I’ve been reading your book “Daniel: A Prophet to the Nations” and I’ve been very inspired and overwhelmed by the very specific prophecies. I’m thankful for how God is using you to reveal his word to others. So suffice it to say, while I have a problem with your response to Daniel 11:36-45 my faith is still rather strong concerning almost all the rest of the book. My first problem is that you say that the king of the North is no doubt Rome when it seems that all references to a king beforehand in the refer to specific kings. And then you only really refer to Octavian so I was thinking, “Oh ok, well Octavian must be the king not Rome itself.” But that becomes a problem in the last scripture where it says, “Yet he will come to an end with no one to help him.” But I couldn’t find any evidence that Augustus “came to an end with no one to help him” on his way back to defend Rome from the Parthians. But if you say it’s Rome then you can jump forward a few hundred years and say the prophecy is fulfilled which seems like somewhat of a convenient interpretation. Maybe I’m misunderstanding something but it almost seems like you avoid these questions that seem somewhat obvious to me. So while the rest of the commentary on the prophecies seem very accurate this one leaves somewhat of a doubt with me. It seems there are small things that just don’t quite fit into your explanation.


I have put this one off a bit because the answer is a bit hard to explain.  I will do my best.

With Daniel 11:36-45, I have thougth about this passage a lot and there are several reasons I interpret this to be a prediction of the end of the Greek kingdoms under Rome.  First of all, there is the fact that Daniel 11:36 and 11:40 describe this as the time of the end of the Greek kings.  Of course, it does not literally say this, as  Daniel generally does not say things this way, but this is the end of the judgment on the kings of the North and of the South in the prophecy.  That much is clear.  The historical fact is that the last of the Greek dynasties was the Ptolemies and its factual end in time was Actium and the death of Cleopatra.   Second, as I say in my book, the description of the king of the North in this section is, coincidentally, quite appropriate to Rome, with its dependence on foreign gods, the god of fortresses and so forth.  I know of no ancient empire that fits this description better.  Third, there are the actual circumstances, with the capture of Egypt, the report from the East, and the movement of the general through the Promised Land.  All of these details are in remarkable agreement with the known history of the events around the Battle of Actium and the defeat of Marc Antony and Cleopatra.

Your question, nevertheless, is a good one.  The fact is, however, that the pattern throughout the visions of Daniel is that he describes a nation and the king of that nation as if they were one and the same.  For example, in Daniel 2, he describes four nations of gold, silver, bronze and iron.  Then he tells Nebuchudnezzar that “you are the head of gold.” (Daniel 2:38)  Is the head Babylon or is the head Nebuchadnezzar.  The answer is both!  In case there is any doubt, after he says “you are the head of gold” he continues by saying that after you another kingdom will rise… (Daniel 2:39)  Here is is using “you” to mean his kingdom.  Daniel uses Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon interchangeably.

There are several examples of this in Daniel.  In Daniel 7 the eleventh king/horn is clearly Domitian.  Yet toward the end of the chapter, beginning in 7:26, the eleventh horn has morphed, metaphorically, into the Roman kings more generally and their persecution of the saints more generally.  Similarly, in Daniel 8 he does something similar to what is in Daniel 2 and 11.  Here, the goat with a prominent horn is clearly Alexander the Great, yet later in the same chapter, the goat is transformed into the Greek dynasties.  The imagery changes from Alexander to the dynasties which followed from him.

This pattern appears to be continued in Daniel 11.  Here the king of the North is Rome and it is Rome’s instrument Octavian.  “He” in 11:36 and 11:37, 39 seems to be a general description of Rome, and not specific to Octavian/Augustus.  Yet, when we come to the king of the North in Daniel 11:40 could represent Rome in general, as Rome did take on Egypt, but it seems more likely to be specifically Octavian.

You point out that Daniel 11:45, “Yet he wll come to an end, and no one will help him” cannot be a reference to Octavian.  Of course, Octavian did in fact eventually die and no one could help him to avoid that, but I agree with you that this seems to be a description of the end of Rome the persecutor, not of Octavian.  Again, however, this seems to be the pattern of Daniel in general.  For example, in Daniel 7 the eleventh horn is Domitian, but then at the very end of the interpretation of the dream, the application metamorphs into a description of the end, not of Domitian, but or Rome as a persecutor of the church.

I agree that from a linear, Western way of thinking this is a bit odd, but it does seem to be the pattern with Daniel.  It is “logical” within his writing style and it just so happens to be consistent with both the prophecies themselves and the facts of history.  So, I will stand by my interpretation, but I certainly understand that not everyone will agree with me.  I am completely comfortable with that.

Is my interpretation somewhat “convenient”?  I would agree with this assessment.   Is the assignment of Rome vs Egypt/Octavian vs Marc Antony and Cleopatra to Daniel 11:36-45 less certain that Rome for Daniel 7 and Antiochus Epiphanes for Daniel 8 and 11:21-35.  Absolutely, yes.   Nevertheless, I believe that both the general picture and the specific picture are consistent with the time of the end of the Greek kingdoms under Rome and Augustus, so I am sticking with that.  I have never seen another interpretation which comes even close to fitting both the style of what Daniel does and the facts of history.

John Oakes

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