This article is a verse by verse explanation of the fulfillment of prophecy in Chapter 11 of Daniel. Daniel Chapter 11 clearly demonstrates the accuracy and completeness of prophecy in God's word. The scripture verse, KJV, is quoted in the left column while the explanation verse by verse is in the right column. Enjoy!
1. Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to
confirm and to strengthen him. |
In verse 1, the angel of the Lord reminding Daniel that "...Darius the Mede...I stood to confirm and to strengthen him." Not to do his purpose, or his plan, or his will for himself, but to effect the purpose of God in all the ages, God stood to strengthen Darius the Mede. Darius is the king who destroyed the Babylonian empire. You remember on the night of the feast of Belshazzar, it was Darius who brought his armies under the walls of ancient Babylon to destroy the nation and to break the power of the great Babylonian empire. On the same night, Belshazzar died in the judgment of the Lord, and then Darius moves upon the scene as the great monarch and following Darius, is Cyrus the Persian. Then, you have the Media-Persian empire which is the second world great monarchy in the course of the Gentile age beginning with Nebuchadnezzar in 600 B.C. So, Darius is directed and strengthened and confirmed in the plan of God, and the Word of God to do the thing that God plans he do.
|2. And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.||
"And now will I shew thee the truth." The prophecy set forth here is not clothed in symbols or figures, as were previous visions given to Daniel. We have here the literal language concerning the historical events of the Jews and the Holy Land, and we have literal language describing historical events having to do with the Jews and the Holy Land. The three kings who were to "stand up yet" (after Cyrus) were Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes, and Darius (Ezra 4:1-24).
The first king, Ahasuerus, is known in history as Cambyses, who reigned from 529 to 522 B.C. The second king, Pseudo-Smerdis, reigned from 522 to 521 B.C.; and the third king, known in secular history as Darius Hystaspes, reigned from 521 to 485 B.C.
The fourth king was Xerxes, the son of Darius Hystaspes, and he reigned from 485 to 465 B.C. (known in the Book of Esther as Ahasuerus). He was very rich, and his unusual wealth enabled him to build up vast armies and put them into the field, well equipped for his day. He stirred up the Persians against Greece, and in 480 B.C. he invaded Greece with a huge army and navy, but was ignominiously defeated by land and sea, thus preparing the way for the downfall of the Persian empire.
|3. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.||
After his overthrow at Salamis, Persia is viewed as politically dead, though it had an existence. Therefore, Daniel 11:3, without noticing Xerxes' successors, proceeds at once to Alexander, under whom, the third world kingdom, Grecia, reached its culmination, and assumed an importance as to the people of God. Alexander the Great, who reigned from 336 B.C. to 323 B.C., a short reign of only 13 years. "..according to his will." as an answer to the he-goat's "notable horn" (Daniel 8:6-7, 21). Alexander invaded Persia to avenge the wrongs of Greece on Persia for Xerxes' past invasion.
|4. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.||
His kingdom, however, was to be broken and divided into four parts, but not to his own posterity. This was literally accomplished in the career of Alexander the Great, who, after his conquest of Persia and of the world, died without children, and whose vast dominions were divided between his four generals. These did not rule "according to his dominion," for their kingdom was again and again "plucked up, even for others beside themselves."
A few years after Alexander’s death, his kingdom was divided among his four generals (cf. 8:22): Seleucus (over Syria and Mesopotamia), Ptolemy (over Egypt), Lysimacus (over Thrace and portions of Asia Minor), and Cassander (over Macedonia and Greece). This division was anticipated through the four heads of the leopard (7:6) and the four prominent horns on the goat (8:8). Alexander founded no dynasty of rulers; since he had no heirs, his kingdom was divided and the empire was marked by division and weakness.
|5. And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.||
After the partition of Alexander’s dominions, the Jewish people came into contact with only two of the four kingdoms which succeeded him—the Seleucids, the kings of Syria ("the king of the north") and the Ptolemies, rulers of Egypt ("the king of the south"). These waged incessant warfare against each other, and the Jews suffered in turn from each, thus the prophecy of Daniel turns specifically to the items of interest to the Jews.
At first the kings of Egypt prevailed. The prophecy foretold this; for it says, "And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion". The strong king of the South was Ptolemy I Soter, a general who served under Alexander. He was given authority over Egypt in 323 B.C. and proclaimed king of Egypt in 304.
The commander referred to in verse 5 was Seleucus I Nicator, also a general under Alexander, who was given authority to rule in Babylon in 321. But in 316 when Babylon came under attack by Antigonus, another general, Seleucus sought help from Ptolemy I Soter in Egypt. After Antigonus’ defeat in 312, Seleucus returned to Babylon greatly strengthened. He ruled over Babylonia, Media, and Syria, and assumed the title of king in 305. Thus Seleucus I Nicator’s rule was over far more territory than Ptolemy I and was king of the largest empire after that of Alexander.
6. And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.
Verse 6 says: "And in the end of years they shall join themselves together"—that is, the king of the north and king of the south shall form a league—"for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm. But she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times."
Ptolemy I Soter died in 285 B.C. and Ptolemy II Philadelphus, Ptolemy’s son, ruled in Egypt (285-246). Meanwhile Seleucus was murdered in 281 and his son Antiochus I Soter ruled till 262. Then Seleucus’ grandson Antiochus II Theos ruled in Syria (262-246). Ptolemy II and Antiochus II were bitter enemies but finally (after some years) they entered into an alliance in about 250.
Answering to this very definite prophecy we have historical records of an alliance between the two rival kingdoms, when Ptolemy Philadelphus gave his daughter Berenice in marriage to Antiochus Theos of Syria, upon condition that he should put away his wife, Laodice. But, as foretold in the prophecy, this league did not last; for Ptolemy died soon after, and then Antiochus put away Berenice, and took back his former wife, who subsequently requited him by procuring his murder, and also the murder of Berenice (she was handed over). Laodice poisoned Antiochus II and made her son, Seleucus II Callinicus, king (246-227).
|7. But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail:||
The brother of Berenice, Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246-221, (referred to in the prophecy as "one out of her roots"), undertook to avenge her death by an invasion of Syria, in which he was successful. This appears to be what is foretold in verses 7, 8 and 9, which tell of one who should "enter into the fortress of the king of the north," and who should "prevail", "...deal against them" -- He shall deal with the Syrians at his own pleasure. He slew Laodice.
|8. And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north.||
Ptolemy, on hearing of a sedition in Egypt, returned with forty thousand talents of silver, precious vessels, and twenty-four hundred images, including Egyptian idols, which Cambyses had carried from Egypt into Persia. The idolatrous Egyptians were so gratified, that they named him Euergetes, or "benefactor." Ptolemy survived Seleucus four years, reigning in all forty-six years. MAURER translates, "Then he for several years shall desist from (contending with) the king of the north"
|9. So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.||
After this humiliating defeat, Seleucus II Callinicus (the king of the North) sought to invade Egypt but was unsuccessful. After his death (by a fall from his horse) he was succeeded by his son, Seleucus II Soter (227-223 B.C.), who was killed by conspirators while on a military campaign in Asia Minor. Seleucus III’s brother, Antiochus III the Great, became the ruler in 223 at 18 years of age and reigned for 36 years (untill 187). The two sons (Seleucus III and Antiochus III) had sought to restore Syria’s lost prestige by military conquest, the older son by invading Asia Minor and the younger son by attacking Egypt. Egypt had controlled all the territory north to the borders of Syria which included the land of Israel. Antiochus III succeeded in driving the Egyptians back to the southern borders of Israel in his campaign in 219-217.
|10. But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress.||
Antiochus alone prosecuted the war with Ptolemy Philopater, Euergetes' son, until he had recovered all the parts of Syria subjugated by Euergetes. "pass through"—like an "overflowing" torrent (Daniel 11:22, 26, 40; Isaiah 8:8). Antiochus penetrated to Dura (near Cęsarea), where he gave Ptolemy a four months' truce. After the truce he returned to the war (see Daniel 11:13). "...even to his fortress"— Ptolemy's; Raphia was a border-fortress of Egypt to protect against incursions by way of Edom and Arabia-Petręa, near Gaza; here Antiochus was vanquished as foretold in the next verse.
|11. And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.||But, as verse 11 foretold, the king of Egypt was moved with fury against him, and defeated him with great loss. The king of the South in this verse was Ptolemy IV Philopator (221-204 B.C.). He was the one driven back by Antiochus III the Great (cf. comments on v. 10). Ptolemy IV came to meet Antiochus III at the southern borders of Israel. Ptolemy IV was initially successful in delaying the invasion of Antiochus (Ptolemy slaughtered 10 thousand and 4 thousand more made captive).|
|12. And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.||
Instead of following up his victory by making himself master of the whole of Syria, as he might, he made peace with Antiochus, and gave himself up to licentiousness [POLYBIUS, 87; JUSTIN, 30.4], and profaned the temple of God by entering the holy place [GROTIUS]. not be strengthened by it—He shall lose the power gained by his victory through his luxurious indolence.
