Daniel Chapter 11: The Controversy

Did you know there are some Bible “scholars” who do not believe the book of Daniel is authentically prophetic? It’s true. There are some Bible prophecy experts (as they call themselves) who claim the entire book of Daniel is the work of an imposter. “Why,” you ask, “do they think it’s the work of an imposter?” Well, it’s because the prophecies in Daniel have been uncannily accurate at predicting very specific events of the future. But I’ve got news for the so called Bible “scholars.” The book of Daniel is not pseudo prophecy. It’s genuine. Nonetheless, these so-called Bible scholars continue to push this controversy about Daniel being pseudo prophecy. If you want to learn more about this controversy, keep reading.

Daniel Chapter 11: The Controversy

First in a Five-Part Series
by Karen Thompson

THE CONTROVERSY

Now we’ve come to the section of Daniel chapter 11 that contains the reason why some biblical “scholars” question whether the book of Daniel is authentic. Up to this point in the chapter, the prophetic predictions have been uncannily accurate. Not only did Daniel accurately predict the rise of Alexander the Great, but he also predicted the activities of the kings that followed after him. Then Daniel specifically predicted the unusual way Antiochus Epiphanes would become king, his interference with the office of high priest, his wars with Egypt, the deal he made with his nephew the king of Egypt, his humiliation by the Roman commander Gaius, and his forced religious reconstruction and cruel persecution of the Jewish people.

But then, beginning in verse 36, the uncanny accuracy ends. Nothing in the last 10 verses can be applied to the life of Antiochus Epiphanes. Why? How could his prophecies take such a wrong turn? There has to be a reason, right? Well, Daniel’s skeptics came up with a natural conclusion: they determined that the writer of the book of Daniel was an imposter. They concluded that the writer of the book of Daniel was a Jew living during the time of Antiochus (175–164 BC), not in the sixth century as the writer of Daniel claimed. They further claim that instead of predicting the future, the imposter simply looked back on history and wrote his supposed prophetical predictions until he reached the time when he was living and writing his prophesies. Beginning in verse 36, they claim this imposter simply guessed as to what Antiochus’ future could be or what he wanted it to be and wrote it as prophecy.

Why? Why would someone do this? Skeptics surmised that this fake Daniel’s motive for writing these “pseudo prophecies” was to give the people of Judah hope reading about the demise of their enemy, Antiochus Epiphanes. Since the critics say the fake prophecies were created to give hope to the Jewish people, then it’s obvious these critics believe the person who wrote the fake prophecies was most likely a Jewish person.

Let’s assume the skeptics were right about the book of Daniel being written by an imposter. If that were the case, I would have to conclude the imposter was not a very bright man. His pseudo prophecies were unimaginative and redundant, and they were filled with ridiculous mistakes. In my opinion, the fact that it is such a ridiculous attempt at writing fake prophecy is actually proof that it is not fake at all. Anyone could have done a better job than he did.

Verses 36–45: Looking at These Verses as Pseudo Prophecy

I’ll show you what I’m talking about. As we look at the rest of this chapter, keep in mind that the critics think verses 21–45 are talking about Antiochus Epiphanes and the imposter Daniel is guessing what his end would be. Let’s first examine the “inaccuracies” in verse 36 where it talks about the king’s God complex.

Dan. 11:36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.

In the verses prior to this, we’ve already talked about Antiochus’ desecration of the temple, how he exalted himself to god status, and demanded to be worshiped as god. Why say it again? This is redundant information.

Also I want to point out the phrase where it says the king “shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.” Remember the skeptics have concluded that the Daniel imposter was writing this to encourage his fellow Jews. If that’s true, I don’t think it’s encouraging to tell them that their tormentor and persecutor would “prosper till the wrath has been accomplished.”

Verses 37–39 Conflicting Information About His Faith

Dan. 11:37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. 38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. 39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.

Let’s start with the phrase “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers … nor regard any god….” That is not a true statement about Antiochus; he did honor and regard the gods of his fathers and his ancestors. He honored the Greek gods by erecting statues of Zeus in the temples, and we know from history that he built many temples in different cities in his empire dedicated to the “gods of his fathers”—the Greek gods. He did honor the gods of his fathers, and anyone living during the time of Antiochus would have known that about him, so writing this wouldn’t have made sense.

