Chapter 11 is a wonderful chapter. The three chapters 10-12 are really one story. The angel Gabriel is the one who is speaking. He is explaining in detail to Daniel events that will take place down through history, right to the end. It isn’t a completely new vision, but more detailed information about the history visions in Daniel 2, 7 and 8; but this time in plain language instead of symbols.
In order to understand this story, we need to look at the events of history as they happened from Daniel’s day to now. It can be hard today to find a good history book that will tell us the true happenings, as there have been many people busy changing the history books. Also History is no longer taught in school as much as it used to be. We are thankful that Jesus has kept many old books from being destroyed so we can get the facts.
Why is this? Well, Satan is planning to get people to do some things that history plainly shows are wrong and stupid. He wants the leaders of the world to give the power back to the pope of Rome, like he had in the Dark Ages. If people knew all about what happened in the Dark Ages, they would not be so happy to go along with this idea. So agents get busy and rewrite history, get rid of important history books from libraries, and tell people lies instead.
How do we know this? Researchers have often found out as they were using certain books and shortly went back to use them again, that they were told they were lost or destroyed. Thankfully, God has also preserved many old history books and has laid it on the hearts of some of His people to reprint them.
“Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him. And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.” Daniel 11:1, 2
Back in Chapter 10 the first verse says: “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long:” This particular ‘Time Appointed’ in verse 1 in Daniel 10; is the Hebrew word ‘Saba’. It gives the sense of an army, or a warfare, or service. Some translations put it ‘Even the great warfare was long’. RSV says ‘it was a great conflict’. Moffatt’s says ‘a true revelation of a great conflict’.
Daniel was shown a great conflict, and Daniel 11:2 and onward is a history of the conflict between different powers struggling for control of the world. These truths need to be studied very closely.
Gabriel in chapter 10 described a struggle that was going on with the king of Persia against the ‘prince of Persia’. Satan was trying to influence Cyrus and thus keep the decree from going forth to restore the Jews to Jerusalem, and prevent the fulfilment of prophecy. There is a warfare going on here that has to do with the story of Michael, and the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan.
In verse 1, Gabriel tells Daniel that he was also supporting Darius the Mede. He confirmed and strengthened him in his first year.
History tells us that Cyrus is the one that conquered Babylon. Darius the Mede, an older man, was the uncle of Cyrus, and he put Darius in charge of Babylon after he conquered it. Darius the Mede is the one that was tricked into having Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. He was the king of Babylon, but he wasn’t the king of the entire empire of the Medes and Persians, Cyrus was.
“Darius the Mede, that is, Cyaxares, the uncle of Cyrus, took the kingdom; for Cyrus allowed him the title of all his conquests as long as he lived.” Humphrey Prideaux, The Old and New Testament Connected in the History of the Jews, Vol. I, p. 137.
Gabriel continues: “And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.”
These were three kings following Cyrus, the king that conquered Babylon. It’s an amazing fact that Cyrus was specifically called by the Lord to bring down Babylon and begin the work of letting the Jews go back to Jerusalem. The Lord was interacting with these kings as they marched through history in a very special way.
“That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Isaiah 44:28
Cyrus, had already been named in the Bible, long before he was born, this truth was part of what gave him the insight and understanding to work in favour of the Jews.
“Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;” Isaiah 45:1
Sure enough, when Cyrus attacked Babylon, the special protective gates were open!
There was going to be three kings that stood up in Persia after him, and then a forth that would be far richer. The son of Cyrus, Cambyses, was the first of these three kings and he started a campaign to conquer Egypt once he was king. He got the throne by assassinating his brother so that there was no question about who was going to follow Cyrus.
He murdered his brother and became king. Then he made an attack on Egypt, and was successful. He gathered some of the Egyptian idols, wealth, silver and gold and was on his way back from Egypt. He found out that a man, pretending to be his brother, who he had murdered, had taken the throne. This man was called Smerdis which was the brother’s name; but in history he’s called false Smerdis. He wasn’t the real Smerdis, but he took the throne anyway.
On his way back from Egypt, Cambyses realized that this impostor had taken his throne. Some historians say he committed suicide; some say that he died of an accident.
This false Smerdis was a Mede and wasn’t sympathetic to the work of the Jews restoring Jerusalem. He actually issued a decree to stop the work. Seven or eight months later he was dead and the third king came up. Darius, not Darius the Mede, but Darius the Persian. He is again, sympathetic to the need of the Jews to return to Jerusalem. He put forth the second of the three decrees that allow the 2300 day prophecy to begin. It allowed the Jews to have full autonomy in their country.
