Daniel 11:1-45

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In the Hebrew text, including a Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDanc), the one speaking referred to the “first year of Darius the Mede,” but the Septuagint and the Greek text of Theodotion say that it was the “first year of Cyrus.” When reckoned in relation to the conquest of Babylon, the first year of Darius the Mede and the first year of Cyrus the Persian are concurrent. (11:1)

According to the context, the one speaking is the angel who had come to Daniel. In the Masoretic Text, the angel is represented as saying that he acted as a supporter, “standing up for confirming” and strengthening “him.” A Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDanc) quotes the angel as saying, “I took my stand.” The thought expressed in the Hebrew text appears to be that the angel fully supported Michael in working for the interests of Daniel’s people, unlike the spirit princes or demons who opposed them and would not have wanted them released from Babylonian exile to return to their land to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple on its original site. (11:1)

A number of translations are explicit in identifying Michael as the one whom the angel supported. “In the first year that Darius the Mede was king, I stood up to support Michael in his fight against the prince of Persia.” (NCV) “I have been standing beside Michael to support and strengthen him since the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede.” (NLT) The Hebrew text has also been interpretively rendered to identify Darius the Mede as the one whom the angel supported. “You also need to know that I protected and helped Darius the Mede in his first year as king.” (CEV) This meaning is less likely, for the phrase “in the first year of Darius the Mede” basically functions as a time reference. (11:1)

The Septuagint rendering expresses the thought more like one might expect in this context. Michael is the one who encourages the angel, telling him, “Be strong and be manly,” basically meaning for him to be courageous as he would be facing opposition when carrying out his assignments respecting Daniel and Daniel’s people. The Greek text of Theodotion does not convey this thought, but has the angel saying, “I stood for might and strength.” (11:1)

The angel then revealed to Daniel the “truth,” imparting to him knowledge about future events that were certain to take place. Three kings would arise in Persia, and the fourth one would be rich — far richer than all of them. After having become strong from his riches, he would “stir up all against the kingdom of Greece” (Javan). Historically, the Persian monarch who fits the description of the fourth king is Xerxes I. If this is the correct identification, the preceding three kings after Cyrus the Great would be Cambyses, the usurper Gaumata, and Darius I. When Cyrus the Great is regarded as one of the three kings, the short reign of Gaumata may be considered as not having been included. (11:2)

In his History (Book VII, 27-29), the Greek historian Herodotus (fifth century BCE) relates that certain Persians told Xerxes that only he had greater wealth than the Lydian Pythios the son of Atys. When asked about his riches, Pythios told Xerxes that he had 2,000 silver talents and gold in the amount of “four hundred myriads of daric staters” less seven thousand. In support of the campaign of Xerxes, Pythios was willing to present this to Xerxes, adding, “For myself I have sufficient livelihood from my slaves and from my estates of land.” Responding to the generous offer of Pythios, Xerxes is quoted as saying, “I make you my guest-friend, and I will complete for you the four hundred myriads of staters by giving from myself the seven thousand so that your four hundred myriads may not fall short by seven thousand.” Regarding the huge force that Xerxes assembled for his campaign against “Hellas” (Greece), Herodotus (Book VII, 20) wrote, “During four full years from the conquest of Egypt, he was preparing the army and the things that were of service for the army, and in the course of the fifth year he began his campaign with a host of great multitude. For all the armies of which we have knowledge, this proved to be by far the greatest.” (Translated by G. C. Macaulay) The words of Herodotus confirm that Xerxes had tremendous wealth and “stirred up all” or a huge force, equipment, and essential supplies for a campaign against Greece. According to the Septuagint, the fourth king would rise up against every king of the Greeks, and the Greek version of Theodotion says that he would do so against “all the kingdoms of the Greeks.” (11:2; see the Notes section.)

At an undisclosed time after developments involving the “fourth king” of Persia, a mighty king would “stand up” or assume dominion, ruling over an extensive area and acting as he pleased. The description that follows makes it possible to identify this king as Alexander the Great. (11:3)

After the standing up of this “king,” or after Alexander the Great began ruling and expanding his dominion through extensive military campaigns, his kingdom was “broken,” for he died at the young age of 32 (not quite 33). The empire that he created included Egypt and extended from Greece to India (the present Pakistan). After his death it was divided to the “four winds of the heavens” (the four compass points), with no single monarch governing the territory of the former empire. (11:4)

The “posterity” of Alexander the Great did not succeed him in ruling. In his Syriaca (sections 52 and 53), Appian of Alexandria (historian of the second century CE) wrote: “After the Persians, Alexander [the Great] became the sovereign of Syria as well as of all other peoples whom he found. He died leaving one son very small and another yet unborn. The Macedonians, who were loyal to the race of Philip, chose Arridaeus [Arrhidaeus], the brother [half brother] of Alexander, as king during the minority of Alexander’s sons, although he was considered to be hardly of sound mind, and they changed his name from Arridaeus to Philip. They also kept careful guard over the wife, who was pregnant. Meanwhile Alexander’s friends continued in charge of the conquered nations, divided into satrapies, which Perdiccas parceled among them by the authority of king Philip. Not long afterward, when the true kings died, these satraps became kings.” (Translated by Horace White) Alexander’s official wife who was pregnant at the time of his death was Roxane (Roxana), and she gave birth to a son (Alexander IV). Barsine, the supposed mistress of Alexander, was the mother of the young son named Heracles. Arrhidaeus, the illegitimate son of Philip (the father of Alexander the Great) was the first one to be put to death, next Roxane and her then twelve-year-old son (Alexander IV) were killed, and finally Heracles was put to death. (11:4)

After the defeat of the army of Antigonus and his death in battle, four of Alexander the Great’s generals controlled various parts of the former empire. This occurred after the development that the first-century Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities, XII, i, 1) mentioned and which development did not take place immediately upon the death of Alexander the Great. “His government fell among many, Antigonus obtained Asia; Seleucus Babylon; and of the other nations which were there, Lysimachus governed the Hellespont, and Cassander possessed Macedonia; as did Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, seize upon Egypt; and while these princes ambitiously strove one against another, every one for his own principality, it came to pass that there were continual wars.” This account agrees with the words in the book of Daniel that those ruling after the kingdom was broken would not do so “according to the dominion” that Alexander the Great had and that his kingdom was uprooted for “others besides these,” probably meaning men other than the posterity of Alexander the Great. (11:4; see the Notes section regarding the rendering of the Septuagint and the Greek version of Theodotion.)

The “king of the south” (the ruler south of the land of Daniel’s people or, according to the Septuagint, the “king of Egypt”) in the person of Ptolemy the son of Lagus (Ptolemy I Soter) did become strong, gaining control over regions other than Egypt. Josephus (Antiquities, XII, i, 1) related how he seized Jerusalem by making “use of deceit and treachery.” He entered the city on a “Sabbath day, as if he would offer sacrifice.” The Jews did not oppose him, “for they did not suspect him to be their enemy” and “they were at rest.” After Ptolemy I gained control of Jerusalem, he ruled over the city “in a cruel manner.” He also took many captives from the “mountainous parts of Judea and from the places about Jerusalem and Samaria, and the places near Mount Gerizim” and then settled them in Egypt. (11:5)

One of the “princes” of the “king of the south” would become stronger than he and that one’s “dominion” would become greater than “his dominion.” Based on the context, the one referred to as one of “his princes” is the one who came to occupy the position of “king of the north” (of regions north of the land of Daniel’s people). Historically, this “prince” was Seleucus Nicator. He incurred the anger of his superior Antigonus when he punished one of the governors without having consulted Antigonus. When Antigonus demanded an accounting from him, Seleucus fled to Ptolemy I in Egypt and thus, as one in the domain of Ptolemy I, could be designated as one of “his princes.” (11:5)

As for Antigonus, he removed Blitor as governor of Mesopotamia for having allowed Seleucus to escape and then personally assumed rulership over Babylon, Mesopotamia, and all the other lands from Media to the Hellespont. Ptolemy, Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Cassander became envious of Antigonus and formed a league with each other and sent an embassy to him, demanding that he share with them and with the other Macedonians who had lost their satrapies his newly acquired territory and wealth. Antigonus rejected the demand, and this led to war. With his forces, Antigonus drove out all of the garrisons Ptolemy had stationed in Syria and seized all of the possessions he still had in Phoenicia and Coele-Syria. The first reversal for Antigonus came when Ptolemy defeated the army of Demetrius (the young son of Antigonus) at Gaza, forcing him to flee to his father. Then Ptolemy sent Seleucus back to Babylon with a small force so that he could resume his governmental position there. Seleucus did take Babylon and the populace received him enthusiastically. After the defeat of the army of Antigonus and his death at the Battle of Ipsus, Seleucus and all the kings who had been in league with him divided the territory among themselves. Thereafter Seleucus continued to enlarge his empire. According to Appian of Alexandria, “the boundaries of his empire were the most extensive in Asia” after those of Alexander the Great. Therefore, the language of the book of Daniel can be applied to Seleucus as a “prince” whose dominion became greater than that of Ptolemy, the “king of the south.” (11:5; see the Notes section.)

“At the end of years” (or after the passing of a number of years), they (the “king of Egypt” [LXX] and the “king of the north”) would make an alliance. To make peace or to come to an equitable agreement after having fought, the “daughter of the king of the south” (Egypt [LXX]) would come to the “king of the north.” This daughter, however, would not retain the “strength of her arm.” He (the “king of the north”) and his arm would not “stand” or endure, and she would be “given up,” as also would her attendants (those having come with her from Egypt), the “one having begotten” (her father) or (based on an emendation) the one having been begotten (her child), and the one “making her strong in [those] times.” (11:6; see the Notes section.)

