An Overview of Daniel 11:2–12:3

By | May 3, 2024

Daniel 11:2–12:3 is a prophecy about Israel to Daniel from an angel, probably Gabriel (cf. Daniel 8:16; 9:21; 10:10–11). Much has been fulfilled (Daniel 11:2–35); some is yet to come (Daniel 11:36–12:3).

Daniel 11:2–35 covers almost 400 years (539–167 BC). Daniel 11:2 foretold three Persian kings and a fourth whose rules spanned 530 to 465 BC. The fourth was Xerxes (Ahasuerus in Esther) who would provoke Greece around 480 BC and receive a forceful response even 150 years later. Prophesied in Daniel 11:3–4, this force was through Alexander the Great who quickly conquered but died (336–323 BC), resulting in his kingdom dividing four ways—north, south, east, and west.

Daniel 11:5–35 then anticipated 160 years of war between the southern Ptolemy dynasty in Egypt and the northern Seleucid dynasty in Syria (323–163 BC). Daniel 11:5–9 runs through the first 50 of these years (323–227 BC), detailing warfare and intrigue between the north and the south. Daniel 11:10–20 covers the next 50 years in (227–176 BC) in which one northern king is primarily in view, Antiochus III (ruled 223–187 BC). This rule receives more attention in order to set the stage for the next king, Antiochus IV.

In Daniel 11:21–35, Gabriel foretells the rule of a contemptible northern king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ruled 176–163 BC), a madman whose military failures resulted in irrational rage against Israel. Daniel 11:29–35 closes this section with the sad story of how Antiochus IV would profane Israel’s temple, end her worship, set up something abominable instead (a statue of Zeus and using pigs for sacrifices on the altar), and persecute many to death. Antiochus IV is not only an evil king involved in Israel’s history, but he also previews the worst of kings to come—the Antichrist in Daniel 11:36–12:3.

So, in Daniel 11:36–12:3, Gabriel jumps from Antiochus IV to the Antichrist “at the time of the end” (Daniel 11:40), a “king” with no country specified and one who “shall do as he wills” (Daniel 11:36). He rejects all gods and God above to exalt himself and military might (Daniel 11:36–39; cf. 2 Thess 2:3–4). As he rises to power, the kings of the south and north attack, prompting his own invasion of multiple countries in return, overwhelming them with his soldiers, and easily passing through (Daniel 11:40). With his headquarters between Jerusalem and the sea, his campaign extends to Palestine (“the glorious land”) and the south, east, and north before his ignominious end (Daniel 11:41–45).

Before his end, however, the Antichrist provokes an unprecedented time of trouble, requiring the archangel Michael to come to Israel’s aid (Daniel 12:1; cf. 9:27; Revelation 12:7–17). Israel’s trouble ends with rescue for the believing remnant and resurrection for the believing dead (Daniel 12:2–3). Israel’s foes will awake to judgment in time to come (cf. Revelation 20:11–15).

Photo of Bust of Antiochus IV at Altes Museum (Berlin) by Yair Haklai

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