Daniel 11
Daniel 11 Kingcomments Bible Studies


Before I start with the explanation of this chapter, I would like to share something with the reader. I have always been told, and I say this myself, that the explanation of a part is given by the Scriptures themselves. In order to grasp a portion of God’s Word, I depend on the Holy Spirit and must also have the right mind. I also need the help of other teachers. This is how the Lord Jesus meant it, and He gave His gifts for it (Eph 4:11; cf. Acts 8:30-31).

Is it not a form of pride, and perhaps even a contempt for the Lord’s gifts, if we think we can understand the truth of a portion of it exclusively by ourselves? However, we will have to think for ourselves about what others tell us, and then come to the acceptance of an explanation before God (Acts 17:11). In this way, the meaning of a truth of Scripture becomes our own spiritual property and not the plagiarism of someone else.

In the portion we have before us now, however, I seem to be unable to find the explanation within Scripture, but only outside of it. The first part of this chapter deals with events that were then still future for Daniel, but that have already been fulfilled. However, I cannot find that fulfilment in the Scriptures. In all the explanations I have at my disposal and which I love to consult, reference is made as to how this first part was fulfilled in the course of history. It means that I still need to know something about the history that is described outside of the Bible. I once presented this problem to the aforementioned Bible teacher and historian Gerard Kramer. He wrote to me the following in response:

In any case, the non-biblical history can never be in conflict with the prophecy. And why should it not even be helpful in explaining prophecy that has already been fulfilled and has thus become history? With Daniel 11, the prophecy even turns out to be so correct in details and to correspond with the non-biblical sources, that unbelieving scientists say that Daniel 11 is retrospective historiography in which the events are shrouded in the literary genre of prophecy. The latter, of course, will never be said by trustworthy biblical interpreters. Daniel 11 is now fulfilled up to Dan 11:34 and therefore is history. I have no problem wandering through the non-biblical history if I cannot fully understand or fill in a detail in Daniel 11:1-34. It becomes interesting from Dan 11:36, because some of the things mentioned there, according to historical sources, can certainly be attributed to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but this section clearly has an end-time perspective, through which it also speaks of the future Antioch, or the king of the North, and – curiously enough – also of the antichrist. [End of quotation]

This answer encouraged me to call upon the Bible teacher and historian Roger Liebi from Switzerland, whom I consider trustworthy and competent, to explain this chapter. In his book Weltgeschichte im Visier des Propheten Daniël (World history from the point of view of the prophet Daniel), he gives a clear and compact explanation of Daniel 11:2-35. My explanation of these verses will therefore mainly consist of a translation of his explanation. Some interpreters may give different explanations for some verses. That I will not pursue that, does not mean that I claim that the explanation of my preference is the only correct one. For me it is the most likely, but it is up to the reader to do further research into this.

After studying this section on the basis of the book I mentioned, I have become even more impressed by the truth of God’s Word. It is amazing how every detail mentioned in these verses has been fulfilled. That applies at least to the details that have become clear to me, for there are still aspects that I am not sure about.

I would like to point out once again that for Daniel the events he saw in the vision were all still future events. The exact fulfilment of what is communicated to us in Dan 11:2-35, which we know from historical facts, is yet another guarantee that everything that is yet to become history will also be fulfilled. God’s Word is absolutely trustworthy in all its parts!

From Cyrus till Xerxes I

Dan 11:1 of this chapter still belongs to Daniel 10 and is actually the last verse of that chapter. After the angel has said that Michael has stood with him, he says that he himself once “arose to be an encouragement and a protection” for Michael. He also mentions when that was. It was at that time when the Medo-Persian empire conquered the Babylonian empire and thus gained control over the Jews. This seems to indicate that the spiritual war was waged with a view to the departure of a remnant to the promised land. Satan will have mobilized his demons and try to stop that.

Satan knows that in Israel the promised Seed, the Messiah, the Son of God, will be born from the people of the Jews to the blessing of God’s people. He will want to prevent this at all costs. To prevent that birth, he has always wanted the destruction of God’s people. He does not know all the plans of God, but he does know that the Messiah will bring the promised blessing and that with it his own reign is over and his destiny is sealed.

