The Kings of the North and South
In this presentation there will be a concentrated focus on history, which will not be light reading, but must be seen as very important extra Biblical knowledge. A close study of the detailed prophecy in this section of work will show an amazing connection with history, which unfolded hundreds of years after Daniel’s time. The detail once more reveals God’s hand in the historical events, and His control of world events.
Daniel did not return with the exiles to Jerusalem, so two years on, he is concerned for his people which causes him to fast and pray for them. Possibly the news of the condition of Jerusalem and the strife with the Samaritans (Ezra 4:24) had reached Daniel in Persia. The vision, therefore, is given to remove the concerns Daniel has about the dramatic future events.
Chapter 10 reveals through the experience of the prophet Daniel, an important revelation on spiritual warfare. Through a study of the chapter, we are better able to understand the part spiritual warfare plays in the affairs of men and nations. Chapter 10 also gives us the setting and background for another of Daniel’s visions. The primary purpose of the vision is to give a detailed explanation of the fortunes of the Jewish people in the future, under the rule of Medo-Persia, Greece, Egypt (Ptolemies) and Syria (Seleucids). Overlapping the rule of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, we are given a preview of the coming world ruler, the Antichrist, of which Antiochus IV was a shadow of this reality (chapter 9 [part 2] in this series covered this in some detail). Chapter 10 sets the stage for the spectacular and detailed prophecy message in Daniel 11, introducing the specifics of the world kingdoms prophesied about earlier in the book, and concerning particular crises through which Daniel’s people must go.
Revelation of a Great War (10:1-3)
“ In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. 3 I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.” (10:1-3)
Once more Daniel starts by giving context to the narrative, writing that he received the word, “in the third year of Cyrus,” this would have been about 536 BC, three years after King Cyrus of Medo-Persia had captured the city of Babylon.
Daniel was going through a time of self-denial, and mourning, we are not given a reason, but it was most likely because of the small number of Jews who had chosen to return to Jerusalem. In answer to his prayers, he is given a “word” from God, which reveals a future of “great conflict,” involving a complex series of wars: From the conquest of Persia by Alexander, through the six Syrian Wars (274-168 BC), right up to the Maccabean war just prior to the time of Jesus. This is of great importance for the Jews, as through this time of turmoil, with conflict upon conflict, and the Jews having to adjust to the rule of different powers, they are being made aware that God foreknew this and is in control at all times.
Daniel’s Vision of an Angel (10:4-7)
“On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves.” (10:4-7)
Daniel is standing on the banks of the Tigris River, a major world river that flows parallel with the Euphrates, merging into one immense river just before flowing into the Persian Gulf. The city of Babylon is situated on the Euphrates, so if Daniel is on the banks of the Tigris at its closest point to Babylon, he is only 50km away from the city. Daniel then receives a vision of an angel, he is the only one who sees the angel, but those with Daniel experience the awesomeness of his presence, and flee in terror. The appearance of the angel is indeed grand, and theologians’ debate whether this was a vision of Jesus or whether it was an angel. The fact that Daniel, “fell on (his) face” before the angel implies that it was the Lord, also the description is remarkably like what John saw, when confronted by “one like the Son of Man” in Revelation 1.
Daniel’s vision compared with John’s vision in Revelation 1:12-16
The supernatural being Daniel saw in his vision is most likely a Christophany/Metatron, i.e., an appearance of the preincarnate Son of God. Remembering that the word “angel” means messenger, and therefore would apply to Jesus appearing with a “word” for Daniel. Those theologians who deny that the angel is Jesus, erase the evidence of Jesus as the Son of God continually interacting with mankind – from the Garden of Eden to Abraham on to Daniel. A study comparing the similarities between Daniel 10:5-6 and Revelation 1:12-16 is strong evidence for a Christophany.
|Clothing||“Dressed in linen” (Vs.5)||“Robe reaching to His feet” (Vs.13)||Priestly clothing, dignity|
|Belt||“gold” (Vs.5)||“golden” (Vs.13)||Priestly service (ex. 28: 40, 41) Kingship; Kingdom Glory. Jesus is both King & High Priest|
|Eyes||“Like flaming torches” (Vs.6)||“Like blazing fire” (Vs.14)||All-seeing, penetrating insight|
|Lower body||“Legs… like burnished bronze” (Vs.6)||“Feet like… burnished bronze” (Vs.15)||Judgement against sin|
|Voice||“Like the sounds of a multitude” (Vs.6)||“Like the sounds of rushing water” (Vs.5)||Majestic, Strength and Authority|
- Linen – priestly garment (Ex. 28:39-43), indicates purity and righteous acts.
- Chrysolite – a gold or yellow-coloured gemstone, use as the seventh foundation stone of New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:19-20).
Daniel’s reaction to the appearance of the Angel. (10:8-9)
“8 So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength. 9 Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground”.
Daniel is now over 80 years old, and he has been on a regimented diet for three weeks, so he would not have been a robust figure. However, it is likely that even the staunchest of individuals would have succumbed to the vision, there is a physical, emotional and spiritual toll that comes with these experiences with God. There is a great commitment and dedication required in continued spiritual warfare. Paul, describes spiritual warfare as a “wrestling”, and uses the metaphor of a soldier preparing for combat when describing the armour a believer needs in preparation for each day (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Daniel is Greatly Loved (10:10-12)
“10 And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, ‘O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you’. And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words”.
