The Amazing Prophecy of Daniel 11... and How it Defies Sceptics!
In the 11th Chapter of Daniel is a Most Amazing Prophecy and Atheists and Sceptics Have Left no Stone Unturned in a Vain Attempt to Discredit it!!
(Find this text a little difficult to read over our pattern? Try HERE)
The 11th chapter of Daniel contains a prophecy which has been fulfilled in incredible detail. In this article, I first of all want to go through this prophecy; Then I will look at how the attempts to discredit Daniel have failed.
You will need your Bible open to Daniel, chapter 11 for this study. For my part, I will be referring to both the NIV and NKJV Bibles.
General Comments About Daniel
We need to start off with some general comments about the Book of Daniel.
Much of this book is apocalyptic in style and it is rightly considered as an apocalyptic book yet some parts appear to depart from this approach. Apocalyptic writings appeared everywhere during the period of around 300BC – 100AD. It is interesting that Daniel was almost certainly the very first book to be written in this style and others copied the style. Intriguing then that Revelation was about the last such book; so we have two divinely-inspired books of this genre as literal 'bookends' with around 60-80 other uninspired 'apocalypses' sandwiched between!
Some so-called “biblical scholars” have insisted that Daniel has almost nothing in common with the 'Law and the Prophets' and was inspired by Persian sources, cobbled together – after the 'prophesied events' occurred - and then shoved into our Old Testament. But the assertion that apocalyptic was copied from Persian writing styles is now wholly discredited! It is now known that the Avesta of Zoroastrianism (which these critics had in mind) can be dated at around 400AD or even later so it is very late compared to Daniel or even Revelation - therefore it is far more likely that Persian religion copied something of the apocalyptic style from the Bible! This is just one of many examples of how those who have tried to discredit the Bible did not even do their homework properly!!
I will have more to say about the attempts to attack and discredit Daniel when I have covered the prophecy itself, so if you are only interested in that part scroll to the bottom of this article.
Please have your Bibles open to Daniel, the eleventh chapter because I am mostly not going to quote the verses here in the interests of time and space:
It might be helpful to initially go back a little into Chaper Ten in order to get the setting. An angel had come to Daniel in order to deliver to him the prophecy which was about to follow (Dan 10:10-21). Darius the Mede is mentioned here. Some have claimed this man never existed because he was less well-known than Cyrus, but prophecy only mentions those who are relevant from the point of view of prophecy – not necessarily of history as humanly recorded.
Clearly fulfilled. Actually, there were possibly nine more kings but not all of equal significance. The 'three more kings' believed to be referred to here were:
The fourth who attacked Greece was Xerxes (486-465 BC). He was defeated at Salamis in 480BC. The mention of 'three..then a fourth' is a Hebraism (note Psalm 30:15;,18,21,29; Amos 1:3,6) so there were other kings but not all were significant from the prophecy point of view.
The mighty king of Greece, of course, was Alexander the Great. Let us remind ourselves that Alexander was not even born when Daniel wrote these words!
Just as this verse states Alexander's kingdom was divided into four sections:
Just as this verse prophesied, the fourfold Kingdom never had the power of Alexander's Greece nor did it fall to Alexander's descendants.
The 'King of the South' at this point was Ptolemy I of Egypt (323-285BC) . The one of his princes who became strong was Seleucus Nicator (311-280BC) who had been an officer under Ptolemy I. He became king of Syria, the most powerful of Alexander's successors, and he added huge additional territories to his domain. Egypt can be readily identified as 'King of the South' simply because Egypt was the southernmost point of the Persian, Greek and Roman Empires.
Fulfilled in every detail. The “daughter” was Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II (285-246BC). She was given in marriage to Antiochus II, but was murdered. The plan had been an arranged marriage in order to achieve political gains for Egypt but it failed miserably. So discord and enmity ensued between Egypt and Syria. Antiochus II Theos of Syria was now the 'King of the North.'
'One of her family line' (NIV) and 'A shoot from her roots' (KJV) refers to Ptolemy III Euergetes of Egypt (246-221BC) who was apparently the brother of Berenice. He attacked and entered parts of Syria.
Ptolemy III enjoys a great victory and the Egyptians return home with great 'spoils of war.'
A reprisal raid by Syria on Egypt takes place after some considerable delay but it fails.
'His sons' widely believed to be a reference to Seleucus III (226-223BC) and Antiochus III (the Great) (223-187BC) of Syria. The 'fortress' mentioned here is understood to be Ptolemy's fortress at Raphia in the Holy Land.
The 'King of the South' is now Ptolemy IV Philopater (221-203 BC) of Egypt. The 'King of the North' is Antiochus III who was defeated with great loss at Raphia in 217 BC - just as this verse prophesied.
