I have been standing beside Michael to support and strengthen him since the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede.)
“Now then, I will reveal the truth to you. Three more Persian kings will reign, to be succeeded by a fourth, far richer than the others. He will use his wealth to stir up everyone to fight against the kingdom of Greece.
“Then a mighty king will rise to power who will rule with great authority and accomplish everything he sets out to do.
But at the height of his power, his kingdom will be broken apart and divided into four parts. It will not be ruled by the king’s descendants, nor will the kingdom hold the authority it once had. For his empire will be uprooted and given to others.
“The king of the south will increase in power, but one of his own officials will become more powerful than he and will rule his kingdom with great strength.
“Some years later an alliance will be formed between the king of the north and the king of the south. The daughter of the king of the south will be given in marriage to the king of the north to secure the alliance, but she will lose her influence over him, and so will her father. She will be abandoned along with her supporters.
But when one of her relatives becomes king of the south, he will raise an army and enter the fortress of the king of the north and defeat him.
When he returns to Egypt, he will carry back their idols with him, along with priceless articles of gold and silver. For some years afterward he will leave the king of the north alone.
“Later the king of the north will invade the realm of the king of the south but will soon return to his own land.
However, the sons of the king of the north will assemble a mighty army that will advance like a flood and carry the battle as far as the enemy’s fortress.
“Then, in a rage, the king of the south will rally against the vast forces assembled by the king of the north and will defeat them.
After the enemy army is swept away, the king of the south will be filled with pride and will execute many thousands of his enemies. But his success will be short lived.
“A few years later the king of the north will return with a fully equipped army far greater than before.
At that time there will be a general uprising against the king of the south. Violent men among your own people will join them in fulfillment of this vision, but they will not succeed.
Then the king of the north will come and lay siege to a fortified city and capture it. The best troops of the south will not be able to stand in the face of the onslaught.
“The king of the north will march onward unopposed; none will be able to stop him. He will pause in the glorious land of Israel, intent on destroying it.
He will make plans to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will form an alliance with the king of the south. He will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom from within, but his plan will fail.
“After this, he will turn his attention to the coastland and conquer many cities. But a commander from another land will put an end to his insolence and cause him to retreat in shame.
He will take refuge in his own fortresses but will stumble and fall and be seen no more.
“His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. But after a very brief reign, he will die, though not from anger or in battle.
“The next to come to power will be a despicable man who is not in line for royal succession. He will slip in when least expected and take over the kingdom by flattery and intrigue.
Before him great armies will be swept away, including a covenant prince.
With deceitful promises, he will make various alliances. He will become strong despite having only a handful of followers.
Without warning he will enter the richest areas of the land. Then he will distribute among his followers the plunder and wealth of the rich—something his predecessors had never done. He will plot the overthrow of strongholds, but this will last for only a short while.
“Then he will stir up his courage and raise a great army against the king of the south. The king of the south will go to battle with a mighty army, but to no avail, for there will be plots against him.
His own household will cause his downfall. His army will be swept away, and many will be killed.
Seeking nothing but each other’s harm, these kings will plot against each other at the conference table, attempting to deceive each other. But it will make no difference, for the end will come at the appointed time.
“The king of the north will then return home with great riches. On the way he will set himself against the people of the holy covenant, doing much damage before continuing his journey.
“Then at the appointed time he will once again invade the south, but this time the result will be different.
For warships from western coastlands will scare him off, and he will withdraw and return home. But he will vent his anger against the people of the holy covenant and reward those who forsake the covenant.
“His army will take over the Temple fortress, pollute the sanctuary, put a stop to the daily sacrifices, and set up the sacrilegious object that causes desecration.
He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him.
“Wise leaders will give instruction to many, but these teachers will die by fire and sword, or they will be jailed and robbed.
During these persecutions, little help will arrive, and many who join them will not be sincere.
And some of the wise will fall victim to persecution. In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come.
“The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god, even blaspheming the God of gods. He will succeed, but only until the time of wrath is completed. For what has been determined will surely take place.
He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god loved by women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all.
Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew—and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and expensive gifts.
Claiming this foreign god’s help, he will attack the strongest fortresses. He will honor those who submit to him, appointing them to positions of authority and dividing the land among them as their reward.
“Then at the time of the end, the king of the south will attack the king of the north. The king of the north will storm out with chariots, charioteers, and a vast navy. He will invade various lands and sweep through them like a flood.
He will enter the glorious land of Israel, and many nations will fall, but Moab, Edom, and the best part of Ammon will escape.
He will conquer many countries, and even Egypt will not escape.
He will gain control over the gold, silver, and treasures of Egypt, and the Libyans and Ethiopians will be his servants.
“But then news from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many.
He will stop between the glorious holy mountain and the sea and will pitch his royal tents. But while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and no one will help him.