The messenger restores Daniel to his feet, and then explains to him that he has been sent in response to Daniel’s fervent prayers. There is a valuable lesson for a believer’s relationship with God to be learned from this conversation, especially when compared to the similar incident at the start of Daniel chapter 9. Both Daniel 9 and 10 starts with Daniel humbling himself before God, and ensuring that his physical nature is in submission to his spiritual nature. Daniel well understood the phrase “come near to God and He will come near to you” (James 4:8), so he commits himself to a disciplined prayer life. Daniel’s obedience, dedication and faithfulness to God, earn a title of “greatly loved” from God. There is no greater title than this that has been given to any person, and like all elite awards it is earned through great self-sacrifice and commitment. “I know of no greater blessing that can happen to any man and woman here, than to be assured by the Spirit of God that they are greatly beloved of the Lord” (Charles Spurgeon). In both cases, Daniel is rewarded with great prophetic insights, that have value that extends to all believers right up to this day and beyond. All believers owe a debt of gratitude to the perseverance and character of that exceedingly gifted and devout man, Daniel.
Demonic Strongholds (10:13-14)
” 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come’” (Daniel 10:12-14).
The angel in explaining to Daniel the reason for the delayed answer to his prayer gives the believer great insight into spiritual warfare at the highest level. Daniel is informed that the answer to his prayer was dispatched on the very day he made his request known. However, the message was delayed three weeks because the angel was opposed by the Prince of Persia, a demon so strong that the elite warrior angel, Michael, was dispatched to deal with the threat. The Prince of Persia is no mere man, but is clearly a powerful demonic being with great authority over the Persian Empire. To put this revelation into context, one needs to carefully read the narrative recorded by Matthew regarding the temptation of Jesus by Satan:
“8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me’. 10 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” (Matthew 4:8-10).
Note that Jesus does not deny that Satan has authority over the “kingdoms of the world,” but rather rebukes Satan for attempting to receive worship. Scripture indicates that there is a demonic hierarchy, with Satan as its head. The Prince of Persia would be in the upper echelons of that pyramid of power, being an extremely powerful demon having authority over numerous other demons. Verse 20 gives confirmation of this referring to the Prince of Greece, as a future spiritual battle yet to occur. Believers are being shown that there are spiritual strongholds over not only our nations, but also our cities, and suburbs. Most churches look to evangelise their community, but how many of them spend time in prayer breaking down the spiritual stronghold over their community? I have asked a number of pastors and elders what the spiritual strongholds are in their community, and without exception I have received a blank look as my answer, as if I was speaking to them in a foreign language. How will it be possible for a church to properly evangelise their community, unless they breakdown the strongholds over their population? Paul makes it very clear:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10: 4-5).
In churches today, we are taught to believe that the strongholds are personal attacks from Satan such as battles with depression, or habits such as smoking and drinking. These demonic powers are at the bottom of the hierarchy, what about the warfare against the princes? Most communities will have a Queen of Heaven stronghold reigning over their area. This demonic stronghold is related to syncretism and orthodoxy, where man’s traditions and philosophies dominate over the Word of God. This spiritual stronghold is seen in the seven letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation, through the woman Jezebel, who encourages compromise with the world, thus allowing paganism to enter into the church of Thyatira. Multitudes of people who are “Christians,” are going to hell because of their bondage to the Queen of Heaven’s deception, namely, that they are saved through the traditions of their church. What are evangelical churches doing about it? Nothing! In fact, many evangelical churches openly support these churches’ efforts to evangelise in their communities.
The narrative, by indicating the time period of prayer as being three weeks, is reinforcing the understanding that believers need to pray until the answer comes. Prosperity Theology has indoctrinated a belief that all you need to do is pray once, and then have enough faith; the individual is told “God is not deaf! He has heard you, have faith and you will receive your answer”. These “name it and claim it,” false prophets do not take into account the spiritual battle that takes place over our prayers. Daniel received his answer after 21 days of continual prayer, if Daniel had stopped praying after 20 days, he would have not received his answer. Believers must understand that prayer is fuel for angels.
In verse 12 the angel stresses the importance of the vision Daniel is about to receive, for not only is it “for the days yet to come,” but also for the nation of Israel all the way to the Last Days. This statement counteracts Replacement Theology belief that God has finished with Israel, and that the Church is the new Israel, as the messenger clearly states that the vision is for Daniel to “understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days”. Daniel’s people are the nation of Israel, and clearly God is underlining that He has a plan and a purpose for them all the way up to the End Times.
Daniel Receives Strength (10:15-19)
“15 When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute. 16 And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, ‘O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. 17 How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me’. 18 Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, ‘O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage’. And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me’'” (10:15-19).
The experience greatly weakens Daniel and once more he drops to the ground, not even being able to speak a word. The Angel touches his lips and provides him with both rejuvenating spiritual energy and physical energy, so that Daniel is able to continue.
Enter the Prince and Greece (10:20-11:1)
“20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince“ (Daniel 10:20-21).
“1 And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him” (Daniel 11:1).
As was stated earlier the “prince of Persia,” was a demonic stronghold, now the added presence of the demonic “prince of Greece,” is confirmation of demonic strongholds over regions. These demons have influence over the rulers in the regions, and the angel reveals that the next spiritual battle will be against the prince of Greece, which will occur after Alexander the Great conquers Persia in 330 BC (200 years in the future), and lays claim to the Near East. This revelation of the demonic powers’ influence over kings and armies is an insight into the conflicts that will occur in the Great Tribulation, when the gloves are off, and demonic activity is at its peak.
The angel introducing Michael to Daniel as “your prince,” has suggested to many theologians that Michael is the angel with the responsibility of defending Israel. It is more likely that since Michael is the archangel responsible for defending all of God’s children, at that time, that would have only been God’s covenant people, i.e. the Jews.
