DANIEL CHAPTER 11: A Real Life Game of Thrones

We’re continuing our series on Daniel chapter 11—which is a real life version of the television series “The Game of Thrones.” Let’s go over what we learned in our last post. We learned how Alexander’s generals divided up his empire among them. As stated before, the historical events you see played out in Daniel chapter 11 are like a real life version of the television series “The Game of Thrones.” The generals immediately went to war to gain each other’s portion of Alexander’s empire. Very quickly, two of the generals lost their portion to the remaining generals. Soon, Alexander’s empire was divided into two kingdoms: the southern portion of the empire was ruled by General Ptolemy, and the northern portion was ruled by General Seleucus. These two generals, now kings, and their heirs engaged in military, political, and diplomatic machinations to gain each other’s kingdom.

In this post, we see more “Game of Thrones” behavior with the continued wars between the kings of the north and the kings of the south. You’re going to hear about a political assassination. There’s a young king who is weak and undisciplined (like King Joffrey). We see diabolical people around a young king engaged in plots to become regent king through murder.

Unlike the television show, “The Game of Thrones,” Daniel chapter 11 contains real historical events. In my opinion, real life historical events are much more interesting than fictional. I hope this study will instill in you a love and fascination for history as well. Keep reading!

 DANIEL CHAPTER 11: A Real Life Game of Thrones

Third in a Six-Part Series
By Karen Thompson

The last post ended with the account of how Ptolemy II married his daughter, Princess Berenice, to his foe, Antiochus II. Antiochus was already married to Laodice, who had a son with Antiochus. Antiochus agreed to the alliance because Princess Berenice came with a huge wedding dowry. The deal came with the condition that Antiochus had to dismiss his marriage to his wife, Laodice, which meant her son lost succession rights to the throne. Antiochus did, indeed, disinherit his son by Laodice. He married the Princess Berenice and she bore him a son, who was destined to inherit the throne of the Seleucid Empire. But when Antiochus II learned that Ptolemy II died, he quickly left Princess Berenice and their infant son in Antioch and went to live with his divorced wife, Laodice. Antiochus II would not find a forgiving Laodice. She was a woman scorned. Laodice plotted to have her son become king by poisoning Antiochus II. Her supporters then went to Princess Berenice and killed both her and her son. Taking revenge, Princess Berenice’s brother invaded the Seleucid Empire and was successful. He acquired a large portion of its territory and came home with a large booty. And that gets us up to speed in the real life version of “The Game of Thrones.”

Verse 9–10: The Kings of the North Recover Lost Territory

Dan. 11:9 Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land. 10 However his sons shall stir up strife, and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come and overwhelm and pass through; then he shall return to his fortress and stir up strife. (NKJV)

After the king of the north returned to his own land, his sons would further the back and forth antagonism between these two Grecian empires. The sons that followed Antiochus II were his son by Laodice named Seleucus II Callinicus and then his grandson, Seleucus III Ceraunus (226–223 BC), who was assassinated in 223 BC. He was succeeded to the throne by his younger brother, Antiochus, known as “The Great.” Antiochus the Great is the one who would assemble a multitude of great forces, overwhelm, and pass through. He recovered much of the territory that was lost by his predecessors.

In this way prophecy was fulfilled when “his sons [Seleucus II Callinicus, Seleucus III Ceraunus, and Antiochus] shall stir up strife, and assemble a multitude of great forces; … overwhelm and pass through….” (NKJV) Antiochus the Great certainly fulfilled the prophecy in that “he shall return to his fortress and stir up strife.” He would one day stir up strife with the Romans and got into big trouble because of it.

Verses 11–13: King of the South Fights Back

Dan. 11:11 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. 12 And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it. 13 For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.

Ptolemy IV (king of the south) was a weak and undisciplined leader and under his rule, he lost Ptolemaic Syria. When Antiochus III (a.k.a. Antiochus the Great) advanced his armies against the king of the south to acquire the section of territory of which the Jews occupied, Ptolemy IV had to muster up an army to meet his forces in 217 BC near Raphia. With his mighty army, Antiochus the Great had already conquered much land. Ptolemy IV was desperate to come up with an army as large as the Seleucid army. So for the first time under Ptolemaic rule, native Egyptians were recruited to serve alongside the Greeks in the infantry and cavalry. With this army, Ptolemy IV won the war against Antiochus the Great. In this way prophecy was fulfilled: “and he [Ptolemy, king of the south] shall cast down many ten thousands,” the army of Antiochus the Great. Verse 12, “And when he [Ptolemy] hath taken away the multitude [the multitude being the army of the king of the north], his heart shall be lifted up [he was filled with pride].

