Daniel 11:20
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.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(20) A raiser of taxes.—The marginal version is to be preferred, as it gives the meaning of the word “exactor,” or “oppressor,” which it has in Exodus 3:7, and in every passage where it occurs, except perhaps Isaiah 9:4. The new king of the north causes the “oppressor” to pass through “the majesty of the kingdom” (a phrase occurring elsewhere only in Psalm 145:12; but comp. 1Chronicles 29:25), meaning the “richest parts of his kingdom,” and not necessarily Palestine. The effect of this policy was that the king fell a victim to a conspiracy in a few days. According to St. Jerome, the person alluded to was Seleucus Philopator.

With this verse the first part of the prophecy concludes. It is to be observed that thus far (1) notes of time are very scanty; we only meet with indefinite expressions, such as “in the end of years” (Daniel 11:6), “certain years” (Daniel 11:13), “within few days” (Daniel 11:20), and vague terms expressing sequence of time. (2) There is nothing in the text which implies any change of sovereigns, except in Daniel 11:7; Daniel 11:19. It follows from a careful study of these verses that according to their natural and literal sense they speak of only two southern kings and only one northern king. The southern king of whom we read most is apparently the offspring of the daughter of the first southern king, mentioned in Daniel 11:5, and it is he who engages in conflict with the first northern king, and with his sons (Daniel 11:10). The whole prophecy is eschatological, and refers to two opposing earthly powers which will affect the destiny of God’s people in the last times. It relates a series of wars and political intrigues between these two powers, all of which prove futile, and it concludes with the account of the death of the first northern king. Daniel 11:20 is a transition verse, in which another character is introduced, who will mark the approach of the end; while Daniel 11:21 introduces the most prominent object of the prophecy—a person who remains before the reader till the end of the chapter, while the southern king gradually disappears (Daniel 11:25; Daniel 11:27; Daniel 11:40), and what is apparently his country is mentioned without its sovereign in Daniel 11:43.

Daniel 11:20. Then shall stand up in his estate — Hebrew, על כנו, on his base; Vulgate, in his place; or, shall succeed him; a raiser of taxes in the glory of his kingdom — Or, as in the margin, one that causeth an exacter to pass over, &c., that is, one who will send the tribute-gatherers through his kingdom. This was a very just description of Seleucus Philopater, the son and successor of Antiochus, who oppressed his people with most grievous taxes, that he might raise the tribute of one thousand talents, which he was obliged to pay annually to the Romans, as well as that he might support his own government. According to Jerome, he performed nothing worthy of the empire of Syria, and of his father, but reigned both idly and weakly, as Appian also testifies. He had an inclination, indeed, to shake off the Roman yoke, and therefore raised an army, with an intent to march over mount Taurus to the assistance of Pharnaces king of Pontus; but his dread of the Romans confined him at home within the bounds prescribed to him, and almost as soon as he had raised, he disbanded, his army. So that he was little more than a raiser of taxes all his days. He even sent his treasurer, Heliodorus, to seize the money deposited in the temple of Jerusalem. This was literally causing an exacter to pass over the glory of the kingdom, when he sent his treasurer to plunder that temple which even kings had honoured and magnified with their best gifts. But within a few days — Or rather, years, according to the prophetic style, he was to be destroyed — And accordingly his reign was of short duration in comparison of his father’s, for he reigned only twelve years, and his father thirty-seven. Or perhaps the passage may mean, that within a few days, or years, after his attempting to plunder the temple at Jerusalem, he should be destroyed: and not long after that, as all chronologers agree, he was destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle — Neither through rebellion at home, nor in war abroad; but by the treachery of his own treasurer Heliodorus; the same wicked hand that was the instrument of his sacrilege being also the instrument of his death. “For Seleucus having sent his only son Demetrius to be a hostage at Rome instead of his brother Antiochus, and Antiochus being not yet returned to the Syrian court, Heliodorus thought this a fit opportunity to despatch his master, and, in the absence of the next heir to the crown, to usurp it to himself. But he was disappointed in his ambitious projects, and only made way for another’s usurped greatness instead of his own.” — Bishop Newton.

