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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 11

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

Verses 1-35


Note the late date of this prophecy (Daniel 10:1 ), and the different rendering of a phrase in the Revised Version, where “even a great warfare” is substituted for “the time appointed was long.” As the unveiling of the lesson will show, this phrase is an appropriate title for it.

Note the physical and spiritual preparation of the prophet for the revelation that follows (Daniel 10:2-4 ), a condition into which he had doubtless brought himself by prayer. Had he been seeking of heaven an explanation of the previous mysteries especially that of the ram and the he-goat? This seems probable, because what follows traverses so much of the ground of chapter 8.

Daniel 10:5-9 bear so strong a resemblance to the description of the Son of Man in Revelation 1:12-17 as to suggest that it also is a Christophany, or manifestation of the Second Person of the Trinity. But this does not necessarily mean that it is He who touches and speaks to the prophet in the verses succeeding.


Daniel 10:10-14 are full of mystery, yet note first, the appreciation of Daniel in the heavenly courts (Daniel 10:11 ); and then the testimony to the potency of prayer (Daniel 10:12 ). But who is “the prince of the Kingdom of Persia” (Daniel 10:13 )? Doubtless a spirit of eminence in the kingdom of darkness, to whose control Satan has committed the earthly affairs of Persia (compare

Ephesians 4:12 ). This interpretation seems confirmed by the reference to Michael, elsewhere known as the archangel, and who in the kingdom of light is the special guardian of Israel (Daniel 10:21 ; Daniel 12:1 ; Jude 1:9 : Revelation 12:7 ). What mighty power must Satan possess as judged by this verse, but what a relief to know that there is One stronger than he! Note in the conclusion of this section that the revelation now to be given chiefly concerns what we identify as the end period, the last seven years (Daniel 10:14 ).

INTE RV ENING EVENTS (Daniel 11:1-35 )

Passing over the effect on the prophet, we come to the revelation of what shall take place between his time and that of Antiochus Epiphanes, with whom we were made acquainted in an earlier chapter.

The three kings of Daniel 11:2 were Cyrus, Ahasuerus (Cambyses) and Darius Hystaspes). The fourth king was Xerxes (see Ezra 4:5-24 ). The “mighty king” (Daniel 11:3 ) was Alexander the Great, while the next verse tells once more of the division of his kingdom at his death among his four generals.

Two of these kingdoms of the four now come into prominence, Egypt and Syria (Daniel 11:5-6 ), as those most closely related to Israel in their subsequent history. The “king’s daughter” (Daniel 11:6 ) was Bernice, offspring of Ptolemy 2, who married Antiochus Theous of Syria, but was subsequently poisoned by him. Daniel 11:7-9 refer to her brother Ptolemy Energetes of Egypt. Daniel 11:9 is a mistranslation, and refers to the king of the north (RV), whose sons (Daniel 11:10 ) were nevertheless overcome by the Egyptian king, Ptolemy Philopater (Daniel 11:11 ), who became weakened at length through licentious living (Daniel 11:12 ).

We have now reached the period of about 200 B.C., when Syria, after many vicissitudes, turns the tide of battle in her favor under the leadership of one known as Antiochus the Great. He entered the Holy Land in the course of his campaign (Daniel 11:13-16 ), treating it considerately, however, as the Jews had been his allies. The last part of Daniel 11:16 is an incorrect rendering and should be compared with the Revised Version. Later he made another effort to get possession of Egypt, the working out of his plan including a treaty engagement, and the espousal of his daughter, Cleopatra, to the Egyptian king, but the scheme did not succeed (Daniel 11:17 ). Why the Cleopatra in this case is called “the daughter of the women” is not clear, but some suppose it to be because she was but a child and under the tutelage of both her mother and grandmother. Daniel 11:18-19 speak of a contest with the Romans into which he unsuccessfully entered, and of his subsequent death.


The brief reign of Seleucus Philopater (187-176 B.C.) is depicted in Daniel 11:20 , and then we come upon Antiochus Epiphanes, whose story continues through Daniel 11:35 . “Vile” is “contemptible” in the Revised Version. This man was a younger son of Antiochus the Great, to whom the kingdom did not by right belong, but who stole the hearts of the people as Absalom did from David. He is the “little horn” of chapter 8, and as we have seen, forerunner of the greater “little horn” of the end period. Of his atrocities against Israel and the holy city and temple we read in the books of the Maccabees.

“The ships of Chittim” (Daniel 11:30 ) are a Roman fleet whose power put an end to his victories in Egypt. Returning north, angry in his defeat, he committed those base things against Judea of which mention has been made and which are foretold again in Daniel 11:30-35 . Apostate Jews sympathized with and aided him, as their successors will do in the case of his successor at the end period; but there were faithful ones under the lead of the Maccabees who valiantly resisted him (Daniel 11:32 ). It was a period of testing of Israel, out of whose fires they came forth much purified.


