By Sir Robert Anderson
MISCELLANEOUS: WHO AND WHEN
ARTAXERXES LONGIMANUS AND THE CHRONOLOGY OF HIS REIGN
So thorough is the unanimity with which the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah is now admitted to be Longimanus, that it is no longer necessary to offer proof of it. Josephus indeed attributes these events to Xerxes, but his history of the reigns of Xerxes and Artaxerxes is so hopelessly in error as to be utterly worthless. In fact he transposes the events of these respective reigns (see, Ant. 11., caps 5: and 7.) Nehemiah's master reigned not less than thirty-two years (Nehemiah 13:6); and his reign was subsequent to that of Darius Hystaspes (comp. Ezra 6:1 and 7:1), and prior to that of Darius Nothus (Nehemiah 12:22). He must, therefore, be either Longimanus or Mnemon, for no other king after Darius Hystaspes reigned thirty-two years, and it is certain Nehemiah's mission was not so late as the twentieth of Artaxerxes Mnemon, viz., B.C. 385.
This appears, first, from the general tenor of the history; second, because this date is later than that of Malachi, whose prophecy must have been considerably later than the time of Nehemiah; and third, because Eliashib, who was high priest when Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, was grandson of Jeshua, who was high priest in the first year of Cyrus (Nehemiah 3:1; 12:10; Ezra 2:2; 3:2); and from the first year of Cyrus (B.C. 536), to the twentieth of Artaxerxes Longimanus (B.C. 445), was ninety-one years, leaving room for precisely three generations.
Moreover, the eleventh chapter of Daniel, if read aright, affords conclusive proof that the prophetic era dated from the time of Longimanus. The second verse is generally interpreted as though it were but a disconnected fragment of history, leaving a gap of over 130 years between it and the third verse, whereas the chapter is a consecutive prediction of events within the period of the seventy weeks. There were to be yet (i.e., after the issuing of the decree to build Jerusalem) "three kings in Persia." These were Darius Nothus (mentioned in Nehemiah 12:22), Artaxerxes Mnemon, and Ochus; the brief reigns of Xerxes II., Sogdianus, and Arogus being overlooked as being, what in fact they were, utterly unimportant. and indeed two of them are omitted in the Canon of Ptolemy. "The fourth" (and last) king was Darius Codomanus, whose fabulous wealth – the accumulated horde of two centuries – attracted the cupidity of the Greeks. What sums of money Alexander found in Susa is unknown, but the silver ingots and Hermione purple he seized after the battle of Arbela were worth over £ 20, 000, 000. Verse 2 thus reaches to the close of the Persian Empire; verse 3 predicts the rise of Alexander the Great; and verse 4 refers to the division of his kingdom among his four generals.According to Clinton (F. H., vol. 2., p. 380) the death of Xerxes was in July B.C. 465, and the accession of Artaxerxes was in February B.C. 464. Artaxerxes of course ignored the usurper's reign, which intervened, and reckoned his own reign from the day of his father's death. Again, of course, Nehemiah, being an officer of the court, followed the same reckoning. Had he computed his master's reign from February 464, Chisleu and Nisan could not have fallen in the same regnal year (Nehemiah 1:1; 2:1). No more could they, had be, according to the Jewish practice, computed it from Nisan.
Dr. Pusey here remarks,
"The accession of Artaxerxes after the seven months of the assassin Artabanus would fall in the middle of 464. For it is clear from the sequel of the months in Nehemiah 1:2., and Ezra 7:7- 9, that Chisleu fell earlier in the year of his reign than Nisan, and Nisan than Ab. Then the reign of Artaxerxes must have begun between Ab and Chisleu B.C. 464."
This is altogether a mistake. As already mentioned, Chisleu and Nisan fell in the same regnal year; and so also did Nisan and the first day of Ab (Ezra 7:8, 9). But the 1st Ab of B.C. 459 (the seventh year of Artaxerxes) fell on or about the 16th July, and therefore the passages quoted are perfectly consistent with the received chronology, and serve merely to enable us to fix the dates more accurately still, and to decide that the death of Xerxes and the epoch of the reign of Artaxerxes should be assigned to the latter part of July B.C. 465.
Those who are not versed in what writers on prophecy have written on this subject, will be surprised to learn that this date is assailed as being nine years too late. All chronologers are agreed that Xerxes began to reign in B.C. 485, and that the death of Artaxerxes was in B.C. 423; and so far as I know, no writer of repute, unbiased by prophetic study, assigns as the epoch of the latter king's reign any other date than B.C. 465 (or 464; see ante). This is the date according to the Canon of Ptolemy, which has been followed by all historians; and it is confirmed by the independent testimony of Julius Africanus, who, in his Chronagraphy, describes the twentieth year of Artaxerxes as the 115th year of the Persian Empire [reckoned from Cyrus, B.C. 559] and the fourth year of the eighty-third Olympiad. This fixes B.C. 464 as the first year of that king, as it was in fact the year of his actual accession.
