Daniel’s fourth beast is the Roman Empire.

PURPOSE

The previous three articles gave overviews 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-kings in these two chapters represent the same entity. That article also describes the Preterist, Historicist, and Futurist interpretations of this evil power but does not select one.

The purpose of the current article is to show that the evil king-horn arose out of the Roman Empire.

SUMMARY

The Fourth Beast is the Roman Empire.

There are four animals in Daniel 7 but only two in Daniel 8. The Ram is explicitly identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” and the Goat as “the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:20-21). The current article identifies the animals in Daniel 7 by comparing them to the animals in Daniel 8:

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

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

The Ram and the Bear are similar. For both, one side is higher than the other and both conquer three others. This means that the Ram is equivalent to the Bear and that both represent “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20).

The Goat and the Leopard are also similar. Both are represented as fast and consist of four parts. This means that both represent the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 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 are the same entity, it cannot be the Greek king Antiochus IV.

The Medes is not a distinct empire.

To make their interpretation fit the text, critical scholars propose that the author of Daniel inserted the Medes as a separate empire. This is not consistent with history or with Daniel itself. Daniel always refers to the Medes and Persians as a single entity (e.g., Dan 8:20).

– END OF SUMMARY – 


ALTERNATIVE INTERPRETATIONS

Conservative View – Roman Empire

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 View – Greek Empire

The Preterist School, comprising mostly of liberal Critical Scholars, effectively reads Daniel backward. They start by identifying the ‘despicable’ of Daniel 11:21 as Antiochus IV. Then, since the evil horns of Daniel 7 and 8 are the same as the ‘despicable’, they identify the evil horn also as Antiochus IV. Since Antiochus was a Greek king, they propose that the 11 horns in Daniel 7 are 11 consecutive kings of the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 (the Dreadful Beast) and that that beast symbolizes the Greek Empire. But then, what are the previous three empires in Daniel 7 (the lion, bear, and leopard)? Daniel 2 explicitly identifies the first as Babylon, and there was only one empire between Babylon and Greece, namely Medo-Persia. To solve this problem, critical scholars divide the Mede-Persian Empire into two separate empires and align 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

Daniel identified the Ram as “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 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 their descriptions and evaluate the similarities:

Ram  Bear Leopard
Two horns—one higher;
Higher horn came out last;
Charges to West, North, and South
(Dan 8:3-4)
Raised up on one side;
Three ribs between its teeth
(Dan 7:5)
Four heads;
Four wings
(Dan 7:6)

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 – Dan 8:20), 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” (Dan 7:5) while the Ram has two horns; one being longer than the other.

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

Conclusions

These comparisons mean that the Ram is equivalent to the Bear and only to the Bear, and that the Bear represents “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 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, is Goat of Daniel 8 the Leopard of Daniel 7, as proposed by the Conservatives, or the fourth Dreadful Beast, as proposed by the Liberals? Compare these beasts:

Goat Leopard Dreadful Beast
From the west;
Not touching the ground;
One conspicuous horn;
Great horn was broken when strong;
Four horns to the four winds
(Dan 8:5, 8)
Four heads;
Four wings; (Dan 7:6)
Terrible & very strong;
Iron teeth;
Bronze claws;
It devoured; broke in pieces;
Stamped residue with its feet;
Different from the other beasts;
Ten horns;
(Dan 7:7, 19)

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 ‘plucks out’ three of the 10 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” (Dan 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.

The Horn came out of Rome.

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

The Bear = “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20), and
The Leopard = “the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 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. As for 

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” (Dan 5:30-31; 6:28), preceding the reign of the Persian king, Cyrus the Great (Dan 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.

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 (Dan 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” (Dan 8:20).

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

There is also 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 in describing both Media and Persia as 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.

WHO WAS DARIUS?

Critics argue that the author of Daniel committed a historical blunder when he referred to Darius the Mede in Dan 5:31-6:28 and in Dan 9:1. They argue that no such figure is known from history and that Daniel mentioned Darius the Mede because he mistakenly thought that the Medes were a distinct empire between the Neo-Babylonian rulers and the Persian king, Cyrus.

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” (Dan 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.


