Daniel chapters 2, 7, 8, 9, 10-11, 12, overview WhyProphets.com
One possible interpretation of
Daniel 11

Other numbers:
1260
, 1290,
1335,
2300 "days"
70 weeks

Elsewhere I said that the traditional interpretation of Daniel 11 was very weak, and that there are bound to be better ones. OK, you want to call my bluff? You want an interpretation of Daniel 11? Then I'll do my best.

 

Left: Angels have access to information
we do not have. Thus, they are able to
influence history if they choose. Our
history is in their hands.

I must stress that much of this is speculation. Modern prophets have commented on verses 32 to the end, but the earlier verses are still not revealed. On the other hand, if I have made mistakes (I probably have), they can't be any worse than the nonsense put forward by most other interpreters.


Keys to Daniel 11

  1. We have a starting date - verses 1 to 4 are recognisable from the previous visions, being Persia, Greece, and the division of Alexander's empire.
  2. It helps if we have studied Daniel 12 first. This puts an upper date on the events of chapter 11 - roughly 1830. So let us work backwards through the chapter.
  3. Verse 40 identifies itself as the "time of the end". The vision, we have seen ends circa 1830, so these are events immediately preceding that time.
  4. Verses 32-39 are very similar to descriptions of the "little horn".
  5. Verse 31, an "abomination that makes desolate", is (as noted elsewhere), a general term for a blasphemous thing that lays waste. For example, the phrase could describe the invading armies that destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70, or the barbarian invasions and religious changes that ended the classical world, culminating in AD 570.
  6. Verse 22 mentions "the Prince of the Covenant" - a description of Christ..
  7. So Daniel 11 discusses Persia, Greece, the New Testament, the Dark Ages, and the modern era. The only major player who seems to be missing is Rome. But look at verse 14. "The robbers (or 'oppressors' in some translations) of thy people", who "establish (or fulfil) the vision". Taking Bible history as a whole, Rome is the major oppressor or robber of Israel, and Rome holds a central place in the visions, as the power that kills the Savior and oversees the Great Apostasy.

The Modern Apostle, Orson Pratt

identified verses 32-34 as referring to the 1260 "days" of apostasy (in Journal of Discourses (JD), Vol.7, p.219 - See the main quotations page for details).

Bruce R. McConkie, in The Millennial Messiah, identified the verses after that as referring to the battle of Armageddon. One day I may put up a web page about this. But in the meantime...

How this web site is different

Most interpreters apply this chapter to obscure individual kings from the north or south. This web site is different. Here the prophecies are only applied to the biggest and most important players in all history.

This web site is dedicated to the notion that God is the God of all people, not just historians. God does not use secret codes or obscure history - just the big events we will all have heard of!

Who are the kings of the north and south?

Who are the "kings" of this chapter? Even the followers of the majority view (the Antiochus theory) admit that there was more than one "king" in each instance. And as we found when discussing kings and horns, a "king" can also represent a kingdom.

Who are the north and south? If the Bible world was divided into "north" and "south", then just like today, Europe was the "North" (the new kingdoms, the rich world), and Africa and the East (from the Near East to India) would be the "South". These are the old kingdoms. So "North" would include Rome and Greece, and "South" would include Egypt and Persia.

So "king of the north" in a general sense means the big powers like Greece and Rome. In a specific sense "the king" represents one of the great kings, such as Julius Caesar, Trajan, or Constantine.

If I was pushed to explain every verse, I would go for something like this:


Daniel 11, a possible explanation

In general it will be seen that the north defeats the south (a fair summary of the last 2500 years of world history, I think historians would agree!). Ultimately both north and south fall before the Kingdom of God.

Daniel 11:1-4: From Persia to Alexander the Great.

As noted above, these verses are pretty straight forward.

Daniel 11:5-13 - the death of the ancient empires

Remember, these are just possibilities. I am not prophesying, just speculating. Why? To show that (a) there is nothing compelling about alternative explanations, (b) Daniel 11 is consistent with the other interpretations on this web site, and (c) the weaknesses of speculation when compared with revelation!

Verse 6: "in the end of years" may imply the big, overall picture. Perhaps a summary of what is to follow?

The "daughter" of the king of the south: This is common prophetic imagery for the people of a nation. For example, Zechariah's great Messianic prophecy (Zecheraiah 9:9-10 - fulfilled in Matthew 21 and John 12) refers to the "daughter of Zion" or "daughter of Jerusalem" for the people of the Holy Land. Micah 4:10 uses similar language. It is even more common for Israel to be referred to a as a woman, a bride, with the Lord as a bridegroom. This imagery is not unique to Israel - Jeremiah refers to the people of Babylon as the "daughter of Babylon" at least twice (50:42 and 51:33).

So the "Daughter of the king of the south" should probably be read as "the people of the south". Ultimately the people of Egypt and Persia (the old powers) had to make peace on the terms of the more powerful northern kingdoms (Greece and Rome). So Daniel 11:6 is perhaps a summary of the end of the ancient powers, which is then expanded in verses 7 to 13.

