Prophecies of Daniel 11, Part 2
In the first part in this series, we introduced the contents of Daniel chapter eleven and began to flesh things out. After providing some background information, we began our exegesis of Daniel 11 with verse two. If you have not read that article, we would recommend that you do so before reading this. You can locate it here.
Note that Daniel 11:2 is extremely accurate in its representation of history that was yet in the future from the prophet Daniel’s perspective. Liberal scholars, while agreeing with the accuracy of this chapter, argue that it is so accurate because it was written by someone who simply called himself “Daniel” but actually lived after the events occurred. In that case, it was simply a matter of writing down what had already taken place, but implying that the events were still in the future. In either case, the point is that the events of Daniel 11 are very accurate historically.
Verse two focuses on the four Persian kings that were to come after the current king (Darius/Cyrus) ruled. The prophet Daniel was alive during Darius’ rule, but the angelic messenger came to Daniel to explain to him and show him things from the “writing of truth,” (Daniel 10:21), a reference many conservative scholars take to mean not only all of what ultimately became the Bible, but all truth beyond it, that we are not yet privy to knowing. Clearly, what the angel shared with Daniel was from the writing of truth that had not yet been revealed.
In our first article, we noted who the four Persian kings to come after Darius/Cyrus were and ended our article with the demise of Xerxes I, who attacked Greece and the eventual rise of Alexander the Great. The first thing that Alexander the Great did as ruler was to conquer, incorporate, and enlarge the previous Persian Empire.
In the maps shown, we can see that while the Persian Empire was fairly large for its time, Alexander conquered nearly all of it and then added to it. He did this in an incredibly short period of time, roughly five years (334 to 330 BC). As an aside, Alexander the Great’s Grecian Empire is referenced in Daniel 2 (Bronze), Daniel 7 (winged leopard), Daniel 8 (goat), and here in Daniel 11:3-4.
“3 And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases. 4 But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and given to others besides them.”
The mighty king here is Alexander the Great. He essentially did what he pleased and that meant attacking and conquering the Persian Empire. No one could stop him. Only death halted his rule and as we learn in verse 4, he no sooner conquers and gains a kingdom that was larger than the previous Persian Empire, then he dies in his early thirties (332 BC). It is amazing how some are allowed by God to rise above the rest in order to rule and in Alexander’s case, even though no other man could seemingly stop him, God had already determined the day he would die.
Following Alexander’s death, because he had no living heirs (his two sons had both been murdered when they were very young), his empire was split up among four of his generals and this is noted in verse 4 above. Because Alexander died, his authority died with him and even though his generals tried to keep Alexander’s Grecian Empire alive, they eventually lost their hold on it and the Grecian Empire was eventually swallowed up by the Romans.
Upon Alexander’s death, the following four generals too control of specific areas.
- Cassander – Macedonia-Greece
- Lysimachus – Thrace-Asia Minor
- Seleucus – remainder of Asia except lower Syria and Palestine
- Ptolemy – Egypt and Palestine
We then learn more about the ruler who is referred to as the “king of the south.”
“5 Then the king of the South will grow strong, along with one of his princes who will gain ascendancy over him and obtain dominion; his domain will be a great dominion indeed.”
It might be a good time to ask why God has chosen to become so detailed with this chapter of Daniel. I believe it is due to several reasons. First, it proves that God clearly designs or knows history well ahead of time. I would argue that God designs it while still allowing for an individual’s free will to come into play. I truly do not understand exactly how that works (do you?), but suffice it to say that God is in control because His purposes will be accomplished. This is in spite of humanity’s so-called free will. Second, I believe in this particular section, we are going to learn more about a man named Antiochus Epiphanes IV who, as it turns out, is a type of Antichrist. Rather than God simply introducing Antiochus without allowing us to see the way in which he came to power during his day, there would be a great many questions and quite possibly, even doubt. People can still choose to doubt of course, but the reality is that with all the historical facts presented, it’s difficult to ignore them.
According to historians, the king of the south in this passage is Ptolemy I Soter (323-285 B.C.) and, according to Dr. Thomas Constable, was “one of Alexander’s most powerful generals, who proclaimed himself king of Egypt in 304 B.C.” Soter is referred to here as the “king of the south” in relation to Israel. Egypt lies essentially south of Israel and we need to remember that as far as God is concerned, Israel is the center of this world (cf. Ezekiel 5:5). In fact, according to Ezekiel, Jerusalem is the exact center. So when directions like this are provided (king of the south or king of the north), it is almost always in relation to Israel and Jerusalem.
We’ll pick this up next time with Soter and see where the Bible takes us from there. Join me then!
Entry filed under: Religious - Christian - Prophecy.