Making Sense of Daniel

Chapter 11: Kings of the North and the South

“And now will I shew thee the truth.”

Daniel 11:2


  1. This chapter details the inter-testamental period of 450+ years from the Babylonian captivity to Augustus.
    1. It continues on in Daniel 12:1-4 to Israel’s destruction and the horrific scattering of the Jews in AD 70.
    2. This chapter is a very detailed history of the Seleucid-Ptolemy wars and the rise of Herod and Rome.
    3. Seventy weeks were determined upon Daniel’s people in chapter nine, but here are all the details.
    4. The ram, he goat, and little horn of Daniel 8 caused Daniel to faint (Dan 8:27), but here are more details
  2. It is a very unique chapter, as it prophesies many specific events not referenced elsewhere in the Bible.
    1. No other chapter comes close to this chapter in the number of precise prophetic details, proving God.
    2. Prophecy is an important proof of divine inspiration of the Bible, no wonder Daniel 11 is confused.
    3. Higher critics and textual critics make many attacks on this book to discredit these glorious prophecies.
  3. The kings of the north, Seleucid rulers of Syria, battle the kings of the south, Ptolemy rulers of Egypt.
    1. These kings and their kingdoms are two of the four divisions of Alexander’s once worldwide empire.
    2. Caught in between these two powers is Israel – look at a map, so these conflicts are very important.
    3. A principal antagonist of Israel, Antiochus Epiphanes, seen in chapter eight, is seen again here.
  4. The detail and accuracy have caused Bible skeptics to demand a late date for its’ writing – after the events!
    1. Sufficient reading will show that this prophecy is more detailed and accurate than any one history.
    2. With use of the Internet, a reader has the ability to confirm and expand this witness almost infinitely.
    3. It is now easy to exceed previous generations by a factor of ten in research with only a tenth of the time!
    4. Primary sources should include the apocryphal books of the Maccabees and Josephus’s Antiquities.
  5. Since most people are not familiar with this period of history, there is little understanding of this chapter.
  6. Most expositors agree for the first 30-35 verses, but they branch off drastically at 11:36 through 12:13.
    1. Instead of following the history of Daniel’s people as specified (Dan 10:14; 12:1,7) and as in the beginning of the prophecy, the vast majority of expositors leaps thousands of years into the future and speculate.
    2. The fantasy of some future antichrist superman, Jewish fables, and speculative contests blind most men.
    3. The period 165 BC to AD 70 have the greatest events in Israel’s history, how could they be skipped?
    4. This prophecy is to give Daniel the details of the second stage of the nation of Israel, after Babylon.
  7. The prophecy must be limited by its stated purpose and beginning and end points (Dan 10:14; 11:2; 12:1,7): it is about Daniel’s people, the Jews, and it has precise beginning and end points, 458 BC and AD 70.
    1. Believing Bible study is believing these points and looking for historical fulfillment that satisfies them.
    2. Any man who concocts an interpretation outside these limitations has made God a liar. Follow scripture!
    3. We do the very same thing in Matthew 24, where we submit to our Lord’s perfectly plain limitation of all the events described to the next 40 years of time. We do not create gaps or leaps of 1000’s of years!
  8. Since this chapter provides further details of the ram and he goat of chapter eight, it should be studied first.

The Persians and Greeks (11:1-4)

  1. Dan 11:1 Gabriel, or the angel of Daniel’s vision, continues his speech, indicating his role in the Persian Empire.
    1. Some say this verse belongs to the tenth chapter, but God rhetorically asks, “Where is the scribe?”
    2. These things would surely come to pass, as Gabriel had assisted Darius in defeating the Chaldeans.
    3. It was angelic power that strengthened the Medes and Persians to defeat the enemies of the church.
    4. We underestimate the role that holy and wicked angels play in politics (Dan 10:13,20; I Chron 21:1).
  2. Dan 11:2 A short history of Persia mentions only a few of their kings and ends with Xerxes provoking Greece.
    1. Gabriel promises Daniel the truth. What a blessing! It is too bad men do not accept this given truth.
    2. The vision of the future begins here with the Persian Empire, so we are retracing chapter eight, which should be understood well in order to enter this vision with absolute confidence of the order.
    3. Three Persian kings would follow the present king by virtue of the use of “shall stand up” and “yet.”
    4. There were many more Persian kings, but only these had any importance or dealings with the Jews.
    5. Since Cyrus was reigning (Dan 10:1), we have Cambyses, Smerdis (Gomates), and Darius Hystaspes.
    6. The fourth? Is this a fourth after the three? Or is this the fourth of the three in addition to Cyrus?
    7. It does not matter; Xerxes is the rich king. Gomates, a fraud, reigned 7 months, so he is disposable.
    8. Xerxes spent much of his reign raising money to finance an army and expedition against the Greeks.
    9. It was his burning of Athens and other offences against Greece that brought the choler of Alexander.
    10. After the Greeks defeated Xerxes, the Persian Empire was weak and ready for the picking.
  3. Dan 11:3 Alexander the Great was the mighty king that ruled with great dominion and did according to his will.
    1. We jump over many Persian rulers to Alexander, for the Persian Empire had become impotent.
    2. The Persian Empire reached its zenith in the riches, army, and navy of Xerxes, and then it declined.
    3. Alexander the Great conquered with might, speed, and dominion; he exactly fulfilled these words.
    4. Whatever Alexander chose to do, he could do. He was invincible in battle, even with horrible odds.
  4. Dan 11:4 Alexander the Great died after a short reign and his empire was divided to four non-family generals.
    1. No sooner had Alexander reached the height of his power than he died and left all in great turmoil.
    2. Within fifteen years Alexanders’s brother, mother, wives, and sons had all been murdered, which was fitting retribution of divine providence on the butchering ways of this very successful lunatic.
    3. Four generals divided his rule and holdings; their empires separate or combined never matched his.
    4. There were other small divisions beyond the four, so that the empire was truly plucked up from him.
    5. There was fighting among the generals, caused principally by Antigonus, lasting for over 20 years.