It was Archbishop Ussher who first raised a doubt upon the point. Lecturing on "Daniel's Seventies" in Trinity College, Dublin, in the year 1613, difficulties connected with his subject suggested an inquiry which led him ultimately to put back the reign of Longimanus to B.C. 474, which is the date given in his Annales Vet. Test. The same date was afterwards adopted by Vitringa, and a century later by Kruger. But Hengstenberg is regarded as the champion of this view, and the treatise thereon in his Chronology omits nothing that can be urged in its favor.The objections raised to the received chronology depend mainly on the statement of Thucydides, that Artaxerxes was on the throne when Themistocles reached the Persian Court; for it is urged that the flight of Themistocles could not have been so late as B.C. 464. But, as Dr. Pusey remarks, "they have not made any impression on our English writers who have treated of Grecian history." In common with the German writers, Dr. Pusey ignores Ussher altogether in the controversy, though Dr. Tregelles rightly claims for him the foremost place for scholarship among those who have advocated the earlier date. The apparent difficulty of making the prophecy and the chronology agree has led Dr. Pusey, following Prideaux, in opposition to Scripture, to fix the seventh year of Artaxerxes as the epoch of the seventy weeks, while it induced Dr. Tregelles sheltering behind Ussher's name, to adopt the B.C. 455 date for the twentieth year of that king's reign. Bishop Lloyd when affixing Ussher's dates to our English Bible reverted to the received chronology when dealing with the book of Nehemiah.
It is unnecessary to enter here upon a discussion of this question. Nothing short of a reproduction of the entire argument in favor of the new chronology would satisfy its advocates; and for my present purpose it is a sufficient answer to that argument, that although everything has been urged which ingenuity and erudition can suggest in support of it, it has been rejected by all secular writers. Unfulfilled prophecy is only for the believer, but prophecy fulfilled has a voice for all. It is fortunate, therefore, that the proof of the fulfillment of this prophecy of the seventy weeks does not depend on an elaborate disquisition, like that of Hengstenberg's, to disturb the received chronologies.
One point only I will notice. It is urged in favor of limiting the reign of Xerxes to eleven years, that no event is mentioned in connection with his reign after his eleventh year. The answer is obvious: first, that it is to Greek historians, writing after his time, that we are mainly indebted for our knowledge of Persian history; and secondly, the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis may well have induced a king of the temperament and character of Xerxes to give himself up to a life of indolent ease and sensual enjoyment.
But further, the twelfth year of Xerxes is expressly mentioned in the book of Esther (3:7), and the narrative proves that his reign continued to the twelfth (Jewish) month of his thirteenth year. Hengstenberg answers this by asserting that it was customary with Hebrew writers to include in a regnal era the years of a co-regency where it existed, and he appeals to the case of Nebuchadnezzar as a proof of such a custom. If Nebuchadnezzar's reign was in fact reckoned thus, this solitary instance would establish no such custom, for it would prove nothing more than that the Jews in Jerusalem, knowing nothing of the politics or customs of Babylon, reckoned Nebuchadnezzar's reign upon a system of their own. But I believe this theory about Nebuchadnezzar's reign is a thorough blunder. If in the sacred history he is called King of Babylon, in connection with his first invasion of Judea, it is because the writers were his contemporaries. "Lord Beaconsfield was Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Derby's administrations" is a statement which will be rightly condemned as an anachronism if made by the historian of the future, but it is precisely the language which would have been used by a contemporary writer acquainted with the living statesman. I have shown elsewhere (App. 1., ante) that the Jews reckoned Nebuchadnezzar's reign according to their own custom, as dating from the Nisan preceding his accession. Unless, therefore, some entirely new case can be made in support of the co-regency theory of Xerxes's reign, it remains that the book of Esther is absolutely conclusive against Ussher's date, and in favor of the received chronology.
