Daniel 11:3
And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.
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(3) A mighty king.—No clue is given to show over what nation this king reigns. According to the context he might be either a Greek or a Persian, or he might belong to a kingdom not yet mentioned. Those who explain what follows to refer to the Ptolemies and Seleucidæ identify him with Alexander the Great, and compare with this verse Daniel 7:6; Daniel 8:5-8; Daniel 8:21-22. Certainly the self-will spoken of in this verse was characteristic of Alexander (comp. also Daniel 8:4), but there was nothing in the context which makes it necessary to limit the passage to him. Some autocrat may arise “in the latter times” to whom it will apply with greater force than it did to Alexander.

Daniel 11:3-4. And a mighty king shall stand up, &c. — Namely, from among the Grecians; that shall rule with great dominion — This is evidently descriptive of Alexander the Great; of the rapidity and success of whose conquests: See on Daniel 7:6; Daniel 8:5-6. His success was indeed universal, none being able to put a stop to the progress of his victories. So great was his dominion, that he ruled not only over Greece and the whole Persian empire, but likewise added India to his conquests. And that he did according to his will, is a fact too well known to require any particular proof; for none, not even his friends, dared to contradict or oppose him, or if they did, like Clytus and Calisthenes, they paid for it with their lives. And when he shall stand up — When he shall be in the height of his prosperity. Wintle renders it, when he shall be established; his kingdom shall be broken — Alexander died in Babylon, having lived only thirty-two years and eight months, of which he reigned twelve years and eight months. In so short a time did this sun of glory rise and set! And shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven — This is very significantly expressive of the vast empire which Alexander had brought under subjection to himself, being divided at his death among his four chief captains: see note on Daniel 7:6; Daniel 8:8. And not to his posterity — For these, with all his family, were cut off in a few years after his death. “His wife Statira, the daughter of Darius, was murdered out of jealousy by his other wife Roxana; and her body was thrown into a well, and earth cast upon it. His natural brother Aridæus, who succeeded him in the throne by the name of Philip, was, together with his wife Eurydice, killed by the command of Olympias, the mother of Alexander, after he had borne the title of king six years and some months: and not long after Olympias herself was slain in revenge by the soldiers of Cassander. Alexander Ægus, his son by Roxana, in the fourteenth year of his age was privately murdered, together with his mother, in the castle of Amphipolis, by order of Cassander. In the second year after this, Hercules, the other son of Alexander, by Barcine, the widow of Memnon, was also, with his mother, privately murdered by Polysperchon. Such was the miserable end of Alexander’s family! After which the governors assumed, each in his province, the title of king, from which they had abstained as long as any just heir of Alexander was surviving. Thus was Alexander’s kingdom broken and divided, not to his posterity, but it was plucked up even for others.” — 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.And a mighty king shall stand up - So far as the language here is concerned, it is not said whether this would be in Persia, as a successor of the "fourth king" Daniel 11:2, or whether it would be in some other part of the world. The next verse, however, shows that the reference is to Alexander the Great - for to no other one is it applicable. There were several monarchs of Persia, indeed, that succeeded Xerxes before the kingdom was invaded and subdued by Alexander (see the notes at Daniel 11:2), and these are here entirely passed over without being alluded to. It must be admitted, that one who should have read this prophecy before the events had occurred would have inferred naturally that this "mighty king that should stand up" would appeal immediately after the "fourth, "and probably that he would be his successor in the realm; but it may be remarked,

(a) that the language here is not inconsistent with the facts in the case - it being literally true that such a "mighty king" did "stand up" who "ruled with great dominion, and according to his will;"

(b) that there was no necessity in the prophetic history of referring to the acts of these intermediate kings of Persia, since they did not contribute at all to the result - it being well known that the reason alleged by Alexander for his invasion of the Persian empire was not anything which they had done, but the wrongs sustained by Greece in consequence of the invasion by Xerxes and his predecessor. The real succession of events in the case was that last invasion of Greece by Xerxes, and the consequent invasion of the Persian empire by Alexander. It was these transactions which the angel evidently meant to connect together, and hence, all that was intermediate was omitted. Thus Alexander, in his letter to Darius, says: "Your ancestors entered into Macedonia, and the other parts of Greece, and did us damage, when they had received no affront from us as the cause of it; and now I, created general of the Grecians, provoked by you, and desirous of avenging the injury done by the Persians, have passed over into Asia." - Arrian, Exped. Alex. i.2.

That shall rule with great dominion - That shall have a wide and extended empire. The language here would apply to any of the monarchs of Persia that succeeded Xerxes, but it would be more strictly applicable to Alexander the Great than to any prince of ancient or modern times. The whole world, except Greece, was supposed to be subject to the power of Persia; and it was one of the leading and avowed purposes of Darius and Xerxes in invading Greece, by adding that to their empire, to have the earth under their control. When, therefore, Alexander had conquered Persia, it was supposed that he had subdued the world; nor was it an unnatural feeling that, having done this, he, whose sole principle of action was ambition, should sit down and weep because there were no more worlds to conquer. In fact, he then swayed a scepter more extended and mighty than any before him had done, and it is with peculiar propriety that the language here is used in regard to him.

