Grace Theological Journal 4.2 (1983) 205-231.
[Copyright © 1983 Grace Theological Seminary; cited with permission;
digitally prepared for use at
AN INTERPRETATION OF
GEORGE M. HARTON
Dan 11:36-45 reveals the path to power of the Antichrist at the
mid-point of the Tribulation period, when he initiates a new policy of
aggression (-39). Once he defeats the Arab and Soviet armies
which attempt to stop him (-45), he will inaugurate the eschato-
logical climax of persecution against
throughout the times of the Gentiles (12:1).
* * *
events in the
Christians especially are challenged to correlate these events with
their understanding of biblical prophecy and to seize upon opportuni-
ties to witness for Christ while conversing about
One significant passage predicting events "at the end time" in
11:36-45. Who is this "King of the North" ()? Who is this king
who "will do as he pleases" ()? A Christian's witness for Christ
concerning prophetic matters could backfire if his positions are based
on anything but careful exegesis of the pertinent passages. Daniel 11
must be examined with special care in light of its difficulty.2
This study will first examine the context of this passage, then will
address four crucial questions which determine the interpretive frame-
work, and finally will provide a condensed commentary relating the
particulars of the passage to the framework established.
CONTEXT OF DAN 11:36-45
Context of the book
Daniel had been carried away captive with other Hebrews into
l Dan 11:40, 41, 45. All quotations are from the NASB unless otherwise noted.
2 Daniel 11 is no doubt the most difficult chapter of Daniel's prophecy." Donald
Campbell, Daniel: Decoder of Dreams (Wheaton: Victor, 1977) 32.
206 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Could YHWH provide for their needs outside of the land of promise?
God's purpose in giving this revelation through Daniel appears to
have been to reassure all that he was totally in control of the affairs
of his chosen people
Dan 11:36-45 traces the efforts of several Gentile kings to
establish themselves as world rulers.
middle of these conflicts as the pre-eminent battleground, and all of
this leads to "a time of distress such as never occurred since there was
a nation until that time" (12:1). Thus, this section describes the
climax of the persecution at the hands of a Gentile power like what
demonstration that God rules in spite of appearances, and the second
half of the book was given in Hebrew to communicate especially to
the nation of Israel God's plan and protection for them.
Context of the Section (10:1-12:13)
The message of God's rule over
Hebrew) consists of the vision of the ram and the he-goat received by
Daniel in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar (chap. 8), the
prayer of Daniel and the angelic revelation of the seventy weeks in
the first year of Darius (chap. 9), and the vision received in the third
year of Cyrus, king of
identification (10:1) helps to indicate clearly that the final three
chapters comprise a single unit. The point of this final vision is to
toward the consummation of history. The vision was given to Daniel
toward the beginning of the
being under Gentile dominion did not stop with the
the vision reveals that
Messiah. This section may be outlined as follows:
CONSUMMATION OF HISTORY
I. The Prologue 10:1-21
II. The Vision 11:1-12:3
A. Introduction (1)
B. Persian Rule (2)
C. Greek Rule (3-35)
1. Alexander the Great (3-4)
2. Seleucids and the Ptolemies (5-20)
3. Antiochus Epiphanes (21-35)
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 207
D. Roman Rule (11:36-12:1a)
1. The Power of the final Roman King (-45)
2. The Persecution of the Saints (12:la)
E. Messianic Rule (12:lb-3)
2. The Resurrections (12:2)
3. The Reward of the Righteous (12:3)
III. The Epilogue 12:4-13
Most agree that the chapter division, which isolates 12:1-3 from
the rest of chap. 11 with which it structurally belongs, is poorly
placed. The vision, running from 11:1 through 12:3, forms the heart
of the section, and it reveals once more the same progression of world
rulers as had been previously revealed in chap. 2 in Nebuchadnezzar's
dream and in chap. 7 in the vision of the four beasts followed by the
of Man. Persia (11:2) and
The consummative nature of resurrection and final judgment (12:2)
imply the arrival of the smiting stone. If Daniel is to be consistent
with his previous revelation on the progression of world rulers, one
would expect the
Empire and the Messianic reign.
The focus, in fact, in the section is upon the climax of the "times
of the Gentiles." Such a large proportion of material was devoted to
the career of Antiochus Epiphanes (-35) because he was recog-
nized to be a type of the final "man of sin" and persecutor of the
Jews, Antichrist. Then in v 36, the focus shifts from the type to the
antitype himself. Dan 11:36-45 reveals the power of this "wilful king"
and 12:1a the climactic persecution that he unleashes against God's
"people." But in this final hour, when the worst pressure possible is
rules indeed! Thus, the final verses of Daniel 11 reveal the final
Climactic power and persecution is concentrated in Antichrist
and prepares the way for
CRUCIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT DAN 11:36-45
Many of the descriptive phrases in this passage are general or
ambiguous enough to be adaptable to different people at different
times. For example, Otto Zockler adapts these phrases to a description
208 GRACE THEOLOGICAL
of Antiochus Epiphanes.3 Thomas Robinson, by contrast, applies the
phrases to a continuing description of the Papacy of Rome.4
First, the crucial questions that establish the framework of the
interpretation will be addressed before a verse by verse analysis of the
entire passage will be attempted. The four crucial questions that
establish the framework of Dan 11:36-45 are: (1) What is the
temporal setting of the passage? (2) What is the identity of the "wilful
king"? (3) What is the identity of the King of the North? and (4) What
is the identity of the "attacker" in -45?
The Temporal Setting of 11:36-45.
1. Proposal: The events described here will take place during the
Great Tribulation. The temporal setting is eschatological.
a. Dan 12:1 "Now at that time." The end of chap. 11 is tied to
the eschatological events presented in 12:1-3 by the chronological
description "at that time." Robert Culver clearly sets forth the
determinative nature of this textual identification:
There is small doubt in the minds of any except a very few that the
first portion of chapter 12 is prophecy concerning "last things"--in the
theological nomenclature, "eschatology." Events connected with the
resurrection of the dead and final rewards and punishments can hardly
If there were a clean break in thought between chapters 11 and 12
it might be possible to say that all of the previous section of the
prophecy relates to events of now past history. But such a break does
not exist. Rather, a chronological connection is clearly provided be-
tween the last of chapter 11 and the first of chapter 12 by the opening
words of chapter 12. Referring to the destruction of a certain king
whose career is predicted in the last part of chapter 11, chapter 12
opens thus: "And at that time shall Michael stand up," etc. Thus a
clear connection with the eschatological prediction of chapter 12 is
established for the last portion, at least, of chapter 11.5
b. Dan 11:35, 36 "until the end time." The transition to the
eschatological period is marked at v 35 when it is indicated that the
"people who know their God" (cf. v 32) will continue to undergo
suffering and persecution "until the end time; because it is still to
3 Otto Zockler, "The Book of the Prophet Daniel," in Lange s Commentary on the
Holy Scriptures, ed. John Peter Lange (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1960)
4 Thomas Robinson, "Homiletical Commentary on the Book of Daniel," The
Preachers Homiletic Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974) 246ff.
