Chapter 6: World Empires and End Time Events Coordinated with Scripture

More complete appreciation of the Accuracy of Scripture requires some understanding of world history, and also archaeology.   It has been well said, “The Christian faith is historical, not hysterical,” just a matter of emotions and myths.   The Bible is full of historic events and personages that have been widely recorded and unquestioned in essentials.   History records several world empires, and they form a core of certain prophecies.   These empires are:

 

1.       Egyptian (3000 BC – 858 BC)

                  Defeated by Assyrian invasion and succeeded by them.

 

2.       Assyrian (858 BC – 612 BC)

Nineveh destroyed by Medes and Babylonians in 612 BC then defeated by Babylonians.

 

3.       Babylonian (605 BC – 539 BC)

Begun by Nebuchadnezzar, ended by Medes and Persians.

 

4.       Media-Persian (539 BC – 532 BC)

Together with Medes destroyed Babylon.   Established by Cyrus the Great.   Ended by defeat at hands of Alexander.

 

5.       Grecian (331 – 31 BC)

Alexander defeated the Persians and established Greek world rule.   Ended by Roman.

 

6.       Roman (31 BC through New Testament period with “ Holy Roman Empire.”   Fell to Germanic invasion.

 

7.       Revived Roman Empire is a matter of end-time prophecy.

 

1.    Egyptian World Empire (3000 BC – 858 BC)

 

Egypt – from Komet, “the black land” from the dark sand in the Nile River which watered it.   Its inhabitants descended from Ham (Genesis 10:6) and their language was Hamito-Semitic.   Its earliest writings were hieroglyphic (picture language of common objects).   Its history was written by Manetho about 290 BC, dividing it into 30 royal dynasties; the first began about 300 BC.   The “Old Kingdom” Dynasties III and IV had its capital at Memphis and Zoser, built the famous step pyramid at Suqqaro, earliest stone structure in history.   Other pyramids were built later and still stand in Egypt.   The strongest era, the “Middle Kingdom,” lasted until 12th Dynasty in 1750 BC, then followed the second Intermediate Kingdoms of 1750 – 1570.   “The New Empire” lasted from 1570 to 1150 BC during which the Exodus took place.   Amenhotep IV was Pharaoh of the Exodus, according to Steward (see below).

 

Confirmation of events preceding and including Amenhotep IV’s reign.

 

Our major contemporary source is Ipuwer, high priest of Heliopolis, Egypt.   His work stems largely unrecognized by liberal academics.   We now have available the record of “the Lamentation of Ipuwer,” as provided by Miriam Lichtheim in her book, Ancient Egyptian Literature, University of California Press, 1976.  

 

The plagues that devastated Egypt (Exodus 8:7-24; 9:9-15) are mentioned by Ipuwer (Ch. 2,4,5).   He said there was “blood everywhere,” “land is injured” (national in scope), “beasts weep,” “cattle bemoan the state of the land,” “crops devastated.” “The desert claims the land, grains are lacking, land is left in weakness, birds find neither fruit or herbs, food is lacking, all is ruin” (Ch. 3).   “There is no shortage of death.” “People are diminished.”

 

Ipuwer blamed the Hebrews and criticized his sun-god for permitting them to grow rather than destroying them.   Although he does not specifically name the Hebrews, his descriptions match the Exodus account; various pictures in Egypt also support the general situation he describes.   The death of the firstborn is inscribed on many Middle Kingdom tombs all over Egypt.

 

The existence of 600,000 Israelite men aged 20 years and under (Exodus 12:37) has been questioned by liberal critics.   How could 68 adults become 600,000 in 210 years?   This would require an annual growth rate of only 4.9%, comparable to growth rates throughout the world today, lower than a few.   This is no impossibility here.   The Bible said that the Hebrew population grew greatly.

 

The Pharaohs of the Exodus Period

 

Various academic groups identify three different men as the Pharaoh of the Exodus, based on the dating suppositions.

