Summary: Slowly the prophecy narrows to a family, then a man, the most important man of evil in the Old Testament days.
4. Antiochus The Great 11:11-19
11:11a “the king of the South, shall be moved with rage, and go out and fight with the king of the North, who shall muster a great multitude;”
This is the famed battle of Raphia , 217 BC, near the border of Palestine, the southern-most city in Syria. Ptolemy has raised a vast army, 70,000 foot soldiers and 5000 on horseback. But Antiochus brings a multitude too. With him are 62,000 and 6000, respectively. But “the Great One” is crushed by angry Philopater. As God had predicted,
11:11b “the multitude shall be given into the hand of his enemy.”
It is claimed by some historians that Ptolemy was in a position to destroy or capture all of Syria , as his father had been. The momentum is in his camp. But this time,
11:12 “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.”
After his initial victory over the “Great One”, something enters Philopater in his rage that turns into pride. He suddenly stops pursuing Syrians, and vents his new-found strength on Israel. At one point in this campaign , he actually tries to force his way into the Holy of Holies. One record shows that before he can do this he is stricken and carried off nearly dead.
Meanwhile Antiochus the Great is out hiding in the desert until the wrath subsides! He narrowly escapes death, then returns home, bitter, wanting revenge, and eventually preparing another expedition against Egypt. Years pass
11:13a “at the end of some years”
Magnus recovers. Victories start piling up, so many that he is being compared now to
Alexander . “The Great” is added to his name by energetic followers.
Then for seemingly no reason in 203 the beast hated by Jew ,Syrian and Egyptian alike dies in Egypt, along with his wife Arsinoe, who wants to become regent. Philopater’s death is kept secret from powers that be. The queen’s death is a known murder. Unfortunately for Egypt, his heir, Ptolemy V “Epiphanes” is but 5 years old, and is at the mercy of those who have taken his parents.
Realizing a definite advantage with but a boy on the Throne of Egypt, Antiochus and ally Philip of Macedon come together and plot the division of Ptolemy’s non-Egypt Empire portions. As stated,
11:13b “the king of the North will return and muster a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come at the end of some years with a great army and much equipment.”
Thus is described in advance the Fifth Syrian War. Antiochus leads several invasions of Egypt, not at all worried about bullying a mere child. Nor does it seem to bother his allies, such as Philip .
11:14a “And in those times many shall rise up against the king of the South”
Philip of Macedon, and those who follow him, Antiochus and his armies, for example. And, Ptolemy’s own general, Scopas, assigned to Palestine and stationed in Jerusalem, tends to show favor to the Jews during this period. Even so, when the Jews see that the “North” is winning, they yield to Antiochus, join with him and help him besiege Ptolemy’s garrisons. Hence the prophet’s words, 11:14b “Also certain violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision, but they shall fall”
Some of these men who cross over to support the Seleucids die in the process. Their particular efforts end in defeat, as Daniel saw.
In the year 200, the Egyptian army of Scopas, evidently aided by certain Jews, fights against the Syrian army at Panion at the upper stream of the Jordan. Egypt suffers the loss and must retreat to what was considered by some the strongest fortress in the world, at Sidon.
11:15 a “So the king of the North shall come and build a siege mound, and take a fortified city.”
The Syrians set up a siege at Sidon and in 199 the famed fortress falls . Scopas must surrender.
11:15b “The forces of the South shall not withstand him. Even his choice troops shall have no strength to resist.”
So as the Fifth War winds down, Egypt has lost Syria and Palestine, even though some of its brightest stars, Generals Eropas, Manacles, and Demonius , try to rescue Scopas. They fail, as God saw that they would fail.
11:16a “He who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and no one shall stand against him.”
The “great” men of this world are of this sort. No one tells them what to do. We have seen this of Alexander in 11:3. We will see it of one who is to come, according to verse 36. And we see it in Antiochus here. The “he” is of course Magnus. The first “him” is Ptolemy.