Daniel | 1  |  2:1-18 |  2:19-49 | 3:1-15 | 3:16-30  | 4  | 5  | 6 | 7  | 8  | 9:1-19  | 9:20-27 | 10  | 11  | 12  |

This Daniel 11 Bible study contains outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications for small groups.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Daniel 11 Bible Study Commentary And Discussion Questions

Outline

I. The rise and division of Greece (1-4)
II. Back and forth between kings of the north and kings of the south (5-20)
III. The contemptible king (Antiochus IV) and his wars (21-35)
IV. The far fulfillment: antichrist (36-45)

I. The rise and division of Greece (1-4)

Discussion Questions

• What is the main content of Daniel 11 about?
• What does the fulfillment of such detailed prophecies teach us about God?
• Why did the angel share these prophecies with Daniel?
• Why was it important for the Jews to know these things were going to happen?
• Who is “I” in verse 1?
• Who is the mighty king in verse 3?
• How was verse 4 fulfilled in history?

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Overview of the chapter – This chapter contains perhaps the most detailed prophecy in Scripture. It covers a period of around 375 years with stunning accuracy and precision. And the last parts of the prophecy point to the end times and the final war over Jerusalem.

The prophecy starts off with Persia. Then it moves to Persian aggression against Greece, the Greek invasion of Persia, the splitting of the Greek kingdom into four parts, and the centuries long war between the Ptolemy and Seleucid empires.

The prophecy is so accurate that atheists refuse to accept the traditional date for the writing of Daniel. Since they don’t believe in God, they cannot believe that these prophecies were made before the fact. Therefore they date the book of Daniel over four hundred years later to a time after these events were already history. It should be noted that they do so without evidence, simply believing that it is impossible that this could have been written before the events happened.

But God controls time and history.

He knows the future better than we know the past. – David Guzik

The farther we go back in the past the murkier our memories get. God exists outside of time. It should not be a surprise to us that He can accurately predict the future. He is sovereign over it!

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.

Prophecies like Daniel 11 remind us of God’s sovereignty.

Application – Knowing that God is sovereign over the past, present and future encourages us in the following ways:

• Faith – Since he has proved Himself to be faithful and His promises to be sure in the past, He will do the same in the future. The prophecies that have not been fulfilled yet (such as His second coming), will be. We can take it to the bank.
• Perseverance – Knowing that God is sovereign over history, encourages us to persevere. We are not subject to ill luck or random chance. Instead, God is working behind-the-scenes for our good. He wants to accomplish His perfect plan in our lives. Therefore, we should persevere and not give up.
• Hope – We have great hope for the future. The world will not end through some chance disaster such as an asteroid or a nuclear war. Something even better than what we have now is coming.
• Boldness – One of the key themes in Daniel is that God is on the highest throne. His kingdom endures forever. These prophecies remind us that worldly powers will not last. The person who is sitting in judgment toward you will himself be judged. The one who claims authority over you, himself has an authority. You do not need to fear man. Boldly do what is right without compromise because all will answer to the Lord one day.

2. In the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him – In this verse, “I” is the angel. The angel is speaking. The statement gives us another behind-the-scenes look at the spiritual realm. One of the tasks of this angel was to influence the king of Persia. The events of Daniel 11 probably occurred around 3 years after the decree for the Jews to return to the land. Here we see that an angel on a mission for God was instrumental in influencing the king in making this decree and in showing kindness toward God’s chosen people.

3. Three more kings shall arise and a fourth shall be richer than all of them… He shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece –

The fourth king of Persia mentioned here was Xerxes I (486-465 BC). His invasion of Greece is well-documented. Xerxes organized one of the largest armies ever mustered in the ancient world. Initially, he had some victories. But at the Battle of Salamis, his army was defeated. Finally, he was forced to retreat. Greece got the upper hand and later would counter-attack and invade Persia.

4. A mighty king shall arise – Scholars agree that this mighty king refers to Alexander the Great.

The Jewish historian Josephus records and amazing encounter between Alexander and the high priest. Alexander often allowed his army to ransack cities he conquered. But before he came to Jerusalem, head a dream. In his dream, he saw the high priest and others coming out of the city to him in white garments.

When he approached the city, the dream was fulfilled. The high priest actually showed Alexander the prophecies in the book of Daniel concerning a mighty Greek ruler who would conquer Persia. Alexander the Greek took this to refer to himself. He was so pleased that he offered sacrifice to God according to the high priest’s direction. He believed it was a sign from God of his coming victory. And so, Alexander spared Jerusalem and continued his conquest of the Persians.

For a detailed account of this story, read Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, book XI, chapter 8: https://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-11.html

5. Verse 4 –

Daniel 11:4 – 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.

Alexander’s kingdom was divided into four parts upon his early and untimely death. However, it was not passed to his “posterity.” Alexander had no child and no heir. The kingdom instead went to four of his generals.

II. Back and forth between kings of the north and kings of the south (5-20)

Discussion Questions

• Who are the kings of the south?
• Who are the kings of the north?
• Where was Jerusalem in relation to these two kingdoms?
• What kind of things do you see taking place in this chapter?
• What are the things that motivate the key players in these events?
• What does this show you about the nature of man?

Cross-References

1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. The kings of the south and the kings of the north –

Alexander’s kingdom was divided into four parts. Two of these kingdoms were neighbors of Israel. One of them was to the south (and west) of Israel. And one was to the north. Therefore these titles are given from the perspective of Israel. As you can see in the maps below, Israel was wedged right in the middle, caught between a rock and a hard place.

The “kings of the south” refer to the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. And the “kings of the north” refer to the Seleucid dynast in Syria.

Seleucid Empire

The Hellenistic World in late 281 BC

Ptolemaic Empire

Ptolemaic Kingdom III-II century BC - en

2. Back and forth fighting for centuries – Verses 5-20 record centuries worth of detailed prophecies regarding the long-lasting back-and-forth war between these two kingdoms. Many scholars have carefully examined these prophecies and found them to be fulfilled in incredible detail.

While we will just hit the highlights here, you can view more details on the historical fulfillment of these prophecies here: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/understanding-the-book-of-daniel/daniel-11/

Alliances

Daniel 11:6 – 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.

Daniel 11:17 – He shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and he shall bring terms of an agreement and perform them. He shall give him the daughter of women to destroy the kingdom, but it shall not stand or be to his advantage.

Alliances were made, but subsequently broken.

War

Daniel 11:7 – 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.

The wars mentioned in Daniel 11 cover over 200 years. One side would hold advantage for a while, and then the other side. Each side sought to win dominion over their enemy.

Plunder

Daniel 11:8 – 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.

Rebellion

Daniel 11:14 – In those times many shall rise against the king of the south, and the violent among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they shall fail.

Jews who were aware of the prophecies in Daniel, would seek to rebel against the Ptolemaic dynast, but they would fail.

Conquest of Israel

Daniel 11:16 – But he who comes against him shall do as he wills, and none shall stand before him. And he shall stand in the glorious land, with destruction in his hand.

The glorious land is a reference to Israel. This prophecy was fulfilled when Antiochus III the Great took dominion over Israel. After this point, Israel was under Seleucid rule.

Insolence and Pride

Daniel 11:12 – His heart shall be exalted.

Daniel 11:18 – Afterward he shall turn his face to the coastlands and shall capture many of them, but a commander shall put an end to his insolence. Indeed, he shall turn his insolence back upon him.

In these verses, we see a clue as to the motivations of these kings. They are prideful and insolent. Their ego spurs them to greater conquest and victory. Continual war was not good for their subjects. Countless people died. The kings cared not. Their tables were filled with delicacies. And the actual battles were fought by others. Nameless multitudes (13) of people died to satisfy their unquenchable ego.

Absent from this story is any desire to seek God’s will.

Proverbs 9:10 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Proverbs 4:7 – The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.

These ruthless rulers did not fear God. And they had no desire to seek after wisdom. They were motivated by money, power, and conquest. God’s chosen people were stuck in the middle and paid the price.

Taxes

Daniel 11:20 – Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an exactor of tribute for the glory of the kingdom. But within a few days he shall be broken, neither in anger nor in battle.

How are all wars funded? Taxes!

3. Key lesson – God sometimes “shows off” by showing us what is going to happen in such incredible detail that it must be from Him and not from man.

Passages like this magnify the Lord and remind us of the supernatural inspiration of Scripture. No man can do what He does.

2 Peter 1:21 – For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

III. The contemptible king (Antiochus IV) and his wars (21-35)

Discussion Questions

• Who is the contemptible person in verse 21?
• What do you observe about his character?
• What do you learn from verse 27 about the two kings?
• What does verse 28 mean that “his heart shall be set against the holy covenant?”
• What will happen in the new invasion against Egypt (30)?
• How would this leader react to his defeat (30-31)?
• How does verse 32 encourage the Jews at that time?
• How does it encourage all believers who face trials and persecution?
• How can believers be strengthened to stand firm?
• How does knowing God help one to stand firm?
• How did God use the persecution for good (35)?

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. A contemptible person will come in without warning and obtain the kingdom by flatteries –

Scholars agree that this vile person is Antiochus IV. He was not heir to the throne. His older brother, Seleucus III was king. Seleucus III was assassinated. Many suspect Antiochus IV was responsible as he assumed the throne soon after. As the text says, Antiochus IV engaged in extensive flattery with relevant parties to win their favor.

Antiochus IV gave himself the title Epiphanes, which means “illustrious.” Many Jews instead called him Epimanes, which means “madman.”

2. The character of Antiochus IV –

Daniel 11:21 describes him as contemptible (some translations say, “vile.”)

The rest of the chapter paints a very ugly picture of this wicked man. Here are some of his character qualities:

• Flatterer (21) – He was skilled in intrigue and smooth speech, using it to his advantage.
• Deceiver (23) – Alliances he made were just a mask for him to carry out his sinister purposes.
• Wicked (27) – The text describes him as “bent on doing evil.” Many politicians have evil motivations and desires, but attempt to cover it up. With Antiochus IV, there was little façade.
• Treacherous (27) – He would sit down and feast with his enemies, pretending to make alliances and deals. But his words were lies and he never intended to carry them out.

3. His defeat by the Roman fleet at Kittim (30)

Though he continued to wage war against Egypt, he couldn’t completely master it. Egypt finally called for help from Rome. And it is this defeat that verse 30 describes.

“In a famous battle, the Roman Navy defeated the navy of Antiochus Epiphanes. After the battle, a Roman general drew a circle around Antiochus in the dirt and demanded to know if he would surrender and pay tribute to Rome – and demanded to know before he stepped out of the circle. From that point on there was no doubt: Antiochus Epiphanes took his orders from Rome and was under Roman dominion.”

Source –  https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/daniel-11/

After being defeated by the combined Roman and Egyptian forces, Antiochus was furious. As he retreated back through Judah, he took out his wrath on the Jews.

4. Antiochus Epiphanes persecuted the Jews (28-34) –

Daniel 11:30 – For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay attention to those who forsake the holy covenant.

History tells us that he had 80,000 Jews killed, 40,000 enslaved, and 40,000 taken prisoner. Here are some of his worst acts he committed:

• Parents who circumcised their sons were hung along with the circumcised child.
• The temple was desecrated.
• The altar was desecrated when he had a pig sacrificed on it and sprayed pig blood around the temple.
• An image of Zeus (Antiochus IV was Greek) was set up in the temple.

His anger about his failures to subdue the Ptolemies was taken out on the Jews, whom he seemed to have an extreme disdain for. The persecution he doled out on the Jews gave rise to the Maccabean Wars.

5. Encouragement to God’s people in the midst of darkness –

In the middle of all of this war, death, destruction, and persecution is a beautiful verse of encouragement.

Daniel 11:32 – But the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.

It was a dark time for the Jews. They had been caught in the middle of two warring empires for two hundred years. The two sides played tug-of-war over Jerusalem. But now they were the main target. Persecution and trials seemed to go on and on without end. What hope did they have against such powerful (and wicked) kingdoms?

This verse could give them courage. Those who know God would be strengthened by Him. It certainly includes knowing God’s plans and prophecies. It also includes knowing how all of this would end, with God victorious.

But to know God, goes beyond having a theoretical knowledge of God’s plans. It means to have a relationship with Him. It means to know His character, power, and goodness. Strength to carry on in the face of persecution would not come from alliances, wealth, or sheer power. No, they were not to rely on the same weapons of war that their enemies did. Their strength came from their relationship with God. The closer they were to Him, the stronger they would be.

Their faith would enable them to stand firm and not compromise in the face of persecution. And if they had faith in God, He would also help them take action. Taking action might be a reference to the Maccabean revolt and their hard-won freedom from the Seleucids.

Application – The same principle is true for us today. If we know God, we too can stand firm and take action. Much of the world is trending toward a direction that is less welcoming toward Christians. Persecution in many countries is increasing.

That persecution is not always in the form of torture, imprisonment, or death. Sometimes it takes the form of cultural or economic persecution. You may be fired from your job if you don’t accept your company’s worldview. You may be ostracized in the community if you don’t go with the flow in supporting their anti-Christian ideals.

Your strength to stand firm should not come from conservative news outlets or political discussion boards. It should come from a deep, personal relationship with the Lord. When you know the outcome (see Revelation and the return of Jesus as the triumphant king), it gives you hope and strength. And when you know God, you know He has a perfect plan for you. You know He will never leave or forsake you. And you know that the Holy Spirit is within you, and will give you the courage you need to stand firm just when you need it (Mark 13:19).

More than just the knowledge, a personal relationship with the Lord will give you the inner strength, resolve, and peace to do what is right even when the whole world is going the other way (Exodus 23:2).

6. God is doing a refining work among His people –

Why did God allow these things to happen to His chosen people? He could have stepped in and stopped the persecution immediately. But we see a glimpse of His divine purposes in verse 35.

Daniel 11:35 – And some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.

Persecution is one way in which the Lord brings about character growth. Like a fire refines by exposing impurities for removal, so trials purify believers.

Reflect: What are some ways that trials purify believers?

IV. The far fulfillment: antichrist (36-45)

Discussion Questions

• What are the characteristics of the king described in 36-39?
• What figure does this seem to be describing?
• What religion would this king have?
• What would he put his trust in?
• How would he recruit more people to his side (39)?
• When will the final battles starting in verse 40 take place (40)?
• Do you think these things have happened yet? Why or why not?
• What will this person do to Israel (41)?
• How will all of this end (45)?
• What key lessons can we learn from this chapter?
• How does knowing the end encourage us today?
• If the leader who puts his trust in money and power will be ended like this, what should our attitude be toward those things?

Cross-References

Revelation 13:5 – And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.

Revelation 19:20 – And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

Isaiah 40:8 -The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. A shift from short-term to long-term fulfillment –

Many Biblical prophesies have a short-term and long-term fulfillment. The near-term fulfillment is often smaller in scale and points to the long-term event as the ultimate climax. It is something like a person looking at two mountain peaks that are lined up. Although the one closest to him is lower in altitude, because it is closer, he only sees that one. Only after scaling that mountain, could he see the larger mountain peak ahead. If you were in the valley between these two peaks, you could see both, but would be aware that the farther mountain was taller.

That is the situation we are in now. Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a type of the antichrist to come. He was a antichrist, foreshadowing the antichrist still to come. As such, he had many of the same characteristics of the final antichrist, who would display them on a larger scale.

While Antiochus IV desolated the temple, the antichrist will go even further.

While Antiochus IV was prideful, the antichrist will be more so.

While Antiochus IV set up an image and demanded worship of Zeus, the antichrist will take the next step, set himself up above all gods, and demand worship of himself.

The text says that these things will happen in the “latter days” (Daniel 10:14).

Paul also describes these events as still future.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 – Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

Satan uses similar methods throughout history. Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun.” The end-times, one-world dictator will be like Antiochus IV reloaded.

2. He shall magnify himself above every god and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods –

While Antiochus IV did not respect God, he did not turn away from his country’s own gods. He was loyal to the Greek pantheon. This statement will be more clearly fulfilled in the antichrist, who is oft-described in Scripture as being highly blasphemous and demanding worship.

3. He shall prosper until the indignation is accomplished –

Daniel 11:36 – He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.

A time limit is enforced on the antichrist. He will not be allowed to rule indefinitely. God will only permit him to reign for a very limited amount of time (3.5 or 7 years; see Revelation).

That is good news for all the followers of God! God remains sovereign. He will still be in control and sitting on the throne of thrones.

Application – Do not be discouraged. God’s purposes will be accomplished. While he does permit evil for the time being, it is on a short chain. He will have the last say. Knowing that should give us hope even in the darkest times.

4. He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers or the one beloved by women –

One school of thought is that this means he is a Jew (and turns away from Judaism) and homosexual (doesn’t care for the love of women).

However, a simpler reading is that he will not be religious at all. No matter what country he comes from, he will reject the traditional faith of that country as he will exalt himself above all gods and demand mankind’s devotion and worship.

And the one “beloved by women” is likely a reference to the Messiah (Haggai 2:7).

5. He shall honor the god of fortresses – This tyrant will trust in power. He will be all about war and military might.

6. The final war – Verses 40-45

These verses appear to be describing still future events in the end-times shortly before Jesus’ second coming.

7. Yet he shall come to his end with none to help him – As is often said, these prophecies can be simply summarized as “God wins!”

Over the course of history many have rebelled against God. Some gained greater power and some gained less. Some ruled longer and some had shorter reigns. All will come before the throne of judgment and give an account for their every word and deed.

The antichrist will be the most powerful ruler the world has ever seen. His kingdom will literally be a world empire and span the entire globe. Many will follow him and give their worship and fealty. But in the end, all will abandon him. No one will be able to rescue him out of God’s hand.

Reflect – How does knowing God wins influence your life and decisions now?

Application – Do not trust in or pursue the things of this world. They are temporary and will fade away. Only the things of God are eternal. What is one specific way you can pursue the things of God this week?

Leave a Comment – What are your thoughts on this Daniel 11 Bible study? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Daniel Bible Study Guide – If this study is helpful, you can download the complete Daniel study in PDF or get the paperback from Amazon.

Study Daniel 12
Join Our Newsletter
Daniel Bible Study Guide

We want to help you study the Bible, obey the Bible, and teach the Bible to others. We have therefore created a library of almost one thousand (and growing) inductive Bible studies, which are available for free. This takes a lot of time and hard work.

Help us continue to create Bible study resources by supporting Study and Obey for as little as $1.

Support

Sharing is caring!