5 Robert D. Culver, Daniel and the Latter Days (Chicago: Moody, 1954) 163.
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 209
come at the appointed time. " V 36 then opens with the phrase, "Then
the king will do as he pleases." In other words, v 35 appears to
summarize the continuation of the established pattern of the suffering
in v 36 Daniel records the first revelation in this vision concerning
this appointed end time. Gaebelein summarizes this conclusion: "Be-
tween verse 35 and 36 we must put a long, unreckoned period of
c. Dan "in the latter days." The angel giving the vision to
Daniel explained that he had come to give Daniel "An understanding
of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision
pertains to the days yet future" (). This introduces a breadth of
scope for the vision that may be expected to include something of the
Messianic age and the final events of human history. But if 11:36-
12:3 is not viewed as being eschatological, then the angel was misin-
formed, for nowhere else in the vision are the latter days in view.7
3. Supporting Arguments:
a. The events of 11:36-45 do not fit Antiochus Epiphanes. The
leading alternative to the view that the temporal setting of this
passage is eschatological is that it is a continued description of the
career of Antiochus Epiphanes (cf. 11:21-35). The pagan historian
Porphyry is usually cited in order to justify this proposal historically,
but E. J. Young, Robert Dick Wilson, H. C. Leupold, and John F.
Walvoord have all given scholarly and convincing refutations of this
b. There is a natural break in the text after 11:35. A number of
the versions recognize the break in subject by making 11:36 begin a
new paragraph or section (e.g., NASB).
There is strong and clear chronological evidence in the text for
identifying the temporal setting of the events of 11:36-45 as the
eschatological time of Jacob's trouble falling within Daniel's 70th
6 Arno Gaebelein, Daniel (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1968) 179.
7 Some do place the shift to the eschatological earlier than v 36. For example,
Jerome identified the eschatological as beginning at 11:22, while G. H. Lang placed its
beginning at 11:5. A consideration of such views lies outside the scope of this study. All
that is being established now is that 11:36-45 is eschatological and not historical.
8 E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949) 250-51;
Robert Dick Wilson, Studies in the Book of Daniel (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker,
1972) 266; H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1949) 510;
and John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago: Moody,
210 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
week. This conclusion will narrow the number of potential candidates
for the role of the "wilful king."
The Identity of the "wilful king of 11:36
1. Historical ruler or eschatological Antichrist?
If the argumentation regarding the temporal setting as presented
above is accepted, then the answer to this question is also solved.
However, not everyone has seen it this way. Mauro identified this
king as Herod the Great, rabbinic interpreters such as Ibn Ezra
identified him as Constantine the Great, Calvin saw in this "king" the
Roman Empire, and Antiochus has remained a favorite candidate
among liberal critics.9 The papal view as cited before (Robinson) is
common among amillennial interpreters, and at least one recent com-
mentator saw in Napoleon Bonaparte the "wilful king" of Dan
Jerome and Luther are among earlier men who also saw this
figure as the Antichrist of the last days.11 While other kings may
match some of the descriptive phrases in 11:36-39, none but the
Antichrist can measure up to the temporal qualifications of living "at
that time" in the "time of distress such as never occurred since there
was a nation until that time" (12:1).
2. "Beast of the sea" or the "false prophet?"
But complete agreement does not exist among those who agree
that this wilful king is eschatological. Most are comfortable using the
term "Antichrist," but are also comfortable with applying that designa-
tion to anyone they choose. For example, Herod, Constantine, the
Pope, and Napoleon have all been viewed as "Antichrist." Once an
eschatological identification is agreed upon, one must determine to
which eschatological figure this "wilful king" corresponds.
J. N. Darby and Arno Gaebelein identified this king with the
second beast of Revelation 13 (vv 11-17), or the "false prophet."12
However, I am in agreement with most premillennial interpreters who
identify the wilful king with the first beast of Revelation 13 (vv 1-10).
9 C. F. Keil, "Biblical Commentary on the Book of Daniel," Commentaries on the
Old Testament (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968) 461-62; and Young, The
Prophecy of Daniel, 246 for a listing of these and other interpretations.
10 Roy Allan Anderson, "The Time of the End," Signs of the Times (November,
1970: 22, 23).
11 Jerome, Commentary on Daniel, trans I. by Gleason L. Archer, Jr. (Grand
Rapids: Baker, 1958) 136.
12 Darby is cited by Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, 272; cf.
Gaebelein, Daniel, 180.
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 211
The function of the false prophet is to exalt the first beast, and the
wilful king is said to "exalt and magnify himself" (11:36). The
identification with the "beast of the sea" is preferable on the basis of
the wilful king's preeminence and self-exaltation.
3. Jew or Gentile?
Perhaps the majority of premillennial interpreters have identified
this man as a Jew. Since this "prince" (9:26) makes a covenant with
the Jews (9:27) in order to bring about a substitute ("anti") peace,
and since the Jews would accept only a Jew as "Messiah," it is felt
that Antichrist must be a Jew.13
However, an increasing number of commentators are allowing
for a gentile Antichrist. Walvoord points out that 11:37 does not use
the Jewish expression "Jehovah of his fathers," but rather the non-
covenant name "Elohim," which was used by the Gentiles.14 To the
counter argument that Elohim is an equally acceptable designation
for YHWH, Wood replies that since the singular lxe is used in this very
context (11:36) for the singular referent "god," the plural yhelox< must
be translated "gods."15 This would identify the wilful king as a
The answer to this question may influence the interpretation of a
few phrases in the passage (such as "he will show no regard. . . for
the desire of women") but is otherwise not a major matter. I am
inclined to agree with Walvoord and Wood that the Antichrist will
probably be of gentile extraction. One need not be a Jew in order to
sign a treaty with
"many," will probably involve many nations in addition
Perhaps it is more likely that the nations of the world will sign a
peace treaty with a gentile than with a Jew. Furthermore, since the
type of Antichrist, Antiochus, was not a Jew, the antitype need not be
a Jew either.
