Ant. XIV.4, 5; XIV 13,
10; XV 6, 2). And this continued to the very "end" of the Asmonean era; for the
last of the family, Aristobulus, who held for a short time the high priesthood,
was murdered at the command of Herod (Ant. XV 3, 3).