 

  1. Some think it was Thutmose III of the 18th Dynasty (later than Mosaic Biblical times).

 

  1. Another group dates the Exodus at 1250 BC.   This would be Raamses II of the 19th Dynasty.

 

  1. A majority group reject both Thutmose III and Raamses II and class it all as a “religious myth.”

 

  1. Evangelical Bible believers utilize I Kings 6:1 for dating, which specifies a period of 480 years.   These dates correspond by astronomically calculated dates connecting eight different Assyrian and Babylonian kings (Edwin Thiele, Dallas Seminary).

 

  1. This brings us to Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), reigning from 1456-1446 BC, as the most evident pharaoh of the Exodus.

 

The 12th Dynasty pharaohs were:

 

  1. Sesostris III (ending 1534 BC, 90 years before the Exodus)

Moses and Job were contemporaries in this period.

  1. Amenhotep III – reigned 38 years (Exodus 7-8)

3.        Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) – reigned 10 years, 1456 to 1446 BC.   According to Cambridge Ancient History and Petrie’s History of Egypt.

 

To coordinate dates, the records of Babylon must be consulted and compared with Egyptian Sothic dating system.   This will result in a 300-year revision of academically accepted dates (based on Egypt’s system).   Cambridge Ancient History (1972 edition) lists kings of Babylon and Elim and their dates.   In 1982, Dr. Peter Huber of Harvard revised the astronomical dates by 56 years, creating 28 historical and chronological synchronisms between Abraham and kings of the East found in Genesis 14.   He revised King Hammurabi’s accession year to 1806 BC.

 

The results of these revisions after comparing the Egyptian Sothic system, which liberals use with Babylonian, astronomical, and other records, using a different system, is to effect a 300-year revision in the forming dating standard (Stewart in Solving the Exodus Mystery).

 

The True Pharaohs of the Exodus

 

That Amenhotep IV’s short reign ended by his death in an “overwhelming downpour of water” is confirmed by Ipuwer.   He has no tomb surviving in Egypt.

 

Historicity of 480 Years Before Exodus

 

Abraham was a contemporary of Hammurabi of Babylon.   Abraham was born in Ur of the Chaldees and entered Canaan in about 1890 BC.   In 1871 he encountered Amraphel (Hammurabi) (consult Genesis 12:4; 25:7).   The three kings of Genesis 14 ( Elam, Babylon, Mar) are dated astronomically at 1862 BC.   Some say they conform to both Biblical and ancient records (work done at Aleppo).   Twenty-eight archeological discoveries confirm Abraham’s historicity.

 

The remains of Sodom and Gomorrah at the foot of the Dead Sea have been discovered, confirming many details given in Genesis.  

 

2.     The Assyrian Empire

 

The Assyrian Empire was established by Shalmaneser III in 848 BC.   It continued to Tiglath-Pileser III mentioned in I Chronicles 5:6; II Chronicles 28:20-26; II Kings 17:3; 18:9.   Continued through Sargon II (721-705) mentioned in Isaiah 20:1, then Sennacherib (704-681) mentioned in II Kings 18:13; 19:16; 20:36; II Chronicles 32:1-2, 9-10, Isaiah 36:1; 37:17, 21, 37; then Esarhaddon (680-669) mentioned in II Kings 19:37, Ezra 4:2, Isaiah 37:38; then Assurbanipal (668-627) also spelled Asnapper, during whose reign Hezekiah was defeated (see Isaiah 33) then to Assurbanipal II’s kingdom ended 612 BC.

 

3.    Babylonian Empire (605 – 539)

 

Begun after Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabo-pollassar, defeated Pharaoh Necho of Egypt at Carchemish in 605 before destroying Jerusalem.   He was succeeded by his son, Amel-Mardeck (562-560) then Neriglissar (560-556), then Nabonidus, who appointed his son Belshazzar (see Daniel chapters 7,8) as commercial-ruler.   Babylon fell in one night in 539 BC to Media Persia to the attack of Gobryas, one of Cyrus the Great’s generals.

