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Daniel 11:2-35

Study of the Book of Daniel:

How to Be Strong and Do Exploits

Life B-P Church Worship I & II, 11th June 2017

Text: Daniel 11:2-35


·         In 536 BC the first group of Jews had already returned from exile (Ezra 1:1-3) but Daniel remained in Babylon. Although the captivity had ended, it was not the end of their sorrows yet.

·         Daniel had been mourning and fasting for three weeks (vv.2,3). He probably received news that the temple building project had been stalled by opposition (Ezra 4:5,24).

·         The answer from God was that Israel would have to face even more intense persecution and opposition in the future, but despite all that, God is still in full control.



The Prophetic Revelation compared with Historic Fulfilment

·         Persian Kings after Cyrus: (529-335 BC, v.2) Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis and Darius I Hystaspes. The fourth king was Xerxes I who launched an unsuccessful invasion of Greece in 480 BC.

·         Alexander the Great and the four Greek kings after him: (335-323 BC, vv.3,4)
Ptolemy (Egypt); Seleucus (Syria); Cassander (Greece); Lysimachus (Turkey)

·         Israel was first under Egypt’s control but was later under Syria.
Verses 5-35 describe the political affairs of these two kingdoms (323-176 BC).
See table overleaf for details (Source: The Unfolding Drama of Redemption
by W. Graham Scroggie, volume 2, pages 18-25).

·         Antiochus IV Epiphanes (176-164 BC, v.21) Cf. 8:9 - “a little horn”; 8:23 - “a king of fierce countenance”) He was frustrated when he attempted to control Egypt (vv.29,30) and vented his fury on the Jews (v.31 cf. 9:27).

·         The Maccabees led the Jews to revolt against him. Jerusalem was liberated from the Greeks and the Temple was purified (165 BC, v.32).


The Main Lesson

·         How can we be strong enough to resist the tide of sin and ungodliness?
“…the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”

·         How well do you know your God? (Cf. John Calvin’s devotional life, 1509-1564)

·         Will you be used of God to accomplish His sovereign will for this present age?



2.    Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia;

Cambyses, B.C. 529-522.Pseudo-Smerdis  B.C. 522-521.

Darius Hystaspes, B.C. 521-485.

      and the fourth shall be far richer than they all;

Xerxes, B.C. 485-465.

      and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.

In 480 at Thermopylae he defeated a small army of Greeks. In 479 his army was defeated by the Greeks. At sea in 480 he was defeated in the battle of Salamis, and in 479 in the battle of Mycale.

3.    And a mighty King shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.

Nearly a century and a half later arose Alexander the Great, in B.C. 335.
He is the ‘notable horn’ on the ‘he-goat’ of Daniel 8:5-7.

4.    And when he shall stand up his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up even for others besides these.

Alexander died in B.C. 323. His kingdom was divided among his four generals. Cassander had Greece and the adjacent countries. Lysimachus had Thrace, including Asia Minor and the countries lying on the Hellespont and Bosphorus. Seleucus had Syria and Babylon. Ptolemy had Egypt and the neighbouring countries.

Fulfilled in the aggressions and conquests of the Romans.

5.    And the King of the South shall be strong and one of his (Alexander’s) princes shall be strong above him (LXX), and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.

Ptolemy Lagi (Soter) of Egypt, B.C. 323-283.

Seleucus Nicator, B.C. 312-280. He annexed Macedon and Thrace to Syria.

6.    And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the King’s daughter of the South shall come to the King of the North to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.

In B.C. 250. Ptolemy Philadelphus, the second King of Egypt, and Antiochus Theos, the third King of Syria, agreed to make peace on condition that Antiochus should put away his former wife, Laodice, and her two sons, and should marry Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy and that any child of Berenice should be the heir of Antiochus. The marriage took place but when Ptolemy died Antiochus, in B.C. 247 called back his former wife. Berenice and her young son were poisoned, and Callinicus the son of Laodice was put on the throne as Seleucus II, Callinicus, B.C. 246-226.

7.    And out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, who shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the King of the North, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail;

‘Her’ refers to the murdered Berenice, and ‘the one who shall stand up’ was her brother Ptolemy Euergetes, B.C. 247-222, who avenged her death.
He invaded the territory of Seleucus Callinicus, slew Laodice the wife of Antiochus Theos, and seized the port of Antioch.

8.    And shall also carry captive into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and gold; and he shall continue more years than the King of the North.

Ptolemy III carried to Egypt 4,000 talents of gold, 40,000 talents of silver, and 2,500 idols and idolatrous vessels, including those which Cambyses had taken to Persia nearly 300 years before.

9.    So the King of the South shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.

This may mean either that Ptolemy Euergetes successfully returned to Egypt after his invasion of the North, or that Seleucus Callinicus of the North, having unsuccessfully invaded Egypt, returned defeated to Syria.

10.  But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come and overflow and pass through; then shall he return and be stirred up even to his fortress.

