Is Daniel’s Evil Horn part of the Greek or the Roman Empires?

This article was replaced by the following series of articles:

The Metal Man of Daniel 2 divides world history into six successive ages. 

The Four Beasts of Daniel 7 represent four successive empires. The ten horns exist simultaneously; after the fourth empire.  An eleventh horn becomes more powerful than the others, blasphemes God and persecutes His people. 

The Three Alternative Interpretations of the evil eleventh horn are, (1) the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, (2) an end-time Antichrist, or (3) the Church.

A Comparison of the beasts of Daniel 7 and 8 identifies the fourth empire, from which the evil horn-king arises, is the Roman Empire.

Many centuries earlier, Daniel correctly predicted HOW the Roman Empire will fall in the fifth century after Christ

The evil horn comes “Out of One of Them” (Daniel 8). An analysis of the grammar shows that the small horn comes out of one of the winds of the heavens; not out of one of the Greek horns.

Daniel 11:22 describes the death of Jesus Christ. The abomination and the persecution of God’s people—later in that same chapter—therefore do not describe Antiochus IV.

Antiochus IV does not fit the profile.  He did not start small, expand his territory, become greater than his predecessors, use deceit, principally oppose God, introduce a strange god, kill the prince of the covenant, or reign for a time, times and half a time.

A Word copy of this article is available for download:
Daniel’s evil horn–Greek or Roman


1. Purpose

2. Daniel 2; Overview

3. Daniel 7; Overview
a The Four Kingdoms

      b The Horns
      c The Eleventh Evil Horn

4. Daniel 8
The horn equivalent is to the evil horn in Daniel 7

      b  Three Interpretations of the evil horn
      c  Beasts compared
      d  Separate Mede kingdom?
      e  Darius the Mede
      f  From one from them
      g  Where is Rome in Daniel 8?

5. Daniel 11
Critics’ interpretation is based on Daniel 11

      b  Daniel 11; the first 20 verses
      c  The vile person is the evil horn
      d  Prince of the covenant (11:22)
      e  Relative chronology
      f  Emphasis on Antiochus III
      g  Where is Rome in Daniel 11?
      h  Antiochus as type

6. Conclusion


The Macedonian (Greek) Empire, which encompassed the nation of Israel (Judea), ruled from about 330 B.C. for nearly 300 years.  Antiochus IV was a king 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. 

In academic circles (critics) it is believed that he was the evil king presented in the prophecies of Daniel chapters 7, 8 and 11, and that the book Daniel was compiled after Antiochus defiled the temple.  The 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.

Academics base their view on their belief that accurate long term predictions are impossible.  Since particularly Daniel 11 depicts historical events very accurately, they conclude that the book of Daniel must have been written after these events.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and other resources prove that Daniel was written before Rome has become the dominant power.  If it can be shown that the evil king in Daniel, according to the prophecies of Daniel, arises after the Roman Empire, it also proves that the book of Daniel contains real long-range predictions.

An article has already been published on this website in which it was argued that the cutting off of the Messiah Prince of Daniel 9 refers to the death of our Creator, Jesus Christ.  Since He was killed after Rome became the dominant power, that article also proves that the book of Daniel contains real long-range predictions.

Daniel 2

This section is a summary of the article, The metal man of Daniel 2.  The vision in Daniel 2 uses the statue of a man to divide human history into six successive periods:

Its head of gold (2:32) represents the Babylonian Empire.

Its breast of silver (2:32) is “another kingdom inferior to” the Babylonian Empire (2:39), which will follow “after” the Babylonian Empire (2:39).

Its belly and thighs of bronze (2:32) is “another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth” (2:39).

Its legs of iron (2:33) is “a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces” (2:40).

Its feet partly of iron and partly of clay (2:33) is “a divided kingdom” (2:41).  Many kings will rule at the same time over different kingdoms.

