"At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter. For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant. And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate." (Daniel 11:29-31)
When Antiochus proclaimed himself as guardian of Egypt's king, the people of Alexandria responded by making Ptolemy VIII king. Antiochus intended for his nephew, Ptolemy Philometor, to aid him in bringing Alexandria into subjection; but instead, the two brothers were reconciled, and they agreed to rule Egypt jointly. This enraged Antiochus; and so, in 168 BC, he marched against Egypt. He sent a fleet against Cyprus which violated the terms of his treaty with Rome, an action which would prove to be very foolish. Marching into Egypt, he once again began to conquer key cities such as Memphis. All seemed to be working in his favor; however, as the text says, this battle would end differently than the previous battles.
In other portions of Scripture, Chittim refers to the island of Cyprus; however, in this passage, it clearly refers to Rome. Realizing their impending doom, the Ptolemaic brothers appealed to Rome for help against Antiochus. Angered by Antiochus' breech of the Treaty of Apamea and desiring the expansion of the Roman Republic, the Romans responded by sending a fleet of ships to oppose the Syrian king. As Antiochus was preparing to march on Alexandria, he was met by Gaius Popilius Laenas, a man who had been his close friend during his stay at Rome. Upon their meeting, Antiochus held out his hand to his old Roman companion. Gaius responded by declaring to Antiochus that Rome demanded his immediate withdrawal from Egypt. Antiochus replied that he would have to consult with his advisers as to the most expedient course of action. Upon this reply, Gaius drew a line in the sand around Antiochus and informed him that Rome required the compliance of Antiochus before he stepped out of the circle. Gaius' action implied war between Syria and Rome should Antiochus not, then and there, agree to leave. Intimidated by Rome's impending power, the Syrian king agreed to withdraw.
The Hebrew word translated grieved means to be humbled or made to cower. Antiochus was brought low by the power of the Roman fleet. This event touched him at a man's most sensitive point - his pride. He was furious. He could do nothing to vent his frustration and anger on Egypt; however, the small, helpless land of Judah (a land made helpless by its departure from God) served nicely to bear his indignation. Just as Satan will be angered by his banishment from heaven and will seek to annihilate the Jews (Revelation 12:7-12), Antiochus set about to destroy all and any part of God's holy covenant.
Antiochus sent an army against Jerusalem. They entered under the guise of peace; however, once inside the city, they immediately set about butchering its inhabitants. The temple was again plundered, and the soldiers defiled it in the most abominable ways imaginable. Pigs were sacrificed on the brazen altar, and an image of the Olympian god Zeus was erected upon it. This is the "abomination that maketh desolate" spoken of in the text. Some historians believe that the image of this god represented the appearance of Antiochus. Regardless, his actions parallel those of the antichrist when he shall "[sit] in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (II Thessalonians 2:4)." Antiochus also profaned the Holy of Holies, an action which God had not permitted Ptolemy Philopator to perform. In this may be seen God's absolute control. Whatever abominations Antiochus committed, he did not commit them outside of God's sovereign control. The Lord used this vile man to punish the disbelief and resultant rebellion of His people.
Antiochus proceeded with the intense persecutions by completely outlawing the Mosaic Law. Apostate Jews, referred to in the text as "them that forsake the holy covenant," aided him in his cause. Observance of the Sabbath was forbidden, and circumcision was banned along with every other ordinance and commandment of God's Law. Scripture was outlawed, collected and burned. Pigs were to be offered on all the altars of the land and their flesh eaten by every Jew. All people in the kingdom were to be of one mind and heart, a people bent on the worship of the Greek gods and Antiochus Epiphanes who had declared himself to be deity. Coins were minted with the inscription "Theos Epiphanes" which means "God Manifest." One may quickly see why this man is referred to as the Old Testament type of the antichrist. Many began to call him Antiochus Epimanes (Mad One), a word play on his title Epiphanes.
North of the temple, a fort was constructed, and all the plunder and spoils of the city were stored there. A group of apostate Jews were brought in to occupy the fortress. Such an edifice and its inhabitants overshadowing the once holy temple served as a constant reminder of the unbearable oppression.