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Daniel chapter 11

In Daniel 11 we continue what we started in chapter 10. It is a literal prophecy covering the same period as Daniel 2, 7 and 8 except for the fact that as in Daniel 8 it does not start with Babylon.

We have a very important statement from Ellen G.White regarding Daniel 11:
"The world is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecy of the eleventh chapter of Daniel has nearly reached its complete fulfilment. Soon the scenes of trouble spoken of in the prophecies will take place.”  (Test.Vl.9, page 14) No doubt she had the last part 11:40-45 in mind which is treated in this website as a separate study under Daniel (

Daniel 11:1 Gabriel talking to Daniel and relating what took place some time in the past, in the first year of Darius the Mede. The question can be raised, who is the "HIM” who was confirmed and strengthened? In most commentaries this point is not discussed but we have some help from Dr.Eric Livingstone who writes as follows:
"A reference to Michael in Daniel 10:21 is appropriate contextually. Just follow the 4-fold use of the verb hzg ‘be strong’, ‘to strengthen’, from verse 18 to verse 21. (not always in the translations in 9:21). It is clear that a supernatural being is strengthening humans. Michael, another very strong superhuman, assists the other supernatural being (Gabriel) in the endeavour of the latter. The direction of strengthening is always from the greater (superhuman) to the lesser. So 11:1 should not refer to Gabriel strengthening Michael. The ‘him’ must be the human Darius.”
(email letter 8.11.2010)

What Dr.Livingstone writes is confirmed by Ellen G.White in her book "Prophets and Kings”. She writes about Daniel’s prayer of chapter 9 and then she adds:” Daniel’s prayer had been offered in the first year of Darius (9:1), the median Monarch whose general, Cyrus, had wrested from Babylonia the sceptre of universal rule. The reign of Darius was honoured by God. To him was sent the angel Gabriel, ‘to confirm and to strengthen’ (11:1). (P.K.556)

Thus we find that Daniel 11 is a continuation of Daniel 10. Gabriel talking to Daniel.
Daniel 11:2a reads as follows: "Now I will show thee the truth”. This is clearly in context of what is said in 10:21 "I will show thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth”.

From the second part of Daniel 11:2 till the end of the chapter we have virtually a literally described forecast of history as we have about the same period described in Daniel 2, 7 and 8 only we have again more detail added. We will also notice that the main portion of this chapter deals with battles between the King of the South and the King of the North. It is first literal secular and later ecclesiastical spiritual. The directions South and North are in relationship to Palestine, the glorious land with Jerusalem, Daniel’s birth place. In his mind Darnel is still connected with his land of his birth, as we have seen in Daniel 6:10 in Babylon he prays towards Jerusalem.

The king on the South of Jerusalem being Egypt and the King on the North of Jerusalem being land armies entering Palestine from the North. This has been seen in Babylon being east of Palestine but not coming through the Arabian desert, but moving East to West  and then from a northern spot going from North to South entering Palestine. Abraham in his journey form Ur did the same and when he arrived at Haran, he rested for some time and then moved from North to South. Later Western land armies did the same moving from West to East through minor Asia and then from the North to the South into Palestine and thus for the people of Palestine become King of the North.

We will also notice later in chapter 11 that at a certain point the literal becomes spiritual, or the local becomes universal, as we have seen happening with the little horn of Daniel 8. The same power revealing itself in different phases. For affirmation of this we quote from McCready Price: ‘If the prophecies of chapter 2, 7 and 8 run down to the end of human history, and in the latter portions give many predictions about Rome and its warfare against the people of God and the truths which they held dear, it is highly reasonable to expect that this eleventh chapter will also cover the same ground and give additional detail.”  (Price page 273)

Now we turn back to Daniel 11:2 and onward and will find what the additional detail is all about.
Daniel 11:2b
This predicts three kings in Persia and the fourth one richer and strong and shall stir up against Grecia. Who are these kings? We will use historians to explain that to us. The information given in the text has to match history. These kings shall stand up in Persia and will be most likely after Cyrus who was the ruling king when this prophecy was written by Daniel.  It says in the text that the fourth one shall be very rich more than those before him and will go to war with Grecia.

Seventh-day Adventists commentators like George McCready Price, Dr.Bill Shea, Dr.Mervyn Maxwell, Dr.Gerhard Pfandl,  Pastor Alfred De Ligne, Dr.Ed.Thiele, Pastor Kenneth Cox, the new Andrews Study Bible footnote and non SDA Bible commentators like the KJV Bible Commentary, McArthur and McGee all agree on the following names: being the three kings after Cyrus: Cambysus, false Smerdis, Darius the Great and as the fourth one Xerxes the one who married Esther.