11:1-30 The angel shows Daniel the succession of the Persian and Grecian empires. The kings of Egypt and Syria are noticed: Judea was between their dominions, and affected by their contests. From ver. 5-30, is generally considered to relate to the events which came to pass during the continuance of these governments; and from ver. 21, to relate to Antiochus Epiphanes, who was a cruel and violent persecutor of the Jews. See what decaying, perishing things worldly pomp and possessions are, and the power by which they are gotten. God, in his providence, sets up one, and pulls down another, as he pleases. This world is full of wars and fightings, which come from men's lusts. All changes and revolutions of states and kingdoms, and every event, are plainly and perfectly foreseen by God. No word of God shall fall to the ground; but what he has designed, what he has declared, shall infallibly come to pass. While the potsherds of the earth strive with each other, they prevail and are prevailed against, deceive and are deceived; but those who know God will trust in him, and he will enable them to stand their ground, bear their cross, and maintain their conflict.Then shall stand up in his estate - Margin, "or, place." The word used - כן kên - means, properly, "a stand, station, place" (see the notes at Daniel 11:7), and the idea here is simply that he would be succeeded in the kingdom by such an one. His successor would have the character and destiny which the prophecy proceeds to specify.

A raiser of taxes - One who shall be mainly characterized for this; that is, whose government would be distinguished eminently by his efforts to wring money out of the people. The Hebrew word נגשׂ nâgas' means, properly, to urge, to drive, to impel, and it is then applied to one who urges or presses a debtor, or who exacts tribute of a people. The word is used with reference to "money" exactions in Deuteronomy 15:2-3 : "Every creditor that lendeth aught unto his neighbor, he shall not exact it of his neighbor or of his brother. Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again." So in 2 Kings 23:35, Jehoiakim taxed the land "to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land." In Zechariah 9:8 - "And no oppressor shall pass through them anymore" - the same word is used. Here it denotes one who would be mainly characterized by his extorting tribute of his people, or using means to obtain money.

In the glory of the kingdom - The word "in" here is supplied by our translators. Lengerke renders it, "who shall suffer the tax-gatherer (eintreiber) to go through the glory of the kingdom." This is evidently the meaning. He would lay the richest and most productive parts of his kingdom under contribution. This might be either to pay a debt contracted by a former monarch; or to carry on war; or to obtain the means of luxurious indulgence; or for purposes of magnificence and display.

But within few days - A comparatively brief period. Compare Genesis 27:44; Genesis 29:20. It is impossible from this to determine the precise period which he would live, but the language would leave the impression that his would be a short reign.

He shall be destroyed - Hebrew, "shall be broken. That is, his power shall be broken." he shall cease to reign. It would not be certainly inferred from this that he would be put to death, or would die at that time, but that his reign then would come to an end, though it might be in some peaceful way.

Neither in anger - Hebrew, "angers." Not in any tumult or excitement, or by any rage of his subjects. This would certainly imply that his death would be a peaceful death.

Nor in battle - As many kings fell. The description would indicate a reign of peace, and one whose end would be peace, but who would have but a brief reign. The reference here is, undoubtedly, to Seleucus Philopator, the oldest son of Antiochus the Great, and his immediate successor. The fulfillment of the prediction is seen in the following facts in regard to him:

(a) As an exactor of tribute. He was bound to pay the tribute which his father had agreed to pay to the Romans. This tribute amounted to a thousand talents annually, and consequently made it necessary for him to apply his energies to the raising of that sum. The Jewish talent of silver was equal to (in the 1850's) about 1,505 of American money (about 339 British pounds), and, consequently, this thousand talents, of the Jewish talent of silver here referred to, was equal to (in 1850's) about a million and a half dollars. The Greek talent of silver was worth (in 1850's) 1,055 of American money (about 238 British pounds), and, if this was the talent, the sum would be about one million dollars. To raise this, in addition to the ordinary expenses of the government, would require an effort, and, as this was continued from year to year, and as Seleucus was known for little else, it was not unnatural that the should be characterized as the "raiser of taxes."

(b) Especially would this be true in the estimation of the Jews, for no small part of these taxes, or this revenue, was derived from Palestine. Seleucus, taking advantage of the disturbances in Egypt, had reunited to the Syrian crown the provinces of Coelo-Syria and Palestine, which his father Antiochus the Great had given in dowry to his daughter Cleopatra, who was married to Ptolemy Epiphanes. - Jahn, "Heb. Commonwealth," p. 255. In the year 176 b.c., Simon, a Benjamite, who became governor of the temple at Jerusalem, the farmer of the revenues of the Egyptian kings, attempted to make some innovations, which were steadily resisted by the high priest Onias III Simon, in anger, went to Apollonius, governor of Coelo-Syria under Seleucus, and informed him of the great treasures contained in the temple. "The king," says Jahn ("Heb. Commonwealth," p. 255), "through a friend to the Jews, and though he had regularly made disbursements, according to the directions of his father, toward sustaining the expenses of the sacrifices at Jerusalem, determined to apply to his own use the treasures of the temple, for the annual payment of one thousand talents to the Romans had reduced his finances to a very low ebb. With the design, therefore, of replenishing his exhausted treasury, he sent Heliodorus to Jerusalem to plunder the temple." Compare Appian, "Syriac." xlv. 60-65. See also Prideaux, "Con." iii. 208; 2 Macc. 3. Besides this, the necessity of raising so much revenue would give him the character of a "raiser of taxes."

