Daniel’s evil horn—Greek or Roman? – Summary

To the complete article: The evil horn-king in Daniel’s prophecy

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Daniel’s evil horn–Greek or Roman
Summary in Work formst

This summary omits many key points.  The full document should rather be read.  The purpose of this summary is only to provide a high level overview.

Antiochus IV

The Macedonian (Greek) Empire, which included the nation of Israel (Judea), ruled from about 330 B.C. for nearly 300 years.  Antiochus IV was one of the many kings of this empire.  He ruled between 168 and 165 BC.  He defiled the temple in Jerusalem in the year 168 B.C. and persecuted the Jews.

Purpose

In academic circles (critics) it is believed that he was the evil king presented in the prophecies of Daniel chapters 7, 8 and 11The purpose of this document is to oppose this view, and to show that the evil king in the book of Daniel arises in time after Rome has become the dominant power and therefore cannot be Antiochus IV.

Daniel 2

Using the statue of a man, consisting of four different metals, the vision in Daniel 2 divides world history into six phases:

  1. Babylonian (Gold) Empire
  2. Silver (another) kingdom
  3. Bronze (third) kingdom
  4. Iron (fourth) kingdom
  5. Iron and clay; divided kingdom – no supreme ruler
  6. Eternal kingdom – destroys the entire image

The fifth phase is represented by the statue’s feet consisting partly of iron and partly of clay (2:33).  Iron is the same metal as the fourth kingdom, indicating that the feet continue the fourth kingdom.  But it is explained as “a divided kingdom” (2:41).  In other words, a supreme king will rule all nations during each of the four kingdoms (2:37-40), but during the “divided kingdom” there will be no supreme king.

Daniel 7

Daniel 2 has four metals and Daniel 7 has four beasts.  Both the four metals and the four beasts represent successive kingdoms.  Both Daniel 2 and 7 end with the “everlasting kingdom” (7:28).  Both have a phase of many kings after the first four, which continue the fourth empire, and which exist until the sixth or eternal kingdom.  This phase is symbolized by the horns of the fourth beast in Daniel 7 and by the feet of the statue (the divided kingdom) in Daniel 2.  The horns are therefore equivalent to the divided kingdom.  Daniel 7 therefore divides world history into the same 6 successive phases as Daniel 2:

 

Daniel 2

Daniel 7

1

Head of fine gold

Lion

2

Breast and its arms of silver

Bear

3

Belly and its thighs of bronze

Leopard

4

Legs of iron

Dreadful beast

5

Feet of iron and clay

Horns

6

Everlasting Kingdom

Everlasting dominion

Since the divided kingdom in Daniel 2 follows after the fourth kingdom, the horns are not individual kings of the fourth kingdom, but separate kingdoms that came about after the end of the fourth kingdom.  Further, since the divided kingdom consists of a number kings that reign at the same time, the ten kings do not exist one after the other, but at the same time.

Daniel 7 adds detail about the four kingdoms in the form of descriptions of beasts.  But most additional information is about the evil eleventh horn that arises from the fourth beast and rules during the divided kingdom.  This evil horn-king persecutes the saints and blasphemes God (7:25).

Daniel 8

Daniel 8 also uses beasts as symbols for kingdoms.  The first is a ram that is explicitly identified as Mede-Persia (8:20).  The second is a goat that is explicitly identified as Greece (8:20-21).

Daniel 8 then describes the four horns of the goat that represent the four kingdoms into which Alexander’s Greek empire was divided.

It also describes a horn that is small at first, but expands.  It attacks God’s people and the temple.

It is generally agreed that the evil horn of Daniel 8 is the same as the evil horn of Daniel 7.  Both are horns, both begin small and become great (7:8 and 8:9) and both blasphemes God and persecutes His people. 

Interpretations

This little horn is identified differently by the different schools of prophetic interpretation:

Preterists hold that the little horn points to Antiochus IV.

