Our passage today was prophecy to Daniel, but is history to us. And what amazingly specific prophesy it is - and every word came true exactly as God described it.
I've used MacArthur's sermon as well as his Bible Commentary to summarize the fulfillment of each of these prophesies.
The Kings of the South and the North
The three of Persia (after Cyrus) were Cambyses (530-522BC), Psuedo-Smerdis (522BC), and Darius I Hystaspes (522-486BC). The fourth is Xerxes I, also know as Ahasuerus in the book of Esther (486-465BC)
3 Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do as he wills.
This is Alexander the Great (also prophesied about in 8:5)
4 And as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the authority with which he ruled, for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these.
Alexander's heirs (a mentally ill half-brother, an illegitimate son, and a son born after Alexander's death) were killed and his kingdom did not go to his posterity. MacArthur: Cassandra took Macedonia, Lysimachus took Thrace and Asia Minor, Ptolemy--remember that--took Egypt, and Seleucus took Syria. Egypt is south of Israel, Syria is where? North of Israel. Those two become the ones we focus on the remaining of the chapter because they are the ones that are right around the nation Israel. And in Egypt, a Ptolemaic line of kings was established and in Syria a Seleucid dynasty was established and through the centuries, those two dynasties warred with each other and they fought most of their wars on the soil of Israel. So Israel became the pawn in this. From here on to the twentieth verse, we cover about 200 years when these wars waged on the borders and throughout the land of Israel.
5 “Then the king of the south shall be strong, but one of his princes shall be stronger than he and shall rule, and his authority shall be a great authority. 6 After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement. But she shall not retain the strength of her arm, and he and his arm shall not endure, but she shall be given up, and her attendants, he who fathered her, and he who supported her in those times.
Berenice, daughter of Egypt's Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246BC) married Syria's King Antiochus II Theos (261-246BC) - the two kings hoping for a political alliance and advantage. Antiochus divorced his wife in order to marry Berenice, that divorced wife murdered Berenice, her baby son, and Antiochus by poisoning, and then brought her own son, Seleucus II Callinicus, to the throne.
7 “And from a branch from her roots one shall arise in his place. He shall come against the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north, and he shall deal with them and shall prevail.
This is Berenice's brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes of Egypt (246-222BC) and he conquered Syria
8 He shall also carry off to Egypt their gods with their metal images and their precious vessels of silver and gold, and for some years he shall refrain from attacking the king of the north.9 Then the latter shall come into the realm of the king of the south but shall return to his own land.
Syria's Callinicus attacked Egypt c240BC but retreated, soundly beaten.
10 “His sons shall wage war and assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall keep coming and overflow and pass through, and again shall carry the war as far as his fortress.
Seleucus's sons continued the war against Egypt as described in verses 11-35.
11 Then the king of the south, moved with rage, shall come out and fight against the king of the north. And he shall raise a great multitude, but it shall be given into his hand.
Ptolemy IV Philopator (222-203BC) devastated the Syrian army under ANtiochus III the Great (223-187BC).
12 And when the multitude is taken away, his heart shall be exalted, and he shall cast down tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail.
Egypt's advantage would be brief.
13 For the king of the north shall again raise a multitude, greater than the first. And after some years he shall come on with a great army and abundant supplies.
Thirteen years later Antiochus returned with a great army, and in a series of strikes against Egypt brought Palestine ("the glorious land" into his control as far south as Gaza.
14 “In those times many shall rise against the king of the south, and the violent among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they shall fail.
Violent Jews wanted Judean independence from Egypt, but failed in their revolt.
15 Then the king of the north shall come and throw up siegeworks and take a well-fortified city. And the forces of the south shall not stand, or even his best troops, for there shall be no strength to stand. 16 But he who comes against him shall do as he wills, and none shall stand before him. And he shall stand in the glorious land, with destruction in his hand.
Antiochus III the Great achieved enduring dominion over Israel.
17 He shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and he shall bring terms of an agreement and perform them. He shall give him the daughter of women to destroy the kingdom, but it shall not stand or be to his advantage.
Antiochus, feeling pressure from Rome to make peace with Egypt, offered his daughter Cleopatra to marry Ptolemy V Epiphanes (c. 192BC). The Syrian hoped his daughter would spy to help him to destroy or weakeen Egypt and bring it under his power. But instead of helping her father, Cleopatra favoured her Egyptian husband.
18 Afterward he shall turn his face to the coastlands and shall capture many of them, but a commander shall put an end to his insolence. Indeed, he shall turn his insolence back upon him.
Antiochus had set his sights to conquer Greece, along the Mediterranean coastlands. But this brought him into conflict with Rome, so that a Roman, Lucius Scipio Asiaticus, repaid the Syrian aggression against Roman rights in the area with a resounding defeat (c 191-190BC)
19 Then he shall turn his face back toward the fortresses of his own land, but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.
Antiochus returned from defeat to his own land compelled by Rome to relinquish all his territory west of the Taurus and to repay the costs of war. He was likely killed by defenders of a Persian temple he tried to plunder at night in Elymais (to get money to pay reparations required by Rome).
20 “Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an exactor of tribute for the glory of the kingdom. But within a few days he shall be broken, neither in anger nor in battle.
Rome required Seleucus IV Philopator to render tribute, since Rome was increasingly powerful. The Syrian set out to tax his subjects heavily to raise the tribute. Soon, he died after being poisoned. The glorious kingdom possibly refers to Israel with its splendid temple.