The wording of verse 6 fits developments in the time of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (the son and successor of Ptolemy I Soter) and Antiochus II Theos. In his Syriaca (section 65), Appian of Alexandria (historian of the second century CE) wrote: “After the death of Seleucus, the kingdom of Syria passed in regular succession from father to son as follows: the first was the same Antiochus who fell in love with his stepmother, to whom was given the surname of Soter, “Savior,” for driving out the Gauls who had made an incursion into Asia from Europe. The second was another Antiochus, born of this marriage, who received the surname of Theos, “Divine,” from the Milesians in the first instance, because he slew their tyrant, Timarchus. This Theos was poisoned by his wife. He had two wives, Laodice and Berenice, the former a love-match, the latter a daughter pledged to him by Ptolemy [II Philadelphus]. Laodice assassinated him and afterward Berenice and her child.” (Translated by Horace White) In his commentary on Daniel (translated by Gleason Archer), Jerome included a number of other details. Wanting to end the warring with Antiochus, Ptolemy II Philadelphus “gave his daughter, named Berenice, in marriage to Antiochus, who had already had by a previous wife, named Laodice, two sons, namely Seleucus, surnamed Callinicus, and the other, Antiochus. And Philadelphus conducted her as far as Pelusium and bestowed countless thousands of gold and silver by way of a dowry. … But as for Antiochus, even though he had said he would regard Berenice as his royal consort and keep Laodice in the status of a concubine, he was finally prevailed upon by his love for Laodice to restore her to the status of queen, along with her children. But she was fearful that her husband might in his fickleness restore Berenice to favor once more, and so she had him put to death by her servants with the use of poison. And she handed over Berenice and the son whom she had born by Antiochus to Icadio and Genneus, princes of Antiochus, and then set up her elder son, Seleucus Callinicus, as king in his father’s place.” (11:6)

Based on the ancient historical sources, Berenice may be considered as having lost the “strength of her arm” when her father died and Antiochus left her to be with Laodice. As Antiochus was poisoned, neither he nor his “arm” or might endured. Berenice was “given up” when she was killed. Presumably, at the same time, those who had come with her from Egypt as her attendants were also put to death. The one who made her strong could designate either her father or her husband. (11:6)

“From her roots,” a “shoot” would “stand up” or arise “in his place.” This “shoot” is thus identified as coming from the same line of descent as the “daughter of the king of the south” (Egypt [LXX]). The reference to “his place” may be understood to mean in his position as king of the south. He would come against the army (or to his own army as its commander) and enter the “stronghold of the king of the north,” and he would “deal with them [those against whom his campaign was directed] and prevail.” The wording suggests that the “king of the south” would triumph when attacking the king of the north and capture his “stronghold” (possibly a collective Hebrew singular that designates fortified cities). (11:7; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering and that of Theodotion.)

Drawing on historical sources, Jerome, in his commentary on Daniel (translated by Gleason Archer), explained the developments described in verse 7. “After the murder of Berenice and the death of her father, Ptolemy Philadelphus, in Egypt, her brother, who was also named Ptolemy and surnamed Euergetes, succeeded to the throne as the third of his dynasty, being in fact an offshoot of the same plant and a bud of the same root as she was, inasmuch as he was her brother. He came up with a great army and advanced into the province of the king of the north, that is Seleucus Callinicus, who together with his mother Laodice was ruling in Syria.” Regarding the success of the campaign against the “king of the north,” Jerome continued, “Not only did he seize Syria but he also took Cilicia and the remoter regions beyond the Euphrates and nearly all of Asia as well.” (11:7)

After the successful campaign against the king of the north, the king of the south would carry off back to Egypt the “gods” of the vanquished, “their molten images,” and their precious gold and silver vessels. For some years thereafter, the king of the south would not launch any attacks against the king of the north. According to the Septuagint rendering, the king of the north would have a “year.” The Greek version of Theodotion says that, besides the gods, the images, and the desirable gold and silver vessels, the king of the south would carry a body of captives to Egypt and rise above the king of the north. (11:8; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

A copy of an inscription (OGIS 54) that the monk Cosmas (Indicopleustes) made in the sixth century CE and which has survived only as a copy from his time provides a description of the successful campaign of Ptolemy III Euergetes. “He crossed the River Euphrates and, having brought under him Mesopotamia and Babylonia and Susiana and Persia and Media, and all the rest as far as Bactria, and having sought out whatever sacred things had been carried off by the Persians from Egypt, [he] brought them back with the other treasure from these countries to Egypt.” In his commentary on Daniel, Jerome provided additional historical details. When Ptolemy III Euergetes “heard that a rebellion was afoot in Egypt, he ravaged the kingdom of Seleucus and carried off as booty forty thousand talents of silver, and also precious vessels and images of the gods to the amount of two and a half thousand. Among them were the same images which Cambyses had brought to Persia at the time when he conquered Egypt. The Egyptian people were indeed devoted to idolatry, for when he had brought back their gods to them after so many years, they called him Euergetes (Benefactor).” (11:8)

Although the “king of the north” is not specifically mentioned in the text, his coming into the “kingdom of the king of the south” (the “kingdom of Egypt for days” [LXX]) is implied. The reference to his then returning to “his land” suggests that his campaign would be unsuccessful. In his History of the World (XXVII, ii), the ancient Latin historian Justin wrote about a campaign that appears to fit this description. “After the departure of Ptolemy” III Euergetes, “Seleucus” II Callinicus “got ready a fleet against the cities that had revolted,” but a sudden storm destroyed the fleet. Only he and a few companions survived the shipwreck. “The cities that in hatred to him had gone over to Ptolemy” III Euergetes, believing “that the gods had now sufficiently punished” Seleucus II Callinicus for his crimes “were moved to compassion because of his loss at sea” and again returned “their allegiance” to him. This emboldened him to initiate war against Ptolemy III Euergetes, but he was defeated. The resulting losses left him not much better off “than after his shipwreck.” (11:9)

The “sons” of the “king of the north” would “stir themselves up,” preparing for war, and would assemble a large number of forces. He, the then-reigning king of the north, would “come on,” “overflow and pass through,” and would again conduct the “war to his fortress” (a stronghold of the “king of the south”). The sons of Seleucus II Callinicus were Seleucus III Ceraunos and Antiochus III the Great. According to the Septuagint, one son of the “king of the north” would be provoked and would assemble a “great crowd.” In case the singular preserves the original text, the son who would fit the wording of the verse would be Antiochus III the Great. The other son (Seleucus III Ceraunos) did not attack Egypt, but did conduct a campaign in Asia Minor that could have been regarded as being against the interests of the “king of the south.” In his Syriaca (Section 66), Appian of Alexandria wrote that Seleucus III Ceraunos “was sickly and poor and unable to command the obedience of the army.” Therefore, “in the second year of his reign” (the third, according to Jerome), “he was poisoned by a court conspiracy.” The wording of the biblical text best fits the reign of Antiochus III the Great. (11:10)

In his commentary on Daniel (translated by Gleason Archer), Jerome wrote: “After the flight and death of Seleucus Callinicus, his two sons, the Seleucus surnamed Ceraunus and the Antiochus who was called the Great, were provoked by a hope of victory and of avenging their father, and so they assembled an army against Ptolemy Philopator and took up arms. And when the elder brother, Seleucus, was slain in Phrygia in the third year of his reign through the treachery of Nicanor and Apaturius, the army which was in Syria summoned his brother, Antiochus the Great, from Babylon to assume the throne. And so this is the reason why the present passage states that the two sons were provoked and assembled a multitude of very sizable armies. But it implies that Antiochus the Great came by himself from Babylon to Syria, which at that time was held by Ptolemy Philopator, the son of Euergetes and the fourth king to rule in Egypt. And after he had successfully fought with his generals, or rather had by the betrayal of Theodotius obtained possession of Syria (which had already been held by a succession of Egyptian kings), he became so emboldened by his contempt for Philopator’s luxurious manner of life and for the magical arts which he was said to employ, that he took the initiative in attempting an invasion of Egypt itself.” In his History of the World (XXX, i), the ancient Latin historian Justin comments as follows about these developments: “[Ptolemy IV Philopator] abandoned himself to his pleasures, as if all things had succeeded very well for him; and all the court imitated his example. Wherefore, not only his friends and deputies, but likewise the whole army, laying aside all military exercises, languished in idleness and effeminacy. Antiochus king of Syria, being informed of this, and being pushed on at the same time by the ancient animosity between these two kingdoms, …. attacked several cities belonging to this prince [Ptolemy IV Philopator] and carried his arms even into Egypt itself.” (11:10)

The “king of the south” (the “king of Egypt” [LXX]) would be angered and come out to fight the “king of the north.” Based on the next verse, the one referred to as raising a “great multitude” or a large force (for the apparent purpose of attacking the “king of the south”) would be the “king of the north,” but this large military force would be given “into the hand” of the “king of the south” or be defeated by him. According to the Latin historian Justin (History of the World, XXX, i), Ptolemy IV Philopator hired “a great army in Greece” and then took to the field against Antiochus and could have “stripped him of his kingdom” upon gaining the victory. (11:11)

The rendering of the Septuagint is more explicit in attributing the triumph to the “king of Egypt,” for it says that he “will be angered and will war with the king of the north, and the gathering will be given into his hands.” The oldest Greek manuscript (P967) does not include the words “and will war.” (11:11)

Upon taking “the multitude,” the “heart” of the king of the south would be exalted, or he in his inmost self would be filled with delight and pride over his victory. In his triumph, he would “cast down myriads.” Nevertheless, he would not prove to be strong or prevail. The Septuagint makes no reference to his casting down myriads but indicates that the king of Egypt would “trouble many and by no means be afraid.” (11:12)

The Greek historian Polybius of the second century BCE, in his Histories (Book V, 86) described the victory of Ptolemy IV Philopator. His account indicates that the “king of the south” did indeed cast down “myriads.” “Ptolemy having thus obtained a decisive victory by his phalanx, and having killed many of the enemy in the pursuit by the hands of the cavalry and mercenaries of his right wing, retired and spent the night in his former camp. Next day, after picking up and burying his own dead and despoiling those of the enemy, he broke up his camp and advanced on Raphia. Antiochus after his flight had wished to take up at once a position outside the town collecting the scattered groups of fugitives; but as most of them had taken refuge in the city, he was compelled to enter it himself also. At daybreak he left for Gaza at the head of the surviving portion of his army, and encamping there sent a message asking for leave to collect his dead whom he buried under cover of this truce. His losses in killed alone had amounted to nearly ten thousand footmen and more than three hundred horsemen, while more than four thousand had been taken prisoners.” (11:12)

Instead of proving himself to be “strong” or to prevail by following up his triumph, Ptolemy IV Philopator agreed to make peace with Antiochus. The account of Polybius (Histories, Book V, 87) continues: “Antiochus, on reaching the town which bears his name, at once dispatched his nephew Antipater and Theodotus Hemiolius to treat with Ptolemy for peace, as he was seriously afraid of an invasion by the enemy. For he had no confidence in his own soldiers owing to his recent reverse, and he feared lest Achaeus should avail himself of the opportunity to attack him. Ptolemy took none of these matters into consideration, but delighted as he was at his recent unexpected success and generally at having surpassed his expectations by regaining possession of Coele-Syria, was not averse to peace, in fact rather too much inclined to it, being drawn towards it by his indolent and depraved habit of life. When, therefore, Antipater and his fellow ambassador arrived, after a little bluster and some show of expostulation with Antiochus for his conduct, he granted a truce for a year. Sending back Sosibius with the ambassadors to ratify the treaty, he remained himself for three months in Syria and Phoenicia establishing order in the towns, and then, leaving Andromachus behind as military governor of the whole district, he returned with his sister and his friends to Alexandria, having brought the war to an end in a manner that astonished his subjects in view of his character in general.” (11:12)

