The fight over Palestine (Dan 11:15-11:17)

“Then the king of the north

Shall come.

He shall throw up

Siege works.

He shall take

A well-fortified city.

The forces of the south

Shall not stand.

Not even his picked troops

Shall stand.

There shall be

No strength to resist.

But he who comes

Against him

Shall take the actions

He pleases.

No one shall withstand him.

He shall take a position

In the beautiful land.

All of it shall be

In his power.

He shall set his mind

To come

With the strength

Of his whole kingdom.

He shall bring terms of peace.

He shall perform them.

In order to destroy the kingdom,

He shall give him

A woman in marriage.

But it shall not succeed.

It shall not be to his advantage.”

Then the king of the north, King Antiochus III (222-187 BCE), took possession of the beautiful land of Israel or Judah. He would set up a siege against the fortified city. The southern forces from Egypt would not be able to stand up against him, even their special troops were not good enough. No one had the strength to resist. He set his mind to it and he was able to do it. Then he arranged a peace treaty. King Antiochus gave his daughter Cleopatra to the young King Ptolemy V (204-181 BCE) in marriage in 194 BCE, but it did not work.

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The divided mixed kingdom (Dan 2:41-2:43)

“As you saw

The feet

With the toes,

Partly of potter’s clay,

Partly of iron,

It shall be a divided kingdom.

Some of the strength

Of iron

Shall be in it,

Just as you saw

The iron mixed

With the clay.

As the toes

Of the feet were

Partly iron,

Partly clay,

Thus,

The kingdom shall be

Partly strong,

Partly brittle.

As you saw the iron

Mixed with clay,

Thus,

They will mix

With one another

In marriage.

But they will not

Hold together,

Just as iron

Does not mix

With clay.”

This appears to be a veiled reference to the future Greek iron kingdom with its problems between the different ruling parties of the Seleucids (312-63 BCE) and the Ptolemies (305-30 BCE). They each inherited parts of the Greek empire of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE). They tried to join together through marriage, but that failed. Daniel here used the example of the feet made of iron and clay, the strength of the iron mixed with the weak clay. However, as the toes and feet became weak, so too this kingdom would be partly strong and partly brittle. Even a marriage could not hold it together, because iron and clay simply do not mix.

Yahweh is David’s rock (Ps 18:31-18:42)

“Who is God except Yahweh?

Who is a rock, besides our God?

This is the God who girded me with strength.

He made my way safe.

He made my feet

Like the feet of a deer.

He set me secure on the heights.

He trains my hands for war.

Thus my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

You have given me

The shield of your salvation.

Your right hand has supported me.

Your help has made me great.

You gave me a wide place for my steps under me.

My feet did not slip.

I pursued my enemies.

I overtook them.

I did not turn back

Until they were consumed.

I struck them down.

Thus they were not able to rise.

They fell under my feet.

You girded me with strength for the battle.

You made my assailants sink under me.

You made my enemies turn their backs to me.

Those who hated me

I destroyed.

They cried for help.

However, there was no one to save them.

They cried to Yahweh,

However he did not answer them.

I beat them fine.

They were like dust before the wind.

I cast them out

Like the mire of the streets.”

Once again, like 2 Samuel, chapter 22, Yahweh was the strength and rock for David. His feet were like the hoofs of a deer in their ability to run fast. Yahweh made his arms so strong that he could even use a bronze bow. Yahweh made his feet steady so that he would never slip. When the battle raged, he was faster and stronger than his enemy. He crushed his enemies. They were utterly destroyed as they were struck down and fled. No one was there to save them, even when they cried out to Yahweh. David beat them like the dust of the earth. As usual, there was no indication of any empathy for enemies. He just wiped them out completely.

Judas decides to fight (1 Macc 9:7-9:10)

“When Judas saw that his army had slipped away and the battle was imminent, he was crushed in spirit. He had no time to assemble them. He became faint, but he said to those who were left.

‘Stand up!

Let us march against our enemies!

May we have the strength to fight them!’

However, they tried to dissuade him, saying.

‘We do not have the strength.

Let us rather save our own lives now.

Let us come back with our kindred and fight them.

We are too few.’

But Judas said.

‘Far be it from us

To do such a thing

As to flee from them.

If our hour has come,

Let us die bravely for our kindred.

Leave nothing to question our honor.’”

Judas Maccabeus and his troop were down to 800 men. He was crushed and faint of heart, but he had no time to gather his troops together. He still wanted to fight. However, the troops warned him that they did not have the strength or manpower to fight because they were too few. Why not wait until another day? Judas was determined. He would not flee. If it is their time, so be it. They will die bravely for their brothers. No one would question their honor.

Lysias was put in charge of half the Syrian army (1 Macc 3:32-3:37)

“King Antiochus left Lysias, a distinguished man of royal lineage, in charge of the king’s affairs from the Euphrates River to the borders of Egypt.  Lysias was also to take care of his son Antiochus until he returned.  He turned over to Lysias half of his forces and the elephants.  He gave him orders about all that he wanted done.  As for the residents of Judea and Jerusalem, Lysias was to send a force against them to wipe out and destroy the strength of Israel and the remnant of Jerusalem.  He was to banish the memory of them from that place, settle aliens in all their territory, and distribute their land.  Then the king took the remaining half of his troops.  He left from his capital Antioch in the one hundred forty-seventh year.  He crossed the Euphrates River as he went through the upper provinces.”

Lysias was a Syrian nobleman who took over half the Seleucid army, the so-called western district from the Euphrates River to Egypt, what used to be called, the Province Beyond the River.  King Antiochus IV also put Lysias in charge of his son who was to become King Antiochus V.  Lysias’ half of the army was to destroy Judea and Jerusalem.  He was to reestablish that area with other people so that the memory of Judea would be forgotten, much like the Assyrians and Babylonians had done in the 7th and 6th century BCE.  King Antiochus IV would leave the capital of Antioch and take the other half of the army to Persia, the eastern side of the Euphrates River.  This all took place in the 147th year since the beginning of the Greek Seleucid reign, about 165 BCE.