Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Hippolytus/The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus/Exegetical/On Daniel/Part 3

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Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. V, Hippolytus, The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus, Exegetical, On Daniel by Hippolytus, translated by Stewart Dingwall Fordyce Salmond
Part 3


Scholia on Daniel.[1]

Chap. i. 1 “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim.” The Scripture narrates these things, with the purpose of intimating the second captivity of the people, when Jehoiakim and the three youths with him, together with Daniel, were taken captive and carried off.

2. “And the Lord gave,” etc.  These words, “and the Lord gave,” are written, that no one, in reading the introduction to the book, may attribute their capture to the strength of the captors and the slackness of their chief. And it is well said, “with part,” for the deportation was for the correction, not the ruin, of the whole nation, that there might be no misapplication of the cause.

8. “And Daniel purposed in his heart.” Oh, blessed are they who thus kept the covenant of the fathers, and transgressed not the law given by Moses, but feared the God proclaimed by him. These, though captives in a strange land, were not seduced by delicate meats, nor were they slaves to the pleasures of wine, nor were they caught by the bait of princely glory. But they kept their mouth holy and pure, that pure speech might proceed from pure mouths, and praise with such (mouths) the heavenly Father.

12.  “Prove now thy servants.” They teach that it is not earthly meats that give to men their beauty and strength, but the grace of God bestowed by the Word. “And after a little.” Thou hast seen the incorruptible faith of the youths, and the unalterable fear of God. They asked an interval of ten days, to prove therein that man cannot otherwise find grace with God than by believing the word preached by the Lord.

19. “And among them all, was found none like Daniel.” These men, who were proved faithful witnesses in Babylon, were led by the Word in all wisdom, that by their means the idols of the Babylonians should be put to shame, and that Nebuchadnezzar should be overcome by three youths, and that by their faith the fire in the furnace should be kept at bay, and the desire of the wicked elders (or chiefs) proved vain.

Chap. ii. 3 “I have dreamed a dream.” The dream, then, which was seen by the king was not an earthly dream, so that it might be interpreted by the wise of the world; but it was a heavenly dream, fulfilled in its proper times, according to the counsel and foreknowledge of God.  And for this reason it was kept secret from men who think of earthly things, that to those who seek after heavenly things heavenly mysteries might be revealed. And, indeed, there was a similar case in Egypt in the time of Pharaoh and Joseph.

5. “The thing is gone from me.”  For this purpose was the vision concealed from the king, that he who was chosen of God., viz., Daniel, might be shown to be a prophet.  For when things concealed from some are revealed by another, he who tells them is of necessity shown to be a prophet.

10. “And they say, There is not a man.” Whereas, therefore, they declared it to be impossible that what was asked by the king should be told by man; God showed them, that what is impossible with man is possible with God.

14. “Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard” (literally, “the chief slaughterer or cook”). For as the cook slays all animals and cooks them, of a similar nature was his occupation. And the rulers of the world slay men, butchering them like brute beasts.

23. “Because Thou hast given me wisdom and might.” We ought therefore to mark the goodness of God, how He straightway reveals and shows (Himself) to the worthy, and to those that fear Him, fulfilling their prayers and supplications, as the prophet says: “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? and prudent, and he shall know them?”[2]

27. “Cannot the wise men, the magicians.” He instructs the king not to seek an explanation of heavenly mysteries from earthly men, for they shall be accomplished in their due time by God.

29. “As for thee, O king, thy thoughts.” For the king, on making himself master of the land of Egypt, and getting hold of the country of Judea, and carrying off the people, thought upon his bed what should be after these things; and He who knows the secrets of all, and searcheth the thoughts of the hearts, revealed to him by means of the image the things that were to be. And He hid from him the vision, in order that the counsels of God might not be interpreted by the wise men of Babylon, but that by the blessed Daniel, as a prophet of God, things kept secret from all might be made manifest.

