In chapter 10, Daniel tells of a revelation he received during the third year of King Cyrus of Persia’s reign. Remember, Cyrus had conquered Babylon in fulfillment of a prophecy God had given to Isaiah over 100 years earlier (Isaiah 44:24-45:7). Daniel’s vision concerned a great war that was coming. It was still over 200 years away and would last nearly 200 years after that, and would pit the Seleucids against the Ptolemys. From our previous study we learned that Seleucus and Ptolemy were two of the four generals who assumed power upon the death of Alexander the Great and divided the Greek Empire among them. Seleucus took parts of what are now Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and later Iran and Iraq, while Ptolemy got Egypt, Israel, and Jordan.
This vision troubled Daniel because he could see that Israel would be caught up in the ongoing battle between them. The Seleucids would be located on Israel’s northern border, and the Ptolemys would be just to their south. The only way for either one to confront the other would be to march their armies through Israel. So he undertook a limited fast and began praying for understanding.
Three weeks later an angel visited him and provided a more detailed explanation of the revelation. These details are contained in chapters 11 and 12 and have given historians enough information to document 135 historically fulfilled prophecies in the first 35 verses of chapter 11. This unparalleled display of predictive prophecy has caused the Book of Daniel to be carefully inspected by those hoping to find flaws in the prophecies, or clues that would justify their claim that Daniel is actually a book of history, written by someone else after the events it describes took place, rather than prophecy. But the only result of this inspection has been that Daniel is now thought to be the most thoroughly validated book in the entire Bible. We’ll pick up the angel’s explanation at the beginning of the era of the Kings of the South and North.
The Kings Of The South And The North
“Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king will appear, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others. (Daniel 11:2-4)
The three who would follow Cyrus as King of Persia were Cambyses (530-522 BC) Pseudo-Smerdis (522BC) and Darius 1 (522-486 BC). The fourth was Xerxes 1 (486-465 BC) who chose the young Jewish woman Esther to be his queen. Her story is told in the Book of Esther.
130 years after Xerxes, Alexander the Great defeated Persian King Darius III at the Battle of Guagamela, effectively conquering the Persian Empire. When Alexander died a few years later, his four commanding generals took over and the angel’s description will now focus on the descendants of two of them. Those from the family of Seleucus are called “King of the North”, and those of Ptolemy are “King of the South.”
Because this account can be verified in the historical record, and because the focus of this study is Daniel’s End Times prophecies, I’ll just insert the names of the central characters and dates of their reigns where applicable, and a note or two as we go along. This will give us a hint of the incredible accuracy of the prophecies in Daniel 11, and prepare us for the shift from what is now history to the end times prophecy which begins at verse 36. All dates are BC of course.
“The king of the South (Ptolemy I Soter, 323-285) will become strong, but one of his commanders (Seleucus I Nicator, 311-280) will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom (Babylon) with great power. After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South (Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, 285-246) will go to the king of the North (Antiochus II Theos, 261-246) to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her. (Antiochus left his wife Laodice for Berenice, but Laodice conspired to have Antiochus, Berenice, and her father Ptolemy II killed. The city of Laodicea in Rev. 3 is named after her.) (Daniel 11:5-6)
“One from her family line will arise to take her place. (Berenice’s brother Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246-221. He killed Laodice to avenge his sister and father.) He will attack the forces of the king of the North (Seleucus II Callinicus, 246-226) and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious. He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone. Then the king of the North will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country. His sons (Seleucus III Ceranus, 226-223 and Antiochus III, called the Great, 223-187) will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress. (Daniel 11:7-10)
“Then the king of the South (Ptolemy IV Philopator, 221-203) will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North (Antiochus the Great), who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. (The Battle of Raphia in 217) When the army is carried off, the king of the South will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands (10,000 according to the historian Polybius), yet he will not remain triumphant. For the king of the North (still Antiochus) will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped. (Daniel 11:11-13)
“In those times many will rise against the king of the South (Ptolemy V Epiphanes, 203-181). The violent men among your own people (Jews) will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success. (Ptolemy’s general Scopas crushed the rebellion in 200) Then the king of the North (still Antiochus the Great) will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land (Israel, captured from the King of the South in 197) and will have the power to destroy it. He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South. And he will give him a daughter (Cleopatra I married Ptolemy V in 194) in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him. (Don’t confuse this Cleopatra with the later one, Cleopatra II, consort to both Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony) Then he will turn his attention to the coast lands and (teaming up with the famous Carthaginian General Hannibal) will take many of them, but a commander (Roman Consul Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus, with whom Cleopatra and Ptolemy had sided) will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him. After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more.(Antiochus the Great died in battle in 187) (Daniel 11:14-19)
“His successor (Seleucus IV Philopator) will send out a tax collector (Heliodorus)to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle. (Heliodorus engineered a coup against him)
“He will be succeeded by a contemptible person (Antiochus IV Epiphanes, 175-164) who has not been given the honor of royalty (Antiochus Epiphanes mounted a palace revolt against his young cousin and rightful heir Demetrius I). He will invade the kingdom (Israel) when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant (Onias III, Israel’s last legitimate High Priest, who was murdered in 170) will be destroyed. After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time. (Daniel 11:20-24) Antiochus conquered Israel and, for a time, Egypt.
