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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 11

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-45

Daniel 11:2 . There shall stand up yet three kings in Persia. Daniel, a minister of state for most of his long life, was here shewn the succession of kingdoms in so clear a light as to command all men to believe in the truth of revelation. He describes the conflicts of the kings of Egypt and Asia, as the flux and reflux of the sea. The first of those three kings was Cambyses, son of Cyrus. The second Smerdis the great. The third Darius Hystaspes, the husband of queen Esther. The fourth was Xerxes, son of Darius, who invaded Greece with ten thousand ships, and more than five millions of men, as Herodotus reports. Having crossed the Bosphorus sea into Europe, his army was defeated by a handful of Greeks at the pass of Thermopylæ, and utter ruin followed.

Daniel 11:3 . A mighty king shall stand up. Alexander the great, who sailed from Greece with only thirty two thousand infantry, and four thousand horse, and subdued all the provinces of Asia with a sort of march, rather than war, and planted his standard on the walls of Babylon. Having landed his troops in Asia, he allowed them no hope of retreat, but sent away his ships, that his soldiers might fight for their lives. Alexander died in Babylon, by poison or by fever, in the thirty second year of his age, the twelfth of his reign, and in the year of the world 3791.

Daniel 11:4 . His kingdom shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven, as stated in Daniel 7:6; Daniel 8:8; Daniel 8:22.

Daniel 11:5 . The king of the south shall be strong. Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt; others say, Ptolemy Lagus. The king of Egypt made a victorious campaign in Syria, and returned loaded with spoils. He became strong, having all Egypt under his power. One of his princes, Seleucus Nicator, to whom a fourth part of Alexander’s empire fell, also became strong above Egypt by conquering four kings; viz. Demetrius king of Macedon, Lysimachus king of Thrace, Antigonus in Phrygia, &c.; and was therefore surnamed Nicator, the conqueror.

Daniel 11:6 . The king’s daughter of the south. Berenice, daughter of the king of Egypt, was given in marriage to Antiochus, king of Syria. But she did not obtain the power over Asia, for in the course of the wars, as the LXX read, “She shall be slain, and her son which she had by Theus.” The history of the divorce and murder which followed is very tragic.

Daniel 11:7 . But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north. Ptolemy Evergetus vanquished Seleucus Callinicus in one campaign, and returned to Egypt loaded with the spoils of war, as in Daniel 11:8. This is recorded by Justin the Roman historian.

Daniel 11:10 . But his sons shall assemble a multitude of great forces. The sons of Callinicus, Antiochus the great, and his brother Ceraunius, reconquered Syria, including Judea. And though Seleucus himself perished in the war, Antiochus conducted it with success. Here the poor jews suffered again, the wars being partly conducted in their country.

Daniel 11:11-12 . The king of the south, Ptolemy Philopater, king of Egypt, shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with Antiochus, the first king of Syria. Polybius records the victory which the Egyptians obtained over Antiochus at Paphia; and the author of the third book of the Maccabees ascribes it to Arsinoe, sister of Ptolemy, who ran through the ranks with tears and promises, exhorting the soldiers to valour. The two armies were little short of eighty thousand each. Jerome says that Paphia was near the frontiers of Egypt. By this victory Ptolemy’s heart was lifted up, and he entered Jerusalem with great pomp; but made no use of the victory for future defence, else he might have conquered all Syria. He returned to his country loaded with spoils, and lost his glory in effeminacy.

Daniel 11:13 . The king of the north shall return after certain years. Antiochus the great, and father of the cruel Antiochus Epiphanes, being made king while very young, returned after fourteen years, and accomplished all these things, as recorded down to the twentieth verse. Justin, lib. 29.

Daniel 11:14 . The robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision. Theodotian reads λοιμων , pests of the public. Montanus has, dissipated men. These were restless jews who established themselves in Egypt, and built a sort of temple of vision there, like that at Jerusalem, as stated in the notes on Isaiah 30:0. In these sore wars, which continued from the time of Alexander till the Romans entered Asia, Josephus remarks, that though Antiochus Magnus was a friend rather than an enemy of the jews, nevertheless in the wars between him and the Egyptians, which power soever gained the victory, Judea always suffered from the invading armies.

