Antiochus IV does not fit the profile of Daniel’s Antichrist.

SUMMARY

Introduction

It is generally agreed that the 11th horn of Daniel 7, the little horn of Daniel 8, and the “vile person” in Daniel 11 refer to the same Antichrist. Critical scholars are convinced that this is Antiochus IV; a Greek king that reigned in the middle of the second century B.C.

Since they think that Daniel was written by some uninspired but partisan Jew, liberal scholars have a high tolerance for differences between Antiochus IV and the evil king in Daniel. But for those who accept the reliability of the book, Antiochus does not fit the profile:

The Antichrist is Roman; not Greek.

The two beasts in Daniel 8 are explicitly identified as Medo-Persia and Greece (Dan 8:20-21). By comparing the beasts of Daniel 7 and 8, another article shows that the two beasts in Daniel 8 are parallel to the second and third beasts in Daniel 7. The fourth beast in Daniel 7, therefore, must be the Roman Empire. It follows that the Antichrist, symbolized as the 11th horn coming out of that fourth beast, comes out of the Roman Empire. Therefore, it cannot be a Greek king.

Antiochus’ methods do not fit.

Antiochus IV did not “seize the kingdom by intrigue,” as the Antichrist is predicted to do (Dan 11:21). After the previous king (his brother) was killed, He became king with the help of the Pergamene monarch.

He did not “cause deceit to succeed” (Dan 8:25) any more than any other Greek king.

He did not “distribute plunder, booty and possessions” (Dan 11:24). On the contrary, he owed huge sums of war debt following his father’s defeats against the Romans and needed all the money he could lay his hands on.

He did not grow.

He did not begin small (Dan 7:8; 8:9) or weak (Dan 11:23). He was a Seleucid prince who became king after his oldest brother was killed.

He was not greater than all of his predecessors (Dan 7:20), who, in the liberal interpretation, would include Alexander the Great. Daniel 8 describes Alexander the Great as “very great” but the Antichrist as even greater (Dan 8:8-9).

He did not expand his kingdom “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land (Judea)” (Dan 8:9). Antiochus IV did not expand his kingdom to Judea. It was already part of his kingdom when he became king. And, by the time Daniel was written according to liberals, the Romans already ordered Antiochus to leave Egypt. 

He did not kill the Prince.

He did not kill “the prince of the covenant” (Dan 11:22):

Critics claim that “the prince of the covenant” refers to the high priest Onias and that Antiochus killed him, but Antiochus had no direct involvement in Onias’ death. The high priest whom Antiochus appointed (Menelaus) killed Onias.

Based on word links, another article shows that “the prince of the covenant” (Dan 11:22) is the same as the “prince” who “confirms the covenant with many for one week” (Dan 9:27), namely, Jesus Christ. Antiochus also did not kill Jesus either.

He does not fit the periods.

In the liberal interpretation, all the periods in Daniel, including the “time and times and the dividing of time” (Dan 7:25), the 2300 “evening morning” (Dan 8:14), and the “seventy weeks” (Dan 9:24) describe the evil king. However, Antiochus does not fit these periods.

For example, in Daniel 9, the first 483 years are from the “decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince” (Dan 9:25). In the critical interpretation, these 483 years preceded Antiochus IV. But 483 years before Antiochus brings us to about 50 years before Jerusalem was destroyed. There was no decree to rebuild Jerusalem at the time.

The history of Antiochus also does not explain the differences between these periods.

He did not oppose God.

Antiochus’ heart was not “set against the holy covenant” (Dan 11:28, 30) and he did not “speak monstrous things against the God of gods” (Dan 11:36). Antiochus IV was not principally opposed to the God of the Bible. He ordered the various nations of his empire to abandon their particular customs and robbed temples of various gods; not only the Jews.

He appointed the high priest in Jerusalem because he appointed rulers for all nations in his empire and the high priest was the ruler of Judea.

The Maccabean War began in 167 BC as a Jewish rebellion against the pro-Hellenistic Jews that ruled Judea. When the Jewish rebels forced the high priest to hide in the citadel, Antiochus IV saw this as a revolt against his authority (2 Macc 5:11). That is why he attacked Jerusalem (II Macc 5:5-16). He did not attack Jerusalem because it worshipped God.

He did not serve strange gods.

He did not:

    • “Exalt and magnify himself above every god” (Dan 11:36),
    • “Show no regard for the gods of his fathers” (Dan 11:37), or
    • Served a “strange god,” unknown to his fathers (Dan 11:38).

Antiochus’ aim was the opposite, namely that all people should serve the gods of his fathers. For example, it was a statue of Zeus that he set up in the temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus placed the abomination in His future.

Jesus referred to “the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel” as something in His future (compare Matt 24:15 to Dan 12:11). It, therefore, cannot refer to something that Antiochus IV did.

The liberal interpretation not only destroys the book of Daniel. It discredits Jesus Christ and the entire Bible. Revelation, in particular, picks up on various aspects in Daniel, such as the beasts (Dan: 7:4-8; Rev 13:2), the “time, times, and half a time” (Dan 7:25; Rev 12:14), and the oath (Dan 12:7; Rev 10:6). If Daniel falls, Revelation falls as well.

Antiochus does not exhaust the passage.

As discussed in the article on Daniel 11, Daniel 11:2-19 correlates well with known secular history until the death of Antiochus III in verse 19. There are also many similarities between Antiochus IV and the predicted evil king. But Antiochus IV by no means exhausts the passage. Antiochus IV is not the complete fulfillment of Daniel’s predicted evil king. He was only a type of the Antichrist. For complete fulfillment, we must search for a later and much more powerful Antichrist.