Futurists see Antiochus as a type of an end-time antichrist who is to arise in the final years before the return of Christ, and pollute a literal temple, to be rebuilt in Jerusalem.

Historicists, hold that the little horn represents the Roman Church.  The purification of the sanctuary is interpreted as the restoration after the distortion of the Middle Ages.

To evaluate these views, the kingdom from which this horn arises must be identified:

VIEWS EVALUATED

Alignment

Conservatives align the kingdoms as follows:

Daniel 2

Gold (Babylon)

Silver

Brass

Iron

Daniel 7

Lion

Bear

Leopard

Dreadful Beast

Daniel 8

 

Ram (Mede-Persia)

Goat (Greece)

 (Rome)

In this view the bear is Mede-Persia and the Leopard is the Greek Empire.  It follows that the Dreadful Beast must represent Rome, because that was the next empire in history. Then the little horn comes about in or after the Roman period.

The Preterist School split Mede-Persian Empire into two separate empires and aligns the symbols as follows:

Daniel 2

Gold

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 is equal to both the Bear and the Leopard of Daniel 7, and the Goat of Daniel 8 is equivalent to the Dreadful Beast of Daniel 7. 

Compare descriptions

One way to determine which schema best fits the text of Daniel is to compare the descriptions of the animals in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8:

The Ram and the Leopard do not appear similar.  The Ram has two horns while the Leopard has four heads.

The Goat and the Dreadful Beast do not appear similar.  The Goat has one horn at first and then later four.  The Dreadful Beast first has 10 horns, and then an 11th comes up which “pluck out” three of the ten horns by their “roots”, leaving 8 horns.

The Ram and the Bear appear similar.  For both their two sides are emphasized, with one side higher than the other.  Both conquered three others.  This implies that they represent the same empire, namely “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20).

The Goat and the Leopard appear similar.  Both are represented as very fast and both consist of four parts.  This implies that they represent the same empire, namely “the kingdom of Greece” (8:21).

This analysis of the characteristics of the beasts supports the conservative interpretation, which identifies the fourth beast of Daniel 7 as the Roman Empire.  It follows that the horn comes out of Rome.  It cannot be Antiochus IV.

Two separate empires

Critics defend their schema by proposing that the author of Daniel viewed the Medes and Persians as two separate empires with the Neo-Babylonian Empire falling firstly to the Medes under “Darius the Mede” (5:30-31; 6:28) and later to the Persians under Cyrus the Great (10:1).  This is not consistent with Daniel.  Daniel’s author consistently viewed the Medes and Persians as a single entity (5:28, 6:9, 13 and 16; 8:20).

Darius the Mede

Critics argue that the author of Daniel committed a historical blunder when he referred to Darius the Mede.  In a separate article on this website it is argued that Darius might have been the throne name for Ugbaru, the general who conquered Babylon for Cyrus, and who ruled over the province of the Chaldeans (9:1) for (at most) three weeks.  This short period explains why archaeologists have not yet found him in recorded history.

Out of one of them

Daniel 8:9 says that the little horn came “out of one of them”.  Since the previous verse referred to the four Greek horns, critics argue that 8:9 confirms that the little horn comes from one of the four Greek horns, and must therefore be a Greek king, like Antiochus IV.  However, an analysis of the genders of the nouns and pronouns indicates that the “them” in 8:9 can only to the “heavens”, which is the last word in 8:8.  The “out of one of them” can then be interpreted as either:

  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 heavens do not have horns and horns nowhere else in Daniel come out of horns.  Since “the four winds of heaven” is the last phrase in verse 8, the second option is preferred.  The little horn therefore came from one of these four winds of the heavens, that is, from one of the directions of the compass.  It therefore did not come from one of the Greek horns, and is therefore not Greek in origin.

Where Rome is in Daniel 8?

Critics challenge the conservative interpretation by asking: Where Rome is in Daniel 8?  Daniel 8 does not seem to describe another kingdom between the Greek Empire and the evil horn. 

