1 And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I#sn The antecedent of the pronoun “I” is the angel, not Daniel. The traditional chapter division at this point, and the presence of a chronological note in the verse similar to ones used elsewhere in the book to position Daniel’s activities in relation to imperial affairs, sometimes lead to confusion on this matter. stood to strengthen him and to provide protection for him.) 2 Now I will tell you the truth.
The Angel Gives a Message to Daniel
“Three#sn Perhaps these three more kings are Cambyses (ca. 530-522 B.C.), Pseudo-Smerdis (ca. 522 B.C.), and Darius I Hystaspes (ca. 522-486 B.C.). more kings will arise for Persia. Then a fourth#sn This fourth king is Xerxes I (ca. 486-465 B.C.). The following reference to one of his chiefs apparently has in view Seleucus Nicator. king will be unusually rich,#tn Heb “rich with great riches.” more so than all who preceded him. When he has amassed power through his riches, he will stir up everyone against#tn The text is difficult. The Hebrew has here אֶת (’et), the marker of a definite direct object. As it stands, this would suggest the meaning that “he will arouse everyone, that is, the kingdom of Greece.” The context, however, seems to suggest the idea that this Persian king will arouse in hostility against Greece the constituent elements of his own empire. This requires supplying the word “against,” which is not actually present in the Hebrew text. the kingdom of Greece. 3 Then a powerful king#sn The powerful king mentioned here is Alexander the Great (ca. 336-323 B.C.). will arise, exercising great authority and doing as he pleases. 4 Shortly after his rise to power,#tn Heb “and when he stands.” his kingdom will be broken up and distributed toward the four winds of the sky#tn Or “the heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context. – but not to his posterity or with the authority he exercised, for his kingdom will be uprooted and distributed to others besides these.
5 “Then the king of the south#sn The king of the south is Ptolemy I Soter (ca. 323-285 B.C.). The following reference to one of his subordinates apparently has in view Seleucus I Nicator (ca. 311-280 B.C.). Throughout the remainder of chap. 11 the expressions “king of the south” and “king of the north” repeatedly occur. It is clear, however, that these terms are being used generically to describe the Ptolemaic king (i.e., “of the south”) or the Seleucid king (i.e., “of the north”) who happens to be in power at any particular time. The specific identity of these kings can be established more or less successfully by a comparison of this chapter with the available extra-biblical records that discuss the history of the intertestamental period. In the following notes the generally accepted identifications are briefly mentioned. and one of his subordinates#tn Heb “princes.” will grow strong. His subordinate#tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the subordinate prince mentioned in the previous clause) has been specified in the translation for clarity. will resist#tn Heb “be strong against.” him and will rule a kingdom greater than his.#tn Heb “greater than his kingdom.” 6 After some years have passed, they#sn Here they refers to Ptolemy II Philadelphus (ca. 285-246 B.C.) and Antiochus II Theos (ca. 262-246 B.C.). will form an alliance. Then the daughter#sn The daughter refers to Berenice, who was given in marriage to Antiochus II Theos. of the king of the south will come to the king of the north to make an agreement, but she will not retain her power,#tn Heb “the strength of the arm.” nor will he continue#tn Heb “stand.” So also in vv. 7, 8, 11, 13. in his strength.#tn Heb “and his arm.” Some understand this to refer to the descendants of the king of the north. She, together with the one who brought her, her child,#tc The present translation reads יַלְדָּה (yaldah, “her child”) rather than the MT יֹלְדָהּ (yolÿdah, “the one who begot her”). Cf. Theodotion, the Syriac, and the Vulgate. and her benefactor will all be delivered over at that time.#sn Antiochus II eventually divorced Berenice and remarried his former wife Laodice, who then poisoned her husband, had Berenice put to death, and installed her own son, Seleucus II Callinicus (ca. 246-227 B.C.), as the Seleucid king.