NOTE B DATE OF THE NATIVITY
IN treating of the date of the birth of our Lord, the arguments in favor of an earlier date than that which is here adopted are too well known to be left unnoticed. Dr. Farrar states the question thus in his Life of Christ (Excursus 1.):--
"Our one most certain datum is obtained from the tact that Christ was born before the death of Herod the Great. The date of that event is known with absolute certainty, for (2) Josephus tells us that he died thirty-seven years after he had been declared king by the Romans. Now it is known that he was declared King A. U. C. 714; and, therefore, since Josephus always reckons his years from Nisan to Nisan, and counts the initial and terminal fractions of Nisan as complete years, Herod must have died between Nisan A. U. C. 750 and Nisan A. U. C. 751, i.e., between B.C. 4 and B.C. 3 of our era. (2.) Josephus says that on the night in which Herod ordered Judas, Matthias, and their abettors to be burnt, there was an eclipse of the moon. Now this eclipse took place on the night of March 12th, B.C. 4, and Herod was dead at least seven days before the Passover, which, if we accept the Jewish reckoning, fell in that year on April 12th. But according to the clear indication of the Gospels, Jesus must have been born at least forty days before Herod's death. It is clear, therefore, that under no circumstances can the nativity have taken place later than February B.C. 4."
This passage is a typical illustration of the relative value attached to the statements of sacred and profane historians. In the histories of Josephus an incidental mention of an eclipse or of the length of a king's reign suffices to give "absolute certainty," before which the clearest and most definite statements of Holy Writ must give place, albeit they relate to matters of such transcendent interest to the writers that even if the Evangelists be dismissed to the category of mere historians, no mistake was possible.
The following is a more temperate statement of the question, by the Archbishop of York, in an article (Jesus Christ) contributed to Smith's Bible Dictionary. –
"Herod the Great died, according to Josephus, in the thirty-seventh year after he was appointed king. His elevation coincides with the consulship of Cn Domitius Calvinus and C. Asinius Pollio, and this determines the date A. U. C. 714. There is reason to think that in such calculations Josephus reckons the years from the month Nisan to the same month, and also that the death of Herod took place in the beginning of the thirty-seventh year, or just before the Passover; if then thirty-six complete years are added, they give the year of Herod's death, A. U. C. 750."
According to this, the commonly received view, Herod's death took place within the first six days of a Jewish year, and these days are reckoned as a complete year in his regnal era. Now it is admitted that in computing time the Jews generally included both the terminal units of a given period. A signal and well-known instance of this is afforded by the words of the Lord Himself, when He declared He would lie in death for three days and nights. What meaning did these words convey to Jews? Four-and-twenty hours after His burial they came to Pilate and said, "We remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, 'After three days I will rise again'; command, therefore, that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day." Had that Sunday passed leaving the seal upon the tomb unbroken, the Pharisees would boldly have proclaimed their triumph; whereas, by our modes of reckoning, the resurrection ought to have been deferred till Monday night, or Tuesday morning.
Again, it may be assumed that Herod's accession dated in fact from B.C. 40, and, therefore, that B.C. 4 was the thirty-seventh and last year of his reign. Further it is probable he died shortly before a Passover. The question remains whether his death occurred at the beginning or toward the close of the Jewish year.
Josephus relates that when the event took place Archelaus remained in seclusion during seven days, and then presented himself publicly to the people. His first reception was not unfavorable, though he had to yield to many a popular demand then pressed on him; and after the ceremonial, he "went and offered sacrifice to God, and then betook himself to feast with his friends." Soon, however, discontent and disaffection began to smolder and spread, and fresh demands were made upon the king. To these again he yielded, though with less grace, instructing his general to remonstrate with the people, and persuade them to defer their petitions till his return from Rome. These appeals only increased the prevailing dissatisfaction, and a riot ensued. The king still continued to parley with the seditious, but, "upon the approach of the feast of unleavened bread," when the capital became thronged with the Jews from the country, the state of things became so alarming that Archelaus determined; to suppress the rioters by force of arms. This was "upon the approach of the feast," and the Jews considered the Passover was "nigh at hand" upon the eighth day of Nisan, when they repaired to Jerusalem for the festival.
The Passover began the 14th Nisan. This final riot took place during the preceding week. The earlier riot occurred before that again, £e., before the date of the incursion of Jews for the festival, the 8th Nisan. This again was preceded by some interval, measured from the day following the court mourning for Herod, which had lasted seven days. The history, therefore, establishes conclusively that Herod's death was more than fourteen days before the Passover, and therefore at the close and not at the beginning of a Jewish year.
But which year? His death must have been after the eclipse of 13th March, B.C. 4 But the eclipse was only a month before the Passover of that year, and his death was fourteen days at least before the Passover, could then the events recorded by Josephus as occurring in the interval between the eclipse and the king's death have taken place in a fortnight? Let the reader turn to the Antiquities and judge for himself whether it be possible. The natural inference from the history is that the death was not weeks but months after the eclipse, and therefore, again, at the close of the year.
The correctness of this conclusion can be established by the application of the strictest of all tests, that of referring to the historian's chronological statements.