In Dan 11:2 the angel tells Daniel that he will tell him the truth about future events. It is the truth, for what the angel reveals comes from the “writing of truth” (Dan 10:21) written by God. As said, God writes history and therefore it’s going to be like this.

The angel tells Daniel that there will be four more kings in power in Persia. Three are mentioned without further indication. The fourth is said to be rich and to fight against Greece. As we read in Daniel 10, in the third year of Cyrus, Daniel receives the message revealed containing the future events described here (Dan 10:1). That means that the four kings who will still come to power after Cyrus are the next ones:

1. Cambyses (530-522 BC)
2. Gaumata (Pseudo-Smerdis) (522 BC)
3. Darius I Hystaspis (522-486 BC)
4. Xerxes I (486-465 BC)

Xerxes I is known to have acquired fabulous wealth. Through him, the realm of the Persians reaches the peak of its power. Xerxes would also like to conquer Greece and bring it under his authority. To achieve this, he mobilized almost the entire then Asia. In the famous naval battle of Salamis (480 BC), however, he suffered an insulting and deeply humiliating defeat. This war brings him enormous losses, both of human lives and of treasures.

[NB On the Internet, interested readers can find out more about the four kings mentioned above and also about the following rulers.]

Alexander the Great

The “mighty king” referred to here is Alexander the Great. In history we make a jump of about one hundred and thirty years. That is the time between Xerxes I and Alexander the Great. The Greeks may have caused the Persians a resounding defeat, but the hatred against the Persians is deep with the Greeks. Alexander avenged himself on the Persians and ruled with great dominion. He has not taken any notice of God or the commandment, and has acted as he pleases. That he, by breaking the power of Persia, has participated in God’s plan, is therefore exclusively a matter of God’s sovereignty. God knows how to fit man’s arrogant actions into His plans.

The Greek Empire Divided Into Four Parts

Alexander the Great’s heyday lasted only a little over ten years. In the year 323 BC he is believed to have died of malaria. When he dies, he leaves behind a son named Hercules. A second son is born shortly after his death. They are both murdered. His four generals and their successors, after a hard battle, divide his great inheritance among themselves (cf. Dan 8:8; 22). The division is as follows:

1. Seleucus gets Syria in the east,
2. Lysimachus gets Asia Minor in the north,
3. Ptolemy gets Egypt in the south and
4. Cassander gets Macedonia in the west.

Thus the Greek empire is “parceled out toward the four points of the compass”, where the four points of the compass are seen from the position of the Persian empire.

Two Kings

From this verse onwards Daniel’s prophecy is only concerned with the king of the South and the king of the North. They are the kings who rule over Egypt in the south and Syria in the north. It is because these two countries have an important place in the history of Israel that these countries are the only ones mentioned. The ‘south’ and ‘north’ must be seen from the position of Israel. From this perspective, the king of the South means the Greek general ruling Egypt, Ptolemy, and the king of the North means Seleucus, the ruler of Syria.

One of Alexander’s former generals, Seleucus, makes himself independent from him and gains control of Syria. His empire will be the largest of the four empires that were created after Alexander the Great’s death. Thus Seleucus becomes the king of the North.

An Agreement

In Dan 11:6 it is no longer about the kings, Ptolemy and Seleucus, mentioned in the previous verse, but about their descendants: Ptolemy II and Antiochus II. This transition is noted in the first words of this verse “after some years”. To put an end to the bloody war conflicts between Egypt and Syria, an attempt is made to have the two royal families enter into “an alliance” with each other. That agreement consists of a marriage. Around 252 BC Antiochus II divorces his wife Laodice and marries Bernice, the daughter of the Egyptian king Ptolemy II.

However, this attempt to achieve peace is a catastrophe. Out of revenge Laodice has her former husband Antiochus II poisoned a few years after his marriage to Bernice. She does the same with the little son from that marriage. Afterwards Bernice flees with a few faithful to a city near Antioch. Seleucus II, the son of Laodice, follows her there, takes her into the city and kills Bernice and her entourage. During this time also Ptolemy II, the father of Bernice, dies.

Now that we know the history, we can fill in the following names in Dan 11:6b:

“But she” – Bernice – “will not retain her position of power,” (that is, she has to flee) “nor will he” – Antiochus II – “remain with his power, but she” – Bernice – “will be given up, along with those who brought her in,” (the faithful who followed her) “and the one who sired her” – Ptolemy – “as well as he who supported her in [those] times” – Antiochus II.

