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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 19

Daniel 11: The Perfect Portrait

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Let’s pray together:

Our Father,

As we continue our quest in the fascinating word of Bible prophecy, we are continually amazed at how precisely You have foretold the great upheavals of history, even centuries in advance!

We humbly ask You to guide us once again, as we take up another passage of the precious Word You have given us.

In Jesus Christ we pray.


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Daniel 10:1

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar.

And the thing was true, but the time appointed was long.

And he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.


Before taking up the prophecy of Daniel 11, let’s look at the context.

The year was 536 B.C., 15 years after the vision of Daniel 8. Babylon had fallen into the hands of the Medo-Persian Empire three years before.

Having gained the confidence of the new king, Daniel remained counsellor at court.

Aged 90, the old prophet received his last vision, the last but not the least!

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Daniel, just as John will later, first meets Jesus Christ in vision

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Daniel 10:9,10

I was in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.

And, behold, a hand touched me, which set me on my knees and on the palms of my hands.


Daniel 8:16,18

«Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.» (...)

Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright.


Daniel was stunned before this impressive vision.

But, just as previously, the angel Gabriel was sent to give him back his strength.

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Daniel 10:11,14

«O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you. (...)

Now I am come to make you understand what shall befall your people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.»


Gabriel was just about to give Daniel an astonishingly precise vision concerning the kingdoms to come.

But let’s carefully note that the events which will be revealed concern «what shall befall your people». So the vision takes an interest only in the nations whose actions will affect the people of God, in one way or another.

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Daniel 10:1; 11:1

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed to Daniel. (...)

«Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.»


In addition to Cyrus II the Great, king of the Medo-Persian Empire, the prophecy makes a reference to Darius the Mede, who was governor of Babylon within this same empire.

Daniel was counsellor to Darius, who sadly sent him to the lion’s den, a story with a happy ending (please read Daniel chapter 6 for more details).

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Daniel 11:2

And now will I show you the truth.

Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia.


As foretold, three more kings arose after Cyrus II the Great:

1. Cambyses II, who reigned from 530 B.C. to 522 B.C.;

2. The False Smerdis, known as Bardiya, brother of Cambyses II. He usurped his throne, but reigned only for six months in 522 B.C.;

3. Darius I, son of Hystapes, who reigned from 522 B.C. to 486 B.C.

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Daniel 11:2

And the fourth [king] shall be far richer than they all.


Esther 1:1,3,4

In the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even to Ethiopia, over a hundred and seven and twenty provinces) (...) he made a feast to all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him.

He showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, even a hundred and fourscore days.


As foretold, the fourth king, Xerxes I, also called Ahasuerus, son of Darius I, was incredibly rich.

He reigned from 486 B.C. to 465 B.C.

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Daniel 11:2

The fourth [king] shall be far richer than they all.

And by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.


Greece remained the only significant area in the eastern Mediterranean outside the Persian domination.

Xerxes laid plans to conquer it: according to the historian Herodotus, more than 40 nations furnished troops for Xerxes’ army.

Two battles were held: in the Bay of Salamis, in 480 B.C., the Greeks sank the Persian fleet; then at Plataea, in 479 B.C., Xerxes was decisively defeated when he lost his land forces.

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Daniel 11:3

And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.


Daniel 7:6

I beheld, and see another, like a leopard, which had on the back of it four wings of a fowl.

The beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.


Then, at the head of the Greek Empire, Alexander the Great overcame the Medo-Persian Empire.

As in the prophecy of Daniel chapter 7, the word «dominion» is attributed to him.

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Daniel 11:3,4

And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.

And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven.


Daniel 8:8

Therefore the he-goat waxed very great.

And when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.


Alexander died at the age of 32, giving way to his four generals: Lysimachus, Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus (see the previous lesson «The Ram and the Goat»).

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Daniel 11:4

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.


Daniel 8:22

Now that [horn] being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.


