Study Notes

Daniel 11:2-35


We have arrived at the final segment of the book of Daniel, with chapter ten telling us that Daniel had been mourning and praying for three weeks. An angel appeared to him in a vision and said that he'd come to give him understanding of what would happen to the Jews in the future.

Last week, we took the time to see what had taken so much time in getting this message to Daniel. This week, we begin to look at the message itself.

Amazing Prophecy

Before we even begin to read the chapter, I'm going to tell you up front that this study is going to sound like a history lesson. We will look at kingdoms changing hands and wars being fought. You may even find yourself losing track of which king is doing what. You may at some point during this hour find yourself asking, "Why do we need to go over all of this?"

I'll tell you the answer before you ask it: In this section of Scripture, the angel gives Daniel prophecy with such great detail and accuracy that it reads just like a history book, even though the events hadn't yet happened!

The reason we'll be going through this history in such detail is that these are events and facts which the Lord gave us long before they came to pass. The Lord spoke through Isaiah, saying,

Isa. 46:9-11 "...I am God, and there is no other; {I am} God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned {it, surely} I will do it.

Jesus told the apostles,

Matt. 24:25 "Behold, I have told you in advance.

And Peter proclaimed,

2Pet. 1:19 (KJV) We have also a more sure word of prophecy

God has proven His existence in many ways, and the most undeniable one, in my opinion, is this sure word of prophecy.

So, as we go through these verses, it will be important for you to remember that these things were written down hundreds of years before they happened.

11:2 Four Kings Of Persia

The first thing the angel details is that four kings were going to arise in Persia, the fourth being very rich and coming up against Greece.

History saw this happen just as it had been spoken: Cyrus was the current ruler, and three more kings arose: Cambyses, Pseudo-Smernis, Darius I Hystaspes. Xerxes I came next, very rich, and leading the Persians in battle against the Greeks in 480BC. Although he had mustered an army of hundreds of thousands, he was not successful in completely overcoming them.

He did manage, however, to make Greece hate the Persians, ultimately leading to the destruction of that empire. Remember that the Greeks were represented in chapter eight as the shaggy male goat who struck the ram, which was the Medo-Persian Empire.

The goat was described as rushing...

Dan. 8:6 him in his mighty wrath.

Dan. 8:7 ...and he was enraged at him...

The Greeks, led by a legendary individual, eventually attacked the Persians and wiped them out.

11:3 A Mighty King

The mighty king, the leader of the Greek Empire, was Alexander the Great. We have talked about him at length in our studies of chapters two and eight.

11:4 His Kingdom Divided

When Alexander died in his early 30's, his kingdom was not given to his sons, both of whom were murdered. Instead, his kingdom was divided between his four generals. This happened in 323 BC.

11:5 Regarding The Jews

Remember that the angel's prophecy has to do with what will happen to the Jews. When Alexander's kingdom was divided, it was split in four. But only two of these divisions are focused on here - the north and the south. The southern portion was the area of Egypt and North Africa. The northern part was Syria and Mesopotamia. How does this affect the Jews? If you look at a map, it becomes obvious. Israel is right between the two kingdoms, and they both struggled for power over and occupation of the Holy Land.

The Kings

The king of the South prophesied as growing strong was Ptolemy I. The one who rose above him in dominion was Seleucus I, from the northern portion of Alexander's kingdom.

11:6 An Alliance

When Ptolemy II was reigning, a marriage was arranged between his daughter Berenice and the northern king, Antiochus II.

Marriages between royal families were often ways of maintaining peace treaties. However, once leadership of one country or another changed hands, the arrangement often lost its influence.

In this case, once Berenice's father Ptolemy II died, she was removed from her position as the queen, being replaced by Antiochus II's first wife, Laodice.

Laodice was a wicked woman, with devious plans. She had Berenice, her servants, and her son killed. Then she had her husband, King Antiochus II poisoned, and put her own son, Seleucus II, over the kingdom.

11:7-8 One Of The Descendants

Berenice's brother, Ptolemy III, came to power after his father's death, and vowed to avenge his sister's murder. He invaded the northern kingdom in Syria, had Laodice killed, and put her son King Seleucus II in subjection, carrying off many of the treasures of the north.

11:9 Enter And Return

A few years after Ptolemy III's invasion and plundering of the north, Seleucus II attempted an attack against the south. This incursion in 240 BC didn't last long. He was defeated totally and forced to retreat back to the north.

11:10 His Sons Will Mobilize

Seleucus III and Antiochus III, the kings that followed the reign of Seleucus II, were more successful in their campaigns against the south. The north's territory kept enlarging to the south, encompassing all of Israel, down to Gaza.

11:11-12 The Southern King Enraged

Ptolemy IV responded with rage, taking an army of 78 thousand men to fight Antiochus III's army at Raphia. The northern army lost more than 10 thousand men. The year was 217 BC.

History shows that Ptolemy did not pursue any further after such a great victory. He allowed his positioning to remain weak, which led to a later defeat.

11:13-15 A Greater Multitude

Now in 201 BC, Antiochus III recovered from his defeat and raised another army, a much larger one. This time, he was joined by some of the Jews in Palestine - those that violently opposed being dominated by the southern kingdom, and thought that Antiochus III would free them from the oppression.