The Seleucid-Ptolemy Wars (11:5-20)

  1. Dan 11:5 Seleucus I Nicator, king of the north, was a stronger king than Ptolemais I Lagus, king of the south.
    1. We have been told in the previous verse that Alexander’s empire was divided to the four winds of heaven – the four points of the compass. Since only two touch on Israel, we only learn about two.
    2. Let readers note that Daniel’s people were directly between an enemy to the north and south – the Seleucid Empire to the north and the Ptolemaic Empire to the south. Thus the prophecy runs.
    3. The king of the south is Ptolemais I Lagus (Soter), as Egypt is south of Judea and Syria. He was strong. He had Egypt, Libya, Phoenicia, Ethiopia, Cyprus, some Greek cities, and Palestine.
    4. There is an ellipsis here, so we can read “and one of his princes shall be strong,” meaning Seleucus.
    5. This is not a redundant statement that Ptolemy was one of Alexander’s princes. That is obvious (Dan 11:4).
    6. The king of the north is Seleucus Nicator, the conqueror, who had the largest and strongest empire, for he controlled at times from Syria to India, and from Mesopotamia to Thrace and Macedonia.
    7. Seleucus I fled to Egypt and helped Ptolemy as prince against Antigonus, before ruling Syria-Asia.
    8. Ptolemais Lagus invaded Judea and took it, which includes him in the prophecy of Daniel’s people.
    9. The four kingdoms with their rulers claiming to be kings was solidified approximately B.C. 300.
    10. Tregelles places a prophetic gap before this verse, making the chapter tell of Futurism’s antichrist.
  2. Dan 11:6 After many years of fighting and other historical events, an attempt at peace between the two would fail.
    1. Many historical events and much fighting between Alexander’s generals are passed over as trivial.
    2. Ptolemy II Philadelphus sent his daughter Berenice to Antiochius II Theos to unite the kingdoms.
    3. Antiochus put away his true wife, Laodice, to marry Berenice, until Ptolemy Philadelphus died.
    4. Then he remarried Laodice, but she was now a woman spurned and murdered him by poison!
    5. She then convinced her son, Seleucus Callinicus, to kill both Berenice and her son.
    6. So the Ptolemy king of the south, the Seleucid king of the north, the daughter, and her son are dead.
  3. Dan 11:7 Ptolemy III Euergetes did not take kindly to the murder of his sister and ravaged the Seleucids for it.
    1. He sent armies to Syria and was not resisted by Seleucus Callinicus, son of Antiochus and Laodice.
    2. He was entirely successful in his campaign, for the time, and prevailed at taking all he wanted.
    3. Without resistance, he was able to enter even the capital city of Seleucia and leave a garrison there.
  4. Dan 11:8 He carried away much booty from this campaign of revenge and outlived Callinicus by four years.
    1. Cambyses of Persian had taken many of these idols from the Egyptians many years earlier.
    2. How about 4,000 talents of gold, 40,000 talents of silver, and 2,500 images and gods to confirm it.
    3. For this great return of their gods to their temples, the people called him Euergetes (the Benefactor).
  5. Dan 11:9 Ptolemy III Euergetes returned peacefully, victoriously, and without hindrance to his kingdom of Egypt.
    1. He entered into the kingdom of the Seleucids in just revenge for the treacherous murder of Berenice.
    2. If he had not been called home to crush sedition, he would have taken the whole Seleucid kingdom.
  6. Dan 11:10 Now the sons of Callinicus, Seleucus and Antiochus III, will make war against Ptolemy IV Philopater.
    1. This wicked man was ridiculed as Philopater (father-lover) for killing father, mother, and brother.
    2. Seleucus, the older brother, died while preparations were being made against Ptolemaic Egypt.
    3. These two sons of Seleucus Callinicus are Seleucus Araunus and Antiochus III the Great.
    4. Notice the Bible’s incredible accuracy in noting that only Antiochus was able to prosecute the war.
    5. He recovered all the territory lost to Ptolemy III Euergetes and approached even to Caesarea.
    6. After a four-month treaty, he approached Ptolemy’s border fortress of Raphia near Gaza.
  7. Dan 11:11 Ptolemy IV Philopater gets incensed at Antiochus’s recovery of Syria and defeats him in a great battle.
    1. Though an indolent king, Philopater eventually comes with great anger and a huge army to Raphia.
    2. Antiochus set forth a great army of 62,000 footmen and 6,000 horsemen and 102 elephants.
    3. But Ptolemy defeated the great army, killing 10,000 footmen and taking 4,000 prisoners.
    4. Antiochus III the Great was forced to retreat to Antioch, where he sued for peace with Ptolemy.
  8. Dan 11:12 Ptolemy IV is puffed up by his victory, killed many of the Syrian army, but did not take the kingdom.
    1. He enters Jerusalem and commits sacrilege on the temple altar against the decrees of the law.
    2. Though he has great success against the armies of the Syrians, he does not use his great advantage.
    3. He entered upon a life of criminal and sensual luxury and accepted unfavorable terms of peace.
  9. Dan 11:13 Antiochus III the Great gathers a larger army and proceeds against Egypt and Ptolemy V Epiphanes.
    1. About fourteen years after his loss, Antiochus brings an army that may have been 300,000.
    2. Ptolemy V Epiphanes is but five years old at his father’s death, so Egypt is ruled by Agathocles.
  10. Dan 11:14 Both Philip of Macedon and Jewish mercenaries assisted Antiochus in his campaign against Egypt.
    1. Antiochus III the Great offered Philip of Macedon half of Egypt for assisting him in the war.
    2. Greeks, Arabians, Edomites, and internal strife and ambition (with a five year old king) hurt Egypt.
    3. The greedy bandits of Daniel’s people – the Jews – will try to assist Antiochus against Egypt.
    4. But their efforts with Antiochus III against Ptolemy V did not succeed, for Scopas took Judea.
  11. Dan 11:15 Antiochus III the Great shall defeat the Egyptian general Scopas and the best armies sent to help him.
    1. Antiochus III the Great regains the territory and cities lost to Ptolemy IV Philopater previously.
    2. He set up mounts against the walled and fenced cities of Palestine and took them victoriously.
    3. Though Egypt sent its best generals to rescue Scopas, he surrendered at Sidon with 10,000 men.
  12. Dan 11:16 Antiochus III the Great was entirely successful in his defeat of Ptolemy V Epiphanes and Scopas.
    1. Egypt was unable to mount any great resistance to this large army, and they did what they chose.
    2. Since much of the battle was fought in Judea, the large army consumed much of Israel’s wealth.
  13. Dan 11:17 Antiochus III the Great intends to take all of Egypt, but tries subterfuge first by giving his daughter.
    1. He intended to prosecute his successes toward all of Egypt, and he used Jews in his army.
    2. To save his armies for fighting Rome, he sends Cleopatra I of Syria to Epiphanes with a dowry.
    3. Cleopatra chose to love her husband Ptolemy V instead, turning against her father, Antiochus III.
  14. Dan 11:18 Antiochus III the Great starts a war against the Romans but is defeated directly by Scipio Asiaticus.
    1. Antiochus raised reproaches against Rome to secure allies and assistance in defeating them.
    2. He took many islands of the Mediterranean and Aegean with 100 large ships and 200 small ones.
    3. But the Roman consul Lucuis Scipio Asiaticus performed valiantly for his own glory in victory.
    4. Antiochus’s incursions against the Romans were turned on him in defeat and total reparations.
    5. He was forced to pay for the Roman war costs at the rate of about 1000 talents per year for 12 years.
  15. Dan 11:19 He returned to the safety of Syria, but his own countrymen killed him for the public burden he caused.
    1. He left the Romans in shame, which had defeated him with a small army and made him pay for it.
    2. He who was named Great, Antiochus III, was assassinated for trying to plunder a pagan temple.
  16. Dan 11:20 His son, Seleucus IV Philopater, makes great efforts to pay the Romans and dies after a short reign.
    1. Seleucus Philopater was the oldest son of Antiochus III and very greedy and covetous.
    2. He spent much time raising taxes to pay 1000 talents a year to Rome for his father’s defeat.
    3. He was assassinated in treachery by Heliodorus who sought to be king with Epiphanes in Rome.
    4. III Maccabees 3:7; 9:23 indicate Seleucus sent Heliodorus to raid the temple treasures in Jerusalem.