31. “Behold a great image.” How, then, should we not mark the things prophesied of old in Babylon by Daniel, and now yet in the course of fulfilment in the world? For the image shown at that time to Nebuchadnezzar furnished a type of the whole world. In these times the Babylonians were sovereign over all, and these were the golden head of the image. And then, after them, the Persians held the supremacy for 245 years, and they were represented by the silver. Then the Greeks had the supremacy, beginning with Alexander of Macedon, for 300 years, so that they were the brass. After them came the Romans, who were the iron legs of the image, for they were strong as iron. Then (we have) the toes of clay and iron, to signify the democracies that were subsequently to rise, partitioned among the ten toes of the image, in which shall be iron mixed with clay.

31. “Thou sawest,” etc.  Apollinaris on this: He looked, and behold, as it were, an image. For it did not appear to him as an actual object, presented to the view of an onlooker, but as an image or semblance. And while it contains in it many things together, that is in such a way that it is not really one, but manifold. For it comprised a summary of all kingdoms; and its exceeding splendour was on account of the glory of the kings, and its terrible appearance on account of their power. Eusebius Pamphili, and Hippolytus the most holy bishop of Rome, compare the dream of Nebuchadnezzar now in question with the vision of the prophet Daniel. Since these have given a different interpretation of this vision now before us in their expositions, I deemed it necessary to transcribe what is said by Eusebius of Cæsarea, who bears the surname Pamphili, in the 15th book of his Gospel Demonstration;[3] for he expounds the whole vision in these terms: “I think that this (i.e., the vision of Nebuchadnezzar) differs in nothing from the vision of the prophet. For as the prophet saw a great sea, so the king saw a great image. And again, as the prophet saw four beasts, which he interpreted as four kingdoms, so the king was given to understand four kingdoms under the gold, and silver, and brass, and iron. And again, as the prophet saw the division of the ten horns of the last beast, and three horns broken by one; so the king, in like manner, saw in the extremities of the image one part iron and another clay. And besides this, as the prophet, after the vision of the four kingdoms, saw the Son of man receive dominion, and power, and a kingdom; so also the king thought he saw a stone smite the whole image, and become a great mountain and fill the sea. And rightly so. For it was quite consistent in the king, whose view of the spectacle of life was so false, and who admired the beauty of the mere sensible colours, so to speak, in the picture set up to view, to liken the life of all men to a great image; but (it became) the prophet to compare the great and mighty tumult of life to a mighty sea. And it was fitting that the king, who prized the substances deemed precious among men, gold, and silver, and brass, and iron, should liken to these substances the kingdoms that held the sovereignty at different times in the life of men; but that the prophet should describe these same kingdoms under the likeness of beasts, in accordance with the manner of their rule. And again, the king—who was puffed up, as it seems, in his own conceit, and plumed himself on the power of his ancestors—is shown the vicissitude to which affairs are subject, and the end destined for all the kingdoms of earth, with the view of teaching him to lay aside his pride in himself, and understand that there is nothing stable among men, but only that which is the appointed end of all things—the kingdom of God. For after the first kingdom of the Assyrians, which was denoted by the gold, there will be the second kingdom of the Persians, expressed by the silver; and then the third kingdom of the Macedonians, signified by the brass; and after it, the fourth kingdom of the Romans will succeed, more powerful than those that went before it; for which reason also it was likened to iron. For of it is said: “And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron; as iron breaketh and subdueth all things, so shall it break and subdue all things.” And after all these kingdoms which have been mentioned, the kingdom of God is represented by the stone that breaks the whole image. And the prophet, in conformity with this, does not see the kingdom which comes at the end of all these things, until he has in order described the four dominions mentioned under the four beasts. And I think that the visions shown, both to the king and to the prophet, were visions of these four kingdoms alone, and of none others, because by these the nation of the Jews was held in bondage from the times of the prophet.”

33. “His feet,” etc.  Hippolytus: In the vision of the prophet, the ten horns are the things that are yet to be.