Yet, though he "cast down many ten thousands" he was not permanently "strengthened thereby"
|13. For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.||
About fourteen years later, Antiochus renewed the war with an even larger force, fulfilling the words: "For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former." Antiochus, after successful campaigns against Persia and India, made war with Ptolemy Epiphanes, son of Philopater, a mere child.
|14. And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.||
"...many stand up against the king of the south"—Syria was not Egypt’s only enemy, for Philip V of Macedonia joined with Antiochus III against Egypt. Many Jews (your own people, i.e., Daniel’s people, the Jews; cf. “your people” in 9:24; 10:14) also joined Antiochus against Egypt. In the expedition he was aided by reprobate Jews, spoken of in the prophecy as "robbers of thy people", so as to revolt from Ptolemy, and join themselves to Antiochus; the Jews helped Antiochus army with provisions, when on his return from Egypt he besieged the Egyptian garrison left in Jerusalem [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 12.3.3]. to establish the vision—Those turbulent Jews unconsciously shall help to fulfill the purpose of God, as to the trials which await Judea, according to this vision. but they shall fall—Though helping to fulfill the vision, they shall fail in their aim, of making Judea independent. For this aid rendered by the Jews Antiochus was, for a time, very favourable to them, but they did not obtain independence.
|15. So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.||The fortified city seems to refer to Sidon which Antiochus captured in 203 B.C. The Egyptian general, met Antiochus at Paneas, near the sources of the Jordan, and was defeated, and fled to Sidon, a strongly "fenced city," where he was forced to surrender. "...chosen people"—Egypt's choicest army was sent under Eropus, Menocles, and Damoxenus, to deliver Scopas, but in vain [JEROME].|
|16. But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.||
Antiochus III continued his occupation and by 199 had established himself in the Beautiful Land (cf. 8:9; 11:41; Ezekiel 20:6, 15). Antiochus sought to bring peace between Egypt and Syria by giving his daughter to marry Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt. But this attempt to bring a peaceful alliance between the two nations did not succeed (v. 17).
When he entered Palestine he was received by them with great demonstrations of joy; and so as foretold, "he stood in the glorious land"; but in the end this proved to be a calamity for the Jews, for he fulfilled the words, "And he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed."
"... by his hand shall be consumed"—literally, "perfected," that is, completely brought under his sway. JOSEPHUS [Antiquities, 12.3.3] shows that the meaning is not, that the Jews should be utterly consumed: for Antiochus favored them for taking his part against Ptolemy, but that their land should be subjected to him [LENGKERKE]. GROTIUS translates, "shall be perfected by him," that is, shall flourish under him. English Version gives a good sense; namely, that Judea was much "consumed" or "desolated" by being the arena of conflict between the combatants, Syria and Egypt. TREGELLES refers (Daniel 11:14), "robbers of thy people," to the Gentiles, once oppressors, attempting to restore the Jews to their land by mere human effort, whereas this is to be effected only by divine interposition: their attempt is frustrated (Daniel 11:16) by the wilful king, who makes Judea the scene of his military operations.
|17. 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, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.||
Antiochus purpose was, however, turned from open assault to wile, by his war with the Romans in his endeavor to extend his kingdom to the limits it had under Seleucus Nicator. The term "upright one"—Jasher, or Jeshurun (Deut. 32:15; Isaiah 44:2); the epithet applied by the Hebrews to their nation. It is here used not in praise; for in Daniel 11:14 they are called "robbers," or "men of violence, factious": it is the general designation of Israel, as having God for their God. Probably it is used to rebuke those who ought to have been God's "upright ones" for confederating with godless heathen in acts of violence (the contrast to the term in Daniel 11:14 favors this).
Instead of at once invading Ptolemy's country with his "whole strength," he prepares his way for doing so by the following plan: he gives to Ptolemy Epiphanes his daughter Cleopatra in marriage, promising Clo-Syria and Judea as a dowry, thus securing his neutrality in the war with Rome: he hoped through his daughter to obtain Syria, Cilicia, and Lycia, and even Egypt itself at last; but Cleopatra favored her husband rather than her father, and so defeated his scheme [JEROME]. "She shall not stand on his side."
|18. After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.||
Antiochus III then turned his attention to Asia Minor in 197 B.C. and Greece in 192. However, Antiochus did not succeed because Cornelius Scipio (a commander) was dispatched from Rome to turn Antiochus back. Antiochus returned to his own country in 188 and died a year later. Antiochus III the Great had carried on the most vigorous military campaigns of any of Alexander’s successors, but his dream of reuniting Alexander’s empire under his authority was never realized.
He "took many" of the isles in the Ęgean in his war with the Romans, and crossed the Hellespont. "a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach . . . to cease"—Lucius Scipio Asiaticus, the Roman general, by routing Antiochus at Magnesia (190 B.C.), caused the reproach which he offered Rome by inflicting injuries on Rome's allies, to cease. He did it for his own glory (without his own reproach—with untarnished reputation).
|19. Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.||
Then he turned to make war against the Romans, but was defeated by Scipio Africanus; after which he returned to his own land, and was slain by his people, who were aroused to fury by the burdensome taxes exacted by him to defray the expenses of his unsuccessful war and the tribute laid upon him by the Romans. It is easily seen that these incidents, which brought the career of Antiochus the Great to a close, respond to the predictions of verse 19
|20. Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.||
"in his estate:—in Antiochus' stead: his successor, Seleucus IV Philopater (187-176 B.C.), his son "in the glory of the kingdom"—that is, inheriting it by hereditary right. MAURER translates, "one who shall cause the tax gatherer (Heliodorus) to pass through the glory of the kingdom," that is, Judea, "the glorious land" (Daniel 11:16, 41; Daniel 8:9). Simon, a Benjamite, in spite against Onias III, the high priest, gave information of the treasures in the Jewish temple; and Seleucus having reunited to Syria Clo-Syria and Palestine, the dowry formerly given by Antiochus the Great to Cleopatra, Ptolemy's wife, sent Heliodorus to Jerusalem to plunder the temple. This is narrated in 2 Macc. 3:4, etc. Contrast Zech. 9:8, "No oppressor shall pass through . . . any more."
"within few days . . . destroyed"—after a reign of twelve years, which were "few" compared with the thirty-seven years of Antiochus' reign. Heliodorus, the instrument of Seleucus' sacrilege, was made by God the instrument of his punishment. Seeking the crown, in the absence at Rome of Seleucus' only son and heir, Demetrius, he poisoned Seleucus. But Antiochus Epiphanes, Seleucus' brother, by the help of Eumenes, king of Pergamos, succeeded to the throne, 175 B.C. "neither in anger, nor in battle"—not in a popular outbreak, nor in open battle was fulfilled by the asassin.
|21. And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.||
Verse 21 foretells the rising up of a "vile person." Nearly all expositors of repute are agreed that this "vile person" (an expression signifying one greatly abhorred and detested) was Antiochus Epiphanes successor to Antiochus the Great as king of Syria. This odious person occupies a very large place in the prophecy; for verses 21 to 35 (2Ma 4:21-35) are taken up with the foretelling of his "a abominable actions toward the Jews." In I Maccabees 1:10 he is described as "wicked root." His deeds of cruelty and sacrilege far surpassed anything the Jews had suffered under previous rulers. Many pages in Maccabees and Josephus are devoted to the history of this tyrannical king, and his ill treatment of the Jews.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a son of Antiochus III the Great and the Seleucid who ruled from 175-163 B.C. In prophecy he is given as much attention as all the others before him combined. He is the little horn of Daniel 8:9-12, 23-25. A long section (11:21-35) is devoted to him not only because of the effects of his invasion on the land of Israel, but more so because he foreshadows the little horn (king) of 7:8 who in a future day will desecrate and destroy the land of Israel. Antiochus IV is introduced as a contemptible person. He took to himself the name Epiphanes which means “the Illustrious One.” But he was considered so untrustworthy that he was nicknamed Epimanes, by play of the sound, which means “the Madman.” The throne rightly belonged to Demetrius Soter, a son of Seleucus IV Philopator, but Antiochus IV Epiphanes seized the throne and had himself proclaimed king. Thus he did not come to the throne by rightful succession; he seized it through intrigue. Hence, for his crafty supplanting of Demetrius, the rightful heir, from the throne, he is termed "vile." "... they shall not give . . . kingdom: but . . . by flatteries"—The nation shall not, by a public act, confer the kingdom on him, but he shall obtain it by artifice, "flattering" Eumenes and Attalus of Pergamos to help him, and, as he had seen candidates at Rome doing, canvassing the Syrian people high and low, one by one, with embraces [LIVY, 41.20]. He was accepted as ruler because he was able to turn aside an invading army, perhaps the Egyptians. He also deposed Onias III, the high priest, called here a prince of the covenant.
|22. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.||
shall they be overflown . . . before him—Antiochus
Epiphanes shall invade Egypt with overwhelming forces.
