The Vile Person of Daniel 11: Antiochus IV or an end-time Antichrist?

SUMMARY

INTRODUCTION

Daniel the prophet, according to the book of Daniel, lived in the sixth century B.C.  That was before the kingdoms of Greece and Mede-Persia existed.  But Daniel 11 and 8 mention these kingdoms by name.  Critical scholars do not accept that God knows the future.  They do not accept that these accurate descriptions of historical events could have been written in the sixth century BC, as the book itself claims.  They, rather, propose that the book of Daniel was written by an unknown writer after these kingdoms already came into existence.  In their view, the prophecies of Daniel are history written in the form of prophecy.

The main character in Daniel 11 is described as a “vile person.”  Interpreters generally agree that this is the same as the evil horn-king of Daniel 7 and 8:

Later prophecies elaborate on the earlier prophecies. 

Both the horn and the vile person persecute God’s people for a period of 3½ times, profane the temple by setting up the abomination (grotesque sin) and removing the regular sacrifice, use deceit and magnify themselves.

Daniel 11Antiochus IV was a Greek king who reigned in the middle of the second century BC.  He fits the sequence of kings and the activities of the “vile person” of Daniel 11 fairly well.  Critic scholars, therefore, propose that the book of Daniel was written in his time and that Antiochus IV was the “vile person.”  Critics transfer this interpretation to Daniel 7 and 8 and then also interpret the evil horn-king in these chapters as Antiochus IV.

JESUS CHRIST IN DANIEL 11

Interpreters generally agree on the interpretation of the first 13 verses of Daniel 11.  The chapter opens with a description of individual Persians kings.  It then moves to the Greek Empire. 

Interpreters also generally agree that verses 14 to 19 describe Antiochus III; one of the Greek kings and predecessor of Antiochus IV.

Verse 22 is a key verse.  It says that the Vile Person will:

Flood away the “overflowing forces“ and
Shatter the prince of the covenant.

There are strong word links between this verse and Daniel 9:24-27:

– The words “flood” and nagid (prince) are unique to these two passages.
– Only in these passages is “covenant” linked to a nagid-prince and is the nagid-prince cut off. 

On the basis of these word links, this article proposes:

– That the Prince of the covenant is Jesus Christ;
– That “shatter” refers to His death on the Cross.
– That the flood is the Roman Empire.

Since the events in Daniel 11 are given in chronological sequence, and since the abomination (11:31) and the persecution of God’s people (11:32-34) are described after verse 22, these must then occur in time after Christ’s death.  Verse 22, therefore, does not describe Antiochus IV.

OBJECTIONS

One possible objection to this interpretation is that Daniel 11 provides much more detail about Antiochus III (vv. 15-19); the father and predecessor of Antiochus IV, than about any previous king.  Critics argue that Daniel 11 emphasizes Antiochus III to identify the next king (the vile person) as his son Antiochus IV. 

In response, the current article points out that, once the prophecy reaches a key turning point in history, it jumps over the remaining kings of that empire to the next empire.  The wars of Antiochus III were a key turning point in history.  At that point, the prophecy jumps over the remaining Greek rulers to the Roman Empire, represented by the symbol of the vile person.  Therefore, Daniel 11 emphasizes Antiochus III because his reign was a turning point in history; not to identify the next king.

NO ROMAN EMPIRE

A second possible objection is that Daniel 11 does not mention the Roman Empire.  Daniel 11 continues, without an intervening empire, from Antiochus III to the vile person.  To this objection, we respond by showing that the symbol of the vile person in Daniel 11 and the evil horn in Daniel 8 include both the Roman Empire and the anti-God power that arose from it.

ANTIOCHUS FITS

A third possible objection is that Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11 as well as the actions of the “vile person.”  This is true, but, on the other hand, the description of the “vile person” exceeds Antiochus IV.  There is much in the prophecy that does not fit Antiochus IV.  Antiochus IV is only a partial fulfillment of the anti-God successor.  He is a type of the ultimate fulfillment of the final and much larger worldwide anti-God ruler that will arise after the time of the Roman Empire.

These concepts will now be discussed in more detail.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

Daniel 11 is one of the most difficult chapters in the Bible.  The conservative interpretation, as defended on this website, is not based on Daniel 11, but on the earlier and easier to understand chapters.  The current article attempts to explain Daniel 11 from a conservative perspective.

INTRODUCTION

HISTORY WRITTEN AS PROPHECY

Daniel 8 mentions the kingdoms of Greece and Mede-Persia by name.  The first verses of Daniel 11 also clearly describe these kingdoms.  But Critics (critical scholars) do not accept that God knows the future.  They do not accept that these accurate descriptions of historical events could have been written in the sixth century BC, as the book itself claims.  They propose that Daniel was written after these kingdoms already rose to power.  In other words, in their view, the prophecies of Daniel are history written by an unknown writer in the form of prophecy.

THE VILE PERSON IS THE SMALL HORN OF DANIEL 8.

The KJV describes the main character in Daniel 11 as a “vile person” (11:21).  Interpreters generally agree that this “vile person” is the same as the horn of Daniel 8 and Daniel 7, argued as follows:

(1) As already stated, the later prophecies in Daniel elaborate on the earlier prophecies.  Based on this principle, chapter 11, even though it does not have beasts and horns representing kingdoms, but rather a series of selected individual kings who ruled those kingdoms, still refers to the same kingdoms.

(2) Both the horn and the vile person:
. . Persecute God’s people (7:25; 11:32-34);
. . For a period of 3½ times (7:25; 12:7); (See note **)
. . Profane the temple (11:31; 8:11) (See ***)
. . Set up “the abomination” (11:31; 8:13); (See ****).
. . Remove the continual sacrifice (the tamid) (8:11; 11:31);
. . Use deceit (8:25; 11:21-24); and
. . Magnify himself” (8:11; 11:36-37).

