Kings of the South and North
Daniel 11:1-4 and Daniel 11:5-8 ESV
Isaiah 46:9-10 ESV
2 Chronicles 36:23 ESV
Ezra 2:1b ESV
Ezra 2:64 ESV
Daniel’s vision of the kingdoms in the region was (is) very detailed. One might wonder about how the miracle and record of such intricate detail was written down on paper.
In my mind I also consider the great miracle that prophetic words written down were securely saved and passed down from generation to generation.
When I was in seminary I was given a great privilege of seeing an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. “The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient manuscripts that were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves near Khirbet Qumran, on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea. They are approximately two thousand years old, dating from the third century BCE to the first century CE. Most of the scrolls were written in Hebrew, with a smaller number in Aramaic or Greek. Most of them were written on parchment, with the exception of a few written on papyrus.” (https://www.imj.org.il/en/wings/shrine-book/dead-sea-scrolls).
It’s been said that the scrolls are the greatest archaeological find of the 20th Century. So, why are the scrolls important? They are important because they give experts clues that relate to the period of time after the last Old Testament books (Malachi) and the New Testament were written. That period of time is called the intertestamental period or the 400 years between Malachi and the coming of Jesus (Matthew). The Scrolls give us great clues about the culture and civilization during that period of time.
The scrolls are kept in the Shrine of the Book, at the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem. There are 15,000 scrolls and fragments held at the museum. When various people are asked what destination on the planet the could visit if they could go anywhere most people would want to go to a beautiful tropical island or a luxurious mountain chateau. I would choose to go to Jerusalem and one of the places I would visit is the Shrine of the Book (https://www.imj.org.il/en/wings/shrine-book/dead-sea-scrolls#).
When I went to the exhibit in Minneapolis I remember really realizing what a miracle scripture is to us today. We have as our daily guide ancient texts that light the way to the revelation of God.
The words of Daniel’s Vision are found in Daniel 11. We find in Daniel 11:1-4, “And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him. “And now I will show you the truth. Behold, three more kings shall arise in Persia, and a fourth shall be far richer than all of them. And when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do as he wills. And as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the authority with which he ruled, for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these.”
In Daniel Chapter 11 a King of Persia is in power. We know from history that the kings were “Cyrus II the Great (576-530 BC), reigns (reigned) when Daniel had this vision. The next three kings are Cambyses (530-522 BC), Smerdis (pseudo-Smerdis or Gaumata; 522 BC), and Darius I Hystaspes (522-486 BC). Xerxes I (486-464 BC) is probably the fourth king mentioned in the vision, since he invaded Greece in 480 BC, won the Battle of Thermopylae and captured Athens, lost the Battle of Salamis, and then pulled the bulk of his troops back to Asia” (https://www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/8_battles.htm).
The opening reference in Daniel 11:1 of Darius the Mede in the first year is a puzzle to scholars. Some believe it was a literary reference that expressed an idea. Cyrus, King of Persia was on the throne when Daniel had his final vision.
As the Prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 46:9-10:
“remember the former things of old;for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done,saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’”
We do know that Cyrus, King of Persia was on the throne when Daniel had his final vision. Captivity ended in 538 B.C. We know from Ezra and 2 Chronicles Jews had started to return to their homeland.
2 Chronicles 36:23 tells us, “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.’”
From Ezra 2:1b we know, “They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town.“
In Ezra 2:64 we are told, “The whole assembly together was 42,360.”
From previous lessons we know Daniel most likely did not return to Jerusalem. We are not told details but we know Daniel was at least seven/eight decades older when the Jews were released to return home. A journey from Babylon to Jerusalem on foot would have been very difficult for anyone over the age of sixty.
The reference to the kings in Daniel in verse 2 says there will be three kings and a fourth who is richer will arise and he will stir up the kingdom in Greece. In verse three Daniel speaks of a mighty king who will pretty much do whatever he wants. Daniel warns in verse 4 that his kingdom will be broken and divided.
In Daniel 11:5-8 we read, “Then the king of the south shall be strong, but one of his princes shall be stronger than he and shall rule, and his authority shall be a great authority. After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement. But she shall not retain the strength of her arm, and he and his arm shall not endure, but she shall be given up, and her attendants, he who fathered her, and he who supported her in those times. “And from a branch from her roots one shall arise in his place. He shall come against the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north, and he shall deal with them and shall prevail. He shall also carry off to Egypt their gods with their metal images and their precious vessels of silver and gold, and for some years he shall refrain from attacking the king of the north.”
We know the major world power at the time was the Medo-Persian Empire that ruled for approximately 200 years before Alexander the Great (ushering in The Grecian Empire) defeated the Persians in 333 B.C.
The King of the north is, “the Greek king(s) of Syria, of the Seleucid dynasty” (https://www.gotquestions.org/King-of-the-North.html).
Now we really begin to see and understand the difficulty of the detail of the vision we find in the final chapters of Daniel. It’s important to look at the details of the words in Daniel 11 as well as how the prophecy played out in real life.
Add to that the fact that we can read and seek understanding of it centuries later.
It IS a miracle!
Spiritual Practice: The Miracle of God’s Word
Read or memorize one verse from God’s Word.
In God, Deborah