After him, it says, there would be a fourth king that was far richer. This fourth king, Xerxes, was wealthy. He put together a great army to attack Greece but he failed in his plans.
The verse says he stirs up the realm of Greece and they begin preparation to come later and sweep away the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. There were nine other kings that followed in the history of the Medes and Persians, but only these are mentioned, because they’re the points of reference that the prophetic record wants to give us.
The king that followed Xerxes, was the king that gave the third and final decree, Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes. In the Bible record, these kings have Hebrew names and also Persian names. Cambyses is the Artexerxes of Ezra 4. Darius, the king that was 3rd in line after Cyrus, is Xerxes. The king that was much richer and stirs up the realm of Greece against the Medes and Persians. He is the Ahasuarus of Esther.
The Bible record shows every one of these kings, except for Smerdis, had a direct connection with the work of bringing the Jews back to Israel. They were being influenced by Gabriel, and other angels, no doubt, to accomplish this work.
We need to understand, here at the end of the world, that no matter what leader and what kingdom is involved, our Lord is fully in charge of the situation. The time of trouble is just before us; the greatest time of trouble there ever will be, and we need to have the trust and confidence of Daniel. Daniel walked into the crisis situation at Belshazzar’s feast, when the handwriting was on the wall. Daniel knew that, if not then and there, in a very short period of time, Cyrus and the Medes and Persians were going to conquer Babylon.
He had the faith and character to walk in and tell Belshazzar, ‘No, I don’t want your gifts that you’re giving me, but I’ll read this to you’, and he explained it to him. This is just what God’s people are going to do at the end of the world. In the crisis they are going to understand the truth about the powers that be, and the struggles going on in the world. They will have the same confidence, the same trust that Daniel had, and give the faithful witness and true testimony at that time.
A great Bible truth, shown in verse 2, is that God is directly involved with the leaders of the world.
“And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.” Daniel 11:3
This ‘mighty king’ is Alexander the Great.
“And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.” Daniel 11:4
Alexander the Great conquered the world and then drank himself to death. His kingdom was broken up. The next verse talks about four winds, and the previous prophecies of Daniel say that his kingdom was divided into the four winds. But at first there were 36 generals fighting to take control of Alexander’s kingdom. Finally it got down to four; Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus and Ptolemy.
These four continued to struggle for the dominion of Alexander’s kingdom, until there were only two kingdoms left. Ptolemy, who was in control of the southern area of Egypt. Later, this becomes the kingdom in Daniel 11 that we know as the King of the South.
The other general is Seleucus; his is the kingdom of the north controlling Syria. The heart of Syria, was Babylon. So the rule is established in the history of the struggle between Alexander’s generals as they go throughout time; the King of the North is the power that controls Babylon and the King of the South is the Power that controls Egypt.
We are told the kingdom of Alexander the Great, isn’t going to be left to his family, and sure enough, one of those generals had Alexander’s family executed; so they were out of the story. Then it’s simply a struggle between these different generals until finally it gets down to two of them and verse 5 begins the story of the King of the North and the King of the South.
“And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.” Daniel 11:5
The King of the South, Ptolemy, shall be strong and ‘one of his princes’; it’s making a distinction here, the King of the South, Ptolemy, and one of ‘his’ (Alexander’s) princes, Seleucus; his kingdom was larger, stronger, and more powerful than Ptolemy’s, and that’s where the story begins. The King of the North is the stronger, larger kingdom, but they’re struggling with one another.
“And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.” Daniel 11:6
“He that begat her”; the margin says “and whom she brought forth”. Where it says ‘he that begat her’, it is really meaning her child. What’s happening here is ‘at the end of years’, after a certain time period with Seleucus and Ptolemy struggling with one another, they decide to form a treaty. So Ptolemy sends his daughter, Bernice, to the King of the North for him to marry her.
But the King of the North is already married, so to do this, he has to put away his wife, Laodice. This was their agreement of peace. But it says, ‘She shall not retain the power of his arm”. ‘She’ here, is Bernice, the King of the South’s daughter. She’s not going to retain the power with Seleucus, the King of the North. After a time, Seleucus decided that he wasn’t happy with Bernice from the South, so he divorced her, and re-married his former wife, Laodice.
Laodice then decided that ’I can’t have confidence in what this guy is going to do next, so I’m going to kill him.’ So she had him killed. Then she had Bernice and Bernice’s child killed, and turned the kingdom over to her son.
