THE TWENTY-ONE DAYS
In this vision, Daniel finds himself on the bank of the Tigris, thereby connecting the locale to some future events to be witnessed in Daniel 12. He sees
5 ... a man clothed in linen with a belt of gold from Ophir around his waist, 6 His body gleamed like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes flamed like torches, his arms and feet sparkled like a disc of bronze; and when he spoke his voice sounded like the voice of a multitude.
The Figure is seen as a Manifestation of God. His glory is invisible to those who are blinded by the contingent world, but is apparent to those with spiritual eyes. His belt of finest gold (a "golden girdle") symbolizes a Faith; He speaks as a nation since He is their Leader and Savior.
That the Figure is the Bab becomes apparent in the following verses:
12 'Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the very first day you applied you mind to understand and to mortify yourself before your God, your prayers have been heard, and I have come in answer to them. 13 'But the angel prince of the kingdom of Persia resisted me for twenty-one days, and then, seeing that I had held out there, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me against the prince of the kingdom of Persia. 14 'And I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in days to come; for this too is a vision for those days.'
The 'prince of the kingdom of Persia' is described as an 'angel,' not because the prince is righteous, but because he exists in a future time and has not yet materialized in the physical realm. Michael is described as 'one of the chief princes,' presumably of Persia, and refers to the status of Baha'u'llah as a high-ranking member of the ruling class of Persia in the days of the events the Bab is revealing.
The 'twenty-one days' of Daniel's vision is interesting. We recall that a day of prophecy equals a year of the calendar. The twenty-one years is the span of time between some very important parallel events in the history of the Babi and Baha'i Faiths:
In April of 1847, the Bab received a letter from Muhammad Shah of Persia that ordered Him into captivity at the remote mountain fortress of Mah-ku. He arrived there and was incarcerated around August of 1847. He was to remain a prisoner for the rest of His life. Twenty-one years later, in July of 1868, Baha'u'llah was ordered into captivity at the desolate prison-fortress of Akka. He arrived at Akka and was incarcerated in August of 1868. Officially, He, too, was to remain a prisoner for the rest of His life.
We must remember that the power of the Manifestation is in His Word, not in His sword. While a prisoner, the Bab revealed many Tablets asserting the end of the Muslim Dispensation and the independence of His own Revelation. He penned a stern Tablet called the Khuthiy-i-Qahriyyih (Sermon of Wrath), addressed to the evil Grand Vizier, Haji Mirza Aqasi, unsparing in its condemnation of the Shah's regime and those who had persecuted the Babis. The Shah died about a year later, <1> while the Grand Vizier soon fell from power, was deprived of his riches, acquired a disease, and died in poverty and disgrace. <2>
While Baha'u'llah was still at Adrianople and shortly before His imprisonment at Akka, He penned His own unsparing attack on the Shah called the Lawh-i-Sultan (Tablet to Nasiri'd-Din Shah). The Tablet, among other things, condemned those who persecuted the Babis; and pronounced the independence of His own Revelation. At another time, Baha'u'llah denounced Nasiri'd-Din Shah as the 'Prince of the Oppressors.' <3> His attacks on the Shah lasted for many years. Ultimately, the Shah was dramatically assassinated on the eve of his jubilee. Shortly thereafter, his dynasty, the Qajar, was removed from power.
In later verses (10:15-21), the gleaming Figure of the Bab is transformed into 'one like a man' in order to belay the fear of Daniel of the vision of the Bab in His true magnificence. In this less frightening guise, the Bab goes on to tell Daniel that He must return to the future to continue his struggle with the prince of Persia, and that He has no one at His side except 'Michael your prince' (Baha'u'llah). The Bab also warns Daniel that as soon as He leaves to return to the future, the 'prince of Greece' (Alexander) will appear.
Notes for Chapter Six
1. Ref 18, p. 147
2. Ref 17, p. 82
3. Ref 17, p. 197
FROM CYRUS TO PHILOPATER
Daniel 11 describes the time of troubles that will beset Palestine as a consequence of the invasion of Persia by Alexander. The struggles between the North and South are included in this chapter. Most of the details can be found in references 5 and 8.
The Bab continues:
21 "I have no ally on my side to help and support me except Michael your prince. However I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. Here and now I will tell you what is true:
2 Three more kings will appear in Persia, and the fourth will far surpass all the others in wealth; and when he has extended his power through his wealth, he will rouse the whole world against the kingdom of Greece. 3 Then there will appear a warrior king. He will rule a vast kingdom and will do what he chooses. 4 But as soon as he is established, his kingdom will be shattered and split up north, south, east, and west. It will not pass to his descendants, nor will any of his successors have an empire like his; his kingdom will be torn up by the roots and given to others as well as to them."
The speaker is still 'Ali Muhammad, the Bab, while 'Michael your prince' refers to Husayn 'Ali, Baha'u'llah. As the King of Glory, the Lord of Hosts, the Speaker on Sinai, and the Voice from the Burning Bush, Baha'u'llah is also the latter-day "Prince (Messiah) of the Jewish nation."
We recall that the first verse of Daniel 10 places the date of the prophecy in the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia (not in the first year of Darius the Mede as implied by some, probably spurious, versions of Daniel 11). The four Medeo-Persian kings that followed Cyrus were Cambyses (530-522 BCE), Gaumata (522 BCE), Darius I Hystaspes (521-486 BCE), and Xerxes (486-465 BCE). Xerxes was the extremely rich and most powerful monarch of Persia who 'raised the whole world against Greece.' He invaded Greece from 481 to 479 BCE with a vast army gathered from all over his known-world empire that included Medes, Persians, Assyrians, Moschians, Ethiopians, Indians, Scythians, and Thracians. Xerxes' army, numbered in the hundreds of thousands, was attended by an equally impressive navy of hundreds of ships.
Xerxes, no doubt, wished to avenge the humiliation of his father, who was defeated by the Greeks at Marathon about a decade earlier. And although Xerxes was much more successful than Darius, his army eventually suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of the heroic Greeks at Plataea (479 BCE) while his navy suffered the same fate at Salamis. The stories of these amazing victories against overwhelming odds were chronicled by the Greek historian Herodotus and have inspired Graecophiles for many centuries. Indeed, the modern "Marathon races" commemorate the anonymous Greek warrior who ran the 22 miles from Marathon to Athens, gasped out the news of the victory over Darius, and then dropped dead.
Following the defeat and withdrawal of the Persians from Greece, and after periods of peace and internecine war in Greece, the control of Greece fell to Philip of Macedonia. The young son of Philip, the "warrior king" Alexander the Great, assumed power over Greece upon his father's death and undertook the conquest of the Persian empire in 334 BCE. Without doubt, Alexander was one of the great hero-warriors of history--strong, intelligent, dashing, courageous, loyal, generous. . . His inspired leadership led the magnificent Greek army to victory over the Persians in about three years, but Alexander died of fever at Babylon in 323 BCE while still a young man of only 33.
Although Alexander had left a legitimate heir, the infant son Alexander IV by the Persian princess Roxanna, the child was placed in the custody of Cassander, one of Alexander's generals. The infant Alexander was murdered in 311 BCE. Another son, Hercules, was murdered also, and so was a weak-minded half-brother Aridaeus. The empire became divided among the Diodochi (Successors), commanders under the deceased Alexander, who managed to engineer the partition of the empire.
One of the successors was Cassander, who gained control of Macedonia and Greece ('west'); Lysimachus gained control of Thrace and parts of Asia Minor ('north'); Ptolemy gained control of Egypt and Libya ('south'); Seleucus gained control of northern Syria and Mesopotamia ('east').
5 Then the King of the South will become strong; but another of the captains will surpass him in strength and win a greater kingdom.
The King of the South, Ptolemy I, who became known as Soter ("the Preserver"), ruled c. 323-285 BCE. Given control of Egypt and Libya on the death of Alexander, he quickly gained control of "Hollow Syria" (Palestine), southern Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Cyrene. The southern empire under Ptolemy Soter became the leading and most powerful of the four states after the breakup of Alexander's empire.
