The On-Line Commentary
on the Book of Daniel

By Brother Given Blakely.

The Prophecy of Daniel

Lesson Number 34
TRANSLATION LEGEND: ASV=American Standard Version (1901), BBE=Bible in Basic English (1949), DRA=Douay-Rheims (1899), ESV=English Stand Version (2001), KJV=King James Version (1611), NKJV=New King James Version (1982), NAB=New American Bible, NASB=New American Standard Bible (1977), NAU=New American Standard Bible (1995), NIB=New International Bible, NIV=New International Version (1984), NJB=New Jerusalem Bible, NLT=New Living Translation, NRSV=New Revised Standard Version (1989), RSV=Revised Standard Version (1952), TNK=JPS Tanakj (1985), YLT-Young’s Literal Translation (1862).
“ 11:14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall. 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. 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. 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: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him. 18 After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him. 19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found” KJV (Daniel 11:14-19)
We are in the midst of one of the most extended messages ever delivered by an angel of God. There are two other extensive revelations by angels. The Law of Moses was “received by the disposition of angels” (Acts 7:53), and is referred to as “the word spoken by angels” (Heb 2:2). The book of the Revelation was also delivered to John by an angel (Rev 1:1).
Both of these cases were most unusual. In the giving of the Law, an moral code was imposed upon the world (Rom 3:19). This same law, attended by a host of ordinances, was also a covenant for Israel (Ex 19:5). It was also an elaborate revelation of types and shadows that depicted the “day of salvation” over which Jesus now presides (Col 2:17; Heb 8:5; 10:1). In the revelation given on Patmos, the book of Divine destiny was opened and expounded to John (Rev 5), in which the government of Jesus, the determined demise of Satan and his hosts, and the ultimate triumph of the saints were chronicled.
Lengthy revelations are always an elaboration of significant events. The Lord never provides extensive explanations of matters that are incidental, or have no bearing upon His purpose and His people. No part of the Word of God is a mere commentary on historical events.
The details that are being revealed to Daniel are not only extensive, but have been challenging to the most disciplined and holy minds throughout history. The message of the angel begins in the eleventh verse of the previous chapter (10:11), and extends through the fourth verse of the twelfth chapter – sixty verses! At that point, two additional heavenly messengers speak with Daniel.
Ponder the nature of a man who could endure such a lengthy exposure to a holy angel, taking in such a prolonged revelation. Daniel was not a young man, but an old man. He was not in Jerusalem, but in Babylon. He was not part of a flourishing church, or a successful group of godly people. Rather, he was part of a nation that was being chastised because of their disobedience. When it came to receiving a revelation from God, Daniel had no external advantages. It was not what he had accomplished that qualified him for these revelations. It was not his excellent education, or his role in the Temple worship. Rather, it was because he was “greatly beloved.” The person who is endeared to God has the advantage over all others. It can be a young Joseph, a middle-aged Moses, or an old Daniel – it makes no difference. Those who spend more time with God receive more from Him. That is why a holy person is able to see more of the truth than one who only has much worldly knowledge.
Ponder how much heavenly activity has been focused upon Daniel. It is most remarkable to behold the extent to which God made Himself known to him.
God brought him into favor with the prince of the eunuchs (1:9).
God gave him knowledge, skill in all learning and wisdom, and understanding in all visions and dreams (1:17).
The meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s mysterious dream of the statue was revealed to Daniel (2:19-23).
The meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great tree that was cut down, was revealed Daniel (4:19-28).
The meaning of the writing on the wall of Belshazzar’s palace was made known to Daniel (5:13-29).
An angel was sent to deliver Daniel from the lion’s den (6:22).
The four kingdoms revealed in Nebuchadnezzar first dream were further revealed to Daniel in a vision. In the vision Daniel is also given to see the throne of God, and the ascended Christ receiving all power in heaven and earth (7:1-15).
An angel expounds the vision to Daniel, providing many of its details (7:16-27).
Daniel is given another vision that deals extensively with the Persian and Grecian empires (8:2-12).
A heavenly messenger speaks to Daniel concerning the length of time that the sanctuary would be trodden down (8:13-14).
A command is issued to the angel Gabriel to make Daniel understand the vision (8:15-16).
The angel Gabriel explains the vision to Daniel (8:17-26).
Gabriel is sent again to Daniel, caused to fly swiftly to him, in order to provide insights concerning the coming of the Messiah (9:21-27).
An angel is sent to Daniel to explain further details about Persia and Grecia. That angel is helped on his way by the mighty angel Michael, who assisted him in a fierce battle with a battle against wicked principalities (10:5-12:4).
Two heavenly messengers provide additional details and instructions to Daniel (12:6-13).
There you have a commentary on the results of being “greatly beloved” of God. Those who are close to God receive much from Him.
Daniel’s experiences were much like those of Paul. He might well have said the very same thing Paul did: “I will come to wisdom and revelations of the Lord . . . through the abundance of the revelations” (2 Cor 12:1,7).
First, let it be clear, God does not deal with incidentals, or matters that are of no consequence. What He makes known to those dear to Him is described as “the secret of the Lord” and “His covenant” (Psa 25:14). To such the Lord unfolds what He isdoing, and how things are being worked together for the ultimate good of His people.
Second, “wars and rumors of wars” are more than mere social agitation. They are evidences of changes being made by the God of heaven, and reveal struggles taking place inj lofty realms. When seen properly, political upheaval and disruption reveal the shaking of principalities and powers by God. In such activity the Lord is working out His own purpose, which is nothing less than the blueprint for the world.
Seen from the highest perspective, there is a cosmic battle raging. Using crafty strategies, Satan and his hosts are attempting to overturn the purposes of God. The book of the Revelation depicts the devil’s effort as one in which he seeks to destroy the people of God. Those people are portrayed as “the woman” from which the Messiah came, and now includes the saints of all ages. It is written that Satan “cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood” (Rev 12:15). He is also said to be “wroth with the woman,” having initiated a “war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 12:16-17).
This is precisely the kind of thing that is being revealed to Daniel. Working through the earthly kingdoms of Persia and Greece, “the adversary” is seeking to destroy the people of God, upon whom God has lavished His favor, and through whom He would bring forth the Christ, who is now reigning in glory. Satan’s efforts are relentless, yet they are frustrated on every hand.
“The land of the Jews” (Acts 10:38), defined by historians as “Palestine,” was under the domination of Egypt (the southern kingdom) from 323 B.C. to 198 B.C. It was under the control of Syria (the northern kingdom) from 198 B.C. to 142 B.C.Remember, Daniel is being told what will befall his people (10:14) in “the latter days.” This is more than mere information. It is an account of the dominance of God, and the surety of His purpose. It declares the absolute inferiority of Satan and all of his forces. They are impotent to overturn what God has determined. This record, therefore, is designed to fuel hope and strengthen faith. The spiritual understanding of these things will enable the people of God to live by faith in the midst of trouble, and maintain their grasp on hope, even though the circumstances around them appear to contradict it.
The fact that such wonderful knowledge was vouchsafed to Daniel confirms his deep love for the people who were chosen, loved by God, and for whom he faithfully prayed. There is something to be seen in this observation that is most practical. Those who have a profound love for the people of God will be given to see more concerning God’s care for and of them. A preference for the people of God qualifies one for insight concerning the things that are prepared for those who love Him. However, when the heart is distanced from the saints, the truth is also pushed away from them. Hope cannot survive where saints are not loved. There is an essential link between such love and comprehension.
“ 11:14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.” The angel is showing Daniel the gradual demise of the Grecian empire. The focus is upon two kingdoms between which the Jews are located. The kingdom of the North is Syria, and the kingdom of the South is Egypt. They have become involved in perpetual war, each one seeking its own interests. The Ptolemies ruled Egypt, and the Seleucids ruled Syria. The only thing they had in common was their hatred of the Jews, and their desire to rule their land.
Under the Ptolemic dynasty, the land of Israel was controlled by Egypt from 323-198 B.C. Following that, the promised land was governed by Seleucids of Syria from 198-142 B.C. Covering a good portion of the Intertestamental period, these things are included in what the angel identified as “what shall befall thy people in the latter days” (10:14).
The Spirit does not provide details on the complete, or total, Ptolemy and Seleucid dynasties. This is not intended to be a thorough history of the Grecian Empire. Allusions are made to the following:
Ptolemy I Lager Soter (“The king of the South,” 11:5).
