Who do you
believe to be the king of the north today, and why do
you so answer?
"king of the north" and the "king of the south" are first mentioned in Daniel
chapter eleven (vs. 5,6). To help us identify these two kings, we need to first
of all understand that the "king of the north" is located north of the
"land of the Decoration," while the "king of the south" is situated south
of it. Why is this significant? Because, according to Daniel's prophecy, these
two kings are in a constant struggle over the domination of "the land of the
Decoration"; the fulfillment of it beginning shortly after the death of
Alexander the Great, and on through the many centuries right up until the "time
of the end." (Dan. 11:16, 40-41)
What is meant by "the land of the Decoration"? It is the land that Jehovah gave as a possession to Abraham, when he told Abraham (Abram): “Go your way out of your country and from your relatives and from the house of your father to the country that I shall show you; and I shall make a great nation out of you and I shall bless you and I will make your name great; and prove yourself a blessing." Abraham obeyed, and when he came to settle in the land God spoke of, which was inhabited at the time by the Canaanites, God reaffirmed his promise, telling him: "To your seed I am going to give this land." (Gen. 12:1-2, 5-7; 15:18-21) Four hundred years later, Jehovah fulfilled his promise when Abraham's seed, the nation of Israel, conquered the Canaanites and took possession of the land. (Deut. 32:48-49; Josh. 24:2-13) God called it "a land flowing with milk and honey"―yes, "the decoration of all the lands." (Exodus 3:8, 17; Ezek. 20:6) The sons of Korah sang the praises of Mount Zion (Jerusalem), calling it "the exaltation of the whole earth"... the "city of our God, in his holy mountain." (Psalms 48:1-14)
Although Jehovah gave the land to Abraham unconditionally, yet, the continued possession of it by Abraham's offspring was conditional. When the nation of Israel was about to enter the promised land, Jehovah forewarned them with these words: "And it must occur that if you will not listen to the voice of Jehovah your God by taking care to do all his commandments and his statutes that I am commanding you today, . . . you will simply be torn away from off the soil to which you are going to take possession of it. And Jehovah will certainly scatter you among all the nations from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth." (Deut. 28:15, 64-68) The nation as a whole did not heed the warning, and as a result they were taken into exile by the Babylonians, who devastated their land and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple that Solomon had built. Among the exiles was also the prophet Daniel. (Dan. 1:1-7)
At the time Daniel received his vision about the yet future kings of the north and of the south, God had freed his people from exile in Babylon and restored them to the land of Judah. (2 Chron. 36:15-23) They needed to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple, and should have learned the necessity of always listening to Jehovah their God and to keep his commandments. But, as history shows, this vital lesson was lost on later generations, so that by the time their promised Messiah Christ Jesus arrived, they rejected him and turned him over to the Roman authority to have him put to death. Thus, once more their holy city Jerusalem with the temple were destroyed, this time in 70 CE by the Roman armies. Any surviving Jews were taken into exile. True to God's warning centuries earlier, they were torn away from off the soil Jehovah had given them. With the passing of time, people from other nations began to settle the land that God had given to Abraham. The question that God would address by means of his prophet Daniel was: What would become of "the land of the Decoration" in the absence of the nation of Israel? Would he remember his promise to Abraham?