Only one SDA commentator on the book of Daniel, Dr.Jacque Doukhan from France and of Jewish origin currently professor at Andrews University differs and we will give his view on this issue. Doukhan writes as follows:” the three kings are of Persian origin. We are in the reign of Cyrus (with co-regent Darius). Thus the three kings would be Cambysus (530-522) Darius (522-486), Xerxes, the Ahasueres of Esther (486-465), and Arthaxerxes (465-423). Not only did Jewish tradition adopt the interpretation, history also confirms it. Arthaxerxes was as depicted in the prophecy, extremely rich”. (Doukhan page 167)

By Darius, Doukhan has the following footnote: "Some commentators include the name of Smerdis the impostor (522)……………….We have chosen to omit him for several reasons: 1.He reigned less than one year (several months). 2. He was an impostor originating from Media, and the prophecy speaks of Persian kings. 3. It is very probable that he never existed and was just a rumor concocted by Darius to justify his ascension to the throne. Herodotus would have accepted and recorded the official version. Isaac Asimov refers to it as perhaps, one of those cases where a great lie has been foisted on history.”  (Doukhan page 180)

If you do a Google search regarding the False Smerdis you will get plenty of information one way or another. We will not deal with it any further than only say that what Doukhan writes has some merit.
Daniel 11:3
The last sentence of 11:2 read "He shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. The NASB version reads: "He will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece.”
Initially the Greeks were humiliated by the Persians, until a mighty Macedonian stood up. Daniel 11:3 states that a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion.” That mighty king was no one else than Alexander the Great who took the battlefield in 331BC in favor of Greece and defeating the Persians completely. The Medo-Persia Empire was replaced by the Grecian empire. We have discussed this in Daniel two when brass replaced the silver and in Daniel seven when a leopard replaced the bear and in Daniel 8 when the goat replaced the ram. Alexander’s warfare was like a whirlwind, to say it in modern language like a blitzkrieg.

Daniel 11:4
Here we have again the same information as in chapter seven and eight the breaking up of Alexander’s empire into four parts towards the four winds of heaven, see 8:8.9.
Also in 7:6 the leopard with four heads, indicating a division in four parts. We know that Alexander died at a rather young age and no one of his family or from his government administration took the throne but his empire was divided among his generals. McCready Price describes this fourfold division as follows: "As the division was first made, Ptolemy got Egypt and thus became the King of the South, as further spoken off in Daniel 11. Seleucis had Syria and Babylon to the North of Palestine, becoming the king of the North, in Jewish parlance; Lysimachus got Asia Minor and Cassanders had Macedonia and the adjacent lands. With the Mediterranean to the West and the desert to the east; there are no kings of either the West or the East as spoken of by the Jews and Bible prophets "(Price p.164)

King of the North and King of the South.
From here onward Daniel eleven focuses on battles between South and North with Palestine, Jerusalem or the Glorious Land in the middle. We have already noticed that Daniel from a geographical point of view puts Jerusalem in the centre or in between these two waring parties. In direct line from Jerusalem Egypt is south, and the Egyptian armies always approaching Jerusalem from the South. In the opposite direction we find as has been mentioned here above opposing armies always entered Palestine or Jerusalem from the north. The Babylonian armies from east going westward and then tuning at a northern point down into Palestine towards Jerusalem. Syria entered from the north and later the Roman armies from Italy coming over land entered Palestine from the North towards Jerusalem. In that manner these nations earned the title King of the North in Daniel eleven. As mentioned also Abraham moved from Ur westward and when he reached Haran he was exactly North of Canaan and turned south from the north towards the land God wanted him to be.

Later the Italian armies going over land had no choice but marching eastward till they reached the point north of Palestine and turning south from the north towards Jerusalem and so they earned the title King of The North. And when secular Rome transformed into ecclesiastical Rome the title King of the North was transferred to that new phase of the Roman Empire.

Daniel 11:5
This part of chapter 11 starts with the king of the South or Egypt. As far as interpretation of verse 5 and onward is concerned Dr. Pfandl writes in his book on Daniel, page 106, that a variety of interpretations do exist among Seventh-day Adventist commentators and scholars of Daniel. Especially this applies to the point of view at which verse in Daniel eleven does Pagan Rome and Papal Rome start.

The same is true when consulting non SDA scholars and Bible commentators. Most of these men do not mention Papal Rome but talk more about Antiochus IV whose activities on the surface may found to be fulfilling prophecy but when accurately examined just fails completely. We have dealt with this in detail in Daniel 8 and we have given ample evidence that Antiochus IV does not fit the given characteristics of the little horn of Daniel eight and for the same reason also does not fit to qualify for being the King of the North in Daniel eleven.