OTHER ARTICLES

The Four Beasts and Ten Horns of Daniel 7

SUMMARY

Daniel 7

In Daniel 7, four animals, a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a dreadful beast, come out of the sea. The sea symbolizes the people of the world. The four animals symbolize four empires that reign one after the other.

Ten horns grow out of the fourth beast. In the academic consensus, where the supernatural and miracles are not accepted, the Book of Daniel was written AFTER the events it predicts. One consequence of this theory is that the ten horns are ten individual kings that rule one after the other during the fourth empire. But Daniel itself indicates that they symbolize ten kingdoms that all exist at the same time AFTER the end of the fourth empire.

The most important character in Daniel 7 is none of the above, but an eleventh horn that also comes up out of the fourth empire, after the previous ten. It becomes “larger … than its associates” (Dan 7:20), persecutes the saints, and blasphemes God.

Daniel 2 predicts the same four empires and 10 kingdoms. It describes the many kings following the fourth empire as a “divided kingdom.” In both Daniel 2 and 7, the divided kingdom is followed by the same eternal kingdom. Viewing the two prophecies as one, allows the one to explain the other.


THE FOUR ANIMALS

Are four empires.

The four great beasts are identified as “kings” (Dan 7:17). However, Daniel 7:23 explains that the “fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms”. In other words, each of the four beasts is a “kingdom”, consisting of a series of kings.

Arise from the people of the world.

The beasts arise out of the sea (Dan 7:3). But Daniel 7:17 explains that these kings will “arise from the earth”. The “sea” (Dan 7:3), therefore, is a symbol for the “earth”. The “earth” is not the physical earth, but the peoples of the world.

Exist one after the other.

Like the metal kingdoms of Daniel 2, these empires will not reign at the same time, but one after the other. This can be shown as follows:

The fourth beast “was different from all the beasts that were before it” (Dan 7:7).

The fourth beast will devour the “whole earth” (Dan 7:23), which leaves no place for other beasts at the same time.

The phrase “after this” in Daniel 7:6-7, explaining the sequence of beasts, confirms that the beasts will follow one after the other.

THE HORNS

The fourth beast has ten horns (Dan 7:7-8), explained as ten kings that will arise “out of” the fourth beast (Dan 7:24; cf. Dan 8:20-22).

But the most prominent character in Daniel 7 is not any of the four beasts or the ten horns, but the evil 11th horn that comes up later among the 10 horns. It uproots three of the other horns (Dan 7:8). When it comes up, it is “little” (Dan 7:8), but later it becomes “larger … than its associates” (Dan 7:20). Most of Daniel 7 is devoted to this anti-God character. Daniel 7 says more about this evil horn than perhaps about all of the other kingdoms and kings put together. It persecutes the saints, blasphemes God, and intends to change times and law (Dan 7:25).

PARALLEL TO DANIEL 2

For reasons such as the following, commentators generally agree that the four beast kingdoms in Daniel 7 are the same as the four metal kingdoms in Daniel 2:

The same Four Empires

The man of Daniel 2In both, there are four kingdoms. In Daniel 2, there are four metals and in Daniel 7, there are four beasts.

Both the metals in Daniel 2 and the beasts in Daniel 7 represent successive kingdoms. See the discussion of Daniel 2.

Both the fourth metal and the fourth animal are called the “fourth kingdom” (Dan 2:40; 7:23).

Both fourth kingdoms are associated with “iron” (Dan 2:40; 7:7).

The same Divided Kingdom

In both Daniel 2 and 7, there is a fifth phase after the “fourth kingdom” that consists of a plurality of kings:

By referring to it as a “divided kingdom,” Daniel 2 indicates that, during this phase, there will not be one single supreme king, but several kings ruling different kingdoms.

Assuming that the statue in Daniel 2 has 10 toes, both Daniel 2 and 7 use the number 10 to symbolize the plurality of “kings” in this phase (Dan 7:7).

In both Daniel 2 and 7, that fifth phase is a continuation of the fourth:

In Daniel 7, that fifth phase is described as ten horns growing “out of” the fourth beast.

In Daniel 2, the metal in the fifth phase is the same as the metal of the fourth kingdom, namely iron (Dan 2:33).

These parallels indicate that the horns in Daniel 7 are equivalent to the divided kingdom of Daniel 2. Both are a fifth phase that is a continuation of the fourth but consists of multiple kingdoms.