Jehovah has never ceded ownership of that land to any other people or nation. It still belongs to Abraham! As "the land of the Decoration" and "the exaltation of the whole earth," it has proved to be the most contested land throughout history, ― right up to the present time. God gave Daniel the vision regarding the then future kings of the north and of the south in order "that people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that to the one whom he wants to, he gives it." In Daniel's day, the Medo-Persian empire had replaced Babylon as the fourth world power of Bible history. Greece then took the place of the Medo-Persian empire, which in turn was succeeded by Rome. All of these governments God had foretold before they came to power. (Dan. 4:17; 8:20-22; 11:3-4)
When does the prophecy regarding the "king of the north" and the "king of the south" begin its fulfillment? Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, says: "Historical evidence indicates that the 'mighty king' of Daniel 11:3 was Alexander the Great. After Alexander’s death, the empire was eventually divided among his four generals. One of these generals, Seleucus Nicator, took Mesopotamia and Syria, this making him the ruler of territory situated N of Palestine. Another general, Ptolemy Lagus, gained control of Egypt, to the SW of Palestine. Therefore, with Seleucus Nicator and Ptolemy Lagus the long struggle between 'the king of the north' and 'the king of the south' began. However, the prophecy concerning 'the king of the north' extends from the time of Seleucus Nicator down to 'the time of the end.' (Da 11:40) Logically, then, the national and political identity of 'the king of the north' would change in the course of history. But it would still be possible to determine his identity on the basis of what the prophecy said the 'king of the north' would do."―it-2 p. 509 North.
After Ptolemy I captured Jerusalem in 312 BCE, Judah became a province of Egypt. In 198 BCE Egypt lost control of Palestine to Syria, and after this defeat Egypt gradually came under the influence of Rome, which was emerging as the sixth world power, and as the king of the north. In 40 BCE, Herod the Great was designated "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate. Although the land God had given the Jews had come under Roman rule, yet the Jews were still able to live in the land in relative peace, until the year 70 CE.
After 117 CE, the power of the Roman empire went into decline, but as the king of the north it soon gained new strength. In the 4th century a totally unexpected power emerged within the Roman empire when emperor Constantine legalized "Christianity," and then established it as the state church by edict in 380 CE. This marriage of church and state has been referred to by some as the Constantinian shift, a term used to describe the political and theological aspects of Constantine's legalization of Christianity. It was the birth of the Roman Church, "until the East–West Schism of 1054, when the Eastern Church took the adjective 'Orthodox' as its distinctive epithet, and the Western Church in communion with the Holy See similarly took 'Catholic', keeping that description also after the Protestant Reformation of the 16th-century." (Wikipedia Catholic Church)
The bishops, or patriarchs of the church in Rome and Constantinople came to be the most powerful rulers in the western and eastern realm of the divided Roman empire; and in time they came to possess the authority to even crown or depose kings. (Compare Luke 4:5-8) Why is this of interest to us in our discussion of the king of the north and the king of the south? Because the political/religious Roman empire was soon to be confronted by another political/religious kingdom which began to emerge in the 7th century, to the south of "the land of the Decoration." Notes one encyclopedia: "In 635–641 CE, the region, including Jerusalem, was conquered by the Arabs who had just recently adopted Islam. It remained under Muslim control for the next 1300 years under various dynasties." (Wikipedia, Israel)
In 636-7 CE, Jerusalem became part of the Arab Caliphate, after the Eastern Roman Empire was defeated at the Battle of Yarmouk. Then, from 687–691, the Dome of the Rock was built by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan,―a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, on the very spot where Jehovah's temple once stood, and where Abraham had as good as offered up his son Isaac to God. (Gen. 22:1,2, 9-14; Heb. 11:17-19) Do you agree that this would have been a significant development from God's standpoint? "The Dome of the Rock is now one of the oldest works of Islamic architecture. It has been called 'Jerusalem's most recognizable landmark.'" (Wikipedia Dome of the Rock) From 1096 to 1291, the king of the north along with his allies, armed with the authority of the pope in Rome, made seven major attempts to reclaim the holy land. These came to be called Crusades. According to Jonathan Riley-Smith, a historian of the Crusades, although there were "other holy wars, a key distinction between the Crusades and other holy wars was that the authorization for the Crusades came directly from the pope, who claimed to be working on behalf of Christ." ―Riley-Smith 2009, p. 27)
The numerous attempts by the Crusaders to liberate the "holy land" from Muslim occupation resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands on both sides, including civilians. "In January 1449, Constantine XI became the last emperor of the east. Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II took Constantinople on May 29, 1453, ending the Eastern Roman Empire. The year 1517 saw Egypt become a Turkish province.” (See the book Daniel's Prophecy chap. 14: The Two Kings Change Identities) The Ottoman Empire existed from 1299 to 1923 (634 years), and was one of the largest empires to rule the borders of the Mediterranean Sea. At the height of its power, it included Anatolia, the Middle East, part of North Africa, Spain, and south-eastern Europe, including Greece and north up to the gates of Vienna. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman Empire was among the world's most powerful political entities and the countries of Europe felt threatened by its steady advance through the Balkans. From 1517 onwards, the Ottoman Sultan was also the Caliph of Islam, a caliphate being a form of Islamic government led by a caliph—a person considered a political and religious successor to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad (Muhammad ibn ʿAbdullāh), and a leader of the entire Muslim community. Thus, the Ottoman Empire was from 1517 until 1922 (or 1924) synonymous with the Caliphate, the Islamic State.