The King of the South

(Dan 11:7) Ptolemy III Euergetes takes over the reign of his father Ptolemy II. As Bernice’s brother – he is “one of the descendants of her line”, that is, from the same family – he wants to avenge her. He mobilizes a powerful army and defeats the king of the North Seleucus II in a series of battles. Ptolemy III also conquered the Syrian fortress Seleukeia.

(Dan 11:8-9) When Ptolemy III returns to Egypt, he takes a huge booty with him. This booty consists of immeasurable treasures, countless sanctuaries and idols. He is also transporting a large number of prisoners from Syria, who have taken a prominent place there. After that, there are a few years of rest without a battle between Syria and Egypt.

(Dan 11:10) The two sons of the king of Syria, Seleucus II, Seleucus III and his brother Antiochus III, want to continue the war against Egypt. They recruit masses of mercenaries to mobilize a huge and war-qualified army.

In the second part of the verse it suddenly concerns only one of the sons. This is because Seleucus III is killed by poisoning around 223 BC. Therefore, what follows further in the description refers only to Antiochus III. Around the years 221, 219 and 218 BC he attacks Egypt three times and crosses the border.

(Dan 11:11-13) During the third offensive of Antiochus III, in which he also conquered part of the land of Israel, a special outburst of wrath from Egypt occurs. Ptolemy IV strikes back and defeats Antiochus III about 217 BC in the decisive battle of Raffia near Gaza. This conquest gives him a great multitude of the enemy in his hands.

This great victory makes him proud. However, he does not know how to exploit the “fall” of “tens of thousands” to strengthen his power. He simply lets Antiochus III move away with what is left of his army. Antiochus III can therefore recover from his defeat at Raffia. Thus, “after an interval of some years” i.e. sixteen years later (Dan 11:13), he can start a new attack on Egypt. The army which he then has is larger than the previous one. Also materially he is very well equipped.

(Dan 11:14) The time Antiochus III chooses to start a new offensive against Egypt is well chosen. The king of the South has to deal with revolt in his country. Egypt is weakened by internal unrest and the fight for the throne.

Then all of a sudden there is the question of “the violent ones among your people”. “Your people” is the people of Daniel, Israel. Here we hear for the first time in this chapter about God’s people. In Israel, which falls under the authority of Egypt, some of the Jews enter into an alliance with Syria against Ptolemy V, the son and successor of Ptolemy IV. These are “the violent ones” from Israel.

They will revolt against the king of the South, but will stumble, that is, they will not succeed and die. Their uprising contributes to the confirmation of the vision. Here again we have to deal with what man does in his responsibility on the one hand and that God uses this to fulfill His plans on the other hand, while not reducing man’s responsibility to the slightest extent.

We must understand that Israel, which lies between the two warring parties, is always involved in this war. Israel is the area where many a war between the two countries was fought. They are alternately dominated by Syria and Egypt, depending on who emerged as the winner. The suffering that all this has brought for Israel has been great.

The King of the North

(Dan 11:15) The king of the North, Antiochus III, wins a great victory over Egypt around 198 BC. The commander of the Egyptian army, who had repelled an attack by Antiochus III years earlier, flees to Sidon. Antiochus III chases him and takes over the city after a siege. Antiochus III drives back to their country the special forces of the king of the South who came up to break through the siege. They have no strength to hold out.

(Dan 11:16) Antiochus III is supreme. He can do whatever he wants. No one is able to stop him. At that time he subdues all Israel, “the Beautiful Land ” (cf. Dan 8:9), to himself. From that moment on, Israel is under Syrian rule for a long time, a rule that weighs more heavily on them than the rule of Egypt. They are under a ruler who has the power to destroy whatever he wants to destroy.

(Dan 11:17) Around 194 BC Antiochus III tries to gain Syrian influence in Egypt by means of a marriage. He gives Ptolemy V his daughter Cleopatra to be his wife. Antiochus III promises to give her a few countries as a gift, including Israel. The further course of history makes the plans to increase his power fail, among other things, because Cleopatra immediately after her marriage takes the side of her husband.

