Daniel 11


The events of Daniel 11:2-35 are presented in such a clear and precise way that there is little doubt among scholars that it furnishes a description of history from the Persian Empire to the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, A.D. 175.

Daniel 11:36-45 has been the subject of much controversy. The vital question is, who is the “king” of verse 36ff? We believe the evidence is strongly in favour of the Roman emperors.

Thus, the chapter embraces a large portion of history which would be of interest to the Jewish people of that time. This revelation is made evidently to prepare them for the dreadful events that were ahead. There are at least six distinct periods of history covered in this chapter. Space does not permit a detailed study of each period therefore we will only be able to summarize each period.

‘And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.) The Kings of the South and the North. “Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise 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.’ Daniel 11:1-2

First Period – The succession of the kings of Persia (v. 2)

“Yet” three kings imply four kings are under consideration one of which was then ruling – Cyrus, at the time the vision was received, Cambyses, Darius 1 and Xerxes. This fourth king was well known for his riches. He attempted to invade Greece. The Persian Empire reached its peak at this time.

‘Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases.’ Daniel 11:3

Second Period – Alexander the Great (v. 3)

After this succession of kings, there would arise one who would rule “with great dominion.” There is no doubt that this refers to Alexander the Great who conquered the world including the great Persian Empire.

‘After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parcelled 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.’ Daniel 3:4

Third Period – The state of his empire after Alexander’s death (v. 4)

The glory of Alexander was short-lived for he died yet a young man,  only 30 years old. Upon his death, his empire would be broken and divided into four parts. His son, Alexander IV, his wife Roxanna and his mother Olympia, were slain thus the kingdom did not go to his posterity. Instead, it was divided into four areas as follows: Greece, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt. A different general ruled over each area.

 ‘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 betrayed, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her. “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. 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. Those who are violent among your own people will rebel in fulfilment 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. 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 on him. After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more.’ Daniel 11:5-19

Fourth Period – The King of the South and the King of the North (vs. 5–19)

Prophetic history now zooms in on two of these portions of the empire, the Ptolemy kings of the south who ruled in Egypt and the Selucian kings who ruled in Syria. With Palestine situated as it was between Syria and Egypt, it was inevitable that it would in some way become involved in the conflict between Syria and Egypt.

As an example of the Selucian kings, Antiochus III raised an army to fight Ptolemy V. The Jews joined in and aided Antiochus in his effort against the Egyptians. This aligning of themselves with the Seleucids would work out for their own hurt as it put Palestine into the hands of the Seleucid kings.

Antiochus IV eventually came to rule over Palestine. His rule proved to be a terrible experience for the Jews. The reason the other two areas of the Greek empire were ignored is because they would have little bearing on the future history of the Jews.

There is a great amount of detail stated concerning these two kingdoms, so much so that the principal events could have been readily anticipated by those who were in possession of the writings of Daniel. The affairs of the other two portions of the empire did not have any particular effect on the Jews. The history of Antiochus the Great is traced with great detail because his actions would have a special bearing on the Jews.

‘His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendour. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle. “He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honour 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. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favour 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.’ Daniel 11:20-35

Period Five – The contemptible Person (vs. 20–35)

This is the notorious Antioch Epiphanes. There is no doubt that this section of the chapter refers to Antiochus Epiphanes and gives us many details of his character and deeds. The purpose of revealing him in such detail no doubt was to prepare the Jewish people for the terrible events to come upon them during his reign.

His acts against the Jews are described in vs. 28, 30-35. Returning from failure in an Egyptian campaign he attacked Jerusalem, slew 80,000, took 40,000 and sold 40,000 into slavery.

Later on, he invaded the Temple, ended the daily sacrifices and set up a shrine to Zeus. A pig was sacrificed on the altar of the temple and the temple was then sprinkled with pig broth. Nothing worse could have happened in the eyes of the loyal Jews would have been more humiliating. There were many apostate Jews who aided Epiphanes in his overthrow of Jerusalem.

‘The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. Instead of them, he will honour a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his ancestors he will honour with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honour those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price. “At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushite’s in submission. But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.’ Daniel 11:36-45

Part Six – The Roman Empire (Vs. 36-45)

These verses have been the subject of much controversy. The question is, who is the king of verse 36? There have been four major views advocated.

1. Antiochus Epiphanes,

2. Herod the Great,

3. The Antichrist, and

4. The Romans.

In view that he is speaking of matters related to the “latter days” and the power of the Jews being broken, it seems that events associated with the Roman Empire best fit the description given in these verses.

The historical scope of the book of Daniel is to take us from Babylon to Rome. This is evident in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. We are being brought to a “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation” Daniel 12:1.

Similar language in Matthew 24:21 makes it clear this is in the time of the Romans. The king of the North who has been the Selucian king now become the Roman king.

In 64 B.C.

Pompey brought an end to the Seleucid Empire. An even fiercer persecutor who will bring an end to the power of the “holy people” now appears. This king will exercise his will, exalt himself and even magnify himself above the gods speaking against the true God. All this will continue until God is finished with His purposes in the downfall of Judaism in A.D. 70.

He will worship, force and conquer. These will become his god. He will do anything including worshipping anything that suits his purposes. He will reward those who fall in line with him. Rome had many puppet kings ruling in the various provinces of the Empire.

This is the battle between Egypt and Rome with the Romans coming like a whirlwind overcoming all opposition. Next, the king of the North would overrun Palestine. The lands of Edom, Moab and Ammon did not have any appeal to Caesar Augustus thus they were not taken. The whole Egyptian area came under his control. He would experience problems from the east and north never completely subduing these areas.

Rome gains authority over Palestine but when Rome has done its job, it will pass away and no one can do anything to help as it decays.


We might label Daniel as the prophet of world history. This chapter covers a period of around 560 years. The details of this period are given in such a precise way that one almost has to be a student of history to really appreciate the chapter. How could Daniel layout in such a vivid way the events of history for the 560 years?

He could not on the basis of his own wisdom and knowledge. The answer is simply that he was provided divine help or else it would have been impossible. This chapter is just one of the many examples of internal evidence that the Bible is the inspired word of God.

Critics and unbelievers will say the book was written after the events recorded in the days of the Maccabees, 168 B.C. They say the book is a historical fiction in which the name of Daniel was forged.

We agree with a statement by Halley: “We suspect that the real crux of the attempt to discredit the book of Daniel is the unwillingness of intellectual pride to accept the marvellous miracles and amazing prophecies recorded in the book.”

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