(c) This was done in what might properly be termed "the glory of his kingdom," or in what would, in the language of an Hebrew, be so called - Coelo-Syria and Palestine. To the eye of a Hebrew this was the glory of all lands, and the Jewish writers were accustomed to designate it by some such appellation. Compare the notes at Daniel 11:16.

(d) His reign continued but a short time - answering to what is here said, that it would be for a "few days." In fact, he reigned but eleven or twelve years, and that, compared with the long reign of Antiochus his father - thirty-seven years - was a brief period.

(e) The manner of his death. He did not fall in battle, nor was he cut off in a popular tumult. He was, in fact, poisoned. In the eleventh year of his reign, he sent his only son Demetrius as hostage to Rome, and released his brother Antiochus, who had resided twelve years in that city. As the heir to the crown was now out of the way, Heliodorus sought to raise himself to the royal dignity, and for this purpose he destroyed the king by poison. He attached a large party to his interests, and finally gained over those who were in favor of submitting to the king of Egypt. Antiochus Epiphanes received notice of these transactions while he was at Athens on his return from Rome. He applied himself to Eumenes, king of Pergamos, whom, with his brother Attalus, he easily induced to espouse his cause, and they, with the help of a part of the Syrians, deprived Heliodorus of his usurped authority. Thus, in the year 175 b.c., Antiochus Epiphanes quietly ascended the throne, while the lawful heir, Demetrius, was absent at Rome. Appian, "Syriac." lxv. 60-65; Jahn, "Heb. Commonwealth," ch. ix. Section 91. The remainder of this chapter is occupied with a detail of the crimes, the cruelties, and the oppressions of Antiochus Epiphanes, or Antiochus IV.

20. in his estate—in Antiochus' stead: his successor, Seleucus Philopater, 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" (Da 11:16, 41; Da 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 Cœlo-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 Maccabees 3:4, &c. Contrast Zec 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.

This was Seleucus Philopater, a very covetous griper, who peeled his subjects; who being told by his friends this would alienate his friends from him, answered, Money was his best friend; and therefore spared not to rob the temple, for which cause he sent Heliodorus to rifle that treasury, /APC 2Ma 3:7, therefore said to raise taxes in the glory of his kingdom.

But within few days he shall be destroyed; for he lived not out the thirst part of his father’s reign.

Neither in anger, nor in battle; not by open force, but by poison or secret wiles, and treachery of Heliodorus, as some write of him: the seed of evil-doers are never renowned, in life or death.

Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom,.... This was not Antiochus Epiphanes, as Theodoret, he is designed in the next verse; nor Ptolemy Epiphanes; as Porphyry, for he did not succeed Antiochus the great; nor Tryphon, tutor to Antiochus, as some Jewish writers; but Seleucus Philopator, the eldest son of Antiochus the great; who succeeded him, and was settled in his kingdom in his father's room, and stood upon his basis; and might well be called a raiser of taxes, being not only a covetous man, and a lover of money above all things; and therefore laid heavy taxes on his subjects, to gratify his avarice; but was indeed obliged to it, to raise the thousand talents yearly to pay the Romans, which his father had laid himself under obligation to do; and this took up the whole life of this his successor; for as there were twelve thousand talents to pay, a thousand each year, and Seleucus reigned in all but twelve years at most, he did nothing but raise taxes yearly to pay this tribute. It may be rendered, "then shall stand upon his basis": or, "in his room", as the Vulgate Latin version, in the room of Antiochus the great, "one that causes the exactors to pass through the glory of the kingdom" (o); that causes tax gatherers to go through the kingdom, and collect the tax of the people, who are the glory of the kingdom, especially the rich, the nobility, and gentry; or money, which is the glory of a nation: or, "shall cause the exactors to pass over to the glory of the kingdom"; that is, cause a tax gatherer to go over from Syria to the glorious land, or the glorious part of his dominion, the land of Judea; and so may have respect particularly to Heliodorus his treasurer, whom he sent to Jerusalem to demand the treasure of money he heard was laid up in the temple there; in the Apocrypha:

"Now when Apollonius came to the king, and had shewed him of the money whereof he was told, the king chose out Heliodorus his treasurer, and sent him with a commandment to bring him the foresaid money.'' (2 Maccabees 3:7)

but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle; or, within a few years, as Grotius and Prideaux render it; "days" being often put for years. Seleucus reigned but twelve years at most, which were but few in comparison of the long reign of his father, which was a reign of thirty seven years; and he died not through the rage of the populace, or through the sedition and rebellion of his subjects, nor in war, with a foreign enemy; but through the treachery of Heliodorus his treasurer, by whom he was poisoned, as is supposed; either for the sake of Antiochus Epiphanes, who was at that very time returning from Rome, where he had been an hostage ever since the defeat of his father, the money being now paid, which was stipulated; or rather on his own account, having a design to seize the kingdom for himself.

(o) "stabit autem super basillius, qui transire faciet exactorem per decus regni", Michaelis.

{q} 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 {r} anger, nor in battle.

(q) That is, Seleuchus will succeed his father Antiochus.

(r) Not by foreign enemies, or battle, but by treason.

20. Seleucus IV. (Philopator), b.c. 187–175.

Antiochus the Great left two sons, Seleucus and Antiochus (Epiphanes), both of whom successively followed him on the throne.

And in his place (Daniel 11:7) shall stand up one that shall cause an exactor to pass through the glory of the kingdom] Seleucus IV. The words are generally considered to allude to an event from the reign of this monarch which affected the Jews. In 2 Maccabees 3 we read, namely, how one Simon, guardian of the Temple, having quarrelled with the high-priest Onias, gave information to Apollonius, governor of Cœle-Syria and Phœnicia, of the treasures contained in the Temple, with the suggestion that they might prove useful to the king: Seleucus thereupon commissioned his chief minister (τὸν ἐπὶ τῶν πραγμάτων), see Niese, op. cit. p. 29, to proceed to Jerusalem and appropriate them. Heliodorus accordingly visited Jerusalem for the purpose; but was prevented from carrying it out (according to the author of 2 Macc.) by a supernatural apparition, which appeared to him just as he was on the point of entering the treasury[369]. We are however imperfectly informed as to the events of Seleucus IV.’s reign; and it is possible that the allusion may be of a general kind: Seleucus (below, note) had to pay for nine years an annual sum of 1000 talents to the Romans, which he would naturally exact of his subject provinces; and perhaps the reference may be to the ‘exactor’ who visited Palestine regularly for the purpose[370].

[369] Cf. Ewald v. 292; Stanley, Jewish Church, iii. 287.

[370] Antiochus Epiphanes shortly afterwards sends into Judah an officer called ἅρχων φορολογίας (1Ma 1:29).

an exactor] cf. the cognate verb in 2 Kings 23:35.

the glory of the kingdom] a prophet (Isaiah 13:19) had called Babylon ‘the beauty of kingdoms’; and so here the land of Judah is called ‘the glory of the kingdom’ (viz. of the Seleucidae), their noblest and choicest province. The Heb. in this part of the verse is however unusual; and Bevan, transposing two words, would read, ‘shall stand up an exactor (Seleucus IV. himself), who shall cause the glory of the kingdom (i.e. of his own kingdom) to pass away,’—with allusion to the inglorious reign of Seleucus IV.

but within few days (Genesis 27:44; Genesis 29:20, Heb.) he shall be broken, but not in anger, or in battle] not by a passionate deed of violence, and not in open fight, but (it is implied) in some less honourable way: in point of fact, Seleucus, after an uneventful reign of 12 years, met his death, perhaps by poison, through a plot headed by his chief minister, Heliodorus (Appian, Syr. c. 45 ἐξ ἐπιβουλῆς Ἡλιοδώρου). The ‘few days’ may be reckoned either from the mission of Heliodorus, or perhaps from the inception of the plot: in either case the general meaning will be that he would come to a speedy and untimely end.

broken] i.e. ruined; of a person, as Proverbs 6:15; Proverbs 29:1; ch. Daniel 8:25. Cf. Daniel 11:26, below.

in anger] if this is the meaning, the Heb. is very unusual; Behrmann suggests, on the strength of Aramaic analogies (cf. P.S[371] col. 278, bottom), that the expression may perhaps mean openly.

[371] .S. R. Payne Smith, Thesaurus Syriacus.