A stone was cut out without hands” (2:34).  “Without hands” means supernatural.  This stone completely evaporates the entire image.  “Not a trace of them was found” (2:35).  “But the stone … became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (2:35).  This is a “kingdom which will never be destroyed” (2:44).

Daniel 7

This section is a summary of the article The four beasts of Daniel 7.  In the vision of Daniel 7, four beasts (a lion, a bear, a leopard and a dreadful beast) come out of the sea (v3).

The sea is the people of the world, for verse 17 explains that these kings will “arise from the earth.”

Each of the four beasts is a “kingdom”, consisting of a series of kings.  For instance, verse 23 explains that the “fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth.

These kingdoms will not reign at the same time, but—like the metal-kingdoms of Daniel 2—they will reign one after the other.  For instance, the fourth beast “was different from all the beasts that were before it” (verse 7).

The beasts are the same kingdoms as in Daniel 2, for both Daniel 2 and 7 have four successive kingdoms, followed by a divided period, followed by the eternal kingdom (2:44; 7:24-27).

The ten horns

Ten horns grow out of the fourth beast-kingdom.  These horns are the same as the divided kingdom of Daniel 2:

Both are a multitude of kings.
Both grow out of the fourth empire.
Both continue until eternal kingdom.

The following can, therefore, be concluded:

Since the divided kingdom in Daniel 2 follows after the fourth kingdom, the ten horns also follow after the end of the fourth kingdom.

Since the divided kingdom consists of many kings that reign at the same time, the ten kings also do not exist one after the other, but at the same time.

Eleventh Evil Horn

The descriptions of the beasts in Daniel 7 give additional information about the kingdoms in Daniel 2.  But the most important additional information in Daniel 7 is about an evil king that will reign during the time of the horns.  It is symbolized by an eleventh evil horn that “came up among them” and uproot three of the other horns (7:8).  It persecutes the saints, blaspheme God, and intend to change times and law (7:25).


Daniel 8 uses only two animals—a ram and a goat:

RAM:  The ram appears first in the vision, conquering to the north, west, and south (vss. 3-4).  The ram is explicitly identified as Mede-Persia (8:20).

GOAT:  The goat with its principal horn came on the scene of action next. By defeating the Persian ram it became the dominant power (vv. 5-7).  The ram is explicitly identified as Greece (8:20-21).

Daniel 8 then explains the horns:

FOUR HORNS:  The principal horn of the goat was broken and four horns, extending out to the four winds of heaven, came up in its place (vs. 8).  Commentators generally concur that these four horns are the four kingdoms into which Alexander’s empire was divided.  The interpretation of the following character is more controversial:

LITTLE HORN:  Another horn (“a little horn“) appeared on the scene.  It did not attack the other beasts or kingdoms, but was:

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

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

For how long is the vision concerning the [tamid], the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled under foot?

The other answered:

Unto 2300 evening-mornings, then the sanctuary shall be cleansed/restored.

Daniel 8 mentions neither the first kingdom of Daniel 7 (Babylon) nor the last (eternal) kingdom but provides additional information about the key figure—the evil horn-king.  Most of Daniel 8 is about this king.


It is generally agreed that the evil horn of Daniel 8 is equivalent to the evil horn of Daniel 7, for the following reasons:

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

ACTIONS:  They do the same things.  Both begin small and become great (7:8 and 8:9); both are blasphemous powers (7:8, 25 and 8:11, 25); both persecute the saints of God (7:21, 25 and 8:11, 25); for both a period of time is described (7:25 and 8:14); both are the last in a series of symbols and they eventually suffer similar fates (7:26 and 8:25).