In his Wars (2:7, 3), Josephus assigns the banishment of Archelaus to the ninth year of his government; in his later work (Ant., 17, 13, 3), he states it was in his tenth year. And these dates are given with a definiteness and in a manner which preclude the idea of a blunder. They are connected with the narration of a dream in which Archelaus saw a number of ears of corn (nine in the Wars, ten in the Antiquities), devoured by oxen, – presaging that the years of his rule were about to be brought abruptly to an end. Now whether a ruler be Christian, Jew, or Turk, his ninth year is the year beginning with the eighth anniversary of his government, and his tenth year that beginning with the ninth anniversary; and it is mere casuistry to pretend that there is either mystery or difficulty in the matter. It is evident that the difference between the two statements of the historian is intentional, and that in his two histories he computed the Ethnarch's government from two different epochs. But if Herod died in the first week of the Jewish year, as these writers maintain, this would be impossible, for Archelaus's actual accession would have synchronized with his accession according to Jewish reckoning. Whereas if his government dated from the close of a Jewish year, A.D. 6 would be his ninth year in fact, but his tenth year according to Mishna rule of computing reigns from Nisan.
In numerous treatises on this subject will be found an argument based on John 2:20, "Forty and six years was this temple in building." According to Josephus (it is urged), "Herod's reconstruction of the temple began in the eighteenth year of his reign," and forty-six years from that date would fix A.D. 26 as the year in which these words were spoken, and therefore as the first year of our Lord's ministry. That writers of repute should have written thus may be described as a literary phenomenon. Not only does Josephus not say what is thus attributed to him, but his narrative disproves it. The foundation for the statement is that either in his eighteenth or nineteenth year Herod made a speech proposing to rebuild the temple. But the historian adds, that finding his intentions and promises thoroughly distrusted by the people, "the king encouraged them, and told them he would not pull down their temple till all things were gotten ready for building it up entirely again. And as he promised them this beforehand, so he did not break his word with them, but got ready a thousand wagons, that were to bring stones for the building, and chose out ten thousand of the most skillful workmen, and bought a thousand sacerdotal garments for the priests, and had some of them taught the art of stone-cutters, and others of carpenters, and then began to build; but this was not till everything was well prepared for the work." What length of time these preparations occupied, it is of course impossible to decide, but if, as Lewin supposes, the work was begun at the Passover of B.C. 18, then forty-six years would bring us exactly to A.D. 29 – the first Passover of the Lord's ministry.
NOTE C CONTINUOUS HISTORICAL SYSTEM OF PROPHETIC INTERPRETATION
THE historical interpreters of prophecy have grasped a principle the importance of which is abundantly proved by the striking parallelisms between the visions of the Apocalypse and the events of the history of Christendom. But not content with this, they have on the one hand brought discredit on prophetic study by wild and arrogant predictions about the end of the world, and on the other, they have reduced their principle of interpretation to a system, and then degraded it to a hobby. The result is fortunate in this respect, that the evil cannot fail to cure itself, and the time cannot be far distant when the "continuous historical interpretation," in the form and manner in which its champions have propounded it, will be regarded as a vagary of the past. The events of the first half of the present century produced on the minds of Christians such an impression in its favor, that it bid fair to gain general acceptance. But the late Mr. Elliott's great work has thoroughly exposed its weaknesses. A perusal of the first five chapters of the Horae Apocalypticae cannot fail to impress the reader with a sense of the genuineness and importance of the writer's scheme, nor will he fail to appreciate the erudition displayed, and the sobriety with which it is used. But when he passes from the commentary upon the first five seals, to the account of the sixth seal, he must experience a revulsion of feeling which will be strong just in proportion to his apprehension of the trueness and solemnity of Holy Writ. Let any one read the last six verses of the sixth chapter of Revelation, a passage the awful solemnity of which has scarcely a parallel in Scripture, and with what feelings will he turn to Mr. Elliott's book to find that the words are nothing more than a prediction of the downfall of paganism in the fourth century!
The words of the Apocalyptic vision in relation to the great day of Divine wrath (Revelation 6:17), are the language of Isaiah (13:9, 10) respecting "the day of the Lord," and again of Joel's prophecy (Joel 2:1, 30, 31, quoted by St. Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-20). Nor is this all. The twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew is a Divine commentary upon the visions of the sixth chapter of Revelation, and each of the seals has its counterpart in the Lord's predictions of events preceding His second advent:, ending with the mention of these same terrible convulsions of nature here described. Therefore, even if the mind be "educated" up to the point of accepting such an interpretation of the vision of the sixth seal, these other Scriptures remain to be accounted for.
