Daniel chapter 11:Daniel chapter eleven begins with, 'There will yet be three kings standing up for Persia'. That fourth king undertakes the full conquest of Greece, rousing everything he can muster to do so. So, where does the chapter begin? In saying that there 'will yet be' three kings, the chapter identifies the current king of the Persian empire, Cyrus. Both chapter 8 and chapter 11 begin with Cyrus the great. Why does Jehovah choose to give these prophecies to Daniel at just this particular time? Could He not have chosen to send his messenger 50 years previously, or 50 years hence, and to another servant, such as Ezra, perhaps? What is significant about Cyrus' rule?
In conquering Babylon, Cyrus effects the restoration of the Jewish remnant from their captivity in Babylon to their homeland in Judah. But more than this, he decrees the restoration of Jehovah's temple in Jerusalem. The returning Jews have the backing of the king of all Persia to help begin the great rebuilding work. The temple in Jerusalem is integral to the Jewish faith, and to the keeping of the Mosaic Law covenant. It is therefore the key to the restoration of true worship.
Chapter 11, being also a continuation from chapter 10 and carrying on to chapter 12, lends itself to being divided up in two different ways, in addition to the breakup already done with the chapter divisions. The first way in which it can be broken up, is at the gaps in its chronological progression; the second way is between its strictly sequential chronological progression, and its somewhat less sequential chronology.
In this way, we have a section from 11:1-19 which covers the Greek series of kings, and which most clearly outlines the kings of the north and south structure; a second section from 11:20-26 which covers the Roman series of kings during the first 'this generation' time period of the Christian era (Mat 24:34); and a third section from 11:27-31 which covers the two kings as they move into the time period 'of the end'.
These first three sections take us into the time period of the end, and conclude the segment of the prophecy which follows a strict linear sequence of events. From 11:32 to the end of the chapter in verse 45, an over-arching description is given regarding the attitudes and actions of the king of the north, which acts in the role of the primary aspect of the iron-like division within the kingdom of mankind (Dan 2:41-43, 4:17); and, especially in relation to 'the people who are knowing their God'. (The second 'less sequential' section picks up in chapter 12 with the standing up of the one who stands in behalf of Daniel's people).
The time period covered by 11:1-19 is 539BCE ('the first year of Darius the Mede') to 187BCE (end of Antiochus III's rule). This period is marked by the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the restoration of true worship, the completion of the Hebrew-Aramaic portion of the Bible, and the complete suppression of the Davidic line with the rise of the Hasmonean dynasty, outwardly signifying Israel's slide into apostasy.
Daniel 11:20-26 begins with Augustus Caesar's order of a census to be taken which results in Jesus being born in Bethlehem. This commences the restoration of true worship as the long-awaited Messiah begins his preaching campaign and lays the foundations of the Christian faith. Thus, the New Testament portion of the Bible begins with the conception of John the Baptist who clears the way before Jehovah. The time period covered by 11:20-26 thus runs from 44BCE to 275CE when Emperor Aurelian was killed in a plot against him. However, the final part of verse 26 describes the gradual wearing away of the Roman armies in a tide of aggression which would continue for some time, paralleling Christianity's long slide into apostasy (2 Thes 2:3, 1 Jo 2:18).
In the final period in which God's named people are established in the earth, Daniel 11:27-31 sees the thread of the kings of the north and south pick back up again with the unification of the German states into the Second Reich, while England secures its hold over Egypt in order to take its place as the king of the south. This section runs from 1871 until the end of WWII and the formation of the UN, and takes us into the time period of the end.
Verse 20: [44BCE - 14CE]
'And there must stand up in his position one who is causing an exactor to pass through the splendid kingdom, and in a few days he will be broken, but not in anger nor in warfare.'
The one who stands up in the position of king of the north is Gaius Octavian Augustus Caesar (44BCE - 14CE). He orders a census (an exacting) to be carried out within his empire - which is to include Judea, 'the splendid kingdom' (Luke 2:1-3). He later died of illness, not by war or murder. By the time of Augustus Caesar both of the lands formerly held by the kings of the north and south have come under Roman control. Augustus' position as the king of the north is thus justified by his control of the lands formerly held by the previous king of the north. He becomes the king of the north because of having conquered the north first, and when Egypt is conquered, the position of king of the south is subsumed into Rome but does not come into focus until it later 'comes out' of Rome.
