11:1 Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.
2 And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.
3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.
Alexander the Great defeated the Persians at Issus (333) and Arbela (331).
4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.
5 And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.
The king of the south is Ptolemy Soter; his prince Seleucus Nicator seized Syria in 312 B.C.
6 And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.
Antiochus II of Syria married Bernice, daughter of Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) king of the south. Antiochus's first wife (Laodice) had Bernice, her infant son (not her father as KJV implies) and the Egyptians who attended her murdered and Antiochus poisoned.
7 But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail:
Ptolemy III (Euergetes), brother of Bernice, invaded and conquered Syria and Asia. Height of Ptolemaic power. Seleucus II (Callinicus) was king of Syria (north) at that time.
8 And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north.
Ptolemy III plundered Syria and Palestine of treasure. He carries 2400 idols into Egypt as spoil. Seleucus died in a fall from his horse in 226 B.C. Ptolemy III outlived his rival, not dying until 221 B.C.
9 So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.
Ptolemy III had to return to Egypt because of a revolt back home.
10 But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress.
The sons of Seleucus II were Seleucus III who reigned for only three years, and Antiochus III , the Great, who restored the Seleucid Kingdom to its former extent. Seleucia, the port of Antioch, was retained on the Syrian coast despite losses after initial success. Antiochus III made war on Ptolemy IV Philopater of Egypt. The stronghold or fortress was Raphia, near Gaza, on the border of Egypt, which Antiochus attacked in 217 B.C.
11 And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.
Antiochus III, the Great, was defeated at Raphia by the king of the south, Ptolemy IV, Philopater.
12 And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.
The KJV is clearest. After Raphia, a treaty was made and Palestine, part of Syria, and Phoenicia were ceded to Egypt. Ptolemy IV's heart was lifted up in the city of Jerusalem on his return trip to Egypt where he tried to enter the Holy of Holies. God miraculously prevented him and he sought to revenge himself on the Jews living in Alexandria when he came back to that city. Philopater persecutes thousands of Jews in the city of Alexandria because he was struck with paralysis when trying to enter Temple at Jerusalem.
13 For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.
Fourteen years after Raphia (203 B.C.), Antiochus III assembled a great army for the Egyptian campaign and allied himself with Philip V of Macedonia against Ptolemy V, Epiphanes who was a weak king.
14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.
Many wealthy Jews emigrated to Egypt rather than subject themselves to the Syrians under Antiochus III after he had made himself master of Palestine. Adam Clarke comments that they thought the Jews and Egyptians should become one people and that they hoped to build a temple like that of Jerusalem in Egypt and thus fulfill the "vision" found in Isaiah 19:18-25). However, they rebelled against the Egyptians, joined Antiochus when Syria commenced invasion, and suffered when Ptolemy's army momentarily subdued the Jews around Palestine.
15 So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.
Antiochus III defeated Scopas (Egyptian ally) at Paneas (Panium) in Syria in 198 B.C. Palestine came into possession of the Seleucid Dynasty. Scopas fled to Sidon (a strongly "fenced city") where he was forced to surrender.
16 But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.
All of Palestine was subjugated to Syrian rule under Antiochus III (the Great).
17 He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.
Roman intervention prevented a further Syrian expedition against Egypt. A scheming treaty was then made in which Antiochus III's daughter, Cleopatra (not the one in Egypt at 31 B.C.), was given in marriage to Ptolemy V, "Epiphanes" in the year 193 B.C. This plan to conquer Egypt failed when Cleopatra aided her husband against her father.
18 After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.
Antiochus III invaded Asia Minor, Greece and took the Aegean Islands. He did not heed Rome's warning to get out of her European territory and he was overwhelmingly defeated by the Roman general L. Cornelius Scipio in the Battle of Magnesia near Smyrna in 190 B.C.
19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
Antiochus III the Great lost a battle to the Romans and the resulting Peace of Apameia (188 B.C.) was onerous. Because he was greatly in need of money, Antiochus attempted to plunder the Temple of Baal at Elymais in Armenia of its gold and silver treasure and was stoned to death by the people of the city.
20 Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom (or "there shall arise one who shall send send a tax collector"): but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
Seleucus IV, Philopator, needed tribute money to pay Rome and sent Heliodorus to Jerusalem to rob the temple of its wealth. God miraculously stopped him. Seleucus was murdered (poisoned) by Heliodorus.
21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
Antiochus IV "Epiphanes" succeeded his brother Seleucus IV. He usurped the throne from his nephew, Demetrius, who was the son of Seleucus IV.
Antiochus IV "Epiphanes" took control in 175 B.C. claiming to rule on behalf of Demetrius his brother -- a prisoner in Rome
22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.
Heliodorus seized the throne after the death of Seleucus IV. However, Antiochus IV, with the help of the Pergamese king, Eumenes, drove Heliodorus from the throne. Antiochus IV deprived Onias of the High Priesthood and sold it to the Hellenized Jesus or Jason who in turn sold it to his brother Menelaus.