Many other points in Mr. Elliott's scheme might be cited as equally faulty. Take for example the labored essay on the subject of the two witnesses, culminating in the amazing and-climax that their ascent to heaven (Revelation 11:12) was fulfilled when Protestants obtained "an advancement to political dignity and power." (Horae. Ap., 2., 410). Still more wild and reckless is his exposition of Revelation 12:5. "It seems clear" (he says) "that whatever the woman's hope in her travail, the lesser consummation was the one figured in the man child's birth and assumption, viz., the elevation of the Christians, first to recognition as a body politic, then very quickly to the supremacy of the throne in the Roman Empire" (vol. 3., 12). The reference to Wilberforce in connection with Revelation 15: is almost grotesque (vol. 3., 430). And finally he drifts upon the rock on which every man who follows this false system must inevitably be wrecked – the chronology of prophecy: proving by cumulative evidence that the year 1865 would usher in the millennium, or if not 1865, then 1877 or 1882 (vol. 3., 256-266).
"An apocalyptic commentary which explains everything is self-convicted of error." This dictum of Dan. Alford's (Gr. Test.. Revelation 11:2) applies with full force to Mr. Elliott's book. Maintaining as he does that these visions have received their absolute and final fulfillment, he is bound to explain everything;" and as the result these lucubrations mar a work which if recast by some intelligent student of prophecy would be of the highest value. In days like these, when we have to contend for the very words of Scripture, we cannot afford to dismiss them as harmless puerilities. They have given an impetus to the skepticism of the age, and have encouraged Christian men to treat the most solemn warnings of coming wrath as mere stage thunder.
Mr. Elliott's mantle appears now to have fallen upon the author of the Approaching End of t/re Age. Mr. Grattan Guinness's treatise upon lunisolar cycles and epacts will be deemed by many the most interesting and valuable portion of the work. The study of it has confirmed an impression I have long entertained, that in some mystic interpretation of the prophetic periods of Daniel, the chronology of Gentile supremacy and of the Christian dispensation lies concealed. Professor Birks, however, justly remarks, that it is "very doubtful whether much of the specialty on which Mr. Guinness founds this part of his theory is not due to a partial selection unconsciously made of some epact numbers out of many, and that the special relations of the epacts to the numbers 6, 7, 8, 13, would probably disappear on a comprehensive examination of all the epact numbers" (Thoughts on Sacred Prophecy, p. 64).
It might also be remarked that with the latitude obtained by reckoning sometimes in lunar years, sometimes in lunisolar years, and sometimes in ordinary Julian years, the list of seeming chronological coincidences and parallelisms might be still further increased. The period from the Council of Nice (A.D. 325) to the death of Gregory XIII. (1585) was 1, 260 years. From the edict of Justinian (533) to the French Revolution was 1, 260 years; and again from A.D. 606, when the Emperor Phocas conferred the title of Pope on Boniface III., to the overthrow of the temporal power (1866-1870), was also 1, 260 years. If these facts prove anything, they prove, not that the periods mentioned are the fulfillment of Daniel's visions, for Daniel's visions relate to the history of Judah, with which these events have nothing to do, but that the chronology of such events is marked by cycles composed of multiples of seventy. Therefore, they greatly strengthen the a priori presumption that this is a general characteristic of "the tithes and seasons" as divinely planned, and that the visions will, hereafter, be literally fulfilled. In a word, such proofs prove far too much for the cause they are intended to support.
I have already noticed the transparent fallacy of sup posing that the ten-horned beast and the Babylon of the Apocalypse can both be typical of Rome (p. 134, ante). In the, Approaching End of the Age this fallacy is accepted apparently without suspicion or misgiving, for the writer neither adopts nor improves upon the pleasing romance by which Mr. Elliott attempts to conceal the absurdity of such a view.
As the Harlot comes to her doom by the agency of the Beast, it is absolutely certain that they are not identical; and every proof these writers urge to establish that the Church of Rome is Babylon, is equally conclusive to prove that the Papacy is not the Beast, the Man of Sin. Their whole system is like a house of cards which falls to pieces the moment it is tried. As such books are read by many who are unversed in history it may be well to repeat once more, that the division of the Roman earth into ten kingdoms has never yet taken place. That it has been partitioned is plain matter of history and of fact' that it has ever been divided into ten is a mere conceit of writers of this school.Of Daniel 9:24-27 Mr. Guinness writes, "From the then approaching command to restore and to build again Jerusalem, to the coming of Messiah the Prince, was to be seventy weeks" (p. 417). This is a typical instance of the looseness of the historical school in dealing with Scripture. The words of the prophecy are, "From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks." As this error underlies his entire exposition of the prophecy which forms the special subject of these pages, it is needless to discuss it. He follows Prideaux in computing the weeks from the seventh year of Artaxerxes.
