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THE PROPHECY OF THE

PTOLOMYS AND THE SELEUCIDS

 LEAD INTO THE SUBJECT OF

THE COMING ANTICHRIST

DANIEL 11:1-35

 

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Keep in mind that chapters 10 through 12 comprise one final vision that was given to Daniel. So, these chapters are a unit. The vision contains the most detailed of the prophecies of the Bible. It covers the period of time in ancient world history, between 529 BC and 100 BC. Then, it jumps ahead to the end-times (AD. 2015+). Because of this prophecy's extensive and exacting historic detail, liberals have said that this portion of Daniel had to have been written after the fact. I've never understood why they are called Liberals, by the way. I've found them to be just the opposite. They are the most closed minded people I've ever met. They belittle, discount and throw out anything that is supernatural. They are narrow. One of their greatest headaches is how to explain the fulfilled prophecies of the Bible.

If you are a history buff, you will find the historic detail in this chapter both amazing and exciting. If not, you may find it dry and unappealing and you might want to just skim on down to verses 30-35. However, please keep in mind that God has included each and every word that is written here for our edification and benefit. As you have it in I Timothy 3:16-17,

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

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11:1-4

Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king will appear, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.

For Daniel, this was yet future unfulfilled prophecy ... mysterious and unknown. To you and me, it is fulfilled prophecy and history. Our God is the sovereign of history. He is the author of it. He planed it. He controls it. And, he will consummate it. When God looks at history, he sees it as pre-written. The Lord says in Revelation 1:8,

'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'

That just about says it all. His name declares that he is the beginning and the end and everything in-between. He is the Almighty. Nothing is outside the realm of his knowledge, power or control. As you have it in Ephesians 1:11,

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will...

So this intricately detailed prophecy concerning these kings that were yet to come in Daniel's day were of no great consequence for God to predict. When it comes to our omniscient God, Hebrews says all things are naked and open to the eye of Him of whom we have to do (Heb. 4:13). He knows the beginning from the end and everything in-between. Furthermore, he controls it and upholds it by the Word of his great power. He gives all things purpose and direction and he is going to bring everything to a glorious consummation in Christ. Therefore, when God foretells specific people or detailed events yet to come, we can take it to the bank ... those people will arise and the events will occur. This is what he demonstrates here in Daniel 11, for anyone with an unbiased mind to see. These intricate movements and detailed peoples are prophesied here hundreds of years before they actually took place. 

The following men that are found in this prophecy, eventually appeared on the world scene, just as God said they would. They are as follows:

    1. ... Three more kings will appear in Persia. They turned out to be Cambyses, Pseudo Smerdis and Darius I.   

    2. ... then a fourth ... he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. He turned out to be Xerxes (known as Ahasuerus, the husband of Esther, in the book of Esther).

    3. ... Then a mighty king will appear, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. He turned out to be Alexander the Great.

    4. ... After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. These men appeared after Alexander's death. His empire was divided up between his four generals: Seleucus took Syria; Ptolemy took Egypt; Cassandar took Macedonia and Lysimachus took Europe.  

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11:5-6

The king of the South will become strong, but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her.

This is one of the most intricate prophecies in the Word of God. It begins with the opening salvo of the conflict that would come between the Seleucid kingdom in Syria and the Ptolomaic kingdom in Egypt. The king of the South, is Ptolomy II Philadelphus down in Egypt. The king of the North, is Antiochus II Theos of the Seleucid kingdom in Syria. The conflict between these two subdivisions of Alexander the Great's empire, extends all the way down to verse 35 and contains a huge amounts of intricate detail which, at the time of Daniel, was unfulfilled prophecy but now, is fulfilled prophecy and in the history books.

The story found in these verses reads like a soap opera in secular history. An alliance was made between Ptolomy II Philadelphus (Egypt) and Antiochus II Theos (Syria) which was cemented by the marriage of Ptolomy's daughter, Berenice, to Antiochus. After 2 years, however, he jilted her and went back to his first wife, Laodice, who was living in Ephesus. There, he died under mysterious circumstances (possibly having been poisoned by either Laodice or Berenice). Laodice then ordered Berenice and her children, who were up in Syria, to be killed. They died in 246 BC. See how exacting and detailed these Scriptures were fulfilled!?

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A map of the territory of the Seleucid Empire.

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11:7-9

One from her family line will arise to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious. He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone. Then the king of the North will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country."

Aroused by the murder of Berenice, her brother, Ptolomy III Euergetes in Egypt, launched a successful campaign against Laodice and her son, Seleucus II in Syria, and prevailed. This started what is called the Third Syrian War. Seleucus II was never able to recover from the drubbing he took from Ptolomy III and he died from a fall from his horse around 226 BC.

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11:10-16

His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress. Then the king of the South will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North, who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. When the army is carried off, the king of the South will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands, yet he will not remain triumphant. For the king of the North will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped. In those times many will rise against the king of the South. The violent men among your own people will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success.  Then the king of the North will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it."