NOTE ** PERSECUTION

The persecution by the vile person is described in 11:32-34, but when Daniel asks in 12:6, “How long shall it be?”, the response came, “it would be for a time, two times, and half a time; and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be accomplished” (12:7).  In other words, the holy people will be persecuted for the prophetic period of “a time, two times, and half a time;” equal to 3½ times.  Since this question and answer come at the end of the prophecy of Daniel 11·12, it refers to the previously mentioned persecution, which is the persecution in 11:32-34.

The 3½ times of Daniel 12:7 is also mentioned in

Daniel 7:25 also mentions the “time, times, and half a time” as a period of persecution of the saints of the Most High by the little horn-king.

NOTE *** PROFANE THE TEMPLE

The vile person profanes the strong temple (11:31), which is equivalent to the casting down of the place of the temple by the horn in 8:11.

NOTE **** ABOMINATION

An abomination is a sin.  In Deuteronomy 7:25 “graven images of their gods” are called “an abomination to the LORD your God.`”  Both 11:31 and 8:11-12 mentions the “abomination” in connection with the “regular sacrifice” (the tamid).  Daniel 11, therefore, covers the same ground as Daniel 8 and provides additional detail.

THE VILE PERSON IS ANTIOCHUS IV.

After the death of Alexander the Great, his Greek kingdom was divided into four empires.  One of these was the Seleucids of the Middle East.  Antiochus IV was one of the kings in this kingdom.  He reigned in the middle of the second century BC.  He fits the sequence of kings and the activities of the “vile person” of Daniel 11 fairly well.  But the events described in the last part of Daniel 11 do not fit known history.  For these reasons, Critics propose that:

(A) The book of Daniel was written in the time of Antiochus IV;
(B) The book of Daniel was written in response to the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV;
(C) The evil king in Daniel is Antiochus IV, and
(D) The events described later in Daniel 11, that do not fit history, are the guesswork of the uninspired writer of Daniel.

Critics transfer this interpretation to Daniel 7 and 8, and interpret the evil horn-king in these chapters also as Antiochus IV.  This is called the Maccabean thesis.  As one Critical scholar wrote:

Daniel was written during the period of the Maccabees, in the middle of the 2nd century B.C., or about 400 years after the events it describes.  Its origin is betrayed in chapter 11, when Daniel supposedly prophesies about the future.

Conservatives, on the other hand, base their interpretation of Daniel mostly on Daniel 2, 7 and 8, but often find it difficult to explain Daniel 11.

PROPOSED INTERPRETATION

Critics do not accept that the future can be known. They believe that the evil king in Daniel 11 was the Greek king Antiochus IV. The current article defends the conservative interpretation of Daniel 11.There are no animals in Daniel 11.  The prophecy names the Persian kingdom (11:2), but none of the later kingdoms or kings are named.  Instead, the titles “king of the south” and “king of the north” are used to describe entire kingdoms, each consisting of a series of kings.  The reader of Daniel 11 has to identify the individual kings by comparing the events described in the prophecy with actual history.

Interpreters generally agree on the interpretation of Daniel 11:1-13:

PERSIAN KINGS

The chapter opens with a description of individual Persians kings, concluding with Xerxes, who attacked Greece (11:2).  By virtue of his failed attack on the Greeks, he brought the Greek nation onto the ‘world’ scene.

GREEK KINGS

King of the NorthThe prophecy then jumps over the next 150 years of Persian rule to the first Greek king—the “mighty king” (Alexander the Great) (11:3).  His kingdom was divided into four after his death (11:4).  Verses 5 to 13 describe key events in the history of two of the four divisions, namely those divisions that were threats to Judea.  To the north of Judea was the “king of the north;” the Seleucid kings of the Middle East.  To the south was the “king of the south,” namely the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt.  The actions of the Ptolemies and Seleucids, as described in these verses, are fairly consistent with what we know today as their history.

ANTIOCHUS III

Verse 14 refers to the “breakers of your people.”  Here interpretations start to diverge.  But interpreters generally agree that verses 14 to 19 describe Antiochus III.  To quote a Critical Scholar:

Daniel 11:2-20 is a very accurate & historically corroborated sequence of events from the third year (10:1) of the Persian era up to the predecessor of Antiochus IV: some 366 years!  Only the names and dates are missing.  Most of the details are about the conflicts between the kings of the South (the Ptolemies of Egypt) and the kings of the North (the Seleucids of Mesopotamia/ Syria).  The Seleucids are shown to become stronger and stronger (despite some setbacks) …  Of course, Jerusalem was in the middle and changed hand (197, from Egypt to Syria).

PRINCE OF THE COVENANT

Verse 22 is a key verse.  The following is a fairly literal translation of it:

The arms of the flood are overflowed from before him, and are broken; and also the leader (nagid; prince – NASB) of the covenant (YLT)

The text pictures inferior forces (“the arms of the flood“) being defeated by the superior forces of the “vile person” (v21). The lesser flood is flooded by an even greater flood of arms.  The prince of the covenant is also broken.  In other words, it says that the vile person will:

(a) Flood away the “overflowing forces“ and
(b) Shatter the prince of the covenant.

The current article proposes that the prince of the covenant is Jesus Christ and that “broken” refers to His death on the Cross.  This conclusion is based on the word links between 11:22 and the prophecy of Christ’s death in Daniel 9:24-27.

WORD LINKS

The word “flood,” as a noun, occurs only twice in Daniel—in 9:26 (“Its end shall come with the flood, and to the end there shall be war“) and in 11:22.

The word ‘sar’ (translated “prince”) occurs 11 times in Daniel (8:11, 25; 9:6, 8; 10:13, 20 [twice], 21; 11:5; 12:1).  But the word ‘nagid’, which is also translated “prince,” occurs only in 11:22 and in 9:24-27. In 9:24-27 we find the nagid in the phrases “Messiah the Prince” and “the prince who is to come.”  This implies that “the prince of the covenant” (11:22) is the “Messiah the Prince” (9:25), describing Christ when He was on earth.

In both 9:24-27 and 11:22 the nagid-prince will be destroyed.  He is “cut off” (9:26) and ”broken” (11:22).

