Daniel 11:5-20

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Text: Daniel 11:5-20




One difference between an amillennialist and a pre-millennialist is that the pre-millennialist believes that prophecy is to be fulfilled literally; whereas, the amillennialist does not. So, when the Bible talks about a one thousand year reign of Christ on the earth after the second coming of Christ to the earth, we as pre-millennialists believe that there will be an actual reign of Christ on the earth and that it will last for one thousand years. By contrast, the amillennialist does not believe in a literal one thousand year reign of Christ. Instead, he believes that the millennium is being fulfilled before Christ's return and that Satan is currently bound.

In Daniel 11 a remarkable section of detailed prophecy is found. It starts with four Persian kings (v. 2) and then includes Alexander the Great (vv. 3-4), followed by the Ptolemies and Seleucids until Antiochus Epiphanes (vv. 5-20), and then includes Antiochus Epiphanes himself (vv. 21-35).

All the details of these predictions have since been literally fulfilled. The literal fulfillment of prophecy, which has already been fulfilled in the past, provides a pattern for the literal fulfillment of prophecy which has not yet been fulfilled. It indicates that it will likewise be literally fulfilled. This is the clue to understanding not only the rest of chapter 11 as well as chapter 12 but also to understanding that the Book of Revelation, which we will begin to study in about two weeks, will likewise be fulfilled literally.

Then, after a Seleucid king named Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Daniel gives a prophecy about Antichrist which is yet to be fulfilled (vv. 36-45). Although the prophecies of chapter 11 were still future at the time Daniel wrote them, verses 1-35 have now been fulfilled historically; whereas, verses 36-45 are still awaiting fulfillment in the future.

We have already seen -


Daniel 11:2 And now will I [i.e. the angel] shew thee [i.e. Daniel] the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia [i.e. Greece].

Yet three kings in Persia refers to Cambyses (530-522 B.C.), Pseudo-Smerdis (522-521), Darius I Hystaspes (also called Darius the Great, 521-486 B.C.).

The fourth king of Persia is Xerxes (486-465 B.C.), also known as Ahasuerus in the book of Esther. He was opposed to Greece.

Daniel's prophecy concerning the Persia Empire has been literally fulfilled.

We have also already seen -


Daniel 11:3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.

A mighty king who shall stand up, who shall rule with great dominion and do according to his will is Alexander the Great. His kingdom was represented by the bronze belly and thighs in Nebuchadnezzar's image and by the winged leopard in Daniel 7:6 . Alexander the Great was also the notable horn of the he goat in Daniel 8:6-8 .

Daniel 11:4 And when he [i.e. the mighty king - Alexander the Great] shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.

Alexander died at age 32 from malaria and complications of alcoholism. After Alexander's death, his kingdom was divided among four of his generals. These four generals represent the four heads of the leopard in 7:6 and the four notable horns on the he goat in 8:8

Cassander ruled over Macedonia and Greece, Lysimacus ruled over Thrace and portions of Asia Minor. Neither of these two divisions of the Greek Empire is under consideration in this chapter of Daniel.

Ptolemy and his descendants ruled over Egypt; whereas, Seleucus and his descendants ruled over Syria and Mesopotamia.

Daniel's prophecy concerning the Greek Empire has been literally fulfilled.

We continue our study of Daniel's vision where we see -


Verses 5-35 describe the ongoing warfare between the kings of the South, i.e. the Ptolemies, and the kings of the North, i.e. the Seleucids, which lasted about 200 years following the death of Alexander the Great.

As they fought with each other, Israel was in the middle. To get from Egypt to Syria or from Syria to Egypt, the armies would go through Palestine; and this would affect the Jewish people.

I have distributed a chart of the Ptolemies and the Seleucids to you who are in our service. I will be referring to this chart in this message; so, keep it handy. I have adapted it from the section on Daniel 11 in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament. For those who are listening to this message over the Internet, I have included a copy of this chart at the end of my notes which are posted on the church website. In my comments which follow in today's message, I have relied heavily on the historical data found in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament.

Verse 5 describes the warfare between Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt and Seleucus I Nicator of Syria.

Daniel 11:5 And the king of the south [i.e. Ptolemy I Soter, a general who served under Alexander] shall be strong, and one of his princes [i.e. Seleucus I Nicator, another general who served under Alexander]; and he [i.e. Seleucus I Nicator] shall be strong above him [i.e. stronger than Ptolemy I], and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion. [Seleucus I Nicator's dominion would eventually stretch from Palestine to India].

