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The Ten Horns of Daniel

Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate p...
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Chapter seven of Daniel tells of four Beasts. These Beasts have to do with ruling and influencing the Jewish people. They are Gentile rulers and the terrible Beast of Daniel 7:7 is very strange, having ten horns. What does all this mean? Daniel wanted to know the interpretation of the vision and requested information from the angel in his vision (Daniel 7:15-16). He was told the Beasts represented kings or kingdoms. The fourth kingdom would have 10 horns, which were also kings or rulers (Daniel 7:20, 24).

I believe most commentaries on the book of Daniel agree that this fourth kingdom is Rome. However, the interpretation of the ten horns vary, but most believe they are resurrections of the Roman Empire with the Roman Catholic Papacy as the little horn that makes it all possible. I don’t go along with this interpretation for various reasons, but mainly because the interpretation has in view that Roman Catholics, and especially the Papacy, are not Christian. I think this is a very presumptuous interpretation, categorically labeling Catholics as evil and non-Christian. It not only doesn’t fit the Scriptures, it is a very unloving way to speak of one’s brethren. I don’t mean to imply the evil that was done in the history of Roman Catholicism, e.g. the Inquisition, was done by Christians. It was not. Nevertheless, Peter had predicted that false teachers would arise and rule over the flock of God. If we can believe much of the evil done was lead and/or inspired by false teachers, then we should apply the rest of Peter’s prediction, namely, that these false teachers that had gained great political power ruled also over the flock of Christ, i.e. Christians. Jesus also predicted this, saying that the way of Christ would be put in damaging light through the scandalous behavior of such evil men—who were not his people.

Long-story-short, in reality the ten horns that grew out of the Roman Empire were the ten procurators that ruled Judea and Samaria from the times of the ministry of Jesus until the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE. There were only ten of these leaders according to Josephus, and they ruled the Jews as kings. They are:

  1. Pontius Pilate – 26-35 CE (Luke 3:1; 23:1)
  2. Marcellus – 35-38 CE
  3. Marullus – 38-41 CE
  4. Cuspius Fadus – 44-46 CE
  5. Tiberius Alexander – 46-48 CE
  6. Ventidius Cumanus – 48-52 CE
  7. M. Antonius Felix – 52-59 CE (Acts 23:26-24:27)
  8. Porcius Festus – 59-61 CE (Acts 25)
  9. Albinus – 61-65 CE
  10. Gessius Florus – 65-70 CE

I will speak of the little horn with eyes and a mouth in a later blog. This part of the vision is comparable to the mouth of the Beast in Revelation 13. However, concerning the Beast and the ten horns, Revelation chapters 13 and 17 also have something to say that can supplement Daniel 7.

What can we know of these men who ruled the Jews? Daniel says their dominion was taken from them but their lives were prolonged for awhile (Daniel 7:12). That is, in most cases the king was killed if replaced before died a natural death—not so concerning the procurators who ruled as kings in Judea. They went on living, some were banished or exiled, but none of them were killed. Festus did die in office, but this was a natural death.

When we look at the book of Revelation in the New Testament we find many similarities with the book of Daniel 7, specifically in Revelation 13 and 17. Here we are shown a beast with 7 heads and upon one head is 10 horns. Both Daniel and Revelation claim that the ten horns are ten kings (Daniel 7:24; Revelation 17:12). Indeed the governors of Judea and Jerusalem were called proconsuls. The proconsul possessed the authority of imperium.[1] What this means is: they were autonomous in their authority and could govern as they saw fit. They were under no obligation to consult higher authorities, including the emperor, before making decisions within their provincial command. The only condition was that the emperor received his taxes from the province and that the procurator was able enough to keep the peace and put down any insurrection that may develop. In all things he exercised the authority of a king. It all occurred in the 1st century CE before the Jewish war with Rome that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE. There is absolutely no reason to look for 10 future kings to reign before the return of Jesus to this earth.


[1] “The governor, whether proconsul, propraetor, legate or prefect, wielded the power of Rome in his province. He was bound by the provincial charter to honor specific arrangements for tax exemption and other prerogatives, and the provincials could complain about his administration to the senate or emperor. Otherwise, his exercise of imperium was very nearly absolute. He made deals with the local authorities in the cities or tribes. He exercised police powers through his command of the legions, if any were stationed in the province, or more often through a smaller military unit made up of auxiliary troops composed of non-Roman citizens. He heard law cases and pronounced capital sentences…” THE GRECO-ROMAN WORLD OF THE NEW TESTAMENT by James S. Jeffers; Chapter 6 “Governing of the Provinces & Palestine” – page 114.

