Before I start with the explanation of this chapter, I would like to share something with the reader. I have always been told, and I say this myself, that the explanation of a part is given by the Scriptures themselves. In order to grasp a portion of God’s Word, I depend on the Holy Spirit and must also have the right mind. I also need the help of other teachers. This is how the Lord Jesus meant it, and He gave His gifts for it (Eph 4:1111And He gave some [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] evangelists, and some [as] pastors and teachers,; cf. Acts 8:30-3130Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”31And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.).
Is it not a form of pride, and perhaps even a contempt for the Lord’s gifts, if we think we can understand the truth of a portion of it exclusively by ourselves? However, we will have to think for ourselves about what others tell us, and then come to the acceptance of an explanation before God (Acts 17:1111Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily [to see] whether these things were so.). Thus, the meaning of a truth of Scripture becomes our own spiritual property and not the plagiarism of anyone else.
In the portion we have before us now, however, I seem to be unable to find the explanation within Scripture, but only outside of it. The first part of this chapter deals with events that were then still future for Daniel, but that have already been fulfilled for us. However, I cannot find that fulfilment in the Scriptures. However, in all the statements I have at my disposal and would like to consult, reference is made to how this first part was fulfilled in the course of history. It means that I still need to know something about the history that is described outside of the Bible. I once presented this problem to the aforementioned Bible teacher and historian Gerard Kramer. He wrote me the following in response:
In any case, the unspoken history can never be in conflict with the prophecy. And why should it not even be helpful in explaining prophecy that has already been fulfilled and has thus become history? With Daniel 11, the prophecy even turns out to be so correct in details and to correspond with the non-biblical sources, that unbelieving scientists say that Daniel 11 is historiography after the event shrouded in the literary genre of prophecy. The latter, of course, will never be said by trustworthy biblical interpreters. Daniel 11 is now fulfilled up to verse 3434Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy. and so is history. I have no problem wandering through the non-biblical history if I cannot fully understand or fill in the detail in Daniel 11:1-34. It becomes interesting from verse 3636“Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done., because some of the things mentioned there, according to historical sources, can certainly be attributed to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but this section clearly has an end-time perspective, through which it also speaks of the future Antioch, or the king of the North, and – curiously enough – also of the antichrist. [End of quotation]
This answer encouraged me to call upon the Bible historian Roger Liebi from Switzerland, who I consider trustworthy and competent, to explain this chapter. In his book Weltgeschichte im Visier des Propheten Daniël (World history from the point of view of the prophet Daniel), he gives a clear and compact explanation of Daniel 11:2-35. My statement of these verses will therefore mainly consist of a translation of his explanation. Some interpreters may give different explanations for some verses. That I will not go into that, does not mean that I claim that the statement of my preference is the only correct one. For me it is the most likely, but it is up to the reader to do further research into this.
After studying this section on the basis of the book I mentioned, I have become even more impressed by the truth of God’s Word. It is amazing how every detail mentioned in these verses has been fulfilled. That applies at least to the details that have become clear to me, because there are still aspects that I am not sure about.
I would like to point out once again that for Daniel the events he saw in the vision were all still future events. The exact fulfilment of what is communicated to us in verses 2-352And now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all [of them]; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole [empire] against the realm of Greece.3And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases.4But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his [own] descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and [given] to others besides them.5“Then the king of the South will grow strong, along with [one] of his princes who will gain ascendancy over him and obtain dominion; his domain [will be] a great dominion [indeed].6After some years they will form an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the South will come to the king of the North to carry out a peaceful arrangement. But she will not retain her position of power, nor will he remain with his power, but she will be given up, along with those who brought her in and the one who sired her as well as he who supported her in [those] times.7But one of the descendants of her line will arise in his place, and he will come against [their] army and enter the fortress of the king of the North, and he will deal with them and display [great] strength.8Also their gods with their metal images [and] their precious vessels of silver and gold he will take into captivity to Egypt, and he on his part will refrain from [attacking] the king of the North for [some] years.9Then the latter will enter the realm of the king of the South, but will return to his [own] land.10“His sons will mobilize and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one of them will keep on coming and overflow and pass through, that he may again wage war up to his [very] fortress.11The king of the South will be enraged and go forth and fight with the king of the North. Then the latter will raise a great multitude, but [that] multitude will be given into the hand of the [former].12When the multitude is carried away, his heart will be lifted up, and he will cause tens of thousands to fall; yet he will not prevail.13For the king of the North will again raise a greater multitude than the former, and after an interval of some years he will press on with a great army and much equipment.14“Now in those times many will rise up against the king of the South; the violent ones among your people will also lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they will fall down.15Then the king of the North will come, cast up a siege ramp and capture a well-fortified city; and the forces of the South will not stand [their ground], not even their choicest troops, for there will be no strength to make a stand.16But he who comes against him will do as he pleases, and no one will [be able to] withstand him; he will also stay [for a time] in the Beautiful Land, with destruction in his hand.17He will set his face to come with the power of his whole kingdom, bringing with him a proposal of peace which he will put into effect; he will also give him the daughter of women to ruin it. But she will not take a stand [for him] or be on his side.18Then he will turn his face to the coastlands and capture many. But a commander will put a stop to his scorn against him; moreover, he will repay him for his scorn.19So he will turn his face toward the fortresses of his own land, but he will stumble and fall and be found no more.20“Then in his place one will arise who will send an oppressor through the Jewel of [his] kingdom; yet within a few days he will be shattered, though not in anger nor in battle.21In his place a despicable person will arise, on whom the honor of kingship has not been conferred, but he will come in a time of tranquility and seize the kingdom by intrigue.22The overflowing forces will be flooded away before him and shattered, and also the prince of the covenant.23After an alliance is made with him he will practice deception, and he will go up and gain power with a small [force of] people.24In a time of tranquility he will enter the richest [parts] of the realm, and he will accomplish what his fathers never did, nor his ancestors; he will distribute plunder, booty and possessions among them, and he will devise his schemes against strongholds, but [only] for a time.25He will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South with a large army; so the king of the South will mobilize an extremely large and mighty army for war; but he will not stand, for schemes will be devised against him.26Those who eat his choice food will destroy him, and his army will overflow, but many will fall down slain.27As for both kings, their hearts will be [intent] on evil, and they will speak lies [to each other] at the same table; but it will not succeed, for the end is still [to come] at the appointed time.28Then he will return to his land with much plunder; but his heart will be [set] against the holy covenant, and he will take action and [then] return to his [own] land.29“At the appointed time he will return and come into the South, but this last time it will not turn out the way it did before.30For ships of Kittim will come against him; therefore he will be disheartened and will return and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.31Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.32By smooth [words] he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.33Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for [many] days.34Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy.35Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because [it is] still [to come] at the appointed time., which we know from historical facts, is yet another guarantee that everything that is yet to become history will be fulfilled. God’s Word is absolutely trustworthy in all its parts!