Daniel's prophecy in verse 5 has been literally fulfilled.

Verse 6 describes the warfare between Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt and Antiochus II Theos of Syria.

Daniel 11:6 And in the end of years they [i.e. Ptolemy II (king of Egypt, son of Ptolemy I) and Antiochus II (king of Syria, grandson of Seleucus I)] shall join themselves together [i.e. enter an alliance]; for the king's daughter of the south [i.e. Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II] shall come to the king of the north [i.e. Antiochus II] to make an agreement [to make an alliance, sealed by the marriage of Berenice, Ptolemy's daughter to Antiochus II]: but she shall not retain the power of the arm [i.e. Berenice will not retain her power]; neither shall he stand, nor his arm [i.e. Ptolemy II will not retain his power for long]: but she [i.e. Berenice] shall be given up, and they that brought her [i.e. Berenice will be handed over along with her royal escort that brought her], and he that begat her [i.e. along with her father, Ptolemy II], and he that strengthened her in these times [i.e. Antiochus II, the one who supported her].

Ptolemy II, king of Egypt, gave his daughter (Berenice) in marriage to Antiochus II, king of Syria; but the marriage did not last because Laodice, whom Antiochus II had divorced in order to marry Berenice, had Berenice killed. Then, Laodice, the wife whom Antiochus II divorced in order to marry Berenice, poisoned Antiochus II and made her son, Seleucus II Callinicus, king of Syria.

Daniel's prophecy in verse 6 has been literally fulfilled.

Verses 7-9 describe Bernice's brother Ptolemy III Euergetes invading Syria and defeating the Syrian army.

Daniel 11:7 But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate [Berenice's brother Ptolemy III Euergetes succeeded his father (Ptolemy II) and set out to avenge the death of his sister Berenice.], which [i.e. who = Ptolemy III Euergetes] shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress [or stronghold] of the king of the north [i.e. the king of Syria], and shall deal against them [i.e. against the Syrians], and shall prevail [i.e. Ptolemy III Euergetes invaded Syria in 246 B.C. and defeated the Syrian army and put Laodice to death.]:

Daniel 11:8 And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods [i.e. the Syrians' gods], with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north [i.e. than the king of Syria]. [Ptolemy III returned to Egypt with many spoils and reigned longer than Seleucus II.]

Daniel 11:9 So the king of the south [i.e. Ptolemy III] shall come into his [i.e. the king of Syria's] kingdom, and shall return into his own land.

Daniel's prophecy in verses 7-9 has been literally fulfilled.

Verses 10-20 describe the seesaw struggles between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies between 223 and 200 B.C.

Daniel 11:10 But his [i.e. Seleucus II Callinicus, king of Syria] sons [Seleucus III and Antiochus III ] shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come [i.e. Seleucus III invaded Asia Minor, but Antiochus III attacked Egypt], and overflow [i.e. like a flood caused by a river overflowing its banks, overwhelm], and pass through: then shall he [i.e. Antiochus III] return, and be stirred up [i.e. he will again stir up strife], even to his [i.e. Ptolemy IV's] fortress [or stronghold].

Daniel 11:11 And the king of the south [i.e. Ptolemy IV Philopater] shall be moved with choler [i.e. with anger], and shall come forth and fight with him [i.e. with Antiochus III the Great], even with the king of the north: and he [i.e. Antiochus III the Great] shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his [i.e. Ptolemy IV Philopater's] hand.

Daniel 11:12 And when he [i.e. Ptolemy IV Philopater] hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up [i.e. lifted up with pride]; and he [i.e. Ptolemy IV Philopater] shall cast down many ten thousands [Ptolemy IV slaughtered many thousands.]: but he shall not be strengthened by it [i.e. but he will not prevail].

Daniel 11:13 For the king of the north [i.e. Antiochus III the Great] shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former [i.e. with a much larger army], and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches [i.e. with much equipment].

Daniel 11:14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south [Philip V of Macedon joined with Antiochus III, king of Syria, against Egypt. Many Jews also joined Antiochus against Egypt.]: also the robbers of thy people [i.e. violent men among your people, i.e. Daniel's people - the Jews] shall exalt themselves to establish the vision [i.e. to fulfill their vision]; but they shall fall [i.e. they will not have success].

