This 70th week of Daniel Bible study provides the study notes from Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible for Daniel 11.
Matthew Poole (1624 – 1679) was an English Nonconformist theologian. Perhaps the only true rival to Matthew Henry! A standard for more than 400 years, Poole’s insightful commentary continues to be a trusted resource for pastors and laypeople.
Offering verse-by-verse exposition, he also includes summaries for each chapter and book, questions and answers, information on cultural context, historical impact, and cross-references. Practical, readable, and applicable.
What I want you to notice is that his explanation is about the kingdoms which were foretold in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7; Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome; and that they are not about the end times.
His commentary is based on the King James Bible, so you can read each verse in the KJV and then his explanation.
DANIEL CHAPTER 11
The overthrow of Persia by the king of Greeks, whose empire shall be divided, Daniel 11:1-4. Leagues and conflicts between the kings of the south and of the north, Daniel 11:5-20. The exploits of one of the latter princes, Daniel 11:21-29; who, being checked in his progress by the ships of Chittim, shall turn his fury against the Holy Land, Daniel 11:30-35. An impious tyranny set up, Daniel 11:36-39. Events that shall take place in the latter times, Daniel 11:40-45.
This first verse should have been the last verse of the tenth chapter, for it pertains to it; and the second verse of this chapter should have been the first; which neglect those who divided the Scripture into chapters have been found guilty of more than once.
Thus speaks the angel to Daniel; because Darius had the rule of Babylon by the consent of Cyrus, he settled the monarchy of the Medes and Persians upon the ruins of the Babylonian, for the verifying of prophecies, and for protection and preservation of the church.
The truth: this is that thing which Daniel saith, Daniel 10:1, was revealed unto him, and was true, i.e. plain, without any obscurity, and should suddenly and certainly come to pass.
There shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; which notes their flourishing and strength; for after them that monarchy declined. These three are Cyrus, Smerdis, Darius Hystaspes. Others put Cambyses for Cyrus; others add Xerxes, who is added as the fourth in this same verse, and made more potent than all the other three, because his father Darius had gathered an incredible mass for him, and he also himself drove the same trade for six years together before he made his expedition against Greece. There were more kings of Persia besides those four, but they had no concern with the people of God; but those four had, either in hindering or helping the building of the temple, and therefore the angel’s instructions from God to Daniel were principally touching those four who are mentioned.
The fourth shall be far richer than they all: he had vast territories from India to Ethiopia; he had a navy of one thousand two hundred ships, and an army of eight hundred thousand, as Ctesias writes, but Herodotus speaks of a prodigious army that Xerxes had little short of five millions and a half, (five millions two hundred and eighty-three thousand,) and all against the realm of Greece, where he made incredible havoc at Thermopyle and Athens, as the Greek and Latin histories mention.
This was Alexander the Great, the he-goat, who, moved with choler for the Persian invasion, run down the ram and stamped on it, and got a golden fleece from him by that, and after many victories; afterward he did according to his will, even what he would without controlment, by any. See Daniel 8:7,Daniel 8:8.
When he shall stand up; when he is come to his highest, as monarch of the world, &c. After he had enjoyed that title a little while, his kingdom was broken, as the text saith. So it was, into four pieces, whereof we have spoken, Daniel 7:0; Daniel 8:0.
Not to his posterity, but to four of his chief commanders, who should reign in the four quarters of the world, i.e. Alexander’s conquest, though here he only mentions two of them, Egypt and Syria, i.e. the south and the north. Alexander had a brother, named Aridaeus, and two sons, Alexander and Hercules, besides others of his blood, but the nobles destroyed them all; and so the whole race of Alexander was rooted out to fulfil this prophecy; but judicially, for his great cruelty, pride, and luxury.
Nor according to his dominion; they did not reign as kings at first, but only as captains; and as to the extent of their dominion, it was far less than Alexander’s, yea, all four fell short of his.
For others beside those; some lesser commanders shared several parts of that empire, as Eumenes, Philotes, with many more, at least ten; as histories tell us.
This king was Ptolemy the son of Lagus, the first king of Egypt after Alexander, who is brought in because he took Jerusalem by treachery, for the angel minds only those persons and things which related to the Jews, passing over many things that pertained not to them.
