The wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword, and flame, by captivity and plunder..…
At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Daniel deals with specific points of ancient history; First, Daniel 11:1-12:4 is the last, longest, most detailed, and most important, prophecy in the book. It has been introduced in chapter 10. It embraces the entire 45 verses of chapter 11 as well as the first four verses of chapter 12. It concludes with a postscript in 12:5–13. That alone sets it apart as especially significant. Second, the revelation has three parts. That fact helps us to understand the more difficult portions. The first part deals with the history of the Near East from the time of Daniel up to the appearance of Antiochus Epiphanes, whose coming has already been prophesied in earlier chapters. The second part concerns the career of Antiochus himself. Then there is a third part, which is the most difficult. It concerns either Antiochus, the early history of the Roman Empire, or events that are yet to come.
The first section concerns the history of the ancient world from the time of Daniel up to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. It is remarkably detailed. In fact, John Calvin, explains each of the references by what was known concerning the history of this period in its time, taking forty pages to do so. This is the chief reason the liberal school wants to put the writing of Daniel in the time of the Maccabees, about A.D.165. It cannot imagine that God can give this kind of detailed information to a prophet many hundreds of years before the events, which is what has happened if the book was written by Daniel during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus of Persia. That is what the book claims.
The prophecy begins by speaking of three more kings of Persia, and then a fourth who was to be far richer than the others. There is no difficulty in understanding what this means. The rich king is Xerxes, who reigned from 485 to 464 B.C. The kings who preceded him after the death of Cyrus were (1) Cambyses, who reigned from 529 to 523 B.C.; (2) Gaumata, an imposter, who reigned from 523 to 522 B.C.; and finally (3) Darius the Great, who assassinated Gaumata and reigned from 522 to 485 B.C.
The significant thing about Xerxes’ reign is that he crossed the Hellespont in an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Europe and was defeated by the Greeks. The Persians had tried to conquer Greece earlier under Darius the Great and had been defeated at Marathon. In this second invasion the great navy of the Persians was defeated by the Greeks at Salamis (in 480 B.C.), and the main body of the Persian army (Herodotus estimated it at a million men) was forced back to Asia. The 100,000-man land army left behind was crushed at the battle of Plataea the following year.
These invasions and attempted subjugation of Greece stuck in the Greek mind and were a major factor in the campaign of Alexander the Great against Persia in the years 334 to 331 B.C., more than a century later. Daniel 11 shows how the empire of Alexander was to be divided into four parts after his death, which has already been prophesied in the earlier visions.
Not one of the parts of this divided Greek empire would go to even one of Alexander’s descendants. All his descendants, including his wives, children, and even distant relatives, were murdered; and the kingdom was divided into parts eventually ruled by the generals Antipater, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus.
Seleucus ruled over Syria; Ptolemy, over Egypt. From this point on the vision concerns these two kingdoms (the two of the four kingdoms having the most direct bearing on the land and people of Israel).
We will not take the time to spell out the historical fulfillment of each of the specific prophecies mentioned. But let me give you one illustration of how accurate and specific these revelations are. In Daniel 11:6-9 is a prophecy of a “daughter of the king of the South” who makes an alliance with the “king of the North” but who is unable to retain her place and is handed over together with those who supported her.
This woman’s name was Bernice. She was the daughter of Ptolemy II (not the first Ptolemy who assumed the rule of Egypt after Alexander’s death), and she married Antiochus Theos of Syria. It was a political marriage. Antiochus had to divorce his first wife to accomplish it. But there were hatred and friction, as one can imagine. Bernice was poisoned, after which Antiochus remarried his first wife. Then Bernice was avenged by her brother, another Ptolemy, who attacked Syria and looted its temples. Josephus, who related this history, records that Ptolemy III returned to Egypt with 4,000 talents of gold, 40,000 talents of silver, and 2,500 objects that had been in the cities and temples of the northern kingdom. This is what verse 8 describes.
Each of the details of this first section of Daniel 11 has had a similarly precise fulfillment in history.