The "prince of the covenant"—could be Onias III, the high priest, but in this context he is more likely to be Ptolemy Philometer, the son of Cleopatra, Antiochus' sister, who was joined in covenant with him. Ptolemy's guardians, while he was a boy, sought to recover from Epiphanes Clo-Syria and Palestine, which had been promised by Antiochus the Great as Cleopatra's dowry in marrying Ptolemy Epiphanes. Hence arose the war. Philometer's generals were vanquished, and Pelusium, the key of Egypt, taken by Antiochus, 171 B.C.
|23. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.||
In the prophecy it was foretold that, "he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.., and after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully." This was fulfilled quite literally, for Josephus relates that the king (Antiochus), having determined to make war on the king of Egypt, "came up to Jerusalem, and, pretending peace, got possession of the city by treachery" (Bk. II, 5, 4). The Cambridge edition of the Bible cites II Maccabees 4:7, 10, 23-31 in connection with the foregoing verses.
TREGELLES notes three divisions in the history of the "vile person," which is continued to the end of the chapter: (1) His rise (Daniel 11:21-22). (2) The time from his making the covenant to the taking away of the daily sacrifice and setting up of the abomination of desolation (Daniel 11:23-31). (3) His career of blasphemy, to his destruction (Daniel 11:32-45); the latter two periods answering to the "week" of years of his "covenant with many" (namely, in Israel) (Daniel 9:27), and the last being the closing half week of the ninth chapter. But the context so accurately agrees with the relations of Antiochus to Ptolemy that the primary reference seems to be to the "league" between them. Antitypically, Antichrist's relations towards Israel are probably delineated. Compare Daniel 8:11, 25, with Daniel 11:22 here, "prince of the covenant." work deceitfully—Feigning friendship to young Ptolemy, as if he wished to order his kingdom for him, he took possession of Memphis and all Egypt ("the fattest places," Daniel 11:34) as far as Alexandria. with a small people—At first, to throw off suspicion, his forces were small.
|24. He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.||
Again, according to the prophecy, this "vile person," after entering peaceably upon the fattest (i.e., the richest) places of the province, would do "that which his fathers had not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches," etc. In agreement with this is the fact that none of the predecessors of Antiochus had ever interfered in the slightest degree with the worship, laws, or religious observances of the Jews; nor had they ever violated the temple in any way. Thus, in plundering and profaning the temple, and in his acts of cruelty and sacrilege (to which we will refer below), Antiochus Epiphanes did "that which his fathers had not done, nor his fathers’ fathers."
|25. And 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 forecast devices against him.||
Verse 25 of the prophecy foretells this ruler’s military expedition against Egypt (2Ma 5:1). The histories give a full account of this campaign. In fact the Cambridge edition of the Bible, and some others, have in the margin a note on this verse which reads, "Fulfilled B.C. 170."
|26. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.||"they that feed of . . . his meat"—those from whom he might naturally have looked for help, his intimates and dependents (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18); his ministers and guardians. "his army shall overflow"—Philometer's army shall be dissipated as water. The phrase is used of overflowing numbers, usually in a victorious sense, but here in the sense of defeat, the very numbers which ordinarily ensure victory, hastening the defeat through mismanagement. "many shall fall down slain"—(1 Macc. 1:18, "many fell wounded to death"). Antiochus, when he might have slain all in the battle near Pelusium, rode around and ordered the enemy to be taken alive, the fruit of which policy was, he soon gained Pelusium and all Egypt [DIODORUS SICULUS, 26.77].|
|27. And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.||
"both . . . to do mischief"—each to the other. "speak lies at one table"—They shall, under the semblance of intimacy, at Memphis try to deceive one another (see on Daniel 11:3; Daniel 11:25). "it shall not prosper"—Neither of them shall carry his point at this time. "yet the end shall be"—"the end" of the contest between them is reserved for "the time appointed" (Daniel 11:29-30).
After Antiochus consolidated his kingdom, he moved against Egypt, the king of the South, in 170. Antiochus was able to move his army from his homeland to the very border of Egypt before he was met by the Egyptian army at Pelusium near the Nile Delta. In this battle the Egyptians had a large army but were defeated and Antiochus professed friendship with Egypt. The victor and the vanquished sat at a table together as though friendship had been established, but the goal of both to establish peace was never realized for they both were deceptive.
|28. Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.||
Verses 28-30 tell of his return in a second expedition against Egypt, and of its failure: "For the ships of Chittim shall come against him. Therefore he shall be grieved (disappointed or made despondent) and return and have indignation against the holy covenant," etc. The record of this unsuccessful expedition against Egypt, and of the fury of Antiochus which he proceeded to vent upon the Jews, is given in Maccabees and Josephus. Anstey thus condenses their account.
“B.C. 168. Popillius met Antiochus Epiphanes four miles from Alexandria, drew a circle round him in the sand, and forced him to cease his war in Egypt. Whereupon Antiochus began his savage persecution of the Jews, which led to the rise of Mattathias and the Maccabees.”
In the Cambridge Bible verse 28 has a note, "Fulfilled B.C. 169; " and verse 30 a note, "Fulfilled B.C. 168."
Antiochus carried great wealth back to his homeland from his conquest. On his return he passed through the land of Israel. After his disappointment in Egypt (he had hoped to take all of Egypt but failed) he took out his frustrations on the Jews by desecrating the temple in Jerusalem. Evidently he opposed (set his heart against) the entire Mosaic system (the holy covenant). After desecrating the temple, he returned to his own country.
|29. At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.||
"At the time appointed"—"the time" spoken of in Daniel 11:27. "return" refers to his second open invasion of Egypt two year later in 168. Ptolemy Philometer, suspecting Antiochus' designs with Physcon, hired mercenaries from Greece. Whereupon Antiochus advanced with a fleet and an army, demanding the cession to him of Cyprus, Pelusium, and the country adjoining the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile. "it shall not be as the former"—not successful as the former expedition. Popilius Loenas, the Roman ambassador, met him at Eleusis, four miles from Alexandria, and presented him the decree of the senate; on Antiochus replying that he would consider what he was to do, Popilius drew a line round him with a rod and said, "I must have a reply to give to the senate before you leave this circle." Antiochus submitted, and retired from Egypt; and his fleets withdrew from Cyprus. This was a humiliating defeat for Antiochus Epiphanes (he will lose heart) but he had no alternative but to return to his own land.
|30. For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.||
As he moved into Egypt, he was opposed by the Romans who had come to Egypt in ships from the western coastlands (lit., “ships of Kittim”; cf. NIV marg., i.e., Cyprus). From the Roman senate Popillius Laenas took to Antiochus a letter forbidding him to engage in war with Egypt. When Antiochus asked for time to consider, the emissary drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus and demanded that he give his answer before he stepped out of the circle. Antiochus submitted to Rome’s demands for to resist would be to declare war on Rome.
This brings us to the climax of the wicked deeds of Antiochus, which the prophecy foretells distinctly, and which the histories record with great detail. We refer to his gross impiety and sacrilege in respect to the temple, the sacrifices, and the religious customs of the Jews. Verse 30 speaks of his coming to an understanding "with them that forsake the holy covenant." For many of the Jews apostatised at that time, forsaking God, and turning against all their religious customs. Thus in Maccabees we read:
“Moreover, King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, and everyone should leave his laws. So all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king. Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the Sabbath. * * * Then many of the people were gathered unto them, to wit, every one that forsook the law; and so they committed evils in the land.”(1Ma 1:41-43,52)
For a second time (cf. v. 28) Antiochus took out his frustration on the Jews, the city of Jerusalem, and their temple. He vented his fury against the holy covenant, the entire Mosaic system (cf. v. 28), favoring any renegade Jews who turned to help him (cf. v. 32). He desecrated the temple and abolished the daily sacrifice. Antiochus sent his general Apollonius with 22,000 soldiers into Jerusalem on what was purported to be a peace mission. But they attacked Jerusalem on the Sabbath, killed many people, took many women and children as slaves, and plundered and burned the city.