Antiochus Epiphanes (11:21-32)

  1. Dan 11:21 Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a profane man, took the Seleucid throne by outside assistance and flatteries.
    1. He was in Rome as a hostage since his father’s defeat, while the 1000 annual tax was collected.
    2. He may have been involved in the treacherous assassination of his brother, Seleucus IV Philopater.
    3. The nation did not give him the throne, as they saw it belonged to Demetrius, son of Seleucus IV.
    4. He used Eumenes and Attalus of Pergamos to assist him in taking the kingdom “for his nephew.”
    5. He flattered the populace as he had seen in Rome, with modern personal politicking for popularity.
    6. He called himself Ephiphanes (the Illustrious), but others called him Epimanes (the madman).
  2. Dan 11:22 Antiochus IV Epiphanes using foreign assistance (Pergamos) vanquished his opponents – Heliodorus.
    1. Antiochus could not have taken the kingdom without the assistance of Eumenes and Attalus.
    2. He broke his opposition, including the rightful prince, Demetrius I Soter, who reigned after him.
    3. The “covenant” here refers to his flattering claim that he was protecting the throne for Demetrius.
  3. Dan 11:23 Antiochus made a league with Ptolemy VI Philometer, the son of Cleopatra I, then took some of Egypt.
    1. Ptolemy VI was the nephew of Antiochus by virtue of his mother being his sister, Cleopatra I.
    2. He moved through Syria and Palestine into Egypt with a small but formidable force to seize it.
  4. Dan 11:24 Antiochus carefully and peaceably made great progress against Egypt with spoil and strategies.
    1. While Ptolemy Philometer was deceived into safety, Antiochus moved upon his fattest territories.
    2. Superior to all the Seleucid kings before him, Antiochus makes great progress toward all Egypt.
    3. One of his policies was liberal distribution of military spoil to buy the souls of nobles and generals.
    4. With crafty guile, he devised strategies against the strongholds of Egypt to take it easily, if possible.
    5. This subtle form of conquest would last for a while, until the time was ripe for an all out assault.
    6. We consider this his first assault upon Egypt, for we have Biblical record of three separate assaults.
  5. Dan 11:25 Antiochus now attacks Egypt openly with a large force and defeats a large force of Ptolemy Philometer.
    1. Having had great success with his modest devices and scouting of Egypt, he attacks it openly.
    2. Young Ptolemy Philometer is defeated, not by military strength, but treason through Antiochus.
  6. Dan 11:26 Young Ptolemy VI Philometer is defeated by internal sedition and treason of his closest advisors.
  7. Dan 11:27 Ptolemy, now the captive of Antiochus, invites him to a great banquet at Memphis, subject to the Lord.
    1. Antiochus IV Epiphanes made great lies of his care for his young nephew Ptolemy VI Philometer.
    2. Ptolemy lies to his uncle of thanks for his care, while he plans to unite with Euergetes, his brother.
    3. The end of either or both kingdoms is not yet, though Antiochus has a serious advantage presently.
  8. Dan 11:28 Antiochus IV Epiphanes returns to Syria, but stops on the way to desecrate and desolate Jerusalem.
    1. Having had great military success in Egypt, he had much spoil to take with him back to Antioch.
    2. The Jews, having heard a false rumor that Antiochus was dead, celebrated, which enraged him.
    3. He entered Jerusalem slaying 80,000 of any age or sex, plundered the temple, and desecrated it.
  9. Dan 11:29 Antiochus returns two years later to prosecute an additional war against Egypt without former success.
    1. This is the third campaign against Egypt, the small, subtle (23-24) and the large, open (25-26).
    2. Antiochus returned to Egypt in God’s timing, for a prophecy of 2300 days was running (Dan 8:14-15).
    3. This campaign was not as successful as the first two, for he was defeated by a mere Roman threat.
  10. Dan 11:30 The Romans’ naval ambassage demanded that Antiochus return to Syria, so he punished Israel instead.
    1. Deep into Egypt, Antiochus is met by Roman ambassadors from the Senate demanding his exit.
    2. Ptolemy VI Philometer and his brother Ptolemy VIII Euergetes had sought the assistance of Rome.
    3. The Roman ambassador Popilius Loenas drew a circle in the sand and demanded his withdrawal.
    4. Grieved horribly at the treatment by his former friend the Roman ambassador, he is full of wrath.
    5. He intends to take out all his frustration, grief, and hate on the Jews, who were in his return path.
    6. He sends his general with 22,000 soldiers to desolate and desecrate the city until it is quite empty.
    7. He has friends among the apostates of that rebellious people who assist his overthrow of religion.
  11. Dan 11:31 Antiochus places an armed garrison in the city, forbids Jewish sacrifice, and sets up his abomination.
    1. He built a military fort on ground to control all access and egress from the temple of God.
    2. He forbid Jewish sacrifices and established revelry with harlots within the temple confines itself.
    3. He set up his idol god Jupiter Olympius on the altar of burnt offering of the God of Israel.
    4. There are no further words here about Antiochus, as his personal end was already told (Dan 8:25).

