Bible Study: Daniel 11 – Tale of Two Kings

The book of Daniel is one of the most prophetic books in the old testament. It has been sealed until the time of the end. Undoubtedly, now is the time of the end. Therefore, let us not be hypocrites without discerning this time and let us unseal the book of Daniel.

(Dan 12:4) “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

(Luke 12:56) “Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how [is it] you do not discern this time?

The eleventh chapter of Daniel was about a tale of two kingdoms until the great tribulation. Because of more details in the prophecy, historical details are also required to compare. Since I am not a history expert, I had heavily relied upon Wikipedia to see historical records. Please keep in mind, not all will be recorded in history. When God wants to reveal certain things to His people, those information may not be relevant or important for others. As the famous saying goes, “History is written by the victors” and even historical records may not be reliable.

Cyrus, not Darius the Mede

Dan 11:1 “Also in the first year of Cyrus, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him.)

As we saw in the earlier chapter, it was the first year of Cyrus (not Darius the Mede) who was strengthened and the promise to turn the captivity was confirmed by God. Septuagint records it as Cyrus and not Darius. Since Septuagint was written 300 years before Christ and most of the New Testament quotes from it, the king mentioned here must be Cyrus. It also doesn’t make any sense when the vision in Daniel 10 was only during the 3rd year of Cyrus but the event mentioned as a past event in Daniel 11:1 which is actually a continuation of the previous chapter, is actually a future event 20 years later, if Darius was the king. However, if Cyrus was the king, then it perfectly makes sense because, he was strengthened in the first year as in Dan 11 and the vision happened 22 years later in Dan 10. Hence, undoubtedly, the king mentioned here is Cyrus and not Darius. We also saw that the one who had the likeness of man is Jesus Christ and He spoke all future events in Daniel’s time with extreme details.

Four Persian Kings

Dan 11:2 “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.

The three more kings who will arise in Persia are as follows:

  • Cambyses II (530 – 522 BC)
  • Bardiya (522 BC)
  • Darius I the Great (521 – 486 BC)

The fourth king is Xerxes I the Great (485 – 465 BC) is identified by scholars as the husband of Queen Esther and the richest king of Persia as per jewishencyclopedia.com. He is also mentioned in the book of Esther.

Esth 1:1 NOW it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia), … (4) when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty for many days, one hundred and eighty days in all.

It was during his time, the second invasion of Greece happened with the intention of conquering all of Greece.

Alexander the Great

Dan 11:3-4 “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.

After 135 years later, Alexander the Great from Greece who conquered all of Persia. After him, his kingdom was broken into 4 kingdoms among his generals.

  • Ptolemy I Soter (305 BC–30 BC), Ptolemaic Kingdom
  • Cassander (302 BC – 294 BC), Antipatrid Dynasty
  • Lysimachus (306 BC – 281 BC), Kingdom of Lysimachus
  • Seleucus I Nicator (312 BC – 63 BC), Seleucid Empire

The southern and northern is with respect to Israel. As we can see, the southern kingdom is Ptolemaic Kingdom and the northern kingdom is Seleucid Empire.

Agreement and Murder

Dan 11:5-8 “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. 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. 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.

You can read the following from Wikipedia of Berenice (Seleucid queen)

Berenice (275 BC–246 BC), also called Berenice Phernophorus was the daughter of Ptolemy II Philadelphus and his first wife Arsinoe I of Egypt. Around 252 BC, following the peace agreement of 253 BC between Antiochus and Ptolemy to end the Second Syrian War, she married the Seleucid monarch Antiochus II Theos, who divorced his wife Laodice I and transferred the succession to Berenice’s children. In 246 BC, when Ptolemy died, Antiochus II took up again with his first wife, Laodice. Antiochus died shortly thereafter, many suspect from poisoning. Queen Berenice claimed the regency for her infant son Antiochus however, she and her son were both killed by Laodice. Berenice’s brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes, succeeded their father and set about to avenge his sister’s murder by invading Syria and having Laodice killed.

As the Scripture says, Ptolemy III Euergetes reigned 3 years longer from 246–222 BC while Seleucus II Callinicus (king of the North) reigned from 246 to 225 BC.

Family Feud

Dan 11:9-10 “Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land. 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.

We can read from history of what happened in Wikipedia of Seleucus II Callinicus and the accurate fulfillment of the prophecy.

