I. Persia and Greece (11:2-4)
II. The Struggle Between the Ptolemies and Seleucids (11:5-20)
III. The Reign of Terror of Antiochus IV (11:21-35)
A. The rise to power of Antiochus IV (11:21-30).
1. “In his place shall arise a contemptible person” (11:21).
a) Antiochus IV took the throne, and named himself “Epiphanes” (God-appearing). He is the little horn of Daniel 8:9-12, 23-25.
b) “To whom royal majesty has not been given.” The throne rightly belonged to Demetrius Soter, a son of Seleucus IV Philopator, but Antiochus IV seized the throne and had himself proclaimed king.
c) “He shall…obtain the kingdom by flatteries.” By flattery, he is able to win support from the kings of Asia Minor, who then help him gain the throne.
2. “Armies shall be utterly swept away before him” (11:22a). Antiochus IV won decisive victories against Ptolemy VI Philometer, even capturing him and holding him hostage.
3. “Even the prince of the covenant” (11:22b).
a) This could refer to Onias III, the high priest who was deposed and murdered by Antiochus IV.
b) Others argue that the prince of the covenant is referring to Ptolemy IV, who agreed to become an ally of Antiochus if the Syrians would help him regain the throne in Egypt .
4. “He shall act deceitfully” (11:23).
a) Alliances were made with Antiochus, who constantly betrayed these agreements.
b) Josephus says that Antiochus, having determined to make war on the king of Egypt, "came up to Jerusalem, and, pretending peace, got possession of the city by treachery" (Antiquities 12.5.4).
c) He became very strong in the world, though his people, the Syrians, were not very numerous.
5. He will plunder the provinces in a way his fathers had not (11:24).
a) None of the predecessors of Antiochus had ever interfered in the slightest degree with the worship, laws, or religious observances of the Jews; nor had they ever violated the temple in any way.
b) Antiochus IV exceeded his predecessors in cruety.
6. War with the king of the south (11:25-30).
a) Verse 25a describes war between Antiochus IV against the king of the South, Ptolemy VI. This was the Sixth Syrian War (170-168 BC).
b) Ptolemy VI was defeated partly by sedition and desertion in and from his own army (11:25b-26).
c) Ptolemy’s counselors told him to go and recapture Syria and Palestine, igniting the wrath of Antiochus and causing the defeat of Ptolemy (vs. 26).
d) The Egyptians sued for peace, which Antiochus accepted, only for the Egyptians to break their agreement, “lies at the same table” (11:27).
e) As a result, after Antiochus returned home (11:28), he invaded Egypt once more (11:29).
f) “It shall not be this time as it was before.” The reason is given for us in verse 30 that ships from Cyprus (“Kittim”), bearing Roman envoys, came and ordered Antiochus’ withdrawal from Egypt.
g) Antiochus turned his attention against the temple and against the Jews (11:30b).
B. Antiochus’s oppression of the Jews (11:31-34).
1. Antiochus profaned the temple (11:31).
a) The temple was desecrated when an altar of Zeus was erected in the temple.
b) A swine was also offered in the temple, completely defiling the temple of God.
c) He also banned the regular sacrifice. These horrors are described in the apocryphal book 1 Maccabees chapter 1.
2. Some of the Jews caved in and accepted the policies of Antiochus, while others opposed them (11:32-35).
a) “Moreover, King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, and everyone should leave his laws. So all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king. Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the Sabbath…Then many of the people were gathered unto them, to wit, every one that forsook the law; and so they committed evils in the land” (1Mac. 1:41-43, 52).
b) Others, led by the Maccabees, opposed these policies.
c) These events were to purify the people of God. The appointed end of the Jewish nation was still in the future (11:35).
IV. “The King” (11:36-45)
A. These verses are the most difficult in all of Daniel, because it is hard to find a figure in history that seems to match all of the details.
1. For this reason many commentators shift these verses to the remote future and claim that they describe a future Antichrist. This seems farfetched in the context.
2. Others believe it is a continuation of the description of Antiochus IV.
a) In favor of this interpretation is the fact that this ruler is called “the king of the south,” that he called himself the appearing of God, and that he blasphemed the true God.
b) However, there are problems with this view:
(1) In verse 40, the king of the South moved against this king. However, the king of the South never moved against Antiochus.
(2) Antiochus never fought a war against Egypt successfully after the events we have read in verses 21-35. Therefore these verses cannot refer to him.
(3) Antiochus never conquered the nations listed in verses 40-45.
(4) Antiochus never gained control of all the riches listed in verse 43.Antiochus did not invade Egypt again, as 11:42-44 suggests.
c) Perhaps this problem can be resolved if this is a re-statement of what was said about Antiochus earlier in the chapter.
3. Others see this as a reference to Herod the Great.
a) In favor of this view is the general sense of prosperity described in these verses.
b) However, there are problems:
(1) Egypt never came against Herod the Great as seen in verse 40.
(2) Herod did not go and attack Egypt , nor did he conquer Egypt , Libya , and Ethiopia (vs. 41-44).
B. Perhaps the best view is that it refers to the future rule of the Roman Empire.
1. Verse 36-39 would fit the description of the emperors who deified themselves and blasphemed God, although there are still many details that are unclear.
2. Verses 37-39 sound very familiar to the description given to the Roman empire in Revelation 13:1-7. Finally, it was the Roman armies that surrounded Jerusalem and destroyed it, just as this vision depicts. Therefore, Rome fits this king the best.
3. 11:40-45 can be read to fit the time of the wars between Egypt and Rome.
a) In verse 40 we read of the king of the South (the Ptolemies) going against the Romans. Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemy line, aided by Mark Antony began to push against Rome.
b) Rome declared war against Egypt under the leadership of Octavian, later known as Caesar Augustus.
c) The Ptolemies were put to an end as Rome conquered and won in the battle of Actium in 31 BC.
d) Edom , Moab , and Ammon escaped conquest (vs. 41).
e) The Romans also took control of Egypt and the surrounding nations as they continued their conquests (vs. 42).
f) Therefore, the Romans controlled much of the known world and the nations were in subjection to them (vs. 43). The Romans placed many taxes on the nations to increase its wealth. Some would try to rise up against Rome, but it was useless. The Romans had great power and swept away any nation that tried to conquer it (vs. 44). Rome would exercise its power over the Jewish nation, but we are told that an end was appointed for the Roman empire , which was yet to be seen (vs. 45).