Who’s Who in Daniel 11
Daniel 11 tells the future. In Daniel’s day, it pulled back the curtain of time and revealed what would take place among the nations after Daniel’s death in 536 B.C. Even today, a section of the prophecy still awaits fulfillment.
Bible prophecy is not like fortune-telling, which is occasionally accurate but most of the time not. God’s requirement was that a prophet be accurate 100 percent of the time or be stoned to death (Dt. 18:20–22). To date, this prophecy has been 100 percent accurate.
Since Daniel 11 can seem confusing, here is an easy-to-follow explanation.
Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all (v. 2).
The Four Kings: Cambyses (529–522 B.C.); Pseudo-Smerdis (522–521); Darius I (Darius the Great, 521–486); and Xerxes I (Ahasuerus of Esther, 485–465), who would be the richest.1
Then a mighty king shall arise….His kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity (vv. 3–4).
The Mighty King: Alexander the Great. After he died in 323 B.C., his kingdom was divided among his four generals: Lysimachus, Antipater (succeeded by Cassander), Seleucus, and Ptolemy.
Also the king of the South shall become strong, as well as one of his princes (v. 5).
King Of The South: Ptolemy I
Prince: Seleucus I of Syria
And at the end of some years they shall join forces, for the daughter of the king of the South shall go to the king of the North to make an agreement (v. 6).
Daughter of the King of the South: The daughter of Ptolemy II, who was given to Antiochus I, a Seleucid.2
But from a branch of her roots one shall arise in his place, who shall come with an army, enter the fortress of the king of the North (v. 7).
Branch of Her Roots: Ptolemy III of Egypt, who invaded Syria in 246 B.C.3 There were constant struggles between these kingdoms (vv. 9–13).
So the king of the North shall come and build a siege mound, and take a fortified city; and the forces of the South shall not withstand him…and he shall give him the daughter of women (vv. 15, 17).
King Of The South: Ptolemy V
King Of The North: Antiochus III (also called the Great) who defeated Egypt at Sidon, came to terms with Ptolemy V, and gave him his daughter in marriage.4
And…shall arise a vile person…he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue….While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant (vv. 21, 28).
The Vile Person: Antiochus IV (called Epiphanes), who wrested control of the Syrian kingdom.
The Holy Covenant: Israel and the Jewish people, whom Antiochus persecuted mercilessly.
And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation (v. 31).
Defile the Sanctuary: Refers to Antiochus placing an image of Zeus in the Temple’s Holy of Holies and sacrificing a sow on the altar, around 167 B.C. This is a key verse because, in speaking to His disciples almost 200 years later, Jesus referred to the abomination of desolation as a yet future event associated with the Antichrist: “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place…then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains…For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world…no, nor ever shall be” (Mt. 24:15–16, 21). Jesus used a well-known historical event to warn of something yet future.
With Daniel 11:36 the prophecy jumps to the Antichrist and the coming Tribulation.
Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods…he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know (vv. 36, 38).
The King: The Antichrist
He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall have power over…Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians (vv. 41, 43).
The Glorious Land: Israel
Edom, Moab, and Ammon: Jordan
Ethiopians: The Sudanese.
Yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him (v. 45).
Come to His End: This prophecy coincides with the Messiah’s Second Advent and His physical return to Earth to vanquish the Antichrist, rescue Israel, and establish His everlasting Kingdom. It dovetails with Revelation 19, which describes the demise of Antichrist and his false prophet:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him [Jesus] was called Faithful and True….And I saw the beast [Antichrist], the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse….Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet….These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone (Rev. 19:11, 19–20).
Antichrist’s death forever terminates Gentile domination of the world and ushers in the Davidic, Messianic Kingdom over which Jesus will rule from Jerusalem (Dan. 2:44–45). Israel will no longer be the tail but the head (Dt. 28:13) of all nations:
Thus says the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts: “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’”(Zech. 8:23).
- Charles C. Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible, NKJV (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), 1357, n Daniel 11:2.
- Ibid., 1358 n Daniel 11:6.
- Ibid., n Daniel 11:7–8.
- Ibid., n Daniel 11:15–20.