In Daniel 8, did the evil horn come out of the Greek goat?

ORIGIN OF THE HORN

The Horn is Roman.

A previous article showed that the Fourth Beast of Daniel 7 must be the Roman Empire. Consequently, the eleventh Evil Horn in Daniel 7 grows out of the Roman Empire. As argued, the Evil Horns of Daniel 7 and 8 are one and the same. That would mean that the Evil Horn of Daniel 8 also comes out of the Roman Empire.

Or is it Greek?

Daniel 8 symbolizes the Greek Empire as a goat (Dan 8:21). On this goat:

“There came up four conspicuous horns
toward the four winds of heaven.
9 Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn” (Dan 8:8-9).

In the view of some, the “small horn” came out of one of the “four conspicuous horns,” which symbolize the four parts into which the Greek Empire divided (Dan 8:22). Then the “small horn” would be Greek, and could be a Greek king, such as Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

It comes from One of the Compass Directions.

However, for the following reasons, “one of them” does not refer to one of the four horns of the goat but to one of the “four winds of heaven,” meaning the four compass directions:

Firstly, horns do not grow on horns; horns grow on the heads of animals. The “small horn” cannot come out of one of the Greek horns.

Secondly, Hebrew nouns and pronouns have genders that require agreement. The last part of Dan 8:8, together with the first part of Dan 8:9, with the relevant words marked (f) for feminine or (m) for masculine, read as follows:

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

In the English translation, this information is lost, but an analysis of these genders shows that the small horn comes out of one of the winds of the heavens:

“Them” refers to the Heavens.

“Them” cannot refer to the horns because “them” is male, while the Hebrew word for “horn” is always feminine. “Them” also cannot refer to the “winds” because the word for “winds” in Daniel 8:8 is written in a feminine form. “Them” can only refer to the heavens because that is the only male plural in the previous phrase. (In Hebrew, “heaven” is always plural (heavens).)

“One” refers to one of the Winds.

One Heaven – While “them” is male, “one” is female. “One,” therefore, does not have the same antecedent as “them.” Therefore, since “them” refers to the heavens,” “one” cannot be one of the “heavens.”

One Horn – Both “one” and “horns” are feminine but “one” cannot refer to one of the horns because ‘heavens’ do not have horns. One cannot say ‘one of the horns of heaven’.

One wind – The only other feminine in the previous phrase is “winds. Therefore “out of one of them” must be read as “out of one of the winds of the heavens.”

This conclusion is supported by the fact that the final phrase in verse 8 is, “the four winds of heaven.” The first phrase of Dan 8:9, therefore, lines up as follows with the last phrase of Dan 8:8:

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

It came from the Roman Empire.

Four horns appeared in the place of the great horn that was broken off. They extended “toward the four winds of the heavens.” From one of those ‘four winds’, that is, from one of the four directions of the compass, came the “small horn.” It, therefore, did not come from one of the Greek horns and, therefore, is not Greek in origin.

Since horns grow on heads, it is the horn of some beast. Since the next empire after Greece was Roman, the horn came from the Roman Empire.

WHERE IS ROME?

One possible objection to this interpretation is that Daniel 8 does not seem to describe another empire between the Greek Empire and the Evil Horn. It does not explicitly symbolize the Roman Empire. So, the question arises: Where is the Roman Empire in this chapter? This is answered as follows:

The Horn includes the Beast (Rome).

Firstly, the previous chapter (Daniel 7) refers to the Horn as if it is the fourth beast; a distinct entity. The beast remains alive as long as the horn is alive:

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

So, when Daniel 8 refers to the Horn, the fourth beast of Daniel 7 is included in that symbol.

The Horn’s Political phase symbolizes Rome.

Secondly, Daniel 8 does allow for political Rome, for the horn in Daniel 8 has two phases of growth:

It first grows horizontally (Dan 8:9), symbolizing the horn’s political phase. This parallels the fourth beast of Daniel 7 when it “devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it” (Dan 7:8, 23).

