Part 25—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
In the third year of Cyrus king of the vast Persian Empire of the sixth, fifth and fourth centuries before Christ, Jehovah’s prophet Daniel received his final vision through an angel, which Daniel describes for us in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of his prophetic book. First, the prophetic vision foretells the passing away of the Persian Empire, the fourth world power of Bible history. It would fail to overpower Greece. In fact, it would at last fall before Greece, because, said the angel, “a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.” (Dan. 11:3, JP) That Grecian king proved to be the famous Alexander the Great. By him the Grecian Empire was established, as the fifth world power of Bible history.
12. How long did Alexander enjoy world rulership, and when was his kingdom broken?
12 Alexander’s enjoyment of world rulership was short-lived. Jehovah’s angel foretold this: “And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; but not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion wherewith he ruled; for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside these.” (Dan. 11:4, JP) At the height of his career, when but in his thirty-third year, the carousing Alexander was struck down by malarial fever at Babylon in 323 B.C., and his plans to make this Scripturally doomed city his world capital collapsed. His vast empire in Europe, Asia Minor, Asia, the Middle East and Egypt broke up to the four winds of the heavens. His body was transported into Egypt and buried in Alexandria by his General Ptolemy, the satrap of Egypt.
13. How did the prophecy prove true that the kingdom should not be divided to Alexander’s posterity?
13 The empire did not pass to Alexander’s posterity. He had left behind in Macedonia an incapable brother, Philip Aridaeus. He reigned for less than seven years, and then was murdered by his own mother in 317 B.C. Alexander’s legitimate son by Roxana, Alexander Allou, followed and ruled but about six years. In 311 B.C. he too met violent death at the hand of one of his father’s generals, Cassander, who now usurped the throne of Macedonia and Greece. Alexander’s illegitimate son, Heracles, undertook to rule in his father’s name, but was murdered in 309 B.C. With him the line of Alexander the great bloodspiller died out, in blood. The dominion had departed from his house. The angelic prophecy proved true.
14. How was Alexander’s kingdom divided for a time “toward the four winds of heaven,” and how was this reduced later on to three?
14 The Alexandrian Empire was plucked up for men other than Alexander’s posterity to rule. His generals quarreled among themselves and grabbed for territory; and the broken kingdom was for a time divided four ways, “toward the four winds of heaven.” One-eyed General Antigonus tried to set himself up as lord of all Asia and finally took the title of king, claiming to be the heir of Alexander the Great. He had to meet the confederacy of the three other generals against him, Cassander, Seleucus and Lysimachus. He fell in battle against them at Ipsus in Phrygia, Asia Minor, in 301 B.C. The four Hellenic empires that resulted were (1) that of General Cassander in Macedonia and Greece; (2) that of General Lysimachus in Asia Minor and European Thrace, including Byzantium; (3) that of General Seleucus Nicator (the Conqueror), who secured Babylon, Media, Syria, Persia and the provinces eastward to the Indus River, and (4) that of General Ptolemy Lagus, who secured Egypt, Libya, Arabia and Palestine and Coele-Syria. In a few years the male line of General Cassander died out, and in 285 B.C. General Lysimachus took possession of the European part of the Macedonian Empire. However, in 277 B.C. Antigonus Gonatas, the grandson of one-eyed General Antigonus, gained possession of the throne of Macedonia. This reduced the Hellenistic empires to three, till Macedonia became dependent upon Rome in 168 B.C. and ended up as a Roman province in 146 B.C.
15. How did General Seleucus the Conqueror become master of the Asian territories, and what cities of apostolic interest did he establish?
15 In 281 B.C. General Lysimachus fell in battle before General Seleucus Nicator and thus left Seleucus practically the master of the Asian territories. Seleucus became the founder of the Seleucidae or house of Seleucid kings in Syria. Shortly after the decisive battle of Ipsus he founded the city of Antioch in Syria, naming it after his father Antíochus. As a seaport for it he founded a coastal city, which he named after himself, Seleucia. Centuries later the Christian apostle Paul used the seaport of Seleucia and taught Christian truth in Antioch of Syria, where the followers of Jesus first came to be called Christians.—Acts 11:25-27; 13:1-4.
16. To where did Seleucus transfer his capital, and with him what long warfare began, as described in this final vision?
16 Seleucus transferred his seat of government from Babylon to his new Syrian capital, Antioch. He was assassinated in 280 B.C. The Seleucid dynasty of kings that he left to succeed him continued in power until 64 B.C., when the Roman General Pompey made Syria a Roman province. Long before he died Seleucus gave to his son Antíochus I the sovereignty over all the lands beyond the Euphrates River as well as the title of king. With King Seleucus Nicator the long warfare between the Biblical “king of the north” and the “king of the south” began. Foresightedly Jehovah’s angel left the names of the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” unmentioned, because the nationality and the political identity of these “two kings” change with the course of centuries and even become matters of vital concern to us in this twentieth century A.D.