The Maccabees (11:32-35)

  1. Dan 11:32 Two factions in Israel appear, one friendly to Antiochus, and the other committed to his destruction.
    1. The apostate Jews were corrupted, flattered, and used by Antiochus for his ends, not their ends.
    2. The faithful Jews, including the family of Mattathias (Maccabees), did exploits for their God.
    3. This Hasmonean family (from Hasmon) had a father (Mattathias) and five accomplished sons.
    4. Their nickname Maccabees was first applied to Judas, meaning, “Hammer of God, and then to all.
    5. The exploits of the greatly outnumbered Maccabees are stories indeed of zeal and divine blessing.
    6. Both of these factions may be read about in the apocryphal Maccabees and Josephus’s Antiquities.
    7. This family and their descendants ruled Israel as ruler-priests for 130 years, from 167 BC to 37 BC.
  2. Dan 11:33 The faithful Maccabees and others like them instructed many, but were destroyed by various means.
    1. Mattathias, the father of the Asmoneans, was a priest and faithful man to teach the truth of God.
    2. Their conflict was difficult due to their very small numbers and arms, and they suffered greatly.
    3. The story of the ninety-year-old scribe Eleazar and his refusal to eat pork is an excellent example.
  3. Dan 11:34 In their difficult war against the Seleucid foes, they had very small numbers and many seditious.
    1. The Maccabees and others who revolted were successful with very small numbers of men.
    2. They had imposters, apostates, and seditious Jews and others using them and undermining them.
  4. Dan 11:35 Some of the Maccabees and others fell victim to violent deaths until the time of the end approached.
    1. These Asmonean heroes suffered greatly in their fantastic efforts to oppose the pagans in Israel.
    2. The horrible persecution and difficulties of these people, indicated by falling, is repeated (33-35).
    3. They were tried, purged, and perfected through martyrdom, as they declined into the reign of Herod.
    4. One of Herod’s first acts of business was to kill his brother-in-law, Aristobulus, the high priest.
    5. The “time of the end” here is the “appointed” duration of the Maccabean rule and suffering.
    6. Even if “time of the end” is applied to the end of Israel as a nation, we now come to its last stage.
    7. The duration of the Maccabees was from Mattathias (167 BC) to Herod as king of Judea (37 BC).

Herod the Great (11:36-39)

