Previously, I wrote of how Herod the Great fit into Daniel’s final prophecy (Daniel 11-12). The remainder of Daniel 11 turns to Caesar (the king of the north), the ruler of Egypt (the king of the south) and brings us to Christ.
In the persons of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, ‘the king of the south’ pushed at the ‘king of the north,’ Caesar (Daniel 11:40). Octavius, before he became Caesar Augustus, shared dominion with Antony, but Rome began to be concerned over Antony’s generosity toward Cleopatra and feared he was giving away the empire. Antony gave Cleopatra large territories in Judea, Arabia, Phoenicia, Cilicia and Crete and restored to Egypt the province of Cyrene.
Octavius made war against Antony and Cleopatra and engaged them on the Ionian Sea near the Roman colony of Actium in Greece, soundly defeating them in that great naval battle in the ancient world. His victory increased his power with the Roman senate. As ruler of Syria (the king of the north), Octavius defeated the ‘king of the south’ for a final time, overthrowing Egypt and all the kingdoms under her influence. Nevertheless, the kingdoms of Edom, Moab and the chief of Ammon came under the rulership of Herod the Great (Daniel 11:41).
Although Herod was Antony’s friend, he pledged a like friendship to Octavius, if he would permit him to continue to reign after Antony’s defeat at Actium. Octavius was so impressed with Herod’s courage to come to him as he did, that Herod not only retained his kingdom (Daniel 11:40-43), but also returned to Judea with ‘greater honor and assurance than ever.[i] So, with great extravagance Herod brought Caesar from Syria to Egypt where he was to finish the battle with Antony and Cleopatra (Daniel 11:42-43).
Rome was now in control of the whole civilized world. The kingdoms of the ‘kings of the north’ (Syria) and ‘the kings of the south’ (Egypt) were finally united, and Daniel 11:36- 43 reveals how this occurred, prophesying about the main characters involved. Herod the Great, “the willful king,” died and Caesar divided his kingdom among Herod’s family. Due to the ineptness of Herod’s son, Archelaus, Judea and Jerusalem, were soon placed under the direct rule of Rome, and Caesar sent governors to rule there in his stead.
Daniel 11:44 NASB But rumors from the East and from the North will disturb him, and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many.
At the time of Jesus’ public ministry, Pilate represented the authority of Rome (king of the north) in Judea. He found himself between a rock and a hard place, as far as keeping the peace was concerned. He had to step lightly enough to keep the governor of Syria from usurping his authority in Judea, but quickly and decisively enough to keep the Jews submissive to Rome.
During his term as governor, Pilate tried to bring Roman images into Jerusalem (the tidings or customs of the north) with his armies to headquarter there instead of Caesarea. The Jews protested and were near revolt, because this was against their laws (the tidings or customs of the east). When he saw that they were willing to die to prevent what he was doing, he sent the images back to Caesarea. Another incident, however, didn’t end so peaceably. Pilate used money dedicated for Temple use to build an aqueduct to bring water to Jerusalem from four hundred furlongs away.[ii] The Jews protested and Pilate had his men disguised and mingled themselves in the crowd to discover the Jewish leaders and had them destroyed, killing many others as well. This has a possible reference in Luke 13:1-2 where Christ had commented on the fact that Pilate had mingled the blood of the Galilean Jews with that of the animals which they brought to Jerusalem to be sacrificed. Pilate was a vicious, and hastily tempered ruler; and it was these character traits that finally had him removed from office when the Samaritans complained to his superior at Syria about 35 CE.
Daniel 11:45 KJV And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
Contrary to popular opinion today, verse-45 refers to Jesus, the Messiah, not to an evil leader yet to come. It was Jesus who fixed or established his tabernacles (i.e. his disciples, a tabernacle being a symbol of transient, temporary life) of his palace (or the throne of his kingdom) between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea, in the glorious holy mountain (Jerusalem – the birthplace of the Church); yet he (Christ) came to his end (destiny) and none came to his aid (betrayed by one and abandoned by all).
[i] Josephus: “Antiquities of the Jews;” Book 15; paragraphs 6 & 7
[ii] Josephus: “Wars of the Jews” – Book 2; chapter 9; paragraph 2