Prophecies of Daniel 11, Part 5
In our previous post in this series, Part 4, we zeroed in on verses up to verse 9 of Daniel 11. There’s plenty more to go in that chapter so let’s get to it!
Daniel 11:10 reads as follows:
“10 “His sons will mobilize and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one of them will keep on coming and overflow and pass through, that he may again wage war up to his very fortress.”
“His sons” here refers to the sons of Seleucus II. “Seleucus III Ceraunus (sometimes called Soter, 226-223 B.C.), succeeded his father upon his death in 227 B.C. However, Seleucus III himself died not many years later in 223 B.C., and his brother, Antiochus III the Great (223-187 B.C.), became king of the North,” (Constable’s Notes on Daniel, p. 132).
Isn’t this a fascinating narrative? It reads like any soap opera type of novel that could be produced. Seleucus III and Antiochus III had both intended to restore Syrian’s former glory. To that end, Selecus III invaded Asia Minor with Antiochus III attempting to conquer Egypt. Thought Antiochus failed in his attempted attack on Egypt, he was successful in conquering Israel, which served to push Syria’s southern border way to the south (and then included Israel). This occurred during his campaign during the years 219 to 217 BC.
In essence then, Antiochus III was successful in taking part of Egypt’s empire, which up to that point, came northward to the southern border of Syria. With newly gained control of Israel, the border was effectively pushed southward toward Egypt.
Daniel 11:11 reads…
“The king of the South will be enraged and go forth and fight with the king of the North. Then the latter will raise a great multitude, but that multitude will be given into [t]the hand of the former.”
The meaning of verse 11 becomes clear if we understand what occurred just before it. After Antiochus III essentially gains control over Israel, expanding Syria’s borders while diminishing Egypt’s, the king of the South (Ptolemy IV Philopator, 222-203 B.C.), didn’t simply sit still. He fought back by attempting to regain what had been taken by Antiochus III. To this end, Ptolemy IV “attacked Antiochus III on the southern borders of Israel, specifically at Raphia in 217 B.C. Initially he was successful.”
Historians tell us that due to this attack by Ptolemy, “Antiochus lost his entire army and was almost captured as he fled to the desert.”
Daniel 11:12 tells us more about what happened (would happen from Daniel’s perspective).
“When the multitude is carried away, his heart will be lifted up, and he will cause tens of thousands to fall; yet he will not prevail.“
Pride often goes before a fall. Ptolemy, in routing Antiochus III and essentially destroying/capturing his entire army, thought he had victory in the bag. His pride caused his downfall by lowering his guard. Ptolemy essentially stopped pushing his advantage and even though historians tell us that he gained control of Palestine, he ultimately lost the battle here.
Daniel 11:13 fills us in on the rest of the story.
“For the king of the North will again raise a greater multitude than the former, and after an interval of some years he will press on with a great army and much equipment.“
The scene now switches back to Antiochus III (king of the North) and we see that because he was not chased down after his escape from Ptolemy III, he was able to gather a greater force of military men and ultimately returned to fight Ptolemy another day. Before he did though, history tells us that he gained strength and momentum by attacking places to the east and north of Syria. By 203 B.C., “Antiochus III returned with a much larger army and repulsed the Egyptians, who were then under the rule of the child king, Ptolemy V Epiphanes (203-181 B.C.). Antiochus was able to retake Palestine as far south as Gaza.”
Are you fascinated yet? Remember, when all of this was revealed to the prophet Daniel and ultimately became the 11th chapter of his book that we read today, none of this had happened yet. It was all in Daniel’s future. God was letting Daniel (and us) into some future secrets. God was explaining to Daniel what would go down in the future and God wasn’t doing this just because He could. He was revealing these things to Daniel because God wanted Daniel to know how all of these battles, skirmishes, and machinations would affect Israel. That was the key.
Unfortunately for Israel, they happened to be right smack in the middle of all the problems between the king of the South and the king of the North. It is clear that even so, God offered a great deal in the way of protection for Israel even in spite of their rebellious nature and penchant for wandering away from God. This was His grace, His mercy, His love for a people that He created, who didn’t seem to care all that much about God or His plans.
Daniel 11:14 really starts a new paragraph, but let’s go ahead and have a look at verse 14 and then will pick it up with verse 15 with our next article in this series.
“Now in those times many will rise up against the king of the South; the violent ones among your people will also lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they will fall down.“
Things are not looking good for the king of the South (Egypt). It seems everyone wants a piece of him and his kingdom. We now see – according to historical fact – that the Macedonians and the Jews themselves joined with Antiochus III against Ptolemy V and Egypt itself. Why did the Jews throw their lot in with Antiochus III? According to Constable, “Evidently some of the politically zealous Jews believed that they could gain more freedom if Antiochus III succeeded, but that did not happen.”
This is the problem with getting involved in something over politics. You never know how it’s going to turn out. These Jews were putting their trust in some political figure, the king of the North to help them. The problem of course, is that they should have been turning instead to their own God, but didn’t. They trusted in themselves and were bitten on the backside for their troubles. Had they sought God, repented of their rebellion, submitted themselves to Him and His ways, things would have undoubtedly turned out differently. I think this same thing applies to Christians. Instead of focusing on and trusting God for outcomes, we put our faith in politicians. What absolute hogwash.
Then again, at least part of the reason all this continues to happen to Israel is due to the fact that they failed to obey God in the first place. When they should have been observing the Sabbatical Year cycles, allowing the Land to lie fallow and forgiving debts every 7th year, they ignored it. In fact, they failed to observe 70 Sabbatical Years. Since a Sabbatical Year happens every seven years, the Israelites actually spent 490 years not observing any Sabbatical Year cycles.
God had warned and warned the rebel nation of Israel what would befall them if they continued ignoring the Sabbatical Year cycle. They ignored the warnings so God used Nebuchadnezzar to attack and conquer Jerusalem. He also took many Israelites captive to Babylon (including Daniel and his friends). Israel would be held captive for 70 years, one year for each Sabbatical Year cycle they failed to observe. But as we learn in Daniel 9, there was going to be more that Israel would have to suffer through. In fact, there would be an additional 490 years beyond the first set of 70 years of captivity. Even though Jews were released from captivity at the end of the 70 years and allowed to return to Jerusalem, Israel itself (and especially Jerusalem and the Temple Mount area) would be trampled under foot by Gentile nations for a total of 490 years to come!
Everything revealed to Daniel in Daniel 11 (as well as other chapters) is done because of the connection those events have with Israel. We’ll be back next time with more from Daniel 11.