(v. 10) His sons [Seleucus III and Antiochus III] will
mobilize and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one of them [Antiochus III] will
keep on coming and overflow and pass through, that he may again wage war up to his very fortress.
Seleucus II died in 226 BC. Among his several children were his sons Seleucus III Soter (also
called Seleucus Ceraunus) and Antiochus III the Great (born near Susa in Persia). The elder son, Seleucus III
reigned initially in the place of his father (226-222 BC), but he was assassinated in Anatolia by members of
his army while on campaign against Attalus I of Pergamon. As a result, Antiochus III became the next Seleucid
king (ruled 222-187 BC) at the mere age of eighteen. Not long after Antiochus III became king, Ptolemy III died
(221 BC) and was replaced by his son, Ptolemy IV Philopator (ruled 221-204 BC). Ptolemy IV was a weak ruler,
and under him the Ptolemaic kingdom began to decline. Antiochus III saw in this an opportunity to expand his
own kingdom. In 221 BC he attempted an assault upon the Ptolemaic forces that occupied strongholds in the Beqaa
Valley of Phoenicia (present-day Lebanon). But he was unsuccessful and had to withdraw. Shortly thereafter he
was side-tracked by uprisings in his own kingdom in the territories of Media and Persis (present-day Iran). By
219 BC, Antiochus III was ready to resume his attack against the northern Ptolemaic frontier, and he seized the
naval stronghold of Seleucis Pieria (a port city near Antioch). This act initiated the Fourth Syrian War
(219-217 BC). He was aided in this by a Ptolemaic general named Theodotos of Aetolia, who betrayed the Egyptians
and helped deliver Coele-Syria to Antiochus III. This enabled Antiochus III to quickly take control of Tyre and
Ptolemais (and also gaining 40 ships in the process).
(v. 11) The king of the South [Ptolemy IV] will be enraged and go
forth and fight with the king of the North [Antiochus III]. Then the latter will raise
a great multitude, but that multitude will be given into the hand of the former.
(v. 12) When the multitude is carried away, his heart [Ptolemy IV]
will be lifted up, and he will cause tens of thousands to fall; yet he will not prevail.
In 217 BC, however, Ptolemy IV made a counter-attack against Antiochus III at the Battle of Raphia (SW of
present-day Gaza). Thousands of infantry, cavalry, and war elephants were involved in the battle. Antiochus’s
army was indeed a great multitude, for along with his regular forces he was joined by 10,000 Nabataeans
and other Arab tribes. Yet in the end Ptolemy IV prevailed and won the Battle of Raphia. As a result, Ptolemy
IV regained the important territory of Coele-Syria, while Antiochus (responsible for the death of thousands)
retreated to Antioch. The great Egyptian victory of Raphia in 217 BC secured the northern borders of the
Ptolemaic kingdom for the remainder of the reign of Ptolemy IV. Antiochus III spent the next 13 years of his
rule putting down revolts in his own kingdom, and in this was quite successful. "He also assumed the title
'Basileus Megas' (which is Greek for 'Great King'), the traditional title of the Persian kings" (Wiki: Antiochus
(v. 13) For the king of the North [Antiochus III] will again raise
a greater multitude than the former, and after an interval of some years he will press on with a great
army and much equipment.
(v. 14) Now in those times many will rise up against the king of the South
[Ptolemy V]; the violent ones among your people [Jewish
revolutionaries] will also lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they will fall down.
An interval of some years went by. But when Ptolemy IV died in 204 BC, Antiochus III saw his
opportunity to finally strike back at Egypt. The new Egyptian king, Ptolemy V Epiphanes (ruled 204-180 BC), was
but six years of age, and there was much turmoil in Alexandria due to fighting over the regency. Antiochus III,
armed with a great army and much equipment, is said to have made a secret pact with Philip V of Macedon
for the partition of the Ptolemaic empire. Then, early in 202 BC, Antiochus III began what has become known as
the Fifth Syrian War (202-ca. 195 BC) by attacking Damascus. Assisting Antiochus was a number of pro-Seleucid
Jewish revolutionaries—violent ones among Daniel’s people—who were discontent with Egypt’s rule over Judea.
Once more Antiochus III attacked the Ptolemaic province of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia (aided by the defection of
a Ptolemaic governor), though the coastal cities of Phoenicia remained in the hands of Ptolemaic rule. Antiochus
III was initially successful, until Skopas, an Aetolian (Greek) general whom Ptolemy V had given command of
Coele-Syria, recovered it for Ptolemy. That recovery, however, was to prove brief.
(v. 15) Then the king of the North [Antiochus III] will come,
cast up a siege ramp and capture a well-fortified city; and the forces of the South
[Egyptians] will not stand their ground, not even their choicest troops, for there
will be no strength to make a stand.
(v. 16) But he who comes against him will as he pleases
[i.e., Antiochus III], and no one will be able to withstand him; he will also stay for
a time in the Beautiful Land [Judea], with destruction in his hand.
In 200 BC Antiochus launched a second offensive, and this time defeated the Ptolemaic general Skopas at
the Battle of Panium, near the sources of the Jordan River. One significant outcome of this battle is that it
marked the end of Ptolemaic rule in Judea. This forced Skopas to retreat with 10,000 men to the well-fortified
coastal city of Sidon in Phoenicia (a Ptolemaic stronghold). Antiochus III pursued him there and cast up
siege mounds against the fortress walls. Shutting himself up within the walls of Sidon, after an ineffectual
attempt by Ptolemy to relieve him Skopas was ultimately compelled by famine to surrender in 199 BC to Antiochus
III (Polybius XIII.1-2, XVI.18-19, 39; Josephus, Antiquities XII.3.3). The important port-city of Sidon had now
fallen to Seleucid control, an event that enabled the Seleucids to maintain control over the interior lands.