RIVALRY OF THE TWO KINGS*
17. With respect to whom were the two kings to the north and to the south?
17 Jehovah’s angel now begins narrating many details of the long-drawn-out warfare: “And the king of the south will become strong, yea, he who is one of his princes; but another will become strong against him, and will rule; a great dominion will his dominion be.” (Dan. 11:5, Le) This “king of the south” is south of what, and the “king of the north” is north of what? They are north and south of Daniel’s people, who, by the time of this vision to Daniel, had been freed from Babylon and restored to the land of Judah.
18. Who personally was this “king of the south” in Daniel 11:5, and what line of rulers did he establish?
18 Who personally is this “king of the south” of Daniel 11:5? He is one of the “princes” or military chiefs of Alexander the Great, namely, Ptolemy I, the son of Lagus. He was, in fact, one of Alexander’s eight bodyguards. He was made the satrap of Egypt but assumed the title of king in 306 B.C., in imitation of one-eyed General Antigonus. He was the first of thirteen or fourteen Macedonian kings or Pharaohs of Egypt. According to his name, he established the Ptolemaic line of rulers over Egypt. About 312 B.C. he captured Jerusalem on a sabbath day. He persuaded Jews to come south to Egypt as colonists, and a colony of them was established in Alexandria. With his son and successor he shared in founding the famous library and museum in Alexandria. The Jewish province of Judea stayed under control of Ptolemaic Egypt or the “king of the south” till 198 B.C., when the “king of the north” took over. Ptolemy I invaded the Syrian territory of King Seleucus a number of times.
19. Who personally was the prince that became “strong against him,” and what role did he and his successors play?
19 Who, now, is the other prince or military chief of Alexander who the angel said would “become strong against him” and whose dominion would be a “great dominion”? This is General Seleucus Nicator, who now assumes the role of “the king of the north.” At his death he was succeeded by his son Antíochus I (Soter or Savior). This king is not taken note of in the angel’s prophecy, as he died fighting, not the “king of the south,” but the Galatians in Asia Minor. He was succeeded by his son Antíochus II, who came to be called The·osʹ or “God.” He married a woman named Laodice, and his oldest son by her he named after his grandfather Seleucus.
20. Who was the daughter of this “king of the south,” and what translation did her father cause to be begun?
20 But what of this? The angel tells: “And at the end of years they shall join themselves together; and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the strength of her arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm; but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begot her, and he that obtained her in those times.” (Dan. 11:6, JP) Who is this “daughter of the king of the south”? It is Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) of Egypt. According to tradition, this Egyptian king showed kindness to his Jewish subjects and arranged for beginning the translation of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. This resulted at length in the famous Greek Septuagint Version, which the Greek-speaking Christians used in the first century A.D.
21. According to the agreement, what was done with this daughter of the king of the south, and what resulted from this?
21 King Ptolemy II waged two wars with the Syrian “king of the north,” Antíochus II (Theos). In the year 250 B.C. the two kings entered into a peace arrangement. As the price of this alliance or “agreement” the Syrian king of the north, Antíochus II, must marry Berenice the daughter of King Ptolemy II. But Antíochus II was already married to Laodice. So this obliged him to divorce her in order to marry the Egyptian Berenice. By Berenice, Antíochus II of Syria had a son, who became heir to the throne of the “king of the north,” to the exclusion of the sons of his first wife Laodice.
22. How did Berenice’s “arm” not stand, and how were she and those who brought her and he who got her “given up”?
22 The “arm” or supporting power of Berenice was her father, King Ptolemy II. Hence when he died in 246-7 B.C., Berenice did not “retain the strength of her arm” with her husband, King Antíochus II of Syria. He rejected her, and took back his first wife, Laodice, and named her oldest son, Seleucus Callinicus, to be his successor to the Syrian throne. Calamity befell all connections of Berenice, as prophecy had foretold. Not only did her father, “her arm,” not endure, but also “his offspring,” her own self. She was given up with her infant son to be murdered, Laodice planning it. Those who brought her, evidently her attendants who brought her from Egypt to Syria, also suffered. This did not pacify Laodice. Doubtless by her, as the saying went, Antíochus II (Theos), who had taken her back, was poisoned to death. What an end for a “god”! This was evidently to prevent her from being divorced a second time. So Berenice’s father that had begotten her and her Syrian husband that had obtained her for a while both died. This left Laodice’s oldest son, Seleucus II, as rightful successor to his father on the Syrian throne. Certainly the cause of peace was not strengthened by this.
23. Who were the “roots” of Berenice?
23 To this there would be a reaction, the angel foretold, saying: “But one of the shoots of her roots shall stand up in his place, and shall come unto the army, and shall enter into the stronghold of the king of the north, and shall deal with them, and shall prevail.” (Dan. 11:7, JP) The “roots” of Berenice were, of course, her parents, Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) and his sister-wife Arsinoë.
