Part 26—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
As foretold in the eleventh chapter of Daniel’s prophecy, Alexander the Great, after establishing the Grecian or Macedonian Empire (the fifth world power in Bible history), died at Babylon in 323 B.C. For a time his empire was broken up into four Hellenic empires, ruled by generals of Alexander the Great. General Seleucus Nicator secured Babylon, Media, Syria, Persia and the provinces eastward to the Indus River, and the line of royal rulers from him through his son Antíochus I came to be known as the “king of the north” because of ruling from Syria north of Jerusalem. General Ptolemy Lagus secured Egypt, Libya, Arabia, Palestine and Coele-Syria, and the line of royal rulers from him came to be known as the “king of the south” because of ruling from Egypt to the south of Jerusalem. Because of rivalry and lust for territory war raged between the “king of the north” and the “king of the south.” In 217 B.C. Antíochus 111 as king of the north found himself ranged in battle against Ptolemy IV of Egypt as king of the south, in fulfillment of Daniel 11:10, JP.
30. Where did the king of the south meet him for a Fight, and what was given into his hand?
30 Jehovah’s angel showed that the tide of battle would turn, saying: “And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north; and he shall set forth a great multitude, but the multitude shall be given into his hand.” (Dan. 11:11, JP) Embittered, the king of the south, Ptolemy IV Philopator (or Tryphon), moved north with 70,000 troops against the advancing enemy. At the coastal city of Raphia, about twenty miles southwest of Gaza and not far north of Egypt’s border, they met. Syrian King Antíochus III had raised a “great multitude” 60,000 strong, but it was given into the hand of the king of the south.
31. How was a multitude carried away at that battle, what were the terms of the peace treaty signed, but why did the king of the south not prevail but have his heart lifted up?
31 “And the multitude shall be carried away, and his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail.” (Dan. 11:12, JP) The king of the south, Ptolemy IV, carried 10,000 enemy Syrian troops and 300 horsemen to their death and took 5,000 more as prisoners, a big loss for the king of the north. The two kings now signed a peace treaty, and Antíochus III was obliged to give up Phoenicia, including Tyre and Ptolemais, and Coele-Syria, that he had conquered. But he still held on to his Syrian seaport of Seleucia. This peace was to his advantage, for the king of the south did not follow up his victory, to “prevail.” He turned to a life of dissipation in Egypt and left no successor to take up an aggressive lead against Syria, only his five-year-old son, Ptolemy V, as successor to Egypt’s throne. This was many years before his Syrian opponent, Antíochus III, himself died. Jehovah’s angel had foretold: “He shall not prevail.” Over this victory his heart did get “lifted up,” but specially against Jehovah God. Judah and Jerusalem still continued under his domination, but he worked himself up to an attitude against Jehovah’s people.
32. How did this defeated king of the north go on to greatness, and how did he run into conflict with Rome disastrously?
32 The king of the north, Antíochus III, after being defeated at Raphia, retired to his Syrian capital at Antioch. Unlike his victorious opponent, he went on to earthly greatness, gaining his title Mégas, the Great. He directed his military genius eastward and defeated the Parthians in 209 B.C. The following year he carried his expedition still farther eastward, against the Bactrians deep in Asia. These successful expeditions earned for him the title “the Great.” Turning now westward, he captured Ephesus in Asia Minor and made it his capital. He crossed the Hellespont (the narrow strait of the Dardanelles) into Europe. There he rebuilt the city of Lysimachia that had been founded by Alexander’s general Lysimachus. At this point Rome asked him to quit interfering in Europe. In 191 B.C. the Romans formally declared war upon him. He was finally defeated at Magnesia in Asia Minor, not far from his capital, Ephesus. When settling for peace with Rome, he yielded up everything on the Roman side of the Taurus Mountains of Asia Minor and also paid a fine. He became the father of Cleopatra, whom he engaged in marriage to the king of the south, Ptolemy V. From then on Cleopatra became the regular name of Egypt’s queens in the Ptolemaic line.
33. How did this king of the north come at the end of years with a well-supplied army and take territory from Egypt?
33 With regard to the northern King Antíochus III the Great, Jehovah’s angel further prophesied: “And the king of the north shall again set forth a multitude, greater than the former; and he shall come on at the end of the times, even of years, with a great army and with much substance.” (Dan. 11:13, JP) The “times” or years here foretold turned out to be twelve or more years after the battle of Raphia, where he had suffered defeat at the hand of Ptolemy IV. After that lapse of years, the victor of the battle of Raphia died and his five-year-old son became the king of the south, bearing the name Ptolemy V. Taking advantage of this tender age of the king of the south, Antíochus III set out to reconquer all the territories he had lost. To this end he leagued himself with Philip V, king of Macedonia, against young Ptolemy V. He then invaded Phoenicia and Syria and captured the coastal city of Gaza near Egypt. He had a great army with substantial supplies.
