Who was the Willful King, and Who was the King of the North?
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:35-45 Commentary: Summary and Highlights
In the following commentary on Daniel chapter 11, every prophecy is explained and found to be literally fulfilled; and the identity of the willful king and the king of the north is revealed. Modern scholars generally do not believe in miracles. Therefore, the books of the Bible are often dated after all the alleged predictions had already come to pass. This is not possible with the Book of Daniel. Daniel was indisputably written long before the fulfillment of the predictions at the end of this chapter. Throughout Daniel 11, the king of the Seleucids is the king of the north; the king of the Ptolemies is the king of the south; and the willful king is Caesar. Caesar and Rome began to be worshipped in the imperial cult after the death of the first Caesar in fulfillment of Daniel 11:36: “He will exalt and magnify himself above every god . . .” In Daniel 11:35-45, the king of the north is Anthony, the king of the Seleucids; and the king of the south is Cleopatra, the king of the Ptolemies. Anthony, the king of the north, and Cleopatra, the king of the south, united to fight the willful king, Caesar Augustus, with “chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships” in the Battle of Actium in fulfillment of Daniel 11:40. After the Battle of Actium, Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon were delivered from Caesar Augustus’ hand fulfilling Daniel 11:41: “Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand.” However, Caesar Augustus, the willful king, did subjugate Egypt and Libya and captured and enslaved the Nubians of Napata while bringing the wealth of Egypt to Rome in fulfillment of Daniel 11:42-43: “Then he will stretch out his hand against other countries, and the land of Egypt will not escape. But he will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Nubians will follow at his heels.” Years later in fulfillment of v. 44, both Israel to the east and Gaul to the north revolted against Rome. Enraged, Caesar, the willful king, dispatched the Roman Legions. As the Roman Army pitched its tents outside of Jerusalem, the beautiful holy mountain, Caesar, the willful king, was declared an enemy of the state and died with “no one [to] help him” in fulfillment of Daniel 11:44. For a detailed explanation of the fulfillment of every verse see the following commentary on Daniel chapter 11:35-45.
The following may seem unbelievable. However, all information is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable. Sources listed at the end.
Who was the Willful King, and Who was the King of the North?
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11 Explained Intro: Modern Scholars generally do not believe in Miracles. Therefore, the Books of the Bible are often dated after all the Alleged Predictions already came to pass.
Many historians try to explain away the prophetic accuracy of the Book of Daniel by theorizing that this book must have been written during the second century B.C., a time in which most of Daniel’s prophecies had been fulfilled. Daniel 11:2-35 lists a chronological sequence of events spanning 360 years from the sixth to the second century B.C.–without having made a single mistake. In these verses, Daniel describes the rise of the Greek Empire, its subsequent partition into four parts, followed by a mysteriously accurate description of the foreign relations between two of its divisions: the Seleucid and Ptolemaic Empires of Syria and Egypt respectively. In Daniel 11, the king of the Seleucids is labeled the king of the north, and the king of the Ptolemies is called the king of the south. In this chapter, Daniel describes a chronological series of wars, treaties and marriages between these two warring empires. Highlighting significant aspects of the reign of each king, the prophet proceeds with his chronology often without specifying the death of one king and the rise of another. Each king and his successor are simply called the king of the north or the king of the south. This lack of specificity has led to the notion that the willful king of vs. 36-43 is Antiochus Epiphanies, the king of the north, the same king described earlier in v. 32.
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11 Explained Intro: Is the Willful King Antiochus Epiphanes, the King of the North?
From vs. 21-32, Daniel’s description of Antiochus Epiphanes, the king of the north, is accurate by all accounts. However, from v. 36 to the end of the chapter, the king known as the willful king mentioned here does not fit what is known of the king of the north. This fact has led some historians to suggest that the Book of Daniel may have been written by an editor just prior to the death of Antiochus Epiphanes. According to this theory, the author of the Book of Daniel recorded a history from vs. 1-35 accounting for the accuracy of this portion of the text. Then from v. 36 to the end of the chapter, the editor of the book attempted to accurately predict the fate of Antiochus Epiphanes and, as expected, failed.
However, this theory that the Book of Daniel recorded history up to v. 35 and then tried to accurately predict the immediate future is a theory that is completely untenable. Up to this point in this commentary we have shown how accurately Daniel predicted many things concerning the future as far as the first century A.D. However, even if all this evidence were ignored, this secular theory is completely invalidated by v. 37.