AMPLIFY:  Virtually all commentators accept that, in the book of Daniel, the later prophecies amplify the earlier ones.  For instance, the four empires of Daniel 2 were repeated in Daniel 7, with additional information.  Additional details are given about them and their divisions, in particular through the use of horns to represent their major divisions.  The book itself also mentions this principle at least twice.  In 9:22-23 Gabriel says that he came to give Daniel an understanding of “the vision”, which would be the vision in the previous chapter.  In Daniel 10-12 Daniel receives a “message” (10:1).  The purpose of the message was to explain the “vision” (10:1, 14).  This therefore also refers to the vision in Daniel 8, as that is the last “vision” in the book of Daniel.  The later chapters all explain that vision.  If this principle is applied to Daniel 8, the vision of Daniel 8 becomes an amplification of the vision of chapter 7.


The key character in Daniel 8:9-14 is a little horn that blasphemes God and persecutes His people.   Commentators have applied the preterist, futurist, and historicist schools of prophetic interpretation in their attempt to identify this little evil horn, its period of 2300 evening-mornings and the sanctuary which it will profane:

Preterists are committed to the view that the majority of the prophecies of the book of Daniel have already been fulfilled and, therefore, have no significance for the present day. Thus they hold that the little evil horn rose from one of the divisions of Alexander’s empire. They conclude that the activities of the little horn unmistakably point to Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  They have proposed that the 2300 “evening-mornings” should be interpreted as 2300 individual morning and evening sacrifices, or 1150 literal days. These should be applied to events in the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century B.C.  Preterists claim 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 generally follow this line of interpretation also.  In addition, they see Antiochus as a type of an end-time antichrist who is to arise in the final years of earth’s history before Christ’s Second Advent.  As a type of the work of the final antichrist, some futurists have applied the “evening-mornings” as literal evenings and mornings, or 2300 days, which they claim have not yet begun because of the final manifestation of an antichrist belongs to the future.  During the final seven years of earth’s history, a literal temple (to be rebuilt in Jerusalem for the Jews) will be polluted by an antichrist.  The temple will be restored when Christ comes and puts an end to the reign of the antichrist.

Historicists declare that 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. Since a flow of history appears to be involved here, especially when Daniel 8 is compared with Daniel 7, the historicist holds that the little horn represents Rome—in its papal phase (the Roman Church).  Utilizing the day-for-a-year principle, historicists have held that the 2300 evening-mornings refer to a period of 2300 literal years, commencing with the Persian Ram and concluding with the recovery of the message of the Bible after the distortion of the Middle Ages.  The purification of the sanctuary is interpreted symbolically as the restoration of God’s people and/or their message—of which the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary in ancient Israel on the Day of Atonement was a symbol.

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

Element Preterlst Historicist Futurist
1. Little horn Antiochus IV Roman Church Future Antichrist
2. 2300 days Literal days 1150 past 2300 years Literal future 2300 days
3. Temple In Jerusalem God’s people To be re-erected
4. Cleansing Before 164 BC God’s people/message Return of Christ

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


Historicists and futurists (conservatives) align the beasts of Daniel 7 as follows to the symbols of Daniel 8 and 2:

Daniel 2





Daniel 7




Dreadful beast

Daniel 8


Ram (Mede-Persia)

Goat (Greece)


If this is correct, and the bear is Mede-Persia and the Leopard is the Greek empire, then the Dreadful Beast must represent Rome, because that was the next empire in history. Then the little horn comes about in the Roman period.

The Preterist School, which is essentially comprised of critical scholars, effectively read Daniel backward.  They first identify 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” (as we agree), they identify the evil horns of Daniel 7 and 8 also as Antiochus IV.  But since Antiochus was a Greek king, this means that the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 (the dreadful beast) must be the Greek Empire.  But then the question is: What are the Bear and Leopard kingdoms between the Babylonian and Greek empires?  To solve this problem Critics split the Mede-Persian Empire into two separate empires and align the symbols as follows:

Daniel 2





Daniel 7




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.  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.

Firstly, contrary to the proposal by the critics, the Ram and the Leopard do not appear similar.  Consider their descriptions:



Four wings (v6);
Four heads (v6);

Two horns—one higher (v3);
Higher horn came out last (v3);
Charges to West, North and South (v4);

The Ram has two horns while the Leopard has four heads.  The heads and horns seem to indicate the divisions of the kingdom.  The Ram and the Leopard, therefore, do not seem to be related.