In seeking to exterminate Judaism and to Hellenize the Jews, he forbade the Jews to follow their religious practices (including their festivals and circumcision), and commanded that copies of the Law be burned. Then he set up the abomination that causes desolation. In this culminating act he erected on December 16, 167 B.C. an altar to Zeus on the altar of burnt offering outside the temple, and had a pig offered on the altar. The Jews were compelled to offer a pig on the 25th of each month to celebrate Antiochus Epiphanes’ birthday. Antiochus promised apostate Jews (those who violated the covenant; cf. v. 30) great reward if they would set aside the God of Israel and worship Zeus, the god of Greece. Many in Israel were persuaded by his promises (flattery) and worshiped the false god. However, a small remnant remained faithful to God, refusing to engage in those abominable practices. Antiochus IV died insane in Persia in 163 B.C. (Cf. comments on this Antiochus in 8:23-25.)
|31. And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.||
The fulfillment again is most exact. Verse 31 of Daniel 11 foretold that "Arms shall stand on his part," or more literally, "arms from him shall stand." This was fulfilled by Antiochus’ sending an army into Judea (1Ma 1:29; et seq.).
They also "polluted" at this time the sanctuary of strength and caused the daily sacrifice to be taken away; for it is recorded in I Maccabees 1:44 et seq. that Antiochus sent letters commanding them to follow strange laws, and forbidding "burnt offering and sacrifice, and drink offerings in the temple; and that they should profane the Sabbath and festival days; and pollute the sanctuary of the holy people."
We quote here from Dr. Taylor’s well written account of the deeds of this atrocious character:
"When he was informed of the satisfaction with which the news of his reported death was received by the Jews, and especially of the attempt made by the rightful high priest to regain his position, he chose to believe that the entire Jewish nation had revolted; and, marching with all haste, he laid siege to Jerusalem and took it, slaying in three days more than forty thousand persons, and taking as many more captives to be sold as slaves. Not content with this, he forced his way into the Temple, entered the very Holy of Holies itself, and caused a great sow to be offered in sacrifice upon the altar of burnt offering, while broth, made from the same unclean flesh, was sprinkled by his order over the sacred precincts for the purpose of defiling them. On his departure he took with him the altar of incense, the golden candlestick, the table of shew bread, and other sacred vessels, to the value of eighteen hundred talents of gold ..... Two years after the commission of these enormities, returning from another invasion of Egypt, where he had been checkmated by the Romans, he vented his disappointment upon the Jews, and detailed his army, twenty two thousand men, under Apollonius, with orders to destroy Jerusalem. On his arrival at the holy city Apollonius conducted himself peaceably, concealing his purpose till the Sabbath; but on that day, when the people were assembled in their synagogues, he let loose his soldiers upon them, and commanded them to slay all the men, but to take captive all the women and children. These orders were only too faithfully obeyed, so that the streets were filled with blood ..... Thus the sad description in the seventy ninth Psalm was verified, ‘O God, the heathen are come into Thine inheritance; Thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps. The dead bodies of Thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of heaven, the flesh of Thy saints unto the beasts of the earth. Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them. We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.’"
The words "and shall place the abomination which maketh desolate" call for special examination, because of their recurrence in Da 12:11, and of their use by the Lord Jesus Christ, in Matthew 24 and Mark 13). We have already shown, and expect to refer to the matter again, that the expression "the abomination which maketh desolate" means an armed heathen force. Such a force was placed by Antiochus in the city of David (1Ma 1:34,35).
|32. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.||
Verse 32 of the prophecy speaks of two classes of Jews, (1) "such as do wickedly against the covenant;" and (2) those "that do know their God." Of the former it is said that they shall be corrupted "by flatteries;" and of the latter that they "shall be strong, and do exploits."
Concerning the first class it is recorded in I Mac. 1:11 et seq. that "In those days there went out of Israel wicked men who persuaded many, saying: Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen, that are round about us .... Then certain of the people were so forward herein that they went to the king, who gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathen." Many Jews, including even Jason, the brother of Onias the high priest, were corrupted and won over to Antiochus by flattery and self-interest (2Ma 4:7-14).
THE UPRISING OF THE MACCABEES
The second class of persons spoken of in verse 32 of Daniel 11, "those that do know their God," is easily and completely identified in Mattathias, the godly and patriotic priest, and his five sons, who led a successful revolt against Antiochus, and in those of his family who ruled Israel as governors and priests for 130 years. These were indeed made "strong" through "knowing their God," and performed "exploits" of greatest valour particularly Judas, who was surnamed Maccabeus, that is the Hammer of God. This nickname of Judas has been applied to the whole family, but they are properly the Asmonean Princes.
There is no need to speak of the heroic "exploits" of Judas and his brothers, Jonathan and Simon, who succeeded him, for they are well known. But the terms of verses 33, 34 and 35 call for some explanation.
|33. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.||
Verse 33 reads: "And they that understand among the people shall instruct many." Upon good authority we can say that the tense of the Hebrew verb used calls for the rendering "they that cause to understand." Likewise in chapter 12:3 the literal rendering would be "they that cause to be wise." These terms aptly designate those who have the Word of God and who teach others therein those who impart to others the knowledge of the ways of God, and who cause them to be "wise unto salvation."
This description, therefore, applies particularly to Mattathias and his family, who not only were priests by their birthright, and thus the divinely ordained teachers of Israel, but were true priests, faithfully performing their duty to God and to His people.
Further verse 33 says: "Yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity and by spoil (many) days." This was most literally fulfilled in the history of the Asmoneans. Judas himself, and a great part of his army, were slain by the sword (1Ma 9:17,18). Jonathan also was slain with a thousand men (1Ma 12:48). The chief tax collector set Jerusalem on fire (1Ma 1:31; see also 2Ma 7). Forty thousand captives were carried away by Antiochus (2Ma 5:14).
The Jews who refused to submit to Antiochus’ false religious system were persecuted and martyred for their faith. The word fall (vv. 33-34), literally “stumble” (), refers to severe suffering on the part of many and death for others. This has in view the rise of the Maccabean revolt. Mattathias, a priest, was the father of five sons. (One of them, Judas, became well known for refurbishing and restoring the temple in late 164 B.C. He was called Judas Maccabeus, “the Hammerer.”) In 166, Mattathias refused to submit to this false religious system. He and his sons fled from Jerusalem to the mountains and began the Maccabean revolt. At first only a few Jews joined them. But as their movement became popular, many joined them, some out of sincere motives and some from false motives. The suffering that the faithful endured served to refine and purify them. This time of persecution was of short duration. It had previously been revealed to Daniel that the temple would be desecrated for 1,150 days (8:14; 8:23-25). Here Daniel was assured that this persecution would run its course and then be lifted, for its end will still come at the appointed time.
|34. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.||
To be "helped" in Scripture means to be helped effectually; and what is here pointed out is that the Maccabees should accomplish their great victories with the "help" of a small number; and this was wonderfully fulfilled in that Judas, time and again, defeated, with very small forces, large armies of Syrians, Idumeans, and others (1Ma 2:28; 3:9-11) etc. But later on, many did cleave to them by flatteries, professing friendship to them, etc. (1Ma 10). Thus Alexander Bala, successor to Antiochus Epiphanes, made with Jonathan a league of mutual assistance and friendship (1Ma 10:65).
|35. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.||
Verse 35 of Daniel 11 foretells that some of them of understanding, or that cause to be wise—that is to say the teachers of God’s people—shall fall, to try them, and to purge them, and to make them white, unto the time of the end. The family of Mattathias continued for several generations to serve the people of Israel in the capacity of priests and teachers (1Ma 10:21; 14:35; 16:24); and (Josephus Ant. XIII 8, 1). Of these "some" fell by violent deaths and by captivity (1Ma 6:46; 9:18; 9:36, 42; 12:41-48); (Ant. XIV.4, 5; XIV 13, 10; XV 6, 2). And this continued to the very "end" of the Asmonean era; for the last of the family, Aristobulus, who held for a short time the high priesthood, was murdered at the command of Herod (Ant. XV 3, 3).
