Daniel Chapter 11a | Table of Contents | Daniel Chapter 11c

Daniel Chapter 11 continued (b)

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      Tiberius Cuts Off the Prince of the Covenant. —Tiberius Caesar followed Augustus on the Roman throne. He was raised to the consulate at the age of twenty-nine. It is recorded that as Augustus was about to nominate his successor, his wife, Livia, besought him to nominate Tiberius, her son by a former husband. But the emperor said, “Your son is too vile to wear the purple of Rome.” Instead, the nomination was given to Agrippa, a virtuous and much-respected Roman citizen. But the prophecy had foreseen that a vile person should succeed Augustus. Agrippa died; and Augustus was again under the necessity of choosing a successor. Livia renewed her intercessions for Tiberius, and Augustus, weakened by age and sickness, was more easily flattered, and finally he consented to nominate that “vile” young man as his colleague and successor. But the citizens never gave him the love, respect, and “honor the kingdom” due to an upright and faithful sovereign.
      How clear a fulfillment is this of the prediction that they should not give him the honor of the kingdom. But he was to come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. A paragraph from the Encyclopaedia Americana shows how this was fulfilled:
      “During the remainder of the life of Augustus, he [Tiberius] behaved with great prudence and ability, concluding a war with the Germans in such a manner as to merit a triumph. After the defeat of Varus and his legions, he was sent to check the progress of the victorious Germans, and acted in that was with equal spirit and prudence. On the death of Augustus, he succeeded (A.D. 14), without opposition, to the sovereignty of the empire; which, however, with his characteristic dissimulation, he affected to decline, until repeatedly solicited by the servile senate.” [12]
      Dissimulation on his part, flattery on the part of the “servile senate,” and a possession of the kingdom without
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opposition were the circumstances attending his accession to the throne, thus fulfilling the words of the prophecy.
      The person brought to view in the text is called “a vile person.” Was such the character sustained by Tiberius? Let another paragraph from the Encyclopaedia Americana answer:
      “Tacitus records the events of this reign, including the suspicious death of Germanicus, the detestable administration of Sejanus, the poisoning of Drusus, with all the extraordinary mixture of tyranny with occasional wisdom and good sense which distinguished the conduct of Tiberius, until his infamous and dissolute retirement (A.D. 26), to the isle of Capreae, in the bay of Naples, never to return to Rome. . . . The remainder of the reign of this tyrant is little more than a disgusting narrative of servility on the one hand, and of despotic ferocity on the other. That he himself endured as much misery as he inflicted, is evident from the following commencement of one of his letters to the senate: ‘What I shall write to you, conscript fathers, or what I shall not write, or why I should write at all, may the gods and goddesses plague me more than I feel daily that they are doing, if I can tell.’ ‘What mental torture,’ observes Tacitus, in reference to this passage, ‘which could extort such a confession!’” [13]
      Tyranny, hypocrisy, debauchery, and uninterrupted intoxication —if these traits and practices show a man to be vile, Tiberius exhibited that character to perfection.

      Verse 22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the Prince of the covenant.
      Thomas Newton presents the following reading of the text as a more accurate translation of the original: “And the arms of the overflower shall be overflown from before him, and shall be broken.” [14] This signifies revolution and violence; and in fulfillment we should look for the arms of Tiberius the overflower to be overflown, or, in other words, for him to suffer a
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violent death. To show how this was accomplished, we again cite the Encyclopaedia Americana:
      “Acting the hypocrite to the last, he disguised his increasing debility as much as he was able, even affecting to join in the sports and exercises of the soldiers of his guard. At length, leaving his favorite island, the scene of the most disgusting debaucheries, he stopped at a country house near the promontory of Micenum, where on the sixteenth of March, 37, he sunk into a lethargy, in which he appeared dead; and Caligula was preparing with a numerous escort to take possession of the empire, when his sudden revival threw them into consternation. At this critical instant, Macro, the pretorian prefect, caused him to be suffocated with pillows. Thus expired the emperor Tiberius, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, and twenty-third of his reign, universally execrated.” [15]
      After taking us down to the death of Tiberius, the prophet now mentions an event to take place during his reign which is so important that it should not be passed over. It is the cutting off of the “Prince of the covenant,” or the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, “the Messiah the Prince,” who was to confirm the covenant” one week with His people. (Daniel 9:25-27.)