7 “There will arise in his#sn The reference is to the king of Egypt. place one from her family line#tn Heb “the stock of her roots.”sn The reference to one from her family line is probably to Berenice’s brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes (ca. 246-221 B.C.). who will come against their army and will enter the stronghold of the king of the north and will move against them successfully.#tn Heb “will deal with them and prevail.” 8 He will also take their gods into captivity to Egypt, along with their cast images and prized utensils of silver and gold. Then he will withdraw for some years from#tn The Hebrew preposition מִן (min) is used here with the verb עָמַד (’amad, “to stand”). It probably has a sense of separation (“stand away from”), although it may also be understood in an adversative sense (“stand against”). the king of the north. 9 Then the king of the north#tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king of the north) has been specified in the translation for clarity. will advance against the empire of the king of the south, but will withdraw to his own land. 10 His sons#sn The sons of Seleucus II Callinicus were Seleucus III Ceraunus (ca. 227-223 B.C.) and Antiochus III the Great (ca. 223-187 B.C.). will wage war, mustering a large army which will advance like an overflowing river and carrying the battle all the way to the enemy’s#tn Heb “his”; the referent (the enemy of the king of the north) has been specified in the translation for clarity. fortress.#tn Heb “and he will certainly come and overflow and cross over and return and be aroused unto a fortress.” The translation has attempted to simplify the syntax of this difficult sequence.
11 “Then the king of the south#sn This king of the south refers to Ptolemy IV Philopator (ca. 221-204 B.C.). will be enraged and will march out to fight against the king of the north, who will also muster a large army, but that army will be delivered into his hand. 12 When the army is taken away, the king of the south will become arrogant.#tn Heb “his heart will be lifted up.” The referent (the king of the south) has been specified in the translation for clarity. He will be responsible for the death#tn Heb “cause to fall.” of thousands and thousands of people,#tn Heb “of myriads.” but he will not continue to prevail. 13 For the king of the north will again muster an army, one larger than before. At the end of some years he will advance with a huge army and enormous supplies.
14 “In those times many will oppose#tn Heb “stand against.” the king of the south.#sn This was Ptolemy V Epiphanes (ca. 203-181 B.C.). Those who are violent#tn Heb “sons of violence.” “Son(s) is sometimes used idiomatically in Hebrew to indicate that someone is characterized by a certain quality. So the expression “sons of violence” means that these individuals will be characterized by violent deeds. among your own people will rise up in confirmation of#tn Heb “to cause to stand.” the vision, but they will falter. 15 Then the king of the north will advance and will build siege mounds and capture a well-fortified city.#sn This well-fortified city is apparently Sidon. Its capture from the Ptolemies by Antiochus the Great was a strategic victory for the Seleucid kingdom. The forces of the south will not prevail, not even his finest contingents.#tn Or “choice troops” (BDB 104 s.v. מִבְחָר), or “elite troops” (HALOT 542 s.v. מִבְחָר). They will have no strength to prevail. 16 The one advancing against him will do as he pleases, and no one will be able to stand before him. He will prevail in the beautiful land, and its annihilation will be within his power.#tn Heb “hand.” 17 His intention#tn Heb “and he will set his face.” Cf. vv. 18, 19. will be to come with the strength of his entire kingdom, and he will form alliances.#tc The present translation reads מֵישָׁרִים (mesharim, “alliances”) for the MT וִישָׁרִים (viysharim, “uprightness”). He will give the king of the south#tn Heb “him”; the referent (the king of the south) has been specified in the translation for clarity. a daughter#tn Heb “the daughter of the women.”sn The daughter refers to Cleopatra, the daughter of Antiochus, who was given in marriage to Ptolemy V. in marriage in order to destroy the kingdom, but it will not turn out to his advantage. 18 Then he will turn his attention#tn Heb “his face.” See v. 19 as well. to the coastal regions and will capture many of them. But a commander#sn The commander is probably the Roman commander, Lucius Cornelius Scipio. will bring his shameful conduct to a halt; in addition,#tn The Hebrew here is difficult in that the negative בִּלְתִּי (biltiy, “not”) is used in an unusual way. The sense is not entirely clear. he will make him pay for his shameful conduct.#tn Heb “his shameful conduct he will return to him.” 19 He will then turn his attention to the fortresses of his own land, but he will stumble and fall, not to be found again. 20 There will arise after him#tn Heb “on his place.” one#sn The one who will send out an exactor of tribute was Seleucus IV Philopator (ca. 187-176 B.C.). who will send out an exactor#sn Perhaps this exactor of tribute was Heliodorus (cf. 2 Maccabees 3). of tribute to enhance the splendor of the kingdom, but after a few days he will be destroyed,#tn Heb “broken” or “shattered.” though not in anger or battle.