Introduction to Chapter 11
Chapter 11 is an extremely detailed chapter with prophecies predicting the history of the Near East 375 years into the future, and also End Times prophecies with details of the Antichrist. The great detail of the prophecies in chapter 11, and the accuracy of their fulfilment, has largely been the motivating reason behind the belief by some of Daniel’s later date writing. Critics cannot accept the detailed accuracy of the prophecy and therefore make the assumption that it must have been written at a later date, i.e., during the time of the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV and the Maccabean revolt, with the aim of the deception being to encourage the Jews. However, no acceptable evidence has been produced to support their claim, and, as was covered in the last presentation on chapter 9, Daniel’s prophecies continued to be accurately fulfilled after the Maccabean wars.
The detail of the prophecy, and the complexity of the history of the region necessitates that certain parts of the chapter will be summarized, in order to give the reader an overall understanding of the prophecies. The information pertaining to the Antichrist at the end of the chapter will be covered in more detail.
Identifying Four Persian Kings (11:2)
“2 And now I will show you the truth. Behold, three more kings shall arise in Persia, and a fourth shall be far richer than all of them. And when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece.”
To detail the rise and fall of pagan kings over hundreds of years is no easy task, as succession to the throne and the legitimacy of the individual’s royal claim can be disputed. Even the United States had a president for a day, when David Rice Atchison, a 19th-century U.S. Senator, served as president with full authority, on March 4, 1849. So, the angel in giving hundreds of years of prophecy has a complex duty. He starts from the beginning, with the succession of Persian kings from the time of Daniel. The angel informed Daniel that there would be three more Persian kings, until a fourth arose. So, the focus of the prophecies is on this fourth king in the future succession of Persian kings. Who is he?
- Cyrus the Great (576-530 BC) was on the Persian throne at the time of the vision.
- Cambyses (530-522 BC) – King number 1.
- Smerdis (or Gaumata; 522 BC) – The brother of Cambyses ruled for less than a year is king number 2.
- Darius I Hystaspes (522-486 BC) – King number 3.
- Xerxes I (486-464 BC) – King number 4.
The fourth king that “shall be far richer than all of them” is therefore Xerxes I. It was he who built a bridge across the Hellespont (Bosporus strait), and marched his army into Greece in 480 BC. His goal was to avenge the defeat of his father Darius at the battle of Marathon, and reassert Persia as the dominant military power. Xerxes’ attempt to conquer Greece was a failure, although he did succeed in looting and burning much of central Greece, and Athens to the ground, he is remembered more for his failures. Although he defeated the Greeks at Thermopylae, it was a pyrrhic victory, with history focusing on the valent efforts of the 300 Spartans. Then, the much smaller Greek navy, through better tactics, defeated the huge armada of Persian vessels at Salamis, forcing Xerxes to withdraw back to Persia. Xerxes had elevated Persia to be “far richer” than his predecessors, but ironically, his defeat in Greece saw the start of the decline of the Persian empire. The Greeks would not forget the two invasions of their homeland by the Persians, and looked for the opportunity to avenge this atrocity. It was however, not a Greek but a Macedonian who would rise to power 150 years later to lead the way into Persia, a young king named Alexander the Great.
An Empire Divided (11:3-4)
“3 Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do as he wills. 4 And as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the authority with which he ruled, for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these”.
The angel’s prophecy now leaps forward in time to Alexander the Great, who is the “mighty king (who) shall arise”; this is a repetition of prophecy given to Daniel in previous visions (7:6; 8:5-7, 22). Alexander died of fever after a drunken party in Babylon, he was only 32. His Empire was then divided up by four of his generals, which the angel refers to as “divided toward the four winds of heaven”. This prophecy is a repeat of the vision in Daniel 8, where the he-goat (Greece) with one prominent horn (Alexander) tramples a ram (Persia), after which the prominent horn is replaced by four horns (Alexander’s generals).
The angel then goes on to clarify the heritage of Alexander’s succession, saying “but not to his posterity”. None of Alexander’s descendants succeeded him, for 40 years leading generals and members of Alexander’s family vied to take control of Alexander’s empire. Alexander did leave heirs to his throne, all of them needing regents for support of their claim. There was a mentally deficient half-brother named Philip, Alexander’s wife Roxanna and their son (also Alexander), and an illegitimate son named Hercules. The in-fighting amongst all those making claims on the Empire, resulted in all Alexander’s descendants being killed and four of Alexander’s generals dividing the empire between them:
- The kingdom of Cassander: The region consisted of the home countries of Macedonia and Greece, and also included parts of Thrace. The Kingdom was ruled by Antigonus I Monophthalmus (“one eye” having been struck by a catapult bolt in the eye), founding the Antigonid Dynasty. The kingdom is named Cassander after Antigonus’ son.
- The kingdom of Lysimachus: the region included regions of modern-day Turkey such as Lydia, Ionia and Phrygia, the capital being the city of Pergamum. The kingdom was ruled by Lysimachus, who founded the Attalid Dynasty.
- The kingdom of Seleucus: The region included present-day Iran, Iraq, Syria, and parts of Central Asia. The kingdom was ruled by Seleucus I Nicator, who founded the Seleucus Dynasty, from which the infamous Antiochus IV Epiphanes would rise to power.
- The kingdom of Ptolemy: The kingdom included Egypt and neighbouring regions. The kingdom was ruled by Ptolemy I Soter, who founded the Ptolemic Dynasty.
The rest of the angel’s prophecy focuses on two of the four inheritors of Alexander’s realm, and the dynasties they established. The focus is on these two nations, as Judah was strategically positioned between the two powers – the Seleucids in the North, and the Ptolemies in the South. Judah was also positioned where the trade routes that connected Africa, Asia and Europe passed through – and consequently, the Promised Land was highly sought after, and became a much fought over territory.
