by Sir Robert Anderson
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Sir Robert Anderson
DANIEL AND HIS TIMES
"DANIEL the prophet." None can have a higher title to the name,
for it was thus Messiah spoke of him. And yet the great Prince of the Captivity would
himself doubtless have disclaimed it. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the rest, "spake
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;" (2 Peter 1:21) but Daniel uttered no
such "God-breathed" words. Like the "beloved disciple" in Messianic times, he beheld visions,
and recorded what he saw. The great prediction of the seventy weeks was a message
delivered to him by an angel, who spoke to him as man speaks with man. A stranger
to prophet's fare and prophet's garb, he lived in the midst of all the luxury and pomp of an
Eastern court. Next to the king, he was the foremost man in the greatest empire of
antiquity; and it was not till the close of a long life spent in statecraft that
he received the visions recorded in the latter chapters of his book.
1. My belief in the Divine character of the Book of Daniel will, I trust, appear plainly in these pages. The distinction I desire to mark here is between prophecies which men were inspired to utter, and prophecies like those of Daniel and St. John, who were merely the recipients of the revelation. With these, inspiration began in the recording what they had received.To understand these prophecies aright, it is essential that the leading events of the political history of the times should be kept in view.
2.To quote Daniel 1:12 in opposition to this involves an obvious anachronism. The word "pulse," moreover, in the Hebrew points generally to vegetable food, and would include a dish as savory as that for which Esau sold his birthright (comp, Genesis 25:34). To eat animal food from the table of Gentiles would have involved a violation of the law; therefore Daniel and his companions became "vegetarians."
Judah still retained a nominal independence, though, in fact, the nation had already fallen into a state of utter vassalage. The geographical position of its territory marked it out for such a fate. Lying half-way between the Nile and the Euphrates, suzerainty in Judea became inevitably a test by which their old enemy beyond their southern frontier, and the empire which the genius of Nabopolassar was then rearing in the north, would test their rival claims to supremacy. The prophet's birth fell about the very year which was reckoned the epoch of the second Babylonian Empire. He was still a boy at the date of Pharaoh Necho's unsuccessful invasion of Chaldea. In that struggle his kinsman and sovereign, the good king Josiah, took sides with Babylon, and not only lost his life, but compromised still further the fortunes of his house and the freedom of his country. (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:20)
3. "Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's" (1 Chronicles 5:2).
4.The disruption was in B. C. 975, the captivity to Assyria about B. C. 721.
The public mourning for Josiah had scarcely ended when Pharaoh, on his homeward march, appeared before Jerusalem to assert his suzerainty by claiming a heavy tribute from the land and settling the succession to the throne. Jehoahaz, a younger son of Josiah, had obtained the crown on his father's death, but was deposed by Pharaoh in favor of Eliakim, who doubtless recommended himself to the king of Egypt by the very qualities which perhaps had induced his father to disinherit him. Pharaoh changed his name to Jehoiakim, and established him in the kingdom as a vassal of Egypt (2 Kings 23:33-35; 2 Chronicles 36:3, 4).
5. B. C. 625.
Jehoiachin, a youth of eighteen years, who had just succeeded to the throne, at once surrendered with his family and retinue, (2 Kings 24:12) and once more Jerusalem lay at the mercy of Nebuchadnezzar. On his first invasion he had proved magnanimous and lenient, but he had now not merely to assert supremacy but to punish rebellion. Accordingly he ransacked the city for everything of value, and "carried away all Jerusalem," leaving none behind "save the poorest sort of the people of the land." (2 Kings 24:14)
6. Berosus avers that this expedition was in Nabopolassar's lifetime (Jos., Apion, 1. 19), and the chronology proves it. See App. I. as to the dates of these events and the chronology of the period.
7. 2 Kings 24:1, 2. According to Josephus (Ant., 10. 6, Ch. 3) Nebuchadnezzar on his second invasion found Jehoiakim still on the throne, and he it was who put him to death and made Jehoiachin king. He goes on to say that the king of Babylon soon afterwards became suspicious of Jehoiachin's fidelity, and again returned to dethrone him, and placed Zedekiah on the throne. These statements, though not absolutely inconsistent with 2 Kings 24, are rendered somewhat improbable by comparison with it. They are adopted by Canon Rawlinson in the Five Great Monarchies (vol. 3, p. 491), but Dr. Pusey adheres to the Scripture narrative (Daniel, p. 403).
Such is the sacred chronicler's description of the first destruction of Jerusalem, rivaled in later times by the horrors of that event under the effects of which it still lies prostrate, and destined to be surpassed in days still to come, when the predictions of Judah's supreme catastrophe shall be fulfilled.
8. 2 Chronicles 5:16. This period is no doubt the forty years of Judah's sin, specified in Ezekiel 4:6. Jeremiah prophesied from the thirteenth year of Josiah (B. C. 627) until the fall of Jerusalem in the eleventh year of Zedekiah (B. C. 587). See Jeremiah 1:3, and 25:3. The 390 years of Israel's sin, according to Ezekiel 4:5, appear to have been reckoned from the date of the covenant of blessing to the ten tribes, made by the prophet Ahijah with Jeroboam, presumably in the second year before the disruption, i. e., B. C. 977 (1 Kings 11:29- 39).
9. The horrors of the siege and capture of Jerusalem by Titus surpass everything which history records of similar events. Josephus, who was himself a witness of them, narrates them in all their awful details. His estimate of the number of Jews who perished in Jerusalem is 1, 100, 000. "The blood runs cold, and the heart sickens, at these unexampled horrors; and we take refuge in a kind of desperate hope that they have been exaggerated by the historian." "Jerusalem might almost seem to be a place under a peculiar curse; it has probably witnessed a far greater portion of human misery than any other spot upon the earth." --MILMAN, Hist. Jews.
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