Daniel Chapter 11 Notes: The King of the North and the King of the South
Dan. 11:1 ¶ And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.)
Dan. 11:2 ¶ ³Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece.
Dan. 11:3 Then a mighty king will appear, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases.
Dan. 11:4 After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.
Dan. 11:5 ¶ ³The king of the South will become strong, but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power.
Dan. 11:6 After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her.
Dan. 11:7 ¶ ³One from her family line will arise to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious.
Dan. 11:8 He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone.
Dan. 11:9 Then the king of the North will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country.
Dan. 11:10 His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress.
Dan. 11:11 ¶ ³Then 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.
Dan. 11:12 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.
Dan. 11:13 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.
Dan. 11:14 ¶ ³In those times many will rise against the king of the South. The violent men among your own people will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success.
Dan. 11:15 Then the king of the North will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand.
Dan. 11:16 The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it.
Dan. 11:17 He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South. And he will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him.
Dan. 11:18 Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them, but a commander will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him.
Dan. 11:19 After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more.
Dan. 11:20 ¶ ³His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle.
Dan. 11:21 ¶ ³He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue.
Dan. 11:22 Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed.
Dan. 11:23 After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power.
Dan. 11:24 When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortressesbut only for a time.
Dan. 11:25 ¶ ³With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him.
Dan. 11:26 Those who eat from the king¹s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle.
Dan. 11:27 The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time.
Dan. 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.
Dan. 11:29 ¶ ³At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before.
Dan. 11:30 Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.
Dan. 11:31 ¶ ³His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.
Dan. 11:32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.
Dan. 11:33 ¶ ³Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered.
Dan. 11:34 When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them.
Dan. 11:35 Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.
Dan. 11:36 ¶ ³The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.
Dan. 11:37 He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.
Dan. 11:38 Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts.
Dan. 11:39 He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.
Dan. 11:40 ¶ ³At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.
Dan. 11:41 He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand.
Dan. 11:42 He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape.
Dan. 11:43 He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission.
Dan. 11:44 But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many.
Dan. 11:45 He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.
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JKRlRm_MIo wäø;mIo M¶AjVln×w aðDxÎy×w bgYnAh JKRlRm ÐrAmrAmVty×w Dan. 11:11
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Chapter 11 is pure prophecy, despite ancient, revived and persistent liberal interpretations that claim it was written ex post facto. There is so much known and confirmed details of what was to come that John Calvin took over forty pages to describe them all in his commentary on Daniel.
There are two major division in this prophetic vision:
1. Daniel 11:1-35 contains the lead up to and reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and is known history today;
2. Daniel 11:36-45 contains as yet unfulfilled prophecy about the reign of the ultimate Antichrist
Verses 11:1-9 = The rise and reign of Alexander the Great
When Darius the Mede ascended the throne, it marked the end of the Babylonian Empire, and the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire.
³Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth²
a. Cambyses (Ahasuerus in Ezra 4:6) (530-523 BC) (Son of Cyrus the Great)
b. Gaumata, aka Pseudo-Smerdis (Artaxerxes in Ezra 4:7-23) (523-522 BC)
c. Darius Hystaspes (Darius in Ezra 4:24) (522-485 BC)
d. Xerxes (Ahasuerus in Esther), 485-465 BC
Xerxes was both the greatest and weakest of all Persian emperors, he was wealthy and powerful beyond compare, but his pride and decadent sins led to his downfall. He did assemble a 3 million man army to invade the West (Greece) and inspired the Carthaginians to rise up against Greek colonies sin Sicily and Italy (³stirring up all² against Greece).
Even this seemingly invincible force, accompanied by a massive naval force, proved insufficient against the determined Greeks. At Thermopylae, 11-14 August 480 BC, 300 Spartans backed up by 1,300 Thespians and other allies faced down roughly 20,000 men of Xerxes army, and held them to bay for three days, allowing the massive Athenian navy time to deploy and successfully engage the Persian Navy one month later, at Salamis. A year later, at Plataea on 27 August 479 BC, a Greek allied force under command of the Spartans finished off the 100,000 man army Xerxes had left behind, ending any Persian takeover of the west.
The next set of verses (3-4) concern the breakup of the Persian Empire, and the rise of another great empire, Greece under Alexander the Great, a king who will ³do as he pleases.² Though Alexander conquered a significant portion of the ancient near east world, he lived to be just 32 years and 8 months, and ruled for only 12 years and 8 months. Within 15 years of his death, not a single member of his family, legitimate or illegitimate, remained alive to claim his empire.
After Alexander¹s death (or possibly murder), his empire was divided among his four top generals. This has been mentioned several times within Daniel, but here it is emphasized that there is to be serious problems between two of the divisions:
1. Ptolemy, ³the king of the South² in Egypt
2. Seleucus, ³the king of the north² in Syria
Verse 5-20 concern the back and forth feuding between these two empires, from their initiation in 323 BC to the rise of Antiochus IV in 175 BC, the ³little horn² mentioned in chapter 8.
