Sorry this is so long, but many people have asked me about the prophecy of Daniel, Chapter 11.
Following, is the next two centuries of history as it relates to that prophecy. Hope it helps!
11:2 Three kings and then a fourth – After Cyrus –
Cambyses (Ahauserus of Ezra 4:6)
Smerdis (Artaxerxes of Ezra 4:7-23,) Hystapes (Darius of Ezra 4:24) *Xerxes (Ahauserus of the book of Esther.
Xerxes was, by far, the most wealthy and powerful of all the Persian kings. He intended to become more powerful still by conquering Greece. He raised an army of 2,640,000 – an unheard of number for the day (480 BC). The great party of Esther was part of this effort. But his great army was crushed and he had to retreat to his own capitol – losing all the outlying territories. Persia was reduced to a petty kingdom.
11:3-4 A mighty king with a quickly broken kingdom
Alexander the Great (356-323) Continued the work of his father in expanding the Greek Empire and put Persia out of its misery. He also conquered Asia Minor, India and a bit of Europe before lamenting that there were no worlds left to conquer. Alexander seemed to be invincible and did exactly as he pleased, which, unfortunately, after his wars of conquest ended, mostly amounted to drunkenness and debauchery. He died young (32) with his empire at its peak. Alexander’s half brother Phillip tried to succeed him but was murdered at the instigation of Alexander’s (but not Phillip’s) mother, Olympias. Phillip’s supporters killed Olympias in revenge. Alexander’s first wife (Statia) was murdered by his second wife (Roxana) who was pregnant at the time and had thoughts of putting her son on the throne with her as the queen mother. One of Alexander’s generals (Cassander) was also his brother in law (Statia’s brother). Cassander captured and killed Roxana and her son. Alexander’s only remaining son (Hercules) either the son of Statia or, as rumored, the son of one of Alexander’s many mistresses but raised by Statia – was murdered by persons unknown. The result was that none of Alexander’s descendants survived to rule in his place. The kingdom was torn into quarters by his four generals (Ptolemy, Lysimachus, Seleucus and Cassander). Cassander took the old home grounds of Macedonia and Greece. Lysimachus took most of Asia Minor. Ptolemy took Egypt. Seleucus took Syria and the lower portion of Asia Minor.
11:5 The king of the south grows strong
The quarters of Alexander’s empire mostly began breaking into smaller pieces but two major powers remained whole – Syria and Egypt (the northern and southern parentheses around Israel). Seleucus (358-261 BC) first pledged loyalty to Ptolemy (367-283 BC) in exchange for being allowed to seize the province of Babylon uncontested by Egypt. Having obtained Babylon, Seleucus withdrew his loyalty and consolidated power in his Syrian holdings. This made Seleucus even more powerful than Ptolemy.
11:6 The Unfortunate Daughter
In the second generation of the kings of the north and the south – Antiochus *324-261 BC) and Ptolemy II (308-246 BC) decided continuing hostilities was too expensive and bothersome. Their truce included marrying Ptolemy’s daughter (Bernice) to Antiochus. Motivated by the promise of an enormous dowery, Antiochus divorced his current wife (Laodice) and disinherited her two sons. Ptolemy insisted on this. But Ptolemy died just a couple of years afterward and Antiochus repudiated his marriage to Bernice and brought back Laodice and her sons. Laodice showed her eternal gratitude by poisoning Antiochus and murdering Bernice and her infant son.
11:7-9 Bad Blood in the Next Generation
Seleucus Callinicus (246-225 BC) became king of Syria and was immediately faced with Ptolemy III’s (246-222 BC) desire to avenge his sister, Bernice – a desire which prompted Ptolemy III to launch a war. Ptolemy smashed the Syrian forces, seized the capitol, captured Laodice and drove Seleucus Calllinicus beyond the Euphrates. He carried off 4000 talents of gold and 40,000 of silver (a talent is about 90 pounds) and over 2500 molten idols. Seleucus Callinicus contented himself with this and stayed home to enjoy his wealth and power.
11:10-12 More Generational Bad Blood
Seleucus Callinicus died in a fall from his horse and was succeeded by his son, Seleucuc III (243-223 BC). Seleucus III rebelled against the Egyptian authority over Syria and died in combat. His brother – Antiochus III (241-187 BC) carried on the campaign. Ptolemy IV (238-205 BC) was a party boy and a lousy war time king, not realizing he was in danger until Antiochus III had reclaimed all of Syria and was actually marching an army into Egypt. Ptolemy quickly raised an army (mostly mercenaries) and drove the Syrians out of both Egypt and Palestine. Ptolemy IV annexed Palestine and horrified the Jews by entering the temple and demanding entrance to the holy of holies. On the threshold of the veil he had a seizure, fell senseless to the floor and had to be carried out. He declared a truce with Syria and went back to partying – though he hated the Jews and treated them harshly ever after because of his humiliation in the temple.