Verse 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. The rendering of the LXX. differs very much from this, "Then shall a plant arise out of his root to the restoration (ἀνάστασις) of the kingdom, a man striking the glory of a king." It is impossible to find any connection between the opening clause of this and the corresponding clause in the Massoretic. Some of the other clauses contain echoes of the Massoretic, or vice versa. The first clause of ver. 21 in the LXX. really belongs to this verse, "In the last days he shall be broken, not in wrath nor in war," reading thus, אֲהַרֹנִים ('aharoneem) instead of אֲהָדִים ('ahadeem). Theodotion agrees in the first clause with the Septuagint, but is equally unintelligible, "There shall arise out of his root one removing a plant of the kingdom; on his preparation he shall act (πράσσων), the glory of the kingdom: yet in those days he shall be broken, and not openly (ἐνπροσώποις) nor in war shall he stand." The Peshitta renders, "In his stead shall one stand up who shall cause a ruler to pass through even the glory of your kings; and in a few days he shall be destroyed, not in tumult, nor in battle." The Vulgate renders, "In his stead shall stand a vile person (vilis-simus), and unworthy of royal dignity; and in a few days he shall be broken, not in fury, nor in battle." Difficult as is the interpretation of the words, just as difficult is it to find out the reference. Seleucus Philopator, who succeeded Antiochus, might be called a "raiser of taxes," as he had to meet as best he could the heavy demands of the Roman treasury. The rendering of the Revised suits also, "causing the exactor to pass through the glory of the kingdom." The reference might be to Heliodorus, were there any probability that he ever made an expedition to rob the temple. Certainly the story in 2 Maccabees makes it doubtful. It is not likely that Palestine would be exempt from taxation. To a Jew resident in Palestine - the land the possession of which had been the occasion or' so many wars - it might well seem the glory of the Syrian kingdom. But within few days he shall be destroyed. It is difficult to understand how the writer could reckon the reign of Seleucus Philopator as only a few days. His reign of twelve years was certainly much shorter than that of his father Antiochus, but longer than that of Epiphanes his brother, or of Seleucus III his uncle. The Greek versions do not give this clause. If we do not resort to the somewhat desperate remedy of altering the reading, we are compelled to measure the days from the taxing of Judaea. A good deal might be said for the reading of the LXX. He shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle. If we may assume as correct the unsupported account of Appian, that Seleucus IV. was assassinated by Heliodorus, we can see that he was destroyed "not in batlle." It conveys an idea of the facts of the case different from that given in Appian, when we say he was "not destroyed in anger." Moreover, the fact that Josephus refers to the death of Seleucus Philopator in terms that imply that be knew nothing of his violent death, makes his alleged assassination by Helio-dorus at least doubtful. Daniel 11:20Another stands up in his place, who causeth נוגשׂ to pass over, through his eagerness for riches. נוגשׂ most understand as a collector of tribute, referring for this to 2 Kings 23:35, and מלכוּת הדר מלכוּת as the Holy Land, and then think on Heliodorus, whom Seleucus Nicator sent to Jerusalem to seize the temple treasure. But this interpretation of the words is too limited. נגשׂ denotes, no doubt (2 Kings 23:35), to collect gold and silver; but it does not thence follow that נוגשׂ, when silver and gold are not spoken of, means to collect tribute. The word in general designates the taskmaster who urges on the people to severe labour, afflicts and oppresses them as cattle. מלכוּת הדר is not synonymous with הצּבי ארץ, Daniel 11:16, but stands much nearer to מלכוּת הוד, Daniel 11:21, and designates the glory of the kingdom. The glory of the kingdom was brought down by נוגשׂ, and העביר refers to the whole kingdom of the king spoken of, not merely to the Holy Land, which formed but a part of his kingdom. By these oppressions of his kingdom he prepared himself in a short time for destruction. אחדים ימים (days few), as in Genesis 27:44; Genesis 29:20, the designation of a very short time. The reference of these words, "in days few," to the time after the pillage of the temple of Jerusalem by Heliodorus is not only an arbitrary proceeding, but is also contrary to the import of the words, since ב in בּימים does not mean post. מאפּים ולא, in contradistinction and contrast to במלחמה ולא, can only denote private enmity or private revenge. "Neither by anger (i.e., private revenge) nor by war" points to an immediate divine judgment.

