The prophecy of Daniel 11:1-35 was prophecy in Daniel’s day but is now history. Fulfilled prophecy is one of the greatest proofs of the supernatural nature of the Scriptures. The accuracy of these prophecies are the reason that critics have attacked the Book of Daniel, because they claim that nobody could write in advance so many specific details about future people and events.
Their “scientific conclusions” is that the Book of Daniel is a fraud because they reject the supernatural they believe that it was written centuries after these events, and therefore is not a book of prophecy at all. They can’t deny the historicity of the events, because the records are recorded in secular history for all to read and cannot be denied. Those of us who believe in God and that He raised up the prophets have no problem accepting “the word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19-21).
Daniel 11:1-2 Verse 1 is connected to the previous chapter since it deals with the conflict with Satan’s angels. The rulers of Persia had no idea of the spiritual forces at work that are unseen. Satan was seeking to control their minds leading them to making decisions that would hurt God’s children. The Persian rulers were kinder to the Jewish people than Babylonians and Satan didn’t want this to happen. He hates the Jews and is the father of anti-Semitism wherever it is found (Revelation 12).
However, Michael and Gabriel won that battle and Darius and Cyrus showed compassion to the Jewish people in their captivity. It was Cyrus who issued the edict that permitted the Jewish people to return to the land and rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-4). Cambyses (529–522 B.C.), was the son of Cyrus the Great, and is likely the Ahasuerus of Ezra 4:6.
His passion was to invade Egypt and regain the territory that Nebuchadnezzar had gained but that was later lost. He did conquer Egypt, but when he tried to take Ethiopia and Carthage, he failed and had to retreat. Cambyses died while marching home to unseat a new king who by intrigue ruled in Cambyses absence. He reigned for about a year. The most important of the four kings spoken of in Daniel 11:2 was Xerxes I, the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther.
He ruled an empire that reached from Ethiopia to India and desired to conquer Greece. In 480 he tried to invade Greece, but his navy was defeated at Salamis and Samos, and his army was defeated at Plataea. Those defeats occurred between Esther 1-2 of Esther. He came home to find relief from his losses by enjoying his harem and the success of his kingdom. It was at this time that Esther entered the picture.
Daniel 11:3-4 The mighty king of Daniel 11:3 is, Alexander the Great, who retaliated against the Persians for Xerxes’ invasion. As we have learned in previous studies Alexander was know for his great army and the speed at which they conquered the nations he came against. No opposing army could stand in his way. In 332, Alexander defeated the Persians and in 323 he died and his kingdom was divided among four of his generals.
Alexander’s conquests were part of the sovereign plan of God. Greek language and Greek culture paved the way for a unified government and language that would allow the New Covenant to be embraced by the Western world. Alexander’s goal was not just to conquer territory but to bring people together in a “united empire.”
His soldiers married women from the conquered nations, and Alexander’s empire became a “melting pot” for all peoples. The four generals caused the Empire to be divided in four ways. The two that concern us are Gen. Ptolemy and Gen. Seleucus which began dynasties bearing their name and the kings of the north and the south described in Daniel 11:5-20.
The nations of Egypt is ruled by the Ptolemy’s (south) and Syria (north) by the Seleucids. Israel was caught between these two empires and was affected by their conflicts. Here is a chart that will help you to better understand these two monarchies, their times and the rulers:
Daniel 11:5 Egypt was wealthy due to its abundant fertility and strategic trading. Initially it was easy to protect. The “prince” who became “stronger” was Seleucus I Nicator, the general who originally won the eastern part of Alexander’s empire. Seleucus was driven out of the east by Lysamacus one of the four of Alexander’s succeeding generals, Selucus fled to Egypt for safety.
Ptolemy gave him protection and helped him outfit a new army. With that start he succeeded in driving Lysamacus out of Syria and Asia Minor, thus making himself “King of the North” and the master of most of Alexander’s former empire. He would have liked to control Judea too, taking it away from Egypt; but Ptolemy reminded Seleucus that without his help in the first place, he would never have staged his comeback.’
