[The other articles in this series can be found here.]
In part three of this series, I examined the evidence for the possibility that the Syrian Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes foreshadowed the Antichrist. In this article, I will continue with the Islamic Antichrist theory and analyze their interpretation of Daniel 11. Daniel 11 is one of the most well-known passages in Scripture about the Antichrist, and some believe that it points to a Middle Eastern origin of the end-times dictator.
Daniel 11 is a prophecy about the Greek Empire after the death of Alexander the Great (who died in the year 323 BC) and ends with the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC). Daniel 11:1-35 gives a detailed look at the history between the Seleucid rulers of Syria (312-63 BC) and the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt (305-30 BC). These events were still in the future in Daniel’s view since he wrote about the year 530 BC (about two hundred years before Alexander the Great created his empire). (To give the reader something to relate to concerning these dynasties, one of the most famous queens in history was the last ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt, and is considered to be the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt: Cleopatra VII. She became famous because she was the lover of both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. The events around her life helped set the stage for the rise of the Roman Empire.)
In Daniel 11, the Seleucids are called the “kings of the North” and the Ptolemaic rulers are called the “kings of the South.” This is logical since the Seleucids ruled from Syria and Iraq, which is north of Israel, and the Ptolemaic Dynasty ruled from Egypt, which is south of Israel. Daniel 11:1-35 ends with a look at Antiochus (11:21-35). It is interesting that this section uses some of the same descriptions that chapter 8 uses for both Antiochus and possibly the Antichrist. These are: 1) through intrigue he will invade people when they feel secure (v. 21), and that he will act deceitfully (v. 23).
According to the Islamic Antichrist theory verses 36-45 describe the Antichrist. In part 3, I examined the near view – far view problem that we encounter in the prophetic books. The prophets will sometimes speak about their own time period, or something in the near future, in one verse, and then immediately fast forward to the end-times in the very next verse. This is what happens between verses 35 and 36. Verse 35 ends with Antiochus and verse 36 moves onto the Antichrist.
There are numerous reasons given for why these verses speak about the Antichrist and not Antiochus: 1) 12:1 uses the phrase “at that time” to connect 11:36-45 to the resurrection and judgment of the dead. 2) 11:35-36 gives us the transition verse between Antiochus and the Antichrist by noting “until the time of the end.” 3) Verse 36 says that the king will be successful until the “time of wrath” is completed. Antiochus did not live during the “time of wrath.” The Antichrist, however, will live during that period. 4) Verse 40 puts the passage “at the time of the end.” 5) The life and career of Antiochus does not fit with the details of 11:36-45. 6) The descriptions of the king in verses 36-45 fit very well with what we know of the Antichrist (see below). 7) 12:1 notes that a great time of distress will occur in connection with the events in 11:36-45. Jesus brings this up in Matthew 24:21 and adds that this great distress will never be equaled again. This time of distress had yet not happened by the time of Christ and he connects it with his second coming.
This section gives us some good information concerning the Antichrist:
1) “He will exalt and magnify himself above every god” (v. 36). (See Daniel 8:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).
2) He will say horrible things about the one true God (v. 36). (See Revelation 13:5-6)
3) He will succeed in everything he does until the “time of wrath” is complete (v. 36).
4) He will honor those who acknowledge him by making them rulers over his conquests (v. 39).
One will notice that the details here go right along with what we know about the Antichrist from other passages in Daniel and Revelation.
Is the Antichrist the same or different from the “king of the North?”
Verses 40-45 give us some interesting information about the wars that the Antichrist will be involved in during the Tribulation. Here are the verses in full:
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. 41 He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. 42 He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. 43 He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites in submission. 44 But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. 45 He 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.”
These verses have caused considerable debate about the events of the Tribulation. This is centered on the identification of the “king of the North” and his relationship with the Antichrist, and it has resulted in two major interpretations. The first is that the Antichrist is the king of the North in verse 40. This means that there are two different kings fighting in this passage: the ruler of Egypt (the king of the South) and the Antichrist (who is identified as the king of the North). The second view is identifies three kings: the Antichrist, the king of the South, and the king of the North.
Joel Richardson, in his examination of Daniel 11, calls the first interpretation the historical view. Ancient Christians such as Hippolytus (2nd century), Lactanitus (3rd century), and Theodoret of Cyr (4th century) believed that the king of the North was the Antichrist. This interpretation is argued for the following reasons:
1) The Antichrist is foreshadowed by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in this chapter and in Daniel 8, who is a king of the North.
2) The passage concerning the Antichrist is part of the section about the king of the North and the King of the South.
3) The verses about the Antichrist naturally continue on from Antiochus, who is spoken about in verses 21-35.
Those who argue for this view believe that the king of the North being the Antichrist fits the flow and context of the entire 11th chapter of Daniel better than the second view (see below). Since Antiochus and the Antichrist are connected in Daniel 8, it only natural that they are connected in chapter 11 as well. It is also consistent with our findings in Daniel 2 and 7 which point to a Middle Eastern Antichrist.
The Second View
This leads us to the second view, which teaches that verse 40 is referring to three different individuals: 1) the Antichrist; 2) the king of the South (Egypt); and 3) the king of the North. Many advocates of this position believe that the king of the North in verse 40 is Russia, not Syria.
The two major arguments in favor of this is 1) the pronouns “him” in verse 40 seem to point to both kings fighting against the Antichrist (who is referred to with the pronoun “he” in verses 36-39). 2) Identifying the Antichrist with the king of the North means that the Antichrist will come from the Seleucid Empire. However, many commentators believe that the Antichrist will come from the Roman Empire, so identifying him as a Middle Eastern ruler would invalidate their position.
