Three interpretations of the evil horn of Daniel 8

PURPOSE

This 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.

Daniel 8The previous two articles are preliminary overviews of the metal statue of Daniel 2 and 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, symbolized as an 11th horn that “will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One” (Dan 7:25)

OVERVIEW OF THE PROPHECY

The Ram and the Goat symbolize Medo-Persia and Greece respectively. The goat’s large horn signifies the Greek kingdom of Alexander the Great. The four horns that came out after the large horn broke off are the four parts into which the Greek kingdom divided after Alexander’s death. But then the main character in the chapter appears, symbolized as another horn. This is a spiritual power, for it tramples God’s people for “2300 evenings and mornings.” This power is not explicitly identified.

The Ram and the Goat

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

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

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

The Horns

At first, the goat has one large horn. But this horn was “broken” and four horns, extending out to the four winds of heaven (the four directions of the compass) came up in its place (Dan 8:8). Commentators generally agree 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.

The Little Horn

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

(a) God’s people, symbolized as “the host of the stars” (Dan 8:10).
(b) God’s work of redemption, described as the tamid (daily or continual) and the temple (Dan 8:11-12), and
(c) God’s principal representative, called “the Prince of the host” or “the Prince of princes” (Dan 8:11, 25).

The Conversation in Heaven

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) or the last (eternal) kingdom. Instead, it focuses on and provides additional information about the main evil character in the book of Daniel, symbolized by an evil horn-king in both Daniel 7 and 8. Most of Daniel 8 is devoted to this king.

THE SAME HORN

It is generally agreed that the evil horns in Daniel 7 and 8, which persecute the saints and blaspheme God, symbolize the same power.

The same symbol

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

They are similar.

Both:

      • Begin small and become great (Dan 7:8 and 8:9);
      • Blaspheme God (Dan 7:8, 25 and 8:11, 25);
      • Persecute God’s people (Dan 7:21, 25 and 8:11, 25);
      • Are the last in a series of symbols;
      • Are identified with a period (Dan 7:25 and 8:14); and
      • Eventually suffer similar fates (Dan 7:26 and 8:25).

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 heads and horns to represent the divisions of these empires. 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,” which would be the vision in Daniel 8.

In Daniel 10-12, Daniel receives a “message” to explain the “vision” (Dan 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 horns in Daniel 7 and 8 represent the same entity7.

THREE INTERPRETATIONS

In the view of Critical Scholars, the Antichrist horn signifies The Greek king Antiochus. Futurists believe it is an end-time Antichrist. In the historical view, it is the Roman Church and the 2300 days symbolizes a period from the time of Daniel until the Renaissance, when the power of the Roman Empire to persecute God’s people was broken.

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

Preterist – The Greek king Antiochus

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 Greek empire.

(C) Specifically, it is the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

(D) The 2300 “evening-mornings” are 2300 individual morning and evening sacrifices, or 1150 literal days, and describe a period during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century BC.

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

Futurists – An end-time Antichrist

Futurists generally follow the same line of interpretation. 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 before Jesus returns. Some futurists also apply the 2300 “evening-mornings” to the end time. They interpret it as literal evenings-mornings or the literal 2300 days of the end-time reign of this Antichrist. During the last 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 – Church of the Roman Empire

In this view:

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

(B) The evil horn-king represents the church of the Roman Empire (the Roman Church):

In the year 380, the emperor Theodosius made the Trinitarian version of Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. During the fifth century, Europe became ‘Arian’ again as ‘Arian’ Germanic tribes fragmented Western Europe into various kingdoms. In the sixth century, Emperor Justinian subjected these ‘Arian’ nations. After that, through two centuries of rule by the Eastern Roman Empire through the church in the West, all ‘Arian’ nations converted to Trinitarian Christianity. Consequently, the church of the Middle Ages was the Roman Church; the Church of the Roman Empire. 

(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 distortions of the Middle Ages.

(D) The purification of the sanctuary symbolizes the restoration of God’s people and/or their message.

Comparison of the Three Views

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 the Middle Ages Return of Christ

The next article evaluates these three interpretations and identifies the evil horn-king by comparing the Animals of Daniel 7 to those of Daniel 8.


OTHER ARTICLES

List of articles on the Antichrist in the Book of Daniel

List of all articles on the website

One Reply to “Three interpretations of the evil horn of Daniel 8”

  1. says:

    thank i know God is with us

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