The parallel with Daniel 8 is perfect: both prophecies notice that the division into four parts would contribute to the weakening of the Greek Empire.

Moreover, the prophecy of Daniel chapter 11 specifies that the kingdom of Alexander the Great would not be given «to his posterity»: in fact, his generals were the ones who inherited the kingdom.

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Daniel 11:5

And the king of the South shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion.


Daniel 11:5-15 then focuses on the wars between the two kingdoms emerging from the Greek Empire.

The two enemy clans were:

- the North, represented by the dynasty of the Seleucids, ruling over Syria;

- and the South, represented by the dynasty of the Ptolemies, ruling over Egypt.

The conflict began with the very generals of Alexander the Great: Ptolemy I Soter dominated first, but afterwards, Seleucus I Nicator became the most powerful.

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Daniel 11:6

And 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.


To establish peace, Antiochus II Theos, king of Syria (North), grandson of Seleucus I Nicator, repudiated his first wife Laodice, and married Berenice, a daughter of the king of Egypt (South), Ptolemy II Philadelphus, in 252 B.C.

But, unfortunately for Berenice, things turned out badly...

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Daniel 11:6

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.


Antiochus II and Ptolemy II both died in 246 B.C., making the agreement meaningless.

Laodice then came back, and had Berenice and her son murdered, thus giving back the throne to her own son, Seleucus II Callinicus.

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Daniel 11:7,8

But 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.

And he 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.


Ptolemy III Euergetes, brother of Berenice, avenged his sister by overcoming Seleucus II Callinicus in 241 B.C.

He also brought back to Egypt some 2500 gold and silver idols.

And as foretold, with a 24-year reign, Ptolemy III Euergetes «continued more years» than Seleucus II Callinicus, whose reign lasted only 21 years.

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Daniel 11:9 (NKJV)

Then the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land.


Satisfied, Ptolemy III Euergetes (South) never again attacked the Seleucids (North).

But the latter did not forget: Seleucus II Callinicus re-established himself in Syria, and tried to attack Egypt in 240 B.C. But he suffered a bitter defeat, as his land forces and his fleet were completely destroyed.

Hurt and empty-handed, he «returned to his own land».

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Daniel 11:10

But 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.


Seleucus III Ceraunus Soter and Antiochus III the Great, sons of Seleucus II, decided to avenge their father.

Antiochus III the Great took the matter in hand. First, he recaptured the port of Antioch.

Then, he set out upon a systematic campaign to conquer Palestine from his rival, Ptolemy IV Philopator, during which time he penetrated Transjordan.

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Daniel 11:11,12

And 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.

And when he has 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.


Ptolemy IV (South) counter-attacked and defeated Antiochus III (North) at Raphia, in Palestine, in 217 B.C., killing more than 10,000 enemies.

But resting on his laurels, he didn’t see that a reprisal was being prepared...

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Daniel 11:13

For 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.


16 years later, in 201 B.C., Antiochus III the Great (North) took advantage of the weakness of Egypt, ruled at that time by Ptolemy V Epiphanes, a boy under ten years of age.

He attacked him and took back Syria and Palestine, pushing on his conquests as far as the limits of India.

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Daniel 11:14

And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the South: also the robbers of your people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.


Vulnerable, the young Ptolemy V had to face at the same time Antiochus III and his associate Philip of Macedon, the current successor to Cassander, as well as the Egyptians, who were rebelling against their Greek overlords.

Taking advantage of this conflict between Syria and Egypt, some fanatic Jews tried to break free from the foreign dominion, but failed.

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Daniel 11:15

So 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.


Seeing the threat over Ptolemy V Epiphanes, Rome, who had had the guardianship of the young king since he was 5, forbade Antiochus III the Great to come back into Egypt.

However, the latter did not take this warning seriously, and seized two fortified cities: Gaza, in 201 B.C., and Sidon, in 198 B.C.

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Daniel 11:16

But he that comes against [the king of the North] 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.


