North vs. South: Prophecies in Daniel Chapter Eleven, by John M. Oakes

The last recorded vision given to Daniel spans chapters ten through twelve.
This awe-inspiring vision is both the climax and the culmination of the book.
It brings together in the most overwhelming prophetic vision in the Bible all
the themes of Daniel. The wonderfully specific prophecies as well as the striking
way most of the great themes in the Bible are brought together in one passage
of scripture mark this vision as perhaps the single greatest item of proof of
the inspiration of the Bible. No wonder the critics have directed their greatest
efforts at discrediting the book of Daniel against this vision.

Unlike the other sections of Daniel, there is no obvious place to divide this
part of the book into chapters. The last part of the vision, chapter twelve,
provides a very good summary of the entire book. For this reason, the current
chapter will deal with Daniel chapters ten and eleven, while the final chapter of
the book will examine the twelfth chapter of Daniel.

?In the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel? (Daniel
10:1). Daniel received this vision in 536 BC. By now, Daniel is probably over
eighty years old. He is told that the revelation concerns ?a great war? (v.
1). This must have been a completely overwhelming vision. At the time he receives
the revelation, Daniel is so upset about what he understands will happen to
God?s people that he mourns for three weeks. For three weeks, he eats no choice
food and puts no lotion on his body. Apparently, it was a big deal in the Near
Eastern culture of Daniel?s day for men to not put lotion on their bodies. The
vision is so overwhelming that the entire tenth chapter of Daniel is devoted
to describing how much God had to do to encourage and strengthen Daniel in order
to be able to receive it.

Try to picture what Daniel is going through. Imagine a person you know quite
well knocking at your door without warning. You open the door to see a friend
whose visage is distorted almost beyond recognition. He is so overwhelmed by
some circumstance, unknown to you, that he is barely able to stand up. He is so
shocked that he is completely unable to talk. He is walking around in a daze,
totally unaware of his environment. This behavior continues unabated for three
weeks. Under the circumstances, although you may not know what has happened
to your friend, one thing you would be sure of; he has just gone through some
event in his life far more overwhelming than anything you could conceive.



Figure 35. Griffin, palace of Persepolis, capital of Persia.



The scenario just described is similar to Daniel?s condition as a result of
receiving the vision recorded in chapters eleven and twelve. One would be well
advised to pay careful attention to the description Daniel is able to record
once he recovers enough to be able to write down what he saw.

 ?On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank
of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed
in linen? (v. 4). This is a flashback for Daniel. He is now describing for us
what occurred before the three weeks of shock and of fasting mentioned in verse
two. ?His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming
torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice
like the sound of a multitude? (v. 6). Could Daniel be seeing the Lord Jesus
Christ himself? The parallel between this description and that given in Revelation
1:13-16 is too strong to ignore. Although it would be a mistake to state it
with absolute certainty, it appears that Daniel had the privilege of meeting
Jesus Christ, and to receive a direct revelation from him. The other visions
in Daniel were delivered in the form of a dream or by an angel. This vision comes
by direct revelation from God himself. This provides further support to the
idea that this vision is the climax of Daniel.

The men with Daniel are unable to see the vision, but apparently they experience
some manifestation of what is going on, because they are overwhelmed with terror.
Perhaps they are witnesses to a great noise, or perhaps the earth shakes violently.
It could be that they see a great light, but cannot make out clearly what Daniel
sees. There is an obvious parallel between what happens to Daniel here and what
happened to Saul and his companions on the road to Damascus. In Acts 9:1-8,
one finds the companions of Saul (later Paul) standing speechless because they
heard the sound, but did not see Jesus. The parallel between Acts 9 and Daniel
10 provides further support to the idea that Daniel is seeing Jesus Christ in
the vision being described.

Consider how intense an effect the vision has on Daniel. ?So I was left alone,
gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly
pale and I was helpless? (v. 8). Finally, Daniel is so overwhelmed, that he
falls into a deep sleep with his face to the ground. After lying there unconscious
for an unknown length of time, Daniel relates that ?A hand touched me and set
me trembling on my hands and knees.? Daniel never specifies who this is, but
almost certainly Daniel is revived by the touch of an angel (move over, Roma Downey

The angel goes on to relate an amazing story. God has sent him to Daniel in
response to his humble prayers. ?Since the first day that you set your mind
to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were
heard, and I have come in response to them? (v. 12). What a great encouragement
to Daniel to learn that his resolute determination to remain righteous, even
though surrounded by pagan unbelievers most of his life, has caught God?s attention.
And what an encouragement to modern day disciples of Christ as well. Those who in
this life make a firm decision to ?set their mind to gain understanding and
to humble yourself before your God? should reflect on these encouraging words.
Those who have not made such a firm decision would also do well to carefully
consider these words. The theme of Daniel is revealed once again. Do not lose
heart, follower of Jesus, do not fear, Christian, God will reward your humble
and patient service to him.

