|Biblical Egypt||by R. David Pogge|
Daniel lived in Babylon during the 26th Dynasty (nearly 600 years before Christ) when both Judah and Egypt were ruled by Babylon. Daniel saw visions that predicted the history of the world from his day all the way up to the Second Coming of Christ. Typically, Bible scholars examine the relevance of Daniel’s prophecies to ancient Jews and modern Christians. But, since this is a book relating Egyptian history to the Bible, we will focus on how these prophecies relate to Egypt instead.
Skeptics, who don’t believe in divine inspiration, have proposed a “late date” for the composition of the Book of Daniel because Daniel perfectly predicted the rise of the Persian and Greek Empires. Therefore, they think Daniel had to have been written around 300 BC, after the Greek conquest of Egypt. They can’t date the Book of Daniel any later than this because we know it was translated into Greek for Ptolemy, as we saw in Section 13.2.
But Daniel also perfectly predicted the conquest of Greece by Rome, and the year when Jesus would begin his ministry, and the rise of the papacy, and the crusades, all of which happened after 300 BC. If Daniel could predict things that would happen 2000 years after he died, there is no reason to believe he could not also predict things that happened less than 300 years after he died. I have no doubt that the Book of Daniel was actually written by Daniel during the 26th Dynasty.
As much as I would like to give you detailed descriptions and explanations of all the prophesies in the Book of Daniel, I need to limit the discussion to general summaries of those prophecies which have a bearing on Egypt.
During the 26th Dynasty, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, had a dream about a statue representing the history of the world from that point on. The statue had a head of gold, chest of silver, belly of brass, with legs of iron and feet of clay. The statue was smashed by a rock that came down from heaven. You can read about the dream in Daniel Chapter 2. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar what the dream meant.
“This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
“After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.
The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” 1
That prophecy is admittedly vague. It says Babylon will fall to another kingdom, which will fall to other kingdoms. Well, duh, who could not predict that? But Daniel had more dreams and visions which added more details to this prophecy.
Like the vision of the statue, with four parts representing four great kingdoms, Daniel had another vision in 550 BC about the four great kingdoms to come. In this one, the four kingdoms were represented by beasts.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.
Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
“The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.
“And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’
“After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. 2
How do we know these four beasts represent kingdoms that will come before Christ returns to set up an eternal, heavenly kingdom? Because an angel told Daniel they do.
|“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’ 3|
From the description, one might guess that the four kingdoms represented by the statue and the beasts are Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. But, we don’t have to guess because Daniel had more visions.
Two years later, in 548 BC, Daniel had yet another vision similar to the other visions.
In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as it charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.
As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. It came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at it in great rage. I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power. The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven. 4
Presumably, the ram with the two horns that conquered Babylon was the joint kingdom of Medes and Persians, and the goat with the one great horn which conquered the Medes and Persians was the Greek king, Alexander the Great. But we don’t have to presume because an angel specifically told Daniel,
The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power. 5
Sure enough, when Alexander died, his kingdom was divided by his four generals.
Daniel was specifically told that the first great kingdom (the head of gold and the winged lion) was Babylon.
He was told the third great kingdom (the belly of brass, the leopard with four wings and four heads, the goat with one great horn replaced by four lesser horns) would be Greece.
What about the second kingdom? We know from history that the second kingdom (the chest of silver, the bear that got up on one side and then the other, the two-horned ram) which came between Babylon and Greece was the kingdom of the Medes and Persians.
Not only do we know what the second kingdom was—Daniel knew it, too. We know Babylon fell to the Medes because we can look back on history. Daniel knew Babylon would fall to Darius the Mede because he "read the handwriting on the wall."
Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.
“This is the inscription that was written:
mene, mene, tekel, parsin
“Here is what these words mean:
Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Parsin: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 6
The first three beasts were specifically identified as being the Babylonian, Persian, and Greek empires. The fourth beast, the most terrible and powerful of all, was not specifically named by Daniel.
We know from history that it had to be the Roman Empire, even though it was not specifically named. The fourth beast was described in much greater detail than the other three beasts so as to make it unmistakable that it represented the Roman Empire, which evolved into the papacy, and eventually the European nations.
