Daniel 11A yrotsiH

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Questions: Does God know what is going to happen in the future? Does it matter? Why would He tell us? Should we care? What would we do differently? How would we pray differently? Would we endure?

“Read More” to pursue answers from the Prophet Daniel.

Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love.
Draw me into your Presence, and fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I might know you as my Father, and manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.

Daniel 11:1-19

But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and [there is] none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, [even] I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.

The most intriguing aspect of this first verse (as a carryon from the last verse of the previous chapter) is the hint that Darius is now on the side of the angels; though he may be the only kingdom with that distinction. And even that doesn’t seem like it will last:

And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than [they] all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.

Due to my lack of expertise in this area, I decided to rely on this article in Good News magazine for a comparison of Daniel 11 with “known” history. I do this with some trepidation, as I fundamentally disagree with how their young-earth creationism treats the scientific method. However, their heart is in the right place, and as far as I can tell their archaeological data is properly cited. Judge for yourself and see what you think.

The fourth king, as even I could guess, was Xerxes, whose defeat at the hands of the Greeks is what many consider the beginning/salvation of Western civilization.

And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.

Presumably meaning Alexander the Great, especially given what happens after:

And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; 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.

Of those four, we first look to the south:

And the king of the south shall be strong, and [one] of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion [shall be] a great dominion.

That would be Ptolemy I of Egypt. The “prince” appears to mean his general Seleucus, who becomes king of the north (Syria).

And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in [these] times.

This sad tale refers to Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy II, who gave her in marriage to the Seleucid monarch Antiochus II. But even in death she gets some revenge:

But out of a branch of her roots shall [one] stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail: And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, [and] with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue [more] years than the king of the north. So the king of the south shall come into [his] kingdom, and shall return into his own land.

This apparently being her brother, Ptolemy III.

But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and [one] shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, [even] to his fortress. And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, 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.

These bloody but futile battles represent Seleucus III and Antiochus the Great taking on Attalus I and Ptolemy IV. The latter’s victory at Raphia is claimed to lead to an ugly massacre of Jews, who sought to prevent him from entering their temple.

[And] when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down [many] ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened [by it].

This identification, to be honest, is a bit dicey, as there is no support for it in secular history, and even 3 Maccabees isn’t considered canonical by most Christians. Then again, the prophecy is sufficiently vague it may be referring to something else together; somehow I suspect that massacres weren’t all that rare back then…

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.

Hence the title “Antiochus the Great”. 🙂

And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.

Hard times for Ptolemies IV and V, with both internal rebellion and external intrigue. Though the rebels ultimately fail, Antiochus III the Great and Philip V of Macedon do manage to capture Palestine, “the glorious land.”

So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither [shall there be any] strength to withstand. But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.

Though Antiochus has his own problems:

He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand [on his side], neither be for him.

That being his daughter, Cleopatra (no, not that one).

After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause [it] to turn upon him. Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.

This presumably refers to his wars against Rome, and death in Persia. This arguably marks the peak of Hellenistic power, and hints at the growing importance of Rome. It also makes a fine place to break this chapter, since the guide I’ve been following ends here. We’ll see if I can find a new way forward next time.

Prayer

God, I am reminded of how privileged I am to be alive at a time in history when I can live in freedom. Yet, I know that such freedom is ultimately an illusion, if it is not grounded in submission to your sovereignty. Lord, help me to trust in your overarching perspective, and the heavenly correlates of our earthly concerns. Open my mind and my heart to your glorious works, your missio dei across all the earth. That I may enter into your divine Kingdom that has no end (or beginning). I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title is History, from the other direction.

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