      According to the Scripture, Christ’s death took place in the reign of Tiberius. Luke informs us that in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, John the Baptist began his ministry. (Luke 3:1-3.) According to Prideaux [16], Dr. Hales [17], and others, the reign of Tiberius is to be reckoned from his elevation to the throne to reign jointly with Augustus, his stepfather, in August, A.D. 12. His fifteenth year would therefore be from August, A.D. 26, to August, A.D. 27. Christ was six months younger than John, and is supposed to have begun His ministry six months later, both, according to the law of the priesthood, entering upon their work when they were thirty years of age. If John began in the spring, in the
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latter part of the fifteenth year of Tiberius, it would bring the beginning of Christ’s ministry in the autumn of A.D. 27. Right here the best authorities place the baptism of Christ, the exact point where the 483 years from 457 B.C., which were to extend to the Messiah the Prince, terminated. Christ then went forth proclaiming that the time was fulfilled. From this point we go forward three years and a half to find the date of the crucifixion, for Christ attended but four Passovers, and was crucified at the last one. Three and a half years from the autumn of A.D. 27 brings us to the spring of A.D. 31. The death of Tiberius is placed but six years later, in A.D. 37. (See comments on Daniel 9:25-27.)

      Verse 23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
      Rome Makes a League With the Jews. —The “him” with whom the league is made, must be the same power which has been the subject of the prophecy from the 14th verse, the Roman Empire. That this is true has been shown in the fulfillment of the prophecy in the three individuals who successively ruled over the empire —Julius, Augustus, and Tiberius Caesar.
      Now that the prophet has taken us through the secular events of the Roman Empire to the end of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24, he takes us back to the time when the Romans became directly connected with the people of God by the Jewish league in 161 B.C. From this point we are then taken through a direct line of events to the final triumph of the church and the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom. Grievously oppressed by the Syrian kings, the Jews sent an embassy to Rome to solicit the aid of the Romans and to join themselves in “a league of amity and confederacy with them.” [18] The Romans listened to the request of the Jews, and granted them a decree couched in these words:
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      “‘The decree of the senate concerning a league of assistance and friendship with the nation of the Jews. It shall not be lawful for any that are subject to the Romans to make war with the nation of the Jews, nor to assist those that do so, either by sending them corn, or ships, or money; and if any attack be made upon the Jews, the Romans shall assist them, as far as they are able; and again, if any attack be made upon the Romans, the Jews shall assist them. And if the Jews have a mind to add to, or to take away anything from, this league of assistance, that shall be done with the common consent of the Romans. And whatsoever addition shall thus be made, it shall be of force.’ This decree was “written by Eupolemus, the son of John, and by Jason, the son of Eleazer, when Judas was high priest of the nation, and Simon, his brother, was general of the army. And this was the first league that the Romans made with the Jews, and was managed after this manner.” [19]
      At this time the Romans were a small people, and began to work deceitfully, or with cunning, as the word signifies. But from this time they rose steadily and rapidly to the height of power.

      Verse 24 He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.
      Before the days of Rome, nations entered upon valuable provinces and rich territory by war and conquest. Rome was now to do what had not been done by the fathers of the fathers’ fathers, namely, receive these acquisitions through peaceful means. The custom was now inaugurated of kings’ leaving their kingdoms to the Romans by legacy. Rome came into possession of large provinces in this manner.
      Those who thus came under the dominion of Rome derived no small advantage. They were treated with kindness and leniency. It was like have the prey and spoil distributed
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among them. They were protected from their enemies, and they rested in peace and safety under the aegis of the Roman power.
      To the latter part of this verse, Thomas Newton gives the thought of forecasting devices from strongholds, instead of against them. This the Romans did from the strong fortress of their seven-hilled city. “Even for a time” doubtless refers to a prophetic time, 360 years. From what point are these years to be dated? Probably from the event brought to view in the following verse.

      Verse 25 And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him.
      Rome Contends With the King of the South. —By verses 23 and 24 we are brought down this side of the league made between the Jews and the Romans, in 161 B.C., to the time when Rome had acquired universal dominion. The verse now before us brings to view a vigorous campaign against the king of the south, Egypt, and a notable battle between mighty armies. Did such events as these take place in the history of Rome about this time? —They did. The war was the war between Egypt and Rome, and the battle was the battle of Actium. Let us consider briefly the circumstances leading to this conflict.