Skeptics say this is proof that Daniel was written in the latter part of the Greek Empire, before Rome conquered the world. They say Daniel could not have known the Persians and Greeks would come to power while Daniel was living in Babylon because they don’t believe in God, so God could not have told Daniel which kingdoms would rule next. But, they say, if the Book of Daniel was actually written during the Greek Empire, the person claiming to be Daniel would have known about the Persians and Greeks, but not the Romans. If Daniel could name the Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks, they ask, “Why didn’t he specifically name the Romans?”
Actually, it would be suspicious if Daniel did use the name “Rome” in 606 BC. Rome didn’t become a republic until 509 BC. Yes, the Romans claimed that Rome was founded in 753 BC by the infants Romulus and Remus, who were suckled by a wolf. As credible as that story is , it is hard to believe that Daniel (or any other Jew) would have known the name of a place more than 1400 miles away (by air) 100 years before it had an organized government. Yes, there were probably people living on those seven hills in 606 BC, but their name would not have been known in Babylon. If God had supernaturally made the name known to Daniel, it would not have made any sense to his contemporaries.
I wish I could go into greater detail about Daniel’s prophecies, but I can’t get distracted from the topic of this book, which is, “Biblical Egypt.” Daniel made other prophecies that do not have a direct bearing on Egypt. As fascinating as those prophecies are, I can’t address them in this book. All I can do is whet your appetite.
In the 19th Century, Uriah Smith wrote an excellent book about all the prophecies in the Biblical books Daniel and Revelation, which you can download for less than two bucks to your Kindle reader.
Daniel and the Revelation Kindle Edition
Centenary Edition. Text and paging from 1912 edition with illustrations from the 1907 edition.
The response of history to the voice of prophecy. A verse-by-verse study of the Bible books of Daniel and The Revelation, first published as separate books in 1867 (Revelation) and 1873 (Daniel). Revised several times by the author before his death in 1903, with editorial additions in this text. The original book was almost 800 pages, this Kindle edition contains the complete text including footnotes. Indexes have been left out for brevity. 7
A hard copy version (with indexes) is also available. 8
Uriah Smith tells how every verse in Daniel has been perfectly fulfilled in history—up to Daniel 11:40. He tries to find historical fulfillments for the subsequent verses, and (in my opinion) fails miserably. Daniel 11:40 begins with the words, “At the time of the end …”. This is compelling evidence to me that Smith’s explanation of how the earlier prophecies have been historically fulfilled are perfectly accurate; but the end-time prophecies beginning at Daniel 11:40 are still in the future. That’s why Smith was unable to find historical fulfillments in the past, despite all his efforts to do so.
As Daniel predicted, Babylon (which controlled Egypt at the time) fell to Persia. Thus ended the 26th Dynasty. Cambyses II became the first pharaoh of the 27th Dynasty. Since Egypt was on the extreme southern edge of the empire, Persia had a hard time keeping control of Egypt from 525 BC until 332 BC. There were five dynasties with a total of 15 pharaohs in that 193 year period.
Sometimes history repeats itself—but with a twist. Remember when the hated Nubians ruled Egypt during the 25th Dynasty, the Egyptians were glad to be conquered by the Assyrians because the Assyrians started the 26th Dynasty by putting an Egyptian from one of the royal Egyptian families on the throne. Egypt fought with the Assyrians against the Babylonians, but lost. Despite that, the Babylonians allowed the 26th Dynasty to continue to rule Egypt.
But when the Persians conquered Egypt and began the 27th Dynasty with a Persian pharaoh, the Egyptians were just as unhappy as when they were ruled by the Nubians in the 25th Dynasty. Since the Greeks were the upcoming world power, Egyptians supported Greeks sporadically during the Persian Period. As a result, there was internal political instability in Egypt during the 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st Dynasties. Persian rule ended when Alexander the Great defeated the Persian, Darius III, the last pharaoh of the 31st Dynasty.
Mazaeus, who was satrap under Darius III … wisely opened the gates of Egypt to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, saving the country and his own skin. 9
Section 17.9 - Greeks Rule!