The ancient Latin historian Justin, in his History of the World (XXX, i, ii), related that Ptolemy IV Philopator was eager to make a treaty and thereafter pursued a course of idleness and licentiousness. “Satisfied with recovering the cities he had lost, and making peace with Antiochus, he greedily seized this opportunity of returning to quiet; thus his former luxury recoiling upon him, he put his wife Eurydice to death, who was likewise his sister; and he became entangled by the charms of a whore, Agathoclea. And so losing all sense and remembrance of his rank and majesty, he wasted his nights in debauchery, and his days in feasts. … This licentiousness increasing daily, the impudence of the harlot could not be confined within the palace. … What contributed to render her still more audacious was that her brother Agathocles, a prostitute youth of captivating beauty, shared the king with her, and ministered to his infamous pleasures. To this was added the credit of their mother Oenanthe, who managed the king as she pleased by the charms of her son and daughter. … Not content to possess and govern the king, they now likewise pretended to govern the kingdom and appeared in public, and were saluted, and magnificently attended. Agathocles, who was inseparable from the king’s person, ruled the city; the women disposed of all governments, commands, and places of honor; nor was there any person who had less power in the kingdom than the king himself.” (11:12)

According to the biblical text, the time was to come when the “king of the north” would return and “raise a multitude” or assemble a military force greater than the one with which he formerly fought against the king of the south. “At the end of times” — the passage of some “years” (literally, “times, years”), he would come with a large army and much equipment (supplies and everything else needed for waging war). Commenting on this verse, Jerome wrote (as translated by Gleason Archer): “This indicates that Antiochus the Great … assembled a huge army from the upper regions of Babylon. And since Ptolemy Philopator was now dead, Antiochus broke his treaty and set his army in motion against Philopator’s four-year-old son [five-year-old son (according to the Latin historian Justin)], who was called Epiphanes.” (11:13; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

In those particular “times,” the “king of the south” would have many rising up against him. Certain ruffians (literally, “sons of violent ones” or “robbers”) among Daniel’s people would also cause disturbance, causing a vision “to stand,” but they would “stumble” or, as expressed in the Greek version of Theodotion, they would be weak. (11:14; regarding the Septuagint rendering, see the Notes section.)

According to the ancient Latin historian Justin (History of the World, XXX, ii), the death of Ptolemy IV Philopator was concealed “until these women [Agathoclea the sister of Agathocles and their mother Oenanthe] had carried off his money and had formed a confederacy with some desperate villains to usurp the kingdom.” In his Histories (Book XV, 20, 1-3), the Greek historian Polybius of the second century BCE described what the young son (Ptolemy V Epiphanes) faced after the death of his father (Ptolemy IV Philopator) from the “king of the north.” Antiochus III the Great (the “king of the north”) had allied himself with Philip V, king of Macedonia, with the intent of seizing territory that had been under the control of Ptolemy IV Philopator. “They hastened to divide the child’s kingdom between themselves and be the ruin of the unhappy orphan. Nor did they, as tyrants do, take the pains to provide themselves with some paltry pretext for the shameful deed, but at once acted in a fashion so unscrupulous and brutal that they well deserved to have applied to them the saying about the food of fishes, that though they are all of the same tribe the destruction of the smaller ones is food and life to the larger.” Additionally, in Egypt itself and the provinces, the populace became increasingly more hostile toward Agathocles in the way he administered affairs for the young king. To reveal that Ptolemy IV Philopator and the queen Arsinoë were dead, Agathocles and Sosibius (the pretended guardian of Ptolemy V) summoned a meeting of the bodyguard, household troops, and officers of the infantry and cavalry. After acknowledging the death of the king and queen and enjoining the populace to go into mourning, “they crowned the boy and proclaimed him king.” Then they “read a forged will, in which it was written that the king appointed Agathocles and Sosibius guardians of his son.” Agathocles used his position to remove “all the most notable men and checked to a great extent by the advance of pay the disaffection among the troops.” Thereafter he filled the vacant places with men who were “most remarkable for their effrontery and recklessness. He himself spent the greater part of the day and night in drinking and the debauchery which commonly accompanies it, sparing neither women in the flower of their age nor brides nor virgins, and all this he did with the most odious ostentation. So that a strong dislike against him was aroused on all sides, as no attempt was made to conciliate or help those aggrieved, but on the contrary there was a constant repetition of outrage, arrogance, and neglect, the former hatred of the populace for him began to fume again.” (Polybius, Histories, XV, 25, 1-5, 20-24) Ancient historical accounts thus reveal that the “king of the south” in the person of Ptolemy V did have many rising up against him. (11:14)

In his Antiquities (XII, iii, 3), the first-century Jewish historian Josephus says that the “Jews, of their own accord, went over to him [Antiochus III the Great] and received him into the city [Jerusalem], and gave plentiful provision to all his army, and to his elephants, and readily assisted him when he besieged the garrison which was in the citadel of Jerusalem.” Repeatedly, the Hebrew prophets censured the Israelites for entering into political alliances with foreign powers. Therefore, this kind of action in deliberately choosing to side with Antiochus III the Great could make the expression “sons of robbers,” ruffians, or rebels an appropriate designation for them. By their action, they could be understood to have caused the vision in the book of Daniel “to stand” or to be confirmed as fulfilled. Their stumbling could refer to the disastrous consequences alignment with the “king of the north” had in subsequent years. (11:14)

The “king of the north” would come and “cast up [literally, pour out] a mound” (probably meaning progressively forming an earthen siege ramp by pouring out the earth from containers) and then seize a fortified city. The forces (literally, “arms” [like the arms of a body]) of the “south” would not stand, and among the “choice ones of the people” or the best ones of the warriors there would be no “strength to stand.” According to the Septuagint, the “king of the north” would “turn his spears and seize the fortified city,” and the “arm” or power of the “king of Egypt will stand with his mighty ones, and he will not have the strength to resist him.” It is thought that the Greek word for “not” was inadvertently omitted in the phrase the “king of Egypt will stand.” (11:15)

The “king of the north” apparently still is Antiochus III the Great, and this relates to his warring against the “king of the south” or Ptolemy V Epiphanes. In his Antiquities (XII, iii, 3), the Jewish historian Josephus wrote that Ptolemy V “sent out a great army under Scopas the general of his forces against the inhabitants of Celesyria [Coele-Syria].” The forces under the command of Scopas “took many of their cities, and in particular our [the Jewish] nation; which, when he fell upon them, went over to him.” Not long afterward “Antiochus [III the Great] overcame Scopas in a battle fought at the fountains of Jordan and destroyed a great part of his army.” The reference in Daniel appears to relate to the defeat of Scopas, for he and his best warriors were unable to stand before the forces under the command of Antiochus. (11:15)

Jerome, in his commentary on Daniel (as translated by Gleason Archer), provided the following details: “Purposing to retake Judaea and the many cities of Syria, Antiochus joined battle with Scopas, Ptolemy’s general, near the sources of the Jordan near where the city now called Paneas was founded, and he put him to flight and besieged him in Sidon together with ten thousand of his soldiers. In order to free him, Ptolemy dispatched the famous generals, Eropus, Menocles and Damoxenus (Vulgate: Damoxeus). Yet he was unable to lift the siege, and finally Scopas, overcome by famine, had to surrender and was sent away with his associates, despoiled of all he had.” Although the description of a fortified city would fit Sidon, Jerome concluded that the reference to casting up a mound related to what Antiochus III the Great did when besieging “the garrison of Scopas in the citadel of Jerusalem.” (11:15)

The “king of the north” would act “according to his will” when coming against the “king of the south.” None would be able to stand “before his face” or to counter with an effective defense in battle. The “king of the north” would stand in the “land of beauty” (Sabi or Sabir [Theodotion], a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “beauty”), and it would “be complete [if read as a verb with different vowel points than the noun kaláh] in his hand.” The “land of beauty” is the land of Daniel’s people. Its “beauty” stemmed from its having YHWH’s temple in Jerusalem, with the temple being his representative place of dwelling. For this land to “be complete” in the “hand” of the “king of the north” may mean that it would be completely in his power or subject to him. The Hebrew text reads kaláh, which means “destruction.” If this is the significance, a verb needs to be supplied (“and destruction [will be] in his hand.” Both the Septuagint and the Greek version of Theodotion render the Hebrew kaláh as verbs. Even though the Septuagint contains a form of the verb epiteléo and the version of Theodotion has a form of the verb synteléo, the verbs have the same basic meaning, and the phrase in which they appear may be rendered, “and everything [it (Theodotion)] will be finished by his hands [hand (Theodotion)].” (11:16; see the Notes section.)

Antiochus III the Great triumphed over the forces of Ptolemy V Epiphanes. As Ptolemy V (who, though king, was still a little boy) had no forces that could stop him, Antiochus III was able to do what he pleased. Since the Jews granted him access to Jerusalem (as Josephus wrote [Antiquities, XII, iii, 3), Antiochus III did stand in the “land of beauty,” and the entire land came to be in his “hand” or under his control. If the Hebrew word kaláh is understood to mean “destruction,” it could refer to the devastation that the warring of Antiochus III caused. (11:16)

The “king of the north” would “set his face to come with the strength of all his kingdom [give his face to come with force (against) all of his work (LXX)].” This suggests that he would come with the complete military might available in his realm for the purpose of getting control over territory of the “king of the south” or everything belonging to him. To achieve his objective, he would also resort to means other than warfare. He would “bring” terms of an agreement to present to the “king of the south” (“make agreements with him” [LXX]). The phrase “and he will do” may mean that the “king of the south” would agree to the arrangement. As part of the agreement, the “king of the north” would give the “daughter of women” (“daughter of man” [LXX]) to the “king of the south.” (11:17)

According to the Hebrew text and the Greek version of Theodotion, the objective of the “king of the north” would be “to ruin her.” Considering that his actual aim was control over the territory of the “king of the south,” it does not seem reasonable to consider that he would be making an agreement that would bring ruin to a woman. So it may be that the feminine pronoun has the feminine noun for “kingdom” as the implied antecedent, suggesting that the woman would be the instrument for bringing the realm of the “king of the south” to ruin by making it subject to the “king of the north.” The oldest Greek manuscript (P967) and a Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDanc) read “him,” and this would mean that the woman would be the instrument by means of whom the “king of the north” intended to achieve his objective of having control over the “king of the south.” (11:17)

The concluding words of the verse may be rendered, “And she will not stand, and she will not be for him.” According to the Greek version of Theodotion, the text reads, “And she will by no means remain, and she will not be for him.” The reading of the oldest Greek manuscript (P967) could be translated, “And she will not stand, and she will not be.” Rahlfs’ printed Greek text says, “And she will not obey, and she will not be.” This could indicate that the woman would not serve the interests of the “king of the north,” for she would not “stand” or remain firm in her position of support or would not obey. She would also not be “for him” or not be for the “king of the north.” (11:17)

That the “king of the north” would “come with the strength of all his kingdom” fits what the ancient Roman historian Livy wrote in his History of Rome (XXXIII, 19). “During the previous summer Antiochus [III the Great] had reduced all the cities in Coele-Syria which had been under Ptolemy’s sway.” Even in his winter quarters, he continued to be active. “He had called up the whole strength of his kingdom and had amassed enormous forces, both military and naval. At the commencement of spring he had sent his two sons, Ardys and Mithridates, with an army to Sardis with instructions to wait for him there while he started by sea with a fleet of a hundred decked ships and two hundred smaller vessels. …” One of his objectives then was “to attempt the reduction of the cities along the whole coastline of Cilicia, Lycia and Caria which owed allegiance to Ptolemy.” (11:17)