21 “Then there will arise in his place a despicable person#sn This despicable person to whom the royal honor has not been rightfully conferred is Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ca. 175-164 B.C.). to whom the royal honor has not been rightfully conferred. He will come on the scene in a time of prosperity and will seize the kingdom through deceit. 22 Armies#tn Heb “arms.” will be suddenly#tc The present translation reads הִשָּׁטֹף (hishatof), Niphal infinitive absolute of שָׁטַף (shataf, “to overflow”), for the MT הַשֶּׁטֶף (hashetef, “flood”). swept away in defeat#tn The words “in defeat” are added in the translation for clarification. before him; both they and a covenant leader#tn Heb “a prince of the covenant.” will be destroyed.#tn Heb “broken” or “shattered.” 23 After#tn The preposition מִן (min) is probably temporal here (so BDB 583 s.v. 7.c; cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV), although it could also be understood here as indicating means (so J. Goldingay, Daniel [WBC], 279, n. 23a; cf. TEV, NLT). entering into an alliance with him, he will behave treacherously; he will ascend to power with only a small force.#tn Heb “nation.” 24 In a time of prosperity for the most productive areas of the province he will come and accomplish what neither his fathers nor their fathers accomplished. He will distribute loot, spoils, and property to his followers, and he will devise plans against fortified cities, but not for long.#tn Heb “and unto a time.” 25 He will rouse his strength and enthusiasm#tn Heb “heart.” against the king of the south#sn This king of the south was Ptolemy Philometer (ca. 181-145 B.C.). with a large army. The king of the south will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to prevail because of the plans devised against him. 26 Those who share the king’s fine food will attempt to destroy him, and his army will be swept away;#tc The present translation reads יִשָׁטֵף (yishatef, passive) rather than the MT יִשְׁטוֹף (yishtof, active). many will be killed in battle. 27 These two kings, their minds#tn Heb “heart.” So also in v. 28. filled with evil intentions, will trade#tn Heb “speak.” lies with one another at the same table. But it will not succeed, for there is still an end at the appointed time. 28 Then the king of the north#tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king of the north) has been specified in the translation for clarity. will return to his own land with much property. His mind will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action, and then return to his own land. 29 At an appointed time he will again invade the south, but this latter visit will not turn out the way the former one did. 30 The ships of Kittim#sn The name Kittim has various designations in extra-biblical literature. It can refer to a location on the island of Cyprus, or more generally to the island itself, or it can be an inclusive term to refer to parts of the Mediterranean world that lay west of the Middle East (e.g., Rome). For ships of Kittim the Greek OT (LXX) has “Romans,” an interpretation followed by a few English versions (e.g., TEV). A number of times in the Dead Sea Scrolls the word is used in reference to the Romans. Other English versions are more generic: “[ships] of the western coastlands” (NIV, NLT); “from the west” (NCV, CEV). will come against him, leaving him disheartened.#sn This is apparently a reference to the Roman forces, led by Gaius Popilius Laenas, which confronted Antiochus when he came to Egypt and demanded that he withdraw or face the wrath of Rome. Antiochus wisely withdrew from Egypt, albeit in a state of bitter frustration. He will turn back and direct his indignation against the holy covenant. He will return and honor#tn Heb “show regard for.” those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 His forces#tn Heb “arms.” will rise up and profane the fortified sanctuary,#tn Heb “the sanctuary, the fortress.” stopping the daily sacrifice. In its place they will set up#tn Heb “will give.” the abomination that causes desolation. 32 Then with smooth words he will defile#tn Or “corrupt.” those who have rejected#tn Heb “acted wickedly toward.” the covenant. But the people who are loyal to#tn Heb “know.” The term “know” sometimes means “to recognize.” In relational contexts it can have the connotation “recognize the authority of, be loyal to,” as it does here. their God will act valiantly.#sn This is an allusion to the Maccabean revolt, which struggled to bring about Jewish independence in the second century B.C. 33 These who are wise among the people will teach the masses.#tn Heb “the many.” However, they will fall#tn Heb “stumble.” by the sword and by the flame,#tn Or “by burning.” and they will be imprisoned and plundered for some time.#tn Heb “days.” 34 When they stumble, they will be granted some help. But many will unite with them deceitfully. 35 Even some of the wise will stumble, resulting in their refinement, purification, and cleansing until the time of the end, for it is still for the appointed time.