34. What troubles did the young king of the south have?
34 The times had to become hard for the king of the south according to the further prophecy of Jehovah’s angel to Daniel: “And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south; also the children of the violent among thy people shall lift themselves up to establish the vision; but they shall stumble.” (Dan. 11:14, JP) Besides Syrian King Antíochus III and his Macedonian ally, King Philip V, the young king of the south had other troublemakers to contend with right at home in Egypt. As his guardian, Agathocles ruled in the king’s name, but he dealt arrogantly with the Egyptians. On this account many Egyptians revolted.
35. How did some of Daniel’s people become disturbers but stumble in failure to establish the vision?
35 According to the prophecy, even some of Daniel’s people became disturbers. They were “children of the violent,” or were men of violence, revolutionists in some sort of way. The “vision” that they may have had from Jehovah’s Word they tried to establish before the time in harmony with their selfish understanding of the matter. Their effort or movement had nothing to do with the building of a temple in Egypt, the one called the temple of Onion after the Jewish priest Onias and built by this son of the high priest, Onias III, to force a material fulfillment of Isaiah 19:19. These Jewish men of violence were mistaken if they were thinking of putting an end to the “appointed times of the nations” that had begun in 607 B.C., when Jerusalem was desolated and the Jews came under the “seven times” of Gentile domination. In trying to run ahead of the Most High God in this or in any other matter that is not disclosed in Daniel 11:14, they were doomed to “stumble,” fail.
36. How did the king of the north now come and the arms of the south not withstand him?
36 Jehovah’s angel now looked north of those violent men among Daniel’s people and said: “And the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mound, and take a well-fortified city; and the arms of the south shall not withstand; and as for his chosen people, there shall be no strength in them to withstand. But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him; and he shall stand in the beauteous land, and in his hand shall be extermination.” (Dan. 11:15, 16, JP) The military forces or “arms of the south” that King Ptolemy V Epíphanes sent under General Scopas proved unable to “withstand” the pressure from the north. Egypt’s general met Antíochus III the Great far to the north of Jerusalem, at Paneas (later called Caesarea Philippi). This was at the headwaters of the Jordan River, near Mount Hermon, and so near the place where Jesus Christ was later transfigured. (Matt. 16:13; 17:1-9) Here the battle was joined.
37, 38. (a) Where did he cast up a mound, and what well-fortified city did he take? (b) How did he come to “stand in the beauteous land”?
37 Antíochus III proved victorious. He drove Egypt’s General Scopas and his 100,000 picked troops or “chosen people” back into the Phoenician seaport of Sidon, a “well-fortified city.” Here he “cast up a mound” or siegeworks. He took Sidon, in 198 B.C., for the bottled-up General Scopas was forced to surrender because of famine. Antíochus III pressed forward “according to his own will,” as the forces of the king of the south were unable to stand before him. He captured more cities and proceeded against the capital of the “beauteous land,” Jerusalem, with its rebuilt sanctuary.
38 The military garrison that the king of the south had stationed in Jerusalem failed to hold the holy city. Finally Antíochus III, entered Jerusalem and was given a welcome by its inhabitants who seem to have been alienated from the king of the south. Thus, in 198 B.C., Jerusalem and Judea passed from under the domination of Egypt to under that of the Syrian king of the north. In Antíochus III the Great, the king of the north began to “stand in the beauteous land,” but how long would he remain standing there?
39. How was there “extermination” in his hand, and what questions arise here?
39 “And in his hand there shall be extermination.” Indeed, extermination for opposing Jews or Egyptians was within his power. But the Hebrew word in Daniel 11:16 for “extermination” may also be read “all of it” or “wholly.” He did take over the ‘’beauteous land,” all of it, to the exclusion of the king of the south. How long, though, will the Jews keep submissive to the Syrian king of the north? Furthermore, will this king yield to the demand of Rome and surrender his captured territories? What does the prophecy foretell?
ROME MAKES ITSELF FELT
40. (a) Though the king of the north entered with the strength of his kingdom, yet why was it with the “professions of peace”? (b) How did he here run counter to Rome?
40 “He will also direct his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, having professions of peace with him; and thus will he do it: and he will give him the daughter of his wife [the daughter of women, JP] to destroy it; but it will not stand, and it will not remain his.” (Dan. 11:17, Le) Antíochus III aimed to have Syria dominate Egypt. He directed his face to enter into dominance over Egypt with the strength of his whole kingdom, now that he had taken away Judea. But why did he have professions of peace and enter an agreement with the king of the south, Ptolemy V Epiphanes? It was to get around the demands of jealous Rome. Ptolemy V was but five years old when becoming king. And when Antíochus III and King Philip V of Macedonia leagued against the boy king to take over his territories and split them between themselves, the guardians of Ptolemy V made a tragic mistake. They turned to Rome and placed him under the protection of that aggressive power. Rome gladly took advantage of extending its sphere of influence; and to protect Ptolemy V it felt it had the right to block Syrian Antíochus III, to keep him from becoming too great.