Verse 40: More Prophecy Not Comforting to Jews

Dan. 11:40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.

If there really was a Daniel imposter guessing about future events, verse 40 is the only guess that would have made sense. Considering the fact that Antiochus of the Seleucid Empire had attacked Egypt twice, this would be a smart guess since the king of the Ptolemaic Empire would want to retaliate against Antiochus.

Again, if this was written to encourage the Jews, it’s not very encouraging to hear the king of the north, or Antiochus, would “enter many countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.” If he was writing this to encourage his fellow Jews, then I think it would have been more encouraging to say that Egypt crushed and destroyed him. Historically none of this happened to Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus died before he got another opportunity to attack Egypt. His last attempt resulted in his public humiliation by Rome insisting that he leave Egypt.

Verse 41: Redundant Information

Dan. 11:41 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.

Here it says Antiochus would enter and overthrow the Glorious Land, which is Israel. This statement could not have been more ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense. Israel was already under the control of Antiochus as a vassal state. So why is fake Daniel prophesying that Antiochus is going to overthrow Israel again? Do you see how ridiculous this would be to write if you were creating a pseudo prophecy?

Verses 42–45: More Information Not Encouraging to Jews

Dan. 11:42 He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. 44, But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. 45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

It says the land of Egypt will not escape from his hands, that Antiochus would spoil it of its wealth. But Egypt did, indeed, escape from the clutches of Antiochus. Again, I must point out the obvious. It would not be an encouraging prophecy for the Jews to hear that Antiochus would defeat Egypt as well as Libya and Ethiopia.

Then news from the east and north shall trouble him and he shall go out and destroy many. But this didn’t happen either. Excuse me for sounding redundant, but if I were writing fake prophecy to encourage my fellow countrymen, I certainly would not keep writing again and again that the enemy would be successful in all his battles.

Besides, Antiochus at that time had set up a garrison in Jerusalem and had taken control of the city, so why add additional talk of placing his palace near the holy mountain? Jerusalem was already under his control. Any Jew living during the time of Antiochus would know this so, again, to write this as prophecy would be ridiculous.

Also, this is not how Antiochus Epiphanes met his death. The end of Antiochus is recorded in 1st Maccabees. If you’ll recall, the Antiochus ran out of money in his treasury and he needed to replenish it. So he split his military forces into two groups; he kept one half and gave the other to his general Lysias. He instructed Lysias to use his half of the military to put an end to the Jewish revolt. Antiochus took his half of the military to collect tribute from his vassal city-states to build up his treasury so he could continue with his military campaigns.

First Maccabees chapter six says Antiochus heard that the city of Elymais was famous for its wealth, so he went to Elymais for the express purpose of extracting its riches. But the city was warned of his coming, and they were prepared for him when he arrived. When Antiochus approached the city, they successfully drove him off.

Defeated, Antiochus decided to go to Babylon. While there, a messenger came and gave him the devastating news that his armies were “put to flight” by Judah and his men. He was crushed to learn that Lysias was killed, and the Jews were becoming militarily stronger by collecting the armor and equipment after each of their victorious battles.

When the king heard they had successfully taken back Jerusalem, destroyed the garrison, and restored their temple, he was astonished and “sore moved.” It was such a crushing defeat, that he literally became sick with grief. He knew it was the beginning of the end of his empire. His health slowly deteriorated until he finally died. Antiochus lamented the end of his life and contemplated on the reason why he came to ruins. “And I thought with myself, into what tribulation am I come, and how great a flood of misery is it, wherein now I am! For I was bountiful and beloved in my power. But now I remember the evils that I did to Jerusalem, and that I took all the vessels of gold and silver that were therein, and sent to destroy the inhabitants of Judea without a cause. I perceive therefore that for this cause these troubles are come upon me, and, behold, I perish through great grief in a strange land” (1 Macc. 6:11–13). It’s interesting that Antiochus knew in his heart that what he had done to the Jews was an egregious crime against them. Antiochus came to the right conclusion about his actions: he sowed destruction and he reaped destruction.

Next time, we’ll take a brief look at the connection between the king of the Grecian Seleucid Empire, Antiochus Epiphanes, and the king of the future end time kingdom of Antichrist.

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