Let us get back to the story. The angel relates to Daniel that on his way to
encourage him, he was held up by a spiritual battle. A protracted confrontation
with Satan had made him late in bringing help. ?But the prince of the Persian
kingdom resisted me twenty-one days.? What kind of battle is this? And who is
the prince of the Persian kingdom, referred to by the angel?

The angel is describing a spiritual battle. Behind the earthly battle-scene,
there is a constant parallel spiritual battle being waged ?in the heavenly realms.?
The apostle Paul relates, ?Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but
against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms? (Ephesians 6:12).

As Daniel is fighting his own battles with the pagan world around him, the whole
time there is an unseen spiritual battle being waged of which he normally is
completely unaware. Knowledge of this fact could make Daniel more insecure
if he feels there is something affecting him over which he has no control. This
lack o
f feeling in control, or more accurately, giving in to this feeling, is
the essence of insecurity. On the other hand, it could make Daniel feel more sec
ure, if he maintains a firm commitment to take care of his own end of the battle.
It is Daniel?s job to remain righteous, no matter the outward circumstances,
and let God and his angels take care of the spiritual battle. It is ironic that
God?s way of giving us the ?peace of God, which transcends all understanding? (Philippians
4:7) is to put us into situations over which we have no control, and using those
situations to teach us to rely on him. This reliance on God is the ultimate
source of security which will bring peace to the human soul. Whether one likes
it or not, God created his people to find true peace only when their lives are
entrusted in his hands.

And who is this ?prince of the Persian kingdom?? Apparently this is the demonic
person/power whose hand is behind the evil things which happen in Persia. No,
?it is not the physical king of the physical Persian kingdom. One can be made
sure of this by reading Daniel 10:20,21. Here, the angel speaks to Daniel, describing
the archangel Michael as ?your prince? in the same breath he uses to describe
his (the angel?s) fight against the prince of Persia. Therefore, the ?prince?
of Persiais a demonic spirit or angel. This may come as a revelation to the
reader. One can conclude from the vision of Daniel that there are specific angels
acting as the defenders of individual nations. Besides that, it would appear
that there are specific demonic beings lurking behind the scenes to lead individual
nations astray. The implication of Daniel chapter ten is that even now there
are spiritual battles being fought of which we are completely unaware. These
battles have dramatic implications for our personal lives.[2] One can assume that Daniel
takes comfort in this fact, but for those who have not put their complete faith
in God, this revelation could make them feel very insecure.

This brings to mind another question. Who is the unidentified angel who is speaking
to Daniel in this vision? It would be difficult to say for sure, since the angel
is not identified by name. The most reasonable conjecture would be that the
angel speaking to Daniel is the other ?archangel? spoken of in the Bible. It is most
likely Gabriel. Looking back at Daniel 8:16 and Daniel 9:21 would give credence
to this idea. One is left with the impression that Michael and Gabriel are the
archangels who were given special responsibility to watch over the nation of I

Let us return to the story. Gabriel tells Daniel that he was delayed because
for the past twenty-one days he had been in a battle with the prince of Per
sia. This apparent standoff was only settled when Michael came to assist Gabriel
in his battle against the evil powers. Perhaps in heaven Michael and Gabriel
will have some great war stories to share with us. Interestingly, later in his
conversation with Daniel, Gabriel will tell him that he is off next to continue
the battle with the prince of Persia.  During this battle against Persia, ?th
e prince of Greecewill come? (v. 20). This may be a reference to the future
historical attack of Alexander against the Persian Empire, or of the Greek kingdoms
against the Jews (the subject of Daniel chapter 11), or it may refer to some
other unknown spiritual battle. It would be very interesting to have more insight
into the nature of these spiritual battles, but Bible students must content themsel
ves with speculating on this subject because God chooses to give only a very
sketchy description.

Gabriel tells Daniel ?I have come to explain to you what will happen to your
people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come? (v. 14). Of
course, the skeptics would claim that the writer of Daniel is actually writing afte
r the events about to be described. The great majority of theologians would tell
us with confidence that the claim that the vision concerns ?a time yet to come?
is a mere deception created by a pious Jew posing as Daniel. They would claim
that this deception was thrust upon the gullible Jewish rabbis during the second century
BC. The internal evidence in the book, however, does not support this claim.
Besides, the claim that the Jewish teachers of the second century BC were so
gullible that they were fooled into believing that a spurious writing of one of
their contemporaries was actually written four hundred years before is not credible.