Following the period of conflict between the remaining rivals for Alexander's empire, the eastern portion fell under Seleucus, who, with the second partition of Alexander's empire, also obtained Babylonia. Later, he conquered Susiana and Media, and extended his power to the Oxus and Indus rivers. In 301 BCE, Seleucus joined a successful confederacy against Antigonus I, the newest King of Macedonia, and as a reward, Seleucus was granted a large part of Asia Minor and the whole of Syria. Toward the close of his reign, he conquered the rest of Asia Minor and proclaimed himself King of Macedonia. With the eclipse of Macedonia, Seleucus became the undisputed "King of the North," Seleucus I Nicator (ruled 312-281 BCE). His empire was much vaster in extent than that of Ptolemy I Soter, the undisputed "King of the South."
The award to Seleucus preempted Ptolemy's claim to Palestine and resulted in a series of wars that lasted for over a century to determine the future of Palestine. During the course of these wars, Palestine was crossed and recrossed from north and south several times by would-be conquerors.
For Egypt to achieve strength and prosperity, she had to obtain timber from Lebanon for her ships. Futhermore, the line of commercial traffic that went along the Nile to and from Alexandria, had a rival in the line of trade that went from the Persian Gulf across Arabia to Gaza, and it was to the advantage of the King of the South to control both. In the first war of the series described in Daniel 11, Ptolemy Soter took Palestine in 320-318 BCE.
6 In due course the two will enter into a friendly alliance; to redress the balance, the daughter of the King of the South will be given in marriage to the King of the North, but she will not maintain her influence and their line will not last. She and her escort, her child, and also her lord and master, will be the victims of foul play.
This concerns an arrangement made between Ptolemy II Philadelphus ("the Brotherly," reigned 285-246 BCE) the King of the South, and Antiochus II Theos ("God," reigned 262-246 BCE), the King of the North. Laodice, the former wife of Antiochus, was to be left in a secondary position in Asia Minor, while Berenice, Ptolemy's daughter, was to reign at Antioch and bear children for the Seleucid inheritance. But both Laodice and Berenice were Macedonian princesses true to type. Laodice induced Antiochus to come back to her at Ephesus. Antiochus subsequently died under mysterious circumstances, with some suspicion falling on Laodice. Laodice then sent assassins to Antioch to murder Berenice and her infant son. The ploy succeeded, and Laodice's son Seleucus II Callinicus (reigned c. 246-226 BCE) became the new King of the North.
7 Then another shoot from the same stock as hers will appear in his father's place, will penetrate the defenses of the King of the North and enter his fortress, and will win a decisive victory over his people. 8 He will take back as booty to Egypt even the images of their gods cast in metal and their precious vessels of silver and gold...
Ptolemy III Euergetes ("the Benefactor," reigned c. 246-221 BCE), the son of Ptolemy II, took over from his father and was determined to avenge the death of his half-sister Berenice. The invasion of Syria by Ptolemy III Euergetes was called the "Laodicean War," that is, the "war against the murderess Laodice." Ptolemy was successful, and, according to Saint Jerome, "he plundered the kingdom of Seleucus and carried away 40,000 talents of silver, and 2500 precious cups and images of the gods, among which were those also which Cambyses, when he took Egypt, had brought to the country of the Persians. Finally, the Egyptian race, being given to idolatry, because he had brought back their gods after many years, called him Euergetes--"the Benefactor."
8 ... Then for some years he will refrain from attacking the King of the North. 9 After that, the King of the North will come into the realm of the southern kingdom but will retreat to his own land.
After Ptolemy returned to Egypt, the war went on. Seleucus recovered most of northern Syria. In 242-241 BCE, Seleucus was able to deliver Damascus and Orthosia on the Phoenician coast, that were being besieged by the Egyptians. But an attempt of Seleucus to penetrate farther south into Palestine led to a disastrous defeat. Soon after this, c. 240 BCE, the two powers signed a peace treaty.
10 His sons will press on to assemble a great horde. One of them will sweep on and on like an irresistible flood. And after that he will press on as far as his enemy's stronghold. 11 The King of the South, his anger aroused, will march out to do battle with the king of the North who, in turn, will raise a great horde, but it will be delivered into the hands of his enemy. 12 And when this horde has been captured, the victor will be elated and will slaughter tens of thousands, yet he will not maintain his advantage.
Ptolemy III Euergetes was successful by his young son, the corrupt and dissolute Ptolemy IV Philopater ("Lover of his Fatherland," reigned c. 221-204 BCE). The throne of the Kingdom of the North had recently fallen to the highly competent Antiochus III ("the Great," reigned c. 223-187 BCE), the brother of Seleucus II. Within a few years, Antiochus turned to a systematic conquest of Palestine. His chief seaport, Seleucia, now in the hands of Egypt, was regained, and he turned south.
Following various fortunes, a wearisome negotiation was entered into by the two kings. The successes of the King of the North in Palestine overcame the notorious inertia of the King of the South. A lull in the warfare gave the King of the South time to build up his forces. At Alexandria, the season was one of intense secret preparations. Experienced Greek officers drilled fresh mercenaries from overseas, while war materiel was being manufactured and prepared. Even the native fellahin peasants, Libyans and natives of Cyrene were enrolled, trained and armed like Macedonians.
The peace negotiation, as orchestrated by Egypt, failed in its purpose and gave way to further warfare. In 217 BCE came the decisive battle of Raphia, a little south of Gaza. Ptolemy achieved a great victory, and Antiochus again withdrew to Syria.
In later years, Antiochus renewed the conquest of Palestine and was ultimately successful. The story of his successful campaign is told in verses 11:13-19.
13 Then the King of the North will once again raise a horde even greater than the last and, when the years come around, will advance with a great army and a large baggage train. 14 During these times many will resist the King of the South, but some hotheads among your own people will rashly attempt to give substance to a vision and will come to disaster.
Shortly after the death of Ptolemy IV Philopater, Antiochus renewed his conquest in earnest and started taking Egyptian possessions in Asia Minor and Palestine. As his successes mounted, many Jews hailed Antiochus as a liberator. Antiochus treated the Jews kindly, and he appeared to be most scrupulous in his observance of the Jewish law. Also, there was an inflammatory but questionable story that had circulated after the battle of Raphia: it was said that Ptolemy had attempted to push his way into the Holy of Holies, but was stricken by an unaccountable terror and was carried out in an almost lifeless condition. Even if true, history was to demonstrate that the party of Jews favoring the King of the North was misled, and the tolerant policy of Antiochus the Great was soon to be superceded by a harsh policy of Hellenization and suppression of Jewish culture.
15 Then the King of the North will come and throw up siege ramps and capture a fortified town, and the forces of the south will not be able to hold their ground. 16 And so his adversary will do as he pleases and meet no opposition. He will establish himself in the fairest of all lands and it will come wholly into his power.
Scopas, Ptolemy's general in Egypt, managed to recapture a number of places in Palestine, including Jerusalem. Scopas stationed garrisons there and elsewhere. Nevertheless, Antiochus was again able to take Palestine. This time, Antiochus achieved a decisive victory at Panium (198 BCE) near the headwaters of the Jordan, later to be the site of Caesarea Philippi. Scopas subsequently was besieged at Sidon but was allowed to retreat into Egypt. Gaza, found naturally on the opposite side of Jerusalem, held out to the last for Ptolemy, but eventually fell. Palestine passed into the hands of the King of the North.
17 He will resolve to subjugate all the dominions of the King of the South and he will come to fair terms with him. He will give him a young woman in marriage, for the destruction of the kingdom; but she will not persist nor serve his purpose.
Probably as a part of the peace treaty between Syria and Egypt, Antiochus gave his daughter Cleopatra I (not the famous Cleopatra VI of later imperial Roman history) in marriage to the young Ptolemy V Epiphanes ("the Illustrious," reigned c. 204-181 BCE), who had succeeded his father after the Battle of Raphia. The betrothal of his young daughter to the King of the South was a part of a long-range strategy of Antiochus to dominate Egypt. Nevertheless, Cleopatra consistently dedicated her loyalty to Egypt and her young husband Ptolemy rather than to her father Antiochus. Cleopatra became a loyal and competent regent of Egypt following her husband's early death.
18 Then he will turn to the coasts and take many prisoners, but a foreign commander will put an end to his challenge and will throw back his challenge on to him. 19 He will fall back upon his own strongholds; there he will come to disaster and be seen no more.