  1. Dan 11:36 The Herods, very important in relation to Daniel’s people, prospered until the indignation was done.
    1. Most all interpretations at this point leap 2000+ years into the future to some future antichrist.
    2. Once a man puts a gap in the 70 weeks in Daniel 9, he feels justified to put gaps anywhere else.
    3. They “gap” here to deny us God’s wonderful fulfillments, demote Jesus and the apostles, and keep their options wide open for futuristic speculation about a star wars climax with the United Nations.
    4. There are numerous reasons as to why they are certainly wrong; this prophecy is actually simple, if we will but believe the Bible and secular history about what happened next in Israel.
    5. Please consider the following reasons to reject the gap theory and prove Herod was “the king.”
    6. Reason #1: the prophecy is of “latter days” of the Jews, a second period of existence (Dan 10:14; 11:2).
    7. Reason #2: the prophecy is of Daniel’s people up to their scattering in AD 70 (Dan 11:2; 12:1,7).
    8. Reason #3: the only king still in power when the indignation was finished was Herod, Agrippa II.
    9. Reason #4: the prophecy has run as a continuous, chronological narrative of politics affecting Israel.
    10. Reason #5: the new verse is introduced with the conjunction “and,” indicating further continuity.
    11. Reason #6: the “king” here is not designated as of the north or south; he is a new and different king.
    12. Reason #7: the designation is “the king,” by which the definite article focuses on an obvious king.
    13. Reason #8: a very real and important king came on the scene right as the Asmonean period ended.
    14. Reason #9: the king here, without modifier, must be a king of Daniel’s people, a “king of the Jews.”
    15. Reason #10: the Jews had no king after Babylon, until Herod the king, who needs no explanation.
    16. Reason #11: though a vassal king of the Romans, the Scriptures call him “the king” (Matt 2:1,3,9).
    17. Reason #12: Herod “the king” affected Daniel’s people and church more than the others combined.
    18. Reason #13: with details about Berenice (Dan 11:6), Antiochus IV, and others, Herod cannot be ignored.
    19. Reason #14: Herod the Great, and his dynasty, are very important in Biblical and secular history.
    20. Reason #15: the primary subject is the nation of Israel, not Syria or Egypt, so Herod’s importance.
    21. Reason #16: the temple, which plays a large role in the New Testament, was built by “the king.”
    22. Reason #17: the given details are fulfilled perfectly in the life of Herod the Great and his family.
    23. Reason #18: having been introduced to the Roman power earlier (chapters 2,7,9), it must be here.
    24. Reason #19: Antony’s (of the south) loss to Octavian (of the north) of 31 BC in Dan 11:40 is still ahead.
    25. Reason #20: the burden of proof rests on those who wish to stick in a ridiculous gap of 2000+ years.
    26. Reason #21: the following verses list chariots and horsemen, not cruise missiles and CIA drones.
    27. Reason #22: the following verses list countries like Edom and Moab, which disappeared long ago.
    28. Reason #23: the great wealth of Egypt is described (11:43), which is 2000 years gone (Ezek 29:15).
    29. Reason #24: the antichrist, or man of sin, is not here; the pope did not come for 500 years (Dan 7:23-25).
    30. Reason #25: he cannot be Antiochus, for (a) he did not do according to his will after Dan 11:30; (b) he did not continue until the indignation was done; and (c) he did not forsake his fathers’ gods.
    31. Herod did according to his will, in that he defeated all his enemies and become the king of Judea.
    32. Herod did according to his will in great building projects, horrible atrocities, and in wealth/power.
    33. Herod did according to his will in that no one stopped or hindered any of his varied ambitions.
    34. Herod exalted himself; he was not made king; he asked it of Antony, Octavian, and the Senate.
    35. Herod magnified himself above every god [ruler]; he appointed, deposed, and killed even priests.
    36. Herod spoke marvelous things against Jehovah, for he promoted Greek/Roman deities and Caesar.
    37. Herod spoke marvelous things against Jehovah, for he diligently inquired to find and kill His Son!
    38. Herod prospered through his dynasty until the indignation God had determined was done in AD 70.
    39. If this indignation is limited to Herod the great, in his last year he destroyed Bethlehem’s babies.
  2. Dan 11:37 Herod the Great was politically ambitious without regard for any real religion, sympathy, or authority.