'Will slaughter many thousands' – According to the historian Polybius, Antiochus lost nearly 10,000 infantrymen at Raphia.
After 14 years Antiochus III returned with a great and well-equipped army against Syria. Fulfilled in the great victory of Antiochus the Great (III) over Egypt, circa 200BC.
In verse 14, the King of the South became Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt (203-181 BC). 'Violent men among your own people' is a reference to some Jews who joined with the army of Antiochus but without success – the Ptolemaic general Scopas crushed the rebellion in 200 or 199 BC.
The 'fortified city' was the Meditteranean port of Sidon which was seiged and captured by the Syrians at this time.
The Syrian armies also sweep into the Holy Land. It is known that Antiochus controlled the Holy Land by 197 BC.
Again, clearly fulfilled in history: Antiochus gave his daughter Cleopatra I in marriage to Ptolemy V in 194 BC. The idea was, apparently, to gain continual ongoing control of Egypt; this plan backfired and Cleopatra came to stand with the Egyptians against Syria!
The 'he' here is Antiochus. The 'coastlands' refer to Asia Minor and possibly also Greece. The 'commander' here is the Roman consul Lucius Scipio Asciaticus who defeated Antiochus in Asia Minor in 190 BC.
'Stumble and fall' – Antiochus died in 187 BC while attempting to plunder a temple in the province of Elymais.
The successor of Antiochus the Great was Seleucus IV (187-175 BC). The 'tax collector' believed to be his finance minister, Heliodorus. '..However, he will be destroyed' - Seleucus was the victim of a conspiracy believed to be engineered by Heliodorus.
The 'contemptible person' (NIV), or, 'vile person' (KJV) was Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochus IV) (175-164 BC), the son of Antiochus the Great. '..Who has not been given the honour of royalty.' (NIV) - Because he seized power since the rightful heir to the throne was still too young. As Bible commentator Joyce Baldwin points out, there is “universal agreement” that this refers to the evil, ambitious and greedy Antiochus Epiphanes.
'A prince of the covenant will be destroyed' – Onias III, the high priest, was murdered in 170 BC probably through the intriguing of Antiochus.
The meaning of this verse not entirely clear – actually, several meanings are possible but probably best not to speculate.
'Richest provinces' (NIV) probably the area of the Holy Land. Antiochus always sought to make his comparatively small band of supporters and cohorts rich and he saw no problem in stealing and plundering for that purpose.
The 'King of the South' was Ptolemy VI of Egypt – meanwhile another Syrian/Egyptian clash looms....
This verse appears to speak of the Egyptian king and his betrayal by those who shared his table and hospitality. Fulfilled when Ptolemy VI, son of Cleopatra and nephew of Antiochus was defeated by the treachery of some of his own leaders.
Ptolemy VI – who is in captivity to Antiochus at this point – meets with Antiochus Epiphanes but, under the pretense of a determination to forge a new understanding between them, they continue to plot against each other. But the Lord's purposes will not be thwarted.
There now follow some of the most despicable acts in history: Firstly, in returning to Syria, Antiochus decides to attack Jerusalem. In 169 BC he plunders the temple, setting up a garrison there and he massacres up to 80,000 Jews and sends up to another 40,000 into captivity (slavery). More can be learned of this terrible period in Jerusalem's history by consulting 1 Maccabees 1:20-28.
But Antiochus is not yet finished with his evil and despicable behaviour, he returns to the south for a second campaign two years later but now there are major differences because Rome – not Syria – is now the truly dominant power. The Roman historian Polybius tells us much more about this period. Even a fleet of ships from Cyprus is able to give Antiochus serious problems, though these were almost certainly under Roman control. He feels really 'cut down to size' and takes out his fury by once again attacking Jerusalem! But he shows favor to those who 'forsake the holy covenant.' (NIV) – referring to apostate Jews.
What was 'The abomination which causes desolation'? The altar to the pagan god Zeus was set up by Antiochus Epiphanes in the very temple of God at Jerusalem in 168 BC. Interestingly, this event prefigured other 'desolations' which Jesus later prophesied in Matthew 24:15. This desolation, therefore, could possibly have three fulfillments:
Antiochus in 168 BC.
The destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70.
The destruction of the spiritual temple of the Church (Ephesians 2:19-22) just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when all Christian witnessing receives a world-wide ban (Revelation 11:7-10).
The daily sacrifice had been ordained in Numbers 28:2-8. Antiochus forced the worship of another god in the very temple and ended the evening and morning sacrifice.
Antiochus courts apostate Jews who are rebellious toward the Lord.
'Those who are wise' – possibly referring to the heroic Maccabean brothers or to the more godly leaders of the Jewish Hasidim.
'A little help' – The early successes of the Jewish uprising which originated in Modein, led by Mattathias and his son Judas Maccabeus.