      Mark Antony, Augustus Caesar, and Lepidus constituted the triumvirate which had sworn to avenge the death of Julius Caesar. Antony became the brother-in-law of Augustus by marrying his sister Octavia. Antony was sent into Egypt on government business, but fell a victim to the charms of Cleopatra, Egypt’s dissolute queen. So strong was the passion he conceived for her that he finally espoused the Egyptian interest, rejected his wife Octavia to please Cleopatra, and bestowed province after province upon her. He celebrated triumphs at Alexandria instead of at Rome, and otherwise so affronted the Roman people that Augustus had no difficulty
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in leading them to engage heartily in a war against Egypt. This was was ostensibly against Egypt and Cleopatra, but it was really against Antony, who now stood at the head of Egyptian affairs. The true cause of their controversy, says Prideaux, was that neither of them could be content with only half of the Roman Empire. Lepidus had been deposed from the triumvirate, and the rule of the empire now lay between the other two. Each being determined to possess the whole, they cast the die of war for its possession.
      Antony assembled his fleet at Samos. Five hundred ships of war of extraordinary size and structure, having several decks one above another, with towers upon the head and stern, made an imposing and formidable array. These ships carried about one hundred twenty-five thousand soldiers. The kings of Libya, Cilicia, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, Comagena, and Thrace were there in person, and those of Pontus, Judea, Lycaonia, Galatia, and Media, had sent their troops. A more splendid military spectacle than this fleet of war ships as they spread their sails and moved out to sea, the world has rarely seen. Surpassing all in magnificence came the galley of Cleopatra, floating like a palace of gold beneath a cloud of purple sails. Its flags and streamers fluttered in the wind, and trumpets and other musical instruments of war made the heavens resound with notes of joy and triumph. Antony followed close behind her in a galley of almost equal magnificence.
      Augustus, on the other hand, displayed less pomp but more utility. He had but half as many ships as Antony, and only eighty thousand foot soldiers. But all his troops were chosen men, and on board his fleet were none but experienced seamen; whereas Antony, not finding sufficient mariners, had been obliged to man his vessels with artisans of every class, men inexperienced and better calculated to cause trouble than to do real service in time of battle. The season being far consumed in these preparations, Augustus made his rendezvous at Brundusium, and Antony at Corcyra, till the following year.
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      The next spring, both armies were put in motion on land and sea. The fleets at length entered the Ambracian Gulf in Epirus, and the land forces were drawn up on either shore in plain view. Antony’s most experienced generals advised him not to hazard a battle by with his inexperienced mariners, but send Cleopatra back to Egypt, and hasten at once into Thrace or Macedonia, and trust the issue to his land forces, who were composed of veteran troops. But illustrating the old adage, Quem Deus perdere vult, prius dementat (“Him whom God wishes to destroy He first makes made”), and infatuated by Cleopatra, he seemed desirous only of pleasing her; while she, trusting to appearances only, deemed her fleet invincible, and advised immediate action.
      The battle was fought September 2, 31 B.C., at the mouth of the gulf of Ambracia, near the city of Actium. The world was the stake for which these stern warriors, Antony and Augustus, now played. The contest, long doubtful, was at length decided by the course which Cleopatra pursued. Frightened at the din of battle, she took to flight when there was no danger, and drew after her the Egyptian squadron numbering sixty ships. Antony, beholding this movement, and lost to everything but his blind passion for her, precipitately followed, and yielded a victory to Augustus, which, had his Egyptian forces proved true to him, and had he proved true to his own manhood, he might had gained.
      This battle doubtless makes the beginning of the “time” mentioned in verse 24. As during this “time” devices were to be forecast from the stronghold, or Rome, we should conclude that at the end of that period western supremacy would cease, or such a change take place in the empire that that city would no longer be considered the seat of government. From 31 B.C., a prophetic “time,” or 360 years, would bring us to A.D. 330. Hence it becomes a noteworthy fact that the seat of empire was removed from Rome to Constantinople by Constantine the Great in that very year. [20]
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      Verse 26 Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.