END OF SUMMARY –


HIS METHODS

He did not rule by Deceit.

Daniel 11:21 describes how the predicted “vile person” (“despicable person” in the NASB) becomes king:

… a despicable person will arise,
on whom the honor of kingship has not been conferred,
but he will come in a time of tranquility
and seize the kingdom by intrigue.

“By intrigue” means plotting, conspiracy or trickery. Antiochus IV did not seize the kingdom by intrigue. Ancientmacedonia.com describes how he became king:

Seleucus was murdered by Heliodorus, his treasurer (B.C. 176) … On the death of Seleucus, the throne was seized by Heliodorus; but it was not long before Antiochus, the brother of the late king, with the help of the Pergamene monarch, Eumenes, recovered it.

The evil king in Daniel 11 not only becomes king through deceit; he also rules through deceit: “cause deceit to succeed” (Dan 8:25). History does not identify Antiochus IV as any more deceitful than other Greek kings.

He did not Distribute Plunder.

The predicted evil king “will distribute plunder, booty and possessions among them” (Dan 11:24). This was not true of Antiochus IV. To the contrary, he had owed huge sums of war debt to Rome following his father’s defeats against the Romans and needed the money.

HIS GROWTH

He did not start small.

The vile person of Daniel starts small (Dan 7:8; 8:9) and weak (Dan 11:23; supported by few), but later becomes “exceedingly great” (Dan 8:9).

Antiochus IV did not start small. He was a Seleucid prince and the brother of the murdered king. After his brother’s murderer seized the throne, he was made king with the support of a neighboring king.

He was not greater than others.

The eleventh horn of Daniel 7 also symbolizes the Antichrist. This horn is much larger than the other 10 (Dan 7:20). In the liberal interpretation, this means that he is greater than the other kings of the Greek empire. In Daniel 8, the horn is even larger than Alexander the Great: Alexander is described as “very great” (Dan 8:8) but the horn is “exceedingly great” (KJV; RSV, Dan 8:9).

This does not fit Antiochus IV. He cannot be described as greater than Alexander the Great. Antiochus IV was not greater than the Seleucid kings that preceded him. Seleucus I Nicator was the first king of the Seleucid branch of the Greek Empire after Alexander’s empire split up. He had significant military successes. A few generations later, Antiochus III was called ‘the Great’ because he expanded the domain of the Seleucid kingdom to close to its original size. His military successes are described in Daniel 11:15 but later the Romans defeated him and left his empire, particularly in the west, subject to Rome’s growing power. Because of these defeats, Antiochus IV, as a boy, grew up a hostage in Rome.

Antiochus IV was weak compared to Alexander the Great, Seleucus I, and his father, Antiochus III. He had success against the Ptolemy branch of the Greek kingdom (Egypt), but by the time Critical scholars say Daniel was written (165 BC), the Romans had already ordered him to leave Egypt, and he had to oblige. On the eastern side of his kingdom, the Parthians were taking Iran from his empire, and the need to attend to this threat later allowed the Jewish revolt to succeed; the Maccabees were soon able to drive his soldiers out of Israel and reinstate temple services.

He did not expand his kingdom.

ALEXANDER THE GREAT

Daniel 8:8 uses the word “elahah” to describe the growth of the four Greek horns. This means vertical growth. This word is appropriate because the four Greek horns did not expand the Greek territory. They simply subdivided the area already occupied by Alexander the Great amongst themselves. In symbolic language, the horns ‘grew up’ in an existing occupied area. 

In contrast, Daniel 8:9 uses the word “yatsah” to describe the growth of the little horn (Dan 8:9). This means horizontal growth and implies that the horn expands the area it occupies. The horizontal expansion of the predicted evil king is more specifically described as “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land (Judea)” (Dan 8:9). Antiochus IV did not expand his kingdom into those three directions.

He did have some success in the south (Egypt), but in 165 BC, when Daniel was supposedly written, the Romans already ordered him to leave Egypt.

He also did not invade Judea. Judea was part of the kingdom when he became king.

In the east he invaded nothing. At best he strengthened his control over the areas which his father already occupied.

And if the south can be mentioned, then also the West, because he also invaded Cyprus.

HIS GODS

He did not oppose God.

The Antichrist in Daniel is a tyrant who principally opposes God and His saints: “His heart will be set against the holy covenant” (Dan 11:28, 30). He “will speak monstrous things against the God of gods” (Dan 11:36).

Antiochus IV was not principally opposed to the God of the Bible. His objective was merely to maintain control over his empire. He ordered all peoples of his empire to abandon their particular customs; not only the Jews:

Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, each abandoning his particular customs. All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king, and many Israelites were in favor of his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath (1M1:41-43).

Antiochus IV did rob the Jewish temple but, to pay his debt to the Romans, he also robbed other temples (2 Macc 9:2).

After nearly 200 years of Hellenistic dominance over Israel, the influence of the Hellenistic culture was strong, even without Antiochus IV forcing it down the throats of his subjects (1 Macc 1:11-14). Antiochus IV appointed rulers for all nations in his empire. He also appointed the high priest in Jerusalem. Since Judea was a temple kingdom, the high priest effectively was the king of Judea. A pro-Hellenistic group of Jews ruled Judea. The Maccabean War began in 167 BC as a Jewish rebellion against the Jewish ruling party. When the rebels attacked Jerusalem and forced the high priest to hide in the citadel, Antiochus IV saw this as a revolt against his authority (2M 5:11). That is why he attacked Jerusalem (II Macc 5:5-16). He did not attack Jerusalem because it worshipped God.