Secondly, also contrary to the proposal by the critics, the Goat and the Dreadful Beast do not appear similar.  Consider their descriptions:

Dreadful Beast Goat
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);
From the west (v5);
Not touching the ground (v5);
One conspicuous horn (v5);
Great horn broken when strong (v8);
Four horns to the four winds (v8)

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.  Since horns symbolize the divisions of these kingdoms, the Goat and the Dreadful Beast are not related.

Thirdly, consistent with the conservative view, the Ram and the Bear are similar in appearance

TWO SIDES: For both their two sides are emphasized, with one side 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.

CONQUERED THREE: Both conquered three others:  The Bear has three ribs between its teeth (7:5).  Since animals are used as symbols for kingdoms, the ribs represent the kingdoms or territory conquered.  The Ram pushes in three directions (8:4—West, North and South).

This implies that the Ram and the Bear represent the same empire.  The Ram is explicitly identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20).  Its two disproportionate horns are specifically identified as the kings of Media and Persia (vs. 20), expressing the same duality that is found in the bear.  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 Medes and Persians.  The longer horn that came out last and the higher side of the bear refers to the Persians.  Initially, Medes dominated Persia, but Cyrus reversed the relationship so that Persia dominated the Medes when their combined forces conquered Babylon.

The Medes and Persians are of the same race (Iranians).  Their kingdom expanded from the East towards Babylon and Judea.  The three ribs in the Bear’s mouth and the three directions in 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.

Fourthly and lastly, consistent with the conservative view, the Goat and the Leopard are similar in appearance:

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

FOUR: 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.  The Ram is explicitly identified as “the kingdom of Greece” (8:21), or the Macedonian Empire as it is known.  The speed of its quests refers to the speed by which Alexander the Great conquered the known world—within 10 years—and the four heads and four horns symbolize the four Greek Empires that came into being after Alexander’s death at the age of 33.


The comparison of the characteristics of the animals, therefore, does not support the preterist view but supports the conservative interpretation, which identifies the third as the Greek Empire and the Fourth as the Roman Empire.  On the basis that the little horns of Daniel 7 and 8 refer to the same historical entity—as argued above, it follows that the horn comes out of Rome.  It cannot be Antiochus IV.


One can also evaluate the validity of the critics’ separation of the Medes and Persians into two separate 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 be wrong.  The Medes were conquered about 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.

It is also not consistent with Daniel.  Daniel’s author consistently viewed the Medes and Persians as a single entity, as indicated by the following:

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

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

RAM: The ram is identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20).

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

CONFLICT: 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 beasts in Daniel 7 and as two different metals in Daniel 2.


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

Although no such figure is known from history, Daniel’s reference to him thereby 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 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.


Critics argue that 8:8-9 confirms that the little horn comes from one of the four Greek horns, and must, therefore, be a Greek king, like Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  

Nouns and pronouns in Hebrew have genders which require agreement.  The last phrase in 8:8, together with the beginning of 8:9, which specifies where the horn came from, with the relevant words marked (f) for feminine or (m) for masculine, reads as follows:

… the great horn was broken; for it came up four notable ones (horns (f) NASB) toward the four (f) winds (f) of heaven (m).  And out of one (f) of them (m) came forth a little horn (KJV)

To understand where the little horn comes from, we need to understand what the words “one” and “them” refer to:

The “them” in 8:9 must agree in gender and number with its antecedent (the previously mentioned noun to which it refers).  The word “them” in 8:9 is masculine plural and the only masculine plural in the previous verse is “heaven”.  (“Heaven” is always plural [heavens] in biblical Hebrew.  The Hebrew word for “horn” is always feminine.  The word for “winds” is written in 8:8 as a feminine plural.)