The wilful king of Dan 11:36-45 may be identified as an eschato-
logical personage who will appear in the Tribulation period. His
career and characteristics are elsewhere described in Daniel 7 (the
"little horn"), in Daniel 9 ("prince that shall come"), in 2 Thessalo-
nians 2 ("man of sin "), and in Revelation 13 ("beast. . . of the sea").
With these defining traits in view, he may be called the Antichrist.
13 Lehman Strauss, The Prophecies of Daniel (
1969) 343; J. Allen Blair, Living Courageously (
John C. Whitcomb, "The Book of Daniel," The New Bible Dictionary, ed. J. D.
14 Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, 273.
212 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
The identity of the King of the North in
1. Problem of identifying the King of the North.
Dan introduces two new kings who attack the wilful king
of -39. Little problem exists in identifying the King of the
most identify him as the king of
southern kingdoms in which
well with the entire pattern of Daniel 11, in which the Ptolemies are
referred to with this same designation, The Ptolemies ruled from
identification is sealed by the
specific reference to
However, similar unanimity does not exist with regard to iden-
tifying the King of the North. The reason for this ambivalence may be
traced in part to the absence of any further specific geographical
names as is true in the verses dealing with the King of the South.
Nevertheless, several guidelines do exist in seeking to determine an
identity for this king: his association with the Seleucids through the
title "King of the North" as used throughout Daniel 11 and his
activities as described in .
2. Proposals for identifying the King of the North.
Robinson and Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown (following
and Merrill Unger anticipate that
number, including Herman Hoyt, J. Dwight Pentecost, Lehman
Strauss, and Leon Wood, feel that this King of the North will be
3. Preferred identity of the King of the North.
King of the North do so in order to find a historical fulfillment for
the King of the North. However, the eschatological setting of the
passage forbids a historical fulfillment. Inasmuch as the Seleucids
ruled over part of
expand in terms of geographical extent and international power so as
16 Robinson, "Homiletical Commentary on the Book of Daniel," 256; and Robert
Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, David Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible (Reprint;
17 Ray E. Baughman, The Kingdom of God Visualized (Chicago: Moody, 1972)
177, and Merrill Unger, Ungers Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody, 1966) 798.
18 Herman A. Hoyt, The End Times (Chicago: Moody, 1969) 152; J. Dwight
Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958) 344; Strauss; The
Prophecies of Daniel, 345; Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 308.
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 213
to qualify as the eschatological King of the North. This appears to be
very unlikely at the present time.
possible identification is found in the use of the title "King of the
North," which is used earlier in Daniel 11 to refer to the Seleucid
branch of the Greek Empire. At that time
dominion of the Seleucids . . . reached from
Arrian Anabasis 7:2.19
A map of the Seleucid Empire shows its wide geographical range,20
and history has recorded the dominant international influence exerted.
Consequently, since the Seleucid Empire dominated a wide geographi-
cal area and was a world political power, the
single fact that
located north of
of the North.
of the King of the North inasmuch as it possesses neither the wide
geographical range nor the world power that characterized the Seleu-
cid kings. On this basis,
a wider geographical scope, and the royal capital of the Seleucids,
the problem of political correspondence:
The designation "king of the North" is not so easily adapted, for
the present Syrian government hardly qualifies as a world contender of
the stature of the Seleucids.22
There is also an exegetical problem--the activities of this king in
11:40. "And the king of the North will storm against him [the wilful
king of 36-39] with chariots, with horsemen, and with many ships;
and he will enter countries, overflow them, and pass through." Then
v 41 continues the narrative with the statement: "He will also enter
the Beautiful Land." If it can be demonstrated (I will attempt to do
this in the next section) that the "he" of v 41 does not represent a
change of antecedent, but is continuing the description of the King of
19 Young, The Prophecy of Daniel, 234; cf. Charles Pfeiffer, Howard Vos, The
Wycliffe Historical Geography of Bible Lands (Chicago: Moody, 1967) 268.
20 See map xii of the Seleucid Empire in Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan
Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976) vol. 5.
21 E. M. Blaiklock, "
22 Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 308.
214 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
the North's attack against Antichrist, then the King of the North does
in . This means that the attack on Antichrist involves the King
of the North's entering, overflowing, and passing through other coun-
tries en route to
But even if this understanding of the attacker in v 41 as the King
of the North is not accepted, Keil
does not believe that
the requirements of the activities described in :
The plural tOcrAxEBa (into the countries) does not at all agree with the
of a Syrian king against
this, that the north, from which the angry king comes in his fury
king of the south, reached far beyond
North is thought of as the ruler of the distant north.23
to see how the King of the North can enter countries (plural) en route
to attacking the Antichrist in
require that the country of the King of the North be geographically
boundaries of "the end time."
preters of this passage do identify the King of the North as the
modem U.S.S.R. on the basis of a correlation with Ezekiel 38-39.
However, stronger supports for this view may be recognized in
the hermeneutical and exegetical requirements discussed in connection
the title "King of the North" associated with the Seleucid empire. It
has a corresponding northern location, a corresponding vast geo-
graphical scope, and a corresponding world political preeminence.
question and makes its association with the Seleucid kings of the
north even stronger. For example, Barabas states that "Magog was
probably located between
refers to the Scythians (Jos. Antiq. I. vi. 1).24 In other words, before
the Scythians migrated further north they occupied the area between
similar picture of
Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge:
23 Keil, "Biblical Commentary on the Book of Daniel," 470.
24 S. Barabas, "Gog and Magog," The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the
25 Cf. map xii, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 5.
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 215
A stricter geographical location would place Magog's dwelling between
to have extended farther north across the
here the extreme northern horizon of the Hebrews (Ezek. xxxviii. 15,
xxix. 2). This is the way Meshech and Tubal are often mentioned in
the Assyrian inscriptions (Mushku and Tabal, Gk. Moschoi and
inasmuch as they would have to "enter countries, overflow them, and
pass through" in order to attack Antichrist in
tion with the Seleucids and the activities described in provide
the only objective basis for identifying this King of the North, and
identification of the origin of this king.
d. Prudence in identifying the King of the North. One should
not stress the name of a current country, because the geographical
and political boundaries of countries are in a state of flux. Wood
points out the proper posture:
Because the political situation in the world could well be different when
the Antichrist rules, however, it stands to reason that the terms should
be adapted to whatever that difference may prove to be.27
While the names and fortunes of individual countries may change, the
criteria for identifying the King of the North will not change: his
country will be north of
least two borders, and his country will occupy a large geographical
area and exert world power and influence.