Summing up the history of the land that God gave to Abraham and his seed, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, under the heading History of Israel, writes: "Although coming under the sway of various empires and home to a variety of ethnicities, the Land of Israel was predominantly Jewish until the 3rd century. The area became increasingly Christian after the 3rd century and then largely Muslim some centuries following the 7th century conquest until the middle of the 20th century. It was a focal point of conflict between Christianity and Islam between 1096 and 1291, and from the end of the Crusades was part of the Syrian province of first the Mamluk Sultanate and then the Ottoman Empire until the British conquest in 1917." (Bold mine) After the collapse of the Ottoman empire in the early 20th century, its former domain came to be divided into smaller regions, forming such countries as the Republic of Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, etc., which are still united by their common faith, Islam.
Since we have established who the king of the south has been through the centuries, who though succeeded Rome as the seventh world power, according to Bible prophecy? Awake! magazine, in a 1970 article entitled, "The Rise of the Anglo-American World Power," explained: ”The seed for the Anglo-American World power was actually planted by the Roman Empire a long time ago. According to Biblical history, the Roman Empire was the sixth world power in a series that began with ancient Egypt, or the fourth counting from Babylon. As foretold, the Anglo-American world power, described as a ‘horn speaking grandiose things,’ was to spring from the Roman Empire. (Dan. 7:7, 8, 23-24) How did this prove to be so?
When the Roman armies arrived in Britain in the first century before our Common Era, they made Britain part of the Roman Empire. Thus the sixth world power became firmly established there with its local capital at Camulodunum, which is now Colchester. Before the Romans came, the land was divided among approximately thirty tribes of people. After these tribes were subdued, the area constituted the western division of the Roman European provinces. Under Roman protection Britain prospered, approximately ninety-two towns rising there. Acknowledging this Roman domination of Britain as the beginning of the history of Great Britain, the book The Historians’ History of the World by Henry Smith Williams states: 'The history of Great Britain may be said to begin with the landing of Caesar’s legions on the southern shore of England.” Thus we see the link between the Roman Empire and the Anglo-American or seventh world power.'” ―Awake! 1970, 12/8 p. 21 The Rise of the Anglo-American World Power.