 

4.    Media-Persia (539 – 331)

 

Was established by Cyrus the Great (539-530) after he defeated Croesus of Lydia, then overcame Babylon.   It was Cyrus who issued the decree to restore the Jews to their homeland (II Chronicles 30:22-23, Ezra 1:2-3).   The ruins of Cyrus’ palace are present today.   Plutarch recounted the inscription on his tomb.   Cyrus’ son Cambysses II (530-522) conquered Egypt.   Darius I (the Great) preserved the empire by suppressing a rebellion.   Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, (Daniel 9:1), was called “Darius the Mede” in Daniel 11:1.   Then began the Greco-Persian wars.   Ahasuerus was a descendant of Darius through Xerxes.   Esther his queen was among several in his harem.   Artaxerxes I Longimanus succeeded him in 485 BC.   This was the king who issued the rule to restore Jerusalem and its holy place.   In Artaxerxes I’s reign, Nehemiah was his cupbearer and visited Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1).   Successive kings were Darius II (423-404), Artaxerxes II (404-359), Artaxerxes III (359-338), Arses (338-335), and Darius III (335-331) when he was defeated by Alexander the Great.

 

5.    Grecian Empire

 

In the Old Testament Greece was called Javan.   The 5th world empire, the Grecian Empire, was established by Alexander the Great 331 BC and lasting through the successors of his four generals.   It ended with being overpowered by the Romans at the battle of Actium 31 BC.

 

6.    Roman Empire (lasting approximately from 44 BC through Constantine’s reign)

 

After an extended period of conquest by Pompey, Scipio, and others, before Octavian (later names Augustus) defeated the Greeks at Actium, the first to call himself Caesar.

 

The New Testament names the Caesars, such as Augustus (Luke 2:1), Tiberius (Luke 3:1:20:22), Claudius (Acts 11:28), and refers unnamed to Nero (Acts 25:8).   Augustus’ great uncle was Julius Caesar.   After the death of Herod the Great (37 – 4 BC) in 4 BC, his kingdom was divided among his sons.   Augustus was emperor when our Lord was born and during half His lifetime.   This empire was ended by the invasion of Germanic tribes.

 

7.    The Revived Roman Empire – End-time Prophecy

 

The featured person of this end-time period is a “Scarlet-colored Beast” who “was and is not” (Revelation 17:3, 8, 11).   He had seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 12:3; 13:1; 17:3).   The seven heads are successive kingdoms (world empires) (17:9-11), five of which were fallen when John wrote (Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Media-Persian, and Grecian).

 

These kingdoms correspond with those in Daniel, a book which must be read together in matters of end-time prophecy.   Daniel has a dream (chapter seven) of four beasts coming up out of the sea.   They correspond to the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th world empires.   They are:

 

  1. A lion with wings of an eagle, then plucked (verse 4).   This is obviously Nebuchadnezzar.   In Daniel’s image vision, he is the head of gold, representing Babylon.

 

  1. A bear with three ribs in his mouth (verse 5).   This is identified with Media Persia in 5:28; 8:20.   The ribs are three kingdoms it devoured (Babylonian, Assyrian, and Elamite).

 

  1. A leopard with four wings (verse 6), indicating the swift movement of the Grecian armies, identified with Greece in 8:21.   Begun by Alexander the Great, it was carried on by his four generals and their descendants.   One descendant was Antiochus Epiphanes whose horn was broken (8:21).

 

  1. Dreadful beast with iron teeth, which ruthlessly crushed all opposition.   This was obviously the Roman Empire, which succeeded the Greeks.

 

This last kingdom lasted for centuries, finally giving way to Germanic invaders.   It will be, however, revived in the end time as a ten-nation confederation (the 10 horns), one of whose leaders will be the “little horn with eyes like a man who speaks great things.”   This is obviously the end-time Antichrist, prophesied to come prior to the Lord’s second coming.   This will end in judgment (Daniel 7:9-14).

