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Daniel chapter 11 speaks of the Willful king that will profane the temple and persecute the Jews. One of the many descriptions given to him is found in verse 37,

וְעַל-אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתָיו לֹא יָבִין, וְעַל-חֶמְדַּת נָשִׁים וְעַל-כָּל-אֱלוֹהַּ לֹא יָבִין: כִּי עַל-כֹּל, יִתְגַּדָּל

He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the chemdas nashim, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.

The meaning of chemdas nashim is unclear and I found different interpretation among the many translations, but mainly they fall neatly between the two following models of exegesis:

  1. desire of women/lust for women/love of women (which means he will have no sexual attraction towards women)
  2. the god loved by women (perhaps a fertility goddess?)

For example the KJV translates thus,

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

While the CEV has,

This king will reject the gods his ancestors worshiped and the god preferred by women. In fact, he will put himself above all gods

The word god is obviously not present in the words chemdas nashim, but the CEV and others choose to translate the word chemdas (construct state of chemda) into "the desire of" or "the one desired" which can also mean "the god desired by". Whereas, the KJV and others opt for the simple translation "love of" or "lust for" (in their words, "desire of"). Judging from context (gods) the CEV is to be favored over the KJV; however the latter has the advantage of being more simple and straightforward as it doesn't force in any words that are not present in the original text (see also 2 Samuel 1:26 for a similar Hebrew expression for "love of women").

Hermeneutically speaking, what are the arguments for or against the KJV? Also how do supporters of the KJV explain the juxtaposition of "having no lust for women" with "having no regard for the gods"?

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  • Could “the desire of women” simply be the desire to get married, because any sane young women would favour marriage over casual sex. Anti-Christ is also called “the lawless one”, which could apply to a leaning towards loose sexual encounters. I.e. non-legalised sexual relationships between the sexes. Commented Aug 8, 2023 at 3:06

4 Answers 4

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Firstly, regardless of context, the KJV is supported by the Greek versions here (NETS, (page 31 of the PDF), Brenton), the Peshitta (see the Pulpit commentary here, which renders the English in this way), and the Vulgate (here, with DRC, although the Vulgate understands this verse to mean that the king will follow lust of women). This is because translations often choose to follow the literal meaning of the original text, even if it could be interpreted differently.

Here are some possible defenses of the this reading:

  • Ellicott (here) makes a very important point about the context, which defends the KJV:

    The context, however, leads us rather to think of human affection, or some other thing highly prized by women, for the words “neither shall he regard any god” would be unmeaning if a god were designated by “the desire of women.”

  • The same phrase appears in the Hebrew version of Ben Sira (23:6), and clearly does not refer to any god:

    אל תבואני תאוות מעדנים וחמדת נשים, ואל תסגירני ביד מרעים

However, there are arguments to the contrary as well:

  • Some descriptions of other gods use the same root of Ch-M-D (e.g. Isaiah 1:29, Isaiah 44:9)
  • As you note, the context seems to be referring to gods
  • We are aware of certain gods that the women desire from elsewhere in the bible (Ezekiel 8:14)

It is also important to note that there are those who look to other sources in attempt to find support that Antiochus was abstinent or disregarding of certain female gods (see the various commentaries here and Da'at Mikra on this verse for an attempt to identify this god(dess)).

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  • +1 and a very useful answer as well. Note however that the attempt to find support that Antiochus was abstinent are based on the assumption that this vision is about Antiochus and not about a Roman emperor (perhaps Octavius?). But this might not be the case, see hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/5224/…
    – bach
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 0:53
  • I would also appreciate if you can address my last question regarding the odd juxtaposition.
    – bach
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 0:55
  • @Bach your first point is very well taken, indeed, I saw that as a possibility. My guess for the juxtaposition is that both of these show that "he is above all". Both of these activities are, for this king, simply meaningless vain trivial distractions that he should not be bothered with, as he is the controller of his own destiny.
    – user22655
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 3:03
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    @Bach also interesting is the last word of verse 38 - I'm not sure if it can shed light on this verse, but it's interesting nevertheless.
    – user22655
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 3:12
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Is it possible that “desire” is plural? Could it be that the Antichrist will have no regard for the desires of women? If we consider the current socio-political trajectory, women are increasingly losing their value—particularly in the formerly Christian Western nations (it was Christianity that elevated the status of women). One might then surmise that women will not fare well under his leadership.