The same Eternal Kingdom

Both the divided kingdom in Daniel 2 and the horns in Daniel 7 are followed by the eternal kingdom: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed” (Dan 2:44, compare Dan 7:26-27).

Compared in a Table

For these reasons, the four metal kingdoms in Daniel 2 are the same as the four beast kingdoms in Daniel 7 and the 10 (or 11) horns in Daniel 7 are parallel to the divided kingdom in Daniel 2. These two visions symbolize the same six phases of human history:

Daniel 7
Head of Gold Lion with eagle wings
Breast and Arms of Silver Bear raised up on one side
Belly and Thighs of Bronze A leopard with four wings and four heads
Legs of Iron The fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong
Feet of Iron and Clay At first, it had ten horns but an 11th horn came up among them.
Eternal kingdom Everlasting Kingdom

The two prophecies are one.

Viewing the two prophecies as one, allows the one to explain the other. For example:

Since the gold kingdom of Daniel 2 is the Babylonian Empire, the lion-kingdom in Daniel 7 is the same.

In Daniel 2, there is no indication of an evil power. The most important additional information in Daniel 7 is about an evil king who will reign during the time of the horns.

THE ACADEMIC CONSENSUS

The horns are ten kings ruling during the fourth empire.

In the consensus of the academic world, where the supernatural and miracles are not accepted, the Book of Daniel was written AFTER the events it predicts. In particular, critical scholars propose that the book was written during the reign of the Greek king Antiochus IV, whom they regard to be the 11th horn of Daniel 7. However, to make Antiochus fit the prophecy, Critical Scholars:

    • Identify the Greek empire as the fourth empire, and
    • Propose that the 11 horns of Daniel 7 symbolize 11 consecutive kings of the Greek empire. In other words, the kings rule one after the other during the fourth empire. The evil 11th horn, therefore, is the 11th of a series of kings.

But Daniel shows that:

These views are not consistent with the text:

The fourth is the Roman Empire.

While Critical Scholars identify the fourth empire as Greece, another article, by comparing the animals in Daniel 7 and 8, identifies the fourth as the Roman Empire.

The horns exist after, not during, the fourth empire.

In the academic view, the 11 horns or kings reign during the fourth empire. But Daniel indicates that they exist AFTER the fourth beast-kingdom has come to an end:

The five different body parts of the statue in Daniel 2 show that the divided kingdom in Daniel 2 follows after the fourth kingdom:

The body parts symbolize eras of human history that exist one after the other: The head represents the first kingdom, the chest the second, the belly the third, the legs the fourth and the feet – the divided kingdom – are the fifth. The feet exist after the iron legs, not at the same time as the iron legs.

Critical Scholars want to make the two feet part of the two legs. However, while the legs in Daniel 2 consist of only iron, the feet consist “partly of iron and partly of clay.” The feet, therefore, cannot be part of the legs.

Since the horns in Daniel 7 are parallel to the divided kingdom, the horns follow after the fourth kingdom.

Furthermore, Daniel 7 says: “Out of this kingdom ten kings will arise”(Dan 7:24), implying that these kings will not exist inside the fourth kingdom.

In other words, the horns are not individual kings of the fourth kingdom, but distinct kingdoms that exist after the end of the fourth kingdom.

The horns exist at the same time.

In the academic view, the horns exist one after the other. In contrast, the following indicate that they will reign all at the same time:

In Daniel 2, this is indicated by the title “divided kingdom” and by the statement, “they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another” (Dan 2:43). Since the horns in Daniel 7 are equivalent to the divided kingdom, the ten kings also exist all at the same time.

In Daniel 7, although the 11th horn will come up “after them” (7:24), Daniel saw it “among them” (Dan 7:8), implying that the horns exist at the same time. Furthermore, the eleventh horn uproots three of the other horns (Dan 7:8). This also implies that the 10 existed together and the other 7 remained after the three had been dislodged.

In Daniel 8, there are two other animals in Daniel with horns, and in both instances, the horns represent kingdoms that exist at the same time (Dan 8:20-22):

The ram has two horns, respectively representing the Medes and the Persians of the Mede-Persian Empire (Dan 8:20). These two existed at the same time.

The goat grows 4 horns, representing the four divisions of the Greek Empire, which existed at the same time.


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