Let him who is convinced that his views are true and right express them . . . at every opportunity . . . without considering how much support or how much opposition he will encounter. Only falsehood is in need of many supporters in order to win the day; falsehood must have the authority of numbers to make up for what it lacks in justification. Truth, by contrast, will always prevail, even if it takes time. Noble, courageous and pure, expressed with all the fiery zeal and conviction and with all clarity of sure awareness, stated again and again at every opportunity, truth will ultimately gain respect and admiration even of those who do not accept it. The only truth that can be lost beyond recall is that truth whose adherents no longer have the courage to speak up candidly on its behalf. Truth has never gone down in defeat as the result of opposition, it has done so only when its friends are too weak to defend it. - R' S.R. Hirsch

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Understanding Ones

"At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter.   "For ships from Cyprus shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.    "And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. 

"Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.   "And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.  "Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue.   "And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.

Daniel 11:29-35

And such as do wickedly against the covenant, Jews who shall defy every sanctity and forsake every loyal obligation, shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their G-d shall be strong and do exploits.  

It should be readily apparent that Daniel 11:5-35 traces a continuous history of the rivalry between the northern and southern division of the quaternate empire previously introduced. The history of Egypt and Syria, subsequent to Alexander the Great's death, answers perfectly to the context.  In fact the parallelism, is so perfect, that the so called "higher criticism" has attempted to assail the authenticity of Daniel on the very grounds that such a panorama of history - of Egypt and Syria in relation to one another - about a century and a half in all, could not have been foreseen and foreshown by any mind.

Antiochus Epiphanes (175 - 164 BCE), the "contemptible," as history remembers him, was given up to the most degraded and unnatural passions; he was unscrupulous, cruel and of a savage temper; he delighted in the company of the lowest and basest of men, and was unpredictable in his conduct; but he was deficient neither in courage, nor in cunning ability. By means of his allies he swept resistance from before him (11:22) and very early dealt his first malignant blow upon G-d's people by deposing the High Priest Onias.  By truce-breaking measures, Antiochus advanced his strength (vs. 24).  This was all to the end of reaching the strongholds of his Egyptian rival (vs. 24).  

In due time Antiochus exerted a great effort to conquer Egypt (vs. 25).  In spite of a valiant effort to resist by the king of the south (vs. 26), Ptolemy fell into the hands of Antiochus, who made politic and lying terms with him (v. 27), which by Divine appointment failed in their purpose.  Returning northward laden with the spoils of Egypt, Antiochus turned aside on some pretext and assailed Jerusalem; he slew 40,000 of the inhabitants, sold as many more for slaves, and plundered the temple, carrying off treasures to the value of 1800 talents; afterwards completing his homeward journey (vs. 28).

Although he prospered, history tells us, up to the point of arriving without hindrance within four miles of the city of Alexandria, yet disappointment awaited him; for he was met by the admiral of a Roman fleet (vs. 30) and was compelled to retire.  This was 168 BCE.  In Returning northward Antiochus made Jerusalem the victim of his rage and chagrin.  He left there armed forces to massacre, humiliate and terrify the Jews to the utmost (vs. 31).   The king is said to have issued a decree to his whole kingdom, commanding that all his subjects should be one people, with one religion and with the same laws.

Idol-temples were setup in all the cities of Judea, and the inhabitants were commanded to sacrifice and to burn incense to the gods of Greece.  Whoever refused, whoever was found with the Book of the Law in his possession or endeavoring to keep the Law, was put to death without mercy.  Although this abject degradation of Judah caused many of the Jews to apostatize, it led to the occasion for the rise of heroes (v. 32) and to a fuller liberation of the land for a long period of greater independence than had been enjoyed since Nebuchadnezzar's first capture of Jerusalem.

Mattathias, an old man of the priestly house of Asmon, contemptuously rejected splendid offers made to him on the condition of joining the unholy crusade.  The deeds of his old hero and of his five sons - especially of Y'hudah Maccabee - restored the Jewish commonwealth until Roman domination intervened.

Something more important, however, than these feats of daring was needed to maintain a seed of vitality for the future.  This was found in a class of pious and learned men, called Maskilim - the understanding ones.  They were such as spiritually understood and expounded the prophets.  What a light in a dark place this part of Daniel's vision must have been. These devoted teachers also brought out into fresh light the great Messianic promises; and by them they nursed a seed who should keep on waiting in fastings and prayers, like Simeon and Anna, for the coming of the greater and truer "consolation of Israel."

It is the illustrious ministry and success of these spiritual luminaries of the Maccabean days that verses 33-35 emphasize.  They are shown to be the connecting link with the latter days - "the time of the end," the ketz.  In Antiochus Epiphanes appeared a striking prototype of the "king of fierce countenance" whom chapter eight predicted would arise - "in the latter time of their kingdom" - out one of the four kingdoms of the old Grecian empire which Antiochus tyrannized.  And G-d's use of the last great persecutor of Israel, in sifting out the final remnant, was aptly illustrated in the creation of the class of believers of those former days, who were purged from the alloy in the fiery heart of murderous oppression, and who were forged in the finest temper on the anvil of alternate flattery and deflection on the part of trusted supporters.

We now have our eyes clearly focused not only upon the "latter days" and "what will befall Daniel's people in the latter days," but also and most pointedly upon a purified remnant of Israel which, by the extreme trials of their days, shall be prepared to enter the inheritance of the long-promised kingdom.    

4 comments:

  1. I found myself at odds with some traditional Christian (replacement theology types) over Hanukkah when I stated that it was both a valid holiday and miraculous intervention on the part of God.

    For evidence I gave the fact that Jesus celebrated the feast and that the events were consistent with God's previous work defending his people in their land. I took some flack for that position. I believe that God's hand was on Judas Maccabee and that He did intervene on his behalf, probably more than what we have recorded.

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  2. Of course, I would agree. You know, the main theme of the feast is really about re-dedication and it is actually modeled after the eight day festival of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), the holiday when Solomon dedicated the first temple.

    It is interesting to note a connection between the 1260 days and the 1335 days mentioned in Daniel. It is a difference of 75 days, which is the number of days from Yom Kippur to the 24th of Kislev, which becomes the eve of Chanukah. The 24th of Kislev is also a significant date mentioned numerous times in Haggai when the exiles are rebuilding and rededicating the Temple.

    Chanukah is very much connected with the Temple and Y'shua of course did not hesitate to refer to Himself as the Temple which would be destroyed and raised up in three days. Daniel is a wonderful book and one the so-called school of "higher criticism" have worked hard to discredit, not to mention a number of our own. Truly a light shining in a dark place.

    I have enjoyed the interaction the past few weeks and always appreciate your comments and insights. Your thoughtfulness is encouraging.

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  3. I never really understood Chanukah before. Thank you.

    It's fascinating to get the history from someone who really understands it, and to read an exposition of a portion of Daniel from someone who believes the book on its face, as I do.

    Have you read Sir Robert Anderson's The Coming Prince? If not, you should. I think you would find it fascinating.

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  4. I am glad it was helpful. G-d willing, I will have a few more posts about Chanukah. I have not read the book you mentioned. I plan on checking it out thanks for the recommend.

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