There is surprisingly widespread agreement among biblical scholars that much of the final ten verses of this chapter describe events which were not entirely fulfilled at the time of Antiochus. Daniel now appears to be prophesying of the more distant future. Most of these verses seem to be speaking about a future antichrist who actually exceeds the evil of Antiochus. Antiochus strived to replace the worship of God with pagan worship but he only succeeded for a time. Compare verses 36-39 with 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 13:5-8. The spirit of the antichrist has been a continual reality for the Church but the final antichrist will make an all-out assault on Christianity and will demand worship.
Verses 40-45 describe this final antichrist figure in his final exploits of war in which the Holy Land is clearly invaded, but I will say no more here since we have already covered our subject which shows how Daniel 11, up to verse 35 at any rate, was clearly and at times amazingly precisely fulfilled in the four hundred years leading up to the birth of Jesus.
The Failure of the Attempts to Discredit Daniel
As I mentioned earlier, Bible critics, sceptics and atheists realise that Daniel contains several astonishing prophecies which have been fulfilled in amazing detail (we have only looked at one of those prophecies here!), their response has been to claim that Daniel did not live when he claimed at all but that he lived much later - in the second century BC. This, they know, is the only way that this incredible book can be refuted. Most of their claims and arguments have long since been refuted yet they often still cling to them with the desperation of atheists proved wrong. Here are just a few points to remember when you encounter somebody who attempts to discredit this book by claiming it was written much later than the Scripture says:
The Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) which was written prior to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (who is vividly referred to in Daniel 11 as we have seen), contains the already completed book of Daniel.
We know without a shadow of doubt that Daniel was written before about 330 BC because Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 11.8.5 (c.93-94 A.D) records that when Alexander the Great approached Jerusalem, the High Priest Jaddua met him and showed Alexander part of the Book of Daniel where the Greeks would overcome the Persians. Alexander apparently was impressed, and left the Jews alone. Apparently, those who claim a 2nd century BC date for this book don't know their Josephus! But, in fact, the book is even much older than that...
Portions of Daniel are among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Applying paleographic techniques (basically, studying writing styles) it is obvious that the original document must be dated to a few hundred years before the 2nd century BC.
Babylonian excavations show that the details of Daniel are correct. M. Lenormant says, "The more the knowledge of cuneiform texts advances, the more is felt the necessity to revise the too hasty condemnation of the book of Daniel by the German exegetical school" (La Magie p.14) (quoted from 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.367)
Another telling point pointing to the authenticity of the biblical date for Daniel is that by the time of Herodotus (5th century BC) the name Belshazzar (whom Daniel mentions as a historical figure) could no longer be found from any record of antiquity. It was not until the late 19th century (AD, of course) when the Nabonidus Chronicle was finally published that the name of Belshazzar was again discovered! This strongly supports an early date for Daniel prior to the 5th century BC.
Robin A. Brace, 2005.
Archer, Gleason. "Daniel" The Expositors Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985.
Archer, Gleason. A Survey of the Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1974.
Baldwin, Joyce G. Daniel. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978.
Callahan, Tim. Bible Prophecy: Failure or Fulfillment? Millennium Press, 1996.
Colless, Brian E. "Cyrus the Persian as Darius the Mede in the Book of Daniel." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 56, 1992, pp. 113-26.
Driver, S.R. The Book of Daniel. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1901.
Driver, S. R. Introduction to the Old Testament. New York: Charles Scribers Sons, 1956.
Fewell, Dana Nolan. Circle of Soverignty: Plotting Politics in the Book of Daniel. Nashville: Abingdon, 1991.
Ford, Desmond. Daniel. Nashville: Southern Publishing Association, 1978.
Halley, Henry. Bible Handbook. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965.
Hamner, Raymond. The Book of Daniel. Cambridge Bible Commentary. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976.
Luck, G. Coleman. Daniel. Chicago: Moody Press, 1958.
Miller, Stephen R. Daniel. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1994.
Montgomery, James. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, The International Critical Commentary. New York: Charles Scribers Sons, 1972.
New Bible Commentary. London: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1953.
NIV Study Bible. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1993.
Porteous, Norman. Daniel: A Commentary. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1965.
Towner, W. Sibley. Daniel. Atlanta: John Knox, 1984.
Vermes, Geza. "Josephus' Treatment of the Book of Daniel." Journal of Jewish Studies, Autumn 1991, pp. 149-60.
Whitcomb, John C. Daniel. Chicago: Moody Press, 1985.
Here are links to some articles which consider this matter in some detail, I especially recommend the first such link:
A Defence of the Authenticity of the Book of Daniel
Daniel in the Critic's Den
Historical Dating of the Book of Daniel
Bible Dating Query From Daniel