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Bible Commentaries

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
Daniel 11

 

 

Verses 1-20

Dan_11:1. Also I, in the first year of Darius, the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him, or, "even as I stood by to strengthen him," the inference being that the various angelic spirits come to the support of one another when special efforts in behalf of the people or nations in their care are required. The gist of the verse is evidently this, that Michael had been active in overthrowing the power of Babylonia by the armies of Medo-Persia, and that the Angel of the Lord had given him mighty assistance in this labor. In the great crises of history, in the change of monarchies, and in the midst of every tribulation we may rely upon the faithfulness and mercy of our God.

Happenings of the Near Future

v. 2. And now I will show thee the truth. Cf. Dan_10:21. Behold, there shall stand up yet, namely, after Cyrus, who was then king, three kings in Persia, whose names are commonly given as Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspes; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all, literally, "shall acquire far greater riches than they all"; and by his strength through his riches, as he applied his immense wealth in order to fit out a mighty army, he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecis, Xerxes staking his all on the invasion of the rival kingdom beyond the Dardanelies.

v. 3. And a mighty king shall stand up, a heroic, warlike king, namely, Alexander of Macedonia and Greece, that shall rule with great dominion and do according to his will, with tyrannical authority.

v. 4. And when he shall stand up, just as soon as his power is fairly established, his kingdom shall be broken, the brief duration of Alexander's rule being here indicated, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven, in a fourfold division of his kingdom after the battle of Ipsus, 301 B. C. ; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those, so that the natural heirs and rightful successors of Alexander were eliminated. Both of Alexander's sons were put to death, and after the generals of Alexander had first broken up his empire into small divisions, the result finally was a fourfold monarchy, but still Greek in character.

v. 5. And the king of the South shall be strong, the ruler of Egypt, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, the reference most likely being to Seleucus Nicator, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion, which, as a matter of fact, extended from Phrygia on the west to the Indus on the east.

v. 6. And in the end of years, that is, after several years have elapsed, they shall join themselves together, the king of the South and the king of the North forming a confederacy, when Antiochus II Theos, the second successor of Seleucus Nicator, married Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemeus Philadelphus; for the king's daughter of the South shall come to the king of the North to make an agreement, to establish just and peaceful relations by virtue of this marriage; but she shall not retain the power of the arm, neither shall he stand nor his arm, neither of them retaining the power acquired through their marriage and the joining of their forces; but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times, when the critical position in which he found himself suggested the marriage to him. Secular accounts set forth the situation as follows: "As soon as Ptolemy Philadelphus died in B. C. 247, Antiochus Theos expelled Berenice, and recalled the formerly rejected Laodice. The latter, however, aimed at further revenge, and to achieve it, she poisoned the king, had her son by him, Seleucus II Callinicus, declared his successor, and sent assassins against Berenice, who had fled to the sanctuary of Daphne. The latter queen was slain, together with her little son, and the hope of the Ptolemies to behold one of their lineage on the throne of the Seleucidae was thus wholly destroyed. "

v. 7. But out of a branch of her roots, a shoot out of the apparently dead stock, shall one stand up in his estate, to take her place in this controversy, her own brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes, which shall come with an army and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the North, against all the strongholds of the Northern power, and shall deal against them and shall prevail, this being done to the extent that the entire Syrian country from Cilicia to beyond the Tigris was conquered, numerous fortresses taken, and Laodice, the rival and murderess of Berenice, slain;

v. 8. and shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods with their princes, their molten or cast images, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold, all this being welcome booty; and he shall continue more years than the king of the North, holding out against him with his superior strength.

v. 9. So the king of the South shall come into his kingdom, rather, "and he," the last-named king of the North, "shall come into the kingdom of the king of the South," and shall return into his own land, to Syria. This was fulfilled in the expedition of Seleucus Callinicus, in which he sent a fleet against Egypt, which, however, was destroyed in a storm, while his army was defeated and overthrown.

v. 10. But his sons, again those of the Northern king, shall be stirred up, preparing for war, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces, in waging war upon the Southern kingdom; and one shall certainly come and overflow and pass through, the activities of Antiochus the Great in his victorious advance upon Egypt being described here; then shall he return and be stirred up, renewing his campaign against the Egyptians in the following spring, even to his fortress, very likely the fortified city of Gaza.