24. How did “one of the shoots of her roots” stand up, enter the stronghold of the king of the north and prevail in dealing with those up there?
24 The particular ‘shoot of her roots’ that stood up in place of her father was her brother, who now became “king of the south” as Ptolemy III, surnamed Evergetes (“Benefactor”). He began to “stand up” at his father’s death by assuming authority as king. At once he set out to avenge the murder of his sister Berenice at the Syrian capital of Antioch. With an army he marched against Syria’s king, Seleucus II Callinicus, whom Laodice his mother had used in murdering Berenice and her infant son. Ptolemy III came into the stronghold of the king of the north and dealt out death to the queen mother Laodice. Moreover, he overran Syria, captured the fortified part of the capital city Antioch and also its seaport, Seleucia. Then he moved eastward through the “great dominion” of the king of the north and plundered Babylonia and Susa and continued his march as far east as the shores of India. In this manner the murderous Seleucus II was forced from his Syrian throne.
25. How did he wipe out a religious indignity, and for this what name did he win for himself?
25 That the king of the south would wipe out a religious indignity also, Jehovah’s angel foretold: “And also their gods, with their molten images, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold, shall he bring into captivity into Egypt; and he shall desist some years from the king of the north.” (Dan. 11:8, JP) More than two hundred years previously, during the days of Pharaoh Psammetichus III, the Persian King Cambyses of the fourth world power had conquered Egypt and had carried home in triumph the conquered Egyptian gods, “their molten images.” Now, when plundering Susa, the former royal capital of Persia, and Babylonia, the victorious king of the south, Ptolemy III, recovered the deported gods of ancient Egypt and took these captive from the temple robbers. He brought them back to their homeland. By this he won for himself the name Evergetes or Benefactor from the grateful Egyptians.
26. Why did he “desist some years from the king of the north,” and what did he bring home with him?
26 It was internal troubles down south in Egypt that called the conquering Ptolemy III back to the land of the Nile. Being obliged to quell revolt at home, he was prevented from taking advantage of his successes over the king of the north. So he desisted from inflicting further injuries upon the northern king. Besides the gods stolen from Egypt, Ptolemy III brought back as spoils of war no fewer than 2,500 “precious vessels of silver and of gold.” How he died in 221 B.C., whether naturally or by being murdered, is not known. History is divided on that question. But he outlived the Syrian King Seleucus II upon whom he had taken vengeance.
27. Why did the king of the north return after coming into the kingdom of the southern king?
27 Taking advantage of the situation, what did the king of the north do? The angel foretold this: “And he shall come into the kingdom of the king of the south, but he shall return into his own land.” (Dan. 11:9, JP) The humiliated Seleucus II struck back in revenge. He came south into the realm of the king of the south but met defeat. In disgraceful flight, with but a small remnant of his army, he retreated to his Syrian capital, Antioch, in 242 B.C. His surname Callinicus, “the Gloriously Triumphant,” proved to be a misnomer. He died before his humiliator, Ptolemy III of Egypt, did and was succeeded by his son Seleucus III, surnamed Ceraunus (“Thunderbolt”). Assassination put a sudden end to this son’s reign of less than three years. His brother succeeded him in the Syrian throne as Antíochus III and became called “the Great.”
28, 29. (a) What happened to the older son of that king of the north? (b) How did the younger son come on, overflow, return and stir himself up?
28 Concerning these two sons of the Syrian King Seleucus II Callinicus, the angel prophesied: “And his sons shall stir themselves up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces, and he shall come on, and overflow, as he passeth through; and he shall return and stir himself up, even to his stronghold.”—Dan. 11:10, JP.
29 The one son, Seleucus III (Ceraunus), died under an assassin’s weapon while on a campaign toward the west in Asia Minor. His brother, the other son, Antíochus III the Great, assembled great forces for an assault on the kingdom of the king of the south, who was now Ptolemy IV, surnamed Philopator. The new king of the north, Antíochus III, finally came into conflict with the rising power of Rome. But first he led his military forces to wipe out Egyptian gains and he won back the seaport of Seleucia, also the province of Coele-Syria (Hollow Syria), and the seacoast cities of Tyre and Ptolemais and nearby towns. The first Egyptian army that Ptolemy IV sent against him he routed. He also took many cities of the province of Judea in Palestine. During the winter victorious Antíochus III went into winter quarters with his 60,000 warriors at Ptolemais, about twenty-five miles south of Tyre. The following spring (217 B.C.) he did “return and stir himself up, even to his stronghold.”
(To be continued)
See the map of the Hellenic kingdom of the north and that of the south on page 664.
[Map on page 664]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
HELLENIC EMPIRES of the North and the South (312-30 B.C.)
Cities and Towns °
SCALE OF MILES