February 27, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXVI: Evil In A Long Line Of Evil-Part I: Belligerents

Evil and Deception From A Deceptive Family Tree

In the previous posts this vision was introduced; now its contents are revealed—a history of key events leading up to the time of the end. Gabriel begins with the Persian period, the time in which Daniel was then living, making reference to four of its kings (v. 2). Next he describes the Greek Empire under Alexander and its subsequent division into four sections after the great conqueror’s death (vv. 3–4). Two of these divisions, the Ptolemaic and the Seleucid, receive special attention because of their important relationship to Israel (vv. 5–20). The explanation in 11:2–20 is a detailed explanation of the extremely wicked persecutor, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The description then reaches ahead to the worst of all…the Antichrist in verses 36–45.

The description of Antichrist’s is terrifying but it is tempered with the end result of God ending him and his reign. The entire scope of the remainder of Daniel centers around two individuals, Antiochus and Antichrist. The accuracy with which the prophecies are put forward about some of the more immediate prophecies: About Persia, Greece, etc. are uncanny (supernatural).

Prophecies Regarding Persia (11:2)

Gabriel reveals “The truth”. We see that “three more kings” arising from Persia refers to those that came after Cyrus who was reigning at the time of this vision (Daniel 10:1).
  • Xerxes I (486–465 B.C.) is clearly identified as the fourth king by the description of his great wealth and expedition against Greece.
History shows us that the kings who ruled between Cyrus and Xerxes I were:
  • Cambyses (530–522)
  • Smerdis (or Gaumata; 522)
  • Darius I Hystaspes (522–486)
As with the issue of Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar, the kings after Xerxes not mentioned most likely because the later Persian rulers were not critical to the writer’s purpose. I suppose this is to keep the focus on the mighty king that would arise. In history we know this to be Alexander and he comes head-to-head with Xerxes I. Later Alexander the Great retaliates after a massive campaign(s) against Greece by Xerxes I. In 331 BC the empire was dealt its death blow by Alexander the Great. One of the battles of Persia against Greece was the infamous Battle of Thermopylae (480 B.C.) of which we have a disastrous modern Hollywood rewrite of history of called “300

Prophecies Regarding Greece (11:3–4)

Nearly all readers of Scripture and scholars agree that the “mighty king” of v. 3 is Alexander the Great (336–323 B.C.), the ruler who brought about the downfall of the Persian Empire. There is no one else in history that even comes close to meeting the description in Scripture as well as Alexander does. The description of this king and his kingdom are unmistakable. With Greece in control we see the rise of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Seleucid-Greek ruler, who proceeded out of one of the four divisions of this mighty king’s realm after the enigmatic death of Alexander. After conquering the known world, he died in Babylon in 323 B.C., possibly of a fever caused by malaria. After his death the empire came to be divided into four sections (Daniel 8:8, 11:4) by his military commanders. The rulers were known as the Diadochi meaning “successors” (Daniel 7:6, 8:8). Alexander’s sons were both murdered, so no part of his empire went to “his descendants.” We see the remarkable accuracy of a prophecy given centuries before.

Prophecies Regarding Egypt and Syria (11:5–20)

Daniel 11 elaborates on the history of the conflicts between two divisions of the Greek Empire: The Ptolemaic (Egyptian) and The Seleucid (Syrian) until the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–163 B.C.). The other divisions are irrelevant as they do not directly affect God’s chosen people on Israel. From the Seleucid kingdom would come Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the “little horn” of chap. 8 who is the prototype of the end times Antichrist alluded to in Daniel 7 verses.

We then see a literal foretelling of history….and I do mean literal. I challenge anyone to tell me God is not sovereign and omniscient after reading this next foray into real history

Ptolemy I (Soter) & Seleucus I (Nicator) (11:5)

The “king of the South” (v. 5) is Ptolemy I Soter (323–285 B.C.), the ruler of Egypt (v. 11:8) where the king of the South’s land is stated to be Egypt who had been a highly capable general under Alexander. “One of his commanders” alludes to Seleucus I Nicator (312/311–280 B.C.), who had been a lesser general under Alexander. He was appointed a satrap of Babylonia in 321 B.C., but when another general, Antigonus, seized Babylonia, Seleucus fled to Ptolemy Soter in Egypt to serve under him, thus becoming “one of his commanders.” Antigonus was defeated in 312 B.C. at Gaza, and Seleucus returned to his former domain and he greatly increased his power, eventually controlling more territory than Ptolemy. The “Seleucid era” was launched and it was the largest of all the divisions of the Greek Empire.

Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) & Antiochus II (Theos) (11:6)

From the start there were constant conflicts arose between the kingdoms of the Ptolemies (Egypt) and the Seleucids (Syria). Ptolemy I dies and conflicts continue under his son Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 B.C.), who of all people according to tradition prompted the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek called the Septuagint LXX. Ptolemy II made a peace treaty with the Seleucid Antiochus II Theos (261–246 B.C.) (v. 11:6). Ptolemy’s daughter (v.6) “the daughter of the king of the South” marries Antiochus (v.6) “the king of the North” to form and alliance between the two kingdoms. Her son would then become heir to the Seleucid throne. So much for the plans of men and much to the glory of God we see things unfold as God has said, not as man has planned. Antiochus was already married to a woman named Laodice who succeeded in murdering Antiochus and a majority of the rest of the family therefore their “power” did not “remain.” Laodice then ruled as queen regent (246–226 B.C.).

Ptolemy III (Euergetes) And Seleucus II (Callinicus) (11:7–9)

Ptolemy III Euergetes (246–221 B.C.) succeeds his father Philadelphus to the throne of Egypt. He would rule “in his father’s place” In retaliation for his sister’s murder, Ptolemy III attacks Syria “king of the North”. The Egyptian king soundly defeated the Syrian forces and Laodice disappears from history (killed). Ptolemy seized Syria’s “gods” and other valuables (11:8). Ptolemy makes a peace treaty with Seleucus II in 240 B.C. in order to pursue further conquests. There is no record that Seleucus II ever attempted an invasion of Egypt proper. Evidently this campaign was brief with a swift “retreat” to Syria.

Seleucus II died in 226 B.C. and his sons: Seleucus III (226–223 B.C.) and Antiochus III (223–187 B.C.) continued the wars (prepare for war) with the Ptolemies (Daniel 11:10). Seleucus III was murdered after a brief three-year reign, and his brother, Antiochus III, came to power. In response Ptolemy IV Philopator (221–203 B.C.) launched a counterattack (Daniel 11:11). Both armies for this time in history were large. When the battle ended, Ptolemy had won and his heart was “filled with pride.” (Daniel 11:12)

No longer are the Ptolemies ascendant and Daniel 11:13–35 describe next period of Seleucid supremacy.

There were many insurrections within Egypt. “The violent men” or “the sons of the violent ones” speak of robbers and murderers in the OT. Here it is a label for those Jews who aided Antiochus. These Israelites “will rebel” against Egypt (or against God) “in fulfillment of the vision” (Daniel 11:14). The forces were ultimately defeated, he punished the leaders of Jerusalem and Judah who rebelled against the Ptolemaic government. General Scopas of Ptolemaic Egypt engages the Syrian forces at the Battle of Panium and suffered severe losses. General Scopas finally surrendered in 198 B.C in Sidon. With the defeat of the Ptolemaic Egyptians at Sidon, Antiochus (“the invader”) acquired complete control over Phoenicia and Palestine. The “Beautiful Land” becomes a permanent possession of the Syrian Empire.