Again, in common with almost all commentators he confounds the seventy years of Judah's servitude with the seventy years of the desolations of Jerusalem. The prophecy he quotes from Jeremiah 25 (p. 414) was given in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, whereas the servitude began in his third year; and it foretold a judgment which fell seventeen years; later It would seem ungracious to notice'. minor inaccuracies, such as that of confounding Belshazzar with Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon.
Such a book is useful in so far as it deals positively with the historical fulfillment as a primary and partial realization of the prophecies; and as a full and fearless indictment of the Church of Rome it is most valuable. But in the dogmatic negation of a literal fulfillment, in the blind and obstinate determination to establish, no matter at what cost to Scripture, that the Apocalypse has been "FULFILLED in the events of the Christian era," such a work cannot fail to be dangerous and mischievous. The real question at issue here is the character and value of the Bible. If the views of these writers be just, the language of Holy Writ in such passages as the close of the sixth chapter of Revelation is the most utter bombast. And if wild exaggeration characterize one portion of the Scriptures, what confidence can we have in any part? If the Great Day of Divine wrath, described in terms of unsurpassed solemnity, were nothing but a brief crisis in the history of a campaign now long past, the words which tell of the joy of the blessed and the doom of the impenitent may after all be mere hyperbole, and the Christian's faith may be mere credulity.
NOTE D THE TEN KINGDOMS
"PROPHECY is not given to enable us to prophesy," and no one who has worthily pursued the study will fail to feel misgivings at venturing out upon the tempting field of forecasting "things to come." By patient contemplation we may clearly discern the main outlines of the landscape of the future; but "until the day dawn," our apprehension of distances and details must be inadequate, if not wholly false. The great facts of the future, so plainly revealed in Scripture, have been touched on in preceding pages. For what follows here no deference is claimed save what may be accorded to a "pious opinion" based on earnest and careful inquiry.
Next to the restoration of the Jews, the most prominent political feature of the future, according to Scripture, is the tenfold partition of the Roman earth. The emphasis and definiteness with which ten kingdoms are specified, not only in Daniel, but in the Revelation, forbid our interpreting the words as describing merely a division of power such as has existed ever since the disruption of the Roman Empire, though this is undoubtedly a feature of the prophecy. Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome in turn sought to grasp universal dominion. That there should be a commonwealth of nations living side by side at peace, was a conception that nothing in the history of the world could have suggested.
The principal clew which Scripture affords upon the subject is the connection between these kingdoms and the Roman Empire. But some latitude must probably be allowed as to boundaries, otherwise we should have to choose between two equally improbable alternatives, namely, either that our own nation shall have sunk to the position of a province, not even Ireland remaining under her sway, or else that the England which is to be numbered among the ten kingdoms will include the vast empire of which this island is the heart and center. May we not indulge the hope that however far our nation may lapse in evil days to come from the high place which, with all her faults, she has held as the champion of freedom and of truth, she will be saved from the degradation of participating in the vile confederacy of the latter days?These considerations as to boundaries apply also to Germany, though in a lower degree; and Russia is clearly out of the reckoning altogether. The special interest and importance of these conclusions depend upon the fact that the antichrist is to be at first a patron and supporter of the religious apostasy of Christendom, and that England, Germany, and Russia are precisely the three first-rate Powers who are outside the pale of Rome.
But there is no doubt that Egypt, Turkey, and Greece will be numbered among the ten kingdoms; and is it not improbable in the extreme that these nations will ever accept the leadership of a man who is to appear as the champion and patron of the Latin Church? A striking solution of this difficulty will probably be found in the definite prediction, that while the ten kingdoms will ultimately own his suzerainty, three of the ten will be brought into subjection by force of arms (Daniel 7:24.)
Turning again to the West, the names of France, Austria, Italy, and Spain present themselves; and seven of the kingdoms are thus accounted for. Can the list be completed? Belgium, Switzerland, and Portugal remain, and these too would claim a place were we dealing with the Europe of today; but as it is the future we are treating of, any attempt to press the matter further seems futile. It has been confidently urged by some that as the ten kingdoms were symbolized by the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image, – five on either foot, – five of these kingdoms must be developed in the East, and five in the West. The argument is plausible, and possibly just; but its chief force depends upon forgetting that in the prophet's view the Levant and not the Adriatic, Jerusalem and not Rome, is the center of the world.