He did not honor a strange god.

“The king … will exalt and magnify himself above every god and … He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers … nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all” (Dan 11:36-37). “But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know” (Dan 11:38).

This Antiochus did not do. His aim was rather the opposite, namely that all people should serve the gods of his fathers. It was a statue of Zeus that he set up in the temple in Jerusalem.

PRINCE OF THE COVENANT

He did not kill the Prince.

The Antichrist “shattered … the prince of the covenant” (Dan 11:22). The article on Daniel 11 shows, based on word links, that “the prince of the covenant” is the same “prince” who “confirms the covenant with many for one week” (Dan 9:27). These are the only princes “of the covenant” in Daniel. The articles on Daniel 9 prove that the prince in 9:27 is Jesus Christ. “The prince of the covenant,” therefore, is also Jesus Christ. Antiochus died 180 years before Jesus and had nothing to do with His death.

The Prince is Jesus.

That “prince of the covenant” refers to Jesus can be confirmed as follows:

The “prince of the covenant” in Daniel 11 is arguably the same as the “prince of the host” in Daniel 8:11 because both are leaders of God’s people. Critics propose that this “prince of the covenant” in Daniel 11 is the high priest Onias III who was murdered during the reign of Antiochus IV. Indeed, the Bible sometimes refers to the high priest as a prince, but never as the “prince of the host.” The only other reference in the Bible to the “prince of the host” is in Joshua 5:14-15, where He is worshiped:

14 He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth … 15 The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” …

(The word translated as “captain” in Joshua is the same word translated as “prince” in Daniel 8:11, namely ‘sar’.)

This implies that “the prince of the host” is Jesus Christ, which implies that the “prince of the covenant” also refers to Jesus. 

Antiochus did not kill Onias.

Critics claim that “the prince of the covenant” refers to the high priest Onias and that Antiochus killed him, but that is not true. As already stated, the high priest was effectively the king of Israel, and in the same way that Antiochus IV appointed kings for other nations, he appointed the high priest in Israel. Antiochus replaced Onias III as high priest with Onias’s brother Jason and a few years later he also replaced Jason with Menelaus. Menelaus resented Onias’ criticism and had him killed in 171 BC. It would therefore not be valid to claim that Antiochus broke or shattered Onias. It was the Jewish high priest who arranged his death.

PROPHETIC PERIODS

Overview of the Periods in Daniel

Through the prophecies in Daniel, God gave us information to identify the “vile person;” the Antichrist in Daniel. The only reason Daniel mentions the preceding four kingdoms is to enable us to identify the Antichrist. In the liberal interpretation, all the periods in Daniel describe the Antichrist:

DANIEL 2 does not mention the Antichrist. Therefore, there are no prophetic period in that chapter.

The first period in Daniel is the “time and times and the dividing of time” in DANIEL 7, often understood as 3½ years, during which the Antichrist persecutes the saints (Dan 7:25).

The second period is in Daniel 8:14, which announces that the sanctuary will be cleansed after 2300 “evening morning.” This is translated by the KJV as 2300 “days”. 2300 days is equal to more than 6 years and does not fit the time of Antiochus IV. To get it closer to the period of Antiochus’ defilement of the temple, Critics interpret this as 2300 sacrifices, of which there was one each morning and one each evening, giving 1150 full days.

The third period is the “seventy weeks” of Danial 9:24, subdivided into 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and the final seven. (As interpreted by this website, this period does not relate to the Antichrist. See – Daniel 9 does not describe the same crisis.)

To explain and link the other periods, Daniel 12 provides two further periods, namely 1290 days and 1335 days.

Antiochus did not fit these periods.

Antiochus IV does not fit these periods but liberals argue that Daniel was written before the end of these periods, and the writer was simply wrong with his predictions. Critics, therefore, do not require the periods to fit history exactly. But at least two of the periods preceded the pollution of the temple by Antiochus IV, and they should fit history exactly:

The first is the 483 years in Daniel 9. This prophecy requires 483 years from the “decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince” (Dan 9:25). In the view of liberal scholars, the last week describes the time of Antiochus IV, which means that the preceding 483 years were past when their unidentified second-century author wrote. The 483 years must, therefore, correspond to actual history, but to fit 483 years between the possible decrees and Antiochus IV is not possible. Critics have several very creative solutions, but the article on the Liberal-critical interpretation of Daniel 9 shows clear flaws in such proposals.

The other period that was past when the critics’ second-century author wrote, is the first 30 days of the 1290 days in Revelation 12:11. The 1290 days began with the desecration of the temple. 30 days later, the persecution of the saints begins and lasts for 1260 days. (See below for an explanation.) 

In the view of the Critics, the second-century author completed the book of Daniel while the sanctuary was still defiled and the saints were still being persecuted. These 30 days must, therefore, fit the history of Antiochus IV exactly, but it does not. It was rather the other way around. Accor­ding to I and II Maccabees, the persecution of the Jews began before the temple was desecra­ted. 

1290 Days = 30 + 1260

After Daniel was reminded of the 3½ years of persecution (Dan 12:7), he asked for more information (Dan 12:8). Then he was told:

And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away,
and the abomination that maketh desolate set up,
there shall be a 1290 days. (KJV; Dan 12:11)

Firstly, the 1290 days, therefore, explain the 3½ years.

