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Daniel 11: Kings of the North and the South

Chapter 11 - Introduction

The angel of Chapter 10 will now give his message to Daniel. Unfortunately, most of us are not really familiar with the world history of this time. That is one of the primary uses of a commentary, to give us background information. When interpreting prophecy, we want to know the history to see if events have already occurred since the time of the vision (535 BC) which we can consider fulfillment. If the prophecies are already fulfilled, it is not necessary to expect a later fulfillment (unless the Scripture itself implies this). The events of verses 1-20 lead up to verses 21-35 which are clearly fulfilled in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, from about 170-163 BC. However, the verses from 36 to 39 appear to go beyond what has happened in history. By verse 40 the Scripture is clearly talking about events that have not taken place yet, and are in our future. This transition between these verses indicate that Antiochus Epiphanies is similar to the later Anti-Christ, who is the subject of verses 40 to the end of the Chapter.

It is good to remember that Chapter 10 through the first verse of this chapter form an introduction to the rest of Chapter 11 and 12. The three chapters form a single story and vision.

Chapter 11 - Text and commentary

{11:1} "As for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him.

{11:2} Now will I tell you the truth. There will be three more kings in Persia; and then a fourth who will be far richer than any of them: and when he has grown strong through his riches, he will stir up everyone against the realm of Greece.

Since Cyrus is king (Ch 10:1) when Daniel has the vision, the fourth king after Cyrus is being pointed out. The kings were Cyrus, Cambyses (son of Cyrus), Pseudo-Smerdis (a cousin of Cambyses also named Darius), Darius, and (the fourth king after Cyrus) Xerxes (the King in the Book of Esther). Xerxes would invade Greece, but be defeated.

{11:3} A mighty king will appear, who will rule with great power, and do whatever he pleases.

It is surprising, but over a century and a half intervenes between verses 2 and 3. The text does not indicate this at all, but it is clear from fulfilled prophecy that Verse 2 talks of Xerxes, but verse three introduces Alexander the Great. Because this gap occurs, we must be careful to understand that gaps may occur in prophesy where we do not expect them.

{11:4} After he appears, his kingdom will be broken up and divided toward the four winds of the sky, but not to his descendants, nor with the power with which he ruled; for his kingdom will be uprooted and given to others.

Alexander the Great rapidly conquered the known world, but barely had he completed his conquest of Persia, in the eastern sections, when he died. Notice it does not say the kingdom would be divided in four pieces, but simply broken toward the four points of the compass. For a time there were five contenders for the kingdom, but after some years there were three main dynasties ruling large sections of Alexander's empire, and several smaller portions which were independent. Within 15 years of Alexander's death, every member of his family was killed. No part of the empire was then ruled by any member of his family. And no part of the empire had power comparable to that of Alexander's single empire.

{11:5} The king of the south will become strong, but one of his princes and he will become stronger than him, and will rule his own kingdom with great power.

Ptolemy Lagos became ruler of the most southern piece of the broken empire - Egypt. This piece was surrounded by desert on three sides, and easy to defend. The fourth side was sea, so a navy was needed for defense. The Ptolemies would reign in Egypt for over three centuries.

The prince was a general named Seleucus. In 316 BC he fled from Babylon and entered the service of Ptolemy. In 312 BC, with Ptolemy's backing, he conquered Babylon and established his own kingdom there. He eventually controlled almost all of the eastern portions of the former Persian Empire, becoming more powerful than Ptolemy.

{11:6} At the end of years they shall join themselves together; and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the strength of her arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm; but she shall be given up, and those who brought her, and he who became the father of her, and he who strengthened her in those times.

{11:7} But out of a shoot from her roots shall one stand up in his place, who shall come to the army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail.

{11:8} Also their gods, with their molten images, [and] with their goodly vessels of silver and of gold, shall he carry captive into Egypt; and he shall refrain some years from the king of the north.

{11:9} He shall come into the realm of the king of the south, but he shall return into his own land.

{11:10} His sons shall war, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall come on, and overflow, and pass through; and they shall return and war, even to his fortress.

{11:11} The king of the south shall be moved with anger, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north; and he shall set forth a great multitude, and the multitude shall be given into his hand.

{11:12} The multitude shall be lifted up, and his heart shall be exalted; and he shall cast down tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail.

{11:13} The king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former; and he shall come on at the end of the times, [even of] years, with a great army and with much substance.

{11:14} In those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the children of the violent among your people shall lift themselves up to establish the vision; but they shall fall.

