11 Messenger: Darius the Mede had been on the throne less than one year when I came forward to back him and strengthen him.
2 Now I am here to reveal to you the truth: Three more kings will rule in Persia. After them, a fourth will arise who will be much richer than all the others. He will use his wealth to build his power and extend his influence; then he will incite the nations to fight against the kingdom of Greece. 3 Meanwhile in Greece, a warrior king will come to power.
The Greek warrior king is Alexander the Great in the late fourth century b.c.
With great authority he will rule his lands and do as he desires. 4 But no sooner than he rises, his kingdom will be broken up and divided to the four winds of heaven. None of his own offspring will receive any portion, nor will these kingdoms exercise the great authority he once did, for his empire will be ripped from its foundation and given to others.
A series of powerful Persian kings arises after Cyrus. Over the next century, Persian power wanes until Alexander the Great brings down the Persian Empire.
5 The king of the south will then grow in power and prosper. Yet in time one of his own officers will become more powerful than he and rule over an even greater empire. 6 Several years later, the king of the north and the king of the south will form an alliance. That alliance will be established by the marriage of the daughter of the king of the south to the king of the north; however, this union will not last. The princess will not hold onto power, and the king, too, will lose his throne. She will be given up along with her royal court, her father, and those who backed her. 7 In response, one of her relatives, a branch from her roots, will rise to take his place and become king in the south. He will take up the sword and lead an army into the fortress of the northern king. He will fight against them and in the end be victorious. 8 He will sack their temples and carry back to Egypt their gods, cast in metal images, and take their precious vessels crafted of fine gold and silver; for several years the king of the south will resist going to war against the king of the north. 9 But then, in later times, the king of the north will invade the provinces of the king of the south, but soon will be forced to withdraw to his own northern lands. 10 His sons will commit to war and assemble a powerful army, a force that will flood over the land, pass through the territories, and take the battle as far as the southern king’s fortress. 11 At this provocation, the enraged king of the south will rally a large force to repel the northern invaders. And though the king of the north had assembled a powerful army, it will go down in defeat. 12 When the invading army is repelled, the heart of the king of the south will be caught up in pride, and so he will execute tens of thousands of his enemies; still he will not prove to be strong. 13 For the king of the north will return after a few years, having raised a fighting force far larger and better equipped than before. 14 When this happens many people will rebel against the king of the south. Violent people from your own people, Daniel, will join the fray in order to fulfill the vision, but none will succeed. All will fall. 15 Then the king of the north will come and build a siege ramp against a fortified city and eventually take it; for the south, even with their very best warriors, will have no strength left to fight. 16 The king of the north will go where he pleases, and his army will march on unmatched and undeterred. None can resist him. One day he will stand in the beautiful lands of promise with the power to destroy it or let it be. 17 Using the might of his kingdom, the king of the north will decide to force an alliance. He will give the king of the south his daughter for a wife with the hope that she might help conquer the kingdom from within; but his plans will not succeed. 18 Afterward, the king of the north will turn his attention to the coastlands, attacking the cities there, claiming many. Eventually a commander will put a stop to the violent attacks and turn the aggression back on the invader and his army. 19 The king of the north will flee to his own land and seek the protection of his own strongholds, but he will trip and fall, never to be seen or heard of again.
After his death Alexander’s kingdom is partitioned among his four generals, two of whom figure prominently in Daniel’s prophecy. Alexander’s generals continue to fight over Israel and its citizens. Seleucus Nicator rules in the north (Syria). Ptolemy Soter rules in the south (Egypt).
Messenger: 20 Another northern king will rise to take his place. He will send out an official to exact taxes from the most glorious jewel of the kingdom, namely Jerusalem, but his tyranny will not last long. He will be cut down, though not in the heat of battle or in an angry loss of control.