His dominion shall be a great dominion; his riches by land and sea, and his territory besides Egypt, that Theocritus takes notice of it in Idyllio, what this first Ptolemy, the father of Ptolemy Philadelphus, added, viz. Cyprus, Phoenicia, with many other countries, to Egypt, and left all to his son, with an incredible treasure and an invincible army.
One of his princes, i.e. either one of these Ptolemies, or Antiochus, or Nicanor, or Seleucus Nicanor, so called for his great victories, who overcame Demetrius, and added Asia to his empire; he overcame the king of Thrace, and a king of India, and built many cities; and Judea, lying in the midst of them, was much afflicted by him, and his antagonists and allies.
They shall join themselves together, i.e. the successors of those first kings of Egypt and Syria shall join and make leagues. This confederacy was two several times: the first peace was concluded between Ptolemy Lagus and Antiochus Soter. The other (which is here meant) was between Ptolemy Philadelphus and Antiochus Theus the son of Soter. So Junius and Polanus. The king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement; Bernice shall come from Egypt and marry with Antiochus Theus, who was the son of Antiochus Soter, and nephew to Seleucus Nicanor, for her father brought her to Pelusium with an infinite sum of gold and silver for her dowry. Here was nothing sincere on either side, for each gaped after the other’s kingdom, and covered all with a league and a marriage; for Antiochus put away his lawful wife Laodice, by whom he had two children, that he might take her sister to wife. Thus sacred wedlock and leagues were violated.
But she shall not retain the power of the arm; she continued not in favour and authority, for Antiochus now put away Bernice, and took Laodice again.
Neither shall he stand, nor his arm; for she made away Antiochus by poison, and set up her son Seleucus Callinicus in his stead, who slew Bernice. From hence many cruel wars and tragedies arose between those two kings. See here the miserable fates of wicked princes and courts, where their sinful politics most commonly end in their ruin; for so it did to these two families: which thing God by his angel instructs Daniel in, to inform and satisfy him about these wonderful providences relating to his church and their enemies.
Of Bernice shall come Ptolemy Euergetes, who shall be king, and revenge the wrong done to his sister; for he invaded Syria, and took many strong holds, with a great part of Syria.
And shall prevail, i.e. shall be conqueror, and destroy Callinicus with his mother, whose treachery was hereby repaid.
With their precious vessels of silver and of gold; which with other vessels amounted to two thousand five hundred, among which were the images which Cambyses long before had carried out of Egypt into Persia; for which good act the Egyptians called this Ptolemy, Euergetes, the Benefactor.
He shall continue more years than the king of the north; he continued forty-six years, and had subdued all Seleucus’s kingdom, had he not been recalled.
So he did, with a booty of forty thousand talents of silver, without fear or danger.
His sons shall be stirred up; he means the sons of the king of the north, i.e. Antiochus, and Seleucus Ceraunus, shall be incensed with the deeds of Ptolemy Euergetes, and his son Ptolemy Philopater.
One shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through; he means Antiochus the Great, because the other, viz. Seleucus Ceraunus, is taken off by poison at the beginning; he shall pass through Syria, and recover what the king of Egypt took from his father.
To his fortress, i.e. to the entering of Egypt Raphia, which was check to any irruptions from Arabia or Idumea, besides many other places. The cause of which success was partly the Egyptian king’s luxury, and the hatred his people had against him for his cruelty in slaying his father, mother, and sister; called Philopater ironically and reproachfully.
Enraged by his losses, and the affronts put upon him, he fought with Antiochus, and slew ten thousand of his army, and took four thousand prisoners. So historians relate of it, Polybius and Strabo.
He might have conquered and recovered all again, but he grew proud of his victory, and returned again to his luxury. Entering Judea he entered into the temple of God at Jerusalem and the holy place against the law; yet, though he cast down many thousands, he was not strengthened by it.
Antiochus the Great shall raise great forces, even from Babylon and Media; Philopater being dead, and Ptolemy Epiphanes his son yet a child, under whom Agathocles, a dissolute, proud person, hated of all, governed Egypt as his viceroy.
