Daniel 11:21-35

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Text: Daniel 11:21-35




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 Scripture 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 literally fulfilled.

Then, after the Ptolemies and Seleucids, 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 -


These four kings are Cambyses (530-522 B.C.), Pseudo-Smerdis (522-521), Darius I Hystaspes (also called Darius the Great, 521-486 B.C.) and 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 -


Alexander the Great is the mighty king who will rule with great dominion and do according to his will. His kingdom was represented by the bronze belly and thighs in Nebuchadnezzar's image in Daniel 2 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 . He conquered everything from Greece to India

Upon Alexander's death at age 32 from malaria and complications of alcoholism, 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 of the he goat in 8:8. The two generals of Alexander which concern the Biblical record are Ptolemy and Seleucus. 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 have also seen -


Verses 5-20 describe the ongoing warfare between the kings of the South, i.e. the Ptolemies, and the kings of the North, i.e. the Seleucids, 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.

Daniel's prophecy in verses 5-20 has been literally fulfilled.


11:21-35 - Verses 21-35 describe the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.), who came to the throne by intrigue (v. 21), made several expeditions into Egypt (vv. 24-27), then turned his hatred on Israel (v. 28).

Antiochus IV Epiphanes is the little horn of Daniel 8:9-12 , 23-25.

Daniel 8:9-12 - 9 And out of one of them [i.e. out of one of the four notable horns, i.e. out of Seleucus, the king of Syria] came forth a little horn, which waxed [i.e. grew] exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant [i.e. glorious] land. 10 And it [i.e. he (the little horn)] waxed [i.e. grew] great, even to the host of heaven; and it [i.e. he (the little horn)] cast down some of the host and of the stars [i.e. some of God's people - the Jews] to the ground, and stamped [i.e. trampled] upon them. 11 Yea [i.e. indeed], he [i.e. the little horn] magnified [i.e. exalted] himself even to the prince [i.e. the commander, chief, captain] of the host [the Prince of the host is Christ], and by him [i.e. by the little horn] the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his [i.e. the commander's, chief's, captain's] sanctuary was cast down [i.e. the temple was brought low, i.e. desecrated]. 12 And an host [i.e. the host of heaven, which refers to the Jews] was given him against [i.e. along with] the daily sacrifice [i.e. the daily sacrifice in the Temple] by reason of transgression [i.e. because of rebellion (i.e. because of Antiochus' rebellious attitude the Jews complied with his demands)], and it [i.e. he (the little horn)] cast down [i.e. threw down] the truth to the ground; and it [i.e. he (the little horn)] practised [i.e. did], and prospered [i.e. and succeeded, and was successful].

Daniel 8:23-25 - 23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors [i.e. those in rebellion] are come to the full [i.e. have reached their fulness], a king of fierce countenance [i.e. of bold face, of stern face], and understanding dark sentences [i.e. who understands sinister schemes], shall stand up [i.e. arise].

Although the little horn refers to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, in verse 23 it takes on a dual future reference to the Antichrist. Although it includes Antiochus, it goes beyond him.

24 And his [the little horn's, the Antichrist's] power shall be mighty, but not by his own power [rather, by Satan's power]: and he shall destroy wonderfully [i.e. fearfully, to an extraordinary degree], and shall prosper [i.e. succeed], and practise [i.e. do, perform his will], and shall destroy the mighty [i.e. the mighty men] and the holy people [i.e. Israel]. 25 And through his policy [i.e. through his shrewdness, through his cunning] also he shall cause craft [i.e. deceit] to prosper [i.e. to succeed] in his hand; and he shall magnify [i.e. exalt] himself in his heart, and by peace [i.e. in their prosperity, while they are at ease] shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes [i.e. against the Lord Jesus Christ]; but he shall be broken without hand [i.e. without human means (or human agency)].

Daniel 11:21 And in his estate [i.e. in Seleucus IV Philopator's place] shall stand up a vile [i.e. despicable or contemptible] person [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes], to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom [i.e. the honor of royalty]: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries [i.e. slipperiness].

The throne rightfully belonged to Antiochus IV Epiphanes' nephew, Demetrius Soter, a son of Seleucus IV Philopator.