And do according to his will - Would be an arbitrary prince. This also was true of the Persian kings, and of Oriental despots generally; but it was eminently so of Alexander - who, in subduing kingdoms, conquering mighty armies, controlling the million under his sway, laying the foundations of cities, and newly arranging the boundaries of empires, seemed to consult only his own will, and felt that everything was to be subordinate to it. It is said that this passage was shown to Alexander by the high priest of the Jews, and that these prophecies did much to conciliate his favor toward the Hebrew people.

3. mighty king … do according to his will—answering to the he-goat's "notable horn" (Da 8:6, 7, 21). Alexander invaded Persia 334 B.C., to avenge the wrongs of Greece on Persia for Xerxes' past invasion (as Alexander said in a letter to Darius Codomanus, Arrian, Alexander. 2.14.7). This was Alexander the Great, the he-goat, who, moved with choler for the Persian invasion, run down the ram and stamped on it, and got a golden fleece from him by that, and after many victories; afterward he did according to his will, even what he would without controlment, by any. See Daniel 8:7,8. And a mighty king shall stand up,.... Not in Persia, but in Greece; Alexander the great, who rose up a hundred years after the above expedition of Xerxes, and "stood" and flourished, and conquered all he attacked, none being able to resist him; and is rightly called a "mighty king", a very powerful one: this is the notable horn in the he goat, which being exasperated by the ram, the Persians, and their invasion of Greece, pushed at them, and destroyed them, Daniel 8:5, that shall rule with great dominion; not in Greece only but in the whole world, at least as he thought, and really did over a very great part of it; for, as Jerome says, having conquered the Illyrians, Thracians, Greece, and Thebes, he passed into Asia; and, having put to flight the generals of Darius, he took the city of Sardis, and afterwards India.

And do according to his will; not only in his own army, sacrificing his best friends at his pleasure; but with his enemies, conquering whom he would, none being able to withstand him; all things succeeded to his wish; whatever he attempted he performed. His historian (o) says of him,

"that it must be owned he owed much to virtue, but more to fortune, which alone of all mortals he had in his power;''

since, by the benefit of it, he seemed to do with nations whatever he pleased; he was sovereign in all things, and set himself to be worshipped as a deity.

(o) Curtius, l. 10. c. 5.

And a {d} mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.

(d) That is, Alexander the Great.

3. Alexander the Great (b.c. 336–323). The writer, passing over the intermediate Persian rulers, hastens to the period when the course of events begins to affect the Jews, limiting what he has to say respecting the whole of the Persian empire, and the founder of the Greek empire, to a single verse in each case.

a warrior king] The regular meaning of gibbôr (‘mighty man’) in Heb.: e.g. 2 Samuel 1:9; 2 Samuel 23:8, 1 Kings 1:8; 1 Kings 1:10, Isaiah 42:13, &c.

do according to his will] carry out whatever he wishes: an expression implying the possession of irresistible and irresponsible power. Cf. Quintus Curtius x. 5, 35, ‘Huius [fortunae] beneficio agere videbatur gentibus quidquid placebat.’ Comp. on Daniel 8:4; and below Daniel 11:16; Daniel 11:36.Verse 3. - And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with groat dominion, and do according to his will. None of the versions imply any difference of reading. The Hebrew implies that the king was a mighty warrior. All critics are agreed that here the reference is to Alexander the Great. This does not mean that Alexander immediately followed Xerxes, but that his expedition was the revenge for that of Xerxes. Alexander, in his answer to Darius Codomannus, justified his invasion of Persia by referring back to Xerxes' invasion of Greece. The two expeditions, that which Xerxes made into Greece, and that of Alexander into Persia, might be regarded as causally connected. The Kethiv תּוּכל, Daniel 5:16, is the Hebr. Hophal, as Daniel 2:10; the Keri תכּוּל the formation usual in the Chaldee, found at Daniel 3:29. Regarding the reward to Daniel, see under Daniel 5:7. Daniel declines (Daniel 5:17) the distinction and the place of honour promised for the interpretation, not because the former might be dangerous to him and the latter only temporary, as Hitzig supposes; for he had no reason for such a fear, when he spoke "as one conveying information who had just seen the writing, and had read it and understood its import," for the interpretation, threatening ruin and death to the king, could bring no special danger to him either on the part of Belshazzar or on that of his successor. Much rather Daniel rejected the gift and the distinction promised, to avoid, as a divinely enlightened seer, every appearance of self-interest in the presence of such a king, and to show to the king ad his high officers of state that he was not determined by a regard to earthly advantage, and would unhesitatingly declare the truth, whether it might be pleasing or displeasing to the king. But before he read and interpreted the writing, he reminded the king of the punishment his father Nebuchadnezzar had brought upon himself on account of his haughty pride against God (Daniel 5:18-21), and then showed him how he, the son, had done wickedly toward God, the Lord of his life (Daniel 5:22, Daniel 5:23), and finally explained to him that on this account this sign had been given by God (Daniel 5:24).
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