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It is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Daniel, Chapter 11 in verse 38, that the man who is called the little horn (who is to become the "antichrist" as Christians call him) will:

Daniel 11:38 (New International Version (NIV)): "Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his ancestors he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts."

The word translated "fortresses" according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance (SEC) means:

https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/nas/maowz.html

(Stong's #4581):
Definition:
place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold
place of safety, fastness, harbour, stronghold
refuge (of God) (fig.)
human protection (fig.)

In the next verse the same word (Strong's #4581) is used:

Daniel 11:39 (New International Version (NIV)):
"He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price."

The Englishman's Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament by George V. Wigram has for Strong's #4581 for Daniel 11:38 "shall he honour the God of forces: (marg. Mauzzim; or, munitions)" and for Daniel 11:39 "in the most strong holds (marg. fortresses of munitions)".

While that word may mean a fortified place, an acquaintance of mine who has, for decades, been self-taught in the Bible has stated that military power is ostensibly represented by the term fortresses, or forts in the modern vernacular and also that another, more modern meaning and intent of this metaphor "fort":

"...can also refer to vaults where massive amounts of precious metals, such as gold and silver, precious stones or jewels, and other valuables, including property deeds, are often stored in banks, the largest of which in the world is itself called a fort (Fort Knox)."

I've also read that temples can be included as places that stored treasure in ancient times (for example, in ancient Rome and ancient Greek), if that helps.

I'm curious what god or gods of all the mythologies matches up the most with being a God of Fortresses.

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  • Not a complete answer because it's more of a hunch and vague memory, IIRC The god of Fortresses would be an entirely new god of war. Since the antichrist sees himself as a new god, the god of fortresses might very well be a manifestation of the Antichrist.
    – Tom Sol
    Jun 22, 2022 at 16:45
  • Doesn't the phrase, "a god unknown to his ancestors" imply that the aforementioned god of fortresses is new rather than a deity from some pre-existing religion? Regardless, people at the "Biblical Hermeneutics" StackExchange might be able to give some more insight into this question as well (though perhaps with less comparative mythology like you are asking about).
    – Nelson O
    Sep 6, 2022 at 15:30
  • I don't know. I think "a god unknown to his fathers" may not necessarily mean a god whom his fathers had no knowledge of, but could mean a foreign god whom they knew about (like one from a neighboring tribe or people) but whom they themselves did not regard or worship. If it was a totally new god during the time of the Beast, why does it only mention his fathers in that regard & rather not the entire world up until that point? Thanks for the mention of "Biblical Hermeneutics" StackExchange, which I may try, but I was looking for people knowledgeable in mythology in general, not in scripture.
    – user9314
    Sep 25, 2022 at 21:29

3 Answers 3

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Biblical scholars specializing in Daniel identify this "god of fortresses" with Zeus Olympios, who is also being referred to in the surrounding verses. See, e.g., Amy-Jill Levine in The New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV)4th ed., annotation to Daniel 11:38. King Antiochus IV, the infamous Hellenizer, in 168 or 167 BCE had basically attempted set up Zeus Olympios as the patron deity of Jerusalem. As part of that, he built an altar to Zeus right atop the traditional altar at the Temple and offered sacrifices on it (1 Macc 1:54, 59). Jews called this the "abomination of desolation," "desolating sacrilege," etc. See generally 1 Macc 1:54-61; 2 Macc 6:6-9. As patron deity, Zeus would have been regarded (by Hellenists) as the protector of the city, meaning that he would have presided also over the citadel of Jerusalem (i.e., the fortress). Considering that Antiochus IV was Hellenizing Jerusalem, the god must be Greek, and there is really no alternative to Zeus. The only other foreign deity that Maccabees mentions (2 Macc 6:7) is Dionysus, who was a conqueror of some lands, most notably India, but his characteristics don't seem to fit the context here as well as Zeus, who was his superior. The traditional Greek war god, Ares, is nowhere to be found in the texts, and in any case would still be subordinate to Zeus.

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  • Dionysus does have some military characteristics. I discuss this at length in my dissertation with respect to the Bacchae, but see also Schiesaro's 2020 chapter "Alius furor." (That said, I agree that his martial characteristics do not factor in here, and have little to do with fortresses at any rate.)
    – cmw
    Oct 12, 2022 at 16:56
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Then how was Zeus not known by his forefathers? If the meaning is reliance on military alliances his fathers hadn't known, would that be an interpretation the text allows. The God of fortresses, inferring the ability to judge the strength and composition of those alliances to serve his kingdom. I don't know Hebrew, and merely superimposed gods as judges. Combined with the cunning of the anti christ, and the opposition from God to the jews placing their faith in ungodly alliances e.g. Egypt in contrast to Himself. Self exaltation would naturally lead along this road of misplaced faith, and it's self destructive outcome reaping the inherent judgement. You are gods (to whom the word of God came), also referring to judges, who cut of from God would die as mere men.

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  • I think you have a good idea here. I agree that the conventional association of Zeus with this "god of fortresses" is problematic.
    – cmw
    Oct 12, 2022 at 16:58
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Whether it is Zeus or not is yet to be determined. However, the Hebrew word Yada (know) can mean “to recognize, confess”. Many believe that this portrays the future antichrist and the reference to the “god of his fathers” means that he will be a Jew. During the Israel’s biblical time in Canaan, they unfortunately began to worship (recognize, confess) the many gods of the Canaanites, none of which were Zeus. So it is possible that Zeus or some other god that the Jews did not recognize could be the answer.

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