Dan 11:1.2. 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.
Who are these three kings of Persia?
The vision was given to Daniel in the third year of Cyrus (Dan 10:1). The reference is doubtless to the three kings who followed Cyrus on the throne of Persia. These are: Cambyses (530-522 B.C.), the False Smerdis (522 B.C.), and Darius I (522-486 B.C.).
The fourth king refers to Xerxes. This is Xerxes who was married to Esther in Esther 1:1. It says further in Esther 1:4.6.7. that Xerxes was proud of the riches of his glorious kingdom.
Dan 11:2.3.4. 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 will. And as soon as he has risen, 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.
The citation “toward the four winds of heaven” is also written in Dan 8:8, which refers to Alexander the Great from Greece and his kingdom. So the mighty king in Dan 11:3.4. refers to Alexander the Great who ruled from 336-323 B.C. who overtook the rulership of the Babylonian empire from the Medo-Persians.
From this verse in Dan 11:5 to Dan 11:13, there are conflicts and wars between the king of the South and the king of the North. Many Bible commentaries say that these kings refer to the aftermath of Alexander the Great´s reign and his kingdom which was passed on to his four generals: Cassander, Ptolemy, Seleucus and Lysimichus. And many Bible Commentaries make emphasis on Antiochus Epiphanes who followed in the line of the family of Seleucus.
However, Dan 11:4 says Alexander´s kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven and not to the four generals of Alexander´s kingdom.
When we analyse Dan 8:8.9. we can see a transition from Alexander the Great to the papacy and not to Alexanders four generals. The papacy came out of the four winds of heaven, and this is the little horn in Dan 7: and Dan 8:, which grew exceedingly great.
Dan 8:8.9. Therefore, the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in the place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came a little horn – – -.
In this text the Hebrew word for “them” is masculine. This indicates that, grammatically, the antecedent is “winds” and not “horns” since winds may be either masculine or feminine, but horns only feminine.[i]
Therefore, the context and the beginning of the king of the South and the king of the North´s reign starts after the reign of Alexander the Great with a transition not to his four generals but to the four winds of the heaven, which requires further study. This context eliminates the hypothesis that Antiochus Epiphanes is the leading character representing the little horn in Dan 8 and Dan 11.
[i] Francis D. Nichol, Edit., The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol. 4 (Washington D.C.: Review & Herald Pub., Assoc., 1977), 840, 841.