Though Ptolemy IV won the war against Antiochus, he had to get back to Egypt to take care of a civil uprising, so he had to quickly negotiate a peace agreement that left Antiochus the Great free to withdraw to his own territory. In fact, Ptolemy didn’t get anything out of the peace deal. In this way, the prophecy was fulfilled when it says “he [Ptolemy] shall cast down many ten thousands [in battle]: but he shall not be strengthened by it [he didn’t get any of the victor’s rewards, because he had to get back to Egypt to take care of the civil uprising].”

This gave Antiochus the Great time to build up his army and finances for another campaign in the future, thus fulfilling verse 13: “For the king of the north [Antiochus the Great] shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former.” After 13 years of peace between the two kingdoms, Ptolemy IV died in 205 BC leaving his five-year-old son, Ptolemy V, as successor. Antiochus the Great took advantage of Egypt’s vulnerability and launched another attack against Egypt, thus fulfilling the last portion of verse 13, “…and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.”

Verses 14–16: Seleucid Empire Now Rules Israel

Dan. 11:14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall. 15 So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand. 16 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 glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.

When Ptolemy IV died, there was a civil war brewing among the Egyptian populace. In addition to that, there was strife in the royal court among those that desired to rule Egypt as regent for the five-year-old King Ptolemy V. The wife of Ptolemy IV, Arsinoe, was killed by two of her husband’s associates, Agathocles and Sosibius, before she found out her husband had died. They killed her to prevent her from declaring herself regent for her son, because they wanted to appoint themselves as regents to the young child king. They were outmaneuvered by General Tlepolemus who had them killed for murdering Arsinoe. In that way, prophecy was fulfilled in that “many shall rise up against the king of the South” [five-year-old King Ptolemy V] through internal conflict and civil wars.

A fun fact to know about Ptolemy V is that his rule and ascension was the subject recorded on the famous Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone was discovered by soldiers in Napoleon’s army in 1799 when they were digging the foundations for an addition to a fort near a town called el-Rashid (Rosetta). Written by priests, the message on the ancient stone was an announcement that celebrated the first anniversary of 13-year-old Ptolemy V after his coronation. The announcement was written in three languages: hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek. The Greek text on the stone was the key scholars used to decipher hieroglyphs.

During this vulnerable time for Egypt, Antiochus the Great entered into a pact with Philip V of Macedonia to come against the Ptolemaic Empire and to divide it in half for each of them. Their first attempt in 199 BC failed due to the superior military skills of the Ptolemaic General Scopas.

Also, up until the time of Ptolemy IV, the Jews enjoyed peace under Ptolemaic rule. But they were treated horribly by Ptolemy IV; and consequently, they hated being under Ptolemaic rule. So prophecy was fulfilled when “also the men of violence among your own people [the Jews] shall lift themselves up in order to fulfill the visions, but they shall fail and fall” (v. 14 Amp.). Many Jews joined the Seleucid/Macedonian coalition in the fight against the Ptolemaic kingdom. But when the coalition failed, they failed along with them.

In 198 BC, Antiochus the Great attacked Egypt again. Though Egypt’s General Scopas was victorious before, this time he was defeated in a battle at Panium. General Scopas retreated to the fortified city of Sidon. Antiochus the Great laid siege to it and in 198 BC, he took the city. Other Ptolemaic generals were rushing to assist General Scopas with Egyptian “chosen” troops but they didn’t make it in time to save him and his men. Victory for Antiochus the Great in 198 BC meant the Jews were now under the rule of the Seleucid Empire. Up until that time, they had been under Ptolemaic rule beginning in 301 BC.

In this way, prophecy was fulfilled in that “the king of the North [Antiochus the Great] shall come and cast up siege works and take a well-fortified city [Sidon]; and the forces of the South [General Scopas and his men] shall not stand, or even his chosen troops [the other generals with their Egyptian troops rushing to the aid of Scopas] for there shall be no strength to stand. … and he [the king of the north] shall stand in the glorious land [Israel], and in his hand shall be destruction and all the land shall be in his power” meaning Israel is now under the control of the Seleucid Empire. (Amp.)

In the next post, the series on Daniel chapter 11 will continue with verses 17–20.


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