The words "unto the end" would most naturally be taken to mean the end of the Asmonean era, which had a very definite beginning and an equally definite end; for it is in connection with the history of that family that the term is used. But if it be taken that verse 35 describes a state of things which was to continue to the time of the end (the final era) of this period of Jewish national existence, it would be true in that sense also. For to this final era verse 35 brings us.
|36. And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.||
We come now to a remarkable personality, one who fills a large and prominent place in the prophecy, and who is introduced in the words of verse 36.
"HEROD THE KING"
—that remarkable character who was a usurper upon the throne of David when Christ, the true King, was born. The proof which enables us to identify "the king" of Daniel 11:36-39 with Herod the Great and his dynasty, is so convincing that we feel warranted in saying that the prophecy could not possibly mean anyone else.
It would be strange indeed if, in an outline which gives prominence to Xerxes, Alexander, the Seleucids, the Ptolemies, Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Maccabees, there were no mention of that remarkable personage who exerted upon Jewish affairs and destinies an influence greater than they all, and who sat upon the throne of Israel when Christ was born.
The words, "the king," should suffice, in the light of the context, without further description, to identify Herod to those who thoughtfully read their Bibles; for Herod alone is called by that title in the Gospels, and he alone had the rank and authority of "king" in Israel in the days after the captivity, "the latter days." The text does not speak of a king, but of the king, the emphatic Hebrew article being used. This is in marked contrast with the terms of v. 40, where the original speaks of "a king of the north," and "a king of the south."
A glance at the context is enough to show that "the king" of v. 36 cannot mean either of the kings of v. 27. Moreover, these are never spoken of as "the king," but always, both before and after v. 36, as "the king of the north," or "the king of the south," as the case may be. Nor does the Scripture speak of any "king" who is to arise at the time of the end of this present age, and who answers at all to the description of the prophecy. The "man of sin," described in 2Th 2:3-10, is supposed by some to be "the king" of Daniel 11:36. But he is not called a king, nor described as having kingly rank, but rather as one claiming divine worship in the temple of God, and backing up his pretensions by means of miracles and lying wonders. The "king" of Da 11:36 is a very different personage, and achieves his ends in a very different way, as will be clearly seen by all who diligently compare the two passages.
What has caused able commentators to go astray at this point, and in some instances to seek far afield for the interpretation of this passage, is the fact that they were unable to find anyone among the successors of Antiochus who answers at all to the description of "the king." But they have overlooked two things which, had they heeded them, would have kept them from being so misled. Those things are, first, that the prophecy has not for its subject the kingdoms of Syria or Egypt, but the people of Israel, and hence the expression, "the king," without other qualification, would mean one who was king over Daniel's people; and second, that the verses immediately preceding (31-35) relate wholly to the affairs of the Jews under the Asmonean princes, and hence the terms of the prophecy itself lead us to look at this point for the beginning of a new order of things in Israel. And that is just what history certifies to us; for, precisely at this juncture of affairs, the Asmonean dynasty was brought to an end by violence and bloodshed, and it was replaced by that of a "king," who answers perfectly to the description of the last part of the prophecy.
Moreover, and to this we would specially invite attention, it is said of this king that "he shall prosper until the indignation be accomplished" (or until wrath be completed), in fulfillment of which is the fact that the dynasty of Herod retained, through all the political upheavals of the times, its favour with Rome, and flourished in authority in Palestine, until the destruction of Jerusalem, which is the "wrath," or "indignation," or "tribulation," to which these prophecies of Daniel so frequently refer as "the end" of Jewish nationality. For it was "Herod the king" who sought to compass the death of Christ soon after His birth, and whose successors of his own family put to death John the Baptist (this was done by Herod Antipas) and James the brother of John (by Herod Agrippa I, who also imprisoned Peter, intending to deliver him to the Jews) and finally sent Paul in chains to Rome (which was done by Herod Agrippa II, the last of the dynasty, the man who is best known to the world as he who was "almost persuaded").
"ACCORDING TO HIS WILL"
The first thing said of this king is that he should "do according to his will." This is usually taken to mean that he would be of an exceptionally self-willed disposition, one of the sort who act without restraint, and without regard to the rights or the feelings of others. This may indeed be in part the meaning of the words; but much more than this is implied. Self-willed people are so very numerous that, if that were all that were meant, the words could not serve for purposes of identification. But not many are so placed, and have such power in their hands that they are able to "do," that is, to achieve or accomplish what they "will" or plan to do; and this is what is meant. For the expression is used in this same prophecy of two other notable personages. The first of these is Alexander the Great, of whom it is said that he "shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will" (Da 11:3). The other (Da 11:16) has been identified as Antiochus the Great. Of him also it is said, "he shall do according to his own will;" and history shows that this monarch, too, was very successful, during the first part of his reign, in carrying out his various designs.
This is what distinguished Herod the Great in a remarkable degree. For history records nothing of this nature more notable than Herod’s success in rising up from a lowly origin to the rank and authority of king, in securing for himself despotic power and retaining it through all the political changes of the times, and in the way he used that power for the accomplishment of all his designs, however stupendous in magnitude (as the rebuilding of the temple) or atrocious in character (as condemning to death his own wife and children). For Herod contrived to secure the favour and confidence, first of Julius Caesar, then of Mark Antony, and then of Octavius Caesar, though he had assisted Antony and Cleopatra against him. All things considered, there is nothing more wonderful in the career of Herod than his extraordinary success in doing "according to his will."
But, taking the expression in the other sense, we may say that it would be difficult to find in history one who so ruthlessly executed the designs of his own tyrannical and cruel heart, even upon those of his own flesh and blood, as Herod the king. His murder of his best loved wife, the beautiful Mariamne, who was a princess of the Asmonean family, is, in its special circumstances, without parallel in history. He put to death also three of his own sons (two of them by this favourite wife) because he suspected them of aspiring to his throne; and similar deeds of wilfulness characterized his entire reign. Josephus gives many instances of this (see for example Ant. XII 9, 4).
EXALTING AND MAGNIFYING HIMSELF
Further it is said of this king that "he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods." These words are descriptive of Herod. The words "above every god" may be taken to mean every ruler and authority in Israel, just as "God of gods" means the Supreme Authority above all authorities. Herod did successfully aspire to the lordship over every authority in the land, whether priests or rulers. He assumed to appoint whom he would to the office of high priest. He put his own brother-in-law, Aristobulus, Mariamne’s brother, in that office, and shortly after had him murdered (Ant. XV 3, 5).
Herod also uttered great things against the God of gods. This, we believe, refers specially (though not exclusively) to his decree for the slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem, the express purpose of which was to get rid of Immanuel, God come in the flesh to be the Ruler of His people, and to be "Prince of the kings of the earth" (Re 1:5). Herod’s way of making himself secure upon the throne was to put to death every suspected rival. For Herod, in common with the Jewish teachers in his day (and with some teachers in our own day who ought to know better) mistakenly supposed that the Christ of God was coming at that time to occupy the earthly throne upon which Herod was then seated. We shall have occasion to refer again to this prominent act in the career of Herod.
|37. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.||
Because of the reference to the gods (or God,) of his fathers, some have concluded that this ruler will be a Jew, since the Old Testament frequently uses the phrase “the God of your fathers” to refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (e.g., Ex. 3:15). Herod the Great was born about the year 73 B.C. (ruled from 37 - 4 B.C.) and was a son of the Antipater from Edom. Thus he was not a full blooded Jew but met the requirement of this verse.
The first clause manifestly could not apply to any heathen king like Antiochus. For whether or not a heathen king should change his national gods is a matter of no importance whatever. But with a king of Israel it is a matter of supreme importance. Now Herod, though supposedly of Idumean (i.e. Edomite) origin, was virtually a Jew; for all the remaining Idumeans, who had come into Judea several centuries previous, had been amalgamated with the Jews. In addressing the people Herod habitually used the expression "our fathers" (Ant. Bk. XV Ch. 11, See. 1). So fully was Herod regarded as a Jew, that the Herodians even held him to be the Messiah. Therefore, in introducing the worship of Caesar, Herod conspicuously failed to "regard the God of his fathers." Moreover, in this connection, it should not be forgotten that Esau was Jacob’s twin brother, and hence that the God of the fathers of the Edomites was the same as the God of the fathers of the Jews.
