Part 27—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
According to the eleventh chapter of Daniel’s prophecy, Jehovah’s angel foretold that the empire of Alexander the Great would, after his death, be broken up into four Hellenic or Greekish empires under four of Alexander’s generals. The line of kings from one of these generals would become the “king of the north” because of ruling from north of Jerusalem. The line of kings from another of these generals would become the “king of the south” because of ruling from south of Jerusalem. Fulfillment of the prophecy proves that the “king of the north” was at first the line of kings ruling from Syria as descendants of General Seleucus Nicator, whereas the rival “king of the south” was initially the line of kings ruling from Egypt as descendants of General Ptolemy Lagi. In 187 B.C. the king of the north became represented in King Seleucus IV of Syria. In his day Ptolemy VI Philometor of Egypt became representative of the king of the south, and had the backing of the growing power of Rome, Italy.
48. How did this king of the north come to fall and not be found, and who succeeded him?
48 The king of the north, Seleucus IV, needed money to pay on the heavy fine owed to Rome as one of the penalties from his father’s defeat at Magnesia. Wealth was said to be stored up in Jerusalem’s rebuilt temple or sanctuary. Onias III was the Jewish high priest at the time. To get his hands on money, Seleucus IV sent his treasurer Heliodorus to plunder Jehovah’s temple. Heliodorus himself wanted to ascend the Syrian throne as king of the north. So he murdered Seleucus IV. But Eumenes and Attalus, the kings of Pergamum, blocked the murderous Heliodorus and had the brother of the murdered king placed upon the throne to become Antíochus IV.
49. What surname did the king of the north now assume, and what was this interpreted to mean?
49 For fourteen years the new king had lived at Rome as a hostage. He reigned for about twelve years (175-163 B.C.) and was surnamed Epíphanes. This is a shortening of the title that Antíochus IV gave himself on coins that he had struck, namely, Theós Epiphanés. This name means “God Manifest,” that is, the god that appears or reveals himself. The Egyptians translated this inscription as “God who comes forth,” that is, coming forth like the blazing sun, Horus, on the eastern horizon. The Egyptians thus identified King Antíochus IV Epíphanes with the triumphal, appearing god.
50. How did Antíochus IV Epíphanes try to show himself mightier than Jehovah God?
50 He tried to show himself mightier than Jehovah God. He tried to Grecize or Hellenize Judea and Jerusalem. He put High Priest Onias III out of office. For a bribe he put the high priest’s brother Jesus into that high office, in order to further the Hellenizing of the Jews. He went to the extreme of trying to eradicate the Jewish religion, the worship of Jehovah God. In defiance of their God he rededicated the temple that had been built by Governor Zerubbabel and assigned it to the Olympian Zeus or Jupiter. The rededicated temple’s high priest was Jesus, who Grecized his name to Jason. On Chislev 15 of the year 145 of the Seleucid era, or in December, 168 B.C., a pagan altar was erected on top of the great altar of Jehovah in the temple courtyard where Jehovah’s daily burnt offering used to be offered. Ten days later, or Chislev 25, a sacrifice was offered on the pagan altar for the first time. (1 Maccabees 1:54-59) It was offered to Zeus of Mount Olympus in Greece.*
51. To what did this desecration of the temple lead, and how did the Maccabean rule finally come to an end?
51 This desecration of the sanctuary of Jehovah led to the Jewish uprising under the leadership of the Maccabees in 167 B.C. For three years Antíochus IV Epíphanes waged a bitter war against them and proved himself no god in comparison with Jehovah. In 165 B.C., on the exact anniversary of the desecration of the sanctuary, Judas Maccabeus, the leader, rededicated the temple to Jehovah and the festival of dedication (Hanukkah) was established. (John 10:22) The sacrificing of the daily or continual burnt offerings was renewed. However, in 161 B.C. the Maccabees made a treaty with Rome, the first of theirs on record. It was not till 104 B.C. that the Maccabees established a kingdom, when Aristobulus I assumed the title of king. In the years to come there were difficulties. Finally Rome was called to interfere. The Roman General Gnaeus Pompey came down from the now Roman province of Syria and began a three-month siege of Jerusalem and took the city in the midsummer of 63 B.C. He is said to have entered the sanctuary, even the Holy of Holies of the temple. He appointed Hyrcanus II to be high priest at the temple. In 40 B.C. the Roman Senate appointed Herod the Idumean to be king of Judea. It was first in 37 B.C. that he captured Jerusalem and established himself as king to end the Maccabean rule.
