Cleopatra was one powerful woman. We don’t have any Cleopatras in the United States, but we have a whole lot of Jezebels in the government.
I want to go back 100 or so years and take a closer look at the Little Horn, at…
Vision of the Ram, Goat and Horn
1 In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first.
“Third year” – about 551 B.C. The events of chapter 8 preceded those of chapter 5.
2 And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai.
3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
“Ram” – the ram represents the Medo-Persian Empire. The longer of his two horns reflects the predominant position of Persia.
4 I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.
5 And as I was considering, behold, a he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.
“Goat” – the rapidly charging goat is Greece, and the prominent horn is Alexander the Great, “the first king” (v. 21).
6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.
7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.
“Brake his two horns” – Greece crushes Medo-Persia.
8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
“The great horn was broken” – the death of Alexander the Great at the height of his power (323 B.C.).
9 And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.
8:9-12 – “Little horn” – another horn emerges not from the ten horns belonging to the fourth kingdom, but rather from one of the four horns belonging to the third kingdom. This “little horn” is Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who during the last few years of his reign (168-164 B.C.) made a determined effort to destroy the Jewish faith.
He in turn served as a type of the even more ruthless beast of the last days, who is also referred to in 7:8 as “another little horn.” Antiochus was to extend his power over Israel, “the pleasant land” and defeat the godly believers there (referred to as “the host of heaven,” many of whom died for their faith.
Then he set himself up to be the equal God (“the prince of the host”) and ordered the daily sacrifices to end. Eventually the army of Judas Maccabeus recaptured Jerusalem and rededicated the temple to the Lord (Dec 165 B.C.) – the origin of the Feast of Hanukkah, (see Jn 10:22) still celebrated by Jews today.
10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.
11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
12 And a host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered.
13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?
“One saint” – an angel.
14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
There were two daily sacrifices for the continual burnt offerings, representing the atonement required for Israel as a whole. The 2,300 evenings and mornings probably refer to the number of sacrifices consecutively offered on 1,150 days, the interval between the desecrations of the Lord’s altar and is re-consecration by Judas Maccabeus on Kislev 25, 165 B.C.
The pagan altar set up by Antichus on Kislev 25, 168, was apparently installed almost two months after the Lord’s altar was removed, accounting for the difference between 1,09f days (an exact three years) and 1,150 specified here.
15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.
16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.
17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.
18 Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright.
19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.
20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
8:23-25 – a description of Antiochus IV and his rise to power by intrigue and deceit (he was not the rightful successor to the Seleucid throne).
24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.
“Prince of princes” – God.
“Broken without hand” – Antiochus died in 164 B.C. at the Tabae in Persia through illness or accident; God “broke” him.
27 And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.
Cleopatra’s family ruled Egypt for more than 100 years before she was born around 69 B.C. The stories and myths surrounding Cleopatra’s tragic life inspired a number of books, movies and plays, including Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare. Cleopatra has become one of the most well-known ancient Egyptians.
She was the last ruler of the Macedonian dynasty. The line of rule was established in 323 B.C., following the death of Alexander the Great and ended with Egypt’s annexation by Rome in 30.
Cleopatra’s father was King Ptolemy XII. Little is known about Cleopatra’s mother, but some speculation presumes she may have been her father’s sister, Cleopatra V Tryphaena. Debate also surrounds Cleopatra’s ethnicity. While it was believed for a long time that she was of Greek descent, some speculate that her lineage may have been black African.
In 51 B.C., Ptolemy XII died, leaving the throne to 18-year-old Cleopatra and her brother, the 10-year-old Ptolemy XIII. It is likely that the two siblings married, as was customary at the time. Over the next few years Egypt struggled to face down a number of issues, from an unhealthy economy to floods to famine.
Political turmoil also shaped this period. Soon after they assumed power, complications arose between Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII. Eventually Cleopatra fled to Syria, where she assembled an army to defeat her rival in order to declare the throne for herself. In 48, she returned to Egypt with her military might and faced her brother at Pelusium, located on the empire’s eastern edge.
Life With Caesar
Around this same time, the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey was consuming Rome. Pompey eventually sought refuge in Egypt, but on orders by Ptolemy, was killed.
In pursuit of his rival, Julius Caesar followed Pompey into Egypt, where he met and eventually fell in love with Cleopatra. In Caesar, Cleopatra now had access to enough military muscle to dethrone her brother and solidify her grip on Egypt as sole ruler.
Following Caesar’s defeat of Ptolemy’s forces at the Battle of the Nile, Caesar restored Cleopatra to the throne. Soon after, Ptolemy XIII fled and drowned in the Nile.
In 47 B.C. Cleopatra bore Caesar a son, whom she named Caesarion. However, Caesar never acknowledged the boy was his offspring, and historical debate continues over whether he was indeed his father.
Cleopatra eventually followed Caesar back to Rome, but returned to Egypt in 44 B.C., following his assassination.
In 41 B.C., Marc Antony, part of the Second Triumvirate that ruled Rome following the murder of Caesar, sent for Cleopatra so that she could answer questions about her allegiance to the empire’s fallen leader.
Cleopatra agreed to his request and made a lavish entrance into the city of Tarsus (Paul’s hometown). Captivated by her beauty and personality, Antony plunged into a love affair with Cleopatra that would eventually produce three children, including twins named Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene.
Just like Caesar before him, Antony was embroiled in a battle over Rome’s control. His rival was Caesar’s own great-nephew, Gaius Octavius, also known as Octavian (who became the future Emperor Caesar Augustus).
Gaius Octavius, along with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, rounded out the Second Triumvirate. Antony, who presided over Rome’s eastern areas, detested Gaius Octavius and saw in Cleopatra the chance for financial and military support to secure his own rule over the empire.
Cleopatra had her own motivations, as well. In exchange for her help, she sought the return of Egypt’s eastern empire, which included large areas of Lebanon and Syria.
In the year 34 B.C., Antony returned with Cleopatra to Alexandria with a triumphant flair. Crowds swarmed to the Gymnasium to catch a glimpse of the couple seated on golden thrones that were elevated on silver platforms. Beside them sat their children.
Antony antagonized his rival by declaring Caesarion as Caesar’s real son and legal heir, rather than Octavian, whom the revered Roman leader had adopted.
Octavian, however, fought back, declaring he’d seized Antony’s will, and told the Roman people that Antony had turned over Roman possessions to Cleopatra and that there were plans to make Alexandria the Roman capital.
In the year 31 B.C., Cleopatra and Antony combined armies to try to defeat Octavian in a raging sea battle at Actium, on Greece’s west coast. The clash, however, proved to be a costly defeat for the Egyptians, forcing Antony and Cleopatra to flee back to Egypt.
Antony soon returned to the battlefield, where he was falsely informed that Cleopatra had died. Upon hearing the news, the despondent Roman leader committed suicide by stabbing himself.
Cleopatra followed her lover’s demise by ending her life as well by being bitten by an Egyptian cobra. She died on August 12, 30 B.C. The two were buried together, as they had wished, and Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire.
In the centuries following her death, Cleopatra and her life have captivated historians, storytellers, and the general public. Her affair with Marc Antony and its end became the inspiration for William Shakespeare’s play Antony and Cleopatra (1607).
More recently, seductive versions of her have been played by actresses such as Theda Bara (1917), Claudette Colbert (1934) and Elizabeth Taylor (1963).
Her story resonates, too, because of what she represented in such a male-dominated society. In an era when Egypt was roiled by internal and external battles, Cleopatra held the country together and proved to be as powerful a leader as any of her male counterparts.
… Antiochus IV Epiphanes