Daniel 11 – Antiochus and Antichrist Revisited
1. This chapter contains one of the most specifically fulfilled prophecies of the Bible, predicting history over some 375 years, and to the end, with amazing accuracy.
2. The chapter is so specific, that many critics who deny supernatural revelation, have insisted that it is history, written after the fact, fraudulently claiming to be prophecy.
a. Because of the detail of the prophecy, we will be forced to frequently summarize; and the fulfillment of the prophecy will be observed as it is described.
3. Commentator Joyce Baldwin explains the mindset of late-daters: “Though all of this is presented as if it were future, the considered opinion of most scholars is that the writer was using an accepted literary form, which would have deceived no-one. The intention would be to show that the course of history was under God’s direction, and so achieving His purposes . . . When the history becomes prophecy the transition can be detected, because events proved him wrong.”
a. Such a view must undermine confidence in the entire book. If the late dating theory is correct, then “the so-called revelation was in fact nothing of the sort . . . it follows that the preparation for the vision in chapter 10 was also a fiction put in as local colour for the sake of effect.” (Baldwin)
A. The division of the Greek Empire.
1. (2) Four future kings.
And now I will tell you the truth: Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.
a. Three more kings will arise in Persia: Simply, the angel told Daniel that there would be three more kings in Persia until a fourth arose. The fourth king would be strong, rich, and oppose the realm of Greece. This strong, rich fourth king was fulfilled in the Persian King Xerxes.
b. The fourth shall be far richer: In fulfillment, there were actually four kings from the time Daniel spoke of until Xerxes, the one who did stir up all against the realm of Greece. Either the angel omitted the current king (Cyrus), looking only to the future, or he ignored King Smerdis of Persia (522-21 b.c.) because he ruled less than one year and was an imposter to the throne.
c. Persia . . . Greece: These visions and insights regarding the future of the Persian and Greek Empires were relevant because each empire attempted to wipe out the people of God at some time.
i. The Persian Empire tried to wipe out the Jewish people during the reign of Xerxes, through the plot of Haman (as shown in the Book of Esther).
ii. The Greek Empire tried to wipe out the Jewish people during the reign of Antiochus IV, when he attempted to kill every Jew who did not renounce their commitment to God and embrace Greek culture.
2. (3-4) The rise of a mighty king.
Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these.
a. Then a mighty king shall arise: The angel told Daniel of a mighty king with a great dominion – but his kingdom would not endure, and it would be divided after the death of the mighty king.
b. Shall rule with great dominion and do according to his will: This was fulfilled in Alexander the Great, who certainly was a mighty king. Alexander died at 32 years of age of a fever after a drunken party in Babylon.
i. This prophecy does not mainly concern Alexander because he did no harm to Jerusalem though he conquered the general area. The ancient historian Josephus records the interesting arrival of Alexander the Great to Jerusalem, and how he was shown the Book of Daniel by the high priest (whom Alexander had previously seen in a vision). Alexander was so impressed that he spared Jerusalem and granted it religious toleration (see Appendix B, page 141).
c. Not among his posterity: After Alexander’s death, none of his descendants succeeded him. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Alexander did leave three possible heirs: a half brother named Philip, who was mentally deficient; a son who was born after Alexander died; and an illegitimate son named Hercules. The half-brother and the posthumous son were first designated co-monarchs, each with a regent. But fighting amongst the regents eventually resulted in the murder of all possible heirs.
d. Divided toward the four winds of heaven: After the death of all Alexander’s possible heirs, four generals controlled the Greek Empire, but none of them according to his (Alexander’s) dominion.
i. The rest of this prophecy focuses on two of the four inheritors of Alexander’s realm, and the dynasties they established. Only two are focused on because they constantly fought over the Promised Land because it sat between their centers of power.
B. The kings of the North and the kings of the South.
1. (5) The strength of the king of the South.
Also the king of the South shall become strong, as well as one of his princes; and he shall gain power over him and have dominion. His dominion shall be a great dominion.
a. The king of the South shall become strong: One of the four inheritors of the empire of the mighty king would become stronger and greater than the others.
b. He shall gain power over him and have dominion: This was fulfilled in Ptolemy I of Egypt, who exerted his control over the Holy Land. Soon after the division of Alexander’s Empire, the Ptolemies dominated this region.
i. Ptolemy I had a prince named Seleucus, who rose to power and took dominion over the region of Syria. He became more powerful than his former Egyptian ruler. The Seleucids are identified with the Kings of the North, and the Ptolemies were the Kings of the South.
ii. The dynasties of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies fought for some 130 years. The stronger of the two always held dominion over the Holy Land.
2. (6) A marriage between the families of the kings of the North and the kings of the South.