As a side note, Ptolemy II Philadelphus (in 11:6) was the ruler who ordered the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek, allegedly by a group of 72 Jewish scholars, who independently all came up with the precise same translation. His daughter, Berenice, is the ³king¹s daughter of the south.²
Verse 21 begins the story of the ³contemptible person,² Antiochus IV Epiphanes. ³"The Shining One") (c. 215163 BC) ruled the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire from 175 until his death.
He was a son of Antiochus III the Great and brother of Seleucus IV Philopator. He was originally named Mithradates, but renamed Antiochus, either upon his ascension, or after the death of his elder brother Antiochus. Notable events during his reign include the near-conquest of Egypt, which was halted by the threat of Roman intervention, and the beginning of the Jewish revolt of the Maccabees
Antiochus took power after the death of Seleucus Philopator. He had been hostage in Rome following the peace of Apamea in 188 BC, but had recently been exchanged for the son and rightful heir of Seleucus IV, the later Demetrius I Soter. Antiochus took advantage of this situation, and proclaimed himself co-regent with another of Seleucus' sons, the infant Antiochus, whose murder he orchestrated a few years later.
Because the guardians of Ptolemy VI of Egypt were demanding the return of Coele-Syria, Antiochus, in 170 BC, decided on a preemptive strike against Egypt, and invaded, conquering all but Alexandria. He then captured Ptolemy, and agreed to let him continue as King, but as his puppet. (This had the advantage of not alarming Rome.) Alexandria thereupon chose Ptolemy's brother Ptolemy Euergetes as King. In Antiochus' absence, the two brothers agreed to rule jointly.
Hence, in 168 BC, Antiochus again invaded, and overran all Egypt, except for Alexandria, while his fleet captured Cyprus. Near Alexandria he was met by Gaius Popillius Laenas, who told him that he must immediately withdraw from Egypt and Cyprus. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the envoy drew round him a line in the sand, and said, "Before you cross this circle I want you to give me a reply for the Roman senate".The implication was that, were he to step out of the circle without an immediate commitment to withdraw from Egypt, the Syrian king would find himself at war with Rome. Being ambitious but not crazy, Antiochus promised to withdraw and only then Popillius agreed to shake hands with him.
In a spirit of revenge, he organized an expedition against Jerusalem, which he destroyed; he put many of its inhabitants to death most cruelly. He had soldiers enter the Jewish Temple and slaughter a pig (which was considered "unclean" by the Jews) on the Altar of the Lord. They set the pig ablaze and then took the meat and tried to make some Jewish men eat it. The men refused and he cut their tongues out, scalped them, cut off their hands and feet, and burnt them on the Altar of the Lord. After this, the Jews began the war of independence under their Maccabean leaders, defeating the armies that Antiochus sent against them. Enraged at this, Antiochus is said to have marched against them in person, threatening to exterminate the nation; but, on the way, he was suddenly arrested by the hand of death (164 BC).
In 167 BCE, after Antiochus issued decrees in Judea forbidding Jewish religious practice, and ordered the erection of a large statue of Zeus be erected in the Temple (³the abomination that causes desolation² in verse 31), a rural Jewish priest from Modiin, Mattathias the Hasmonean, sparked the revolt against the Seleucid empire by refusing to worship the Greek gods. Mattathias slayed a Hellenistic Jew who stepped forward to offer a sacrifice to an idol in Mattathias' place. He and his five sons fled to the wilderness of Judea. After Mattathias' death about one year later, his son Judah Maccabee led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over the Seleucid dynasty. The term Maccabees as used to describe the Judean's army is taken from its actual use as Judah's surname.
The revolt itself involved many individual battles, in which the Maccabean forces gained infamy among the Syrian army for their use of guerrilla tactics. After the victory, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem in triumph and ritually cleansed the Temple, reestablishing traditional Jewish worship there and installing Jonathan Maccabee as high priest. A large Syrian army was sent to quash the revolt, but returned to Syria on the death of Antiochus IV. It's commander Lysias, preoccupied with internal Syrian affairs, agreed to a political compromise giving religious freedom.
Following the re-dedication of the temple, the supporters of the Maccabees were divided over the question of whether to continue fighting. When the revolt began under the leadership of Mattathias, it was seen as a war for religious freedom to end the oppression of the Seleucids; however, as Maccabees realized how successful they had been many wanted to continue the revolt as a war of national self-determination. This conflict led to the exacerbation of the divide between the Pharisees and Sadducees under later Hasmonean monarchs such as Alexander Jannaeus. 
Those who sought the continuation of the war of national identity were lead by Judah Maccabee. On his death in battle in 160 BCE, Judah was succeeded as army commander by his younger brother, Jonathan, who was already High Priest. Jonathan made treaties with various foreign states, causing further dissent among those who desired religious freedom over political power. On Jonathan's death in 142 BCE, Simon Maccabee, the last remaining son of Mattathaias, took power. Simon founded the Hasmoneandynasty, which lasted until 37 BCE.