Firstly, both Daniel 2 and 7 describe the beast and its dreadful horn as a single entity (7:11).  Secondly, the growth of the horn in Daniel 8, as described in verses 9 to 11, consists of two phases.  The first phase is horizontal (political) growth (8:9) and the second phase is vertical (religious) growth.  The horizontal expansion parallels the fourth beast of Daniel 7.  The vertical expansion parallels the evil horn of Daniel 7.  Daniel 8 therefore merges the beast and its prominent horn into a single symbol—the horn.

DANIEL 11

Antiochus III

Critics agree that verses 14 to 19 describe Antiochus III, the father of Antiochus IV.  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 …  Of course, Jerusalem was in the middle and changed hand (197, from Egypt to Syria).

Vile person

The remaining 25 verses of Daniel 11 describe the activities of a “vile person” (KJV; 11:21).  It is generally agreed that this “vile person” is equivalent to the horn of Daniel 8 and Daniel 7 because:

Elaborate: The later prophecies in Daniel elaborate on the earlier prophecies.

Persecute: Both the horn and the vile person persecutes God’s people (7:25; 11:32-34) for 3½ times (7:25; 12:7).

Temple: Both set up “the abomination that makes desolate” (11:31; 8:13), profanes the strong temple (11:31; 8:11) and remove the continual (tamid) (8:11; 11:31).

Prince of the covenant

Daniel 11:22 indicates that the nagid (prince) of the covenant will be broken before the vile person.  This refers to the death of Jesus Christ:

The word ‘sar’ (translated “prince”) occurs several times in Daniel, but the word ‘nagid’, which is also translated “prince”, occurs only in 11:22 and in 9:24-27.  The word “covenant” is also used several times in Daniel, but only 11:22 and 9:24-27 link a prince to the covenant.  In both 9:24-27 and 11:22 the nagid is destroyed.  It is therefore concluded that the nagid in these two passages is the same individual and that the two passages refer the same events.  Daniel 9:24-27 refers to the death of Jesus Christ in the first century AD.  The same must therefore apply to 11:22.

Since the events in Daniel 11 are given in their chronological order, everything that follows after 11:22 must be sought sometime after the death of Christ.  This applies in particular to the setting up of the abomination (11:31) and the persecution of God’s people (11:32-34), which are the main activities of the vile person.  The vile person therefore cannot be the Greek king Antiochus IV that ruled between 168 and 165 BC, but must be an anti-God ruler that will arise later.

Detail about Antiochus III

Daniel 11 is quite brief about the earlier kings, but provides much detail about Antiochus III; the father and predecessor of Antiochus IV.  Critics argue that this emphasis on Antiochus III is a clear indication that the prophecy of the vile person points to Antiochus IV.

To this we respond as follows:  The reign of the father of Antiochus IV (Antiochus III the Great) was the critical turning point for the Greek Empire.  Just as the victory of the Persians over the Medes was the critical turning point that shifted the balance of ‘world power’ from the Babylonian to the Persian Empire, and just as the victory of the Greeks over the Persians in the time of Xerxes was the turning point that shifted ‘world dominance’ from the Persians to the Greek Empire, Rome’s victories over Antiochus III—the most powerful Greek kingdom at the time—was the critical turning point that shifted ‘world dominance’ from the Greek to the Roman Empire.  This explains the attention to Antiochus III in Daniel 11.  It was for the same reason that Xerxes was emphasized in 11:2, namely because his reign was the key turning point.

Where is the Roman Empire in Daniel 11?

But the critics ask: Where is the Roman Empire in Daniel 11?  Daniel 11 seems to continue, without an intervening empire, from the Greek Empire (Antiochus III) to the vile person. 