The word “covenant” is found in both passages.  “Covenant” also occurs elsewhere in Daniel, but only in these two passages is a prince connected with the covenant.  Consequently, only the nagid-prince is connected with the covenant.  In 9:26-27 the nagid-prince makes strong the covenant for one week. (See Covenant in Daniel 9:27.)  In 11:22, the nagid-prince of the covenant is broken.  Elsewhere in Daniel, “covenant” always refers to the covenant between God and His people (9:4; 11:28, 30, 32).  This implies that the covenant in 11:22 also refers to God’s covenant with Israel.

CONCLUSION

On the basis of these word links, this article concludes as follows:

1. The nagid-prince in the two passages refers to the same individual, namely that the Prince of the Covenant is Jesus Christ.
2. The shatterring of the prince of the covenant in 11:22 refers to His death.
3. The flood that floods away the “overflowing forces“ in 11:22 is the same as the flood that destroys the city and the sanctuary in 9:26.  Both are the Roman Empire.

Since the events in Daniel 11 are given in chronological sequence, and since the abomination (11:31) and the persecution of God’s people (11:32-34) are described after verse 22, the abomination and persecution must occur after Christ’s death in the first century AD.  These events therefore occur during or after the end of the Roman Empire, and cannot refer to Antiochus IV.

Jesus confirmed this when He put the abomination in the future:

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet (Daniel 11:31 and 12:11), standing in the holy place“ (Mat 24:15)

Jesus, therefore, also interpreted the “vile person” as an anti-God ruler that will arise after His time; not as the Greek king Antiochus IV who died about 200 years earlier.

PROPHECIES COMPARED

With this conclusion, and with the assistance of the previous articles in this series, we are now able to compare Daniel 11 with the earlier prophecies:

DANIEL 11 DANIEL 9 DANIEL 8 DANIEL 7
Persian kings (v2) Persian decree (v25) Ram (v2-4) Bear (v5)
Greek king (v3) Goat (v5-7) Leopard (v6a)
Kings of North and South Goat’s four horns (v8) Leopard’s four heads
Roman flood breaks Nagid of the covenant (v22) Nagid cut off (v 25-27) Horizontal expansion (8:9) Fourth beast (v8, 23)
Vile person: profanes temple, sets up abomination (v31), persecutes for 3½ times (v32-34; 12:7) Little horn: casts temple down, removes daily, transgression of desolation (v8-13) Little horn: persecutes God’s people for 3½ limes; (v25)

POSSIBLE OBJECTIONS

This section responds to possible objections to the interpretation proposed above.

EMPHASIS ON ANTIOCHUS III 

One possible objection against this interpretation is that Daniel 11 provides much more detail about Antiochus III (vv. 15-19); the father and predecessor of Antiochus IV, than about any previous king.  Critical scholars argue that this is to identify the next king (the vile person) as his son Antiochus IV.  

This article gives a different explanation as to why the prophecy emphasizes Antiochus III:

The reign of the fourth Persian king (Xerxes) was also emphasized earlier in verse 2 of Daniel 11, but not to identify the Persian king that would follow after him.  Daniel 11:2 emphasize Xerxes because his unsuccessful wars against Greece was a key turning point in history that shifted the balance of power in the known world from Mede-Persia to Greece.  After Xerxes was mentioned in verse 2, the prophecy immediately jumps over the next 150 years during which seven Persian kings reigned (Arlaxerxes I, Darius II, Xerxes II, Artaxerxes II, Artaxerxes Ill, Arses, and Darius III), to the first Greek emperor; Alexander the Great (11:3).

We then note that Antiochus III’s unsuccessful war against the Romans, as described in Daniel 11, was similarly a key turning point in history.  It shifted the balance of power from the Greek Empire to Rome.  As a result, Antiochus and his sons had to pay penalties to the Romans and their empire was left subject to the growing dominance of Rome.

KEY TURNING POINT

Both the reigns of Xerxes and Antiochus III were therefore key turning points in history that shifted the balance of power to the next empire.  Daniel 11 emphasizes Xerxes and Antiochus III for this reason; not to identify the kings that follow them.

JUMPS OVER THE NEXT KINGS

In the case of Xerxes, once the key turning point has been reached, that the prophecy jumps over the next 150 years of Persian rule to the next empire.  This principle applies equally to the shift from the Greek to the Roman empires.  After Antiochus III’s unsuccessful war against Rome, the prophecy jumps over the next 170 years, during which several Greek kings reigned, to the next empire (Rome).  Read in this way, Daniel 11:19 is a description of the death of Antiochus III, while 11:22 describes the death of Christ 200 years later.

This principle is also noted when Daniel 7 and 8 are compared.  The vision in Daniel 7 mentions Babylon, but the vision in Daniel 8, which was received only two years later (compare 7:1 and 8:1) does not.  The reason is that the key turning point, that shifted the balance of world power from Babylon to Mede-Persia, was reached between these two dates.  This was the war between the Medes and the Persians, which resulted in the prophesied Cyrus becoming supreme ruler of both the Medes and the Persians.  The prophecy, therefore, jumps over the remaining Babylonian kings.

CONCLUSION

The prophecy emphasizes Antiochus III because his reign was a turning point in history; not to identify the next king.

NO ROMAN EMPIRE

A second possible objection is that the Roman Empire is not mentioned in Daniel 11.  Daniel 11 continues, without an intervening empire, from Antiochus III to the vile person.

We respond to this objection in the same way as to the same question in Daniel 8, namely that the evil horn-king of Daniel 8 represents both the Roman Empire and the evil horn that arises from it.  The same principle applies to Daniel 11: The symbol of the “vile person” includes both the Roman Empire, symbolized by the flood (11:22), and anti-God power that arose from it.  To elaborate:

Daniel 7 describes a fourth empire, followed by a horn-king that seeks to exterminate God’s people and God’s message.  But, even in Daniel 7, the emphasis is on this anti-God ruler.  Daniel 7 describes the fourth empire in only two verses but allows 6 verses for the evil horn.