52. How do Jewish and Catholic commentators apply the rest of Daniel, chapter 11, but who, and by what prophecy, makes it certain that the identity of the king of the north must change from that?
52 Both Jewish and Roman Catholic commentators continue applying to King Antíochus IV Epíphanes as king of the north the rest of Daniel, chapter 11, down to its last verse (Da 11:45). However, between Da 11 verses 19 and 20 the identity of the “king of the north” changes from the line of Seleucid kings of Syria to Rome, the rising world power that had come to dominate the affairs of the Middle East. It is evident that the identity of the king of the north does not stay the same down to Daniel 11:45, for Jesus Christ referred to Daniel, chapter 11, to show that the identity must change and become very modern, even as modern as our twentieth century. Jesus gave a marvelous prophecy on the “time of the end” of this world and quoted from Daniel 11:31. This prophecy was given in the spring of 33 (A.D.), or 195 years after Antíochus IV died in 163 B.C.
53. In his prophecy, which way did Jesus look for the fulfillment of Daniel 11:31, and so of what nationality did the king of the north now become?
53 Jesus said to his questioning apostles: “Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place, (let the reader use discernment,) then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains. . . . for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matt. 24:15-21) Jesus was looking beyond his own day for Daniel 11:31 to be fulfilled, not back to the days of the Syrian Antíochus IV Epíphanes. At the historical fulfillment of Daniel 11:31 the king of the north is not Syrian or Seleucid. Hence after Daniel 11:19 a change in person and nationality of the king of the north must occur. Historical facts establish that the change began in the next verse, Daniel 11:20. The king now becomes Roman.
54. How did Antíochus IV Epíphanes bow to dictation from Rome, and how did Syria finally become a Roman province, to mark definitely what change in the king of the north?
54 Already before Antíochus IV Epíphanes, Rome was taking a dominant role in the affairs of the Middle East and dictating to Syria. Even this so-called “God Manifest” bowed to dictation from Rome. In his war with Egypt, Antíochus IV won. He had himself crowned as king of Egypt. Then the Roman fleet brought its ambassador Caius Popilius Laenas with the orders of the Roman Senate that Antíochus IV renounce his kingship of Egypt and quit the country. The Syrian king did so, but kept his hold on Coele-Syria, Palestine and Phoenicia. In 163 B.C. he died as a temple looter in Persia. After him there were many more independent kings of the Seleucid dynasty in Syria. But in 65 B.C. the Roman General Pompey the Great dethroned the last one, Antíochus XIII Asiaticus; and in 64 B.C. Syria became a Roman province. There definitely Rome took up the role of the king of the north. Before this king of the north Jerusalem fell in 63 B.C. The Egyptian king of the south was powerless to prevent it.
55. How long did the Ptolemaic dynasty last, and what did Egypt become?
55 The Ptolemaic dynasty down in Egypt held the position of king of the south somewhat longer. In 31 B.C. the decisive battle of Actium was fought, in which Egypt’s Queen Cleopatra deserted the fleet of her Roman lover, Antony, to his defeat. The victor, Octavius, the grandnephew of Julius Caesar, then proceeded to the conquest of Egypt. In 30 B.C. Cleopatra committed suicide, and Egypt became a Roman province, subject to the new king of the north.