Secondly, since Daniel 12:11 only specifies a beginning event, it is implied that the 1290 days and the 3½ years end at the same time. Since the 3½ years is equal to 1260 days (cf. Rev 12:6, 14), the 1290 days are 30 days longer than the 3½ years, and therefore start 30 days before the beginning of the persecution. (The alternative interpretation, which understands the 1260 days to be equal to 1290 days by playing around with leap years, makes a mockery of Daniel 12:11.)

The taking away of the “daily” and the setting up of the “abomination of desolation” (Dan 12:11), with which the 1290 days begin, is the desecration of the sanctuary. Since the 1290 days begin 30 days before the persecution begins, the sanctuary is desecrated 30 days before the beginning of the persecution of the saints. 

Liberals cannot explain the periods.

A related point is that, in the interpretation as proposed by the critics, the periods in Daniel conflict with one another:

Critics assume that the 2300 “evening morning” is equal to 1150 real days and that this is the duration of the defilement of the sanctuary. But then the 1150 days and the 1290 days begin at the same time, namely when the sanctuary is defiled, which means that the 1150 days end 140 days before the end of the 1290 days. This means that the saints are persecuted for 140 days after the sanctuary has been cleansed. This is not logical.

Critics have no acceptable explanation for the differences between the periods; the 2300 “evening morning,” the 3½ times, and the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days.

Jesus placed the 1290 days in His future.

The 1290 days begin with “the abomination that maketh desolate set up”. Critics interpret this as the setting up of a statue of Zeus in the Jewish temple by Antiochus IV, but Jesus said:

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand). (Matt 24:15)

Jesus, therefore, placed the 1290 days in the future. It cannot refer to something Antiochus IV did.

CONCLUSION

The liberals’ writer made factual errors.

Critics may argue that Daniel describes Antiochus as more evil and powerful than he was because their second-century Jewish author was emotionally wrapped up in the destruction of everything sacred to the Jews, with a consequential loss of objectivity. For this reason, they may argue, that he described Antiochus as ruling by deceit, being more powerful than all other Greek kings, and principally opposing God. However, if the “vile person” is supposed to be a description of Antiochus, then Daniel includes factually incorrect information that cannot be ascribed to a lack of objectivity, such as:

      • He started small.
      • He appeared on the scene 483 years after a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
      • He promoted a “strange god”, unknown to his fathers.

Antiochus was a type of the Antichrist.

As discussed in the Daniel 11 article, Daniel 11:2-19 correlates well with secular history until the death of Antiochus III in verse 19 and there are many similarities between Antiochus and the vile person, but Antiochus IV by no means exhausts the passage. Antiochus IV is not the complete fulfillment of Daniel’s Antichrist. Antiochus IV is a type of the Antichrist. For the complete fulfillment of the prophecies, we must search for a later and much more powerful Antichrist.

 

OTHER ARTICLES

The purpose of this series is to identify the Mark of the Beast. First, it identifies the Beast. The Antichrist in Daniel, symbolized as the Sea Beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire:

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    Daniel 2 sets the stage to identify the Antichrist.
  • 2
    The four beast-kingdoms reign one after the other but the ten horns exist at the same time; after the fourth empire.
  • 3
    Daniel 8 identifies the two animals as Mede-Persia and Greece but not the horn. This article explains the alternative interpretations.
  • 4
    A comparison of the animals of Daniel 7 and 8 identifies the fourth kingdom, from which the Antichrist arises, as the Roman Empire.
  • 5
    The genders in Daniel 8 show that “one of them” means one of the compass directions of the heavens, which means the horn came out of Rome.
  • 6
    Critical scholars propose that Antiochus IV is the Antichrist in Daniel but he was only a type of a later and much greater Antichrist.
  • 7
    This article lists several differences between the Antichrist of Daniel 7, 8, and 11 and Antiochus IV.
  • 8
    The Dragon is one of Revelation’s three seven-headed beasts. In Rev 13:1-2 – the birth of the Sea Beast – the Dragon is the Roman Empire.
  • 9
    It is a fragment of and the continuation of the authority of the Roman Empire. It is also the Antichrist. People will receive its mark.
  • 10
    The Sea Beast has a fatal wound on one of its heads. Revelation 17 describes the same fatal wound and identifies it as the sixth head.

The Antichrist in Daniel 11 is not Antiochus IV.

Daniel 11 is one of the most difficult chapters in the Bible. The purpose of this article is to identify the Antichrist in Daniel 11. In the liberal view, he is Antiochus IV, a Greek king who ruled in the second century B.C. In the conservative view, that Antichrist began to exist after Jesus’ life on earth. 

SUMMARY

The Liberal View

According to the Book of Daniel itself, it was written in the sixth century B.C. but it explicitly predicted the Greek empire that was established some centuries later. Liberal scholars do not accept that such accurate predictions are possible. They propose that Daniel was written AFTER the Greek empire was already established. In other words, the prophecies of Daniel are history written in the form of prophecy. Specifically, they say that Daniel was written during the reign of Antiochus IV and that the Antichrist in Daniel 11 is Antiochus IV.

Liberal and conservative interpreters agree that the Antichrist in Daniel 11 is the same as the Antichrist of Daniel 7 and 8. Liberal scholars, therefore, identify the Antichrist of Daniel 7 and 8 also as Antiochus IV.