34. “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut.” Thou sawest, as it were, a stone cut without hands, and smiting the image upon its feet. For the human kingdom was decisively separated from the divine; with reference to which it is written, “as it were cut.” The stroke, however, smites the extremities, and in these it broke all dominion that is upon earth.

45. “And the dream is certain.”  That no one, therefore, may have any doubt whether the things announced shall turn out so or not, the prophet has confirmed them with the words, “And the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure;” I have not erred in the interpretation of the vision.

46. “Then king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face.” Nebuchadnezzar hearing these things, and being put in remembrance of his vision, knew that what was spoken by Daniel was true. How great is the power of the grace of God, beloved, that one who a little before was doomed to death with the other wise men of Babylon, should now be worshipped by the king, not as man, but as God! “He commanded that they should offer manaa”[4] (i.e., in Chaldee, “oblation”) “and sweet odours unto him.” Of old, too, the Lord made a similar announcement to Moses, saying, “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh;”[5] in order that, on account of the signs wrought by him in the land of Egypt, Moses might no longer be reckoned a man, but be worshipped as a god by the Egyptians.

48. “Then the king made Daniel a great man.” For as he had humbled himself, and presented himself as the least among all men, God made him great, and the king established him as ruler over the whole land of Babylon. Just as also Pharaoh did to Joseph, appointing him then to be ruler over the whole land of Egypt.

49. “And Daniel requested,” etc.  For as they had united with Daniel in prayer to God that the vision might be revealed to him, so Daniel, when he obtained great honour from the king, made mention of them, explaining to the king what had been done by them, in order that they also should be deemed worthy of some honour as fellow-seers and worshippers of God. For when they asked heavenly things from the Lord, they received also earthly things from the king.

Chap. iii. 1 “In the eighteenth year,” etc. (These words are wanting in the Vulgate, etc.) A considerable space of time having elapsed, therefore, and the eighteenth year being now in its course, the king, calling to mind his vision, “made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits.”  For as the blessed Daniel, in interpreting the vision, had answered the king, saying, “Thou art this head of gold in the image,” the king, being puffed up with this address, and elated in heart, made a copy of this image, in order that he might be worshipped by all as God.

7. “All the people fell.” Some (did so) because they feared the king himself; but all (or “most”), because they were idolaters, obeyed the word commanded by the king.

16. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered,” etc. These three youths are become an example to all faithful men, inasmuch as they did not fear the crowd of satraps, neither did they tremble when they heard the king’s words, nor did they shrink when they saw the flame of the blazing furnace, but deemed all men and the whole world as nought, and kept the fear of God alone before their eyes. Daniel, though he stood at a distance and kept silence, encouraged them to be of good cheer as he smiled to them. And he rejoiced also himself at the witness they bore, understanding, as he did, that the three youths would receive a crown in triumph over the devil.

19. “And commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more.” He bids the vast furnace be heated one seven times more, as if he were already overcome by them. In earthly things, then, the king was superior; but in faith toward God the three youths were superior. Tell me, Nebuchadnezzar, with what purpose you order them to be cast into the fire bound? Is it lest they might escape, if they should have their feet unbound, and thus be able to extinguish the fire? But thou doest not these things of thyself, but there is another who worketh these things by thy means.

47.[6] “And the flame streamed forth.” The fire, he means, was driven from within by the angel, and burst forth outwardly. See how even the fire appears intelligent, as if it recognised and punished the guilty. For it did not touch the servants of God, but it consumed the unbelieving and impious Chaldeans. Those who were within were besprinkled with a (cooling) dew by the angel, while those who thought they stood in safety outside the furnace were destroyed by the fire. The men who cast in the youths were burned by the flame, which caught them on all sides, as I suppose, when they went to bind the youths.