Every year Jews celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Rededication (also known incorrectly as the Festival of Lights) an eight-day Jewish holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, which can occur in very late November, or throughout December. When Hanukkah begins in the last week of December, it continues into the following January. The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each of the festival's eight nights, one on the first night, two on the second, and so on.
The holiday was called Hanukkah meaning "dedication" because it marks the re-dedication of the Temple after its desecration under Antiochus IV. Spiritually, Hanukkah commemorates the Miracle of the Oil. According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days - which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate new oil.
However, non-Talmudic sources include no reference to the eight days of oil that has come to be a popular understanding and modern practice of Hanukkah. The Greek deuterocanonical books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees record different reasons as the origin of the eight days of Hanukkah. 1 Maccabees reads that, "For eight days they celebrated the rededication of the altar. Then Judah and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the rededication...should be observed...every year...for eight days. (1 Mac.4:56-59)"
2 Maccabees says, "The Jews celebrated joyfully for eight days as on the feast of Booths."
Another interpretation for the 8-day ceremony is that it commemorates the story of Hannah and her 7 sons. The story depicted in the Talmud and in the Book of Maccabees accounts how Hannah's 7 sons were tortured and executed according to Antiochus' policy when they refused to bow to a statue and to taste pork. Hannah herself committed suicide after the death of her sons.
Historically, Hanukkah commemorates two events:
* The triumph of Judaism's spiritual values as embodied in its Torah (symbolized by the Menorah, since the Torah is compared to light) over Hellenistic civilization (considered darkness) which under Antiochus IV, had attempted to culturally assimilate the Jews away from practicing Judaism's commandments, by outlawing certain Jewish religious practices (Brit Milah) and forcibly installing Greek religious symbols in the Second Temple.
* The victory of the Jews over the armies of Antiochus IV. The rebellion was begun by Mattathias Maccabee and continued by Judah Maccabee and his other sons. They defeated overwhelming forces, and re-dedicated the Second Temple.
The spiritual side of Judaism shies away from commemorating military victories, the Hasmoneans later became corrupt, and civil war between Jews is considered deplorable, so Hanukkah does not formally commemorate either of these historical events. Instead, the festival commemorates the Miracle of the Oil and the positive spiritual aspects about the Temple's re-dedication. In doing so, the oil becomes metaphor for the miraculous survival of the Jewish people through millennia of trials and tribulations.
The holiday is named Hanukkah ("dedication") because it marks the re-dedication of the Temple. In Hebrew, there is a term which is the dedication made to a house once you enter to live in it, and this was the dedication for the House of the Lord.
Some scholars have noted the following regarding the name Hanukkah:
1. Hanukkah can be divided to Hanu and K H. "Hanu" comes from the Hebrew word for encampment. The letters signify the 25th day of Kislev in Gematria which is the beginning of the holiday. As such it's a rest on the 25th of the month.
2. Hanukkah is also an acronym in Hebrew which means "eight candles and Halakha as the House of Hillel". This points to the disagreement between Hillel and the House of Shammai regarding the proper way to light the candles. Shammai suggested starting with eight candles and reducing one candle every night while Hillel argued for starting with one candle and adding every night. Hillel's way was chosen as the Halakha.
The miracle of Hanukkah is described in the Talmud. The Gemara, in tractate Shabbat 21b, says that after the occupiers had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the Menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, and miraculously, that oil burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready).
The Talmud presents three customs:
1. Lighting one light each night per household,
2. One light each night for each member of the household, or,
3. The most beautiful method, where the number of candles changed each night.
There was a dispute over how the last option was to be performed: either display eight lamps on the first night of the festival, and reduce the number on each successive night; or begin with one lamp the first night, increasing the number till the eighth night. The followers of Shammai favored the former custom; the followers of Hillel advocated the latter. As is the case in most such disputes, Jews today follow Hillel. Except in times of danger, the lights were to be placed outside one's door or in the window closest to the street.
Josephus could not believe that the lights were symbolic of the liberty obtained by the Jews on the day that Hanukkah commemorates. Rashi, in a note to Shabbat 21b, says their purpose is to publicize the miracle. Hanukkah is also mentioned in the (older) Mishnah (TB Megillah 30b).
In the Septuagint and other Sources
The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. A story similar in character, and obviously older in date, is the one alluded to in 2 Maccabees 1:18 et seq., according to which the relighting of the altar-fire by Nehemiah was due to a miracle which occurred on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, and which appears to be given as the reason for the selection of the same date for the rededication of the altar by Judah Maccabeus.
The Books of Maccabees are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), but are part of deuterocanonical historical and religious material preserved in the Septuagint. The Tanakh ends with the consequences following the events of Purim, and had already been codified many centuries earlier by the Men of the Great Assembly (Anshei Knesset HaGedolah).
Another source is the Megillat Antiokhos. Saadia Gaon, who translated it into Arabic in the 9th Century, ascribed to the Maccabees themselves, but this seems unlikely, since it gives dates as so many years before the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE. More recent scholarship dates it to somewhere between the 2nd and 5th Centuries, probably in the 2nd Century.
The holiday is mentioned in the New Testament book of John 10:22-23.
