“And now I will show you the truth …” Daniel 11:2a
Daniel chapter 11 is a prophetic revelation giving – as I have said before – enough information for us to clearly know that its telling reveals to us that God knows and is causing the future to come to pass according to His determined will. But the prophecy has an intentional lack of clarity to keep the hearer walking by faith. This chapter deals with the time in which Daniel receives the vision (approximately 527 BC) up to at least 164 BC. From our period of history looking into the past, the revelation is so specific that scholars have been forced to conclude one of two ends. First, Daniel was written nearly at the time of Christ by some unknown author because the prophesied events were concluded by that point. This view is problematic from both a biblical and archaeological point of view. Daniel is referred to and known in Jewish heritage from a much earlier time than Christ. Also, Jesus Himself spoke of Daniel in the context of the setting given in Daniel – affirming his historicity.
The second option is to believe the revelation was written by Daniel as stated, and God really does know and cause the future. This belief requires faith but is deeply encouraging and instructive to the soul. This view faces the reality that God is shaping the future for His glory and gives hope to all who believe in Jesus.
I will here briefly review the connection between chapter 11 and historical events. I believe you will find the parallels amazing.
(Verse 2) The text refers to three more kings of Persia after Cyrus. These were Cambyses (530-522 BC), Gaumata (522 BC), and Darius I Hystaspes (522-486 BC). Then rose a fourth king richer and more powerful than the previous three. This king was Xerxes I (486-465 BC), known as Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther. Xerxes I, in his establishment and wealth, warred against Greece seeking to conquer it, but was repelled by the efforts of Philip the Macedon.
(Verses 3-4) A “mighty king” shall arise “with great domain and do as he wills.” Alexander the Great was the son of Philip the Macedon. Xerxes I does not succeed in conquering Greece, but Alexander defeats Medo-Persia by 331 BC (Daniel 8:7, 20-21). Alexander rose to great imperial power but died at age 32. His Kingdom was divided into four parts ruled by four generals not of his “posterity.” These generals were Ptolemy, Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Cassander. Seleucus I ruled in the “north” covering Syria and Mesopotamia. Ptolemy I ruled the “south” covering Egypt and Palestine.
(Verse 6) The next generation of rulers, (north) Antiochus II and (south) Ptolemy II, made “an alliance” in 250 BC promising the daughter of Ptolemy II (Bernice) to marry Antiochus II. Antiochus II instead chose to abandon the agreement and return to his previous wife who allegedly eventually poisoned him. This drama is outlined in verse 6.
(verses 7-18) These verses are full of drama that make the stuff of history. There are back and forth wars working through the generations of Ptolemy III, IV, and V of the southern kingdom and Seleucus II and III / Antiochus III of the northern kingdom. It is Antiochus III who would eventually enter and conquer Israel (verse 16). It is this Antiochus III who “turned his face to the coastlands” (verse 18) in 196 BC in an effort to conquer Turkey and Greece. In response to this aggression, Rome sent warnings for Antiochus III to stay his advance, but he did not. So, Rome sent “a commander” to “put an end to his insolence.” This commander was Lucius Cornelius Scipio. Scipio defeated Antiochus III in 191 BC, forcing him to pay tribute to Rome and send his oldest son as a slave to Rome.
(Verse 19) During passage back to the “fortress of his own land” he “stumbled and fell” attempting to sack a temple of Zeus in modern day Iraq to gain revenue. The local people defended the temple with passion and killed Antiochus III. The remains of his kingdom were ruled by his next son Seleucus IV (187-175 BC). Seleucus IV was “broken in neither anger nor battle” as he was poisoned to death by his finance minister, Heliodorus.
(Verse 21) This verse speaks to the rise of “a contemptable person to whom royal majesty has not been given.” This king is Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC). He did not ascend to the throne through normal channels, but by drama and murder.
(Verse 25-28) “He shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south.” Antiochus IV set his heart on attacking Egypt and conquering Ptolemy VI. Antiochus IV had a vast army, but was defeated as a result of his war plans being leaked – (verse 25) “plots shall be devised against him.”
(Verse 29) Antiochus IV attacked Egypt a second time in 168 BC. “He shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be this time as it was before.” Aided by Rome, Ptolemy VII defeated and humiliated Antiochus IV sending him back to Palestine empty handed. Angered by his defeat, Antiochus worked vengeance on the Jews in Jerusalem under his rule. From 167 to 164 BC he implemented a severe campaign of forced Hellenization on the Jews. This involved profaning the temple, ending daily sacrifices at the temple, forbidding the reading or use of Scripture, forbidding circumcision, and forbidding Jewish festivals. The penalty for violating these laws was death. It was during this period that the prophecy from Daniel 8:13 was fulfilled concerning “the abomination that makes desolate.” On December 6, 167 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes set up an idol of Zeus in the temple. On December 16 of the same year, he had pigs offered as sacrifices on the temple altar as blasphemy. It is my understanding that this desolation of the temple fulfilled this prophecy given to Daniel and was a type of the prophecy spoken by Jesus in Matthew 24. Jesus also spoke of the “abomination of desolation” which was the complete desecration and destruction of the temple in 70.
(Verses 32-33) “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Apostate Jews sided with Antiochus IV for political power, but the faithful resisted and formed up into armed rebellion. This rebellion was led by the five sons of the priest Mattathias. One of those sons was Judas Maccabeus – Maccabeus meaning ‘Hammer.’ The Maccabean Rebellion (166-164 BC) succeeded in recapturing Jerusalem and the temple. The temple, and its grounds, were rededicated on December 14, 164 BC. This reconsecration is remembered in Jewish custom by Hanukkah.
(Verses 36-45) These verses are more unclear and do not clearly align with historic events after Antiochus IV, but do lead in the text up to the final events of the judgment. It is my understanding that the text transitions here to refer to future events. This would explain their lack of clarity.
I have significantly abbreviated all that could be said here but hope that enough was given to significantly encourage your faith that the Lord our God revealed the future before it came to pass. He who is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, is able to make known what He intends to accomplish before He accomplishes it.
“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done …” Isaiah 46:9-10
Soli Deo Gloria,