Daniel predicted that God would overthow Persia, and therefore Persian-ruled Egypt would fall to Greece, too.
|So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 10|
|Alexander decisively defeated Darius III at Issus in 333 and entered Egypt in 332. Making his way to the oracle of Ammon in the Oasis of Siwa, he was hailed as the god’s son, pharaoh incarnate. The Egyptians looked upon him as a divine being and saviour. At the mouth of the Nile he founded Alexandria, the first, and greatest, of the many cities that were to bear his name. Although his sojourn in Egypt was short, his influence was immense and lasting. On his orders restorations and repairs were carried out at the temples devastated in the Persian attack of 343. At Luxor temple the holy of holies was rebuilt and the best reliefs of Alexander in Egypt, carved on its outer walls, show him offering to Amun-Min. Egypt was now truly part of a much wider Mediterranean world of culture and religion, and could no longer hide within the sheltering cliff of the Nile Valley. 11|
Not only did Daniel say, (as we saw in Section 17.4)
The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power. 12
Daniel also said,
|Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others. 13|
Exactly as predicted by Daniel, Alexander, the great horn of the shaggy goat, soon died and four lesser horns (that is, his four generals) replaced him. The one who took control of Egypt was Ptolemy.
The Ptolemaic Dynasty lasted from 305 BC until 30 BC, ending with Cleopatra and her son Caesarion (who was presumably fathered by Julius Caesar). You can read a lot of interesting information about these three centuries of Greek control of Egypt in other books, so I won’t repeat it here.
The most imporatnt thing about Greek rule of Egypt, from our particular perspective, is that Ptolomy paid to get the Old Testament translated into Greek, and that translation has survived to this day.
What you rarely read in other books of Egyptian history is the fact that Daniel predicted that Egypt would be ruled by Babylon, then Persia, then Greece, then Rome.
You no doubt have at least heard about Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra, even if you aren’t clear on the details of how control of Egypt passed from the Greek Ptolemaic Dynasty and became a Roman province. Those details don’t really matter. The important point is that Daniel predicted Rome would succeed Greece as the next world power to rule Egypt—and Rome did.
In Chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel, there is a lengthy description of how pagan Rome would evolve into the papacy, which is remarkably accurate. But, since it doesn’t have much to do with Egypt, I will regrettably skip over it and move on to Daniel’s other predictions about Egypt.
The Book of Daniel ends with a lengthy prophecy about the King of the North and the King of the South in Chapters 11 and 12. Biblical scholars are generally in agreement that the King of the North represents Christianity, and the King of the South represents Islam, in the beginning of the prophecy. Certainly, the first part of Daniel’s prophecy does fit perfectly with historical facts given that interpretation.
But when we get to Daniel 11:40, which describes what will happen when the King of the North battles the King of the South “at the time of the end,” there is no agreement as to what these verses mean. I believe we can not find historic fulfillment of the last few verses in Daniel because they have not happened yet. But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to twist the prophecies to fit recent history.
In the 20th Century, it seemed crystal clear that since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Islam would never again present any threat to the Christian world. Consequently, Hal Lindsey (and others) tried to twist Daniel’s prophecy to fit the 20th Century belief that World War III would begin in 1988 when Russia would invade Israel and the United States would come to Israel’s aid.
The sobering conclusion is this: many of the African nations will be united and allied with the Russians in the invasion of Israel. This is in accordance with Daniel’s graphic description of the invasion (Daniel 11:36-45).
The Russian force is called “the King of the North” and the sphere of power which the African (Cush) will be a part of is called “the King of the South.” 14
Daniel's unfulfilled prophecy is,
And at the time of the end shall the King of the South push at him: and the King of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. 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. 15
If the King of the North and the King of the South still represent Christianity and Islam (and it seems unlikely that prophetic symbolism would change mid-prophecy) this prophecy could be predicting a clash between religions resulting in military action in Egypt and the surrounding area. Now that Islam has become more powerful and has been launching more and more terror attacks against “infidels,” the fulfillment of this prophecy seems more likely than it did a few years ago.
Let me be prefectly clear about this: I don’t know how or when this prophecy will be fulfilled. It isn’t my responsibility, or your responsibility, to figure out how it will come to pass. All we have to do is to watch what happens and be alert enough to recognize the fulfillment when it happens, however it happens. That will tell us that our faith in the soon return of Jesus is not in vain. All the prophecies are fulfilled, and He is about to come.
|Back to Chapter 16||Table of Contents||On to Chapter 18|
Footnotes:1 Daniel 2:36-45