11:13-19 The New Kid in Town
Antiochus III built strength and bided time for thirteen years until Ptolemy IV died and Ptolemy V (210-180 BC) became king at age 4. Antiochus allied with the Macedonians and launched a joint attack on Egypt. His army of over 100,000 included militant Jews who didn’t like the harsh treatment Ptolemy IV had dealt out after his humiliation in the temple. The Egyptians were driven from Palestine and the Syrians et al set up camp on the border of Egypt. Enter Rome. Rome had been growing in power for years and profited from the continual struggle between Syria and Egypt. Now it appeared that Syria was about to prevail and Egypt be utterly defeated. Rome threatened to ‘intervene’ if Antiochus III entered Egypt. Antiochus III negotiated a new treaty with Egypt including marrying his adult daughter (Cleopatra) to the child King Ptolemy V – the tribute of Phoenicia and Palestine to be Cleopatra’s dowery. Cleopatra, of course, was to be Antiochus’ proxy ruler. He was enraged when Cleopatra decided to rule Egypt in earnest and look out for the best interests of her (and her husband’s) nation. Rome still being a problem, Antiochus III raised a fleet to attack Rome’s holdings in the Mediterranean islands (the base from which they would police his behavior). This turned out to be a bad idea. Antiochus III was thrashed and subjected to humiliating terms of peace including that Rome held his son – Antiochus IV (215-164 BC) – hostage to guarantee good behavior. Rome also charged Syria very heavy tribute. Antiochus III took to looting temples and palaces in petty monarchies (to whose level he was now reduced) until, on one of these midnight raids on a temple of Zeus in a formerly Persian Province, he was caught and killed.
11:20 The Delegate
Antiochus III was succeeded by his second son, Seleucus whose entire career was dedicated to raising taxes to meet the demands of Roman tribute. He taxed the Jews most heavily of all. On one occasion, finding the taxes insufficient to keep up with the tribute, Seleucus sent his treasurer, Heliodorus to outright plunder the temple. Heliodorus was met at the door by some supernatural apparition unseen by others and turned back terrified. Rather than carry out his mission he went home and poisoned Seleucus.
11:21-28 A Big Mess
Seleucus’ son, Demetrius should have risen to the throne but he had been taken to Rome to take the place of Seleucus’ older brother (Antiochus IV – who now travelled about on official business for Rome) as hostage. Heliodorus seized the throne. This was contested by Ptolemy VI on the grounds that his mother (Cleopatra) had been the sister of the late King (Seleucus). Antiochus IV also sought to secure the position by means of bribes and Roman backing. Antiochus IV succeeded. He was a good administrator and a terrible person. He called himself Antiochus Epiphanes (the illustrious). Behind his back he was called Antiochus Ephimanes (the mad man). Ptolemy VI (186-145 BC) tried to regain Palestine from his Syrian/Roman uncle but failed. Antiochus signed a treaty with Ptolemy which he had no intention of keeping. Antiochus wheedled Rome, bribed the appropriate officials, ratted out key Egyptian players for real or imagined crimes, etc. until he was essentially the master of both Syria and Egypt. When Egypt was down to just Alexandria the Egyptians renounced Ptolemy VI and put his younger brother on the throne. Antiochus IV suddenly became Ptolemy VI’s best friend and set him up as a rival Egyptian ruler in Memphis. While the Egyptian brothers were duking it out, Antiochus waited to pick up the pieces. But there was trouble back in Palestine. A Jewish faction had actually captured Jerusalem! Antiochus stormed the city. Killed 40,000, sold another 40,000 as slaves. He looted the temple – EVEN ENTERING the HOLY of HOLIES – taking all the treasures home to Syria.
