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.

Overview of the prophecies in the Book of Daniel relating to the Antichrist.

Excerpt: This article gives an overview of the four kingdoms and the horns in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7.  The Eleventh Horn is the main character in the Book of Daniel.  The horn in Daniel 8 is a symbol for the same power as the horn in Daniel 7.  This article identifies the horn by identifying the kingdom out of which it comes as the Roman Empire.  It discusses the Critics’ assumption of a separate Mede kingdom.  It analyzes the phrase “from one from them” to show that the horn does not come out of the Greek Empires.  It then continues to explain Daniel 11 consistent with Daniel 7 and 8.

This article has since been replaced by the series of articles on the Book of Daniel, starting with Daniel 2 which might be a bit easier to follow

The complete article is available at:
The evil horn-king in Daniel’s prophecy

A Word version of this article can be downloaded:
Daniel’s evil horn–Greek or Roman
Summary in Work format

This summary omits many key points.  The full document should rather be read.  The purpose of this summary is only to provide a high-level overview.

ANTIOCHUS IV

The Macedonian (Greek) Empire, which included the nation of Israel (Judea), ruled from about 330 B.C. for nearly 300 years.  Antiochus IV was one of the many kings of this empire.  He ruled between 168 and 165 BC.  He defiled the temple in Jerusalem in the year 168 B.C. and persecuted the Jews.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

In academic circles (critics) it is believed that he was the evil king presented in the prophecies of the Book of Daniel; chapters 7, 8 and 11The purpose of this document is to oppose this view and to show that the evil king in the Book of Daniel arises in time after Rome has become the dominant power and therefore cannot be Antiochus IV.

DANIEL 2

Using the statue of a man, consisting of four different metals, the vision in Daniel 2 divides world history into six phases:

        1. Babylonian (Gold) Empire
        2. Silver (another) kingdom
        3. Bronze (third) kingdom
        4. Iron (fourth) kingdom
        5. Iron and clay; divided kingdom – no supreme ruler
        6. Eternal kingdom – destroys the entire image

The fifth phase is represented by the statue’s feet consisting partly of iron and partly of clay (2:33).  Iron is the same metal as the fourth kingdom, indicating that the feet continue the fourth kingdom.  But it is explained as “a divided kingdom” (2:41).  In other words, a supreme king will rule all nations during each of the four kingdoms (2:37-40), but during the “divided kingdom” there will be no supreme king.

DANIEL 7

Daniel 2 has four metals and Daniel 7 has four beasts.  Both the four metals and the four beasts represent successive kingdoms.  Both Daniel 2 and 7 end with the “everlasting kingdom” (7:28).  Both have a phase of many kings after the first four, which continue the fourth empire, and which exist until the sixth or eternal kingdom.  This phase is symbolized by the horns of the fourth beast in Daniel 7 and by the feet of the statue (the divided kingdom) in Daniel 2.  The horns are therefore equivalent to the divided kingdom.  Daniel 7, therefore, divides world history into the same 6 successive phases as Daniel 2:

 

Daniel 2

Daniel 7

1

Head of fine gold

Lion

2

Breast and its arms of silver

Bear

3

Belly and its thighs of bronze

Leopard

4

Legs of iron

Dreadful beast

5

Feet of iron and clay

Horns

6

Everlasting Kingdom

Everlasting dominion

Since the divided kingdom in Daniel 2 follows after the fourth kingdom, the horns are not individual kings of the fourth kingdom, but separate kingdoms that came about after the end of the fourth kingdom.  Further, since the divided kingdom consists of a number kings that reign at the same time, the ten kings do not exist one after the other, but at the same time.

Daniel 7 adds detail about the four kingdoms in the form of descriptions of beasts.  But most additional information is about the evil eleventh horn that arises from the fourth beast and rules during the divided kingdom.  This evil horn-king persecutes the saints and blasphemes God (7:25).

DANIEL 8

Daniel 8 also uses beasts as symbols for kingdoms.  The first is a ram that is explicitly identified as Mede-Persia (8:20).  The second is a goat that is explicitly identified as Greece (8:20-21).

Daniel 8 then describes the four horns of the goat that represent the four kingdoms into which Alexander’s Greek empire was divided.

It also describes a horn that is small at first but expands.  It attacks God’s people and the temple.