      Antony was deserted by his allies and friends, those that fed “of the portion of his meat.” Cleopatra as already described suddenly withdrew from the battle, taking sixty ships of the line with her. The land army, disgusted with the infatuation of Antony, went over to Augustus, who received the soldiers with open arms. When Antony arrived arrived at Libya, he found that the forces which he had left there under Scarpus to guard the frontier, had declared for Augustus, and in Egypt his forces surrendered. In rage and despair, Antony then took his own life.

      Verse 27 And both of these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.
      Antony and Augustus were formerly in alliance. Yet under the garb of friendship, they were both aspiring and intriguing for universal dominion. Their protestations of friendship for each other were the utterances of hypocrites. They spoke lies at one table. Octavia, the wife of Antony and sister of Augustus, declared to the people of Rome at the time Antony divorced her, that she had consented to marry him solely with the hope that it would prove a pledge of union between Augustus and Antony. But that counsel did not prosper. The rupture came, and in the conflict that ensued Augustus was entirely victorious.

      Verse 28 Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.
      Two returnings from foreign conquest are here brought to view. The first was after the events narrated in verses 26, 27, and the second, after this power had had indignation against the holy covenant, and had performed exploits. The first was fulfilled in the return of Augustus after his expedition against Egypt and Antony. He arrived in Rome with abundant honor
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and riches, for “at this time such vast riches were brought to Rome from Egypt on the reducing of that country, and on the return of Octavianus [Augustus] and his army from thence, that the value of money fell one half, and the prices of provisions and all vendible wares were doubled thereon.” [21]
      Augustus celebrated his victories in a three-days’ triumph —a triumph which Cleopatra herself would have graced as one of the royal captives, had she not artfully caused herself to be bitten fatally by an asp.
      Rome Destroys Jerusalem. —The next great enterprise of the Romans after the overthrow of Egypt, was the expedition against Judea and the capture and destruction of Jerusalem. The holy covenant is doubtless the covenant which God has maintained whit his people under different forms in different ages of the world. The Jews rejected Christ, and according to the prophecy that all who would not hear that Prophet should be cut off, they were destroyed out of their own land and scattered to every nation under heaven. While Jews and Christians alike suffered under the oppressive hand of the Romans, it was doubtless in the reduction of Judea especially that the exploits which are mentioned in the sacred text were exhibited.
      Under Vespasian the Romans invaded Judea, and took the cities of Galilee, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, where Christ had been rejected. They destroyed the inhabitants, and left nothing but ruin and desolation. Titus besieged Jerusalem, and drew a trench around it, according to the prediction of the Saviour. A terrible famine ensued. Moses had predicted that appalling calamities would come upon the Jews if they departed from God. It had been prophesied that even the tender and delicate woman would eat her own children in the straitness of the siege. (
Deuteronomy 28:52-55.) Under the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, a literal fulfillment of this prediction occurred. Hearing of the inhuman deeds, but
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forgetting that he was the one who was driving the people to such direful extremities, he swore the eternal extirpation of the accursed city and people.
      Jerusalem fell in A.D. 70. As an honor to himself, the Roman commander had determined to save the temple, but the Lord had said, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2. A Roman soldier seized a brand of fire, and climbing upon the shoulders of his comrades, thrust it into one of the windows of the beautiful structure. It was soon ablaze, and the frantic efforts of the Jews to extinguish the flames, seconded by Titus himself, were all in vain. Seeing that the temple would be destroyed, Titus rushed in and bore away the golden candlestick,
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the table of shewbread, and the volume of the law, wrapped in gold tissue. The candlestick was afterward deposited in Vespasian’s Temple of Peace and copied on the triumphal arch of Titus, where its mutilated image is yet to be seen.
      The siege of Jerusalem lasted five months. In that siege eleven hundred thousand Jews perished, and ninety-seven thousand were taken prisoners. The city was so amazingly strong that Titus exclaimed when viewing the ruins, “We have fought with the assistance of God.” It was completely leveled, and the foundations of the temple were plowed up by Tarentius Rufus. The duration of the whole war was seven years, and almost a million and a half persons are said to have fallen victims to its awful horrors.
      Thus this power performed great exploits, and again returned to his own land.

      Verse 29 At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.