Many of the Grecians, Arabians, Edomites, &c., and some add, many of the profane, apostate Jews, shall join with the rest for plunder and spoil, whereby they fulfil what was foretold of them by Moses and the prophets.
Antiochus Epiphanes shall march on irresistibly and victoriously, besieging and taking fenced cities and strong holds, as Sidon, Samaria, &c., nor shall all the power of Egypt withstand him.
He that cometh against him, i.e. Antiochus,
shall do after his own will, as he listeth, without control.
In the glorious land, i.e. Judea; the word may be rendered pleasant, desirable, noble, Daniel 8:9. Antiochus held all Judea, the Jews not opposing, and with the provision and product of it maintained his army. — Josephus. And to win them to his side from the Egyptians, he gave them liberties, as to their religion, encouraging their sacrifices, and easing their taxes. For so Josephus translates כלה by τελειουν, to consummate and make perfect, and not to consume, as some render it; and thus the LXX. likewise.
He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom; he shall use all the force and fraud he can to master Egypt, and engross it to himself, because Ptolemy was then young, and not able to match him.
And upright ones with him, i.e. many of the religions Jews joined with him, Numbers 23:10, called righteous in opposition to the rest of his army, which was composed of idolaters, and a profane rabble of rude heathens.
He shall give him the daughter of women, i.e. Antiochus shall give Cleopatra his daughter, who was young, to young Ptolemy, called the daughter of women for her beauty, and rare parts, which she afterwards discovered; and gave in dowry with her Coelosyria, Phoenice, and Judea, dividing the tribute and revenues between them.
But she shall not stand on his side: as Saul gave Michal to David to be a snare to her husband, to betray him and destroy him, but she stuck to her husband’s interest, and not her father’s.
After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many, i.e. the isles and sea-coasts of that part of the Mediterranean and Ægean Sea, as Cyprus, Rhodes, &c.; also Asia the Less with the Grecian coasts, for the Hebrews call countries bordering on the sea isles; particularly Greece and Italy. The meaning is, that this Antiochus craftily desisted for a time from his enterprise against Egypt, for fear of the Romans. and, dissembling with them both, presumed he should outwit them all, and therefore persuaded as many of the Greeks as he could to take part with him against the Romans, slighting and reviling them.
But a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease, i.e. a brave Roman ambassador, and commanders sent by the Roman senate, viz. Atilius, and chiefly Scipio, beat Antiochus at his own weapons of power and policy, and turned the reproach
upon his own head; for they fell upon him, because Ptolemy required help of them, who was besieged by Antiochus; they raised the siege, and recovered all that he had gotten from them; for the Romans were dexterous in protecting their allies, and in retorting indignities and affronts offered them by encroachers and oppressors.
Being beaten in battle by Scipio, with thirty thousand Romans, he himself having seventy thousand, and rejecting the counsel of Hannibal, he yielded upon dishonourable terms to deliver his ships and elephants to the Romans, and all the places he had taken from them, which turned to his disgrace.
Then he turned his face homeward, and was made to be content with the narrow limits of the remotest corner of his kingdom; and though he sported himself with his retirement, yet was he not in safety so, but was slain when he sought to enrich himself by the sacrilegious spoils of the temple. Thus Antiochus called Magnus came to nothing.
This was Seleucus Philopater, a very covetous griper, who peeled his subjects; who being told by his friends this would alienate his friends from him, answered, Money was his best friend; and therefore spared not to rob the temple, for which cause he sent Heliodorus to rifle that treasury, 2Ma 3:7, therefore said to raise taxes in the glory of his kingdom.
But within few days he shall be destroyed; for he lived not out the thirst part of his father’s reign.
Neither in anger, nor in battle; not by open force, but by poison or secret wiles, and treachery of Heliodorus, as some write of him: the seed of evil-doers are never renowned, in life or death.
Antiochus called Epiphanes, i.e. illustrious; thus he was called by his flatterers and admirers: but the people of God accounted him contrary, i.e. infamous, base, treacherous, barbarous; such were his manners, and accordingly the angel calls him here a vile person, the type of antichrist, Epimanes, a mad persecutor.
To whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom, i.e. neither peers nor people; nor was he the heir, but his nephew, or brother, Philopater’s son, but he cheated him of the kingdom, and crept in by flatteries, i.e. he was a great flatterer of the Romans, as well as of his people, till he got up, and shut out Demetrius the son of Selencus; so vile a flatterer was he, that he would bathe in the same bath with mean people, to make them believe he was good-natured, and not proud. He soothed and courted the nobles with much kindness and presents, and said he was but guardian to his brother’s son the heir, till he destroyed him.
They shall be overflown, i.e. the Egyptian force near Pelusium, where they fell by the power of Antiochus, with a great slaughter; and it was near the river Nilus, to which the Holy Ghost alludes here by the phrase, arms of a flood.
The prince of the covenant, i.e. the high priest with his place and honour, for he put out Onias, and set up in his stead Jason his brother, ambitious of that honour. Thus he opposed the people and worship of God with the same stratagems as he did the king of Egypt.
For he made a league with Egypt, and came with a few in comparison, (but they were chosen men,) and he took the passes, and set garrisons, and put all in subjection to him.
He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; he shall come in upon the Egyptians under pretence of peace, and in time of peace, to a secure people in a plentiful and delicious country, and among a mass of treasures which the kings successively had heaped up, the greatest part of which this Antiochus took and distributed among his chiefest confidants, whereby he obliged them the faster to him, for he was large-hearted and liberal. He did herein (saith the text.)
what his fathers had not done, the kings of Syria before him could never attain to this success over Egypt. as he did.
He shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, i.e. having succeeded thus far in the lesser places of the country, he shall proceed to the most important cities and places of greatest strength in that kingdom. Even for a time; that is, till God put a stop to his career; for he held Egypt not long, the Egyptians found means to deliver themselves from his yoke when their king grew to riper years; yet against this did Antiochus forecast his devices, as saith the text.
Antiochus Epiphanes, being emboldened by his former successes, shall wage war against Ptolemy king of Egypt, with all his might, and with open force.
And the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle; being exasperated against Antiochus.
But he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him: he might have prospered, if he had not been betrayed by Eulaius, Leneeus, and the rest of his nobles, being corrupted by Antiochus.
His most familiar friends and confidants shall be false and treacherous to him, for he shall he overthrown with a great slaughter, as when Nilus overflows the country, for there was the battle, between Mount Casius and Pelusium.
They shall speak lies at one table; they shall meet under pretense of peace, but ‘with treacherous intents on both sides; they both played the gypsies with each other at Memphis, where Ptolemy invited Antiochus to a feast. These interviews of neighbor kings jealous one of another have ever proved fatal, though under the smoothest pro. raises.
But it shall not prosper; for neither shall Antiochus gain Egypt by all his artifice, nor Ptolemy Syria.
At the time appointed, viz. by the Lord, whose purpose and counsel shall stand, whatever the devices of men’s hearts are.
Antiochus shall depart with his booty gotten in Egypt into his kingdom of Syria, and be content with the bounds of that, leaving Egypt behind him.
And his heart shall be against the holy covenant; against the law and covenant of God, with the people that worshipped God according to his rule and will. He shall do exploits, and return to his own land; he shall greatly afflict and vex the people of God; yet was it a mercy they had this warning of this sore trial. Antiochus was a fit instrument of the devil for this work, being rich and proud, and thought he might take this in his way: God permitting this horn to push and gore, for his people’s sins, and for a preparation to his own ruin.
Come toward the south, i.e. Egypt, to fight against Ptolemy and his wife Cleopatra, sister to Antiochus.
But it shall not be as the former, or as the latter; this shall not be so prosperous as the two former expeditions, but shall fail of his victory and booty.
The ships of Chittim shall come against him, i.e. the Romans out of Italy, and parts of the Archipelago, under them, shall come with force, and they shall vex and afflict him; for the Romans had harbours for their ships and galleys in Cilicia, Macedonia, and other parts of those coasts; whereby, after they had subdued Greece, they pursued Antiochus in Asia, and sent into Egypt to prevent his going into Alexandria. — Liv. 1. 45.
