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.


OTHER ARTICLES