The Flow of History
In this final vision of the book of Daniel, God gave Daniel insights into the two empires, Persia and Greece, and then into the Ptolemaic, and Seleucid dynasties of the Greek empire. These two powers vied for control over the Promised Land, and when in control they enforced their will upon the Jews, which had an effect on their cultural, political and religious values.
The prophetic insights into the two empires, Persia and Greece, were given not only because they would be the controlling powers over the Promised Land, but also because both empires would attempt to eradicate the Jews:
- The book of Esther details the attempts by Haman the Amalekite to annihilate every Jew in the Persian Empire during the reign of Xerxes I.
- Antiochus Epiphanies IV attempted to eradicate Judaism and Hellenise all Israel. Hellenization was a process started by Alexander the Great, who imposed the Greek culture on captured populations. Antiochus violently opposed Judaism, putting to death families found with scriptures, and killing fathers who circumcised their sons. Jews were to be educated in the lifestyle and philosophy of the Greeks and worship the Greek gods.
Jews during these times of persecution, could be assured through the prophecies of Daniel that the attempts at their eradication would not succeed. God had an unfolding plan and purpose for Israel, and these events were where great faith and trust in Yahweh would be required. God’s love for His people is revealed in chapter 11, where He gives detailed revelation, which gives clarity to future events, and ministers to His people. One student of biblical prophecy indicated that in the first 35 verses of Daniel 11, there are some 135 prophetic statements – all of them are now fulfilled. The important message for us today is not only that God is in control of the events of mankind, and believers may be encouraged by this in hard times, but also that we can have confidence that just as these prophecies were fulfilled literally, the future events still unfulfilled will be fulfilled literally, and with the same degree of accuracy.
Wars between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids (11:5-9)
“Then the king of the south shall be strong, but one of his princes shall be stronger than he and shall rule, and his authority shall be a great authority” (11:5).
As Israel is the centre of prophecy, when the angel speaks of the king of the North or South, the direction is being taken from Jerusalem, the Lord’s Holy City. Therefore, the North is the Seleucid empire in Syria, and the South is the Ptolemy empire in Egypt. There was a continued conflict between these two dynasties for over 130 years, with Israel uncomfortably situated in the middle, the Holy Land became the prize for whichever of the two dynasties was stronger at that time. At the start of the Syrian Wars, Judea was under control of the rule of the Ptolemies – the stronger “king of the South”.
So, the king of the South of verse 5 is Ptolemy I Soter (323-285 BC), who went from being a general to the Egyptian Pharoah, but as that was not enough for the man, he gave himself the title “Soter,” meaning “saviour”. Hubris was not in short supply amongst these dynasties, which would explain the constant conflict between the two powers.
The man the angel describes as “one of (Ptolemies) princes,” in second part of verse 5, is Seleucus I Nicator (312/311-280 BC). When the empire was divided in 321 BC, he was given the governorship (satrapy) of Babylon. In 316 BC, Antigonus I Monophthalmus of Macedonia, required that Seleucus provide an account of the income of Babylonia. Seleucus refused and was forced to seek refuge with Ptolemy I Soter in Egypt, serving in the king’s court. After Demetrious, the son of Antigonus was defeated at Gaza in 312 BC by Ptolemy I and Seleucus I, Seleucus I is able take back control of Babylonia with a small army. In time, Seleucus I greatly increased in power, and signalled the start of the Seleucid dynasty, controlling the largest portion of Alexander’s empire, which included Babylonia, Syria, and Media – “his authority shall be a great authority”.
“6 After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king. of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement. But she shall not retain the strength of her arm, and he and his arm shall not endure, but she shall be given up, and her attendants, he who fathered her, and he who supported her in those times” (11:6).
Wanting to ensure peace between the two Hellenic kingdoms, Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BC) of Egypt, and Antiochus II Theos (261-246 BC) of Syria, signed a peace treaty (250 BC). As was common amongst kings of the age, “the daughter of the king of the south,” Berenice, was given in marriage to Antiochus II Theos as part of the peace agreement. The idea being that the two kingdoms were now related and this would ensure peace. World War I dramatically exposed the error of this thinking – despite all the Royal families of Europe and Russia being interrelated, the family ties had no effect in stopping the “war to end all wars”. This manufactured alliance was not to work out either, when Ptolemy II died, Antiochus II put away Berenice and took back his former wife, Laodice (whom he had divorced to execute this treaty with Egypt). Laodice, back in a position of power, murdered Antiochus, Berenice, and their child, to ensure that the way was open for her son Seleucus II Callinicus (246-226 BC) to succeed to the Syrian throne.
“7 And from a branch from her roots one shall arise in his place. He shall come against the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north, and he shall deal with them and shall prevail. 8 He shall also carry off to Egypt their gods with their metal images and their precious vessels of silver and gold, and for some years he shall refrain from attacking the king of the north. 9 Then the latter shall come into the realm of the king of the south but shall return to his own land” (11:7-9).
Verse 7 shines a light on the consequences of the murder of Berenice, “And from a branch from her roots,” is her brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-221 BC), who is the ruling Pharoah in Egypt. The angel explains that this branch of her roots, would avenge her murder. Ptolemy III does exactly that, invading Syria, and starting the Third Syrian War (246-241 BC). Ptolemy III captures and loots Antioch, the capital of the Seleucid kingdom, humbling king Seleucus II (246-225 BC). The Third Syrian war comes to an end when a treaty is signed in 240 BC between the two kings. Ptolemy III was forced to halt his march through Syria and sue for peace because of domestic troubles at home, and the increase of famine in Egypt, which was caused by a drastic drop in the level of the Nile. A drastic drop in the level of the Nile was a very bad omen for Egypt, as the Nile was inextricably linked to the favour of the Egyptian gods. Verse 9 seems to imply a later but unsuccessful retaliation by Seleucus II, but there is no corroboration of this attack in the historical records of the time.