Ptolemy III, who was Berenice’s brother and the ruler of Egypt, invaded the Seleucid Empire and marched victoriously to the Tigris or beyond. He received the submission of the Seleucid Empire’s eastern provinces, while Egyptian fleets swept the coast of Asia Minor. Seleucus managed to maintain himself in the interior of Asia Minor. When Ptolemy returned to Egypt, Seleucus recovered Northern Syria and the nearer provinces of Iran. However, Antiochus Hierax, a younger brother of Seleucus, was set up as a rival in Asia Minor against Seleucus by a party to which Laodice herself adhered.

Fourth Syrian War 

Dan 11:11-12 “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.

The event described here is the Battle of Raphia fought on 22 June 217 BC, is part of Fourth Syrian War. You can read more on Wikipedia page on Battle of Raphia.

The Battle of Raphia, also known as the Battle of Gaza, was a battle fought on 22 June 217 BC near modern Rafah between the forces of Ptolemy IV Philopator, king and pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt and Antiochus III the Great of the Seleucid Empire during the Syrian Wars. It was one of the largest battles of the Hellenistic kingdoms and was one of the largest battles of the ancient world. The battle was waged to determine the sovereignty of Coele Syria.

Fifth Syrian War

Dan 11:15 “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.

The event described here is the Battle of Panium fought around 200 BC, which is part of Fifth Syrian War. You can read more on Wikipedia page on Battle of Panium.

The Battle of Panium (also known as Paneion) was fought in 200 BC between Seleucid and Ptolemaic forces as part of the Syrian Wars. The Seleucids were led by Antiochus III the Great, while the Ptolemaic army was led by Scopas of Aetolia. The Seleucids won the battle. Details of this battle are not clear, but it is known today that a major factor in the Seleucid victory was that the Seleucid army used the cataphract in a decisive manner. The cataphracts attacked the Egyptian cavalry on the flanks and drove the enemy cavalry off, leaving the backs of the enemy infantry to the front of the line exposed. The Seleucid cataphracts then attacked their infantry in the rear, thus leading to an Egyptian rout. The specific equipment used by these relatively early cataphracts is not clearly known. Apparently Antiochus the Younger, the firstborn son of Antiochus III, was in command of the cavalry, leading the successful attack on the Egyptian flanks and rear.

Israel in Seleucid’s hands

Dan 11:16-20 “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.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. 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. “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.

At the end of Fifth Syrian war in 195 BC, Ptolemy V signed a conciliatory treaty with Antiochus in 195 BC, leaving the Seleucid king in possession of Coele-Syria and agreeing to marry Antiochus’ daughter Cleopatra I. Israel is part of Coele-Syria region.

We do not know what that reproach was, nor does history records anything particular. However, Cleopatra I went on to become the sole ruler of Egypt before his son and even stopped an invasion against his brother in Seleucid Empire which her husband started.

It is also believed that Seleucus IV Philopator imposed taxes as we read in his Wikipedia page. However, history does not record any specifics on taxation.

The Vile Person

Dan 11:21-24 “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. 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.

The following is the description of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in Wikipedia.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a member of the Hellenistic Greek Seleucid dynasty and was the son and potential successor of King Antiochus III, and as such he became a political hostage of the Roman Republic following the Peace of Apamea in 188 BC. His older brother Seleucus IV followed his father onto the throne in 187 BC, and Antiochus was exchanged for his nephew Demetrius I Soter (the son and heir of Seleucus). King Seleucus was assassinated by the usurper Heliodorus in 175 BC, but Antiochus in turn ousted him. Seleucus’ legitimate heir Demetrius I Soter was still a hostage in Rome, so Antiochus seized the throne for himself with the help of King Eumenes II of Pergamum, proclaiming himself co-regent with another son of Seleucus, an infant named Antiochus (whom he then murdered a few years later).

Sixth Syrian War

Dan 11:25-27 “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.

As mentioned in Syrian Wars, the causes for this war is uncertain. We also read the following from Antiochus IV Epiphanes‘s Wikipedia page.

