The vision of Daniel 11 was prophecy in Daniel’s day, but much is now history. Fulfilled prophecy is one of the greatest proofs of the supernatural nature of Scripture. The accuracy of these prophecies is the reason critics attack the Book of Daniel, because they claim that nobody could write history in advance with 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. These critics believe it was written centuries after the events that Daniel received. If that is true, then it not a book of prophecy at all. They can’t deny the historicity of the events because they are recorded in secular history. Those who believe God know “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Col. 1:16-17). He raised up the prophets and through His Spirit spoke “the word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19-21).
Daniel 11:1 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 make 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).
Why does the world, the flesh, and the devil hate Jews? It is because they are a key element in God’s redemption of the world. They have been gifted by God to be His servants representing Him and His kingdom. So, Satan who opposes God and His will for the world, uses his power and influence along with the other fallen angels to thwart God’s plan. God has given all His creation freedom within the limits that He has determined. Satan and the fallen angels believe in their twisted minds that they can deter God’s will by their demonic plans. Yet God uses them through their free choices to accomplish His will. While they reap much destruction in their rebellion God uses it all. These demonic forces work in the world that for a season is under their dominion, again within the bounds of God’s sovereignty. They also work through the flesh, or self-willed nature of men to accomplish their evil plans.
Because of their sin and rebellion, Israel were not fulfilling their God appointed role. Gentiles then were grafted into God’s covenant with Israel to do what Israel failed to do. But Satan has been at work doing the same thing to the church as he did to Israel. He and demonic forces are at work using the world and the flesh to sidetrack the church from her role. Romans 9-11 describes this failure of Israel and the failure of the church. The summation of this failure is in Rom. 11:30-32:
“For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”
Michael and Gabriel overcame the spiritual warfare against the demonic forces opposed to Israel’s return from captivity and Darius and Cyrus showed compassion to the Jewish people giving them the freedom to return with both their support and blessings. 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).
11:2 Three Persian kings would follow Cyrus. The first was Cambyses (529–522 B.C.), the son of Cyrus the Great. He determined to invade Egypt and retrieve the territory that Nebuchadnezzar had gained but later lost. He conquered Egypt, but when he tried to take Ethiopia and Carthage, he failed in those campaigns and had to retreat. Cambyses died while marching home to unseat Smerdis a new king who by intrigue ruled in his absence. Smerdis reigned for about a year followed by the third king Darius I Hystaspes (521-486 B.C., Ezra 5-6).
The most important of the kings spoken of in Daniel 11:2 was Xerxes I, the fourth king, who is likely 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 the dates chronicled in Esther 1-2. He came home to find comfort 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 known for his great army and the speed at which they conquered the nations they 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 Generals Ptolemy and Seleucus who began dynasties bearing their names. These two are described as the kings of the north and the south described Daniel 11:5-20.
The nation of Egypt was 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:
|The Ptolemies and the Seleucids in Daniel 11:5-35|
(Kings of the “South,” Egypt)
(Kings of the “North,” Syria)
|Daniel||11:5||Ptolemy I Soter |
|Daniel||11:5||Seleucus I Nicator|
Antiochus I Sotert
|11:6||Antiochus II Theos|
|11:7-9||Seleucus II Callinicus|
|Ptolemy IV Philopator (221-204)||11:10-11,13, 15-19||Antiochus III the Great|
|11:17||Ptolemy V Epiphanes (204-181)|
|11:25||Ptolemy VI Philometer(181-145)||11:21-32||Antiochus IV|
Epiphanes Of Hanukkah (175-163)
|*The years designate the rulers’ reigns.|
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 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 young 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 II attacked Egypt in 240 and was defeated. He was forced 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, followed by 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 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 is sovereign over it all. These events worked together to set the stage for the coming of Messiah and to see a foreshadowning 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 then seized the throne. He was very successful in his military battles and knew how to combine deceit with brute force. He was victorious in his first battle against Egypt (Daniel 11:25-28), 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.
Despite deception on both sides, the Lord was still in control because 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 outpowered 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 in their lot in with him. These 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 Hellenization and helped his cause but the Maccabees led by Mattathias a Kohanim (priests) 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 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 days. 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.
In Daniel 11:21-35 As we have seen during the time of Antiochus and then later in the time of the antichrist there will be a falling away by God’s people. Yeshua spoke of such times in the New Covenant (Mark 13:8-13).
