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Now in those times many shall rise up against the king of the South. Also, violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision, but they shall fall. So the king of the North shall come and build a siege mound, and take a fortified city; and the forces of the South shall not withstand him. Even his choice troops shall have no strength to resist. But he who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and no one shall stand against him. He shall stand in the Glorious Land with destruction in his power. (Daniel 11:14–16).


Antiochus the Great persuaded Philip of Macedon to unite with him and attack Egypt. In response to this alliance, Ptolemy Epiphanes sent his general Scopas into Syria to engage them, but he was routed and a large part of his army was destroyed.

Scopas was a Greek from the region of Aetolia, which is the region in Greece on the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth just north of Achaea. After being on the losing side in what is called the Social War, 220 b.c. to 217 b.c., Scopas moved to Alexandria Egypt where Ptolemy put in him in charge of part of his army and sent him to fight against Antiochus and Philip. His campaign was successful at first, but he was later defeated at the Battle of Panium in 200 b.c. He continued in favor with Ptolemy after his defeat and he was given positions of authority in the kingdom. In time he determined to seize control of the kingdom for himself, but was caught and executed in 196 b.c.

The prophecy says that “violent men of your people” come to the aid of Antiochus in defeating Ptolemy. The King James Version calls them robbers; the Greek word is per-eets, meaning violent or tyrant. These were Jews of questionable reputation who revolted against Ptolemy and joined with Antiochus. Their motive was not political or a desire to free themselves from the rule of Ptolemy; they joined Antiochus for a misguided religious reason, which the prophecy says is to “exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision.” Their goal was to help Antiochus defeat Ptolemy so they could go to Egypt and build a temple such as that in Jerusalem. Their inspiration was based on Isaiah 30:18–25, which they took to mean that the Jews and Egyptians should be one people. As with all fanatics, they read into the Scripture what they want to believe and ignore the true meaning. To the open-minded there is nothing in that text that suggests what they wanted to believe:


Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you. And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. You will also defile the covering of your graven images of silver, and the ornament of your molded images of gold. You will throw them away as an unclean thing; you will say to them, “Get away!” Then He will give the rain for your seed with which you sow the ground, and bread of the increase of the earth; it will be fat and plentiful. In that day your cattle will feed in large pastures. Likewise the oxen and the young donkeys that work the ground will eat cured fodder, which has been winnowed with the shovel and fan. There will be on every high mountain and on every high hill rivers and streams of waters, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.


Unfortunately for these Jews, while they helped Antiochus to defeat Ptolemy, their actions foreshadowed calamites that would later fall on themselves as Antiochus turned on them and plundered their land to feed his army. The prophecy says, “But he [Antiochus] who comes against him [Ptolemy] shall do according to his own will, and no one shall stand against him. He shall stand in the Glorious Land with destruction in his power.” It might have served them well if they had checked out Daniel’s prophecy before they joined hands with Antiochus.




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 to destroy it; but she shall not stand with him, or be for him. After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands, and shall take many. But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end; and with the reproach removed, he shall turn back on him. Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found. (Daniel 11:17–19).


The Jews, here referred to as the upright ones, rebel against Antiochus because of the mistreatment they received at his hand. They no side with Ptolemy.

Antiochus tries another approach. Rather than to continue the war he give “the daughter of women,” his daughter Cleopatra, in marriage to Ptolemy Epiphanes. Ptolemy was only eighteen years of age when he came to the throne and the idea of marrying his daughter to him made sense in his mind. To make the deal more attractive, he promised to give Ptolemy some land, including Judea, as her dowry. At first impression this seems to be counter-productive to the whole purpose of the war he had been waging. But, in his mind, he was thinking the marriage would eventually give him complete control over Syria, Cilicia, Lycia, and Egypt as well as Judea. However, the prophecy indicates differently as it predicts “she shall not stand with him, or be for him.” It seems that Cleopatra loved her husband more than her father and she took the side of Ptolemy against him.

The prophecy goes on to say, “After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands, and shall take many.” Having given up on defeating Ptolemy at this time, he decides to take on the Romans. He conquered many of the islands of the coastland of Asia Minor that belonged to Italy and Greece. He successfully invaded Greece in 192 b.c. and was even elected commander in chief of the Aetolian League. However, in 191 b.c. the Romans defeated him at Thermopylae driving him back to Asia Minor. From there things became worse for Antiochus the Great. By 188 b.c. he was forced to leave Asia Minor. He began an expedition to the east and was killed in Elymais, Persia in 187 b.c. as the prophecy predicted: “he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.”




There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; but within a few days he shall be destroyed, but not in anger or in battle. And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue. With the force of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant. And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time. (Daniel 11:20–24).


The successor to Antiochus the Great was his older son, Seleucus Philopater, who reigned from 187 b.c. to 175 b.c. Due to the defeat of the Seleucids by Rome, the Seleucids were under a heavy war-tribute. Seleucus did not have the money to pay the tribute and decided the solution was to “impose taxes on the glorious kingdom;” that is, he sent a man named Heliodorus to Jerusalem to take all that was in the temple treasury to pay the Romans. The New Living Bible puts an accurate paraphrase on verse 20: “His successor will be remembered as the king who sent a tax collector into Israel, but after a very brief reign, he will die mysteriously, neither in battle nor in riot.” Seleucus, this king remembered as the one who sent a tax collector into Israel was assassinated by his own tax collector, Heliodours. He did not die in battle or in a riot.

After Heliodorus assassintated Seleucus, he seized the throne for himself. The true heir to the throne was Demetrius, the older son of Seleucus; however, he was in Rome being held as a hostage and was not able to come to the throne. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a younger brother of Demetrius, steps in and ousts Heliodorus and puts the infant son of Seleucus, also named Antiochus, on the throne as the formal head of state. In just a few years, Antiochus Epiphanes had the young king murdered and took the throne for himself, reigning from 175 b.c. until his death in 164 b.c.