The identity of the attacker" in -:45
Vv 41-45 trace the significant activities of a king designated only
by the pronoun "he." Is the antecedent of these pronouns the attacker
of v 40 (the King of the North) or the person being attacked (the
wilful king)? Since it is not revealed who wins the battle between
Antichrist and the kings of the north and of the south, ambiguity
about the identity of the "he," "his," and "him" referred to throughout
vv 41-45 remains. Is this a continued attack of the King of the North
that began in v 40b, or is this the counterattack by the wilful king?
26 Vol. 5, p. 14 as cited by Pentecost, Things to Come, 328. For similar arguments,
cf. Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 309.
27 Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 308.
216 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
1. Antichrist as the counterattacker in vv 41-45
a. Position. J. Dwight Pentecost states this position as follows:
From this passage several features concerning the movement of
this invasion are to be seen. (1) The movement of the campaign begins
when the King of the South moves against the Beast-False Prophet
coalition (), which takes place "at the time of the end." (2) The
King of the South is joined by the northern confederacy, who attacks
the Wilful King by a great force over land and sea ().
destroyed as a result of this attack (Zech. 12:2), and, in turn, the armies
of the northern confederacy are destroyed (Ezek. 39; Zech. 12:4). (3) The
of the Beast move into
It is evidently at the time that the coalition of Revelation is
While he is extending his dominion into
that causes alarm is brought to the Beast (). It may be the report
of the approach of the Kings of the East (Rev. 16:12) who have assem-
bled because of the destruction of the northern confederacy to challenge
the authority of the beast. (5) The Beast moves his headquarters into
there that his destruction will come ().28
In this scenario, the initial aggression is seen to come from the King
of the South and then from the King of the North. Then Antichrist is
seen to seize this opportunity to counterattack and pursue his own
policy of military aggression as described in vv 41-45 until he meets
his end at Armaggedon. Vv 40 and 41 are usually taken as referring
to the middle of the Seventieth Week of Daniel 9, involving the
breaking of the covenant, and vv 44 and 45 are usually taken as
referring to the end of the Seventieth Week and the battle of Ar-
maggedon. Thus, this passage is viewed as summarizing a whole series
of military campaigns spanning the entire 42 months of the end of
Daniel's seventieth week.
Probably the majority of premillennial interpreters subscribe to
this view. It is especially prominent among "popular" writers such as
Oliver Greene, Charles Ryrie, and C. I. Scofield, and has been
published in such magazines as Moody Monthly and Good News
28 Pentecost, Things to Come, 356.
29 Oliver Greene, Daniel (Greenville: The Gospel Hour, 1954) 439; Charles C.
Ryrie, ed., The Ryrie Study Bible (Chicago: Moody, 1978) 1242; C.I. Scofield, ed.,
The New Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University, 1967) 917; Alfred
Martin, "Daniel: Key to Prophecy," Moody Monthly (July-August, 1972) 64; and
Theodore Epp, "Events in the End Time," Good News Broadcaster (October 1969) 7-9;
"Four Confederations of Nations," Good News Broadcaster (November 1969) 22-25.
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 217
b. Proofs. Usually this position is assumed to be correct rather
than having to be proven to be correct. Two lines of support do seem
to be used: a contextual argument and a chronological argument.
The prominence of Antichrist in the immediately preceding
context (-40), along with the prominence of Antichrist in pro-
phetic literature, argues for a continued emphasis upon Antichrist in
vv 41-45. Accordingly, the "he" of v 41 would refer back to the "him"
of v 40, which does refer to the wilful king of vv 36-39.
It appears that the single biggest support for this position is the
mention of "rumors from the East and from the North" (v 44) which
lead to Antichrist's return to
(v 45), where he comes to his end. The rumors from the east are
associated with -21 and with -16, and the end of
this man is associated with Armaggedon, which follows immediately.
Wood explains it this way:
While in this section of
from the east and north, which will give him cause for alarm. The nature
of the rumors or whom they concern is not indicated. Some expositors
believe they concern the invasion of a vast horde of 200,000,000
warriors from the far east (Rev. 9:16) under the leadership of "kings of
the east" (Rev. 16:12), who will have heard of the Antichrist's victory
over the earlier north-south confederacy and will then wish to challenge
him for world leadership.30
Because Antichrist is defeated and thrown alive into the lake of fire at
this point (, 20), it is inferred that Antichrist is the subject
of all of vv 41-45.
2. The king of the North as the attacker in vv 40-45
a. Position. John C. Whitcomb states the essence of this posi-
tion in the New Bible Dictionary:
Verse 35b is regarded as providing the transition to eschatological
times. First the antichrist comes into view (xi. 36-39); and then the
final king of the north, who, according to some premillennial scholars,
will crush temporarily both the antichrist and the king of the south
being destroyed supernaturally on the mountains of
40-45; cf Joel ii. 20; Ezek. xxxix. 4, 17). In the meantime, antichrist will
have recovered from his fatal blow to begin his period of world
dominion (Dn. xi. 44; cf. Rev. xiii. 3, xvii. 8).31
Vv 40-45, then, are descriptive of the respective defeats of the kings
of the south and of the north. The King of the South is defeated by
30 Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 313.
31 John C. Whitcomb, "The Book of Daniel," 293;
218 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
the King of the North, and the King of the North is then brought to
his end by an unnamed adversary (Antichrist?) in v 45. The result of
the elimination of Antichrist's most powerful adversaries is to establish
firmly his absolute worldwide dominion shortly after the middle of
the seventieth week. This in turn leads to his abuse of his tremendous
powers, in part by persecuting the Jews (12:la) throughout the rest of
the seventieth week.
William Foster, Thomas Robinson, Paul Tan, John Whitcomb,
and J. Allen Blair are among those holding this identification.32
b. Proofs. Grammatical, exegetical, and several contextual argu-
ments may be used to support this position.
William Foster argues that the antecedent for the pronoun "he"
in v 41 is the King of the North in v 40 who "will storm against him
with chariots. . .":
The nature of this problem is not the same as that of the
ambiguous pronoun which precedes it, since, in the former sense, the
person referred to by the pronoun was regarded as the passive object of
the action, whereas in the present instance the pronoun represents the
active source of the action. Since it is the king of the north who is the
active contender, the natural reading would probably indicate that he
also should be the one represented as entering into the countries.33
Without any textual indication to reverse the subject (King of the
North) and the object (Antichrist) of the action in v 40, the "he"
which is the subject of v 41 most naturally refers back to the subject
of v 40.
Furthermore, this identification of the antecedent of "he" in
11:40b as the King of the North is supported by the fact that the King
of the North is the nearest possible antecedent. Most English transla-
tions are misleading at this point because they invert the word order.