Daniel 8 does not mention the Roman Empire directly.  Political Rome is mentioned only indirectly in the initial horizontal expansion of the little horn (8:9).  The religious phase is represented by the subsequent vertical growth of the horn.  Daniel 8 uses the horn-king for both the Roman Empire and worldwide anti-God ruler.  Almost all the attention in Daniel 8 is on the religious phase.

Daniel 11 continues this pattern by representing both the Roman Empire and the anti-God ruler as a single symbol; the “despicable person” (NASB).  Political Rome is seen only as the flood that flows away both the “overflowing forces” and the “prince of the covenant” (11:22).  By far most of the descriptions in Daniel 11 are about the anti-God king that comes out of the Roman Empire.

As mentioned before, the sole purpose of these prophecies, including the descriptions of the first four kingdoms, is to identify the anti-God king that will come out of the Roman Empire.  Moving from Daniel 2 to 7 to 8 to 11, the emphasis on the political powers progressively reduces, while the emphasis on this anti-God power keeps increasing.

ANTIOCHUS IV FITS.

A third possible objection is that Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11.  Studies by the current author (comparing Daniel 11 to the history of the Seleucids kings as it is available on the internet) have confirmed the majority interpretation up to 11:19, where Antiochus III dies.  The description of the vile person starts in 11:21. Therefore, if 11:20 describes Seleucus IV (and not Heliodorus), then Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings.

Critics also correctly argue that the descriptions of the “vile person” in the verses after 11:21 fits the actions of Antiochus IV.  These include his double invasion of Egypt (compare 11:25, 29), and the persecution of God’s people.

For Critics, these are conclusive evidence that the vile person is Antiochus IV, and not the Roman Empire or some later ruler.

It is true that Antiochus fits the description, but, on the other hand, the description of the “vile personexceeds Antiochus IV.  For instance, Antiochus never gained authority or ruled through deceit (v21).  He did not distribute the plunder (v24).  He did not magnify himself above every god or not had regard for the god of his fathers, nor for any god (v36-37).  And, as all agree, the events of the “time of the end” (v40-45) do not fit history at all.  As Desmond Ford noted:

Verses 21-35 fit his (Antiochus’s) time perfectly, but let it be noted that this interpretation by no means exhausts the passage (p 144; Daniel and the coming King).

For more detail, see Does Antiochus IV fit the profile?

ANTIOCHUS IV IS A TYPE.

Daniel 11 may, therefore, be understood as two stories intertwined:  The first story starts with Persia and continues until and including Antiochus IV.  But while discussing Antiochus IV it jumps to the second story, which is of a future and worldwide evil king.  This story continues until Michael stands up (12:1-3).

We see the same double meaning in Joel, where the prophet describes a local locust plague but unexpectedly jumps to the Day of the Lord.  Isaiah 14 similarly jumps from the king of Babylon to Lucifer, without interruption (14:4, 12) and Ezekiel 28 moves from the king of Tyre (v12) to an “anointed cherub who covers” (v14).  It is also similar to Matthew 24, where Jesus combined the description of the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and the end of the world into a single story.  As another example of this principle, John the Baptist was a first representation of the Elijah to come.

We then conclude as follows:

The “vile person” is a symbol, and not a literal person, just like the little horn in Daniel 7 and 8 is not a literal horn.  The “vile person” symbolizes both the Roman Empire and its anti-God successor.

Antiochus IV is only a partial fulfillment of the anti-God successor.  He is a type of the ultimate fulfillment of the final and much larger worldwide anti-God ruler that will arise from the Roman Empire.

WHY INCLUDE ANTIOCHUS IV?

Why did God include the reign of Antiochus IV in Daniel 11?  It takes a long time for a prophecy to become accepted in a community.  Daniel was also not a prophet in the normal sense of the word, and he was told, “as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time” (12:4).  Perhaps God’s purpose, for including references to Antiochus IV, was that the Jews would see these events (partially) fulfilled in his reign so that they would accept the book of Daniel as inspired and expect the coming of the Messiah as predicted in Daniel 9.

For a more specific identification of the evil horn-king, please read the article on The Seven Headed Beast in Revelation.

GOD IS IN CONTROL.

This article, therefore, supports the view that the book of Daniel was written before the time of Antiochus IV, and that the prophecies are real predictions of future events.  God is in control of history:

There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days” (2:28).

The Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes” (5:21).

NEXT:  Antiochus Does Not Fit the Description: In support of the current article, this article shows that Antiochus IV does not fit the specific characteristics of Daniel’s evil king.  A summary of this article is also available.

ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES

The metal man of Daniel 2 
The four beasts of Daniel 7 
Three interpretations of the little horn
Compare Daniel 7 and 8 to identify the fourth kingdom.
Daniel 8: The evil horn does not come out of a Greek horn.
Daniel 11’s Vile Person: Antiochus or Antichrist?  Current article
Does Antiochus IV fit the profile of Daniel’s Evil King? Next

 

The evil horn comes “out of one of them;” the four wind directions.

SUMMARY

The previous article showed that the fourth beast of Daniel 7 must be the Roman Empire.  To do this, it compared the animals in Daniel 7 to the animals in Daniel 8.  The small horn in Daniel 7, therefore, grows out of the Roman Empire.  In Daniel 8 the small horn comes “out of one of them.”  Hebrew nouns and pronouns have genders which require agreement.  An analysis of the genders in Daniel 8 shows that the small horn comes out of one of the winds (compass directions) of the heavens.  It, therefore, did not come from one of the Greek horns.

Daniel 8 does not symbolize the Roman Empire with a separate beast.  However, Daniel 7 presents the little horn not as a new entity, but as a continuation of the beast.  The small horn in Daniel 8, therefore, includes both the terrible beast of Daniel 7 and its evil horn.  Evidence for this is the two phases of the horn.  It first grows horizontally (politically) and then vertically (against God).