v. 11. And the king of the South shall be moved with choler, with a fierce and sudden anger, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the North; and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand. This undoubtedly describes the attack made by Ptolemy Philopator by which he tried to break the power of Antiochus.

v. 12. And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up, literally, "and shall rise up the multitude and shall lift up his heart," as he took up the campaign with great courage; and he shall cast down many ten thousands, killing myriads in the battle of Raphia, near Gaza; but he shall not be strengthened by it, because he did not follow up his victory with any degree of energy.

v. 13. For the king of the North shall return and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches. This was approximately thirteen years later when Antiochus the Great had strengthened himself by successful campaigns against the kingdoms toward the east, so that his army was composed of veterans and his equipment of the very best.

v. 14. And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the South, particularly in insurrections which were caused by bad administration of affairs at home; also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision, literally, "violent persons of thy [Daniel's] people will revolt against him," namely, when a number of Jews entered into a league with Antiochus the Great against Egypt; but they shall fall, the Lord sending tribulations and afflictions upon them for their rebellion against the authorized government, the reference probably being to the oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes.

v. 15. So the king of the North shall come, advancing to the attack once more, and cast up a mount and take the most fenced cities, literally, "city of fortifications," a term used of the fortresses of the South in general; and the arms of the South shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, their armies being unable to ward off the threatened blow, neither shall there be any strength to withstand, all the resources of the Southern kingdom availing them nothing in this emergency.

v. 16. But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, for Antiochus, the victor of Paneas, near the sources of the Jordan, now overran the entire country, and none shall stand before him; and he shall stand in the glorious land, literally, "in the land of ornament," the Holy Land, especially when considered from the standpoint of its spiritual blessings, which by his hand shall be consumed, literally, "and annihilation is in his hand. "

v. 17. He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, intending to follow up his successes with a further attack on the country now almost subjugated, and upright ones with him, rather, with the purpose of restoring a proper political relationship, the agreement consisting in this, that the marriage of Cleopatra, the daughter of Antiochus, with Ptolemy Epiphanes was agreed upon, Antiochus receiving Coelesyria in return; thus shall he do, and he shall give him the daughter of women, namely, Cleopatra, who was then but a girl and in the care of her mother and others, who educated her, corrupting her, rather, "bringing destruction upon her"; for the marriage,. which took place five years later, resulted in the ruin of the land which she represented; but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him, that is, she was unable to carry out the plans of her father.

v. 18. After this shall he, the king of the North, turn his face unto the isles, including the coast-lands of the Mediterranean, and shall take many; but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease, or, "yet his scorn which he heaped upon the generals they will revenge upon him," that is, the men in command of the islands and coast-lands promptly repulsed his attacks, so that he was obliged to retire to the fortresses formerly in his power; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.

v. 19. Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land, withdrawing to them on account of the force of the attack against him; but he shall stumble and fall and not be found, for this reversal was the beginning of his end, for history records that he was slain in an insurrection of the inhabitants of Elymais.

v. 20. Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom, literally, "then shall arise in his stead one who causes exactors (or oppressors) to pass through the ornament of the kingdom," so that his subjects were oppressed with various afflictions and burdens; but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger nor in battle, this being the end of Seleucus Philopator, who was poisoned by Heliodorus, his former favorite, who sought the crown for himself. Thus the Lord directs the fortunes of individuals and nations and punishes such as oppose His plans for the benefit of His people.


Verses 21-45

Further Revelations Concerning the Future

v. 21. And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, a despicable and morally contemptible character, to whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom, who seized the royal power and authority against the will of the nation; but he shall come in peaceably and obtain the kingdom by flatteries, that is, come in unexpectedly; while men thought that the rightful heir would succeed to the throne, Antiochus Epiphanes obtained the kingdom by dissimulations and deceitful behavior, so that he was in possession of the throne before men really realized it.

v. 22. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant, literally, "and the overflowing armies will be submerged from before him and broken, and princes of the covenant as well"; that is, even if men would come against him with great armies, his own forces, still stronger, would overthrow them, so that not only his enemies, but his confederates as well would feel his heavy hand; for his idea was to be the sole and only ruler of the entire realm.

v. 23. And after the league made with him, after he had caused a conquered enemy to accept his terms, he shall work deceitfully, make use of further clever ruses; for he shall come up and shall become strong with a small people, his smaller force being sufficient for his purposes, because he used it so cleverly.