While Antiochus III was becoming "great," a new power to the west, Rome, was becoming strong. Antiochus invaded Greece in the spring of 191 BCE, but was driven out by the Romans a year later. A decisive battle was won by Scipio, the general from Rome, over Antiochus at Magnesia (190 BCE). Thereby Rome became a power in the eastern Mediterranean. The Romans took the Seleucid territories north of the Taurus and gave them to their friend, the king of Pergamon. Also, as another part of the treaty, twenty prominent hostages were to be sent to Rome, among them Antiochus, a younger son of the King who was destined one day to become the infamous Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Antiochus the Great, hurled back from Asia Minor, turned his thoughts once more to the field of old glories, the East. As soon as peace had been made with Rome, Antiochus left his second son Seleucus in Syria as joint-king and plunged eastward. The tidings eventually came back to the capital at Antioch that he had adventured himself with a body of troops into the Elymaean hills in quest of spoils and had been overwhelmed by fierce tribesmen.
20 He will be succeeded by one who will send out an officer with a royal escort to extort tribute; after a short time this king too will meet his end, yet neither openly nor in battle.
Seleucus IV Philopater ("Lover of his Father," ruled c. 187-176 BCE) became the King of the North after his father disappeared in the East. A retiring man who was not prone to battle, Seleucus was nonetheless a great extractor of taxes from his subjects and managed to replenish the royal treasury after the disaster at Magnesia. The 'officer with royal escort' was his chief minister Heliodorus, who was given the job and was accompanied on money gathering missions by royal bodyguards.
The power granted Heliodorus tempted him to aspire higher. Heliodorus formed a conspiracy against the King, and in a time of peace, Seleucus Philopater was suddenly murdered.
ANTIOCHUS IV EPIPHANES, "THE GOD MANIFEST"
21 A contemptible creature will succeed but will not be given recognition as king; yet he will seize the kingdom by dissimulation and intrigue in time of peace.
After his murder of Seleucus Philopater, Heliodorus proclaimed the infant son of Seleucus to be the new King. This was an obvious ruse to control the royal power himself. The rightful heir to the throne was Demetrius, the elder son of Seleucus Philopater. Unfortunately, Demetrius had been sent to Rome as a replacement hostage for his father's younger brother, Antiochus. Antiochus had become enamoured of Greek culture and was in Athens at the time of the machinations of Heliodorus. Antiochus, seizing the opportunity, rushed to Antioch with an armed force. Heliodorus fled and disappeared from history while the new imposter ascended the throne as Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ruled 175-163 BCE).
To consolidate his position, Antiochus resorted to mixed strategems of calculated mildness and bloodshed. Prominent competitors for power were induced to "disappear" or to commit suicide. The infant son of Seleucus was murdered by Andronicus, an agent of Antiochus. Following the assassination, Antiochus disowned his own agent and, in turn, had him put to death.
The character of Antiochus IV was notorious. While being an astute politician and clever trickster, he was a "playboy emperor" devoted to practical jokes and theatrical absurdities. While professing a love for Hellenism, he lacked the depth of understanding to appreciate its true cultural values. He was probably the most despised of the Seleucid regents. Some nameless wit in his court parodied his title Epiphanes ("the Illustrious") into the more appropriate Epimanes ("the Madman").
22 He will sweep away all forces of opposition as he advances, and even the Prince of the Covenant will be broken. 23 He will enter into fraudulent alliances and, although the people behind him are few, 24 He will rise to power and establish himself in time of peace. He will overrun the richest districts of the province and succeed in doing what his fathers and forefathers failed to do, distributing spoil, booty, and property to his followers. He will lay plans against fortresses, but only for a time.
Whereas his predecessor Seleucus III had been an avid collector of taxes, Antiochus IV was an avid spender of assets. He lavished the riches of Syria and political privileges upon his Hellenist friends. He bestowed magnificent presents upon the old seats of Hellenism in Asia Minor and Greece, and threw open to their craftsmen and artists lucrative employment in Syria. His chief counselors were two youths, brothers, Heraclides and Timarchus of Miletus, who had obtained the favor of Antiochus through the vilest of ways. One was made minister of finance; the other was made governor of the eastern provinces. The principal cities of Cilicia, Tarsus, and Mallus were given to his mistress, Antiochis.
Antiochus, in spite of his admiration of Hellenism, was no true friend of Rome. An anti-Roman movement was centered around Perseus of Macedonia, and Antiochus was a party to the movement. He carried on a clandestine correspondence with Perseus, and proceeded to rebuild his navy and other forces in violation of the treaty following Magnesia. Even so, his thoughts soon turned away from Rome and south to Egypt.
The "Prince of the Covenant" is Jehovah. How Antiochus replaced Jehovah in the Great Temple at Jerusalem will be told in later paragraphs.
25 He will rouse himself in all his strength and lead a great army against the King of the South, but the King of the South will press the campaign against him with a very great and numerous army; yet the King of the South will not persist, for traitors will lay their plots. 26 Those who eat at his board will be his undoing; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in the field of battle. 27 The two kings will be bent on mischief and, sitting at the same table, they will lie to each other with advantage to neither. Yet there will be and end to the appointed time.
When his sister Cleopatra I of Egypt died c. 172 BCE, Antiochus heard that Egypt might be on the verge of invading Syria. Antiochus advanced promptly with a force as far as Joppa to repel a possible invasion. After satisfying himself that things were safe for the moment, he returned north. Nevertheless, old quarrels concerning the ownership of Palestine were still unresolved, and Antiochus was sure that it would be only a matter of time before Egypt would again try to recover it.
Indeed, in 170 BCE, Egypt went on the offensive to recover Palestine. The army was under the command of two joint regents, Eulaeus and Lenaeus, who had seized control of Egypt following the unexpected death of the young Cleopatra. The legal heir to the southern kingdom, Ptolemy, son of Cleopatra and Ptolemy Epiphanes, was only fifteen years old at the time of his mother's death.
Eulaeus and Lenaeus were unlikely creatures of the palace. Both had been slaves. Eulaeus was a eunuch and possibly a native of Khuzistan; Lenaeus was a Syrian. Before their invasion of Syria, they had made boastful speeches to the populace, and had attempted to justify several wagonloads of bullion, gold and silver plate, jewels, rich feminine attire, and even furniture from the palace, that would accompany them on the invasion.
Antiochus met the invaders before they had crossed the desert and won an enormous victory. Then, by some ruse, probably through treachery, Antiochus seized Pelusiaum. The young King Ptolemy was given bad advice, probably again by traitors, and was packed aboard a ship to escape from Egypt. The ship was intercepted by the Syrian fleet, and Ptolemy Philomater became the prisoner of Antiochus.
Following the defection and capture of their young King, the citizens of Alexandria revolted against their incompetent regents Eulaeus and Lenaeus, brought the younger brother of Philomater to the throne, and gave him the auspicious title of Ptolemy Euergetes II, in imitation of his successful great grandfather. Antiochus continued his invasion of Egypt and moved up the Nile to Memphis. Lower Egypt, except for Alexandria, was soon entirely in the hands of Antiochus. For the first time since Alexander the Great, Egypt had been successfully invaded from Palestine.
After his nearly total takeover of Egypt, Antiochus installed his young prisoner Ptolemy Philomater ("lover of his Mother") as a rival King at Memphis.
28 Then he will return home with a long baggage train, and with anger in his heart against the Holy Covenant; he will work his will and return to his own land.
Having created havoc on the Egyptian political scene, Antiochus retired from Egypt laden with spoils.
While Antiochus was making war in Egypt, a false report was spread in Palestine that Antiochus had been killed. Jason, a former High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem, who had been outbid for the position by his brother Menelaus, seized the occasion by raising a small army and inflicted severe chastisement upon the partisans of Menelaus. Antiochus, on hearing of the rejoicings which had been manifested on the occasion of his supposed death, hastened to Jerusalem and gave up the city to be sacked and pillaged by his soldiers for three consecutive days. About 40,000 citizens of Jerusalem were massacred and about 40,000 more were sold into slavery. The traitor Menelaus aided and abetted Antiochus in his outrages, assisted in the desecration of the Temple and the robbery of its treasury. Jason himself fled at the approach of Antiochus and died miserably in exile. <1>
29 At the appointed time he will once more overrun the south, but he will not succeed as he did before. 30 Ships from Kittim will sail against him, and he will receive a rebuff.
