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20 Studies in Bible Prophecy

Study 10 - The King of the South

There is general agreement among prophetic scholars that the "King of the South" has reference to Egypt, inasmuch as this power is referred to as that south of Israel (Dan. 11:5, 6, 9, 11, 14, 15, 25, 29, 40). Indeed it is not possible to understand the history of Israel without a knowledge of the history of Egypt. If we take a careful look at (Dan. 11:40) it becomes evident that we are dealing with prophecy. "At the time of the end" are words, which allude to a time beyond the day of Daniel. At this time after the close of the present church age, when a dark power will rule over Israel (Dan. 11:36-45), this "king of the south shall push at him".

Edward J. Young in his commentary on this Danielic prophecy argues that this king of the south typified ancient rulers in Egypt from the time of Alexander the Great and will be a ruler at the end time. Indeed it is evident from (11:43) that he will wield great influence at the end time, in confederation with other powers, Arabic and African. Dr. Tatford argues very convincingly in his excellent commentary on Daniel that "This powerful league may well think itself capable of teaching the northern ruler a well-deserved lesson and the assault upon Israel may be the first step in a planned campaign against the king of the north".

It is exciting in these days to witness current events in the Middle East as positive indications of the fact that the end of the age is fast approaching. The stage is set and the actors are waiting for the opportune moment to take their predicted place upon it.

So comments Prof. Walvoord. "Never before in the history of the world has there been a confluence of major evidences of preparation for the end". To the north of Israel lies the military power of Russia, and to the east the vast oriental army of Eastern Asia. This confederacy will form the subject of the next study. To the south of Palestine lies the North African confederacy, which is the subject of this study. It is with this cumulative might of the military power confronting Israel that in the end she will be forced into a covenant with a forthcoming Roman ruler, as a guarantee against the surrounding threat (Isa. 28:15 and Dan. 9).

Egypt In History

Richard Wolffin ISRAEL TODAY declares that "the very earliest recorded mention of Israel outside of the Scriptures occurs on a victory stele or stone pillar erected by the Egyptian King Marniptah about 1220 B.C." For some three millennia before Christ Egypt had been one of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world. Henrick William Van Loon, contends that because of the fertility of the area, "the valley of the Nile had developed a high state of civilization thousands of years before the people of the west". In fact before the glories of Babylon emerged, or the civilization of Greece became known, Egypt had a culture and literature of its own. In both literature and agriculture, ancient Egypt is renowned.

Early mention of Egypt is found in the Bible under the name of Mizraim, one of the sons of Ham in (Gen. 10:6). The Egyptians themselves had a variety of names they employed for their country, and it was generally referred to as "the Two Lands", which had reference to upper and lower Egypt. It was known too as Kemet, or "the Black Land". The modern Egypt is said to derive from the Greek, Argyptos, a King who ruled in 1485 B.C. though some would dispute this.

Coming to Bible history we find that Egypt is first mentioned in Genesis 12, where we read that famine in Canaan sent Abraham there, a step taken outside the will of God. The most unfortunate result of this sojourn was the obtaining from Pharaoh of an Egyptian handmaid called Hagar (Gen. 12:10), and when the end result turned out to be that Abraham fathered a son by this slave-woman, and he called him Ishmael. Dr. Tatford in FIVE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT comments that "The Arab hatred for the Jew dates back to the enmity between Ishmael and Isaac, and between Esau and Jacob (Gen. 21:9; 27:41), and this has never diminished". Indeed God informed Abraham that Ishmael's descendants would begat a great nation, and Hagar is last seen arranging a marriage for her son out other own land (Gen. 21:21).

When we come to the time of Joseph we find that he was sold to the Ishmaelites by his jealous brethren and subsequently bartered to Potiphar in Egypt, an officer of Pharoah's guard (Gen. 37: 26-36). Here the young Joseph proved himself to be of high intelligence and honour, and was installed as supreme in the king's household. It was while in such a position that he was falsely accused by his master's wife, and was committed to prison. But even here providence was guarding and guiding, and he was eventually released to become an official next to the king in rank (Gen. 41:39-44). In time Jacob and his family were welcomed to Egypt, and Prof. Walvoord observes in THE NATIONS IN PROPHECY, "Egypt was to be the matrix in which Israel would grow from a family of seventy to a great nation of several million".

Towards the close of Israel's sojourn in Egypt, the Hyksos, a west Semitic people, stacked Egypt with a new weapon of warfare, the horsedrawn chariot. This was around 1730 B.C. and they ruled until 1550 B.C. It was during this dynasty that Joseph arrived in Egypt, eventually to become Prime Minister. In time the Hyksos were driven out by Amosis 1, the founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty, perhaps the most brilliant period in Egyptian history. Subsequently Egyptian enmity was directed towards all who had been confederate with the Hyksos, and in particular the Hebrews (Ex. 1:8f), and from this time dates the increasing slave tactics on the Israelites, terminating eventually in the exodus from Egypt.

The exodus from Egypt, under divine operation, witnessed the ultimate defeat of the hosts of Egypt at the Red Sea, and the start of Israel as a new nation. While as a nation, Egypt is always in the background, her power and prestige began to wane. By the time we reach the New Testament era Egypt was a Roman province.

Egypt In Prophecy

Where history terminates, prophecy takes over and, comments Richard Wolffin ISRAEL TODAY, "Egypt was not beyond a prophetic vision of the ancient seers". This nation was destined to figure prominently in the subsequent history of God's ancient people and it is not surprising, therefore, that the major, and not a few of the minor prophets, have much to say prophetically relevant to Egypt in "the latter days".

As already stated, the present hostility of Egypt towards Israel dates back to the childhood of Ishmael and Isaac, and under the late President Nasser whose ambition was to be the President of a future United States of Africa, the antagonism increased, and in 1967 the aim was to drive the Jews from Israel. But the miracle of Horeb's burning bush was still in evidence, and again God miraculously intervened on Israel's behalf. In the last quarter of a century God vanquished the threats of Egyptian aggression three times, in 1948, 1956 and 1967. On the present situation Dr. Tatford observes, "... she is now preparing for a fourth attack upon Israel. . . There is little doubt that, before very long, a further attack will be made upon the hated state".

If we are to understand Daniel 11 correctly, a future "king of the south" will challenge Israel's right to Palestine. It is evident that while Daniel 11 has in mind a protracted span of history, involving struggles between Egypt under the Ptolemaic dynasty and Syria under the Seleucid dynasty, when we reach v.40 we have a prophetic leap alluding to the time of the end.

Current happenings in the Middle East seem to be already shaping as God's prophetic word predicted. Never in the history of the world has there been such a movement of nations and events, presaging the time of the end.

Anticipating the establishment of Christ's earthly kingdom, it may come as a surprise to find that grace at last will be extended to this hereditary enemy of Israel. If Isaiah 19:19-25 is examined carefully it becomes apparent that there are verses which await fulfillment. It would appear that when the spiritual regeneration of Israel takes place and they become the heralds of truth, Egypt will respond to the message.

In the meantime the Christian church must go on proclaiming the gospel to every creature, and so much the more as this age of grace comes to its conclusion. There is not much time left.