The “daughter of women” or the “daughter of man” proved to be Cleopatra, the daughter of Antiochus III the Great. Jerome, in his commentary on Daniel (as translated by Gleason Archer) indicated that having his young daughter (who was not even in her teens) marry Ptolemy V Epiphanes was a way Antiochus III the Great thought he could get control over Egypt. “Antiochus not only wished to take possession of Syria, Cilicia, and Lycia, and the other provinces which had belonged to Ptolemy’s party, but also to extend his empire to Egypt. He therefore used the good offices of Eucles of Rhodes to betroth his daughter, Cleopatra, to young Ptolemy in the seventh year of his reign; and in his thirteenth year she was given to him in marriage, professedly endowed with all of Coele-Syria and Judaea as her marriage-portion.” (11:17)

Josephus (Antiquities, XII, iv, 1) provided no reason for the marriage. “Antiochus made a friendship and a league with Ptolemy and gave him his daughter Cleopatra as wife, and yielded up to him Coele-Syria, Samaria, Judea, and Phoenicia by way of dowry.” The ancient historian Appian, in his Syriaca (section 5) provided a political reason for the marriage other than the one Jerome mentioned. “Now, determining no longer to conceal his intended war with the Romans, he formed alliances by marriage with the neighboring kings. To Ptolemy in Egypt he sent his daughter Cleopatra surnamed Syra, giving with her Coele-Syria as a dowry, which he had taken away from Ptolemy himself, thus flattering the young king in order to keep him quiet during the war with the Romans.” (11:17)

Antiochus III the Great did not succeed in his objective. Jerome, in his commentary on Daniel, wrote, “He was unable to take possession of Egypt, because Ptolemy Epiphanes and his generals detected the strategem and followed a cautious policy. And besides, Cleopatra inclined more to her husband’s side than to her father’s.” So she did not “stand” on the side of her father and did not prove to be “for him” in his objective. (11:17)

The “king of the north” would turn “his face to the coastlands [or islands],” and he would seize many of them. A “commander” would end his “taunt” or “reproach,” turning “his taunt” or “reproach” back upon him. In the Greek text of Theodotion, the “king of the north” is represented as causing rulers to desist from their reproach, which implies that their insults would end upon his attaining the victory. The second occurrence of the Hebrew word that may be rendered “taunt” is preceded by the adverb biltéy, which often can mean “not” or “without.” This significance, however, does not seem to fit the context. The Greek version of Theodotion may be rendered, “But his reproach will turn back upon him,” suggesting that the “reproach” or “insult” to which the “king of the north” resorted would punitively come back upon him. (11:18; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Historically, the language is descriptive of what happened during the reign of Antiochus III the Great. He carried out military campaigns in the coastal regions of Asia Minor and even crossed over into Europe to invade Greece. Lucius Cornelius, the ambassador sent by the Roman Senate to establish peace between Antiochus III the Great and Ptolemy V Epiphanes, “asked Antiochus to retire from the cities previously subject to Ptolemy which he had taken possession of in Asia; while as to those previously subject to Philip [V of Macedonia], he demanded with urgency that he should evacuate them. For it was a ridiculous thing, he said, that Antiochus should come in when all was over and take the prizes they [the Romans] had gained in their war with Philip [V of Macedonia]. He also advised him to keep his hands off the autonomous cities. And generally speaking, he said he wondered on what pretext the king had crossed to Europe with such large military and naval forces. For anyone who judged correctly could not suppose that the reason was any other than that he was trying to put himself in the way of the Romans.” To this, Antiochus replied in an insulting manner, saying that “he was at a loss to know by what right they [the Romans] disputed his possession of the Asiatic towns; they were the last people who had any title to do so. Next he requested them not to trouble themselves at all about Asiatic affairs; for he himself did not in the least go out of his way to concern himself with the affairs of Italy.” (According to Polybius, a historian of the second century BCE [Book XVIII, 49, 50]; translated by W. R. Paton) (11:18)

Thereafter Antiochus III continued his aggressive aims. Finally, after being totally defeated by the Romans at Magnesia (a site in modern Turkey), he sent ambassadors to make a petition for peace. When the ambassadors wanted to know the terms for peace, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (who had recovered his health but was not a participant in the battle in which the forces under the command of his brother Lucius Cornelius Scipio gained the victory) replied (as translated by Horace White): “The grasping nature of Antiochus has been the cause of his present and past misfortunes. While he was the possessor of a vast empire, which the Romans did not object to, he seized Coele-Syria, which belonged to [the Egyptian king] Ptolemy [IV Philopator], his own relative and our friend. Then he invaded Europe, which did not concern him, subjugated Thrace, fortified the Chersonesus, and rebuilt Lysimacheia. He passed thence into Greece and took away the liberty of the people whom the Romans had lately freed, and kept on this course till he was defeated in battle at Thermopylae, and put to flight. Even then he did not forgo his grabbing propensity, for, although frequently beaten at sea, he did not seek peace until we had crossed the Hellespont. Then he scornfully rejected the conditions offered to him, and, again collecting a vast army and uncounted supplies, he continued the war against us, determined to come to an engagement with his betters, until he plunged into this great calamity. We might properly impose a severer punishment on him for his obstinacy in fighting us so persistently, but we are not accustomed to abuse our own prosperity or to aggravate the misfortunes of others. We will offer him the same conditions as before, adding a few which will be equally for our own and his future advantage. He must abandon Europe altogether and all of Asia this side of the Taurus, the boundaries to be fixed hereafter; he shall surrender all the elephants he has, and such number of ships as we may prescribe, and for the future keep no elephants and only so many ships as we allow; must give twenty hostages, whom the consul will select, and pay for the cost of the present war, incurred on his account, 500 Euboic talents down and 2500 more when the Senate ratifies the treaty; and 12,000 more during twelve years, each yearly installment to be delivered in Rome. He shall also surrender to us all prisoners and deserters, and to Eumenes whatever remains of the possessions he acquired by his agreement with Attalus, the father of Eumenes. If Antiochus accepts these conditions without guile we will grant him peace and friendship subject to the Senate’s ratification.” (According to he second-century historian Appian of Alexandria [Syriaca, section 38) Based on the outcome for Antiochus III, one can say that his “reproach” or “insult” came back on him in a humiliating defeat through a Roman “commander.” (11:18)

The “king of the north” would “turn his face back to the fortresses of his [own] land,” and he would “stumble,” “fall,” and “not be found.” The words of ancient historians, though not completely in agreement, do indicate that Antiochus III the Great came to a disastrous end. The terms of peace with Rome forced him to retreat and left him with a heavy debt to repay. According to Diodorus Siculus, a historian of the first century BCE (Library of History, XXIX, 15), “Antiochus, pressed for funds and hearing that the temple of Bel in Elymaïs had a large store of silver and gold derived from the dedications, resolved to pillage it. He proceeded to Elymaïs and after accusing the inhabitants of initiating hostilities, pillaged the temple; but though he amassed much wealth, he speedily received meet punishment from the gods.” Earlier, the same historian (XXVIII, 3) wrote, “As for Antiochus, his project of pillaging the sanctuary of Zeus at Elymaïs brought him to appropriate disaster, and he perished with all his host.” The ancient Latin historian Justin, in his History of the World (XXXII, 2) referred to Antiochus as being “distressed to raise the tribute he was obliged by the articles of peace … to pay to the Romans.” Then, “either compelled by his want of money, or induced by his avarice, marched his army in the night to plunder the temple of Jupiter of Elymaea; flattering himself that his pressing necessity would excuse his sacrilege. But the design being soon discovered, he was cut off, with all his forces, by the people who had gathered together in arms to oppose him.” (11:19)

Another man would become the “king of the north.” This ruler would send an “exactor through the glory of the kingdom” or the splendor of the realm. “In a few days,” this one would be “broken,” but “not in anger nor in battle.” Seleucus IV Philopator who succeeded his father Antiochus III as king was burdened with the heavy debt that needed to be repaid to Rome. Seemingly, for this purpose, he caused an “exactor” to pass through his realm to raise the needed funds. According to 2 Maccabees 3:4-13, a certain Simon falsely claimed that the treasury at the temple in Jerusalem contained fabulous wealth. When Seleucus came to know about this, he sent Heliodorus to confiscate these deposited riches for the royal treasury. On the basis of this account, Heliodorus often has been identified as the “exactor.” According to Appian of Alexandria (Syriaca, section 45), “Seleucus was assassinated as the result of a conspiracy of a certain Heliodorus, one of the court officers.” (Translated by Horace White) Whether he is the same Heliodorus as the one mentioned in 2 Maccabees cannot be established with certainty. The comment of Appian does confirm that Seleucus IV Philopator did not die in battle. His not dying “in anger” could be interpreted to mean that his premature death did not occur on account of his being an object of foreign hostility. (11:20; regarding the reading of the Greek version of Theodotion and that of the Septuagint, see the Notes section.)

The one who would “stand up” or arise in the place that had been vacated by the previous “king of the north” is referred to as one being “despised.” To him, the “majesty of the kingdom” would not be given, but he would “come in quietness [suddenly or unexpectedly (LXX); in prosperity (Theodotion)] and seize the kingdom by smoothness” or “flattery.” (11:21; regarding the rendering of the Septuagint and the version of Theodotion, see the Notes section.)