It then grows vertically to “the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth” (Dan 8:10). It does not literally grow up to the stars. The stars symbolize God’s people, and the trampling of the stars symbolizes the persecution of God’s people, as also described by Daniel 7:21, and 25.

“It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host” (Dan 8:11), who is God. “It removed the regular sacrifice from Him.” The vertical expansion, therefore, is the horn’s religious phase, parallel to the evil horn of Daniel 7.

The first phase of growth, therefore, is the fourth beast of Daniel 7.

Daniel 8 is an explanation of Daniel 2 and 7.

Lastly, what we see in Daniel 8 is a trend we already saw in Daniel 7; an increasing focus on the Evil Power:

Daniel 2 describes the full period from the time of Daniel to the Return of Christ without mentioning an evil power.

Daniel 7 also covers that full period but reveals the Evil One. In fact, the evil entity is the main character in this prophecy. This chapter divides the fourth empire into a political phase, described in only two verses (Dan 7:7, 19), and a subsequent phase during which an anti-God power will reign, described in about six verses.

Daniel 8 continues this pattern. By not mentioning the first (Babylonian) or the last (eternal) kingdoms, and by not explicitly mentioning the political phase of the Roman Empire, it reduces the focus on the full period. All focus is on the Evil Horn. In other words, this anti-God power is more important than the political power from which it came. The only reason that the prophecies mention the political empires is to enable us to identify the evil anti-God power.

These three prophecies, really are one single prophecy.


OTHER ARTICLES

The Antichrist in Daniel, which is the same as the Sea Beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire; it is not Antiochus Epiphanes.

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    Daniel 2 sets the stage to identify the Antichrist.
  • 2
    The four beast-kingdoms reign one after the other but the ten horns exist at the same time; after the fourth empire.
  • 3
    Daniel 8 identifies the two animals as Mede-Persia and Greece but not the horn. This article explains the alternative interpretations.
  • 4
    A comparison of the animals of Daniel 7 and 8 identifies the fourth kingdom, from which the Antichrist arises, as the Roman Empire.
  • 5
    The genders in Daniel 8 show that “one of them” means one of the compass directions of the heavens, which means the horn came out of Rome.
  • 6
    In Daniel 11, is the Vile Person of Antiochus IV or an end-time Antichrist?
  • 7
    This article lists several differences between the evil king of Daniel 7, 8, and 11 and Antiochus IV. Antiochus was a type of a much later and greater Antichrist.

Three interpretations of the evil horn of Daniel 8

SUMMARY

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

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

PURPOSE

The previous two articles are preliminary overviews respectively 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, represented by the 11th horn that “will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One” (Dan 7:25)

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

OVERVIEW OF THE PROPHECY

The Ram and the Goat

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

The first is a ram, conquering into three directions: to the north, 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

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

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

(a) God’s people, identified as “the host of the stars” (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). Neither does it mention the last (eternal) kingdom. It rather focuses on and provides additional information about the main evil character in the book of Daniel, symbolized by an evil horn-king in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8. Most of Daniel 8 is devoted to this king.

THE SAME HORN

It is the same evil horn as in Daniel 7.

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

The same symbol

The same symbol (a horn) is used for both. If a distinction had been intended, the best 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 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.” This 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 horn in Daniel 8 represents the same force as the little horn in Daniel 7.

THREE INTERPRETATIONS

The Three Interpretations of the Horn

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) The little horn is the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

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

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

Futurists – An end-time Antichrist

Futurists generally follow this line of interpretation as well. But they also see Antiochus as a type of an end-time Antichrist who will arise in the final years of earth’s history; just before Christ’s Second Advent. 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 future reign of this final Antichrist. During the final seven years of earth’s history, according to this interpretation, a literal temple (to be rebuilt in Jerusalem for the Jews) will be polluted by this Antichrist. The temple will be restored when Christ comes and puts an end to the reign of the Antichrist.

Historicists – Church of the Roman Empire

In this view:

(A) The prophecies in Daniel 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. Thereafter, 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 is interpreted symbolically as 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 in Daniel 7 to the animals in Daniel 8.


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