(Dan 11:18) An area to which Antiochus III then sets his mind is “the coastlands”, of which he “captures many”. This relates to the conquest of a large part of the Greek islands. However, because of his greed for conquest to the west, Antiochus incurs the wrath of the Romans. “A commander” of the emerging Roman empire stops this king of the North. In 190 BC Antiochus III is completely defeated by the Roman commander Lucius Scipio in the decisive battle of Magnesia in Asia Minor. He must withdraw from Greece.

He is forced to give up all the elephants, pay a high war compensation and also give twenty hostages. Among these hostages is his younger son, who later becomes significant and known by the name Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The Romans also impose a very high annual tax on him.

With a remnant of his defeated army Antiochus III then returns to his country. All his pride, fame and ambition have been dragged through the mud. He must accept to be defamed, without any possibility of retaliation for what has been done to him.

(Dan 11:19) In order to pay the high taxes imposed on him, Antiochus III robs the fortresses and temples of his own country. When he wants to plunder the temple in Elymaic in 187 BC, the population revolted against him. Enraged the crowds come to defend their sanctuary and kill their king.

(Dan 11:20) After the death of Antiochus III his son Seleucus IV takes possession of the Syrian throne. Through his tax collector Heliodorus he demands high taxes in order to pay the imposed taxes to the Romans. For this he also sends him to Jerusalem to take the temple treasures.

“Within a few days”, i.e. twelve years, of rule (while his father has ruled for thirty-five years), Seleucus IV is killed. This does not happen through the wrath of an angry mob or through war, but through poisoning by his own tax collector Heliodorus. The latter hopes to gain power himself through this.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

(Dan 11:21) However, after the death of Seleucus IV power does not come into the hands of Heliodorus, but into the hands of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This man is one of the greatest enemies of God's people about whom is written in the Old Testament. He is released by the Romans and returned to his country. The kingship is not something that awaits him. The sons of his brother Seleucus IV, Demetrius and Antiochus, are the first right-holders to the throne. Yet Antiochus IV knows to seize the kingdom by flattering and played friendliness. Heliodorus also has to give way to him.

(Dan 11:22) Everything that stands in the way of this conqueror Antiochus IV Epiphanes, any opposition, is removed by him. Nothing can hinder him in his progress. The “prince of the covenant” is the high priest Onias III who was deposed by Antiochus IV in 175 BC and sent away into exile (“flooded away”). In 171 BC Onias III is murdered (“shattered”).

(Dan 11:23) In Jerusalem exists an orthodox party which is apostate from Judaism and which is Hellenistic minded. This party is led by Jason, the brother of Onias III. The party’s influence in Israel is strong. Thereby they manage to make an alliance with Antiochus IV Epiphanes. They want to introduce pagan lifestyles in Israel and hope that this will make their communal life with other nations more peaceful and pleasant. But the exact opposite happens! The initial kindness of the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes stands for nothing but lies and deceit.

After completing his first campaign against Egypt, Antiochus Epiphanes travels home through Israel on his way back. There he goes to Jerusalem to establish his power in that city, because when he is in Egypt, there is great military unrest in this city. The Jews have to pay for that! Although he has only few people, he takes the city without difficulty. The Hellenistic minded party of the Jews open the doors for him. Once in the city Antiochus plunders the temple and causes a horrible massacre.

(Dan 11:24) Antiochus IV Epiphanes plunders Israel more than his ancestors had done. The members of the Hellenistic party of the Jews supporting him are rewarded by him with gifts and the granting of jobs. Greek officers and civil servants also benefit from his booty. The fortified city of Jerusalem has suffered indescribably from his atrocities. But to their consolation it is added that this suffering will not always continue. We know that God has determined its time.

(Dan 11:25-26) The events described in Dan 11:25-27 are before the events described in Dan 11:23b-24. The events of Dan 11:23b-24 take place in the time from 175 BC. In Dan 11:25 we are back in the year 170 BC. In his thirst for expansion of his empire Antiochus Epiphanes starts in that year with a large army the so-called ‘Sixth Syrian War’ against “the king of the South”, that is Egypt. At that moment his still underaged nephew Ptolemy VI is sitting on the throne of Egypt. That seems to Antiochus Epiphanes a favorable opportunity to expand his empire.