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    Commented Apr 4 at 14:14
  • It's interesting how the Apology to the Augsburg Confession (XXIII), in its discussion of mandatory priestly celibacy, translates (Daniel 11:37) in the sense of how it "attributes to the kingdom of the Antichrist this mark, namely, the contempt for women." Luther's German translation on Daniel 11:37 reads that the antichrist will not respect the love of women, which could be understood in a misogynistic sense: "Und die Götter seiner Väter wird er nicht achten; er wird weder Frauenliebe noch irgend eines Gottes achten; denn er wird sich wider alles aufwerfen."
    – Jess
    Commented Apr 30 at 22:35
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Hermeneutically speaking, what are the arguments for or against the KJV? Also how do supporters of the KJV explain the juxtaposition of "having no lust for women" with "having no regard for the gods"?

In the KJV, the text reads as follows:

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. (Daniel 11:37, KJV)

Three Identifying Characteristics

In this text there are three identifying marks, or characteristics, by which to identify the "king" in question.

It is said that he will not "regard" (implying respect, honor, or acceptance) any of these three:

  1. The God of his fathers
  2. The "desire of women"
  3. Any god

There is one king which fits this description well; however, we must consider carefully the implications of each point before we can identify this king.

Because the "God of his fathers" clue could lead in so many directions, we begin with the second one: "the desire of women."

The Desire of Women

The Hebrew is unclear here--perhaps deliberately ambiguous, as it could mean more than one thing, and those things could be true at one and the same time. (Once the "king" is identified, this will become apparent.)

First, it could refer to having a desire for women. The Hebrew construct chain in which the two nouns occur allows this. This is why the words "love" and "lust" are suggested/implied in the Hebrew, and why some translations will use them in place of "desire."

Secondly, it could refer to a woman's desire, in general. And what do women desire? Biblically, the most responsible answer to this question is children.. (Consider Genesis 18:12 as one example.) So if this king does not regard the desire of women, he is not fathering any children with them.

What well-known king, throughout much of history and to the present time, neither marries, nor has children?

(It may help to be mindful here that the word "king" in Hebrew can refer to a mayor, or to any head of state, and is not so narrowly defined in the Bible as our modern usage might suggest.)

The God of His Fathers

The fact that this "king" is associated with a new "god" indicates that his is a religious power.

There is one king that fits this description: the Pope of Rome. Vatican City, the residence of the Pope, is actually a country (state), as the dictionary shows:

Vatican City | ˌvadəkən ˈsidē | an independent papal state in the city of Rome, the seat of government of the Roman Catholic Church; population 1,000 (estimated 2015).

There is no other country like the Vatican which is ruled by a religious power. And how does his god differ from that of his fathers?

At the Council of Nicaea, in A.D. 328, the Athanasian Creed first began to take hold with the adoption of the Trinity. Later in the same century, it was further developed.

According to The Encyclopaedia Britannica1:

Athanasian Creed, also called Quicumque Vult (from the opening words in Latin), a Christian profession of faith in about 40 verses. It is regarded as authoritative in the Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches. It has two sections, one dealing with the Trinity and the other with the Incarnation; and it begins and ends with stern warnings that unswerving adherence to such truths is indispensable to salvation.
. . .
Neither the word “Trinity” nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Hebrew Scriptures: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
. . .
The Council of Nicaea in 325 stated the crucial formula for that doctrine in its confession that the Son is “of the same substance [homoousios] as the Father,” even though it said very little about the Holy Spirit. Over the next half century, St. Athanasius defended and refined the Nicene formula, and, by the end of the 4th century, under the leadership of St. Basil of Caesarea, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus (the Cappadocian Fathers), the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since.1

Thus it is acknowledged as a matter of historical record that the Trinity was a new development, a new "God", which differed from the God known to and believed by the the predecessors of this king.

Nor Regard any God

This king essentially establishes himself as being in the place of God. Those who wish to be forgiven are to seek the priests (who, likewise, are to have no desire for women) for absolution. This was something that was previously unknown, as even the Pharisees objected to Jesus' offering of forgiveness as "blasphemy." (See Mark 2:7.)

Throughout the history of Europe, kings of the various countries were obligated to seek the favor of the pope before their coronation. He was as "the king of kings" to them, which, Biblically, is a term reserved for Jesus. Yet the "Bishop of Rome," "Vicar of Rome," as he was designated, threatened monarchs throughout all of Europe with excommunication and eternal-burning hell if they did not bow to the authority of Rome. These acts showed he had no regard for "any god."

