From the New Book: The Amazing Enigma That is Daniel 11 – Part 2 of 3

The reprint of Appendix B from the New Book continues here in Part 2. Part 1 is here if you haven’t read it. All Bible quotes use NJKV.


The Fourth and Fifth Syrian Wars, Daniel 11:9–19

Daniel 11:9–10:

[V. 9] Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land.

[V. 10] However his sons shall stir up strife, and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come and overwhelm and pass through; then he shall return to his fortress and stir up strife.

V. 9: In 219 BC, KotN (Antiochus III, the Great, son of Seleucus II) sent an army to Egyptian territory. The army got as far as the fortress at Raphia (at the border of Gaza and Sinai), deep in the realm of the KotS and was victorious. This began the Fourth Syrian War (219–217 BC). KotN retreated to his own country because of what happened next in 217 BC.

V. 10: It is not completely clear whose sons are being referred to in this verse. Figure 74 in chapter 31 shows us this verse is the reading’s central message of Daniel 11:1–20, and so can be thought of as appropriate to either side, summing up the account of generation after generation, fathers and sons as kings, assembling forces and attacking fortresses. It is a documented fact that both Ptolemy IV (the KotS) and Antiochus III (the KotN) had sons who carried on the long tradition of warfare between their states.

Daniel 11:11–12:

[V. 11] And the king of the South shall be moved with rage, and go out and fight with him, with the king of the North, who shall muster a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into the hand of his enemy.

[V. 12] When he has taken away the multitude, his heart will be lifted up; and he will cast down tens of thousands, but he will not prevail.

V. 11: The KotS (now Ptolemy IV Philopator, son of Ptolemy III) responds to the invasion by Antiochus III by sending an army almost as big as that of the KotN (Antiochus III, the Great), to Raphia, and defeats the KotN. The great multitude of Antiochus III is vanquished by Ptolemy IV’s army.

V. 12: The KotS slaughters thousands of the army of the KotN at Raphia. The KotS however will not prevail in the long run.

Daniel 11:13:

For the king of the North will return and muster a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come at the end of some years with a great army and much equipment.

“The end of some years” is the end of fifteen years. The KotN (still Antiochus III) attacked the KotS (now Ptolemy V, son of Ptolemy IV) again in what is the Fifth Syrian War (202-198 BC). Next, the text of Daniel 11:14 tells of conditions going on in Egypt at that time.

Daniel 11:14:

Now in those times many shall rise up against the king of the South. Also, violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision, but they shall fall.

In those times between the Fourth Syrian War and Fifth Syrian War (in the interim of 217–202 BC, i.e. fifteen years), the Egyptian kingdom of Ptolemy IV (who died in 203 BC) was weakened because there was (1) royal court regency infighting as to how the country would be controlled, and (2) native Egyptian populations in the south declared their own kingdom, breaking away.

In addition, there was a small rebellion in Judah forty years prior to the time of the Maccabees that was unsuccessful (Ref. Josephus, Antiq. 12.3.3). Daniel 11:14 suggests the Jews saw this prophecy in Daniel 11 and thought at that time it was the time of fulfillment. They were mistaken, but it did contribute to the weakening of Egypt.

Daniel 11:15–16:

[V. 15] So the king of the North shall come and build a siege mound, and take a fortified city; and the forces of the South shall not withstand him. Even his choice troops shall have no strength to resist.

[V. 16] But he who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and no one shall stand against him. He shall stand in the Glorious Land with destruction in his power.

V. 15: The KotN (still Antiochus III, the Great) wins the Battle of Paneas during the Fifth Syrian War and takes the fortified city of Sidon on the Lebanese coast.

V. 16: Upon winning this battle in 200 BC, the KotN finally controlled Judah, and KotN establishes himself in Judah for the first time since the two empires co-existed starting in 306 BC. Antiochus III, the Great had complete control of the Levant and could do anything he wanted; he had the power to destroy Jerusalem and the Jews, if he wanted. Dan. 11:18 shows us the KotN had other plans.

Daniel 11:17–19:

[V. 17] He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do. And he shall give him the daughter of women to destroy it; but she shall not stand with him, or be for him.

[V. 18] After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands, and shall take many. But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end; and with the reproach removed, he shall turn back on him.

[V. 19] Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.

