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.” In our past posts, we saw the back and forth activity of the kings of the north and the kings of the south. We saw the constant nonstop quest of each king to acquire the other king’s kingdom. They employed all sorts of maneuvers to obtain their goal. We’ve seen royalty at odds with each other… we saw murder… and scheming… with plenty of lying, deceit, and betrayal. And we’re not even close to being done with all the diabolical plots and intrigue committed by these kings.

In this post, we’re going to see even more of the same with marrying off the offspring and brazen murder. We’re also going to learn about a king who had massive ambition. He was determined to acquire Alexander’s entire empire. To do that, he came up with a plan that had many wheels in motion. Not only did this king have massive ambition, but he also had a lot of pride and ego… and it kind of made him delusional. His delusion was thinking he could take on the Roman Empire. He might not have attempted such a foolish quest if it weren’t for one of history’s living legends egging him on. The combination of his massive ambition, huge ego, and being egged on by a living legend made him just delusional enough to attempt something so idiotic. Of course, he failed. And paid a steep price. Such is life in the real life “Game of Thrones.” Want to know more? Keep reading.

DANIEL CHAPTER 11: A Real Life Game of Thrones

Fourth in a Six-Part Series
By Karen Thompson

In the last post, our story ended with Antiochus the Great moving against Egypt. He was met in battle by General Scopas in the battle of Panium. Antiochus won the battle. A defeated General Scopas retreated to the fortified city of Sidon. Antiochus the Great laid siege to it and took the city. Victory for Antiochus the Great in 198 BC meant the Jewish people were now under the rule of the Seleucid Empire. Up until that time, they had been under Ptolemaic rule beginning in 301 BC. We’re now up to date with our continuing saga of the real life “Game of Thrones.”

Verse 17: More Intermingling of the Royal Seed

Dan. 11:17 He [Antiochus the Great] shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and with him upright conditions and terms of peace, and he shall perform them [by making an agreement with the king of the South]. He shall give him [his] daughter to corrupt and destroy it [his league with Egypt] and the kingdom, but it shall not succeed or be to his advantage. (Amp.)

Antiochus the Great put his plans of conquering all of Egypt on hold. He decided to direct his attention toward pushing back Roman influence in the areas that were once under the rule of Alexander the Great. But before he took on the Roman army, he wanted to make peace with Egypt so he didn’t have to worry about them advancing on his territory while he was engaged with the Romans. He used diplomatic means of securing peace and influencing Egypt by giving his daughter, Cleopatra (who came with a large wedding dowry), in marriage to 14-year-old Ptolemy V, thus fulfilling the prophecy “He shall give him [his] daughter….”

But Antiochus’ ultimate plan was for Cleopatra to scheme against her new husband, Ptolemy V, to help her father politically, fulfilling the prophecy “to corrupt and destroy it [his league with Egypt] and the kingdom….” But Cleopatra did not do as her father wanted. Instead, she was faithful to her new husband. So in that way prophecy was fulfilled when Antiochus brought a proposal of peace by giving his daughter, Cleopatra, in marriage for the purpose of “corrupting” Egypt, “but it shall not succeed or be to his advantage” (Amp.).

Verses 18–19: Antiochus the Great Takes on Rome and Fails

Dan. 11:18 After this he shall turn his attention to the islands and coastlands and shall take over many of them. But a prince or commander shall teach him [Antiochus the Great] to put an end to the insults offered by him; in fact he shall turn his insolence and reproaches back upon him. 19 Then he shall turn his face back toward the fortresses of his own land [of Syria], but he shall stumble and fall and not be found. (Amp.)

The Romans had been monitoring the activities of Antiochus the Great for a while. They had questioned him before about his intentions with regard to expanding his empire because they suspected he wanted to expand his kingdom into Roman territory. At the time, Antiochus angrily replied by saying he was at a loss as to why they were meddling in the affairs of Asia Minor (Turkey) when he never interfered with the affairs of Italy. But they were right to be suspicious about Antiochus the Great. After he procured peace with Egypt through the intermarriage of his daughter, Cleopatra, he turned his attention toward conquering the islands along the Mediterranean Sea, along the coast of Asia Minor and Greece, which is reflected in verse 18, “After this he shall turn his attention to the islands and coastlands and shall take over many of them.”