Heliodorus, a court official, either assassinated, or was an active participant in a plot for carrying out the assassination of, Seleucus IV Philopator, the son of Antiochus III, and he intended to assume rulership. According to Appian of Alexandria (Syriaca, section 45), Eumenes II Soter of Pergamum and Attalus drove him out and installed Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus III as king. Antiochus IV had been a hostage in Rome, for part of the peace agreement to which his father had to consent was the requirement that he turn over certain men as hostages. This was one measure by which the Romans endeavored to prevent defeated rulers from revolting. For an undisclosed reason in the extant historical accounts, Demetrius, the oldest son of Seleucus IV Philopator, had been sent to Rome in exchange for Antiochus IV, the brother of Seleucus IV. While Antiochus was back from Rome and then in the city of Athens, he heard that his brother Seleucus IV was dead. The words in the book of Daniel appear to fit Antiochus IV as the new “king of the north.” (11:21)

From the standpoint of Daniel’s people, particularly those who were determined to live up to the requirements of God’s law, Antiochus IV would have been despised. He carried out a campaign of vicious persecution and endeavored to stamp out the worship of YHWH. As far as the people in the realm over which Seleucus IV Philopator had ruled were concerned, they would have regarded his oldest son Demetrius as the rightful heir to the throne. Therefore, Antiochus IV could be viewed as coming “in quietness” or unexpectedly into the position of king that had been vacated through the premature death of his brother. As he had suddenly and unexpectedly become king, he would not readily have been granted the honor or dignity of one who would have been regarded as the heir apparent. The manner in which Antiochus IV then secured his position was by “smoothness” or flattery, according extraordinary public praise to those who supported him, persuading others to make expressions laudation, and extending special favors to his supporters. (11:21)

An excerpt (preserved by Athenaeus) from the Histories of the ancient historian Polybius may provide another reason why Antiochus IV Epiphanes was despised. “Polybius, in his twenty-sixth book, calls him Epimanes (the Madman) instead of Epiphanes owing to his conduct. For not only did he condescend to converse with common people, but even with the meanest of the foreigners who visited Antioch. And whenever he heard that any of the younger men were at an entertainment, no matter where, he would come in with a fife and other music so that most of the guests got up and ran off in astonishment. He would often, moreover, doff his royal robe and pick up a toga and so make the circuit of the marketplace.” (Translated by W. R. Paton) Some have questioned the validity of this account, believing it may have been based on gossip that was circulated by the enemies of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. (11:21)

“Before his face” or before him (before the “king of the north”), “arms of a flood” (powers or forces that are destructive like a deluge) would be “flooded” (overflowed like a flood or swept away as by a deluge). These “arms” or powers would be “broken,” as also would be the “leader of a covenant.” (11:22; see the Notes section.)

In their application to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the crushing of the “arms” could refer to his triumphing over those in his realm who opposed him. Appian of Alexandria (Syriaca, section 45) wrote that the Syrians called him Epiphanes “because when the government was seized by usurpers he showed himself to be their true sovereign.” Indicating the manner in which Antiochus strengthened his position, Appian continued, “By cementing the friendship and alliance of Eumenes, he governed Syria and the neighboring nations with a firm hand. He appointed Timarchus as satrap of Babylon and Heraclides as treasurer, two brothers, both of whom had been his favorites.” (11:22)

Appian’s comments indicate that Antiochus IV Epiphanes did break the power of “usurpers,” but this historian included no information about one who might be identified as the “leader of a covenant.” If the reference is to the covenant that YHWH concluded with the Israelites at Mount Sinai, the “leader” could be understood to be one who was prominent in adhering to this covenant. This could have been the high priest Onias. Jason, the brother of Onias, through underhanded means, succeeded in having Antiochus IV Epiphanes agree to have him replace his brother as high priest. A number of years later, Onias was murdered. (11:22; 2 Maccabees 4:7-10, 30-34)

With reference to any agreement or alliance, the king of the north would deal with deceit, and he would become strong “with a small nation.” According to the Septuagint, the king of the north would “make a lie” with the “covenant and the people leagued with him,” suggesting that he would not live up to any of the agreements he might make. His word would be a lie. (11:23)

When he perceived that he could gain from breaking agreements, Antiochus IV Epiphanes did so. An example is the way he dealt with Jason whom he granted the office of high priest that Onias had occupied. Later, when Menelaus offered more money than Jason, Antiochus IV Epiphanes agreed to authorize him to be the high priest. How this happened is related in 2 Maccabees 4:23-27 (REB). “Jason sent Menelaus … to convey money to the king [Antiochus IV Epiphanes] and to carry out agreed decisions on some urgent business. But Menelaus, once in the king’s presence, flattered him with an air of authority, and diverted the high-priesthood to himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents in silver. He arrived back with the royal mandate, but with nothing else to make him worthy of the high-priesthood; he had the passions of a cruel tyrant and the temper of a savage beast. Jason, who had supplanted his own brother, was now supplanted in his turn and forced to seek refuge in Ammonite territory. Menelaus continued to hold the high-priesthood but without ever paying any of the money he had promised the king, however often it was demanded by Sostratus, the commander of the citadel.” (11:23)

Initially, Antiochus IV Epiphanes became king with the support of a small number. Therefore, he could be spoken of as having become strong with a “small nation” or a small number of people. Moreover, the realm over which he first ruled was much smaller than that of his father Antiochus III the Great. So it could also be said that with this “small nation,” Antiochus IV Epiphanes became strong through conquests. The Septuagint rendering represents matters as relating to military triumphs — “against a strong nation with a small nation.” (11:23)

The “king of the north” would come “in quietness” (“suddenly” or “unexpectedly”[LXX]; “in prosperity” [Theodotion]) into the “fat parts” or the richest parts of a “province.” According to the Septuagint, he would “suddenly” or “unexpectedly” desolate a “city.” He would do what neither “his fathers nor his fathers’ fathers” had done. Plunder, spoil, and goods that he had seized he would “scatter among them,” apparently doing so by giving presents to his friends or supporters. He would “plot plots against strongholds,” but this would be for a time, suggesting that it would come to an end. (11:24)

When the words of the biblical account are regarded as applying to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, they describe him as making his attacks during times no one was expecting them and when people generally enjoyed a measure of peace. The “fat parts” of a province could designate any rich area that could yield an abundance of booty or tax revenue. In the Septuagint, the reference could be to any city that would be desolated after being conquered. Seemingly, what his ancestors had not done was to distribute the plunder, spoil, and goods lavishly to friends and supporters and also at random to complete strangers. Upon coming to know that the silver in his treasuries was running short, one of the concerns of Antiochus IV Epiphanes was that he would not have sufficient funds for gifts. (1 Maccabees 3:27-30) An excerpt from Book XXVI of the Histories of Polybius (preserved by Athenaeus and translated by W. R. Paton) says, “Occasionally, he used to address people he had never seen before when he met them, and make them the most unexpected kind of presents.” The Roman historian Livy (History of Rome, XLI, 20; translated by George Baker)wrote, “By a preposterous kind of liberality, he made himself and others subjects of ridicule; for to some, in the most elevated stations, and who thought highly of themselves, he would give childish presents of sweetmeats, cakes, or toys; while on others, who, having no claims, expected nothing, he would bestow large sums of money.” (11:24)

The plotting against “strongholds” would have involved making plans to attack fortified cities. According to the Septuagint, he would plan “against the strong city.” The time would come when his warring would come to its end, for the plotting is represented as continuing “for a time.” In the Septuagint (Rahlfs’ Greek text), the planning would be “in vain,” suggesting that it would not lead to success. The Greek version of Theodotion limits the planning to be against Egypt “for a time.” (11:24; see the Notes section.)

The “king of the north” would “arouse his strength and his heart [his courage] against the king of the south with a great army.” In response, the “king of the south” would join in battle “with an exceedingly great and mighty army.” The “king of the south,” however, would “not stand,” indicating that he would be defeated. This disastrous outcome for the “king of the south” is attributed to “plots” (“thought,” “scheme,” or “plot” [singular LXX]) devised against him. (11:25; see the Notes section.)

As applying to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, he prepared himself for the military campaign. According to 1 Maccabees 1:16, his objective was to expand his dominion by incorporating Egypt as part of his realm. His great force included chariots, elephants, and a large fleet. (1 Maccabees 1:17) The “king of the south” was then Ptolemy VI Philometor, but he was still a minor, and the ones wielding the power were the eunuch Eulaeus and Lenaeus. They (Eulaeus in particular) appear to have been responsible for provoking Antiochus to attack when he became aware of their objective to regain Syria for Egypt. The ancient historian Polybius (Histories, XXVIII, 20), when discussing the efforts to negotiate for peace with Antiochus IV Epiphanes, related that the envoys “all ascribed the fault for what had happened to Eulaeus, and, pleading Ptolemy’s kinship with the king and his youth, attempted to appease the wrath of Antiochus.” Polybius also wrote that, after Antiochus had captured Pelusium and entered Egypt, Eulaeus advised Ptolemy VI Philometer to “abandon his kingdom to the enemy, and retire to Samothrace.” (Translated by W. R. Paton) The nature of the plotting against the “king of the south” cannot be determined with certainty. (11:25)

Those eating the “rich food” or the royal fare would be responsible for the crushing the “king of the south” would experience. His army would be overwhelmed as by a flood, and many of the warriors would be slain. (11:26; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering and that of the Greek version of Theodotion.)

In the case of Ptolemy VI Philometor, members of the royal court were his undoing. Their advice (more specifically that of the eunuch Eulaeus and Lenaeus who had the controlling voice while the king was a minor) plunged Egypt into a disastrous conflict with the forces under the command of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to 1 Maccabees 1:18, many of those in the army of Ptolemy VI were mortally wounded. Moreover, the advice of the eunuch Eulaeus that Ptolemy VI resort to flight led to his coming under the control of Antiochus IV Epiphanes who thereafter falsely claimed that he was protecting the interests of his sister’s son. (Cleopatra, the mother of Ptolemy VI, was the sister of Antiochus IV.) Commenting on this, the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus of the first century BCE (Library of History, XXX, 18) wrote that Antiochus, after winning the confidence of his nephew, Ptolemy VI, “deceived him and sought to bring him to utter ruin.” Polybius (Histories, XXVIII, 21), who wrote his account in the second century BCE, expressed his view regarding the advice of Eulaeus. “Who, reflecting on this, would not acknowledge that evil company does the greatest possible harm to men? For a prince, standing in no immediate danger and so far removed from his enemies, not to take any steps to fulfill his duty, especially as he commanded such great resources, and ruled over so great a country and so vast a population, but to yield up at once without a single effort such a splendid and prosperous kingdom, can only be described as the act of one whose mind is effeminate and utterly corrupted. Had Ptolemy been such a man by nature, we should have put the blame on nature and not accused anyone but himself. But since by his subsequent actions … Ptolemy [revealed himself] to have been a man who was fairly steadfast and brave when in danger, it is evident that we should attribute to the eunuch [Eulaeus] and association with him his cowardice on this occasion and his haste to retire to Samothrace.” (11:26)

The “two kings” — the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” — would have their “heart” or their mind directed toward doing bad. There would be nothing noble about their objectives and dealings. At the same table, they would speak lies. The scheming would not succeed, for the end would come at a future time (literally, “for yet an end for a time”). (11:27; see the Notes section.)