Ptolemy II Philadelphus (“the king of the South whose daughter married “the king of the North” – the daughter being Berenice, and the king of the North being Antiochus II Theos, 11:6).
Ptolemy III Euergetes (the branch coming from the same root as the daughter of the king of the South – her brother, 11:7).
Seleucus II Callinus (the northern king) whose two sons, Antiochus III the Great and Seleucus III Ceranus, prospecuted a war against the “king of the South,” 11:10).
Ptolemy IV Philopator (the southern king who succeeded Ptolemy III Euergetes, and was moved against “the king of the North,” Antiochus III, the Great, 11:11-12).
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (the “little horn” of Daniel 7:8, 20-25, who oppressed the Jews, took away God’s daily sacrifice, and defiled the sanctuary).
Note the impersonal manner in which the Spirit refers to these kings. None of them are mentioned by name. They are all mentioned only because a prophecy is being given of what will befall the Jews in the latter time of worldly kingdoms. Also, they were all part of the crumbling Grecian Empire, which, along with all other global governments, were crushed and obliterated by the Kingdom of God (Dan 2:35, 44-45).
The Fall of the Grecian Empire
I want to once again remind you that Daniel is being provided with the details of the fall of the Grecian Empire. Already, this fall has been made known to Daniel.
Greece was the belly and thighs of brass that would be superceded by the legs of iron and feet of iron and clay (2:32-33).
It would suffer demise by the dominance of the Kingdom of God, like all other kingdoms (2:35).
Greece was the four-headed leopard to whom dominion was given, yet who was superceded by a fourth dreadful and superior beastly kingdom (7:6-7).
The demise of Greece began with the breaking of its notable horn (Alexander the Great), and the dividing of the kingdom into four parts (8:21-22; 11:4).
The four divisions of Grecia would not be as strong as the initial kingdom, and their “latter end” is foretold (8:22-23).
The primary divisions of the Empire were finally whittled down to Syria and Egypt – two kingdoms who are the subject of the present prophecy.
The ruthless reign of one of the last of the Grecian kings, Antiochus Epiphanes, is described in these words: “he shall be broken without hand” (8:25).
From the reign of Alexander the Great (the “first King” of Grecia, 335 B.C., Dan 8:21), until the final overthrow of Greece by Rome (around 63 B.C.) was a period of around 272 years. The Roman Empire reigned until A.D. 476, a period of 539 years. Rome existed as a Republic from 509 B.C. until 31 B.C., and as an empire until A.D.476. The Eastern half of the Empire survived until A.D. 1453. The city of Rome itself, according to tradition, was founded in 753 B.C. BRITANNICA 2003, and GROLLIERS 2002 In the world, longevity is equated with quality and superiority. However, Daniel is being shown the real perspective of worldly governments – particularly that of Greece. The length of these kingdoms is not determined by their military strength or political savvy. It is God’s purpose that determines the duration of world empires. They rise and fall in strict accord with that purpose.
Thus far, Daniel has been provided details concerning a significant portion of Grecian dominance (335 B.C. - 164 B.C.). Daniel received this revelation around 537 B.C., about 200 years before the commencement of this period. The message was sent to him from heaven because he had a concern for the covenanted people, for the city of God, and His sanctuary.
Even though it may have appeared as though Grecia was nearly invincible, yet it was in a state of gradual deterioration. That decline was not the result of human oversight, but of Divine judgment. The reason for the judgment centered in the manner in which this nation treated God’s people. Remember, this word does not concern what will befall Greece, but what will befall Daniel’s people.
As history moved closer to the entrance of the Messiah into the world, the nations seemed to focus more and more upon “the land of the Jews.” The governments seemed to grow more powerful, and last for longer periods of time, leaving the impression they could not be restrained. This was Satan’s effort to thwart the purpose of God. However, that effort will fail.
When the particular government being considered (Greece) did not receive significant opposition from the nations of the world, it began to war within itself – the North against the South, and the South against the North. This was evidence of the working of God, bringing His judgment against them, and gradually pushing them into oblivion.
“And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south . . . ”
“Those times” refer to the period when “the king of the North,” Antiochus the Great, also known as Antiochus III, rose up against Egypt, the northern kingdom. Those were the times when Ptolemy V Epiphanes, king of Egypt, was yet a minor. A quotation from Britannica Encyclopedia, 2002, concerning this king, is included below.
Now we learn that several others join “the king of the North” in the attack of Egypt. History confirms that suddenly there was a unity throughout Asia Minor against Egypt. Antiochus the Great made a treaty with Philip king of Macedon. Of that alliance Britannica says, “After the death of Ptolemy IV, Antiochus concluded a secret treaty with Philip V, ruler of the Hellenistic kingdom of Macedonia, in which the two plotted the division of the Ptolemaic empire outside Egypt. Antiochus' share was to be southern Syria, Lycia, Cilicia, and Cyprus; Philip was to have western Asia Minor and the Cyclades. Antiochusinvaded Coele Syria, defeated the Ptolemaic general Scopas at Panion near the sourceof the Jordan River in the year 200, gained control of Palestine, and granted special rights to the Jewish temple state.” BRITANNICA 2002
The angel says “many” would stand up against “the king of the South.” History confirms that was “many” in number and “many” in kinds of opponents. There was resistance within the Egyptian kingdom, as well as opposition from without.
All of this was being governed by the God of heaven. Just as He stirred up adversaries against Solomon (1 Kgs 11:14,23), so He raised up adversaries against “the king of the South.” Remember, these are things that were written in “the Scriptures of truth,”and concerned what would “befall” Daniel’s people in the latter days. That lifts these events out of mere history, and places them into Divine purpose – and there is a vast difference between the two.
God has revealed Himself as One who chastens kings “with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men” (2 Sam 7:14). This condition was not limited to the kings of Judah and Israel. The record of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar confirms this to our hearts.
This prophecy is nothing less than God bringing down the kingdom of Greece. The “prince of Grecia” (Dan 10:20) will not be able to withstand the judgment of God. Fighting will break out within the Grecian ranks – the North fighting against the South. That division will so weaken the empire that it will eventually fall. The Lord is doing all of this in such a manner as to ensure the continuance of His people, also protecting “His land.” The assurance of these two factors would enable Daniel to be at peace concerning his own people.
“ . . . also the robbers of thy people . . . ” Other versions read, “violent men of your people,” NKJV “the violent ones among your people,” NASB,NIV “the lawless among your own people,” NRSV “the rebellious children of thy people,” GENEVA “the spoilers of thy people,” Septuagint and “the sons of the destroyers of thy people.” YLT
Now Daniel is told something his own people would do during these times. The nation was sandwiched between two warring kingdoms, Syria and Egypt. One has well said, “The principal seat of the wars between Syria and Egypt was Palestine.” BARNES
Certain Jewish people were aggressive and ruthless. They would join in the rebellion, seeking to throw off the Syrian yoke in favor of Egypt. Because Antiochus the Great “ granted special rights to the Jewish temple state,” BRITANNICA they preferred his rule to that of Ptolemy V Epiphanes. It appears they would break away from the Jewish people and engage in an ungodly initiative.
There is considerably mystery that surrounds this text. I will share what I am inclined to think is its historical fulfillment, then proceeding to establish the principles that are made known in it.
“ . . . shall exalt themselves to establish the vision . . . ” Other versions read, “lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision,” NASB “will rebel in fulfillment of the vision,” NIV and “lifting themselves up to make vision come true.” BBE
First, the effort attempted by these Jews was one of self-exaltation. That means their effort will fail, for “whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased” (Luke 14:11). Again Jesus said, “every one that exalteth himself shall be abased” (Luke 18:14). The God of heaven is committed to the frustration of such efforts. “He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts” (Luke 1:51). It is ever true, “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down” (Isa 2:11).
Historical Event #1
There is an historical event that seems to parallel this passage. The events are recorded by Josephus, and pertain to the period being considered. Josephus records the following letter, written by the Jewish high priest Onias, to Ptolemy and queen Cleopatra.