Ptolemy tries to stop the aggressor with an extremely large and mighty army, but loses the battle. He tries to flee, but fails to escape from his uncle. The city of Alexandria, which in contrast to a great part of Egypt cannot be conquered by Antiochus Epiphanes, surprisingly proclaims the younger brother of Ptolemy VI as king. These are the plans that are devised against Ptolemy by those “who eat his choice food”. They will “destroy him”. This internal betrayal is the cause of his defeat.

(Dan 11:27) When the two kings, Antiochus Epiphanes and Ptolemy, sit together at the table after the war won by Antiochus, it is as if they deal with each other in peace. Ptolemy VI negotiates a treaty with Antiochus Epiphanes, with the intention that he subjects himself, but does not abide by it. Antiochus, in turn, is out to submit to himself the whole of Egypt and therefore pretends he wants to help Ptolemy against his brother who has been proclaimed king in Alexandria. Both kings act according to their own false nature.

However, the agreements between Egypt and Syria are not achieving their goal. The reason given is that “the end is still [to come] at the appointed time”. That is to say, developments must continue because the end that God has in mind cannot yet come. It means that the time of the end of the oppression of Israel has not yet come.

(Dan 11:28) Antiochus Epiphanes leaves Egypt with an unprecedented plunder of war. He would have liked to have taken Alexandria as well, but reports of riots in Syria force him to withdraw from the war scene. His hatred of the faith in the God of the Bible is enormous. When he passes Jerusalem on his return trip, he commits the greatest atrocities there and brags the most shameful language. The objects of his hatred are those who live according to the “holy covenant” and remain faithful to God in secret. After giving free rein to his hatred of God and what is His, he returns to his country.

(Dan 11:29-30) In 168 BC Antiochus Epiphanes started a new war against Egypt. One of the reasons for this is the news of the reconciliation of his two cousins. But this attack, in contrast to the other times, is only half successful. There are “ships of Kittim” coming against him. “Ships of Kittim” seems to refer to Cyprus, but can also be understood in a broader way and then includes the countries of the Mediterranean Sea that are under the rule of the Romans. The arrival of the Romans causes the king of the north to recoil and to return. For this he must pass through Palestine. On the way he vents his rage on the remnant. At the same time he connects himself with those who forsake the holy covenant, these are the unfaithful, apostate Jews.

In history we see that when Antiochus Epiphanes and his army advance to Alexandria, he meets a Roman envoy, led by the consul Gajus Popilius Laenas. The latter hands him an ultimatum with the instruction to leave Egypt within a certain time. When the Syrian king, full of tricks and schemes, asks for time to reflect, the consul draws a circle around him in the sand with a stick and says: ‘Decide here.’ With gnashing teeth and filled with powerless anger, Antiochus Epiphanes is forced to submit to the iron and rigid will of the Roman power.

Deeply humiliated Antiochus Epiphanes returns home. On that return trip, he passes through Israel again. There he gives free rein to his anger and wrath and pours it out on the God-fearing Jews. The apostate party of the Jews, who are described as “those who forsake the holy covenant”, is again of great use to him.

(Dan 11:31) Around 167 BC Antiochus Epiphanes sent his tax collector Apollonius to Jerusalem with a powerful army. This one raids Jerusalem from a vicious ambush, plunders the city, ignites fires, murders countless Jews, has women and children – as far as they have not been able to flee – taken away, pulls down the city walls and exercises a reign of terror in Jerusalem. He turns the city of David into a fortified city and places an occupation force there.

Then the worship in the temple is abolished. This happened in December 168 BC. On pain of death, the keeping of the commandments of the Old Testament is forbidden. The burnt offering altar is renamed and called Zeus altar. In doing so, an idol of Zeus, who has facial traits of Antiochus Epiphanes, is set up.

Those Who Have Insight

(Dan 11:32) Antiochus Epiphanes tries not only through violence, but also through flattery to bring the Jews to become apostate from the God of the Bible. With those who have already shown no decisiveness about Divine revelation, he will succeed in so doing. He not only abolishes the religion of the true God, but also involves the apostate Jews.