21 In his place shall arise a contemptible person to whom royal majesty has not been given. He shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
In v21-35, the most cruel king of the North was a Seleucid, the Syrian persecutor of Israel names Antiochus IV Epipahnes (also prophesied about in 8:9-14, 23-25). He came to the throne when his brother Seleucus was murdered and while a son of the dead king who might succeed him, Demetrisu I Soter, was held hostage in Rome. In the vacuum, Antiochus seized power in Syria.
22 Armies shall be utterly swept away before him and broken, even the prince of the covenant.
Egypt's armies were swept away by Antiochus's invading forces. Israel's prince of the covenant, Onias III, was murdered by his own defecting brother Menelaus at the request of Antiochus (171BC).
23 And from the time that an alliance is made with him he shall act deceitfully, and he shall become strong with a small people.
In an Egyptian struggle for the throne, Antiochus entered an alliance with Ptolemy VI Philometer over his rival Ptolemy VII Euergetes II (distinct from the leader in v7). By this union, Antiochus deceitfully plotted to gain greater power in Egypt. With a small force, he conquered Memphis and the rest of Egypt all the way to Alexandria.
24 Without warning he shall come into the richest parts of the province, and he shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers' fathers have done, scattering among them plunder, spoil, and goods. He shall devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time.
Antiochus, under the guise of friendship, plundered the richest Egyptian places he could strike. To gain support, he gave lavish gifts, possibly battle spoils. He developed a scheme to take over Egypt.
25 And he shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south with a great army. And the king of the south shall wage war with an exceedingly great and mighty army, but he shall not stand, for plots shall be devised against him.
Antiochus attacked Philometer, who had become an enemy. Philometer fell due to treachery by trusted supporters (v26a) and became Antiochus's captive.
26 Even those who eat his food shall break him. His army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain.
Betraying counselors, whom Philometer fed, led him to attack Syria to secure his defeat and death for both him and his men.
27 And as for the two kings, their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. They shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail, for the end is yet to be at the time appointed.
Antiochus feigned help to reinstate Ptolemy Philometer to Egypt's throne, occupied then by Ptolemy Euergetes. Both kings lied at the conference, and Antiochus set Philometer up as king at Memphis, and Euergetes reigned at Alexandra. The two Egyptians soon agreed on a joint rule, frustrating the Syrian.
28 And he shall return to his land with great wealth, but his heart shall be set against the holy covenant. And he shall work his will and return to his own land.
En route north through Israel to Syria with riches, Antiochus met a revolt, as sources outside Scripture mention. He struck Jerusalem's temple, profaned the sacrificial system, massacred 80,000 men, took 40,000 prisoners, sold 40,000 Jews as slaves, and squelched a Jewish bid to depose his own designated priest, Menelaus.
29 “At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be this time as it was before.
Antiochus, for the third time, invaded Egypt against the joint rulership (c 168BC), however, he achieved much less success than before.
30 For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay attention to those who forsake the holy covenant.
A Roman fleet from Cyprus sided with Egypt, thwarting Antiochuss attack. Backing down from egaging Rome in war, Antiochus left Egypt, taking out his rage on Israelites in his path. He opposed God's Mosaid covenant that some Jews kept, despite Syrian policies and some Jewish compromise. Antiochus showed favors to Jewish apostates (those who forsake the holy covenant) as non-biblical writings attest.
31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.
Antiochus's soldiers, no doubt working with apostate Jews, guarded the temple, halting all worship, while others attacked the city on the Sabbath, slaughtering men, women, and children. Soldiers desecrated Israel's temple, banned circumcision and daily sacrifices, and sacrificed a pig on the altar. The Syrians on Chislev even imposed an idol statue in honor of the Olympian god Zeus into the temple. Jews called it "the abomination that causes desolation". Antiochus's soldiers profaned God's temple by spreading sow's broth on the altar and banning daily sacrifices. Both Daniel and Jesus said this atrocity was only a preview of the abomination that would happen alter under the final Antichrist.
32 He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.
Compromisers among the JEws were enticed by flattery to side with Antiochus and be corrupted. Jews loyal to God (called Hasideans) stood with firm convictions, suffering death rather than compromising. Judas Maccabeus, helped by Rome, led them in a successful revolt.
33 And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder.
Jews who understand (believe and know the truth) instructed others in the Scriptures, while also suffering continued persecution.
34 When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery,
Many would fall away, and Jews committed to the covenant would have little help, humanly speaking. Some, fearing the faithful remant's dealing with apostates, pretended loyalty.
35 and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.
Wow! That is some specific prophecy - every word of which has been fulfilled. For that very reason, scholars continue to try to discredit Daniel or to prove that this was written after the fact, instead of beforehand.
How do you resist in the overwhelming face of such evil? By knowing God. Truly knowing God causes us to be passionate for God; fervent in prayer; to have a tremendous sense of His holiness and majesty; to keep us humble, dependent, and obedient; to count the cost and show boldness for God; to be content in God and God alone.
God writes history. It is His story. And He has given us the priviledge of being written into His story. I love this excerpt from Richard DeMass:
God wrote you and me in His story. He didn’t have to. His story can go on engagingly, flawlessly and perfectly without me, but wonder of wonders, He invented my character and wrote me in His book. How should we then live? I don’t know about you, but I have always secretly wanted to be a hero in someone’s book.....
We want to be heroes. That’s why it feels so good when we say or do something that makes our spouse or kids proud of us and why it is beyond unbearable when we say or do things that make them ashamed of us.....
Let’s spur each other on to be a great company of heroes by glorifying God and enjoying Him forever on the pages of his story wherever He has seen fit to write us in.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Daniel 11:36-45