posted on Apr, 22 2013 @ 05:04 PM
The reign of Alexander is one of the key departure points in the book of Daniel.
In at least three different places, the visions are depicting how he overcame the Persian empire with astonishing speed, and how his realm was divided
after his death into approximately four kingdoms.
In ch7, Alexander is a winged leopard with four heads.
In ch8, he’s a goat, moving so fast that his feet don’t touch the ground, and with a single horn later replaced by four.
In ch11 v3, he is the “mighty king” of the Greeks who responds to the provocation of the Persians, and whose dominion is “divided towards the
four winds of heaven”, not passing to his own family.
Most of the rest of ch11 is describing the sequel to that history, making this thread the sequel to my thread on “Daniel’s Greece and
As in the earlier case, the question is whether these are also clues to events which might take place in later times.
As in the earlier case, I’m a little agnostic on the point, but would argue that anyone wanting to use the visions in that way would need to pay
close attention to the guidance offered by the parallels in ancient history.
“The king of the north” and “the king of the south” are both defined as relative to Judah.
Therefore “the south” is Egypt, while “the north” is the power based in Syria.
v5; The first “king of the south” is Ptolemy, the general who was left by Alexander in charge of Egypt. The other figure in this verse is
Seleucus, one of the “princes”, or subordinates, of Alexander. The realm which fell to his control through the wars of succession was much greater
than Egypt, stretching between the Mediterranean and the Himalayas. It did not, though, include Palestine, which remained in Ptolemy’s power. The
story that follows is really about what happens to the control of Palestine.
v6; The “alliance” described in this verse took place a generation later. The “daughter of the king of the south” is Berenice, daughter of
Ptolemy II, son of the first of that name. In 253 B.C. , as part of a grand diplomatic scheme, he persuaded Antiochus II, grandson of Seleucus, to put
aside his wife Laodice and marry Berenice instead.
However, “he and his offspring shall not endure”. Both kings died, a few years later. Laodice was a “masterful woman” (Cambridge Ancient
History), and she managed to launch a civil war to support her son’s claim to the throne. The war went against Berenice- “she shall not retain the
strength of her arm”. Modern history knows that “somehow Berenice and her son were murdered”. The writer of Daniel seems to know a more
circumstantial story; she, and her attendants, and her child were all “given up”, which implies some kind of betrayal
v7; Meanwhile, her brother Ptolemy III, the “branch from her roots”, was invading from the south, originally coming to her support. He entered the
“fortress” of Antioch, and his armies got as far as the Tigris before receding. Presumably this is when he “carried back to Egypt” the
various images and precious vessels that he found. The “king of the north” whose raid is mentioned in v9 would have to be Seleucus II, the son of
Laodice, who was successful in gaining the throne.
v10; The next great war came in the reign of Antiochus III, known as “the Great”, the son of Seleucus II. In 218 B.C., he got his armies far
enough south to occupy Samaria. In the following year, he brought a great army down to the frontier town of Raphia, just south of Gaza- “His sons
shall assemble a multitude of great forces …and carry the war as far as his ( the king of Egypt’s) fortress.”
v11; In response to this, the current “king of the south”, Ptolemy IV, ”moved with anger”, brought out his own army. The battle of Raphia was
a very decisive victory for the Egyptians. Knowing that history helps us to disentangle the confusing ambiguity of “he” and “his” that we find
“He (Antiochus) will raise a great multitude, but it will be given into his (Ptolemy’s) hand. And when the multitude (of Antiochus) is taken ,
then his (Ptolemy’s) heart will be exalted and he shall cast down tens of thousands.”
v13; However, “he shall not prevail”, because Antiochus III came back to the south “after many years”. The opportunity came in 203 B.C., when
Ptolemy IV died, leaving a child on the throne as Ptolemy V. There were revolts and anarchy within Egypt (“many shall rise against the king of the
south”), apparently including the “men of violence” amongst the Jews, hoping to “fulfil the vision” of an independent kingdom.
Therefore war was resumed. Antiochus III raised “a great army and abundant supplies”. At the battle of Panion, he overcame the armies of Egypt,
where there was “no strength to stand”. He besieged and captured the “well-fortified city” of Sidon. The most important result, from
Daniel’s viewpoint, is that he took control of “the glorious land”; Judah, that is, the dwelling-place of God’s glory.
v17; In making peace with Egypt, he persuaded Ptolemy V to marry his daughter Cleopatra, the first of many Egyptian ladies of that name. The intention
of this marriage is described as “the destruction of the kingdom”. Antiochus must have hoped it would give him the control of Egypt, and, but that
particular expectation was frustrated.
v18; Then he turned his attentions to the “coastlands” of Asia Minor and Greece, The “commander” who put an end to his insolence was the Roman
Consul Scipio, the victor at the battle of Magnesia.
vv!9-20; “He shall stumble and not be found”. Antiochus was killed, and succeeded by Seleucus IV, the “exactor of tribute”, who was trying to
re-fill the royal treasury. Seleucus himself died “within a few days” (that is, twelve years later), “neither in anger nor in battle”, but
assassinated by his own chief minister.
v21. The outcome was that a younger brother of Seleucus returned to the kingdom and took control, thanks to an army supplied by the king of Pergamum.
This is the man described by Daniel as “a contemptible person to whom royal authority has not been given; he shall come in without warning and
obtain the kingdom by flatteries”.
That is to say, the man known to history as king Antiochus Epiphanes, the main subject of the rest of the chapter.
What’s the intention of this history?
Anyone who wants to take these events as a more detailed prophecy, and match them against later events, should be aware of a couple of important
One is that the kings of the north and south are defined relative to Judah, which stands as a frontier province between them, and their struggle is
about the control of Judah. That’s the whole point of the story. This is not easy to match with current politics, where Israel is an independent
The other principle is that both states are fragments of the realm of Alexander, which suddenly replaced a previous empire. Therefore it would be
important to identify some equivalent of the “Alexander event”. If that event is still in the future, then the history of the “fragments”
would still be in the future as well, and it would be pointless to try to follow it in the present.
However, the first purpose of this history is evidently that it points towards the king at the end of the chapter and confirms his identity as the
infamous Antiochus Epiphanes.
If the end of the chapter points beyond that king to a king of later times, then this history will have the further purpose of identifying the later
king as one like Antiochus Epiphanes, cut from the same cloth.
Maybe that’s enough.