Daniel 11:22 And with the arms [i.e. force] of a flood shall they [i.e. an invading army] be overflown [i.e. swept away] from before him [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes], and shall be broken [or shattered - He was accepted as king because he was able to turn aside an invading army.]; yea, also the prince of the covenant [i.e. Onias III, the Jewish high priest].

Kingdoms were inundated by his military might.

The Jewish high priest [i.e. Onias III], the prince of the covenant [i.e. the Jewish high priest] was murdered.

Daniel 11:23 And after the league [i.e. after an alliance or agreement] made with him he [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes] shall work deceitfully [i.e. he will act deceitfully (or practice deception)]: for he shall come up [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes will rise up], and shall become strong with a small people [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes will gain power with a small group of people].

Daniel 11:24 He [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes] shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest [i.e. richest] places of the province [i.e. realm or country]; and he [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes] shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers [i.e. his ancestors]; he shall scatter [i.e. distribute or disperse] among them [i.e. among his followers] the prey, and spoil, and riches [i.e. the plunder, booty, and possessions - he will redistribute wealth]: yea, and he shall forecast his devices [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes will devise his plans or schemes] against the strong holds [i.e. fortified places], even for a time [i.e. but only for a time].

Daniel 11:25 And he [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes] shall stir up his power [i.e. strength] and his courage against the king of the south [i.e. against Ptolemy VI Philometer, the king of Egypt] with a great [i.e. large] army; and the king of the south [i.e. Ptolemy VI Philometer, the king of Egypt] shall be stirred up to battle with a very great [i.e. large] and mighty [i.e. powerful] army; but he [i.e. Ptolemy VI Philometer] shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices [i.e. devise plans, devise schemes] against him [i.e. Ptolemy VI Philometer].

Daniel 11:26 Yea, they that feed of [i.e. eat] the portion of his [Ptolemy VI Philometer's] meat [i.e. food, delicacies, provisions] shall destroy him [Ptolemy VI Philometer], and his army [Ptolemy VI Philometer's army] shall overflow [i.e. be swept away]: and many [i.e. many soldier's in Ptolemy VI Philometer's army] shall fall down slain.

Daniel 11:27 And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief [i.e. very deceptive, bent on evil, intent on evil], and they shall speak lies at one table [i.e. Ptolemy VI Philometer and Antiochus IV Epiphanes will speak lies to each other at the same time]; but it shall not prosper [i.e. they will not achieve peace]: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed [and it was not at the appointed time].

Daniel 11:28 Then shall he [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes] return into his land with great riches [i.e. with much plunder, with great wealth]; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant [i.e. he was set against (or opposed to) the Mosaic system]; and he shall do exploits [i.e. he will take action, he will do damage - he desecrated the Temple], and return to his own land [i.e. to his own country]. [This occurred in 170 B.C.]

On his return to Syria, Antiochus IV Epiphanes passed through Israel. He had hoped to capture all of Egypt but failed. He took out his frustrations on the Jews by desecrating the Temple (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

Daniel 11:29 At the time appointed [i.e. 168 B.C.] he [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes] shall return, and come toward the south [i.e. toward Egypt - Antiochus again intended to conquer Egypt]; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter [i.e. This time it will not turn out as it did the previous time].

Daniel 11:30 For the ships of Chittim [i.e. Cyprus - the Romans] shall come against him [near Alexandria, Egypt]: . . .

What happened was that as Antiochus moved into Egypt, he was opposed by the Romans who had come to Egypt in ships from the western coastlands (lit., "ships of Kittim," i.e., Cyprus). A letter came from the Roman senate for Antiochus, forbidding him to engage in war with Egypt. When Antiochus asked for time to consider, the emissary drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus and demanded that he give his answer before he stepped out of the circle. Antiochus submitted to Rome's demands for to resist would be to declare war on Rome. This was a humiliating defeat for Antiochus Epiphanes (he will lose heart) but he had no alternative but to return to his own land (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

30 . . . therefore he [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes] shall be grieved [i.e. disheartened], and return, and have indignation [i.e. become enraged] against the holy covenant [Returning through Palestine, Antiochus IV Epiphanes will take out his anger against Israel]: so shall he do [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes will do damage, take action]; he [i.e. Antiochus IV Epiphanes] even return, and have intelligence with [i.e. show regard for, show favor to] them that forsake the holy covenant [i.e. apostate Jews - some apostate Jews will collaborate with him].

