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Biblical King-of-the-North (KON) and King-of-the-South (KOS), and GOG and MAGOG, too!


JW Insider

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It seems like all the major JW-related topics on this forum, no matter what the original topic, have become a mix of discussions that will end up including: Russia, Ukraine, Covid19, the UN, the KON, the KOS, and China. That's perfectly fine, of course. But for ease of reference, what if we could include our basic ideas and opinions about the KON, KOS, GOG and MAGOG, in one place. I'm not proposing to move any posts from other topics to here, but anyone should feel free to copy and quote what's been said elsewhere, if they wish. 

I wanted to start with some quotes from WTS publications as a basis. First from the Pure Worship book:

*** rr chap. 17 p. 183 par. 8 “I Am Against You, O Gog” ***
8 “The king of the north.” (Read Daniel 11:40-45.) Daniel foretold the march of world powers from his day down to our time. The prophecy also mentions rival political foes—“the king of the south” and “the king of the north”—each of them having changed identity over the centuries as various earthly nations have fought for supremacy. Regarding the final campaign of the king of the north in “the time of the end,” Daniel said: “He will go out in a great rage to annihilate and to devote many to destruction.” Jehovah’s worshippers are the primary target of the king of the north. But like Gog of Magog, the king of the north comes “to his end” after failing in his attack on God’s people.

And on the topic of Gog of Magog, just previous to the above quote:

*** rr chap. 17 p. 182 “I Am Against You, O Gog” ***
The Enemy—Gog of Magog
3 Read Ezekiel 38:1, 2, 8, 18; 39:4, 11. Here is the gist of the prophecy: “In the final part of the years,” an enemy called “Gog of . . . Magog” invades “the land” of God’s people. But that vicious attack causes Jehovah’s “great rage” to flare up, and Jehovah steps in and defeats Gog. Victorious, Jehovah gives his defeated enemy and all those with him “as food to all kinds of birds of prey and the wild beasts.” Finally, Jehovah gives Gog “a burial place.” To understand how this prophecy will be fulfilled in the near future, we first need to identify Gog.
4 Who, then, is Gog of Magog? From Ezekiel’s description, we may conclude that Gog is an enemy of pure worshippers. Is Gog a prophetic name for Satan—the greatest of all enemies of true worship? For many decades, that is what our publications said. However, a further consideration of Ezekiel’s prophecy led to an adjustment in our understanding. The Watchtower explained that the title Gog of Magog refers, not to an invisible spirit creature, but to a visible human enemy—a coalition of nations that will fight against pure worship. Before we review the basis for such a conclusion, let us first examine two clues in Ezekiel’s prophecy that indicate that Gog is not a spirit creature.
5 “I will give you as food to all kinds of birds of prey.” (Ezek. 39:4) The Scriptures often use the idea of birds of prey devouring a carcass as a warning of divine judgment. God gave such warnings to the nation of Israel as well as to non-Israelite nations. (Deut. 28:26; Jer. 7:33; Ezek. 29:3, 5) Note, though, that those divine warnings were given, not to spirit creatures, but to flesh-and-blood humans. After all, birds of prey and wild beasts eat flesh, not spirit. So this divine warning in Ezekiel’s prophecy suggests that Gog is not a spirit creature.
6 “I will give Gog a burial place . . . in Israel.” (Ezek. 39:11) The Scriptures do not speak of spirit creatures as being buried on earth. Rather, Satan and his demons will be abyssed for 1,000 years, and later they will be hurled into the symbolic lake of fire, signifying their everlasting destruction. (Luke 8:31; Rev. 20:1-3, 10) Since Gog is spoken of as being given “a burial place” on earth, we may conclude that he is not a spirit creature.

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….. I saw the look of panic and desperation in GB Member Samuel Herd’s eyes as he described the poverty wages he made as a gardener.  