Daniel is so overwhelmed by the explanation given to him by Gabriel that he
bows to the ground, completely unable to speak. ?Then one who looked like a
man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak? (v. 16). This
is Gabriel again, giving him strength. Daniel is now able to speak, but he is still
so devastated by the vision that he is physically exhausted to the point that
he can barely even breathe. In verse eighteen, Gabriel touches Daniel for the
third time. One can see a parallel with the need for Jesus in the gardenof Geth
semane(Matthew 26:36-46) to go back to the Father in prayer three times in order to
gain the strength to face the crucifixion. Finally, Daniel is strengthened enough
for the vision to continue. This must be quite a vision!

Before proceeding, Gabriel informs Daniel that what he is telling him ?is written
in the Book of Truth.? This revelation comes straight from the Word of God.[4]
The entire chapter ten of Daniel was required to describe the preparation for
Daniel to be able to handle this vision. Finally, the prophetic vision begins.

?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 kingdomof Greece? (Daniel 11:2). The three more
kings referred to in the vision are Cyrus and his successors, Cambyses (530-522
BC) and Darius I (522-486 BC). The fourth king Daniel is told about is Xerxes
I (486-465 BC). The reign of Xerxes I represented the zenith of Persian power.
The only remaining rival to Persian power in the Near East was that of Gree
ce. Xerxes staked the entire wealth and prestige of Persiaon a huge campaign to
conquer Greek military power under the leadership of Athens. He had a great
canal built across the capeof Athosin Greecein preparation for his naval assault
in order to avoid the stormy peninsula. Xerxes spent three years building up
provisions at strategic locations. He recruited soldiers from forty-six nations
(?he will stir up everyone against the kingdomof Greece? as Daniel?s prophecy
describes it) and employed twenty-nine generals to command his army. Perhaps
most incredible of all, he had a bridge built across the straits of Dardanelles,
which separate Asia from Europe. He did this by connecting a great number of
ships to one another, allowing his army to march directly from Asia to Euro
pe. To this day, no other bridge has been built across the Dardanelles. This was
one of the greatest military campaigns of all time. Daniel gives us details
about this great battle 56 years before it occurred (in 480 BC). Is anyone surprised
that Daniel got it right?

What the angel did not tell Daniel is that after some initial successes, Xerxes?
campaign was to be a failure. This defeat of Xerxes marked the turning point
in the back-and-forth conflict between Persian and Greek power. At this point,
the vision leaps forward to the next significant conflict between the Greeks
and the Persians. ?Then a mighty king will appear, who will rule with great
power and do as he pleases? (Daniel 11:3). This is Alexander the Great. A gap
of one hundred and thirty years lay between Xerxes and Alexander.



Figure 36. Tomb of Cyrus, Pasargadae, present day Iran.


The skeptics have tried to claim that this represents a ?mistake? in Daniel.
They claim that Daniel was a poorly informed historian who only knew of four
kings of Persia, when in fact, there were a total of ten emperors in Persiabetwee
n the accession of Cyrus and the death of the last Persian emperor, Darius III,
in 330 BC. In response, one could ask ?Where in Daniel does it say that there
were only four kings in Persia?? It is true that Daniel only mentions four kings.
The fact is that in the period between the defeat of Xerxes and the conquests
of Alexander, there was relative peace between Greeceand the Persian Empire. Beside
s this, it was a time of stability in the Holy Landas well. There was no single
event in this rather long period worth mentioning by the Biblical prophet. Therefore,
God chooses to leave out mention of this period. Where is the mistake here?
It simply does not exist.

At this point in the prophecy and in history, Alexander, son of Philip of Macedon,
bursts onto the scene. In case there is any doubt about this interpretation,
the angel continues by telling Daniel that after this king leaves the scene,
his kingdom will be parceled out into four pieces. This is undeniably a reference
to the four successor kings who followed Alexander. Any possible remaining uncertainty
about the identity of the mighty king who will appear is removed when Gabriel
continues by telling Daniel that the power of this king will not go to his descendants
and that the kingdom will not be as great as it was under him. This is a clear
reference to Alexander.

