Did the Prophet Daniel Write about Alexander the Great?

Alexander III of Macedon aka Alexander the Great

Probably one of the most influential figures of the ancient world is Alexander the Great (Alexander III of Macedon). He lived from 356 to 323 BC, and in his thirty-two-year life, he managed to conquer much of the ancient world spanning from Macedonia all the way to India in the east and as far south as Egypt, including ancient Israel and Jerusalem.

Was this event foretold in the Bible by the Prophet Daniel? In Daniel 2, Daniel interpreted a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar, saying that four empires would rise up to rule the world. These are understood to be Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, and the Roman Empire.

In Daniel 10:20-21 (ESV), we read this:

Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince. “And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him.  “And now I will show you the truth. Behold, three more kings shall arise in Persia, and a fourth shall be far richer than all of them. And when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do as he wills. And as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the authority with which he ruled, for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these.

Not only did Alexander conquer the lands, including Jerusalem, but according to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, Alexander visited Jerusalem and met the Jewish high priest Jaddus. There was a cordial exchange between the two men. When they met, Jaddus reportedly showed Alexander the Book of Daniel and the passage I quoted above. Josephus describes the event below:

Alexander meets Jaddus, the Jewish High Priest in Jerusalem 

And when the Book of Daniel was showed him wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended. And as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present. But the next day he called them to him, and bid them ask what favors they pleased of him; (Josephus - Jewish Antiquities 11.317-345)

Scholars have debated whether Josephus's account is even true, and perhaps it is more legend, but it is a great story one way or the other, and it doesn't change the biblical connection. There is no doubt that Alexander visited Jerusalem when his armies were through with their campaign in nearby Tyre.
The coin in my collection I am presenting is a silver Tetradrachm (4 drachms) featuring Alexander the Great on the obverse (front) in the image of Heracles, a very masculine, divine hero in Greek mythology. This coin was minted in Babylon during Alexander's lifetime sometime between 336-323 BC. This represented four days pay for a laborer or soldier, or two days pay for an artisan or skilled builder.

Obverse (front) Image of Alexander with Heracles helmet.

The reverse (back) side of the coin depicts the Greek god Zeus, the father of Heracles, seated on a throne and holding an eagle. The primary inscription shows Alexandrou in Greek letters (of Alexander). This symbology was to imply to the people that Alexander was also a son of Zeus.

Reverse: Image of Zeus seated on a throne with a falcon in his hand.
While Alexander the Great is not mentioned directly in the Bible, the Book of Daniel, as a record of actual history and prophecy, pointed to Alexander's rise and fall. Empires did rise and fall in history after the days of Daniel. Jerusalem would be destroyed with its temple in ruins, but God is sovereign, and Daniel pointed to God's kingdom.

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever... (Daniel 2:44-45)

Secular nation-states come and go. Zeus and Heracles were mere figures of mythology and nothing more. God is absolutely sovereign and reigns supreme over His creation. Through his Son Jesus Christ, we are subjects of a kingdom that will never be conquered. Our ruler is just, gracious, and merciful, and Christ is our ultimate liberator and hope.


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