The Conservative View

Based on the strong word links between Daniel 11:22 and the prophecy of Christ’s death in Daniel 9:24-27, the current article proposes that the Prince of the Covenant in Daniel 11:22 is Jesus Christ and that “broken” refers to His death on the Cross, 200 years after Antiochus. Consequently, the Antichrist, who is described as the “vile person” (Daniel 11:21), and who ‘broke’ the Prince of the Covenant (Dan 11:22), cannot be Antiochus IV. The current article proposes, similar to the article on Daniel 8, that the evil power in these chapters symbolizes both the Roman Empire and its Antichrist successor.

Objections to this Interpretation

The Emphasis on Antiochus III

Antiochus III, the predecessor of Antiochus IV, is highlighted by verses 14-19. In the liberal view, the purpose of this major emphasis is to point to Antiochus IV. However, the current article argues that the purpose of this emphasis is to say that Antiochus III’s unsuccessful war against Rome was a turning point in history. Similar to Xerxes’ wars against the Greeks, mentioned earlier in Daniel 11, once such a turning point has been reached, the prophecy jumps over the remaining kings of that Empire.

Daniel 11 does not mention the Roman Empire.

But that is not quite true. It does mention the Roman Empire, but only very indirectly. Daniel 2 provides an overview of history without mentioning the Antichrist. The later prophecies in Daniel 7, 8, and 11 shift the focus more and more away from the overview of history to the Antichrist, to such an extent that the Antichrist in Daniel 8 and 11 also includes the Roman Empire.

Antiochus IV fits the description.

However, the description of the Antichrist exceeds Antiochus IV. Many things in Daniel 11 are not true of Antiochus IV. He was a type of the Antichrist. He was only a partial fulfillment of the final and much larger worldwide Antichrist that would arise from the Roman Empire.

THE LIBERAL VIEW

The Liberal View of the Book of Daniel

History Written in the Form of Prophecy

According to the Book of Daniel itself, it was written in the sixth century B.C. That was before the kingdom of Greece became a ‘world’ power. But Daniel 8:20-21 and 11:2 mention the Medo-Persian and Greek empires by name. Critical (liberal) scholars do not accept that such accurate predictions of future events are possible. Therefore, they propose that the Book of Daniel was written by an unknown writer AFTER these empires already had come to power (For example, see – Wikipedia). In their view, the prophecies of Daniel are history written in the form of prophecy.

The Antichrist is Antiochus IV.

Daniel 11 refers to the Antichrist as the “vile person” (Dan 11:21 – KJV). It is the main character in that chapter.

After Alexander the Great died, his Greek empire was divided into four parts. One of these was the Seleucids of the Middle East. Antiochus IV was one of the Seleucid kings. He reigned in the middle of the second century BC. Liberal scholars say that the events described in Daniel 11 fit known history until a point in time during Antiochus’ reign later events in Daniel 11 do not fit known history. For that reason, they propose:

(1) That the Book of Daniel was written during the reign of Antiochus IV and in response to his persecution of the Jews;

(2) That the Antichrist in Daniel 11 is Antiochus IV, and

(3) That the events described later in Daniel 11, that do not fit the history after Antiochus IV, are the guesswork of the uninspired writer of Daniel.

This is called the Maccabean thesis. As one Critical scholar wrote:

Daniel was written during the period of the Maccabees, in the middle of the 2nd century B.C., or about 400 years after the events it describes. Its origin is betrayed in chapter 11 when Daniel supposedly prophesies about the future.

The Antichrist in Daniel 7 is also Antiochus.

For the following reasons, liberal and conservative interpreters generally agree that the “vile person” of Daniel 11 is the same as the Antichrist Horn of Daniel 7 and 8:

(1) Later prophecies in Daniel elaborate on the earlier ones. Daniel 11, therefore, although it does not use beasts and horns to represent kingdoms, but rather a series of selected individual kings who ruled those kingdoms, still describes the same kingdoms as in Daniel 7 and 8.

(2) Both the Antichrist Horn and the Vile Person:

        • Persecute God’s people (Dan 7:25; 11:32-34);
        • For a period of 3½ times (Dan 7:25; 12:7); 1Daniel 11:32-34 describes the persecution by the Vile Person. The duration of the persecution is explained as “a time, two times, and half a time” (Dan 12:6, 7), which is equal to 3½ times. Daniel 7:25 also mentions the “time, times, and half a time” as the period of persecution of the saints of the Most High by the little horn-king.
        • Profane the temple (Dan 11:31; 8:11); 2The Vile Person profanes the strong temple (Dan 11:31), which is equivalent to the casting down of the place of the temple by the horn in Daniel 8:11.
        • Set up “the abomination” (Dan 11:31; 8:13); 3An abomination is a sin. In Deuteronomy 7:25, for example, “graven images of their gods” are called “an abomination to the LORD your God.” Both Daniel 11:31 and 8:11-12 mention the “abomination” in connection with the “regular sacrifice” (the tamid). Daniel 11, therefore, covers the same ground as Daniel 8 but provides additional detail.
        • Remove the continual sacrifice (the tamid) (Dan 8:11; 11:31);
        • Use deceit (Dan 8:25; 11:21-24); and
        • “Magnify himself” (Dan 8:11; 11:36-37).

Critical scholars, since they identify the Antichrist in Daniel 11 as Antiochus, and since they agree that the Antichrist in Daniel 7 and 8 is the same Power, identify the Antichrist Horn of Daniel 7 and 8 also as Antiochus IV.

THE CONSERVATIVE VIEW

Reads Daniel from the beginning.

Liberal scholars, therefore, base their interpretation of all of Daniel’s prophecies on Daniel 11. Conservatives, in contrast, base their interpretation of Daniel mostly on the earlier and easier-to-understand prophecies in Daniel 2, 7, and 8, but often find it difficult to explain Daniel 11.

