The person described here is easily identified with Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria and Mesopotamia in the second century BC. He also ruled over the area of Jerusalem. He tried to impose the hellenistic culture and pagan worship by force, and made it illegal to practice the Mosaic law, or keep the sabbath day, practice circumcision, observe holy days, etc. In his days the Jerusalem temple was dedicated to Zeus.
Really? Where was the resurrection at the end of the story?
1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Daniel tells us repeatedly, and Jesus confirms, that all these things are happening at the end of the age.
The prophecy describes events in the future from Daniel's time, that were accurately fulfilled, up to the days of Antiochus IV. The last section of the prophecy including chapter 12 applies to events of a spiritual nature in the church age. The resurrection is at the end of the age.
Charles H. H. Wright (1836-1909) provided the following commentary. [Charles H. H. Wright, Daniel and his prophecies
. Williams and Norgate, London. 1906.]
Modern critics are right in interpreting in some way or other the entire chapter, from ver. 21 to the end, as having more or less distinct reference to Antiochus and the times following. It is absurd to interpret these verses, with Jerome (after Hippolytus and other Church Fathers), of the imaginary Antichrist of the latter days. Jerome is, indeed, positive on that point. So far as ver. 20 inclusive he states that he is in accord in the main with Porphyry as to the interpretation of the chapter. But of the following twenty-four verses, as well as of portions of ch. xii., he says: "Nostri autem haec omnia de Antichristo prophetari arbitrantur, qui ultimo tempore futurus est." Jerome is, however, not consistent. For in the after verses he explains many events as fulfilled in the history of Antiochus Epiphanes. Pusey agrees in the main with Jerome's interpretation. It is extraordinary to maintain that so much should be told in the chapter of Alexander the Great and the kings of Syria who followed him, and that just at the very point when the prophecy begins really to touch the interests of the holy nation, it should break off and pass over to the days immediately preceding the Second Advent of Christ. Such an interpretation will never satisfy real Biblical students. Nor is the theory of a double interpretation of prophecy satisfactory. It is incongruous to regard a prophecy first as predicting in detail events which were to occur prior to the beginning of Messianic days, and then as predicting a second set of events to take place at the end of the world. Such a theory may have been excusable in the loose interpretations of bygone days; it is indefensible in the present age of critical interpretation.
It will be remembered that peace was concluded between Antiochus the Great, king of Syria, and Ptolemy V. Epiphanes, of Egypt, on the basis that the Egyptian monarch should marry Cleopatra, daughter of Antiochus, and that the provinces of Ccelo-Syria and Palestine should be assigned to Cleopatra as her dowry. The Syrian troops never actually evacuated those provinces, although the tribute of those lands was for a time divided between the kings of Syria and Egypt. Ptolemy V., however, was not willing permanently to put up with such a state of affairs, and had commenced preparations for another war with Syria to recover those lost provinces, when he was carried off by poison, B.C. 181. His son, Ptolemy VI. Philometor, then a mere child, succeeded to the throne of Egypt, and Cleopatra acted as the regent of the kingdom. That able woman contrived to keep peace with Syria for nearly eight years. But after her death in B.C. 173, the ministers and guardians of the child-king, namely, Eulaeus and Lenaeus, declared war against Antiochus Epiphanes in order to recover the much-coveted territories.
This led to Antiochus Epiphanes first campaign against Egypt, which proved a brilliant success. The Egyptian forces were overthrown in B.C. 170 in the decisive battle of Pelusium. The Syrian armies overran Egypt, and penetrated as far as Memphis. The youthful Egyptian monarch was either taken captive by Antiochus, or surrendered up to that king from motives of policy. Antiochus, actuated by similar motives, treated the boy-king ostensibly with great kindness, and won him over for a season to his side.
Such are the events, in the opinion of the majority of critics, detailed in Dan. xi. 22, 23: "And the arms of a flood shall be swept away from before him, and they shall be shivered in pieces, and also a prince of covenant (i.e. a prince confederate with him). And from the time of entering into alliance with him he shall work craftily, and shall go up, and become strong with a small nation."