THE DESIRE OF WOMEN
The words, "nor the desire of women," are very significant. There can scarcely be any doubt that they refer to Christ, and that Daniel would so understand them. For, of course, the "women" must be understood to be women of Israel; and the ardent "desire" of every one of them was that she might be the mother of Christ. The same word is found in Hag 2:7: "And the Desire of all nations shall come." Evidently then it is Christ who is referred to as "the desire of women"; and if so, then we have a striking fulfillment of these words in Herod’s attempt to murder the infant Messiah. For the record given in Matthew 2:1-16 makes it quite clear that Herod’s deliberate purpose was to put to death the promised Messiah of Israel. It was for the accomplishment of that purpose that he inquired of the chief priests and scribes as to where Christ should be born. The slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem was an act of atrocity almost without parallel in history. It was, moreover, an event that had been foretold by Jeremiah in the words, "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children," etc. (Jer 31:15, quoted in Mt 2:17,18). Each one of those murdered infants was "the desire" of his own mother; and thus Herod fulfilled Da 11:37 in another sense.
|38. But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.||
THE GOD OF FORCES
Verse 38 "And in his estate," or for his establishment, "shall he honour the god of forces," or god of fortresses (ASV); "and (or even) a god whom his fathers knew not shall be honour, with gold and silver, and precious (or costly) stones, and with pleasant (or valuable) things."
Herod’s career affords a most striking fulfillment of this verse. The expression, "god of forces, or fortresses," is so unusual that it furnishes a most satisfactory means of identification; for it applies to the Caesars as to none others in history, seeing that the Roman emperors claimed for themselves divine honours, and that it was by "forces," or "fortifications," that they extended and maintained their power, and enforced the worship they demanded. This honour Herod paid to them, and after the most extravagant fashion; and he did it, of course, in order to make himself secure, that is to say, "for his own establishment," as the text of v. 38 may be rendered. This honour paid by Herod, first to Julius Caesar, then to Antony, and then to Antony’s conqueror, Augustus, was one of the most conspicuous features of Herod’s policy. Josephus records how he sent delegations to Rome, and also to Antony and Cleopatra in Egypt, bearing the most costly presents; also how he converted the ancient Strato’s Tower into a magnificent seaport, and named it Caesarea, in honour of Caesar, and how later he rebuilt Samaria, and renamed it Sebaste (Sebastos being the equivalent of Augustus). He built many other fortified cities and named them in honour of Caesar.
|39. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.||
Here we have a reference to one of the most prominent acts of Herod’s long reign, namely, his rebuilding of the temple, and his making the temple area a stronghold for Caesar. He made the temple the most famous building in the world for its dimensions, its magnificence, and particularly for the size of the stones whereof it was built, to which the disciples specially directed the Lord’s attention (Mark 13:1), and which Josephus says were 25 cubits long, 12 broad, and 8 thick (Ant. XV II, 3). But, in rebuilding it, Herod took care to convert it into a fortress for his own purposes, this being the "most stronghold" of the land. As a part of this plan he constructed on the north side of the temple, and overlooking it, a strong citadel which he named the Tower of Antonia, after Mark Antony. Josephus says:
“But for the Tower itself, when Herod the king of the Jews had fortified it more firmly than before, in order to secure and guard the temple, he gratified Antonius who was his friend and the Roman ruler by calling it the Tower of Antonia”(Ant. XV. 11:4-7).
Further this historian says that the fortified places
“were two, the one belonging to the city itself, the other belonging to the temple; and those that could get them into their hands had the whole nation under their power, for without the command of them it was not possible to offer their sacrifices”(Ant. XV. 11:7-8).
It was from the stairs leading to this famous Tower, up which the apostle Paul was being taken by the soldiers to save him from the violence of the people, that he stilled them by a gesture of his hand, and gained their attention by addressing them in the Hebrew tongue (Ac 21:34-40).
Again Josephus says of Herod that,
“When Caesar had further bestowed upon him another additional country, he built there also a temple of white marble, hard by the fountains of Jordan;” and also “to say all at once, there was not any place in his kingdom fit for the purpose, that was permitted to be without somewhat that was for Caesar’s honour; and when he had filled his own country with temples, he poured out like plentiful marks of his esteem into his province, and built many cities which he called Caesareas” (Wars I, 21:2).In connection with the prediction of what this king would do in the chief strongholds—"with a strange god," mention should be made of the many images, statues of Caesar, which Herod set up to be worshipped in various fortified places. He even went so far in his sacrilege as to place a huge golden eagle (the adored emblem of imperial Rome) at the very gate of the temple, thus giving rise to a tumult and insurrection among the people. In this way did he, in his estate (office), "honour the god of forces" (Caesar) whose statues he everywhere introduced as objects of worship. He fulfilled with literal exactness the words, "Thus shall he do in the most strongholds," (which expression would apply to the citadel of the temple, where he erected the Tower of Antonia) "with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge, and increase with glory". The last clause finds a striking fulfillment in Herod’s extravagant pains to glorify Caesar, which, as we have shown, went beyond all bounds.
The words "dividing the land for gain" (or parcelling it out for hire) were fulfilled in the practice adopted by Herod of parcelling out among persons favourable to himself, the land adjacent to places which it was important for him to control in case of emergency. Josephus speaks of this (Ant. XV 8, 5).
We thus find that every item foretold of "the king" was completely fulfilled in the career of Herod, and that the record of this fulfillment has come down to us in an authentic contemporary history, which is on all hands acknowledged to be trustworthy in an unusually high degree.
|40. And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.||
THE TIME OF THE END
In order to avoid confusion it is needful to observe that "the time of the end" may mean one period in one place, and a very different period in another. The meaning is controlled, and is also revealed, by the context. But this is quite frequently overlooked; and we have observed that even careful writers on prophecy have a disposition to take the words "the time of the end" as meaning the end of the gospel dispensation, even when the passage in which they occur does not relate to the present dispensation at all.
Particularly should it be noted that in the Book of Daniel there are two distinct sets of prophecies. The first set, found in chapters II, VII and VIII, relate to the great Gentile world powers, and the prophecies of chapters II and VII carry us on to the end of the times of the Gentiles (chapter VIII gives details of the Greek empire, thus filling in the outline given in the vision of chapter VII). But the second series (chapters IX-XII inclusive) have to do with the history of Daniel’s own people and his holy city. Hence the expression "time of the end," where it occurs in these later prophecies, means the last stage of the national existence of Daniel’s people, that is to say, the era of the Herods.
The period of Jewish history occupied by Herod and his dynasty was therefore "the time of the end" in the sense required by the context; so we have a strong confirmation of the view we have been presenting in the fact that, just at this point in the prophecy, there is given us an outline of those great events (which occurred during the reign of Herod) whereby political supremacy in the world was given to the Caesars, and all was made ready for the coming of the Redeemer. This outline is found in Daniel 11:40-43, and brings us to the subjugation of Egypt (the last of the great independent monarchies to fall under the spreading power of Rome) with the Libyans and Ethiopians. The records of history correspond so exactly to the predictions of this prophecy (as we shall presently point out) that there can be no question at all as to its fulfillment.
In reading this chapter it is to be remembered that the prophecy is not primarily concerned with Syria, Egypt, Rome or any other alien power, but that it refers to them only insofar as they come in contact with, and affect the destinies of, the Jews.
Hence these verses Daniel 11:40-43 have a parenthetical character.
As to the manner in which that war began, we have a very clear account in Plutarch’s "Life of Mark Antony," by which it appears that the fulfillment of the prophecy was marvellously exact, not only as regards the manner in which the war began, but also in respect to the sides on which the different parties were at first engaged in it, in regard also to the outcome, to the peculiar arms, "chariots and horsemen and many ships"—by means of which the victories of Augustus were achieved, and finally, in regard also to the rapidity of his conquest, which was effected within the space of a single year.