Let us look closer at the symbolism, before looking at the literal history of this period:

The ancient empires of the south The covenant people
Ultimate destiny: to become weaker, fail, and die Ultimate destiny: to be restored in the last days
One of the great princes (verse 5) is "above" the king of the south One of the great princes (Michael) is in heaven, helping the church
In the end of years the prince particularly helps the nations In the end of years Michael particularly helps the saints
Daughter (verse 6 - the people?) to be in a position of weakness Daughter (people) to have cause to rejoice
Branch (verse 7 - a significant leader?) to have only temporary success Branch (Jesus - see Isaiah 11) to be King of Kings
Egypt (verse 8 - compare Revelation 11:8) can be symbolic for wickedness Zion (the capital city of the church) is symbolic of righteousness
False gods and material wealth (verse 8) The true God and spiritual wealth
Sons (verse 10 - leaders?) use military means Sons (believers) use faith and love
Multitudes (verse 12-13 - soldiers?) come to nothing Multitudes (heavenly hosts) have something more lasting and worthwhile

So much for the spiritual interpretation of verses 5 to 13. What about the literal history? We could resort to some minor obscure ruler like Antiochus, or we could look at the well-known Punic wars and other major events of the time. I won't spend much time on this - there are numerous possible correlations between these verses and recorded history. They may have been of special interest to Daniel's time, but to us they are just ancient history.

Daniel 11:14-19 - the rise of the Roman Empire

14: identifying Rome: this was discussed earlier, under "keys"

15-16: the successes of Rome

17: Cleopatra: Since I am having fun interpreting this scripture, I may as well stick in some of my favorite historical events, such as the fall of Egypt, ending in 30 BC.

18: Britain (and other isles of the sea): As a died-in-the-wool Brit, I cannot resist the urge to see references to Britain in this chapter! Obviously these events were processes that took years, so there is plenty of overlap. Daniel's order is essentially correct. The conquest of Egypt covered the centuries up to 30 BC. The conquest of Britain began with a visit in 55 BC (during Caesar's conquest of Gaul), and was completed in the battles of AD 44. Caesar's successes here and elsewhere allowed him to lose his reproach, and gain favour and become Dictator.

19: Et tu, Brutus?: Caesar, after changing Rome forever, did not last...

Daniel 11:20-22 - Augustus, Herod, and Christ

20: "that all the world should be taxed" - Caesar Augustus, familiar to anyone who has heard the Nativity story from Luke 2 - was there ever a more famous "raiser of taxes"?

21: "a vile person" Herod gained a foothold in the estate of Rome, not by battles, but by flattery

22: The death of the Messiah: Note the reference to opposition like a "flood", the same term used to describe opposition to Jesus' church in Revelation 12:14-17.

Daniel 11:23-27 - the height, and decline, of Rome

23: more success for the Romans: Trajan was another highly significant emperor, who saw he very height of Rome's power. His reign marks the freeing of John from Patmos, and the end of the Apostolic era. He was the first emperor from the provinces ("with only a few people he will rise to power" - NIV). Starting with his predecessor, Nerva, emperors were no longer chosen by heredity. So Roman politics (i.e. "working deceitfully") became the route to power.

24-25: unprecedented success: The height of the Roman Empire's power was when Trajan was the first to conquer the Parthians (the eastern end of the empire). He also had successes against other kings of the south, including Arabia.

26-27: the roots of decline: the Roman empire was officially divided into East and West, hence "two kings". The empire became decadent, lazy, and corrupt with its excessive riches. Its wealth - the food at its table -seemed to indicate its success. Instead it indicated that its days were numbered.

Daniel 11:28-30 - when Rome embraced "Christianity"

28: Constantine: Constantine the Great was an exceptional military leader - his great successes in Britain and elsewhere allowed him to return and become emperor. His interest was primarily with the Christian church - "the holy covenant".

29: Not like the old times: Constantine renewed interest in the south, especially the Holy Land. He had an unprecedented interest in buying up "holy" sites and building monuments. But it was not like former times - the apostles were long dead.

30: Justinian and the sixth century: New paragraph (the backwards "P" sign in the King James Bible), new subject. "Ships of Chittim" just means "ships from across the Mediterranean". There came a time when the Mediterranean was no longer controlled by just the Romans. There were the Vandals in North Africa, the Ostrogoths in Italy, and various other groups. The acts of Justinian against these incomers was the final sign before the start of the European reign. It had a devastating effect on the remains of the true church (the holy covenant), and favored the apostate church (those who forsake the holy covenant).

Daniel 11:31 onward: from the Dark Ages

31: "arms shall stand on his part": If "he" is the northern powers, and the period in question is triumph of the medieval church, then the "arms" would refer to the final invasions of Italy, which ensured the power of that church.

31: "pollute the sanctuary of strength": A sanctuary is somewhere that people are safe from attack. "Pollute" in this context would be spiritual pollution.

31: "take away the continuous state": From the days of Christ until the final triumph of the medieval church,, there had been an unbroken line of faith, albeit constantly weakening. But no more.

31: "place the abomination that maketh desolate": The medieval church (an abomination) was in place. This abomination and desolation took a couple of hundred years to happen (the desolation could also refer specifically to the destruction of Rome after medieval Christianity was accepted).

32 plus: General comments on the Medieval church:. The blasphemy, desire for power, persecution of the saints - it is all familiar.

The last verses of Daniel 11: Armageddon

The simplest explanation of these verses is that they refer to the battle of Armageddon (see reference to Bruce R. McConkie, above). This web site focuses mainly on prophecies that have ALREADY been fulfilled, not those that are ABOUT to be fulfilled. So I will leave it at that.

Conclusion

I must stress once again, that most of this is pure speculation. The simple message is that there are various wars and politics up to the last days, and the various groups are summarized as "north" and "south". No doubt the details will become clear as we study more history. But for the non-historian, God has not provided an interpretation for every verse, so the simple message is all we need to know for now.



the bottom line

God knows world history before it happens - and is in control. That is what really matters.

 

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