“Having done many and great things for you in the affairs of the war, by the assistance of God, and that in Celesyria and Phoenicia, I came at length with the Jews to Leontopolis, and to other places of your nation,) where I found that the greatest part of your people had temples in an improper manner, and that on this account they bore ill will one against another, which happens to the Egyptians by reason of the multitude of their temples, and the difference of opinions about divine worship. Now I found a very fit place in a castle that hath its name from the country Diana; this place is full of materials of several sorts, and replenished
with sacred animals: I desire, therefore, that you will grant me leave to purge this holy place, which belongs to no master, and is fallen down, and to build there a temple to Almighty God, after the pattern of that in Jerusalem, and of the same dimensions, that may be for the benefit of thyself, and thy wife and children, that those Jews who dwell in Egypt may have a place whither they may come and meet together in mutual harmony one with another, and be subservient to thy advantages; for the prophet Isaiah foretold, that ‘there should be an altar in Egypt to the Lord God:’ and many other such things did he prophesy relating to that place.” (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 13:3; ‘Bell. Jud.,’ 7:10).
Josephus also records the reply of Ptolemy and Cleopatra.
“King Ptolemy and queen Cleopatra to Onias, send greeting. We have read thy petition, wherein thou desirest leave to be given to thee to purge that temple which is fallen down at, Leontopolis, in the Nomus of Heliopolis, and which is named from the country Bubastis; on which account we cannot but wonder that it should be pleasing to God to have a temple erected in a place so unclean, and so full of sacred animals. But since thou sayest that Isaiah the prophet foretold this long ago, we give thee leave to do it, if it may be done according to your law, and so that we may not appear to have at all offended God herein.” (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 13:3; ‘Bell. Jud.,’ 7:10).
The prophesy to which Onias referred is Isaiah 19:19. “In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD.” If this historical account fulfills the text, “the vision” to which the angel refers is the prophecy of Isaiah, written around 174 years before this message was delivered to Daniel.
Onias was wrong in using this text as a basis for building a temple in Egypt. The house of God was intended to be in Jerusalem, where God chose to place His Name (1 Kgs 11:36). Further, Jerusalem was in God’s land, called “His land” (Deut 32:43; Ezek 36:20; Joel 2:18; Zech 9:16).
Isaiah’s prophecy was intended to declare that the worship of the true God would be extended into Egypt. His word was primarily a declaration of the coming Messiah, and not the word of the building of another Temple for Jews in Egypt. It was the Egyptians themselves who would be turned, rather than a convenience provided for Jewish people within it. Thus Isaiah adds, “And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a savior, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it” (Isa 19:20-21).
In this view Onias arrogated to himself the fulfillment of a prophecy that God in no wise spoke of him. He is thus classed as a “robber of the people,” and not one who gave them advantages – as he supposed he did. I am inclined to this view, as it seems to fit well into the spirit of the text. It also is more in keeping with what would “befall” Daniel’s people.
Historical Event #2
There is another event that is thought to fulfill this text. It concerns certain Jews who joined the military advances of Antiochus against Ptolemy. Josephus also records that certain of these Jews professed submission to Antiochus, joining his initiative.
“But afterward, when Antiochus subdued those cities of Celesyria which Scopas had gotten into his possession, and Samaria with them, the Jews, of their own accord, went over to him, and received him into the city [Jerusalem], and gave plentiful provision to all his army, and to his elephants, and readily assisted him when he besieged the garrison which was in the citadel of Jerusalem. Wherefore Antiochus thought
it but just to requite the Jews’ diligence and zeal in his service: so he wrote to the generals of his armies, and to his friends, and gave testimony to the good behavior of the Jews towards him, and informed them what rewards he had resolved to bestow on them for that their behavior.” Ant.” b. xii. ch. iii. Section 3
In this case, “the vision” of which the angel speaks is the very one he is delivering. This would mean the Jews were exalting themselves to fulfill the vision now being given to Daniel. This is not an acceptable view, for then their exaltation would have been inadvertent, or without their own knowledge, for the vision sought to be fulfilled was not yet known. This cannot be, for self exaltation cannot occur without the deliberate and knowledgeable effort of the people. It cannot be accidental or causeless.
“ . . . . but they shall fall.” Other versions read, “but without success,” NIV “but they shall fail,” NRSV and “but it will be their downfall.” BBE
Possibility #1
In the first possibility, the “they” of reference are “the robbers of thy people,” who, under Onias, sought to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah by building a Temple in Egypt. These are people from among the Jews, not people attacking them. Their effort to“establish the vision” will be dashed to the ground. They will fail in their attempt. That is, they would not fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy – the Egyptians would not become worshipers of God. The Temple project itself did last until it was finally destroyed by the Romans. However, that project itself was not the intention of Isaiah’s prophecy. Rather Isaiah referred to the spread of the knowledge of God among the Egyptians.
Possibility #2
In the second possibility, the people, involved were the Jews, who joined themselves to Antiochus the Great. Their objective was to gain favor, and thus preserve their people. Their attempt, however, fell to the ground, for when Antiochus returned from his conquests in 198, he took Jerusalem, and killed many who had aligned themselves with him. Josephus records the following.
“King Antiochus returning out of Egypt, for fear of the Romans, made an expedition against the city Jerusalem; and when he was there, in the hundred and forty-third year of the kingdom of the Seleucidae, he took the city without fighting, those of his own party opening the gates to him. And when he had gotten possession of Jerusalem, he slew many of the opposite party; and when he had plundered it of a great deal of money, he returned to Antioch.” Ant.” b. xii. ch. v. Section 2
In my judgment the nature and strength of the words “they shall fall” does not seem to fit into this view. Yet, I do see some measure of applicability to the Jew’s desire to preserve themselves by aligning with Antiochus. While Antiochus was involved in military exploits elsewhere, Scopas came with a great army from Ptolemy. He discomfited the Jews, posted guards around Jerusalem, and carried back great spoil to Egypt. ADAM CLARKE That account, however, does not fully satisfy the description “they shall fall,” or “shall not succeed.” In my judgment, there is a note of finality in those words that better fits the first possibility.
I have chosen to see this as a prophecy of the attempt of Onias to fulfill an inspired vaticination. It is my persuasion that such an attempt was duly noted in heaven. The prophecies of God are not fulfilled in such a manner. They are always in strict accord with both the nature and Word of the Lord. The effort of Onias was one of self-exaltation, something God has revealed He throws down to the ground.
We must keep before us that this is a prophecy of the Jewish people under the Grecian rule – what would befall Daniel’s people “in the latter time.” That “latter time” refers particularly to the time of the Grecian Empire, the third great Kingdom revealed in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It was during the reign of the fourth kingdom that God would set up His kingdom – the one over which Christ now presides, and through which the salvation of God is being fully implemented. As it is written, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Dan 2:44).
The Son of God entered into the world during the prominence of the Roman Empire – even at the time when it was taxing the whole world, over which it politically presided (Luke 2:1-2). During Jesus’ ministry, the dominance of Rome was of great concern to Jewish leaders. In fact, this played a prominent role in their determination to put Jesus to death. They reasoned, “If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (John 11:48).
With this in mind, the “latter days” of Daniel 10:14 were the days prior to the dominion of Rome. Those “latter days” were the time of Grecian rule, when “the prince of Grecia” exercised world-wide prominence. The angel is showing Daniel what will befall his people during that period of time. It was a time when God was positioning the nations and readying the people for the entrance of His Son – the time when He would commence a beneficent reign in which Satan would be overthrown, the sons of men rescued from sin, and the Gospel of Christ become the message of prominence. Nothing would, or could, succeed that was aligned against God’s revealed purpose or His chosen people! All such efforts would be finally and totally dashed to the ground.
“ 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.”
The focus is still upon “the king of the North,” Antiochus the Great. His exploits are noteworthy because they particularly bore upon the people of God, who suffered in the wake of his campaigns. Historically, the Jews were being dominated by Syria, then by Egypt – caught in the middle of incessant wars between those two nations. Yet, in spite of these seemingly impossibilities, the Messiah will be born, raised, and will fulfill the purpose of God. The Gospel will still be preached, “beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk 24:47). Christ’s coming disciples would still be His witnesses “both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
When we behold this passage from the higher view, we will see it is filled with all manner of Satanic activity, designed to stop God from setting up His kingdom, as Daniel declared He would (Dan 2:44-45). It is really not the aim of Antiochus the Great that we must perceive, wicked though it be. Rather, it is how Satan ATTEMPTED to use him against Daniel’s people. When God’s purpose has been served through him, God will throw Antiochus down. But until that time, he will appear invincible.
“So the king of the north shall come . . . ” Other versions read, “THEN the king of the North will come.” NASB,NIV,NRSV That is, in the Divine agenda, this is the next significant thing to happen – things
regarding what will “befall” Daniel’s people “in the latter days.” Antiochus will return from his other exploits, with the intent to regain any territory that he had lost to Syrian opportunists, namely Scopas.