92 (i.e., 25). “And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Tell me, Nebuchadnezzar, when didst thou see the Son of God, that thou shouldst confess that this is the Son of God? And who pricked thy heart, that thou shouldst utter such a word? And with what eyes wert thou able to look into this light? And why was this manifested to thee alone, and to none of the satraps about thee? But, as it is written, “The heart of a king is in the hand of God:” the hand of God is here, whereby the Word pricked his heart, so that he might recognise Him in the furnace, and glorify Him. And this idea of ours is not without good ground. For as the children of Israel were destined to see God in the world, and yet not to believe on Him, the Scripture showed beforehand that the Gentiles would recognise Him incarnate, whom, while not incarnate, Nebuchadnezzar saw and recognised of old in the furnace, and acknowledged to be the Son of God.

93 (i.e., 26). “And he said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” The three youths he thus called by name. But he found no name by which to call the fourth. For He was not yet that Jesus born of the Virgin.

97 (i.e., 30). “Then the king promoted,” etc. For as they honoured God by giving themselves up to death, so, too, they were themselves honoured not only by God, but also by the king. And they taught strange and foreign nations also to worship God.

Chap. vii. 1   “And he wrote the dream.” The things, therefore, which were revealed to the blessed prophet by the Spirit in visions, these he also recounted fully for others, that he might not appear to prophesy of the future to himself alone, but might be proved a prophet to others also, who wish to search the divine Scriptures.

2. “And behold the four winds.”  He means created existence in its fourfold division.

3. “And four great beasts.” As various beasts then were shown to the blessed Daniel, and these different from each other, we should understand that the truth of the narrative deals not with certain beasts, but, under the type and image of different beasts, exhibits the kingdoms that have risen in this world in power over the race of man. For by the great sea he means the whole world.

4. “Till the wings thereof were plucked.” For this happened in reality in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, as has been shown in the preceding book. And he bears witness directly that this very thing was fulfilled in himself; for he was driven out of the kingdom, and stripped of his glory, and of the greatness which he formerly possessed. “And after a little:” the words, “It was made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it,” signify that Nebuchadnezzar, when he humbled himself, and acknowledged that he was but a man, in subjection under the power of God, and made supplication to the Lord, found mercy with Him, and was restored to his own kingdom and honour.

5. “A second beast like to a bear.” To represent the kingdom of the Persians.  “And it had three ribs.” The three nations he calls three ribs. The meaning, therefore, is this: that beast had the dominion, and these others under it were the Medes, Assyrians, and Babylonians. “And they said thus to it, Arise, devour.” For the Persians arising in these times, devastated every land, and made many men subject to them, and slew them. For as this beast, the bear, is a foul animal, and carnivorous, tearing with claws and teeth, such also was the kingdom of the Persians, who held the supremacy for two hundred and thirty years.

6. “And, lo, another beast like a leopard.” In mentioning a leopard, he means the kingdom of the Greeks, over whom Alexander of Macedon was king. And he likened them to a leopard, because they were quick and inventive in thought, and bitter in heart, just as that animal is many-coloured in appearance, and quick in wounding and in drinking man’s blood.

“The beast had also four heads.” When the kingdom of Alexander was exalted, and grew, and acquired a name over the whole world, his kingdom was divided into four principalities. For Alexander, when near his end, partitioned his kingdom among his four comrades of the same race, viz., “Seleucus, Demetrius, Ptolemy, and Philip;” and all these assumed crowns, as Daniel prophesies, and as it is written in the first book of Maccabees.

7. “And behold a fourth beast.”  Now, that there has arisen no other kingdom after that of the Greeks except that which stands sovereign at present, is manifest to all. This one has iron teeth, because it subdues and reduces all by its strength, just as iron does. And the rest it did tread with its feet, for there is no other kingdom remaining after this one, but from it will spring ten horns.