The numeral “one” is feminine in form.  Firstly, it, therefore, does not have the same antecedent as the word “them”.  The first and second nouns must be different.  It, therefore, cannot refer to “one” of the heavens.  Secondly, the “one” can either refer to one of the horns or to one of the winds.  (The word “winds” means the four directions of the compass.)  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

These options satisfy the gender requirements.  However, 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 first phrase of 8:9 lines up as follows with the last phrase of 8:8:

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

To summarize, 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.”  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 directions of the compass.  It, therefore, did not come from one of the Greek horns and is therefore not Greek in origin.


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

Firstly, one needs to understand that Daniel 7 did not present the little horn as an entirely new entity, but as a continuation of the beast.  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)

The beast and its dreadful horn are therefore described by Daniel 7 as a single entity.

Secondly, Daniel 8 does allow for political Rome.  The growth of the horn in Daniel 8, as described in verses 9 to 11, consists of two phases.  The first phase is horizontal growth:

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

The second phase is vertical growth:

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. 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. (8:10-11)

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 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.

This may be explained as follows:  Daniel 2 does not mention any anti-God activities, but Daniel 7 divides the fourth empire into a political phase, described in two verses (7:7, 19), and a subsequent phase during which an anti-God power will reign, described in about six verses.  Daniel 8 includes both phases under the symbolism an evil horn.  This indicates that religious power is more important than the political power from which it came.  In fact, that religious power is more important than all four political empires.  The prophecies only mention the political empires to enable us to identify the evil anti-God power.


The vision in Daniel 10-12 is important because, as mentioned above, critics actually derive the Antiochus-interpretation (the Maccabean thesis) from this vision, and then apply this interpretation to the earlier chapters.  As one critic 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.


There are no animals in the vision in Daniel 10-12.  The Persian kingdom is identified by name (11:2), but none of the later kingdoms or kings is named.  Instead, the names “king of the south” and “king of the north” are used; each for an entire kingdom consisting of a whole series of kings.  The reader has to identify the relevant king by comparing the events described by the prophecy with actual history.

While many prophetic details in Daniel 11 are difficult to interpret, interpreters are in general agreement in interpreting verses 1- 13:

Verse 2 predicts four more Persian kings, and that the fourth will attack Greece.  This was the Persian king Xerxes.  By virtue of his failed attack on the Greeks, he brought the Greek nation onto the ‘world’ scene.

Then verse 3 jumps 150 years over the remaining Persian kings to the first Greek king—the “mighty king” (Alexander the Great) (11:3).

Verse 4 refers to the four divisions into which Alexander’s kingdom was divided after his death.

Under the names “king of the north” and “king of the south” verse 5 onwards describes the two divisions of Alexander’s empire that were threats to Judea.  The “king of the north” was the series of Seleucid kings of the Middle East and the “king of the south” refers to the series of Ptolemaic kings of Egypt.  From verse 5 to 13, the Ptolemies and Seleucids follow in an order that can be determined with reasonable certainty down to the Seleucid Antiochus III.

Beginning with the troublesome reference to the “breakers of your people” in verse 14, however, interpretations diverge.  Critics 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).


The remainder of Daniel 11 describes the activities of a “vile person” (KJV; 11:21).  It is generally agreed that this “vile person” is the same as the horn of Daniel 8 and Daniel 7, argued as follows:

ELABORATE:  As argued above, the later prophecies in Daniel elaborate on the earlier prophecies.  Therefore, in chapter 11, where we no longer have beasts and horns representing kingdoms and their division, but rather a series of selected individual kings who ruled those kingdoms, it is still the same kingdoms.

PERSECUTION:  Both the horn and the vile person persecutes God’s people (7:25; 11:32-34);

3½ TIMES:  Both the horn and the vile person persecutes God’s people for a period of 3½ times (7:25; 12:7).  (The persecution by the vile person is described in 11:32-34, but when Daniel asked “How long shall it be?” (12:6), the answer is given “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).  This verse is not entirely clear, but it seems to say that the prophetic period “a time, two times, and half a time“, —a total of 3½ times—is the period of persecution for the holy people.  Since this question-and-answer dialogue comes at the end of the prophecy of Daniel 11·12, it relates to the previously mentioned persecution, which is the persecution in 11:32-34.