{11:15} So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mound, and take a well-fortified city: and the forces of the south shall not stand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to stand.

{11:16} But he who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him; and he shall stand in the glorious land, and in his hand shall be destruction.

{11:17} He shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and with him equitable conditions; and he shall perform them: and he shall give him the daughter of women, to corrupt her; but she shall not stand, neither be for him.

{11:18} After this shall he turn his face to the isles, and shall take many: but a prince shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; yes, moreover, he shall cause his reproach to turn on him.

{11:19} Then he shall turn his face toward the fortresses of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.

{11:20} Then shall stand up in his place one who shall cause a tax collector to pass through the kingdom to maintain its glory; but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.

{11:21} In his place shall stand up a contemptible person, to whom they had not given the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in time of security, and shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries.

{11:22} The overwhelming forces shall be overwhelmed from before him, and shall be broken; yes, also the prince of the covenant.

{11:23} After the league made with him he shall work deceitfully; for he shall come up, and shall become strong, with a small people.

{11:24} In time of security shall he come even on 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 prey, and spoil, and substance: yes, he shall devise his devices against the strongholds, even for a time.

{11:25} 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 war in battle with an exceeding great and mighty army; but he shall not stand; for they shall devise devices against him.

{11:26} Yes, they who eat of his dainties shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow; and many shall fall down slain.

{11:27} As for both these kings, their 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.

{11:28} Then shall he return into his land with great substance; and his heart [shall be] against the holy covenant; and he shall do [his pleasure], and return to his own land.

{11:29} At the time appointed he shall return, and come into the south; but it shall not be in the latter time as it was in the former.

{11:30} For ships of Kittim shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and shall return, and have indignation against the holy covenant, and shall do [his pleasure]: he shall even return, and have regard to those who forsake the holy covenant.

Rome will assist Egypt, and give an ultimatum which will cause Antiochus to turn back from conquest of Egypt and he will vent his rage on the Holy Land.

{11:31} Forces shall stand on his part, and they shall profane the sanctuary, even the fortress, and shall take away the continual [burnt offering], and they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.

This is the (now) historical event, 168 BC, of setting a statue of Zeus in the temple and sacrificing a pig on the altar. A Jewish revolt followed, described by Josephus and the book of the Maccabees.

{11:32} Such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he pervert by flatteries; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and do [exploits].

{11:33} Those who are wise among the people shall instruct many; yet they shall fall by the sword and by flame, by captivity and by spoil, [many] days.

{11:34} Now when they shall fall, they shall be helped with a little help; but many shall join themselves to them with flatteries.

{11:35} Some of those who are wise shall fall, to refine them, and to purify, and to make them white, even to the time of the end; because it is yet for the time appointed.

{11:36} The king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods; and he shall prosper until the indignation be accomplished; for that which is determined shall be done.

{11:37} Neither shall he regard the gods of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall magnify himself above all.

{11:38} But in his place shall he honor the god of fortresses; and a god whom his fathers didn't know shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.

{11:39} He shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a foreign god: whoever acknowledges [him] he will increase with glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for a price.

11.36-39 I am in agreement with the analysis of the Bible Knowledge Commentary, other than the ascribing of the seven year tribulation to the 70th seven. In fact, the Book of Revelation does not specify a seven year tribulation, it is found only in Daniel. For those considering the 70th seven to be completed already, there is no reason to assume the future tribulation is seven years. That there is a future tribulation is certain from other scripture, and a 3 1/2 year period is described as a portion of it. But the length of time from the onset of the tribulation to the 3 1/2 year period is not clear, and the seven year period is specified only in Daniel.

{11:40} At the time of the end shall the king of the south contend with 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 through.

{11:41} He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many [countries] shall be overthrown; but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.

{11:42} He shall stretch forth his hand also on the countries; and the land of Egypt shall not escape.

We know that Antiochus Epiphanies did not conquer Egypt. Therefore, these verses could not have been fulfilled in his time. This confirms that the 'time of the end' mentioned in verse 40 was not the time of the end of Antiochus, but the time of the end of this age. There is no match in history for the events described between verses 35 and 45 (although parts of 35-40 may be applied to Antiochus).

{11:43} 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.

{11:44} But news out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him; and he shall go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to sweep away many.

{11:45} He shall plant the tents of his palace between the sea and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

Chapter 11 - Summary

Chapter 11 - Questions

The Bible text is Ron Millers own translation
BrRon's Bible Commentary (C)Copyright 2002 by Ronald Miller, All Rights Reserved