IVP OT Commentary
Chapter 11: Kings of North and South
11:2. four Persian kings. Cyrus is already king when this is taking place, so he would not be counted among the four. His immediate successors were Cambyses, Smerdis (Bardiya/ Gaumata), Darius, Xerxes and Artaxerxes. Seven more kings followed in the royal line before Alexander the Great brought about the fall of the empire. The last was Darius III. Xerxes was arguably the richest of the kings and was the one who was most involved with battles against the Greeks. This spans about seventy years of Persian history.
11:3. mighty king. The mighty king is none other than Alexander the Great. The text skips about 130 years from the end of Xerxes¹ reign to 336, when Alexander took the throne of Macedon. Within five years his military prowess had toppled the Persian empire and ushered in the Greek.
11:4. division to four winds. Alexander died in 323, and a twenty-year struggle for succession ensued that eventually led to a four-way division of the empire (see comment on 8:22). Two of those divisions were in the Aegean region (Cassander had Greece and Macedonia; Lysimachus had Thrace), while the other two divided up the Near East (Ptolemy had Egypt and Palestine; Seleucus had Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia). The Ptolemaic line is going to represented by ³the king of the South,² while the Seleucid line will be represented by ³the king of the North.²
11:5. Ptolemy I Soter (305285). The text will now focus on the two kingdoms (Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucia) that flanked Palestine. Ptolemy was a power broker and instigator during much of the twenty-year succession struggle (playing a significant role as early as 321), but Seleucus emerged as the stronger party with the largest kingdom. Ptolemy¹s military action in 321 broke up the original group that had assumed power after Alexander¹s death. One of his few failures came in 309, when he attempted to move against Antigonus (Seleucus¹s predecessor). By 306 it was clear that he had overextended himself, and he had to fall back and regroup. Still in 306 he was able to declare himself king of Egypt.
In Akkadian literature there are a few pieces (dating from the twelfth century to the third or fourth century) that have been labeled apocalypses (the Marduk Prophecy, the Shulgi Prophecy, the Uruk Prophecy, the Dynastic Prophecy, and Text A). It has been demonstrated that there is a literary relationship between some of these works and the (astrological) omen texts, thereby placing them in Daniel¹s area of specialty. One prominent feature of these is that they ostensibly predict a series of unnamed kings who will arise, summarizing a couple of their deeds. Often these deeds are of a negative sort and the intention of the literature is to condemn those kings. Invariably the sequence ends with a king who will arise and set things right (the Dynastic Prophecy may be an exception, but the end is so fragmentary that it is difficult to be certain). These have been recognized as pieces of propaganda composed during the reign of the last king listed, who is using this genre to indict his predecessors and legitimate his own reign. As such they could be called ³pseudoprophecies,² because their ³predictions² in actuality occur after the fact. Chapter 11 of Daniel undeniably shares some common characteristics with this genre as it presents a sequence of unnamed kings and a summary of some of the events of their reign. Daniel, however, has no king at the end of the sequence to promote. The opposite is true, as the last, Antiochus Epiphanes, is the worst of the lot. As throughout the book, then, Daniel uses a recognized motif but totally repackages it for his own distinctive use. For more information on apocalyptic literature in general see the sidebar at Zechariah 1.
11:5. Seleucus I Nicator (312280). After Alexander died, Perdiccas became head of the armies, and Seleucus was one of his generals. He was among the group that assassinated Perdiccas. Seleucus briefly gained control of Babylon, but was forced to flee when Perdiccas¹s successor, Antigonus, moved against him in 316. He then served as a general for Ptolemy from 316 to 312. They fought together against Antigonus at the Battle of Gaza. After Antigonus¹s defeat at Gaza, Seleucus regained control of Babylon, which became the center of his power. Verses four and five cover the period from Alexander¹s death through the reigns of the first kings of the two empires, about forty years.
11:6. failed alliance of Ptolemies and Seleucids (246). The text now moves forward about forty years. These years had witnessed the first and second Syrian wars (274271; 260253), mostly over the control of the trade routes, ports and natural resources of Syria. In the aftermath of the second war there was interest in peace, and the text now focuses on this pivotal moment in history. About 252, Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285246) sent his daughter, Berenice, with her entourage to marry the Seleucid king, Antiochus II Theos (261246), and thereby to establish an alliance between their kingdoms. The alliance would give Ptolemy control of Syria and Antiochus control of Asia Minor. The fragile relationship held for a couple of years, and Berenice had a child, but a former wife of Antiochus, Laodice, whose sons had been cut off from succession, allegedly poisoned Antiochus and consequently had Berenice and her son (along with many from her entourage) murdered. Ptolemy II also had died in that year. Needless to say, the alliance crumbled and the next fifty years are full of tumultuous warfare between the two kingdoms.