Daniel 11:6 After some years, they (King Ptolemy II Philadelphus and King Antiochus II Theos of Syria) will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South (Berenice) will go to the king of the North (Antiochus Theos) to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father (other translations use or include “child”) and the one who supported her.
“Around 250 B.C., King Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt (285-246 B.C.) and King Antiochus II Theos (261-246 B.C.) of Syria attempted to guarantee peace between their countries by having King Antiochus marry King Ptolemy’s daughter, Berenice. In the days of monarchies, the rulers used marriage as a means of forming strong political alliances, Solomon did this as well (1 Kings 3:1; 11:1ff).
Antiochus already had a wife, called Laodice. It was part of the deal that he divorce her. So the divorce was arranged, the new marriage was celebrated, and in due course a baby boy arrived who could someday be the next king. Unfortunately, Antiochus soon found that he didn’t like Berenice very well. He kept making comparisons between her and his first wife. And when Berenice’s father, the king of Egypt, died, Antiochus divorced her and took Laodice back again.
But Laodice had become bitter. She was afraid, too, of what her husband might do next. So using her royal powers in a manner all too common in those days, she had Antiochus, Berenice, and Berenice’s attendants and Bernice’s little son all murdered.
Daniel 11:7-9 The new king of Egypt Ptolemy III Euergetes was the brother of Berenice, and his aim was to defend his sister’s honor and avenge her death. He attacked the northern power led by Seleucus II Callinicus. Ptolemy III won the victory, and collected a great deal of wealth. Then the two kings ignored each other for some years until Seleucus attacked Egypt in 240, was defeated, and had to return home in shame. He was killed by a fall from his horse and his son Seleucus III Soter took the throne, only to be assassinated four years later. Antiochus III the Great, who ruled from 223 to 187, succeeded him.
Daniel 11:10-19 The sons of Seleucus II were Seleucus III, who was a successful general but was killed in battle, and Antiochus III the Great, who carried out the Syrian military program with great skill. He regained lost territory from Egypt, but in 217 the Egyptian army defeated the Syrians. This didn’t stop Antiochus, as he took his army east and got as far as India. In 201, Antiochus gathered another large army, joined forces with Philip V of Macedon, and headed for Egypt (Daniel 11:13-16), where he won a great victory against Ptolemy V Epiphanes.
Contrary to God’s law, but in fulfillment of the prophecies here in Daniel, some of the Jews in Israel joined with Antiochus, hoping to break free of Egyptian control; but their revolt was crushed by Egypt (Daniel 11:14). Antiochus then not only conquered Egypt and Sidon (Daniel 11:15), but also “the Beautiful land” of Israel (Daniel 11:16).
Once again marriage is used for political purposes. Antiochus offered to negotiate with the Egyptian leaders and to marry his daughter Cleopatra I to Ptolemy V, who was seven years old at the time! He hoped that his daughter would undermine the Egyptian government from within and use her position to help him take over. However, Cleopatra was loyal to her husband, so the marriage stratagem didn’t succeed.
Antiochus decided to attack Greece but was defeated at Thermopylae (191) and Magnesia (189). The “prince on his own behalf” (Daniel 11:18) was the Roman consul and general Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus who led the Roman and Greek forces to victory over Antiochus. At an earlier meeting, Antiochus had insulted the Roman general, but the Romans had the last word.
The Syrian leader died in 187 and his successor was his son Seleucus IV Philopator, who oppressed the Jewish people by raising taxes so he could pay tribute to Rome. Shortly after he sent his treasurer Heliodorus to plunder the Jewish temple, Seleucus Philopator suddenly died (probably poisoned), and so fulfilled Daniel 11:20. This opened the way for the Antiochus Epiphanes, the man behind the events of Hannukah to seize the throne. All this political intrigue shows us that while men form their plots, God’s will is going to be accomplished. These events worked together to set the stage for the coming of Messiah and to see a glimpse of what will unfold under the Antichrist.