At this point, we discover a famous person hidden in the workings of the events of chapter 11 who would influence Antiochus the Great in his decision to advance against Rome. That person was the very famous Carthaginian general named Hannibal, who was on the run from the Romans when he met Antiochus the Great. Hannibal was nicknamed “the Scourge of Rome” because no one could match him on the military field, as his specialty was guerilla warfare. Hannibal is most famous for his ingenious military strategies.

One of his most clever strategies is when he had to fight a naval battle where his enemy far outnumbered him in ships. He didn’t have a chance against them in battle, so he came up with a clever scheme to put his enemy on the run. He had his men take leave from the ships and hunt down poisonous snakes. They brought them back to the ship and put them alive in earthenware jars. When they were close enough to the enemy ships, Hannibal gave the order to throw the jars on board the ship decks of their enemy. At first when the jars hit the decks, the enemy soldiers burst out laughing. But the laughing stopped when they realized their ships were full of poisonous snakes. They quickly turned their ships around and headed back to their naval base to extricate the snakes from their ships!

Hannibal was a legend in his own time. So when Hannibal showed up at the court of Antiochus the Great, he was treated with great honor and respect. Antiochus was in awe of Hannibal due to his great military reputation. During their time together, Hannibal fired up Antiochus against Rome, so that Antiochus immediately began to prepare to march against Italy! It was a terrible mistake.

In 190 BC, Antiochus lost the war against the Roman General L. Cornelius Scipio at Magnesia ad Sipylum, a city of Lydia. As a consequence, Rome made Antiochus pay dearly for aligning himself with Hannibal. He had to surrender all the territory of Asia Minor west of the Taurus Mountains. He had to surrender his navy and his elephants, and he had to pay an enormous amount of money. The war debt was so enormous that it took everything Antiochus had to make the payments each year. Having to pay off this debt kept Antiochus out of the business of conquering new lands. And to make sure he kept making payments on his war debt, Rome took his youngest son, Antiochus IV (who would come to be known as Antiochus Epiphanes), as a hostage. He would remain in Rome for 12 years.

Antiochus the Great wanted to pay off the war debt as quickly as possible, so he thought of a way to come up with quick cash. As the prophecy said, he turned “his face toward the fortresses of his own land” (Amp.). He set out to the cities in his own kingdom to rob the temples of their treasures. He was killed on this mission.

In this way, the prophetic word was fulfilled when Antiochus would “turn his attention to the islands and coastlands [of Greece and Asia Minor] and shall take over many of them. But a prince or commander [Roman General Scipio] shall teach him [Antiochus the Great] to put an end to the insults offered by him; in fact he shall turn his insolence and reproaches back upon him. Then he [Antiochus the Great] shall turn his face back toward the fortresses of his own land [of Syria], but he shall stumble and fall and not be found” meaning that he died (Amp.).

Verse 20: Seleucus IV Raises Taxes and Is Murdered

Dan. 11:20 Then shall stand up in his place or office one who shall send an exactor of tribute to pass through the glory of the kingdom, but within a few days he shall be destroyed, [yet] neither in anger nor in battle. (Amp.)

Seleucus IV (187–176 BC) took his father’s place. His reign as king was burdened by the heavy financial war debt that Rome exacted on his father. To help raise money to pay for the debt, Seleucus IV taxed everyone heavily, including Israel. This situation created a division among the Jews. Some Jews felt it was wrong to use their money to pay off a war debt to Rome. The high priest of Israel, Onias, felt strongly that it was wrong for their money to be used in that way.

Onias was pure in his motive. He only wanted to do the right thing before God. His brother, Joshua, was not so pure in his motives. Joshua wanted his brother’s job as high priest. He hoped to accomplish this by making promises to Seleucus IV for large amounts of money if only Seleucus IV would remove his brother as high priest and give him the position. The king didn’t want to get involved with Jerusalem’s affairs and ignored Joshua’s offer. But that would not be the last time Joshua would scheme to get his brother’s job.

After reigning only eleven years, Seleucus IV was poisoned by his minister Heliodorus, whose ambition was to seize the throne. In this way, the prophecy was fulfilled in that after the death of Antiochus the Great, there would be one to “stand up in his place or office one [Seleucus IV] who shall send an exactor of tribute [collector of money] to pass through the glory of the kingdom [pass through Israel], but within a few days [the word used for “days” here is the Hebrew word yome and it can also be used to denote years], he shall be destroyed, [yet] neither in anger nor in battle [he was poisoned, motivated by politics, not anger or war].

In the next post, the series on Daniel chapter 11 will continue with verses 21–27.

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