Who Is the “King of the South”?


Daniel 11 gives an account of 2 political powers that struggle with each other down through history. It starts with the Empire of Alexander the Great, whose empire was split into 4 powers after his death (vv3-4). Eventually, 2 of these powers dominate. One was called the “King of the North”, and the other was called the “King of the South”. Their struggles against each other are chronicled through v35. From that point, things begin to take on an end time flavor.

These ancient powers have been identified by the Church of God COG as Syria and Egypt. When you view a map of the Middle East, you can easily see that Syria borders Israel on the north and part of the east. The main portion of Egypt is to the west of Israel, but due to the Mediterranean Sea, it borders the southwestern portion of Israel. Prophecies are usually given from the standpoint of Israel, and so directions like “north” and “south” are relative to the Holy Land.

The COG has always preached that the King of the North in the latter days will be the same as the Beast power identified in the Book of Revelation. There is a spiritual component that is identified with the Great Whore of Revelation 17. She sits upon 7 mountains both literally and spiritually (cf Da 2:44-45), and she sits upon a beast with ten horns (cf Da 2:41-44). We know that throughout history, attempts have been made to resurrect the Holy Roman Empire. There will again be an end time revival of this empire that will bring the earth to the brink of annihilation.

Who, then, is the “King of the South”? I would say that those who believe they have already identified it are probably mistaken! Let’s compare notes with the King of the North:

  1. Geographically, it should be south of Israel, esp. Jerusalem.
  • The King of the South will most likely be of Arab descent.
  • It will likely be at the head of a confederation of nations comparable to the ten kings of the Beast to the north. This means that they will be allied, but without a common enemy it is just as likely they would fight amongst themselves.
  • Like the Beast, these nations will likely be polarized by religion.
  • Like the Beast, the confederation of nations will likely have commercial interests that bind them together.

There may be more, but I think this is sufficient to identify that this cannot be Iran:

  1. Iran is not south of Israel. To me, this alone disqualifies Iran.
  2. Iranians are descendant from ancient Persia.
  3. While it is somewhat speculative that it must be the head of a confederation of nations, we must consider that its other rivals will also be a confederation of nations. The Beast to the north will be a group of “ten kings”, and we see later that the King of the North is threatened by the “kings of the East”. Iran might be a power to be reckoned with, but they have a lot of competition, to include the (currently) more moderate Saudis. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia and Iran are known to be rivals for regional influence in the area.
  4. Much of the Middle East has Islam that ties it together. It should be important to note, however, that Saudi Arabia is mostly Sunni and Iran is mostly Shiite. Saudi Arabia is also where Wahhabism, the more fundamentalist Sunni sect of Osama bin Laden, got its start.
  5. Economically, the Saudis have approximately the oil reserves of Iran and Iraq combined. The EU has a common currency, but the Middle East has a common commodity to tie it together.

Who could be the King of the South? Since the King of the North is a single king that will take control of the Beast power to the north of Jerusalem, it is most likely that the King of the South will be the same. Every confederation needs a head! UCG has been somewhat ambivalent about this, usually referring to an alliance to the south, but I respectfully disagree. The alliance should equate to the Beast power to the north, which is another alliance. The King of the South should be a single ruler, then, just as the King of the North will be someone who grabs power over the revived Holy Roman Empire. So, while there will be a group of Islamic nations, there needs to be a leader over them.

Who Could That Leader Be?

Some positions:

PCG – Iran

I believe I have shown that this cannot be Biblical or practical.

Church of the Eternal God (CEG) – None


Hours of research have established that Mr. Armstrong has never written that the final fulfillment of the prophecies about the coming king of the South are certainly yet to come. In fact, Mr. Armstrong wrote an Editorial in 1967, which was published in the Plain Truth, pointing out that the prophecy of Daniel 11:40 WAS fulfilled. There is no further mention of a king of the South after Daniel 11:40. It is clear that Mr. Armstrong, since 1967, never taught that there would definitely be a future king of the South, “attacking” or “pushing at” the future king of the North or Europe.

~ Church of the Eternal God, Question and Answer

I suppose nothing should shock me anymore, but I still get surprised by what some groups will come up with. All I want to point out is that v40 says that “at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him”.

Restored Church of God (RCG) and apparently others – Ethiopia

Apparently at one time, HWA taught that Ethiopia was the King of the South. In some respects, it makes sense as it fits geographically and it once was part of the Ptolemaic kingdom. However, this idea is not without its problems. For one thing, it isn’t that strong economically. Ethiopia has had its share of famine and internal strife. Although it has one of the fastest growing GDPs in 2007 and 2008, 2008 saw a drought in the region. Its main export is coffee beans, not oil. Demographically, 68% are Christians (43.5% Eastern Orthodox), and only 33.9% are Muslim. To me, this just does not fit the scenario. In addition, there is some distance from Jerusalem, and there is the obstacle of the Red Sea.

Various at Various Times – Egypt

While Egypt certainly was the King of the South anciently, that does not mean it has to be the King of the South prophetically. Syria was King of the North anciently, and that has moved, so the King of the South doesn’t have to have the same capitol. GTA wrote that it would be Egypt in 1963. It seems both HWA and GTA moderated that belief as time went on.

The problem with Egypt is that it just is not a very powerful nation anymore. It is one of the most populous nations in the region, and that helps it economically. However, it is not part of OPEC. However, it is about 90% Muslim, which would fit the scenario. This is questionable at best, but events could change things in an unforeseen way.

The Overlooked Country

What I find surprising is that there is a large Arabic oil producing nation with a fundamentalist attitude towards Islam that lies directly to the south of Jerusalem, but that nation seems to be ignored by most COG groups! What country has always had an influential role within OPEC? What country produces the most oil? What country has 2 of the most holy sites according to Islam? What country claims the Qur’an is its constitution? What country has produced the most radical extremists of fundamentalist Islam that we see today? What country has produced the leader of the most feared terrorist network in existence? Saudi Arabia.

It shouldn’t have to be said, but I’m not prophesying here! I could be wrong. However, I believe it is a reasonable conclusion to draw based upon logic and not divine revelation.

The Saudis have been pretty moderate given US involvement in the Middle East. However, it should not be overlooked that it was this moderate view and cooperation that fueled Osama bin Laden’s campaign against both Saudi Arabia and the US. The Saudi government is a monarchy, but that has not stopped internal criticism against their policies towards the West (although obviously done quietly for health reasons). There may yet come a day when that moderate attitude will turn due to internal pressures.

Time will tell whether or not I am correct. However, we all must remember to “Watch ye therefore, and pray always” so we aren’t caught by surprise. If we all knew the answers, there would be no surprises.




  1. I know that many people believe that "north" and "south" in the Bible are always in reference to Jerusalem. But is there any absolute proof of that? Even if every case where the identities of the nations or kings involved are known to be north or south in reference to Jerusalem, does that prove that this has to always be true? Is it possible that in the case of this prophecy in Daniel, the King of the North and the King of the South are only north and south in comparison to each other? In other words, the King of the South is south of the King of the North.

    I am looking for proof that "south" MUST mean south of Jerusalem. Without that proof, Iran might still be the King of the South.

  2. author@ptgbook.org

    I appologize for not replying sooner, but thank you for your extensive answer. You have given me some good material for study.