41. What were the terms of peace that he made with the king of the south, involving the “daughter of women”?
41 Under compulsion of Rome, Antíochus III brought terms of peace to the king of the south. For a selfish reason he decided to make the young king his son-in-law. Instead of making an outright surrender of his conquered territories in obedience to Rome, he would make a nominal transfer of territory to King Ptolemy V by means of the “daughter of women,” Cleopatra, the “daughter of his wife.” In consideration of this political marriage she was to receive as dowry from her father the conquered provinces of Coele-Syria, Palestine (including the “beauteous land”) and Phoenicia.*
42. What was the purpose of this political marriage, but why did it not stand in his favor and the advantage not remain in his favor?
42 However, Antíochus III did not actually let these provinces pass over to his southern son-in-law by way of his daughter Cleopatra. In 196 B.C. Ptolemy V was declared of legal age and was crowned king of the south. In 193 B.C. his marriage to Cleopatra was performed. The intent of this political marriage was to “destroy it,” or to bring Egypt to ruin, making it subject to Syria. But this scheme did not stand, and the advantage did not remain with Syrian King Antíochus III. In the difficulties that followed, Cleopatra took the side of her young husband rather than that of her Syrian father. In this way she frustrated the selfish designs of her father Antíochus III. When at last war broke out between her father and Rome, Egypt took the side of its protector, Rome.
43. To what coastlands did he turn his face, and why?
43 After marrying off his daughter Cleopatra for political advantage, Antíochus III met with reverses. Jehovah’s angel had said in advance: “Then will he turn his face to the Coastlands and will capture many,—but a commander will bring to an end his reproach against himself, that his reproach return not unto him. Therefore will he turn his face towards the fortresses of his land, but he shall stagger and fall and shall not be found.” (Dan. 11:18, 19, Ro) The coastlands were those of Asia Minor and Greece and Macedonia. It happened that war broke out in Greece in 192 B.C. and King Antíochus III was induced to come to Greece. He landed there that year. He captured Chalcis, gained a foothold in Boeotia and tried to take over Thessaly but retreated before the Macedonian army.
44, 45. How did a “commander” bring his reproach by the king of the north to an end, and how was a domination established over the king of the north?
44 The following year Rome formally declared war on Antíochus III, who was then at Acarnania. He returned to Chalcis. At Thermopylae he met the Romans and suffered defeat. So he sailed back to Asia Minor to his capital at Ephesus. But now the Romans purposed to oust this king of the north from Asia. Battles at sea were fought. First the admiral of Antíochus III defeated the Roman fleet, but soon afterward his own admiral sustained a heavy defeat from the Roman fleet. Following this, Antíochus III abandoned Lysimachia on the Chersonese peninsula. By giving up Lysimachia he left the way open for the Romans to cross the Hellespont into Asia Minor.
45 In 190 B.C. a decisive battle took place at Magnesia near Ephesus, and Antíochus III with 80,000 men lost to the Roman “commander,” Lucius Scipio Asiaticus. The king of the north was now willing to make peace with Rome. Commander Scipio instructed him to send envoys to Rome. In 189 B.C. the final peace arrangement was made. Antíochus III was required to disown everything in Asia Minor, everything west of the Taurus Mountains, as well as everything in Greece. He must pay 15,000 talents to Rome and 500 talents to her ally, Eumenes, king of Pergamum, who had helped in whipping Antíochus III at Magnesia. As a further reward King Eumenes received European territory and all the possessions of Antíochus III in Asia Minor as far as the Taurus Mountains. Rome thus established a domination over the Syrian king of the north. One of his sons, who became King Antíochus IV, lived as a boy at Rome as a hostage.
46. Toward what did he now turn his face, and how did he stagger and fall so as not to be found?
46 After being driven from Greece and losing Asia Minor and practically all his fleet, Antíochus III turned his face back toward the strongholds of his own land. The Romans had turned back his reproach against themselves upon his own self. He was pressed to pay the big fine to Rome. In 187 B.C., while trying to rob the temple of Belus at Elymais in Persia, he was killed. He staggered and fell in death. He left two sons, Seleucus and Antíochus to succeed him.
47. Who became the new king of the north, and what did he still continue to be called?
47 Here the king of the north became Seleucus IV, surnamed Philopator (“Fond of His Father”). Despite the great losses that resulted from his father’s defeat in the battle of Magnesia, at which he himself was present, Seleucus IV continued to be called “King of Asia.” His son Demetrius felt the domination of Rome by serving as a hostage at Rome. Ptolemy V, the Egyptian brother-in-law to Seleucus IV by marriage to Cleopatra, tried to regain the lost provinces that should have come to him as Cleopatra’s dowry. Poison stopped his preparations. He was succeeded by Ptolemy VI Philometor (“Fond of His Mother”).
(To be continued)
See Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book 12, Chapter 4, paragraph 1; and Polybius’ Book 28, Chapter 17.