Once again, behold the manner in which the Spirit speaks of this historically significant king: “The king of the North.” His significance is in how he relates to the purpose of God. Apart from that, he is just a nameless king that will eventually pass into oblivion.
“ . . . and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities . . . ” Other versions read, “build a siege mound, and take a fortified city,” NKJV “cast up a siege mound, and capture a well fortified city,” NIV and “throw up siege ramps and capture a fortress city.”TNK
Cast Up A Mount
This was a ramp made of earth that permitted the army to go over the walls surrounding the cities. Considering the height of some of those walls, and the size of the “mount” that would allow the entrance of an enemy, this was quite an undertaking. It was a common practice in war, and is mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. “Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it” (2 Kgs 19:32). “And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about” (Ezek 4:2).
Fenced Cities
“Fenced cities” were protected by a wall, or fortress. Such cities are mentioned frequently in Scripture (Num 32:17,36; Josh 10:20; 1 Sam 6:18). “Fenced cities” named in Scripture include those in Judah (2 Kgs 18:13), and nineteen cities Israel was given in Canaan (Josh 19:35-39). Such cities were said to have “walls, gates, and bars” (2 Chron 8:5). Jerusalem itself was such a city (1 Kgs 3:1).
Not only did Antiochus come against fenced cities, he came against “the MOST fenced cities,” or the “well- fortified” NASB ones. He came to take back what was taken from him.
“ . . . and the arms of the south shall not withstand . . . ” Other versions read, “the forces of the South will not be able to withstand him,” NKJV “the forces of the South will not stand their ground,” NASB and “The forces of the South will be powerless to resist.” NIV
History confirms that Egypt, or “the forces of the South,” sent militia to counteract Antiochus’ initiative. “Scopas was sent again to oppose him, but was defeated near the sources of Jordan, lost a great part of his army, and was pursued to Sidon, where he was shut up with ten thousand men, and closely besieged. Three famous generals were sent from Egypt to raise the siege; but they could not succeed, and at length Scopas was forced by famine to surrender, upon the hard conditions of having life only granted to him and his men; they were obliged to lay down their arms, and were sent away stripped and naked.” Benson
Josephus wrote of this triumph. “Yet was it not long afterward when Antiochus overcame Scopas, in a battle fought at the fountains of Jordan, and destroyed a great part of his army. But afterward, when Antiochus subdued those cities of Celesyria which Scopas had gotten into his possession, and Samaria with them, the Jews, of their own accord, went over to him, and received him into the city [Jerusalem], and gave plentiful provision to all his army, and to his elephants, and readily assisted him when he besieged the garrison which was in the citadel of Jerusalem.” Ant.” book. I. chapter. 2
“ . . . neither his chosen people. . .” Other versions read, “Even his choice troops,” NKJV “their choicest troops,” NASB “even their best troops.” NIV
“His chosen people” are the best military men of the South – those who came against Antiochus. The chief leader was Scopas, with a brilliant military career. They all fell before his crushing initiative.
“ . . . neither shall there be any strength to withstand.” These crack Southern troops were not able to stand against the withering attack of Antiochus, “the king of the North.”
In all of this, the arm of the Lord is evident. What happened to Egypt here, is much the same as what happened to it under the onslaught of Nebuchadnezzar. Here is how Isaiah described that overthrow.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and will break his arms, the strong, and that which was broken; and I will cause the sword to fall out of his hand. And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries. And I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and put my sword in his hand: but I will break Pharaoh's arms, and he shall groan before him with the groanings of a deadly wounded man” (Ezek 30:24).
As in our text, Isaiah speaks of two kingdoms that had no covenant with God. Yet, they were both accountable to Him.
The Fortunes of War
From the human point of view, this account portrays the manner of wars – winning and/or losing. Antiochus was once routed, now he does the routing. Scopas once conquered, now he is conquered. This is why it is written, “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword” (Rev 13:10). Babylon was overthrown by the Medes and the Persians. The Medes and the Persians were overthrown by the Grecians. The Grecians were overthrown by the Romans. In the angel’s message to Daniel, Syria and Egypt battle back and forth, sometimes winning, sometimes losing.
But it is not so with the kingdom of God. His kingdom is “over all” (Psa 103:19; Dan 2:39). The Lord’s dominion “is from generation to generation” (Dan 4:3), and will be “until the end” (Dan 6:26). It is ever true, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan 7:14).
Those who fought under Pharaoh perished with him in the sea. The armies of Og and Sihon also perished with them. When Belshazzar fell, so did all of those who stood with him. That is how it is in the kingdoms of men.
But it is not so with those who put their trust in the Lord. Those who believe on Him “will not be ashamed nor confounded world without end” (Isa 45:17). Those aligned with Christ Jesus are “more than conquerors” (Rom 8:37). They will “reign with Him” (2 Tim 2:12), judging both men and angels (1 Cor 6:2). The kingdoms of the kings to which this text exposes us did not inherit the kingdom of their leader. But those who are in Christ will be given the kingdom, and come into full possession of it (Dan 7:22). There is an appointed day when it will be shouted throughout the universe, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev 11:15).
In Christ, we are part of a kingdom that will never end! How often we should remind one another of these things. Faith puts us on the winning side, and is itself “the victory that overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). Stand fast, therefore, and quit you like men!
“ 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.”
The king of the North, Antiochus the Great, having penetrated into Egypt, continues his aggressive march. Although he is moving with no apparent restraint, we will find he is under the control and domination of God. Like Satan, he will not be able to go beyond the perimeter of the will of God. In fact, one of the primary objectives of this word to Daniel is to assure him of what will “befall” his people. That is, there are some things they will go through. However, unlike their oppressors, they will survive.
“But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him . . . ” Other versions read, “The invader will do as he pleases,” NIV “But he who comes against him shall take the actions he pleases.” NRSV
When we read of one who is kind and good, doing whatever he wills, that is one thing. When we read of a despot doing so, that is quite another. In this case, Antiochus is moving forward in retaliatory rage. In verse seven, the brother of Berenice, Ptolemy Euergetes, had entered “the fortress of the king of the North,” fighting against him and prevailing. He was revenging the death of his sister, and he did so with both power and vengeance overthrowing Seleucus Callinicus, the father of Antiochus the Great, of whom we are now reading.
As he moves along, no one can successfully contest his will. He simply does whatever he wants. Such a circumstance would cause us to fear and quake if we did not know such power comes from God alone, for “there is no power but of God” (Rom 13:10). Whether it is Antiochus the Great, Nebuchadnezzar, of someone further down the political ladder like Pilate, they would have no power against anyone “except it were given” to them “from above” (John 19:11).
John the Baptist explained His effectiveness to Nicodemus by saying, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27).
David said that one of the things that came home to him the second time was that power belongs to God: “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God” (Psa 62:11).
The Lord revealed the reason for Nebuchadnezzar’s success by saying to Jeremiah, “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me”(Jer 27:5).
Through Daniel the Lord revealed, “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Dan 4:17).
Again, the Psalmist wrote, “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another” (Psa 75:6-7).
We cannot forget these things as we go through this text, allowing ourselves to be unduly influenced by historians. Antiochus the Great was operating under the scrutinizing eye of Almighty God, even though he did not have the faintest notion of that fact.
One writer has said of this verse, “This is a fair description of the advance of Antiochus the Great through Coele-Syria and Palestine. Fortress after fortress fell before his arms.” J.E.H. Johnson, 1896
Grollier’s Encyclopedia says of him, “Compared by flatterers to Alexander the Great, Antiochus set himself to regain all the land held by Seleucus I. After the death (205) of Ptolemy IV, he retook what he had lost at Raphia, then advanced as a self-styled liberator through Anatolia and crossed to Thrace, where he rebuilt (196) the old capital of Lysimachus.” GROLLIERS 2001
Again, it is said of him, “Philip was defeated by the Romans in the Second Macedonian War (200–196), and Antiochus refused to help him. Instead, taking advantage of the Romans' involvement with Philip, Antiochus marched against Egypt. Though the Romans had sent ambassadors to Ptolemy V, they could not lend him any serious assistance. When peace was concluded in 195, Antiochus came permanently into possession of southern Syria—which had been fought over for 100 years by the Ptolemies and Seleucids—and of the Egyptian territories in Asia Minor. He also gave his daughter Cleopatra in marriage to Ptolemy V. Egypt practically became a Seleucid protectorate.
