November 4, 2014 by Chris French
20 “Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an exactor of tribute for the glory of the kingdom. But within a few days he shall be broken, neither in anger nor in battle.
With Antiochus III out of the way there was an opening for someone to “arise”. Seleucus IV, Antiochus III’s son, is that man! He sends the prime minister to plunder Jerusalem’s temple to pay the Romans their tribute, but because of a dream, according to 2 Maccabees 3.7-40, the prime minster doesn’t go. Seleucus IV doesn’t reign long and isn’t killed in battle, but poisoned, most likely by his brother Antiochus IV. This guy is the one we’ve been waiting for!
21 In his place shall arise a contemptible person to whom royal majesty has not been given. He shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
Antiochus is “contemptible” and doesn’t have a right to the throne since Selecus IV has a son, but that doesn’t matter to Antiochus IV. He takes the throne anyway “by flatteries”. He was known to give more lavish gifts to his supporters than Selecus IV or really any king in that line before him so there weren’t a whole lot of people throwing a fit when he imprisoned the rightful king. They were too busy counting their money.
22 Armies shall be utterly swept away before him and broken, even the prince of the covenant.23 And from the time that an alliance is made with him he shall act deceitfully, and he shall become strong with a small people. 24 Without warning he shall come into the richest parts[e] of the province, and he shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers’ fathers have done, scattering among them plunder, spoil, and goods. He shall devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time.
The priest of the covenant is a reference to the High Priest (the covenant being the Mosaical Law). Since Artaxerxes the Jews had been able to rule themselves and had done so with the Mosiacal Law, complete with the appointing of the High Priest. Antiochus IV changed that. He deposed the current High Priest, Onias III and gave the High Priest position to Onias’ brother, Jason, who fell more in line with Antiochus’ Greek way of thinking, the bribe Jason offered Antiochus didn’t hurt either. However, Jason’s bribe wasn’t big enough because after accepting it Antiochus IV got a counter offer from a man named Menelaus who he gave the office to. No big deal, right? Jason’s probably mad Antiochus kept his money and didn’t give him the High Priesthood, but it’s not that big a deal. WRONG! Menelaus isn’t from the tribe of Levi so Antiochus appointed a High Priest who wasn’t qualified to take the office. This enraged the Jews. Antiochus’ fathers and grandfathers hadn’t even done this!
25 And he shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south with a great army. And the king of the south shall wage war with an exceedingly great and mighty army, but he shall not stand, for plots shall be devised against him.26 Even those who eat his food shall break him. His army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. 27 And as for the two kings, their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. They shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail, for the end is yet to be at the time appointed. 28 And he shall return to his land with great wealth, but his heart shall be set against the holy covenant. And he shall work his will and return to his own land.
In 170 B.C. Antiochus attacks Egypt (the kingdom of the south) and defeats Ptolmey VI. He captured Memphis and most of the rest of Egypt. Ptolmey VI tried to flee, but Antiochus IV captured him and installed his brother, Ptolmey VII, on Egypt’s throne. Now, both these boys are sons of Cleopatra which make them Antiochus’ nephews so when Antiochus sets up Ptolmey VII on the throne he expects him to be grateful and do what Uncle Antiochus says. Instead Ptolmey VII buries the hatchet with his brother and they become co-regents over Egypt. Antiochus doesn’t know this for some time, but on his way back home from conquering Egypt he stops by the Temple in Jerusalem to plunder it so he can pay Rome their tribute.
29 “At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be this time as it was before. 30 For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay attention to those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.
In 168 B.C. Antiochus IV attacks Egypt again (the king of the south) because he’s ticked that his nephews have made an alliance against him. This time though go a little different. The boys call in help from Rome and a Roman envoy named Gaius Popillius Laenas meets Antiochus’ army at Alexandria and orders him home. Antiochus IV apparently makes a show of continuing on into Egypt, but Gaius draws a circle in the dirt around him and tells him if he moves out of it he’ll have to deal with Rome so Antiochus takes his army, tucks his tail and goes home.
On his way back home he stops again at Jerusalem because somehow word has gotten back that Antiochus IV has died so Jason launched an attack in an attempt to unseat Menelaus. Antiochus hears about this and goes to Jerusalem to teach them a lesson. He couldn’t bow up on Rome, but he could handle Jerusalem. He kills 80,000 Jews on the SABBATH. It was against Jewish law to fight on the Sabbath so 80,000 Jews died without defending themselves! He also stationed troops in a citadel near the Temple which was sacrilege to the Jews. Antiochus’ “heart was set against the holy covenant” so he “worked his will” and did them great harm.
You’re probably wondering what “abomination” Antiochus did in Jerusalem, right? He sacrificed a pig to Zeus on the alter of the Temple. To the Jews this was the most sacrilegious thing he could have done, but he didn’t stop there. He also banned sacrifices and all Temple worship including observing the Sabbath, circumcision and more. He burned Torah scrolls in public (think mass flag burnings). All of this culminated with the “abomination that makes desolate” in 167 B.C.