THE “PRINCE OF THE COVENANT” BROKEN
56. Who became the first Roman emperor, and what does Daniel 11:20 say regarding him?
56 In the battle for power Octavius finally came forth as the sole ruler of Rome and became the first Roman emperor. He turned down the titles of rex (“king”) and dictator. Finally, in 27 B.C., by decree of the Roman Senate, he was styled Augustus. The Greeks translated this title as Sebastós, which means “Reverend One.” (Acts 25:21, 25) To his acting as king of the north in place of the Seleucid dynasty of Syrian kings, Jehovah’s angel refers in continuing the long-range prophecy on the contest between the north and the south: “Then shall stand up in his place one that shall cause an exactor to pass through the glory of the kingdom; but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.” (Dan. 11:20, JP) The “glory of the kingdom” of Augustus Caesar included the “beauteous land” of Daniel’s people.—Dan. 11:16, JP.
57. When was this “exactor” made to pass “through the glory of the kingdom,” and what record does Luke make of this?
57 The sending of the “exactor” took place in the year 2 B.C. The Christian historian Luke made record of this particular event in these words: “Now in those days a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus for all the inhabited earth to be registered; (this first registration took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria;) and all people went traveling to be registered, each one to his own city. Of course, Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city which is called Bethlehem, because of his being a member of the house and family of David, to get registered with Mary, who had been given him in marriage as promised, at present heavy with child. While they were there, the days came to the full for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her son, the firstborn, and she bound him with cloth bands and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the lodging-room.”—Luke 2:1-7.
58. When was this Quirinius governor of Syria, and why was this registration one of the most important events of Augustus’ reign, deserving of mention in Daniel’s prophecy?
58 P. Sulpicius Quirinius, Roman senator, was the Roman governor of Syria twice, the first time about the death of King Herod the Great, who had reconstructed the temple at Jerusalem. This period of governorship was from 750 to 753 from the founding of Rome, or from 4 to 1 B.C.* The census or registration was not for merely learning the number of the population but for the purpose of taxation and conscription of men for military service. This particular census was one of the most important events that occurred during the rule of Caesar Augustus as king of the north. It served to maneuver the carpenter of Nazareth and his wife Mary into going to Bethlehem, that Jesus might be born there in fulfillment of Micah 5:2. (Matt. 2:1-11) With good reason, then, Jehovah’s angel included the important mention of this in the vision to Daniel, so as to aid us also in determining when the prophetic “king of the north” changed from Syrian kings of the fifth world power to Roman rulers of the sixth world power.
59. How was he, as king of the north, “destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle”? And within a “few days”?
59 Caesar Augustus set up the emperor’s bodyguard known as the Praetorian Guards, which was later enlarged by his successor. He died in the forty-fifth year of his reign, on August 19, A.D. 14. This was comparatively a “few days” after his having the important registration taken during which Jesus the Son of God was born at the city of King David as his royal heir. Like an actor in a theater, Augustus had ruled well; and he was numbered among the Roman gods, and temples and altars were erected in his honor.
60, 61. (a) Who was the “contemptible person” that then stood up, and how did he become related to Caesar Augustus? (b) How had the “majesty of the kingdom” not been conferred upon him?
60 The angelic prophecy showed that Augustus’ successor also would have a close connection with the earthly life of God’s only-begotten Son: “And in his place shall stand up a contemptible person, upon whom had not been conferred the majesty of the kingdom; but he shall come in time of security, and shall obtain the kingdom by blandishments [flatteries, RS]. And the arms of the flood shall be swept away from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.” (Dan. 11:21, 22, JP) The mysterious “contemptible person” here was Tiberius Caesar, the son of Livia. She became the third wife of Emperor Augustus; so naturally Tiberius became the stepson of the emperor. Caesar Augustus did not want Tiberius to be his successor, for he hated this stepson because of his bad qualities. It was not willingly that the “majesty of the kingdom” was at last bestowed upon Tiberius. Augustus was forced to accept Tiberius as his successor to the emperorship only after every other hope had failed. How was that?