11:7. Ptolemy III Euergetes (246221). Upon hearing of the death of Antiochus, Berenice summoned her brother (who had acceded to the throne in Egypt) to intervene in Syria in order to support her son¹s claims to the throne. He was unable to secure control of Syria before the murder of his nephew and sister. In 245 (Third Syrian War) he pressed his invasion of Seleucia and successfully attacked the Syrian capitals of Antioch (on the Orontes) and Seleucia (this is Seleucia Pieria in Syria) and took much plunder. The cities were quickly recovered by Seleucus II after Ptolemy returned to Egypt.
11:9. Seleucus II Callinicus (246226). Laodice¹s son, Seleucus II, emerged the beneficiary of all of the treachery and intrigue of his mother. In 243 he attempted to gain control of southern Syria and Palestine. Not only was he unsuccessful, but the momentum turned against him and he ended up losing territory.
11:10. Seleucus III (226223). For the last fifteen years of his reign, Seleucus II was engaged in an ongoing struggle with his brother, Antiochus Hierax. Both died about the same time, and Seleucus III came to the throne. Verse ten telescopes the events of the next ten years. Seleucus III was killed in a campaign against Pergamum in Asia Minor. He was succeeded by his brother, Antiochus III, who began mustering troops for the Fourth Syrian War (221217) against Ptolemy IV.
11:10. Antiochus III the Great (223187). The next nine verses are occupied with the deeds of Antiochus III and cover about thirty years. His reign is considered significant for the text of Daniel because he is responsible for taking Palestine out of Ptolemaic control and incorporating it into the Seleucid kingdom, ending a century of Ptolemaic rule over Israel. This began in 218, when he successfully penetrated Galilee and Samaria.
11:11. Ptolemy IV Philopator (221203). For most of the years of the Fourth Syrian War, Ptolemy IV had little success militarily against Antiochus the Great and only forestalled his progress south through repeated diplomatic initiatives. Many of Antiochus¹s successes were carried out with the help of traitors rather than through military power or genius. In fact his lackadaisical tactics allowed Ptolemy to gather, train and field a significant armed force by 217.
11:11-13. Fourth and Fifth Syrian Wars. In 217 Ptolemy IV engaged Antiochus III at the Battle of Raphia for what would turn out to be the climactic battle of the Fourth Syrian War. Raphia was a traditional dividing line between Palestine and Egypt, about twenty miles southwest of Gaza on the Mediterranean coast. Antiochus claimed an army of seventy thousand, but even with the superior size of his armies he was beaten badly by the Egyptians. This victory restored Syro-Palestine to the control of the Ptolemies. This status was maintained until the death of Ptolemy IV in 204. The suspicious circumstances of the death of Ptolemy IV (still in his thirties) brought his six-year-old son, Ptolemy V Epiphanes (204180), to the throne of Egypt. Antiochus took the opportunity of conflict over who was in charge to initiate the Fifth Syrian War (202200), allied with Philip V of Macedon.
11:14-16. Antiochus III¹s occupation of Palestine. The Battle of Gaza in 201 gained Antiochus temporary control of Palestine, but he was pushed back again by Egyptian forces under the command of Scopas. In the next year, however, at the Battle of Panion (at one of the sources of the Jordan; the New Testament Caesarea Philippi, modern Banias), Antiochus defeated the Egyptians and took control of Palestine from them for the last time. At the same time, the Romans were getting a foothold in Greece in the Second Macedonian War.
11:14. violent men. The book of 3 Maccabees records a visit of Ptolemy IV to Jerusalem after the Battle of Raphia in which he was treated very badly when he wished to enter the temple. There is a question concerning the historicity of the account. There were pro-Seleucid (led by Onias II, the high priest) and pro- Ptolemaic factions (from the powerful Tobiad family, competitors for the office of high priest) within Judea at this period. Sources do not provide enough information to determine which party might be alluded to in this verse.
11:17-19. Antiochus III¹s defeat by Rome, Scipio (191, 190). The increasing Roman control in Greece was established by a peace accord in 196. The Greeks who were unhappy with this new state of affairs made contact with Antiochus, urging him to come to their aid. By this time, Antiochus, anticipating that he would need to neutralize Egypt, had entered a marriage alliance, sending his daughter, Cleopatra, to be Ptolemy V¹s bride. He expected her to also be a useful spy, but in this he was disappointed as her loyalties turned to her new husband. Nevertheless, he made his move toward Greece in 192. Constantly shifting alliances eventually worked against him, and he lost a large portion of his ten thousand troops at Thermopylae in 191. Antiochus then resorted to sea battle to try to keep the Romans out of Asia Minor but was again unsuccessful. By 190 the larger Seleucid army of seventy-thousand men had arrived to reinforce Antiochus¹s positions. Roman troops under Scipio were only half this strength when the forces met at Magnesia (about fifty miles north of Ephesus). Yet due to lack of training and tactical errors on the part of the Seleucid army, Antiochus was defeated and much of his army slaughtered. The terms of surrender were humiliating, devastating and accepted without argument.
11:20. Seleucus IV Philopator (187175). This son of Antiochus III had a relatively peaceful reign and appeared to have maintained favorable relations with Jerusalem. The exception alluded to in this verse was when he dispatched one of his chief officials, Heliodorus, to Jerusalem to seize funds that were reported to be either in excess of what was needed or hoarded by anti-Seleucid factions. Before the high priest, Onias III, could get to Antioch to appeal the decision and offer explanation, Seleucus was assassinated in a plot carried out by Heliodorus, with Antiochus IV suspected by historians of complicity.
