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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Daniel 11

 

 

Verses 1-45

WE NOW COME to the last of the prophetic revelations, received and recorded by Daniel. The opening verses of chapter 11, indeed the larger part of the chapter, give us predictions that very evidently have long since been fulfilled. If our readers will glance at the close of verse Daniel 11:35, they will see the words, 'to the time of the end, because it is yet for a time appointed'. Then turning back to Daniel 9:26, they will see the words, 'unto the end'; and at that point came the undisclosed gap in the prophecy of the seventy weeks — as we now know, lasting over nineteen centuries — before the seventieth week arrives. So it is, we believe, here, and only when we reach verse Daniel 11:36 of our chapter does the prophecy suddenly move on to the time of the end, and to the last days.

The three Persian kings who were to 'stand up', according to verse Daniel 11:2, are evidently the three mentioned in Ezra 4:5.Ezra 4:7, known in history as Cambyses, Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspes. The fourth, 'richer than they all', would be Xerxes, who was so intoxicated by his own greatness that he attacked Greece, and stirred up the 'mighty king' of verse Daniel 11:3 — Alexander the Great — to humble his pride and shatter his kingdom; gaining for himself 'great dominion', according to his own will.

History records how brief was Alexander's dominion, for he died when still young, and his kingdom was divided between four of his generals, as is clearly foretold in verse Daniel 11:4. Their powers, however, were far more limited and 'not according to his dominion'. From verse Daniel 11:5 onward, our attention is directed to the doings of two out of these four; the king of the south and the king of the north respectively. If we enquire why the prophecy concentrates on these two only, the answer surely is that only these two meddled with and oppressed the Jews back in the land. Their kingdoms were north and south of Palestine; what we should now call Syria and Egypt, and the first kings were Seleucus and Ptolemy.

The New Translation renders verse Daniel 11:5 as, 'The king of the south, who is one of his princes, shall be strong; but [another] shall be stronger than he'. Both of these princes of Alexander would be strong, but the northern one the stronger of the two. This exactly came to pass.

Verse Daniel 11:6 begins, 'And in the end of years', and we at once travel on some distance into history, for the prophecy does not concern itself here with individual kings. It is just 'the king of the north', or 'of the south', though different individuals may be indicated. What is plainly foretold is the state of friction and warfare that continued for many years between these two opposing powers, to the trouble and discomfort of the Palestinian Jews, who were located between them. We may say therefore that verses Daniel 11:6-20 forecast their evil schemings and fightings up to a point when the power of Rome became manifest, before which the then king of the north should 'stumble and fall, and not be found'. His successor had to be a mere 'raiser of taxes', to meet the demands of Rome. Infidels have insisted this chapter must have been written after the events, so accurately does it foretell what actually took place.

Reaching verse Daniel 11:21, we read that after this 'raiser of taxes' there would 'stand up a vile person', marked equally by cunning flattery and by warlike violence, and his doings and the things that sprang out of his doings occupy us until we come to the end of verse 36. We have here again, we believe, the man presented to us in Daniel 8:9, as the 'little horn' rising out of one of the four kingdoms into which the Grecian dominion was divided — the man known to history as Antiochus Epiphanes. His evil doings are dwelt upon at some length, we believe, because he acted with such violence against the Jews as to make him a type or forecast of the king of the north, who in the last days will be their great adversary.

This is seen especially in verses Daniel 11:28-32. In the first of these verses, 'his heart shall be against the holy covenant'. Then for a time his plans are spoiled by 'the ships of Chittim'; that is, an expedition from Rome. This was the occasion that some of us may remember hearing about in our school days, when tired with his falsity the Roman leader drew a circle about him where he stood, and demanded an answer before he stepped out of it. This it was that angered him, and as he dared not attack the Romans, he vented his spleen on the Jews, and had 'indignation against the holy covenant'.

Amongst the Jews of his days were found some 'that forsake the holy covenant', as verse Daniel 11:30 indicates, and establishing contact with these, he proceeded to pollute the sanctuary in a violent way, as verse Daniel 11:31 predicts. He overturned the whole order of things in the temple at Jerusalem, stopping the sacrifices to Jehovah in the endeavour to make all venerate a false image, which is described here as 'the abomination that maketh desolate'. Then he corrupted and gained to his side by flatteries 'such as do wickedly against the covenant'.

Let us notice that no less than four times the 'covenant' is mentioned in these verses, and on three of these occasions the word 'holy' is connected with it. What God has covenanted and decreed is always the object of the devil's attack, and this man was without a doubt an agent of Satan in his efforts to subvert what remained of the worship of the one true God at Jerusalem.