Verses 1-20

Verses 1-13 – Persian and Greek Kings

There are no animals in Daniel 11. The prophecy names the Persian kingdom (Dan 11:2), but none of the later kingdoms or kings are named. Instead, the titles “king of the south” and “king of the north” describe entire kingdoms, each consisting of a series of kings. The reader of Daniel 11 has to identify the individual kings by comparing the prophetic events with actual history.

Liberal and conservative interpreters generally agree on the interpretation of Daniel 11:1-13:

The chapter begins with a description of individual Persian kings, concluding with Xerxes, who attacked Greece (Dan 11:2). By his failed attack on the Greeks, he brought the Greek nation onto the ‘world’ scene.

The prophecy then jumps over the next 150 years of Persian rule to the first Greek king—the “mighty king” (Alexander the Great) (Dan 11:3). After his death, his kingdom was divided into four parts (Dan 11:4). Verses 5 to 13 describe key events in the history of two of the four parts, namely those parts that were threats to Judea:

        • To the north of Judea was the “king of the north;” the Seleucid kings of the Middle East.
        • To the south was the “king of the south,” namely the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt.

The actions of the Ptolemies and Seleucids, as described in these verses, are fairly consistent with what we know today of their history.

Verses 14-20 – Antiochus III

Verse 14 refers to the “breakers of your people.” Here interpretations start to diverge. However, most interpreters agree that verses 14 to 19 describe Antiochus III; one of the Greek kings and the predecessor of Antiochus IV. To quote a critical scholar:

Daniel 11:2-20 is a very accurate & historically corroborated sequence of events from the third year (Dan 10:1) of the Persian era up to the predecessor of Antiochus IV: some 366 years! Only the names and dates are missing. Most of the details are about the conflicts between the kings of the South (the Ptolemies of Egypt) and the kings of the North (the Seleucids of Mesopotamia / Syria). The Seleucids are shown to become stronger and stronger (despite some setbacks) … Of course, Jerusalem was in the middle and changed hands (197, from Egypt to Syria).

Verses 21-22

The Prince of the Covenant is Jesus Christ.

Daniel 11:21 refers to the “vile person.” He overflowed “the arms of the flood” (Dan 11:22) and broke the “prince (nagid) of the covenant” (Dan 11:22). The current article proposes that this Prince of the Covenant is Jesus Christ and that “broken” refers to His death on the Cross. This is based on the strong word links between Daniel 11:22 and the prophecy of Christ’s death in Daniel 9:24-27:

Flood – The word “flood,” as a noun, occurs only twice in Daniel—in 9:26 and Daniel 11:22.

Nagid – The word ‘sar’ (translated “prince”) occurs 11 times in Daniel (Dan 8:11, 25; 9:6, 8; 10:13, 20, 21; 11:5; 12:1). But the word ‘nagid’, which is also translated as “prince,” occurs only in Daniel 11:22 and in Daniel 9:24-27, namely in “Messiah the Prince” (Dan 9:25) and in “the prince who is to come” (Dan 9:26).

Cut Off – In both Daniel 9:24-27 and Daniel 11:22, the nagid-prince will be killed. He is “cut off” and ”broken” (Dan 9:26; 11:22).

Covenant – The word “covenant” also occurs elsewhere in Daniel, but only in these two passages is a prince connected with the covenant. Consequently, only the nagid-prince is connected with the covenant:

        • In Daniel 9:26-27 the nagid-prince makes strong the covenant for one week. (See Covenant in Daniel 9:27.)
        • In Daniel 11:22, the nagid-prince of the covenant is broken. 4Elsewhere in Daniel, “covenant” always refers to the covenant between God and His people (Daniel 9:4; 11:28, 30, 32). This implies that the covenant in Daniel 11:22 also refers to God’s covenant with Israel.

This website had identified the Prince of the Covenant in Daniel 9:24-27 as Jesus Christ (See, Who confirms what?). Given these strong word links to Daniel 11:22, these two passages describe the same event. Consequently:

(A) The nagid-prince in the two passages refers to the same individual, namely, Jesus Christ.

(B) The shattering of the Prince of the Covenant in Daniel 11:22 refers to Christ’s death.

The Vile Person is the Roman Empire.

Since verse 22 describes Jesus Christ, 200 years after Antiochus, the “vile person” (Dan 11:21) cannot be Antiochus IV.

Since Daniel 9:24-27 and 11:22 describe the same event, and since the word “flood,” as a noun, occurs only in 9:26 and Daniel 11:22, the flood that floods away the other flood (Dan 11:22) is the same as the flood that destroys the city and the sanctuary (Dan 9:26), namely, the Roman Empire.

The Abomination of Desolation is after Christ.

Since Daniel 11 describes events in their chronological sequence, and since the abomination (Dan 11:31) and the persecution of God’s people (Dan 11:32-34) are described AFTER verse 22, these events occur after Christ’s death and cannot refer to Antiochus IV 200 years earlier. Jesus confirmed this when He put the abomination in the future:

“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet (Daniel 11:31 and 12:11), standing in the holy place …“ (Matt 24:15)

Jesus, therefore, also interpreted the “vile person” as an Antichrist that will arise AFTER His time; not as the Greek king Antiochus IV who died about 200 years earlier.

Compare Daniel 11 to earlier prophecies.