“And it had ten horns.” For as the prophet said already of the leopard, that the beast had four heads, and that was fulfilled, and Alexander’s kingdom was divided into four principalities, so also now we ought to look for the ten horns which are to spring from it, when the time of the beast shall be fulfilled, and the little horn, which is Antichrist, shall appear suddenly in their midst, and righteousness shall be banished from the earth, and the whole world shall reach its consummation. So that we ought not to anticipate the counsel of God, but exercise patience and prayer, that we fall not on such times. We should not, however, refuse to believe that these things will come to pass. For if the things which the prophets predicted in former times have not been realized, then we need not look for these things. But if those former things did happen in their proper seasons, as was foretold, these things also shall certainly be fulfilled.

8. “I considered the horns.”  That is to say, I looked intently at the beast, and was astonished at everything about it, but especially at the number of the horns.  For the appearance of this beast differed from that of the other beasts in kind.

13. “And came to the Ancient of days.” By the Ancient of days he means none other than the Lord and God and Ruler of all, and even of Christ Himself, who maketh the days old, and yet becometh not old Himself by times and days.

14. “His dominion is an everlasting dominion.” The Father, having put all things in subjection to His own Son, both things in heaven and things on earth, showed Him forth by all as the first-begotten of God, in order that, along with the Father, He might be approved the Son of God before angels, and be manifested as the Lord also of angels: (He showed Him forth also as) the first-begotten of a virgin, that He might be seen to be in Himself the Creator anew of the first-formed Adam, (and) as the first-begotten from the dead, that He might become Himself the first-fruits of our resurrection.

“Which shall not pass away.” He exhibited all the dominion given by the Father to His own Son, who is manifested as King of all in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and as Judge of all: of all in heaven, because He was born the Word, of the heart of the Father before all; and of all in earth, because He was made man, and created Adam anew of Himself; and of all under the earth, because He was also numbered among the dead, and preached to the souls of the saints, (and) by death overcame death.

17. “Which shall arise.” For when the three beasts have finished their course, and been removed, and the one still stands in vigour,—if this one, too, is removed, then finally earthly things (shall) end, and heavenly things begin; that the indissoluble and everlasting kingdom of the saints may be brought to view, and the heavenly King manifested to all, no longer in figure, like one seen in vision, or revealed in a pillar of cloud upon the top of a mountain, but amid the powers and armies of angels, as God incarnate and man, Son of God and Son of man—coming from heaven as the world’s Judge.

19. “And I inquired about the fourth beast.” It is to the fourth kingdom, of which we have already spoken, that he here refers:  that kingdom, than which no greater kingdom of like nature has arisen upon the earth; from which also ten horns are to spring, and to be apportioned among ten crowns. And amid these another little horn shall rise, which is that of Antichrist. And it shall pluck by the roots the three others before it; that is to say, he shall subvert the three kings of Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia, with the view of acquiring for himself universal dominion. And after conquering the remaining seven horns, he will at last begin, inflated by a strange and wicked spirit, to stir up war against the saints, and to persecute all everywhere, with the aim of being glorified by all, and being worshipped as God.

22. “Until the Ancient of days come.” That is, when at length the Judge of judges and the King of kings comes from heaven, who shall subvert the whole dominion and power of the adversary, and shall consume all with the eternal fire of punishment. But to His servants, and prophets, and martyrs, and to all who fear Him, He will give an everlasting kingdom; that is, they shall possess the endless enjoyment of good.

25. “Until a time, and times, and the dividing of time.” This denotes three years and a half.

Chap. ix. 21   “And, behold, the man Gabriel…flying.” You see how the prophet likens the speed of the angels to a winged bird, on account of the light and rapid motion with which these spirits fly so quickly in discharge of orders.

Chap. x. 6   “And the voice of His words.” For all we who now believe on Him declare the words of Christ, as if we spake by His mouth the things enjoined by Him.

7. “And I saw,” etc. For it is to His saints that fear Him, and to them alone, that He reveals Himself. For if any one seems to be living now in the Church, and yet has not the fear of God, his companionship with the saints will avail him nothing.

12. “Thy words were heard.”  Behold how much the piety of a righteous man availeth, that to him alone, as to one worthy, things not yet to be manifested in the world should be revealed.