11:21. Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175164). Antiochus IV, the brother of Seleucus, had been in Rome as a political hostage and was just returning (he had got as far as Athens) when the assassination of his brother took place. His goals included converting Jerusalem into a center for Greek culture and helping the Jews to make the transition to becoming Greek citizens with Greek ways. The intrigues that he became involved in were many, but certainly the main one concerning Jerusalem was how he handled the high priesthood (see next entry). The text calls him contemptible, and indeed he was. His title ³Epiphanes² means ³god manifest²but the people preferred ³Epimanes²³madman.² While he was certainly a member of the royal line, the throne should have gone to Seleucus¹s son, Demetrius (who instead was taking Antiochus¹s place as hostage in Rome). Another intrigue concerned the throne. He set up a coregency with his nephew (a minor), who a few years later was murdered.
11:22. prince of the covenant. Onias III was detained by Antiochus, and in the interim Jason, his brother, conspired to usurp his position. He paid a considerable sum to Antiochus and offered to be cooperative in the Hellenization of Judea (promotion of Greek culture at the expense of Jewish practices). Three years later Menelaus, with the probable support of the Tobiads, paid a larger sum and, the precedent having been established, was awarded the office over Jason. According to 2 Maccabees, Onias was murdered about 171. Many identify him as the prince of the covenant referred to in this verse, but others attach that title to Ptolemy VI (see below). The over-whelming army in some way represents the opponents to Antiochus¹s reign. This could include internal political opponents, Jewish antagonists or foreign opposition such as that which develops in Egypt.
11:25. First Egyptian War, 169. Antiochus¹s dreams of adding Egypt to his kingdom were finally acted on in 169. His invasion was prompted by Egypt¹s growing animosity and may even have been in response to Egypt¹s military action, since the first encounter (November 170) was between Pelusium and Gaza. Nonetheless, Antiochus succeeded in capturing the city of Memphis and securing the surrender of Ptolemy VI.
11:26-28. Ptolemy VI Philometor (181146). Ptolemy VI was young when he came to the throne and was aided by two officials, Eulaeus and Lenaeus, who stirred up antagonism against Syria. The humiliation of Ptolemy in the First Egyptian War is thought to have been the result of bad advice given by his two advisors with the intention of undermining him.
11:27. unsuccessful siege of Alexandria. After his successful siege of Memphis, the citizens of Alexandria defied him by making Ptolemy¹s younger brother king. Antiochus took immediate steps to break their revolt but was unable to take the city. As soon as he had returned to Syria, Ptolemy VI disavowed any loyalty to Antiochus and his coregency with his brother was reinstated.
11:28. action against the holy covenant. Roman, Greek and Jewish sources differ with regards to the details at this point. There is no question that on his return from Egypt, Antiochus raided the temple treasury, most likely to secure additional funds for his continuing military activities. The sources disagree about whether this incident took place after the First Egyptian War (September 169) or after the Second.
11:29-30. Second Egyptian War, 168. In the spring of 168 Antiochus again had to besiege Memphis, and he did so successfully, taking control of lower Egypt. As he again prepared to lay siege against a weakened Alexandria, he actually had himself crowned king of Egypt. But there was a difference this time. Egypt had appealed to Rome for help, and their ships arrived as he approached Alexandria. Roman consul Gaius Popillius Laenas met him by the walls of Alexandria and commanded Antiochus to leave Egypt. When Antiochus replied that he had to consult with his advisors, the Roman consul drew a circle in the dirt around the king and insisted that he give his answer before stepping out of the circle. A humiliated Antiochus conceded to Roman authority and straggled toward home looking for a way to vent his misery. This was probably in July 168.
11:30. fury against the holy covenant. There was a rumor in Jerusalem that Antiochus had been killed in battle. Jason, who had been ousted as high priest, took the opportunity to lead a rebellion against Menelaus, who at this time was high priest (see comment on 11:22). When Antiochus heard of trouble, he may have come himself to Jerusalem to put down the rebellion. In the process tens of thousands of Jews were massacred, and the temple was looted (Menelaus apparently cooperating in the plundering). Another report (perhaps of a subsequent action) says that Apollonius with a contingent of soldiers was sent by Antiochus to subjugate the riotous citizens of Jerusalem. According to the books of Maccabees this was accomplished through pretending to be peaceful but then slaughtering many. This may be a separate occasion, and the relationship of these events to those reported in the comment on 11:28 are difficult to determine. It is probably at this time that a citadel (the Akra) of Syrian soldiers was set up at the edge of the Temple Mount.
