The King who stirred up the Antichrist
In verses 2-3, we read about the King who stirred up the Third Beast, the Greeks.
In verses 4-30, we will see how the Greek empire stirred up the Antichrist, as we first read in Daniel 8:8-9:
“in place of it (Alexander’s Kingdom), four notable ones came up toward the four winds/spirits of heaven, and out of one of them came a little horn.”
The King who stirred up the Antichrist was Antiochus Epiphanes, who joined himself with “the Prince of Covenant,” only to be grieved by humiliation from Rome, and his “heart was moved against the holy covenant” (Daniel 11:28, 30).
A lot of prophecy is necessary to explain Antiochus Epiphanes. The Angel makes prophecies about almost all the Seleucid Kings, “the Kings of the North,” leading up to Antiochus Epiphanes, just as he prophesied the Persian kings who preceded Xerses 1. The Angel prophecies many details about the Greek kings, and therefore, there are many skeptics who believe this prophecy was written after the facts were known. But, our oldest record of this prophecy comes from the Greek Septuagint, which was translated in the third century BC; long before this prophecy was fulfilled.
We need to give a brief overview of the Greek world, and the King of the North and South described in these verses, to understand the Angel’s prophecy. The King of the North is the King of the Seleucid Empire (Syria), which is north of Israel. The King of the South, is the King of the Ptolemaic Empire (Egypt).
The rulers of these two Kingdoms were:
|Seleucid Kings (of North)
Seleucus 1 Nicator (320 – 281 BC)
|Ptoelmaic Kings (of South)
Ptolemy I Soter (303–282 BC)
4 When he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of the sky, but not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others besides these.
Seleucus 1 Nicator (320 – 281 BC)
his kingdom…shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven – as described in Daniel 7:6; 8:8, these are the four kingdoms that came out of Alexander the Great’s Kingdom.
but not among his posterity – not to his descendants, but rather to four generals.
5 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.
the King of the South shall become strong – the Ptolemaic empire, beginning with Ptolemy I Soter (303–282 BC), the General of Alexander
as well as one of his princes – literally captains, in Hebrew “sar,” another one of Alexander’s Generals was the King of the North, Seleucus 1 Nicator.
and he shall gain power over him – the King of the North, Seleucus 1 Nicator, shall be much greater than the King of the South.
Antiochus II Theos (261-246 BC)
6At the end of years they shall join themselves together; and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the strength of her arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm; but she shall be given up, and those who brought her, and he who became the father of her, and he who strengthened her in those times.
And at the end of some years – more than 20 years later.
they will form an alliance, for the daughter… – the King of the South, Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 BC), gave his daughter Berenice to Antiochus II Theos.
but she shall not retain the power of her authority – after Ptolemy II Philadelphus died, Antiochus II Theos, divorced Berenice, and he returned to his original wife, Laodice. But she poisoned Antiochus, and also caused Berenice and her son to be put to death; so that her own son, Seleucus II Calinicus, would receive the throne. 1
Seleucus II Calinicus (246 – 225 BC)
7 But out of a shoot from her roots shall one stand up in his place, who shall come to the army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail.
but one in the branch of her roots shall shall arise in his place – the brother of Berenice, Ptolemy III Euergetes (246–221 BC), succeeded Ptolemy II Philadelphus.
who shall come with an army – to revenge the death of Berenice, he attacked Syria, whose King was now Seleucus II Calinicus.
and deal with them – the third Syrian War (246 – 241 BC).
8 Also their gods, with their molten images, [and] with their goodly vessels of silver and of gold, shall he carry captive into Egypt; and he shall refrain some years from the king of the north.
and he shall carry their gods captive to Egypt – he reclaimed the idols of Egypt that were taken by Syria.
and shall continue more years than the King of the North – Ptolemy III Euergetes (246–221 BC), lived 4 years longer than Seleucus II Calinicus (246 – 225 BC).
9 He shall come into the realm of the king of the south, but he shall return into his own land.
the king of the North shall come to the kingdom – this is a confusing verse, as it is translated differently in different versions. It is understood as a summary of verses 7-8. The Greek Septuagint says, “The King of Egypt shall enter into (his) kingdom certain days and return to his land.”
Antiochus the Great (223 – 187 BC)
10 His sons shall war, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall come on, and overflow, and pass through; and they shall return and war, even to his fortress.
his sons shall stir up strife – the two sons of the King of the North Seleucus II Calinicus (246 – 225 BC); who were Seleucus III Ceranus (225-223 BC), and Antiochus the Great.
and one shall certainly come and overwhelm – Antiochus the Great was that one.