After a lengthy negotiation between Alexandria and Memphis, it was agreed that Ptolemy Philomater and Ptolemy Euergetes II would rule as joint kings in Egypt. This embarrassing setback for the plans of Antiochus precipitated a second successful invasion of Egypt from the north in 168 BCE. This time, however, Rome (identified by Bevan as "Kittim" <2>) was now free to exercise her authority over the Near East, having just recently conquered Macedonia at the battle of Pydna (June, 168 BCE).
Immediately, Rome sent from Delos her ambassador Popillius, who met Antiochus somewhere in the desert east of Alexandria. Antiochus had known Popillius in Rome and extended his hand in a friendly greeting. Much to the chagrin of Antiochus, his warm greeting was met with a cold rebuff. Antiochus was ordered to leave Egypt completely. Antiochus answered with one of those diplomatic phrases that came so easily to him, but the Roman was determined that he should not wriggle free. To everyone's amazement, with his cane, Popillius drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus and demanded a Yes or No answer before he stepped outside it. Antiochus collapsed. When he regained his voice, he agreed to everything. The next moment found the Romans shaking his hand and enquiring about how he had been.
30 ... He will turn and vent his fury against the Holy covenant; 31 On his way back he will desecrate the Sanctuary and the Citadel and do away with the regular offering. And there he will set up "the abominable thing that causes desolation."
After his rebuff from the Roman ambassadors, Antiochus withdrew completely from Egypt, "groaning and in bitterness of heart." Now, since he could no longer protect Palestine by holding any Egyptian territory, it was imperative that he consolidate Palestine. The weak spot was Jerusalem, which had resisted all efforts to amalgamate into the general Hellenistic system that he had envisioned for Syria. He was determined to abolish the religion of Jehovah, even if it required the extermination of recalcitrant Jewish residents and their replacement by Greek colonists.
Appolonius, the commander of the Mysian mercenaries, was sent to occupy Jerusalem with a strong military force. A fresh massacre occurred, probably led by the traitorous High Priest Menelaus, and cleared Jerusalem of the obnoxious element. A new fortress was built on Mount Zion, and a body of royal troops, "Macedonians," was established in it to dominate the city.
Following the military occupation, a Greek altar to Zeus was erected upon the Rock Moriah, and swine sacrificed upon it. To partake of the "broth of abominable things" became a test of allegiance to the King, and Menelaus was one of the participants of the new sacrificial feast. The Temple sanctuary was smeared with blood, and in the ensuing riot, soldiers committed the grossest indecencies in the revered courts.
Antiochus had already declared himself to be the manifestation of Zeus on earth, and the day of the king's birth became a holy day to be celebrated every month. A Dionysiac festival was introduced in which the citizens of Jerusalem, crowned with ivy, were coerced to participate in the procession. The triumph of Antiochus over the "Prince of the Covenant" seemed complete.
This was not to be the last time that sacrileges and an "abominable thing" would stand in the holy place. We recall once again the warning of Jesus in Matthew 24:15: 'So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by Daniel standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), ....'
32 He will win over by plausible promises those who are ready to condemn the covenant, but the people who are faithful to their God will hold firm and fight back. 33 Wise leaders will give guidance to the common people; yet for a while they will fall victims to fire and sword, to captivity and pillage. 34 But these victims will not want for help, though small, even if many who join are insincere. 35 Some of these elders will themselves fall victims for a time so that they may be tested, refined and made shining white.
The acts of Antiochus were to precipitate the Maccabean Revolt (c. 164-142 BCE), recorded in the Books of the Maccabees. It will not be our objective to discuss this very complex period of Jewish history. We shall content ourselves with recalling that the Jews eventually succeeded in winning national independence after a bitter but heroic struggle that lasted over two decades. The success of the Maccabean Revolt is commemorated by the Jewish Feast of Lights (Hanukkah). One of the most popular heroes to emerge from the conflict was Judas, son of Mattathiah.
Notes for Chapter Eight
1. Ref 4, p. 141ff
2. Ref 8, p. 145
NAPOLEON- "THE SULTAN KABIR"
At this point in Daniel's eleventh chapter, the Bab introduces a new element: <1>
35 Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.
indicating that the verses to follow apply to a different time--the 'time of the end,' just as similar expressions do at other places in Daniel. Also, a careful reading of the verses following 11:35 will show that the King of the North referred to in verse 11:36 is none other than the same King referred to in verse 11:40. That same King of the North will do battle with the King of the South at the 'time of the end' (11:40).
It will become obvious in following verses that the latter-day King of the North is that great villain of history, Napoleon Bonaparte.
But how can we say that Napoleon was the King of the North after so many centuries had elapsed and after the Seleucid Empire no longer existed? The answer is quite simply that the "northern kingdom" is always one that invades Palestine from the north, while the "southern kingdom" is always one that invades Palestine from the south.
By the time of Napoleon, much had happened to alter the political groupings. The Seleucids had been replaced by Rome as the masters of Palestine, in turn to be replaced by Islam in the Seventh Century. But the Muslim invasions came from the south by way of the peninsula of Arabia. Thus, Islam became the southern kingdom, with the reigning Caliph or Sultan becoming the King of the South.
Then, during the Crusades, Palestine had another temporary master--Christendom (i.e., the "Frankish kingdoms"). This group invaded Palestine from the north by way of Constantinople, an invasion that resulted in another massacre of Jews, this time by Christians. Thus Christendom became the northern kingdom, and, as far as Palestine was concerned, so it remained until the time of Napoleon. Indeed, a look at a world map will show that Christendom is essentially a northern "kingdom," while Islam is essentially a southern "kingdom."
The Kings of the North and South had complex histories following Antiochus Epiphanes and Ptolemy Euergetes II that are too lengthy to be discussed here. But of some interest to our essay is an event surrounding the crowning of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III in 800 AD. Instead of accepting the crown gracefully from the hands of the spiritual leader of Western Christendom, Charlemagne literally seized the crown from the Pope and placed it on his own head.
After the fall of Constantinople and Eastern Christendom to Islam in 1453 CE, there was no longer a serious rival for the political leadership of Christendom outside of Western Europe. It is also a fact that, after 1453, the political role of the Pope became less and less important. The King of the North became, simply, the political ruler that happened to be dominant in the Christian lands.
A similar evolution of power occurred in the Muslim countries. By the time of Napoleon, the Caliphate had lost its political power, and the King of the South had become the ruling Ottoman Sultan, Salim III.
36 The king (of the north) will do what he chooses. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and against the God of gods he will utter monstrous blasphemies. All will go well for him until the time of wrath comes, for what is determined must be done. 37 He will ignore the God of his fathers, and the one beloved by women; to no god will he pay heed but will exalt himself above them all. 38 Instead, he will honor the god of forces, a god unknown to his ancestors, with gold and silver, gems and costly gifts. 39 He will garrison his strongest forces with aliens, the people of a foreign god. Those whom he favors he will load with honor, putting them in office over the common people and distributing land at a price.
Napoleon Bonaparte, the "Corsican Adventurer," was the supreme example of egotism, ambition, hypocrisy, and arrogance. Even at the youthful age of nineteen, while he still had literary ambitions, he indicated his cynical attitude toward religious belief by writing a short story called 'The Masked Prophet.' In the story, based upon the life of an eighth-century sincere but misdirected Mahdi (Savior) named Hakim, Napoleon ascribes Hakim's fanatic attempts to overcome the Caliph as "an incredible example of the extremes to which the mania for fame can push a man."
Later, as a member of the radical Jacobin party, he cynically denounced religion as a means for keeping the people quiet (harbinging the later dictum of the Bolsheviks that "religion is the opiate of the masses"). The Jacobins, we should remember, were the instigators of the Reign of Terror that was so disastrous to the Church and other established institutions of France.