13. “And lo, Michael.” Who is Michael but the angel assigned to the people? As (God) says to Moses, “I will not go with you in the way, because the people are stiff-necked; but my angel shall go with you.”

16. “My inwards are turned” (A.V., “my sorrows are turned upon me”). For it was meet that, at the appearing of the Lord, what was above should be turned beneath, in order that also what was beneath might come above.—I require time, he says, to recover myself, and to be able to endure the words and to make reply to what is said.—But while I was in this position, he continues, I was strengthened beyond my hope. For one unseen touched me, and straightway my weakness was removed, and I was restored to my former strength. For whenever all the strength of our life and its glory pass from us, then are we strengthened by Christ, who stretches forth His hand and raises the living from among the dead, and as it were from Hades itself, to the resurrection of life.

18. “And he strengthened me.”  For whenever the Word has made us of good hope with regard to the future, we are able also readily to hear His voice.

20. “To fight with the prince of Persia.” For from the day that thou didst humble thyself before the Lord thy God thy prayer was heard, and I was sent “to fight with the prince of Persia.” For there was a design not to let the people go. Therefore, that thy prayer might be speedily answered, “I stood up against him.”

Chap. xii. 1   “There shall be a time of trouble.” For at that time there shall be great trouble, such as has not been from the foundation of the world, when some in one way, and others in another, shall be sent through every city and country to destroy the faithful; and the saints shall travel from the west to the east, and shall be driven in persecution from the east to the south, while others shall conceal themselves in the mountains and caves; and the abomination shall war against them everywhere, and shall cut them off by sea and by land by his decree, and shall endeavour by every means to destroy them out of the world; and they shall not be able any longer to sell their own property, nor to buy from strangers, unless one keeps and carries with him the name of the beast, or bears its mark upon his forehead.  For then they shall all be driven out from every place, and dragged from their own homes and haled into prison, and punished with all manner of punishment, and cast out from the whole world.

2. “These shall awake to everlasting life.” That is, those who have believed in the true life, and who have their names written in the book of life. “And these to shame.” That is, those who are attached to Antichrist, and who are cast with him into everlasting punishment.

3. “And they that be wise shall shine.” And the Lord has said the same thing in the Gospel: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun.”[7]

7. “For a time, times, and an half.” By this he indicated the three and a half years of Anti-christ. For by a time he means a year; and by times, two years; and by an half time, half a year. These are the “one thousand two hundred and ninety days” of which Daniel prophesied.

9. “The words are closed up and sealed.” For as a man cannot tell what God has prepared for the saints; for neither has eye seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man (to conceive) these things, into which even the saints, too, shall then eagerly desire to look; so He said to him, “For the words are sealed until the time of the end; until many shall be chosen and tried with fire.” And who are they who are chosen, but those who believe the word of truth, so as to be made white thereby, and to cast off the filth of sin, and put on the heavenly, pure, and glorious Holy Spirit, in order that, when the Bridegroom comes, they may go in straightway with Him?

11. “The abomination of desolation shall be given (set up).” Daniel speaks, therefore, of two abominations: the one of destruction, which Antiochus set up in its appointed time, and which bears a relation to that of desolation, and the other universal, when Antichrist shall come. For, as Daniel says, he too shall be set up for the destruction of many.[8]


  1. Mai, Script. vet. collectio nova, i. p. iii. pp. 29–56.
  2. Hos. xiv. 9.
  3. This book is not now extant, the first ten alone having reached our time.
  4. [The minchah, that is.]
  5. Ex. vii. 1.
  6. The verses are numbered according to the Greek translation, which incorporates the apocryphal “song of the three holy children.”
  7. Matt. xiii. 43.
  8. “By the most holy Hippolytus, (bishop) of Rome: The Exact Account of the Times,” etc. From Gallandi. This fragment seems to have belonged to the beginning or introduction to the commentary of Hippolytus on Daniel.