For example, the NASB reads ". . . and the king of the North will
storm against him. . . and he will enter countries. . ." (). The
pronoun "him" (Antichrist) appears to be the nearest possible ante-
cedent of the pronoun "he" in the English translation. However, in
the Hebrew text, the object "against him" (vylAfA) precedes the subject
"the King of the North" (NOpc.Aha j`l,m,). This word order makes the King
of the North, and not Antichrist, the nearest possible antecedent for
the pronoun "he." Without any textual indication for doing so, it is
unwarranted to jump over the nearest antecedent, the King of the
North. This identification is critical because this initial pronoun is
32 William Foster, "The Eschatological Significance of the Assyrian," Th.D. disser-
tation, Winona Lake, IN: Grace Theological Seminary, 1956.
33 Ibid., 152.
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 219
followed by an entire series of pronouns in -45 which continue
the same reference.
Foster goes on to argue that the geographical progression in the
text between v 40 and v 43 also identifies the attacking king of -
45 as the King of the North:
. . . the direction of his conquest is a positive proof that this
description is of the King of the North--"he shall enter also into the
land. . . the land of
Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps" (Dan. -42). In
the prophecy of Daniel the phrase "the glorious land" is used three
times as a designation for the land of the Jews into which an invader
proceeds (Dan. 8:9; ; ). In each case, the invader is one who
comes from the north, and in each case one who comes from the
ing first into
indicate that the invading army proceeded from the north.34
While not all who hold this view feel that this proof is as conclusive
as Foster makes it sound, the movement against Antichrist begun
from the north (v 40) may be seen to flow most
(v 41) and then on south past
(v 42) and finally into
way to visualize the geographical progression, it is the smoothest and
most unified movement. It is reasonable to expect that vv 41-45 do
continue the movement begun in v 40 unless there is some textual
clue to indicate another movement.
Three contextual arguments also support this conclusion. First,
throughout Daniel 11 the King of the South and the King of the
North are depicted as natural enemies who are continually warring
against one another. This identification fits the pattern and also
provides a fitting climax to this struggle in the end time.
Second, the phrase "Now at that time" of 12:1 immediately
follows the conclusion of this section in . Inasmuch as 12:1 goes
on to say that at that time "there will be a time of distress such as
never occurred since there was a nation until that time," the very
middle of the seventieth week is in view. If the time of Jacob's trouble
is just about to begin at the time of the demise of the king in ,
then this king cannot be Antichrist, but must be the King of the
North. This temporal designation at 12:1 dare not be treated too
loosely, for it is the cornerstone in the argument in favor of an
eschatological interpretation of this passage.
34 Ibid., 152-53.
220 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Third, this identification is in keeping with the whole argument
and development of the Book of Daniel and of the last half of the
book in particular. Daniel is demonstrating that God is still the ruler
over all in spite of
end, but when they do reach their climax at the hand of the wilful
king, Antichrist himself, during the time of Jacob's trouble, then
indeed Antichrist, rather than the King of the North who is destroyed
in , then 12:1 is both anticlimactic and out of sequence tem-
porally. Preserving the argument and development of this section
involves identifying the attacker in vv 40-45 as the King of the North.
3. Conclusion: the King of the North is the attacker in vv 40-45
That I prefer this explanation is evident by now. Not only does
this position rest on good, solid exegesis of the text, but it also avoids
the weaknesses in the alternate view. Following is a brief consideration
of three of these weaknesses.
a. 11:40. There is a complete lack of exegetical indicators for
switching from the kings of the south and north to Antichrist as the
attacker in v 41. George N. H. Peters, who held the Antichrist view
himself, admitted this weakness:
"And he shall enter into the countries"--this is perhaps the clause
which has caused the greatest difficulty to critics, owing to the sudden
transition from one person to another. If we were to confine ourselves
to this prophecy, it would be impossible from the language to decide
what king this was that is to enter into the countries; whether the King
of the North, or of the
South, or of the
Peters then goes on to justify an abrupt shift in to the
Antichrist on the basis of other passages, such as Daniel 2 and 7 and
Revelation 17. He openly admits that there is nothing in the language
of the text itself to justify this sudden transition from the description
of the activity of the King of the North in the phrase immediately
preceding "he shall enter into the countries."
b. 11:41. Those favoring the Antichrist view picture the kings
of the south and of the north as coming against
Antichrist is seen responding to this aggression in by entering
the "beautiful land" for the first time himself and instituting a
counter-attack of his own. There is a serious problem with this
interpretation, however, for the text does not say that the kings of the
south and north attacked
two kings attacked him (Antichrist; ). Consequently, Antichrist
35 George Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1952)
2.654. The italics are those of Peters.
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 221
cannot subsequently enter the scene at the end of v 40 or at v 41. The
attack against him puts him in the middle of the action right from the
beginning of v 40. This fact is also pointed out by Ray Baughman:
". . . the king of the north (and the king of the south) comes against
the Antichrist, not against
c. 11:44, 45. A third weakness is the association of the "rumors
from the East and from the North" with the kings of the east of
Revelation 9 and 16. Almost all commentators will admit that the
King of the North hears these rumors while conducting his Libyan
and Ethiopian campaigns to the south and west of the "Beautiful
Land" that he had passed through on his way
records his trip back to the east and the north to the "beautiful Holy
emanated from or concerned something going on in
is no textual basis whatsoever for seeing kings of the east here. Not a
word is mentioned about kings of the east. And this conjecture is
made on the basis of identifying this king as Antichrist and of
changing the temporal setting from the middle of the seventieth week
to the end of the week at Armaggedon. That it would require
Antichrist 42 months to subdue this coalition of southern kings is
hard to reconcile with Rev 13:4: "Who is like the beast, and who is
able to wage war with him?"
It has been stated that the interpretation of Dan -45 rests
upon one's answers to four crucial questions. Each of these questions,
therefore, has been considered in depth. The temporal setting of the
text was found to be an eschatological one, specifically that of the
middle of the seventieth week of Dan 9:27. The wilful king was found
to be the Antichrist of the Tribulation period, the beast of Reve-
lation 13. Most premillennial interpreters would agree with these
However, premillennialists are divided on the answers to the last
two crucial questions. It was determined that
most likely identification of the place of origin of the King of the
North in this passage, and that it is this same King of the North (and
not Antichrist) whose final exploits are traced in vv 41-45, ending in
his demise. Thus, in vv 40-45 both the King of the South and the
King of the North are defeated, leaving Antichrist as sole world ruler
at the middle of the seventieth week.
This establishes the basic framework of this interpretation. It
now remains only to do a brief phrase-by-phrase commentary on the
entire passage to determine how the details fit into this framework.
36 Baughman, The Kingdom of God Visualized, 179.
222 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Having retraced prophetically the Persian rule (11:2) and the
rule (11:3-35), the angel revealed that the climax of
suffering under Gentile dominion would be the final Roman ruler
(-12:1a) and that it would last until Messiah comes to rescue
is the final stage of the fourth kingdom that will be crushed by the
stone cut without hands (cf. , 45). This constitutes further revela-
tion about the fourth beast and the little horn (7:7, 8) that will
immediately precede the Son of Man's establishment of his everlasting
I. The Power of the Roman King. 11:36-45
A. Arrogance and Aggression of the Roman King (36-39)
1. Arrogance of the Roman King (36-38)
2. Aggression of the Roman King (39)
B. Attackers of the Roman King Defeated (40-45)
1. The Roman King Attacked (40)
2. The King of the South Defeated (41-43)
3. The King of the North Defeated (44-45)
II. The Persecution of the Saints by the Roman King. 12:la
Power of the final Roman King: -45
Vv 36-39 record the assertion of the Roman king's power
through his arrogance (vv 36-38) and his acts of aggression (v 39).
This power is then attested (vv 40-45) when the Roman king is
attacked (v 40) by world powers from the south and from the north.
First the southern coalition is defeated (vv 41-43) and then the
northern armies are defeated (vv 44-45), leaving the Roman king
with absolute, worldwide, unchallenged power.
1. Arrogance and aggression of the Roman king (vv 36-39)
a. Arrogance of the Roman king (vv 36-38)
"Then the king will do as he pleases." This introduces a ruler
who has absolute authority and can act in an arbitrary manner
without having to answer to anyone.
"And he will exalt and magnify himself above every god." This
absolute ruler will be arrogant and given to self-exaltation. Paul, in
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 223
2 Thess 2:4 quotes this phrase ("who opposes and exalts himself
above every so-called god or object or worship") thus identifying this
Roman king with the "man of lawlessness, the son of destruction" in
2 Thessalonians 2. Likewise, the Roman king is associated with the
little horn of Dan 7:8 who also is characterized by self-exaltation:
"and behold, this horn possessed. . . a mouth uttering great boasts."
And will speak monstrous things against the God of gods."
This Roman king will blaspheme the living God. This is the first hint
that the Roman king has now broken the covenant with
) and has defiled the temple "in the middle of the week" (Dan
). This corresponds to other pictures given of Antichrist. "And he
will speak out against the Most High" (Dan ); "And he opened
his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and
His tabernacle" (Rev 13:6).
And he will prosper until the indignation is finished. Such
terrible blasphemy does not mean that God has lost control. To the
contrary, God foreordained such persecutions
purpose of chastening his chosen people and for preparing them for
repentance. The concept of indignation runs through the entire book.
For example, reveals "the final period of indignation; for it
pertains to the appointed time of the end." Dan follows the
description of the little horn's blasphemy with an account of his
persecution of the Jews for the final 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation
period: "And he will speak out against the Most High and wear down
the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations
in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time,
times, and half a time."
For that which is decreed will be done. Dan concludes
this awful description of arrogant blasphemy with a reminder that
God is in control. Dan had revealed that "desolations are
determined" and had spoken of destruction "that is decreed."
This is the main point of the entire Book of Daniel. "God is
supremely in charge of history, even when the Antichrist rules.37
And he will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the
desire of women." This Roman king will not blaspheme YHWH out
of allegiance to a rival religious deity; this monarch will be an atheist
who also rejects his own religious heritage. The phrase "desire of
women" is ambiguous, and this ambiguity has opened the door to
many fanciful interpretations.38 The only textual control is that the
37 Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 306.
38 Cf. Keil, "Biblical Commentary on the Book of Daniel," 464; Leupold, Exposi-
tion of Daniel, 516; George Williams, The Students Commentary on the Holy
Scriptures (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1960) 629; Young, The Prophecy of Daniel,
249, for various proposals of pagan goddesses. See M. R. DeHaan, Daniel The
224 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
phrase occurs in a context of Antichrist's religion and his rejection of
his religious heritage. There is good reason to believe that this
religion is probably non-Jewish (see p. 211).
"Nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify
himself above them all." This description continues to be consistent
with the fulfillment of the "Abomination of Desolations" in which
Antichrist causes the sacrifices to cease (cf. Dan ) and he
demands worship of himself. Antichrist "exalts himself above every
so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the
"But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his
fathers did not know; he will honor him with gold, silver, costly
stones, and treasures." In one sense, no one is a complete atheist;
everyone "worships" something. The Roman king's value system will
center in power and force and in materialism (gold, silver, etc.). Might
will make right for this man. Strauss makes an interesting association
of this description of Antichrist's "religion" with that of the first beast
in Revelation 13:
It is possible that the god mentioned here is the image of Antichrist,
the first beast in Revelation 13, whose design and construction were
ordered by the second beast (Revelation -15). If we are correct in
this, then that image will be made from gold, silver, and precious
stones, as mentioned in Daniel 11:38.39
Summary: Everything in vv 36-38 points to the arrogance of this
self-centered Roman king who is answerable to no man or to no god
but himself. The ultimate expression of this arrogance may well be his
breaking of the covenant with
while demanding worship of himself. Such an act would provide an
appropriate background for the aggressive acts recorded in .
b. Aggression of the Roman king (v 39)
And he will take action against the strongest of fortresses with
the help of a foreign god." Antichrist now puts his faith in power
and might into practice by attacking "the strongest of fortresses."
Such military aggression seems out of place during the first half of
the seventieth week when the covenant of peace is in force. Con-
sequently, the mid-point of the week has just been passed and the
abomination of desolation has just taken place.
Prophet (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1947) 299; Gaebelein, Daniel, 188; Strauss, The
Prophecies of Daniel, 343; Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, 274,
for arguments in favor of seeing this as a reference to a Messianic hope.
39Strauss; The Prophecies of Daniel, 344.
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 225
"He will give great honor to those who acknowledge him, and he
will cause them to rule over the many. This also could indicate that
the covenant has been broken. Under the covenant, this Roman king
enjoyed significant peace-keeping powers.40 However, he did riot
enjoy corresponding absolute power. At the mid-point of the seven-
tieth week, Antichrist chooses to pursue personal power. This imme-
diately causes factions and choosing of sides. Antichrist will devise a
reward system to delegate some of his ruling authority to those who
choose to follow him.
"And will parcel out land for a price. Once more Antichrist is
viewed as having engaged in territorial expansion. In his attack upon
"the strongest of fortresses," he appears to have been successful so
that he is now in a position to parcel out this newly acquired land.