Antiochus III the Great vs. Ptolemy IV and V (11:10-19)
Seleucus II and Ptolemy III die and the Syrian Wars between Egypt and Syria move to the next generation.
“His sons shall wage war and assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall keep coming and overflow (overwhelm [NKJV]) and pass through, and again shall carry the war as far as his fortress.“ (11:10)
The prophecy now turns to the sons of Seleucus II and Ptolemy III, who continue the conflict between the two kingdoms. The two sons of Seleucus II are the focus of this prophecy, as, although Seleucus III Ceraunus (226-223 BC) only occupied the throne for 3 years, his military efforts were significant. Then his brother Antiochus III the Great (223-187 BC) ruled for 36 years. During that time Antiochus III was a successful general, restoring the territory lost to the Ptolemies, including the Holy Land, which Antiochus III “overwhelm(ed) and pass(ed) through”.
“11 Then the king of the South will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North, who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. 12 When the army is carried off, the king of the South will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands yet he will not remain triumphant. 13 For the king of the North will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped” (11:11-13, [NIV]).
Now the focus moves to Ptolemy IV Philopator (221-203 BC), who is enraged at the success of Antiochus III, and assembles an army of 70 000 infantry, 5 000 cavalry, and 73 elephants, and marches North to deal with the Seleucid invasion. Ptolemy IV confronted Antiochus III, who has amassed an army of 62 000 infantry, 6 000 cavalry, and 102 elephants at Gaza (Raphia) in 217 BC. What followed was the largest confrontation between the two Hellenistic dynasties, and the only recorded battle involving African and Indian elephants. Ptolemy IV was victorious, and once more, like the child of a divorced couple, control of the Holy Land changed hands.
Ptolemy IV does “not remain triumphant,” because he dies in 203 BC, and he is succeeded by his son, a mere boy aged 5 years old – Ptolemy V Epiphanes (204-181 BC). Antiochus III sees the youth as weak, and ceases the opportunity to take back which he had lost to Ptolemy IV, which results in the Fifth Syrian War (202-195 BC).
- Statistic on the size of the two armies was provided by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Jesus Walk Bible Series, Daniel 8: http://www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm (02/05/19).
“14 In those times many shall rise against the king of the south, and the violent among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they shall fail. 15 Then the king of the north shall come and throw up siegeworks and take a well-fortified city. And the forces of the south shall not stand, or even his best troops, for there shall be no strength to stand. 16 But he who comes against him shall do as he wills, and none shall stand before him. And he shall stand in the glorious land, with destruction in his hand” (11:14-16).
The army of Antiochus III is bolstered by support from other nations, including another Hellenic kingdom – Macedonia. Also, a number of Jewish mercenaries join the Syrians, being keen to throw off the yoke of Egypt, they are the “violent among your own people,” that the angel was referring to. The support of Antiochus III by the Jews proved to be fruitless, as his rule was just as bad as the Egyptians.
The Egyptian army is beaten by Antiochus III at the battle of Panium in 199 BC, and retreats to the city of Sidon, Antiochus then besieges the city “throw(ing) up siegeworks and take a well-fortified city”. Having dominated the Egyptian forces, Antiochus III regained control over the Holy Land, and he sees Jerusalem as an important strategic city in the region, establishing the city as a Syrian fortress, making “a stand in the glorious land”.
” 17 He shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and he shall bring terms of an agreement and perform them. He shall give him the daughter of women to destroy the kingdom, but it shall not stand or be to his advantage” (11:17).
Antiochus III as part of a treaty agreement, gives his daughter Cleopatra I to be the wife of Ptolemy V (193 BC). This Cleopatra is not the well-known queen of Antony and Cleopatra fame, that story is still 100 years in the future. Romance however, does play a major role in Cleopatra’s life, as she falls in love with Ptolemy V and sides with Egypt against her father. The love match foils Antiochus’ plan to use her to bring down the Egyptian kingdom.
“18 Afterward he shall turn his face to the coastlands and shall capture many of them, but a commander shall put an end to his insolence. Indeed, he shall turn his insolence back upon him. 19 Then he shall turn his face back toward the fortresses of his own land, but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found” (11:18-19).
With his daughter happily married, and Egypt no longer an option, Antiochus III turns his attention to the coastal regions of Asia Minor and Greece in 192 BC. As Rome was growing as the dominant power in the Mediterranean, the move of his armies Westward brought Antiochus III into conflict with Rome. However, Antiochus III believed he had an ace up his sleeve, the nemesis of Rome – Hannibal. After Hannibal’s policies in Carthage had become very unpopular, he had found refuge in the royal court of Antiochus III, becoming his military advisor. Unfortunately for Antiochus III, the Roman General, Lucius Cornelius Scipio, was a great general who was well schooled in the tactics of Hannibal, and the Syrian army was defeated in Greece. Scipio proved to be the “commander (who) put an end to his insolence”. The arrogance of Antiochus III in attacking Greece turned into humiliation, with the Romans enforcing restrictions to his military capabilities and forcing him to pay costs for the war. Antiochus III, was also required to give Rome 20 hostages, who would be used as leverage over any thoughts of future conflict with Rome. One of the hostages was the man who would one day become the infamous Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The turbulent life of Antiochus III comes to an ignominious end in 187 BC, when, because of mounting debt, he raids a temple in Babylon, intending to loot its treasures, and is killed by an enraged local mob – “he shall stumble and fall, and not be found”.