If we now, before proceeding further in our exposition, attentively consider the contents of the revelation of vv. 5-20, so as to have a clear view of its relation to the historical fulfilment, we shall find the following to be the course of the thoughts exhibited: - After the fall of the Javanic world-kingdom (Daniel 11:4) the king of the south shall attain to great power, and one of his princes shall found (Daniel 11:5) a yet greater dominion in the north. After the course of years they shall enter into an agreement, for the king of the south shall give his daughter in marriage to the king of the north so as to establish a right relationship between them; but this agreement shall bring about the destruction of the daughter, as well as of her father and all who co-operated for the effecting of this marriage (Daniel 11:6). Hereupon a descendant of that king of the south shall undertake a war against the king of the north, victoriously invade the country of the adversary, gather together great spoil and carry it away to Egypt, and for years hold the supremacy. The king of the north shall, it is true, penetrate into his kingdom, but he shall again return home without effecting anything (Daniel 11:7-9). His sons also shall pass over the kingdom of the south with a multitude of hosts, but the multitude shall be given into the hand of the king, who shall not come to power by casting down myriads. The king of the north shall return with a host yet more numerous; against the king of the south many, also faithless members of the Jewish nation, shall rise up, and the king of the north shall take the fortified cities, without the king of the south having the power to offer him resistance (Daniel 11:10-15). The conqueror shall now rule in the conquered lands after his own pleasure, and set his foot on the Holy Land with the intention of destroying it. Thereupon he shall come with the whole might of his kingdom against the king of the south, and by the marriage of his daughter seek to establish a right relationship with him, but he shall only thereby bring about the destruction of his daughter. Finally, he shall make an assault against the islands and the maritime countries of the west; but he shall be smitten by his chiefs, and be compelled to return to the fortresses of his own land, and shall fall (Daniel 11:16-19). But his successor, who shall send taskmasters through the most glorious regions of the kingdom, shall be destroyed in a short time (Daniel 11:20).

Thus the revelation depicts how, in the war of the kings of the south and of the north, first the king of the south subdued the north, but when at the summit of his conquest he sank under the power of his adversary through the insurrections and the revolt of an apostate party of the Jews; whereupon, by an assault upon the west in his endeavour, after a firmer establishment and a wider extension of his power, he brings about his own overthrow, and his successor, in consequence of the oppression of his kingdom, comes to his end in a few days.

Now, since the king who comes into his place (Daniel 11:21.) after he has become strong raises himself up against the holy covenant, takes away the daily worship in the temple of the Lord, etc., is, according to the historical evidence found in the books of the Maccabees, the Seleucidan Antiochus Epiphanes, so the prophetic announcement, vv. 5-20, stretches itself over the period from the division of the monarchy of Alexander among his generals to the commencement of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes in the year 175 b.c., during which there reigned seven Syrian and six Egyptian kings, viz. -

Syrian Kings (from b.c.) Egyptian Kings (from b.c.) Seleucus Nicator 310-280 Ptolemy Lagus 323-284 Antiochus Sidetes 280-260 Ptolemy Philadelphus 284 Antiochus Theus 260-245 Ptolemy Euergetes 246-221 Seleucus Callinicus 245-225 Ptolemy Philopator 221-204 Seleucis Ceraunus 225-223 Ptolemy Epiphanes 204-180 Antiochus the Great 223-186 Ptolemy Philometor 180

But in the prophetic revelation there is mention made of only four kings of the north (one in Daniel 11:5-9; his sons, Daniel 11:10-12; a third, Daniel 11:13-19; and the fourth, Daniel 11:20) and three kings of the south (the first, Daniel 11:5 and Daniel 11:6; the "branch," Daniel 11:7-9; and the king, Daniel 11:10-15), distinctly different, whereby of the former, the relation of the sons (Daniel 11:10) to the king indefinitely mentioned in Daniel 11:11, is admitted, and of the latter the kings of the south, it remains doubtful whether he who is spoken of in Daniel 11:9-15 is different from or is identical with "the branch of her roots" (Daniel 11:7). This circumstance shows that the prophecy does not treat of individual historical personages, but only places in view the king of the south and the king of the north as representatives of the power of these two kingdoms. Of these kings special deeds and undertakings are indeed mentioned, which point to definite persons; e.g., of the king of the north, that he was one of the princes of the king of the south, and founded a greater dominion than his (Daniel 11:5); the marriage of the daughter of the king of the south to the king of the north (Daniel 11:6); afterwards the marriage also of the daughter of the king of the north (Daniel 11:17), and other special circumstances in the wars between the two, which are to be regarded not merely as individualizing portraitures, but denote concrete facts which have verified themselves in history. But yet all these specialities do not establish the view that the prophecy consists of a series of predictions of historical facta, because even these features of the prophecy which find their actual fulfilments in history do not coincide with the historical reality.