These 3½ times of Daniel 12:7 also occur in the Aramaic portion of Daniel—in Daniel 7:25—where it is also a time of persecution for the saints of the Most High, namely by the little horn.)

ABOMINATION: Both set up “the abomination (transgression/sin) that makes desolate” (11:31; 8:13).  (An abomination is a sin.  In Deut. 7:25 “graven images of their gods” are called “an abomination to the LORD your God”.) Both of these expressions tie in with the tamid (continual) in their respective contexts (compare 11:31 with 8:11-12).

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

TAMID:  Both remove the continual (tamid) (8:11; 11:31).

DECEIT:  Both work through deceit (8:25; 11:21-24) and both “magnify himself” (8:11; 11:36-37).

Daniel 11, therefore, covers the same ground as Daniel 8, and provides additional information for the interpretation of Daniel 8, and therefore also for the question of whether the little horn of Daniel 8 is Roman or Greek.


The following is a rather literal translation of verse 22:

the arms of the flood are overflowed from before him, and are broken; and also the leader (nagid; prince–NASB) of the covenant (berit) (11:22; YLT)

The text presents a picture of inferior forces (“the arms of the flood“) being overwhelmed and defeated by the superior forces of the vile person. The lesser flood was to be flooded by an even greater flood of arms.

This verse is related to the prophecy of the death of Jesus Christ in Daniel 9:24-27, in a number of ways:

FLOOD: 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 11:22.

NAGID:  The word ‘sar’ (translated “prince”) occurs 11 times in Daniel in various chapters (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 the prophecy of 9:24-27. In the prophecy of 9:24-27 it occurs first with the Messiah in verse 25 and then again alone in verse 26, where it refers to the prince “who is to come“.  The implication is that the “Messiah the Prince” (9:25), the “prince who is to come” (9:26) and “the prince of the covenant” (11:22) refer to the same individual—the Messiah Prince; Christ in His earthly incarnate state.

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

BERIT: The word berit (covenant) occurs in both passages.  Berit also occurs elsewhere in Daniel, but a prince is connected with the covenant only in these two passages.  In other words, only the nagid-prince is connected with the covenant.  In 9:26-27 it is the nagid who makes strong the covenant for one week. (See article on Daniel 9.)  In 11:22 the nagid of the covenant is broken.  “Covenant” elsewhere in Daniel always refers to the covenant between God and His people (9:4; 11:28, 30, 32).

It is therefore concluded that the nagid in these two passages is the same individual, that the flood in the two passages refers to the same power and that the two passages refer to the same events.  Since 9:24-27 refers to the death of Jesus Christ in the first century AD, the prophecy of Daniel 9 is fulfilled in the Roman period.  The same must, therefore, apply to 11:22.

Since the events in Daniel 11 are given in their chronological order, everything that follows after verse 22 must be sought sometime after the first century AD.  Just how long afterward is immaterial at this point since we are only concerned here with the question whether the evil horn is Roman or Greek. 

In particular, the setting up of the abomination (11:31) and the persecution of God’s people (11:32-34) follows after 11:22, and therefore somewhere after the crucifixion of Jesus.  This was confirmed by Jesus when He said:

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (Mat 24:15)

This phrase “abomination of desolation” comes from Daniel 11:31 and 12:11.  Jesus therefore also interpreted the vile person not as the Greek king Antiochus IV between 168 and 165 BC, but as an anti-God ruler that will arise later.


We are now able to establish a relative chronology between Daniel 11 and the earlier prophecies:

Daniel 11

Dan. 9

Dan. 8

Dan. 7

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


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 fourth Persian king (Xerxes) was also highlighted earlier in Daniel 11 (v2), not to identify the Persian king that would follow him, but 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.