61 Emperor Augustus had no sons. His sister had a son Marcellus, but this nephew died. His daughter had two sons, Gaius and Lucius, and these Augustus appointed to be his successors. These also Augustus lost by death. He loved his dear stepson, Drusus, the younger brother of Tiberius, but this loved one died early, on September 14, 9 B.C. This left Tiberius, who was a capable general, in the position of the top-ranking soldier of the Roman Empire. It was in the year 12 B.C. that Agrippa, the great general of Emperor Augustus, died at the age of fifty-one years. In view of this Livia, the mother of Tiberius, induced the emperor, with great difficulty, however, to replace the dead Agrippa by her son Tiberius. To replace Agrippa, though, it required Tiberius to become the son-in-law of the emperor. So to his great grief, Tiberius was compelled to exchange Agrippina, the daughter of General Agrippa, for the emperor’s daughter Julia. In the year 4 (A.D.) Emperor Augustus adopted Tiberius and Agrippa Postumus. Nine years later, by a special law, Tiberius was raised to the coregency with Emperor Augustus. The next year, on August 19, A.D. 14, Augustus died, and Tiberius was made emperor. This is how this “contemptible person” came to “stand up” or assume power in the place of unwilling Caesar Augustus.
62. How did Tiberius Caesar “obtain the kingdom by blandishments”?
62 As to the part that blandishments or flatteries played with the new king of the north, Tiberius, The Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 26, page 916 (eleventh edition), says: “Historians of Rome in ancient times remembered Tiberius chiefly as the sovereign under whose rule prosecutions for treason on slight pretexts first became rife, and the hateful race of informers was first allowed to fatten on the gains of judicial murder. . . . But the history of the state trials of Tiberius’ reign shows conclusively that the straining of the law proceeded in the first instance from the eager flattery of the senate, . . . and was by him acquiesced in at the end of his reign, with a sort of contemptuous indifference, till he developed, under the influence of his fears, a readiness to shed blood.”*
63. How were the “arms of the flood” then “swept away from before him”?
63 At the time that Tiberius became king of the north his nephew Germanicus Caesar was commander of the Roman troops on the Rhine River. Soon after Tiberius’ enthronement a dangerous mutiny broke out among these troops, but Germanicus kept the discontented legions from marching upon Rome. In 15 (A.D.) Germanicus led his troops against the German hero Arminius (Hermann) and put him on the run, even capturing his wife Thusnelda, and defeating him the following year. Finally the foreign policy, or the policy with regard to the Roman frontier, became one of peace and met with fair success. “With few exceptions the duties of the Roman forces on the borders were confined to watching the peoples on the other side while they destroyed each other.”* In this way the “arms of the flood” were held in check or were “swept away from before him” and were “broken.”
(To be continued)
See also Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book 12, Chapter 5, paragraph 4; also 2 Maccabees 6:2.
See Zumpt’s Commentat. epigraph., II, 86-104; De Syria romana provincia, 97, 98; and Mommsen’s Res gestae divi Augusti. Also Dictionary of the New Testament in the French Bible translation by Canon A. Crampon, 1939 edition, page 358. Compare also Werner Keller’s The Bible as History, 1956 edition, pages 326, 327 (London ed.), pages 343, 344 (New York ed.), which tells that, according to a fragment of a Roman inscription discovered in Antioch, Syria, Quirinius had been Emperor Augustus’ legate in Syria in the days of Saturninus the proconsul before the Christian era, and how Quirinius had set up his seat of government and his military headquarters in Syria at that time.
See also The Eighteen Christian Centuries, by James White (1884), pages 18, 19; and Thy Kingdom Come, by C. T. Russell (1891), page 30, paragraphs 1, 2.
The Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 26, page 915, paragraphs 2, 3.
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PALESTINE IN THE MACCABEAN PERIOD (167-63 B.C.)
Sea of Galilee