 

The seven heads are successive world empires as outlined above.   There is, however, a “double-reference” (one of the important principles of interpreting Scripture) indicating that it points to a city.   The seven heads are seven mountains on which a woman sits.   It is a “great city, which rules over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 18:16).   It is a religious system from which God’s people are told to “come out of her” (Revelation 18:2-4).   Any history of Rome records its designation as the “city of seven hills.”   Its coinage proclaims this.   Any current map will show and name those ancient hills.

 

The woman is Babylon the Great, mother of harlots, representing the Roman system, with a golden chalice in her hand (a travesty of the communion cup).   She is a whore, the adulterous wife of God, consorting with the nations (church-state arrangements).  

 

The woman (Roman Catholicism) rides (uses) the Scarlet Beast, the Antichrist heading the revived Roman Empire (“which was and is to come” from John’s perspective).   She will sit on the Beast although he hates her and will finally be destroyed by him.   The Antichrist will endure for 3½ times (or 42 months or 1,260 days), the period of the Great Tribulation forecast in Daniel’s 70-weeks prophecy (Daniel 7:24), and then be annihilated himself at the Lord’s Second Coming.   His worship in the rebuilt Temple (Revelation 13:11) will be the “abomination of desolation,” which was anticipated by the earlier Antiochus Epiphanes.  


The Four Generals of Alexander the Great

Who Inherited and Divided His Empire

336 BC

(see Daniel 11:4)

 

They were:

 

  1. Ptolemy

Egypt

 

  1. Seleucus

Middle East, including Modern Turkey

 

  1. Antigonus

Greek states (Hellas) and Aeolian and Aegean leagues

 

  1. Cassander

Thrace (now Bulgaria)

Macedonia – north of Greece

                        including Thessalonica and Phillip

                        now in modern Greece

 

¨       Daniel 7:6 shows Greece under Alexander

 

¨       Daniel 7:5 prefigures Antiochus Epiphanes and final “Beast” (7:8) – see also Revelation 13:4-10, I Thessalonians 2:4-8

 

¨       Daniel 7:9-12 shows second coming of Messiah

 

¨       Daniel 8 shows “he-goat” with horns overcoming ram, transfers of power from the 2-horned ram (Media-Persia) to the “he goat” ( Greece under Alexander)

 

¨       Daniel 9 shows 70 weeks prophecy, period of end time Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21)

 

¨       Daniel 11:1-12:13 shows Alexander’s kingdom divided into four parts (his 4 generals) (11:4)

 

 

 

 


THE FOUR GENERALS

 

The four generals who inherited Alexander the Great’s Empire and succeeding empires down to “the end times.”   The scriptural background for prophecies related to empires succeeding Alexander, given in Daniel, chapters 7:2-7, 24, say that four great beasts (three of them like a lion, bear, and leopard) arose.   The leopard is Greece, characterizing the swiftness of its armies and the speed of its conquests.   The four heads (the generals) and the four wings (swiftness and breadth) were characteristic of these empires.   The fourth beast was the one with “great iron teeth,” devouring all other kingdoms ( Roman Empire).   This beast will come alive again in the end times of God’s judgments on earth (Daniel 7:7-9), the second coming of the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-15).   These will be a ten-nation confederation arising from the historic Roman Empire (the ten horns), including “the little horn,” who will predominate (the antichrist Daniel 7:10, 14, 29).   In Daniel’s dream (chapter 7) the four beasts are successive empires.

 

  1. Babylonian:   the lion with eagle’s wings and the golden head.
  2. Medo-Persian:   the bear raised on one side ( Persia’s predominance) with breast and arms of silver (somewhat inferior to Babylon).
  3. Greek:   the leopard with four heads with belly and thighs of brass (somewhat inferior to Medo-Persians).
  4. Romans:   the legs of iron, subdivided into two parts (Eastern and Western – Constantinople and Rome).

