SIXTY-NINES WEEKS OF JEWISH HISTORY
In Daniel 9 we saw that Daniel was given a revelation that involved 70 weeks. We saw that these seventy weeks involved the nation of Israel. We saw that each week refers to a year; therefore the 70 weeks refer to a period of 490 years.
We also saw that 69 of these 70 weeks are historical from our point of view. In other words, the events described in the first 69 weeks have already been fulfilled. The 70th week is yet to be fulfilled.
Daniel 11 gives us a record of these 70 weeks. In verses 1-35 we have the events that occurred during the first 69 weeks. In verses 36-45 we have a description of the 70th week that is yet to be fulfilled. This week describes Israel’s sufferings under the antichrist.
In this study I want us to look at verses 1-35 and the events that transpire during the first 69 weeks. In these verses we have a history of the Jewish people. You could say that verses 1-35 give us 69 weeks of Jewish history.
Daniel 11 is another testimony in the book of Daniel to the accuracy and reliability of Bible prophecy. In the first 35 verses there are at least 135 prophecies which have been literally fulfilled and can be corroborated by history. You never have to doubt the accuracy and reliability of God’s Word, even its prophecies. The Bible is an accurate book and Daniel 11 is one example of its accuracy.
Let’s walk through verses 1-35 and take a Jewish history lesson. My outline will be very simple. First, there is the:
1. PROPHECIES CONCERNING PERSIA
In our last study (Daniel 10) we saw that behind the scenes there is a war that is being waged in the heavens. There are the angels of God and the emissaries of Satan, both seeking to influence the leaders and nations of the world.
In verse 1 we see an angel of God and his role in the king and kingdom of Persia. We read, "Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him." This angel, probably Gabriel, said that he “stood to confirm and strengthen” Darius the Mede. The word “confirm” has the ideal of taking hold of someone to make them strong.
When you read history you find that it was it was under the Persian rule that the decree was given allowing the Jewish people to return to their land. We read in Ezra 1:1-3, “1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.”
Here is an example and illustration of the influence of God’s angels on the history of the Jewish people. The angel of God influenced the Persian kings to respond to a certain way to the Jewish people. God had said they would spend 70 years in Babylonian captivity and when those 70 years was fulfilled, God sent an angel to influence the Persians who had conquered the Babylonians to respond favorably to the Jewish people, therefore bringing to fulfillment what God had said.
It has often been said that history is His story. God controls all the events of history to fulfill His purpose and plan for the ages. What happens throughout history God allows, and even arranges, so that His purposes are carried out according to His will.
Verses 1-2 speak of the Persian Empire. The Persians lived in what we now call Iran. It was in 539 B.C that the Persians under Cyrus conquered Babylon. He was followed by his son, Cambyses, who was followed by his son, Darius, of whom is referred to in verse 1. Darius extended the Persian Empire to its farthest reaches.
In verse 2 we learn of a fourth king of Persia that would lead an attack against Greece. We read, "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." This fourth king, as we know by history, was Xerxes I (486-465 B.C.). His father Darius was defeated by the Greeks at the battle of Marathon (490 B.C.). Ten years later, Xerxes gathered an army of more than two and half million men to invade Greece and avenge his father. It was an ill-fated adventure, for Xerxes was defeated. Although the Greeks were the victors, they remembered the invasion for years to come and longed for revenge.
Secondly, we see”
2. PROPHECIES CONCERNING GREECE
In verse 3 we read, "And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will." We know from history that the Greeks conquered Persia under Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) He retaliated against Persia, getting revenge for Xerxes’ invasion years earlier, and conquered the Persian Empire. Verse 3 speaks of Alexander the Great as mighty, ruling with great dominion, and doing whatever he desired.
Alexander is considered to be one of the greatest and most successful military commanders in history. He conquered most of the then known world and holds the distinction of never losing a battle. He as a leader was the mightiest among the mighty, his dominion was great, and he accomplished whatever he desired.
We read in verse 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." Alexander died at the age of 33 in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar. Upon his death, his kingdom was divided among his four generals. It was not left to his posterity as was prophesied in Daniel’s prophecy.
Thirdly, we see:
3. PROPHECIES CONCERNING EGYPT AND SYRIA
In verse 5 the angel speaks of two of the four divisions of Alexander’s empire. These two divisions were Syria and Egypt. The prophecies concerning Syria and Egypt comprise the biggest part of chapter 11 and are seen in five periods.
The first period embraces the years 323-246 B.C. We read in verse 5-6, "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. 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."
There are two kings introduced; the king of the south (Egypt) and the king of the north (Syria). Egypt was under the rule of Ptolemy 1 and Syria under Seleucus I. Seleucus was one of Ptolemy’s princes (captains) who rose to power and began the Selelucid Empire after Ptolemy’s victory at the battle of Gaza in 312 B.C.
Some years later a diplomatic marriage was arranged between the two kingdoms. The king of the south, Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt gave his daughter, Bernice, in marriage to the son king of the north (Antiochus Theos). Antiochus had to first divorce his own wife Laodice. After the death of Ptolemy, Antiochus took back his first wife, who had her revenge by murdering her husband, his Egyptian wife, and their infant son.