Here, the see-saw battles between the Ptolomys in the South and the Seleucids in the North, with God's people in the middle, are predicted. Wikipaedia relates many of the details as follows:

"Antiochus III the Great, (Greek ἈƒËƒÑίoƒÔoς ƒªέƒÁƒ¿ς; ca. 241–187 BC, ruled 222–187 BC), younger son of Seleucus II Callinicus, became the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire as a youth of about eighteen in 223 BC. Ascending the throne at young age, Antiochus was an ambitious ruler. Although his early attempts in war against the Ptolemaic Kingdom were unsuccessful, in the following years of conquest Antiochus proved himself as the most successful Seleucid King after Seleucus I himself. The campaigns of 219 BC and 218 BC carried the Seleucid armies almost to the confines of Ptolemaic Egypt, but in 217 BC Ptolemy IV confronted Antiochus at the battle of Raphia and inflicted a defeat upon him which nullified all Antiochus's successes and compelled him to withdraw north of the Lebanon. In 216 BC Antiochus went north to deal with Achaeus, and had by 214 BC driven him from the field into Sardis. Antiochus contrived to get possession of the person of Achaeus (see Polybius), but the citadel held out until 213 BC under Achaeus' widow Laodice and then surrendered."

As for God's people in Palestine (the Beautiful Land) mentioned in these verses, history records that...

"Antiochus attacked Palestine, and by 199 BC he seems to have had possession of it before the Aetolian, Scopas, recovered it for Ptolemy. But that recovery proved brief, for in 198 BC Antiochus defeated Scopas at the battle of Panium, near the sources of the Jordan, a battle which marks the end of Ptolemaic rule in  Palestine."

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11:17-20

He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South. And he will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him. Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them, but a commander will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him. After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more. His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle.

Just as predicted here, between 198 and 195 BC, Antiochus the Great of Syria gave his daughter, the famous Cleopatra, to Ptolomy Epiphanes of Egypt in order to cement an alliance between them. He then made a move against the Greek Islands (Lychamacus' holdings) and was defeated by the Romans.

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11:21-29

He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses\but only for a time.

With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. Those who eat from the king's provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country. At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart.

We come now to the prophecy of the rise of the Seleucid "madman," Antiochus Epiphenes (175 BC.). As you can see, a great deal of detail is given about him and his movements here. Also, the murder of the High Priest, Onias III, is cited (a prince of the covenant will be destroyed). Antiochus' sack of Egypt and resulting spoiling are also prophesied here, as well as his second campaign and his defeat by Roman ships. Antiochus was depicted as a type of Antichrist in the form of the little horn back in chapter 8. Wikipedia gives the following details about him and his exploits:

"Antiochus IV Epiphanes ("Manifest (God)"[1], "the Illustrious"; Greek: ἈƒËƒÑίƒÍƒÔƒÍς ἘƒÎƒÇƒÓƒ¿ƒËὴς, pronounced [ænˈtɑi̯əkəs ɛˈpɪfəniːz]; born c. 215 BC; died 164 BC) ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great and the brother of Seleucus IV Philopator. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he assumed the throne.

Notable events during the reign of Antiochus IV include his near-conquest of Egypt, which led to a confrontation that became an origin of the metaphorical phrase, "line in the sand" (see below), and the rebellion of the Jewish Maccabees.

He assumed divine epithets, which no other Hellenistic king had done, such as Theos Epiphanes (Greek: ƒ¦ƒ£ƒ­ƒ° ƒ£ƒ®ƒ§ƒ³ƒŸƒ«ƒ¥ƒ° mean "God Manifest") and after his defeat of Egypt, Nikephoros (Greek: ƒ«ƒ§ƒ¨ƒ¥ƒ³ƒ­ƒ¯ƒ­ƒ° mean "Bearer of Victory")[2]. But his often eccentric behavior, capricious actions and even insanity led some of his contemporaries to call him Epimanes ("The Mad One"), a word play off of his title Epiphanes."

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11:30-35

Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant. His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.

These verses prophesy a very infamous event in the history of the Jewish people. They predict the day that Antiochus Epiphenes would sack Jerusalem and defile the Jew's temple there. This occurred around 166 BC. To the Jew, it was ... to quote Roosevelt after the bombing of Pearl Harbor ... a day that will live on in infamy. However, something more than the description of that particular event is also present here. Did you notice it? At verse 30, the prophecy leaps forward to another time as well  presenting us with a double meaning and a double fulfillment. Prophecy sometimes does that. It may have a near fulfillment and it also may have a far fulfillment. For example, in Isaiah 7:14 we read,

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name, Immanuel. (NASV)

The near fulfillment is found in the next chapter when Isaiah's wife conceived and gave birth to a son. So, it was a prophecy given as a sign for Isaiah ... and his son was a fulfillment of what the Lord had said to him. However, the prophecy also had a far fulfillment which didn't come to pass until the virgin Mary became pregnant by the Holy Ghost and gave birth to the baby Jesus. Matthew 1:23, specifically says that too was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 1:14. So, sometimes, a prophecy in the Bible can have two fulfillments ... one that is near and one that is far. Much of the minor prophet, Joel, is of that nature. So, the prophecy in verse 30 is, indeed, referring to Antiochus and what he would do at Jerusalem in the temple in 166 BC ... but it is also refers to another invader of that city who will come far in the future of Antiochus. Namely, the distant Antichrist and what he will also do in Jerusalem to its temple in the last days. Although the Antiochus side of this prophecy has already happened (the near fulfillment) ... the Antichrist side (the far fulfillment) has not yet to come to pass in human history.