That’s the story here in verse 6, the daughter of the king of the South will not retain the power of arms, she’s going to be set aside, by the King of the North, as a wife. ‘Neither shall he stand’; the King of the North isn’t going to stand, because Laodice, his newly retrieved wife, is going to assassinate him, ‘and she shall be given up’, the daughter of the King of the South shall be given up; she’s going to be executed. ‘And those that brought her’; the attendants that came from Egypt with her, all the people that were brought to support her as the ‘Queen of the North’, they were all executed. And her son, that she had while she was there, he was executed. And ‘he that strengthened her in these times’, the King of the North. Everything about that relationship was assassinated by Laodice, and she placed her son of Seleucus in control.
“But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail:” Daniel 11:7
A branch of ‘her roots’ meaning the King of the South, where she came from, shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the King of the North, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail.
Sure enough, after the King of the North went back on the agreement that they had made; and Laodice executed Bernice; Bernice’s brother, then King of the South because his father had died, was enraged at the treachery of the King of the North. He came out of the same roots as Bernice; they were brother and sister. So ‘out of a branch of her roots will one stand up in his estate, in the estate of the King of the South, and shall come with an army and shall enter into the fortress of the King of the North.’ And History is very clear that this is exactly what took place.
“And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north.” Daniel 11:8
History shows the Egyptians, after this King of the South had marched on the King of the North, went all the way to Babylon, entered his fortress, and conquered that area, retrieving the booty that had been carried out of Egypt way back when Cambyses, the second king (verse 2), that stood up after Cyrus, had brought back from his campaign against Egypt. This booty had stayed in the domain of the King of the North. Now this King of the South went and conquered Babylon and brought it back. He was made a hero because he was bringing back all these treasures that had been lost so many years before.
“So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.” Daniel 11:9
Which he did.
“But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress.” Daniel 11:10
These sons, that shall be stirred up are the sons of the King of the North. They’re going to assemble a ‘multitude of great forces’. The sons of the king that was conquered and lost the booty that was carried back into Egypt, are stirred up to retaliate against Egypt, the King of the South. ‘Sons’ is in the plural, but by the end of the verse it is in the singular, ‘and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress.’
History says there were 2 sons of the King of the North at that time, and one was incompetent. He was the one that began the preparation for war. His generals were so frustrated with his abilities that they poisoned him. Then the second son takes up the task. and builds a mighty army to return back against the King of the South in response to what they have done.
“And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand. And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.” Daniel 11:11,12
Now the King of the North brought a great multitude against the King of the South, and the King of the South, angry about the situation, fights against him and prevails against the King of the North. Even though the King of the North had a great army, it’s given into the hand of the King of the South. He prevails, and the story of him casting down the ‘many ten-thousands’, shows how God was still controlling and working with these kings.
This King of the South, that had marched in verses 11, 12, against the King of the North and retaliated, defeated their great multitude. We take up the historian Prudeau’s account, in the chapter ‘Connections’ under the 217 BC time period, at this point:
“Philopater, was a fellow of abandoned lust and dissipation. He was so elated by his victory over Antiochus that he held processions through the provinces.” He had conquered a lot of provinces, so as he was coming back to Egypt, he celebrated and had processions through each area. He entered Jerusalem and after a blasphemous act of offering sacrifices to God, he tried to enter the Most Holy Place of the temple, in spite of the protest and entreaties of the Jews in charge.
“He was smitten from God with such a terror and confusion of mind that he was carried out of the place in a manner half dead. On this he departed from Jerusalem, filled with great wrath against the whole nation of the Jews for that which happened to him in that place and venting many threatenings against them for it.”
Verse 12 talks about him casting down many ten-thousands and it’s describing his retaliation against the Jews for this incident.
“In vengeance for his disgrace at Jerusalem he returned to his country and endeavoured to force the many Jews in Egypt to sacrifice to Egypt’s heathen gods and renounce their worship of Jehovah. When 300 Jews adopted the heathen religion, they were excommunicated by the Jewish society. Regarding this as a further insult to himself, Philopater determined to destroy the Jews in his dominion and commanded that as many as could be rounded up, be brought in chains to Alexandria.
“These were placed in a large arena, and it was proposed that on a certain day, a great public spectacle would be made, by turning wild and drunken elephants upon them. The devout Jews earnestly called upon God and when the appointed time came, the drunken and maddened beasts were let loose.
“But they turned their rage upon all those who came to see the show and destroyed great numbers of them. Besides, several appearances were soon seen in the air, which much frightened the king and all the spectators. All which, manifesting the interposal of Divine power in the protection of those people. Philopater durst not any longer prosecute his rage against them, but ordered them to be all set free and fearing the Divine vengeance upon him in their behalf, he restored them to all their privileges, rescinding and revoking all his decrees, which he had published against them.”
Three years afterwards however, in 213 BC, Philopater, on another pretext slew 40,000 Jews. Thus he cast down ten-thousands.