Daniel 11:1-21 (NRSV)
The Kings of the South and the North
I hope you were paying attention in your ancient history classes at school!
As for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to support and strengthen him.
2 “Now I will announce the truth to you. Three more kings shall arise in Persia.
The Persian Empire tried to wipe out the Jewish people during the reign of the Persian King Xerxes, through the plot of Haman (as shown in the Book of Esther).
–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)
The fourth shall be far richer than all of them, and when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece.
The Greek Empire tried to wipe out the Jewish people during the reign of Antiochus IV, when he attempted to kill every Jew who did not renounce their commitment to God and embrace Greek culture.
3 Then a warrior king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and take action as he pleases.
This was fulfilled in Alexander the Great, who certainly was a “warrior king.”
4 And while still rising in power, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted and go to others besides these.
After Alexander’s death, none of his descendants succeeded him. Alexander left three possible heirs: a half brother named Philip, who was mentally deficient; a son who was born after Alexander died; and an illegitimate son named Hercules. The half-brother and the posthumous son were first designated co-monarchs, each with a regent. But fighting among the regents eventually resulted in the murder of all possible heirs.
After the death of all Alexander’s possible heirs, four generals controlled the Greek Empire.
5 “Then the king of the south shall grow strong, but one of his officers shall grow stronger than he and shall rule a realm greater than his own realm.
This was fulfilled in Ptolemy I of Egypt, who exerted his control over the Holy Land. Soon after the division of Alexander’s Empire, the Ptolemies dominated this region. Ptolemy I had a prince named Seleucus, who rose to power and took dominion over the region of Syria. He became more powerful than his former Egyptian ruler. The Seleucids are identified with the Kings of the North, and the Ptolemies were the Kings of the South. The dynasties of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies fought for some 130 years. The stronger of the two always held dominion over the Holy Land.
6 After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to ratify the agreement.
This was fulfilled in the marriage between Antiochus II (of the Seleucids) and Berenice (daughter of Ptolemy II). There was peace for a time because of this marriage, but it was upset when Ptolemy II died.
But she shall not retain her power,
Once Ptolemy II died, Antiochus II put away Berenice and took back his former wife, Laodice.
and his offspring shall not endure. She shall be given up, she and her attendants and her child and the one who supported her.
Laodice didn’t trust her husband Antiochus II; so she had him poisoned.
After the murder of Antiochus II, Laodice had Berenice, her infant son, and her attendants killed. After this reign of terror, Laodice set her son (Selecus II) on the throne of the Syrian dominion.
“In those times 7 a branch from her roots shall rise up in his place. He shall come against the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north, and he shall take action against them and prevail.
This was fulfilled in the person of Ptolemy III, who was the brother of Berenice (the branch of her roots). Avenging the murder of his sister, Ptolemy III invaded Syria and humbled Selecus II.
8 Even their gods, with their idols and with their precious vessels of silver and gold, he shall carry off to Egypt as spoils of war. For some years he shall refrain from attacking the king of the north; 9 then the latter shall invade the realm of the king of the south, but will return to his own land.
10 “His sons shall wage war and assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall advance like a flood and pass through, and again shall carry the war as far as his fortress.
This was fulfilled in Seleucus III and Antiochus III, the two sons of Seleucus II. Both were successful generals, but Seleucus III ruled only a short time and was succeeded by his brother. In a furious battle, Antiochus III took back the Holy Land from the dominion of the Ptolemies.
11 Moved with rage, the king of the south shall go out and do battle against the king of the north, who shall muster a great multitude, which shall, however, be defeated by his enemy. 12 When the multitude has been carried off, his heart shall be exalted, and he shall overthrow tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail.
This was fulfilled when Antiochus III was defeated at the battle of Raphia. Because of that loss he was forced to give back dominion over the Holy Land to Ptolemy IV.
13 For the king of the north shall again raise a multitude, larger than the former, and after some years he shall advance with a great army and abundant supplies.
14 “In those times many shall rise against the king of the south. The lawless among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they shall fail. 15 Then the king of the north shall come and throw up siegeworks, and take a well-fortified city. And the forces of the south shall not stand, not even his picked troops, for there shall be no strength to resist. 16 But he who comes against him shall take the actions he pleases, and no one shall withstand him. He shall take a position in the beautiful land, and all of it shall be in his power.
This was fulfilled when Antiochus III invaded Egypt again, gaining final control over the armies of Ptolemy V and over the Holy Land. Jews living in the Holy Land helped Antiochus III because the Jewish people resented the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemies. This decision later proved unwise.
17 He shall set his mind to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and he shall bring terms of peace and perform them. In order to destroy the kingdom, he shall give him a woman in marriage; but it shall not succeed or be to his advantage.
This was fulfilled when Antiochus III gave his daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy V of Egypt. He did this hoping to gain permanent influence and eventually control in Egypt. To the great disappointment of Antiochus III, the plan did not succeed because Cleopatra wasn’t faithful to her Egyptian husband at all. (This is not the Cleopatra of Marc Anthony and Julius Caesar fame; she came 100 years later.)
18 Afterward he shall turn to the coastlands, and shall capture many. But a commander shall put an end to his insolence; indeed, he shall turn his insolence back upon him. 19 Then he shall turn back toward the fortresses of his own land, but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.
This was fulfilled when Antiochus III turned his attention towards the areas of Asia Minor and Greece. He was helped by Hannibal, the famous general from Carthage. But a Roman General, Lucius Cornelius Scipio, defeated Antiochus in Greece. Antiochus planned to humiliate Greece but was humiliated instead. He returned to his former regions, having lost all that he gained and died shortly after.
After this defeat Antiochus III had an inglorious end. Needing money badly for his treasury, he resorted to pillaging a Babylonian temple and was killed by enraged local citizens.
20 “Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an official for the glory of the kingdom; but within a few days he shall be broken, though not in anger or in battle. 21 In his place shall arise a contemptible person on whom royal majesty had not been conferred; he shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom through intrigue.
After the inglorious end of the king of the North, his successor, Seleucus III, the eldest son of Antiochus III, would raise taxes and meet a soon end. Seleucus III was assassinated, probably by his brother Antiochus IV, a vile and contemptible person.
All these ins and outs and ups and downs of history, of current events, of our own lives — all are safely in God’s hands. HERE is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”