“With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South (Ptolemy VI). The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. Those who eat from the king’s provisions (Ptolemy’s family) will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. The two kings (Antiochus and Ptolemy), with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country. (On his way back to Syria, Antiochus Epiphanes plundered the Temple in Jerusalem and killed many priests) (Daniel 11:25-28)
“At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coast lands (Rome)will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant. (Daniel 11:29-30)
(As Antiochus stood in Egypt on the shore of the Mediterranean, the Roman Commander Popilius Laenas drew a circle around him in the sand, telling him that if he stepped out of the circle for any other reason than to surrender and go home, he would be killed. Humiliated and furious he took out his rage on the Jews, prompting the Maccabean revolt. This revolt actually lasted from 168-160, but people are most familiar with the period from 168-165 when the Temple was made desolate in history’s clearest preview of the Great Tribulation. The purification of the temple is celebrated in the feast of Hanukkah which in 2013 began on Nov. 28.)
“His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation (168). With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. (The Hasidim, who remained faithful to God, were the ancestors of today’s Hasidic Jews. They are world renowned for their trade in diamonds) (Daniel 11:31-32)
“Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. (The Maccabeans, who defeated Antiochus, cleansed the Temple and restored Jewish autonomy, setting up the Hasmonean Dynasty that ruled Israel for about 100 years until the Romans came.) Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.(Daniel 11:33-35)
The King Who Exalts Himself
“The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regard for the god(s) of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price. (Daniel 11:36-39)
With verse 36 we’ve shifted from history to prophecy and are in the middle of Daniel’s 70th Week, at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. We’re now discussing the man of whom Antiochus Epiphanes is our clearest model, the anti-Christ, called “the king” here. Note the similarity between this passage and 2 Thes. 2:4, He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
The anti-Christ will appear to be victorious for most of his time in command, because God has determined that Daniel’s 70th week will play out. He won’t fear God the Father at all, intending instead to replace Him. Nor will he fear the Son. It was the dream of every Jewish woman to be the mother of the Messiah, so the phrase “the one desired by women” refers to Jesus. And as Paul wrote, he’ll place himself above everything that’s called God. He’ll honor a foreign god, a god of fortresses, with much silver and gold.
Since he’ll exalt himself above everything called god, and even proclaim himself to be God, I think this god of fortresses will be his military might, purchased at great cost and sufficient to overpower even the most obstinate resistance. At the same time, he’ll reward those loyal to him with great wealth, power and land. This is the ultimate carrot and stick strategy.
“At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission. But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him. (Daniel 11:40-45)
Although Antiochus Epiphanes, who modeled him, was a King of the North the anti-Christ is not. We know this because the Kings of the South and the North both come against him here. Some say we have to find a new King of the North for this passage and suggest Russia, but I think the model has been too firmly established in the previous verses to justify changing without notice. No, I believe the end times remnants of the Seleucid and Ptolemaic Empires will attempt to re-assert their historic dominance over the Middle East. This will likely come in the form of non-Arab Muslims, the King of the North, contending with Arab Muslims, the King of the South, for control of the Muslim world. The anti-Christ will defeat them both and move his headquarters to Israel exercising control from there over a world that seems to exclude only an area of the Jordanian desert called Petra (aka Bosrah in Isaiah 63), where the faithful remnant of Israel awaits the return of Earth’s legitimate King. (Rev. 12:14)
But then the coalition of victors from the wars recently fought east of the Euphrates, sensing that his control is not yet absolute, will begin their march to Armageddon intent upon capturing the Middle East and all its wealth for themselves. Not even the devil himself can keep man from acting on his greed, and as the anti-Christ sees this enormous army swooping down from the East and North, he goes after them in a rage.
Those of you who followed our Revelation study will recall that in Rev. 9, we saw a great war among the powers of the Far East for dominance over that region. Then in Rev. 16 the River Euphrates was dried up to permit the victors in this war to team up and cross into the Middle East, intent upon conquest there. This is the report from the East and North that Daniel’s describing. Remember the King of the North has just been defeated, so reports of troop movement from the North must be someone else. Perhaps this is the Chinese –Russian alliance the world has long feared.
The End Times
“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” (Daniel 12:1-4)
From Matt. 24:21, where the same wording appears, we can confirm that this is the Great Tribulation. During this time Daniel’s people, the believing remnant of Israel, will be protected in the Jordanian desert, awaiting their deliverance by the Messiah. At the time of the Messiah’s return to save them and set up His Kingdom, the faithful of Israel’s past will be resurrected to receive the promise they died believing, that God would one day send a redeemer to pay for their sins so that He could dwell with them forever. 1000 years later the unbelievers will also awake, but to shame and everlasting contempt, in the Great White Throne judgment of Rev. 20:11-15.
Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” (Daniel 12:5-7)
The Hebrew phrase time, times and half a time stands for one year plus two years plus half a year. The Great Tribulation will last for 3 ½ years, the time required to break the Jewish people of their human pride and soften their hearts to receive the King who has waited so long for them to accept Him. According to Zechariah 12:10, this will happen near the end of the Great Tribulation.
I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?”
He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.
“From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.
“As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” (Daniel 12:8-13)
Unlike John, who was told not to seal up the words he’d written (Rev. 22:10), Daniel learned that he’d received all the detail God was prepared to give him at that time. The prophecy was for the End of the Age. The angel told him that none of the wicked would ever understand it, but one day those who are wise would figure it out.
Then he threw out two numbers that, as far as I’m concerned, not even the wise have a clear understanding of yet. I’ve read dozens of interpretations of the 1290 days and the 1335 days, and none is persuasive, at least to me. Some of them arbitrarily use the year for a day concept, others add the 1290 and the 1335 together, and still others insert the Hebrew inter-calary 13th month to explain the difference between the clear 1260 day duration of the Great Tribulation and the 1290 number given here. The most forthright admit to indulging in pure speculation.
Personally, I think these two numbers are like the 7 thunders of Rev. 10 and the 666 of Rev. 13. God has not yet disclosed their true meaning to man, perhaps because doing so would reveal too much about the End Times and alert the enemy prematurely. And notice that they were given to Daniel after he was told that the wise would one day understand this prophecy. To me it looks like the angel’s promise didn’t include the 1290 and 1335 days.
But I can speculate with the best of them, so here goes. If I’m wrong and the meaning of these two numbers is not one of the Lord’s remaining secrets, then the explanation may be so simple we’ve gone right by it. For example, several times we’ve been told that there are 1260 days from the Abomination of Desolation to the end of the Great Tribulation. Immediately after that, those who’ve survived it will see the sun and moon darken and the stars fall. Then they’ll see the sign of the Son of man, and finally the Lord Himself will appear in the sky. (Matt. 24:29-30) It all sounds pretty clear.
But then four times in the span of 28 verses Jesus said that those on Earth wouldn’t know the day or hour of His return to them in advance. (Matt. 24:36-37, 42-44, 50-51, 25:13)
If He appears in the sky on Rosh Hashanah, as I believe, and if His first official act is one of judgment, as Matt. 25:31 seems to say, then perhaps this judgment will begin on Yom Kippur, 10 days after Rosh Hashanah.
You may ask how I can believe the Lord will return on Rosh Hashanah when it’s a Jewish Feast Day and the first day of their New Year? Remember, the Lord repeatedly said that no one would know the day or hour of His return. Even this Holy Day’s other name (The Day That No Man Knows) doesn’t resolve the issue, because the Jews would be expecting the day, and looking for the new moon that signals its arrival. At most they would only be off by a couple of days. Then I put together two other pieces of information and they settled it for me.
The first one is from Daniel 7:25. It says the anti Christ will try to change the set times and the laws. To me that means he’ll abolish all reference to the Holy Days and their observance so except for the Jewish remnant hiding in Petra, the world won’t know anything about the nearness of Rosh Hashanah as the time for the 2nd Coming approaches.
And the second is from Matt. 24:29 which says that immediately after the Great Tribulation the sun will be darkened and the Moon will not give its light. That means even those few Jews who are still observing the Holy Days won’t be able to tell when Rosh Hashanah arrives because the moon will be completely dark. That means no one on Earth will know the day and hour of His return, even if it is Rosh Hashanah.
So the judgment could begin 10 days later on Yom Kippur. Suppose that 20 days are then consumed in judging Israel (Matt. 19:28) and the Gentiles, (Matt. 25:31-46) and cleansing the defiled Temple making it fit for use again. (By now you know I’m convinced that the same Temple used during Daniel’s 70th week will be used in the Millennium. If not, read my study called “The Coming Temple”.) This scenario would make it 1290 days from the Abomination of Desolation to the re-dedication of the cleansed Temple, consistent with the view held by some that the 1290 day period pertains to the Temple’s desolation, not the Lord’s return.
But then come 45 more days for a total of 1335. I suggest that this time may be necessary to set up the Kingdom. There’s a lot that needs to be done, like crowning the Prince of Israel, organizing the priesthood behind the family of Zadok and teaching them their new duties, especially concerning the new cycle of Holy days (Ezek. 44-46) positioning the New Jerusalem in its orbit abound Earth (Rev. 21:2), reassigning the Tribal allotments in Israel (Ezek, 45 & 48) and installing the governments of the Nations. If things unfold as I’ve described them, and it’s a big “if”, then 1335 days from the Abomination, the Millennial Kingdom will be officially inaugurated.
Those who have both waited for and actually reached that day will be truly blessed, because they will have been eyewitnesses to the most amazing time in human history, and at its conclusion will have found themselves among the victors, poised to experience the fulfillment of all their dreams. It will be a celebration such as has never before been seen on Earth.