      The time appointed is probably the prophetic time of verse 24, which has been previously mentioned. It closed, as already shown, in A.D. 330, at which time this power was to return and come again toward the south, but not as on the former occasion, when it went to Egypt, nor as the latter, when it went to Judea. Those were expeditions which resulted in conquest and glory. This one led to demoralization and ruin. The removal of the seat of empire to Constantinople was the signal for the downfall of the empire. Rome then lost its prestige. The western division was exposed to the incursions of foreign enemies. On the death of Constantine, the Roman Empire was divided among his three sons, Constantius, Constantine II, and Constans. Constantine II and Constans quarreled, and the victorious Constans gained the supremacy of the entire West. The barbarians of the North soon began their incursions and extended their conquests until the imperial power of the West expired in A.D. 476.
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      Verse 30 For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
      Rome Pillaged by Barbarians. —The prophetic narrative still has reference to the power which has been the subject of the prophecy from the sixteenth verse; namely, Rome. What were the ships of Chittim that came against this power, and when was this movement made? What country or power is meant by Chittim? Adam Clarke has this note on Isaiah 23:1, “From the land of Chittim it is revealed to them:” “The news of the destruction of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar is said to be brought to them from Chittim, the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean; ‘for the Tyrians,’ says Jerome on verse 6, ‘when they saw they had no other means of escaping, fled in their ships, and took refuge in Carthage and in the islands of the Ionian and AEgean sea.’ . . . So also Jarchi on the same same place.” [22] Kitto [23] gives the same locality to Chittim, the coast and islands of the Mediterranean; and the mind is carried by the testimony of Jerome to a definite and celebrated city situated in that region, that is, Carthage.
      Was a naval warfare with Carthage as a base of operations ever waged against the Roman Empire? We think of the terrible onslaught of the Vandals upon Rome under the fierce Genseric, and answer readily in the affirmative. Every spring he sallied forth from the port of Carthage at the head of his large and well-disciplined naval forces, spreading consternation through all the maritime provinces of the empire. That this is the work brought to view is further evident when we consider that we are brought down in the prophecy to this very time. In verse 29, the transfer of empire to Constantinople we understood to be mentioned. Following in due course of time as the next remarkable revolution, came the irruptions of the barbarians of the North, prominent among
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which was the Vandal war already mentioned. The years A.D. 428-477 mark the career of Genseric.
      “He shall be grieved, and return” may have reference to the desperate efforts which were made to dispossess Genseric of the sovereignty of the seas, the first by Majorian, the second by Pope Leo I, both of which were utter failures. Rome was obliged to submit to the humiliation of seeing its provinces ravaged, and its “eternal city” pillaged by the enemy. (See comments on Revelation 8:8.)
      “Indignation against the holy covenant.” This doubtless refers to attempts to destroy God’s covenant by attacking the Holy Scriptures, the book of the covenant. A revolution of this nature was accomplished in Rome. The Heruli, Goths, and Vandals, who conquered Rome, embraced the Arian faith, and became enemies of the Catholic Church. It was especially for the purpose of exterminating this heresy that Justinian decreed the pope to be the head of the church and the corrector of heretics. The Bible soon came to be regarded as a dangerous book that should not be read by the common people, but all questions in dispute were to be submitted to the pope. Thus was indignity heaped upon God’s word.