PURPOSE

The previous article compared the animals in Daniel 7 to the animals in Daniel 8 and showed that the fourth beast of Daniel 7 must be the Roman Empire.  It, therefore, follows that the small horn in Daniel 7 grows out of that empire.  Furthermore, in the first article on Daniel 8, it was argued that the evil horn of Daniel 8 is the same as the evil horn of Daniel 7.  This means that the evil horn of Daniel 8 also comes out of the Roman Empire.

Daniel 8:8-9 reads as follows:

8 The male goat magnified himself exceedingly.
But as soon as he was mighty,
the large horn was broken;
and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns
toward the four winds of heaven.
9 Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn
which grew exceedingly great toward the south,

toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land. (NASB)

The male goat is “the kingdom of Greece” (8:21). The four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms that will arise from his nation (8:22).  The words “out of one of them” seem to indicate that the small horn comes out of one of these four Greek horns, and must, therefore, be a Greek king, such as Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  The purpose of this article is to show that this is not the case.

GENDERS

In Hebrew, nouns and pronouns have genders which require agreement.  In the English translation, this information is lost, but the Hebrew genders allow one to identify the “one of them,” and therefore to determine whether the evil horn is Greek or not.

The last phrase in 8:8, together with the beginning of 8:9, with the relevant words marked (f) for feminine or (m) for masculine, reads as follows:

8 … the large horn was broken;
and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns
toward the four (f) winds (f) of heaven (m).
9 Out of one (f) of them (m) came forth a rather small horn

To understand where the little horn comes from, we need to identify the antecedents of the “one” and “them.” (An antecedent is a previously mentioned noun to which something refers.)

THEM

Them” is plural, and can, therefore, refer to the “horns” or the “winds.”  It can also refer to the “heaven,” for, in Hebrew, “heaven” is always plural (heavens).  But “them” is also masculine, while the Hebrew word for “horn” is always feminine, and the word for “winds” is written in 8:8 as a feminine form. “Them” can therefore only refer to the “heaven.”

ONE

The numeral “one” is feminine in form.  Since “them” is masculine, the “one” does not have the same antecedent as “them.”  In other words, the “one” in the statement “one of them,” does not refer to “one” of the heavens.

Since “one” is feminine in form, it can either refer to one of the horns or to one of the winds.  (The word “winds” means the four directions of the compass.)

OUT OF ONE OF THEM

Putting the above together, the phrase “out of one of them” can therefore either mean:

1. Out of one of the horns of the heavens, or
2. Out of one of the winds (compass directions) of the heavens

The first option is not acceptable because:

(a) Heavens do not have horns, and
(b) Nowhere in Daniel do horns come out of horns.

The only valid option is that the small horn came out of one of the winds (directions) of the heavens.  This conclusion is supported by the fact that “the four winds of heaven” is the final phrase in verse 8.  The first phrase of verse 9, therefore, lines up as follows with the last phrase of verse 8:

  Feminine Masculine  
8:8 there came up four horns toward the four winds of the heavens
8:9 from the one from them came forth a small horn

CONCLUSION

Verse 8 states that four horns appeared in the place of the great horn that was broken.  They extended “toward the four winds of the heavens” (8:8).  Verse 9 begins by saying that the little horn came from one of these four winds of the heavens, that is, from one of the four directions of the compass.  It therefore did not come from one of the Greek horns and is therefore not necessarily Greek in origin.

WHERE IS ROME?

But are we able to show that the horn came out of the Roman Empire?  Where is the Roman Empire in Daniel 8?  Daniel 8 does not seem to describe another empire between the Greek Empire and the evil horn.

THE HORN IS THE BEAST.

Firstly, one needs to understand that Daniel 7 presents the little horn as a continuation of the beast; not as a new entity.  The beast remains alive as long as the horn is alive:

Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. (7:11)

Therefore, when we see the horn in Daniel 8, we actually see the beast from which this horn grows.

TWO PHASES

Secondly, Daniel 8 does allow for political Rome, for the horn in Daniel 8 has two phases of growth.  It first grows horizontally:

a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land (8:9).

Then it grows vertically:

It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down (8:10).

The horn does not literally grow up to the stars.  The stars are symbols of God’s people, and the trampling of the stars is the same as the persecution of God’s people described by Daniel 7 (7:21, 25).  The text continues:

It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down

The Commander of the host is God—“Him who lives forever” (12:7).

The horizontal expansion of the horn is its political phase and parallels the fourth beast of Daniel 7 when it “devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it” (7:8, 23).

The vertical expansion is the horn’s religious phase, parallel to the evil horn of Daniel 7.

Daniel 8, therefore, merges the beast and its prominent horn into a single symbol—the horn.

INCREASING FOCUS ON THE EVIL ONE

Daniel 2 describes the full period from the time of Daniel to the Return of Christ but does not mention any anti-God activities.

Daniel 7, for the first time, reveals the evil entity.  In fact, the evil entity is the main character in that prophecy.  It divides the fourth empire into a political phase, described in only two verses (7:7, 19), and a subsequent phase during which an anti-God power will reign, described in about six verses.

Daniel 8 does not mention the first (Babylonian) or the last (eternal) kingdoms, and includes both phases of the terrible beast under the symbolism an evil horn.  In other words, this anti-God power is more important than the political power from which it came.  In fact, the only reason that the prophecies mention the political empires is to enable us to identify the evil anti-God power.

We, therefore, see in Daniel an increasing focus on the evil one.  For that reason, in Daniel 8, the beast itself is subsumed under the symbolism of the horn.

ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES

The metal man of Daniel 2 
The four beasts of Daniel 7 
Three interpretations of the little horn
Compare Daniel 7 and 8 to identify the fourth kingdom.
Daniel 8: The evil horn is not Greek. Current article
Daniel 11’s Vile Person: Antiochus or Antichrist?  NEXT
Does Antiochus IV fit the profile of Daniel’s Evil King? 

To identify the Evil Horn, compare the animals of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8.