This grieved and fretted him; for when he lingered and framed excuses, Popilius the Roman ambassador made a circle about him with his rod, commanding he should not stir thence till he gave him a positive present answer, by which, sore against his will, he was fain to pack away out of Egypt, and withdraw his garrisons and navy thence. This made his heart boil with rancour, which he spit out all against the Jews; therefore it is said, he shall be grieved and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant; especially being solicited to it by Jason first, and Menelaus after, who were apostates, and betrayers of their brethren, and the true worship of God, 2Ma 4:26,27, &c. Because Onias was in power, this they envied, therefore went to Antiochus.
Arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, i.e. Antiochus shall come with armed power to assist the deserters, and force the faithful Jews by his garrisons.
Shall take away the daily sacrifice; for he polluted the sanctuary by taking away the holy vessels, and forbidding the public worship; but he added a third pollution, by setting up in the temple the
abomination of desolation, i.e. the abominable idol of Jupiter Olympius, with many more, 1Ma 1:21-23,41, to the end; 2Mac v. 24.
By gifts, preferments, and promises he drew away great multitudes of this wretched people of Judea, always bent to backsliding, to his idolatrous and heathenish practices and interest: but they that adhere to the true worship of God, and are zealous for it, shall scorn Antiochus’s gifts, and abhor his ways, and defy his force, not loving their lives to the death; as you have many instances, 1Ma 1:62,63; 2Mac 5; 6; 7; 8;; and also how Judas Maccabeus and his few followers did exploits against Nicanor and others.
Such as Eleazar, that old scribe, 2Ma 6:18, and some others learned in the laws of God, and holy in heart and life, shall instruct many in the righteous ways of God, and retain them from apostacy when others fall off: yet many of the people shall fall, yea, of their pious and learned teachers, as well as their disciples, 1Ma 1:52,56; 2Mac 6
God in their affliction, when it is great, wherein he never leaves himself without witness, shall raise up some succour, to be witnesses to this truth, to vindicate his honour and save his people from utter destruction, viz. by the Maccabees. Read what Mattathias and his sons did at Modin, 1Mac 2, read the chapter, who would not be flattered out of their religion.
To try them: we see hereby that the best of men have some dross, which makes afflictions, yea, fiery trials, necessary for them, for the word signifies all kind of examination and trials, either as founders try metals to purge them, or as corn is winnowed to cleanse it from chaff, or as fullers that wash and scour to take out spots, Malachi 3:1-3.
Even to the time of the end: now mark here the Spirit of God seems to slide into the Roman monarchy, for this began in the reign of Antiochus, so that he did begin that which the Romans afterward in process of time acted more highly against the Jews and Christians too. For Antiochus is made by all a type of antichrist; as Maldonate confesseth. And thus you find the prophets, and our Saviour too. David brings in Christ; Psalms 72:8, when the rest is spoken of Solomon. So Psalms 16:0; Isaiah 49:0; Isaiah 44:0; Isaiah 60:0. So our Saviour, speaking of the temple, speaks with it of the end of the word. And thus the end of this chapter is clearly of antichrist, and this prophecy of Daniel cads with the world’s end.
Therefore Antiochus is a type of antichrist, in his pride, covetousness, craft, and cruelty against the people of God, and blasphemies and idolatries to the reproach of Christ. Therefore it is here added,
because it is yet for a time appointed.
The king, i.e. the Roman government, whether by the senate, or by emperors, or by the bishop of Rome, who shall shove out the imperial power not only from Rome, but from Italy and all the western empire, as far as he could, by striking in with the barbarous nations that invaded it, who are called ten kings.
Read for all this Revelation 17:10-13, as all the seven or eight governments of Rome are called horns, and the horns kings, Daniel 11:10,Daniel 11:11. The sum is this: Though it is granted some of these things are applicable to Antiochus, yet the angel speaks of him here and henceforward but by the by and very lightly; his main scope is antichrist, as will appear in the interpretation.
Shall do according to his will; Antiochus did according to his will: he shall be arbitrary in his actions, notwithstanding any checks of Divine and human laws: the cause follows.
Shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods: this is true of the Romans, who would deify what they please, and defy it or ungod it; most true of the persecutors of Christ and Christians in the time of the emperors, but most notoriously of the Roman antichrist. See how this agrees with that prophecy, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10; Revelation 17:3.
And shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished; then shall antichrist continue long and prevail; read for this, Revelation 13:0.
For that that is determined shall be done; that which God hath decreed to be done by him against the saints shall be done, and that which God hath purposed to be done upon him shall be executed also to his destruction.
Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers; he shall so far degenerate from the rule of Christ, and from primitive Christianity, that he shall be the head of that apostacy, 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; mark those places, the first whereof is so fully opened by Mr. Joseph Mede in his Doctrine of Demons. The other by Bishop Jewel in his comment on that place.
Nor the desire of women, i.e. the desire of wiving, i.e. forbidding to marry, forbidding priests marriage.
He shall honour the god of forces; Mauzzim, of strengths or strong holds. The Phoenicians worshipped Mars the God of wars, which Antiochus did worship; but we are come to the Romans; and though many have conjectured several senses of this מענים translated god of forces, yet none comes nearer than Mr. Mede, who interprets it of demons, or tutelar gods, which the Romans should worship with Christ, supposing them to be angels or saints.
This is not to be thought a novel opinion, for many of the fathers say that this Mauzzim is the idol that antichrist should worship. So the meaning is, that in Christ’s seat, or place, the temple, they should worship saints and angels with Christ, as the preposition imports, together with Christ; which it is notorious they do. That which, made this place obscure was, that men generally took this strange god for an idol, which indeed the Jews call the Gentiles’ gods, and so doth the Old Testament often, because foreign to the true God, which was their God; but the true God was foreign and strange to the Romans, because their gods were idols. Therefore the philosophers called Christ Ξενον daimonion, a strange god.
This god they should honour with gold, and silver, and precious stones. The Vulgate translates Mauzzim, protector, and we know too well how the Romanists adorn the churches and shrines of these their patrons and tutelar saints, Psalms 27:1; Psalms 28:8; Psalms 31:3. And the fathers sometimes fatally hit upon this expression at the first setting and honouring of martyrs, calling them strong holds, and strong towers of defence; but the Council Of Constantinople called them the devil’s strong holds; thus they called their images also.
A confirmation and ingemination of what he said before, he shall use all art and authority to propagate this idolatrous worship. We have laid by the interpretation of these things of Antiochus, though Polanus, Junius, and others apply all to him; but the angel speaks of the Romans, and it is plainly verified of antichrist, who did not only take upon him to dispose of kingdoms and provinces by usurped power, for his profit, drawing incredible masses of money from them, but upon a pretended religious account appointing tutelar saints over them.
At the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him; in the last times, towards the end of the world, for it cannot be true of Antiochus, who died the eleventh year of his reign, and these things are joined to the last resurrection Daniel 12:2. Therefore some understand the Turk and Saracen, who is without the church, as antichrist before mentioned sat in the temple; he extending his dominions into Asia and Africa, will be a great stop to antichrist’s proceedings and encroachments.
The king of the north shall come, & c., i.e. The Turk from the north shall invade, and run down the Saracen. — Mede.
When the Turk should subdue Judea, those people of Edom, Moab, and Ammon shall be left, because all along to this day these Arabians live partly by robberies, and partly by Turkish salaries to secure their caravans; these shall live, and not be overthrown by Mahometans.
Though Egypt (and the adjacent countries) long stood out under the Mamelukes, yet was forced to submit to the Ottoman, anno 1517.
The parts westward from Egypt along the Barbary coast, and Ethiopia, not the Abyssines, but Arabia.
The Christian princes of the north, and the dispersed Israelites, and the Jews carried captive into the north, Jeremiah 16:14,Jeremiah 16:15, called also kings of the east, shall come and trouble him, and all his power shall not be able to withstand. See Revelation 16:12.
Between the seas; the Euxine and Mediterranean. at Constantinople, and even to the Red Sea;
in the glorious holy mountain, in the church of Christ eastern: so the Turk. Or in the western seas, the Mediterranean and Adriatic: so the pope, reaching to the western ocean. Both antichrists, one without, and the other within the temple of God.
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