      Says the historian, in commenting upon the attitude of the Catholic Church toward the Scriptures:
      “One would have thought that the Church of Rome had removed her people to a safe distance from the Scriptures. She has placed the gulf of tradition between them and the Word of God. She has removed them still farther from the sphere of danger, by providing an infallible interpreter, whose duty it is to take care that the Bible shall express no sense hostile to Rome. But, as if this were not enough, she has laboured by all means in her power to prevent the Scriptures coming in any shape into the hands of her people. Before the Reformation she kept the bible locked up in a dead language, and severe laws were enacted against the reading of it. The Reformation unsealed the precious volume. Tyndale and Luther, the one from his retreat at Vildorfe in the Low Countries, and the
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other from amid the deep shades of the Thuringian forest, sent forth the Bible to the nations in the vernacular tongues of England and Germany. A thirst was thus awakened for the Scriptures, which the Church of Rome deemed it imprudent openly to oppose. The Council of Trent enacted ten rules regarding prohibited books, which, while they appeared to gratify, were insidiously framed to check, the growing desire for the Word of God. In the fourth rule, the Council prohibits any one from reading the Bible without a license from his bishop or inquisitor; that license to be founded on a certificate from his confessor that he is in no danger of receiving injury from so doing. The Council adds these emphatic words: —‘That if any one shall dare to read or keep in his possession that book, without such a license, he shall not receive absolution till he has given it up to his ordinary.’ These rules are followed by the bull of Pius IV., in which he declares that those who shall violate them shall be held guilty of mortal sin. Thus did the Church of Rome attempt to regulate what she found it impossible wholly to prevent. The fact that no Papist is allowed to read the Bible without a license does not appear in the catechisms and other books in common use among Roman Catholics in this country; but it is incontrovertible that it forms the law of that Church. And, in accordance therewith, we find that the uniform practice of the priests of Rome, from the popes downwards, is to prevent the circulation of the Bible, —to prevent it wholly in those countries, such as Italy and Spain, where they have the power, and in other countries, such as our own, to all the extent to which their power enables them. Their uniform policy is to discourage the reading of the Scriptures in every possible way; and when they dare not employ force to effect this object, they scruple not to press into their service the ghostly power of their Church, by declaring that those who presume to contravene the will of Rome in this matter are guilty of mortal sin.” [24]
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      The emperors of Rome, the eastern division of which still continued, had intelligence, or connived, with the church of Rome, which had forsaken the covenant and constituted the great apostasy, for the purpose of putting down “heresy.” The man of sin was raised to his presumptuous throne by the defeat of the Arian Goths, who then held possession of Rome, in A.D. 538.

      Verse 31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
      “They shall pollute the sanctuary of strength,” or Rome. If this applies to the barbarians, it was literally fulfilled; for Rome was sacked by the Goths and Vandals, and the imperial power of the West ceased through the conquest of Rome by Odoacer. Or if it refers to those rulers of the empire who were working in behalf of the papacy against the pagan and all other opposing religions, it would signify the removal of the seat of empire from Rome to Constantinople, which contributed its measure of influence to the downfall of Rome. The passage would then be parallel to Daniel 8:11 and Revelation 13:2.
      Papacy Takes Away the Daily.” —It was shown in comments on Daniel 8:13, that “sacrifice” is a word erroneously supplied. It should be “desolation.” The expression denotes a desolating power, of which the abomination of desolation is but the counterpart, and to which it succeeds in point of time. It seems clear therefore that the “daily” desolation was paganism, and the “abomination of desolation” is the papacy. But it may be asked, How can this be the papacy since Christ spoke of it in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem? The answer is, Christ evidently referred to Daniel 9, which predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, and not to this verse in Daniel 11, which does not refer to that event. In the ninth chapter, Daniel speaks of desolations and abominations in the plural. More than one abomination, therefore, treads down the church; that is, as far as the church is concerned, both
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paganism and the papacy are abominations. But as distinguished from each other, the language is restricted. One is the “daily” desolation, and the other is pre-eminently the transgression of “abomination” of desolation.
      How was the “daily,” or paganism, taken away? As this is spoken of in connection with the placing or setting up of the abomination of desolation, or the papacy, it must denote, not merely the nominal change of the religion of the empire from paganism to Christianity, as on the so-called conversion of Constantine, but to such an eradication of paganism from all the elements of the empire that the way would be entirely open for the papal abomination to arise and assert its arrogant claims. Such a revolution as this was accomplished, but not for nearly two hundred years after the death of Constantine.
      As we approach the year A.D. 508, we behold a mighty crisis ripening between Catholicism and the pagan influences still existing in the empire. Up to the time of the conversion of Clovis, king of France, in A.D. 496, the French and other nations of Western Rome were pagan; but following that event, the efforts to convert idolaters to Romanism were crowned with great success. The conversion of Clovis is said to have been the occasion of bestowing upon the French monarch the titles “Most Christian Majesty” and “Eldest Son of the Church.” Between that time and A.D. 508, by alliances, capitulations, and conquests, the Arborici, the Roman garrisons in the West, Brittany, the Burgundians, and the Visigoths, were brought into subjects.