When Antiochus IV Epiphanes is considered to be the “king of the north,” this would relate to the time when he and Ptolemy VI Philometor were together after his defeating the Egyptian military forces. Although Antiochus IV and Ptolemy VI, who was then in the custody of Antiochus IV, were eating together at the same table, they would have had different objectives while feigning friendship toward one another in their relationship as uncle and nephew. In view of their concealing their real motives and aims, they would have been speaking lies. Their objectives would not succeed, with an appointed end coming before the plans could be carried out. (11:27)

With an apparent reference to the “king of the north,” it is said that he would “return to his land” with abundant goods. He would direct his “heart” or mind “against the holy covenant,” and he would act according to “his will and return to his land.” (11:28)

When the reference is regarded as applying to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, it relates to the invasion of Egypt and his thereafter passing through the land of Daniel’s people. According to the account in 1 Maccabees, Antiochus IV “plundered the land of Egypt” and, therefore, would have had goods in abundance. He then went to Jerusalem with a strong military force, arrogantly entering the sanctuary there. The items he took included the golden altar of incense, the lampstand, all the sacred vessels, the table for the showbread, all precious utensils, the golden censers, and the curtain. He took everything of value (even the “golden ornament on the façade of the temple”) and all the precious things that he could find in concealed places. “Taking all this, he went back to his own country, after he had spoken with great arrogance and shed much blood.” (1 Maccabees 1:19-24, NAB) So he did what he pleased before returning to his own land. As the temple and its furnishings related to the worship of YHWH and the covenant he had concluded with the nation of Israel, Antiochus IV Epiphanes did act against the “holy covenant.” According to the Septuagint rendering, it was the covenant of the “Holy One,” the Almighty God. (11:28)

With apparent reference to the “king of the north,” the account says that, at an appointed time or a future time, he would “return and enter into the south,” which would be the realm of the “king of the south” or, according to the Septuagint, Egypt. Unlike the time before when he had been successful in his campaign, this time he would not be. Antiochus IV Epiphanes with his forces plundered Egypt during the previous campaign. (1 Maccabees 1:19) The next time, however, he did not depart from Egypt as a triumphant king. (11:29)

The “king of the north” would not succeed, for “ships of Kittim” would come against him, and he would be “cowed [or disheartened] and return.” He would then be enraged against the “holy covenant. Acting as he wished, he would “turn back and show regard for those forsaking the holy covenant.” According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the Romans would come, expel him from Egypt, and rebuke him. He would then “turn back and be enraged against the covenant of the holy one.” (11:30)

The Septuagint reads much like a commentary on what happened to Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to the historian Polybius of the second century BCE (Histories, XXIX, 27 [translated by W. R. Paton]), the following took place: “Caius Popilius Laenas, the Roman commander, on Antiochus greeting him from a distance and then holding out his hand, handed to the king, as he had it by him, the copy of the senatus-consultum, and told him to read it first, not thinking it proper, as it seems to me, to make the conventional sign of friendship before he knew if the intentions of him who was greeting him were friendly or hostile. But when the king, after reading it, said he would like to communicate with his friends about this intelligence, Popilius acted in a manner which was thought to be offensive and exceedingly arrogant. He was carrying a stick cut from a vine, and with this he drew a circle round Antiochus and told him he must remain inside this circle until he gave his decision about the contents of the letter. The king was astonished at this authoritative proceeding, but, after a few moments’ hesitation, said he would do all that the Romans demanded. Upon this Popilius and his suite all grasped him by the hand and greeted him warmly. The letter ordered him to put an end at once to the war with Ptolemy. So, as a fixed number of days were allowed to him, he led his army back to Syria, deeply hurt and complaining indeed, but yielding to circumstances for the present.” According to the Greek version of Theodotion, the king of the north was “humbled.” The Masoretic Text indicates that he was either “cowed” or “disheartened” on account of what had occurred. (11:30)

Although forced to leave Egypt, Antiochus IV Epiphanes still exercised authority over the land of Daniel’s people and pursued a campaign of bitter persecution against those who remained loyal to the worship of YHWH or the law that the Israelites had received at Mount Sinai in the time of Moses. Through this campaign of persecution, he raged against the “holy covenant” into which the Israelites had entered at Mount Sinai. First Maccabees 1:44-53 (NRSV) reports what happened in the land of Judah. “The king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. He added, ‘And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.’ In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice, town by town. Many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.” (11:30)

Those who supported the policy of Antiochus IV Epiphanes regarding the “holy covenant” that had been given the Israelites at Mount Sinai enjoyed his favor, whereas the faithful remnant among them had to go into hiding. According to the reading of the Septuagint, it would be on account of their having forsaken to live up to the requirements of the “holy one,” the covenant their God YHWH had concluded with them, or the law that he had given to them, that they would suffer as they did. (11:30)

“Forces” (literally, arms) from the “king of the north” would “stand and profane the holy place and the fortress (the holy place of fear [LXX]; the sanctity of the lordship [Theodotion]).” They would “take away the continuity” or the regular burnt offering, and they would “set up the abomination making desolate.” (11:31; see the Notes section.)

The “forces” of the “king of the north” in the person of Antiochus IV Epiphanes that came to “stand” in the “holy place,” the sanctuary, or temple in Jerusalem must have been those whom he sent to enforce his edict. (See 1 Maccabees 2:15.) According to 1 Maccabees 1:45-47 (REB), the edict included the following: “Whole-offerings, sacrifices, and drink-offerings were forbidden in the temple [ending or taking away the continual or regular burnt offering]; sabbaths and feast days were to be profaned; the temple and its ministers defiled. Pagan altars, idols, and sacred precincts were to be established, swine and other unclean beasts to be offered in sacrifice.” The “fortress” probably designates the entire walled temple area. Antiochus IV stationed a garrison in the proximity of the temple, and the ones stationed posed a threat to the temple. “They shed innocent blood all round the temple; they defiled the holy place.” (1 Maccabees 1:33-37, REB) The first book of Maccabees links (1:54, 59) the “abomination” to the erection of a pagan altar on top of the altar of burnt offering in the courtyard of the temple in Jerusalem. This was a disgusting development that meant desolation for the temple, where the proper services then ceased to be performed. (11:31)

Those violating the covenant (literally, “acting wickedly to the covenant”) would be the unfaithful ones among Daniel’s people. The “king of the north” would seduce them with “smoothness” or “flattery,” expressing his favor toward any who chose to support his policies and objectives. Those who refused to adopt practices that violated the covenant that had been concluded with the Israelites at Mount Sinai in the time of Moses are here described as “knowing their God.” This would have been as persons who were obedient to his commands. They would “be firm and act.” (11:32; see the Notes section regarding the rendering of the Septuagint and the Greek version of Theodotion.)

In the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, many Jews wanted to be like the Gentiles, having been persuaded to believe that this would improve their lot. By conducting themselves contrary to the “covenant,” they violated it or acted wickedly toward it. The kind of “smoothness” or “flattery” by means of which prominent ones among the people were induced to adopt the ways of the Gentiles and to disregard the commands that were part of the covenant is illustrated by what was said to the priest Mattathias. “You are a leader, honored and great in this town, and supported by sons and brothers. Now be the first to come and do what the king commands, as all the Gentiles and the people of Judah and those that are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons will be numbered among the Friends of the king, and you and your sons will be honored with silver and gold and many gifts.” (1 Maccabees 2:17, 18, NRSV) Many in Israel, like priest Mattathias and his sons, resisted and continued to abide by the requirements of God’s law. Under the leadership of Mattathias and later his son Judah, they began to fight courageously against the foreign oppressors. (11:32; 1 Maccabees 1:62, 63; 2:43-3:2)

The “wise ones” among the Israelites would make many among them understand what they needed to do. During this time, however, great suffering would befall those who determined to live according to the requirements of the commands set forth in the covenant that had been concluded with their ancestors. For “days,” or for a time, there would be those among them who would “stumble by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder.” (11:33; see the Notes section.)

A prominent “wise one” among the people was priest Mattathias. By his words and his example, he helped others to recognize what they needed to do. According to 1 Maccabees 2:19-21 (NAB), he expressed his determination in these words: “Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers and consents to the king’s orders, yet I and my sons and my kinsmen will keep to the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree.” During the period of persecution many Israelites were killed by the sword. Certain ones who assembled in caves to observe the Sabbath secretly were betrayed, and all of them were then burned. At other times many were taken captive and thereafter sold into slavery. Faithful ones also had their possessions plundered. (11:33; 1 Maccabees 1:56-60; 2:38, 2 Maccabees 6:11)

Among those choosing to observe God’s commands, many would “stumble,” “stagger,” or “become weak” (Theodotion), losing their lives prematurely as victims of persecution. The ones loyal to God would “receive a little help,” but many would join themselves to them “with smoothness” or flattery. (11:34; see the Notes section.)

In the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, many faithful Israelites perished because they did not defend themselves when observing the Sabbath. Mattathias and his associates realized that if they did not fight when they were attacked, all of them would perish and, therefore, determined to engage in battle whenever enemy forces came against them. With increasing numbers of Israelites joining Mattathias and his sons and associates, a significant fighting force came into being. (1 Maccabees 2:29-43) Thus those who were determined to obey God’s commands received a “little help,” for the victories over enemy forces brought relief from persecution. Mattathias and his associates, however, undertook harsh measures against Jews who had apostatized and begun to live like the Gentiles. They killed those whom they found, caused many to flee out of fear, and forcibly circumcised any uncircumcised boys. (1 Maccabees 2:44-48) This must have caused many Jews to join themselves to them “with smoothness,” flattery, or insincerity. After Judas, the son of Mattathias, fell in battle and a period of severe famine set in, many changed sides, joining the renegades who came out of hiding. (11:34; 1 Maccabees 9:23, 24)

Among the “wise,” certain ones would “stumble,” stagger, or “become weak” (Theodotion), perishing prematurely. This would result in refining, purifying, and making the wise ones white “until the time of the end.” The concluding phrase — “for yet for an appointed time” — could mean that the distressing time would end at a divinely appointed time. (11:35; see the Notes section.)

Among the Israelites who had joined Mattathias and his associates, there were those who fell in battle, including Judas the son of Mattathias. Judas, who led the fighting force after the death of his father, may be regarded as one of the “wise” ones. His premature death in battle did result in refining, purifying, and making the wise ones white. At that time, those who were not fully devoted to adhering to God’s commands changed sides. (1 Maccabees 9:23, 24) The writer of the book of 2 Maccabees (6:12, NJB) also noted that what befell the Israelites served a beneficial purpose. “Such visitations are intended not to destroy our race but to discipline it.” (11:35)

The “king” would do according to his will or act as he pleased, exalting himself and magnifying himself “above every god,” and he would speak extraordinary things “against the God of gods.” Until the time that the indignation is accomplished, he would prosper. This is because “what is determined” would be done. (11:36; see the Notes section regarding the Seputagint rendering.)