The guardians of King Ptolemy VI of Egypt demanded the return of Coele-Syria in 170 BC, but Antiochus launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, conquering all but Alexandria and capturing King Ptolemy. To avoid alarming Rome, Antiochus allowed Ptolemy VI to continue ruling as a puppet king. Upon Antiochus’ withdrawal, the city of Alexandria chose a new king, one of Ptolemy’s brothers, also named Ptolemy (VIII Euergetes). The Ptolemy brothers agreed to rule Egypt jointly instead of fighting a civil war. In 168 BC, Antiochus led a second attack on Egypt and also sent a fleet to capture Cyprus. Before reaching Alexandria, his path was blocked by a single old Roman ambassador named Gaius Popillius Laenas who delivered a message from the Roman Senate directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt and Cyprus, or consider himself in a state of war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus said that he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the Roman envoy drew a line in the sand around Antiochus and said: “Before you cross this circle, I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate.” This implied that Rome would declare war if the King stepped out of the circle without committing to leave Egypt immediately. Weighing his options, Antiochus decided to withdraw. Only then did Popillius agree to shake hands with him.

Maccabean revolt

Dan 11:28-34 “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. 

We read the following about Antiochus IV Epiphanes from his Wikipedia page.

According to the authors of the Books of Maccabees, while Antiochus was busy in Egypt, a rumor spread that he had been killed. In Judea, the deposed High Priest Jason gathered a force of 1,000 soldiers and made a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem. Menelaus, the High Priest appointed by Antiochus, was forced to flee Jerusalem during a riot. King Antiochus returned from Egypt in 167 BC, enraged by his defeat; he attacked Jerusalem and restored Menelaus, then executed many Jews (2 Maccabees 5:11–14). Antiochus decided to side with the Hellenized Jews in order to consolidate his empire and to strengthen his hold over the region. He outlawed Jewish religious rites and traditions kept by observant Jews and ordered the worship of Zeus as the supreme god (2 Maccabees 6:1–12). This was anathema to the Jews and they refused, so Antiochus sent an army to enforce his decree. The city of jerusalem was destroyed (168 BC) because of the resistance, many were slaughtered, and Antiochus established a military Greek citadel called the Acra.

You can read more about Maccabean Revolt in Wikipedia. The result is the Jewish sovereignty, later developed into the Hasmonean dynasty. The Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple following Judah Maccabee’s victory over the Seleucids.

Until the Time of the End

Dan 11:35 “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.

This is a gap mentioned in the prophecy of Daniel where those of understanding shall fall. This is to refine them, purify them and make them white. This is a general persecution upon all of God’s people until the end of time, so that only some of those who are with understanding will be refined, purified and be white while the rest will fall.

Prov 9:10b “… And the knowledge of the Holy One  is understanding.

In other words, some of the Christians who have sound knowledge of God will fall and depart from their faith. This is also mentioned by Paul in his letter to Timothy.

1Tim 4:1-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Antichrist

Dan 11:36-37 “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. 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. 

What Antichrist will do?
  • Exalt and magnify himself above every god
  • Speak blasphemies against the God of gods
  • Will prosper till the wrath has been accomplished
  • What has been determined shall be done
What Antichrist will not regard?
  • Will not regard the God of his fathers
  • Will not regard the desire of women (i.e., homosexual).
  • Will not regard any god, but exalt himself above them all
A foreign god of fortress

Dan 11:38-39 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.

Antichrist will exalt himself above every god and honor a god of fortress which his fathers did not know. As we saw in Revelation 7, Antichrist must come from the tribe of Dan. 
He will go against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god. There seems to be a similarity of how Al-Qaeda, ISIS and all Islamic terrorist groups fight against United States of America, which is currently the strongest fortress in the world. He shall acknowledge and advance it’s glory. He shall cause them to rule over many, which is similar to a Caliphate ruling over several Muslim nations. He will also divide the land for gain. Which land? It’s Israel. Antichrist will divide Israel for gain.

Nation that persecutes Jews in End-Times

Dan 11:40-45 “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.

The  below map shows who will escape from the king of the North.

Israel, Egypt, Libyans, Ethiopians and many other countries will be overthrown. So far, we haven’t seen this happening. The kings of the North and South are no more. Will these kingdoms be revived for the fulfillment of the prophecy? I believe they will. It is during this time the great tribulation will happen as we see in the very first verse of the next chapter.

Dan 12:1 “At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.

Hence, we can be clear of the nation and it’s borders that will persecute Jews during the time of the end. Let’s see the borders of the kingdom of the North.

In today’s map, the king of the North comprises of the following 7 nations or parts of some nations.

  • Iran (Persia)
  • Iraq (Babylon)
  • Syria (Assyria)
  • Egypt (Egypt)
  • Eastern Libya (Libya)
  • Northern Sudan (ancient land of Ethiopia)
  • Southern Turkey (Gog and Magog)

Let us therefore keep a watchful eye of recent events in middle-east so that we can discern times and seasons which God expects us to know.