Venting his anger on the Jews, Antiochus declared the Mosaic ceremonies illegal and erected in the Holy Place a statue of Zeus (v. 31). Some Jews resisted and were martyred (vv. 32-33) (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

Daniel 11:31 And arms shall stand on his part [i.e. his armed forces will arise], and they shall pollute [i.e. desecrate, defile] the sanctuary of strength [i.e. the sanctuary fortress, the Temple fortress], and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate [i.e. the abomination that causes desolation, the abomination of desolation].

Jesus refers to the antichrist as the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15 . He will set himself up as God in the temple at the beginning of the second half of the tribulation.

Matthew 24:15 - When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

In Daniel 11:31 , the abomination of desolation refers particularly to Antiochus IV Epiphanes but goes beyond him to refer also to the antichrist. It is an example of a prophecy with a double fulfillment.

Daniel 11:32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant [i.e. the Jewish apostates, the Jewish renegades who do wickedly against the Mosaic law] shall he [i.e. shall Antiochus IV Epiphanes] corrupt by flatteries [i.e. he will turn them to sin (or to godlessness)]: but the people that do know their God shall be strong [i.e. faithful Jews led by Judas Maccabaeus and his family], and do exploits [i.e. take action against Antiochus IV Epiphanes or resist Antiochus IV Epiphanes].

For a second time (cf. v. 28) Antiochus took out his frustration on the Jews, the city of Jerusalem, and their temple. He vented his fury against the holy covenant, the entire Mosaic system (cf. v. 28), favoring any renegade Jews who turned to help him (cf. v. 32). He desecrated the temple and abolished the daily sacrifice. Antiochus sent his general Apollonius with 22,000 soldiers into Jerusalem on what was purported to be a peace mission. But they attacked Jerusalem on the Sabbath, killed many people, took many women and children as slaves, and plundered and burned the city (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

In seeking to exterminate Judaism and to Hellenize the Jews, he forbade the Jews to follow their religious practices (including their festivals and circumcision), and commanded that copies of the Law be burned. Then he set up the abomination that causes desolation. In this culminating act he erected on December 16, 167 B.C. an altar to Zeus on the altar of burnt offering outside the temple, and had a pig offered on the altar. The Jews were compelled to offer a pig on the 25th of each month to celebrate Antiochus Epiphanes' birthday. Antiochus promised apostate Jews (i.e. those Jews who ... violated the covenant; cf. v. 30) great reward if they would set aside the God of Israel and worship Zeus, the god of Greece. Many in Israel were persuaded by his promises (flattery) and worshiped the false god. However, a small remnant remained faithful to God, refusing to engage in those abominable practices (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

The Jews who refused to submit to Antiochus' false religious system were persecuted and martyred for their faith. The word fall (vv. 33-34), literally stumble, refers to severe suffering on the part of many and death for others. This has in view the rise of the Maccabean revolt. Mattathias, a priest, was the father of five sons. (One of them, Judas, became well known for refurbishing and restoring the temple in late 164 B.C. He was called Judas Maccabeus, "the Hammerer.") In 166, Mattathias refused to submit to this false religious system. He and his sons fled from Jerusalem to the mountains and began the Maccabean revolt. At first only a few Jews joined them. But as their movement became popular, many joined them, some out of sincere motives and some from false motives. The suffering that the faithful endured served to refine and purify them. This time of persecution was of short duration. It had previously been revealed to Daniel that the temple would be desecrated for 1,150 days. Here Daniel was assured that this persecution would run its course and then be lifted, for its end will still come at the appointed time (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

Daniel 11:33 And they that understand among the people [i.e. the godly Jews] shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil [i.e. plunder], many days.

Daniel 11:34 Now when they shall fall [i.e. stumble], they shall be holpen [i.e. helped] with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries [i.e. join them in hypocrisy, who are not sincere].

Daniel 11:35 And some of them of understanding shall fall [i.e. stumble], to try them [i.e. to refine them], and to purge [i.e. purify], and to make them white [i.e. pure, spotless], even to the time of the end: because it is yet [i.e. still] for a time appointed.

Daniel's prophecy in verses 21-35 concerning Antiochus IV Epiphanes 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.