Daniel’s description of the willful king in v. 37 indicates that he will not regard any god. If the editor of Daniel intended to predict that the willful king was Antiochus Epiphanes, why would he make such an egregious error regarding Antiochus’ religious beliefs? One might assume that perhaps the editor of Daniel did not know Antiochus Epiphanes religious affiliation? However, this would be impossible since Antiochus Epiphanes tried to compel the Jews to worship Zeus which was one of the major causes of the Maccabean Wars. If the author of Daniel intended to predict the future after having accurately recorded the past, why would he include an inaccurate description of Antiochus Epiphanes’ most well-known attribute from the perspective a second century Jewish perspective? Essentially every adult living in Israel in the second century B.C. would have known that Antiochus Epiphanies was strongly devoted to Zeus. They would have all known this because Antiochus Epiphanies forced this belief on the Jews which was one of the primary causes of Israel’s war with Greece! How could someone who knew without making a single historical error the obscure historical details concerning the foreign relations between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies fail to know arguably the most well-known attribute of the Seleucid king who was currently at war with his people especially when it was the unavoidably obvious trigger of the “current” war with Greece?1
Thus the Book of Daniel could not have been written in the second century B.C. during the Maccabean Wars. And the willful king cannot be Antiochus Epiphanies. If the willful king is not Antiochus Epiphanies, then who was he? In v. 35 the prophet writes:
35Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:35 Commentary: The Reference to the Time of the End in v. 35 implies a shift from Antiochus Epiphanes and the Greek Empire to Rome, the Final Empire of Daniel’s Visions.
This verse seems to imply a transition. Does this verse suggest a shift between the struggle with Greece and the rise of Rome? In Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, Daniel predicts four Gentile Empires that would rule Israel before the establishment of the kingdom of God. Antiochus Epiphanes was a Greek king and thus ruled during the third empire in Daniel’s visions. The reference to the time of the end in the above verse implies a shift in focus away from the Greek Empire to Rome, the fourth and final Gentile Empire of Daniel’s visions. Because Rome was the last kingdom to rule over Israel before the establishment of the kingdom of God, the rise of the Roman Empire is labeled “the time of the end.” The NRSV says that the wise shall fall and be purified “until the time of the end, for there is still an interval until the time appointed.” This translation explicitly indicates that there shall be an interval between v. 35 and v. 36. There are approximately 130 years between the war with Antiochus and the rise of Rome.2 During this time, Rome replaced Greece as the dominant world power. This large a gap between verses is not without precedence. There is a similar 130 year interval between vs. 2 and 3. Interestingly, this 130 year interval between vs. 2 and 3 also marks another shift between empires: this time from Medo-Persia to Greece.
As stated earlier, throughout chapter 11, Daniel describes the life of a specific king and seamlessly moves on to that of his successor usually without ever having specified to his reader the passage of a scepter. Thus it is not surprising that no explicit indication of a change in authority is made between vs. 35 and 36. Though no unequivocal change in authority is specified in these two verses, there does seem to be an implicit transition in v. 35. It is also interesting to note that nowhere throughout the remainder of the chapter is the willful king of v. 36 unambiguously called the king of the north. But if this king was not Antiochus Epiphanes, then who was the willful king of v. 36? In the next verse, Daniel begins to describe this king:
36“The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed for what has been determined must take place. 37He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:36-37 Commentary: The Willful King is Caesar, the Beast of Revelation.
The willful king is the king of Kittim (Rome) mentioned previously in v. 30:3 “For ships of Kittim [Rome] 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.” In other words, the willful king is the beast of Revelation. As is discussed in detail in Revelation 13: A Preterist Commentary, the beast is a symbol of Rome and its Caesars. During the time of the end, Rome was ruled by a series of kings who in many ways were messianic doppelgangers. There was a legend circulating throughout Rome that Augustus’ mother, after having fallen asleep in the temple of Apollo, had a dream of a serpent entering her womb. Nine months after this vision, she gave birth to Augustus. Years after Augustus’ “divine conception,” Roman coins were minted with an inscription etched around an image of Caesar reading, “Son of God.”4 And like Christ, the Caesars were also given many of the same accolades including “Divine,” “Son of God,” “God,” “God from God,” “Redeemer,” “Liberator,” “Lord,” and “Savior of the World.” They even had a cult dedicated to their divine worship.5
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:36 Commentary: “He [the Willful King] will exalt and magnify Himself above every God . . .”
