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Daniel chapter 11

English Standard Version

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. 21In 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. 22Armies shall be utterly swept away before him and broken, even the prince of the covenant. 23And from the time that an alliance is made with him he shall act deceitfully, and he shall become strong with a small people. 24Without 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. 25And 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. 26Even those who eat his food shall break him. His army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. 27And 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. 28And 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.
New International Version

New American Standard Bible

20Then in his place one will arise who will allow an oppressor to pass through the Jewel of his kingdom; yet within a few days he will be broken, though not in anger nor in battle. 21And in his place a despicable person will arise, on whom the majesty of kingship has not been conferred; but he will come in a time of tranquility and seize the kingdom by intrigue. 22And the overflowing forces will be flooded away from him and smashed, and also the prince of the covenant. 23After an alliance is made with him he will practice deception, and he will go up and gain power with a small force of people. 24In a time of tranquility he will enter the richest parts of the realm, and he will accomplish what his fathers did not, nor his ancestors; he will distribute plunder, spoils, and possessions among them, and he will devise his schemes against strongholds, but only for a time. 25And he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South with a large army; so the king of the South will mobilize an extremely large and mighty army for war; but he will not stand, because schemes will be devised against him. 26Those who eat his choice food will destroy him, and his army will overflow, but many will fall down slain. 27As for both kings, their hearts will be intent on evil, and they will speak lies to each other at the same table; but it will not succeed, because the end is still to come at the appointed time. 28Then he will return to his land with much plunder; but his heart will be set against the holy covenant, and he will take action and then return to his own land.
Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

21And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honor 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 strongholds, even for a time. 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 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. 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 helped 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.
New King James Version

What does Daniel chapter 11 mean?

In the prior chapter, Daniel began receiving a prophetic message from an angelic figure, most likely Gabriel (Daniel 10:18—11:1). The events foreshadowed involve the political and spiritual events happening in the general area of Judea: approximately the modern nation of Israel. What Daniel records in this passage begins as a prediction of events several centuries in his future. Written in 536 BC (Daniel 10:1), most of the events described here would occur between the fourth and second centuries BC. The chapter ending transitions into prophecy about the end times, which are yet to come, even today.

The first part of this prophecy reinforces earlier predictions about Alexander the Great (Daniel 8:5–8). As before, he is depicted as a powerful conqueror whose kingdom is split into four parts (Daniel 11:2–4).

Next, Daniel describes two kingdoms who become rivals. One is ruled by Ptolemy I Soter, of Egypt in the south. The other is the Seleucid Empire in the north, first ruled by Seleucus I Nicator. Seleucus was a subordinate of Ptolemy whose empire soon became even larger than that of his former superior. These nations were immediate rivals. At one point, Ptolemy II arranged his daughter's marriage to Antiochus II, who then ruled the Seleucid Empire. That ended in her death and even more hatred between the two cultures (Daniel 11:5–6).

Daniel goes on to describe what would happen next, and we know the details from history. In vengeance, a new king of Egypt—Ptolemy III—successfully raided and plundered the Seleucids, taking back many artifacts and enormous wealth. The feeble Seleucid response managed to recapture much of Judea, only because the Egyptian army was content to return home with their loot. The counterattack was unable to move into Egypt (Daniel 11:7–9).

A succeeding king of the north, Antiochus III, would later become known as Antiochus the Great for his military victories. His armies "flowed" over territory they conquered but stopped to regroup in the south of the modern-day Gaza Strip. The Egyptian king had anticipated an invasion and caught the Seleucids somewhat off-guard. At the Battle of Raphia, thousands of Seleucid troops were killed. Later, however, Antiochus would return with an even larger force (Daniel 11:10–13).

When Antiochus renewed his attacks on Egypt, he did so with new allies, including Macedonia and many Israelites who believed their cooperation would earn them independence. In retaking most of Judea, Antiochus also captured the well-defended city of Sidon. Some Egyptian armies were entirely eradicated. Seeking to pacify and control Egypt, Antiochus negotiated for his daughter to marry the Egyptian king. This did not last long. Antiochus then attempted to conquer by sea, only to be stopped by the northern Roman Empire. Not long after, Antiochus III would die (Daniel 11:14–19).

Antiochus III's initial successor levied heavy taxes. He was replaced—through illegitimate means—by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who worked heavily in intrigue and bribes. Antiochus IV had many military victories against Egypt. Among these was a successful ambush of an attempted invasion, in a battle near the city of Pelusium. As a result, Seleucid forces ran rampant in Egypt. The nation was pillaged. Back in Seleucid territory, he may have been involved in the assassination of the Jewish high priest. Thanks to intrigue in Egypt, they were unable to mount coherent defense against Antiochus IV's new attacks. When Antiochus IV returned, he passed through Jerusalem and raided the temple treasury, planting seeds of deep resentment (Daniel 11:20–28).

When Antiochus IV Epiphanes once again attempted to invade Egypt, he was confronted by ambassadors from the Roman Empire. Rome had long been a trade partner with Egypt, who supplied them with crucial supplies. Prior to then, Rome was preoccupied with other wars and lacked the resources to interfere with the Seleucids. Antiochus was given a humiliating ultimatum and returned to his own territory in a furious rage. At that time, he heard news of unrest against his rule in Jerusalem. His response was horrific (Daniel 11:29–30).

Antiochus IV Epiphanes sought to erase Judaism from Judea. He outlawed critical practices such as dietary laws, sabbath-keeping, and circumcision. He violently persecuted those who resisted but gave a reprieve to those willing to abandon their historical faith to worship pagan gods. In a calculated, spiteful act, Antiochus set up a pagan altar in the temple and used it to sacrifice an unclean pig. This defiled the sanctuary and humiliated the entire Jewish nation. This act is referred to as "the abomination that makes desolate" and was mentioned by Jesus in connecting Daniel's predictions of Epiphanes to similar events in the end times (Matthew 24:15). This sparked the Maccabean Revolt which caused terrible mayhem but eventually restored the temple (Daniel 11:31–35).

The final verse of the prior section (Daniel 11:29–35) uses language that could be applied both to the events of the Maccabean Revolt and what is expected to occur in the "end times." The end times are the last parts of history before God's final judgment on sin. Starting in verse 36, Daniel's descriptions look much further in the future. An arrogant, blaspheming leader will deal in wealth and bribery. He will be aided by some foreign power. Scholars differ on the identity of this king, with some identifying him as the second beast of Revelation (Revelation 13:11–17). This ruler will re-distribute territory on earth according to his corrupt schemes (Daniel 11:36–39).

Whoever the arrogant king is, he will be attacked from both the south and the north. The army of the north appears to be mentioned by other prophets, including Ezekiel (Ezekiel 38:4, 11–16) and Joel (Joel 2:2, 20). The northern armies will move through Israel and into Egypt. Then, at some point, a threat from the north and east will make them turn back. Between the Mediterranean Sea and a "holy mountain," probably Jerusalem, they will meet utter defeat (Daniel 11:40–45).

The final verses of Daniel will repeat prior predictions, while noting "a time of trouble" the likes of which the world has never seen (Daniel 12:1).
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