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This entire chapter 11 is a prophetic message that sweeps from Daniel’s time and as the other message extends clear out past our present day into the future to the tribulation. The difference between this particular prophecy and the previous one in chapter 8 is this prophecy focuses more on the different rulers of the nation of Israel. And the bottom line is it will be a very, very long time before Israel is free of gentile rule.
The angel is still talking, continuing his conversation with Daniel from chapter 10, he tells Daniel that in the first year of Darius the Mede, he was assigned to stand by him to support and protect him. This is a bit of a controversial verse because the commentaries vary on whom the angel is supporting. Some say it is Michael and others say he is supporting the king.
I tend to fall on the side of supporting the king. Based on what we discussed in chapter 10 regarding the principalities that were surrounding the nation. This is the Medo-Persian empire and there are two rulers. Cyrus the Persian and Cyaxares the Mede. Remember Darius is more of a title like king. Cyrus was completely on board with supporting the Jews, but it appears that Cyaxares may have been on the fence which is why the principalities were doing all they could to influence his decisions against the Jews. Eventually, this angel’s strength and support lead him to side with and give resources for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.
Verse 2 speaks about three more kings ruling over the Persian empire and then a fourth king will rise up and will turn the nation against Greece. Those kings are 1. Cambyses (Cyrus’ son) 2. Pseudo-Smerdis 3. Darius Hystaspes and the fourth king is 4. Xerxes or Ahasuerus.
Xerxes is the same king in the book of Esther. He was just as this prophecy stated, he was stronger and richer. He commanded the largest army in history and led a major attack on Greece, a completely devastating defeat.
Moving into the future about 150 years later, the Greeks have never forgotten about this devastating attack and they turned the tables under the leadership of Alexander the Great. Alexander certainly did as he pleased. He conquered so much that he literally ran out of nations to conquer. He ruled as an absolute sovereign, he came in fast and accomplished much in a short time. Just like the Persian empire Alexander had full control over Israel.
Alexander died at the age of 33 and after his death his empire was eventually divided into four territories. His title did not pass onto any of his heirs. He had a half brother and two sons and all three were murdered and did not get the opportunity to sit as king.
With the title of king up for grabs, battles ensued over who would rule the world. Eventually it was narrowed down to four of Alexander’s Generals. For the sake of this prophecy we will focus mainly on the territories of the North and South of Israel.
The north is Syria and is ruled by Seleucus and will be known as the Seleucid Dynasty. The south is Egypt and is known as the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Originally Israel was given to the Ptolemies, Egypt control. From verse 4 until verse 20 about 200 years will pass.
Verse 5 shares a bit of the Ptolemaic Dynasty (Egypt). This dynasty starts out a little bigger than the north (Seleucid-Syria), but it doesn’t take long before the north (Syria) outgrows Egypt, becoming larger and stronger.
After some time passes the two regions decide to become allies, they make an alliance through marriage, which is the old way of doing it. Kings would hand over their daughters to other kingdoms in marriage in hopes of having support when needed. In this case the Egyptian king gave his daughter in marriage to the Syrian king, Antiochus Theos.
Antiochus Theos is the third king of Syria spoken about in verse 6. The only concern he had in marrying the Egyptian princess Berenice, is he was already married, so he fixed the problem by divorcing his wife.
The queen was happy about this, she was a scorned woman and so she murdered the new queen along with all her lady attendants, they were all poisoned to death. Verse 6 said the princess would “not retain power” which means the whole plan fell apart. Everyone involved was murdered.
But don’t worry because Berenice’s brother steps up and avenges her. Her brother becomes the next king of the Ptolemies, Ptolemy Evergetes and he attacks the next king of Syria, Callinicus, and defeats him, confiscating gold, silver and even their idol statues and citizens.
Callinicus falls off his horse, and has two sons available to take over the region and they are prepared for war. They are not happy about what the south (Egypt) has done. They trample all across the empire trampling through Israel and landing in Egypt.
Of course Egypt becomes furious and their king Philometer fights back with a huge military and yet again he wins the war making Syria hate the Egyptians even more. Verse 13 says Syria will return to fight again and they did. He scraped together a bigger army and after 13 years he returns with a thirst for blood.
Egypt has accumulated a lot of enemies and as it says in verse 14 many people will rise up against the south. The north has a great army and many of the haters are joining forces with the north to fight against the south. Even the robbers of the people. Robbers in Hebrew in this context means to tear away or son of breaking. The angel is referring to apostate Jews, Jews who turned from their faith and joined the war with Syria. All of these events fulfill this vision, this prophecy and are you amazed it’s down to the very last detail?
The Jews that sided with Syria thought that if they fought for the king they might also gain favor with the king and he would give them freedom. But, the war was a failure and their plans didn’t work out the way they hoped. Which is typical of the results we get when we go and do our own thing without waiting on the Lord’s plan.
What happened was, (vs. 16) Antiochus, still king of Syria, will fight and push through gaining control over Israel and will now have total control over what happens in the “Beautiful Land”. He will have power to destroy it if he chooses. Basically, Egypt lost this war and that means that Palestine now belongs to the Seleucids. The Jews tried to interfere with God’s plan and find favor with the king to gain independence and instead they are now controlled by another government. Living under Antiochus was horrific for the Jews. We talked about the horrid things this king did to the Jews in earlier studies.
After experiencing pressure from Rome, Antiochus was forced to give up his conquests, but that didn’t stop Antiochus from his goal of becoming bigger and stronger. This time (vs. 17) he makes a scheme to create an alliance with Egypt. This was a scheme because he gave his daughter to Epiphanes in marriage with the hopes that she would be a spy for him.
This daughter was the famous Cleopatra. She was a “daughter of women” meaning she was beautiful and seductive. His plan backfired, Cleopatra did not stay with her fathers plans, instead she fell in love with her husband and became loyal to him.
That plan didn’t work so Antiochus, He was persistent, decided to set his sights on the coastlands, or the islands in the Mediterranean, the Greek Islands to be more exact. He was ultimately setting his sights on Greece, so he was working his way up. This put him in a war with Rome and guess who won? Rome defeated him in 190 B.C. Which put him in his place for a while.
Verse 19 says Antiochus Theos returned home to his fortress, when he did he stumbled and fell when he went into a temple and attempted to steal all the treasures housed there. His people got so mad they murdered him on the spot. He fell dead and was seen no more.