V. 17: At the end of the Fifth Syrian War in 198 BC, Antiochus III, the Great gives his daughter Cleopatra (becoming Cleopatra I of Egypt) to Ptolemy V Epiphanes, the KotS, as his wife, creating a new alliance. By making peace with Egypt and securing his southern border, Antiochus III could concentrate on the northwest of his empire. Cleopatra I was faithful to her husband and upheld the sovereignty of Egypt, as it says in Daniel 11:17.

V. 18: Antiochus III then focused his military on the Greek mainland and western Asia Minor, i.e. the coastlands. With the growing Roman Empire as a threat, he decided areas to the northwest on the frontier in Asia Minor must receive his immediate attention. However, in 190 BC, the Roman general Scipio defeated Antiochus III in battle in Asia Minor.

V. 19: Antiochus III was forced to retreat to his strongholds located in only the southeast corner of Asia Minor, near his capital city of Antioch. The peace treaty with Scipio included paying a heavy annual tribute. Antiochus III died three years later.

The Usurper, Daniel 11:20

Daniel 11:20:

There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; but within a few days he shall be destroyed, but not in anger or in battle.

The next king of Syria, Seleucus IV, son of Antiochus III, now has to pay a heavy tax to the Romans as part of the treaty following his father’s defeat in 190 BC. He sent his minister named Heliodorus to take the temple treasury in Jerusalem to raise money. Upon returning, Heliodorus kills Seleucus IV and takes the throne for his own. Heliodorus reigns for only a few months during 175 BC, i.e. “a few days.”

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Sixth Syrian War, Daniel 11:21–30

Daniel 11:21–23:

[V. 21] And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.

[V. 22] With the force of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant.

[V. 23] And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people.

In verses 21–23, Antiochus IV Epiphanes is prophesied as taking his kingdom and beginning pressure on the Jews. He wished to Hellenize them.

V. 21: Seleucus IV’s brother, Antiochus IV, the “vile person,” is released from custody in Rome. With the help of a king in Greece, he travels back to Antioch, kills Heliodorus, and takes the throne. Antiochus IV is next in line for the throne, so he was of royalty. However, he was the first in his royal family line who didn’t have the throne given to him; he had to act on his own to take it, i.e. he was not given the honor of royalty. His reign began in 175 BC.

V. 22: After consolidating power, Antiochus IV took his large army south from Antioch towards Egypt in 170 BC. He stopped at Jerusalem, which his father Antiochus III had already conquered. Onias, the high priest, had just died, and the high priest position was given to his brother Jesus. However, Antiochus IV took the high priest position from Jesus (“a prince of the covenant”) and gave it to another brother also named Onias, a Hellenistic sympathizer. Antiochus changed his name to Menelaus (Ref. Josephus, Antiq. 12.5.1).

V. 23: At this time in Jerusalem, Tobias and his sons, who were also Hellenistic sympathizers, kept Antiochus IV informed of events in Jerusalem. With the support of the king, a Greek gymnasium was built in Jerusalem that was a force for Hellenization of the residents of Jerusalem (Ref. Josephus, Antiq. 12.5.1).

This reprint of Appendix B from the new book will continue and be completed in Part 3.

Categories: Signpost #4: New Islamic Empire, Signpost Theology, The Four Signposts

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5 replies

  1. Hate to diverge from this topic, wondering what details to look out for concerning this current power shift thsr happened over the weekend in Saudi Arabia.

  2. Gary,
    Nothing significant – its like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Iran will still invade the Middle East. Saudi Arabia will still be invaded.

  3. Mark – you have done a lot of research, it is obvious to see. My question however is “why would God give so much ‘space’ in the book of Daniel to something so obscure and seemingly unimportant” as that which you have noted above. I mean, its ‘important’ of course, otherwise God wouldn’t have included it, however I am missing something here. Is it simply that in order to firmly and accurately identify the AC who is to come, we have to understand (in detail), what has already taken place, or is this simply so we don’t get confused as to which areas of Daniel we need to apply more attention to in order to consider future events rather than trying to read into the future that which should remain in the past (with the exception of those verses you have identified as happening twice, with one still being future).

    Does that make sense??


  4. Ryan,
    This is a good question, and makes sense.
    Daniel 11 is part of the section of Daniel written in Hebrew and its audience is the Jews living in Israel. To them, this would not be obscure. (Daniel 2-7 was written in Aramaic and its audience is all of us – the Gentiles.) Daniel 11 is telling the Jews to prepare for two events that are very similar to each other. If the earlier account was fulfilled in detail you can count on the later account being filled in detail as well.

  5. ok that explains a lot. Thanks for this Mark.

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