And at the end of some years they shall join forces, for the daughter of the king of the South shall go to the king of the North to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the power of her authority, and neither he nor his authority shall stand; but she shall be given up, with those who brought her, and with him who begot her, and with him who strengthened her in those times.
a. They shall join forces: Joined by a marriage, the kings of the North and South would be allies for a while, but the arrangement would not last.
b. The daughter of the king of the South shall go to the king of the North to make an agreement: This was fulfilled in the marriage between Antiochus II (of the Seleucids) and Berenice (daughter of Ptolemy II). There was peace for a time because of this marriage, but it was upset when Ptolemy II died.
i. Shall not retain the power of her authority: Once Ptolemy II died, Antiochus II put away Berenice and took back his former wife, Laodice.
ii. Neither he nor his authority shall stand: Laodice didn’t trust her husband Antiochus II; so she had him poisoned.
iii. She shall be given up, with those who brought her: After the murder of Antiochus II, Laodice had Berenice, her infant son, and her attendants killed.
iv. After this reign of terror, Laodice set her son (Selecus II) on the throne of the Syrian dominion.
3. (7-9) From the South, an army defeats the kingdom of the North.
But from a branch of her roots one shall arise in his place, who shall come with an army, enter the fortress of the king of the North, and deal with them and prevail. And he shall also carry their gods captive to Egypt, with their princes and their precious articles of silver and gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the North. Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land.
a. Who shall come with an army: The angel told Daniel that a branch of her roots would come from the South and prevail over the kings of the North.
b. Deal with them and prevail: This was fulfilled in the person of Ptolemy III, who was the brother of Berenice (the branch of her roots). Avenging the murder of his sister, Ptolemy III invaded Syria and humbled Selecus II.
i. He shall continue more years than the king of the North: Ptolemy III lived four years past Selecus II.
4. (10) The sons of the king of the North and their victory.
However his sons shall stir up strife, and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come and overwhelm and pass through; then he shall return to his fortress and stir up strife.
a. His sons shall stir up strife: The sons of the kings of the North would continue the battle. One of the sons would conquer the Holy Land (overwhelm and pass through) which stood as a buffer between the kings of the South and the kings of the North.
b. Assemble a multitude of great forces: This was fulfilled in Seleucus III and Antiochus III, the two sons of Seleucus II. Both were successful generals, but Seleucus III ruled only a short time and was succeeded by his brother.
i. In a furious battle, Antiochus III took back the Holy Land from the dominion of the Ptolemies.
5. (11-12) The king of the South gains an upper hand over the king of the North.
And the king of the South shall be moved with rage, and go out and fight with him, with the king of the North, who shall muster a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into the hand of his enemy. When he has taken away the multitude, his heart will be lifted up; and he will cast down tens of thousands, but he will not prevail.
a. The king of the South shall be moved with rage: The angel told Daniel that the king of the South would attack and meet a great multitude of soldiers from the king of the North. The king of the North would lose in battle and his multitude would be defeated.
b. He will not prevail: This was fulfilled when Antiochus III was defeated at the battle of Raphia. Because of that loss he was forced to give back dominion over the Holy Land to Ptolemy IV.
6. (13-16) The king of the North and his occupation of the Glorious Land.
For the king of the North will return and muster a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come at the end of some years with a great army and much equipment. Now in those times many shall rise up against the king of the South. Also, violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision, but they shall fall. So the king of the North shall come and build a siege mound, and take a fortified city; and the forces of the South shall not withstand him. Even his choice troops shall have no strength to resist. But he who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and no one shall stand against him. He shall stand in the Glorious Land with destruction in his power.
a. The king of the North . . . shall certainly come at the end of some years with a great army: The angel told Daniel that the northern dynasty would answer back and defeat the king of the South in an extended siege. This victory would give the king of the North dominion over the Glorious Land.
i. “The land of ornaments – that is, Judea, which, lying betwixt these two potent princes, was perpetually afflicted, as corn is ground asunder lying betwixt two heavy millstones.” (Trapp)
b. No one shall stand against him: This was fulfilled when Antiochus III invaded Egypt again, gaining final control over the armies of Ptolemy V and over the Holy Land.
i. Many shall rise up against the king of the South: Jews living in the Holy Land helped Antiochus III defeat the king of the South. This was because the Jewish people resented the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemies (violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision).
ii. He who comes against him shall do according to his own will . . . with destruction in his power: The Jewish people of the Glorious Land initially welcomed Antiochus III as a liberator from Egyptian rule. Their decision to support Antiochus III proved unwise when he turned destruction upon the Glorious Land and its people.
7. (17) The king of the South will give his daughter to the king of the North.