However, there are a large number of Jews in Israel who want to remain faithful to their fathers’ God even in the greatest need. Here we meet the Maccabees. They oppose the horrific practices introduced by Antiochus Epiphanes and fight for the restoration of the temple service. The priest Mattathias, together with his five sons, resist the apostasy.

With his sons and all those who join him, he goes into the wilderness and from there fights a guerrilla war against the Syrian occupation forces and also against the apostate Jews. They also destroy, as far as possible, the idol altars. After the death of the priest Mattathias, his sons Simon and Judas decidedly continue the struggle.

The revolt of the Maccabees has a phenomenal result. The law-keeping Jews beat the Syrian armies so far back in many battles that they regain control over Jerusalem. On December 4, 164 BC, the temple is also rededicated. Its commemoration is mentioned in the New Testament (Jn 10:22).

(Dan 11:33) The law-keeping Jews, “those who have insight”, are keen to call upon the masses of the Jewish people to be faithful to the living God and His Word. In these confused times, however, very many have to pay with death for their devotion to God. The cruelest and most varied torments are inflicted upon them. “Sword” and “flame” and “captivity” and “plunder” make their lives unbearable. This situation is referred to by the author of the letter to the Hebrews in the chapter of the heroes of faith, which includes these “who have insight” (Heb 11:35b).

These “who have insight” are the Maccabees and those who help them. Much has been accomplished by them with regard to the service in the temple. They have been strengthened by God. The Hebrew word for those who have insight, maskilim, means ‘those who have got insight through education’. They have been in the school of God and are formed in wisdom and understanding. It is experience gained in practice. Wisdom is knowing by experience, knowing how to behave, especially in the end time.

Those who have insight and act are formed in secret. You don’t have to be old to have insight. Daniel is already as a young man someone with insight or understanding (Dan 1:3-6; 19-20). God begins in the end time His work of restoration among His people through those with understanding. They teach in righteousness. Those who understand are a remnant. In the great tribulation they are of great significance (Hos 14:9; Psa 107:43; Jam 3:13-18).

(Dan 11:34) The faithful Jews have, as we have seen, gained enormous military successes, although many of them in that time had to suffer and die as martyrs. “A little help” refers to these successes and also to Mattathias’ revolt. The ‘great help’ will only come when the Messiah intervenes in world affairs and establishes a worldwide rule of peace.

It is clear that the prestigious victories of the Maccabees led many unfaithful Jews to join them. This is done with insincere motives and without their hearts having become warm for the truth of the living God. These opportunists only join, because this seems the most favorable choice for them.

(Dan 11:35) Those who have insight also have to be refined and purged and made pure or white themselves. Refining is what happens with a view to their insight and purification has to do with their behavior, their appearance (cf. Pro 25:4; Mal 3:3a). The result is pure whiteness, both of the mind and of the behavior. The persecutions of that time do not in any way achieve the purpose of the Syrian power.

The faithfulness of those who have to endure martyrdom leads much more, in many cases, to a reconsideration and an even more decisive attitude towards the revealed will of God in Holy Scripture. It makes their faith even purer. Throughout the centuries and to this day, the faithfulness of the Jews in this period has become an incentive for many believers to persist in persecution and difficulties!

The second part of the verse makes it clear that the persecutions in the time of the Maccabees did not yet usher in “the end time”. The similarities with the end time are great, but after the persecutions the worldwide rule of the Lord Jesus has not yet come. Time still has to pass until the promises of the LORD in connection with the end time are fulfilled.

The Antichrist and His Religion

(Dan 11:36) In this verse a leap is made to the end time, that is to say that the events described from this verse will have their full and real fulfilment in the end time. The expression “the king” without addition appears here for the first time in this chapter. Previously, there has always been talk of the king of the South or of the North. “The king” is still Antiochus Epiphanes. However, the term “the king” is used here because from this verse on he is clearly a type of the antichrist. What is said here about Antiochus Epiphanes, in reality applies in the full sense to the antichrist.

If we look at what is said in this verse and we know somewhat the character of the antichrist, we see how these things apply fully to him. To some extent what is said here is also true of Antiochus Epiphanes, but we have seen that he was forced by the Romans to retreat. We don’t see anything like that with the antichrist. The antichrist acts at his own discretion. This means that he acts completely independently and of self will. God is not mentioned at all. He is ignored.