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6 responses to “The Ten Horns of Daniel

  1. Silver

    December 26, 2015 at 18:28

    Maybe I should have made myself clearer, I was not commenting on your article, I was commenting on your post to the other poster. Where you stated:

    “According to verse-3 Daniel saw all four beasts at once. They presumably had some order implied in that one was a first and another a second, but verse-3 shows Daniel saw them all at once. Your opinion **presumes** what Daniel “should” have seen. All 10 horns seen at once **is** consistent with Daniel seeing all four empires all at once (v.3)”.

    So you actually did say it, right here in your post. Truthfully an order was not presumed or implied, as it clearly shows that a definite order was stated. Daniel is telling the story of his vision here, and someone is writing it down. He tells the listener four beast come out of the water, he does not say all at once. Then he starts to describe to the listener exactly what it is that he saw and how it happened, he starts that by definitely saying first I saw, then I saw after that I saw. Remember the word first means before all others. If he had seen them all at once there is no need to order them as they would have no order, and he certainly wouldn’t say one was before all the others.

    I read the little horn article but have not seen depicted in your work which three kings were plucked up by their roots. Can you show these three kings that were uprooted by the coming of the last king, as it would be an important detail in determining the identity of this little horn.

     
    • Eddie

      December 27, 2015 at 09:14

      Greetings Silver, and thank you again for reading and returning to continue discussing the word of God.

      Thank you as well for pointing out that you were commenting on a reply I made to a visitor in another discussion. I didn’t remember that I actually disclosed my opinion about the verse. I didn’t in the blog post, and I naturally assumed you were referring to it. I’ll quote the verse:

      (Dan 7:3) And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.

      Technically, nothing in this verse implies order. But an order must be implied, because Daniel begins verse-4 with: “The first was like a lion…” and continues in succeeding verses with the second, third and then the fourth. Where, then does Daniel find his chronology? It could be according to your understanding, but then you must read into verse-3 that Daniel saw the beasts arise one-by-one. As anyone can see verse-3 claims nothing of the sort. If the beasts arose all at once, order would be implied by mentioning them right to left (Hebrew style) or left to right (gentile style), and one could arrive at the same conclusion you make when you **read into** verse-3 that the beasts arose one-by-one. So, the difference between you and me is that you are reading something into the text, but I am not.

      Aside from all this, order is implied when taking Daniel’s vision of the four empires in Daniel 2. A time sequence is given and it ends with the legs and feet. In this case the order is from head to toe. The head wasn’t revealed first and the toes last, but the whole appeared at once and the interpretation began at the head and ended with the toes. I am simple enough to believe this is exactly what occurred in Daniel 7 for that vision. You may believe as you wish, but the conclusions you arrive at are the same I conclude with, and, for what it is worth, I don’t add anything to the text, but you do. If I don’t have to add anything to the text, I follow that path as a rule. You may do as you wish.

      Concerning the “little horn” and the three “kings” that came before him, I apologize for not being explicit in my post, but you may find a more complete discussion in my post Herod Agrippa and Revelation 13. However, you really don’t have to read it if you don’t wish to. What I claim there is that Pilate, Marcellus and Marullus came before him. You may try to make a point out of “plucked up by the roots” but you would have to show that that means something more than their reigns ended before Agrippa’s began. Any ruler who ceases to reign is in a sense “plucked up by the roots” unless a son or near relative takes his place. Anyway, that’s my take. You may now present yours.

      Lord bless you in your study of his word.

       
  2. Silver

    December 25, 2015 at 15:11

    In truth vs. 3 could be interpreted in two different ways.

    One way we can look at it is what you state the definition of vs.3 is, and that he saw all four beasts at the same time, though we can admit that it doesn’t distinctly say he saw them at the same time, but I’m sure one could assume that after reading that small sentence.

    Another way it can be looked at is what we are reading is going on after the vision took place. Daniel is relating the events of his vision, the first event he describes is, ” behold, the four winds of the heaven broke forth upon the great sea.” Now in order to set the stage for describing the second event, because he already is aware as to what happens next, He continues with,”And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.” He say’s this because the vision is over and he knows how many beasts there are, and just states the total number right off the bat and not necessarily saying he saw all 4 simultaneously. Then goes into how he had seen these beasts coming out of the water.