In his insatiable expansionist drive, Antiochus occupied parts of the kingdom of Pergamum in 198 and in 197 Greek cities in Asia Minor. In 196 BC he crossed the Hellespont into Thrace, where he claimed sovereignty over territory that had been won by Seleucus I in the year 281 BC. BRITANNICA 2002
Here is what the angel of God said of these events: “But he who comes against him will do as he pleases, and no one will be able to withstand him” (Dan 11:16). He does not name even one of the exploits so highly taunted by worldly historians. And why not? Because those impressive accomplishments were the result of the power that was given to him. Further, in the giving of that power, God had not forgotten His own people, or the land with which He had identified Himself. In a very real sense, Antioch the Great was incidental.
There are at least five things being made known in this prophecy.
That God gives power to whomever He pleases.
Those receiving this power cannot extend themselves beyond the higher will of God.
This will be a means of bringing out the extent of the corruption of Antiochus, which otherwise would not have been adequately known.
His initiatives will prove to be an occasion in which God will openly show His care for His people and His land.
Provide encouragement for those who are in the midst of adversity, and are faced with seemingly invincible foes.
“ . . . and he shall stand in the glorious land . . . ” Other versions read, “He shall stand in the Glorious Land,” NKJV “he will also stay for a time in the Beautiful Land,” NASB “He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land,” NIV “He shall take a position in the beautiful land,” NRSV “He will pause in the glorious land of Israel,” NLT and “he standeth in the desirable land.” YLT
Now we see the real significance of mentioning this king! He presumes to come against the land that is identified with the God of heaven. The whole world has, at some time, heard about this people and this land. Their real distinction is their religion, and everyone knows it. Antiochus does not exercise the caution of Balak (Num 22). He heart does not melt at the reports of their former conquests, nor does his courage leave him as with the citizens of Jericho (Josh 2:11-12). To Antiochus, the people seem weak and helpless, and the land can be his for the taking.
Thus boldly, and with great confidence, Antiochus the Great invades Judea. He takes up residency there, and no good intentions can be found in him.
The Glorious Land
This is now the second time Daniel has received word about the land given to the Jews. In the eighth chapter, Antiochus Epiphanes, who actually followed Antiochus the Great, and was his son, is described as a “little horn” that waxed great and moved toward “the pleasant land.” He was within the same crumbling Empire of Greece, and was also noted for his initiative against the people of God. See with what determination and energy “the prince of Grecia” (a principality in high places – 10:20) was intent upon destroying Israel!
This land is referred to in a variety of ways in Scripture. It is most unique in its identity with the God of heaven. It is little wonder David said of it, “For the LORD hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread” (Psa 132:13-15).
Ponder these references to this land, and see what iniquity was committed in coming against it.
“The mountain of Thine inheritance” (Ex 15:7a).
“The place, O LORD, which Thou hast made for Thee to dwell in” (Ex 15:7b).
“The land of promise” (Heb 11:9).
“The Sanctuary” (Ex 15:7).
“The land of Israel” (1 Sam 13:19).
“The land of the Jews” (Acts 10:38).
“The holy land” (Zech 2:12).
“The Lord’s land” (Hosea 9:3). “Thy land, O Immanuel” (Isa 8:8).
“Thy land Beulah” (Isa 62:4).
“His land” (Deut 32:43; Psa 10:16; Ezek 36:20; Joel 2:18; Zech 9:16).
“My land” (2 Chron 7:20; Isa 14:25; Jer 2:7; 16:18; Ezek 36:5; 38:16; Joel 1:6; 3:2).
“The LORD’S land” (Hos 9:3).
Ponder what He has said of this land. See if there is any other land in all the world, in all history, of which such things are said!
“The land is Mine” (Lev 25:23).
“They have defiled My land” (Jer 16:18).
“I will break the Assyrian in My land” (Isa 14:25).
“I will pluck them by the roots out of My land” (2 Chron 7:20).
“Then will the Lord be jealous for His land” (Joel 2:18).
“He will . . . be merciful to His land” (Deut 32:43).
“And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon His land” (Zech 9:16).
It should not surprise the thoughtful that initiatives against such a land are recorded in Scripture. The Lord takes care of what belongs to Him! When, therefore, Antiochus the Great marched into God’s land, he came under the special scrutiny of the Lord.
“ . . . which by his hand shall be consumed.” Other versions read, “with destruction in his power,” NKJV “with destruction in his hand,” NASB “and will have the power to destroy it,” NIV “and all of it shall be in his power,” NRSV “intent on destroying it,” NLT“and it is wholly in his hand.” YLT
Even though some of the Jews had courted his favor, yet this king came against the land and the people. Josephus says of his treatment of the Jews: “Now it happened that, in the reign of Antiochus the Great, who ruled over all Asia, the Jews, as well as the inhabitants of Coelo- Syria, suffered greatly, and their land was sorely harassed, for while he was at war with Ptolemy Philopater, and with his son who was called “Epiphanes,” it fell out that these nations were equally sufferers, both when he was beaten, and when he beat the others; so that they were like to a ship in a storm, which is tossed by the waves on both sides; and just thus were they in their situation in the middle between Antiochus’ prosperity and its change to adversity.” — Ant. book xii. chapter iii. Section 3
Again it is said of him, “During the war of Antiochus with Egypt, the Jews and inhabitants of Coele-Syria suffered severely, and the suspense in which they were for a long time kept as to their ultimate civil relations operated injuriously for their interests.” McClintok Strong’s Cyclopedia
Principles to Be Seen
There are some kingdom principles to be seen here, for these things are “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor 10:11).
Meticulous heavenly records are kept of initiatives against, and abuses of, the people of God. Remember, these things were written in “the Scriptures of Truth.” This, however, not only has to do with Divine determinations, but with ultimate accountability. A record of wrongs against the people of God is maintained, and men will be held accountable for it. This is an aspect of the day of Judgment, when the books will be opened, “and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev 20:12). The recording of these events is only a prelude to the day when all abuses will be unveiled, and the saints will be fully vindicated. Those who touched what belongs to God will not escape this day of accountability.
Often God allows His people to be in circumstances that appear unalterable. It is God’s manner to allow His people to appear as though they are utterly helpless. He did this with Abel, Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, David, Paul, and the Lord Jesus Himself. That condition, however, is only temporary “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor 4:7).
A word must be said about the power that is toward, or devoted to, those who are in Christ Jesus. If Antiochus the Great could do much with the power that was given to him, what can saints do with the even greater power that has been given to them? Will, not men like Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar rise in the day of judgment to rebuke those who had such power, yet did little or nothing with it?
We see in these kings a faint glimpse of what can be done when God grants power to a person. In the case of these heathen kings, many of them were not aware their power came from God. To some degree Cyrus knew it (2 Chron 36:23). In measure, Nebuchadnezzar learned it (Dan 4:34-37). But most of these kings were blissfully unaware of the source of their power and authority.
The power that is toward those who believe is of such magnitude that God must show it to us, enabling us to see it. Paul prayed for those who were in Christ Jesus, that God would open the eyes of their understanding so they could see and know “the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Eph 1:19). The premier demonstration of the nature and magnitude of this power is seen in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus it is said of this power, “Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church” (Eph 1:20-22).
How ought this power to be exhibited in the saints of God? And, how should we think about it? God has revealed He is “able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” NASB (Eph 3:20).
We are also reminded that the Kingdom of God is “not a matter of talk but of power” NIV (1 Cor 4:20). The spiritual weaponry that has been given to us is “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:4-5).
The Gospel we have been given is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:16). The preaching of the cross is described as “the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). The Christ who dwells in the saved is “the Power of God” (1 Cor 1:24). Our faith is said to stand “in the power of God” (1 Cor 2:5). Those who have been baptized into Christ “live with Him by the power of God” (2 Cor 13:4). Those who are persecuted for righteousness sake are partaking “of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim 1:8). Those who are begotten of God are “kept by the power of God through faith” (1 Pet 1:5). God has not given us the spirit of fear, but “of power” (2 Tim 1:7).
Be sure of this: God is not glorified by a weak, vacillating, and bumbling church. Nor, indeed, is He glorified through halting and stumbling believers. In Christ Jesus we have come into a domain of unspeakable power and might. It is the kind of circumstance that enables us to be “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph 6:10).