Thus it is not surprising that in speaking of the beast, Daniel writes, “He will exalt and magnify himself above every god[.]” In A.D. 70 while the temple in Jerusalem burned, the Roman army under Caesar Titus’ authority brought the Roman ensigns into the Temple and worshiped them there. At this time, Caesar Titus was declared imperator by his legions. And Suetonius, states the fact that many of his soldiers wanted to make him emperor.6 If these legions declared Titus emperor, this means that Titus would have naturally received all the divine praise and worship which would have normally been directed toward his father as was customary in the imperial cult at the time in fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians 2:4: “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
Furthermore, Caesar Titus also fulfilled Daniel 11:36 shortly thereafter. On his voyage back to Rome after destroying Jerusalem and its temple, Caesar Titus is recorded to have issued the following blasphemous challenge to the God of Israel according to Gittin 56b of the Babylonian Talmud: “If he [the God of Israel] is really mighty, let him come up on the dry land and fight with me.” In these blasphemous and arrogant words one can see how Caesar Titus fulfills Daniel 11:36: “He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods.”
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:37 Commentary: “He [the Willful King] will show no regard for the God of His Fathers . . .”
Verse 37 states, “He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers . . .” Verse 37 might also be rendered, “He will show no regard for the god of his fathers . . .” Perhaps the god of his fathers is YHWH, the creator of heaven and earth? Titus was not the only Caesar to blaspheme the God. The early Caesars often seemed antagonistic to the God of Israel. One such blasphemy against the God of heaven is recorded in the Lives of the Twelve Caesars. Here Augustus, the second head of the beast, is recorded to have “praised his grandson Gaius for not offering prayers [to God] when he visited Jerusalem.”7 The fourth head of the beast, Gaius ordered a statue of himself be erected in the temple in Jerusalem in violation of the monotheistic beliefs of the Jewish people. The sixth head of the beast, Nero found all religions contemptible:
He despised all religious cults except that of the Syrian Goddess, and showed one day, that he had changed his mind even about her, by urinating on the divine image. He had come, instead, to rest a superstitious belief–the only one, as a matter of fact, to which he remained faithful—in the statuette of a girl sent him by an anonymous commoner as a charm against conspiracies.8
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:37 Commentary: “Nor will He [the Willful King] regard any God, but will exalt Himself above Them All.”
Verse 37 also states that the willful king will not “regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.” The features of Caesar Augustus or his family members were often superimposed on those of the Roman gods, in Roman money and marble statues. For example, Jupiter, the king of the gods, was crafted in the image of Augustus, the willful king. As the second Caesar, Caesar Augustus was the second head of the seven-headed beast of Revelation. Caesar Gaius, the fourth Caesar and thus the fourth head of the beast, even went so far as to have the heads of various temple statues of gods removed and replaced with his own.9 Often appearing in public dressed as the Olympian gods, Caesar Gaius often referred to himself as a god when meeting with politicians and was called Jupiter, the king of the gods, in assorted public documents.10 Gaius’ successor, Claudius, the fifth head of the beast is depicted in a statue in the Vatican Museum as Jupiter, the king of the gods. The fact that the Caesars often blasphemously depicted themselves in the image and likeness of the Roman gods shows how the Caesars showed no regard for the gods of their fathers or for any god, but rather exalted themselves above them all fulfilling v. 37.
38Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:38-39 Commentary: Caesar, the Willful King, and Rome began to be worshipped in the Imperial Cult after the Death of the First Caesar. Furthermore, the Romans believed Themselves to be the Descendants of the God of War, Rome’s Founding Deity. Is the God of Fortresses in v. 38 Rome and its Emperor?
In v. 38 Daniel predicts that the willful king, Caesar Augustus, will “honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers.” Who was this god? Augustus’ predecessor, Julius, the first Caesar, was formally deified after his death. He was the first ruler of Rome believed by his people to be a god.11 Therefore, Julius Caesar, the first head of the beast of Revelation 13, was “a god unknown to his fathers.” Rome adopted the practice of emperor worship from the Greeks. The practice of emperor worship began at the end of Julius’ and the beginning of Caesar Augustus’ reign and continued for many generations after the death of Julius Caesar. However, when Caesar was worshipped in the Imperial Cult, he was not worshipped alone. The emperor was worshipped alongside Rome itself. Could the beast of Revelation 13, Rome and its Caesars, be the god of fortresses of v. 38?