36 “Then the king#sn The identity of this king is problematic. If vv. 36-45 continue the description of Antiochus Epiphanes, the account must be viewed as erroneous, since the details do not match what is known of Antiochus’ latter days. Most modern scholars take this view, concluding that this section was written just shortly before the death of Antiochus and that the writer erred on several key points as he tried to predict what would follow the events of his own day. Conservative scholars, however, usually understand the reference to shift at this point to an eschatological figure, viz., the Antichrist. The chronological gap that this would presuppose to be in the narrative is not necessarily a problem, since by all accounts there are many chronological gaps throughout the chapter, as the historical figures intended by such expressions as “king of the north” and “king of the south” repeatedly shift. will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every deity and he will utter presumptuous things against the God of gods. He will succeed until the time of#tn The words “the time of” are added in the translation for clarification. wrath is completed, for what has been decreed must occur.#tn Heb “has been done.” The Hebrew verb used here is the perfect of certitude, emphasizing the certainty of fulfillment. 37 He will not respect#tn Heb “consider.” the gods of his fathers – not even the god loved by women.#tn Heb “[the one] desired by women.” The referent has been specified in the translation for clarity. He will not respect any god; he will elevate himself above them all. 38 What he will honor is a god of fortresses – a god his fathers did not acknowledge he will honor with gold, silver, valuable stones, and treasured commodities. 39 He will attack#tn Heb “act against.” mighty fortresses, aided by#tn Heb “with.” a foreign deity. To those who recognize him he will grant considerable honor. He will place them in authority over many people, and he will parcel out land for a price.#tn Or perhaps “for a reward.”
40 “At the time of the end the king of the south will attack#tn Heb “engage in thrusting.” him. Then the king of the north will storm against him#tn The referent of the pronoun is most likely the king of the south, in which case the text describes the king of the north countering the attack of the king of the south. with chariots, horsemen, and a large armada of ships.#tn Heb “many ships.” He#tn This most likely refers to the king of the north who, in response to the aggression of the king of the south, launches an invasion of the southern regions. will invade lands, passing through them like an overflowing river.#tn Heb “and will overflow and pass over.” 41 Then he will enter the beautiful land.#sn The beautiful land is a cryptic reference to the land of Israel. Many#tn This can be understood as “many people” (cf. NRSV) or “many countries” (cf. NASB, NIV, NLT). will fall, but these will escape:#tn Heb “be delivered from his hand.” Edom, Moab, and the Ammonite leadership. 42 He will extend his power#tn Heb “hand.” against other lands; the land of Egypt will not escape. 43 He will have control over the hidden stores of gold and silver, as well as all the treasures of Egypt. Libyans and Ethiopians#tn Or “Nubians” (NIV, NCV); Heb “Cushites.” will submit to him.#tn Heb “Libyans and Cushites [will be] at his footsteps.” 44 But reports will trouble him from the east and north, and he will set out in a tremendous rage to destroy and wipe out many. 45 He will pitch his royal tents between the seas#sn Presumably seas refers to the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea. toward the beautiful holy mountain. But he will come to his end, with no one to help him.
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