All of this is not even to mention our adversary the devil, who has been given a measure of power, and exploits it to the fullest. He is never presented as failing to exhaust all of the possibilities granted to him, doing so quickly and thoroughly. When given an opportunity to tempt, he does so. When granted access to Job, he took it. When given an hour to work against the Son of God, he zealously, and with determination, entered into that hour. Your own experience will confirm that every single time you give him an opportunity, he seizes it zealously. But if we do not think about these things, Satan will gain the advantage over us. Our ignorance is an open door to our adversary, and spiritual understanding will close that open door.
It will NOT be to any person’s advantage to “stand before the judgment seat of Christ,” having taken less advantage of the power God in Christ Jesus than Antiochus Epiphanes, Nebuchadnezzar, or Cyrus, and others, took of power given to them as earthly rulers.
This text declares a series of circumstances designed to challenge the hearts of God’s people, and cause hope to flourish within them. It declares a disadvantage that is dissipated by God.
“ 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: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.”
Here we will be confronted with the subtlety of “the king of the North,” Antiochus the Great. He is drunk with power, and thinks to expand his dominion by every means possible. However, things will not go as he wants, for the hand of God is really manipulating the circumstances.
“He shall also set his face . . . ” Other versions read, “He will determine,” NIV “He shall set his mind,” NRSV “He shall set his face,” RSV “it will be his purpose,” BBE and “he will make plans.” NLT
It is good for us to become familiar with Scriptural expressions. They are more precise and thorough than the eloquence of the worldly-wise. To set the face toward anything is to determine or resolve to go there, or to actually do the thing considered. Here the notions of Antiochus the Great are fueled by his success and seeming invincibility. He is not satisfied with what he has. Thus he is fulfilling the saying of Solomon, “the eyes of man are never satisfied” (Prov 27:20). He carries the same trait as Solomon’s four insatiable things, which are “never satisfied:” “The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not
filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough” (Prov 30:16). One can only imagine the abuses to which we would be subjected if God was not “above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph 4:6). If our times were not in His hand (Psa 31:15), we would all have expired long ago!
Already Antiochus has driven Egypt’s chief military officer into obscurity, and subdued the land of Palestine. He saw this as an occasion to extend his empire. Here he intends to invade and wholly subjugate the land of Egypt.
A Lesson to Learn
We ought to learn from this text that if men like Antiochus the Great set their face steadfastly to do evil, how much more ought the saints to set their face to do good! Not much will be done for the Lord unless our faces are determinedly “set.” When the time for Christ’s sacrifice drew near, He “steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51). When it came to preaching, Paul’s face was set. He said “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). Jesus told him he was going to preach the Gospel in Rome (Acts 23:11). Sensing the truth of this early, Paul wrote to the Romans, “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also” (Rom 1:15).
Setting the face is involved in the expression, “Looking unto Jesus” (Heb 12:2). This is something that includes resolve, determination, and alertness to open and closed doors that have been set before us. The American church, I fear, is sadly lacking in such determination. It is too easily turned aside to profitless and distracting pursuits.
“ . . . to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom . . . ” Other versions read, “to come with the power of his whole kingdom,” NASB and “to come with the might of his entire kingdom.” NIV
Although he had been successful in most of his previous campaigns, Antiochus realized something more was going to be required to subdue the mighty kingdom of Egypt. It would, in his judgment, necessitate the full force of his kingdom. He was determined to overwhelm Ptolemy Epiphanes, who was still quite young.
The Upright Ones
“ . . . and upright ones with him; thus shall he do . . . ” Other versions read, “bringing with him a proposal of peace,” NASB “and will make an alliance with the king of the South,” NIV “he shall bring terms of peace,” NRSV “and with him equitable conditions,” ASV “but in place of this he will make an agreement with him,” BBE “and his confederates with him,” GENEVA and “he shall make upright conditions with him.” DOUAY Versions favoring “upright ones” include KJV, NKJV, DARBY, RWB, WEB YLT.
The meaning of the word that is translated “upright ones” is “straight, upright, correct, right, fitting, and righteous.” STRONGS Thus several translations have applied it to the procedure that Antiochus followed, seeking an alliance with Egypt rather than determining to pummel it into subjection.
This, in my judgment, is not sound reasoning. The rules of language must not be allowed to override the sense of Scripture. We have already been told that this king is in a state of greed, setting his face to swallow up more territory in his lust for power. It seems highly unlikely to me that the Holy Spirit would ascribe righteous motives to such a man.
I prefer to see “the righteous ones” as representatives of the Jews, whom Antiochus determined to bring with him. They were not “righteous ones” by character, but were considered to be so by comparison
with the heathen. Also, because the Lord had chosen them, they were so considered. These Jews had already extended themselves to be allied with him, and he had granted them certain favors. In my judgment, this point is unworthy of further consideration. I will only add that Antiochus appeared to think the inclusion of Jewish people would add more weight to his deceptive attempt to form a coalition with Egypt. It had a more peaceable appearance, as though he was now getting along very well with the Jews.
A Change of Plans
During this period of determination, Rome was gradually increasing in power, as though waiting for the time when it would overthrow Greece. Already Rome had overthrown Philip of Macedon, with whom Antiochus had sought an alliance. Of this defeat McClintok & Strong’s Cyclopedia says, “Philip was driven from his commanding position, and made unsuccessful overtures for peace. In the next year he lost the fatal battle of Cynoscephalae, and was obliged to accede to the terms dictated by his conquerors. The remainder of his life was spent in vain endeavors to regain something of his former power, and was embittered by cruelty and remorse. In 1 Macc. 8:5 the defeat of Philip is coupled with that of Perseius as one of the noblest triumphs of the Romans.”
Hearing of this defeat, Antiochus changed his plans. We must see that his heart, which was “in the hand of the Lord,” was actually being “turned” by the Lord for the accomplishment of a purpose higher than his own (Prov 21:1). When the will of man clashes with the will of the Lord, it cannot ultimately flourish.
“ . . . and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her . . . ” Other versions read, “And he shall give him the daughter of women to destroy it,” NKJV “he will also give him the daughter of women to ruin it,” NASB “And he will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him.” NIV
Rather than being a righteous plan, as some of the versions suggest, this was an effort of Antiochus to overcome the kingdom of Egypt, not unite with it. By giving his daughter in marriage to the king of the South, he thought to gain access to valuable information that would aid him in bringing Egypt under his dominion. It was an evil and subtle attempt.
The king to whom Antiochus gave his daughter was Ptolemy V Epiphanes, then sixteen years of age. The daughter of Antiochus was Cleopatra, well known queen of Egypt. She is called “the daughter of women” because of her unexcelled beauty.
Josephus says the following of this marriage. “Ptolemy now formed an alliance with Antiochus, and married his daughter Cleopatra (Polyb. 28:17, 11), who received as a dowry (comp. Daniel 11:13-16) Coele-Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine.Joseph. Ant. 12, 4, 1
Another source reads: “Daughter of Antiochus III the Great of the Syrian Empire, Cleopatra was married to Ptolemy V in 193 as part of the Peace of Lysimacheia, concluding warfare and border conflicts between Syria and Egypt. She brought as her dowry the revenues (but apparently not the ownership) of Coele-Syria, a land that Egypt had long sought to recover; and the total agreement helped to ensure Egypt's neutrality in Syria's continuing struggles with the Romans. When Ptolemy V died (180), Cleopatra became the true ruler of Egypt as regent for her young son, and she ruled equitably, keeping peace with Syria while doing nothing to alienate Rome, and thereby kept Egypt free of invasion.” BRITANNICA 2002
The plan certainly seemed ingenious enough. The lot has, indeed, been “cast into the lap.” Now we will see if “its every decision is of the Lord” or not NKJV (Prov 16:33).
Remember, these events will actually take place in 193 B.C. Daniel is hearing of them in 537 B.C., 344 years before they will take place. He is not being told of these events in great generalities, but in words of remarkable details. This will enable the faithful who were living at that time to see the hand of the Lord in the events that otherwise could drive them to despair. In this case, people would be able to survive through their knowledge of the Scriptures. Such a marvelous benefit, of course, did not end with the First Covenant, nor has it been confined to the Jews alone.
“ . . . but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.” Other versions read, “but she shall not stand with him, or be for him,” NKJV “she will not take a stand for him or be on his side,” NASB “but his plans will not succeed or help him,” NIV “but it shall not succeed or be to his advantage,” NRSV and “but this will not take place or come about.” BBE
From an earthly point of view, this was a shrewd plan, made by a highly successful king. Yet, his own daughter went against nature, choosing not to honor the desires of her father. His counsel was thus overturned by God, like the good counsel of Ahithophel 2 Sam 17:14).