Conclusion

Having no "desire for women" or no regard for "the desire of women" can be dual-meaning in nature. The Hebrew itself allows this ambiguity. It may mean either (and probably primarily) that he did not have a love (e.g. sexual) for women, or that he did not give women what they desired, i.e. children.


1 https://www.britannica.com/topic/Trinity-Christianity

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When reading the Bible, it helps to be able to think like a Hebrew with Hebrew idioms and Hebrew history. The King James has translated the scriptures correctly in Dan. 11:37. The "desire of women" was speaking of the longing of the Hebrew women to be the mother of the Messiah. The phrase is not speaking of sexual desires.

We have to stay with the context of the scriptures. Daniel ch. 11 is a prophesy of about 400 years of events which Gabriel revealed to Daniel that would center around Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem during troublesome times after their return from Babylon. It is part of the prophesy of the 490 years that began in Dan 9:24.

Gabriel told Daniel that the end of the desolations - destruction - of Jerusalem would be yet 490 years, and it was couched as for "thy people" and "thy holy city".

>"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, ..." (KJV)

"Thy people" were Daniel's people - the Hebrews / Jews. "Thy holy city" was Daniel's holy city - Jerusalem. Then keeping with the context of the 490 years, the prophesy encompasses all of Dan. chap. 10, 11, & 12. And, all of chapter 11 concerns kings, rulers and powers affecting and surrounding Jerusalem before the end of its desolation, or its destruction.

Then, Gabriel told Daniel of several kings in chap. 11 which would affect the "holy people" and the "holy city" - that is the Jews and Jerusalem.

Vs. 1 identifies the beginning point with Darius the Mede. Vs. 2 counts 3 more kings of Persia before giving information about a 4th Persian king that would rise, or come to power. This 4th Persian king precedes the king of Grecia in vs. 3, and is often identified as King Ahaseurus, or Xerxes whom Esther married; the last great wealthy king at the peak of the Persian empire who reigned over its last great moments.

Vs. 3 - 4 then speaks of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian / Greek ruler who conquered so many nations, and upon whose death his kingdom was divided into four parts to his four generals - not to his posterity.

One of these four kings becomes the king of the south in Vs. 5, and was the Ptolemaic Dynasty beginning with Ptolemy I Soter who received the rule over Egypt, Palestine, Cilicia, Petra & Cyprus. (1)

The other prominent king which picked up territory from Alexander was Seleucos I who took over Mespotamia, the Levant, Persia, and part of India. (2) This became the Seleucid Dynasty.

These two dynasties / kingdoms were south of and north of Jerusalem, which was the subject of Daniel's prophesy. The 400 years of history outlined in Dan. chap. 11 were those which would affect Jerusalem, and eventually be it's cause of destruction - the end of days of the 490 years of the desolations of Jerusalem.

From vs. 5 to 35, Dan. 11 tells of the kings of the north (the Seleucids) fighting against the kings of the south (the Ptolemys), and poor Jerusalem is stuck in the middle and gets sacked a few times as these armies march back and forth in front of the holy city.

But at vs. 36, a new king is introduced. This is determined by the context of the scriptures in vs. 37 - "the God of his fathers" with a capital "G". Therefore, the king of vs. 37 is a Jew, who ruled over the Jews in Jerusalem; one who magnifies himself above all and does not hold any regard for YHVH.

As such, this king could not have been a ruler of a pagan nation, such as Antiochus Epiphanes which many attribute to vs. 36, because Antiochus Epiphanes would not have been spoken of in this manner. The "God of his fathers" is a clear reference to YHVH, which means this king ignored the "YHVH" of his fathers. This also rules out any consideration that this king was of the Roman rulers.

Nor did this king hold any regard for the "desire of women" to be the mother of the Messiah. The focus is upon the Jews and Jerusalem, so the desire of women stays with the context, and refers to the desires of the Hebrew women.

The Hebrew women knew the prophesy of Isa 7:14 -

"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (KJV)

They knew Isa. 9:6 -

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (KJV)

The Amplified Classic translation spells it out correctly.

"He shall not regard the gods of his fathers or Him [to Whom] women desire [to give birth—the Messiah] or any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all." (Dan. 11:37, AMPC).

The word "desire" from Strong's Heb. 2532 is also "delight". (3) It is the same "desire" of Hag. 2:7,

"And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts." (KJV)

which was the Messiah.

This particular king in vs. 37 did not care about the Messiah who was the delight of the Hebrew women who longed to be His mother.