To the scheme here indicated the objection may naturally be raised: Is it possible that the most powerful nations of the world, England, Germany, and Russia, are to have no part in the great drama of the last days? But it must be remembered, first, that the relative importance of the great Powers may be different at the time when these events shall be fulfilled, and secondly, that difficulties of this kind may depend entirely on the silence of Scripture, or, in other words, on our own ignorance. I feel bound to notice, however, that doubts which have been raised in my mind regarding the soundness of the received interpretation of the seventh chapter of Daniel point to a more satisfactory answer to the difficulties in question.
As the vision of the second chapter specifies the four empires which were successively to rule the world, and as the seventh chapter also enumerates four "kingdoms," and expressly identifies the fourth of these with the fourth - kingdom of the earlier vision, the inference appears legitimate that the scope of both visions is the same throughout. And this conclusion is apparently confirmed by some of the details afforded of the kingdoms typified by the lion, the bear, and the leopard. So strong indeed is the prima facie case in support of this view, that I have not felt at liberty to depart from it in the foregoing pages. At the same time I am constrained to own that this case is less complete than it appears to be, and that grave difficulties arise in connection with it; and the following observations are put forward tentatively to promote inquiry in the matter:--
1st. Daniel 2 and 7 are both in the Chaldee portion of the Book, and are therefore bracketed together, and separated from what follows. This strengthens the presumption, therefore, which would obtain in any case, that the later vision is not a repetition of the earlier one. Repetition is very rare in Scripture.
All this – and more might be added – suggests that the entire vision of the seventh chapter may have a future reference. We have already seen that sovereign power is to be with a confederacy of ten nations ultimately heading up in one great Kaiser, and that several of what are now the first-rate Powers are to be outside that confederacy: it is in the last degree improbable, therefore, that such a supremacy will be attained save after a tremendous struggle. At this moment the international politics of the old world center in the Eastern Question, which is after all merely a question of the balance of power in the Mediterranean. Now Daniel 7:2 expressly names the Mediterranean ("the Great Sea") as the scene of the conflict between the four beasts. May not the opening portion of the vision then refer to the gigantic struggle which must come some day for supremacy in the Mediterranean, which will doubtless carry with it the sovereignty of the world? The lion may possibly typify England, whose vast naval power may be symbolized by the eagle's wings. The plucking of the wings may represent the loss of her position as mistress of the seas. And if such should be the result of the impending struggle, we would be eager to believe that her after course shall be characterized by moral and mental pre-eminence: the beast, we read, was "made to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it."
If the British lion have a place in the vision, the Muscovite bear can scarcely be omitted; and it may confidently be averred that the bear of the prophecy may represent the Russia of today fully as well as the Persia of Cyrus and Darius. The definiteness of the symbolism used in respect of the leopard (or panther) of the vision makes it more difficult to refer this portion of the prophecy to Germany or any oilier nation in particular. It would be easy to make out an ad captandum case in support of such a view, but it may suffice to remark that if the prophecy be still unfulfilled, its meaning will be incontestable when the time arrives.
CHRONOLOGICAL DIAGRAM OF THE HISTORY OF JUDAH
Anderson's "Chronological Diagram of the History of Judah" is a panoramic view of both history and prophecy in relation to Daniel's people (Judah) and city (Jerusalem), i.e., "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy" (Daniel 9:24). Anderson chronologically integrates secular history, Jewish history, the history of Jerusalem and the Temple, Daniel's vision of the "great image" (2:31), and the ministry of the prophets, with a view toward the consummation of God's program of judgment during the Seventieth Week (9:27). Simply studying the diagram to catch Anderson's meaning is enough to provoke greater understanding of a subject that even the "angels desire to look into" (1Peter 1:12).
1. Encyc. Brit., 9th ed., title "Artaxerxes."
2. W. K. Loftus, "Chaldea and Susiana," p. 341.
3. Daniel, p. 160.
4. On this point I have consulted the author of The Five Great Monarchies, a book to which frequent reference is made in these pages, and I am indebted to Canon Rawlinson's courtesy and kindness for the following reply: "I think you may safely say that chronologers are now agreed that Xerxes died in the year B. C. 465. The Canon of Ptolemy, Thucydides, Diodorus, and Manetho are agreed; the only counter authority being Ctesias, who is quite untrustworthy."
5. Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. 9., second part, p 184.
6. Works, vol. 15., p. 108.
7. Arnold's trans., pp. 443-454.
8. Daniel, p. 171, note.
9. See ex. gr. Mitford, 2., 226; Thirlwall, 2., 428; Grote, 5., 379; and of Germans see Niebuhr, Lect. Anc. Hist. (Schmitz ed.), 2., 180-181.