Jerome says of this account, “ “Antiochus, desirous not only of possessing Syria, Cilicia, and Lycia, and the other provinces which belonged to Ptolemy, but of extending also his own scepter over Egypt itself, betrothed his own daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy, and promised to give as a dowry Coelo-Syria and Judea. But he could not obtain possession of Egypt in this way, because Ptolemy Epiphanes, perceiving his design, acted with caution, and because Cleopatra favored the purposes of her husband rather than those of her father.” In “Hebrews Commonwealth,” Jahn writes, “He indulged the hope that when his daughter became queen of Egypt, she would bring the kingdom under his influence; but she proved more faithful to her husband than to her father.”
Instead of weakening Ptolemy as Antiochus had intended, Cleopatra rather alerted him to the evil intentions of her father, thus causing his plans to be cast down. Thus we have lived out before our minds the truth that is declared in Scripture.
“Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine” (Job 18:5).
“And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken” (Job 38:15).
“For the arms of the wicked shall be broken” (Psa 37:17).
“That the triumphing of the wicked is short” (Job 20:5).
We should learn from this that “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31). It is no wonder that we are told, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet 5:7). Does God have more care for heathen Egypt than for the church He has purchased with “His own blood” (Acts 20:28)? Even when we endure hardships because of our faith, and for righteousness sake, we can expectantly “commit the keeping of [our] souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Pet 4:19). No person who does this will be ashamed.
“ 18 After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.”
This verse will confirm to us that the wicked cannot learn. They are like brute beasts who cannot be taught. Sin and iniquity plugs the hears and hardens the heart, so that what seems very apparent to the godly cannot be seen to any degree. When a person’s heart is “lifted up,” and they are intent upon doing evil, they become deaf to God, and hardened to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Antiochus does not learn from his frustrated attempts.
“After this shall he turn his face unto the isles , and shall take many . . . ” Other versions read, “to the coastlands,” NKJV “to the islands,” BBE and “to the coastal cities.” NLT
History tells us that Antiochus had developed a significant navy with one hundred large ships and two hundred smaller ones. With this fleet he “subdued most of the maritime places on the coast of the Mediterranean, and took many of the cities, Rhodes, Samos, Euboa, Colophon, and others.” CLARKE These were on the maritime coasts of Greece, Cyprus, and other islands. The Mediterranean was between Syria and Asia Minor. Thus we see that Antiochus had turned his attention to the opposite sections of the globe. In this endeavor, Antiochus fought with the Romans, who would be the next rulers of the world. One historian says these wars with Rome lasted three years. JAHN, HEBREWS COMMONWEALTH
History says of this initiative, “In his insatiable expansionist drive, Antiochus occupied parts of the kingdom of Pergamum in 198 and in 197 Greek cities in Asia Minor. In 196 BC he crossed the Hellespont into Thrace, where he claimed sovereignty over territory that had been won by Seleucus I in the year 281 BC. A war of harassment and diplomacy with Rome ensued. A number of times the Romans sent ambassadors demanding that Antiochus stay out of Europe and set free all the autonomous communities in Asia Minor. To meet these demands would have meant the actual dissolution of the western part of the Seleucid Empire, and Antiochus thus refused. Tensions with Rome increased further when the great Carthaginian general Hannibal, who had fled from Carthage in the aftermath of defeat by the Romans in the Second Punic War, found refuge with Antiochus in 195 BC and became his adviser.” BRITANNICA 2002
Antiochus’ lust for power will soon be cut short. His time, and the time of the deteriorating Grecian Empire is running out. However, the purpose of God is moving steadily ahead to the “fulness of time” when the God will send forth His Son, “made of a woman, made under the Law” (Gal 4:4).
“ . . . but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease . . . ” Other versions read, “But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end,” NKJV “But a commander will put a stop to his scorn against him,” NASB “but a commander will put an end to his insolence,” NIV “but a chief, by his destruction, will put an end to the shame offered by him,” BBE and “but a magistrate will put a stop to his outrages.” NJB
Antiochus has lived by the sword, and he will be brought down by one (Rev 13:10). God will see to it that this happens. It will not be the result of happenstance or mere human planning.
The prince of reference is Lucius Scipio, who “decisively defeated Antiochus III and threw him back permanently to the other side of the Taurus range.” BRITANNICA 2002
An even fuller account of the defeat of Antiochus is given, revealing something of what was involved in the final overthrow of Greece. “ Historians have debated Rome's reasons for this momentous decision, with suggestions ranging from a desire to protect Athenians and other Greeks from Philip out of philhellenism to fear of a secret alliance between Philip and the Seleucid king Antiochus III. Yet these suggestions are belied by the fact that Rome later treated the Greek cities callously and that no fear is apparent in Rome's increasing demands on Philip and in its refusal to negotiate seriously with him through the course of the war. Rather, the Second Macedonian War (200–196) fits the long pattern of Roman readiness to go to war in order to force ever more distant neighbors to submit to superior Roman power.
In the winter of 200–199, Roman legions marched into the Balkans under the command of Publius Sulpicius Galba. During the next two years there was no decisive battle, as the Romans gathered allies among the Greeks—not only their previous allies, the Aetolians, but also Philip's traditional allies, the Achaeans, who recognized Roman military superiority. The consul of 198, Titus Quinctius Flamininus, took over the command and defeated Philip at the battle of Cynoscephalae in 197. The terms of settlement allowed Philip to remain king of Macedon but stipulated payment of an indemnity and restrictions on campaigning beyond the borders of his kingdom. Flamininus then sought to win the goodwill of the Greeks with his famous proclamation of their liberation at the Isthmian Games of 196. To lend credibility to this proclamation, he successfully argued against senatorial opposition for the withdrawal of Roman troops from all Greece, including the strategically important “Fetters” (the key garrisons of Acrocorinth, Chalcis, and Demetrias).
Even before the Romans withdrew, the seeds had been sown for their reentry into the East. As an active king, Antiochus III set out to recover the ancestral possessions of his kingdom on the western coast of Anatolia and in Thrace. In response to the Roman demand that he stay out of Europe, the king attempted to negotiate. When the Romans showed little interest in compromise, Antiochus accepted the invitation of Rome's former allies, the Aetolians, who felt they had not been duly rewarded with additional territory after the victory over Philip, to liberate the Greeks. Upon crossing into Greece, however, the king found no enthusiasm among the other Greeks for a war of liberation and was defeated at Thermopylae in 191 by legions under the command of Manius Acilius Glabrio.