This is a difficult verse. Some think that the reference is to the sons or son of the king of Egypt, Ptolemy Philopater, B.C. 222 205 but the reference is usually taken to be to the sons of Seleucus II, who were Cerannos Seleucus III, B.C. 222-205, and Antiochus the Great, B.C. 222-186, who was successful in an attack upon the South.

11.  And the King of the South shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the King of the North and he shall set forth a great multitude, but the multitude shall be given into his hand.

In the battle of Raphia in B.C. 217 Ptolemy Philopater of Egypt defeated Antiochus the Great of Syria. ‘He’ refers to Antiochus and ‘his’ to Philopater.

12.  And when he hath taken away the multitude his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands but he shall not be strengthened by it.

Philopater, had he pressed his victory, might have possessed the kingdom of Antiochus but pride and licentious indulgence prevented him from doing this, and so he was not strengthened by his victory at Raphia.

13.  For the King of the North shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.

In B.C. 203 Ptolemy Philopater having died, and his own son Epiphanes, four or five years of age, having succeeded him, Antiochus entered into an alliance with Philip III of Macedon to partition Egypt between them the Syrian king attacked Egypt with a larger army than he had had 14 years before, and one result of this was that Antiochus gained possession of all Palestine.

14.  And in those times there shall many stand up against the King of the South;

This tells of discontent and sedition in Egypt following the death of Philopater.

      also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish vision;

Almost certainly these are rebel Jews who, siding with Antiochus hoped to gain something from him.

      but they shall fall.

Polybius says that ‘Scopas’, the general of Ptolemy, ‘went in haste to the upper parts of the country, and in the winter-time overthrew the nation of the Jews’. Their apostasy caused them to stumble.

15.  So the King of the North shall come and cast up a mount and take the most fenced cities; and the arms of the South shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.

In B.C. 198 Antiochus defeated the Egyptians at Paneas, and Scopas the Egyptian general fled to Sidon, one of Egypt’s strongest fortified towns. Antiochus laid siege to the town and compelled the Egyptians to surrender.

16.  But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him; and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.

‘Him’ refers to Ptolemy, and ‘his’ to Antiochus whose victory was complete. ‘The glorious land’ is Palestine. The last clause presents a problem, because Antiochus the Great did not ‘consume’ the land; but if by ‘in his hand shall be destruction’ the ultimate result of this invasion is referred to, and the imposition of taxes and the ferocity of Antiochus Epiphanes (B.C. 175-164) the difficulty is much reduced.

17.  He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do (the latter part of this verse can also be translated: ‘and having an agreement in intention and he shall carry it out’):

      and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her (Heb. “to corrupt her”); but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.

Antiochus gathered all his forces on land and sea with a view to invading and conquering Egypt, but the Egyptians had sought and obtained the interference of the Romans, which led Antiochus to change his policy.

He exchanged force for craftiness, and proposed that his young daughter, Cleopatra, should marry the young Ptolemy Epiphanes (which took place in B.C. 198 his design being that she should work for her father against her husband. But this did not happen. On the contrary, when Scipio defeated Antiochus at Magnesia in B.C. 190, Cleopatra sent congratulations to the Romans.

18.  After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many; but a prince for his own behalf (Heb. for him) shall cause the reproach (Heb. his reproach) offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.

Antiochus turned his conquests against the isles of the Mediterranean Sea; he took possession of the dominions of Philip of Macedon, crossed into Europe and seized Thrace. The Romans demanded that he should get out of Philip’s former dominions. He refused, but a ‘prince’, Scipio of Rome, resisted him, and turned the reproach back on the Syrian’s head.

19.  Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found,

After his defeat at Magnesia Antiochus fled from fort to fort on his way back to Antioch. A heavy tax was imposed upon him by the Romans, and in order to raise the money he assaulted with an armed force by night the temple of Jove (Bel) in Elymais; but the inhabitants slew him and all his forces.

20.  Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom;

Antiochus was succeeded by his son Seleucus IV, Philopater, B.C. 187-176 He has somehow to find the taxes imposed upon his father, and it is said that he sent his treasurer Heliodorus to plunder the Temple at Jerusalem, ‘the Glory of the Kingdom’.

      but within few days he shall be destroyed neither in anger, nor in battle.

A tradition says that Heliodorus poisoned Seleucus who suddenly disappeared.

21.  And in his estate shall stand up a vile person,

This is the second son of Antiochus the Great, the brother of Seleucus Philopater, Antiochus Epiphanes, B.C. 176-164.

      whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom;

He was not the heir to the throne as his brother, the former king, had a son, Demetrius who was the rightful heir.

      but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.

He seized the throne at a time when the people were living carelessly, and by intrigue and political favour.

22.  And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.

By an overflowing army he broke all opposition. ‘The prince of the covenant’ is supposed to be the Jewish high priest Onias III whom Antiochus deposed.

23.  And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully; for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.