While Napoleon Bonaparte may be rightly called the "arch-hypocrite," he also had a profound sense of destiny and of his part to be played in history. He, as have many conquerors, claimed to be fulfilling the dictates of prophecy. Well versed in the Qur'an and familiar with Muslim traditions, in order to carry out his designs during his command of the invasion of Egypt, Napoleon pretended to be a Muslim and participated in local customs and holy days. Following his victory over the Sultan's forces at Abukir, he informed the disappointed skeiks <2> that he was a "true Muslim," that he hated the Christians whose altars and crosses he had overthrown, and that he had abjured his former faith. Furthermore, he ascribed his military successes to being the chosen instrument of Allah, the Creator of the Universe.
Witness this proclamation by Napoleon after the quelling of an insurrection at Cairo:
"Sherifs, ulamas, preachers in the mosques, be sure to tell the people that those who, with a light heart, take sides against us shall find no refuge in either this world or the next. Is there a man so blind as not to see that destiny itself guides all my operations? . . .
Let the people know that, from the creation of the world, it is written that after destroying the enemies of Islam and beating down the cross, I was to come from the confines of the Occident to accomplish my appointed task. Show the people that in more than twenty passages of the holy Qur'an, what has happened has been foretold, and what shall happen has been explained.
If I chose, I could call each of you to account for the most hidden feelings of his heart, for I know everything, even what you have told to no one. But the day will come when all men shall see beyond all doubt that I am guided by orders from above and that all human efforts avail nought against me. Blessed are they who, in good faith, are the first to choose my side."
In Egypt, Jews and Christian Copts were retained as security guards and tax gatherers. While Napoleon garrisoned his Citadel and strongest fortresses with Janissary companies composed predominantly of alien Christian Greeks, a source of aggravation to the native Egyptians and Arabs. Especially annoying to the Egyptians was Barthelmy and his band of ruffians. Barthelmy, the Lieutenant of Police for Cairo, was an alien Greek of herculean stature and spine-chilling appearance. Besides various weapons, he wore a colorful but bizarre combination of local and Greek costume when he and his goon squad sallied forth to find heads to lop off. Often, his Amazon-statured wife would ride at his side.
Napoleon, on his return to France, created a "Mamluk Corps" composed of Mamluks, Copts, and Syrians who had joined his train. (As we shall see, the Mamluks, although Muslim by faith, were actually aliens in Egypt.) Also, back in Europe, Napoleon made his brothers, sisters, and in-laws the rulers of entire nations. And like all of his gifts to his self-seeking favorites, the price to be paid for his awards was unquestioned loyalty to the promotion of his ambitions.
Later, as the head of the French government, Napoleon reinstated the Catholic Church in France but not for altruistic purposes. He worked out a conciliation with the Roman Church, but Rome was to support him in return for this Corcordat. Napoleon had in mind the restoration of a monarchy with himself as the Supreme Monarch. In his own words: <3>
"How can you have order in a state without religion? Society cannot exist without inequality of fortunes, which cannot endure apart from religion. When one man is dying of hunger near another who is ill of surfeit, he cannot resign himself to this difference, unless there is an authority which declares, 'God wills it thus: there must be poor and rich in the world: but hereafter and during all eternity, the division of things will take place differently.'"
Also, Napoleon wished to re-establish missionaries, but not for the spread of the Gospel: <4>
"It is my wish to re-establish the institution of foreign missions; for the religious missionaries may be useful to me in Asia, Africa and America, as I shall make them reconnoitre all the lands they visit. The sanctity of their dress will not only protect them, but serve to conceal their political and commercial investigations. The head of the missionary establishment will reside no longer in Rome but in Paris."
Jesus of Nazareth may be rightly called "the One beloved by women," since He re-established the sanctity of marriage and forbade the degradation of women. But as for Bonaparte of Corsica, <5>
"I do not think that we need trouble ourselves with any plan for instruction of young females; they cannot be better brought up than by their mothers. Public education is not suitable for them, because they are never called upon to act in public."
Under the Code of Napoleon, a system of laws largely due to his efforts that still lingers in several regions of the world, women lost control over their property and were relegated to the status of inferior beings.
To what 'forces,' if any, did Napoleon feel beholden? In his own words <6>, Napoleon informed the "Council of Ancients" at the Chateau Saint-Cloud following his return from the Egyptian campaign, that "the god of war and the god of luck are marching alongside me!" Renaming the Louvre after himself, he stocked it with the riches he had stolen from other lands and peoples in the name of "war and luck."
40 At the time of the end, he and the king of the south will make feints at one another. The king of the north will come storming against the king of the south with chariots, cavalry and many ships. The king of the north will overrun land after land, sweeping over them like a flood, 41 Amongst them the fairest of all lands, and tens of thousands will fall victims. Yet all these lands (including Edom and Moab and the remnant of the Ammonites) will survive the attack. 42 The king of the north will reach out to land after land, and Egypt will not escape. 43 He will gain control of her hidden stores of gold, silver and all of her treasures; Libyans and Cushites will follow in his train. 44 Then rumors from east and north will alarm him, and he will depart in a rage to destroy and to exterminate many. 45 He will pitch his royal pavilion between the sea and the holy hill, the fairest of all hills, and he will meet his end with no one to help him.
After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, there were several thrusts and counterthrusts between Christendom and Islam. The Moors were driven out of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella in the late fifteenth century. In the sixteenth century, Sulayman the Magnificent besieged Rhodes and Sulayman II attacked Malta. In the seventeenth century, Italy invaded Greece, then a part of the Ottoman empire, but was driven out again about half a century later.
By the late eighteenth century, the Ottoman Empire, the "Sick Man of the East," was perceived to be in a decrepit condition by the European powers. In particular, Egypt seemed to be a plum ripe for the picking. In 1798, the Directory of the newly-formed French Republic decided to send General Bonaparte, the hero of the Italian campaign, with an army into Egypt to pick the plum.
There were several overt arguments proffered for the enterprise, among them being the grand strategy of using Egypt as a base for the invasion of India and thereby striking at the heart of the British Empire. At the very least, the control of Egypt, and hopefully Syria as well, would seriously hamper the flow of trade and communications between India and England. But the covert argument was based on simple greed and the thirst for power. Egypt, although in a backward economic condition in 1798, had the potential of becoming a fertile breadbasket for the French Empire, just as it had been for the Roman Empire and other invaders of the past.
In May of 1798, a spectacular convoy sailed from Toulon bound for Malta. The convoy would soon swell to almost 400 sailing ships and would carry 55,000 citizens of France, among them an army of 25,000 men, cavalry, transport vehicles, artillery, and the full accouterments of war. The plan was first to take Malta from the obsolete and quixotic Knights Hospitalier of Saint John of Jerusalem that had held the island since the Crusades, and then to use Malta as a base for the invasion of Egypt. There ensued a ludicrous game of blind-man's bluff following Napoleon's departure from Toulon in which Napoleon's convoy, under the command of Vice-Admiral Brueys, was chased by the British battle fleet, under the command of Admiral Horatio Nelson, all over the eastern Mediterranean. Had Nelson been able to intercept Brueys, the whole course of modern history might have taken a drastic turn. As it was, Napoleon was able to take Malta and sail on to Alexandria.
The siege of Alexandria and other minor engagements led to the celebrated Battle of the Pyramids near Cairo. It was there that Napoleon achieved a spectacular victory over the Mamluks under the command of Murad Bey. The desert regions of Egypt were under the control of the Bedouin sheiks, but the Mamluks were the de facto rulers of the populated parts of Egypt. While the Mamluks were theoretically subjects of Sultan Selim III, owing to the sorry condition of the Ottoman realm, they were actually a semi-autonomous warrior class that had managed to bully the powerless and impoverished fellahin peasants of Egypt for five and a half centuries.
The Mamluks were an historical anomaly. The word 'Mamluk' means a 'bought man' in Arabic. But the Mamluks were not slaves in the usual sense of the word. They had their origins in the mid-thirteenth century when the Ayyubite Sultan brought about 12,000 youths from the Caucasus mountains to Egypt to form the elite corps of his army. The Mamluks, mostly of Circassian and Georgian stock, soon took over the land, killed Sultan Ashraf Moussa in 1252, and formed their own dynasty. Even after the Turkish conquest of Egypt in 1517, the Mamluks retained the essential control of populated Egypt, their only real subservience to the Sultan being in the act of collecting and delivering taxes from the fellahin. Even though the Mamluks filled their harems with Egyptian, Abyssinian, and Nubian women, they renewed their numbers with fresh imports of young fair-skinned boys from the Caucasus whom they bought and trained as warriors.