The second characteristic of the antichrist is that he exalts himself and magnifies himself above every god. He does not tolerate anyone else being given honor other than himself. After ignoring God, he puts God aside and makes himself god instead of God. The third is that he speaks monstrous things against the supreme, and only, true God. Here he defies God. What Paul writes about the antichrist to the Thessalonians corresponds to what we read here in Daniel about “the king” (2Thes 2:3-4; Rev 13:11-18).

It seems that no one can stop him in his wickedness and silence him. It seems that he can go on doing his business undisturbed. But God’s judgment on him will come at the time appointed by God. The antichrist will be able to go his own way until what God has decided about His people is fulfilled. The wrath mentioned here is the wrath of God over His people because of their idolatry and the rejection of His Son. The antichrist is just like Antiochus Epiphanes a rod of discipline in the hand of God which he uses in His wrath (cf. Isa 10:5).

(Dan 11:37) This verse is also about Antiochus Epiphanes, but above that it is about the antichrist. The antichrist is a Jew, but he does not heed the God of his fathers. By “the desire of women” is meant the Messiah, of Whom every Jewish woman wished to become the mother. So he also ignores God’s Messiah, because he will present himself as such. It is only about him. He claims all honor for himself. Once again it is emphasized that he sees himself as a god. He demands the upper place and tolerates no one beside him, let alone above him.

(Dan 11:38) While on the one hand he tolerates no one above or beside him and wants to be the only object of worship himself, he himself also has an object of worship. His homage goes out to “a god of fortresses”. This refers to his military power. This god his fathers did not know, for they relied on God and not on their military strength.

The antichrist worships his military power as a god. That is his strength. He relies on that. This makes him the master of the surrounding hostile countries. In order to provide this god with the necessary supplies, he invests in it with all valuable materials. He has the technological knowledge and buys what is necessary to equip himself with the most advanced weapons.

(Dan 11:39) Besides his own military apparatus, the antichrist also receives support from the autocrat of the restored Western Roman empire, the united Europe, with whom he will forge an alliance. As we have already seen, this will prove to be a covenant with death (Dan 9:27; Isa 28:15a). He will reward all those who defend his politics. They will be given a considerable position in which they can exercise power over others.

To his faithful followers he “will parcel out land”, which is Israel, as a reward for their complicity. Only those who openly engage in idolatry and acknowledge the antichrist can buy and sell (Rev 13:16-17). The most loyal servants receive great rewards. As far as the application of the end time is concerned, we now find ourselves in the second half of the last year-week.

The Future King of the North

(Dan 11:40) History continues here. The king of the South will collide with “him”, that is the king of the previous verses. When we think of “him”, we first think of Antiochus Epiphanes as the king of the North. But even more clearly than can be seen in the previous verses, we see here that it is about the end time, because in this verse we read that it is about an event “at the end time”.

In Dan 11:36-39, the characteristics mentioned there, we see the clear parallel between Antiochus Epiphanes and the antichrist. It is worth recalling that Dan 11:36 refers to “the king” and that up to and including Dan 11:39 it is always about “the king”, without the addition “of the North” which is always used in the verses before. The thought of “the king of the North” has therefore faded and disappeared into the background, leaving room to think of the antichrist.

As a type of the antichrist Antiochus Epiphanes has made the religion of the Jews a religion of apostasy of God. With this he has brought the apostate masses to a worship of the dictator of the restored Western Roman empire for whom he has erected an idolatrous image in the temple. The antichrist is the enemy inside of the people of God.

From Dan 11:40 onwards, however, there is again talk of “the king of the North”, but now explicitly linked to the end time. This means that we should no longer think here of the historic Antiochus Epiphanes, but of someone who in the end time will behave like the enemy from outside of the Jewish people. Here Antiochus Epiphanes is seen from a different angle. He is not only the religious enemy of the Jews, he is also their political enemy. As the king of the North, he is out to wipe Israel from the face of the earth.

That is what we have before us in Dan 11:40-45. In it we no longer see the historical Antiochus Epiphanes, but the future king of the North. This person will, as we have seen in the antichrist, perform entirely in the spirit of the historic Antiochus Epiphanes.

