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THE KINGS OF THE SOUTH AND NORTH, PART 2

 

FROM ALEXANDER TO THE BATTLE OF RAPHIA

 

 

Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these. (Daniel 11:3–4)

 

The significant details are found in chapter eleven. Chapter eleven has 458 verses making up 12 paragraphs in the New King James Version. It is easier to review the material going from paragraph to paragraph rather than from verse to verse. We will find this prophecy covers the same history as does the prophecy of the Ram and the Male Goat, going into more detail on the conflict between the Ptolemy and Seleucid Dynasties.

The previous chapter ended with verse 2 of chapter eleven. That verse said there would be four kings following Cyrus, the fourth of which would have more power, wealth, and political influence than all ten kings of Persia that followed Cyrus. This fourth kings was Xerxes I, known to us in the Bible as Ahasuerus. He did in fact accumulate more wealth than all the other kings of Persia and it was he who put Persia into conflict with Greece. Six kings would follow Xerxes until Persia was defeated by Alexander the Great in 331 b.c. during the reign of Darius III.

 

THE TRAGEDY OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT

 

Verses 3 and 4 give a brief recap of Alexander the Great, the “mighty king.” History plainly tells how he did according to his will, becoming the most notable military genius in all history. Alexander died at the high point of his kingdom, the Greek Empire. What is notable about this prophecy is that it shows that the kingdom would be divided into four parts and that none of his posterity would share in its rule. All the members of his family came to tragic ends.

His wife, Statira, was murdered soon after his death by his other wife, Roxana. His brother Aridaeus, who succeeded him and was king for about six years, was killed, along with his wife Euridice, at the order of Olympias, Alexaner’s mother. Olympias was then killed by the soldiers in revenge.

Alexander Aegus, the son of Alexander the Great, was killed along with his mother, Roxana, at the command of Cassander, king of Macedonia. Two years later his other son, Heracles, was killed, along with his mother Barisne, by Polysperchon, who was regent from 319–316 b.c.

Within fifteen years of the death of Alexander the Great not one of his family remained alive.

 

THE KINGS OF THE SOUTH AND NORTH

 

Also the king of the South shall become strong, as well as one of his princes; and he shall gain power over him and have dominion. His dominion shall be a great dominion. And at the end of some years they shall join forces, for the daughter of the king of the South shall go to the king of the North to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the power of her authority, and neither he nor his authority shall stand; but she shall be given up, with those who brought her, and with him who begot her, and with him who strengthened her in those times. But from a branch of her roots one shall arise in his place, who shall come with an army, enter the fortress of the king of the North, and deal with them and prevail. And he shall also carry their gods captive to Egypt, with their princes and their precious articles of silver and gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the North. (Daniel 11:5–8)

 

The kings of the South are the Ptlolemy Dynasty that ruled in Egypt. The first king of the South mentioned in the prophecy is Ptolemy Lagus, who was a general under Alexander the Great. He became strong and had a great dominion. The realm under Ptolemy’s rule included Egypt, Phoenician, Arabid, Libya, Ethiopia and some other areas.

The king of the North appearing in verse 6 are the Seleucid Dynasty that ruled in Syria and as far east as Persia. The first king of the prophecy is Seleucus Nicanor, who was a general of infantry under Alexander the Great and the most powerful of all Alexander’s successors. It is said that he had 72 kingdoms under his rule.

Ptolemy and Seleucus were hostile toward each other, each desiring some if not all the domain of the other. Both were strongly against the Jews. Ptolemy invaded Judea and took Jerusalem soon after he gained control in Egypt. The story is that he came to Jerusalem on a Sabbath pretending a friendly visit.