Verse 21 identifies Epiphanes as “a vile person.” This was not by chance and, if anything, it may be an understatement. The following commentaries provide us with some background on this “vile person.”


He shall be a vile person. He called himself Epiphanes—the illustrious, but his character was the reverse of his surname. The heathen writers describe him to be an odd-humoured man, rude and boisterous, base and sordid. He would sometimes steal out of the court into the city, and herd with any infamous company incognito—in disguise he made himself a companion of the common sort, and of the basest strangers that came to town. He had the most unaccountable whims, so that some took him to be silly, others to be mad. Hence he was called Epimanes—the madman. He is called a vile person, for he had been a long time a hostage at Rome for the fidelity of his father when the Romans had subdued him; and it was agreed that, when the other hostages were exchanged, he should continue a prisoner at large. (Matthew Henry).


This was Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes—the Illustrious. They did not give him the honor of the kingdom: he was at Athens, on his way from Rome, when his father died; and Heliodorus had declared himself king, as had several others. But Antiochus came in peaceably, for he obtained the kingdom by flatteries. He flattered Eumenes, king of Pergamus, and Attalus his brother, and got their assistance. He flattered the Romans, and sent ambassadors to court their favor, and pay them the arrears of the tribute. He flattered the Syrians, and gained their concurrence; and as he flattered the Syrians, so they flattered him, giving him the epithet of Epiphanes—the Illustrious. But that he was what the prophet here calls him, a vile person, is fully evident from what Polybius says of him, from Athenians, lib. v.: “He was every man's companion: he resorted to the common shops, and prattled with the workmen: he frequented the common taverns, and ate and drank with the meanest fellows, singing debauched songs,” etc., etc. On this account a contemporary writer, and others after him, instead of Epiphanes, called him Epimanes—the Madman. (Adam Clarke).


This evil successor is Antiochus Epiphanes, “the illustrious,” who vindicates the claims of the royal line against Heliodorus. He was later nicknamed Epimanes, i.e., “the madman,” which rhymes with Epiphanes. This king caroused with the lowest class of people, bathed with them in public baths, and foolishly joked and threw rocks at passersby. His crafty method of substituting himself in his nephew Demetrius's place as rightful heir of the throne made him well deserving of the term “evil.” (Classic Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown).


The prophecy says that Epiphanes come in with the “force of a flood.” Epiphanes arrive in Judea and overthrew all competitors for the crown. He also removed “the prince of the covenant;” that is, Onias the high priest. Epiphanes removed him from the office because Jason, the brother of Onias, gave his a large sum of money in order to become the high priest. There is no honor among thieves and there is no honor among the politicians of greed; Epiphanes was given a larger sum of money by Menelaus, who was not of the Aaronic lineage and was not eligible for the priesthood. Menelaus was made high priest and had Jason assassinated.

The prophecy says that Epiphanes enters peaceably into the richest provinces. This may sound innocuous to modern Western ears, but it is indicative of the vileness of this man and his politics. Adam Clarke helps us to understand what this means: 


He became profuse in his liberalities, and scattered among them the prey of his enemies, the spoil of temples, and the riches of his friends, as well as his own revenues. He spent much in public shows, and bestowed largesses among the people. We are told in 1 Maccabees 3:30, that “in the liberal giving of gifts he abounded above all the kings that went before him.” These are nearly the words of the prophet; and perhaps without any design to copy them on the part of the apocryphal writer. He would sometimes go into the streets, and throw about a handful of money, crying out, “Let him take it, to whom Fortune sends it.


The prophecy also says that he would do what his fathers and forefathers were not able to do. In verse 23 he makes a league that eventually gives him control of Egypt, which no Seleucid king had ever accomplished. The Classic Commentary explains:


. . . referring to the alliance that was made between Antiochus Epiphanes and Ptolemy VII. After early military successes by Ptolemy VII (Philometer) against Antiochus Epiphanes, the tables turned and Antiochus took Ptolemy captive. The Egyptians, thinking they had lost their king for good, assigned his younger brother Ptolemy Physcon to the throne. Act deceitfully—Antiochus worked deceitfully by turning again to support Ptolemy VII (Philometer), invading Egypt against Ptolemy Physcon, and returning Ptolemy VII (Philometer) to the throne. In this way, Antiochus Epiphanes was able to force an alliance with Egypt and demand all the advantages. Antiochus, in essence, took control of the Egyptian kingdom, making it a part of his own. with a small number of people—He was able to take control of Egypt without a great army because he did it through deceit.

He shall do that which his fathers have not done—His mastery of Egypt was something never done before, and a feat envied by all his predecessors. disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches—But he will only share his conquered lands with his followers (1 Maccabees 1:19). for a time—Antiochus had unopposed control in Egypt for only a short time. The alliance soon wore thin and Ptolemy Philometer made an alliance with his deposed brother Physcon to push out Antiochus's troops. Antiochus responded with an all-out attack, but was stopped by the intervening Romans who forced his retreat.


His control of Egypt was to last “but only for a time.” As the above quotation states, the alliance soon wore thin and Epiphanes found it necessary to “devise his plans against the strongholds.” Adam Clarke again explains for us:


. . . the guardians of the young Egyptian king Ptolemy Philometer, demanded from Antiochus the restitution of Coelesyria and Palestine, which he refused, he foresaw that he might have a war with that kingdom; and therefore he forecast devices—fixed a variety of plans to prevent this; visited the strong holds and frontier places to see that they were in a state of defense. And this he did for a time—he employed some years in hostile preparations against Egypt.