21 Yet another will rise to take his place: a truly despicable person. Though royal honors were not his by right, he will come in quietly and take over with cunning and clever promises. 22 Armies will be overwhelmed and crushed before him, and the prince of the covenant will be cut down as well. 23 Though his supporters are few in number, he will grow strong by deceiving those who have made alliances with him. 24 In a time of ease and great wealth he will quietly invade the wealthiest parts of the region and do what none of his royal predecessors had ever done before; instead of hoarding the treasure, he will distribute the plunder, possessions, and property among those loyal to him. And though he will make plans to attack fortresses, these plans will not last for long.
25 But the king of the north is not finished. Once again he inspires courage and gathers a large and powerful fighting force to attack the south; but the king of the south takes notice and gathers his own large, powerful army to wage war. But he will not be able to resist the northern invader because treacherous plans will be devised against him. 26 His closest advisors, those who eat from the royal table, will betray him and bring about his downfall even as his army is swept away. Many will die in battle. 27 Both kings will sit at the same table and lie to each other, their only interest in deceiving and harming the other. But none of this will matter, for the end is yet to come at the appointed time. 28 The king of the north will eventually return to his own land with riches won from conquered peoples. With his heart set against the holy covenant, he will do whatever his evil will desires and then return to his own land.
29 At the chosen time, he will once again attempt to invade the south, but this time will be different from any time before. 30 For warships will arrive from the west[a] and confront him. Fearful of their power, he will withdraw. On his way north, he will unleash his violent fury against the holy covenant and those loyal to it. At the same time he will look with favor on those who turn their backs on it. 31 The king will command his forces to take over the city and pollute the temple fortress. After they outlaw the daily sacrifices to the one True God, they will set up the disgusting idol that will desecrate the most holy place.[b] 32 With smooth talk, he will entice people who act wickedly and break the covenant. But those who truly know their God will remain strong and work against him. 33 The truly wise among God’s people will help the many understand the need to resist; yet for quite some time they will be killed by sword and fire, or they will be imprisoned and their property taken. 34 Those who fall victim to this persecution will receive only a little help, and many will join their cause out of smooth, deceptive speech. 35 Some of the wise will fall victim and be martyred in order to be refined, purified, and made clean until the end, for the appointed time is still to come.
Ironically, God’s people have been at their best, not when they are moving with culture, but when they are moving against culture. The most extreme examples are in times of persecution when culture is actively hostile to faith. Persecution does not destroy true faith; it refines it.
Messenger: 36 The king of the north will do as he desires. He will elevate himself and make the audacious claim that he is greater than all the gods. He will say horrendous things about the One who truly is God of gods. He will be successful in his exploits—but not forever—for the time of wrath must be fulfilled and what is decreed must be accomplished. 37 He will have no respect for the gods worshiped by his ancestors or the one loved by women or any other god for that matter! For he will make himself greater than all gods. 38 Instead of these, he will honor only the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew—with gold and silver, with costly stones and other precious gifts. 39 When he attacks the strongest fortresses, he will call upon this foreign god for help. He will bestow great honor on those who are loyal to him, and for any who acknowledge him, he will grant power and authority over many people and divide up the land as their reward.
40 Then at the time of the end, the king of the south will make war against the king of the north. The king of the north will storm through the troops with chariots, horsemen, and many ships, overwhelming the people 41 and advancing to the south. The northern king will enter the beautiful lands of promise and take control of many nations along the way. Yet other peoples will be rescued from his tyrannical hand: Edom, Moab, and the best of Ammon. 42 He will extend his reach over many other nations, and even the land of Egypt will not elude his wrath. 43 He will seize control over the treasures of Egypt, all of its precious items skillfully crafted of gold and silver. The Libyans and the Ethiopians will follow in his steps and do his bidding. 44 But various reports from the east and the north will eat away at the tyrant. Distressed and furious, he will send his forces to destroy and annihilate many nations. 45 One day he will pitch his palatial, royal tents between the Great Sea and the holy mountain of beauty, namely Mount Zion. Then and there his end will come, and no one will stand with him.