The dividing line is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ which gives us pre- and post- crucifixion situations and thus moving from the literal to the spiritual and from the limited geographical to the unlimited universal. We will use McCready Price and how he writes about it: "Both God’s work and that of His enemy are today on a global scale. Moreover it is a principle of universal validity that all other prophecies of the Old testament, if they reach, to periods this side of the cross, always become abstract and spiritual for the concrete, objective things of the Old testament have now become spiritualised, what was local and nationalistic now becoming worldwide and universal. Literally hundreds of terms like Zion, Israel, etc. have since the cross come to us with a wider and more spiritual connotation. One reason for this providentially planned situation is that the people of God are now found on all the continents of the world; hence the new wine positively cannot be confined in old bottles. "If ye are Christ’s then ye are Abraham’s seed; heirs according to the promise.” (Price p.314)

Now we return to Daniel 11:5. From the different Seventh-day Adventist resources available we have selected McCready Price for giving us the application from history for 11:5 and following parts of Daniel 11. But we will check others as well if necessary.

The four divisions of the Grecian Empire became eventually only two parts, North and South. Seleucis one of the generals and who had been under Ptolemy took most territory in the North and Ptolemy became ruler of the South or mainly Egypt. Ptolemy in Egypt was strong, but Seleucis who took off to the North became stronger with great dominion.

Daniel 11:6
History reveals that the North, Syria was always at war with the South, Egypt, and known in history as the Syrian wars. Getting tired of the situation by way of marriage arrangements the rulers tried to establish peace. In reality it was war between Greek generals because both Seleucis and Ptolemy had been in the army of Alexander the Great. The Greek language remained in both territories, North and South. The Jews being in the middle of it all suffered from it. The reader will notice from the text that the marriage arrangement did not work out as planned.

Daniel 11:7
Because of what is described in 11:6, infighting and killings, a king from the South organised a large army and took off to the North and prevailed. This king fought a successful war against the North and the territory was in the hands of the Egyptians for a long time.

Daniel 11:8, 9
The king of the South as part of his war expedition to the North brought back to Egypt lots of booty also stuff which had been part of war loot taken from Egypt to the North. The NASB version is somewhat clearer regarding the last party of 11:8, 9: "And he and his part will refrain from attacking the king of the North for some years. Then the latter will enter the realm of the king of the South but will return to his own land.” There would be no war between North and South for some years but then the king of North would attempt again a war against the South, Egypt, but unsuccessful had to return back to his own land. We are assured that history unearthed, confirms this prophetic language of Daniel accurately.

Daniel 11:10
Sons of the king of the North plan again war against the South, Egypt, and this time they succeed. The text says: "shall come and overflow and pass through.” It is described in a manner that the Syrian armies of the North swept through the land like an overwhelming flood, all through the territories down south of Syria.

Daniel 11:11
The king of the South not happy and satisfied with this defeat retaliates in great anger and military force and now the king of the North is on the loosing end of the war. Commentators apply this to the historical battle of Raphia in 217BC where Antiochus lost 10.000 men on the battlefield and 4000 taken as prisoners of war.

Daniel 11:12
Price explains that the king of the South returned home in triumph but was not very welcome when passing through Judea and Jerusalem. To cool his anger he killed many thousands of the Jews and went residing in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. This explains how he was exalted and lifted up in pride but at the same time a cruel killer of the Jews. However he would not prevail but again be involved with war from the North.

Daniel 11:13
Price again tells us that peace lasted about twelve years. These years were used by the king of the North to prepare a severe war as a counter attack against the South. He even went to India to avail himself of a new supply of Elephants. Thus prepared he returned to the South stronger than before and with a greater army.

Daniel 11:14
This part of Daniel eleven is very critical in regard to its interpretation because some commentators do introduce here already the Roman Empire which according to prophecy was to follow the Grecian Empire, as we know from chapter 2, 7 and 8.
These commentators think that the expression robbers of thy people are those who robbed or did harm to the Jews, the people of Daniel. I checked this in two directions, first the two volume of TWOT and found  that the Hebrew word for robbers is to be understood as "revolting” or "coming up against something” Next I checked with the NASB which reads: "The violent ones among your people”. NRSV: "The lawless among your people, and the NEB "But some hotheads among your own people will
rashly attempt to give substance.”  Also the Dutch, old and new translations, German and French all read that it speaks about Jewish people joining the revolt from the North  against the South, Egypt.

To introduce the Roman Empire at this point in Daniel eleven is too early. Our favoured Daniel commentator Dr.Shea also includes revolting Jews in the group coming up against the king of the South, Egypt, (See Shea in his book page 244 and his book is available from

The impact of 11:14 is that there has been a massive rebellion against the king of the South, Egypt which was supported by Jews as well. But it had no success "they shall fall”, or "to no avail”. Then we have the expression to establish the vision, some read here a vision.  Does this mean the vision as we have it in Daniel’s book or does it mean that somebody had a vision of establishing a new world power? Some fanatic Jews had a vision of Jewish world rule, but it all failed. The world at this point in time of history becomes ready for the next world empire, the Roman one of which we will learn more in the following verses of Daniel eleven.