The KJV is correct. The tendency of reading the English translations without knowing the Hebrew background is a drawback, and prevents many from understanding the Hebrew idioms and references in the scriptures.

The word "god" in vs. 37 is used in the same way as from Psa. 82:6-7 :

"I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." (KJV)

It meant those who ruled over the people from the temple who were to rightly represent the Law of Moses to the people on behalf of God the Father.

The king of Dan. 11:37 had no regard for YHVH, no regard for the promised Messiah - the desire of women - and no regard for the rulers, priests and princes of Jerusalem.

Dan. 11:36-45 brings the history of Jerusalem to the birth of Christ and His ministry, succeeded by Dan. 12:1.

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: ..." (KJV)

Michael of the OT was the preincarnate Christ, the prince of His people. The king of Dan 11:36-45 preceded Christ's appearance, and was a ruler over Daniel's people, dividing the land for gain, "planting the tabernacles of his palace between the seas the glorious holy mountain" of Jerusalem.

Dan. 11:36 introduces us to King Herod.

"The words, "the king," should suffice, in the light of the context, without further description, to identify Herod to those who thoughtfully read their Bibles; for Herod alone is called by that title in the Gospels, and he alone had the rank and authority of "king" in Israel in the days after the captivity, "the latter days." The text does not speak of a king, but of the king, the emphatic Hebrew article being used. This is in marked contrast with the terms of v. 40, where the original speaks of "a king of the north," and "a king of the south." (4)

Herod attempted to put to death the promised Messiah of Israel, the desire of women, the desire of the nations (Matt. 2:1-16). He also had no regard for the natural desire of women for their children when he had the infants slaughtered in his attempt to kill the infant Messiah (Matt. 2:16-18), the weeping of Rachel for her children (Jer. 31:51).

Herod honored the "god of strongholds" or fortresses (vs. 38), a god whom his fathers knew not, therefore a pagan god. He paid the Roman Caesars tribute in gold and silver and costly jewels.

".... he converted the ancient Strato's Tower into a magnificent seaport, and named it Caesarea … and … later he rebuilt Samaria, and renamed it Sebaste (Sebastos being the equivalent of Augustus). He built many other fortified cities …. The same subject is continued in verse 39, which reads: "Thus shall he do in the most strongholds with a strange god whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain," or "parcel out the land for hire." Here we have a reference to one of the most prominent acts of Herod's long reign, namely, his rebuilding of the temple, and his making the temple area a stronghold. He made the temple the most famous building in the world for its dimensions, its magnificence, and particularly for the size of the stones whereof it was built, to which the disciples specially directed the Lord's attention (Mark 13:1), and which Josephus says were 25 cubits long, 12 broad, and 8 thick (Ant. XV II, 3). But, in rebuilding it, Herod took care to convert it into a fortress for his own purposes, this being the "most stronghold" of the land. As a part of this plan he constructed on the north side of the temple, and overlooking it, a strong citadel which he named the Tower of Antonia …. Josephus says: "But for the Tower itself, when Herod the king of the Jews had fortified it more firmly than before, in order to secure and guard the temple…" (Ant. XV 11:4-7). " (4)

The KJV does have some errors in certain areas, but it is correct in its translation of Dan. 11:37.

Notes:

1) Ptolemaic Dynasty at AncientHistory

2) The World of Alexander the Great at AncientHistory

3) "chemdah" is defined as "desire, delight". See BibleHub

4) Antiochus Epiphanes and Herod the Great, Part II: The King of Daniel 11 here

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  • You did ask if the KJV was correct in its translation didn't you? YOu were asking about the phrase "desire of women" weren't you? The CEV and other who are attempting to put a sexual connotation on this phrase are misunderstanding it.
    – Gina
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 14:43
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    Gina in that case you should condense your long answer to a few lines. Instead you added lots of irrelevant information and crammed in lots of other stuff that are not suited for BH. Always try to stay on topic.
    – bach
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 14:50
  • See this hermeneutics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/583/…
    – bach
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 14:56
  • Bach, that link is a distraction. You asked if the KJV had mistranslated the text. You asked the meaning of "desire of women". I answered those questions. You r disagreeing with the answers provided based upon what? Hermeneutics requires that scripture prevails over opinion. Pls point out where my answer disagrees with scripture.
    – Gina
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 15:13
  • Part of the answer was background context to b able to properly understand the entire vs. Dan. 11:37, and put the phrase "desire of women" in the correct context of the Hebrew background. It is necessary b/c most ppl today have strayed from the context of the scriptures.
    – Gina
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 15:15

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