Period two involves the years 246-240 B.C. We read in verses 7-9, "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: 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. So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land."
Ptolemy III, the brother of the murdered Bernice, now the ruler in Egypt, invaded Syria and overran much of the Syrian territory. He put the vindictive Laodice to death and returned to Egypt with great booty. Verse 9 speaks of how Seleucus II of Syria then attempted a revenge attack on Egypt but was forced to return to his own land without success.
8. Period three involves the years 223-187 B.C. We read in verses 10-19, "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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found."
The angel speaks in some detail of Antiochus III the Great and his struggles with the kings of Egypt. At first Antiochus was successful, wresting control of Palestine from Egypt, but then was defeated by Ptolemy IV (Vs. 11-12).
Some years later, allied with Philip V of Macedonia, Antiochus returned to wage war with Ptolemy V of Egypt. Antiochus was victorious bringing to an end Egyptian rule over Palestine (Vs. 13-16)
Another diplomatic marriage was arranged between the two warring nations. Antiochus gave his daughter Cleopatra to be the wife of Ptolemy V in 192 B.C. (VS. 17)
Antiochus continued his conquests, conquering many of the islands of the Aegean Sea and had early successes in Greece until he was defeated by the Roman Army under Lucius Cornelius Scipio. Returning to his land in disgrace, Antiochus was killed while plundering a temple of its treasures (VS. 18-19).
Period four involves the time between 187-176 B.C. We read in verse 20, "Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle."
The son and successor of Antiochus the Great was Seleucus IV, who not only inherited a great kingdom, but also a great debt to Rome. Forced to pay this debt, Seleucus sent tax collectors throughout his kingdom, including a man named Heliodorus who plundered the temple in Jerusalem. Seleucus’ reign was brief. He died mysteriously, perhaps poisoned by the treasurer of his kingdom.
Period five involves the years 175-164 B.C. We read in verse 22-25, "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. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. 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. 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. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain. And both 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. 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. At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter. 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. 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. 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. 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. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.
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."
The detailed history up to this point has provided a background for the debut of one of the two great personages of this chapter. He is Antiochus Epiphanes, who is symbolic of the antichrist. His treatment of the Jewish people foreshadows similar happenings in the Tribulation at the hands of the antichrist.
His rise to power is seen in VS. 21-24. He seized the throne when it was not rightly his and enjoyed some military successes. He then disposed of Onias III, the Jewish high priest (Vs. 22) and established his own priesthood.
Forming leagues and breaking them, he extended power throughout Syria, Palestine, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, using bribery to gain support of the people (VS. 24).
His invasion and victory over Egypt are described in VS. 25-28. He invaded Egypt, defeating Ptolemy in 170 B.C. The treachery of Ptolemy’s trusted courtiers is cited as major reason for his defeat (VS. 26).
In working out truce arrangements, both kings practiced treachery (VS. 27)
On his way back to Syria, Antiochus put down a small insurrection in Jerusalem and took the opportunity to plunder the temple (VS. 28).
Antiochus’ invasion and defeat in Egypt are described in verses 29-30. This second invasion, as predicted was not successful. Met by Romans near Alexandria, Antiochus was handed a letter from the Roman Senate ordering him not to fight Egypt. When the Syrian king hesitated, the Roman consul drew a circle around Antiochus in the sand and told him he must make a decision before stepping out of the circle. Humiliated, frustrated, and enraged, Antiochus turned back toward Syria.
Antiochus’ persecution of the Jews in described in verses 31—35. Antiochus stopped in Palestine en-route to Syria, this time venting his frustration and anger against the Jews. He stopped daily sacrifices at the temple and desecrated the sanctuary by erecting, in the place of the brazen altar, a statue of the Greek god Zeus. This was the abomination that made the temple desolate, for no faithful Jew would think of approaching such an idol to worship Jehovah (VS 31).
During those days some resisted heroically, led and inspired by the Maccabees (VS. 32), but thousands of others were slaughtered (VS. 33-34).
The suffering of the Jews under Antiochus Epiphanes, however, had a refining purpose and this refining or purging process is predicted to continue till the “time of the end” (VS. 35).
This is a key expression for it provided the transition from Antiochus Epiphanes to the antichrist, from the past to the future, the time called the tribulation. How amazing the accuracy of the fulfillment of Scripture.
Dr. E. Schuyler once told of a man on Long Island who purchased a barometer. When he got home and unpacked it, the needle seemed to be stuck, pointing to the section marked “Hurricane.” He shook the instrument, but it stayed on “Hurricane.” He carried it back to the store, protesting that it did not work properly. When he returned home that evening his house had been destroyed in a hurricane.
When God’s Word’s point to a certain event happening, you can be sure it will happen.
© 2009 by Ken Trivette and the Living Word
(Daniel 11:1-35) Sixty-Nines Weeks of Jewish History