Thanks JWI, The part that I am concerned with is this: If I have full and complete understanding about everything there is to know about these two subjects. Or know nothing whatsoever … what

BECAUSE , If you can convince a significant number of people that you have “special insight”, you can bathe in a river of never ending money. ….. beats having to do lawn work for a living, in Jul

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Under another topic "Dmitar" quoted from material that matches Wilmington's Bible Handbook, p439, about Daniel 11:

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Then Dmitar quoted material that matches the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia about Antiochus, p.143-4 in the edition I'm referencing (1979):

ANTIOCHUS

2. The favorite name of the Seleucid kings, whose history with reference to Jewish affairs is contained particularly in the books of Maccabees, and is predicted with remarkable minuteness in Dan 11. The name was first borne by one of the generals of Philip, whose son SELEUCUS , by the hold of the first Ptolemy, established himself as ruler of Babylon. In the Macedonian calendar the Seleucid era began with Dios 1 (Oct. 7), 321 B.C.; in the Babylonian it began with Nisanu 1 (Apr. 3), 311 B.C. Parker and Dubberstein cautioned: "The beginnings and ends of their reigns cannot always be determined with exactitude" (Babylonian Chronology [1956], p. 20). When Ptolemy, son of Lagus, became master of Southern Syria, the line dividing Seleucus and his successors from the Ptolemies (cf. "king of the north" and "king of the south" in Dan 11) was drawn somewhat to the north of Damascus, the capital of Coele-Syria.

If anyone is interested, the context of that quote is here, on page 20:

http://www.caeno.org/pdf/Parker_Babylonian chronology_Kings reigns.pdf

I reference the context of the original because some of us might be tempted to make use of this quote from P&D to indicate that Neo-Babylonian chronology cannot always be determined with exactitude. So it's good to notice the entire sentence:

"The beginnings and ends of [their] reigns cannot always be determined with the exactitude that was possible in the earlier periods. However . . . there is no difficulty in establishing the calendar or in translating [these] dates into Julian dates."

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But that's a bit beside the point, which is that Daniel 11 clearly has a very specific set of kings in mind. I have not yet figured out exactly why so many Bible commentators have decided that they should apply new and different kings to these kings of the north and south.

Why do we do this for the KON and KOS, but not for any of the predecessor kings like Alexander the Great. If Daniel 11 referred to the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empire/kingdoms which were two of the four generals split from Alexander's empire when he died, then why do we say that it has changed its meaning over the years?

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Thanks JWI,

The part that I am concerned with is this:

If I have full and complete understanding about everything there is to know about these two subjects. Or know nothing whatsoever … what’s the practical, applicable difference in a normal person’s life and daily activities?

we have no control over any of it. 

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17 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

But that's a bit beside the point, which is that Daniel 11 clearly has a very specific set of kings in mind. I have not yet figured out exactly why so many Bible commentators have decided that they should apply new and different kings to these kings of the north and south.

Why do we do this for the KON and KOS, but not for any of the predecessor kings like Alexander the Great. If Daniel 11 referred to the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empire/kingdoms which were two of the four generals split from Alexander's empire when he died, then why do we say that it has changed its meaning over the years?

BECAUSE , If you can convince a significant number of people that you have “special insight”, you can bathe in a river of never ending money.

….. beats having to do lawn work for a living, in July and August!

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1 minute ago, Pudgy said:

BECAUSE , If you can convince a significant number of people that you have “special insight”, you can bathe in a river of never ending money.

….. beats having to do lawn work for a living, in July and August!

I was hoping to avoid the typical sarcasm (I'm guilty of it too) against the organizations of Christendom and our own WTS, too, who have had a lot of untenable explanations and interpretations over the years for these things. I don't want to impute bad motives when I don't know the motives. I understand the circumstances that the WTS and GB have sort of boxed themselves into by believing that there must be a specific "last days" interpretation. I know some of the reasons for this interpretation, especially the identification of the KON with Russia now, and Germany in the 1940's, for example.

But I see some issues with the explanation, and hoped to deal specifically with the issues about the explanations, not the motives.

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2 hours ago, Pudgy said:

If I have full and complete understanding about everything there is to know about these two subjects. Or know nothing whatsoever … what’s the practical, applicable difference in a normal person’s life and daily activities?

This is one of the reasons apparently why the book of Daniel was nearly not accepted into the Jewish Canon of Holy Scriptures (and why Revelation for similar reasons was nearly not accepted into the Christian Canon of Holy Scriptures). Of nearly all the books, these were two where the disputes lasted about the longest.