PURPOSE

ANIMALS OF DANIEL 7

The previous three articles gave an overview of Daniel 2, Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 respectively.  The main character in both Daniel 7 and 8 is an evil horn-king.  The Daniel 8 article concludes that the horn-king in Daniel 8 represents the same entity as the horn-king in Daniel 7.  That article also compared the Preterist, Historicist and Futurist identifications of this evil power.

The purpose of the current article is to show that the evil king-horn arises out of the Roman Empire.  There are two animals in Daniel 8 and they are explicitly identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” and as “the kingdom of Greece” (8:20-21).  The current article identifies the animals of Daniel 7 by comparing them to the animals of Daniel 8. This shows that the fourth kingdom, from which the evil horn-king in Daniel 7 arises, is the Roman Empire.

SUMMARY

The main character in Daniel 7 and 8 is an evil horn-king.  The current article shows that the evil king-horn arises out of the Roman Empire.  There are two animals in Daniel 8 and they are explicitly identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” and as “the kingdom of Greece.”  The current article identifies the animals of Daniel 7 by comparing them to the animals of Daniel 8:

There is no similarity between the Ram and the Leopard.  To the contrary, the Ram has two divisions, while the Leopard has four.

There is also no similarity between the Goat and the Dreadful Beast.  On the contrary, the Goat first has only one horn and then later four.  The Dreadful Beast, on the other hand, first has ten horns and later eight.

The Ram and the Bear are similar.  For both, the one side is higher than the other and both conquer three others.  This means that the Ram and is equivalent to the Bear and that both represent “the kings of Media and Persia.”

The Goat and the Leopard are similar.  Both are represented as fast and both consist of four parts.  This means that both represent the kingdom of Greece.”

This means that the next beast; the Dreadful Fourth Beast of Daniel 7, must be the Roman Empire and that the little horn in Daniel 7 comes out of this empire.  Since the little horns of Daniel 7 and 8 refer to the same entity, the horn cannot be the Greek king Antiochus IV.

MEDES AS A SEPARATE KINGDOM

Critics propose that the author of Daniel inserted the Medes as a separate empire because of the predictions in Isaiah and Jeremiah that Babylon would fall to the Medes.  Firstly, this is not consistent with history.  Secondly, this is also not consistent with Daniel itself. Daniel consistently viewed the Medes and Persians as a single entity.  For example, he identifies the ram as “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20).

These concepts will now be discussed in more detail.

CONSERVATIVE

Conservatives (historicists and futurists) align the symbols in Daniel 2, 7 and 8 as follows:

Daniel 2 Gold (Babylon) Silver Brass Iron
Daniel 7 Lion Bear Leopard Dreadful beast
Daniel 8 Ram (Medo-Persia) Goat (Greece)

In this schema, since the Bear is Medo-Persia and the Leopard is the Greek empire, the dreadful fourth beast of Daniel 7 must represent the Roman Empire, for that was the next empire in history.  It then follows that the evil horn, which arises from the dreadful fourth beast, arose during the Roman period.

LIBERAL

The Preterist School, comprising mostly of liberal critical scholars, effectively reads Daniel backward.  They start by identifying the “despicable” of Daniel 11 (v21) as Antiochus IV.  Then, since the evil horns of Daniel 7 and 8 are the same as the “despicable,” they identify the evil horns of Daniel 7 and 8 also as Antiochus IV.  But Antiochus was a Greek king.  This means that the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 (the dreadful beast) must be the Greek Empire.  This means that the alignment of the Bear and the Leopard to the Babylonian and Greek empires becomes a problem.  Critical scholars solve this problem by dividing the Mede-Persian Empire into two separate empires and by aligning the symbols as follows:

Daniel 2 Gold (Babylon) Silver Brass Iron
Daniel 7 Lion Bear Leopard Dreadful Beast
Daniel 8 Ram (Medes) Ram (Persia) Goat (Greece)

In this schema, the Ram of Daniel 8 covers both the Bear and the Leopard of Daniel 7, and the Greek Goat of Daniel 8 is equivalent to the Dreadful Beast of Daniel 7.  By comparing the properties of the animals, the next sections will determine which schema fits the text of Daniel the best.

THE RAM

The Ram is “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20).  Does it agree with the Bear of Daniel 7 only, as proposed by the conservatives, or with the Bear AND the Leopard, as proposed by the liberals?  Considered how they are described, and evaluate the similarities:

Ram  Bear Leopard
Two horns—one higher (v3);
Higher horn came out last (v3);
Charges to West, North and South (v4);
Raised up on one side (7:5);
Three ribs between its teeth (7:5)
Four heads (v6);
Four wings (v6);

THE RAM AND THE LEOPARD

There does not seem to be any similarity between these two animals.  In one respect they are clearly different:

Daniel’s prophecies use heads and horns to indicate divisions.  The Ram has two horns, which means it has two divisions (identified as the Medes and Persians – v20), while the Leopard has four heads (four divisions).

THE RAM AND THE BEAR

These animals, on the other hand, are similar:

For both, their two sides are compared and one side is higher than the other.  The Bear is “raised up on one side” (7:5) while the Ram has two horns; one being longer than the other.

Both conquer three others:  The Ram pushes in three directions (8:4—West, North and South) and the Bear has three ribs between its teeth (7:5).  Since animals symbolize kingdoms, ribs may represent kingdoms or territories conquered.

CONCLUSION

These comparisons mean that the Ram and is equivalent to the Bear and only to the Bear, and that the Bear represents “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20):

The two horns of the ram and the two sides of the bear symbolize the composite nature of the kingdom formed by a fusion of “the kings of Media and Persia.”

The ram’s horn that came out last, but became longer, and the higher side of the bear, refers to the Persians.  Initially, the Medes dominated Persia, but Cyrus reversed the relationship so that Persia dominated the Medes when their combined forces conquered Babylon.

The three ribs in the Bear’s mouth and the three directions into which the Ram pushes (West, North and South) may reasonably be taken as representing the three major conquests of the combined forces of the Medes and Persians in the sixth century BC: Lydia in the north in 547, Babylon in the west in 539, and Egypt in the south in 525.

