Daniel 11

The Word Made Fresh

(1“In the first year of Darius the Mede I did all I could to support him and strengthen him.”)

2The one who looked like a man continued: “Now I am going to tell you truthfully what will happen: three more kings will arise in Persia. Then a fourth, who will be richer than any of them by far, and when his wealth makes him strong he will stir up other nations against the kingdom of Greece. 3Then a warmongering king will arise and rule with an iron fist and do whatever he pleases. 4But while his power is still rising his kingdom will be broken apart and scattered to the four winds of heaven, but will not continue to his offspring, and won’t have the authority with which he ruled. His kingdom will be uprooted and passed on to others besides his children.

5“Then a king in the south will gain strength, but will be lost to one of his generals who will grow even stronger than he, and will rule over a kingdom larger than his. 6Some years will pass, and an alliance will be made. The daughter of the king of the south will be sent to the king of the north to seal their alliance. But she will not retain her power, and his children will not survive. She will be cast aside, along with her servants and her child and the one who supported her.

7“In those days one of her descendants will rise and attack the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north and prevail against them. 8He will carry off their idols, and their valuable vessels of silver and gold, to Egypt as the spoils of war. He will not attack the king of the north again for some years. But then the king of the north will invade his kingdom, but will return to his own land.

10“His sons will gather a great army and go to war, advancing like a flood across the land. Again, they will carry the war as far as the fortress of the king of the north. 11Then in rage the king of the south will attack the king of the north, who will muster a huge army, but will be defeated by his enemy. 12When that army has been captured, the heart of the king of the south will swell, and he will continue to conquer tens of thousands, but he will not prevail in the end 13because the king of the north will raise an even larger army, and within some years will be able to advance with his army which will have plenty of provisions.

14“During those times many will be aroused against the king of the south. The lawless men among your own people will rise up in accordance with the vision, but they will fail. 15Then the king of the north will come and lay siege and take a fortified city. The armies of the south will not resist them, not even his hand-picked soldiers. They won’t have the strength to resist. 16But the one who is attacking him will do whatever he pleases. No one can withstand him. He will take up a position in the Beautiful Land and rule all of it. 17He will decide to approach with his whole army and bring terms of surrender, and to destroy the kingdom he will give that king a daughter in marriage, but his plans will not succeed because he will have no advantage. 18Then he will attack the seacoast and take many prisoners, but another officer will bring his insolence to an end. 19Then he will turn back toward his own fortresses, but will stumble and fall and be lost.

20“Another will arise and will send an officer to seek glory for his kingdom, but within a matter of days he will be defeated, though not in anger or in battle. 21After him there will arise a detestable man on whom was conferred no royalty. He will attack without warning and through intrigue will conquer the kingdom. 22Whole armies will be broken and scattered in his sight, including the prince of the covenant. 23An alliance will be made with him, and then he will cheat and gain strength with a small following. 24Without announcement he will enter the wealthiest areas of the province and do what his predecessors didn’t do. He will lavish them with plunder, spoil, and wealth. He will make plans against fortresses, but only for a while. 25He will gather his strength and determination with an army to go against the king of the south, but the king of the south will attack with a larger, stronger army. Still, he will not succeed because plans will be put together against him 26by the very ones who partake of the royal provisions. They will break him, and his army will be swept away, many of them killed. 27Then the two kings will face one another across the table, each bent on evil, and they will lie to one another. But their plans will not succeed because there will be an end at the appointed time. 28Then he will return to his own land with great wealth, but his heart will be against the sacred covenant. He will do what he will do when he returns to his own land.

29“At the designated time he will return to the south, but not as before. 30For this time he will be attacked by ships from Kittim, and he will lose heart and withdraw. But he will be enraged and will strike at the sacred covenant. He will return and participate with those who have forsaken the covenant. 31His own army will occupy and demean the temple and the fortress. The regular burnt offerings will be neglected, and they will set up the abomination that desolates the sacred premises. 32He will intrigue those who violate the covenant, but the people who are loyal to God will stand firm and act. 33The wise men among the people will help many to understand, but for a number of days they will fall by sword and fire and suffer captivity and be plundered. 34When they become victims, they will receive a little assistance by those who join with them, but not sincerely. 35Some of the wise ones will fall in order to refine them and make them pure and ritually clean, until the end comes – there will still be some time before the appointed end arrives.