 

The Greek empire began under Philip of Macedon, who united various Greek tribes into one nation, with the help of his young son Alexander (born 356 BC), who would inherit it all at the age of twenty when his father was assassinated.   The apocryphal book of Maccabees (1:1-4) recorded Alexander’s conquests in the inter-Biblical period.   Alexander defeated the Persians under Darius in 331 BC at Asbela.

 

Alexander died in Babylon at the age of thirty-two (323 BC).   In 323 BC he had marched his conquering armies as far as India and down into Egypt.   At last his armies refused to go any further.   He returned and died of the after effects of malaria and a life of dissipation, which sapped his powers of resistance.   He reigned for only 13 years.   It is said that he lamented at life’s end that there were no more worlds to conquer.   He is traditionally credited with a request to be buried in a casket with his hands open, showing that he had died with nothing.   He asked that his troops file by to view his body in the death posture to show them he died empty-handed.

 

Then a stormy period of conflict, involving his four generals.   They were:

 

  1. Cassander, who would rule Macedonia, including Thrace, as king.
  2. Antigonus – his realm included areas ultimately divided between the four generals succeeding him after he was killed in 301 BC.   He attempted to keep Alexander’s empire intact, but was killed in 301 BC.
  3. Ptolemy, who would rule Egypt (Ptolemaic empire).
  4. Lysimachus, who would rule in Asia Minor, Syria, Israel, and modern Turkey.   Lysimachus was succeeded by Seleucus I (Seleucid empire).   These wars between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires continued until Rome assumed power in about 100 BC (see Daniel 10, 11, and 12)

 

Of the four generals, Cassander (350-297 BC) is the most difficult to locate in modern encyclopedic references although he was well established in Greek history (302-297 BC).   He proclaimed himself King of Macedonia and joined Ptolemy, Seleucus, and Lysimachus against Antigonus, who died in battle.   Cassander married the sister of Alexander and named the city of Thessalonica after her.   Yet he challenged the influence of Alexander’s mother, Olympias, crushed her army and condemned her to death (316 BC).   Cassander’s half brother Nicanor had been killed by Olympias, which contributed to his hatred of her.   Cassander also murdered Roxana, the wife of Alexander, and her son; Alexander’s natural son was poisoned as a result of a bribe by Cassander.   What a hate-filled person!   The empire was divided among the four generals thus fulfilling Biblical prophecy in Daniel 11:4.

 

The 70-weeks prophecy of Daniel 9:24-29 extends until the end time, from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the death of the Messiah and then His Second Coming.   The intervening period (undated as to extent) includes the historic period of “the church age” (from the Day of Pentecost to the coming of Jesus) “for His saints” (I Thess. 4:13-18; I Corinthians 15:22-25), called “the Rapture,” the “catching up” of the believers to Christ in heaven.

 

The kingdom of the four generals survived until about 100 BC when the Roman Empire took over the European army of the former Greek Empire, which will come alive again in the Revived Roman Empire of the end time.

 


Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Empires

 

 

Assyrian Empire

 

At its zenith, it stretched from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea in the North.   It included, southward, the modern states of Iraq, its center Iran, Assyria, Syria and Lebanon and Israel.

 

It began as an empire in 1748-1716 BC and arose to a power comparable to Egypt.   Among the Amarna tablets is a letter to Pharaoh Amenhotep of Egypt, probably the Pharaoh of the Exodus (1450 BC), speaking of the Assyrian king as a royal equal to pharaoh.   Another descendent Shalmaneser fought against King Ahab in Israel in 833 BC and received tribute from “Jehu, son of Omri,” of the line of Israel’s kings.   Assyrian power remained aggressive under Shalmaneser IV (782-773 BC); the fifth of its empire rulers then follows:

 

