“And now I will tell you the truth: Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece. Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these.
“Also the king of the South shall become strong, as well as one of his princes; and he shall gain power over him and have dominion. His dominion shall be a great dominion. And at the end of some years they shall join forces, for the daughter of the king of the South shall go to the king of the North to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the power of her authority, and neither he nor his authority shall stand; but she shall be given up, with those who brought her, and with him who begot her, and with him who strengthened her in those times.
“But from a branch of her roots one shall arise in his place, who shall come with an army, enter the fortress of the king of the North, and deal with them and prevail. And he shall also carry their gods captive to Egypt, with their princes and their precious articles of silver and gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the North.”
“Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land. However his sons shall stir up strife, and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come and overwhelm and pass through; then he shall return to his fortress and stir up strife.
This is cryptic but was totally fulfilled. The first paragraph came true when Alexander the Great conquered everything, then died without an heir and his kingdom was divided among his four generals. The second paragraph was fulfilled by Ptolemy (king of the South), Ptolemy Philadelphia (one of his princes), Bernice (daughter of Philadelphia), and her marriage to Antiochus II Theos (the third king of the North), who was then poisoned by his jealous first wife leading to much mayhem, including the death of Bernice. (See the Ancient Christian Commentary of Scripture for more details.)
Bernice’s brother, Ptolemy Euergetes, is the branch of her roots mentioned in the third paragraph and he was none too happy with what happened to his sister. He invaded Syria and hauled off its treasures, including precious artifacts and 40,000 talents of silver. The fourth paragraph is just the set-up for a great conflict between the kingdom of the north (Syria) and the kingdom of the South (Egypt). The two sons are Seleucus III and Antiochus III (AKA Antiochus the Great). That fight is just getting started.
This fight stretched into the second century BC. So, at the time of Christ, parts of it were more recent to the Israelites than the American Revolution is to us. People could read Daniel’s prophecy in scrolls and hear tales about the action from their family members.
They were anxiously waiting for the next thing to unfold. To many, that meant the Messiah.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.