11:31. desecration of sanctuary. According to the book of Maccabees, an individual named Geron was sent by Antiochus to dismantle Jewish religious practice. It is possible that the Syrian military contingent, seeking accommodation for their own worship practice, was partially responsible for some of the changes described in the temple. In December 167 a systematic program of instituting Greek religious practices at the expense of Jewish ones began in earnest. The sacrificial system and the Sabbath and festival observances were halted. Worship sites were set up around the country and circumcision was forbidden. The temple was consecrated to Zeus and became a center of polytheism and prostitution.
11:31. abomination of desolation. This is usually taken as an idol of Olympian Zeus that was set up in the temple. Antiochus had identified this favorite god of his with the Syrian Baal Shamem, the chief deity of the Syrian portion of the population (see comment on 9:27).
11:32. flattery of covenant breakers. There were many Jews who favored the Hellenization process and therefore, if promised personal benefit, would gladly side with the new policies. Foremost among these was Menelaus, the high priest, who was totally dependent on Antiochus for his lucrative office.
11:32-35. Judas Maccabeus. In contrast, many of the Jews fought vigorously against the Hellenization of Judeawith many suffering martyrs¹ deaths. The major organized revolt was led by the Hasmonean family, initiated by its patriarch, Mattathias, a priest. In early 166 when Antiochus¹s envoy came to their town to enforce the new regulations, Mattathias and his five sons, John, Simon, Judas, Eleazar and Jonathan, responded with armed force and killed him. The family then fled the town and the rebellion was begun. With Judas as the military commander, they began seizing control of small towns, intending thereby to cut off all the roads to Jerusalem. This created an effective blockade that eventuated in the retaking of Jerusalem and the purifying of the temple in December 164, exactly three years after the desecration, but Daniel 11 does not report this event. There is continued controversy over whether in this section the Maccabeans are referred to favorably or unfavorably.
11:36-39. . If Antiochus IV is still in sight in these verses, they offer a general description of the difficult period surrounding the desecration. References to Antiochus¹s arrogance, his lavish support of some temples and his redistribution of land to those who support him are easily recognized as characteristic of this period.
11:37. the gods. Antiochus¹s Seleucid predecessors had elevated the god Apollo, while the Ptolemies had shown preference for Adonis (possibly referred to here as the one desired by women). Antiochus neglects them (though by no means rejects them) in favor of Olympian Zeus. The fact that he designated himself as God Manifest on his coins is sufficient to explain the comment in this verse.
11:38. god of fortresses. The fortress referred to here is usually considered to be the Akra, the garrison for Syrian soldiers that was adjoined to the Temple Mount.
11:40-45. final battle. There is no known historical sequence corresponding to that which is laid out in these verses. Antiochus IV was killed in battle in Persia in December 164. Many interpreters of Daniel consider this section (perhaps starting as early as v. 36) to contain a reference to a much more distant future.
11:2-45 The kings of the North and South
While the revelation which follows appears to modern readers to be a foretelling of future events it is so detailed that most scholars assume that the original readers would have instantly recognized it as a literary device used by a secondcentury author. According to this view, the close detail in the account of events in vs 21-35 indicates that the author had personal knowledge of them. Vs 40-45, on the other hand, describe events which were still future to the author, and his prophecy about them turned out to be mistaken. Scholars who hold this view, therefore, date the final writing of Daniel in 165 or 164 BC. (For the implications of this view see the Introduction.)
Throughout the chapter it is evident that what Daniel has previously learned in pictorial fashion is now set before him in the linear fashion of history. The viewpoint from which these events are seen is, however, the Beautiful Land (16) which God had covenanted to his people, and in relationship to which rulers in the [p. 760] south or north arise (e.g. vs 11-12). Contrary to other readings of history which marginalize the people of God (Palestine being seen as merely a land bridge between north and south), biblical revelation sees the kingdom to which they belong as the centre point and key to history.
11:2-4 The immediate future. The messenger sketches the immediate unravelling of history. The power of the Persian empire is viewed as growing until the appearance of a figure of immense power, who would have no dynasty, his empire being fragmented after his death (4).
The fourth Persian king (2) following Cyrus (cf. 10:1) was Xerxes (reigning from 486465 BC). He is known to have gathered enormous resources through taxation and depleted them in his hostilities against Greece (2), by whom he was defeated at the battle of Salamis in 480 BC. The portrait of a mighty king whose empire would be fragmented (3-4) rather than passed on to heirs was fulfilled in Alexander the Great (Daniel already knew that the ascendancy would pass to Greece; 10:20), whose two sons were assassinated. He became a broken horn (8:22).
11:5-45 North versus South. There is widespread agreement on the interpretation of this section among commentators of quite different schools of thought, so closely does this vision coalesce with the following outline of history.
When Alexander¹s empire was divided into four (4), Ptolemy I became ruler of Egypt (the king of the South; 5) establishing the Macedonian dynasty from 304 BC (when he took the title of king) until 30 BC. Meanwhile Seleucus I (the king of the North) controlled Syria, establishing the Seleucid dynasty for approximately the same period. What follows is the story of the dynastic development and power struggles within these two kingdoms and the rivalry between them.