The reference here is uncertain. ‘Him’ may refer to Eumenes, King of Pergamus, B.C. 197-159 with whom, the historian Appian tells us, Antiochus made a league, with no intention of keeping it; or it may refer to feigned friendship on the part of Antiochus with Ptolemy VI of Egypt. To ‘come up’ means ‘to become strong’; and by ‘a small people’ would seem to mean ‘with a small force’.

24.  He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done nor his father’s fathers, he shall scatter among them the prey and spoil, and riches; yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.

‘Peaceably’, as in verse 21 and 8:25, means, probably, in the midst of security when men were living carelessly, i.e., unexpectedly. ‘The province’ may refer either to Coele-Syria and Palestine, or to Egypt. In either case it is known that Antiochus, wherever he went, scattered gifts the booty he gathered in one place he scattered in another (I Macc. 3:30). Meanwhile he was planning the invasion of Egypt; but God had limited his activities; and he was soon to be cut off.

25.  And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the King of the South with a great army; and the King of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand; for they shall forecast devices against him.

Antiochus Epiphanes made war with Ptolemy Philometor and speedily defeated his forces. He took Pelusium, advanced to Memphis and marched toward Alexandria. Ptolemy’s defeat was the result of internal intrigue including that of his brother Physcon who replaced him on the throne.

26.  Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow; and many shall fall down slain.

This continues the statement of verse 25. Treachery and intrigue caused the overthrow of Ptolemy and the defeat of his army.

27.  And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table;

The two kings referred to would appear to be Antiochus and Ptolemy Philometor, who consulted together against Physcon the brother of Philometor, how they might dethrone him. The real object of Antiochus was to possess Egypt for himself, not to replace Philometor on the throne; and the real object of Philometor was not with Antiochus to dethrone Physcon, but to unite with Physcon against Antiochus, which he did.

      but it shall not prosper; for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.

But these devices did not succeed, for they all reckoned regardless of God’s will (cf. 24, 29, 35, 40).

28.  Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.

‘He’ and ‘his’ refer to Antiochus. The event relates to the Jews. Onias III had been removed from the high priesthood by the treachery of his brother Jason, and three years later Jason was displaced by Menelaus, who had Onias murdered, and plundered the Temple. The Jews rose to defend their Sanctuary, and much confusion resulted. Jason unsuccessfully attempted to recover the high priesthood. Antiochus was in Egypt, and it was rumoured in Judaea that he was dead, which led to much rejoicing among the Jews. Antiochus heard of this and marched against the Jews and Jerusalem. Three days of wholesale massacre followed. Antiochus desecrated and robbed the Temple, and returned to Antioch (I Macc. i. 20-24; 2 Macc. v. 1-21).

29.  At the time appointed he shall return and come toward the South but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.

Antiochus again attacked Egypt, but not with the success he had the first time (24), or the second (28). The object was to break up the alliance between Philometor and Physcon,

30.  For the ships of Chittim shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant; so shall he do; he shall even return and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.

It was in B.C. 168 that Antiochus invaded Egypt the third time. The Ptolemies appealed to Rome. When Antiochus was within four miles of Alexandria he learned that a Roman fleet lay at anchor in the bay. He was met by Caius Popilius Laenas who handed him a demand from the Roman Senate to leave Egypt. Antiochus said that, with his advisers, he would consider it; whereupon Laenas drew a circle round him and said, ‘Before you step out of that circle give such an answer as I may report to the Senate’. The King replied, ‘If it so please the Senate we must depart’; so, grieved, he returned. On his way North he satiated his fury upon the Jews, making use of renegade Jews. It was at this time that he committed those outrages and massacres for which he is so justly infamous, and which have made him the type of the Antichrist (xi. 36-xii).

31.  And arms shall stand on his part; and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice,

      and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.

He shall set physical forces in motion. Antiochus forbade burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and drink offerings in the Temple at Jerusalem.

An idol-altar was built over the altar of Jehovah, upon which swine’s flesh was sacrificed. He Hellenized, i.e. made heathen of, renegade Jews.

32.  And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries;

      but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.

This refers to the uprising and resistance of the Maccabees, who beginning with Mattathias made glorious history, the most heroic in Jewish annals. The period of the Maccabees, beginning in B.C. 165 lasted nearly one hundred years. The story is told in I Maccabees.

33.  And they that understand among the people shall instruct many;

In the Maccabean crisis arose a class of pious and learned men, called Maskilim-- the understanding ones. They did not fight, but taught, throwing light upon the Messianic promises.

      yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, by spoil, many days.

The army of Antiochus attacked a multitude of Jews on the Sabbath day, a day on which the Jews would not fight, and so they fell an easy prey to their enemies (I Macc. 2:38).

34.  Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help; but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.

When success crowned the arms of Judas some joined the Maccabees who formerly were opposed to them, but their attachment was not genuine.

35.  And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end; because it is yet for a time appointed.

Judas and his successors were not always faithful, and many fell in battle and persecution, but their trials wrought their purification, and the evil days were not to last for ever; there was a God-appointed ‘time of the end’.



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To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

February 18 & 25 - Fruit of Obedience

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:10