36“Meanwhile, the king will do whatever he pleases. He will raise himself up and think of himself as one greater than any god. He will say abominable things about the God of gods. And he will be successful until the time of wrath is over, for what has been determined will be done. 37He will have no respect even for the gods of his ancestors, even the ones the women adored. He won’t have respect for any other god because he will think that he himself is greater than all of them. 38Instead of them, he will honor the god of war, a god his ancestors did not know, with gold and silver and precious stones and expensive gifts. 39He will seek the help of a foreign god to deal with the strongest fortresses. He will enrich those who support him and appoint them as rulers and make them wealthy, and he will give away the land, but for a price.

40“The king of the south will attack him at the time of the end. Then the king of the north will attack like a whirlwind with chariots and horsemen and many ships. He will advance against the countries like a flood. 41He will enter the beautiful land and tens of thousands will be killed, but Edom and Moab and most of the Ammonites will escape from his onslaught. 42He will reach out his hand against many countries. Even the land of Egypt will not escape, 43for he will rule the treasuries of gold and silver and other riches of Egypt, and the Libyans and Cushites will follow behind him. 44But then he will be alarmed by news from the north and from the east, and he will charge out in fury to destroy many. 45He will pitch his royal tents between the sea and the beautiful sacred mountain. But he will come to his end, and no one will be there to help him.”


1: The figure in Daniel’s vision (whom we have tentatively identified as the archangel Gabriel) says that he had supported the archangel Michael against Darius in the first year of Darius’ reign.

2-4: It is not possible to correlate Daniel’s history with other sources. Darius was a Mede, not a Persian. The Persian Empire that came after him had many more than four rulers. Xerxes is the most likely candidate to fit the description given here as the fourth ruler, for he did make war against the Greeks, unsuccessfully. And the warrior king described in verses 3 and 4 has to be Alexander the Great. However, Xerxes was assassinated in 465 B.C. and Alexander wasn’t even born until 356 B.C. Of course, the wording of verses 2 and 3 does not require that the “warrior king” was to come immediately after the “fourth” Persian king.

5-6: Alexander’s untimely death created a vacuum of leadership in his far-flung empire and the result was that the empire was divided into four parts, each ruled by one of Alexander’s generals. The two most prominent of the four were taken by Seleucus and Ptolemy. The Seleucid Empire eventually included most of Egypt and Palestine as well as what was left of Babylon, so he is the “king of the south.” The “realm greater than his realm” was the Ptolemaic Empire which included the former kingdoms of both Persia and Babylon. These two did not get along, so a marriage was arranged between a Seleucid prince, Antiochus II, and a daughter of Ptolemy, Berenice. In order to marry her, however, Antiochus had to divorce his first wife, Laodice, with whom he had two sons. Laodice poisoned him and killed Berenice and the children she had borne to Antiochus.

7-9: Berenice’s brother Ptolemy III Euergetes, the “branch from her roots,” sacked the Seleucid capital and carried off the gold and silver religious statues. And so it went.

10-13: This was definitely not a cold war between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. First one side held the upper hand, then the other.

14-39: For the purpose of this supplementary aid to reading the Bible a chapter at a time there is no reason to pursue all the details. As a bare-bones outline, suffice it to say that several generals and kings named Ptolemy or Antiochus fought and took and lost territory here and there. The “well-fortified city” (verse 15) is Sidon. Antiochus III is the one who came to rule Jerusalem, “the beautiful land” (verse 16), aided by “the lawless among your own people.” The “woman in marriage” (verse 17) is the first Cleopatra. Antiochus III was eventually defeated by the Romans at Thermopylae and had to raid temples and forts in his own lands to pay the required tribute (verse 19). Rome sent a tax collector (“an officer” — verse 20), and through the ensuing intrigues Antiochus IV arose (verse 21). The remainder of the chapter tells the story of Antiochus IV, his arrogance, his military successes, his desecration of the temple in Jerusalem and his disposal of the high priest (“the prince of the covenant” in verse 22). He will be unsuccessful in an attempt to subdue Egypt (verses 25-30), and will return to Jerusalem and to “those who forsake the covenant” — his Jewish supporters – and wreak death and destruction on “the people who are loyal to their God” (verses 30-32). He will become a god in his own eyes and require that his subjects treat him as such.

To this point the account follows pretty faithfully what can be known about the history of the region from the time of the exile to the time of the terrible rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

40-45: These verses tell of an imagined end to the story. The events outlined here are shrouded in mystery and do not follow what historical accounts have recorded, except, of course, that Antiochus IV Epiphanes will eventually go the way of all flesh.


God allows people and nations to walk their own paths, but God is always in charge of the overall picture, and is certainly in charge of the outcome of things. We will undoubtedly struggle through various trials, as a people and as individuals. But keep the faith! There is a purpose for all of life, but we cannot participate in God’s purpose without faith in God.