But in those days there were to be found not only those who were wicked and whom he could corrupt but also 'people that do know their God', and, 'that understand among the people'. This is ever God's way; He does not leave Himself without a witness of some kind, and here we have a prediction of what actually happened in those dark days. The Maccabees were raised up, zealous and God-fearing men, and under their leadership there was ultimately a deliverance, though not without much loss and suffering, as is indicated in verse 33.

In the closing verses of Hebrews 11:1-40, particularly in Hebrews 11:36-38, we find allusions to the sufferings of saints of a bygone age which we can hardly identify from Old Testament history, and it may be that the reference is to saints who suffered in this period of trial, after the days of Malachi. Their testings were intensified by the failure and apostasy of some who were men of understanding, as verse Daniel 11:35 of our chapter predicted; but this would have a purging effect upon those who did really stand firmly for God.

This mixed state of things is to persist, 'to the time of the end'. Thus it is stated, and thus it has been — particularly as regards the Jew, who is before us in the prophecy here. There is to be in this master 'e time appointed', but no indication is given of how long the time is to be. We turn to such New Testament passages as Ephesians 3:4, Ephesians 3:5, and Colossians 1:25, Colossians 1:26, to find that in our epoch of Gospel grace going out to the Gentiles, God is working out designs that He had from eternity, but which were not revealed in Old Testament times. In the wisdom of God, however, the prophecies were so worded as to leave room for the things subsequently to be made known without any collision of fact. An illustration of this, often referred to, is in Isaiah 61:2, where both Advents are alluded to in one verse. The same thing may be said of Daniel 9:26, and of the verse before us here.

In verse Daniel 11:36, 'the king' is suddenly introduced to us, and glancing at verse Daniel 11:40 we discover that his dominion will be 'at the time of the end', and also that his kingdom will be found in a land lying between the kings of the south and the north. We conclude therefore that he is a king who will dominate Palestine in the last days, and of whom we read further in the New Testament. He is to be identified, we believe, with the second beast of Revelation 13:1-18, and with that false Messiah, coming 'in his own name', whom the Lord Jesus predicted in John 5:43.

The doings of this 'king' are predicted in verses Daniel 11:36-39, and the leading feature is this: — he 'shall do according to his will'. Now sin is lawlessness — the creature breaking loose from the control of the Creator, in order to assert and accomplish its own will. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, we read of 'that man of sin', who is to be revealed when He who restrains is removed, and if that passage be compared with this, we at once see some striking resemblances, for in both the leading features of this coming great one are selfwill and self-exaltation.

Let us each remember for our own soul's good that there is nothing more destructive of true Christian life than self will. We are called to do, not our own wills but the will of God. We are called to a life of obedience, for we are to have in us the mind that was in Christ, which led Him even to death. His was the life of self-humiliation, the exact opposite to the self-exalting mind which was in Adam, and which characterizes the flesh in each one of us.

Two expressions in verse Daniel 11:37 indicate that this king will be a Jew, for he disregards 'the God of his fathers', and also 'the desire of women', for every typical Jewish woman desired to be the mother of the Messiah. He will speak 'marvellous things' against the true God, assuming a God-like position for himself. Yet he will honour 'the god of forces', or 'of fortresses'; an allusion we think, to what is plainly seen in Revelation 13:1-18, where the second beast is the leader in religious apostasy but is dependent upon the first beast for worldly power and military might.

Support he will need, for the kings of both south and north will be antagonistic, more particularly the king of the north, as we see in the closing verses of the chapter. In Isaiah he is spoken of as the Assyrian, and 'the overflowing scourge' (Isaiah 28:15), and Zechariah 14:1-3 appears to refer to the end of this northern adversary, as predicted in the two verses that close our chapter. At the outset he will have great success, overflowing many lands, save Edom, Moab and Ammon, who are reserved to be dealt with more directly by a restored Israel. He will even overpower Egypt, and then tidings from the north-east will lead him to Palestine, and he will 'plant the tents of his palace between the sea and the mountain of holy beauty', (New Trans.). And then, when his achievements seem to reach their climax, 'he shall come to his end, and none shall help him'. In this terse yet graphic way was revealed to Daniel what is stated in Zechariah 14:3. Jehovah goes forth to the conflict, in the person of the Lord Jesus. The adverse northern king is crushed, and comes to his end.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Daniel 11:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbh/daniel-11.html. 1947.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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