Of the four divisions of the Grecian divided empire after Alexander’s death not one of them was able to establish a new world empire; they may try to exalt themselves as 11:14 reads but to no avail. Other commentators have stated the fact that from there onward there have always been rebellious Jews in the revolt against the rulers of the day up till the time that in AD70 all of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.

Daniel 11:15
This is an interesting part of Daniel eleven. After the failed rebellion form the North, Syria, which was supported by rebellious Jews against the South, Egypt, it appears from this verse  that a new king from the North shall come up against the
South, Egypt. The North seems to be very persistent in not giving up conquering the South, Egypt. This attack from the North is so formidable that the South not "even with their choicest troops”(NASB) is able to withstand the North this time.

The question to be answered is, who is this new power from the North, the new Syrian king that not even the best troops of Egypt are able to stand up against him.
We must let the historians answer this question. Comparing the different historians who have dealt with this issue, it is difficult to pinpoint precisely which one is mentioned here in 11:15

Some say Antiochus III and others do mention Antiochus IV Epiphanus the one who is also taken as the little horn of Daniel 8 and who here in Daniel eleven eventually becomes the king of the North. However sufficient arguments have been presented
in Daniel 8 to disqualify completely Antiochus IV from that position, in Daniel 8 and consequently here in Daniel 11 as well.

However one thing can be established from history that the North, after the failed rebellion against the South as described in 11:14, did come back by way of Antiochus III or IV, for both cases seems to be historical evidence. Our conclusion is that 11:15 is not yet the starting point for the Roman Empire to become the King of the North of Daniel eleven. Before we turn to 11:16 we will say more about this return from the North to the South. Because Antiochus IV Epiphanus is most likely the one who led this rebellion against the South the reader of this study may like to do a Google search regarding this issue. You will find that the Roman army was already on its way to establish a new world empire. Antiochus IV met the Romans in Egypt and was totally defeated. He was met by the Roman ambassador C.Popilius Leanas and he told Antiochus that the Roman Senate would have him leave Egypt. Antiochus asked for time to think. The ambassador drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus and asked for a decision before he could step out of the circle. Antiochus was humiliated and defeated and he left for Mesopotamia and died there in obscurity. There are other reasons given in Daniel which should make it crystal clear that Antiochus IV Epiphanus does not qualify for being the little horn of Daniel 8 or the king of the North of Daniel 11. He may have done certain things which may look like he is the one but in other points he missed the mark and thus is dismissed as fulfilling Daniel’s prophecy in this respect.

Daniel 11:16
In this part of Daniel eleven we may find some clues which world power or empire would follow the fourfold divided Grecian Empire. We know already from Daniel 2, 7 and 8 that it would be the Roman Empire and according to Daniel 8 under one symbol of a little horn but operating in history in two phases, Pagan Rome and Papal Rome, or the secular followed by the ecclesiastical.

According 11:16 someone would come up against the "him” of 11:15 who led out in the rebellion against the South, Egypt. We agree with McCready Price’s comment and we will quote him:” It would be evident that a new power is here brought to view .He that cometh cannot be the king of the South, for the previous verse has declared that the forces of the south shall not stand. Against him must refer to Antiochus and the one that comes against him must be the Romans, who not only dictated terms to Antiochus, but who henceforth became more and more the complete master of the East. By the battle of Pydna, June 22, 168BC, the Romans under Aermilius Paulus crushed forever the last traces of independence of the states of Macedonia and Greece. Mommsen expresses it:’ The whole empire of Alexander the Great had fallen to the Roman commonwealth, as if the city had inherited from his heirs. From all sides kings and ambassadors came to congratulate her,’” (Pricep.286)

The next part of 11:16 speaks about the strength of the Roman armies which nobody could withstand. Also the Glorious Land, the land of the Jews, was invaded being also the land of Jesus who lived under the ruling of the Romans and it is added that it would be consumed by the Romans or in his hand shall be destruction. History confirms that eventually Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD and at the loss of millions of Jewish lives. Jewish rebellion had caused this act of destruction by the Roman army.

We are confident that so far we have presented a logical historical sequence of Daniel 11:1-16 according to what has been found as fulfilment in history. We are thus of the opinion that the Roman Empire enters Daniel 11 by verse 16, and not before verse 16..We also believe that from here on the Roman Empire qualifies to be called the King of the North and first in its Pagan phase followed later by the Papal phase when we reach 11:31. The expression king of the North does not appear anymore until we reach 11:40.

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