So, this prophecy begins to display a marked change within verse 30 and leading up to verse 35. Then, from verse 36 on we are no longer reading fulfilled prophecy at all. We are reading yet unfulfilled prophecy. These verses move us away from Antiochus and his time ... to a day and time and events and peoples who, even now, have yet to step out upon the world scene. Beginning with verse 36, it is as if someone suddenly and unexpectedly threw open the door to the end time. All the rest of this prophecy takes up the subject of what is going to happen to God's covenant people, the Jews, far down in history during  the days of the end. Even back in the time of Jerome (AD 300) this final portion of the book of Daniel was applied to the Antichrist who was yet to come.

Here are a few additional reasons why the remainder of Daniel's prophecy is about things still future ... things still unfulfilled ...  and concerns the last days.

    1. Because the events prophesied from verse 36 on do not correspond with anything in past history. They simply have not taken place yet.

    2. Because there is a natural literary break between verses 35 and verse 36. Both the American Standard and the Revised Standard Versions clearly display this break.

    3. Because of the continued flow between these final verses of chapter 11, and the beginning verses of chapter 12. Chapter 12 begins with the words at that time. What time? The time of Antiochus Epiphenes? No. There is nothing found after verse 35 that relates back to his time in history. Rather, the things that are spoken of in those remaining verses are clearly of the time that Jesus referred to when he himself cited verse 30, in Matthew 24:15-21,

So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel\let the reader understand\then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now\and never to be equaled again.

Scripture interprets Scripture, you see. So, as we read the rest of chapter 11, it should dawn on even the most casual reader that there has been a shift and we are now far into the future of even our own day. And, when we trace back in the text to find the point at which the prophecy jumped from the past to the future, it leads us back to verses 30.  Looking back to that point then, let me point out a few things in these scriptures that Antichrist (of whom Antiochus Epiphenes was a type) will do. We read:

    1. His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice (v.30).

As we saw back in chapter 9, Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks predicted that there would come a day when Antichrist (the prince that shall to come) will make a treaty with the Jews. It also predicted that after that treaty there would come a day when he will suddenly break that treaty. In the "for what it is worth department", that treaty between Israel and the Antichrist will be signed at the beginning of the 7 year Tribulation period after the removal of the Church by Christ at the Rapture (I Thessalonians 4:15-17). It will be broken by Antichrist, 3 1/2 years later, when he invades Jerusalem and seizes the Jew's temple for his own as predicted here and by Jesus in Matthew 24, above. As you have it in II Thessalonians 2:3-4,

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

    2.  Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.

As this pertained to Antiochus, its near fulfillment occurred when Antiochus set up the idol, Jupiter, in the Holy of Holies and poured pig broth over the holy vessels. He considered himself to be that god. The far and yet ultimate fulfillment, however, has yet to occur. It will take place when Antichrist will act in the same fashion, seizing the temple at Jerusalem and occupying it and demand that, from that time forward, the whole world worship him there. Jesus warned the Jewish people of this event in Matthew 24 saying, when you see, standing in the holy place, the abomination that causes desolation ... get out of town.

    3.  ...but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.

As pertaining to Antiochus, history records that from the time that he invaded and seized the temple, the Maccabees became gorilla fighters against him (the near fulfillment of the prophecy). Eventually, after two decades of resistance and after Antiochus was dead, they forced the Seleucids to withdraw from Palestine, winning their independence in 142 BC. In the last days, Godly Jews will likewise resist the Antichrist when he too invades and seizes their temple (the far fulfillment).

    4.  Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.

With this statement, the prophecy shifts completely to the far future time of the last days. It is undoubtedly referring to the process by which the Jews in the last days of Earth's Gentile history will come to know Christ. For many, it will take the traumatic event of the judgment of the Sixth Seal to turn them around. That event is recorded in Revelation 6:12-17. For others, it will take the preaching of Christ's two witnesses as recorded in Revelation 11:3-6. And, for others, it will take a face to face confrontation with Jesus Christ himself at the place of refuge spoken of in Revelation 12:14 and predicted in Ezekiel 20:35-38,

And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead my case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead my case with you," says the Lord GOD. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant (I take this to refer to the New Covenant); I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

Zechariah prophesied concerning this time of the turning of the Jews back to their God in Zechariah 13:9 saying,

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.@

What amazing and exciting days those will be. And, beloved, you and I will no doubt observe them for ourselves one day.    

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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Proceed to the next chapter

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