    1. As an Edomite, circumcised by force with the rest of that subjected nation, he was a son of Abraham and Isaac, thus making Jehovah the God of his fathers, which God he did not regard at all.
    2. Herod habitually spoke to the Jews using the expression “our fathers,” which indicates Israel’s God; he rebuilt the temple for his own glory and to appease the Jews, who hated their Edomite ruler.
    3. Herod had no sympathy for the desire of women, bearing children, and especially the Messiah, for he killed the babes of Bethlehem and its coasts (Matt 2:16-18), and his own children as well.
    4. This phrase “nor the desire of women” is subjective-genitive or objective-genitive by the context: Herod loved women (objective-genitive), but he rejected their love of children (subjective-genitive). Compare this construction with the same object – our Lord Jesus – in Haggai 2:7, were we read of the “desire of all nations,” where nations desire a Saviour, not political ambitions desire nations.
    5. This wicked man killed babies of Bethlehem and his own children (Jer 31:15: Luke 1:28,42; 11:27).
    6. Isn’t it fantastic how the coming Antichrist will be celibate or neuter from this phrase about Herod!
    7. He regarded no god [ruler] at all, though he did regard gods [pagan deities] throughout the nation.
    8. Herod’s father was Antipater, a friend of John Hyrcanus II, the last Hasmonean ruler priest of Israel.
    9. Herod executed directly or indirectly all the Asmoneans, John Hyrcanus II, Aristobulus III, Aristobulus IV, Antigonus, Mariamne, etc., to eliminate any “royal blood” of this family of Israel.
    10. He first sided with Julius Caesar, then Marc Antony and Cleopatra, and then Octavian, with the most skillful diplomacies to protect and promote his personal ambition to dominate Israel.
    11. He had no regard for any religion, human sympathy, his family, or authority; he magnified himself.
    12. He murdered his beloved wife Mariamne, his children, relatives, and any suspected competitor.
    13. Caesar Augustus, his friend and patron, said of Herod, “I would rather be Herod’s pig than his son.”
    14. He had his own groupies or followers called Herodians, who counted him as the Messiah of Israel.
  3. Dan 11:38 Herod the Great honored the Roman Empire and its rulers to get the necessary backing for his ambition.
    1. There was no empire, nation, or people that used military force quite like the Romans in history.
    2. When chased from Judea by Antigonus and the Parthians in 40 BC, he went right to Rome for help.
    3. He did not honor the true God of forces, Jehovah, but the political God of forces, the Roman rulers.
    4. He put his trust, from beginning to end, in military might and force in eliminating any competitors.
    5. Julius Caesar was made Pontifex Maximus, Supreme Priest, in 63 BC, and Augustus in 12 BC.
    6. Julius Caesar was called a god after 44 BC, when a comet appeared at games in his honor; and Augustus, who had been adopted by Caesar in his will, became known as divi filius, son of a god!
    7. Herod honored Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, and Augustus in order, gods of the Roman forces.
    8. He is known in history for building many forts and fortresses, even some attached to the temple.
    9. He bought his support with great gifts to Antony, and then Augustus, when he defeated Antony.
    10. A great tower in the temple was called Antonia; a seaport became Caesarea; and there was Masada.
    11. He built temples and palaces all over in honor to Augustus; new cities were called his caesareas.
    12. His showering of gifts and honors upon the rulers of Rome are legendary, thus the fulfillment.
  4. Dan 11:39 Herod built great strong holds and promoted the glory of the Romans in Palestine for his own ends.
    1. The rebuilt temple was the most magnificent building in the world by far in size and glory; it deserves study to realize the economic and political power of Herod and the fulfillment here.
    2. Titus himself witnessed the impregnable forts that were in Jerusalem attached to the temple.
    3. He promoted the Roman god to the extent he placed their eagle ensign over the temple entrance.
    4. He promoted the Romans as a people, a nation, and authority over the peoples that he ruled.
    5. The strange god that Herod promoted was Caesar Augustus, whom he honored abundantly.
    6. He built and named forts (Antonia in Jerusalem after Antony) and cities (Caesarea after Augustus).
    7. He appointed and deposed deputies, priests, and any other ruler as he saw fit for his own gain.
    8. He doled out lands and authority to those who supported him in order to secure their allegiance.