Shortly after Napoleon's victory over the Mamluks at the pyramids, a naval battle occurred that changed the character of the war: Admiral Nelson finally caught up with the French fleet at Abukir about ten miles east of Alexandria. The bloody "Battle of the Nile" that ensued resulted in the destruction of the French fleet and the death of Admiral Brueys. Thereafter, isolated and ignored by the Directory of the Republic, Napoleon and the 'Army of the Orient" were left to fend for themselves in a strange and exotic land.
In 1798, Egypt was still a land of mystery that had been visited by relatively few Europeans. Since colonization was the covert reason for the invasion of Egypt in the first place, Napoleon had brought along a remarkable group of civilian savants in his train, who will be recognized by modern savants in each of their fields: the chemist Berthollet, the geometrist Monge, the orientalist Jean-Michel de Venture,the artists Denon and Duterte, the architect Balzac, the mathematician Fourier, the zoologist Saint-Hilaire, the inventor Conte, the adventurist-minerologist Gratet de Dolomieu, and the physicist Malus, among others. Together, these distinguished scientists and humanists initiated the science of Egyptology and disclosed the wonders of ancient Egypt to modern eyes. This 'Scientific and Artistic Commission of Egypt' was responsible for the discovery of the Rosetta Stone (sculpted in honor of Ptolemy V Epiphanes in 195 BCE) that made it possible to decipher the written languages of ancient Egypt.
Soon after the destruction of the French fleet by Admiral Nelson, Napoleon sent the dashing and heroic General Desaix with an army of about 3,000 men in pursuit of the clever and equally heroic Murad Bay and his Mamluks. For many months, there were thrusts and counterthrusts between the forces of Desaix and Murad Bey all the way from Cairo to the cataracts of the Nile and back again, a distance of about 3,000 miles. Along the way, the artist Denon was able to record many of the famous sights as the pursuit passed through such spectacular ruins as Karnak and Luxor.
Finally, some semblance of victory was achieved by Desaix, and Egypt became a temporary colony of the French Empire. Cairo even acquired some of the gaieties and amenities of Paris. Since the Army of the Orient was isolated and abandoned by the French government, it was necessary to pay, clothe, and feed the Army with local confiscations and oppressive taxation policies. Besides the collections of gold and silver, Napoleon's army and the savants collected an astonishing booty of ancient treasures, much of which had been stolen from the tombs of pharaohs by grave robbers, and much of which, as was said before, now rests in the Louvre.
While Desaix was engaged in the chase, Napoleon set off on another adventure, probably the one closest to his heart but one that was doomed to failure. Napoleon had often confided to friends that he admired Alexander the Great, and evidence suggests that he actually tried to emulate that ancient Greek conqueror. Napoleon had visions of becoming a spreader of French culture throughout the Orient and of, once again, unifying the Occident and the Orient. In imitation of Alexander, he took on many of the trappings of the East and chose the title of Sultan Kebir , the "Great Sultan." Indeed, Bedouin tribes believed Napoleon to be Alexander reincarnated. They would have been more correct if they had likened him to Antiochus Epiphanes.
In the light of his dreams and convictions, we should not be too surprised to find Napoleon undertaking the invasion of Syria at a time when the situation of Egypt was, at best, precarious and the hopes of receiving substantial assistance from France to be virtually nil. But more than that, he had ambitions for Europe as well as for the Orient. The 'news form the north and from the east' that put 'rage' into his heart was delivered by Hamelin, a French merchant who had just arrived from Trieste <7> a few days before his departure from Cairo for Syria. The news was the renewal of the war in Italy, the Russo-Turkish blockade of Corfu, and the declaration of war by Turkey against France. It seemed certain to Napoleon that a resumption of general hostilities involving most of the European powers was imminent. Egypt and Asia offered no more opportunities to Napoleon, and Europe beckoned him to even greater glory. Syria had to be invaded and conquered quickly if he was to seize the steed of fortune.
Napoleon had, for some time, realized that the success of the Army of the Orient depended upon getting new recruits from the native population. To that end, he had purchased blacks from Abyssinia (ancient Cush), and had acquired Bedouin forces from Tur. <8> When Napoleon invaded Syria, he had about 13,000 men and some women in his train, including among them, Arab and Egyptian personnel attached to his army--servants, camel drivers, interpreters, laborers, etc.. A vast amount of baggage was carried, including beds, mattresses, carpets, and tents. Apparently, Napoleon intended to leave a permanent garrison in Syria. In addition to his standard retinue of cavalry, artillery, and infantry, Napoleon's army contained a newly-formed Dromedary troop modeled after the Bedouin forces of the Libyan desert.
Napoleon pitched 'his royal pavilion between the holy hill (Carmel) and the sea' before the fortress of Akka, the ancient Crusaders' citadel of Saint Jean de Acre. Opposed to Napoleon and fortified behind the walls of Akka were the combined forces of Ahmad Pasha Djezzar of Akka, Commodore Sidney Smith of England, and the expatriate Colonel Phelipeaux of France. Napoleon failed in his siege of the fortress-city after much blood had been shed on both sides. Although there were a number of other bloody engagements in the holy land (notably the Battles of Mount Tabor and Jaffa), Palestine--the 'fairest of all lands'--survived the attack. So did the ancient lands of Moab, Edom, and the Ammonites, although the ancient territories of Moab and the Ammonites (modern Jordan) were temporarily invaded by some of Napoleon's forces dispatched under General Murat. Edom, the Mount Seir region between modern south Palestine and the Gulf of Aqaba, also escaped Napoleon's wrath.
The disaster at Akka was a humiliating disappointment for Napoleon. Shortly after his retreat to Egypt, Napoleon received further news of the developments in the north and the east. He immediately abandoned his grandiose plans to repeat Alexander's triumphs and deserted Egypt. He left command of the Army of the Orient to the aging but competent General Klebar, who held out in Egypt until 1801. Returning to France, Napoleon was able to gain control of the French Directory by subterfuge and deceit. He went on to many victories in Europe, 'overrunning land after land.' In 1804, he called Pope Pius VII to Paris to have himself crowned Emperor of Western Christendom. Emulating Charlemagne, the Corsican Adventurer seized the crown, waved the Pope aside, and crowned himself.
Ultimately, Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, exiled to the tiny island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, and met a lonely and bitter end 'with no one to help him.'
Notes for Chapter Nine
1. One possible cause of exegetic confusion is that the description of the villainous character of the King of the North in verses 11:36 through 11:39 could apply quite well to Antiochus Epiphanes. The fact is, however, that another villain of history had a character with the same description, namely Napoleon Bonaparte. It is simply a matter of recognizing that many persons may manifest the same attributes of character and personality, whether good or bad, and at different times and places.
2. Ref 11, p. 321
3. Ref 2, p. 1048
4. Ref 2, p. 1049
5. Ref 2, p. 1049
6. Ref 11, p. 312
7. Ref 11, p. 221
Napoleon was exiled to Saint Helena in 1815 and died there six years later in 1821. It was during that period that Baha'u'llah was born (1817). <1> The Bab accurately specifies the birth date of 'Michael':
1 At that moment Michael will appear, Michael the great captain, who stands guard over your fellow countrymen;
But the Bab also portends great troubles to follow for the Jewish people:
And there will be a time of distress such as has never been since they became a nation till that moment.
The 'time of distress' clearly refers to the "holocaust" under Nazi Germany during which some six million Jews perished. The Bab goes on to say that deliverance will follow shortly:
But at that moment your people will be delivered, every one who is written in the book: 2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will wake, some to everlasting life and some to the reproach of eternal abhorrence. 3 The wise leaders shall shine like the bright vault of heaven, and those who have guided the people in the true path shall be like the stars for ever and ever.
Here we have not only the resurrection of the worthy, but also those who will be reproached throughout eternity. But, of course, the 'resurrection' is to be a spiritual one, not physical, as explained by Jesus in Matthew 23:31-32. The wise leaders of Judaism, like Daniel, Ezekiel, and rabbi Johannan ben Zakkai, are to be the stars of the new Jewish firmament. And we are watching with our own eyes their deliverance with the restoration of Israel as a nation following nineteen centuries of exile and suffering.