It is generally agreed that the evil horn of Daniel 8 is the same as the evil horn of Daniel 7.  Both are horns, both begin small and become great (7:8 and 8:9) and both blasphemes God and persecutes His people. 

INTERPRETATIONS

This little horn is identified differently by the different schools of prophetic interpretation:

Preterists hold that the little horn points to Antiochus IV.

Futurists see Antiochus as a type of an end-time Antichrist who is to arise in the final years before the return of Christ, and pollute a literal temple, to be rebuilt in Jerusalem.

Historicists hold that the little horn represents the Roman Church.  The purification of the sanctuary is interpreted as the restoration after the distortion of the Middle Ages.

To evaluate these views, the kingdom from which this horn arises must be identified:

VIEWS EVALUATED

ALIGNMENT

Conservatives align the kingdoms in the Book of Daniel as follows:

Daniel 2

Gold (Babylon)

Silver

Brass

Iron

Daniel 7

Lion

Bear

Leopard

Dreadful Beast

Daniel 8

 

Ram (Mede-Persia)

Goat (Greece)

 (Rome)

In this view the bear is Mede-Persia and the Leopard is the Greek Empire.  It follows that the Dreadful Beast must represent Rome because that was the next empire in history. Then the little horn comes about in or after the Roman period.

The Preterist School split Mede-Persian Empire into two separate empires and aligns the symbols as follows:

Daniel 2

Gold

Silver

Brass

Iron

Daniel 7

Lion

Bear

Leopard

Dreadful Beast

Daniel 8

 

Ram (Medes)

Ram (Persia)

Goat (Greece)

In this schema, the Ram of Daniel 8 is equal to both the Bear and the Leopard of Daniel 7, and the Goat of Daniel 8 is equivalent to the Dreadful Beast of Daniel 7. 

COMPARE DESCRIPTIONS

One way to determine which schema best fits the text of the Book of Daniel is to compare the descriptions of the animals in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8:

The Ram and the Leopard do not appear similar.  The Ram has two horns while the Leopard has four heads.

The Goat and the Dreadful Beast do not appear similar.  The Goat has one horn at first and then later four.  The Dreadful Beast first has 10 horns, and then an 11th comes up which “pluck out” three of the ten horns by their “roots”, leaving 8 horns.

The Ram and the Bear appear similar.  For both their two sides are emphasized, with one side higher than the other.  Both conquered three others.  This implies that they represent the same empire, namely “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20).

The Goat and the Leopard appear similar.  Both are represented as very fast and both consist of four parts.  This implies that they represent the same empire, namely “the kingdom of Greece” (8:21).

This analysis of the characteristics of the beasts supports the conservative interpretation, which identifies the fourth beast of Daniel 7 as the Roman Empire.  It follows that the horn comes out of Rome.  It cannot be Antiochus IV.

TWO SEPARATE EMPIRES

Critics defend their schema by proposing that the author of the Book of Daniel viewed the Medes and Persians as two separate empires with the Neo-Babylonian Empire falling firstly to the Medes under “Darius the Mede” (5:30-31; 6:28) and later to the Persians under Cyrus the Great (10:1).  This is not consistent with the Book of Daniel.  Daniel’s author consistently viewed the Medes and Persians as a single entity (5:28, 6:9, 13 and 16; 8:20).

DARIUS THE MEDE

Critics argue that the author of Daniel committed a historical blunder when he referred to Darius the Mede.  In a separate article on this website, it is argued that Darius might have been the throne name for Ugbaru, the general who conquered Babylon for Cyrus, and who ruled over the province of the Chaldeans (9:1) for (at most) three weeks.  This short period explains why archaeologists have not yet found him in recorded history.

OUT OF ONE OF THEM

Daniel 8:9 says that the little horn came “out of one of them”.  Since the previous verse referred to the four Greek horns, critics argue that 8:9 confirms that the little horn comes from one of the four Greek horns, and must, therefore, be a Greek king, like Antiochus IV.  However, an analysis of the genders of the nouns and pronouns indicates that the “them” in 8:9 can only to the “heavens”, which is the last word in 8:8.  The “out of one of them” can then be interpreted as either:

        1. Out of one of the horns of the heavens, or
        2. Out of one of the winds (compass directions) of the heavens

The first option is not acceptable because heavens do not have horns and horns nowhere else in the Book of Daniel come out of horns.  Since “the four winds of heaven” is the last phrase in verse 8, the second option is preferred.  The little horn, therefore, came from one of these four winds of the heavens, that is, from one of the directions of the compass.  It, therefore, did not come from one of the Greek horns and is therefore not Greek in origin.