He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do. And he shall give him the daughter of women to destroy it; but she shall not stand with him, or be for him.
a. He shall also set his face: The king of the North who ruled over the Holy Land would also attempt to dominate and destroy the king of the South. He would make one attempt by giving the king of the South the daughter of women to destroy, but this plot would not succeed.
b. She shall not stand with him: This was fulfilled when Antiochus III gave his daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy V of Egypt. He did this hoping to gain permanent influence and eventually control in Egypt. To the great disappointment of Antiochus III, the plan did not succeed because Cleopatra wasn’t faithful to her Egyptian husband at all.
i. This was not the most famous Cleopatra from ancient history, but this was the ancestor of the more famous Cleopatra. The more famous Egyptian woman lived some 100 years after the time of this Cleopatra.
8. (18-19) The king of the North is stopped and stumbles.
After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands, and shall take many. But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end; and with the reproach removed, he shall turn back on him. Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
a. He shall turn back on him: After the disappointing effort through the daughter Cleopatra, the king of the North would turn his efforts towards the coastlands – until he was stopped by one formerly under reproach, until he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
b. He shall stumble and fall: This was fulfilled when Antiochus III turned his attention towards the areas of Asia Minor and Greece. He was helped by Hannibal, the famous general from Carthage. But a Roman General, Lucius Cornelius Scipio, defeated Antiochus in Greece. Antiochus planned to humiliate Greece but was humiliated instead. He returned to his former regions, having lost all that he gained and died shortly after.
i. After this defeat Antiochus III had an inglorious end. Needing money badly for his treasury, he resorted to pillaging a Babylonian temple and was killed by enraged local citizens.
9. (20) The brief reign of the succeeding king of the North.
There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; but within a few days he shall be destroyed, but not in anger or in battle.
a. There shall arise in his place: After the inglorious end of the king of the North, his successor would raise taxes and meet a soon end.
b. One who imposes taxes: This was fulfilled in the brief reign of Seleucus III, the eldest son of Antiochus III. He sought to tax his dominion (including the glorious kingdom, the Holy Land) to increase revenues. His plan to pillage the Jerusalem temple was set aside when his ambassador had an angelic vision of warning.
i. Within a few days he shall be destroyed: Seleucus III was assassinated, probably by his brother Antiochus IV.
C. Antiochus IV, known as Antiochus Epiphanes: A Vile Person.
1. (21) The vile person comes to power.
And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.
a. In his place shall arise a vile person: The angel told Daniel that after the brief reign of the former king of the North, the next king would be a vile person. He would not be recognized as royalty, but shall take power by intrigue.
b. In his place: This was fulfilled in the successor of Seleucis III, named Antiochus IV. He did not come to the throne legitimately because it was strongly suspected that he murdered his older brother, the previous king. The other potential heir (the son of Seleucus III) was imprisoned in Rome.
i. He shall come in peaceably: Apart from the murder of his older brother, Antiochus IV didn’t use terror to gain power. He used flattery, smooth promises and intrigue.
ii. “He flattered Eumenes, king of Pergamus, and Attalus his brother, and got their assistance. He flattered the Romans, and sent ambassadors to court their favour, and pay them the arrears of the tribute. He flattered the Syrians, and gained their concurrence.” (Clarke)
iii. Antiochus IV took the title Epiphanes, meaning illustrious. Others derisively called him Epimanes, meaning madman.
2. (22-27) The vile person fails to conquer the king of the South.
With the force of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant. And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time. He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South with a great army. And the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand, for they shall devise plans against him. Yes, those who eat of the portion of his delicacies shall destroy him; his army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. Both these kings’ hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time.
a. He shall act deceitfully: The angel told Daniel that the new king of the North (the vile person of Daniel 11:21) would attempt a deceitful covenant with the king of the South. This would fail, and there would be a great battle that would not change the balance of power.
b. He shall stir up his power: This was fulfilled when Antiochus Epiphanes carried on the feud between the dynasties but pretended friendship and alliance to catch them off guard. Despite massive efforts and epic battles, Antiochus Epiphanes did not stand, and his army was swept away.
i. The defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes at his second campaign against Egypt was important, because Egypt beat Antiochus with the help of Rome. At the end of it all, Antiochus Epiphanes and his kingdom were under the dominion of Rome.
ii. In a famous battle, the Roman Navy defeated the navy of Antiochus Epiphanes. After the battle, a Roman general drew a circle around Antiochus in the dirt and demanded to know if he would surrender and pay tribute to Rome – and demanded to know before he stepped out of the circle. From that point on there was no doubt: Antiochus Epiphanes took his orders from Rome and was under Roman dominion.
iii. Those who eat of the portion of his delicacies shall destroy him: This was fulfilled in the treachery against Anitochus IV by his own counselors.