Daniel 8:9 (NKJV)

And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great (...) toward the Glorious Land.


But Rome retaliated, and overcame Antiochus III in 191 B.C.

Afterwards, Rome, at the battle of Pydna, in 168 B.C., crushed the last traces of independence in the Greek Empire.

Then, in 64 B.C., Roman general Pompey invaded Palestine, «the Glorious Land».

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Daniel 11:17

He 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.


Rome continued its conquests under the command of Julius Caesar.

Cleopatra VII, daughter of the king of Egypt Ptolemy XII Auletes Philadelphus, became the mistress of Julius Caesar, but the latter never married her.

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Daniel 11:18,19

After this shall he turn his face to 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 on him.

Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.


After having conquered many isles of the north coast of Africa and of Asia Minor, Julius Caesar returned to Rome, where he was proclaimed dictator in 46 B.C.

But his close relatives, led by Brutus, his adopted son, and Cassius, were plotting against him, and murdered him in 44 B.C.

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Daniel 11:20

Then 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.


The great-nephew of Julius Caesar, Octavius, succeeded him, thus becoming Caesar Augustus.

Under his reign, Rome knew its greatest hours of glory.

Just as foretold, he died peacefully in his bed at the age of 76, in A.D. 14, «neither in anger, nor in battle».

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Daniel 11:20

Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom.


Luke 2:1

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.


Just as foretold, Caesar Augustus was at the origin of a universal tax system.

This is why a census was organized at the time of Jesus’ birth, as reported in the Gospel according to Luke.

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Daniel 11:21

And 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.


Caesar Augustus founded the official position of Roman emperor.

Because of that, the word «augustus» soon became synonymous with «emperor», and every Roman emperor was afterwards known as an «Augustus».

This succession of emperors finally gave way to another type of rulers, described here as «a vile person», without «the honor of the kingdom».

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Daniel 11:21

And 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.


In fact, from verse 21 to the end of chapter 11, the prophecy looks into the actions of this «vile person», who is also called «the king of the North».

Who is this king of the North? This will be the subject of a future lesson.

But before ending this lesson, let’s look at a few extracts of these last verses of Daniel 11.

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Daniel 11:25,40,41,44

He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South with a great army. (...)

The king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships. (...)

He shall enter also into the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown. (...)

He shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.


The story of «the king of the North» is marked by the number and the violence of the wars he made against his various enemies.

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Daniel 11:23,32,36,37

And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. (...)

And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries. (...)

He shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods. (...)

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, (...) nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.


The prophecy reveals two other main traits of the king of the North:

- his hypocrisy, by which his power grew;

- and his great arrogance.

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Daniel 11:28,30-33

His heart shall be against the holy covenant. (...)

He shall (...) return, and have indignation against the holy covenant. (...)

And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength. (...)

But the people that do know their God shall be strong. (...) Yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.


And the last major clue: the main target of the attacks of the king of the North is God’s people, faithful to His Word and His will.

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Matthew 7:8

He that seeks finds.


Although the identity of the king of the North will be revealed only in a future lesson, it is possible to seek right now to find who he is.

A little research with a good History book will quickly answer this question.

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Daniel 10:1,21 (NKJV)

A message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar.

The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. (...)

«I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth.»


The truthfulness of the prophecy of Daniel 11 is asserted twice: «the message was true», «what is noted in the Scripture of Truth».

Until today, this prophecy has been rigorously accurate.

What does the future hold for us? Just like Daniel, let’s all «understand the message».

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Let’s end this lesson with a prayer:

Lord, our God,

The prophecy of Daniel 11 greatly amazes us by its astonishing accuracy.

The complete fulfillment in history of the foretold events calls us to give heed to what You announce for today.

Through Your Holy Spirit and Your inspired Word, please help us to properly prepare ourselves for the time of the end and for the return of Your Son Jesus Christ.

In His precious name we pray.


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