11 The king of the south shall be moved with anger, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north; and he shall set forth a great multitude, and the multitude shall be given into his hand. 12 The multitude shall be lifted up, and his heart shall be exalted; and he shall cast down tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail.
assemble a multitude – Antioch the Great had seventy thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry.
the multitude shall be given into his hand – Ptolemy was the victor.
he will cast down ten of thousands – literally “ten thousand” – a myriad, ten thousand were slain by Ptolemy IV Philopator (221–203 BC), at the battle of Raphia, one of the largest battles of the Ancient world.
but he shall not prevail – because of his personal induldgences, Ptolemy IV Philopator was eventually defeated.
13 The king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former; and he shall come on at the end of the times, [even of] years, with a great army and with much substance. 14 In those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the children of the violent among your people shall lift themselves up to establish the vision; but they shall fall. 15 So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mound, and take a well-fortified city: and the forces of the south shall not stand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to stand.
for the King of the North will return at the end of some years – Antiochus, the Great, attacked Ptolemy V Epiphanes (203–181 BC), in the Battle of Panium, Mount Panium, in 200 BC.
violet men of your people – Josephus in, “Antiquites,” Book. xii. ch. iii. Section 3. says: “The Jews of their own accord, went over to him, and received him (Antiochus) into the city (Jerusalem), and gave plentiful provision to his army, and to his elephants, and readily assisted him when he besieged the garrison which was in the citadel of Jerusalem.”
in fulfillment of the vision – the Angel foresees that the Jews will help to make this vision come to pass, because they will be supporters of Antiochus.
but they shall fall – they will bring trouble on themselves as noted in verse 16.
and build a seige mound – Zeno’s account of the battle: “the right extremity of his line, together with a few cavalry, rested on the slope of the mountain; while its left with all the cavalry belonging to this wing, was in the plains below…The younger Antiochus charged down from the high ground and put to flight and pursued the cavalry under Ptolemy.”
and capture a fortified City – Ceasarea Philippi:
16 But he who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him; and he shall stand in the glorious land, and in his hand shall be destruction.
he shall stand in the Glorious land – his army built a temple to Pan, who was a god of desolated places, music and goat herds at Paneas.
17 He shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and with him equitable conditions; and he shall perform them: and he shall give him the daughter of women, to corrupt her; but she shall not stand, neither be for him.
to enter with the strength of his kingdom – he desired to enlarge his power.
he shall give him the daughter of women to destroy it – he gave his daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy V Epiphanes (203–181 BC) in the hopes of expanding his power.
but she shall not stand with him – she sided with her husband, the King of Egypt.
18 After this shall he turn his face to the isles, and shall take many: but a prince shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; yes, moreover, he shall cause his reproach to turn on him.
he shall turn his face to the coastlands – Antiochos, the Great, made war with the Romans, the Roman–Seleucid War (192–188 BC).
but a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end – literally, a captain, in Hebrew, “sar.” This was the famous Roman General Scipio Asiaticus. The resulting treaty of Apamea, heavily restricted the Seleucids to have ships, or sail West.
he shall turn back on him – Rome also required the payment of substantial money to Rome, that would finally be repaid by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175 – 163 BC).
19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fortresses of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.
then he shall turn back toward…his own land and stumble – this surrender caused the outlying provinces of the Seleucid Empire to rebel. Antiochus was killed in 187 BC while pillaging a temple in Persia.
Seleucus IV Philopator (187 – 175 BC)
20 Then shall stand up in his place one who shall cause a tax collector to pass through the kingdom to maintain its glory; but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
there shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom – Seleucus IV Philopator, who was compelled by the heavy war-indemnity of Rome, to collect money to pay the Romans, and sent his minister Heliodorus to Jerusalem to seize the Jewish temple treasury.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175 – 163 BC)
21 In his place shall stand up a contemptible person, to whom they had not given the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in time of security, and shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
in his place shall arise a vile person – Antiochus IV Epiphanes, whose name actually means “god incarnate” – Zuess incarnate, is the one who shall be described in detail.
to whom they will not give the honour of royalty – Antiochus IV Epiphanes was the younger son of Antiochus the Great. The older son was Seleucus IV, and his legimate heir was Demetrius I Soter, who was still a hostage in Rome. Antiochus IV Epiphanes seized the throne with the help of King Eumenes II of Pergamum, and proclaimed himself co-regent with another son of Seleucus, an infant named Antiochus, whom he murdered a few years later.
but shall come peaceably and seize the kingdom by intrigue – as described above.
22 The overwhelming forces shall be overwhelmed from before him, and shall be broken; yes, also the prince of the covenant.
with the force of a flood they shall be swept away – verses 22 to 24, describe the first victory of Antiochus IV Epiphanes over Egypt. He wins “with a small number” in comparison to the ” very great and mighty army” of the King of the South, described in verse 25. Antiochus succeeds by deception.
