[V. 24] He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time.
[V. 25] He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South with a great army. And the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand, for they shall devise plans against him.
[V. 26] Yes, those who eat of the portion of his delicacies shall destroy him; his army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain.
[V. 27] Both these kings’ hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time.
[V. 28] While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land.
In verses 24–28, Antiochus IV Epiphanes is prophesied as taking Egypt and invading it at the start of the Sixth Syrian War (170–168 BC)
V. 24: Ptolemy V Epiphanes died in 181 BC, and then his young son, Ptolemy VI Philometor began to rule at age six. The two head ministers, Eulaeus and Linaeus, at Alexandria convinced the young king to attack Judah and Syria to take them back (Ref. Polybius XXIX, ch. 23). Attacking in 170 BC, beginning the Sixth Syrian War (170–168 BC), Antiochus IV Epiphanes defeated the Egyptian army at Pelusium, a town at the east end of the Nile Delta (Ref. Josephus, Antiq. 12.5.2). Upon that victory, Antiochus was able to walk into Egypt without resistance with only a small army, and he swept through the richest (i.e. “fattest”) parts of Egypt, the Nile Delta. He took Memphis, the old Egyptian capital, which was at the south end of the Nile Delta (Ref. Josephus, Antiq. 12.5.2). Antiochus made Ptolemy VI Philometor his puppet king at Memphis (Ref. Mahaffy, Ch. IX, sec. 189). Antiochus took all of Lower Egypt except Alexandria. At Alexandria, the populace made Ptolemy VI’s brother, Ptolemy VIII Physcon, king. The government there sent envoys to Rome to plea for help.
Antiochus planned to take all of Egypt, including Alexandria. After negotiations (more detail next given in Dan. 11:27) with Greek envoys to save Ptolemaic Egypt at Naucratis, a large city forty-five miles southeast of Alexandria, Antiochus won the populace surrounding Alexandria by giving to the head of every Greek household one gold stater, a coin weighing 20–28 grams (Ref. Polybius XXVIII, ch. 20). It is believed the staters were plunder from elsewhere in Egypt. A 20–28-gram gold coin would be worth one month’s wage. In this way, Antiochus “dispersed” plunder and riches and won the loyalty of the local populace.
V. 25: “He,” Antiochus IV Epiphanes, as stated in Scripture, defeated KotS (Ptolemy VI, Philometor) in 170 BC and pillaged Egypt. This is the first attack on Egypt as part of the Sixth Syrian War. Also as stated before, the two ministers stirred Ptolemy VI, the KotS, to battle. The two ministers had an agenda: to control Egypt.
V. 26: Those two ministers destroyed the rule of Ptolemy VI through their “advice.” They ate at the king’s table at his court. In 170 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes utterly defeated the troops of Ptolemy VI Philometor at Pelusium, which he took and fortified with his own garrison (Ref. The Histories of Polybius).
V. 27: The Romans were concerned that Egypt be kept whole and stable to provide wheat to Rome. By that time, Egypt had become an important “breadbasket” to the million or so people living in Rome. (In fact, when Rome finally conquered Egypt, it was made an imperial province, under the direct administration of the emperor for this very reason.)
The Romans used Greek envoys from other Greek kingdoms to speak to the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes to negotiate an end to the war. It was arranged for Ptolemy VIII Physcon to come up the Nile River from Alexandria for negotiations at Memphis with Antiochus IV. Antiochus IV said during negotiations that Egypt belonged to Ptolemy VI, and that he and Ptolemy VI were friends (though Antiochus had just slaughtered his army at Pelusium) (Ref. Mahaffy, Ch. IX, Sec. 190).
Antiochus IV had Ptolemy VI (who was Antiochus’ nephew, as Antiochus IV and Ptolemy’s mother Cleopatra I of Egypt were both children of Antiochus III) held at Memphis. Ptolemy VI arranged a great banquet with his uncle Antiochus IV as guest. At this time, it was recorded that Antiochus IV lied to his nephew Ptolemy VI saying he was going to take great care of him. At the same time, Ptolemy VI lied to his uncle by thanking him for his care and saying he trusted him, when he was planning all along to unite the kingdom of Egypt with his brother, Ptolemy VIII Physcon, king at Alexandria.
V. 28: “His heart” is the heart of Antiochus IV. He did return toward his own country in northern Syria, and felt that the riches of Jerusalem’s temple should be his. This verse could be speaking of a move he would have made against Jerusalem upon his first return to Syria, or upon his second return to Syria.