3. (28-35) The vile person turns on the Holy Land with violence.
While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land. At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter. For ships from Cyprus shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant. And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.
a. His heart shall be moved against the holy covenant: When the vile person returned to his land, he would attack the land, people, and the temple of Israel. It will be a time of great courage and great treachery among the people of God.
b. So he shall do damage and return to his own land: This was fulfilled when Antiochus Epiphanes returned from Egypt, bitter from defeat. He vented his anger against Jerusalem, which was already shaken because Antiochus sold the office of High Priest and persecuted the Jewish people to conform to Greek culture, forsaking the faith and traditions of their fathers.
i. While returning to his land with great riches: Failing in his invasion of Egypt, Antiochus Epiphanes returned home with only great plunder to soothe his wounded pride.
ii. Ships from Cyprus shall come against him: This was naval assistance from the Romans, who helped the Egyptians turn back Antiochus Epiphanes.
iii. They shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation: Antiochus Epiphanes set up an image of Zeus at the temple altar. He demanded sacrifice to this image, and later desecrated the temple by sacrificing a pig on it. “It was in truth an abomination, which brought a desolate condition to the Temple, for now no one would come to worship at all.” (Wood)
iv. Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong: When Antiochus Epiphanes turned on Jerusalem, the Jewish people were divided. Some forsook their covenant with God and embraced Greek culture. Those who knew their God made a stand for righteousness in the face of incredible persecution.
v. For many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering: In his attack on Jerusalem Antiochus IV is said to have killed 80,000 Jews, taken 40,000 more as prisoners, and sold another 40,000 as slaves. He also plundered the temple, robbing it of approximately $1 billion by modern calculations.
vi. Until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time: This terror could only last for as long as God had appointed it, and God had a purpose even for such persecution and blasphemy.
D. The Antichrist: the end times Antiochus Epiphanes.
1. (36) The willful king: a shift to a future fulfillment.
Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.
a. He shall exalt and magnify himself above every god: The angel explained to Daniel that this king would blaspheme God and exalt himself until the wrath has been accomplished and what has been determined shall be done.
b. Above every god: Here we shift from what was fulfilled in the Ptolemies and the Selucids to what will be fulfilled in the Antichrist, the final world dictator. Daniel was told that this revelation pertained to the latter days (Daniel 10:14), and Daniel 11:36 begins to look more towards this final world dictator, who is sort of a “last days Antiochus Epiphanes.”
i. We know that everything about this prophecy was not fulfilled during the career of Antiochus Epiphanes. Jesus specifically said the real abomination of desolation was still in the future (Matthew 24:15). The Apostle Paul paraphrased Daniel 11:36 in reference to the coming Antichrist: Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
ii. Antiochus Epiphanes is important, but mostly as a historical preview of the Antichrist. This is why so much space is given to describing the career of one evil man – because he prefigures the ultimate evil man. Antiochus Epiphanes is the “trailer” released well before the Antichrist, who is like the “feature.”
c. He shall exalt and magnify himself above every god: Antiochus Epiphanes certainly did this in the general sense that all sinners oppose God. Yet he remained loyal to the Greek religious tradition, which revered the entire Olympian pantheon. Antiochus Epiphanes put a statue of Zeus in the temple, not of himself. This statement will be far more precisely fulfilled in the Antichrist, who sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
d. Shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished: Antichrist will do much damage, but he is on a short chain and will only work into God’s plan. God’s purpose will be accomplished.
2. (37-39) The character and authority of the “willful king.”
He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.
a. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women: Based on this, some Bible scholars believe that the Antichrist will be of Jewish descent, and perhaps will also be a homosexual. These things may not be popularly known about the man, but they may be true nonetheless.
i. But many commentators believe that the desire of women refers to Jesus, in that all women desired the honor of bearing the Messiah and understanding “desire” as it is used in Haggai 2:7. Seeing the desire of women as Jesus makes most sense in light of the flow of context.
b. He shall honor a god of fortresses: The Antichrist will take and hold power with military might and the shrewd use of great riches.
3. (40-45) The final conflict.
At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.
a. At the time of the end: The angel described to Daniel a confederation of kings coming against this great leader, with a battle in and near the Holy Land.
b. King of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind: Prophetically speaking, a precise identification of peoples mentioned is difficult. The king of the South may be Egypt or represent the Arab community. The king of the North may be the Antichrist’s domain (as the “new Antiochus Epiphanes”) or it may be Russia.
i. The precise points may be cloudy, but the general idea is clear. The end will be marked by great conflict, culminating in the world’s armies gathering in the Promised Land to do final battle.
c. Yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him: In the end there is no hope for the Antichrist or for any of his followers.
©2013 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission