Online Bible Commentary
The Evil Madman
Daniel 11:21 And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue. 22 With the force of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant. 23 And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. 24 He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time. 25 He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South with a great army. And the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand, for they shall devise plans against him. 26 Yes, those who eat of the portion of his delicacies shall destroy him; his army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. 27 Both these kings' hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time. 28 While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land. (NKJV)
The time is 536 B.C. Daniel is about 84 years old. In this passage Daniel is treated to yet another vision from the Lord. At the time of this vision Daniel is on the bank of the Tigris River, not far from his home in Babylon.
The vision is that of “a certain man” (10:5) who has the appearance of the Lord Jesus, as described in Revelation 1:13-16. Some scholars believe this was a preincarnate visit of Jesus, while others believe the “man” was an angel. Since the description of the “man” in 10:5-6 appears to match the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:13-16 this writer believes that this is a preincarnate visit of Jesus.
In this chapter, Jesus continues to minister to Daniel, through foretelling the history of Israel. He begins by telling the events from 539 B.C., until the temple is rededicated by Judas Maccabeus in 164 B.C., which was the first celebration of Hanukkah. This encompasses Daniel 11:1-35, and 375 years. Daniel 11:36-12:13, the end of the book, foretell of the end times.
During the period of time 539-175 B.C. the kingdoms of the North (Syria, including Babylon) and the South (Egypt, including Israel) are at war. The Ptolemy family rules Egypt, while the Seleucid family rules Syria. These are two of the four divisions of the Greek Empire established under the four generals of Alexander the Great upon his death. In 198 B.C. Antiochus III of Syria defeats Egypt, taking possession of Israel.
In this passage, Jesus foretells the events of 175-169 B.C. Antiochus III died and was succeeded by Seleucus IV. He ruled for a short time until he was killed by his tax collector. Then Antiochus IV ruled “in his place” (v. 21a). Antiochus IV of Syria is a “vile person”, an evil person (v. 21b).
Antiochus IV is not of the royal line, but gains control of the kingdom, “by intrigue”, while the rightful heir, Demetrius, is being held in Rome (v. 21c). He comes in “with the force of a flood”, murdering “the prince of the covenant”, the Jewish high priest Onias (v. 22).
Antiochus IV then makes treaties with various nations, including Egypt, forming “the league” (v. 23a). He deceives the other nations by taking the spoils of victory to strengthen his own country (vv. 23b-24). Then he defeats Egypt’s Ptolemy VI, the “king of the South”, partly because of treachery within Egypt (vv. 25-26).
The two kings, Antiochus IV and Ptolemy VI, meet but cannot come to agreement (v. 27). Antiochus IV returns to Syria but, on the way, he attacks Israel doing great “damage” (v. 28). He kills 80,000 Jewish men, women, and children and plunders the temple in 169 B.C.
Antiochus IV was tremendously evil. He was the “little horn” of chapter 8, a type of the Antichrist. He called himself “Epiphanes”, which means “Manifest One, Illustrious One”. The people of that time called him “Epimanes”, which means “madman”.
This evil madman reigned in Syria from 175 to 163 B.C. His was a short, but destructive, reign. He oppressed Israel until 164 B.C. when he was defeated by the Maccabees and the temple was rededicated, establishing the Festival of Hanukkah.
Evil madmen have always existed, it seems. We have evil madmen today who rule countries and threaten world peace. We have evil madmen who spread terror around the world. Evil will always exist until the second coming of Jesus Christ and Satan’s demise in the lake of fire.
Satan is the source of all evil. He knows our weaknesses and attempts to enter our thoughts through these weaknesses. If he is allowed to rule, he rules our actions.
Jesus Christ defeated Satan at the cross. We do not need to be under the power of Satan. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior His spirit, the Holy Spirit indwells us and gives us the strength to withstand the attacks of Satan.
We are in a war, a spiritual war, for the hearts and minds of mankind. This war cannot be won with guns, or an absence of guns. It can only be won by hearts that are changed by the saving grace of Jesus Christ. It can only be won by spreading the love of Christianity.