In the same way, Antiochus III’s unsuccessful war against the Romans, which is described in Daniel 11, was the key turning point that shifted the balance of power from the Greek Empire to Rome.  As a result, he and his sons had to pay penalties to the Romans and were left subject to the growing dominance of Rome. 

This explains the significant attention to Antiochus III in Daniel 11.  It was for the same reason that Xerxes was emphasized in 11:2.  The purpose was not to identify the king that follow after Antiochus III, but rather that his reign was the key turning point for the shift in dominance from the Greek to the Roman Empires.


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, we again refer to the key turning points, which shift the balance of power in favor of the next empire.  It is proposed, as a principle, that Daniel’s prophecies, once the key turning point has been reached, do not mention the previous empire anymore, and jump right over the remaining kings to the next empire.

This is best explained by means of an example.  It was mentioned above that Xerxes’ war against the Greeks was a key turning point in history.  He is mentioned in verse 2.  Then the prophecy jumps over the next 150 years during which seven Persian kings reigned (Artaxerxes I, Darius II, Xerxes II, Artaxerxes II, Artaxerxes Ill, Arses, and Darius III), to the first Greek emperor; Alexander the Great (11:3).

It is proposed that this principle equally applies to the shift from the Greek to the Roman empires.  Antiochus III’s war against Rome was another key turning point in history.  Then the prophecy jumps over the next 170, during which several Greek kings reigned, to the next empire (Rome).

This principle is also visible in Daniel 7 and 8.  The vision is Daniel 7 mentions Babylon, but the vision in Daniel 8, which was received only two years later (7:1; 8:1) does not.  It is proposed that the reason is that the key turning point, that shifted the balance of world power from Babylon to Mede-Persia, was between these two dates.  In this case Babylon was not involved.  In this case, the war between the Medes and the Persians, which resulted in the prophesied Cyrus becoming supreme ruler of the Medes and the Persians, was the key turning point.

Applying this principle makes it quite possible to interpret 11:19 as a description of the death of Antiochus III and 11:22 as a description of the death of Christ 200 years later in the first century AD. 

Where is Rome?  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 or after it:

Daniel 7 describes a fourth empire, followed by a ruler that wants 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, but only indirectly and in only a single verse (8:9).  It uses the same symbol for both the Roman Empire and worldwide anti-God ruler; namely, the little horn that first expands horizontally (politically) and then vertically (religious growth).  Nearly all the attention is on the religious phase. 

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

As mentioned before, the sole purpose of these prophecies and the first four kingdoms is to locate to the worldwide anti-God ruler.  This is the reason for the ever reducing emphasis of the political phase of the fourth empire and an increasing emphasis on its religious phase.


But the critics are still not convinced.  They correctly argue 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 this.  It 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 (not Heliodorus), then Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings. 

Critics also correctly argue that the history of Antiochus IV, such as the double invasion of Egypt (11:25, 29), and the persecution of God’s people, fits the descriptions of the “vile person” in the verses after 11:21 quite well.

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

In response, it is very important to realize that the description of the “vile person” exceeds 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 have regard for the god of his fathers, nor have regard 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).

Daniel 11 may, therefore, be understood as two stories intertwined.  The text describes the history up to and including Antiochus IV, but while discussing Antiochus IV it jumps to a future and worldwide evil king.  This also happens in Joel, where the prophet describes a local locust plague, but then suddenly jumps to the day of the Lord.  Isaiah 14 jumps from the king of Babylon to Lucifer, with no interruption (14:4, 12).  Ezekiel 28 jumps 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.

The first story starts with the time of Persia and continues until Antiochus IV under the symbolism of the vile person.  The second is the story of a later worldwide evil king, also with the vile person as a symbol, and continues until Michael stands up (12:1-3).