Some readers who are not fans of history may be finding the interpretation of Daniel’s last vision a hard grind, but there is a need to emphasize the precision of the prophecy which was given to Daniel 295 years before Antiochus III was born. Thus, Daniel 11 emphasizes God’s foreknowledge and His control over history.
Looting the Temple (11:20)
“His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendour. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle.” (11:20 [NIV])
After the death of Antiochus III, he is succeeded by his oldest son Seleucus IV Philopater (187-175 BC), who not only inherits the throne, but also the kingdom’s problems. To meet the Roman demand of 1 000 talents in tribute a year, Seleucus sends his prime minister Heliodorus, who is referred to as “tax collector” by the angel, to plunder the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Contemptible Person (11:21)
We’ve already outlined the events of the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in Daniel 8:8-13. What is covered in this last half of the document is a comparison between Daniel’s vision in chapter 11 with what contemporary history tells us of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
“He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honour of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue.” (11:21)
Another grave mistake Seleucus was to make, was that he freed his brother Antiochus IV, exchanging him for his son Demetrius I Soter. Not long after the exchange, Seleucus IV was assassinated by Heliodorus in 175 BC, with the aim of claiming the Seleucid throne. On hearing the news Antiochus IV made his way back to Syria, and with his nephew Demetrius I still imprisoned in Rome, he also made a claim for the Seleucid throne. Antiochus as third in line to the throne is “not given the honour of royalty,” but serves as regent to another son of Seleucus, an infant also named Antiochus. Antiochus IV proved to be a good politician, which should not be seen as a compliment! He looked to “seize the throne through intrigue,” flattering and making smooth promises to the Syrian people. He did likewise with Syria’s neighbours the king of Pergamum (Attalus dynasty), and the Romans. Having bided his time, and feeling secure in his position of authority, being the “contemptible person” that he was, he assassinated his young nephew and seized the throne of Syria. Antiochus IV gave himself the title Epiphanes, meaning “god manifest,” the Jews, using a play on words, called him Epimanes, which means “the madman”. The latter was indeed an accurate title for Antiochus IV.
The Prince of the Covenant (11:22-24)
“22 Armies shall be utterly swept away before him and broken, even the prince of the covenant. 23 And from the time that an alliance is made with him he shall act deceitfully, and he shall become strong with a small people. 24 Without warning he shall come into the richest parts of the province, and he shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers’ fathers have done, scattering among them plunder, spoil, and goods. He shall devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time” (11:22-24).
The Sixth Syrian War (170-168 BC), started when the son of Cleopatra I, Ptolemy VI Philometor (181-146 BC), looked to regain the territory of the Holy Land, and the Eastern Mediterranean coastal cities. Antiochus IV confronted Ptolemy VI in the Sanai and defeated him, the Egyptian army being “utterly swept away before (Antiochus IV) and broken”. Ptolemy VI was forced to make a pact of friendship with Antiochus IV, effectively making Egypt a vassal state of the Seleucid Dynasty. While in the Holy Land, Antiochus plundered “the richest parts of the province,” and murders “prince of the covenant,” Onias III, the high priest.
The Sixth Syrian War (11:25-27)
“25 And he shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south with a great army. And the king of the south shall wage war with an exceedingly great and mighty army, but he shall not stand, for plots shall be devised against him. 26 Even those who eat his food shall break him. His army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. 27 And as for the two kings, their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. They shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail, for the end is yet to be at the time appointed” (11:25-27).
Verses 25-27 give more detail to the Sixth Syrian war, which was mentioned in verse 22. The pact of friendship that Antiochus IV forced Ptolemy VI to agree to, was done so with neither of the two kings being sincere, and truthful.
What happened next was of great significance for the Jews and their Holy City. Ptolemy VI looked to free himself from the constrains of Antiochus IV, and started to recruit mercenaries from Greece to strengthen his army. Antiochus IV got wind of the plot and moved back into Egypt capturing Memphis and crowning himself king of Egypt. Ptolemy VI, safe behind the walls of Alexandria looks to Rome for help. As Egypt is the bread basket of the Mediterranean, the Romans had a strong interest in who had control over Egypt. Gaius Popillius Laenas is sent by Rome to confront Antiochus IV at Eleusis, and tell him that he was to agree to a peace treaty, and withdraw from Egypt. Antiochus replied that he would think on the matter and discuss it with his counsellors. This is when Gaius Popillius Laenas drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus, and told him that he was to make his decision before he left the circle – this is where the expression “drawing a line in the sand” originated.
Antiochus IV Attacks Jerusalem (11:28)
“The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country.” (11:28)
A rumour had spread in Jerusalem that Antiochus IV was killed in Egypt, causing the Jews to revolt against the Syrian authority established by Antiochus IV. Having been humiliated by the Roman’s, Antiochus is of poor temperament, when on his journey home he hears of the rebellion in Jerusalem. Antiochus unleashes his frustration and aggression on Judah, slaughtering not only soldiers, but citizens as well, the young and old, male and female, massacring 80 000 Jews, and selling 40,000 as slaves. Antiochus’ heart was “set against (the people of) the holy covenant”.
Rome reveals her growing Authority (11:29-30a)
“29 At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be this time as it was before. 30 For ships of Kittim (the western coastlands [NIV]) shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw …” (11:29-30a)
The angel once more makes reference to Antiochus’ campaign in Egypt, and how during his march from Memphis to Alexandria, the Roman fleet (“ships from the western coastlands) with Gaius Popillius Laenas arrived in Alexandria.