Exactly what land is in view is ambiguous, but it is intriguing to
consider that this land may be in
the kings of the south and of the north attack him while he is in the
"beautiful land" (-41). In any case, this action characterizes an
aggressive expansionist and not a global peacemaker.
The picture of world conditions under Antichrist's rule at the
close of vv 36-39 is hardly one of tranquility and peace. Fortresses
are being attacked, puppets are being installed as rulers, and land is
being redistributed. The world is witnessing military aggression insti-
tuted by the one who was to have been the peacemaker to end all
peacemakers. That Antichrist entered upon this campaign of raw
aggression presupposes his having broken his
and the nations.
This aggression provokes an attack against the Roman king by
two of the world power blocks headed by the King of the South and
the King of the North (). However, the defeat of these two
powers (-45) will only serve to demonstrate the power of the
2. Attackers of the final Roman king defeated (vv 40-45)
a. Attack upon the final Roman king (v 40).
"And at the end time the king of the South will collide with
him. When Antichrist manifests his true character in the middle of
40 Thus, the Roman king has already overcome his western opposition (cf. Dan
, 24) by the outset of the seventieth week of Daniel, and the firm covenant "with
the many" (Dan ) must be a peace treaty involving most, if not all, of the major
nations of the world, including
226 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
the seventieth week, a coalition of southern (Arab) nations move to
block his new policy of aggression.
And the king of the North will storm against him with chariots,
with horsemen, and with many ships." Simultaneous with, or just
subsequent--to, the attack by the King of the South comes a second
attack upon the Roman king from the north. This distinguishes three
kings: the King of the North, the King of the South, and the "him"
(Om.fi; VylAfA), the Roman king. This prevents identifying the King of the
North as the same person as the Roman king.41 The "him" also does
not permit the interpretation that this attack is
against the Roman king and his forces. Since the Roman king is
consistently characterized as warring against the saints (cf. Rev 13:7;
Dan 7:24-25; Dan 12:1), it is incomprehensible that the Jews should
now be allied with him. However, it is possible that the attack upon
the Roman king takes place within the confines of
variety of the resources that are to be employed against the Antichrist
indicate how great his power must be at the latter end--'chariots,
horsemen, and many ships.'42
And he will enter countries, overflow them, and pass through."
the Roman king is situated in
will come from some distance and sweep through several other
countries en route to the major attack. The normal sense of the
language is to see this as a continued description of the activities of
the King of the North. There is no textual evidence of a change in
b. Defeat of the King of the South (vv 41-43).
He will also enter the Beautiful Land." The movement of the
King of the North now carries him as far south as Palestine, which is
the orientation point of "north" and "south" in the first place. Once
more there is a lack of any textual evidence for changing the subject
of this action from the King of the North. The 3 m.s. pronoun cannot
even be considered ambiguous in the context. The only ambiguous
element is the location of the Roman king. Is he located in the land of
Palestine, or is he located in one of the countries entered into and
overflowed by the King of the North in 11:40? Or is he located in one
of the other countries mentioned in this verse?
And many countries will fall." Wherever Antichrist may be, it
is implied that he is among the fallen as a result of this attack.
41 Some do hold that the King of the North and the wilful king are the same here.
See for example, Culver, Daniel and the Latter Days, 164. Since very few commentators
hold this position, little effort is made here to refute it. See Foster, "The Eschatological
Significance of the Assyrian," 135-37, for arguments that three persons are involved.
42 Leupold, Exposition of Daniel, 521.
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 227
Whitcomb proposes that this temporary defeat of Antichrist at the
hand of these two opposing kings may shed some light on the "deadly
wound" of the Roman king emphasized in the Book of Revelation
(cf. 13:3, 12, 14; 17:8, 11).43 As Antichrist simply drops out of sight
(and is left for dead?), the King of the North seizes this opportunity
to further his own ambitions for world power. His main enemy
having been eliminated, the King of the North now attacks his rivals,
including former allies.
"But these will be rescued out of his hand: Edom, Moab, and the
foremost of the sons of Ammon." On his way south in attacking the
King of the South, the King of the North evidently bypasses the area
of Edom, Moab, and Ammon to the east of the Jordan (occupied by
modern-day Jordan). While there may be some additional prophetic
significance to the bypassing of these nations at this time,44 the
most simple explanation for "why countries to the southeast of
Palestine will escape destruction is that the path taken. . . will lead
"Then he will stretch out his hand against other countries and
the land of Egypt will not escape." Now the primary target of this
march to the south is revealed. The King of the North has turned
against his former ally, the King of the South, who is now a chief
rival for world leadership. This battle has truly become a "world war"
because of the repeated summary mention of "countries" being in-
volved (vv 40,41,42). Furthermore, the most probable identity of the
King of the South is herein revealed to be the sovereign of Egypt.
But he will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and
silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and
Ethiopians will follow at his heels." Egypt evidently will have been
amassing gold and silver in exchange for her natural resources, and
these precious things are stripped from her as part of the booty.
Having conquered Egypt, the King of the North then appears to
divide his forces. One part of his army campaigns in Libya to the west
of Egypt, and another part of the army campaigns in Ethiopia to the
southeast. The King of the North has defeated the King of the South
and is engaged in follow-through campaigns to establish himself
firmly as ruler of the world. His dreams appear to be within reach of
realization when something totally unexpected happens.
c. Defeat of the King of the North (vv 44-45).
But rumors from the East and from the North will disturb him,
and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate
43 Cf. Whitcomb, "The Book of Daniel," 293.
44 Strauss, The Prophecies of Daniel, 346.
45 Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 312.
228 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
many. In light of the sudden return of the King of the North to
Palestine (11:45), these rumors from the east and from the north must
have emanated from, or have concerned, Palestine. The frame of
reference for "east" and "north" is no longer Palestine, but the actual
location of the King of the North in Libya and Ethiopia. Palestine is
"east" of Libya and "north" of Ethiopia. Or if one wishes to de-
emphasize these split campaigns and view the entire operation as one
united campaign against Egypt and her allies, Palestine is northeast
Perhaps 11:44-45 is intended to reveal nothing more than the
change in direction of the King of the North back to the northeast,
back to Palestine. It is interesting, however, to try to integrate
prophetic truth. The similarity of "rumors from the east" to "the
kings of the east" of Revelation 9 and 16 has led many commentators
to associate them. For at least two reasons these passages probably
are not describing the same events. First, the geographical reference
point differs. In Revelation, east is reckoned from Palestine, whereas
east and north in Dan 11:44 is reckoned from Africa. Second, the
temporal reference points differ. Revelation 16 clearly takes place at
the end of the seventieth week as it climaxes at the battle of
Armaggedon, whereas Dan 12:1 clearly fixes the time of 11:44, 45 as
the middle of the seventieth week and the start of Jacob's trouble.