If Rome was worshipped alongside its emperor in the Imperial Cult, this, of course, means that Rome itself was a Roman god. Furthermore, being an empire built by aggressive military expansion it is not hard to imagine Rome as a god of fortresses. That having been said, there appears to be another facet to this title. Mars was the Roman god of war. Interestingly, Mars, the god of war, was the founding deity of Rome.12 And the Romans believed themselves to be Mars’ descendants. Here one can see how deified Rome, an empire believed to be descendants of the god of war, is a god of fortresses.13
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:39 Commentary: “He [the Willful King]. . . will greatly honor those who acknowledge Him. He will make them Rulers over many People and will distribute the Land at a Price.”
Julius Caesar was succeeded by Caesar Augustus, the second head of the beast. In order to legitimize his claim to the throne, Augustus, the willful king, promoted the deification of his predecessor and fought a series of battles in order to bring his father’s murderers to justice. After slaying these assassins, Augustus divided the responsibilities of government among his allies and the veterans of Augustus’ army were settled in municipal lands after having evicted the previous landowners in fulfillment of v. 39: “[He] will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.”14
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:38-39 Commentary: “He [the Willful King] will Honor a God of Fortresses; a God unknown to His Fathers He will honor with Gold and Silver, with Precious Stones and Costly Gifts. He will attack the Mightiest Fortresses with the help of a Foreign God.”
Verses 38-39 both seem to be fulfilled in the establishment of imperial cult during Augustus’ reign. The reigning Caesar was the high priest of the imperial cult and therefore presided over the worship of his predecessors, himself and his empire. As the high priest of the imperial cult one can see how Caesar Augustus honored Rome, a god of fortresses, a god unknown to his fathers. Furthermore, the creation and reconfiguring of temples to the worship of Caesar and Rome required money, here on can see how Augustus honored this god of fortresses with “gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts (Daniel 11:38).” In the military campaigns mentioned below, I will address how v. 39 was fulfilled when Caesar Augustus attacked the mightiest fortresses with the help of this new foreign god, Rome.
At the beginning of Augustus’ reign, the empire was divided into three parts led by Augustus, then known as Octavian, Antony and Lepidus. Eventually conflict arose between Anthony and Augustus resulting in a major naval battle. After defeating Anthony and Cleopatra in the Battle of Actium described in the following verses, Augustus honored the god of the sea, Neptune, and the god of war, Mars, with loot taken from Anthony’s fleet.15 This plunder no doubt also included gold, jewels and silver as indicated in v. 38. Augustus, the willful king, also built a grand temple to Mars, the founding deity of Rome,16
in addition to beautifying ruined temples with gold, pearls and precious stones.17 This battle was said to occur “at the time of the end” because its outcome marked the rise of the Roman Empire, the fourth and final kingdom of Daniel’s visions. In the next verse, Daniel is shown a vision of this battle:
40“At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:40 Commentary: The King of the North, Anthony, and the King of the South, Cleopatra, united to fight the Willful King, Caesar Augustus, with “Chariots and Cavalry and a Great Fleet of Ships” in the Battle of Actium.
As is the case throughout Daniel 11, the king of the south is the king of Egypt and the king of the north, the king of Syria. The ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra, is the king of the south. And the king of Syria, Anthony, is the king of the north. Drawn together by love and mutual political ambition, the king of the north and south united to fight Augustus, the willful king, on the seas near Actium. Anthony’s impressive army of chariots and horsemen mentioned in v. 40 stood by the shore while Augustus, the willful king, drew his enemies out to sea rendering Anthony’s superior ground force largely ineffectual. “With a great fleet of ships” Augustus defeated his enemies’ armada.18 Shortly thereafter Anthony, the king of the north, and Cleopatra, the king of the south, took their own lives consolidating Augustus’ power. With this decisive victory, Augustus became the first emperor of Rome. And upon his rise to power, Roman democracy died. Thus began “the time of the end.” In this landmark battle which marked the beginning of the end of the age, one can appreciate the complete fulfillment of Daniel 11:40: “At the time of the end the king of the South [Cleopatra] will engage him in battle [Augustus, the willful king], and the king of the North [Anthony] will storm out against him [Augustus, the willful king] with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships.”