The prince of the covenant was Onias III. Jason was a hellenistic Jew, brother of Onias III, who bribed Antiochus offering him money to become High Priest in 174 B.C. Thus Onias III was removed from office. Jason built a gymnasium in Jerusalem. Then Menelaus paid Antiochus a larger bribe to outdo Jason. He was not a descendant of Aaron but was made High Priest anyway in 171 B.C. When Onias III objected, he was killed.
23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
Antiochus IV dealt deceitfully with both the Romans and Egyptians after agreements had been made with them. His deceit is also illustrated by the above-mentioned transferral of the Jewish high priest's office.
He then repudiated any connection to his poor brother Demetrius who was a prisoner in Rome and declared himself ruler of Syria.
24 He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.
The great extravagance of Antiochus IV in Palestine is well illustrated. Extensive Hellenization occurred during this period.
He distributes his wealth of his position to buy the loyalty of a great deal of nobility in Syria. He issues threats and uses propaganda.
25 And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him.
Because of the non-Aaronic High Priest, religious Jews appealed to Ptolemy VI who responded by invading Syria with a small force. However Ptolemy VI was betrayed into the hands of Antiochus IV "Epiphanes". His army surrendered and he became a puppet in 170 A.D.
Ptolemy VI Philometor was king of the south. Antiochus IV "Epiphanes" reduced Egypt in four campaigns beginning in 173. Egypt then asked Rome for help.
26 Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.
Ptolemy Philometor was taken prisoner by Antiochus "Epiphanes" (Antiochus was the uncle of Ptolemy) and Antiochus was crowned king of Egypt at Memphis. Alexandria then revolted and chose Ptolemy Philometor's brother (Ptolemy Physcon) as king.
27 And both of these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.
Antiochus "Epiphanes" left Ptolemy Philometer as king of Egypt at Memphis where he then refused to continue as Antiochus' tool. Also, the joint reign of the two brothers (Ptolemy VI Philkometor and Physcon, Ptolemy VII) was quarrelsome and deceitful during this period.
Alexandria Egypt held out against this puppet Ptolemy VI. They chose instead his brother Ptolemy VIII (Physcon or "Fat belly") to rule in Alexandria. Therefore Ptolemy VI and Antiochus IV get together and pretend to have common cause to get rid of Physcon (Ptolemy VIII). But in the back of each of their minds is the desire to get rid of eachother at the same time. A typical hypocritical conversation among politicians. But to do this Antiochus needed a large army, so he went home leaving his puppet (Ptolemy VI) to rule Egypt (except Alexandria).
28 Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.
Antiochus IV "Epiphanes" returned to Jerusalem (where a civil war was taking place between the rival claimants of the high priesthood) and severely persecuted the Jews who rejoiced upon hearing the false report that Antiochus died (1 Macc. 1 :19-20). .
Antiochus has Menelaus levy a special tax on all Jerusalem to raise funds before heading back to Syria for even more fund raising. Then he can come back with a large military force.
29 At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.
Antiochus "Epiphanes" invaded Egypt a second time but was stopped by the Roman naval commander and ambassador, C. Popilius Laenas, who commanded his immediate withdrawal from Egypt. Rome makes Egypt a protectorate.
While he is away Physcon is able to stage a complete coup and drive out Ptolemy VI and take over all Egypt. Ptolemy VI flees Egypt and sails to Rome. There he asks to be reinstated to his proper rulership of Egypt. Antiochus returns to Egypt in 168 B.C. but Rome sides with Ptolemy VI since they had a treaty with his father Ptolemy V. If Antiochus dared attack Egypt, Rome would respond. Antiochus therefore backed down, and left Egypt. Instead he took out his anger and humiliation on Jerusalem, supported by those who forsook the religion of Israel.
30 For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
Antiochus "Epiphanes" retreated a second time through Palestine and again vented his rage on Jerusalem with the assistance of renegade Jews under Menelaus.
31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
Cp. Dan. 8:11-14. The daily sacrifice was abolished, an idol of Jupiter Olympius was set up in the Holy of Holies, and an altar for sacrifices to Jupiter Olympius was set up in the temple upon the place of the Jewish sacrifices. The Jews were forbidden to observe any of God's laws.
Antiochus tore down houses to build the Acra Fortress. He changed the name of God to Zeus Olympius. He ordered Jews to sacrifice swine to Zeus. He prohibited Sabbaths, festivals and circumcision. Then on Chislev 25th, 168 B.C., he slew a pig on the brazen altar which may have been the "abomination of desolation." Then he plundered the temple treasury and left troops to carry out a reign of terror. For three years the Temple didn't operate -- from Chislev 25, 168 to Chislev 25, 165 B.C.