To respond, it is proposed here that Daniel’s prophecies, once the key turning point has been reached, no longer mention the previous empire, but jump right over the remaining kings to the next empire.  For instance, Xerxes’ war against the Greeks was a key turning point in history (11:2).  Then the prophecy jumps over the next 150 years, during which seven Persian kings reigned, to the first Greek emperor (11:3).  Similarly Antiochus III’s war against Rome was a key turning point in history.  Then the prophecy jumps over the next 170 years, during which several Greek kings reigned, to the next empire (Rome).

But the Roman Empire is not mentioned separately.  Similar to Daniel 8 the vile person serves as a symbol for both the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 (Rome) and the evil horn that arise from it.  Political Rome is the flood that flows away the “overflowing forces” (11:22).  By far most of the description in Daniel 11 is about the subsequent anti-God king.

Verses 21-35 fit Antiochus

But the critics argue that Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11 quite well and that the history of Antiochus IV fits the descriptions of the “vile person” in the verses after 11:21 quite well.  This is granted. 

In this context it is very important to realize that the description of the “vile person” exceeds Antiochus IV.  For instance, Antiochus did not magnify himself above every god or not have regard for the god of his fathers.  Verses 21-35 fit Antiochus’s time perfectly, but Antiochus IV by no means exhausts the passage.

Daniel 11 may therefore be understood as two stories intertwined.  The text seems to describe the history up to and including Antiochus IV, but while discussing Antiochus IV it jumps to a future and worldwide evil king.  Understood this way, Antiochus IV is only a partial fulfillment of Daniel 11, to be followed by the final and fuller fulfillment by a later and much larger worldwide anti-God ruler.

CONCLUSION

A fundamental principle, accepted by all schools of thought, is that the little horn of Daniel 7 is equivalent to the little horn of Daniel 8 and to the vile person in Daniel 11.  However, the various schools of thought explain this evil king in different ways.

Critics do not accept the possibility that the minutely accurate descriptions in Daniel of historical events up to the time of Antiochus IV could have been written in the sixth century BC.  They assume that these descriptions were written after the fact in the form of prophecies.  But since the New Testament refers a number of times to the book of Daniel, and since it takes a long time for a book to become accepted as inspired Scripture, the book of Daniel must have been written hundreds of years before the NT was written.

Antiochus IV fit the sequence of kings and the activities of the evil king in Daniel 11 quite well.  Critics therefore propose that Daniel was written in the time of Antiochus IV, that it was written in response to the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV, and that the evil king in Daniel represents this Antiochus.  Therefore Daniel would have been written approximately 200 years before the NT was written.

With this as the accepted view, critics have to interpret the prophecies accordingly.  To fit this view to Daniel 11, critics explain the prince of the covenant in 11:22 as the high priest Onias.  He was killed in the time on Antiochus.  But to fit this view to Daniel 2 and 7 is more difficult. To do that critics have a rather forced interpretation of the prophecy of those chapters.  This document has provided proof that the forced interpretation of Daniel 2 and 7 is incorrect.  It has also been shown that Daniel 8 does align to the obvious interpretation of Daniel 7.

With respect to Daniel 11 it has been shown above that the breaking of the prince of the covenant in 11:22 refers to the death of Jesus Christ in the first century AD and therefore that the flood that shatters the nagid-prince of the covenant in 11:22 is the Roman Empire.  This means that the anti-temple activities and the persecution of God’s people later in that chapter must occur some historical time after Christ’s death, and therefore during or after the Roman period.

This document then had to explain the high level of detail of Antiochus III in Daniel 11, how Daniel 11:19-22 can be interpreted as a jump from Antiochus III to the Roman Empire if Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11 and the apparent absence of the Roman Empire in Daniel 8 and 11. 

This document 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)

TO the complete article: The evil horn-king in Daniel’s prophecy

TO: General Table of Contents

One Reply to “Daniel’s evil horn—Greek or Roman? – Summary”

  1. Thank you about all things of your argument especially the book of Daniel. Have give contribution for my bible study and ministry. May Lord Jesus Christ and Almighty God bless you.

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