In verse 5, Daniel sees a new and final vision, two other holy figures standing on opposite banks of the Tigris River (10:4). They remind us of the two holy trees on opposite banks of the 'river of the water of life' in Revelation 22. These two figures represent the Twin Holy Trees, the Bab and Baha'u'llah. That they stand on opposite banks of the Tigris reminds us that the Bab's community of exiled believers was on the eastern bank of the Tigris at Baghdad, and that Baha'u'llah was exiled to the opposite bank of the Tigris by decree of the Sultan. <2>
It is to the Figure 'clothed in linen' on the opposite bank--to Baha'u'llah--that
Daniel addresses his question (12:6): 'How long will it be before these portents cease?'
Baha'u'llah answers a second time with an equally cryptic answer.
7 "It shall be for a time, times, and a half. When the power of the holy people ceases to be dispersed, all these things shall come to an end."
The period of three-and-a-half 'times' is 1260 years, and, as explained elsewhere, represents the date in the Muslim lunar calendar of the Edict of Toleration. But Daniel is not satisfied by this perplexing answer and asks again. Baha'u'llah answers a second time with an equally cryptic answer
9 "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are kept secret and sealed till the time of the end. ... 11 From the time when the regular offering is abolished and 'the abomination of desolation' is set up, there shall be an interval of one thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Happy the man who waits and lives to see the completion of the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days."
The meanings of the dates are not to become evident until the end of the Age of Prophecy. It is 'Abdu'l-Baha who explains these dates to us: The 1290 'days' is the span of time from the First Public Declaration of Muhammad in 613 [CE] until the First Public Declaration of Baha'u'llah in 1863, a period of 1290 lunar years. The 1335 'days' is the span of time from the Firm Founding of the Muslim Faith until the Firm Founding of the Baha'i Faith.
These explanations deserve closer reading. In verse 11 we read of the "time when the regular offering is abolished and 'the abomination of desolation' is set up...." We know from history that the regular offering at the Great Temple of Jerusalem was abolished in 70 CE. This was followed by about 600 years of abominations between Jews and Christians, as decreed in Daniel 9:26, 27. The abominations left the Temple and the Holy Land both physically and spiritually desolate. Muhammad, The Comforter, decreed an end to these abominations. Thus, the time (era) of these events ended with Muhammad's Declaration,marking the beginning of a new Era and a meaningful reference point for the counting of years.
It was one of the great tragedies of history that 'Ali was not permitted to assume the Caliphate. In less than thirty years, the Caliphate had been usurped by the enemies of Muhammad, and the true meaning of Islam was beclouded forever. As one consequence of these actions, the Holy Land remained spiritually desolate. The 'abomination of desolation' did not come to its end until the Declaration of the Bab on May 23rd, 1844, about two months after the Edict of Toleration.
The 1335 'days' is the number of solar years that must elapse between the Firm Founding of the Muslim Faith and the Firm Founding of the Baha'i Faith. This period terminated some time between 1957 and 1963, and is discussed in more detail in the Appendix.
In the last verse, Baha'u'llah exhorts Daniel:
13 "... But go your way to the and and rest, and you shall arise to your destiny at the end of the age."
Notes for Chapter Ten
1. Indeed, the Bab was born during that same period (1819).
2. Ref 17, p. 149
'ABDU'L-BAHA's EXPLANATION OF THE 1335 DAYS
From reference 20, p. 51ff:
'Abdu'l-Baha explains that the 1335 years are counted in solar rather than lunar years, because a century must elapse between the Proclamation of Baha'u'llah and the firm establishment of "the teachings of God . . . upon the earth." Apparently, 'Abdu'l-Baha was referring to some prophecy in sacred writings. Also, Shoghi Effendi explains that the 1335 years end at the year 1963 CE, the date of the Foundation of the Universal House of Justice.
Unfortunately, neither 'Abdu'l-Baha nor Shoghi Effendi shed enough light in their brief explanations for this writer to determine the exact method of computation. In The Apocalypse Unsealed, Appendix B, it was suggested that the beginning point for the 1335 years could be the Truce of al-Hudaybiyyah in 628 CE. This would result in the year 1963 CE as the end date of the 1335 solar years. After further research I have decided that there are actually two dates that are important in the Firm Founding of Islam: 622 which marked the end of Muhammad's ministry in Mecca (the Hegira), and the Truce of al-Hudaybiyyah in 628. The Firm Founding of Islam was a six-year process lasting from 622 to 628. Adding 1335 to the first date produces 1957, the end date of the Baha'i ministry and the Ascension of Shoghi Effendi. Adding 1335 to the second date produces 1963, the date of the Foundation of the Universal House of Justice. Like the Firm Founding of Islam, the Firm Founding of the Baha'i Faith was also a six-year process lasting from 1957 to 1963.
It is interesting that the Ascension of Shoghi Effendi in 1957 may be one specific meaning of Dan 12:12. The version of the New English Bible reads: "Happy the man who waits and lives to see the completion of the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days!"
Actually, different interpretations and methods of reckoning have little effect on the result. Regardless of what assumptions are made, it is certainly true that the man would be happy who waited and lived to see the completion of one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.
It is also worth noting that even Jesus Christ did not claim to know the date of the foundation of the Kingdom of God:
"Yet about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not even the Son; no one but the Father alone. ...." - Matthew 24.36 (Revised English Bible)
THE TWO LAMBS OF THE BAHA'I DISPENSATION
In The Apocalypse Unsealed, (ref. 1) chapter 5, this writer named the two Lambs of the Baha'i Dispensation as the Bab and 'Abdu'l-Baha. At that time, Volume Three of Adib Taherzadeh's magnificent work, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah, was not available. It is now clear that Baha'u'llah considered Mirza Mihdi, The Purest Branch, to be a Lamb of the Baha'i Dispensation. This can be inferred by referring to Taherzadeh's book (ref. 19), Chapter 10, in which we read that the "death of the Purest Branch must be viewed as Baha'u'llah's own sacrifice, a sacrifice on the same level as the crucifixion of Christ and the martyrdom of the Bab."
Since Baha'u'llah's Dispensation has two Lambs instead of the usual one, this writer has now concluded that the two Lambs are probably Mirza Mihdi and 'Abdu'l-Baha. The Bab would then be the Lamb of His own Dispensation.
THE BEAST THAT WAS, IS NOT, YET IS
In chapter 17 of the Apocalypse, there is a riddle concerning a "beast that was, is not, yet is." In The Apocalypse Unsealed, this writer gave the answer to the riddle as the empire of Alexander, since it seemed to come into existence a second time under the Umayyad dynasty.
In researching for I, Daniel, this writer studied some of the work of great historian Arnold J. Toynbee. Professor Toynbee points out that the empire of Alexander did not produce a permanent change in the civilization introduced to the region under the Persian empire. When Islam reconquered the region, the civilization introduced under Islam more closely resembled the former Persian civilization rather than the more recent Hellenistic civilization.
That being so, the answer to the riddle is probably as follows:
The beast that was: the Medeo-Persian empire;
is not: the empire of Alexander;
yet is: the Umayyad dynasty.
THE FOUR DECREES TO REBUILD THE TEMPLE
The extent to which the various Edicts were fulfilled can be inferred from a careful reading of Chapters 1, 6, and 7 of Ezra. The assessments of their fulfillment given in Appendix B of The Apocalypse Unsealed are less explicit.
Some have suggested that the use of the word "rebuild" in Nehemiah 2:5 justifies 444 BCE as the date of the Edict. However, a "word going forth" was an Edict, a Proclamation signed by the king. Daniel was kind enough to remind us of this fact in verse 6:8. Nehemiah received a private verbal grant to assist in the "rebuilding" of Jerusalem. The only signed document Nehemiah received was for the acquisition of timber for the gates of the citadel, the city wall, and for the "temple which is the object of my journey" (Nehemiah 2:8, The Revised English Bible)
The Great Temple was, in fact, the main purpose for the city's existence. To build the Temple, to house and supply the thousands of workers and pilgrims, and to maintain the Temple priesthood, implied that a sizeable infrastructure also had to be built. That infrastructure was the de facto city of Jerusalem.
