Alexander figures prominently throughout the book of Daniel, even though Daniel didn't know his name and never knew him personally. He couldn't have, since he died almost two centuries before Alexander appeared on the world stage.
But God revealed to Daniel that after Babylon, Persia would arise as the greatest power of the region, to be followed in turn by Greece. Not surprisingly, the prophecies regarding the rise of Greece are centered on Alexander the Great, one of the greatest conquerors in history.
Daniel 8 gives a vivid account of the coming clash between Persia and Greece. As you read it, remember that a horn symbolizes royal power and authority. Persia had "two horns and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last." This refers to the Medo-Persian Empire, the coming together of two nations or peoples. As foretold here in Daniel 8:3, the Persians rose to greatness after the Medes.
In Daniel 8:5 we read of Persia's later defeat by Alexander the Great: "And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes" (Daniel 8:5).
The "notable horn" or royal leader was Alexander the Great. The prophecy about his army not even touching the ground is a reference to the incredible speed with which he conquered the known world. All this was achieved in a very short time. Alexander died in 323 B.C. when he was only about 33 years old.
Even his sudden, unexpected death was prophesied: "The male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven" (Daniel 8:8).
When Alexander died, his empire was eventually divided between four of his generals—the four "notable horns" mentioned here. Two of these established dynasties would have a profound effect on the Jewish people, caught in the middle between them. These two dynasties were the descendants of Seleucus, who ruled a vast empire from Antioch in Syria, north of Jerusalem, and Ptolemy, who ruled Egypt from Alexandria.
Daniel 11 is a long and detailed prophecy about the dynastic conflicts between these two powers, their respective leaders being referred to as "the king of the North" and "the king of the South." Of great significance is that whenever they went to battle against each other, the Jews got trampled on. This was to continue from the time of Alexander until the middle of the second century B.C., a period of almost two centuries.
Then, suddenly, the prophecy jumps down to the end time.
In Daniel 11:40 we read: "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land [the area of Jerusalem], and many countries shall be overthrown" (Daniel 11:40-41).
The latter part of Daniel's prophecy of the North-South conflict describes a clash of civilizations between the leader of a soon-coming European superpower—a revived Roman Empire (successor to Seleucid Syrian rule)—and a leader who is the successor to the Ptolemaic rule of Egypt, which is now part of the Arab-Islamic world. (To learn more, request or download our free Bible study aid The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.)
We now see geopolitical conditions lining up for this inevitable clash. Here is yet another prophesied circumstance for which the stage has now been set within our lifetime!