Up to this point, the prophecy in Daniel chapter eleven has provided the reader
no major new information. All that will change presently. The angel continues,
?The king of the South will become strong, but one of his commanders will become
even stronger? (v. 5). Now, the main body of the prophecy will begin. In Daniel eleven,
the king of the South is the empire of the Ptolemaic Dynasty; centered, as mentioned
before, in Egypt. The king of the North in this prophecy is the empire of the
Seleucid Dynasty; centered in Syria/Mesopotamia. Perhaps the reader has studied
Daniel chapter eleven before and had absolutely no idea what was being referred
to when the vision repeatedly mentioned the kings of the North and of the South.
They may even have thought this prophecy had nothing to do with any actual historical

The statement that the kings of the South are the Ptolemies and that the kings
of the North are the Seleucids is no idle claim. In fact, the reader will find
from the following discussion that there can be absolutely no doubt about what
the prophecy refers to. However, Daniel, the one who wrote down his vision, has absolutely
no idea who the kings of the North and of the South are because all the events
Gabriel is about describe took place well over two hundred years after Daniel

The angel is about to describe in painstaking detail the future history of the
wars between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids over a period spanning from about
315 BC to about 160 BC. Rather than go through the account verse-by-verse, the
author will provide a loosely paraphrased retranslation of the text, providing the
actual historical facts including names, dates and places where the Biblical
prophecy leaves them out. The reader should read this account with the Biblical
version in one hand and the reinterpretation given here in the other. Remember that
the series of events being described comes from historical accounts external
to the Bible.

(v. 5) By 315 BC, Ptolemy I Soter, the founder of the Greek Ptolemaic Dynasty
will establish himself in Egypt. In a battle in 312 BC with his strongest competitor,
Antigonus, he will rise to become the predominant successor to Alexander. However,
his greatest general, Seleucus, the one who had defeated Antigonus, will break
away from Ptolemy to establish an independent dynasty in Mesopotamia. Eventually,
?his kingdom will become even greater than the southern kingdom of the Ptolemies.


The Kings of the South and the Kings of the North in Daniel Eleven


Kings of the South

??????????????? Kings of the North
??????????????????????????????? Daniel 11 Verse(s)

Ptolemy I 323-283 BC

??????????????? Seleucus I Nicator 321-282 BC
??????????????????????????????? Daniel 11:5

Ptolemy II Philadelphus 283-247 BC

??????????????? Antiochus I Soter 280-261 BC
??????????????????????????????? Daniel 11:6


??????????????? Antiochus II Theos 261-246 BC
??????????????????????????????? Daniel 11:6

Ptolemy III Eugertes 247-221 BC

??????????????? Seleucus II Callinicus 246-226 BC
??????????????????????????????? Daniel 11:7-8


??????????????? Seleucus III Soter 226-223 BC
??????????????????????????????? Daniel 11:8

Ptolemy IV Philopator 221-203 BC

??????????????? Antiochus III ?The Great? 223-187 BC
??????????????????????????????? Daniel 11:9-19

Ptolemy V Epiphanes 203-181 BC

??????????????? Seleucus IV Philopator 187-175 BC
??????????????????????????????? Daniel 11:20

Ptolemy VI Philometor 180-146 BC

??????????????? Antiochus IV Epiphanes 175-164 BC
??????????????????????????????? Daniel 11:21-35


??????????????? Antiochus V Eupator 164-162 BC


(v. 6) After some early, indecisive struggles, the Ptolemaic kingdom and the
Seleucid kingdom will agree to share power peacefully. In order to seal the
deal, Ptolemy II Philadelphus will send his daughter Berenice to marry Antiochus
II Theos, the heir to the northern, Seleucid throne. This marriage in 252 BC will
serve to make the two empires political allies. After both the king of the North
and the king of the South (Antiochus I and Ptolemy II) die in 246 and 245 BC
respectively, the alliance will break down. Laodice, the half-sister and wife of
Antiochus II will have Berenice and her son (the heir to the throne) poisoned.[5] Be
cause of this murder, Antiochus II will succeed to the throne of the Seleucids.

 (v. 7) In revenge, Berenice?s brother, Ptolemy III Eugertes, will take the
Egyptian throne and use it to attack Seleucus II Callinicus (successor to Antiochus
II) in what will be known as the ?Laodicean War?, gaining much territory from
Seleucus in Syria. (v. 8) Ptolemy III will return to Egyptin 240 BC with much booty,
to live out his reign in peace.

(v. 9) Later, Antiochus III, sometimes known as Antiochus the Great, will take
the throne in the Northern Kingdom. He will
attack the Southern Kingdom in 221 BC,
with some success, but will be forced to retreat by the Ptolemaic general Theodotus.

(v. 10) Undaunted, Antiochus III will return to the attack in 218-217 BC, taking
the strongholds of Tyre, Gaza, and even Raphia, a fortress on the border of
Egypt proper.

(v. 11) However, this particular victory will be short-lived as Ptolemy IV Philopater
will raise an army and visit a disastrous defeat on Antiochus III, retaking
all the conquered territory.