Since Great Britain and America replaced the Roman Empire as the seventh world power, did it also replace Rome as the king of the north? Not according to a 1993 Watchtower, which said: "By 1914 the role of king of the north had been taken over by Germany, whose leader was Kaiser Wilhelm. (“Kaiser,” from the Roman title “Caesar.”) The outbreak of hostilities in Europe was yet another in the series of showdowns between the king of the north and the king of the south. The role of this latter, the king of the south, was now occupied by Britain, which quickly took over Egypt, the domain of the original king of the south. As the war proceeded, Britain was joined by its former colony, the United States of America. The king of the south became the Anglo-American World Power, the most powerful empire in history. . . Germany had been a chief enemy of the king of the south during both world wars. After World War II, part of Germany realigned to become an ally of the king of the south. But the other part of Germany now became aligned with another potent empire. The Communist bloc, which now included part of Germany, stood up in strong opposition to the Anglo-American alliance, and the rivalry between the two kings became a Cold War.” ―w93 11/1 p. 14-16 A King Profanes Jehovah’s Sanctuary. (Italics mine)
Please consider what Jehovah inspired the prophet Daniel to write about the king of the north in the time of the end: “And in the time of [the] end the king of the south will engage with him in a pushing, and against him the king of the north will storm with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships; and he will certainly enter into the lands and flood over and pass through. He will also actually enter into the land of the Decoration, and there will be many [lands] that will be made to stumble. But these are the ones that will escape out of his hand, Edom and Moab and the main part of the sons of Ammon. And he will keep thrusting out his hand against the lands; and as regards the land of Egypt, she will not prove to be an escapee. nd he [the king of the north] will actually rule over the hidden treasures of the gold and the silver and over all the desirable things of Egypt. And the Libyans and the Ethiopians will be at his steps." (Daniel 11:40-43)
Daniel foretold that the two kings—of the north and the south—would engage in conflict; with the king of the north entering into "the land of Decoration" (which is under the control of the king of the south) and "rule over the hidden treasures of Egypt." The book Daniel's Prophecy (printed by the Watchtower Society) says: "The splendid kingdom of Roman Emperor Augustus included 'the land of the Decoration'—the Roman province of Judea." (dp chap. 14 p. 233 The Two Kings Change Identities) After the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 C.E., the Jews were scattered from the land of Decoration, which eventually came under the control of the Arabs. The online Wikipedia explains: "In 635–641 CE, the region, including Jerusalem, was conquered by the Arabs who had just recently adopted Islam. It remained under Muslim control for the next 1300 years under various dynasties." (Wikipedia, Israel)
Further, the Watchtower explains that, ”Great Britain took on imperial power in the beginning of the seventeenth century and rose to the position of the seventh world power of Bible history, it being joined in this position by the United States of America to form the Anglo-American dual world power. During Britain’s war with Napoleon Bonaparte the British army drove the French out of Egypt, the whole of which the French had conquered in 1798. Although Egypt came again under the overlordship of Turkey, the British government virtually controlled Egypt since 1882. Egypt was in fact a British dependency, although under its native khedive, for the British army stayed in Egypt and the British will was really the law. Then in 1914, because the Egyptian khedive sided with Turkey, which had joined Germany in the first world war, the British took over in Egypt, deposed the khedive and declared Egypt a British Protectorate.” (w60 1/1 p. 27 Part 29: Your Will Be Done on Earth)
According to the prophecy, it would be the king of the north who would come into the land of the Decoration (Judea) and into Egypt, and rule over the hidden treasures. Isn’t that what Britain did, as acknowledged in the above Watchtower? Only indirectly, according to the earlier quoted Watchtower of 1993, which goes on to say: "Has the king of the north ruled over ‘the hidden treasures of Egypt’? Well, he has certainly not conquered the king of the south, and up until 1993 the world situation made it seem unlikely that he will. But he has had a powerful influence on the way the king of the south used his financial resources. Because of fear of his rival, the king of the south has devoted huge sums each year to maintaining a formidable army, navy, and air force. To this extent the king of the north could be said to have ‘ruled over,’ controlled, the disposition of the wealth of the king of the south." ―w93 11/1 pp. 20-21 par. 9 The Final Victory of Michael, the Great Prince.
