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02 April 2021

Persia Stirs Greece

SYNOPSIS – The conflict between Persia and Greece portrayed in the vision of the ram and goat is recapped and expanded in chapter 11 - Daniel 11:1-4

Acropolis - Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash
The introduction to the last vision of the book did more than present an impressive angelic visitation experienced by Daniel – the description provided several verbal and conceptual links to the vision of the “
ram and the goat” and its interpretation by the angel Gabriel. In chapter 11, far more detail is provided concerning the rise of Greece and its four subsequent kingdoms than was the case in the earlier vision and its interpretation – (Daniel 8:1-27). - [Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash].
  • (Daniel 11:1-4) – “And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him. And now will I show you the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom will be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion wherewith he ruled; for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others besides these.”
The first paragraph of chapter 11 sets the stage for the detailed history of the intermittent conflicts between two of the four Greek kingdoms. In it, the links to the earlier vision are clear, including the reference to “Greece,” its first “mighty king,” his downfall, and the later four smaller kingdoms.

The reference to the “four winds of heaven” links the paragraph to the visions of the “four beasts from the sea” and of the “goat and the ram”. Note the parallels:
  • (Daniel 7:2-3) – “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.”
  • (Daniel 8:8) – “And the goat magnified himself exceedingly: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken (shabar); and instead of it there came up four notable horns toward the four winds of heaven.”
  • (Daniel 8:21-22) – “And the goat is the king of Greece: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. And as for that which was broken (shabar), in its place four stood up, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not with his power.
  • (Daniel 11:1-4) – “He shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken (shabar), and shall be divided toward the four winds of heavenbut not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion wherewith he ruled; for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others besides these.”
The fourth ruler after Cyrus “waxed strong through his riches and stirred up all against the realm of Greece.” Far more than four Persian rulers succeeded Cyrus. But the passage does not state that the fourth king was the last ruler of Persia, or that Greece overthrew him, only that he was responsible for stirring up the Greeks, and this is historically accurate.

The fourth king was Darius, specifically, Darius the Great or Darius Hystaspis - (reigned 550-486 B.C.). He was the richest of the Persian kings and extended the empire to its furthest limits. Under his rule, the empire extended to the shores of the Aegean Sea, which put Persia into direct conflict with the city-states of Greece and Macedonia.

Most famously, Darius invaded Greece in his attempt to subjugate Athens, which culminated in the defeat of a Persian army at the Battle of Marathon - (490 B.C.). His meddling in Greece fomented resentment that lasted for decades. Retribution against Persia became one of the alleged justifications for the invasion of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great in 333 B.C.

Map Plan - Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

For his kingdom will be plucked up, even for others besides these.” As great and swift as Alexander’s conquests were, his kingdom did not long survive his death. Although the four subsequent realms were also Greco-Macedonian regimes, they were “lesser kingdoms,” and collectively, they replaced Alexander’s empire, the “leopard with four heads.” The distinction is important to Daniel’s prophetic outlook – The “fourth kingdom” and its “little horn” was not identical to and distinct from Alexander’s kingdom.

Alexander died in 323 B.C. when his son and heir was still an infant. His untimely death caused a struggle for the succession among his generals that lasted over twenty years. In the end, the bulk of his empire was divided among four generals, with Ptolemy ruling in Egypt (the “king of the south”), and Seleucus in Syria and Mesopotamia - (the “king of the south”).

Thus, Daniel’s visions are firmly rooted in history. In the book of Revelation, the “four winds of heaven” appear prior to the “sealing of God’s servants”; however, the description becomes the “four winds of the earth”:
  • (Revelation 7:1-3) – “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that no wind should blow on the earth, or on the sea, or upon any tree. And I saw another angel ascend from the sunrising, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a great voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea nor the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
In the vision of the “four beasts ascending from the sea,” the “four winds of heaven” were stirring up the “sea” to cause the four beasts to ascend out of it, including the “fourth beast” that waged “war against the saints.” Elsewhere in Daniel, the “four winds of heaven” corresponded to the four points of the compass.

In Revelation, the “four winds of the earth” were being restrained from harming the earth or the sea until God’s servants are “sealed” – Their destructive forces could not be unleashed until the saints were properly prepared to withstand the inevitable onslaught.

The vast Persian Empire is no more; Greece has assumed the World-Power. The stage is set for the conflicts between the “king of the south” and the “king of the north.”




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