(v. 12, 13) After the death of Ptolemy IV, Antiochus III will raise an even
greater army and attack the Southern Kingdom in 202 -198 BC.

(v. 14) During this drawn-out campaign, many of the Jews will rebel against
the Southern Kingdom and ally themselves with Antiochus III.

v. 15) Antiochus III will defeat the Egyptian general Scopas, who will retreat
to Sidon. At Sidon, he will be besieged, and ultimately forced to surrender
in 198 BC.

(v. 16) As a result of this victory, Antiochus III will take all of Syria and
Palestine from the Ptolemaic kingdom, including the Promised Land (?the Beautiful

(v. 17) In order to secure his victory, Antiochus will send his daughter, Cleopatra,
to marry the young Ptolemy V, but this marriage alliance will not prove to be

(v. 18) Antiochus will reach a great height of power, as he will go on to conquer
the coast of Asia Minor (196 BC) and even the margins of Greece (192 BC). However,
at the height of his power, the new power in the Mediterranean, the Romans,
will come into the picture. In two battles at Thermopylaeand Magnesium, the
Romans, will bring to an end the expansion of Seleucid power, decisively defeating
Antiochus III.

(v. 19) Antiochus will suffer the humiliation of paying a huge indemnity. He
will be forced to send his son (the later Antiochus IV Epiphanes) as a hostage
to Rome. After these events, he will return to Syriawhere he will die.

(v. 20) His successor, Seleucus IV Philopater, will send his Prime Minister
Heliodorus throughout the Northern Kingdomto collect exorbitant taxes (this event is
recorded in 2 Maccabees 3). For political reasons, Heliodorus will have Seleucus
IV killed (i.e. Seleucus IV will not die in battle, but will be assassinated).

(v. 21) The successor to Seleucus IV will be the despised Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes will not be the presumed heir, but he will use political
intrigue to gain allies in the kingdom and illegitimately seize the throne of
the Northern Kingdom.

The paraphrase will be continued below, but it is appropriate to stop the story
briefly at this point to explain some of the background to the arrival in Jerusalem
of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The prophecy of Daniel chapter 11 focuses primarily
on the reign of this much-despised ruler. In fact, verses 21 through 35 will be about
the unfortunate relationship between this radical Hellenizer and the Jews.

The rule of the Greek/Egyptian Ptolemaic Dynasty over Jerusalemhad been relatively
benign. The Jews were allowed to pursue their own religion with relatively little
interference from the government. They were allowed to appoint their own high
priest and were given a good deal of local autonomy under the Ptolemaic govern
ors. It is ironic that the Jews supported Antiochus III in his battles with
the Ptolemies. They welcomed him into Jerusalemwith open arms. The irony is
that under the Seleucid kings, the fairly benevolent policies of the Ptolemies
were overturned in favor of a much harsher policy towards the native Jewish
population. This was to prove to be especially true when Antiochus IV Epipha
nes took the throne.

Antiochus IV was born in Athens, and had spent twelve years in Romeas a hostage.
?As a pun on his official royal name of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (meaning the
manifestation of the gods), the Jews sarcastically called him Antiochus IV Epimanes
(meaning the madman). He became convinced that the Greco/Roman culture should
be the only acceptable culture for the people throughout his empire. Therefore,
Antiochus set out on a policy to systematically Hellenize the Jews. This means
that he forced them to accept the cosmopolitan Greek lifestyle, with its mode
of dress, of political life, its athletic competitions and, most significantly, of religion.
Many of the liberal Jews actually embraced this change. However, the hard core
of conservative, nationalistic, Jews were determined to oppose the Hellenizing
policies of Antiochus IV Epiphanes at whatever cost to themselves.

In the process of Hellenizing Israel, Antiochus had a gymnasium built in Je
rusalem. In the Greek competition, the athletes competed in the nude. This was obviously
extremely offensive to the conservative Jews. In his arrogance, Antiochus forbade
the circumcision of Jewish children under penalty of death. Parents who disobeyed
this law were forced to witness the execution of their children before they
were killed as well. This foolish policy and others pushed the faithful Jews
beyond their limit of toleration. Open rebellion was the result. The intense
persecutions that Antiochus IV Epiphanes committed on these faithful Jews, and
the determination of a significant Jewish remnant to remain faithful no matter
what the opposition is the primary subject of this prophecy. The reader should
be reminded that Daniel is telling the story approximately three hundred and fifty
years before it happened! It is time to return to the running paraphrase on
chapter eleven.

(v. 22) Antiochus IV Epiphanes will ally himself with the liberal Jewish leader
Jason to attack and defeat the strictly orthodox high priest (i.e. prince of
the covenant) Onais.

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