But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and to utterly sweep away many.
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Even for this passage Porphyry has some nebulous application to Antiochus, asserting that in his conflict with the Egyptians, Libyans, and Ethiopians, passing through them he was to hear of wars which had been stirred up against him in the North and the East. Thence he was to turn back and overcome the resistance of the Aradians [Aradus was an island off the coast of Phoenicia], and lay waste the entire province along the coastline of Phoenicia. (722) And then he was to proceed without delay against Artaxias, the king of Armenia, who was moving down from the regions of the East, and having slain a large number of his troops, he would pitch his tent in the |141 place called Apedno which is located between the two broadest rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. But it is impossible to state upon what famous and holy mountain he took his seat, after he had proceeded to that point. After all, it cannot be shown that he took up his seat between two seas, and it would be foolish to interpret the two seas as being the two rivers of Mesopotamia. But Porphyry gets around this famous mountain by following the rendering of Theodotion, who said: ". . .upon the sacred Mount Saba between the two seas." And even though he supposes that Saba was the name of a mountain in Armenia or Mesopotamia, he cannot explain why it was holy. [The Massoretic text has the common noun, sebiy, which means "beauty" or "honor," and gives no room for any proper noun, Saba.] To be sure, if we assume the right of making things up, we can add the detail which Porphyry fails to mention, that the mountain, forsooth, was called holy, because it was consecrated to idols in conformity with the superstition of the Armenians. The account then says: "And he shall come even unto the summit of that same mountain," ----supposedly in the province of Elam, which is the easternmost Persian area. And there when he purposed to plunder the temple of Diana, which contained countless sums of money, he was routed by the barbarians, for they honored that shrine with a remarkable veneration. And Antiochus, being overcome with grief, died in Tabes, a town in Persia. By use of a most artificial line of argument Porphyry has concocted these details as an affront to us; but even though he were able to prove that these statements applied to Antiochus instead of the Antichrist, what does that matter [reading quid instead of the inappropriate qui] to us? For do we not on the basis of all the passages of Scripture prove the coming of Christ and the falsehood of the Antichrist? For assume that these things did refer to Antiochus, what injury does that inflict upon our religious faith? Is it not true that in the earlier vision also, (p. 574) which contained a prophecy fulfilled in Antiochus, there is some reference to the Antichrist? And so let Porphyry banish his doubts and stick to manifest facts. Let him explain the meaning of that rock which was hewn from the mountain without hands, and which grew to be a great mountain and filled the earth, and which smashed to pieces the fourfold image. And let him say who that Son of man is who |142 is going to come with clouds and stand before the Ancient of Days and have bestowed upon him a kingdom which shall never come to an end, and who is going to be served by all [reading omnes for omnem] nations, tribes, and language-groups. (723) Porphyry ignores these things which are so very clear and maintains that the prophecy refers to the Jews, although we are well aware that they are to this very day in a state of bondage. And he claims that the person who composed the book under the name of Daniel made it all up in order to revive the hopes of his countrymen. Not that he was able to foreknow all of future history, but rather he records events that had already taken place. Thus Porphyry confines himself to false claims in regard to the final vision, substituting rivers for the sea, and positing a famous and holy mountain, Apedno (B) even though he is unable to furnish any historical source in which he has read about it. Those of our party, on the other hand, explain the final chapter of this vision as relating to the Antichrist, and stating that during his war against the Egyptians, Libyans, and Ethiopians, in which he shall smash three of the ten horns, he is going to hear that war has been stirred up against him in the regions of the North and East. Then he shall come with a great host to crush and slay many people, and shall pitch his tent in Apedno near Nicopolis, which was formerly called Emmaus, at the beginning of the mountainous region in the province of Judaea. Finally he shall make his way thence to go up to the Mount of Olives and ascend to the area of Jerusalem; and this is what the Scripture means here: "And when he has pitched his tent...." at the foothills of the mountainous province between two seas. These are, of course, that which is now called the Dead Sea on the east, and the Great Sea on the shore of which lie Caesarea, Joppa, Ashkelon, and (C) Gazae. Then he shall come up to the summit thereof, that is of the mountainous province, or the apex of the Mount of Olives, which of course is called famous because our Lord and Savior ascended from it to the Father. And no one shall be able to assist the Antichrist as the Lord vents his fury upon him. Our school of thought insists that Antichrist is going to perish in that spot from which the Lord ascended to heaven. Apedno is a compound word, which upon analysis yields the meaning of "his throne" (the Greek thronou autou), or (in Latin) "thy throne" [or, if tui |143 is a misprint for sui, his throne]. And the meaning is that he shall pitch his tent (D) and his throne between the seas upon the famous, holy mountain. Symmachus translated this passage (724) as follows (in Greek): "And he shall stretch out the tents of his stable between the seas in the holy mountain of power, and he shall come even unto its height"; which means in Latin: "And he shall stretch forth the pavilions of his cavalry between the seas, upon the holy mountain of power, and shall come even unto the apex of the mountain." Theodotion (p. 575) renders it: "And he shall pitch his tent in (A) Aphedanum between the seas in the holy Mount Saba, and he shall come to the region thereof." Aquila says: "And he shall set up the tent of his headquarters in (Greek) Aphadanon between the seas, in the glorious, holy mountain, and he shall come even unto its border." Only the Septua-gint frees itself from the problem about the name by translating: "And he shall establish his tent there between the seas and the holy mountain of desire and he shall come to the hour of his final end." Adhering to this rendering, Apollinarius omits all mention of the name Apedno. I have gone into this matter at some length not only for the purpose of exposing Porphyry's misrepresentation (for either he was ignorant of all these matters or else he pretended not to know them) but also to show the difficulty in Holy Scripture. And yet men who altogether lack experience lay special claim to understanding it apart from the grace of God and the scholarship of preceding generations. Now it should be observed that Hebrew has no letter P, but uses instead the letter phe, which has the force of the Greek phi. [An interesting observation, but rather puzzling. Ordinarily the Hebrew pe is spirantized only after a vowel sound, and is hard the rest of the time. It is hard and doubled in this particular word, 'appadnow, according to the Massoretic pointing.] It is simply that in this particular place the Hebrews write the letter (B) phe, yet it is to be pronounced as p. But that the Antichrist is going to come to the summit of the holy, famous mountain and perish there is a fact upon which Isaiah expatiates more fully, saying: "The Lord shall in the holy mountain cast down the face of the ruler of the darkness which is over all races, and him who rules over all peoples, and the (C) anointing which is applied against (variant: with which he was anointed against) all the |144 nations." [This rather incoherent quotation varies very considerably from Jerome's own rendering of Isaiah 25:7 in the Vulgate, and also from the Septuagint rendering. The editors were apparently so dubious about it that they failed to give the citation at all.]