The description of the “king” does, in part, describe the actions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Therefore, while he may have been in view, the words, when regarded as prophetic, may from this point onward also relate to developments that are yet future, with verses 40 through 45 possibly applying exclusively to future events. It appears that the ultimate fulfillment will take place when the one designated as the “man of sin” or the “man of lawlessness” will appear on the scene before the return of Jesus Christ in glory. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4) For much of the time, Antiochus IV Epiphanes did what he pleased, but this came to an end when he bowed to the will of Rome and left Egypt. The “man of lawlessness” will act as he pleases until the glorified Son of God, Jesus Christ, will bring him to his end. (2 Thessalonians 2:8) In the case of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, he did exalt himself above every god, as evident from his readiness to rob temples. This king regarded himself as a god. Coins that were minted in Antioch bear the inscription “Of King Antiochus, God Manifest.” By his decree to stamp out the worship of YHWH, which included the prohibition not even to mention the name of the true God, Antiochus IV Epiphanes spoke “extraordinary things” or outright blasphemy. Regarding the “man of lawlessness” or the “man of sin,” the apostle Paul wrote that this one would exalt himself over and resist everything regarded as “god” or sacred, seating himself in the sanctuary of God and claiming to be god. (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4) The apostle’s words suggest that the “man of lawlessness” is a product of the “apostasy” or rebellion against God. Just what form this development may take prior to Christ’s return in glory falls in the realm of conjecture, especially since the information available today is more limited than what Paul had shared with the Thessalonians. (11:36)

Probably “indignation” or wrath refers to divine anger. The writer of 2 Maccabees seems to have understood the intense persecution that befell the Israelites to have served as discipline or correction for their having taken a wrong course. There were those in the nation who had deliberately chosen to ally themselves with the Gentiles and to adopt customs contrary to God’s law. So his wrath may be regarded as having been expressed against the people by letting them experience the bitter consequences of their disloyalty to him. As applying to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, he was only permitted to do as he pleased to the Israelites until such time as God’s wrath came to its end. What had been divinely determined was to be accomplished. According to the Greek text of Theodotion, the wrath is referred to as “coming to completion.” (11:36)

In the case of the “man of lawlessness,” divine wrath will be in evidence when God permits people to be deceived. Through the workings of Satan, the “man of lawlessness” will display might and lying signs and wonders. Those who then perish will have been taken in by the evil deception. Their being deceived will be retribution for their deliberate failure to accept the “love of the truth,” which could have led to their salvation or deliverance from divine wrath. Instead of desiring truth, the marvelous truth that centers on the Son of God, loving it and considering it as precious, they will prefer falsehood and delusion. In expression of his wrath, God will send them exactly what they want or let nothing stand in the way of their being exposed to the workings of error so that they might believe the lie. Consequently, adverse judgment will befall them because they deliberately and defiantly chose not to believe the truth but delighted in wrongdoing. (11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

The “king” would have no regard for the “gods of his fathers” (his ancestors) nor for the one “beloved of women.” He would have no regard for any other god, magnifying himself “above all.” The Septuagint says that “strong nations will be subject to him.” In his apparent efforts to promote uniformity in his dominion, Antiochus IV Epiphanes appears to have suppressed the adoration of local deities. This is suggested by the words of Mattathias that are quoted in 1 Maccabees 2:19, 20 (NAB). “Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers and consents to the king’s orders, yet I and my sons and my kinsmen will keep to the covenant of our fathers.” The god “beloved of women” could be Tammuz or Adonis. (Compare Ezekiel 8:14.) That Antiochus IV Epiphanes had no regard for any other god was demonstrated by his readiness to rob temples and his applying the designation “god” (theós) to himself. The same kind of self-exaltation is ascribed to the future “man of sin” or “man of lawlessness.” (11:37; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4)

Instead of the gods of his ancestors, the king would honor the “god of fortresses.” “With gold and silver and with precious stones and desirable [items],” he would honor a “god whom his fathers [ancestors] did not know.” Possibly, in the case of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the “god of fortresses” applies to the military might in which he placed his trust and which he elevated to the level of a deity. To support his military operations, he needed gold, silver, and an abundance of valuables. So it could be said that he honored this god of military might — a god that his ancestors had not known in the same way. How this aspect might apply to the “man of lawlessness” is not revealed in the biblical account. (11:38; see the Notes section.)

The “king” would deal “with the strongest of fortresses” by a “foreign god.” Those whom he acknowledged, or whom he recognized as his supporters, he would grant honor, making them rulers over many. The “king” would “divide the land for a price.” (11:39)

In the Masoretic Text, the phrase that includes the expression “foreign god” does not express a complete thought, requiring the addition of words in translations. This accounts for a variety of renderings. “He will use the people of an alien god to defend the fortresses.” (NJB) “He will garrison his strongest fortresses with aliens, a people of a foreign god.” (REB) “He shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a foreign god.” (NRSV) “He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god.” (NIV) “With the help of this foreign god [the god of fortresses mentioned in verse 38], he will capture the strongest fortresses.” (CEV) The Greek text of Theodotion could be translated, “And he will do to [act against] the fortresses of refuge with a foreign god.” In the Septuagint, the concluding phrase of verse 38 is completed in verse 39, and the text could be rendered to read that, “in [his] desires, he will do [to] cities and will enter a strong fortress.” This could mean that he would act according to his desires with reference to cities and, as a conqueror, enter a “strong fortress.” (11:39)

In the case of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, he did bestow honors and positions on those whom he favored, and he may have apportioned lands for a price or as “gifts” (Theodotion; “for [as] a gift” or freely [LXX]). That he did this is reflected in the offer made to Matthathias if he complied with his demands. “You and your sons shall be reckoned among the Friends of the King; you and your sons will be honoured with gold and silver and many presents.” (1 Maccabees 2:18, NJB) According to the Greek text of Theodotion, the king would increase glory (apparently for his supporters) and “subject many to them and apportion land as gifts.” The Septuagint conveys a different meaning. It indicates that the “king” is the one who would acknowledge a foreign god and would “increase glory” or honor with this deity. Either “strongly”or for a long time (epí polý), he would dominate the fortress and would apportion “land as a gift.” It appears that the translator of the Hebrew text understood the “fortress” to have been the one at Jerusalem, for Antiochus IV Epiphanes had the “city of David” fortified “with a great strong wall and strong towers” and had his garrison stationed there. (11:39; 1 Maccabees 1:33, 34, NRSV)

The reference to the “time [hour (LXX)] of the end” may be an indication that the identity of the “king of the north” has changed, and that what is related pertains to the distant future. At this future time, the “king of the south” (“king of Egypt” [LXX]) would “push” or attack “him,” and the “king of the north” would come against “him” like a tempest “with chariots and horsemen and with many ships,” and “he will come into lands [the countries situated between the location from which he sets out with his forces and the land of Egypt] and overflow [like a flood] and pass through [the lands with his forces].” According to the Greek text of Theodotion, the “king of the north” will enter the “land” (apparently that of the “king of the south”), “crush,” and “pass on” or depart after having proved to be victorious. The Septuagint concludes with the thought that the “king of the north” will enter the “country of Egypt.” (11:40)

An interpretation that regards verse 40 as indicating that the “king of the south” and the “king of the north” would be coming against the “antichrist,” the “man of lawlessness,” or the “man of sin” is based on considering the “king” mentioned in verse 36 to be the “antichrist.” Although the forces of the “king of the south” and the “king of the north” would be coming against “him,” they would not succeed, for the “antichrist” would enter lands, overwhelm them, and pass through them. This interpretation, however, does not have the support of the Septuagint nor that of the Greek version of Theodotion. Moreover, the interpretation does not fit the immediate antecedent for the third person singular (rendered “him” and “he”). (11:40)

If the words of verse 40 are taken as being prophetic regarding the “antichrist,” then this one is being represented in the role of the “king of the north” and as succeeding in gaining complete control by defeating the “king of the south.” Antiochus IV Epiphanes never attained this kind of dominion over Egypt, and his conflict with Egypt does not fit what is here described. (11:40)

The “land of beauty” (Sabi or Sabain [Theodotion]) which the “king of the north” would enter is the land of Daniel’s people. (See verse 16 for comments.) “Many” would “stagger” or “stumble.” The Hebrew adjective that is translated “many” is feminine gender and plural. Therefore, the antecedent may be the plural feminine noun that is rendered “lands” in verse 40. “Many countries will fall.” (NIV) Translations that depart from the vowel pointing of the Masoretic Text do not render the Hebrew as referring to many lands or countries but make the application to people. “Tens of thousands will fall victim.” (REB) “Tens of thousands will be killed.” (CEV) Edom, Moab, and the “main part of the Ammonites” would be delivered from his hand, not coming under his control. According to the interpretive renderings of translations, the “main part of the Ammonites” refers to their “leaders” (NIV) or the “ruler” (CEV). If the words are prophetic of developments involving the “antichrist” or the “man of lawlessness,” they seemingly indicate that those whom God recognizes as his own people would be the main target of attack, with their enemies (which Edom, Moab, and Ammon formerly were) not being the object of his warring. The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not include any of the words of this verse. With apparent reference to the land of Daniel’s people, Rahlfs’ printed Greek text reads, “And he will come into my country.” (11:41)

The aggressor would “reach out” with (literally, “send”) his hand to seize other countries (“the earth” or “the land” [Theodotion]), seeking to enlarge his domain. Among the countries would be the “land of Egypt,” which would not escape. According to the shorter text in the Septuagint, no one “will be delivered” in the land of Egypt. When applied to the “antichrist” or the “man of lawlessness,” the words seemingly point to the successes he would have through his military campaigns in gaining the kind of dominion that Antiochus IV Epiphanes never did. Antiochus IV was forced to leave Egypt on account of the intervention of the Romans. (11:42)

Total dominion over Egypt also meant control over its treasures, including the concealed gold, silver, and desirable items of great value that would not readily be found by invading armies. Instead of remaining subject to Egypt, the Libyans to the east and the Ethiopians (Cushites) to the south would be at the “steps” of the aggressor. They would follow him as his subjects or, as expressed in the Septuagint, they would be “in his crowd.” The Greek text of Theodotion indicates that he would have dominion over the “Libyans and Ethiopians in their strongholds.” When regarded as applying to future developments pertaining to the “antichrist” or the “man of lawlessness,” these words suggest that his sphere of control over peoples and resources would be far more extensive than that of Antiochus IV Epiphanes ever was. (11:43)

The self-exalted aggressor would not continue to act as he pleased and prosper. Reports (“hastening reports” [Theodotion] or urgent communications) from the east (the “sunrising”) and from the north would greatly disturb him. His then going forth, or departing from Egypt, “in great fury,” suggests that the reports conveyed news about revolts in or attacks on his realm. On the way to deal with the situation that the reports disclosed, he, in his wrath, would exterminate (with the “sword” [LXX]) and destroy or kill many. Just how this aspect may develop in connection with the “antichrist” or the “man of lawlessness” is a matter of conjecture. (11:44)

For Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the end did not come in the land of Daniel’s people. That, however, is the location where the one to whom the prophetic language points is revealed to come to his finish. He is portrayed as pitching tents (“his tent” [LXX, Theodotion] — “his palatial ones” — between the “seas” (probably the plural of excellence to denote the “Great Sea” or the Mediterranean Sea) and the “holy mountain of beauty” (literally, the “mountain of the beauty of holiness”; “the mountain of the will of the holy one” [LXX, the mountain where the will of God, the Holy One, is done]; the “holy mountain of Sabi,” “Sabein,” or “Sabain” [Theodotion]). Zion or Jerusalem would be this “holy mountain,” for this was the location of YHWH’s temple or his representative place of dwelling. In the Greek text of Theodotion, the proper noun “Sabi,” “Sabein,” or “Sabain” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word rendered “beauty.” The version of Theodotion also transliterates the Hebrew expression rendered “palatial ones” as a proper noun — Ephadano (the location where he would be pitching his tent). (11:45)

The one who would be determined to annihilate God’s people would not succeed. Like Antiochus IV Epiphanes who sought to destroy all who adhered to God’s law, the “antichrist” or “man of lawlessness” would have the same objective, for he would exalt himself above every god and arrogate to himself the position of a god. (2 Thessalonians 2:4) He would, however, come to his finish, with no one to help him or to deliver him. According to the Septuagint, the “hour of his end will come.” This fits what the apostle Paul wrote about the “man of lawlessness.” The exalted Lord Jesus Christ, upon his return in glory, will do away with him. (11:45; 2 Thessalonians 2:8)


The Persian Empire did not end with the “fourth king” (verse 2). Those who do not consider the book of Daniel as prophetic point to this as indicating that it does not contain reliable history. Addressing this issue in his day, Jerome, in his commentary on Daniel, indicated that the intent of prophecy was not to “preserve historical detail” but to summarize “only the most important matters.”