The initial attempt at alliance between the two powers is represented by the marriage (6) between Antiochus II (grandson of Seleucus I) and Berenice (daughter of Ptolemy II). The peace was only temporary and was followed by the invasion of the north by Ptolemy III (7-8) and the counterattack by Seleucus II (9) and his sons Seleucus III and Antiochus III, who pushed as far south as Raphia in southern Palestine (10).
The struggle for domination continued under Ptolemy IV, a man of profligate lifestyle. The reference to him being filled with pride (12; cf.
v 18) prepares the biblically sensitive reader for his downfall (2:21a). While he did inflict a massive defeat on Syria at Raphia, his ascendancy did not continue and eventually, when Ptolemy V had been enthroned at the age of four, Antiochus III conquered (13-16). He too displayed the selfexaltation which merits divine judgment (16; cf. v 19). V 14 may refer to the unsuccessful activity of Jewish zealots who supported the Syrian forces against Egypt under whose domination they lived.
With a view to further expansion, a political marriage was planned between Antiochus III¹s daughter Cleopatra and the young Ptolemy V (17); but this also failed. When Antiochus sought further conquests in the west (Greece) he was defeated by the Romans and forced to return home. Retreating, he was to disappear from the stage of history, dying within two years (19).
Seleucus IV, who followed as king of Syria, inherited a large empire but one bankrupted by long years of military action. He sought to replenish the treasury by raising taxes (20), but was soon succeeded by the figure who now dominates the rest of the chapter, a contemptible person (21), his brother Antiochus IV (Epiphanes).
He came to the throne in 175 BC by means of two coups. By various means, including intrigue and deceit (21, 23) he promoted a policy of Hellenization, which brought him into direct conflict with Jews who were committed to orthodox piety. Again the danger of feeling secure is underlined (v 24; cf. 8:25), as is the time limit which God places on hostile human activities (only for a time; 24).
Antiochus prevented an Egyptian invasion of Palestine by himself invading Egypt, now ruled by Ptolemy VI, succeeding partly by intrigue (according to vs 24-25). But full success eluded him (27), and when disorder emerged in Palestine, he returned to Syria. Again, the divine limits feature in history (27), and the sinister nature of opposition to the people of God is emphasized (28).
Antiochus invaded Egypt again in 168 BC, when the Ptolemies agreed on a joint reign. This time he found himself faced with a humiliating Roman ultimatum to leave (cf. v 30), after which he vented his fury against God and his people (30), enlisting the help of Jews sympathetic to the Hellenization process (30-
32). This culminated in the massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the ravaging of the city. The sanctuary was defiled, the daily offerings abolished, an altar to Zeus was set up, and pagan rites were celebrated on the altar of burnt offering (the abomination that causes desolation, 31; cf. Mt. 24:15).
In the midst of Jewish apostasy (described in vs 30, 32), others were faithful to death (33). It was in this context that the famous resistance of the Maccabees took place. As in all resistance movements, spiritual as well as political, the [p. 761] faithful received support which they could have done without (34).
Possibly the most difficult section in the book follows in vs 36-45. The description seems to exceed all that is known of even the blasphemous Antiochus (hence the conclusion of many commentators that this section is indeed predictive prophecy on the part of the author, which, because erroneous, enables us to date the final edition of the entire book). 13:1-3, however, suggests that the end of all history may now be in view. In this case, v 35 may be pointing forward to the experience of God¹s people, not merely during but beyond the time of Antiochus. Nevertheless, identifications of the king (36) vary (e.g. the Roman Empire [Calvin], the papacy and the antichrist).
Precise identification of the meaning of prophecy always depends on its historical fulfilment. In any event, we at least have here a portrayal of the spirit of antichrist (1 Jn. 2:18)
in the radical autonomy of the king (cf. 3:15; 4:30; 8:25; 11:3, 12, 16), who exalts himself as divine (36-37; cf. 3:5) and the marriage of ungodliness and unrighteousness. The reference to the one desired by women (37) is difficult. Sometimes taken as a reference to Tammuz, the pagan deity mourned by the goddess Ishtar (cf. Ezekiel¹s alarm at this abomination in Ezk. 8:13-14), the words may also signify the love of women¹ and denote the king¹s complete disregard for human affection (cf. 2 Tim. 3:2-4) or indeed for the creation ordinance of malefemale relationships.
Vs 40-45 portray a final struggle. Some interpreters suggest this will be fulfilled in the precise geographical terms in which it is described, but the statements are best taken as a portrayal of future conflict in terms of a then contemporary political map. Edom, Moab and Ammon (41) represent the ancient enemies of God¹s people. The traditional enemies of the king of the north with their allies will be mastered by him (43). Yet, his end will come unceremoniously (44-45).
If we have here a reference to the final scenes of history, it should be remembered that they are described in terms of the ancient world order. Prophecy does foretell the future, but also speaks to its contemporary world in terms drawn from its own time.
Even if the climax of godlessness is here portrayed, it would be a mistake to anticipate that history¹s d´enouement will involve chariots and cavalry (40). Nor should we forget that the function of this entire section is to emphasize that no matter how radically godless a ruler of the nations may be, yet he will come to his end, and noone will help him (45).
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