The southern kingdom, now being ruled by Ptolemy V, was pushed out of the Mediterranean port city of Tsee-DOHN, as well as losing control over the land of Palestine.

Although Antiochus III was victorious, the southern kingdom killed many of the Jews that had partnered together with the north.

11:16-17 Cleopatra I

Once Antiochus III had gained power over Palestine, he formed a marriage alliance with Ptolemy V using his daughter Cleopatra I. (This is not the "famous" Cleopatra. That woman was Cleopatra VII, the last pharaoh of Egypt, during the days of the Roman Empire, about 150 years after this time period).

Antiochus sent his daughter to marry Ptolemy V to try and undermine the southern kingdom, but once married, Cleopatra refused to betray her husband.

11:18-19 The End Of Antiochus III

Antiochus III continued in his conquests, attacking Asia Minor, the Greek Islands, and even the Greek mainland. But a Roman commander named Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus defeated him.

Finally, Antiochus III was killed in his own land when he was trying to steal the treasures of a Babylonian temple in Ay-LAWM.

11:20 An Oppressor Shattered

After Antiochus III was killed, his son Seleucus IV became king. Because of his father's defeat to the Romans, there was a heavy annual tribute due from his kingdom. To pay for this, he exacted heavy taxes from the people.

The apocryphal book of 2Maccabees says that the king heard that Jerusalem's temple treasury...

2Macc. 3:6 ...was full of untold sums of money, so that the amount of the funds could not be reckoned, and that they did not belong to the account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible for them to fall under the control of the king.

Seleucus IV didn't need to be told that twice. He sent his minister of finance, Heliodorus, to Jerusalem. But apparently, Heliodorus had been working on a plan to betray the king, and just a few days after he was sent to Jerusalem, the king was removed from power.

11:21 A Despicable Person

Seleucus IV's younger brother was Antiochus IV, more commonly known to us as Antiochus Epiphanes. We talked about him quite a bit in our study of chapter eight. He was the small horn that grew out of the goat in Daniel's vision.

There are details here about Antiochus that we did not cover in these chapters.

Kingship Not Conferred

Antiochus Epiphanes did not come to the throne in a standard, honorable, or acceptable fashion. Seleucus IV had a young son who was to take the throne next. Antiochus IV pretended to be the guardian of his nephew, the king-to-be, and managed to maneuver himself into a position of authority. Then, the nephew was conveniently murdered, and Antiochus Epiphanes came to the throne.

11:22 Overflowing Forces

Antiochus came down against many of his enemies, including the armies of Egypt to the south. He was victorious against them all.

The Prince Of The Covenant

The angel mentions that among these casualties would be the "prince of the covenant." This is a reference to one that would be in the highest position of the Jews' covenant relationship with God. As history unfolded, this turned out to be the High Priest Onias III, who was removed from the priesthood and replaced by his corrupt brother Jason (2Macc. 4:7; 4Macc. 4:15-16).

11:23-24 He Will Practice Deception

Antiochus Epiphanes has been described as having a life which was "characterized by intrigue, expediency, and lust for power in which honor was always secondary" (Walvoord). He made treaties that he did not intend to keep, and gained power through lies and deception as often as he did through military means.

11:25-27 Schemes Devised

When Antiochus went up against Ptolemy VI, the king of Egypt, Ptolemy raised a large defense force, but he was betrayed by his brother and uncle. His uncle arrested him, while his brother took the throne from him.

11:28 Heart Set Against The Holy Covenant

The heart of Antiochus Epiphanes was, I believe, more wicked than any man in history. He hated the Jews and their relationship with God. He would soon act on that hatred with a vengeance.

11:29-31 Ships Of Kittim

The next time Antiochus Epiphanes tried to invade Egypt, he ran into the Romans. The Roman consul Gaius Popillius Laenas told him that if he didn't turn around and leave, he would be attacked by Rome. The Roman then drew a circle around Antiochus and told him to make his decision before stepping outside of the circle.

He was certainly not going to go to war with Rome, but man so full of pride and arrogance could barely fathom the humiliation and defeat he'd just experienced.

The Abomination Of Desolation

Antiochus Epiphanes was seething with anger and bitterness as he traveled back to the north. And unfortunately, Jerusalem was right on his way home.

As we saw in our study of chapter eight, he came against Jerusalem, forcing the Jews to abandon their adherence to the Law of God and conform to the Greek culture and beliefs.

He committed the abomination of desolation, putting a statue of the false god Zeus in the temple, sacrificing a pig on the altar, and defiling the temple and the priests with its blood.

11:32-35 They Will Fall By The Sword

Some of the Jews did forsake the Lord and embrace the Greek culture being forced upon them. But many others did not. They knew the Lord and resisted. As a result, Antiochus Epiphanes killed eighty thousands Jews, and made prisoners and slaves of another eighty thousand.

Next week, we will see the prophecy continue with the same degree of accuracy. The difference between this week and next is that what we will cover, beginning with verse 36, has not yet been fulfilled - it is the future which this world will experience very shortly.

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