Daniel 11 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Daniel 11)

Verse 2

[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.

He — Xerxes was more potent than all the other three, because his father Darius had gathered an incredible mass for him, which he himself increased for six years together, before he made his expedition against Greece. There were more kings of Persia besides those four, but they had no concern with the people of God.

Verse 3

[3] And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.

A mighty king — Alexander the great.

Verse 4

[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.

When he shall stand up — When he is come to his highest point.

Nor according to his dominion — They did not reign as kings at first, but only as captains; and as to the extent of their dominion, it was far less than Alexander's, yea, all four fell short of his.

Even for others — Some lesser commanders shared several parts of the empire.

Verse 5

[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 — This king was Ptolemy, the first king of Egypt after Alexander who is brought in, because he took Jerusalem by treachery; for the angel minds only those persons and things which related to the Jews.

One of his princes — Seleucus Nicanor, who overcame Demetrius, and added Asia to his empire.

Verse 6

[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.

They — The successors of those first kings of Egypt and Syria.

Make an agreement — Bernice shall come from Egypt and marry with Antiochus Theus, who was the son of Antiochus Soter, and nephew to Seleucus Nicanor; for her father brought her to Pelusium with an infinite sum of gold and silver for her dowry.

She shall not retain — She continued not in favour and authority.

Nor his arm — His power.

Verse 7

[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:

Shall one stand up — Of Bernice shall come Ptolemaeus Euergetes, who shall revenge the wrong done to his sister.

Shall enter into the fortress — For he invaded Syria, and took many strong-holds.

Verse 8

[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.

He shall continue more years — He continued forty-six years.

Verse 9

[9] So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.

Return — So he did with a booty of forty thousand talents of silver.

Verse 10

[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.

But his sons — He means the sons of the king of the north, shall be incensed with the deeds of Ptolemaeus Euergetes, and his son Ptolemaeus Philopator.

One shall come — Antiochus the great, shall pass through Syria and recover what the king of Egypt took from his father.

Even to his fortress — To Raphia, which was a strong fortress at the entrance of Egypt.

Verse 11

[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.

His hand — Into the hand of Ptolemy.

Verse 12

[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.

His heart shall be lifted up — He might have recovered all, but he grew proud of his victory, and returned again to his luxury.

Verse 16

[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.

But he — Antiochus, that comes against Ptolemy.

The glorious land — Judea. Antiochus held all Judea, and with the provision and product of it, maintained his army.

Verse 17

[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.

He shall also set his face — He shall use all the force he can to master Egypt, and engross it to himself.

Upright ones — Many of the religious Jews joined with him: the rest of his army was a profane rabble of rude Heathens.

He shall give — Antiochus shall give Cleopatra his daughter to young Ptolemy, called the daughter of women, for her beauty.

Corrupting her — Persuading her to betray her husband: but she stuck to her husband's interest, and not her father's.

Verse 18

[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.

The isles — The isles and sea-coasts of the Mediterranean and Aegean sea.

But a prince — The Roman ambassador Scipio beat Antiochus at his own weapons of power and policy, and turned the reproach upon his own head.

Verse 19

[19] Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.

Then — Then he turned his face home-ward, yet was he not in safety, but was quickly after killed.

Verse 20

[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.

A raiser of taxes — Seleucus Philopator, who peeled his subjects, and spared not to rob the temple.

Within few days — For he lived not out the third part of his father's reign.

Not in battle — Not by open force, but by poison.

Verse 21

[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.

A vile person — Antiochus, called Epiphanes by his flatterers, but the people of God accounted him infamous, base, and treacherous.

They — Neither peers nor people, nor was he the heir, but his nephew; but he crept in by flatteries.

Verse 22

[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.

Overflown — The Egyptian force near Pelusium, where they fell by the power of Antiochus, with a great slaughter, near the river Nile.

The prince — The high-priest with his place and honour, for he put out Onias, and set up in his stead, Jason his brother.

Verse 23

[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.

After the league — For he made a league with Egypt, and came with a few, (but chosen men) and took the passes, and put all in subjection to him.

Verse 24

[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.

He shall enter peaceably — He shall come in upon the Egyptians under pretence of peace, in a plentiful and delicious country, and among a mass of treasures which the kings successively had heaped up; the greatest part of which Antiochus distributed among his confidants, whereby he obliged them the faster to him. He did herein what his fathers had not done; the kings of Syria before him, could never attain to this success over Egypt.

Against the strong-holds — Having succeeded thus far, he shall proceed to the places of greatest strength in that kingdom.

For a time — That is 'till God put a stop to his career, for the Egyptians found means to deliver themselves from his yoke.

Verse 25

[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.

But he shall not stand — He might have prospered, if he had not been betrayed by Eulaius, Benaeus, and the rest of his nobles, corrupted by Antiochus.

Verse 26

[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.

Yea — His most familiar friends and confidants; for he shall be overthrown with a great slaughter, as when the Nile overflows the country.

Verse 27

[27] 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.

At one table — They shall meet under pretence of peace.

But it shall not prosper — For neither shall Antiochus gain Egypt by all his artifice, nor Ptolemy, Syria.

At the time appointed — By the Lord, whose purpose and counsel shall stand.

Verse 28

[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.

Then shall he return — Antiochus shall depart with his booty gotten in Egypt.

Against the holy covenant — Against the law of God, with the people that worshipped God according to his will.

Verse 29

[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.

Toward the south — Egypt, to fight against Ptolemy.

But — This shall not be so prosperous as the two former expeditions, but shall fail both of his victory and booty.

Verse 30

[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.

The ships of Chittim — The Romans out of Italy, and the Archipelago. This made his heart boil with rancor, which he spit out against the Jews; especially being solicited to it by Jason first, and Menelaus after, who were apostates, and betrayers of their brethren.

Verse 31

[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.

And arms — Not only of his own army, but many Jews.

The sanctuary — Even the holy of holies.

The abomination — The statue of Jupiter placed in the temple.

Verse 36

[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 king — Antiochus was an eminent type of antichrist; to whom many things that follow may be applied by way of accommodation: altho' they principally refer to Antiochus, and had their primary accomplishment in him.

For that that is determined — That which God hath decreed to be done by him shall be done; and that which God hath purposed to be done upon him.

Verse 38

[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.

But in his estate — In the room of his father's god.

The God of forces — This seems to be Jupiter Olympius, never introduced among the Syrians, 'till Antiochus did it.

Verse 39

[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.

With a strange god — Using all art and authority to propagate his worship.

Verse 41

[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.

The children of Ammon — He will not hurt them; because they helped him against the Jews.

Verse 43

[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.

At his steps — He had them at his foot, at his beck.

Verse 45

[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.

None shall help him — God shall cut him off in the midst of his days. And when he destroys, who can help?