Daniel 11:40-45 Two Kings or Three?

Daniel 11

The following post is an updated and abbreviated version of a previous post, with added diagrams at the conclusion for those who are more visually orientated. Depending on how one understands the question of two kings or three in Daniel 11:40-45, it will dramatically affect how one understands the events that precede the coming of Jesus.

Daniel 11: Two-Kings or Three-Kings?

Debate has swirled for roughly the past one hundred (plus) years regarding whether there are two or three kings in Daniel 40-45.

    1. Two Kings: The King of the North and the King of the South

    2. Three Kings: Willful King / Antichtist, the King of the North, and the King of the South

Arguments for the three king Interpretation:

1. The three king interpretation holds that a consistent interpretation of the pronouns in vv. 36-43 points to three, and not two kings:

At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Cush shall follow at his heels. —Daniel 11:40-43

2. If the two king interpretation is true, then the Antichrist is an end times leader from a neo-Seleucid (Middle Eastern) Kingdom, which conflicts with the popular (Roman / Euro-centric) interpretations of Daniel 2 (Metallic statue), Daniel 7 (Four Beasts) and Daniel 9:26 (People of the Prince to Come).

(Thus the three king view is largely rooted in an arguably false presupposition (European Antichrist) brought to the passage.)

Survey of interpreters holding to the three king interpretation:

    Sir Robert Anderson

    H.A. Ironside

    William Kelly

    Arno Gaebelein

    M.R. DeHaan

    H.C. Leupold

    Wm M. Smith

    John Walvoord

    Robert Culver

    John C. Whitcomb

    Leon Wood

    Harry Bultema

    Rodney Stortz

    J. Dwight Pentecost

    Renald E. Showers

    Iain M. Duguid

    Hal Lindsey

    Timothy Lahaye

    Mark Hitchcock

    Ed Hindson

    Arnold Fruchtenbaum

    Ron Rhodes

    Bob Faulkner

    Charles R. Swindoll

    John Macarthur

    Beth Moore

Arguments for the two king and against the three king interpretation:

1. The three king view violates the flow and breaks the pattern of the entire passage. (See the charts below)

2. The three king view turns the historical types of enemies (King of North and King of South) into eschatological allies against a common enemy.

3. The three king view turns Antiochus into both a type of the Antichrist (throughout all of Daniel chapter 8 as well as Daniel 11:21-35) and a type of the Antichrist’s greatest enemy (vv. 40-45).

4. It was Antiochus who invaded Israel and fulfilled the pattern of that which the Antichrist is to accomplish in the last days.

5. The passage only emphasizes and goes into some detail concerning the invasion and defeat of the South (Egypt), but says nothing about the defeat or invasion of the realm of the North.

6. The invader comes from the North, which is consistent with several other eschatological, antichristic prophecies. (e.g., Joel 2:1-27; Isa 10:12; 30:31-33; 31:8-9; Ezekiel 38,39).

7. Because this view minimizes Antiochus as a type of the Antichrist, it also forces a rejection of the clear correlation between the little horn of Daniel 8 and the little horn of Daniel 7.

8. The three king view conflicts with the universal interpretation of the early Church (see the list below).

9. The three king view is not found among interpreters until the late 19th century.

10. Despite the claims of those who argue for the three-king interpretation, the grammar of the passage in no way requires this view (cf., C.F. Keil’s comments &, J. Paul Tanner’s comments in JETS 35/3, Sept, 1992).

Survey of interpreters holding to the two-king interpretation.

    Hippolytus of Rome (170–235)

    Victorinus (d. 333)

    Lactantius (240–320)

    Ephrem the Syrian (306–373)

    John Chrystostom (347—407)

    Jerome (347–420)

    Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393–457)

    Sir Isaac Newton (1642—1727)

    John Gill (1697–1771)

    John Wesley (1703–1791)

    Jamieson, Fausset and Brown (1871)

    S.P. Tregelles (1813–1875)

    C.F. Keil (1813–1890)

    John Nelson Darby (1800 – 1882)

    J.E.H. Thompson, (1918)

    Clarence Larkin (1850–1924)

    William L. Pettingill, (1886-1950)

    Arthur W. Pink (1886–1952)

    G.H. Lang (1874–1958)

    F.F. Bruce (1910–1990)

    Charles L. Feinberg (1909—1995)

    Arthur Petrie, (1960)

    Edward J. Young, (1907–1968)

    Philip R. Newell, (1962)

    Geoffrey R. King, (1966)

    Desmond Ford (1929—)

    Robert D. Van Kampen (1938–1999)

    Gleason L. Archer Jr. (1916–2004)

    James Montgomery Boice, (1938–2000)

    Joyce G. Baldwin

    William H. Shea

    Steven R. Miller

    Jacques B. Doukhan

    John Goldingay

    David Guzik

    Andrew E. Hill

The Structure of Daniel 11 Charts:

Daniel 11 Chart 1

Daniel 11 Chart 2

18 Responses to Daniel 11:40-45 Two Kings or Three?

  1. David Roberts says:

    How likely do you think it is that the King of the South will be the supreme leader in Egypt?

  2. […] Daniel 11:40-45 Two Kings or Three? […]

  3. Joel says:

    Most likely, IMO. I am not dogmatic as far as demanding it be some precise correlation between the historical and the future, but I think the historical gives us a recognizable pattern as to what to look for in the future. So Egypt in the South remains to be the only consistent entity that could fulfill the role of King of the South. The King of the North on the other hand, if it was precisely fulfilled, would be a ruler from the northern portion of Iraq. But the Seleucid Empire during the time period appropriate to the prophecy stretched over most of modern day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. It actually may have even included portions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. So I expect the King of the North to come from that general swatch. And for other reasons, I believe it may very well be Turkey that will take the leadership role there.