Antiochus returned home to gather a larger army. In 190 Lucius Cornelius Scipio was elected consul in Rome and was authorized to recruit a force for a campaign against Antiochus. Accompanying Lucius as a legate was his brother, the great general Scipio Africanus. In an attempt to avert war, Antiochus offered to accept the earlier Roman terms, only to find that the Romans had now extended their demands to keep Antiochus east of the Taurus Mountains of Anatolia. Unable to accept, Antiochus fought and lost to Scipio's army at Magnesia ad Sipylum in the winter of 190–189. In the following Treaty of Apamea (188), the Seleucid kingdom was limited to Asia east of the Taurus range and was required to pay an indemnity of 15,000 talents and to give up its elephants and all but 10 ships. Rome punished its opponents, the Aetolians, and rewarded its supporters, notably Pergamum and Rhodes, which were granted new territories, including Greek cities, at the expense of “the liberation of the Greeks.” The consul of 189, Gnaeus Manlius Vulso, came east with
reinforcements, took command of the legions, and proceeded to plunder the Galatians of Anatolia on the pretext of restoring order. BRITANNICA 2002
One historian records the following of this overthrow. “Antiochus lost all presence of mind, and withdrew his garrisons from all the cities on the Hellespont, and, in his precipitate flight, left all his military stores behind him. He renewed his attempts to enter into negotiations for peace, but when he was required to relinquish all his possessions west of the Taurus, and defray the expenses of the war, he resolved to try his fortune once more in a battle by land. Antiochus brought into the field seventy thousand infantry, twelve thousand cavalry, and a great number of camels, elephants, and chariots armed with scythes. To these the Romans could oppose but thirty thousand men, and yet they gained a decisive victory. The Romans lost only three hundred and twenty-five men; while, of the forces of Antiochus, fifty thousand infantry, four thousand cavalry, and fifteen elephants were left dead on the field, fifteen hundred men were made prisoners, and the king himself with great difficulty made his escape to Sardis. He now humbly sued for peace, and it was granted on the terms with which he had formerly refused compliance — that he should surrender all his possessions west of the Taurus, and that he should defray the expenses of the war. He further obligated himself to keep no elephants, and not more than twelve ships. To secure the performance of these conditions, the Romans required him to deliver up twelve hostages of their own selection, among whom was his son Antiochus, afterward surnamed Epiphanes.” — Jahn’s “Hebrew Commonwealth,” pp. 248, 249
Another record reads, “When Antiochus refused, he was decisively defeated in the Battle of Magnesia near Mt. Sipylus, where he fought with a heterogeneous army of 70,000 men against an army of 30,000 Romans and their allies. Although he could have continued the war in the eastern provinces, he renounced all claim to his conquests in Europe and in Asia Minor west of the Taurus at the peace treaty of Apamea. He also was obliged to pay an indemnity of 15,000 talents over a period of 12 years, surrender his elephants and his fleet, and furnish hostages, including his son Antiochus IV. His kingdom was now reduced to Syria, Mesopotamia, and western Iran.” BRITANNICA 2003
Lucius Scipio did not engage in this initiative out of any sense of justice. Like Antiochus, he had his own agenda. Thus the angel says, “for his own behalf” he would cause the reproach against the Romans to cease. Once again, however, his personal agenda was subject to the higher agenda of the Lord. What he intended to serve his own purpose was actually fulfilling the will of the Lord. It was nothing less than the execution of what had been written in “the Scriptures of Truth.” He was in the circumference of Divine will, and did not even know it
Benson reports the staggering results of this decisive battle. “In this battle Antiochus lost fifty thousand footmen and four thousand horsemen; one thousand four hundred were taken prisoners, and he himself escaped with difficulty.”
Without His Own Reproach
“ . . . without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.” Other versions read, “and with the reproach removed, he shall turn back on him,” NKJV “moreover, he will repay him for his scorn,” NASB “and will turn his insolence back upon him,” NIV and “in such a way that he will be unable to repay outrage for outrage.” NJB
A number of things are intended by this expression. In all of them the judgment of God is apparent.
The conquering Romans endured no setback – not a single one. The defeat was so thorough that Antiochus could not regroup and retaliate.
No mistakes, according to appearance, were made, as when Antiochus sought to bring Egypt down by giving his daughter in marriage to Ptolemy V.
The reproach that was brought upon Rome by Antiochus was turned upon his own head.
By this prophecy the angel means that the reproaches that Antiochus was hurling at the advancing Romans would be caught by a leader more capable than himself, and hurled back in his face. The Roman conqueror would realize no embarrassment, nor would his reputation be tarnished by any defeat. Antiochus the Great would reap what he sowed.
If such a benefit can be realized by a Roman conqueror who knew nothing of God, what will be the extent of the triumph of the saints of God? I will tell you, they will come through both fire and flood with no evidence of hurt upon them. Satan will finally be bruised under their feet (Rom 16:20), and their enemies will bow down before them and publically acknowledge that Christ has loved them (Rev 3:9).
In the glory, when the assembled universe stands before the Divine tribunal, there will be absolutely no question about who was right, who won, or who the conquerors are. Indeed, there may be questions about these things now, but there will be none then! The day of judgment will not be a time of discovery, but of vindication. The righteous will “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt 13:43). The devil, his angels, and all of the wicked will be very apparent. The Lord Jesus will be seen in all of His glory. The Father will be seen in all of His glory. The holy angels will be seen in all of their glory (Lk 9:26). The saints themselves will appear with Jesus in glory (Col 3:4). There will be no questions about who is on the Lord’s side and who is not. Everything that obscures will be gone.
The triumph of the righteous will be thorough, evident, and without question. There will be no shame upon them, and they will assume the position of judges. Trials that ended unjustly in this world will be resumed and finalized to the glory of God. No wrong will be left unvindicated, and no right left unjustified. The saints will be fully and publically exonerated then wicked will be completely and openly condemned. HE WILL STUMBLE, FALL, AND NOT BE FOUND
“ 19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.”
Now we come to the final chapter of this despot – a violent and greedy king who reigned for thirty-six years (223-187 B.C.). Like Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, Cyrus, and Alexander the Great, Antiochus the Great will be finally seen as “not so great.”
“Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land . . . ” Other versions read, “the fortress of his own land,” NKJV “the fortresses of his own country,” NIV “the strength of his own land,” Septuagint and “the strongholds of his own country.” NJB
The idea is that Antiochus would stop trying to expand his kingdom, cease to fight, and retreat to the strongholds of his own land for protection. History confirms he attempted no further exploits. An enormous indemnity of 15,000 talents was levied against him, as the Romans demanded that he pay for the war. He was allowed twelve years to complete the payment. “He also was obliged to pay an indemnity of 15,000
talents over a period of 12 years.” BRITANNICA 2003 15,000 talents is equivalent to between 1,800,000 and 1,440,000 pounds: that is, between 900 and 720 tons. This was paid in either gold or silver. Over a twelve year period, that would be approximately 67.5 tons of gold or silver a year. Such an enormous amount is difficult to perceive.
“ . . . but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.”
Here is the explanation of the final demise of Antiochus the Great. He stumbled, fell, and disappeared, to be found, or seen, no more. Here is the historical account. “ In 187 Antiochus was murdered in a Baal temple near Susa, where he was exacting tribute in order to obtain much needed revenue.” BRITANNICA 2003
Diodorus Sicules, Strabo, and Justin give this account of his death. “Being under the greatest difficulties how to raise the stipulated sums, he marched into his eastern provinces to exact the arrears of taxes; and, attempting to plunder the temple of Jupiter Belus at Elymais, he was opposed by the populace, and he and his attendants slain.” ADAM CLARKE
Another record reads: “Antiochus the great endeavoring to rob the temple of Bel, the barbarians near to (Elymais) rose of themselves, and slew him; and so never returned to Syria any more, but died in the province of Elymais, being slain by the Persians there, as related, and was never found more, or was buried; and this was the end of this great man, of whom so many things are said in this prophecy, and others follow concerning his successors. He died in the thirty seventh year of his reign, and the fifty second of his age.” Universal History, vol. 9. p. 270
Thus ends the record and life of Antiochus III – the Great. He was broken off like Alexander the great, and his life cut short like Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans. Although the circumstances had a different appearance, his life abruptly ended like that of Herod. He had presumed to come into “the glorious land,” and he paid the consequences.
This has been an exceedingly difficult lesson for me to develop. This is not owing to any lack of clarity in the text itself, or because of the existence of any questions about what actually took place. There really is no guesswork or surmising in compiling the facts, for there is nearly total unanimity among both secular and Christian writers about what actually took place.
For me, the difficulty lies in the repeated references one must make to history. Also, for me, filling the pages with quotations from other men is attended with a decided measure of difficultness. It is not that this is wrong. In fact, there is a great deal of edification and learning that is to be found in this record. However, in it all, I must confess that I had to continually bring my mind away from a purely historical view, choosing instead to behold the marvelous working of the Lord in these events. Personal discipline had to be exerted not to be unduly impressed by the remarkable precision of this prophecy.
All of this confirms the potentially corrupting effects of mere academia. Faith really expects the prophecies of God to be precise, and is not amazed when they come to pass. It is unbelief that staggers at the promises of God (Rom 4:20). Yet, academia tends to awaken unbelief, causing men to stagger
about like a drunken man in the citadel of truth itself. For that reason, my prayer is that, due to any deficiencies on my part, these things are not distracting to you.
Again, I must emphasize the various things that are associated with this message. They are weighty considerations, and will assist in delivering the soul from carnal impressions and shallow responses – liabilities associated with a purely pedantic approach to the truth of God.
This message was brought from heaven to Daniel.
A wicked principality made an extended effort to stop it from being delivered to Daniel.
These were matters that had been written in “the Scriptures of Truth,” the book of Divine destiny.
They were given in answer to the prayer of a righteous man. They are also described as things that would “befall” Daniel’s people in the latter days.
Such a revelation, therefore, is filled with food for thought, encouragement for the faint-hearted, and strength for battle-weary soldiers. This account shows us something of what is involved in God being for us, and the devil being against us. It unveils the intense activity in God’s kingdom. Now, take the message and let it feed your soul.

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