32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
Many Jews rejected God's covenant. This verse describes the era of the Maccabean revolt to the time of Christ.
The Sadducees were Hellenists and embraced paganism while the Hasidim (Pharisees) heroically opposed the Syrian presence.
33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
The Maccabees had a righteous zeal. But many others joined for less honorable reasons.
34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.
35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
Judas Maccabeas was killed in the Battle of Elasa in 161 B.C. The time appointed is the coming of the Messiah in 27 A.D.
36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
The Temple of God was renamed the temple of Jupiter Olympius, and every conceivable outrage was perpetrated within its precincts: "And to pollute also the temple in Jerusalem, and to call it the temple of Jupiter Olympius; ... for the temple was filled with riot and revelling by the Gentiles who dallied with harlots, and had to do with women within the circuit of the holy places ... The altar also was filled with profane things ... and when the feast of Bacchus was kept, the Jews were compelled to go in procession to Bacchus carrying ivy ... there were two women brought who had circumcized their children; whom when they had openly led round about the city, the babes hanging at their breasts, they cast them down headlong from the wall" (2 Macc. 6:2,4,5,7,10).
In the same book is recorded how the king tortured and maimed seven sons in the presence of their mother, and caused thdem to be fried alive. "It came to pass also, that seven brethren with their mother were taken, and compelled by the king against the law to taste swine's flesh, and were tormented with scourges and whips. Then the king being in a rage, commanded pans and caldrons to be made hot: which forthwith beingheated, he commanded to cut out the tongue of him that spake first, and to cut off the utmost parts of his body, the rest of his brethren and his mother looking on. Now when he was thus maimed in all his members, he commanded him being yet alive to be brought to the fire, and to be fried in the pan" (2 Macc. 7:1,3,4,5)
37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
Antiochus "Epiphanes" was one of the Seleucidae, a Macedonian, and therefore a descendant of the tribe of Dan. The god of his fathers was YHWH. But he magnified himself above all. He called himself the god "Epiphanes". He also caused himself to be depicted as the god Jupiter (Zeus) on some of his coins. Disregarding the desire of women for motherhood, and their children, "they hung the infants from their mothers' necks" (1 Macc. 1:54-61). Antiochus had no pity for the tears of mothers or the suffering of little children. We read: "they also strangled those women and their sons whom they had circumcised, as the king had appointed, hanging their sons about their necks as they were upon crosses" (Josephus Ant. 12:5:4).
38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
Antiochus placed an altar upon the altar of sacrifice in the Temple at Jerusalem to honour Jupiter. "And when the king had built an idol altar upon God's altar, he slew swine upon it, and so offered a sacrifice neither according to law, nor the Jewish religious worship in that country" (Ant. 12:5:4).
Jupiter Capitolinus was the "god of forces" or fortresses. "When a foreign state had injured Rome, it was forbidden to begin war without a formal declaration by the fetiales or heralds, the ministers of Jupiter. Headed by the pater patratus populi Romani, they appealed to Jupiter to witness that they had been wronged, and denounced ruin on the wrong-doers. Having thus through his representative on earth solemnly warned the guilty, the god as Victor led his people to conquest. When the army returned, their entry was a religious ceremonial in honour of Jupiter. The general, as representative of Jove, was borne on a guilded chariot drawn by four white horses through the Porta Triumphalis to the temple on the Capitol, where he offered a solemn sacrifice to the god, and laid on his knees the victor's laurels" (Encyc. Brit. vol. 13, p.780)
39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.
40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
41 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.
42 He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
43 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.
45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
"And at the time of the end (decay of Syrian kingdom) shall the king of the south (Ptolemy VI Philometer) push at him (Demetrius I till 150 B.C. or Alexander Theopater Euergetes in 146 B.C.): and the king of the north (Pompey of Rome) shall come against him (Antiochus XIII) like a whirlwind (in 64 B.C. Syria incorporated as a province of Rome), with chariots, and with horsemen (5000 cavalry), and with many ships (270 ships) (& 120,000 infantry); and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief (greater portion) of the children of Ammon (SE of Dead Sea not added to Roman province of Syria till Trajan's reign -- c. 106 AD) He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt ("granary of Rome") shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, (he returned to Rome in 62 B.C. with approx. 30,000 gold talents) and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall shall be at his steps. But tidings out of the east (Judea -- A firm persuasion had long prevailed through all the East, that it was fated for the empire of the world, at that time, to devolve on some who should go forth from Judea -- Suetonius, Lives of 12 Caesars, ch. 4) and out of the north (Germany's legions proclaimed Vitellius emperor in 69 AD & Gaul's insurrection in 68 AD) shall trouble him: therefore he (Vespasian) shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he (Titus) shall plant the tabernacles (or standards and eagles -- Num. 2:1-2) of his palace between the seas (Mediterranean & Dead) in the glorious holy mountain (Zion); yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him" (Dan. 11:40-45)