Daniel 11:40 Preterist Commentary: The Fact that it is the King of Kittim, Rome, that Attacks the King of the South, Egypt, and the King of the North, Syria, in Daniel 11:40 Appears to be Suggested in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The only thing clear about v. 40 is that it is unclear. Is the willful king the king of the north and is it this king that attacks Egypt, the king of the south? Or is the willful king another king, the king of Kittim, mentioned in v. 30? It seems that the Qumran community may have understood the willful king to be the king of Kittim (Rome)19 and it is he who attacks the king of the north (Syria) and the king of the south (Egypt) in Daniel 11:40. The fact that the willful king is the king of Kittim, Rome, and it is the king of the Romans that attacks both the king of the north and the king of the south at the end of the age may be suggested in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The War Scroll is a prophetic scroll found in the Dead Sea explicitly stated to concern events at the end of the age. Column 1 of the War Scroll is often to have been inspired by Daniel 11:40-12:3.20 In column 1 of the War Scroll the king of Kittim, Rome, is said to enter or invade Egypt, the king of the south, and Syria, the king of the north: “[The king] of Kittim [shall enter] into Egypt, and in his time he shall set out in great wrath to wage war against the kings of the north[.]”21 If this end time prophecy in column 1 of the War Scroll was inspired by Daniel 11:40 as many Biblical scholars believe, then this belief among the Jews of the Dead Sea adds credence to our contention that the willful king is the king of Kittim and it is he that attacks Egypt and Syria in v. 40.
41He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand.
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:41 Commentary: After the Battle of Actium, Edom, Moab and the Leaders of Ammon were delivered from Caesar’s Hand.
After Augustus, the willful king, defeated Cleopatra, the king of the south, at the Battle of Actium, the young emperor seized all her kingdom. As a result, Augustus, the willful king, acquired full control over Israel, the Beautiful land. Interestingly, with Israel conquered, Augustus, the willful king, never raised his mighty arm against Israel’s neighbors.
During the time of this prophecy, the kingdoms of Ammon, Moab and Edom were at the east and southeast borders of Israel. However, after the Babylonian conquest many Edomites migrated north. These people settled in southern Judea south of Hebron having been driven out of their ancestral territory to the south and east by the Nabateans. The Nabateans also occupied the land of Moab; thus ancient Edom and Moab became Nabatea. During Augustus’ reign, Nabatea remained a sovereign nation. It had not become part of the Roman Empire until the reign of Trajan. In 63 B.C. the former territory of Ammon, then called the Decapolis, was a group of ten cities that welcomed the Romans as their liberators from the oppression of the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom. The Romans allowed these ten cities of the Decapolis some degree of political independence within the protective sphere of Rome. Thus Daniel was right: The ancient territories of Edom and Moab had escaped the rule of the willful king while the leaders of Ammon had, in fact, retained their right to rule unmolested by Rome.
42He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. 43He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission.
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:42-43 Commentary: After the Battle of Actium, Caesar Augustus, the Willful King, subjugated Egypt and Libya and captured and enslaved the Nubians of Napata. Caesar Augustus, the Willful King, also brought the Wealth of Egypt to Rome.
After his victory at the Battle of Actium, Augustus, the willful king, extended his dominion over the land of his two conquered enemies. Thus in fulfillment of vs. 42-43 the willful king acquired Israel, Egypt and Libya from Cleopatra, the king of the south, while confiscating Greece and Syria from Anthony, the king of the north. With Cleopatra defeated, the riches of Egypt were brought to Rome. Regarding this transfer of wealth, Suetonius writes, “When he [Augustus, the willful king] brought the treasures of the Ptolemies [Egyptians] to Rome at his Alexandrian triumph, so much cash passed into private hands that the interest rate on loans dropped sharply, while real estate values soared.”22 Here one can see how Augustus gained “control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt (Daniel 11:43)[.]” Furthermore, with control over Egypt, Augustus dispatched the Roman General Petronius to Nubia. Under his leadership, the Romans captured Napata.23 With the city captured and the people of Napata enslaved, Nubia was also forced into submission in fulfillment of v. 43.
44But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. 45He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.
Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:44 Commentary: Both Israel to the East and Gaul to the North revolted against Rome. Enraged, Caesar, the Willful King, dispatched the Roman Legions. As the Roman Army pitched its Tents outside of Jerusalem, the Beautiful Holy Mountain, Caesar, the Willful King, was declared an Enemy of the State and died with “no one [to] help him.”