Did Daniel say, or imply, that the king of the north would come into the land of Decoration (Judea) and into Egypt only indirectly by controlling "the disposition of the wealth of the king of the south"? It was Britain, as the king of the north, that redrew the map and divided up the Middle East, including Palestine, as it exists today. The Watchtower (1959) acknowledges: ”It is true that during World War I the British expeditionary forces carried on a military campaign in Palestine against Turkey, and on December 9, 1917, Jerusalem was captured by the British General Allenby. After the war the newly begun League of Nations assigned to Britain the mandate over Palestine, to continue till May 14, 1948.” (w59 9/15 p. 570 Part 22: Your Will Be Done on Earth) The online Wikipedia adds: "On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly recommended the adoption and implementation of the Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine. This UN plan specified borders for new Arab and Jewish states and also specified an area of Jerusalem and its environs which was to be administered by the UN under an international regime. The end of the British Mandate for Palestine was set for midnight on 14 May 1948." (Wikipedia, Israel)
Thus, on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. This was of great significance, for Jehovah had foretold that if his people were to break his covenant, they would be "torn away from off the soil" which he was giving them to take possession of; and they would be scattered among all the nations "from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth." (Deut. 28:63,64) Now, after almost nineteen hundred years of living in exile and being scattered among the nations, the Jews were once again free to return to their land of Decoration, and that with the help of the king of the north. This fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel where he writes that the king of the north "will give consideration to those [the Jews] leaving the holy covenant." (Dan. 11:30)
Why, though, does the Watchtower claim that “democratic Britain and America came into the position of the king of the south,” rather than being the king of the north, seeing that it is the successor to the Roman world power, which also was the king of the north? (w60 1/1 p. 27 Part 29: Your Will Be Done on Earth) Because, according to their reasoning, when the British went into Egypt and Palestine it resulted in Britain becoming the king of the south, because Egypt is south of the land of Daniel’s people, the land of the Decoration. But did Jehovah’s prophet Daniel not say that it would be the king of the north doing that? By that same logic, the Roman Empire also should have come into the position of being the king of the south when Judea came directly under Roman domain in 63 BCE, and when Octavian annexed Egypt in 31 BCE, making it a Roman province, as is explained in the book Daniel's Prophecy. ―dp chap. 14 p. 248: The Two Kings Change Identities.
No, the Anglo-American seventh world power is not the king of the south; but, in harmony with Daniel's prophecy, it has been fulfilling the role of the king of the north. In "the time of the end," does there still exist an Islamic State that is engaged in a "pushing" with the king of the north? Are we presently witnessing the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy regarding the time of the end: "At the time of the end, the king of the south shall attack him, but the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships. And he shall come into countries and shall overflow and pass through." (Daniel 11:40-45; ESV) One thing is certain, if we misunderstand the identities of the king of the north and the king of the south, then we will also fail to understand the fulfillment of the prophecies regarding these two kings as they are undergoing fulfillment.
One cannot apply the title "king of the north" and "king of the south" arbitrarily to whatever powers may be at war with each other. The Scriptures show that they are located north and south respectively of "the land of the Decoration," the land that both kings have been fighting to dominate or possess, but which land God had given to Abraham. That is the reason why Jehovah revealed this constant conflict between the two kings to Daniel, to explain "what will befall your people in the final part of the days." (Dan. 10:14; 12:1, 4, 9,10) Neither of the two kings will win the victory over the other, for they will meet their end "in the days of those kings" when "the God of heaven will establish a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not pass into the hands of another people. It will break to pieces and consume all those kingdoms; but it, itself, will stand forever. " (Daniel 2:44; Complete Jewish Bible)
The land of the Decoration, which Jehovah gave to Abraham, has proved to be the most fought over real estate in world history. Upon removing the nation of Israel from off its soil for having broken his covenant and rejecting the mediator of the new covenant, did Jehovah thereby break his promise to Abraham of giving him the "land flowing with milk and honey," and to his seed? No, not at all! Because after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 CE, Arabs moved into the land and eventually took possession of it. They are there to this very day, still occupying the land of Palestine, although some of it has been taken from them and handed over to the Jews to form the State of Israel, due to the action of the king of the north. Arabs too claim to be descendants of Abraham, through his son Ishmael. (Gen. 15:18-21; 16:1-4, 11-16; 17:1-8; 23:1-2; 25:1-6, 12-18)