Understood this way, Antiochus IV is only a partial fulfillment of Daniel 11, to be followed by the final and fuller fulfillment by a much later and much larger anti-God ruler, in the same way as John the Baptist was the first representation of Elijah to come.  Understood in this way Antiochus IV serves as a type of the later anti-God ruler.

The vile person is, therefore, a double merge.  It merges the Roman Empire and its anti-God successor into a single symbol, but then also merges Antiochus IV into this symbol.

Why would God do this?  It is possible that God also reflected the events of Antiochus IV in Daniel 11 so that when the Jews see these events fulfilled in Antiochus IV they would accept the book as inspired and expect the coming of the Messiah as predicted in Daniel 9. 


The Critical View

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 centuries before the NT.

Antiochus IV fit the sequence of kings and the activities of the evil king in Daniel 11 quite well.  Critics, therefore, propose that the book of 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 two centuries before the NT.

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.

Daniel 7

This document has provided proof that the forced interpretation of Daniel 2 and 7 is incorrect:

By comparing the beasts of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8, it has been shown that the fourth empire of Daniel 7 is the Roman Empire.  Consequently, the evil horn comes out of the Roman Empire, and cannot represent the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

Critics propose that the horns are individual kings of the fourth kingdom.  But it has been shown above, mostly on the basis of Daniel 2, that the horn-kings of the fourth beast in Daniel 7 rule after the fourth empire.

Critics propose that the author of Daniel split the Mede-Persian Empire into two empires, but it was shown above that the author of Daniel consistently treated the Mede-Persian Empire as a single empire.

Daniel 8

It has also been shown above that Daniel 8 does align well to the logical interpretation of Daniel 7:

Critics propose that 8:8-9 indicates that the little horn in Daniel 8 comes out of one of the Greek horns.  However, the antecedents of the pronouns in Daniel 8:8-9 indicate that the little horn comes out of one of the four directions of the compass, not from one of the four Greek horns, and is therefore not Greek.

Critics argue that the evil little horn in Daniel 8 is mentioned immediately after the Greek horns, with no intermediate empire.  However, it has been shown above that the little horn in Daniel 8 first grows horizontally, which is equivalent to the political phase of the fourth empire.  The horn of Daniel 8, therefore, represents both the fourth kingdom and the horn of Daniel 7. 

Daniel 11

Conservatives base their interpretation mostly on Daniel 7 and 8, and often find it very difficult to explain Daniel 11.  The approach adopted in this document is as follows:

The linguistic links between Daniel 9:24-27 and 11:22 imply that the breaking of the prince of the covenant in 11:22 refers to the death of Jesus Christ in the first century AD.  Therefore the flood that shatters the nagid-prince of the covenant in 11:22 (and destroys the city and the sanctuary in 9:26) is the Roman Empire.

This means that the anti-temple activities and the persecution of God’s people later in Daniel 11 must occur some historical time after Christ’s death, and therefore during or after the Roman period.

In response to the criticism of this interpretation this article further argues as follows:

Daniel 11 emphasizes Antiochus III because of his unsuccessful war against the Romans was the critical turning point that shifted the balance of power in the known world from the Greeks to the Romans.

Although Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11, Daniel 11:19-22 can be interpreted as a jump from Antiochus III to the Roman Empire because, as soon as a key turning point in history has been reached, the prophecies jump to the next empire.

The evil horn-king is the main purpose and main player in these prophecies, and in Daniel 11 the symbol of the evil king includes the fourth kingdom, symbolized by the flood (11:22). 

The history of Antiochus IV is reflected in the prophecies of Daniel, but Antiochus does not exhaust the prophecies.  The prophecies of Daniel simultaneously predict the persecutions of Antiochus and a much larger and much later anti-God ruler that will arise after the time of the Roman Empire.

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

God is in control

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)

One Reply to “Is Daniel’s Evil Horn part of the Greek or the Roman Empires?”

  1. Well written and well researched. Thank you for sharing your work and I hope many people who are ignorant of or confused by these issues find your site.

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