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מִצְרַ֖יִם (miṣ·ra·yim) is the original Hebrew name for Egypt. Mizraim is the dual form of matzor, meaning a "mound" or "fortress".

מָֽעֻזִּ֔ים (mā·‘uz·zîm) is the name of the god mentioned in Daniel 11:38. Maozim can mean "fortress", or at other times "tower".

Are these two words related? If so, can this god in Daniel 11:38 be further interpreted as an Egyption god, instead of a god of fortresses?

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  • מָֽעֻזִּ֔ים = marhazim
    – R. Emery
    Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 1:19
  • @R. Emery. Why you add a non-existent resh inside your transliteration? Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 13:37
  • These helpful answers help counter a concept I was contemplating. I was investigating if perhaps this god was an egyption god. This speculation was also based on an interpretation of Zechariah's one-eyed false shepherd.
    – Bnpg
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 17:12

2 Answers 2

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This is a difficult verse to interpret, which accounts for various translations. It is about what "the king of the North" will do in his rebellion against the only God, the Creator. It is generally acknowledged that the initial fulfillment of the entire chapter had to do with the Ptolemies and Seleucids from around 300 B.C. to 140. Egypt is certainly mentioned in that chapter. However, it is not any interpretation (ancient or modern) that you seek, but to check what the biblical text properly speaks of in verse 38 - Egypt, or fortress?

The word for Egypt does not occur in that verse. It does four verses further on, where it states that the King of the North will conquer Egypt. This means that when the NIV renders verse 38 as, "Instead of them, he will honour a god of fortresses", it cannot possibly mean Egypt, because the king of the North continually despises Egypt, finally succeeding in his desire to destroy Egypt by military power and intrigue.

It might be worth mentioning that other translations speak of "a god of forces", instead of "fortresses" (e.g. A.V.) or "the god of strongholds" (e.g. YLT).

The whole chapter is about one military force battling against another military force. The climax is in this eleventh chapter, "at the time of the end" (verse 40), after Egypt loses its wealth to the king of the North. Given the huge emphasis on the powers of those opposing armies, and how they put their total trust in them, and not God, it is significant that God often warns his people not to trust in Egypt for alliances, or military support:

"What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the Lord, the Holy One of Israel... For these Egyptians are mere humans, not God! Their horses are puny flesh, not mighty spirits! When the Lord raises his fist against them, those who help will stumble, and those being helped will fall. They will all fall down and die together." (Isaiah 31:1-3 N.L.T.)

Psalm 33 also warns his people that, "There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength" (vs. 16-17 A.V.). Egypt is not specifically mentioned here, for the truth applies to all and any world rulers whose trust is in their armed forces. Today it is not horses that any ruler trusts in; those have been replaced with aeroplanes that drop bombs, missiles launched from many miles away, submarines, tanks and chemical weapons etc.

This lends support to the view that Daniel 11:38 speaks of rulers fortifying their power and conquests by means of human inventions for killing, maiming and terrifying into submission those they seek to conquer. The 'god' aspect speaks of trusting in that and not in the Creator. Whatever replaces God's rightful place as the only true God in whom we trust and adore, becomes our god. That verse does not mean Egypt.

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Let us examine the words as requested in Dan 11:38.

"Fortress"

The word translated "fortress" in Dan 11:38 is מָעוֹז (ma'oz) which simply means a refuge, stronghold, shelter or fortress. That is, a protected location.

The simplest way to understand this "god of fortresses" is to read it as an antithetical (a false, counterfeit) version of the the true God of fortresses, 2 Sam 22:33, Nah 3:11. See also Neh 8:10, Ps 27:1, 46:1, 31:3, etc.

[Another word for fortress is also מָצוֹר (matsor) but this is more the besieged area of a fortress, eg, Judges 6:26, 2 Sam 22:33, etc.]

"Egypt"

As is well-known, the spelling of Egypt in the OT is varied:

  1. מָצוֹר (Matsor), 2 Kings 19:24, Isa 19:6, 37:25, Mic 7:12. This is very similar to the second noun above for besieged fortress. However, neither this word nor the second above is found in Dan 11:38.
  2. מִצְרַיִם (Mitsrayim) as in Gen 10:6, 13, 12:10, 14, etc, and, Dan 11:38. Both BDB and, Baker & Carpenter's "Complete Word Study Dictionary of the OT" say this word is of uncertain origin and meaning. However, it appears to be the dual of #1 above.

Therefore, one cannot immediately connect Egypt to "fortress" in Dan 11:38 on the basis of word meaning and origin.

As stated above, the simplest interpretation of "god of fortresses" in Dan 11:38 is as a counterfeit of the true "God of Fortresses", the One about whom the son of Korah wrote:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

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  • Interesting. What exactly could make this false god appear to be a counterfeit "mighty fortress" for people to take refuge in?
    – Bnpg
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 10:10
  • @Bnpg - as a worshiper of the One true God, you had better direct this question to the many worshipers of modern-day false god such as money, power, prestige, sex, grand homes, etc, etc. That is the fundamental function of false gods - to give a false sense of security, hence a false god of fortresses.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 10:58

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