WHERE ROME IS IN DANIEL 8?

Critics challenge the conservative interpretation by asking: Where Rome is in Daniel 8?  Daniel 8 does not seem to describe another kingdom between the Greek Empire and the evil horn. 

Firstly, both Daniel 2 and 7 describe the beast and its dreadful horn as a single entity (7:11).  Secondly, the growth of the horn in Daniel 8, as described in verses 9 to 11, consists of two phases.  The first phase is horizontal (political) growth (8:9) and the second phase is vertical (religious) growth.  The horizontal expansion parallels the fourth beast of Daniel 7.  The vertical expansion parallels the evil horn of Daniel 7.  Daniel 8, therefore, merges the beast and its prominent horn into a single symbol—the horn.

DANIEL 11

ANTIOCHUS III

Critics agree that verses 14 to 19 describe Antiochus III, the father 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 (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 …  Of course, Jerusalem was in the middle and changed hand (197, from Egypt to Syria).

VILE PERSON

The remaining 25 verses of Daniel 11 describe the activities of a “vile person” (KJV; 11:21).  It is generally agreed that this “vile person” is equivalent to the horn of Daniel 8 and Daniel 7 because:

Elaborate: The later prophecies in the Book of Daniel elaborate on the earlier prophecies.

Persecute: Both the horn and the vile person persecutes God’s people (7:25; 11:32-34) for 3½ times (7:25; 12:7).

Temple: Both set up “the abomination that makes desolate” (11:31; 8:13), profanes the strong temple (11:31; 8:11) and remove the continual (tamid) (8:11; 11:31).

PRINCE OF THE COVENANT

Daniel 11:22 indicates that the nagid (prince) of the covenant will be broken before the vile person.  This refers to the death of Jesus Christ:

The word ‘sar’ (translated “prince”) occurs several times in the Book of Daniel, but the word ‘nagid’, which is also translated “prince”, occurs only in 11:22 and in 9:24-27.  The word “covenant” is also used several times in Daniel, but only 11:22 and 9:24-27 link a prince to the covenant.  In both 9:24-27 and 11:22 the nagid is destroyed.  It is therefore concluded that the nagid in these two passages is the same individual and that the two passages refer to the same events.  Daniel 9:24-27 refers to the death of Jesus Christ in the first century AD.  The same must, therefore, apply to 11:22.

Since the events in Daniel 11 are given in their chronological order, everything that follows after 11:22 must be sought sometime after the death of Christ.  This applies in particular to the setting up of the abomination (11:31) and the persecution of God’s people (11:32-34), which are the main activities of the vile person.  The vile person, therefore, cannot be the Greek king Antiochus IV that ruled between 168 and 165 BC, but must be an anti-God ruler that will arise later.

DETAIL ABOUT ANTIOCHUS III

Daniel 11 is quite brief about the earlier kings, but provides much detail about Antiochus III; the father and predecessor of Antiochus IV.  Critics argue that this emphasis on Antiochus III is a clear indication that the prophecy of the vile person points to Antiochus IV.

To this we respond as follows:  The reign of the father of Antiochus IV (Antiochus III the Great) was the critical turning point for the Greek Empire.  Just as the victory of the Persians over the Medes was the critical turning point that shifted the balance of ‘world power’ from the Babylonian to the Persian Empire, and just as the victory of the Greeks over the Persians in the time of Xerxes was the turning point that shifted ‘world dominance’ from the Persians to the Greek Empire, Rome’s victories over Antiochus III—the most powerful Greek kingdom at the time—was the critical turning point that shifted ‘world dominance’ from the Greek to the Roman Empire.  This explains the attention to Antiochus III in Daniel 11.  It was for the same reason that Xerxes was emphasized in 11:2, namely because his reign was the key turning point.

WHERE IS THE ROMAN EMPIRE IN DANIEL 11?

But the critics ask: Where is the Roman Empire in Daniel 11?  Daniel 11 seems to continue, without an intervening empire, from the Greek Empire (Antiochus III) to the vile person. 