1. When was the prophecy revealed to Daniel?

2. How was he prepared for it?

3. What illustration of the law of recurrence is seen in this lesson?

4. Who presumably is the “man” referred to in Daniel 11:5 ?

5. Who is meant by “the prince of Persia”?

6. What relation does Michael bear to Israel?

7. Name the four kings of Persia referred to in Daniel 12:2 .

8. What does this lesson reveal about Antiochus Epiphanes?

Verses 36-45


In the introduction to this last vision of Daniel, it was stated (Daniel 10:14 ) that it concerned his people “in the latter days,” but thus far it has extended only to Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabees. The dividing line is at the close of Daniel 11:35 and the beginning of Daniel 11:36 . In the former we read of the testing and purifying experiences of the wise ones in Israel “even to the time of the end,” and in the latter of a certain “king” who “shall do according to his will.” Most students agree that the space between these two verses represents another lapse of time from the Maccabean period to the end of the age, and that the king now before us is the Antichrist of those coming days, who is referred to more particularly in Zechariah 11:15-17 , 2 Thessalonians 2:1 , and Revelation 13:11-17 . Some identify him with the “little horn” of chapter 7 and the “little horn” of chapter 8, whom Antiochus Epiphanes typifies. This, indeed, may be true, i.e., the restored head of the Roman Empire in that day, and the Antichrist, may be one and the same individual, but there are others who think that they may be two. Of this we cannot be certain.

THE KING DESCRIBED (Daniel 11:36-39 )

He is self-willed, proud, blasphemous, successful, idolatrous, materialistic, and covetous. “The God of his fathers” (Daniel 11:37 ) is a phrase indicative of his Jewish extraction; “the desire of women,” is taken by some as signifying the true Messiah, to whom all pious Jewish women in pre-Messianic times desired to give birth. “The god of forces” or “a god of fortresses” (Daniel 11:38 , RV) is difficult to understand except in some materialistic sense. Shall we say it finds interpretation in Revelation 13:11-17 , by identifying the first beast as the restored head of the Roman Empire, and the second as this evil king, the Antichrist, who causes all men to worship the first? Is the first beast, this god, in other words?

THE LAST CAMPAIGN (Daniel 11:40-45 )

This king has enemies, the “king of the south” and the “king of the north” (Daniel 11:40 ) of that period, but who they are cannot be conjectured. The last- named is more vigorous and successful, entering Jerusalem and overcoming countries (including the south country, Egypt, Daniel 11:41-43 ) until at length a menace in the east and north moves him to make quick work at Jerusalem (Daniel 11:45 ), in which he meets his own inglorious end (compare Zechariah 8:0 and 15, and Joel 2:0 ). It would appear from these passages that the coming of the Lord on behalf of Israel brings about his end, and we know that it is nothing less than this which also dispatches the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:8 ). There are deep things here for whose solution we can only wait, as Daniel was obliged to do (Daniel 12:12 ).


The opening verses of this chapter, should be read in connection with Christ’s words in Matthew 24:0 , especially Matthew 24:21 , and also Revelation 12:0 , especially Revelation 12:7-12 . Note the deliverance of the faithful remnant of the Jews in that day as shown in the latter part of Daniel 12:1 ; Zechariah 13:8-9 ; Matthew 24:22 . It is a question whether it is a physical or a moral resurrection that is spoken of in Daniel 12:2 , but it would be harmonious with Ezekiel 37:0 to say the latter.

“They that be wise” (v. 3), may be rendered “teachers,” and refers doubtless to the faithful Jewish witnesses of the end period and the reward which comes to them; of course, it can be applied in a secondary sense to faithful witnesses anywhere and always, for “He that winneth souls is wise.’


This book is still sealed to Daniel’s people the Jews, but the time is coming when it will be unsealed (Daniel 12:4 ). “The man clothed in linen” (Daniel 12:5 ) is, it would seem, the same who appeared to the prophet at Daniel 10:5 , the blessed Lord Himself. Compare Daniel’s question and its answer with

Revelation 10:1-6 . The answer once more identifies the last three and one-half years of the end period, “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” the 1,260 days of Revelation 11:12 . But Daniel 12:11 adds another 30 days, and what may be understood by this we do not know. In the meantime may the promise to Daniel be fulfilled to us in our place and measure, “thou shalt rest, and shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days.’


1. What period of time is represented by the division between v.35-36?

2. How might the king of Daniel 11:36 be identified?

3. How is he described?

4. Have you read Revelation 13:0 ?

5. Have you read Matthew 24:0 ?

6. Do you recall the subject of Ezekiel 37:0 ?

7. Where is found the verse “He that winneth souls is wise”?

8. Quote from memory the last verse of Daniel.

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Daniel 11". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/daniel-11.html. 1897-1910.
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