10. Daniel, p. 266.
11. Ibid. p. 99, note.
12. The Feast of Purim derives its name from the fact that when Haman planned the destruction of the people of Mordecai, he cast lots day by day to find "a lucky day "for the execution of his scheme. A whole year — the twelfth year of Xerxes — was thus consumed (Esther 3:7); and the decree for the slaughter of the Jews was made on the 13th Nisan in the following year (ibid. 3:12). The decree in their favor was granted two months later (ibid. 8:9), and the king is mentioned in connection with the execution of that decree in the twelfth month of that year (ibid. 9: l, 13-17). The reign of Xerxes therefore certainly continued to the last month of his thirteenth year. The last chapter of Esther, moreover, clearly shows that his reign did not end with the events recorded in the book, but that his promotion of Mordecai was the beginning of a new era in his career.
13. Christology (Arnold's trans.), Ch. 737.
14. Dr. Farrar's book has done much to popularize a controversy which hitherto has interested only the few. It may be well to notice, therefore, that his sweeping statement as to the date of Herod's death is doubtful (see Clinton, Fasti Rom., A. D. 29), and that Josephus does not always reckon reigns in the manner indicated.
15. Matthew 27:63, 64; comp. 2 Chronicles 10:5-12. "He said unto them, Come again unto me after three days…so Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day?"
16. Whether such a system of reckoning appears strange or natural depends on the habit of thought of the individual. A professor of theology might have trouble in defending it in class, but a prison chaplain would have no difficulty in explaining it to his congregation! Our own civil day is a nuchthameron, beginning at midnight, and the law takes no cognizance of a part of a day. Therefore in a sentence of three days' imprisonment, the prescribed term is equal to seventy-two hours; but though the prisoner seldom reaches the gaol till evening, the law holds him to have completed a day's imprisonment the moment midnight strikes, and the gaoler may lawfully release him the moment the prison is opened the second morning after. As a matter of fact a prisoner committed for three days is seldom more than forty hours in gaol. This mode of reckoning and speaking was as familiar to the Jew as it is to the habitues of our police courts.
17. "When the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus" (i. e., Nisan) (Jos., Wars, 6. 5, 3. Comp. John 11:55; 12:1). "The Jews' Passover was nigh at hand, and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany."
18. There was no lunar eclipse visible at Jerusalem between that of the 13th March B. C. 4 and that of 9th January B. C. 1. Many writers take the latter to be the eclipse of Herod, and assign his death to that year. That of B. C. 1 was a fine total eclipse, totality coming on at fifteen minutes past midnight, whereas that of B. C. 4 was but a partial eclipse, and the greatest magnitude was not till 2 h. 34 m. a. m. (Johnson, Eclipses Past and Future). But though every consideration of this character points to B. C. 1 as the (late of Herod's death, the weight of evidence generally is in favor of B. C. 4. Of recent writers, the former year is adopted by Dr. Geikie (Life of Christ, 6th ed., p. 150), and notably by the late Mr. Bosanquet, who argues the question in his Messiah the Prince, and more concisely in a paper read before the Society of Biblical Archaeology on 6th June, 1871.
19. This is the year specified by Dion Cassius for the Ethnarch's banishment. Clinton, F. H., A. D. 6.
20. Farrar, Life of Christ, App. Exc. 1.
21. It depends on the meaning of the word gegonotos in the passage, whether the eighteenth or nineteenth year be intended. The narrative, as a whole, points to the nineteenth year. Cf Lewin's Fasti Sacri, pp. 56: and 92.
22. Josephus, Ant., 15. 11, 27.
23. See p. 39, ante. Elliott's list of the ten kingdoms is the following: The Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Allmans, Burgundians, Visigoths, Suevi, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Bavarians, and Lombards. If any one can read the seventh chapter of Daniel and the thirteenth chapter of Revelation and accept such an interpretation, there is really no common ground on which to discuss the matter.
24. I deprecate the idea that my object is to review this or any other book. Were such my intention I could point out other similar errors. Exodus gr., in Pt. III., chap. l, the writer enumerates five points of identity between the Harlot and the Church of Rome, and of these five the two last are sheer blunders, viz., "The minister of the harlot makes fire to descend from heaven," "And the harlot requires all to receive her mark." (Comp. Revelation 13:13, 16)
25. "The ten horns out of this kingdom" (Daniel 7:24).
26. Ireland was entirely, and Scotland was in part, outside the territorial limits of the Roman Empire.
27. In Daniel 11:40, Egypt and Turkey (or the Power which shall then possess Asia Millor) are expressly mentioned by their prophetic titles as separate kingdoms at this very time.
28. See Chron. Table, App. 1, ante.
29. Tregelles, Daniel, p. 34.
30. The beasts of Daniel 7 are those named in Revelation 13:2, to represent the Antichrist. Though this admits of the explanation given, it may also be used a strong argument in favor of the view above set forth.