As history shows, the next king of the north would not be in the line of the Seleucid kings, as their line ends when the Roman general Pompey conquers Syria. A look at the Greek text also suggests that a shift would occur at this point, as it speaks of the one 'standing up in his position' being as a root out of 'his' tree-like kingdom. This imagery likens Syria to a tree, being somewhat of an anchor point around which each of the previous, successive kings of the north have set up their empires. Now, however, there is to be a change. Once the Roman Empire takes control of Syria, its capital, Rome, becomes the new focal point for this next king of the north; like a root out of the old tree.
This first of the Roman emperors mentioned is not Julius Ceasar, but the prophecy instead picks up with the emperor 'who is causing an exactor to pass through the splendid kingdom'. The word 'exactor' has reference to exacting tribute or tax and is used in this sense, for instance, at 2 Kings 23:35, which refers to King Jehoiakim's taxing Judah in order to pay tribute to Egypt's Pharaoh Nechoh. The account of the 'exactor' sent throughout the land at the time that Jesus was about to be born, is at Luke 2:1-7. Although Luke speaks of it as a registration, we must remember that this 'registration' was not merely for the purpose of finding out how many people there were in the Roman Empire, it had an ulterior motive. This was the exaction of men for the army or the exaction of taxes. This exaction would be determined and administered according to the number of people registered in any one district or province of the empire.
This verse therefore refers to the Roman emperor Gaius Octavian Augustus Caesar (44BCE - 14CE), the next king to stand up in the position of the king of the north. The prophecy moves on to him for the reason that his actions have significance in relation to 'Daniel's people' (Dan 10:14). His decree that all are to be registered causes the prophecy to be fulfilled regarding the birth location of the Messiah (Mic 5:2).
Augustus also set up the emperor's bodyguard known as the Praetorian Guard, which was later enlarged by his successor. He died at the age of 76, on August 19, 14CE.
Verses 22: [14-37 CE]
'And as regards the arms of the flood, they will be flooded over on account of him, and they will be broken; as will also the Leader of [the] covenant.'
At the time that Tiberius became king of the north his nephew Germanicus Caesar was commander of the Roman troops on the Rhine River. In 15CE, Germanicus led his troops against the German hero Arminius, and put him on the run, even capturing his wife Thusnelda; they then defeated him the following year. Finally the policy with regard to the Roman frontier, became one of peace and met with fair success. 'With few exceptions the duties of the Roman forces on the borders were confined to watching the peoples on the other side while they destroyed each other'. In this way the 'arms of the flood' (compare v10) were held in check or were swept away from before him and were 'broken'.
The flood of armies was not the only thing 'broken'. Also, was 'the Leader of [the] covenant' that Jehovah God had made with Abraham for blessing all the families of the earth. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, was the Seed of Abraham promised in that covenant (Gen 22:18, Gal 3:16, Dan 9:25a). On Nisan 14, 33CE, Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate in the Roman governor's palace in Jerusalem. The Jewish priests had charged Jesus with treason against the emperor. But Jesus told Pilate: 'My kingdom is no part of this world ... my kingdom is not from this source' (John 18:36). So that the Roman governor might not free the faultless Jesus, the Jews shouted: 'If you release this man, you are not a friend of Caesar. Every man making himself a king speaks against Caesar'. After calling for Jesus' execution, they said: 'We have no king but Caesar'. According to the law of 'injured majesty', which Tiberius had broadened to include virtually any insult to Caesar, Pilate handed Jesus over to be 'broken', or impaled, on a torture stake (John 19:12-16, Mark 15:14-20).
Verse 27: [1871-1907 CE]
'And as regards these two kings, their heart will be inclined to doing what is bad, and at one table a lie is what they will keep speaking. But nothing will succeed, because [the] end is yet for the time appointed.'
The Western Roman Empire is considered to have officially come to its end, when, in 476CE, Rome, along with the Italian peninsula, was conquered by rebelling Germanic foederati after their betrayal by the emperor Romulus Augustus, and Odoacer was declared 'rex Italiae'. Theodoric the Great then brought Italy under Germanic Ostrogothic rule. After which Justinian I brought it back under Byzantine control for a time, only to be gradually pushed back by invading Germanic Lombards until, in 800CE, Germanic Frankish king Charlemagne was crowned 'Imperator Augustus Romanorum', effectively laying the beginnings of what was to become known as the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne also established the Papal States at this time. In 962CE, Pope John XII crowned the Germanic Saxon king Otto I the Great as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1806CE, dissolved the Holy Roman Empire and established in its place his continental system in a bid to control trade and defeat the English Empire though economic warfare. In 1815CE the European powers assembled the Congress of Vienna which redefined the borders of Europe, particularly leaving the various Germanic states as a loose confederation. The Congress of Vienna also became an early template for the League of Nations which was formed a century later. Finally in 1870CE, the Franco-Prussian war broke out which resulted in the re-unification of all the German states along with Prussia into the German Kaiserreich under Kaiser Wilhelm I in 1871CE. Kaiser Wilhelm I now finds himself in the position of the new king of the north from 1871-1888 CE. He is then succeeded by Kaiser Wilhelm II, who rules in this position from 1888-1918 CE.