The Islamic Antichrist camp believe there are some problems with this second view. The idea of three rulers goes against the natural flow and context of the passage. Antiochus is consistently viewed as a type of Antichrist, foreshadowing the future enemy of God’s people. The section on the Antichrist also flows very nicely from the narrative concerning the king of the North. The context would thus identify the Antichrist as a king of the North.
What is strange about the popular view is that even though the Antichrist is constantly related to Antiochus, a king of the North, the Antichrist is suddenly divorced from the Seleucid Dynasty and the king of the North suddenly becomes a ruler from Russia. How does this happen? One cannot get this conclusion from the context of the passage.
The Antichrist is also turned into an enemy of Antiochus. How can Antiochus foreshadow the Antichrist yet also be his enemy? Along with this, chapter 11 constantly speaks of the kings of the North and South fighting against each other. Yet, for some reason, in verse 40, they ally with each other to fight the Antichrist. This goes against the natural flow of the entire chapter.
But what about the pronouns in verse 40? Those who hold that the Antichrist is the king of the North interpret verse 40 as saying: “At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him [the Antichrist] in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him [the king of the South] with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He [the Antichrist] will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.” This reading is possible and makes sense when interpreted against the context of the entire chapter. Although a reading of three kings is possible, the rest of the chapter (and other chapters in Daniel) favor only two kings.
Another major problem is the identification of the king of the North with Russia. These same scholars note that the kings of the North and South are Syria and Egypt respectively throughout Daniel 11. In verse 40, they continue to believe that the King of the South is Egypt, but for some reason, they now come to the conclusion that the King of the North is not Syria, but Russia.
Leon Wood comments, “[T]he designation ‘king of the North’ is not an appropriate indication of the Antichrist, because his country, Rome, is not north of Palestine. A Russian ruler fits well, however, since Russia is directly north, with Moscow being almost on a direct north-south line with Jerusalem.” It is interesting to note that Wood, along with many other commentators, came to this conclusion during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was the big bad guy to the United States. It should also be noted that Wood says on the same page that identification of the king of the North should be the same as the rest of the chapter (Syria), but then changes the king of the North to Russia in the very next paragraph! Why, because the Antichrist is a Roman.
John Whitcomb argues that the king of the North must be Russia because the king of the North travels through other countries on his way to Palestine (verses 40-41). “At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him [the Antichrist] in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him [the king of the South] with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land.”
Since a Syrian king would not go through many countries before reaching Palestine, then the king of the North must be a Russian since a Russian king would go through many countries on his way to Palestine. However, verse 40 may be referring to the three nations mentioned in verses 42-43: Egypt, Libya, and Nubia (modern-day Sudan). The point is that the king of the North will invade and conquer many countries. As a side note, it is interesting to note that verses 42-43 mention three kingdoms that fall to the Antichrist. Could these three nations be the three kings that the Antichrist will uproot in Daniel 7: 8, 20?
What does all this mean?
If the Islamic Antichrist theory is correct then the Antichrist is connected to the region of the Seleucid Empire (a Middle Eastern empire). However, since many prophecy teachers have come to the conclusion that the Antichrist must come from Europe, they must make a switch. The Antichrist cannot come from the Seleucid Empire because if he does, then the entire Roman Antichrist theory crumbles. Richardson summarizes the view that the Antichrist is the king of the North:
“[T]he Antichrist, as the last-days Antiochus IV Epiphanes, is also referred to as the king of the North who will rule over a last-days version of the Seleucid Empire. This position is reasonable, simple, and clear, resolving the difficulties, contradictions, and tensions that have plagued many interpreters for years.”
The view that Daniel 11 is pointing to a Middle Eastern Antichrist is reasonable and consistent with the other finding sin this series. Although there are other views about this passage, I personally think that the one presented here is currently the strongest.
What do you think? Is the Antichrist the same or different from the king of the North? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.
[This is a revised and updated edition of an article originally published on April 23, 2013.]
 John F. Walvoord. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971).270. John C. Whitcomb. Daniel. Everyman’s Bible Commentary. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985). 152-153. Leon Wood. A Commentary on Daniel. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973). 304-305. Walid Shoebat, with Joel Richardson. God’s War on Terror (Top Executive Media, 2008). 342. Sam Storms (Kingdom Come [Ross-Shire: Christian Focus Publications, 2013]) believes that Daniel 11 is teaching us only about Antiochus. The Antichrist is not in view here. An argument against the only Antiochus theory of verses 40-45 is that none of the details here fit the known history of Antiochus. Storms argues that this is an argument from silence and that we do not have all the details of his reign (p. 127). He believes that there is no indication of a break or change between verses 35 and 36 (p. 128). In response to Storms, it must be mentioned that the resurrection of believers and unbelievers is taught in 12:1-4. There is no indication of a break or change between 11:45 and 12:1. This indicates that the resurrection happens right after the events in 11:40-45. Naturally, the resurrection of the dead did not happen at the end of the reign of Antiochus.
 Joel Richardson. Mideast Beast. Washington D.C.: WND Books, 2012, 117-118.
 Ibid. 120.
 Walvoord, 277-279. Whitcomb, 155. Wood, 308-311. John MacArthur. The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelsn, 2005). 967.
 Walvoord, 277-279. Whitcomb, 155-156. Wood, 308-310.
 Richardson, 121.
 Wood, 308-309.
 Ibid., 308.
 Whitcomb, 155-156.
 Richardson, 122.