What in the World is Daniel Talking About?

Posted on February 26, 2021


By David Ettinger

Have you ever read Chapter 11 of the Book of Daniel and asked yourself the question above? You would have had to – especially regarding verses 2-20 – as unless you are an historian, you would have no idea what is going on.

I came across a bunch of notes for different chapters of the Bible I wrote 25 or so years ago when I was teaching the books of Daniel and Revelation. So, if you’re interested in this verse-by-verse explanation of Daniel 11:2-20, get out your Bible, read each verse one at a time, then check the explanation here to know what’s going on. (This will make no sense unless you read the Bible verse first. So, if you don’t have a Bible with you, read this later.)

Intro Notes
* This portion of Daniel deals with the Intertestament Period (between Malachi and Matthew).

* It details the conflict between Syria and Egypt.

* It is the most detailed prophecy in all of Scripture.

Verse 2
The four kings:

* Cambyses (Cyrus’ son): 530-522 B.C.

* Pseudo-Smerdis: 522-521 B.C.

* Darius I Hystaspes: 521-485 B.C.

* Xerxes (Ahasuerus): 485-465 B.C. (Book of Esther)

Xerxes was the most powerful, influential, and wealthy of the four. He fought wars against Greece.

Verse 3
This verse speaks of Alexander the Great, who was:

1) The bronze belly and thighs of Nebuchadnezzar’s image (Daniel 2:32, 39).

2) The winged leopard (Daniel 7:6)

3) The prominent horn of the goat (Daniel 8:5-8).

Between 334-330 B.C., Alexander conquered Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and the lands of the Medo-Persian Empire.

Verse 4
Alexander died in 323 B.C. at the age of 32. Four generals succeeded him and divided up the Grecian kingdom:

1) Seleucus (Syria and Mesopotamia)

2) Ptolemy (Egypt)

3) Lysimachus (Thrace [consisting of Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania ­­– regions west of the Black Sea] and portions of Asia Minor.

4) Cassander (Macedonia, Greece, and the region north of Greece).

* There was great conflict between the Ptolemies (Egypt) and the Seleucids (Syria).

* The Ptolemies were the kings of the South; the Seleucids were the kings of the North (that is, south and north of Israel).

Verse 5
Ptolemy I Soter, a general of Alexander. The commander is Seleucus I Nicator (who ruled over Babylon). Nicator then took command of Babylonia, Media, and Syria.

Verse 6
* Ptolemy I Soter was succeeded by his son Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.).

* Seleucus was murdered in 282 B.C. and succeeded by his son Antiochus I Soter. He died, and his son Antiochus II Theos ruled from 262-246 B.C.

* Ptolemy II and Antiochus II were bitter enemies, but made an alliance in about 250 B.C. Ptolemy II gave his daughter Berenice in marriage to Antiochus II.

However, in order to marry Berenice, Ptolemy II had to divorce his wife Laodice. She, in turn, had Berenice killed. Laodice then poisoned Antiochus II and made her son Seleucus II Callinicus king (246-227 B.C.)

Verses 7-8
Berenice’s brother, Ptolemy II Evergetes (246-221 B.C.), succeeded his father (Ptolemy II) and set out to revenge the death of his sister. He defeated the Syrian army, put Laodice to death, and returned to Egypt with many spoils.

Verses 9-10
* Seleucus II Callinicus sought to invade Egypt, but was unsuccessful.

* After his death (by a fall from his horse), he was succeeded by his son Seleucus II Soter (227-223 B.C.), who was killed by conspirators.

* His brother Antiochus III the Great, became the ruler (223-187 B.C.). He attacked Egypt and pushed them back to Israel’s southern border.

Verses 11-13
Ptolemy IV Philopater (221-204 B.C.) was at first successful in his war with Antiochus III until Antiochus raised a larger army and drove back Ptolemy IV.

Verses 14-17
* Phillip V of Macedonia joined with Antiochus III against Egypt.

* Many Jews also joined Antiochus, perhaps hoping to gain independence from both Syria and Egypt. However, their efforts failed.

* Antiochus then sought to take control of Israel.

* The fortified city referred to here is Sidon (in Lebanon).

* By 199 B.C., Antiochus finally took control of Israel.

* Wanting peace with Egypt, Antiochus gave his daughter in marriage to Ptolemy V Ephiphanes, but the alliance did not last.

Verses 18-19
* Antiochus III then turned his attention to conquering Asia Minor in 197 B.C. and Greece in 192 B.C.

* However, an army commander named Cornelius Scipio was dispatched to Rome to turn back Antiochus.

* Antiochus returned to Syria and died in 187 B.C. He failed to reunite Alexander’s empire.

Verse 20
The son of Antiochus III, Seleucus IV Philopater (187-176 B.C.), heavily taxed his people to pay Rome, but was poisoned by his treasurer Heliodorus.

Next …
* Attention now turns to Antiochus IV Ephiphanes (verses 21-35). He is the son of Antiochus III the Great, and brother of Seleucus IV Philopater. He ruled from 175-163 B.C. He is given as much attention as the other rulers combined.

* He is considered the “foreshadow” of the Antichrist to come.

* “Epiphanes” means “Illustrious One.” He was nicknamed “Epimanes,” which means “Madman.”

* He is the “little horn” of Daniel 8:9-12; 23-25.

* He is the “foreshadow” of the “little horn” of Daniel 7:8 who in a future day will desecrate and seek to destroy Israel. (I know, 2 “little horns” – but if you study it, one is Antiochus Ephiphanes, and the other is the Antichrist to come.)

Don’t forget, all of the above is prophecy, written in about 538 B.C., hundreds of years BEFORE these events occurred. God is the author of all history, past, present, and future.

I have a bunch of these, particularly verse-by-verse breakdowns of most of the chapters of the Book of Revelation. These are actually my teaching notes. If you find this interesting and want more, let me know in the comments. Thanks!