11:29-25 Wrapping it up- Sort Of
While Antiochus was busy in Palestine – the two dirty dog Ptolemys made an alliance and Antiochus had to stage another invasion of Egypt. The Ptolemys appealed to Rome. By the time Antiochus had retaken Memphis and was marching on Alexandria, Roman senators showed up – along with a large naval force. They instructed Antiochus to cease hostilities and leave Egypt immediately. Antiochus said he would consult his advisors and allies and get back to them. One senator took his staff and drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus. He said that Antiochus had best not step out of that circle until he had given a definite answer and if it was the wrong answer he would never step out of the circle anyway. Antiochus withdrew from Egypt and vented all his anger on Palestine. He outlawed the Jewish religion and killed Jews across the land when they tried to practice it anyway. He decreed that all Jews should conform to the Greek/Syrian religion and that the temple should be dedicated to Zeus. He attacked Jerusalem on a Sabbath day, killed men, women and children indiscriminately and posted decrees banning even circumcision and the use of the Hebrew language. He introduced the feast of Bacchus in place of the Jewish festivals to teach young Jews lewd ways. He dedicated the temple to Zeus and sacrificed the first pig on the altar. Sacrifices to Zeus continued for three years. Jews who tried to preserve their heritage and/or honor God, paid with their lives. The Macabees led a revolt, reclaimed Jerusalem and reconsecrated the temple. They maintained Jewish independence for a time – though ultimately all the Macabees were killed.
First, let me apologize for the long blog vacation. That was partly due to my personal vacation, preaching revival services at another congregation and partly due to returning from those adventures to the garden ministry in absolute full swing! I will try to do better. That said and the new school year just about to begin: I remember clearly going off to first grade (no kindergarten in my locale in those days). I remember being nervous and excited. My parents had already taught me to sing the alphabet, count, tie my shoes and write my name. They taught me other things too but those stick in my mind. I knew my colors well, even some of the more exotic ones, from a childhood game called colored eggs (The mother hen and the wolf are designated. The wolf stands apart while the mother hen whispers assigned colors in each chick’s ear. The wolf shows up and demands eggs. What color eggs? All we chicks would ask in unison. The wolf began guessing colors. When and if your assigned color was guessed you took off and the wolf gave chase. If the wolf caught you, you were devoured – in the imaginary sense. If you completed a lap around the yard without being caught you were safe again with the mother hen. We learned quickly that red and blue were easy guesses. After a while, aquamarine and turquoise ceased to provide safety too. Puce?) Anyway – I was all over knowing my colors – and shapes and… The result was that my first day of school was academically non-challenging. My second day was plenty challenging – still not academically – I learned to sound out basic words in about five minutes and reading came easy. The challenge arose in that I hadn’t realized there was going to be a second day. I don’t know how I had got the idea. After all, my one-year older sister had disappeared from my life for hours each and every day the year previous. But, despite any academic promise I might have shown, I was one of those children that spent most of my time oblivious to reality. Somehow, I thought that when I came home from first grade that day – I was done. I guess my life was filled with events that seemed that way. You went to church. When you came home you were done. I mean, I know now that you were going back the next Sunday but at the time a week was such an impossibly long time it didn’t merit keeping track of and I wouldn’t even particularly know it was Sunday until I was wakened and told to get ready for church. Things like Christmas were even more that way. Christmas was great but it was one day once a year and if you think a week is a long time, a year is virtually incalculable! When I discovered that I would be COMPELLED not only to return to first grade the next day – and the day after that but for a number of days beyond conception – 12 whole grades - I was dismayed, appalled, shocked. Why hadn’t someone told me? Was there some way out? Not, as it materialized, until you were at least 16 and, unless my parents had a significant change of heart, not even then. If you had told me then that I would ultimately, willingly, VOLUNTARILY – expand my educational sojourn for six years beyond the twelve I had just found out about and earn a Master’s Degree, I might just have ran away, found the nearest railroad and taken up the life of a hobo. I had, after all, learned the previous Halloween how to produce a burnt cork beard, don a battered hat and tie a handkerchief onto the end of a stick so I had the fundamentals down. And why not? The life I knew, the life I had assumed was going to go on perpetually had just been buried under a mountain of compulsory learning anyway! Well, we all learn the difference between our early childhood conception of life and what it’s really going to be like. It just hits some of us harder than others. The lesson I learned from this turned out to be solid Biblical teaching. Don’t begin adventures, projects, processes, etc. without first counting the cost – have at least a fairly accurate reckoning of what is going to be required. And Jesus taught this lesson primarily about our decision to follow Him. There is a cost. To be clear – the cost is not the price of salvation which we could never pay no matter what. The cost is reckoned in the coin of what we become after we are saved. When we have named Him Lord and His purposes for our lives (even if He requires they be spent outright and all at once in a violent bloody end) are reckoned to be more important than whatever purposes we might once have held for ourselves. The second day of first grade taught me this lesson and I never forgot it. I have always found the cost to be small compared to what I have gained from knowing Christ. But each of us must count it for ourselves. Pretending (worse yet, leading others to believe) the cost doesn’t exist – is a crime.
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Minister of Indian Run Christian Church