Thus all interpreters regard the king of the south, Daniel 11:5, as Ptolemy Lagus, and that one of his princes (מן־שׂריו) who founded a greater dominion as Seleucus Nicator, or the "Conqueror," who, in the division of the countries which the conquerors made after the overthrow and death of Antiochus, obtained, according to Appian, Syr. c. 55, Syria from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean Sea and Phrygia; then by using every opportunity of enlarging his kingdom, he obtained also Mesopotamia, Armenia, and a part of Cappadocia, and besides subjugated the Persians, Parthians, Bactrains, Arabians, and other nations as far as the Indus, which Alexander had conquered; so that, after Alexander, no one had more nations of Asia under his sway than Seleucus, for from the borders of Phyrgia to the Indus all owned his sway. While this extension of his kingdom quite harmonizes with the prophecy of the greatness of his sovereignty, yet the designation "one of his princes" does not accord with the position of Ptolemy Lagus. Both of these were certainly at the beginning generals of Alexander. Seleucus, afterwards vicegerent of the Babylonians, found himself, however, from fear of Antigonus, who sought to put him to death, under the necessity of fleeing to Egypt to Ptolemy, by whom he was hospitably received, and with whom and other vicegerents he entered into a league against Antigonus, and when war arose, led an Egyptian fleet against Antigonus (Diod. Sic. xix. 55-62). He was accordingly not one of Ptolemy's generals.

Moreover, the marriage of the king's daughter, Daniel 11:6, is thus explained by Jerome, and all interpreters who follow him: - Ptolemy Philadelphus made peace with Antiochus Theus, after many years' war, on the condition that Antiochus should put away his own wife Laodice, who was at the same time his half-sister, and disinherit her son, and should marry Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy, and should appoint her first-born son as his successor on the throne of the kingdom (Appian, Syr. c. 65, and Jerome). This factum can be regarded as a fulfilling of the prophecy, Daniel 11:6; but the consequences which resulted from this political marriage do not correspond with the consequences prophesied of. According to the testimony of history, Ptolemy died two years after this marriage, whereupon Antiochus set aside Berenice, and took to himself again his former wife Laodice, along with her children. But she effected the death of her husband by poison, as she feared his fickleness, and then her son Seleucus Callinicus ascended the throne. Berenice fled with her son to the asylum of Daphne, but she was there murdered along with him. The prophecy, according to this, differs from the historical facts, not merely in regard to the consequences of the events, but also in regard to the matter itself; for it speaks not only of the daughter, but also of her father being given up to death, while the natural death of her father is in no respect connected with that marriage, and not till after his death did the consequences fatal to his daughter and her child develop themselves.

