The end of Daniel 11 provides surprisingly intricate detail with respect to the Antichrist's personality and military engagements.
Most of Daniel 11 discusses a series of past military prophecies, a past "abomination of desolation" event, and a past evil ruler: Antiochus IVEpiphanes. Nevertheless, the prophecies of Daniel 11:1-35 are so accurate that non-Christian theologians incorrectly date the entire book after the events it describes.
However, starting in verse 36, the prophecy continues, but no longer has any relevance to historical events. In short, there's a major "dropoff" starting at verse 36. Everything before verse 36 was fulfilled exactly in history. But through the remainder of the chapter after verse 35, there is no historical relevance to the verses.
We know (based on cross references and end times terminology), that the person described in verses 36-39 is very clearly the Antichrist. We also know that the Antichrist originates from a revived Roman Empire, most likely from the European continent. See my justification for this here.
The Personality of the Ruthless Conqueror
Before we continue, let's note a few things about this person:
- He is incredibly arrogant, and makes himself out to be better than any god (the wording cross-references well with the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2)
- His priorities are largely focused on making war
- He honors a foreign god (likely Satan), who gives his power to Antichrist (Revelation 13:2)
- He will provide economic and leadership rewards to those who support him.
A Two-Front Invasion By Syria and Egypt
However, the text proceeds to provide a very detailed account of the Antichrist's military encounters.
“At the time of the end, the king of the south shall attack him, but the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships. (Daniel 11:40)
Here, the text says that the Antichrist is specifically invaded by a King of the North, and a King of the South. Throughout the beginning of Daniel 11, the King of the South always referred to Egypt. Therefore, there is no reason to doubt that the King of the South is Egypt.
The "king of the North" is the confusing one. Throughout the majority of Daniel 11, it referred to a large Seleucid empire north of Israel. It was also called the Syrian Kingdom of the Seleucids. Here's a map:
Unlike Egypt, the Seleucid empire does not exist today. Therefore, prophecy scholars are divided as to the identity of the Kingdom of the North. Many have suggested a stronger northern force (such as Russia), since the Seleucid empire does not exist anymore. (3) Others have said the kingdom of the north is Syria. After all, the Seleucid empire was also referred to as the "Syrian Kingdom." A third option is that Syria and Russia are both in an alliance that represent the "king of the North."
I previously held to the "Russia" view, but I am more inclined to the Syria view now, since the Seleucid empire more closely aligned with Syria's geographic location, and it was also called the Syrian Kingdom. (Or...I am very open to the possibility that it is just as easily a Syrian-Russian alliance.)
Therefore, the very first military encounter that the Antichrist has appears to be a two-front invasion, one from Egypt and from Syria.
An Evil Opportunity for War...and The Invasion of Israel
Even though the Antichrist is known as a ruthless military conqueror, he does not throw the first punch. He acts opportunistically, using the attack against his empire as a pretext to attempt to annihilate everyone else...including Israel.
And he shall come into countries and shall overflow and pass through. He shall come into the glorious land. And tens of thousands shall fall, but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites.
I think it's safe to assume he will retaliate against Syria and Egypt. This is actually very historically significant, since the "prototype" of the Antichrist (Antiochus IV Epiphanes) made a very similar military gesture in the past, before setting up his own "abomination of desolation" in 168 B.C. After fighting in Egypt, Antiochus went to Israel to set up the very first "abomination that causes desolation."
A very similar event will happen with the Antichrist. The passage implies that the Antichrist will retaliate, and sweep through many countries like a "flood." He will also invade the "glorious land," which is a term for Israel. It is likely that he will set up the end time "abomination of desolation" when he invades Israel. Even though he attacks several nations, Edom, Moab, and Ammon (modern day Jordan) are exempt from his attack. This is likely the location where Jews will take refuge in the desert for 1260 days (Revelation 12). This will take place after they flee to the Judean mountains because of seeing the end-time abomination that causes desolation (Matthew 24).
The Subjugation of North African Nations
He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the precious things of Egypt, and the Libyans and the Cushites shall follow in his train. (Daniel 11: 42-43)
The passage continues and states that the Antichrist will gain control over certain North African regions. From what I can tell, these North African nations roughly correspond to Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia. This is why the map above has the Antichrist "sweeping through" North African nations, Syria, Egypt, and eventually Israel. Recall, in Revelation 13, that people say: "Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?"
Problems in the North and the East
But news from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go out with great fury to destroy and devote many to destruction. (Daniel 11:44)
Here, the Antichrist will discover that things are no longer so easy for him. He will discover that northern forces (Russia? Syria?), and eastern forces (China? India?) will likely pose a threat to him. This will cause him to "destroy" and "devote many to destruction."
It is interesting, that the Bible also describes two major end-time military events: one from the North, and one from the East. During the Gog/Magog war, Russian and Iranian forces will do a sudden land invasion of Israel, but be miraculously destroyed by God. (Ezekiel 38-39) (This may, or may not be, the alarming "news" from the north that this passage describes.) Furthermore, the book of Revelation describes the river Euphrates drying up to allow the kings of the east to gather for battle at Armageddon. (Revelation 16) (This may or may not be, the alarming "news" from the east that this passage describes.)
The Battle of Armageddon
And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him. (Daniel 11:45)
Here, it states that the Antichrist will make camp between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. It is also interesting to note that the plain of Megiddo or "Armageddon" is located in that area as well. This verse likely refers to the Antichrist gathering at Armageddon. Nevertheless, the passage states that the Antichrist will come to his "end." It does not necessarily state he will die. According to Revelation the "beast" is thrown into the Lake of Fire.
Hopefully, this provided an accurate interpretation of Daniel 11:36-45, and the military conquests associated with the Antichrist. Keep in mind that the maps are not "set in stone." They merely represent a possible interpretation of the verses. (For example, the arrows are approximations of my interpretation of the text. Don't place too much trust in them.)
- The Seleucid Empire in 200 BC. Author: Thomas A. Lessman. Source URL: http://www.ThomasLessman.com/History/images/East-Hem_200bc.jpg. Image was created by me (Thomas Lessman) based on my map of Eastern Hemisphere in 200 BC.
- The blank map I used to make the arrows was found from this URL: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/22/Middle_East_location_map.svg/800px-Middle_East_location_map.svg.png