With this conclusion, and with the assistance of the previous articles in this series, we are now able to compare Daniel 11 with the earlier prophecies:

DANIEL 11 DANIEL 9 DANIEL 8 DANIEL 7
Persian kings (Dan 11:2) Persian decree (Dan 9:25) Ram (Dan 8:2-4) Bear (Dan 7:5)
Greek king (Dan 11:3) Goat (Dan 8:5-7) Leopard (Dan 7:6a)
Kings of North and South Goat’s four horns (Dan 8:8) Leopard’s four heads
Roman flood breaks Nagid of the covenant (Dan 11:22) Nagid cut off (Dan 9:25-27) Horn’s horizontal expansion (Dan 8:9) Fourth beast (Dan 7:8, 23)
Vile person profanes temple, sets up abomination, persecutes for 3½ times (Dan 11:31-34; 12:7) Horn casts temple down, removes daily, transgression of desolation (Dan 8:8-13) Little horn: persecutes God’s people for 3½ limes; (Dan 7:25)

OBJECTIONS

This section responds to possible objections to the interpretation proposed above.

The prophecy emphasizes Antiochus III.

To point to Antiochus IV.

Daniel 11 provides much more detail about Antiochus III (Dan 11:15-19); the father and predecessor of Antiochus IV, than about any previous king. Critical scholars argue that this emphasis identifies the next king (the Vile Person) as his son Antiochus IV.

To point to a turning point in history.

This article gives a different explanation as to why the prophecy emphasizes Antiochus III:

The reign of the fourth Persian king (Xerxes) was also emphasized earlier in Daniel 11:2, not to identify the Persian king that would follow after him, but because his unsuccessful wars against Greece were a key turning point in history that shifted the balance of power from Mede-Persia to Greece. After Xerxes was mentioned in verse 2, the prophecy immediately jumps over the next 150 years during which seven Persian kings reigned (Artaxerxes I, Darius II, Xerxes II, Artaxerxes II, Artaxerxes Ill, Arses, and Darius III), to the first Greek emperor; Alexander the Great (Dan 11:3).

Similarly, Antiochus III’s unsuccessful war against the Romans, as described in Daniel 11, was a key turning point in history. It shifted the balance of power from the Greek Empire to Rome. As a consequence, Antiochus and his sons had to pay penalties to the Romans, and their empire was left subject to the growing dominance of Rome.

Both the reigns of Xerxes and Antiochus III, therefore, were key turning points in history that shifted the balance of power to the next empire. It is for that reason that Daniel 11 emphasizes Xerxes and Antiochus III; not to identify the kings that follow them.

In the case of Xerxes, once the key turning point has been reached, the prophecy jumps over the next 150 years of Persian rule to the next empire. This principle applies equally to the shift from the Greek to the Roman empires. After Antiochus III’s unsuccessful war against Rome, the prophecy jumps over the next 170 years, during which several Greek kings reigned, to the next empire (Rome). Read this way, while Daniel 11:19 describes the death of Antiochus III, Daniel 11:22 describes the death of Christ 200 years later.

This principle is also noted when Daniel 7 and 8 are compared. The vision in Daniel 7 mentions Babylon, but the vision in Daniel 8, which was received only two years later (compare Dan 7:1 and 8:1) does not. The reason is that the key turning point, that shifted the balance of world power from Babylon to Mede-Persia, was reached between these two dates. That turning point was the war between the Medes and the Persians, which resulted in the prophesied Cyrus becoming supreme ruler of both the Medes and the Persians. Consequently, the prophecy jumps over the remaining Babylonian kings.

In conclusion, the prophecy emphasizes Antiochus III because his reign was a turning point in history; not to identify the next king.

Daniel 11 does not mention the Roman Empire.

A second possible objection is that the Roman Empire is not mentioned in Daniel 11. Daniel 11 continues, without an intervening empire, from Antiochus III to the vile person.

We respond to this objection in the same way as to that same objection in Daniel 8, namely that the Antichrist in both Daniel 8 and 11 represents both the Roman Empire and its Antichrist successor. In other words, the symbol of the “vile person” includes both the Roman Empire, symbolized by the flood (Dan 11:22), and Antichrist that arose from it. This can be seen in the progression in the prophecies:

Daniel 2 provides an overview of history, from ancient Babylon to the Eternal Kingdom, but does not mention the Antichrist.

Daniel 7 repeats that overview of history but adds the Antichrist. It symbolizes the Antichrist as the 11th horn growing out of the 4th beast. But the emphasis is on this Antichrist. Daniel 7 describes the fourth empire in only two verses but allows 6 verses for the Antichrist.

Daniel 8 mentions political Rome only indirectly in the initial horizontal expansion of the little horn (Dan 8:9). The Antichrist phase is symbolized by the subsequent vertical growth of the horn. In other words, Daniel 8 uses the horn-king for both the Roman Empire and its Antichrist successor. Almost all the focus in Daniel 8 is on the Antichrist.

Daniel 11 continues this pattern by representing both the Roman Empire and the Antichrist as a single symbol; the “despicable person” (NASB). Political Rome is seen only as the flood that flows away both the “overflowing forces” and that cuts off the Prince of the Covenant (Dan 11:22). The focus is almost entirely on the Antichrist successor of the Roman Empire.

As mentioned before, the sole purpose of these prophecies, including the descriptions of the first four kingdoms, is to identify the Antichrist. Moving from Daniel 2 to 7 to 8 to 11, the emphasis on the political powers reduces progressively, while the focus on the Antichrist keeps increasing.

Antiochus IV fits the description.