Further, as to the contents of Daniel 11:7-9, history furnishes the following confirmations: - In order to save his sister, who was put aside by Antiochus Theus, her brother, Ptolemy Euergetes, invaded the Syrian kingdom, in which Seleucus Callinicus had succeeded his father on the throne, in alliance with the armies of the Asiatic cities, and put to death his mother Laodice, since he had come too late to save his sister, in revenge for her murder, overthrew all the Syrian fortresses from Cilicia to the Tigris and Babylonia, and would have conquered the whole of the Syrian kingdom, if an insurrection which had broken out in Egypt had not caused him to return thither, carrying with him many images of the gods, and immense treasure, which he had taken from the vanquished cities. Then, while engaged in Egypt, Callinicus recovered the cities of Asia Minor, but failed to conquer the maritime countries, because his fleet was wrecked in a storm; and when he thereupon undertook a land expedition against Egypt, he was totally defeated, so that he returned to Antioch with only a few followers: cf. Justin, Hist. xxvii. 1, 2; Polyb. v. 58; and Appian, Syr. c. 65. On the other hand, the announcement of the war of his sons with many hosts overflowing the land, Daniel 11:10, is not confirmed by history. After the death of Callinicus in captivity, his son Seleucus Ceraunus succeeded to the government, a very incompetent man, who after tow years was poisoned by his generals in the war with Attalus, without having undertaken anything against Egypt. His brother Antiochus, surnamed the Great, succeeded him, who, in order to recover Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, renewed the war against the king of Egypt (not till about two years after he ascended the throne, however, did Ptolemy Philopator begin to reign), in which he penetrated twice to Dura, two (German) miles north from Caesarea (Polyb. x. 49), then concluded a four months' truce, and led his host back to the Orontes (Polyb. v. 66; Justin, xxx. 1). After the renewal of hostilities he drove the Egyptian army back to Sidon, conquered Gilead and Samaria, and took up his winter-quarters in Ptolemais (Polyb. v. 63-71). In the beginning of the following year, however, he was defeated by the Egyptians at Raphia, not far from Gaza, and was compelled, with great loss in dead and prisoners, to return as quickly as possible to Antioch, and to leave Coele-Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine to the Egyptians (Polyb. v. 79, 80, 82-86). Daniel 11:11 and Daniel 11:12 refer to this war. Thirteen our fourteen years after this, Antiochus, in league with Philip III of Macedon, renewed the war against the Egyptians, when, after Philopator's death, Ptolemy Epiphanes, being five years old, had ascended the throne, retook the three above-named countries (Coele-Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine), vanquished the Egyptian host led by Scopas near Paneas, and compelled the fortress of Sidon, into which the Egyptians had fled, to surrender after a lengthened siege, and then concluded a peace with Ptolemy on the condition that he took to wife the daughter of Antiochus, Cleopatra, who should bring with her, as her dowry, Coele-Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine (Polyb. xv. 20, xxviii. 17; App. Syr. c. i.; Liv. xxxiii. 19; and Joseph. Antt. xii. 4. 1). Since the time of Jerome, the prophecy Daniel 11:13-17 has been referred to this last war. But also here the historical events fall far behind the contents of the prophecy. The prophecy points to the complete subjugation of the king of the south, while this war was carried on only for the possession of the Asiatic provinces of the Egyptian kingdom. Also the rising up of many (רבּים, Daniel 11:14) against the king of the south is not historically verified; and even the relation spoken of by Josephus (Antt. xii. 3. 3) in which the Jews stood to Antiochus the Great was not of such a kind as to be capable of being regarded as a fulfilling of the "exalting themselves" of the פריצים בּני, Daniel 11:14. Still less does the statement of Daniel 11:16, that the king of the north would stand in the glorious land, agree with כּלה interpreted of conduct of Antiochus the Great toward the Jews; for according to Josephus, Antt. l.c., he treated the Jews round about Jerusalem favourably, because of their own accord they had submitted to him and had supported his army, and granted to them not only indulgence in regard to the observance of their religious ordinances, but also afforded them protection.

Moreover, Daniel 11:18, containing the prophecy of the undertaking of the king of the north against the islands, has not its historical fulfilment in the expedition of Antiochus the Great against the coasts and islands of Asia Minor and the Hellespont; but Daniel 11:19, that which is said regarding his return to the fortresses of his own land and his overthrow, does not so correspond with the historical issues of the reign of this king that one would be able to recognise therein a prediction of it. Finally, of his successor, Seleucus Philopator, to whom Daniel 11:20 must refer, if the foregoing verses treat of Antiochus the Great, nothing further is communicated, than that he quum paternis cladibus fractas admodum Syriae opes accepisset, post otiosum nullisque admodum rebus gestis nobilitatum annorum duodecim regnum, was put to death through the treachery of Heliodorus, unius ex purpuratis (Liv. xli. 19, cf. App. Syr. c. 45), and the mission of Heliodorus to Jerusalem to seize the treasures of the temple, which is fabulously described in 2 Macc. 3:4ff. The ישּׁבר (shall be destroyed) of this king אחדים בּימים (within few days) does not harmonize with the fact of his twelve years' reign.

From this comparison this much follows, that the prophecy does not furnish a prediction of the historical wars of the Seleucidae and the Ptolemies, but an ideal description of the war of the kings of the north and the south in its general outlines, whereby, it is true, diverse special elements of the prophetical announcement have historically been fulfilled, but the historical reality does not correspond with the contents of the prophecy in anything like an exhaustive manner. This ideal character of the prophecy comes yet more prominently forward to view in the following prophetic description.

Daniel 11:20 Interlinear
Daniel 11:20 Parallel Texts

Daniel 11:20 NIV
Daniel 11:20 NLT
Daniel 11:20 ESV
Daniel 11:20 NASB
Daniel 11:20 KJV

Daniel 11:20 Bible Apps
Daniel 11:20 Parallel
Daniel 11:20 Biblia Paralela
Daniel 11:20 Chinese Bible
Daniel 11:20 French Bible
Daniel 11:20 German Bible

Bible Hub

Daniel 11:19
Top of Page
Top of Page