      From the time when these successes were fully accomplished, in A.D. 508, the papacy was triumphant so far as paganism was concerned; for though the latter doubtless retarded the progress of the Catholic faith, yet it had not the power, if it had the disposition, to suppress the faith, and hinder the encroachments of the Roman pontiff. When the prominent powers of Europe gave up their attachment to paganism, it was only to perpetuate its abominations in another form; for Christianity as exhibited in the Roman
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Catholic Church was, and is, only paganism baptized.
      The status of the see of Rome was also peculiar at this time. In 498, Symmachus ascended the pontifical throne as a recent convert from paganism. He found his way to the papal chair by striving with his competitor even unto blood. He received adulation as the successor of St. Peter, and struck the keynote of papal assumption by presuming to excommunicate the Emperor Anastasius. [25] The most servile flatterers of the pope now began to maintain that he was constituted judge in the place of God, and that he was the vicegerent of the Most High.
      Such was the direction in which events were tending in the West. In what state were affairs at the same time in the East? A strong papal party now existed in all parts of the empire. The adherents of this cause in Constantinople, encouraged by the success of their brethren in the West, deemed it safe to begin open hostilities in behalf of their master at Rome.
      Let it be marked that soon after the year 508, paganism had so far declined, and Catholicism had so far relatively increased in strength, that the Catholic Church for the first time was able to wage a successful war against both the civil authority of the empire and the church of the East, which had for the most part embraced the Monophysite doctrine, which Rome counted heresy. Partisan zeal culminated in a whirlwind of fanaticism and civil war, which swept in fire and blood through Constantinople. That such a war took place a few years later will be seen in the following quotation from Gibbon in his account of events under the years 508-518:
      “The statues of the emperor were broken, and his person was concealed in a suburb, till, at the end of three days, he dared to implore the mercy of his subjects. Without his diadem, and in the posture of a suppliant, Anastasius appeared on the throne of the circus. The Catholics, before his face,
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rehearsed their genuine Trisagion; they exulted in the offer, which he proclaimed by the voice of a herald, of abdicating the purple; they listened to the admonition, that since all could not reign, they should previously agree in the choice of a sovereign; and they accepted the blood of two unpopular ministers, whom their master, without hesitation, condemned to the lions. These furious but transient seditions were encouraged by the success of Vitalian, who, with an army of Huns and Bulgarians, for the most part idolaters, declared himself the champion of the Catholic faith. In this pious rebellion he depopulated Thrace, besieged Constantinople, exterminated sixty-five thousand of his fellow Christians, till he obtained the recall of the bishops, the satisfaction of the pope, and the establishment of the Council of Chalcedon, an orthodox treaty, reluctantly signed by the dying Anastasius, and more faithfully performed by the uncle of Justinian. And such was the event of the first of the religious wars which have been waged in the name, and by the disciples, of the God of Peace.” [26]
      We think it clear that the daily was taken away by A.D. 508. This was preparatory to the setting up, or establishment, of the papacy, which was a separate and subsequent event. Of this the prophetic narrative now leads us to speak.
      Papacy Sets Up an Abomination. —“They shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” Having shown quite fully what we think constitutes the taking away of the daily, or paganism, we now inquire, When was the abomination that maketh desolate, or the papacy, placed, or set up? The little horn that had eyes like the eyes of man was not slow to see when the way was open for his advancement and elevation. from the year 508 his progress toward universal supremacy was without a parallel.
      When Justinian was about to begin the Vandal war in A.D. 533, an enterprise of no small magnitude and difficulty,
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he wished to secure the influence of the bishop of Rome, who had then attained a position in which his opinion had great weight throughout a large part of Christendom. Justinian therefore took it upon himself to decide the contest which had long existed between the sees of Rome and Constantinople as to which should have the precedence, by giving the preference to Rome in an official letter to the pope, declaring in the fullest and most unequivocal terms that the bishop of that city should be chief of the whole ecclesiastical body of the empire.
