Daniel 11

A Most Extraordinary Vision of the Future

Xerxes I

Three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth will be rich with great riches, more than all of them (Daniel 11:2).

The three kings of Persia who followed Cyrus were Cambyses (530–522), Bardiya (522), and Darius I Hystaspes (522–486). The fourth, very rich king, was Xerxes (485–465 BC), the “Ahasuerus” of the book of Esther. He inherited Darius’s empire, and his rule was characterized by great wealth, superb organization, and great building projects. The monumental “Gate of All Nations” at Persepolis, pictured here, was just one of the many structures he built.

Alexander's Empire

A mighty king will arise and will rule with great dominion and act according to his will. As soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken (Daniel 11:3-4).

The king talked about here is Alexander the Great. As soon as Alexander had finished conquering his empire and had returned to Babylon (which he planned to rebuild and make the world’s capital city), he died. Alexander’s only son (Alexander IV) was born after he died, so he was too young to take the throne immediately. Instead, Alexander’s empire was divided among his generals. Because of this, Alexander’s victories (celebrated in mosaics like this one) were ultimately short-lived.

Assault on Seleucia

But from a shoot of her roots one will stand up in his place . . . He will enter into the fortress of the king of the north (Daniel 11:7).

Ptolemy III, the shoot, invaded Syria and Anatolia immediately upon the accession of Seleucus II in what is known as the Laodicean War. He did this as revenge for the murder of his sister Berenice. The “fortress” is probably the royal city of Seleucia in Pieria. Seleucia was the port city of Antioch, located at the mouth of the Orontes River.

Invasion by Antiochus III

And the king of the north will again raise a multitude, greater than the former. At the end of . . . years, he will invade with a great army and with much equipment (Daniel 11:13).

The king of the north is Antiochus III, who fought a series of battles against Ptolemy V. The decisive battle between Antiochus III and the Ptolemaic army was fought near Panias (later called Caesarea Philippi) in 200 BC, after which the land of Israel passed to Seleucid control.

Antiochus Epiphanes

In his place will arise a contemptible person, to whom the honor of kingship had not been given (Daniel 11:21).

The “contemptible person” is Antiochus IV Epiphanes (reigned 175–164 BC), the younger son of Antiochus III and the younger brother of Seleucus IV. Antiochus IV is the focus of the prophecy of Daniel 8. In Daniel 11, it is revealed that Antiochus IV was a prophetic type of the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and the “coming prince” of Daniel 9, i.e., the future antichrist. This coin depicts him as Zeus, whose manifestation Antiochus claimed to be.

Roman Ships

Ships of Kittim will come against him (Daniel 11:30).

The “ships of Kittim” were apparently ships from Rome. Antiochus IV’s ambition led him to take bold actions which were strongly rebuffed by Rome. He brought his armies all the way through Egypt to Alexandria, but before he could launch his assault on the city, ships arrived from Rome with an envoy who confronted Antiochus. Antiochus ultimately acquiesced to the Roman demand and withdrew from Egypt. This relief from the 1st century AD dates a little after these events, but it serves to illustrate what Roman warships looked like.

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