More likely is the correspondence between Dan 11 :44-45 and the
Roman king's deadly wound as recorded in Revelation 13. The
Roman king is here described as a beast out of the sea (13:1), but his
correspondence with the tenfold symbolism of the Roman empire in
Daniel 2 and 7 is striking. V 3 cites a primary cause of the Roman
And I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal
wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed
after the beast.
Newell observes, "here then is Satan's permitted imitation of the
death and resurrection of Christ!46 This imitation may either be a
deceptive appearance of death and resurrection, or it may be an
actual death and miraculous resuscitation from the dead. Pentecost
argues that the resurrection of Christ is unique and that the Roman
king could not have really risen from the dead.47 Certainly, Antichrist
will be unable to reproduce Christ's unique resurrection in a glorified
body, but he may be able to be resuscitated to life following his
mortal wound. Whether he was merely left for dead and then
46 William R. Newell, The Book of Revelation (Chicago: Moody, 1935) 186
47 Pentecost, Things to Come, 335-36.
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 229
"miraculously" recovered, or actually died and was restored to mortal
life by supernatural power, the false prophet will use this event as a
sign and proof of Antichrist's right to be worshipped:
And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had
two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all
the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth
and those that dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound
was healed (Rev. 13:11-12; italics added).
Some try to explain this fatal wound as an experience of a nation
and not of a man, but the false prophet's message appears to relate
only to a person and not to a national entity. Newell agrees: "It is a
man that is before our eyes in Revelation 13, all through. God says he
is a Man in 13:18.48 Furthermore, Rev 13:14 implies that this fatal
wound will be received in battle:
And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs
which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling
those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had
the wound of the sword and has come to life.
Here it is revealed that the Roman king receives his wound from a
sword (i.e., during war).
This explanation of the relationship of Dan 11:36-45 to Revela-
tion 13 appears to have real merit. Both involve a military context.
Both have the same temporal setting, the middle of the seventieth
week, and both events serve to launch the worldwide career of
Antichrist. No wonder the world is thereafter awed by the beast,
asking, "who is able to wage war with him?" (Rev 13:4). This
correspondence helps to visualize the possible content of rumors that
would be powerful enough to cause the King of the North to drop his
African ventures and return immediately to Palestine. It would also
provide for the Roman king's continuing into Dan 12:1 and leading
the way during the tremendous persecution of the Jews during the
second half of the seventieth week.
And he will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas
and the beautiful Holy Mountain." This verse clearly indicates the
King of the North's return northeast to Palestine. He bivouacs
between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea in the vicinity of
Jerusalem ("Holy Mountain").
Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him." Little
is said here apart from the revelation of the King of the North's
demise. In view of the Antichrist's subsequent prominence in the
48 Newell, The Book of Revelation, 187.
230 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
second half of the Tribulation period, one might assume that the
northern king is either destroyed by Antichrist or that Antichrist will
take credit for his defeat. This defeat of the King of the North
following that of the King of the South serves to prove the Roman
king's power and to leave him in absolute control of the world.
Paul Tan captures the essence of this attestation of Antichrist's
power: "The beast is first defeated (Rev. 13:3), but the northern
confederacy is supernaturally annihilated (Dan. 11:45), and the beast
becomes the world ruler (Rev. 13:7).49 Walvoord also sees the defeat
of the northern confederacy as a significant link in Antichrist's path
to world rule:
With the northern kingdom destroyed there is no major political force
standing in the way of the Roman Empire, and the world empire is
achieved by proclamation. The apparent invincibility of the Roman
ruler, supported as he is by Satanic power, is intimated in the question
of Revelation 13:4, "Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make
war with him?"50
Persecution of the saints: 12:1 a
Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard
over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of
distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that
time. At that time, the time of the demise of the King of the North,
the worst persecution of all time against the Jews will break out. It
will be the time of Jacob's trouble (Jer 30:7) and two-thirds of the
Jews will perish (Zech 13:8-9). The Lord Jesus warned that when
they saw the abomination of desolations spoken of by Daniel, they
should flee from Judea to the mountains (Matt 24:15, 16), "for then
there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the
beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall" (Matt 24:21).
It must be granted that 12:1 does not say that the Roman king
takes the lead in this climactic persecution of Israel. But Scripture
does say this explicitly elsewhere. Revelation fills in some of the
details not provided by Daniel at this point:
And there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and
blasphemies; and authority to act for forty-two months was given to
him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blas-
pheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in
49 Paul Lee Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy (Winona Lake: BMH, 1974) 347.
50 John F. Walvoord, The Nations in Prophecy (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
HARTON: INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL 11:36-45 231
heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to
overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue
and nation was given to him (Rev. 13:5-7; italics added).
In light of later revelation, one can now say that this final persecution
begins at the mid-point of the seventieth week, and thus the events of
11:36-45 also must be viewed as taking place "at that time."
Thus, the stage is set for the arrival of Messiah to put down the
pagan Gentile powers and to establish his kingdom. While 12:1b-3
does not say that this is the work of Messiah, later revelation also
makes it plain that it will be Christ who rescues Israel (12:1), who will
resurrect the dead (12:2), and who will reward the righteous (12:3).
Consequently, this brings the argument of the book to a climax. The
Gentile nations dominating Israel, beginning with Babylon, would
not soon end. Persia, Greece, and Roman would follow. But at the
appointed time in history's darkest hour, Messiah will come and reign
forever. God rules.
This study has not been concerned with proving every detail of
interpretation concerning Dan 11:36-45. A number of the phrases are
sufficiently ambiguous to allow various "possible" interpretations.
The core of the study has been examining and seeking to answer four
What is the temporal setting of this passage? It is eschatological,
and more specifically, the mid-point of the seventieth week of Daniel.
What is the identity of the "wilful king?" He is the Antichrist of the
end time, the "man of sin" spoken of by Paul, and the "beast out of
the sea" of John. Who is the King of the North? He is the head of a
great power north of Israel which has wide geographical range and of
world political stature, probably the USSR. Who is the "attacker" in
11:40-45? It is the King of the North and not the Antichrist.
The commentary then dealt with the particulars of this passage
and demonstrated that they may be best understood in the interpretive
framework established by the answers to the four crucial questions.
Not only does this view account for a smooth interpretation of the
passage itself, but it augments the argument of the book of Daniel
and integrates it with other prophetic truth.
This material is cited with gracious permission from:
Grace Theological Seminary
200 Seminary Dr.
Winona Lake, IN 46590
Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: email@example.com