  1. Tiglath Pileser III – ruled 740-727 BC.   He conquered Babylon where he was known as Pulu (II Kings 15:19).   He overran Israel after King Hosea attempted to revolt.  
  2. Shalmaneser V – ruled 727 – 722 BC.
  3. Sargon – ruled 722 – 765 BC.   He is mentioned in Isaiah 20:1
  4. Sennacherib – ruled 705 – 681 BC.   He is mentioned many times in Scripture (I Kings 18:13, 19:16, 20, 36; II Chronicles 22:1-10, 22; Isaiah 33:1, 17, 37).
  5. Esarhaddon – ruled 681 – 669 BC.   He was ranked as one of the greatest Assyrian conquerors.   He is mentioned in II Kings 19:37, Ezra 4:2 ,and Isaiah 37:38.
  6. Ashurbanipal – ruled 661 – 627 BC.   He was a scholar more than a general.   During this period, Assyrian power declined.   The name “Osnapper” in Ezra 4:2 is linked first to Esarhadam but also to Sennachirab and Asurpanipal.

 

After several undistinguished rulers, Assyria was defeated by the Median/Persian Confederation in 612, when Nineveh fell.   Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchnezzar, led the coalition, which brought the ascendancy of the Babylonian Empire.

 

Babylonian Empire

 

The first mention of Babylon in Scripture is in Genesis 10:10.   Babylon began its rise to prominence in 1830 BC, and it became world famous.   Formerly this growing kingdom was Sumerian and Akkadian, centered at its lower Tigris-Euphrates area, Mesopotamia, “the land between the rivers” (now modern Iraq).   It included Ur, Abraham’s first home, as a part of the Chaldees (from Akkad).

 

  1. The old Akkadians period (2360-2180 BC) saw the Semites (descendants of Shem) increasing under Sargon.
  2. The Neo-Sumerian era (2070-1960 BC) proceeded to the old Babylonian period (1830-1550 BC).
  3. Finally the New Chaldean Empire was established (665-531 BC).   It sent an embassy to Hezekiah, King of Judea, and was defeated by Sennacherib of Assyria in 703 BC.   In 625 BC Nabopolassar launched the greatest period of its history and defeated the Assyrians, destroying Nineveh in 612 BC, while teaming with the Medes.
  4. His son Nebuchadnezzar, much feared in the book of Daniel, defeated Pharoah Necho of Egypt at Carchemish.   In 539 BC Gobryas, one of Persia’s generals, took Babylon, securing its end according to Daniel’s prophecy.   Combined data from British Museum Publication and Halley’s Bible Handbook.

 

Persian Empire

 

Now this area is called Iran meaning, “land of the Aryans.”

 

  1. Cyaxares, a Mede, joined with Nabopolassar, King of Babylon, to overthrow the Assyrians at Nineveh in 512 BC.   He was the first major king.

 

  1. Cyrus II, the Great, was founder of the world empire, confederating with the Medes.   This is often joined in Scripture as the “Medes and Persians” (Esther 1:19; Daniel 5:28).   Cyrus defeated the Lydians and then Babylon in 539 BC.   Cyrus issued the decree to restore the Jews to their home (II Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:2-3).   He was killed in battle 530 BC.

 

  1. Cambyses II (530 – 522 BC) was the son of Cyrus and conquered Egypt.   He committed suicide.

 

  1. Darius I The Great (522 – 486 BC).   He reigned poorly until the outbreak of war with Greece when Persians were defeated at Marathon 49 BC.   There is some dispute over the identity of “Darius the Mede” in Dan. 11:1.

 

  1. Xerxes (486 – 465 BC).   He is the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther.

 

  1. Artaxerxes I Longimanus (465 – 423 BC) was ruler over Nehemiah (Neh. 2:11; Ezra 1:1‑8) specifies that the priest went to Jerusalem in the seventh year of his reign (though some feel this was Artaxerxes II).   His reign is especially important on his decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, a key to Daniel’s prophecy.

 

  1. Following kings:   Darius II, Artaxerxes II, Mnemon, Artaxerxes III, Ochus, Arsis, Darius III, when it fell to the Greeks commanded by Alexander the Great.