A third possible objection is that Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11. Studies by the current author (comparing Daniel 11 to the history of the Seleucid kings) have confirmed the majority interpretation up to Daniel 11:19, where Antiochus III dies. The description of the vile person begins in Daniel 11:21. Therefore, if Daniel 11:20 describes Seleucus IV (and not Heliodorus), then Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings.

Critics also correctly argue that the description of the “vile person” in the verses after Daniel 11:21 fits the actions of Antiochus IV. These include his double invasion of Egypt (compare Dan 11:25, 29), and the persecution of God’s people.

For Critics, these are conclusive evidence that the vile person is Antiochus IV, and not the Roman Empire or some later ruler. This website responds that it is true that Antiochus fits the description. However, the description of the “vile person” exceeds Antiochus IV. For instance, Antiochus never gained authority or ruled through deceit (Dan 11:21). He did not distribute the plunder (Dan 11:24). He did not magnify himself above every god or not have regard for the god of his fathers nor any god (Dan 11:36-37). And, as all agree, the events of the “time of the end” (Dan 11:40-45) do not fit history at all. As Desmond Ford noted:

Verses 21-35 fit his (Antiochus’s) time perfectly, but let it be noted that this interpretation by no means exhausts the passage. 5Desmond Ford, Daniel and the coming King, p 144

A separate article is available that shows that Antiochus IV does not fit the profile.

CONCLUSIONS

Antiochus IV was a type of the Antichrist.

Daniel 11 may, therefore, be understood as two stories intertwined: The first story starts with Persia and continues until and including Antiochus IV. But while discussing Antiochus IV, it jumps to the second story, which is about the Antichrist. This second story continues until Michael stands up (Dan 12:1-3).

We see other examples of a double meaning elsewhere in Scripture:

      • in Joel, the prophet describes a local locust plague but unexpectedly jumps to the Day of the Lord.
      • Isaiah 14 similarly jumps from the king of Babylon to Lucifer, without interruption (Isa 14:4, 12).
      • Ezekiel 28 moves from the king of Tyre (Ezek 28:12) to an “anointed cherub who covers” (Ezek 28:14).
      • It is also similar to Matthew 24, where Jesus combined the description of the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and the end of the world into a single story.
      • As another example of a double meaning, John the Baptist was the first representation of Elijah to come.

We then conclude as follows:

The “vile person” is a symbol and not a literal person, just like the little horn in Daniel 7 and 8 is not a literal horn. The “vile person” of Daniel 11 symbolizes both the Roman Empire and its Antichrist successor.

Antiochus IV is only a partial fulfillment of the Antichrist. He is a type of the ultimate fulfillment of the final and much larger worldwide Antichrist that will arise from the Roman Empire.

God is in control.

This article, therefore, supports the view that the book of Daniel was written before the time of Antiochus IV, that the prophecies are real predictions of future events, and that God, therefore, is in control of history:

“There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days” (Dan 2:28).

“The Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes” (Dan 5:21).


OTHER ARTICLES

The purpose of this series is to identify the Mark of the Beast. First, it identifies the Beast. The Antichrist in Daniel, which is the Sea Beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire:

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    Daniel 11:32-34 describes the persecution by the Vile Person. The duration of the persecution is explained as “a time, two times, and half a time” (Dan 12:6, 7), which is equal to 3½ times. Daniel 7:25 also mentions the “time, times, and half a time” as the period of persecution of the saints of the Most High by the little horn-king.
  • 2
    The Vile Person profanes the strong temple (Dan 11:31), which is equivalent to the casting down of the place of the temple by the horn in Daniel 8:11.
  • 3
    An abomination is a sin. In Deuteronomy 7:25, for example, “graven images of their gods” are called “an abomination to the LORD your God.” Both Daniel 11:31 and 8:11-12 mention the “abomination” in connection with the “regular sacrifice” (the tamid). Daniel 11, therefore, covers the same ground as Daniel 8 but provides additional detail.
  • 4
    Elsewhere in Daniel, “covenant” always refers to the covenant between God and His people (Daniel 9:4; 11:28, 30, 32). This implies that the covenant in Daniel 11:22 also refers to God’s covenant with Israel.
  • 5
    Desmond Ford, Daniel and the coming King, p 144
  • 6
    Daniel 2 sets the stage to identify the Antichrist.
  • 7
    The four beast-kingdoms reign one after the other but the ten horns exist at the same time; after the fourth empire.
  • 8
    Daniel 8 identifies the two animals as Mede-Persia and Greece but not the horn. This article explains the alternative interpretations.
  • 9
    A comparison of the animals of Daniel 7 and 8 identifies the fourth kingdom, from which the Antichrist arises, as the Roman Empire.
  • 10
    The genders in Daniel 8 show that “one of them” means one of the compass directions of the heavens, which means the horn came out of Rome.
  • 11
    Critical scholars propose that Antiochus IV is the Antichrist in Daniel but he was only a type of a later and much greater Antichrist.
  • 12
    This article lists several differences between the evil king of Daniel 7, 8, and 11 and Antiochus IV. Antiochus was a type of a much later and greater Antichrist.
  • 13
    The Dragon is one of Revelation’s three seven-headed beasts. In Rev 13:1-2 – the birth of the Sea Beast – the Dragon is the Roman Empire.
  • 14
    It is a fragment of and the continuation of the authority of the Roman Empire. It is also the Antichrist. People will receive its mark.
  • 15
    The Sea Beast has a fatal wound on one of its heads. Revelation 17 describes the same fatal wound and identifies it as the sixth head.