PLUTARCH’S DESCRIPTION OF THE ACTIAN WAR
The first move in the Actian war was made by Antony (at the urgency of Cleopatra), in which he was assisted by Herod. Says Plutarch:
“Antony, being informed of these things” (that is of certain disputes between Augustus and others in the Senate at Rome) “immediately sent Canidus to the seacoast with sixteen legions. In the meantime he went to Ephesus attended by Cleopatra. There he assembled his fleet, which consisted of 800 ships of burden, whereof Cleopatra furnished 200 besides 20,000 talents, and provisions for the army.”Antony advanced to Athens, with constantly increasing forces, Augustus being wholly unprepared to meet him; for says the historian:
“When Caesar was informed of the celerity and magnificence of Antony’s preparations, he was afraid of being forced into war that summer. This would have been most inconvenient for him, for he was in want of almost everything. . . . . The auxiliary kings who fought under his (Antony’s) banner were Bocchus of Africa," etc. a list being given—"Those who did not attend in person, but sent supplies were Polemo of Pontus, Malchus of Arabia, Herod of Judea, and Amyntas of Lycaonia and Galatia.”Thus a king of the south was the first to make a push in this war, and he pushed with Herod. As showing the accuracy of the prophecy it should be noted that, as Plutarch records, the Senate of Rome declared war with Cleopatra alone, ignoring Antony, so that it was strictly between a king of the north, and a king of the south.
Mr. Farquharson points out that the predictions of the prophet were strictly fulfilled also in respect to the character of the forces engaged in the war. For, notwithstanding that each side assembled large numbers of infantry, and notwithstanding that such are the arms usually relied upon to decide a war, yet in this case the infantry were not engaged at all, the issue being decided (as the prophecy indicates) by chariots and horsemen, and many ships.
A strange feature of the affair is that, although Antony’s footmen outnumbered those of Augustus, and although his generals urged him to bring the matter to an issue in a land battle, nevertheless (to quote again from Plutarch)—
“Such a slave was he to the will of a woman that, to gratify her, though much superior on land, he put his whole confidence in the navy; notwithstanding that the ships had not half their complement of men.”This brought on the great naval fight of Actium, which ended in a complete victory for Augustus; and thus did a king of the north come upon a king of the south, with the effect of a whirlwind, with many ships. A more literal and exact fulfillment of prophecy could not be found.
But that is not all. For Plutarch records that, after the disaster at Actium, Antony’s infantry deserted him, so that the infantry were not engaged during the entire war.
“But," says Farquharson, "when Antony arrived in Egypt, and endeavoured to defend it, to fulfil the prediction of the Prophet that the king of the north would come with chariots and horsemen, as well as with many ships—there were actions with cavalry." For Plutarch says, "When Caesar arrived he encamped near the hippodrome (at Alexandria); whereupon Antony made a brisk sally, routed the cavalry, drove them back into their trenches, and returned to the city with the complacency of a conqueror." It was the conduct of their fleets and cavalry that sealed the fate of Antony and Cleopatra, and left them without resource in their last retreat.”
|41. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.||
"THE COUNTRIES AND THE GLORIOUS LAND"
The course pursued by Augustus after his triumph over Antony and Cleopatra follows most literally the predictions of the prophecy. For he entered into the countries, and overflowed, and passed over them, possessing himself of regions of Africa, Upper Cilicia, Paphlagonia, Thrace, Pontus, Galatia, and other provinces from Illyria to Armenia. Moreover "he entered also into the glorious land," that is to say the land of Judea, which has already been designated (Da 11:16) "the glorious land." For Augustus chose to invade Egypt by way of Palestine, at which time Herod (who had already with great prudence and foresight made his submission to Augustus, and with such skilful diplomacy that it was accepted), rendered him much assistance. Josephus says:
“Caesar went for Egypt through Syria when Herod received him with royal and rich entertainments; and then did he first of all ride along with Caesar, as he was reviewing his army about Ptolemais, and feasted him with all his friends, and then distributed among the rest of his army what was necessary to feast then withal” (Wars I, 20, 3).
EDOM, MOAB AND AMMON
The reference in verse 41 to the countries of Edom, Moab and Ammon should be enough, without anything further, to show that we must seek the fulfillment of this part of the prophecy in Bible times. Those names had a geographical significance to Daniel, and to others of his day, who would understand by them the mingled peoples of the lands adjacent to Judea on the east and south. Now it is recorded in history that those countries did escape, in a remarkable manner, out of the hand of Augustus.
Augustus sent an expedition into the countries referred to under Aelius Gallus, in which he was joined by five hundred of Herod’s guards (Josephus, Ant. XV 9, 3). Dean Prideaux, the well known commentator, refers to this expedition and its failure, citing Pliny, Strabo, and Dio Cassius (Prideaux’ Connections. Vol. II, pp. 605 et seq.). The Universal History, in a note added to their account of the expedition, says: "The bad success that attended Aelius in this expedition deterred both him and others from any further attempts on that country" (Ancient Universal History. Vol. XIII, p. 498).
|42. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.||This verse indicates the strong contrast with the countries that did escape as outlined in the previous verse.|
|43. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.||
THE TREASURES OF EGYPT
The prophecy makes special reference to the vast treasures of Egypt. Here again are words which make it perfectly clear that the fulfillment of this prophecy must be sought in the days of Egypt’s greatness and wealth, and is not to be found in the squalid and poverty stricken Egypt of later times, which, according to the sure word of prophecy, was to become "the basest of the kingdoms," and not to exalt itself any more (Eze 29:15).
But in the days of Herod and Mark Antony the treasures of Egypt were of fabulous value; and here again history furnishes us with such a marvellous fulfillment of this item of the prophecy that we can but think the records have been providentially cared for. Speaking of Cleopatra’s vast and famous treasures of gold, silver and precious stones, and other rare and costly objects, Farquharson says that "the history of the fate of her treasures is very singular, and is worthy of a more detailed reference to it."
So he shows how this great treasure had been accumulated during the centuries of the Macedonian rulers of Egypt (the Ptolemies), being drawn from the great grain trade of the country, and from the very lucrative commerce of Alexandria "through which passed the gems, pearls, spices, and other rich produce and merchandise of India, which from earliest ages have been in high request in the western part of the world."
Continuing his account Farquharson says:
“Augustus Caesar was very desirous of securing the treasures of the sovereign of this wealthy city; but there was, on two occasions, the utmost hazard that they should elude his grasp. For after Cleopatra fled from the battle of Actium Plutarch says, ‘she formed the design of drawing her galleys over the isthmus into the Red Sea, and purposed, with all her wealth and forces, to seek some remote country.”That design was abandoned; but—
“When Caesar afterwards, approaching from Judea, took Pelusium and entered Egypt, the same author says, ‘Cleopatra had erected near the temple of Isis some monuments of extraordinary size and magnificence. To these she removed her treasure, her gold, silver, emeralds pearls, ebony, ivory, and cinnamon. . . . . Caesar was under some apprehensions about this immense wealth, lest, upon some sudden emergency, she should set fire to the whole. For this reason he was continually sending messengers to her with assurances of generous and honourable treatment, while in the meantime he hastened to the city with his army.’ . . . . Her person and the treasures in the monument were afterwards secured by a stratagem, as related by Plutarch; and thus a king of the north had power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt.”THE LIBYANS AND ETHIOPIANS
The prophecy also says concerning this victorious king, "and the Libyans and Ethiopians shall be at his steps. Commenting on these words Farquharson says:
“The conquest of Egypt and maritime Libya laid inner Libya and Ethiopia open to the steps, that is, as we may interpret the term, to the inroads of Augustus Caesar, and his officers, of which advantage was soon after taken by them.”And this author proceeds to show the conquest of the countries named in the prophecy, by Cornelius Balbus, which was considered so great an achievement that Balbus, though not a native Roman, was, contrary to all precedent, allowed a triumph. Thus, while Augustus did not himself subdue those countries, they were "at his steps," as the prophecy says, at the time he left Africa and returned to Rome.
Thus ancient history, which has been preserved to our day, shows to us a series of events of the highest importance in shaping the course of human affairs, which events correspond with marvellous exactitude, and in just the right sequence, to the several details of the prophecy, the entire series having taken place at precisely the era we should look for them to occur, if we take the prophecy to be what it appears to be, namely, a continuous prophetic narrative. If then this be not a fulfillment, there is nothing that can be with certainty recognized as a fulfillment of inspired prophecy.
|44. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.||
TIDINGS FROM EAST AND NORTH
It is not at first glance apparent who is the antecedent of the pronoun "he" in these verses. But upon close attention to the text it will be seen that we have here a return to the main subject of this part of the prophecy, "the king" of verse 36, the course of the prophecy having been diverted in verses 40-43 to the subject of the conquests of Augustus Caesar. Very often, in reading the Hebrew prophets, we have to look a considerable distance backwards to find the antecedent of a pronoun. As an instance of this, Farquharson cites Bishop Horsley as saying, in commenting upon Isaiah 18, "To those to whom the prophetic style in the original is not familiar, but to those only, I think, it will appear strange that a pronoun should refer to an antecedent at so great a distance." And Farquharson adds: "And the correctness of this view of the whole passage is confirmed by the literal manner in which the predictions in this 44th verse, and in the remaining verse of the chapter, were fulfilled by Herod."