    But as always, God knows best. Times could change, as they tend to do rather quickly, and it could be fulfilled precisely, with a new leader emerging out of northern Iraq.

  4. David Roberts says:

    When reading your reply, I couldn’t help thinking of the positive prophesies about Egypt and Assyria in Isaiah. It makes me wonder if this is somehow a Satanic perversion of the outer limits, the borders of the promised land God gave to Abraham from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates. As you know, Walid thinks the AntiChrist will come out of Turkey, but it would be interesting if he came out of Assyria, being called the Assyrian. Time will tell. Thanks for the reply.

  5. Joel says:

    Much of modern day Turkey was well within the ancient Assyrian Empire, so the two are not at all exclusive.

    One of the difficulties in communicating to modern students of prophecy is that too many today hear “Assyria” and immediately think almost exclusively of modern day Syria. Likewise, and even more understandably so, when many read or hear of the ancient Roman province of Syria, they assume that this correlates precisely with the modern day nation of Syria. But the Roman province of Syria included much more than just the modern nation of Syria. So whether we are speaking of the Empire of Assyria or the ancient region of Syria, these both included much of modern day Turkey and Iraq. It is this general region that the Scriptures seem to be repeatedly pointing us to, whether it be through the repeated motif of the Assyrian found throughout Isaiah, Micah and Zephaniah, or the pro to-type of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in Daniel 8 and 11, or through the significant emphasis on Asia Minor in the oracle of Ezekiel 38, 39. These are all pointing to that same general region.

  6. David Roberts says:

    If this was facebook, I’d click like on your last comment. 🙂

  7. […] Daniel 11:40-45 Two Kings or Three? […]

  8. giles says:


    Interesting to note that the two powers in question are both armed with Western weapons – Egypt being backed by the US for years, and Turkey being a member of NATO. Both have better tanks, better air defence, etc

    Yes, on facebook, I do “like” my own updates.

  9. good4u says:

    You know, David Roberts, you could scroll up on Joel’s blog and click the “Facebook” icon on the right follow directions copy Joel’s comment give Joel the credit of course and then “like” it…just a thought. (:

  10. I forget where it is in pjmedia.com but I recall reading that Maliki, is sticking up for Bashir Assad.

    The King of the North would have an easier path to power amidst smaller, weaker states, than the current borders of Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and so forth.

    Just my two cents worth.

  11. Alecz says:

    Jesus says to John in revelations that he knows Sarandon throne is in pergamos which is in turkey, but this is satans ruling place. It is also written, he (antichrist) will be known as the Assyrian, but we learn that he must be born within the borders of the old Greek empire and the old Roman Empire so the place he is from must be within the overlapping empires. Also it is written that he has the mouth if a lion (he speaks primarily English), body of a leopard (from European Union) and feet of a bear (roots of family is from Russia). It is written that he is forty years old when he takes power. It is written that he stammers and stutters at times when he speaks. It is written that he obtains the kingdom by flatteries. There are many other things written as well.

  12. Alecz says:

    Sorry that should be Satan’s throne not Sarandon

  13. Islamic Infidel says:

    Is it still accurate to list Timothy Lahaye as a “three king” believer after his endorsement of your book? Have you spoken to him since?

  14. Joel, I am studying your books and have sent for your DVD’s. I am with you on nearly everything you are presenting but I have only had a short time to begin searching through what you are trying to say and teach. I praise God for your ability to communicate clear arguments and also how you are able to dismantle arguments of others. No flattery intended, just saying what I appreciate about your style of writing. I have one question that keeps coming to the forefront of my mind. I have been studying prophecy for 18 years so I am not new to the subject I fall under the Pre-Wrath thinking that focuses all its arguments on the Day of the Lord. (basically in reality we would handle most of Scripture in the same way) I am wondering if there is any room in your thinking and teaching for a “literal” man who becomes an incarnational devil. A “literal” man who takes a fatal head wound. An “actual” man who is killed and brought back to life.. (for the sake of argument with no intention of speculating) … say “Osama bin Laden” who the entire world saw killed, who was thrown into a bottomless pit, but no one actually was able to identify him with 100% accuracy came “back” to the world again as a fierce warrior. My question is this… Do you see a man who would act as a “copy cat” Messiah who takes a fatal head wound or in your thinking is this just referring to a beast kingdom that died in 1923? I am praying for you.. and admire your ability to humbly move forward in extremely turbulent issues and I pray for you to have wisdom and protection as we look forward to the New Heavens and New Earth God has promised us. I too pray the church will wake up and begin to struggle with the implications of this new understanding of end times as you always say needs to happen.

  15. Joel says:


    Thanks much my friend. As for a literal fulfillment of the Antichrist receiving a fatal head wound, etc. I am certainly open to this. I simply feel as though we should begin with the Biblical motif of beast being an empire (Daniel 7) and then remain open for the man behind the empire to fulfill these details as well. (So long as we are open to these things only being fulfilled in the empire as well.) In other words, be aware of both views, remain humble and trust the Lord for guidance.

    Bless you!

  16. Orlando says:

    When was the last time a comment was left here? There are interesting developments happening now (August/September 2013) in the Middle East. There’s a civil war in Syria into which the United States President is looking to get involved in. On the other side is Russia which backs the present Syrian regime. Also backing Syria is Iran. And on the other side is Turkey also a strong U.S. ally. Much farther south is Egypt which had the military take over the government there and which receives large financial backing by the United States. Given all these players, which then would you say fit the King of the North, the King of the South and a hypothetical third king?

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