From v. 36 to the end of the chapter, Daniel describes Rome and its emperor, the willful king. In these two verses, Daniel turns his attention away from Augustus to another Caesar and willful king–the last in the Caesar family line. Such an abrupt switch in focus from Caesar Augustus to one of his successors might initially seem peculiar. However, as stated earlier such a transition has repeated precedence. Throughout chapter 11, Daniel traces hundreds of years of foreign relations between the kings of Syria, the king of the north, and Egypt, the king of the south. Throughout this chronology, Daniel describes the actions of one king and immediately transitions to those of his successor often without ever indicating the death of one king and the rise of the next. Each king is simply identified as the king of the north or the king of the south. A similar transition is found here. In the preceding verses, Daniel describes the events surrounding the rise of the Roman Empire and its first emperor, Caesar Augustus; then in v. 44, Daniel begins to describe the most infamous Caesar [or willful king] of all–Nero.
The reign of Caesar Nero, the willful king, was dominated by tyranny and injustice. Thus it was only a matter of time before the people revolted. Just before Nero’s death, there were two major revolts: Israel in the east and Gaul in the north in fulfillment of v. 44: “[R]eports from the east and the north will alarm him.”24 Enraged, Nero attacked Israel, the Beautiful land, destroying and annihilating many fulfilling the remainder of v. 44 “[A]nd he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many.” During this war, a dispatch was brought to the willful king during dinner informing him that additional armies had joined the revolt in Gaul. Tearing up the message, he pushed over the dinner table in anger.25 Recording Nero’s murderous rage upon hearing of this treachery, Suetonius writes:
Thus, he [Nero] intended to depose all army commanders and provincial governors, and to execute them on a charge that they were all involved in a single conspiracy; and to dispatch all exiles everywhere, for fear they might join the rebels; and all Gallic residents at Rome, because they might be implicated in the rising. He further considered giving the army free permission to pillage Gaul; poisoning the entire Senate at a banquet; and setting fire to the city again, but letting wild beasts loose in the streets to hinder the citizens from saving themselves.26
While all this was happening, Rome was in the middle of its war with Israel. The “beautiful holy mountain” in v. 45 in which the willful king is said to set his tents is Jerusalem. Jerusalem is often called God’s holy mountain (Isaiah 2:2; Joel 2:1-2; 3:17; Zechariah 8:3). Did the Roman army set up tents outside of Jerusalem, the beautiful holy mountain, around the time of Nero’s death?
When the Roman army set-up camp during the war with Israel, Josephus says that the middle of the camp was “set apart for tents. . . . [with] the tents of the commanders in the middle; but in the very midst of all is the general’s own tent, in the nature of a temple . . .”27 As predicted in v. 45, while a large segment of the Roman army encamped outside the city awaiting Vespasian’s arrival from Caesarea so that they could begin their assault on Jerusalem, “the beautiful holy mountain,” news reached the army that the infamous emperor died in fulfillment of v. 45: “He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain [Jerusalem]. Yet he will come to his end . . .”28
Declared an enemy of the state by vote of the senate, Nero, the willful king, “had been abandoned by everybody”29 and preparations were made for his arrest. His subjects now his enemies, Nero committed suicide having stabbed himself in the throat. Thus the willful king had “come to his end” with no one to “help him.”
In the last year of Nero’s reign, a bolt of lightening “struck the Temple of the Caesars, decapitating all the statues at a stroke and dashed Augustus’s scepter from his hands.” Shortly thereafter the Caesar family line had come to an end. But this was not the only miraculous sign witnessed toward the end of Nero’s reign. In the next chapter, Daniel describes the rise of the Archangel Michael corresponding with perhaps the most unbelievable event in Roman history.
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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!
Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.
The Willful King and the King of the North Identified and Every Prophecy Fulfilled! Daniel Chapter 11:35-45 Commentary: Conclusion
In the above commentary on Daniel chapter 11, every prophecy was explained and found to be literally fulfilled and the identity of the willful king and the king of the north was revealed.