The king, Antiochus IV also known as Epiphanes (god incarnate), will do as he pleases. He set himself up “to be as great as the Prince of the host,” who is the Lord. Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 describe this as characteristics of Satan who is ultimately the one being spoken of in those passages. The rest of this chapter is referring to the future antichrist who is a child of the devil. There are similar aspects to Antiochus and antichrist especially where both have their likeness on images placed in the Temple and force the Jewish people to worship the image. Because Antiochus was so power-crazy, behind his back some mockingly called him Epimanes, “the mad one,” instead of Epiphanes. Paul alludes to Daniel 11:36, when he predicts that the coming Antichrist “will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thess. 2:4).
The future antichrist will speak against the God of gods and harkens back to Dan. 7:8 where the horn is described as having “a mouth that spoke boastfully” and “will speak against the Most High” (7:25). The antichrist will succeed until the time of wrath is completed. Daniel uses language like Isaiah in Isa. 10:25. The “indignation,” likely refers to the fury of antichrist vented against the Jews. God will not allow this period to go on indefinitely as he has set a time for it to end.
V 37 Some believe that this verse indicates that the Antichrist will be a Jew since he will show no regard for the gods of his fathers. However, what we see in Revelation and other Old and New Covenant Scriptures is that he has no regard for any god except himself. He will use the religious convictions of multiple religions to establish his own in establishing himself as god and savior of the world. The events of the first half of the tribulation and the solutions he provides will cause the non-elect to look to him rather than the God of Israel.
The statement that he will show no regard for the one desired by women has no consensus among commentators. Some explain it as a reference to the goddess Nanania, others Adonis, both deities from the array of Syrian dieties. Still others believe it refers to homosexuality, believing that he has no interest in women. While others see it as referring to Jewish women hoping to give birth to the Messiah. Gleason Archer suggests, “Perhaps it simply points to the cruelty Antiochus showed toward all women he was sexually involved with”.
V 38-39 The antichrist, like his father the devil will make war his god honoring a god of fortresses. This is his god and has Satan led a revolt of the angels so his incarnate son will lead the revolt of rebellious men against God and His chosen ones. He is Satan’s substitute for Yeshua the Messiah. Since he will be a worldly political and religious leader he will manipulate people the same way worldly popes ruled in the past. He will reward those who serve him by making them rulers and designating lands for them to rule. They in turn will give their loyalty and portions of their wealth to hi in return.
11:40 The angel then describes the kings of the South and North in the final conflict. These events complement the descriptions of the battles that will unfold at the end of the Great Tribulation. Some look to Ezekiel 38-39 to support that perspective. While these events are difficult to accurately predict it seems that the Antichrist will likely be at war with both Egypt and Syria or the equivalent of these nations in the battles of Armageddon. We need to hold prophecy loosely with the understanding that for now we see through a glass darkly and avoid dogmatic conclusions.
V 41 Not all countries will fall as Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be spared. Isaiah 11 describes some of these countries in alliance with a restored Israel. The South is Egypt and in this great battle with the Army from the north. Antichrist will strike defeating both armies who resist his rule. It will probably be at that time that he will enter Israel (“the glorious land”) and then effect the abomination of desolation (9:23; Matt. 24:15). With this victory, he will be established in power for the balance of his appointed time.
V 42-43 Following his victory over the king of the South antichrist will take control moving his forces through Libya and Ethiopia. His victory will enable him to increase his treasures of gold and silver and other objects of wealth. This wealth and victories move him to more battles which leads him to break his peace covenant with Israel solidifying his worldwide rule from Jerusalem.
V 44-45 In his march through North Africa antichrist will receive word about events involving Israel. This will lead to his final campaign in the battle of Armageddon since he will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. The seas are the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean, and the mountain is Moriah where the rebuilt temple will stand. Revelation 16:16: “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” Armageddon is Hebrew is a compound word “har” mount and Megiddo the area in the Jezreel valley that is below the ancient city of Megiddo.
Megiddo, is mentioned twelve times in the Old Testament (Josh. 12:21; 17:11; Judg. 1:27; 5:19; 1 Kgs. 4:12; 9:15; 2 Kgs. 9:27; 23:29-30; 1 Chr. 7:29; 2 Chr. 35:22; Zech. 12:11). It is a strategic location where the key highway connecting Egypt with Syria lies. No one can say with absolute certainty that Daniel 11:45 and Revelation 16:16 are referring to that site for the final battle between the sons of men and the sons of God, but no interpretation makes any better sense. Daniel’s angel seems to say that the great world leader will be defeated there.
Rather than getting bogged down in the details we never lose sight of the overall message of Daniel. That he is given a vision of the times of the Gentiles and the glorious future of Israel through the work of their Messiah Yeshua. God is in control of it all and in knowing how it will finally end there is a peace and assurance that those who trust and abide in God and His Messiah will experience a peace that the world cannot gives us.