Antiochus IV left Egypt, leaving Ptolemy VI as his deputy at Memphis. Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII then resolved their differences and began to rule Egypt conjointly in 170 BC (Ref. Mahaffy, Ch. IX, Sec. 191).
[V. 29] At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter.
[V. 30] For ships from Cyprus [Kittim and western lands] shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.
V. 29: Due in part to the Ptolemies of Egypt uniting, Antiochus IV returned to Egypt in 168 BC (the second half of the Sixth Syrian War). This new invasion was better planned and equipped than his first one for he wanted to make sure he conquered Alexandria this time. Antiochus reentered Egypt and occupied Memphis (Ref. Mahaffy, Ch. IX, Sec. 192).
There was also a move by the Greek envoys to reconcile the three kings (Antiochus IV, Ptolemy VI, Ptolemy VIII). This was not needed, however. Antiochus IV was approaching Alexandria yet again and got within four miles of the city. This second invasion was to be indeed different.
V. 30: Unknown to Antiochus IV, Roman forces had arrived via ships from Rome. Four miles outside Alexandria, Antiochus IV met a Roman commander, named Gaius Popilius Laenas. Popilius met Antiochus IV who had earlier received a letter from the same Popilius, asking Antiochus’ intentions toward Egypt. Upon meeting Antiochus IV, Popilius did not allow Antiochus time to think it over. Popilius drew a line in the sand around Antiochus and said he could not leave the circle until the king gave Popilius an answer—was it to be friendship or war? The Romans (of the western lands) were threatening to back up Egypt. Antiochus told Popilius he would withdraw, and so he did. Antiochus was grieved for he could not finish his conquest of Egypt (Ref. Mahaffy, Ch. IX, Sec. 192; Polybius XXIX, ch. 27; Josephus, Antiq. 12.5.2).
On the way back, Antiochus IV vented his anger and frustration on Jerusalem, pillaging it, and tormenting the Jews. It is my opinion that Antiochus IV felt that a united Egypt with Rome might prevent him from ruling Judah. He may have felt this was his last chance to take advantage of the Jews, and so he entered Jerusalem. The Hellenizers opened the gates for him and he and his army entered Jerusalem (Ref. Josephus, Antiq. 12.5.2-3).
Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ Attack on Jerusalem and the Jews
[V. 31] And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.
[V. 32] Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.
V. 31: Antiochus IV pillaged the entire city of Jerusalem, removed the gold and gold articles from the temple, burned some of the more important buildings, slew many thousands of people, sacrificed swine on the altar, and ordered peoples’ bodies torn to pieces. There were whippings, crucifixions, and hangings. All books that were found that were copies of the Scriptures were burned (Ref. Josephus, Antiq. 12.5.4, War 1.1.2; 1 Maccabees 1:20–3, 2 Maccabees 5–7).
V. 32: One of the great exploits of the Jews standing for their faith is recorded in 2 Maccabees 7, where a mother and her seven sons became martyrs, an account worthy of being included in Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs. They told their torturers that they would not deviate from worshipping the God of heaven and from following his laws.
[V. 33] And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.
[V. 34] Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue.
[V. 35] And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.
V. 33: Many Jews were killed by sword and flame and were plundered (Ref. Josephus, Antiq. 12.5.4, War 1.1.2; 1 Maccabees 1:20–3; 2 Maccabees 5:7). Many will undergo the same trials at the hands of Antichrist in the end time.
V. 34–35: Would not those who know their God and resist either Antiochus or Antichrist have falling in common? Wouldn’t the purpose of falling (i.e., dying) be to refine and purify and make ready for the return of Messiah?
The histories of Polybius, Josephus, and I and II Maccabees have been shown to provide the necessary information proving Daniel 11:2–35 was fulfilled in ancient times, prior to the coming of Christ. The results of this analysis also confirm the reading’s finding that Daniel 11:21–30 is a different account from Daniel 11:36–45, i.e. the former is of Antiochus IV in the 160s BC, and the latter is of the coming Antichrist.
Appendix B References
- 1 Maccabees 1:20–3.
- 2 Maccabees 5–7.
- Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 12, 3.3, 5.1–4.
- Josephus, The War of the Jews, Book 1, 1.2.
- J. P. Mahaffy, The Empire of the Ptolemies (New York: MacMillan and Co., 1895), ch. IX, sec. 189–192.
- Polybius, Book XXVIII, ch. 20, Book XXIX, ch. 23, 27.
- The Histories of Polybius; v. 2, The Stories of Polybius, trans. by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (New York: MacMillan and Co., 1889), 385.