It probably seemed too specific to the circumstances of the first group for whom it had an intended audience. But we have it recorded that Jesus quoted the book of Daniel, where the context was about the KON, and he implied that Rome was taking on the role that the Seleucids had fulfilled. But this implication can be disputed, too, because Jesus never mentioned the King of the North, but he did imply that the fulfillment of the "disgusting thing that causes desolation" was to have a fulfillment at around the time when the Roman armies would be surrounding, or preparing to surround, Jerusalem and the Temple.

(Matthew 24:15, 16) . . .“Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken about by Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place (let the reader use discernment), 16 then let those in Ju·deʹa begin fleeing to the mountains."

(Luke 21:20, 21) 20 “However, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. 21 Then let those in Ju·deʹa begin fleeing to the mountains,. . .

And if Jesus was allowing for a second fulfillment , or completion of the fulfillment in those years, then do we have the right to go beyond what Jesus said and also make it about who the King of the North and King of the South should be in all the future years after Rome?

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I should have mentioned above that the Insight book identifies Alexander's generals who became the KON and KOS, but they point to the Daniel's prophecy book which provides more historical info:

*** it-2 p. 509 North ***
“The King of the North.” Facts of history provide still another basis for determining how “north” is to be understood in some texts. A case in point is “the king of the north” mentioned in Daniel chapter 11. 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.—See the book Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy!, 1999, pp. 211-285.

But the Daniel book adds a lot more info, I'll edit it down:

*** dp chap. 13 pp. 213-229 Two Kings in Conflict ***
A GREAT KINGDOM DIVIDED INTO FOUR
8 “A mighty king will certainly stand up and rule with extensive dominion and do according to his will,” said the angel. (Daniel 11:3) Twenty-year-old Alexander ‘stood up’ as king of Macedonia in 336 B.C.E. He did become “a mighty king”—Alexander the Great. Driven by a plan of his father, Philip II, he took the Persian provinces in the Middle East. Crossing the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, his 47,000 men scattered the 250,000 troops of Darius III at Gaugamela. Subsequently, Darius fled and was murdered, ending the Persian dynasty. Greece now became the world power, and Alexander ‘ruled with extensive dominion and did according to his will.’
9 Alexander’s rulership over the world was to be brief, for God’s angel added: “When he will have stood up, his kingdom will be broken and be divided toward the four winds of the heavens, but not to his posterity and not according to his dominion with which he had ruled; because his kingdom will be uprooted, even for others than these.” (Daniel 11:4) Alexander was not quite 33 years old when sudden illness took his life in Babylon in 323 B.C.E.
10 Alexander’s vast empire did not pass to “his posterity.” His brother Philip III Arrhidaeus reigned for less than seven years and was murdered at the instance of Olympias, Alexander’s mother, in 317 B.C.E. Alexander’s son Alexander IV ruled until 311 B.C.E. when he met death at the hands of Cassander, one of his father’s generals. Alexander’s illegitimate son Heracles sought to rule in his father’s name but was murdered in 309 B.C.E. Thus ended the line of Alexander, “his dominion” departing from his family.
11 Following the death of Alexander, his kingdom was “divided toward the four winds.” His many generals quarreled among themselves as they grabbed for territory. One-eyed General Antigonus I tried to bring all of Alexander’s empire under his control. But he was killed in a battle at Ipsus in Phrygia. By the year 301 B.C.E., four of Alexander’s generals were in power over the vast territory that their commander had conquered. Cassander ruled Macedonia and Greece. Lysimachus gained control over Asia Minor and Thrace. Seleucus I Nicator secured Mesopotamia and Syria. And Ptolemy Lagus took Egypt and Palestine. True to the prophetic word, Alexander’s great empire was divided into four Hellenistic kingdoms.
TWO RIVAL KINGS EMERGE
12 A few years after coming to power, Cassander died, and in 285 B.C.E., Lysimachus took possession of the European part of the Greek Empire. In 281 B.C.E., Lysimachus fell in battle before Seleucus I Nicator, giving Seleucus control over the major portion of the Asiatic territories. Antigonus II Gonatas, grandson of one of Alexander’s generals, ascended to the throne of Macedonia in 276 B.C.E. In time, Macedonia became dependent upon Rome and ended up as a Roman province in 146 B.C.E.
13 Only two of the four Hellenistic kingdoms now remained prominent—one under Seleucus I Nicator and the other under Ptolemy Lagus. Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty in Syria. Among the cities he founded were Antioch—the new Syrian capital—and the seaport of Seleucia. The apostle Paul later taught in Antioch, where the followers of Jesus first came to be called Christians. (Acts 11:25, 26; 13:1-4) Seleucus was assassinated in 281 B.C.E., but his dynasty ruled until 64 B.C.E. when Roman General Gnaeus Pompey made Syria a Roman province.
14 The Hellenistic kingdom that lasted the longest of the four was that of Ptolemy Lagus, or Ptolemy I, who assumed the title of king in 305 B.C.E. The Ptolemaic dynasty that he established continued to rule Egypt until it fell to Rome in 30 B.C.E.
15 Thus out of four Hellenistic kingdoms, there emerged two strong kings—Seleucus I Nicator over Syria and Ptolemy I over Egypt. With these two kings began the long struggle between “the king of the north” and “the king of the south,” described in Daniel chapter 11. Jehovah’s angel left the names of the kings unmentioned, for the identity and nationality of these two kings would change throughout the centuries. Omitting unnecessary details, the angel mentioned only rulers and events that have a bearing on the conflict.
          ...[skipping a lot]...
WHAT DID YOU DISCERN?
• What two lines of strong kings emerged out of Hellenistic kingdoms, and what struggle did the kings begin?
• As foretold at Daniel 11:6, how did the two kings enter into “an equitable arrangement”?
• How did the conflict continue between
   Seleucus II and Ptolemy III (Daniel 11:7-9)?
   Antiochus III and Ptolemy IV (Daniel 11:10-12)?
   Antiochus III and Ptolemy V (Daniel 11:13-16)?
• What was the purpose of the marriage between Cleopatra I and Ptolemy V, and why did the scheme fail (Daniel 11:17-19)?
• How has paying attention to Daniel 11:1-19 benefited you?