Rome is the fourth kingdom in both Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue with iron legs, and Daniel’s vision of the fourth ravenous beast. Once more Daniel’s prophecies are accurately revealing the future, Rome had grown into the dominant power in the Mediterranean region, and continued to expand her empire Eastward, eventually conquering all the Hellenic Territories – Macedonia, Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt and the focus of Daniel’s prophecies, the Holy Land.
The Abomination of Desolation (11:30b-32)
“… And shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay attention to those who forsake the holy covenant 31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate. 32 He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action”.
Antiochus IV correctly believed that it was the Jewish faith in Yahweh, and their customs and traditions that were the root cause of the Jews’ rebellious behaviour. So, in an effort to ensure his control over the region, he determined to impose strict Hellenization, with the aim to eradicate Judaism. His fist target was the Temple – Antiochus defiled the Holy Place by offering a pig on the sacrificial alter, and erecting a statue of Zeus on the Temple Mount – “the abomination that makes desolate” (cf. Daniel 8:13-14). As Antiochus believed he was “god manifest,” the face of the statue of Zeus had his likeness. Antiochus then issued the following ordinances:
- Temple worship was abolished.
- All scriptures were to be destroyed; the possession of scriptures was to be punishable by death
- Circumcision was forbidden; fathers who circumcised their sons were to be put to death.
- All Jews were ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods and to eat the meat of the pigs sacrificed; to refuse to do so was punishable by death.
Having applied a heavy rod of discipline, Antiochus then offered the carrot – Jews who opted to Hellenize were rewarded with favour in the community, the aim being to “seduce with flattery”.
The abomination of Desolation is a Type of the Reality
The statue of Zeus erected by Antiochus IV in the Temple is a type of the statue of the Antichrist, that the False Prophet will erect in the last days (Rev.13:14). The name Zeus is derived from the Greek word “Theos”, meaning god, the statue of the Antichrist will represent the Antichrist’s godhood, and will be worshipped. In the world today there are many faiths – including the dominant Western belief of humanism – that believe that mankind has the ability to attain godhood. There should therefore, be no surprise in the revelation that the Prosperity Theology cult holds to a doctrine that upon a believer receiving the Holy Spirit, they become equal with Jesus. They deny the hypostatic union (Jesus is all God, and all man), and believe Jesus gave up His Godhood, coming to the earth a mere man, and that He operated in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In His most detailed prophecy of the end time, Jesus said, “When you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place…, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:15-16). Jesus was referring to the repeated references in the Book of Daniel (8:13; 9:27; 11:31) as typology, and warning that this was a mere shadow of the reality yet to come, which will be fulfilled in the Antichrist.
Rebellion by the Maccabees (11:33-35)
“33 And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. 34 When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, 35 and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.”
After Antiochus IV had brutally put down the rebellion, he left generals in charge of Judea, and went to secure his eastern border against the threat of the Parthians. With Antiochus away, the inevitable occurred, the Jews revolted. To ensure Hellenization of Judea, Syrian overseers and soldiers went to villages throughout Judea, enforcing the decree that required all Jews to worship the Greek gods and make sacrifice to them. One of the overseers reached a village 27 kilometres northwest of Jerusalem called Modein, and demanded that the leader, a man called Mattathias, offer a sacrifice to the pagan gods. Mattathias refused, and when a Jew from the village stepped forward to make the offering, Mattathias killed him and then killed Antiochus’ officer. Mattathias then shouted “whoever is for God follow me,” and thus started the Maccabean rebellion. Three of Mattathias’ five sons became involved in the rebellion – Judas, Jonathan, and Simon – becoming known as the Maccabees (“hammer”). In time the Maccabees threw off the oppressive yoke of the Seleucids, winning back, not only their political freedom, but their religious freedom as well. In 165 BC the Temple was cleansed of all pagan objects and rededicated by the priests, so worship of Yahweh could resume. Verses 34-35 point to the cleansing process that took place amongst the Jews during the rebellion, with most Jews returning back to Judaism and joining the Maccabean cause. Those who did not, were executed as traitors by the Maccabees.
The all-powerful god man, Antiochus was defeated by the Parthians, and soon after fell ill and died. The Seleucid kingdom did not last long after the death of Antiochus, being divided up between the Romans and the Parthians.
The Maccabees succeeded in defeating the Syrian-Greeks in 165 BC, and were overjoyed at reclaiming Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. Preparations were immediately made to cleanse the Temple of all pagan objects, and for the priests to carry out the rededication, so that the worship of Yahweh could resume. The Holy Place inside the Temple has no windows, so there is no natural light. The area is therefore lit by the golden seven-branched menorah (lamp stand), which requires purified olive oil. When the priests looked to light the menorah, only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks could be found. Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, until priests could prepare new oil under the purity requirements. To commemorate the rededication of the Temple and the miraculous provision from God, the Jews instituted the festival of Hanukkah which means “dedication”.
The Church faces the same problem as the Maccabean Jews, in that we need to cleanse our faith of the contamination of paganism. The origins of that contamination started when Alexander the Great was tutored by the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle, who indoctrinated him on the idea of a one-world civilisation, united by Greek culture. It is this ideology that drove Antiochus to attempt to exterminate Judaism and Hellenize his kingdom. Rome may have succeeded in conquering the Hellenic territories, but Greek culture conquered Rome, even the Roman gods were the Greek gods with Roman names. During the time of Emperor Constantine, Christianity became the dominant faith of the Roman empire. Constantine was anti-Semitic and sought to divorce Christianity from its Jewish roots, which opened the door for pagan influences. The anti-Semitic doctrine of Replacement Theology, which was birthed in Rome, has over time allowed more of man’s wisdom and philosophies to contaminate the Church. The earlier series on Getting to Know Yeshua gives depth to this accusation, revealing how the modern Church reads scripture tainted with a Greek dominated cultural bias, rather than drawing from the sap of our Jewish heritage.