Since Egypt was too weak to mount another offensive, Antiochus III could essentially as he pleased.
Antiochus III (with power to destroy) spent the first half of 198 BC extending his control over the
rest of the former province of Coele-Syria, including Judea and Jerusalem, the Beautiful Land. Antiochus
now completely dominated Coele-Syria, the prize that the Seleucid kings had long sought for (and felt was their
rightful possession) since the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC.
(v. 17) He [Antiochus III] will set his face to come with the
power of his whole kingdom, bringing with him a proposal of peace which he will put into effect; he
[Antiochus III] will also give him [Ptolemy V] the daughter
of women [Cleopatra I] to ruin it. But she will not take a stand for him
[Antiochus III] or be on his side.
Rather than directly attacking Egypt, Antiochus III used the time to extend his power in Asia Minor,
initiating a great campaign there in 197 BC in which a number of previously Ptolemaic cities came under Seleucid
control. The capstone to this was Antiochus' conquest of Ephesus in the autumn of 197 BC, which had been a
powerful and well-garrisoned Ptolemaic base. By the close of 197 BC, the Alexandrian government had lodged
its complaints in Rome against Antiochus's conquests (especially in Asia Minor), and the Roman senate sent a
man of consular rank, L. Cornelius Lentulus, to help resolve the tensions. With this, Rome was clearly extending
its influence into the eastern Mediterranean (which would lead in the course of time to her conquest of all
these territories). In 196 BC, Rome attempted to exert pressure on Antiochus to come to peace with Ptolemaic
Egypt and return the captured territories. This prompted Antiochus to make a diplomatic maneuver of proposing
peace with Egypt, sealing it by means of a political marriage. In the winter of 194/93 BC, Antiochus's
daughter Cleopatra I (though only about 10 years old) was wed to the 16 year-old Egyptian king, Ptolemy V. Yet
Antiochus did this with treachery in mind: he would give the king of the South a daughter in marriage in order
to destroy the kingdom (11:17). In the ensuing years, however,
this hoped-for tactic did not turn out to his advantage.
(v. 18) Then he [Antiochus III] will turn his face to the
coastlands and capture many. But a commander [a Roman general] will put
a stop to his scorn against him; moreover, he will repay him for his scorn.
Following "peace" with Egypt through the marriage alliance involving his daughter Cleopatra I, Antiochus
III turned his attention to the coastal regions of Asia Minor where he captured many of them. This,
however, brought him into further conflict with the Romans. In 192 BC, Antiochus III invaded Greece with a
10,000 man army, and was even elected the commander in chief of the Aetolians (who were fighting Rome at that
time). Yet the Romans prevailed over Antiochus III. In 191 BC, the Romans under the command of Manius Acilius
Glabrio routed Antiochus III at Thermopylae, forcing him to withdraw to Asia. Then in 190 BC, a decisive Roman
victory was achieved by Scipio Asiaticus at the Battle of Magnesia (eastern province of central Greece),
thereby giving Asia Minor into Roman hands. This is the Roman commander that put a stop to Antiochus
III. The latter was made to pay for his shameful conduct by signing the Treaty of Apameia in 188 BC, thereby
abandoning all the country
(v. 19) So he [Antiochus III] will turn his face toward the
fortresses of his own land, but he will stumble and fall and be found no more.
The Treaty of Apameia had two important results for Seleucid history (and one which was to significantly
affect Judea). First, the treaty called for the taking of 20 hostages to Rome, and one of these turned out to
be the son of Antiochus III, Mithridates (later renamed Antiochus IV Ephiphanes), the famous persecutor of the
Jews. Second, the treaty resulted in a growing assertion of independence by the outlying provinces of the
empire, which prompted Antiochus III to make yet another expedition to the eastern provinces of his own
land. He came to Elymaïs, close to the ancient Persian capital of Susa, but more recently having come under
Parthian control. There in the middle of 187 BC, Antiochus "fell"—he and his soldiers were killed while
plundering the temple of Bel by the outraged inhabitants of the area.
(v. 20) Then in his place one will arise [Seleucus IV] who will
send an oppressor through the Jewel of his kingdom;
Next in line to Antiochus III was his son, Seleucus IV Philopator (ruled 187-175 BC). On the one hand,
Seleucus IV had the advantage of a large kingdom, which included Syria, Cilicia, Judea, Mesopotamia, Babylonia,
and Nearer Iran (Media and Persia). Yet on the other hand, Seleucus faced enormous financial challenges.
Strapped with a heavy war-indemnity exacted by Rome, he was forced to secure more financial resources by heavy
taxation. For this reason, Seleucus IV sent out an "oppressor," that is, one who went throughout his
empire to collect tribute and taxes. Naturally this was very unpopular with his peoples. Around 178 BC,
Seleucus IV sent one of his government officials named Heliodorus (the "oppressor") to Jerusalem of Judea
(the Jewel of his kingdom) to confiscate the money and treasures in the Jewish Temple (cf. 2 Macc 3:1-40).
yet within a few days he [Seleucus IV] will be shattered,
though not in anger nor in battle.
Seleucus IV did not die in battle. Rather he was assassinated ("shattered") by his own official,
Heliodorus, when the latter returned from his trip to Jerusalem. Heliodorus then attempted to seize the throne