Daniel 11:18 . After this he shall turn his face to the isles of Chetim. Antiochus conquered the principal isles of Greece, and made war on the coasts of Greece, a people who were then the allies of the Romans. These aggressions brought upon him Lucius Scipio, the Roman consul, who defeated his army at mount Siphylus, and drove him back to Asia, loaded with reproach.

Daniel 11:21 . And in his estate shall stand up a vile person. Seleucus Philopater being dead, his brother Antiochus Epiphanes took the kingdom, and afflicted the jews above all other kings. He rashly embroiled himself with the concerns of religion, desecrated the temple of Jerusalem, slew forty thousand jews in the city, sold multitudes for slaves, and committed massacres of unparalleled cruelty. Judas Maccabeus, in his opposition to this bloody tyrant, signalised himself with unexampled bravery.

Daniel 11:30 . The ships of Chittim shall come against him. Chittim, the old name of Cyprus, is put here for the Greek Islands, and for Italy. The jews, unable to bear the tyranny of their oppressors, sent ambassadors to Rome, and obtained an army which overthrew their enemies with dreadful slaughter.

Daniel 11:36 . He shall exalt himself against the God of gods. St. Paul, by quoting these words in substance, makes this Antiochus a type of the antichristian empire of Rome. 2 Thessalonians 2:4. On storming Jerusalem he did what he pleased in the temple of God, and spake as though he were a god.

Daniel 11:37 . Neither shall he regard the desire of women. By consequence, Daniel, under the figure of this profane man, glanced on popery, which has filled the world with superstitious solitaries. Millions of monks and nuns have lived and died in a state of celibacy, construing the breach of the divine law into an argument of superior sanctity.

Daniel 11:38 . He shall honour the God of forces. ולאלוה מעזים ve-le-Alohe Mahuzzim, the god Mahuzzim. The word occurs in Psalms 43:2. The God of my strength. Also in Proverbs 18:10. The Lord is a strong tower. Antiochus Epiphanes set up the idol Jupiter Olympius on the walls of the temple in Jerusalem. This the most wicked of men, whom all critics make a figure of antichrist, worshipped this god of armies, that he might give him success against his enemies. The Greeks surnamed him Epimanes, that is, the furious. He reigned eleven years, being the eighth king of Syria.

Daniel 11:45 . Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. After his defeat at Elymais, his allies forsook him. He then marched to rob the temple of Diana; and on his return, having heard that the worship of the Lord at Jerusalem was restored, he fell sick of a dreadful malady and perished, forsaken and hated of all men. His cruelties are related at large in 1 Maccab. chap. 1, 6., and 2 Maccab. chap. 1, 10.


What a chapter of wars and woes for the space of two hundred and fifty years from the invasion of Asia by Alexander till the time of the Romans, who came to aid the Jews, but kept possession of the countries, as the rewards of service. What a new and luminous vision was this which opened on the prophet’s mind; a vision most accurately confirmed in all its parts by profane historians, who had no understanding of Daniel’s vision. What can infidels object to these demonstrations of revelation. To say with Porphyry, that the book of Daniel was written after the event, is as futile as to say, that the present age of men had no ancestors. All judaism rises up in refutation.

But the tragic and various deaths of the tragedians are not less impressive. Alexander perishes in Babylon; and in a few years all his relatives perished by poison, or by the hand of justice, or by monarchical jealousies. It was the same with many of the bloody houses that followed. Happy the cottager, dwelling on mount Caucasus, milking his goats, and living for a hundred years.

Above all, we see that the true use of prophecy is to demonstrate the superintending care of providence over the church, and over the world; to teach men wisdom, to inculcate mercy, judgment, righteousness and truth. The oracle leaves the radiance of glory and hope shining on the church. After the wicked are scourged, the angels of God spread their wings over the saints.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Daniel 11". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/daniel-11.html. 1835.
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