      Justinian’s letter reads: “Justinian, victor, pious, fortunate, famous, triumphant, ever Augustus, to John, the most holy Archbishop and Patriarch of the noble city of Rome. Paying honor to the Apostolic See and to Your Holiness, as always has been and is our desire, and honoring your blessedness as a father, we hasten to bring to the knowledge of Your Holiness all that pertains to the condition of the churches, since it has always been our great aim to safeguard the unity of your Apostolic See and the position of the holy churches of God which now prevails and abides securely without any disturbing trouble. Therefore we have been sedulous to subject and unite all the priests of the Orient throughout its whole extent to the see of Your Holiness. Whatever questions happen to be mooted at present, we have thought necessary to be brought to Your Holiness’s knowledge, however clear and unquestionable they may be, and though firmly held and taught by all the clergy in accordance with the doctrine of your Apostolic See; for we do not suffer that anything which is mooted, however clear and unquestionable, pertaining to the state of the churches, should fail to be made known to Your Holiness, as being the head of the churches. For, as we have said before, we are zealous for the increase of the honor and authority of your see in all respects.” [27]
      “The emperor’s letter must have been sent before the 25th of March, 533. For, in his letter of that date to Epiphanius he
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speaks of its having been already dispatched, and repeats his decision that all affairs touching the church shall be referred to the pope, ‘head of all bishops, and the true and effective corrector of heretics.’ “ [28]
      “In the same month of the following year, 534, the pope returned an answer repeating the language of the emperor, applauding his homage to the see, and adopting the titles of the imperial mandate. He observes that, among the virtues of Justinian, ‘one shines as a star, his reverence for the Apostolic chair, to which he has subjected and united all the churches, it being truly the Head of all; as was testified by the rules of the Fathers, the laws of the Princes, and the declarations of the Emperor’s piety.’
      “The authenticity of the title receives unanswerable proof from the edicts in the ‘Novellae’ of the Justinian code. The preamble of the 9th states that ‘as the elder Rome was the founder of the laws; so was it not to be questioned that in her was the supremacy of the pontificate.’ The 131st, On the ecclesiastical titles and privileges, chapter ii, states: ‘We therefore decree that the most holy Pope of the elder Rome is the first of all the priesthood, and that the most blessed Archbishop of Constantinople, the new Rome, shall hold the second rank after the holy Apostolic chair of the elder Rome.’” [29]
      Toward the close of the sixth century, John of Constantinople denied the Roman supremacy, and assumed for himself the title of universal bishop; whereupon Gregory the Great, indignant at the usurpation, denounced John and declared, without being aware of the truth of his statement, that he who would assume the title of universal bishop was the Antichrist. In 606, Phocas suppressed the claim of the bishop of Constantinople, and vindicated that of the bishop of Rome. But Phocas was not the founder of papal supremacy. “That Phocas repressed the claim of the bishop of Constantinople is beyond a doubt. But the highest authorities among the civilians
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and annalists of Rome spurn the idea that Phocas was the founder of the supremacy of Rome; they ascend to Justinian as the only legitimate source, and rightly date the title from the memorable year 533.” [30]
      George Croly makes this further statement: “On reference to Baronius, the established authority among the Roman Catholic annalists, I found Justinian’s grant of supremacy to the pope formally fixed to that period. . . . The entire transaction was of the most authentic and regular kind, and suitable to the importance of the transfer.” [31]
      Such were the circumstances attending the decree of Justinian. But the provisions of this decree would not at once be carried into effect; for Rome and Italy were held by the Ostrogoths, who were Arians in faith, and strongly opposed to the religion of Justinian and the pope. It was therefore evident that the Ostrogoths must be rooted out of Rome before the pope could exercise the power with which he had been clothed. To accomplish this object, the Italian was began in 534. The management of the campaign was entrusted to Belisarius. On his approach toward Rome, several cities forsook Vitiges, their Gothic and heretical sovereign, and joined the armies of the Catholic emperor. The Goths, deciding to delay offensive operations until spring, allowed Belisarius to enter Rome without opposition. The deputies of the pope and the clergy, of the senate and the people, invited the lieutenant of Justinian to accept their voluntary allegiance.
      Belisarius entered Rome on December 10, 536. But this was not an end of the struggle, for the Goths rallied their forces and resolved to dispute his possession of the city by a regular siege, which they began in March, 537. Belisarius feared despair and treachery on the part of the people. Several senators, and Pope Silverius, on proof or suspicion of treason, were sent into exile. The emperor commanded the clergy to elect a new bishop. After solemnly invoking the Holy

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