In verse 4, the Septuagint makes no mention of “posterity.” It says that the “kingdom” would be “distributed to the four winds of heaven, not according to his might nor according to his authority that he exercised.” The Greek text of Theodotion likewise makes no reference to posterity, but says “not to his last things” (possibly meaning not according to the “last” or final extent of the realm of Alexander the Great). Instead of words that may be translated “others besides these,” the Septuagint ends with the phrase, “and others he will teach these [things].” This wording does not fit the context. Possibly the Septuagint translator read the Hebrew expression milvád (a preposition that may be rendered “besides”) as the piel form of the participle for the Hebrew word lamád (“teach”).

For verse 5, the comments are based on the account of Appian of Alexandria.(Syriaca, sections 53 through 55).

The Greek version of Theodotion begins verse 6 with the words, “And after his years, they will be commingled.” This suggests that, after the years of the first king of the south come to an end, the new king of the south and the king of the north would form a union. The rendering of the opening words in the Septuagint do not fit the context. (“And at the end of the years, he will lead them.”) According to the Septuagint, the “king of Egypt” would enter the “kingdom of the north to make pacts.” He would by no means gain the upper hand, for his “arm” or might would not “establish strength.” “His arm” or might would “grow numb,” as also would the arm or might of “those having come with him.” He would remain only “for hours” or a short time. The rendering of the Septuagint appears to indicate that the pacts or agreements with the king of the north would not accomplish their purpose, and that the king of Egypt would die not long after making the agreements.

In verse 6, the Greek version of Theodotion departs from the reading of the extant Hebrew text in ways that differ from the Septuagint. The daughter of the king of the south would come to the king of the north to make pacts with him. In the version of Theodotion, no mention is made of “his arm,” but it indicates that his “seed” would not remain. There is agreement with the Hebrew text in the reference to her being “given up” and also to those “carrying” or “bringing” her as sharing her fate, but the Greek version then concludes with the words, “and the young woman and the one strengthening her in those times.”

Verse 7 in the Septuagint reads “from his root” (not “her root”), but the translator appears not to have understood the Hebrew expression that has been rendered “in his place.” The opening sentence could be translated, “And a growth from his root will arise for himself” (or “against himself”). The Greek version of Theodotion refers to the arising of one “from the blossom of her root,” but the concluding words do not correspond to “in his place.” They are, “of his preparation.” In this context, this phrase does not convey anything meaningful.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 7 focuses on the “king of the north” and not the “king of the south.” It continues, “And the king of the north will come upon his force [dýnamis] in his strength, and he will cause turmoil and prevail.” In the oldest Greek manuscript (P967), not all the words of verse 7 are preserved. It does not, however, contain the word dýnamis. The four letters that appear where dýnamis would be are gian. These letters have been conjecturally considered to be part of the word argían (the accusative form of argía), meaning “idleness.” This conjectural reconstruction, however, is by no means certain.

In verse 8, the Septuagint refers to the king of Egypt as overthrowing “their gods with their cast things” (or cast images), and they (the victors) would carry away in captivity to Egypt “their crowd with their desirable vessels, the silver and the gold.”

The Septuagint rendering of verse 13 says that the “king of the north will return and gather a gathering of a city greater than the first, at the end of a time of a year.”

In the Septuagint, verse 14 says that “thoughts” or “plans” would arise against the “king of Egypt.” The plotting of Antiochus III the Great and Philip V of Macedonia and that of Agathocles and his sister and mother do fit the Septuagint rendering. It appears that the translator rendered the remainder of the verse in a manner that favored the Ptolemaic dynasty. The king of Egypt is represented as rebuilding the “fallen things” or ruins of Daniel’s nation (“your nation”), standing up to make prophecy stand or to be fulfilled. There is no context to determine to whom the concluding words apply (“and they will take offense”).

In Rahlfs’ printed Greek text for verse 16, there is no corresponding Greek word for “beauty.” It only has the noun chóra (land, country, or territory). The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) is fragmentary for this verse. It appears to read “land of desire” (theléseos), but only the last four letters of the word theléseos are preserved in the manuscript.

In verse 18, the Septuagint includes no reference to a “commander” or to “rulers” (Theodotion). It reads, “And he will return wrath for their reproach, with an oath, according to [or corresponding to] his reproach.” This obscure text could be understood to mean that the “king of the north” would respond with wrath against those who reproached or taunted him (as they must have done when he was defeated), but he would vow, as with an oath, to take vengeance upon the taunters corresponding to the reproach they had heaped upon him.

Verse 20 in the Septuagint indicates that a “plant of a kingdom will rise up from his root for rising up, a man injuring the glory of the king. And in the last days, he will be crushed and not in wrath nor in war.” The successor of Antiochus III could be regarded as a “plant” from his “root.” Possibly, injuring the “glory of the king” could be understood as failing to live up to what one occupying a royal office should be. The thought about the end for the “king of the north” is basically the same as in the Masoretic Text.

In verse 20, the Greek version of Theodotion (Rahlfs’ printed text) has the same wording about a “plant” as does the Septuagint. Instead of continuing with the words “for rising up,” the version of Theodotion says “upon his preparation [perhaps meaning the place prepared for him], passing over [or usurping], winning the glory of a kingdom.” Then the text continues, “And in those days, he will be crushed and not by faces [possibly meaning not openly as when seeing someone face-to-face] nor in war.”

With the exception of the concluding phrase in verse 21, the Septuagint rendering basically conveys the same meaning as the Masoretic Text. The concluding phrase is, “and the king will overpower by his lot.” In this case, the Septuagint translator appears to have regarded the Hebrew word chalaqlaqóhth to mean “lot.” The Hebrew root for “lot” or “portion” is the same as for “smoothness.”

As in the previous verse (20), the version of Theodotion refers (in verse 21) to rising “on his preparation” (perhaps meaning the place prepared for him by reason of its having been vacated). The concluding phrase is, “and he will overpower kingdoms by slips” (by slippery or smooth ways).

In its basic sense, the Hebrew word for “arm” (zeróha‘) refers to the arm of a body or a person. Both the Septuagint and the version of Theodotion (in verse 22) contain the corresponding Greek word brachíon, which has the same basic meaning as zeróha‘. In this context, “arms” denotes powers or forces. According to the reading of the Septuagint, the king of the north “will crush the crushed arms before his face,” suggesting that he would triumph over all opposition. The reference to a “covenant” is part of the next verse in the Septuagint, and the context of that verse conveys a meaning that differs from the extant Hebrew text.

In verse 24, the oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not contain the words that may be rendered “in vain,” but its reading may be translated “for sin.” This wording indicates that the deliberations of the king of the north would be sinful, designed to do harm.

In verse 25, the oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not include the words “with a great crowd, and the king of Egypt.”

In the Greek version of Theodotion, verse 26 starts with the words, “And they will eat his designated portions and crush him.” When understood to relate to members of the royal court who ate the royal provisions, their bad counsel did lead to crushing the young king. Seemingly with reference to the “king of the south,” the Septuagint says, “And his anxieties will consume him and will let him turn away.” When applied to Ptolemy VI, the words could indicate that worries about the conflict with Antiochus IV, fueled by the bad advice of the eunuch Eulaeus, prompted him to “turn away” or to flee. He did then “depart and carry away” what he could or what he wanted, and many of his warriors did fall mortally wounded.

Instead of the Hebrew expression for “their heart,” the Septuagint translator (in verse 27) read it as “alone.” This accounts for the rendering, “And the two kings will dine alone.”

In verse 31, the reference in the Septuagint to the “holy place of fear” could be understood to be to the sanctuary as a place where a proper fear or reverential regard for YHWH was to be in evidence. The Greek text of Theodotion suggests that the sanctity or holiness of YHWH’s lordship or sovereignty would have been profaned by ending the proper services at the temple and replacing them with idolatrous worship. Instead of a rendering of the Hebrew word for “arms,” the version of Theodotion contains the word “seeds” or progeny. This is because the consonants for the Hebrew words are identical.

The Greek version of Theodotion (in verse 32) represents “lawless ones” as bringing in or introducing a covenant by slipperiness or smoothness. This rendering appears to reflect what is described in 1 Maccabees 1:11 (NRSV). “In those days certain renegades came out from Israel and misled many, saying, ‘Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles around us, for since we separated from them many disasters have come upon us.’”

Verse 33 in the Septuagint does not say “by flame” but reads, “will be made old by it [by the sword].” The Septuagint also refers to them as coming to be stained by plundering for days.

According to the rendering of verse 34 in the Seputagint, the faithful ones (among whom a significant number would be “broken” or perish) would “gather a little strength.” This could mean that they would strengthen themselves to face those who would be bent on destroying them. As in verse 21, the Septuagint translator appears to have regarded the Hebrew word chalaqlaqóhth to mean “lot.” The Hebrew root for “lot” or “portion” is the same as for “smoothness.” This, in part, explains the extant reading of the Septuagint. “Many will be gathered to them from a city and many as by lot” for a land inheritance.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 35 indicates that the ones having understanding or the wise would purpose “to cleanse themselves and to be chosen, and to be cleansed until the time of the end.” This suggests that they would be concerned about maintaining an acceptable standing before God. The Greek version of Theodotion refers to them as becoming weak in order to be refined, chosen, and revealed (apparently as approved) until the time of the end.

In verse 36, the Septuagint includes the concluding phrase of verse 35 as the opening phrase of verse 36 (“In that hour” or “at that time”). Besides acting “according to his will,” the king would be “incited to anger.” As to his success, the Septuagint says that he would prosper “until the wrath is completed, for to him the end will occur.” This rendering indicates that the king would come to his end.

The Greek version of Theodotion (in verse 38) transliterates the Hebrew word translated “fortresses” as Maozin and thus refers to the king as glorifying or honoring the “god Maozin.” Rahlfs’ printed Greek text could be rendered, “Unto his place, he will move even a god.” This could be understood to mean that, in the position formerly occupied by another deity, the king would move the god that his forefathers had not known.