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.
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(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. In this situation Daniel excelled all the presidents and satraps. אתנצּח, to show one's self prominent. Regarding his excellent spirit, cf. Daniel 5:12. On that account the king thought to set him over the whole kingdom, i.e., to make him chief ruler of the kingdom, to make him למּלך משׁנה (Esther 10:3). עשׁית for עשׁת, intrans. form of the Peal, to think, to consider about anything. This intention of the king stirred up the envy of the other presidents and of the satraps, so that they sought to find an occasion against Daniel, that he might be cast down. עלּה, an occasion; here, as αἰτία, John 18:38; Matthew 27:37, an occasion for impeachment, מלוּתא מצּד, on the part of the kingdom, i.e., not merely in a political sense, but with regard to his holding a public office in the kingdom, with reference to his service. But since they could find no occasion against Daniel in this respect, for he was מהימן, faithful, to be relied on, and no fault could be charged against him, they sought occasion against him on the side of his particular religion, in the matter of the law of his God, i.e., in his worship of God.
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