Syrians forced terms of peace “an alliance” upon the Egyptian king. To assure the alliance agreement Antiochus gives his “daughter,” Cleopatra, to Ptolemy V as a wife hoping he could gain further control over Egypt. The plan did not succeed for Cleopatra loved her husband and supported the Ptolemaic cause completely (v.17). Daniel 11:18–19 prophesy Antiochus’s defeat and end. Having vanquished the Egyptians, in 197 B.C. or shortly thereafter Antiochus turned “his attention to the coastlands,” the islands or countries around the Mediterranean. In 191 B.C. the Romans, fighting with their Greek allies, routed the Syrians at Thermopylae (a coastal pass) and forced them to withdraw from Greece and flee to Asia Minor. By 188 B.C. the Romans forced Antiochus to sign the Treaty of Apamea. After this humiliating defeat, Antiochus returned to his country, where he was killed by an angry mob in 187 B.C (Daniel 11:19). In desperate need of funds, particularly those required to meet the indemnity payments to Rome, the Syrian ruler pillaged the temple of Zeus (Bel) at Elymais but was killed in the process, evidently by the citizens defending their sanctuary.

Seleucus IV Philopator (11:20)

The son of Antiochus III was Seleucus IV Philopator (187–175 B.C.), who sent Heliodorus to collect money to pay the thousand talents demanded annually by the Romans as part of the treaty at Apamea. According to 2 Macc 3:7–40, Seleucus even sent Heliodorus to plunder the temple in Jerusalem in order to provide funds for the Syrian treasury, but a frightful vision of mighty angels prevented this sacrilege. Seleucus IV reigned only “a few years” and was not killed by an angry mob “in anger” like his father or “in battle.”

Enter: Antiochus IV Epiphanes (prototype Antichrist). He will control the land and “will have the power to destroy it”. When he enters Jerusalem in 198 B.C., he receives a warm welcome, for most looked upon him as a “supporter or benefactor” Within twenty-three years his change in government would lead to “hell on earth” for the Jewish people of God.

Prophecies Regarding Antiochus IV Epiphanes (11:21–35)

Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a “contemptible person” (Jeremiah 22:28) by the Scripture because from the Jewish (and human in general) view point he was a monstrosity. He severely persecuted Jews, massacring them. He referred to himself as the “Manifest One,” or “Illustrious One” as printed on coins of the time (see post: Apocalypse Prophecy XX). Most people just called him Epimanes or the “madman.” English translations that state “He will invade the kingdom” is better understood “he will come to the kingdom”. Antiochus did not become king of Syria by means of a military invasion. “When its people feel secure” is the idea that Antiochus would come in a time of false security or that he would come “unawares”. In 169 B.C. Ptolemy VI Philometor (181–146 B.C.) launched an attack to regain territories (Palestine and Phoenicia) lost to the Syrians, but his “overwhelming army” was defeated by Antiochus’s forces (Daniel 11:22-23). Ptolemy is called “a prince of the covenant” because he agreed (made a covenant) to become an ally of Antiochus if the Syrians would help him regain his throne in Egypt, which had been taken by his younger brother, Ptolemy VII Euergetes II (Physcon). Antiochus was thrilled to make such a pact, for he felt that it would give him a foothold in Egypt. Ptolemy regained his throne and broke this agreement and allied himself with his brother Ptolemy VII to dislodge Antiochus’s troops on the border of Egypt. When people felt “secure” or “without warning” Antiochus invades the richest provinces and plundered their treasures. These areas included Egypt, Judea, and other provinces. In some cases it is noted in historical sources that Antiochus gave gifts to the people. These appear or seem to suggest the idea of dividing the spoils of war

He had grandiose plans to conquer “fortresses” but his success would be “only for a short time” or a “time decreed by God.”

God would cut this monster off.

The “plots devised” against Ptolemy (Daniel 11:25-26) seem to include Antiochus’s plans Cumulatively these things prevented Ptolemy from successfully “standing” against the Syrians. It appears Ptolemy’s trusted counselors turned traitorous and purposely and unwisely urged the young king to recapture Syria and Palestine. This then gains the anger of Antiochus. In v27 “The figure of speaking lies at the same table” is significant because, to the oriental, deception practiced at a table of hospitality was the very lowest in kind. The plan of Antiochus and Ptolemy to control all Egypt was “to no avail.” Ptolemy VI was installed as king in Memphis, but Ptolemy VII still ruled in Alexandria. Later Ptolemy VI established a joint rule with his brother, Ptolemy VII.

We see though that regardless of man’s finagling and plans, God is sovereign and this monster and his plans would come to an end "at the appointed time".

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