THE GOAT

Secondly, does Goat of Daniel 8 agree with the Leopard of Daniel 7, as proposed by the conservatives, or with the fourth Dreadful Beast, as proposed by the liberals?

Goat Leopard Dreadful Beast
From west (v5);
Not touching the ground (v5);
One conspicuous horn (v5);
Great horn broken when strong (v8);
Four horns to the four winds (v8)
Four heads (v6);
Four wings (v6);
Terrible & very strong (v7);
Iron teeth (v7);
Bronze claws (v19);
It devoured; broke in pieces (v7);
Stamped residue with its feet (v7);
Different from the other beasts (v7);
Ten horns (v7);

THE GOAT AND THE DREADFUL BEAST

Contrary to the proposal by the Critics, there is nothing in the descriptions of these two animals that imply that they represent the same entity.  To the contrary:

The Goat has only one horn at first and then later four.  The Dreadful Beast, on the other hand, first has 10 horns, and then an 11th comes up which “pluck out” three of the ten horns by their “roots”, leaving 8 horns standing.  Since horns symbolize the divisions of these kingdoms, the Goat and the Dreadful Beast are not related.

THE GOAT AND THE LEOPARD

Consistent with the conservative view, these two animals are similar:

Both are represented as fast.  The Leopard has four wings while the Goat flies.

Both consist of four parts.  The Leopard has four heads, while four horns grow from the Goat’s head.

This implies that the Goat and the Leopard represent the same empire, namely “the kingdom of Greece” (8:21), or the Macedonian Empire, as it is known.  The speed of its conquests refers to the speed by which Alexander the Great conquered the known world (within 10 years).  The four heads and four horns symbolize the four Greek Empires that came into existence after Alexander’s death at age 33.

ANIMALS OF DANIEL 7

This comparison of the features of the animals of Daniel 7, therefore, shows that:

The Bear represents “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20), and
The Leopard represents “the kingdom of Greece” (8:21).

This means that the next beast; the dreadful fourth beast of Daniel 7, must be the Roman Empire and that the little horn in Daniel 7 comes out of this empire.  Since the little horns of Daniel 7 and 8 refer to the same entity, the horn cannot be the Greek king Antiochus IV.

MEDIA AND PERSIA

It is also possible to evaluate the validity of the Critics’ separation of the Medes and Persians into two different empires.  Critics propose that the author of Daniel inserted the Medes as a separate empire because of the predictions in Isaiah and Jeremiah that Babylon would fall to the Medes.  They consequently propose that, according to Daniel, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to the Medes under “Darius the Mede” (5:30-31; 6:28), preceding the reign of the Persian king, Cyrus the Great (10:1).

Historically, this would not be correct.  The Medes were conquered around 550 BCE by the Persians.  It was the joint forces of the Persians and the Medes that conquered Babylon eleven years later, with Cyrus the Great as their supreme king.

But it is also not consistent with Daniel itself. Daniel consistently viewed the Medes and Persians as a single entity, as indicated by the following:

He prophesied that Babylon would be conquered by the joint forces of the Medes and the Persians (5:28).

Daniel 6:9, 13 and 16 refer to the unchangeable law of the Medes and the Persians.

He identifies the Ram as “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20).

Daniel never refers to a separate Median kingdom.  He only refers to a person (Darius) as a Mede (11:1), but within the context of the Persian Empire (10:1 and 11:2).

There is no indication in Daniel of a conflict between the Medes and the Persians which resulted in the dominance of Persia.

Furthermore, the author would be inconsistent to describe both Media and Persia by a single beast in Daniel 8, but as two different animals in Daniel 7 and as two different metals in Daniel 2.

Conclusion: The separation of the Medes and Persians into two different empires is not consistent with the book of Daniel.

DARIUS THE MEDE

Critics argue that the author of Daniel committed a historical blunder when he referred to Darius the Mede in 5:31-6:28 and in 9:1. The argument runs as follows:

Although no such figure is known from history, Daniel’s reference to him allowed for a separate Median kingdom between the Neo-Babylonian rulers, Nabonidus and Belshazzar, on the one hand, and the Persian king, Cyrus, on the other.

In a separate article on this website, it is argued that Darius the Mede might have been the throne name for Ugbaru (Greek Gobryas), the general who conquered Babylon for Cyrus, and who was appointed by Cyrus as king over the “kingdom of the Chaldeans” (9:1)—one of the kingdoms in the Persian Empire—but who died three weeks after the conquest of Babylon.  He ruled only for one week, which explains why archaeologists have not yet found him in recorded history.

NEXT: The next article supports the identification of the small horn by analyzing the phrase “Out of One of Them.”

ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES

The metal man of Daniel 2 
The four beasts of Daniel 7 
Three interpretations of the little horn
Compare Daniel 7 and 8 to identify the 4th kingdom. Current article
Daniel 8: The evil horn does not come out of a Greek horn.  NEXT
Daniel 11’s Vile Person: Antiochus or Antichrist?  
Does Antiochus IV fit the profile of Daniel’s Evil King? 

Three alternative interpretations of the little horn of Daniel 8

SUMMARY

The two animals in Daniel 8 are explicitly identified as Mede-Persia and as Greece.  But the main character in the chapter—an anti-god power that persecutes God’s people and corrupts God’s message—is not explicitly identified.  This evil power is the same as the one in Daniel 7 that persecutes the saints and blasphemes God.  The different schools of prophetic interpretation identify the horn differently as:

 – The Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes;
– An end-time antichrist; or as
– The Roman Church.

PURPOSE

The previous two articles are preliminary overviews of the metal man of Daniel 2 and of the four beasts of Daniel 7.  The Daniel 7 article did not identify the four beasts.  Neither did it identify the main character in that chapter, represented by a small horn that “will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One” (v25)

Daniel 8The current article gives an overview of Daniel 8 and lists the alternative interpretations of the main character in this chapter, also represented by a small horn.