As regards the king of the south, Great Britain took on imperial power in the beginning of the seventeenth century and rose to the position of the seventh world power of Bible history, it being joined in this position by the United States of America to form the Anglo-American dual world power (Rev 17:10). During Britain's war with Napoleon Bonaparte the British army drove the French out of Egypt, the whole of which the French had conquered in 1798CE. Although Egypt came again under the overlordship of Turkey, the British government virtually controlled Egypt from 1882CE onward. Egypt was in fact a British dependency, although under its native khedive, for the British army stayed in Egypt and the British will was really the law. Then in 1914CE, because the Egyptian khedive sided with Turkey, which had joined Germany in the first world war, the British took over in Egypt, deposed the khedive and declared Egypt a British Protectorate. Thus, beginning in 1882CE, England came into the position of the king of the south. WWI helped to solidify both England's position in this role and her union with the United States of America.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague is set up as a provision of the Hague Convention of 1899CE. 'A major effort in both the conferences (those of 1899CE and 1907CE) was to create a binding international court for compulsory arbitration to settle international disputes, which was considered necessary to replace the institution of war'. Thus, the stated purpose of 'these two kings [sitting] at one table' is to put on the pretense of wanting peace, but 'a lie is what they will keep speaking', because their hearts are fully inclined towards war, as the outbreak of total war in 1914CE clearly showed.
'But nothing will succeed' refers to the intentions of 'these two kings', both of whose hearts are inclined towards a common goal, which is said to be 'what is bad'. As we have already identified, this common inclination is 'to replace the institution of war' through 'a binding international court for compulsory arbitration'. These kings do not meet with success in their goal at this time because the appointed time for it has not yet arrived. Additionally, we also learn that when these kings are successful in bringing about their intent, this will bring about an end.
These two kings will later begin to achieve success towards their goal when they are able to come together at the one table of the League of Nations founded in 1919CE (Dan 12:11). This is able to be the first successful step towards the achievement of their goal, because by then, 'the appointed time' will have arrived (consider 1 Th 5:3).
Verse 31c: [1945 CE]
' And they will certainly put in place the disgusting thing that is causing desolation.'
As Europe neared the outbreak of WWII, the League of Nations ceased to function in any meaningful way. From 1939CE to 1946CE, when it was dissolved, the League entered into a state of complete inactivity; it was, but during this time, it is not. Revelation 17:11 describes the League of Nations as an eighth king and as a wild beast which springs, or receives it authority, from the seven kings. In 1919CE, there was merely 'a placing of the' League of Nations, but after its abyssal, this eighth kings ascends out of the abyss and is now 'put in place' as the United Nations (Dan 12:11, Rev 17:8).
The US and Britain began planning the post-war era long before WWII had ended. By as early as 1943CE, the United Nations was already being prepared, and between August and October 1944CE, at Dumbarton Oaks, USA, work was begun on the charter, so that it was able to be established on October 24th 1945CE, just a few months after WWII ended. Additionally, all remaining assets of the League of Nations were transferred to the UN in 1946CE, and also several of the institutions established through the League, were transferred to the UN; showing that these two organizations are not separate, but are in fact, one and the same. 'The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are international law, international security,... and achievement of world peace', just as was the League of Nations.
In Matthew 24:15, Jesus gave the third condition into which 'the disgusting thing that is causing desolation' would enter. In 1919CE, there was a tentative 'placing of' it, then in 1945CE, it was more solidly 'put in place', and lastly it will be 'standing' (Dan 12:11, Dan 11:31c, Mat 24:15). In the first century, 'the disgusting thing' was the sixth head, ascendant at that time, and the 'desolation' that it caused was the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem which brought that system to its conclusion (Rev 17:10, Mat 24:3b). Since the eighth king has been in ascendancy since 1919CE, in the second fulfillment of Matthew 24:15, 'the disgusting thing' will be the UN when it enters into its final condition of 'standing in a holy place'.
Verses 32-43: [1914-1991 CE]
According to the memoirs of German General Ludendorff, in 1917CE, after Russia's czar abdicated, Kaiser Wilhelm II sent Nikolai Lenin from Switzerland across Germany and Sweden to Russia to spread Bolshevism, or communism, for the purpose of weakening and destroying the Russian armies. By this war strategy the king of the north helped found world communism.
