Appendix 2 — Daniel 11:36— 45
The last section of Daniel 11 is often referred to by those who expound latter-day prophecy, and some remarks concerning this difficult portion of Scripture may be called for.
The first section of the great prophecy of Daniel 11 tells of the division of the Grecian empire into four parts, and after that there is a concentration of interest on events relating to two of these four. The expressions "king of the north" and "king of the south" are of course relative to Israel, and the history of these kings is of interest insofar as it affects the history of Israel. Prophecy concerning these two kingdoms and their effect upon the buffer state of Israel occupies the remainder of the eleventh chapter.
A problem confronts us in verse 36. We are introduced to a powerful and wicked king who is neither called king of the north nor king of the south — simply "the king". Most commentators, having first assumed that this king must be either the king of the north or the king of the south, have then decided in favour of the king of the north.
But why begin with the assumption that this king must be either the king of the north or the king of the south? The fact that the section beginning with verse 36 reads like a new paragraph of prophecy, where it is neither stated nor implied that the central character belongs to the north or the south, is more likely to be an indication that this important power occupies a middle position. Confirmation of this conclusion is provided in verse 40 which speaks about the aggressive attitudes of both the kings of the north and south to this king. Thus: the king of the south pushes at him (the king who occupies the middle position), and the king of the north comes up against this same king like a whirlwind.
Those who regard "the king" of verses 36-39 as the king of the north are compelled to interpret the aggressive acts of verse 40 as the description of a battle between the kings of the north and south. This involves an unsatisfactory juggling with the pronoun "him" — "the king of the south shall push at him [i.e. the king of the north]: and the king of the north shall come against him [i.e. the king of the south] like a whirlwind".
Let us then think of the king as a power occupying a middle position between the north and the south — in other words, occupying the land of Israel. Let us, in fact, think of him as the power of an ungodly Israel. This also makes good sense for another reason. The description of the king of Daniel 11 is remarkably similar to that of the little horn of Daniel 7, the little horn of Daniel 8 and the man of sin of 2 Thessalonians 2; and reasons have already been given for believing that the power described in these other scriptures is that of Israel.
The aggressive thrust of the king of the south against the king (Israel) is not particularly effective. It is just a push. The king of the north, on the other hand, invades successfully. He enters the land of Israel, but does not take possession of the territories of Edom, Moab and Ammon that lie to the east of Jordan. Israel is submerged, and the king of the north then inundates Egypt. He is therefore a power hostile both to Israel and Egypt. He seems, however, to be in league with Libya and Ethiopia, who are "at his steps". This power from the north makes a proud gesture of annexation by planting "the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain" (verse 45). Yet he comes to his end in a way that is not explained in Daniel 11.
The king of the north of the concluding section of Daniel 11 cannot be Gog of Ezekiel 38 for two reasons:
1. Because Gog's attempted invasion takes place after the Lord has established the kingdom in Israel, whereas the king of the north invades when a wicked king holds sway; and —
2. The Gogian host makes an attempted invasion and does not succeed, whereas the king of the north makes a successful invasion.
All the facts seem to point to the following conclusions:
1. That the king is aggressive, godless, latter-day Israel.
2. That the pushing by the king of the south represents the ineffective Egypt-directed attempts to destroy Israel that we have witnessed.
3. That the invader from the north represents the Arabs, estranged from Egypt, and under the leadership, perhaps, of Syria. The fact that territories on the east of Jordan are not invaded suggests that this is, basically, an Arab attack. This idea is supported by the fact that Libya is "at his steps". By this time Egypt has changed sides (this we have witnessed recently) and therefore she is invaded at the same time as Israel by the Arabs.
4. The invasion by the king of the north is probably backed by superior forces. Various scriptures (for example, Joel 3 and Zechariah 14) speak of "all nations" making war against Jerusalem in the latter days, and it seems likely (as has been suggested in other expositional contexts in this book) that they do this in support of the Arabs.
5. Tidings out of the east and out of the north trouble the northern invader. These tidings must come from a more remote country occupying a more northerly (and easterly) position. Russia? It is interesting to note that so far from acting as a deterrent, these troublesome tidings provide incentive for a more furious and destructive mission.