There is here the ring of genuine prophetic language. In Isa. viii. 7, 8, the invading army of Assyria is described as a mighty river overflowing its banks, and sweeping away everything by the force of its mighty waters. The phrase is employed earlier in this chapter of Daniel (ver. 10) in the same signification, and again recurs in ver. 25. The expression cannot be used of an army acting on the defensive, and borne down in flight, like the Egyptian army at the battle of Pelusium. Antiochus, having mobilised his army with great rapidity, was able to invade Egypt before the Egyptian forces were able to cross the frontiers. The Syrian forces might well be compared to an overwhelming deluge, although such a comparison does not suit the armies of Egypt.
Verse 24 continues the general narrative of the doings of Antiochus Epiphanes in Egypt. "Suddenly he shall even come into the fattest places of a province, and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor the fathers of his fathers; spoil and plunder and riches shall he scatter among them, and against fortresses shall he devise machinations; and for a time" (ver. 24). Ewald explains "the fattest places of a province" to mean Galilee or Lower Egypt. The expression is peculiar, whether interpreted of one or the other.
The way in which Antiochus acted differently from all his predecessors was in plundering the province in order to lavish gifts upon his friends. That feature of his character is expressly noticed in i Macc. iii. 20. It is also alluded to by Polybius, while Livy, who had a mean opinion of Antiochus character and abilities in general, confesses: "In two great and honourable points his disposition was truly that becoming a king, namely, in the gifts he bestowed upon cities, and in his worship of the gods" (lib. xli. 20).
In the closing words of ver. 24 we light again upon a genuinely Danielic sentence, "and that for a season" The phrase is of peculiar interest, not only as indicating an upward glance of the prophet heavenwards, while predicting the days of darkness, but also as bringing the paragraph (consisting of verses 22, 23, and 24) to a close. The history of the invasion of Egypt by Antiochus in those verses is set forth in general terms, the same history being repeated a second time in the verses following in more detailed language. Hence it is probable that in this portion of the chapter two distinct paraphrases have been united, which would account for the peculiar character of some of the expressions employed, and serve to explain the use of phraseology not in harmony with other parts of the prophetic narrative.
Verses 25 and 26 form an excellent continuation of the history from the close of ver. 21, which seems broken in upon by the insertion of verses 22-24: "And he shall stir up his might and his courage against the king of the south [note here the resumption of the ordinary phraseology] with a great army [no mention is here made of "a small nation"], and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a great army and strong exceedingly; but he shall not stand, for they shall devise devices against him. And they that eat of his dainties shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow, and many shall fall down slain."
After the battle at Pelusium (which was the only engagement which corresponds with the descriptions in Daniel and i Macc.), Antiochus Epiphanes overran the most fertile provinces of Egypt, and got possession by fraud or force of the person of its king. The Egyptians, under the idea that Ptolemy Philometor had acted in a cowardly manner, placed his brother Physcon on the throne. Physcon, with his sister Cleopatra, retreated to the fortified city of Alexandria, the siege of which was commenced by Antiochus. The inter vention of the Romans obliged Antiochus to abandon the siege; and, troubles having broken out in Cilicia, he returned to his own dominions, not, however, before he had set up Ptolemy VII. Philometor as king over the larger part of Egypt. Philometor soon made peace with his brother Physcon. The two brothers reigned for a while as joint-kings of Egypt, and sought the help of Rome against Antiochus. Antiochus, having settled matters in Cilicia, marched once more against Egypt. His fleet was successful at Cyprus, but no allusion to that success occurs in the Book of Daniel. The kings of Egypt were unable to stem the advance of the invader, and were compelled to retire within the walls of Alexandria. There is, then, a similarity between the description given in Daniel and the first campaign of Antiochus in Egypt. The mighty armies arrayed on both sides correspond satisfactorily, the defeat of the king of Egypt, and the inundating stream of the Syrian army overwhelming the provinces of Egypt. But historians of the period do not record the treachery on the part of the Egyptian nobles alluded to in the Book of Daniel, namely, on the part of the courtiers who fed at the royal table and partook of the dainties of the king. It is possible, however, that such details might have been known to the Jewish writer, whether prophet, paraphrast, or historian. Jerome is honest enough to confess that no mention is made in history of the two kings sitting at one table, each devising mischief against the other, which is so vividly pictured in ver. 27. The LXX. and Theodotion, led probably by the want of correspondence between the prediction and the history, modified ver. 26. See Critical Commentary.