Daniel 11:21-32 Daniel is now given details concerning Antiochus whom we were first introduced to in Daniel 8:9-14. Antiochus both in his character and conduct give us a picture of the future Antichrist. He gave himself the name “Epiphanes,” which means in Greek “appearance” or “manifestation. Gabriel calls him “a despicable person.”
Antiochus wasn’t the rightful heir to the throne, but he obtained it by cunning. The true heir was Demetrius Soter, who was very young, so Antiochus claimed to be his protector and seized the throne. He was very successful in his military battles and knew how to combine deceit with brute force. In his first battle against Egypt (Daniel 11:25-28), he won though he failed to take all of Egypt. He sat down at the bargaining table with the Egyptian leaders, never intending to keep any agreements.
In spite of deception on both sides, the Lord was still in control the timing was not just right yet for God’s purposes. While returning to Syria in 170, Antiochus turned his attention to Israel and the wealth in the temple (Daniel 11:28). He plundered and defiled the temple, abolished the daily sacrifices, killed a great many Jews, and left soldiers behind to keep things in control. Two years later (168) he again invaded Egypt, but this time the Romans (Daniel 11:30) confronted him and told him to stop.
“Ships of Chittim” is a reference to Cyprus which was under Roman authority at the time. He knew they out-powered him and grudgingly submitted but took out his anger on the Jews, with the help of Jewish traitors who forsook their hope in God and through their lot in with him. They were assimilated Jews who were promised to be rewarded by him for their help.
Daniel 11:33-35 In December, 168, Antiochus desecrated the temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and by offering a pig as a sacrifice. Gabriel described it as the “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:31). The future Antichrist will put his own image in the rebuilt Temple when he breaks his covenant with the Jewish people in the middle of the seven-year tribulation period, Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:27;11:31;12:11;Matthew 24:15;Mark 13:14).
Antiochus was doing his best not only to exterminate the Jewish people but also to eliminate the God of Israel from the earth. There were many assimilated Jewish people who enjoyed Helenization and helped his cause but the Maccabees led by Mattathias a Kohanim and his five sons revolted and began a guerilla war that eventually overcame Antiochus and his idolatrous agenda.
This was a time of testing and refining for the Jewish people, when they had to decide to obey the God of their fathers and possibly be slain, or submit to the pagan Syrian leaders and live as traitors to their faith (Daniel 11:34-35). Many Jews laid down their lives for their city, their temple, and their faith, and finally they won. On December 14, 165, the temple was purified and the altar dedicated (Daniel 8:9-14,23-25). Antiochus Epiphanes died in Persia in 163. Gabriel ends this section about Antiochus by reminding Daniel that what he had related to him had implications for Israel in “the end time” (Daniel 11:35).
Daniel 11:36-37. In Daniel 11:21-35 the focus has been on Antiochus Epiphanes but it appears that this section is no longer about him. The transition is the word “then” which points to some period between the days of Antiochus and the last day of history. During that time there will be a falling away by God’s people just as there was in the days that led to the rise of Antiochus. Yeshua spoke of such times in the New Covenant (Mark 13:8-13).
Jesus seems to have seen the description of Antiochus’s activity as foreshadowing the future when he speaks of an “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:31) that was yet to come (Mark 13:14). Over history there have been many suggestions whom these Scriptures refer to. Many answers have been proposed ranging from the Roman Empire (as John Calvin believed) to Herod, to Mohammed, to the papacy (as many Protestants held), to the view that is held by many of today’s interpreters, that it refers to the final Antichrist.
There is good reason to believe this view. This part of the prophecy is divided into three sections:
1) Daniel 11:36-39 describes the rising of the evil king who opposes all authority including God.
2) Daniel 11:40-45 the king of the north and his battle against the king of the south to gain dominion of the world, and his defeat;
3) Daniel 12:1-3, the deliverance of the people of God from the great tribulation. This evil ruler doesn’t suddenly appear in his true character and assume leadership over the world.
He begins his rise to power as a part of the ten-nation European coalition which is what Daniel saw in the ten toes of the beast described in Daniel 2; he is the “little horn” that emerges from the ten horns (Daniel 7:24ff).