The reason for the revelation of his enmity against the Jewish people is an attack by the king of the South on “him”, the king of the North. It may also be that “him” means the antichrist. In any case, the initiative for this confrontation between the two kings in the end time comes from the king of the South. Any movement of the king of the South in the direction of the king of the North will be seen by the king of the North as a declaration of war.

The king of the North will mobilize his armies and also deploy his fleet and with a great display of power attack Egypt. He will also visit other countries and tie them to his triumph chariot. He will “overflow” these countries like an overwhelming flood (cf. Isa 8:7-8; Isa 10:22; Isa 28:17; Dan 9:27).

(Dan 11:41-43) In his bellicose actions in reaction to the attack of Egypt Syria will, besides many countries, also enter the land of Israel, which here is called “the Beautiful Land” (cf. Dan 8:9; Dan 11:16; Eze 20:6). Three countries, however, will escape the king of the North’s desire to conquer: Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon. These countries are located in the area of present-day Jordan.

One reason these countries do not come under the power of the king of the North may be that God will judge these old enemies Himself. He will then do so by the God-fearing who are in the land (Isa 11:13-14). In this way God ensures that the former enemies of Israel receive their rightful retribution from the hands of the people they have tried to resist and disadvantage.

The king of the North then moves further south to attack Egypt. Unlike the three countries just mentioned, Egypt will not escape the grip of the king of the North. Egypt has great material wealth because of the country’s natural resources and also because this country has become the major center of western and eastern trade in that part of the world. Of all this wealth, the king of the North takes hold. Libya and Cush (or Ethiopia), Egypt’s southern allies, will share in the fate of Egypt and will be subjected to his power by the king of the North.

(Dan 11:44-45) While the king of the North is waging war, he hears rumors from the East and from the North. What these rumors are is not entirely clear. However, there are some indications as to what these rumors might be. We read elsewhere about “the kings from the east” (Rev 16:12). There is also something to be said for the suggestion that the rumors from the east are caused by the return of the fled remnant into the land driving back the occupying forces (Zec 12:4-6; Joel 3:11; Mic 5:4-8; Zec 10:3; 5-6a).

The rumors from the North can be attributed to the arrival of allies, who are rushing to Israel’s aid. We can think of the armies of the restored Western Roman empire, that is, the united Europe, which will come to the aid of their ally Israel and enter the land from the north. The armies of the united Europe will advance to Har-Magedon (Rev 16:16).

They believe they are going in their own power, but it is the mysterious power of God that leads them there to judge them there. Har-Magedon is a plain in the north of Israel, a plain that is very suitable for a great battle. What will be presented by the news media as a relief operation for the threatened Israel, is in reality an advance to wage war against the Lamb (Rev 19:19).

Because of these rumors, the king of the North will interrupt his triumphal march in the south. Roaring with rage, he will return to Israel to beat down the uprising that is going on there. He will spare nothing and no one. He intends to destroy many and neutralize them.

Then we read that he “will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion”, which is his headquarters, “between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain”. The king of the North will establish his headquarters “between the seas” – meaning the Mediterranean Sea, which in the Hebrew is called “seas” as a designation for “the great sea” – and the “Holy Mountain” – that is the temple mountain in Jerusalem.

When he besieges Jerusalem for the second time in this way, the need of the faithful remnant will come to a climax. They suffer enormous losses from the antichrist in the land and they are now also threatened by the king of the North. They share this last threat, the threat from outside, and the resulting battle with the godless masses. The faithful remnant has a double enemy to endure: one inside, the antichrist, and one outside, the king of the North.

But if the need is greatest, for the remnant the salvation and for the godless masses the final judgment is near. Salvation comes from the air, for this is the moment when the Lord Jesus comes to earth and puts His feet on the Mount of Olives (Zec 14:3-4). Then He kills the king of the North. It is not said in so many words here. It says simply and therefore penetratingly: “Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.” He who has been so boasting of his strength and thought he could do anything he wants, is killed without anyone standing up for him. No one is able to avert his judgment.

The fact that the future king of the North is killed near Jerusalem is further proof that it cannot be the historical Antiochus Epiphanes. According to non-biblical history, this historical figure was not killed in Jerusalem, but died of a disease in Persia.

© 2022 Author G. de Koning

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