Verse 6 records an attempt to unite the two kingdoms by means of a marriage. The verse says this would happen at the end of some years, which it did about 70 years after the death of Alexander the Great. After sustaining losses of some of his kingdom along the Mediterranean seaboard to the Seleucids, Ptolemy Philadelphus had his daughter Berenice married to Antiochus II Theos in 250 b.c. Philadelphus died about four years later and the fact that Antiochus already had a wife did not help matters. Verse 6 makes an understatement about what happened next, “she shall not retain the power of her authority.” The plan to unite the kingdoms failed as Antiochus divorced Berenice and took back his former wife, Laodice. Soon afterwards, Laodice poisoned Antiochus and murdered both Berenice and her infant son. Immediately after this she proclaimed her own son Seleucus II Callinicus as king.

War breaks out between the two kingdoms again as reported in verses 7–8. The person identified as “a branch of her roots” in verse 7 is Berenice’s brother, Ptolemy Euregetes, who declared war against Callinicus and invaded Syria to avenge his sister’s death. He wins the war and extends the limits of his kingdom as far north as Antioch in Syria. In verse 8 it is said that Euregetes continues more years than the king of the north. Callinicus reigned from 246 b.c. to 225 b.c., a total of 21 years. Euregetes ruled from 246 b.c. to 222 b.c., a total of 24 years.

 

THE KING OF THE SOUTH RETURNS TO HIS OWN LAND

 

Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land. However his sons shall stir up strife, and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come and overwhelm and pass through; then he shall return to his fortress and stir up strife. (Daniel 11:9–10)

 

Callinicus lead Syria in an invasion of Egypt but had to return to Syria to put down an attempted insurrection led by his younger brother, Antiochus Hierax. Callinicus was eventually defeated by his brother at the Battle of Ancyra in 235 b.c. Continuing family trouble and insurrection plagued Callinicus for the remainder of his reign until he was killed by a fall from his horse in about 234 b.c. He was succeeded by his elder son, Seleucus III Ceraunus and later by his younger son Antiochus III, the Great. Seleucus III ruled from 225 b.c. to 223 b.c. and was weak and unable to manage his army. He was eventually poisoned by members of his army.

Antiochus III the Great ruled from 223 b.c. to 187 b.c. He was only 18 years of age when he came to the throne. This is the one son identified in verse 10 of the prophecy who would “certainly come and overwhelm and pass through.” Under Antiochus the Seleucids recovered all of Syria that had been under the control of Euregets. That Antiochus did pass through is seen in that he penetrated the occupied territory and pressed his army all the way to Dura, which is near Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast. It was here he made a four-month truce with Ptolemy IV Philopater. From there he returned to his fortress located at Raphia on the border of Egypt in Gaza near the modern city of Rafah.

 

THE KING OF THE SOUTH IS MOVED WITH RAGE

 

And the king of the South shall be moved with rage, and go out and fight with him, with the king of the North, who shall muster a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into the hand of his enemy. When he has taken away the multitude, his heart will be lifted up; and he will cast down tens of thousands, but he will not prevail. (Daniel 11:11–13)

 

Ptolemy Phiopater defeated Antiochus at Raphia on June 22, 217 b.c. After the victory at Raphia, Philopater made peace with Antiochus and returned to Jerusalem where he pursued an easy life of luxurious living that eventually led to his losing his power.

The war was renewed 14 years after the defeat of Antiochus at Raphia. During this time he engaged in successful campaigns against Persia and India, and then returned to make war with Ptolemy V Epiphanes, the son of Philopater.

Antiochus is said to muster a great multitude. Matthew Henry supplies us with information on this multitude:

 

The king of the north, Antiochus the Great, shall return with a greater army than the former; and, at the end of times (that is, years) he shall come with a mighty army, and great riches, against the king of the south, that is, Ptolemaeus Epiphanes, who succeeded Ptolemaeus Philopater his father, when he was a child, which gave advantage to Antiochus the Great. In this expedition he had some powerful allies (v. 14): Many shall stand up against the king of the south. Philip of Macedon was confederate with Antiochus against the king of Egypt, and Scopas his general, whom he sent into Syria; Antiochus routed him, destroyed a great part of his army; whereupon the Jews willingly yielded to Antiochus, joined with him, helped him to besiege Ptolemaeus's garrisons.