When Rome conquered the tree-like kingdom of Syria in 64CE (v20), its emperor stood up like a root out of that tree, signifying that the position, or land, of the king of the north had now shifted to Rome. Up until that point, all the previous kings of the north had been in control of the territory of Syria; from that point forward, however, the next king of the north would take control of the land of the previous king of the north. Since Rome was then in position as the king of the north, the land of the king of the north was then Italy, and when Italy was conquered by Germans, it was Germany that would become the next king of the north. There was some time of delay, but when the king of the north's power was solidified, then the land of the king of the north became Germany. When Germany was defeated at the end of WWII, the USSR gained control of a part of the land of the king of the north, known as East Germany, and stood up in the position of the king of the north.
Taking a step back to 1917CE, after 2 1/2 years of all-out war with Germany in WWI, social unrest and war-weariness in Russia led to a revolution which saw the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, ending the Romanov Monarchy, and the formation of the Russian Provisional Government. Dissatisfied with the Provisional Government's continued participation in the war, and especially after the failed Kerensky Offensive, a second revolution took place in October of 1917CE. In 1903CE, Vladimir Lenin had led a faction that sought to overthrow the Russian Tsar through a workers' revolution, to break away from the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, and form the Bolshevik Party. Now, in October of 1917CE, amidst a second revolution, the Bolshevik Party was able to come to power in Russia under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin.
In order to consolidate power, Lenin issued a decree forming the Cheka, a force granted extraordinary police powers to imprison, torture, or execute, at their discretion, anyone suspected of opposing the Bolshevik regime; this was Russia's secret police. The political structure, the Politburo, was designed with the specific intent in mind to effectively extend the communist revolution to every country in the world; the world revolution. After failed revolutions in smaller European countries, it was thought that, through Russia, India, and China, accounting for a majority of global population, the complete victory of socialism would succeed.
After Lenin's death in 1924CE, the Communist Party's General Secretary, Josef Stalin, managed to consolidate more and more power into his hands, gradually putting down all opposition groups within the party. He remained in power from 1922CE (having been second to Lenin prior to his death), until he died in 1953CE. During this time period, from the outset of WWI to 1953CE, the number of people who died due to warfare, famine, civil unrest, persecutions, purgings, and genocides, was on the order of 100 million people. The USSR formally dissolved into separate nation states upon its breakup in 1991CE.
The primary time of fulfillment of verses 32-43 is the time of the ascendancy of Nazi Germany, from 1933CE to 1945CE, and the USSR, from 1945CE to 1991CE; each of whom stand in the position of the king of the north in their turn. The kings of the north and south, respectively, also reflect the divided nature that is characteristic of 'the kingdom of mankind' in 'the time of the end' (Dan 4:17, 12:4a, 12:9b, 11:35, 2:41). These two kings of the north, each epitomize the 'iron', or totalitarian, division existing within the kingdom; and, it is this totalitarian division and its rivalry with the clay-like division, which is described by these verses.
v32a 'And those who are acting wickedly against [the] covenant, he will lead into apostasy by means of smooth words.'
Those who are acting wickedly against the covenant are the false Christian members of Christendom. In this context, 'apostasy' means an even further turning away from the true worship of Jehovah God to that of atheism. So, even as atheism becomes the predominant 'religion' in lands under the control of the kings of the north, Christendom desires to maintain its friendship with them (Jas 4:4).
v32b-33 'But as regards the people who are knowing their God, they will prevail and act effectively. And as regards those having insight among the people, they will impart understanding to the many. And they will certainly be made to stumble by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plundering, for [some] days.'
True Christians are 'made to stumble' by the intense persecution they face in these totalitarian controlled countries led by the kings of the north. However, 'they prevail' in maintaining their integrity towards God, and 'impart understanding' by continuing the preaching work (Dan 12:3). The number of Jehovah's people continues to increase despite the obstacles that the kings of the north place before them.
v34 'But when they are made to stumble they will be helped with a little help; and many will certainly join themselves to them by means of smoothness.'
The persecution that Christians face is often brought to an abrupt end due to changing politics. It is rarely continued without letup. The defeat of Nazi Germany, and the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain being the most striking examples of this. Contrastingly, government spies infiltrate God's people pretending to be Christians, but are secretly reporting to the government authorities. One report from Russia reads: 'Some of these unscrupulous characters were avowed Communists who had crept into the Lord's organization, made a great display of zeal, and had even been appointed to high positions of service'.
v35 'And some of those having insight will be made to stumble, in order to do a refining work because of them and to do a cleansing and to do a whitening, until the time of [the] end; because it is yet for the time appointed.'
