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Daniel 11 Commentary
Summary: Read Daniel 11 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
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Daniel 11 KJV
1Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.
11:1 The language of Daniel 11-12 is not symbolic in the same way that it is in chapters 2, 7 and 8. There are no images, beasts, or horns. Just the same, its language is cryptic, almost like a code. Each sentence condenses quantities of information, and many metaphors are employed.
These qualities have led to a variety of interpretations. There are, however, two very useful guidelines that all interpretations must follow to be acceptable:
1. This vision begins with a reference to King Cyrus and ends with God’s people delivered. So just like the other prophecies of Daniel, this one does not focus in on a narrow span of history but covers a long time span from the prophet’s day to the end of the world. This also means there should be some parallels that can be identified between this vision and the previous ones.
2. Within the text are several specific phrases that can be accurately pinned to certain historical events or time periods.
2And 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.
11:2 The “fourth” king of Persia after Cyrus was Xerxes (Greek name for Ahasuerus), the husband of Queen Esther, who ruled at the height of Persian power and wealth. He raised a huge army with contingents from forty different nations and attacked Greece around 480 BC.
The Persian invasion was eventually repelled, but it roused a burning desire on the part of the independent city states of Greece to unite and average themselves on the Persians. There is much more detail on the rulers and activities of this kingdom than we have seen in previous visions.
3And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.
4And 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.
11:3-4 These two verses deal with Alexander’s conquests and the subsequent four divisions of his kingdom. This is the end of the obvious and easy sections of this prophecy.
5And 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.
6And 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.
7But 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:
8And 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.
9So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.
10But 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.
11And 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.
12And 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.
13For 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.
14And 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.
15So 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.
11:5-15 These verses deal with the intricate details of the rulers and activities of the divided kingdom of Greece. Ultimately two of these divisions came to dominate to such an extent that the Bible record accurately portrays them under the titles of “The King of the North,” and “The King of the South.”
The enemies of Israel, such as Babylon and Egypt, always attacked from the north and the south. Thus “The King of the North” and “The King of the South” came to symbolize the adversaries of God’s people. This entire vision depicts these enemies as warring powers whose battles adversely affect God’s people.
16But 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.
17He 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.
18After 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.
19Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
20Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
11:16-20 This section applies to the Pagan Roman Empire; it is the “King of the North” that “none shall stand before.” In 63 BC the Roman General Pompey interceded in a Jewish civil war and declared Judea a Roman protectorate.
Verses 17-19 are generally applied to Julius Caesar, ending with his assassination. Caesar Augustus, who, at the time of Christ’s birth, decreed that “the entire world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1), is pointed out in verse 20.
21And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
22And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.
23And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
24He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.
11:21-24 There are two different yet worthwhile views in the interpretation of the next two sections; both have good evidence to support them.
The first view is that this is still Pagan Rome with verse 22 being a reference to this power’s part in Christ’s death.The second is that the prophecy here shifts over to Papal Rome, with verse 22 referring to the papacy setting itself up against Christ, corresponding to “magnified himself even to the prince of the host” in Daniel 8:11.
25And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him.
26Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.
27And both of these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.
28Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.
29At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.
30For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
11:25-30 Under the first interpretation—that this is still Pagan Rome—this passage refers to the civil war between Octavian Augustus as “King of the North” in conflict with Mark Antony and Cleopatra in Egypt as “King of the South” in 31 BC.
Under the second interpretation this section refers to the crusades which Papal Rome as king of the north launched to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims, “the King of the South,” around AD 1095-1272.
31And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
32And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
33And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
34Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.
35And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
11:31-35 "The abomination that maketh desolate” refers here to the Church of Rome and points to the Reformation period and the persecution of “heretics” by the Roman Catholic Papacy.
36And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
37Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
38But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
39Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.
11:36-39 This description of the Papal church parallels closely the descriptions of the “little horn” in Daniel chapter 7 and the “little horn” in Daniel chapter 8.
40And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
41He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.
42He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
43But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
44But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.
45And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
11:40-45 These verses depict the events leading up to the destruction of the Papacy. Which is portrayed as “the king of the north.” The rise and fall of this same power, at the end of time, under the symbolism of Babylon the Great, is portrayed in Revelation 17:7-11.
What we know from the text is that “the King of the North” will face an adversary symbolized by “the King of the South,” and God’s faithful people are caught in the middle. This indicates that Catholicism will be attacked in some manner by “the King of the South” at “the time of the end.”
Some scholars believe that the “King of the South,” who opposes Catholicism at the time of the end, is atheism and/or its philosophical offspring, communism. They believe it could be atheism because, like Egypt in the Old Testament, it declares, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?” They think it might be communism because of its power and atheistic views.
In verse 45 the Papacy is said to place “his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain.” In scripture “Holy Mountain” refers to both God’s true Church on Earth and to heaven itself, where Jesus carries on His high priestly ministry today. Ezekiel 28:12-15; Isaiah 65:25; Daniel 9:16; Zechariah 8:3; Joel 3:17. Thus, scholars see in these verses a picture of Satan, through the Papacy, putting itself between the “seas” (the people) and the “glorious holy mountain” (God’s true church and Christ’s sanctuary ministry in heaven).
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