He begins as a man of peace who “solves” the Arab/Israeli problem and proves himself to be a master politician. Gradually his evil plans are revealed, and at the middle of the seven-year period, he will break the covenant that he made with Israel, claim world control, and set himself up as god (Daniel 9:27;2 Thessalonians 2; Revelation 13).
Gabriel describes this evil ruler as a selfish and willful person, the exact opposite of Yeshua, who came to do the Father’s will”. He is a gifted speaker who will exalt himself we see a type of him in Hitler and Stalin. He is a man with no religious faith rejecting the god of his fathers.
He will appear to have growing success until Israel breaks its covenant with him because he enters the Temple and exalts himself as God and brings his forces against Israel. In Daniel 11:37 the phrase “the God of his fathers,” has led some to believe that the king must be Jewish.
This is not likely since this individual will be the final ruler in the Roman world, the little horn of the fourth beast, he must be a Gentile. The Antichrist will be an atheist and reject all religions except the one he establishes when he declares himself “god.” Not only will Antichrist reject all religion in general but he will oppose the Jewish religion in particular, especially the hope their Messiah will return and deliver them from their enemies.
His god is the god of might and of military power. When the people of the world worship the man of sin, they are actually worshiping Satan, the one who empowers the Antichrist. Like Antiochus Antichrist will reward those who worship him and his manufactured god. The fact that he has no regard for the one desired by women is an allusion to the Jewish hope that one born of a woman would be the Messiah and so he rejects the messianic hope of Israel. One reason women light the candles on the holy day is to remember that from a woman will come the “Light of the World” the Messiah.
Daniel 11:38-39 – The Antichrist will honor a god of fortresses which means his hope and salvation is in military strength. And because of his political and religious power he will be able to accumulate vast wealth. The god his fathers did not know who will give him strength is likely Satan, the god of this world. Though this king will come to power offering peace through a covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:27) he will use military power to expand his kingdom. Those who submit to his authority will be put in positions of power (he will greatly honor them).
Daniel 11:40-45 These events will occur at the end of the great tribulation. “Him” refers back to the king of Daniel 11:36. In this section every occurrence of “he”, “him”, and “his” refers to this coming king who is Antichrist. Since he entered into a covenant with Israel, binding them to his rule (Daniel 9:27), any attack, then, against them will be an attack against him.
The king of the South will attack Israel which we know from Daniel 11:5-35 is a king of Egypt this is reinforced in Daniel 11:42-43. Egypt will not come alone but will be joined by the Libyans and Ethiopians (Daniel 11:43). At the same time Israel will be invaded by the king of the North. The North likely refers to Gog and Magog, spoken of by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 38:14-15). The king of the North in Daniel 11:40 is not one of the Seleucid kings of the North in Daniel 11:5-35 as the invasion described here has to do with the end times.
The king of the South and the king of the North will fight against the Antichrist. Israel will be a battleground and many Jews will flee, seeking refuge among the Gentile nations (Revelation 12:14-16). When the Antichrist hears of this invasion, he will move his army from Europe to the Middle East through many countries and overwhelm them. He will move into the land of Israel (the Beautiful Land Daniel 11:41). He will attack Egypt and her allies who have attacked Israel first (Daniel 11:42-43).
At this point Edom, Moab, and Ammon which consist of the present kingdom of Jordan will be spared, but he will gain control over “many countries.” In Daniel 11:44-45 the Antichrist will hear reports from the east (probably referring to an invasion by a massive army of 200 million soldiers from east of the Euphrates River, Revelation 9:16) and from the north (likely another attack by the king of the North).
With great anger the Antichrist will bring his army against these invaders. This is the Battle of Armageddon as Antichrist will occupy Israel and will pitch his tents between the seas, which are a reference to the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, at the beautiful holy mountain, which is Jerusalem. Posing as the Messiah, he will set up his headquarters in Jerusalem having brought together the nations of the world under his authority. God will destroy the kingdom of this king (Daniel 7:11,26) at the second coming Yeshua to this earth (Zechariah 12-14; Revelation 19:19-20).