As we saw from verse 29, the appointed time arrives in 1914CE. The period of refining, which must take place, does not begin before then, and it will not end until its proper conclusion. The benefit of this, is that those who remain strong are cleansed, able to move forward in righteousness (Rom 5:3-4, Mal 3:3).
v36-37 'And the king will actually do according to his own will, and he will exalt himself and magnify himself above every god; and against the God of gods he will speak marvelous things. And he will certainly prove successful until [the] denunciation will have come to a finish; because the thing decided upon must be done. And to the God of his fathers he will give no consideration; and to the desire of women and to every other god he will give no consideration, but over everyone he will magnify himself.'
In the totalitarian regimes of the kings of the north, worship of the state and its leader must take the highest place among its citizens. To this end, the king of the north will know no limits. In the time of the Nazi regime in Germany, those who refused to say, 'Heil Hitler', were sent to the concentration camps. In communist Russia, particularly under Stalin, religion was outlawed in order to make the state the object of worship. Those who continued in the practice of their religion faced being sent to slave labor camps, torture, or simply being killed.
v38 'But to the god of fortresses, in his position he will give glory; and to a god that his fathers did not know he will give glory by means of gold and by means of silver and by means of precious stone and by means of desirable things.'
The one god that this king will give worship to is the god of technological, militaristic strength, which gives his kingdom a fortress-like security. Nazi Germany attempted world domination through its extensive military strength, and, as well, Germany's scientific research progressed its technological capability far ahead of everyone else in many regards. The USSR, in its time, maintained the largest military in the world. Thousands of warships and tens of thousands of tanks and warplanes were not enough. In his endless pursuit of power and technological supremacy, the USSR also came to wield tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. The USSR sacrificed great wealth on the altar to this god in order to make his own self strong; a fortress indeed.
v39 'And he will act effectively against the most fortified strongholds, along with a foreign god. Whoever has given [him] recognition he will make abound with glory, and he will actually make them rule among many; and [the] ground he will apportion out for a price.'
It is this foreign god of technological militarism that allows the king of the north to act effectively. To those nations which lend their support to the king of the north, he will strengthen them by means of military strength - but only for a price. Nations who enter into relations with these kings must align themselves accordingly. In the time of the USSR, many of her satellite nations are so cut-off, that they are said to be, 'behind the iron curtain'.
v40 'And in the time of [the] end the king of the south will engage with him in a pushing, and against him the king of the north will storm with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships; and he will certainly enter into the lands and flood over and pass through.'
Primarily during the cold war era of 1945CE to 1991CE, the 'pushing' that these two kings enter into, is an expression of their rivalry through indirect means of warfare. They engage in intrigues and espionage against one another, toppling governments in order to establish regimes favourable to their own. They fight against one another by proxy, through other nations such as Korea, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and others. In these rivalries, the king of the north has many successes against the king of the south; he is able to 'flood over and pass through' unchecked.
v41 'He will also actually enter into the land of the Decoration, and there will be many [lands] that will be made to stumble. But these are the ones that will escape out of his hand, Edom and Moab and the main part of the sons of Ammon.'
In the time of ancient Israel, the nations of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Israel ('the Decoration') were all situated between the two kings (originally Egypt and Assyria), and thus represent the area over which they fight in order to extend their dominion. The king of the north has many successes ('many made to stumble') in controlling other countries but also some failures ('the ones that escape'). 'Entering into the land of Decoration' is a reference again to the persecution the king of the north extends towards God's people wherever he has influence.
v42-43 'And he will keep thrusting out his hand against the lands; and as regards the land of Egypt, she will not prove to be an escapee. And he will actually rule over the hidden treasures of the gold and the silver and over all the desirable things of Egypt. And the Libyans and the Ethiopians will be at his steps.'
Egypt was the ancient land of the king of the south. The king of the north makes attempts to take control of lands against the will of the king of the south. The king of the south does not escape in that he is sometimes defeated by the king of the north. Most notable is the US loss in Vietnam. Cuba stands out as an example in relation to 'the Libyans and the Ethiopians will be at his steps'. These nations neighboured on Egypt; similarly, countries such as Cuba, Chile, Mexico, and others, which are all very near to the US, geographically, have been strongly allied to the kings of the north, and/or, have maintained totalitarian styled regimes.
Ruling over the wealth of Egypt expresses the expenditure that the king of the south must put out to maintain his position of strength against the king of the north. Since the Second World War, the US has maintained the largest military budget of any country in the world, at times exceeding the military budgets of all other countries combined; and this, in direct response to the threat posed by the USSR. Additionally, economic trends in this time have meant that economic competition between the two rivals has had impact to both sides.