Caesar Augustus (11:40-43)

  1. Dan 11:40 The final end of the Greek kingdoms is brought about by the battle of Actium of Antony and Octavian.
    1. Beginning here, we have a parenthetical departure from Herod for four verses (40-43), in which Gabriel prophesies what will happen politically in the rest of the world. The only reason these players are mentioned is due to (a) the proximity of Egypt to Israel, (b) Augustus entered the glorious land on his way to Egypt, and (c) and to reveal the Caesar we find in the New Testament.
    2. The “time of the end” is to be understood in its context, which is the end of Israel and rise of Rome.
    3. Cleopatra, with Antony’s assistance, did push at Herod, taking some of his territory. Herod and Antony were friends, but he hated Cleopatra, who wanted part or all of his kingdom. She forced Herod to fight the Arabians for her, which kept him from fighting Octavian, but cost him territory.
    4. The two uses of the pronoun “him” need not refer to Herod, but to each other – the two kings.
    5. The king of the south is the combined political/military might of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII.
    6. Rome is called the king of the north, for they came from the north and were in control of Syria, whether you view Syria under Marc Antony or Octavian.
    7. Antony and Cleopatra made a major push, according to the historian Plutarch, in the area of Greece.
    8. Cleopatra VII wanted to expand her empire and tried so first with Julius Caesar and then Antony.
    9. Herod at this time is listed in the supplying kings of Mark Antony, also according to Plutarch.
    10. Octavian, the nephew of Julius Caesar, another lover of Cleopatra, defeated him to take the Empire.
    11. Marc Antony, obsessed with his Cleopatra, engaged Octavian in a naval battle and was defeated.
    12. They retired to Alexandria, Egypt, where Antony committed suicide, and then Cleopatra did also.
    13. The reference to ships, horsemen, and chariots is a precise fulfillment of Actium and Alexandria.
    14. An infantry battle was not fought. Fighting was with ships and cavalry. Antony was better on land.
    15. Octavian took provinces from Illyria to Syria to Africa. There were also many defections to him.
    16. He was like a flood – nothing stood in his way. He was very successful in his military progress.
  2. Dan 11:41 Octavian entered Israel and countries of the east that were independent or under Antony’s legal power.
    1. Octavian chose to invade Egypt by way of Palestine, and Herod royally received him with aid.
    2. He brought many countries under dominion that had some independence since Alexander’s death.
    3. Octavian sent Aelius Gallus along with troops from Herod against Edom, Moab, and Ammon; but they were not successful and further efforts were not made against them. Those countries escaped.
  3. Dan 11:42 Octavian was successful in securing the countries of the king of the south (Antony), including Egypt.
    1. Many other countries Octavian took, including Egypt, the last stronghold outside Rome’s power.
    2. The power and history of the Ptolemies, wealth of Cleopatra, and soldiers and skill of Antony failed.
    3. He took possession of Egypt, which had not been done by a “king of the north,” since Alexander.
  4. Dan 11:43 Octavian got the riches of the Ptolemies by defeating Antony and Cleopatra and seizing their wealth.
    1. Vast riches of Egypt limit us to Cleopatra’s time, for Egypt is a base nation forever (Ezek 29:14-15).
    2. Cleopatra conspired to draw her ships over the isthmus into the Red Sea and sail away with Egypt’s wealth to some unknown land with Marc Antony, but the ships were burned by enemies!
    3. Cleopatra conspired to burn up much of the wealth with her death, but Octavian circumvented it.
    4. He celebrated his triumph in Rome in 29 BC; interest rates fell greatly due to the influx of booty.
    5. Though Octavian did not take Libya and Ethiopia himself, his general Cornelius Balbus did so.
    6. Octavian returned victorious to Rome, became emperor, and was given the title “Augustus.”
    7. This is that king of whom we read, “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus” (Luke 2:1).
    8. The government went to his stepson Tiberius, when he died in AD 14, of whom we read, “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1).