To respond, it is proposed here that Daniel’s prophecies, once the key turning point has been reached, no longer mention the previous empire, but jump right over the remaining kings to the next empire.  For instance, Xerxes’ war against the Greeks was a key turning point in history (11:2).  Then the prophecy jumps over the next 150 years, during which seven Persian kings reigned, to the first Greek emperor (11:3).  Similarly, Antiochus III’s war against Rome was a key turning point in history.  Then the prophecy jumps over the next 170 years, during which several Greek kings reigned, to the next empire (Rome).

But the Roman Empire is not mentioned separately.  Similar to Daniel 8 the vile person serves as a symbol for both the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 (Rome) and the evil horn that arise from it.  Political Rome is the flood that flows away the “overflowing forces” (11:22).  By far most of the description in Daniel 11 is about the subsequent anti-God king.

VERSES 21-35 FIT ANTIOCHUS

But the critics argue that Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11 quite well and that the history of Antiochus IV fits the descriptions of the “vile person” in the verses after 11:21 quite well.  This is granted. 

In this context, it is very important to realize that the description of the “vile person” exceeds Antiochus IV.  For instance, Antiochus did not magnify himself above every god or not have regard for the god of his fathers.  Verses 21-35 fit Antiochus’s time perfectly, but Antiochus IV by no means exhausts the passage.

Daniel 11 may, therefore, be understood as two stories intertwined.  The text seems to describe the history up to and including Antiochus IV, but while discussing Antiochus IV it jumps to a future and worldwide evil king.  Understood this way, Antiochus IV is only a partial fulfillment of Daniel 11, to be followed by the final and fuller fulfillment by a later and much larger worldwide anti-God ruler.

CONCLUSION

A fundamental principle, accepted by all schools of thought, is that the little horn of Daniel 7 is equivalent to the little horn of Daniel 8 and to the vile person in Daniel 11.  However, the various schools of thought explain this evil king in different ways.

Critics do not accept the possibility that the minutely accurate descriptions in the Book of Daniel of historical events up to the time of Antiochus IV could have been written in the sixth century BC.  They assume that these descriptions were written after the fact in the form of prophecies.  But since the New Testament refers a number of times to the book of Daniel, and since it takes a long time for a book to become accepted as inspired Scripture, the book of Daniel must have been written hundreds of years before the NT was written.

Antiochus IV fit the sequence of kings and the activities of the evil king in Daniel 11 quite well.  Critics therefore propose that Daniel was written in the time of Antiochus IV, that it was written in response to the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV, and that the evil king in Daniel represents this Antiochus.  Therefore Daniel would have been written approximately 200 years before the NT was written.

With this as the accepted view, critics have to interpret the prophecies accordingly.  To fit this view to Daniel 11, critics explain the prince of the covenant in 11:22 as the high priest Onias.  He was killed in the time on Antiochus.  But to fit this view to Daniel 2 and 7 is more difficult. To do that critics have a rather forced interpretation of the prophecy of those chapters.  This document has provided proof that the forced interpretation of Daniel 2 and 7 is incorrect.  It has also been shown that Daniel 8 does align to the obvious interpretation of Daniel 7.

With respect to Daniel 11, it has been shown above that the breaking of the prince of the covenant in 11:22 refers to the death of Jesus Christ in the first century AD and therefore that the flood that shatters the nagid-prince of the covenant in 11:22 is the Roman Empire.  This means that the anti-temple activities and the persecution of God’s people later in that chapter must occur some historical time after Christ’s death, and therefore during or after the Roman period.

This document then had to explain the high level of detail of Antiochus III in Daniel 11, how Daniel 11:19-22 can be interpreted as a jump from Antiochus III to the Roman Empire if Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11 and the apparent absence of the Roman Empire in Daniel 8 and 11. 

This document, therefore, supports the view that the book of Daniel was written before the time of Antiochus IV, and that the prophecies are real predictions of future events.  God 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 (2:28).

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

ARTICLES IN THE EXPANDED SERIES

The metal man of Daniel 2 divides world history into six ages.
The four beasts of Daniel 7 
Three interpretations of the little horn
Compare Daniel 7 and 8 to identify the fourth kingdom.
Daniel 8: The evil horn does not come out of a Greek horn.
Daniel 11’s Vile Person: Antiochus or Antichrist?  
Antiochus IV does not fit the profile of Daniel’s Evil King.