Read – Background on Daniel Chapter 11

The long introduction of chapter 10 to the fourth and final vision given to Daniel is followed in chapter 11 by the revelation of important events beginning with Darius the Mede (539 b.c.) and extending to the last Gentile ruler in the time of the end. Chapter 11 naturally divides into two major sections. The first, verses 1-35, describes the major rulers of the Persian Empire and then gives in great detail some of the major events of the third empire following Alexander the Great, concluding with Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 b.c. ). The entire period from the death of Antiochus Epiphanes to the time of the end is skipped over with no reference to events of the present church age, and the second section, verses 36-45, deals with the last Gentile ruler who will be in power when Christ comes in His second advent. This is followed in chapter 12 by further prophecy of the last 1335 days, a period including the great tribulation, the second advent, and the beginning of the fifth or millennial kingdom. Probably no other portion of Scripture presents more minute prophecy than Daniel 11:1-35, and this has prompted the sharpest attack of critics seeking to discredit this prophetic portion.

Interestingly enough, it was the eleventh chapter of Daniel with its detailed prophecy of about two hundred years of history that prompted the heathen philosopher Porphyry (third century a.d. ) to attack the book of Daniel as a forgery. In his study, Porphyry established the fact that history corresponded closely to the prophetic revelation of Daniel 11:1-35, and the correspondence was so precise that he was persuaded that no one could have prophesied these events in the future. Accordingly, he solved the problem by taking the position that the book of Daniel was written after the events occurred, that is, it was written in the second century B.C. This attack prompted Jerome to defend the book of Daniel and to issue his own commentary, which for over one thousand years thereafter was considered the standard commentary on the book of Daniel. As Wilbur Smith has said, “The most important single work produced by the Church Fathers on any of the prophetic writings of the Old Testament, commenting upon the original Hebrew text, and showing a complete mastery of all the literature of the Church on the subjects touched upon to the time of composition, is without question St. Jerome’s Commentary on the Book of Daniel.