Herod the Great (11:44-45)

  1. Dan 11:44 Herod the Great at the end of his life was greatly troubled and angered by tidings from east and north.
    1. We know we have moved back to Herod the Great by virtue of where he planted his palace (45).
    2. The parenthesis of politics in the rest of the world behind us; we now return to Herod “the king.”
    3. The antecedents of pronouns, in all writings, are identified by context, not necessarily by proximity.
    4. Horrible tidings came from the east to Herod – news that a king of the Jews was born (Matt 2:1-18)!
    5. Herod and all Jerusalem were “troubled” with the things they heard from wise men from the east!
    6. When mocked by the wise men, Herod was “exceeding wroth” and issued his atrocious decree.
    7. He went forth with great fury and killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem and neighboring areas.
    8. His depraved, oldest son Antipater, who was in Rome (the north), spread seditious lies about him and sought to assassinate him with poison, which Herod found by torture and had Antipater killed.
    9. He burned Matthias and forty others alive, after they pulled down the golden eagle at the temple.
    10. He gathered all the principal leaders of Israel together and had them retained in the hippodrome, and he gave the order they were to be killed at his death, so the nation would mourn as fitting its king.
  2. Dan 11:45 Herod the Great presumed to plant his palace in the holy mountain of God, but he came to a lonely end.
    1. The two seas here are the Mediterranean and Dead Seas, between which is Jerusalem (Zech 14:8).
    2. The glorious holy mountain is Mount Zion (Moriah), upon which Jerusalem was built (Ps 48:1-3).
    3. Herod’s palace was a magnificent fortress attached to the temple with a secret passage into it.
    4. Herod died lonely and hated by everyone, for he had butchered his own family and nation for gain.
    5. He died of the most horrible afflictions and diseases, which could not be retarded or alleviated at all.
    6. He died in absolute torment of a combination of rage and fear. Josephus says “paroxysms of fury.”
    7. He died in one year from having slain the babies of Bethlehem, as God brought judgment on him.


  1. “Daniel’s Last Vision and Prophecy, respecting which Commentators have greatly differed from each other, showing its Fulfilment in events recorded in authentic history. A study of this chapter, in particular Dan 11:36-45, owes much to the providence of God in discovering two books: Philip Mauro (1859-1952) and his The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation. He, in turn, had been helped by James Farquharson, who had printed in 1838 in Aberdeen, Scotland a book entitled, Daniel’s Last Vision and Prophecy, respecting which Commentators have greatly differed from each other, showing its Fulfilment in events recorded in authentic history.
  2. Use the links below to satisfy or stimulate your study of history fulfilling this wonderful prophecy. The material found in these pages is only an outline sketch. Every clause of the prophecy can be verified from a variety of sources with as much evidence as a fair person could want, and all this for a click of the mouse!
  3. There is no single history with as much detail and accuracy as this prophecy given by Gabriel to Daniel, 10-520 years before the specified events occurred! God has challenged all comers (Isaiah 41:21-24)!

For further reading:

  1. History charts from 333 B.C. to A.D.:
  2. World History from a Bible perspective:
  3. World History, not Biblical, abbreviated:
  4. Clarke Commentary:
  5. Constable Commentary:
  6. Xerxes:
  7. A short, readable history of the four Greek kingdoms:
  8. Ptolemy Family Tree:
  9. Ptolemy I Soter:
  10. Ptolemy II Philadelphus:
  11. Ptolemy III Euergetes:
  12. Ptolemy IV Philopater:
  13. Ptolemy V Epiphanes:
  14. Ptolemy VI Philometer:
  15. Ptolemy VII Euergetes II:
  16. Ptolemy VIII Soter II:
  17. Ptolemy IX Alexander:
  18. Ptolemy X Alexander:
  19. Ptolemy XI Auletes:
  20. Ptolemy XII:
  21. Ptolemy XIII;
  22. Ptolemy XIV:
  23. Seleucid Family Tree:
  24. Seleucus I Nicator:
  25. Antiochus I:
  26. Antiochus II Theos:
  27. Seleucus II Callinicus:
  28. Antiochus III the Great:
  29. Antiochus IV Epiphanes:
  30. Antiochus IV Epiphanes:
  31. A short, readable history of the Maccabees:
  32. More about the Maccabees:
  33. Family tree history of the Herods:
  34. Caesar Augustus:
  35. Caesar Augustus:
  36. Cleopatra:
  37. Mark Antony:
  38. Battle of Actium:
  39. Antony and Cleopatra after Actium:


Next Chapter

Daniel 12: The Great Time of Trouble