on Daniel 11 :21
In his estate shall stand up a vile person - This was Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes - the Illustrious. They did not give him the honor of the kingdom: he was at Athens, on his way from Rome, when his father died; and Heliodorus had declared himself king, as had several others. But Antiochus came in peaceably, for he obtained the kingdom by flatteries. He flattered Eumenes, king of Pergamus, and Attalus his brother, and got their assistance. He flattered the Romans, and sent ambassadors to court their favor, and pay them the arrears of the tribute. He flattered the Syrians, and gained their concurrence; and as he flattered the Syrians, so they flattered him, giving him the epithet of Epiphanes - the Illustrious. But that he was what the prophet here calls him, a vile person, is fully evident from what Polybius says of him, from Athenians, lib. v.: "He was every man's companion: he resorted to the common shops, and prattled with the workmen: he frequented the common taverns, and ate and drank with the meanest fellows, singing debauched songs," etc., etc. On this account a contemporary writer, and others after him, instead of Epiphanes, called him Epimanes - the Madman.
on Daniel 11 :21
And in his estate - In his place. See the notes at Daniel 11:7, Daniel 11:20.
Shall stand up a vile person - There shall succeed to the throne. The reference here is to Antiochus Epiphanes, who reigned from 175 b.c. to 163 b.c. The epithet "vile" here given him was one which his subsequent history showed was eminently appropriate to him in all respects, as a man and as a prince. The Hebrew word rendered "vile" - נבזה nı̂bezeh - properly means one despised or held in contempt, Isaiah 49:7; Psalm 22:6 (7). The meaning here is, that he was one who deserved to be despised, and who would be held in contempt - a man of a low, base, contemptible character. Vulgate, "despectus;" Greek ἐξουδενώθη exoudenōthē; Luther, "ein ungeachteter." Never were terms better applied to a man than these to Antiochus Epiphanes - both before and after his ascension to the throne. The manner of his seizing upon the crown is stated above. He was surnamed Epiphanes (Ἐπιφανής Epiphanēs), "the Illustrious," because, if we believe Appian, he vindicated the claims of the royal family against the usurpations of the foreigner Heliodorus. He also bore the name Θεός Theos, "God," which is still seen upon his coins.
But by his subjects he was called Epimanes (Ἐπιμανής Epimanēs) "the Insane," instead of "Epiphanes" - a name which he much more richly deserved. The following statement from Jahn (Heb. Commonwealth, ch. x. Section 92) will show with what propriety the term "vile" was applied to him: "He often lounged like a mere idler about the streets of Antioch, attended by two or three servants, and not deigning to look at the nobles; would talk with goldsmiths and other mechanics in their workshops, engage in idle and trifling conversation with the lowest of the people, and mingle in the society of foreigners and men of the vilest character. He was not ashamed to go into the dissipated circles of the young, to drink and carouse with them, and to assist their merriment by singing songs and playing on his flute. He often appeared in the public baths among the common people, engaging in every kind of foolish jest, without the least regard to the dignity of his station and character. Not unfrequently he was seen drunk in the streets, when he would throw his money. about, and practice various other fooleries equally extravagant. He would parade the streets of his capital in a long robe, and with a garland of roses upon his head: and if any attempted to pass by or to follow him, he would pelt them with stones, which he carried concealed under his garments," etc. See also Appian in "Syriacis," 45:70-75; Eusebius in "Chronicon;" Athenaeus, lib. v. p. 193; x. p. 438; Livy, xli. 20; Diod. Sic. "Frag." xxvi. 65; xxxi. 7, 8; Prideaux, "Con." iii.-212-214; 1 Macc. 1:9.
To whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom - That is, the people. Or, in other words, it should not be conferred on him by any law or act of the nation, or in any regular succession or claim. The true heir to the crown was Demetrius, who was absent at Rome. On him the crown would have regularly devolved; but in his absence it was obtained by Antiochus by arts which he practiced, and not by any voluntary grant of the nation.
But he shall come in peaceably - Quietly; without war or force; by art rather than by arms. Gesenius (Lexicon) renders the phrase used here "in the midst of security;" that is, unexpectedly, suddenly. The idea seems to be, that he would do it when the nation was not expecting it, or apprehending it; when they would be taken off their guard, and he would "steal a march upon them." All this accorded with fact. The nation seemed not to have anticipated that Antiochus would attempt to ascend the throne on the death of his brother. But he quietly left Rome - while Demetrius, his nephew, the true heir to the crown, remained there; came to Athens, and learned what was the state of things in Syria, where Heliodorus had usurped the authority; made an agreement with the king of Pergamos to aid him, and, by the assistance of a part of the Syrians who were opposed to the usurper Heliodorus, deprived him of the authority, and himself took possession of the crown. No one seemed to suspect that this was his aim, or to doubt that his object was to remove an usurper that his nephew might be placed on the throne.
And obtain the kingdom by flatteries - חלקלקות chălaqelaqqôth - "lubricitates, blanditioe." "The word," says Elliott (Rev. iv. 133), "has a double sense, being applied both to the slipperiness of a path, and the slipperiness or flattering and deceit of the tongue." In the former sense it occurs in Psalm 35:6, "Let their way be dark and slippery;" in the latter, its originating verb, Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 7:5, "The stranger that flattereth or dissembleth with his words;" and Proverbs 29:5, "A man that flattereth (or dissembleth to) his neighbor." In this latter sense the verbal seems to be used both here and in the verses Daniel 11:32, Daniel 11:34 below: "arts of dissimulation." - Gesenius. The probable meaning here is, that he would obtain the throne by acts of dissembling, and by promises of rewards and offices. Such promises he would probably make to Eumenes, king of Pergamos, and to the Syrian nobles and people who espoused his cause. It would not be difficult to secure the aid of multitudes in this way, and the character of Antiochus was just such as to permit him to use any of these arts to accomplish his ends. Perhaps, also, he might hold out the hope of aid from the Romans, with whom he had long lived. It was no uncommon thing for an usurper to make his way by flattering certain classes of a people, and by promises of largesses, of offices, and of the removal of oppressive burdens. Compare Prideaux, "Con." iii. 212. See also the case of Absalom in 2 Samuel 15:1-6.
on Daniel 11 :21
11:21 A vile person - Antiochus, called Epiphanes by his flatterers, but the people of God accounted him infamous, base, and treacherous. They - Neither peers nor people, nor was he the heir, but his nephew; but he crept in by flatteries.