The Gospel of John (Ch. 10) records that Jesus attended the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem. It was very appropriate for Him to do so, as Jesus is the Light of God, He is our true Light, that illuminates the path to the presence of God (Holy of Holies). The apostle John writes that John the Baptist was not the Light, but that he was sent to “bear witness to the Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:6-9).
I regularly point out to Christians that God hates syncretism – the contamination of His Word with man’s wisdom – and that the pagan celebration of Christmas should be ended. The most common response to my statement is that Christmas is a joyous family occasion, or that their focus is purely on celebrating the birth of Jesus. Man has the great ability to justify behaviour that they know is erroneous, because they want the behaviour to continue. To say that God hates the mixture of man’s wisdom with His Word does not fully justify His feelings, He loathes it, He is disgusted by it. From Genesis to Revelation scripture continually emphasises that Satan tirelessly looks for opportunities to contaminate and dilute God’s Word. Is it not time the Church, the Bride of Christ, cleansed herself of syncretism, and become the spotless Bride, prepared for her Bridegroom? I have suggested to those “family orientated” Christians, to replace their pagan Christmas, with Biblical Hanukkah, for the following reasons:
- Hanukkah occurs at a similar time of year.
- As the light represents Jesus, He can truly be celebrated during this feast, as King of kings, not as a baby, and He will not play second fiddle to Santa Clause and his reindeer.
- Celebrating Hanukkah is of far greater value to the believer. The Hanukkah menorah has nine branches, the centre branch being used to light the other eight branches over the eight days. Jesus our Light is the exemplification of the Fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Without love there cannot be the other eight Fruits of the Spirit, Jesus is Love, He is the Light that enables the other Fruits of the Spirit to manifest in a person’s life. All a Christian family needs is nine candles to celebrate Hanukkah, the centre branch being Jesus, the Light and Love of God. Then, each day, over eight days the family can gather and light a candle representing the other eight Fruits of the Spirit, spending some time discussing what each trait means, and how the individual may apply it in their lives – ending with a relevant prayer. On the eighth day, with the last candle to be lit, the family may have a celebratory meal, with gifts being exchanged. Would it not be a blessing for the children of a Christian family to know off by heart the nine Fruits of the Spirit, rather than the nine names of Santa’s reindeer!
Anyone doubting that God hates Christmas needs to understand that it is not a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but a pagan celebration of the birth of the sun, the golden child. The child is often depicted in the arms of the mother, which is the origins of Mary worship – if the child is God, the mother must also be God.
The Church needs to cleanse itself of pagan rituals and man’s philosophies. Jesus is not going to return until, just as the Maccabean Jews did, the true Church rids herself of all pagan influence. Jesus wants a purified spotless Bride, with a focus on Him, not a Bride contaminated by paganism.
The Church needs to choose:
Summary of Points
Chapter 11 of Daniel covers a great deal of history, giving details that cover hundreds of years, and may seem to have little value for the modern-day believer, besides being a record of Biblical prophecy. However, there are some valuable lessons to be learned from this study.
- The start of Daniel 11 emphasizes once again the importance and power of prayer. Daniel well understood the phrase “come near to God and He will come near to you” (James 4:8). He committed himself to a disciplined prayer life, and he is rewarded for his efforts with great prophetic insights, that have value that extends to all believer right up to this day and beyond.
- The chapter also reveals that there is a great commitment and dedication required in continued spiritual warfare. Paul describes spiritual warfare a “wrestling”, and uses the metaphor of a soldier preparing for combat, when describing the armour that a believer needs in preparation for each day (Ephesians 6:10-18).
- Satan has authority over the “kingdoms of the world,” and Scripture indicates that there is a demonic hierarchy, with Satan as its head. Believers are being shown in Daniel 11, that there are spiritual strongholds over not only our nations, but also our cities, and suburbs. Churches hoping to effectively evangelise their communities need to spend time in prayer, breaking down the spiritual strongholds over their community.
- Daniel prayed until he received an answer to his prayers, if he had stopped praying a day earlier, the Prince of Persian would have succeeded in blocking delivery of the answer to Daniel’s prayers. Believers must persevere in pray until their prayer is answered. An example would be when standing in the gap for a person with difficulties, the prayers must continue until the individual has achieved victory in the walk with the Lord. A once-off prayer, or praying for a couple of days to a week is insufficient, and ultimately leaves the “gap” wide open for Satan’s continued attack.
- The weight of history covered, with the rise and fall of kings and kingdoms, may make the student of scripture feel insignificant in the big scheme of life. But rather, it should motivate them to understand that God has a plan and purpose for each of us, and we all fit into His grand scheme. Believers cannot tell what influence our ministry will have, and how far our influence may extend. Believers have this life to make a difference, and that can only be found in service to the Lord. Daniel 11 underlines once again God’s foreknowledge and control of history, He has a plan and purpose for each of us, and we need to find out what that is.
- When we are burden by life’s difficulties, we can know that they are not a surprise to God, and that He has already planned the way through. The answer is to abide in Him, and remain close to Him, so that He can show us the direction our lives need to go. Those times of hardship and struggles come our way to refine us and make us into vessels of honour, for God’s service.