- Critical scholars sometimes argue that vs. 36-39 may be aptly applied to Antiochus Epiphanies since coins were minted during his reign in which “Antiochus God Manifest” was engraved under Antiochus’ image. (John S. Evans, The Four Kingdoms of Daniel: A Defense of the “Roman” Sequence with AD 70 Fulfillment, (USA: Xulon Press, 2004), 206.) However, this does not mean that he magnified himself above every god. It just implies that he magnified himself above other men. The many temples Antiochus built for the Greek gods and the fact that he forced the Jews to also worship these gods clearly shows that Antiochus did not magnify himself above the gods of his fathers. (Allan A. MacRae, The Prophecies of Daniel (Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, 2013), 240 cited in John S. Evans, The Four Kingdoms of Daniel: A Defense of the “Roman” Sequence with AD 70 Fulfillment, (USA: Xulon Press, 2004), 207.)
- Antiochus Epiphanes, the king of the north, died in 164 B.C., and the rise of the Roman Empire is marked by the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.
- In its limited usage Kittim is Cyprus. In its broader sense, Kittim is the western islands of the Mediterranean including coastal Greece, Rome and Spain (Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 1.6.1; Jeremiah 2:10; Ezekiel 27:6; 1 Maccabees 1:1). In other words, Kittim denotes the extent of the first-century Roman Empire which completely encompassed the Mediterranean.
- John Dominic Crossan, God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 2007), 117.
- Steven J. Friesen, Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John: Reading Revelation in the Ruins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 26, 32.
- Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 11.5.
- Ibid., 2.93.
- Ibid., 6.56.
- Michael Farquhar, A Treasure of Royal Scandals (New York: Penguin Books, 2001), 209.
- Philo of Alexandria On the Embassy to Gaius 11-15; Cassius Dio Roman History 59.26-28.
- Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 1.88.
- Venus was also considered a founding deity of Rome.
- The identity of this “god of fortresses” is uncertain. In Joel 3:16, God is described as a fortress.
- Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 2.13.
- Ibid., 2.18.
Ibid., 2.29. Augustus was a title often appended to the name of gods including Mars. Intended to honor the god, this title also seemed to infer that the deity and the emperor were one. In Spain many dedications to Mars Augustus were presented by members of the priesthood called Augustales. These vows were often fulfilled within a temple dedicated to the worship of the emperor or in a temple dedicated to Mars. The Caesars were also often depicted in the form of Greek deities in statues and Roman currency. The presentation of the Greek gods in the image of the emperor might be seen as a kind of foreign god, “a god unknown to his fathers.”
It is also worth noting that ancient Romans worshiped spiritual forces and powers. Rome did not begin to worship a pantheon of anthropomorphic deities until it came into contact with Greek culture in the sixth century B.C. After its first exposure to Greece, Rome slowly began to adopt and modify the Greek gods. Interestingly the seeds of this transition began to be planted at approximately the same time in which Daniel is purported to have seen this vision. As the Roman Empire expanded, it adopted the religions of the people it subjugated. In addition to adopting the Greek gods, Rome later adopted the Greek practice of emperor worship. In addition, Rome also adopted astrology from Babylon as well as several mystery religions including Mithraism from Persia. The replacement of ancient Roman spirituality with foreign religions had taken firm hold before and during Augustus’ reign. Consequently, Augustus would have probably been quite unfamiliar with the gods of his ancestors, those deities worshiped in Rome during Daniel’s composition. So in this way, Augustus had shown “no regard for the gods of his fathers.” Perhaps the gods in which this king had not honored were the ancient spiritual gods of Roman history? In verse 37, the willful king is also said to have shown no regard for any god. It would seem that the author of the Book of Daniel probably never intended to convey the idea that this king was truly atheistic since in the following verse, this king is said to have honored a god of fortresses.
- Ibid., 2.30. One such donation to Jupiter included 16,000 pounds of gold in addition to pearls and precious stones worth 500,000 gold pieces.
- Plutarch Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans Marcus Antonius 61-62.
- Kittim is Rome. Kittim (Rome) may be called Assyria in the War Scroll. However, it is a bit unclear as a distinction between Kittim and Assyria appears to be made in 4Q492. If Kittim is likened to Assyria in the War Scroll than this epithet appears to mirror the fact that Kittim is called Babylon, a similar symbolic label, in 1QpHab of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, trans. Geza Vermes, rev. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 2004), 164.
- 1QM Col. 1:3-4.
- Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 2.41.
- The Nubians and Romans ultimately signed a peace treaty which remained in effect for three hundred years.
- Cassius Dio Roman History 63.22.
- Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 6.47.
- Ibid., 6.43.
- Josephus The Wars of the Jews 3.5.2.
- Ibid., 220.127.116.110.
- Cassius Dio Roman History 63.26; Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 6.47-49.