v. 24. He shall enter peaceably, while no one was expecting him to act with such quick decision, even upon the fattest places of the province, where the greatest wealth was to be found; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done nor his fathers' fathers, deviating from the more humane practices of his predecessors; he shall scatter among them the prey and spoil and riches, by squandering the plunder which he had made and causing the provinces to become impoverished; yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strongholds, even for a time, namely, until the time fixed in the counsels of God would be reached.

v. 25. And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South with a great army, summoning all his energy and making use of his great wealth in staging a successful campaign; and the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army, in trying to repel the invasion; but he shall not stand, for they shall forecast devices against him, his own associates making use of treachery in aiding the invader. This was fulfilled when Antiochus Epiphanes overthrew Philometor of Egypt, some of whose most trusted advisers espoused the cause of the enemy.

v. 26. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, the very members of the Egyptian royal household, the king's ministers, becoming guilty of such treachery, and his army shall overflow, but without accomplishing anything for him, and many shall fall down slain.

v. 27. And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, in feigning friendship and thus trying to harm one another, and they shall speak lies at one table, all their protestations of high regard to each other being invented for the sake of playing politics; but it shall not prosper, neither one succeeding in carrying out the particular designs which he had in mind at this meeting, of which no accounts are found in secular history; for yet the end shall be at the time appointed. The prophecy looks forward to the time in which the oppression exerted by these kings in wronging the children of God's people would reach its climax, but incidentally, with the overthrow of these enemies, their oppression would be brought to an end.

v. 28. Then shall he, the king of the North, return into his land with great riches, with much booty, chiefly secured in Egypt; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant, against the divine institution of the Jewish theocracy, the Jewish people in their country, as representing the visible Church of God at that time; and he shall do exploits and return to his own land, accomplishing his wicked intentions by committing atrocities of various kinds while marching through Judea, as the books of the Maccabees relate.

v. 29. At the time appointed he shall return and come toward the South, in another campaign against Egypt and the countries tributary to it; but it shall not be as the former or as the latter, that is, the triumphs of the other expeditions were not repeated.

v. 30. For the ships of Chittim shall come against him, a fleet coming from the direction of Cyprus, that is, from the west, in this case a Roman embassy with a number of ships, the Roman emissaries landing in Alexandria in order to prevent the Syrian king from conquering Egypt; therefore he shall be grieved and return, retracing his steps in discouragement and anger on account of being foiled in his design, and have indignation against the holy covenant. So shall he do, venting his spite on Judea, accomplishing his displeasure in acts of rapine and plunder; he shall even return and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant, that is, he observed such apostates from the Jewish religion, he fixed his attention upon them, he made them his favorites and established an idolatrous religion with their assistance.

v. 31. And arms shall stand on his part, armed forces sent by him, and they shall pollute the Sanctuary of strength, the Temple, as the fortress of Jehovah, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate, the reference being to an altar of idolatry erected on Jehovah's altar of burnt offering. "Antiochus, on his way home from Egypt, sent Apollonius with 20,000 men to destroy Jerusalem, two years after its capture by himself. Apollonius slew multitudes, dismantled and pillaged the city. The soldiers then, from a fortress which they built commanding the Temple, fell on and slew the worshipers, so that the Temple-service was discontinued. Also, Antiochus decreed that all, on pain of death, should conform to the Greek religion, and the Temple was consecrated to Jupiter Olympus. Identifying himself with this god, Antiochus with fanatical haughtiness wished to make his own worship universal. "

v. 32. And such as do wickedly against the covenant, namely, the apostate Jews, shall he corrupt by flatteries, inducing them to return to heathenism by flattering promises of earthly gain, of worldly advantages; but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits, that is, they would resist all his blandishments and adhere to the covenant.

v. 33. And they that understand among the people, those who know the Lord and walk in His fear, shall instruct many, making every effort to keep them in the right way; yet they shall fall by the sword and by flame, by captivity and by spoil, many days, these words evidently prophesying the uprising which took place at the time of the Maccabees, when the faithful among the Jews, although with great losses to themselves, overcame their oppressors.

v. 34. Now, when they shall fall, in sacrificing themselves for the sake of their religious principles, they shall be holpen with a little help, for the theocratic kingdom was retained as a result of their efforts; but many shall cleave to them with flatteries, hypocritically casting their lot with the victorious party of the Jews in order to save themselves.

