The Mighty Angels of Daniel 11: The Great Villain
By Nathan Jones
The Great Villain
Vic Batista: The sadistic story of Antiochus IV Epiphanies unravels as we pick up with Daniel 11:21.
Nathan Jones: Daniel 11:21-24 introduces a great villain whom history revealed to be Antiochus IV Epiphanies. We’ve reached 175 BC in history’s timeline, some 450 years after Daniel had received the angel’s prophetic message from God.
“He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses — but only for a time.”
Vic Batista: Two of the characteristics that stand out in this passage is the way this “contemptible person” comes about his power. He utilizes deceit and strikes an unsuspecting people during a time of covenant peace.
Nathan Jones: History records that Antiochus the Great’s successor was a man named Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Just as the passage reveals, he was a contemptible person. He wasn’t a bloodline descendant of Antiochus the Great. He possessed no royalty or honor. Instead, Antiochus IV Epiphanes was very sneaky, using deceit to gain his power. He certainly knew politics, for he was the consummate politician. He rose to power through his political abilities and charisma. Picture the greatest used car salesperson ever in history, and that is Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Antiochus wasn’t a very humble man either. The title he gave himself — Epiphanes — means “Great One.” He actually called himself the Great One! But, even though Antiochus believed he was great, the people he forced his rule over actually believed him to be crazy. The people twisted his given title a little and they started calling him Antiochus IV Epimmanes, which means “the Maniac.” So, to the people, he was Antiochus the Maniac. Even though he earned his power through charisma and intrigue, once he revealed his true character, the Jewish people will end up not liking him at all.
Vic Batista: Isn’t it interesting what power does to so many leaders? Despots act like maniacs. Look at Hitler, for example. These power-hungry individuals end up committing horrible deeds. You have to wonder what transforms them so badly. Surely, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Nathan Jones: When you see these people come into power and they become drunk on it, you have to wonder about their background. Hitler, you mentioned, began as a house painter. He’d visit bars and rant and rave about the ills of society and blame the Jewish people for all of society’s problems. Hitler rose to power out of obscurity.
Likewise, Antiochus Epiphanes also rose out of obscurity, utilizing bribery and flattery to garner more favor. He had no legal right to the throne, and yet he rose to power over the Seleucid Empire.
Vic Batista: Another example or a rags to riches story would be President Obama. He’s one of those people who rose out of nowhere to wield great power.
Nathan Jones: Where did Barack Obama come from? He also climbed the ranks out of obscurity. President Obama possessed an eloquence of speech. He read a teleprompter very well. People thought that he was cool. He was the guru master of social media, knowing just how to connect to people where they were. But, just like Antiochus, it wasn’t long before people realized that his eloquence covered like a veneer that hid his narcissism. Obama was a maniac ideologically. Just listen to any of Obama’s speeches and you can easily conclude he was totally obsessed with himself and what he thought he could achieve for mankind.
Antiochus Epiphanes is just such a narcissist. It’s not long before the Jewish people, as we will read on in Daniel 11, will begin to have serious problems with his authority over them. Not only would the Jewish people have problems with Antiochus, but the Ptolemaic Egyptian people will really get the shaft.
The text tells us that Antiochus forged a peace plan with his rival Ptolemaic Egyptians. He holds out the olive branch and offers, “Let’s have peace.” The Egyptians are off their guard thinking they have after all these warring decades finally found peace, something unseen in history since the Ptolemies and Seleucids founded their kingdoms. Under the guise of peace, Antiochus travels down and sacks the Egyptians. He achieves what none of his predecessors were able to do — the total defeat of the Egyptians. Daniel 11:25-27 foretold the event.
“With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time.”
In the fifty-eighth segment of this series on the mighty angels of Daniel, Antiochus rivals the Antichrist!