What seems odd to me, is just how specifically all the prophecy exactly fits The Seleucids and the Ptolemies. Nothing that exact comes close to fitting any of the future KONs and KOSs that might be identified through the following centuries.

The long portions that I skipped make this even clearer, but I didn't want to just put the entire chapter(s) up here. All of us can read it however at: https://www.jw.org/en/library/books/Pay-Attention-to-Daniels-Prophecy/

 

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Several problems arise when we approach Da 11 from a preterist or historicist perspective.

First of all, I believe that the first mistake in approaching this prophecy (along with those of Revelation) is to try to apply them to events "of the present moment" as soon as we think we determine that some piece fits in the puzzle, only to discover some time later that we have to readjust (Zenobia, for example).

A problem that we JW's have is that since everything pivots around 1914 we try to make the key turn in that lock, closing our eyes to any other possibility. Actually, it must be admitted that there are two possibilities.

  • 1. Everything was fulfilled at the time of the Hellenic kings who influenced Israel, mainly Antiochus IV Epiphanes
  • 2. Much of what we believe has already been accomplished is still in the future and must be fulfilled.

I am only going to get involved at this point with point 1.

DANIEL 11:25-27
Scholars mention that these passages have to do with some Syrian wars (KoN) against the Ptolemies (KoS) but they are not sure what specific events.
Until recently we talked about Queen Zenobia and her generals as antagonists of Rome and KoS. Now, we see in these verses the German Empire and its defeat in the IWW

...And so on. Scholars focusing on Syria-Egypt, JW's on 20th and 21st century events.

WHY ANTIOCUS IV IS NOT THE GREAT PROTAGONIST OF DANIEL 11

Daniel 11:40-45
This is in no way related to the acts of Antiochus or any other Hellenic KoN. Numerous commentators apply these words to a character related to the Antichrist.

Daniel 11:45

When biblical scholars try to apply this passage to the death of the Syrian king they have to admit that Daniel (or a pseudo-Daniel) was wrong, since the king is known not to die in the Promised Land ("of Decoration")

Daniel 11:31b
Although many think that this refers to the desecration of the temple by this impious king, as collected in the Maccabean books, Jesus Christ himself (Mat 24:15 and Mr 13:14) applies it to the future, not to events of the 2nd century BC .


 

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