11:15-20 - Antiochus III (the Great) defeated the Egyptian army in Sidon (vv. 15-16). He came to terms with Ptolemy V and gave him his daughter in marriage (v. 17). He annexed the coastlands of Asia Minor and unsuccessfully tried to invade Greece (v. 18). He was defeated by the Romans at Magnesia in 190 B.C., was forced to pay tribute, and soon died (v. 19). He was succeeded by his son Seleucus IV (Philopator) who heavily taxed the people of Israel (v. 20).

Daniel 11:15 So the king of the north [i.e. Antiochus III the Great] shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced [i.e. fortified] cities: and the arms [i.e. forces] of the south [i.e. Egypt] shall not withstand [i.e. withstand Antiochus III the Great, the king of the north], neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand [i.e. not even Ptolemy IV's choice troops will have strength to withstand him, i.e. Antiochus III the Great, the king of the north].

Daniel 11:16 But he that cometh [i.e. Antiochus III the Great] against him [i.e. Ptolemy IV] shall do according to his own will [i.e. as he pleases], and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land [i.e. Palestine], which by his hand shall be consumed [which he will have power to destroy].

Daniel 11:17 He [i.e. Antiochus III] shall also set his face [i.e. determine] to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him [the thought is that Antiochus III will make an alliance with Ptolemy V.]; thus shall he do: and he [i.e. Antiochus III] shall give him [i.e. to Ptolemy V.] the daughter of women [i.e. Cleopatra - but not the famous queen in Egypt], corrupting her [i.e. in order to ruin (or destroy) her, i.e. in order to ruin or destroy the kingdom - not in order to ruin or destroy Cleopatra]: but she [i.e. Cleopatra] shall not stand on his side, neither be for him [i.e. Cleopatra defected and stood with Egypt against Syria].

Daniel 11:18 After this shall he [i.e. Antiochus III] turn his face unto the isles [i.e. coastlands or islands, i.e. eventually to Asia Minor and Greece], and shall take [i.e. capture] many: but a prince for his own behalf [i.e. a Roman named Cornelius Scipio] shall cause the reproach offered by him [i.e. by Antiochus III] to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him [i.e. he will repay him for his scorn.].

When Antiochus III attempted to conquer Greece, he was defeated by the Romans at Thermopylae and Magnesia and returned to Syria to die in an insurrection.

Daniel 11:19 Then he [i.e. Antiochus III] shall turn his face toward the fort [i.e. fortress] of his own land: but he [i.e. Antiochus III] shall stumble and fall, and not be found.

Daniel 11:20 Then shall stand up in his estate [i.e. place] a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom [i.e. Seleucus IV Philopater, famous for his oppressive taxes on Israel]: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle [He was poisoned by his treasurer Heliodorus.].

Daniel's prophecy in verses 10-20 has been literally fulfilled.


We have seen in this message that prophecy is to be interpreted literally. We need to remember this as we complete our study of Daniel and move on to a study of Revelation.

The following chart is adapted from The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p. 1367.

The Ptolemies and the Seleucids in Daniel 11:5-35


(Kings "of the South," Egypt)

Daniel 11:5 Ptolemy I Soter

(325-285 B.C.)*

Daniel 11:6 Ptolemy II Philadelphus


Daniel 11:7-8 Ptolemy III Euergetes

(246-221 B.C.)

Daniel 11:11-12 , Ptolemy IV Philopator

14-15 (221-224 B.C.)

Daniel 11:17 Ptolemy V Epiphanes

(204-181 B.C.)

Daniel 11:25 Ptolemy VI Philometer

(181-145 B.C.)


(Kings "of the North," Syria)

Daniel 11:5 Seleucus I Nicator

(312-281 B.C.)

Antiochus I Soter**

(281-262 B.C.)

Daniel 11:6 Antiochus II Theos

(262-246 B.C.)

Daniel 11:7-9 Seleucus II Callinicus

(246-227 B.C.)

Daniel 11:10 Seleucus III Soter

(227-223 B.C.)

Daniel 11:10-11 , Antiochus III the Great

13, 15-19 (223-187 B.C.)

Daniel 11:20 Seleucus IV Philopator

(187-176 B.C.)

Daniel 11:21-32 Antiochus IV Epiphanes

(175-163 B.C.)


*The years designate the rulers' reigns.

**Not referred to in Daniel 11:5-35