After Rome attacked Greece in 171 BC, Antiochus made his attack on Egypt, in 170 BC, and Antiochus conquered Egypt “with a flood.”
also the prince of the covenant – even Satan was “swept away” by the attack of Antiochus. It was this behaviour of Antiochus that “came up toward the four winds of heaven,” as described in Daniel 8:8.
How do we know that the “prince of the covenant” is Satan? In the Book of Daniel, the word “nagid” only otherwise appears in the Angel’s explanation of Daniel 9:25-27, where the Ruler of the People to come, the Ruler of Rome, the Antichrist, was called “the Ruler” (Nagid) who makes “a covenant with many.”
Indeed, Rome did have a covenant with Egypt. But, the Captain of Rome, Satan, was too busy fighting with the forces of Greece. He was also “swept away” by the initial attack of Antiochus. Our big hint regarding the delayed Captain of Rome, came in Daniel 10:13. The Angel, who explained the “scripture of truth” to Daniel, said that he tried to come to Daniel right away, but the Captain of the King of Persia withstood him for 21 days. Likewise, the Antichrist, the Captain of Rome, was unable to come to the aid of Egypt, because he was delayed by his fighting with Greece.
23 After the league made with him he shall work deceitfully; for he shall come up, and shall become strong, with a small people.
and after a league is made with him he shall act deceitfully – after joining with Satan, “the Prince of the Covenant.”
he shall become strong with a small number – he will succeed against a greater army, through his deceit.
24 In time of security shall he come even on the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them prey, and spoil, and substance: yes, he shall devise his devices against the strongholds, even for a time.
he shall do what his fathers have not done – to conquer Egypt etc.
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 war in battle with an exceeding great and mighty army; but he shall not stand; for they shall devise devices against him.
he shall stir up his power and courage – Antiochus made another attack on Egypt in 168 BC, while Rome was still busy with Greece. Egypt pleaded for Rome’s protection, but no help came.
and the King of the South…shall not stand – Egypt was defeated, despite having a stronger army.
26 Yes, they who eat of his dainties shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow; and many shall fall down slain.
those who eat of the portion of his delicacies shall destroy him – the King of the South, was not well advised, or supported. The poor adviser to Ptolemy may even have been Cleopatra, Antiochus’ brother.
27 As for both these kings, their hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table: but it shall not prosper; for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.
both Kings shall…speak lies at the same table – in the “peace” negotiations at Alexandria and Memphis.
the end will still be at the appointed time – described in verse 29.
28 Then shall he return into his land with great substance; and his heart [shall be] against the holy covenant; and he shall do [his pleasure], and return to his own land.
his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant – Antiochus attacked Jerusalem, after Menelaus was overthrown by Jason, the first high priest, who Antiochus had appointed. According to the Book of Maccabees:
There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost, forty thousand meeting a violent death, and the same number being sold into slavery.
2 Maccabees 5:11–14
29 At the time appointed he shall return, and come into the south; but it shall not be in the latter time as it was in the former. 30a For ships of Kittim shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and shall return, and have indignation against the holy covenant, and shall do [his pleasure]
At the appointed time he shall return – to make a second attack on Egypt, in 170 BC.
But it shall not be like former or latter – not like the first attack, or the latter attack. The “King of the North” will attack Egypt again at the end of days, as described in verses 42-43. Here, we are forced to make the interpretation that “he” (the King of the North) is not necessarily Antiochus IV Ephiphanus, the King of the North in the immediate context. (See Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Remarks on the Prophetic Visions in the Book of Daniel, 1847.) This will help us to understand that “he” in verse 30b, is also not Antiochus IV Ephiphanus.
Some translate this verse to read, “it shall not be in the latter time as it was in the former.” But this is not the literal reading of this verse, “the former” comes first. Young’s Literal translation reads, “and it is not as the former, and as the latter.”
For ships from Cyprus shall come against him…and he shall be grieved – these are the Romans ships, carrying Gaius Popillius Laenas. Here, Daniel emphasized the end of the Greek Empire by the Romans, and the folly of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
After Rome’s victory, in Greece, Roman Ambassador Gaius Popillius Laenas, sailed from Cyprus to confront Antiochus, in Alexandria, and demanded that Antiochus withdraw from Egypt. When Antiochus refused to commit, Laenas drew a line in the sand around Antiochus, and demanded that Antiochus give him an answer before he crossed the line, or he would bring the matter to the Roman senate.
and return in rage against the holy covenant and do damage – from Barnes’ notes, “marching back through Palestine, he detached from his army twenty-two thousand men, under the command of Apollonius, and sent them to Jerusalem to destroy it. – Prideaux, iii. 239; Jahn, “Heb. Commononwealth,” p. 266. Apollonius arrived before Jerusalem 167 b.c., just two years after the city had been taken by Antiochus himself.”
- Justinus: Epitome of Pompeius Trogus’ Philippic Histories, Book 27.1 ↩