Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

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Daniel 11

Outline and Background - Daniel 11

Two Empires - Medo-Persia - Daniel 11:1-4

Two Empires - Egypt and Syria - Daniel 11:5-20

Two Princes - Antiochus IV Epiphanes - Daniel 11:21-35

Two Princes - The Willful King - Daniel 11:36-39

Two Events - Mid-Tribulation Crisis - Daniel 11:40-45

Two Events - Final Deliverance of Israel - Daniel 12:1-3

Application of Daniel 11

Two Princes - Antiochus IV Epiphanes - Daniel 11:21-35

Next, Daniel was told about the “little horn” of chapter eight, the one who foreshadows the Antichrist. The “little horn” is none other than Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163), the younger son of Antiochus the Great. Fifteen verses are dedicated to this detestable person. The ravages of the great conflict that flowed back and forth over the land of Palestine paved the way for the rise of this prince. His life and activities are typical of the Antichrist’s in the end times.

Verse 21: Antiochus IV Epiphanes had no legitimate claim to the throne. It belonged to his nephew, Demetrius, the rightful heir. However, through various intrigues, political maneuverings and flatteries, he gained the throne. He was aided primarily by his brother Attalus and King Eumenes of Pergaumum.

Verse 22: Antiochus routed the forces of Egypt in battles that took place between Pelusium and the Caspian Mountains. “A Prince of Covenant,” either refers to the Jewish High Priest Onias III, who was deposed, and later murdered in 170, or to a coconspirator prince, Ptolemy VI Philometer (181-145), who Antiochus befriended (verse 23), then defeated (verse 25).

Verse 23: Antiochus adopted a policy of artificial friendship with Egypt. He pretended to support his nephew Ptolemy Philometer against another nephew Ptolemy Euergetes. However, it was merely a cover to advance his interests. Some historians claim that Antiochus IV Epiphanes even managed to have himself crowned king at Memphis.

Verse 24: Antiochus greatly plundered his conquered lands, but differed from his predecessors by distributing the spoils lavishly to the people, thus winning friends for himself as an ancient Robin Hood. He used this maneuver to keep the strong fortress at Pelusium on the border of Egypt.

Verses 25-26: Antiochus made a second expedition against Egypt’s Physcon. Some think Physcon was Philometor. It seems the two were brothers. Antiochus had a great army but was unsuccessful because treason had broken out in his own camp. Some of his supporters deserted him.

Verse 27: When Physcon was proclaimed king, Antiochus entered into an alliance with Philometer on the pretense of taking his side. Philometer became suspicious that Antiochus entered the alliance to lay siege to the city of Alexandria. Philometer made overtures to Physcon, on the basis of a joint sovereignty, and was received into Alexandria. Both brothers then declared themselves to be against Antiochus.

Verse 28: In 169 B.C., Antiochus returned from Egypt with much plunder and marched through Judea. Hearing of the great rejoicing that took place in Jerusalem when the city heard a report of his death, Antiochus turned against the Jews. He put down an insurrection led by Jason and took the opportunity to plunder the Temple (1 Maccabees 1:20-40; 2 Maccabees 5).

Verse 29: In the spring of 168, Antiochus made a third expedition against Egypt, but it did not have the success of his previous invasions, because the Ptolemy brothers had reconciled.

Verse 30: The two Ptolemies sought the aid of the Romans, who responded by sending a fleet from the western coastlands (yttk Chittim, that is Cyprus and points west) to engage Antiochus at the siege of Alexandria. When the ships were within a few miles of the city of Alexandria, Antiochus went to salute the ships. Popilius Laenas, commander of the Roman fleet, delivered to Antiochus letters from the Roman Senate. The letters demanded, upon the threat of provoking a Roman attack, that Antiochus cease aggression. Popilius Laenas drew a circle with his staff in the sand around Antiochus, and commanded him to reach his decision before he stepped out. Antiochus lost heart and reluctantly accepted the Senate’s demand to discontinue further aggression. He then returned home by way of Judea to gather information as to whether the apostate Jews would support him.

Then Antiochus came against Jerusalem, took it by storm and slaughtered 40,000 Jews. He sold many Jews as slaves. He committed many abominations, such as boiling swine's flesh and then sprinkling the broth in the Temple and on the altar.

He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils. He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off. He took the silver and the gold; and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures that he found. Taking them all, he went into his own land. He shed much blood and spoke with great arrogance (1 Maccabees 1:21-24, NRSV).

He restored Menelaus to the office of High Priest and made Philip, a Phrygian, governor of Judea.

Verse 31: The armed forces of Antiochus stood on guard at the Temple and regular worship was discontinued. On the Sabbath day, the city was attacked, women and children were captured, and multitudes were slain. His army occupied the citadel overlooking the Temple. Heathen idolatry was made mandatory and Hellenic culture was made compulsory for the Jews. The climax of Antiochus’ blasphemy was the erection of the image of Zeus on the Temple’s altar of burnt offering (2 Maccabees 6).

Verse 32: Some Jews yielded to the demands of Antiochus and apostatized from the religion of Israel. Others firmly resisted, resulting in the Maccabean Revolt of 168-165 B.C.

Verses 33-35: Those who remained true to God refused to eat unclean things and many died for their faith. Times of tribulation are periods for refining, purifying and making spotless the wise. In verse 34, the term “fall” might refer to apostasy, or falling to the sword. Definitely, the Jews received little help in all their struggles against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, or other tyrants that persecuted them in history. Compromising with Antiochus turned out to be a deadly mistake for the Jews.

During the Maccabean Revolt, a group of godly persons called “Hasidaeans,” was formed. This group was part of the many in Israel who stood up for the laws of God (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:62-64). Judas Maccabaeus, son of Mattathias, led a successful revolt against the Syrians and brought much relief from persecution. However, neither his successes, nor those of the rest of the Maccabean family, were permanent. There was still much suffering to endure. The Jewish apostates were treated with bloody severity by Judas Maccabaeus.

The predictions of verses 33-35 extend beyond the profanities and troublesome times under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The time marker for the purification of Israel is “until the time of the end, for it [the seventieth seven] will still come at the appointed time.” These predictions cover the huge time gap between Antiochus and the Antichrist. This madman, who committed detestable actions, foreshadows others like him until the type is ultimately fulfilled in the Antichrist—the Wilful King.

The following chart is a graphic portrayal of the first prince, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, drawn from chapters eight and eleven. In these chapters, Antiochus is identified as “the Little Horn” and “the King of the North.”

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Antiochus IV Epiphanes, “the Little Horn” of Daniel 8:23-25.

He is a stern-faced king, 23.

He is a master of intrigue, 23.

He is very strong, but not by his own power, 24.

He is the cause of astounding devastation, 24.

He is successful in whatever he does, 24.

He is the destroyer of mighty men and holy people, 24.

He is the successful promoter of deceit, 25.

He is one who considers himself superior, 25.

He is one who takes his stand against the Prince of princes, 25.

He is destroyed, but not by human power, 25.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes, “the King of the North” of Daniel 11:21-32.

He is a contemptible person, 21.

He is a master of intrigue, 21.

He is a military success, 22.

He is a deceitful person, 23.

He is an invader and overachiever, 24.

He is a plunderer and looter, 24.

He is a rewarder of his followers, 24.

He is a plotter, 24.

He is strong and courageous because of his military, 25.

He is a victim of loosing heart, 29-30.

He is a furious enemy of the holy covenant, 30.

He is a rewarder of apostates, 30.

He is a desecrater of the Temple, 31.

He is an abolisher of the daily sacrifice, 31.

He is a corrupter, who flatters violators of the covenant, 32.

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