Indeed we do not see how any fulfillment could be more complete and literal than that which is given us in Matthew’s Gospel of the words "But tidings out of the east shall trouble him." For it is written that "When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men FROM THE EAST to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen His star IN THE EAST, and are come to worship Him. When Herod heard these things he was TROUBLED, and all Jerusalem with him" (Mt 2:1-3). So here we have the exact thing prophesied, namely, "tidings out of the east" which "troubled him."
Nothing was so well calculated to "trouble" Herod as reports that some one was aspiring to his throne. In this case it is among the most familiar of all facts that Herod, being set at nought by the wise men, from whom he sought to learn the identity of the new born babe, "was EXCEEDING WROTH, and SENT FORTH, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under" (Mt 2:16). Thus we have almost verbal agreement with the words of the prophecy, "he shall Go FORTH, with GREAT FURY, to destroy and utterly to make away MANY."
At about the same time, that is, in the last years of Herod’s life, "tidings out of the north" also came to "trouble" that self-tormenting monarch. For Antipater, his oldest son (a despicable character), then at Rome (which had now become the center of what is indefinitely called in this prophecy "the north") conspired to have letters written to his father giving information that two other of his sons, whom he purposed to make his successors, had calumniated their father to Caesar. This caused Herod again to break forth with intense "fury" against his own sons, and their supposed abettors, as related by Josephus at great length (Ant. XVII 4-7; Wars 1:30-33).
In regard to these extraordinary events, Farquharson quotes a passage (which we give below) from the Universal Ancient History, saying he does so the more readily because the authors of the passage had no thought at all of recording a fulfillment of prophecy. They say:
“The reader may remember that we left Herod in the most distracted state that can well be imagined; his conscience stung with the most lively grief for the murder of his beloved and virtuous Mariamne and of her two worthy sons; his life and crown in imminent danger from the rebellious Antipater, and ungrateful Pheroras; his reign stained with rivers of innocent blood; his latter days embittered by the treacherous intrigues of a sister; his person and family hated by the whole Jewish nation; and last of all, his crown and all his glories on the eve of being obscured by the birth of a miraculous Child, who is proclaimed by heaven and earth to be the promised and long expected Messiah and Saviour of the world. To all these plagues we must add some fresh intelligences which came tumbling in upon that wretched monarch and which by assuring him still more, not only of the treasonable designs of the unnatural Antipater, but also of the bitter complaints which his other two sons, then at the Roman court, vented against them both, rendered him more than ever completely miserable” (Universal History, Vol. X. pp. 492, 493).Herod’s "great fury" (to use the words of the prophecy) was not confined to the babes of Bethlehem, and to members of his own family. For, says Josephus, "it was also during paroxysms of fury, that, nearly about the same time, he burned alive Matthias and forty young men with him, who had pulled down the golden image of the Roman eagle, which he had placed over the gate of the temple" (Ant. XVII 7). Furthermore Josephus relates the following characteristic action of Herod:
“He came again to Jericho, where he became so choleric, that it brought him to do all things like a madman; and though he was near death, yet he contrived the following wicked designs: He commanded that all the principal men of the entire Jewish nation be called to him. Accordingly there were a great number that came, because * * * death was the penalty of such that should despise the epistles that were sent to call them. And now the king was in a wild rage against them all; . . . . and when they were come, he ordered them all to be shut up in the hippodrome, and sent for his sister Salome and her husband Alexas, and spake thus to them: ‘I shall die in a little time, so great are my pains; . . . . but what principally troubles me is this, that I shall die without being lamented, and without such a mourning as men usually expect at a king’s death.’ ”Therefore, in order to insure that the nation should be plunged into mourning, he left an order that, immediately upon his own death, all those leaders of the Jews, whom he had confined in the hippodrome, should be slain. That order, however, was not carried out.
|45. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.||
HIS PALACE AND HIS END
We have already pointed out that Herod placed his royal dwelling places "in the glorious holy mountain," he having two palaces in Jerusalem, one in the temple area, and the other in the upper city. So they were "between the seas," that is, the Mediterranean and the Dead Seas.
The last word of the prophecy concerning him is: "Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him." As to this we cannot do better than to quote Farquharson’s comment: “This part of the prediction obviously implies that, in his last hours, the king would apply for deliverance or remedy, from some affliction or disease, but would receive none. And how literally was this fulfilled in the end of Herod the Great! History has preserved to us few such circumstantial accounts of the last days of remarkable men, as that which Josephus has transmitted to us of his; but we deem it too long for insertion here. It exhibits the most fearful picture to be found anywhere of the end of an impenitent sinner, who, having cast out of his heart all fear of God and all feeling of responsibility to Him, had equally lost all sense of duty to man; and after committing innumerable crimes and cruelties—in which he spared not those connected with him by the dearest and tenderest ties, any more than others—was at last seized in his old age with a painful and loathsome disease; and suffering alike from that, and from the pangs of guilty fear, yet continued in a course of extreme wickedness to his last hour, seeking no remedy for his evil passions, but exhausting all the resources of the physician’s skill to mitigate his bodily distemper and lengthen out his wretched life. We refer to Josephus for an account of the remedies and expedients to which he had recourse by the advice of his physicians; all of which failed to relieve or arrest the disease which cut him off while he was meditating new crimes of matchless cruelty.” Thus he came to his end, and none helped him. He died a prey to horrible diseases, and to horrible remorse, just five days after he had ordered the execution of his oldest son. We have deemed the matter of sufficient importance to give to the explanation of this part of the chapter (Da 11:36-45) a minute and detailed examination. For we are convinced that the theory of a "break" after verse 34 (or 35), involving the transference bodily of all the rest of the prophecy (including the part contained in chapter 12) to a future day, deranges all that part of the prophetic Word which it is important for us to "understand" at the present time. Conversely, our belief is that, with this important passage correctly settled, other things, which have been involved in the general obscurity occasioned by the "break" theory, will be cleared up. Indeed we shall not have to go very far to find practical proof of this.
And now that we have reviewed the evidences which point to Herod the Great as the "king" foretold in this passage, our wonder is that any careful students of prophecy could have missed so plain a mark. For the passage foretells that, at a definite point in Jewish history, namely, just at the close of the Asmonean era, there should arise (what had not been in Israel for nearly five hundred years) a "king"; and the character and doings of this king (which are of a most unusual sort) are predicted in strong and clear words. In perfect agreement with this, as fully recorded in the Bible and in profane history, is the fact that, precisely at the point indicated, there did arise one who became "king" over Daniel’s people, which king had precisely the character, and did precisely the things which the prophecy had foretold of him.
Let it be noted that at verse 35 we reach the end of the Asmonean era, as nearly all commentators have clearly perceived. But the history of the renewed Jewish nation did not end there, and neither does the prophecy end there. What was next? In the history of the Jewish people the next and last stage was occupied by a king, whose character was one of the most detestable, and whose doings were among the most atrocious, of any that have been recorded in the annals of the human race, he being, moreover, the only "king" over the Jewish nation in all this long period of more than 500 years. In perfect agreement with this we find that the next section of the prophecy, which also is the last, is occupied with a description of the character and doings of one who is simply designated as "the king." Furthermore, upon comparing the records of history with the detailed statements of the prophecy, we find an answer in each and every particular. We would not know where to look for a more complete and literal fulfillment of prophecy.
Again we would point out that, considering the nature and purpose of this prophecy, as divinely announced in chapter 10:14, and as manifested in verses 1 to 35 of chapter 11, it is simply impossible that "Herod the king" should not have a place, and a prominent place, in it. And even so in fact we find him there, just at the right place, and described with such detail and accuracy as to make it an easier matter to identify him, when we have the facts of history before us, than to identify any of the other notable characters to whom the prophecy refers.
It would seem that, in regard to this exceedingly plain matter, some sound and able teachers have been misled through having accepted the idea of a "break" in the preceding prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, to which (as we have pointed out) that of chapter 11 and 12 is a supplement. That made it easy to surmise a similar "break" in chapter 11 when they came to a personage whom, through their not having in mind the records of sacred and profane history, they failed to identify. We are confident, however, that no unbiased persons, after considering what we have presented above, will doubt that "the king" whose portrait is given in this passage is Herod the Great.