v. 35. And some of them of understanding shall fall, death and various attendant tribulations taking their toll, to try them and to purge and to make them white, even to the time of the end, for all these afflictions would serve as trials in separating the dress from the pure metal, because it is yet for a time appointed, that is, the period of tribulation would extend until then. Thus the enemies, in trying to harm the believers, succeed only in contributing to the purifying of God's people, in the great process of winnowing out the real from the false, the hypocritical from the true. It will readily be seen that the entire description of the career of Antiochus Epiphanes shows him to have been a bitter opponent of the true God. By an ignoring of the factor of time, now, which is peculiar to prophetic utterances, the following section is devoted to a description of Antichrist, of whom Antiochus was a type.

v. 36. And the king, the Roman Antichrist as foreshadowed by Antiochus Epiphanes, shall do according to his will, arbitrarily asserting his power and authority; and he shall exalt himself, in the pride of his heart, and magnify himself above every god, arrogantly and blasphemously setting aside gods of every kind and description, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, making statements beyond reasonable comprehension, which would be unexplainable in the case of a normal human being, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished, until the wrath of God upon His people would be fully carried out, until His punishment would accomplish its purpose; for that that is determined shall be done, it cannot be recalled, it must be executed.

v. 37. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, thereby breaking with the true worship of his nation, the proper service of God as it had existed in the Christian Church, nor the desire of women, denying and rejecting the natural inclination of man toward woman, as implanted in the sexes by the Creator, nor regard any god, it being characteristic of him that he will set aside all reverence and all natural feeling, including that of the natural knowledge of God; for he shall magnify himself above all, both divine and human, in a challenging supercilious arrogance.

v. 38. But in his estate shall he honor the god of forces, literally, "and the god of fortresses in his place shall he honor," that is, he would make war, the application of force, his god, would extend his power by means of force; and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things, the most costly jewelry, sacrificing all his wealth for the attainment of his ends, for the spreading of his power.

v. 39. Thus shall he do in the most strongholds with a strange god, literally, "he will do toward the fortified places with the aid of the strange god," that is, he will pursue a definite course against them; whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory, rather: "to them who will acknowledge him, he shall make the honor great"; and he shall cause them to rule over many and shall divide the land for gain, as a reward to those who accept his claims. This has ever been the policy of the men who sat on the throne of Antichrist, to reward their henchmen with the spoils gained by their political intrigues.

v. 40. And at the time of the end, namely, that of the present age of the world, during the Messianic era, shall the king of the South push at him, and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships, with the aid of powerful forces; and he shall enter into the countries, the king of the South carrying forward his campaign with all energy, and shall overflow and pass over.

v. 41. He, namely, Antichrist, shall enter also into the glorious land, the land of Palestine, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom and Moab and the chief of the children of Ammon, these ancient enemies of the people of God being representative of all the forces opposing the Lord, and therefore, from the beginning, allies of Antichrist, whom he would not need to overthrow.

v. 42. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries, namely, in order to take possession of them; and the land of Egypt shall not escape.

v. 43. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, the possession of which was ever one of the chief objects of Antichrist, and over all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians, representative of the southernmost people of the world, shall be at his steps. We have here, in a few bold strokes, and in terms taken from the campaigns of the antichristian forces in the third and second centuries before Christ, a picture of Antichrist in the development of his power. Although he suffered temporary reverses on account of the secession of the Greek Orthodox Church and the rise of Mohammedanism, he still managed to subjugate one country after the other, so that his strongholds were found throughout the world.

v. 44. But tidings out of the East, setting forth the extent of the Oriental secession, and out of the North, when the era of the Reformation began, shall trouble him, for what he had at first considered an empty quarrel of idle monks soon assumed alarming proportions; therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to make away many, in the Counter-reformation, by means of the inquisition and through the efforts of the Jesuits.

v. 45. And he shall plant the tabernacle of his palace between the seas, in the glorious holy mountain, literally, "between seas, over against the mountain of the glory [or ornament] of holiness," so that his palace was intended to be a rival of the ancient seat of Jehovah's power in the midst of His holy people; yet he shall come to his end, his true nature being exposed and realized by at least some of those who read the signs of the times, and none shall help him. The Reformation dealt the Roman Antichrist a blow from which he has never fully recovered, although he will continue his campaign of deceit until the end of time.

 


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Bibliography Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Daniel 11:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/daniel-11.html. 1921-23.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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