THE RAM AND THE GOAT

Only two animals appear in the Daniel 8 vision; a ram and a goat:

The first animal to appear is a ram, conquering into three directions: to the north, west, and to the south (vss. 3-4).  The ram is explicitly identified as Mede-Persia (8:20).

Next a goat with one large horn appears. It defeats the Medo-Persian ram and becomes the dominant power (vss. 5-7).  The goat is explicitly identified as Greece (8:20-21).

THE HORNS

The goat, at first, has one large horn.  But this horn was “broken” and four horns, extending out to the four winds of heaven (we would say, the four directions of the compass), came up in its place (vs. 8).  Commentators generally concur that the one large horn refers to the kingdom of Alexander the Great and that the four horns are the four kingdoms into which Alexander’s empire was divided after his death.

But then another horn (“a little horn“) appears on the scene.  There is much disagreement about its identity.  It did not attack any beast or kingdom, but it opposed:

(a) God’s people, identified as “the host of the stars” (vss. to, 24).
(b) God’s work of redemption, described as the tamid (daily or continual) and the temple (vss. 11-12), and
(c) God’s principal representative, called “the Prince of the host” or “the Prince of princes(vss. 11, 25).

HEAVENLY CONVERSATION

Daniel then overheard two heavenly beings discussing the vision. One asked:

“How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?

The other responded:

For 2300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.”

Daniel 8 does not mention the first kingdom of Daniel 7 (Babylon).  Neither does it mention the last (eternal) kingdom.  It rather focuses on and provides additional information about the main evil character in the book of Daniel, symbolized by an evil horn-king in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8.  Most of Daniel 8 is devoted to this king.

SAME EVIL HORN AS IN DANIEL 7

For the following reasons it is generally agreed that the evil horn of Daniel 8 is the same as the evil horn of Daniel 7:

SAME SYMBOL

The same symbol (horn) is used for both.  If a distinction had been intended, the best way would have been to use a different symbol.

SIMILAR

They are similar.  Both- :

– Begin small and become great (7:8 and 8:9);
– Are blasphemous powers (7:8, 25 and 8:11, 25);
– Persecute the saints of God (7:21, 25 and 8:11, 25);
– Are the last in a series of symbols;
– Are identified with a period of time (7:25 and 8:14); and
– Eventually suffer similar fates (7:26 and 8:25).

AMPLIFY

Later prophecies amplify the earlier ones. Virtually all commentators accept this principle.  For example, Daniel 7 repeats the four empires of Daniel 2, with additional information, particularly through the use of horns to represent their major divisions.  The book of Daniel itself also mentions this principle at least twice:

In Daniel 9:22-23, Gabriel said that he came to give Daniel an understanding of “the vision.” This would be the vision in Daniel 8.

In Daniel 10-12, Daniel receives a “message” to explain the “vision” (10:1, 14).  This also refers to the vision in Daniel 8, for that is the last “vision” before Daniel 10.

This principle implies that the vision of Daniel 8 elaborates on the vision of Daniel 7, which supports the conclusion that the little horn in Daniel 8 represents the same force as the little horn in Daniel 7.

THREE INTERPRETATIONS

Who is this little horn that blasphemes God and persecutes His people (8:9-14)?  And what is its period of 2300 evening-mornings, when it will profane the sanctuary?  The Preterist, Futurist, and Historicist schools of prophetic interpretation have different answers to these questions:

PRETERISTS

In this view:

(A) The majority of the prophecies of the book of Daniel have already been fulfilled and, therefore, have no significance for the present day or for the future.

(B) The little horn arose from one of the divisions of Alexander’s empire.

(C) The activities of the little horn point to the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

(D) The 2300 “evening-mornings” should be interpreted as 2300 individual morning and evening sacrifices, or 1150 literal days. These are then applied to events in the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century B.C.

(E) The sanctuary refers to the temple in Jerusalem which was polluted by Antiochus and later purified by the victorious Jewish rebels.  The purification was completed before January 1, 164 B.C.

FUTURISTS

Futurists generally follow this line of interpretation as well.  But they also see Antiochus as a type of an end-time antichrist who will arise in the final years of earth’s history; just prior to Christ’s Second Advent.  Some futurists also apply the 2300 “evening-mornings” to the end time.  They interpret it is literal evenings-mornings, or the literal 2300 days of the future reign of this final antichrist.  During the final seven years of earth’s history, according to this interpretation, a literal temple (to be rebuilt in Jerusalem for the Jews) will be polluted by this antichrist.  The temple will be restored when Christ comes and puts an end to the reign of the antichrist.

HISTORICISTS

In this view:

(A) The prophecies in Daniel portray an outline of history and the story of the on-going struggle between good and evil down to the end of time.

(B) The evil horn-king represents Rome in its papal phase (the Roman Church).

(C) Utilizing the day-for-a-year principle, historicists have held that the 2300 evening-mornings refer to a period of 2300 literal years, commencing in the time of the Persian Ram and concluding with the recovery of the message of the Bible truth after the distortion of the Middle Ages.

(D) The purification of the sanctuary is interpreted symbolically as the restoration of God’s people and/or their message.

COMPARISON

These three interpretations of the various elements in Daniel 8:9-14 may be summarized as follows:

Preterlst Historicist Futurist
Little horn Antiochus IV Roman Church End-time Antichrist
2300 days 1150 past days 2300 historical years 2300 end-time days
Temple In Jerusalem God’s people In end-time Jerusalem
Cleansing Before 164 BC After middle ages Return of Christ

The next article evaluates these three interpretations and identifies the evil horn-king by Comparing the Animals in Daniel 7 to the animals in Daniel 8.

ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES

The metal man of Daniel 2
The four beasts of Daniel 7
Three interpretations of the little horn Current article
Compare Daniel 7 and 8 to identify the fourth kingdom.  NEXT
Daniel 8: The evil horn does not come out of a Greek horn.
Daniel 11’s Vile Person: Antiochus or Antichrist?
Does Antiochus IV fit the profile of Daniel’s Evil King?