Chronology of Daniel
Note:BCE = before Christ - in the Christian calendar
||CHRISTIAN||MUSLIM||EPOCH IN DANIEL|
|.||(solar years)||(lunar years)||.|
reigns in Chaldea
|605-562 BCE||...||"Golden" Era
see: Daniel 2:3
|602 BCE||1261 BH||Begin 2520 years (4:23)|
|Cyrus conquers Media||550 BCE||...||Longer horn
|Cyrus conquers Chaldea||537 BCE||...||Begin "Silver" era
|Artaxerxes' decree||457 BCE||...||Begin 49 years (9:25)
Begin 434 years (9:25)
|Jerusalem rebuilt||408 BCE||...||End 49 years (9:25)
Begin 434 years (9:25)
|Alexander conquers Persia||331 BCE||...||Great Horn (8:5)
Begin "Bronze" era (2:39)
Begin Time of Troubles (9:25)
|House of Ptolemy
|Ptolemy Soter takes Palestine||318||...||...|
|House of Seleucus
|Beginning of North-South
wars over Palestine
usurps throne of Seleucids
|175 BCE||...||First Little Horn (8:9)|
|Antiochus sacks Jerusalem-
desecrates the Temple
|Begin Maccabean Revolt||167 BCE||...||(11:38)|
|Antiochus massacres Jews- desecrates the Temple for a second time- replaces Jehovah||164 BCE||...||First Abomination
of Desolation (11:31)
|Antiochus 'broken'||164 BCE||...||(8:25)|
|End of Maccabean Revolt. Seleucids driven out of Judea.||142 BCE||...||End of Wrath (8:19)|
|Probable birth of Jesus||6-5 BCE||...||...|
|Traditional birth of Jesus||1 CE||...||...|
|Ministry of Jesus||27-34 CE||...||End 434 years (9:25)|
|Jesus crucified||34 CE||...||End 490 years (9:24) Messiah cut-off. Begin 35 years (9:26)|
|Sacrileges in the Temple||40-70 CE
|...||Middle of Seven
End 35 years (9:27)
|Jerusalem falls to Titus.
Daily Sacrifice terminated
|Christianity firmly established||70-104||...||Strong Covenant (9:27)|
|Bar Cocheba's revolt||132-5 CE||...||Author of Desolation (9:27)|
|Hadrian replaces Jehovah||c.136 CE||...||Second Abomination
of Desolation (9:27)
|613 CE||11-12 AH||Begin 1290 years (12:11)|
|AH in the Islamic calendar denotes "After the Hegira" -Muhammad's exodus from Mecca to Medina.|
|622 CE||...||Begin the 1260 years
|Islam firmly established||622 CE||...||Begin 1335 years
|Babylon falls to Islam||635 CE||...||Begin "Iron" era (2:40)|
|Jerusalem falls to 637 Islam||637 CE||...||Islam becomes new South|
|House of Umayyah
|661 CE||...||First ten-horned Beast|
|House of Abbas
|750 CE||...||Second 10-horned Beast|
|As-Saffa rules Islam||750-4 CE||...||Second Little Horn (7:8)|
|Fall of house of Abbas||861 CE||...||...|
|The First Crusade||1095 CE||...||Christendom becomes
|Islam takes Akka
|Napoleon invades Palestine||1798 CE||...||Begin Time of the End (11:35)
Latter Day King of
the North (11:36)
|Napoleon defeated at Akka||1799 CE||...||(11:45)|
|Napoleon exiled to St. Helena||1815 CE||...||...|
|Birth of Baha'u'llah||1817 CE||...||Appearance of Michael (12:1)|
|Birth of the Bab||1819 CE||...||...|
|Napoleon dies||1821 CE||...||(11:45)|
|Edict of Toleration||1844 CE||1260 AH||End of the Jewish exile
End of the 1260
years (7:25, 12:7)
End of the 2520 years (4:33)
End of the 2300 years (8:13)
|Declaration of the Bab||1844 CE||1260 AH||End of the Abomination
of Desolation (7:12)
Begin 450 years (?)(7:12)
|The Bab imprisoned in Mah-ku||1847 CE||...||Begin 21-years (10:13)|
|Martyrdom of the Bab||1850 CE||...||...|
|First public Declaration
|1863 CE||...||End of the 1290 years (12:11)|
|The Lawh-i-Sultan of Baha'u'llah||1868 AH||...||Michael aids the Bab
End of the 21 years (10:13)
|Baha'u'llah imprisoned at Akka||1868 CE||...||...|
|Ascension of Baha'u'llah||1892 CE||...||...|
|Caliphate abolished||1924 CE||...||End of the "Iron" era (2:44)|
|The Nazi holocaust||1935-45 CE||...||Time of Distress (12:11)|
|The founding of modern Israel||1948 CE||...||Israel delivered (12:1)|
|Baha'i Faith firmly established||1957-1963 CE||...||End of the 1335 years (12:12)|
|First Universal House
of Justice elected
2. H. G. Wells, An Outline of History (in four volumes), New York, P. F. Collier & Son, 1922.
3. Dr. Alva J. McClain, Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks , Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980.
4. E. H. Palmer, M.A., A History of the Jewish Nation , London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; New York: Pott, Young & Co., 1883.
5. Edwyn R. Bevan, A History of Egypt under the Ptolemaic Dynasty , London: Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1927.
6. Rufus Learsi, Israel: A History of the Jewish People , Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company, Inc., 1966.
7. G. O. Matsson, A Historical Outline of Palestine , Stockholm, O., Sweden: Brahegatan 29, 1958.
8. Edwyn R. Bevan, , The House of Seleucus , London: Edward Arnold, Publisher in the India Office, 1902.
9. H. M. Balyuzi, Muhammad and the Course of Islam , Oxford: George Ronald, 1976.
10. Ernst Muller, History of Jewish Mysticism , Oxford, 1946.
11. J. Christopher Herold, Bonaparte in Egypt , New York, Boston, London: Harper and Row, 1962.
12. Jack McLean, "The Deification of Jesus," World Order , Volume 14 (Summer, 1980), 415 Linden Ave., Wilmette, IL, 60091.
13. Britannica Macropaedia, Volume 22.
14. Georgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, Hamlet's Mill , Boston: Gambit, 1969; Boston; Godine, 1977.
15. William Foxwell Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity , Doubleday Anchor Books, 1957.
16. Roland H. Bainton, Christendom , Vol 1, New York: Harper and Rowe, 1966.
17. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By , Wilmette, IL: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1970.
18. H. M. Balyuzi, The Bab , Oxford: George Ronald, 1973.
19. Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah , Vol 3, Oxford: George Ronald, 1984.
20. James Heggie (comp.), Baha'i References to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Oxford: George Ronald, 1986.
DISCLAIMER FOREWORD (Repeated from the first section of this webpage) In BAHA'I NEWS, No. 77, September 1933, Shoghi Effendi tells us that only the words of
'Abdu'l-Baha [regarding biblical exegesis] are truly authoritative, but that if his
statements cannot be discovered, we are free to tentatively accept the opinions of
The opinions and interpretations expressed in this book are strictly those of the author, and do not represent official opinions or interpretations of any agency of the Baha'i Administrative Order.
As far as the author is concerned, the reader is permitted to make duplicate copies of this work and to distribute them, provided (1) that he/she makes no attempt to obtain a copyright, and (2) that he/she does not realize a monetary profit, and (3) that the ENTIRE work, including the DISCLAIMER and this FOREWORD, is reproduced and distributed, and (4) that no alterations and/or additions to the text are to be made without the author's approval. Sections of the text of this work up to 1,000 words in length may be quoted and/or reprinted for the purposes of criticism or commentary without the express permission of the author, provided the source(s) of the quote(s) is/are given.
FOREWORD (Repeated from the first section of this webpage)
In BAHA'I NEWS, No. 77, September 1933, Shoghi Effendi tells us that only the words of 'Abdu'l-Baha [regarding biblical exegesis] are truly authoritative, but that if his statements cannot be discovered, we are free to tentatively accept the opinions of scholars.