    There is a way to determine without a doubt which one of these are a more accurate way of seeing verse 3. I think if we look carefully what was written we can clearly see that Daniel was setting the stage for event two of his vision by stating 4 beasts came out of the water, because he already knows there are 4 beasts in all. Then what follows in vs.4-7 is his description of what he saw concerning that event .

    If Daniel had seen all the beasts at once then how would he have described it? Remember the idea is that he is seeing all these beasts appear out of the water together. First let’s ask which of the four beasts made the biggest impression on Daniel? Obviously the fourth one as that is the one he had the most concern over in the vision. So how would you explain seeing 4 beast come from the sea simultaneously? Would you start by maybe detailing the one beast that gave you the most concern? Maybe the one you go on to detail as,” it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns:. (Notice he said, ‘that were before it’, as if another beast had proceeded it?)

    I my self knowing what they all look like at once and assumed you knew from my previous statement that it meant that I saw all four at once, would probably state it something like this, one beast looked like this while another beast looked like that and then another like, you get my drift.

    However this is not how Daniel say’s he saw the event, here is why we can say in all honestly that in fact he did not see the beasts all at once. Why can I say that? Because I read exactly what he said in his description of what he saw that’s contained in vs. 4-7.

    If he had seen them all at once then he would have never used the word first in describing seeing the first beast in vs.4. In order for there to be a first at anything is to denote that it must come before another, that’s why they call it first, and if he had seen them all at once then how could he have labeled any as first? because the truth would be that there wasn’t a first one as they had all appeared together.

    Then in vs.5 the words,”And behold another beast, a second” are used. There cannot be anything titled the second if nothing actually preceded it such as a first. Daniel states that he looked at the first beast for at least a brief time as he watches it till its wings come off. Then after describing what he saw first as first is the word used in describing it, he states, “And behold another beast, a second” It gets apparent by by the terms he is using to describe this section of the vision that it is a definite that he is describing the procession of the events he saw, in the order that he saw them.

    Vs. 6 uses the words,” After this I beheld, and lo another”. Does not the words AFTER THIS denote that something had come before it? Does not the term after this I beheld mean after this I saw? And the word lo here is used in the manner of it’s definition,” look! see! (frequently used in Biblical expressions; now usually used as an expression of surprise in the phrase lo and behold. So basically Daniel is stating here, that AFTER he had seen something else he saw another.

    Vs. 7 Uses the term, ” After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast” Once again the words AFTER THIS denotes that some thing proceeded it as it is AFTER THIS, meaning it came after what was before. So what does Daniel say was before this? He say’s he saw the third beast which he say’s he saw After he saw the second, beast, which he describes as seeing after he had described seeing the first beast.

    Realistically if he had indeed seen them all at once then, he could not have possibly said he first saw the first beast, as seeing them all at once simultaneously means that not one of the beasts could then be deemed to be first as they all appeared together. There could also be no second beast, or a third beast and no fourth beast. Why? because by calling one first is to state that before you had seen anything else you must have first seen this one because it is the first. Simple understanding tells us this, simply defined the word first means, “being before all others with respect to time, order, rank, importance, etc.”

    So we can see from vs. 4-7 Daniel is giving us the procession of the way he saw the event he stated as being four beast that came out of the water. In this procession that Daniel gives he clearly used the word first, and if he did see it first, then it would be impossible for the other beasts to be present at the time as then he could not state that he saw it first plain and simple. As well he could not have claimed to see a second one after, as the second would be obscured until the first appeared and passed, because the second defiantly follows AFTER the first.

    From vs 4-7 we can clearly see what Daniel saw and he also in perfectly clear language stated in which order he saw them in. There was the first that has to come before anything else, then he saw a second, after that it says he saw the third. After he states he saw the third he then states he saw the fourth. Seeing all the beasts at the same time would not require one to list one as first because they all appeared together meaning that not one of them could be claimed as being first. He would have then just described the event of seeing them all at once, such as one looked this way another looked that way and yet another. There could be no way he could have said he saw one before the other then, if this was actually the case. But yet that is exactly what he did, he states that he saw the first, then the second, and after that the third and after the third the fourth.

    So really your assumption on vs 3’s meaning that he saw all the beasts at one time, is incorrect. If it were correct he then would have went on with the details of how he saw them all at once. But what it clearly goes on to show is that he gives the details of seeing each individually one after the other, in a procession. Remember the word first means, “being before all others with respect to time, order, rank, importance, etc.” So if he describes seeing one first it would mean he had to see it before he saw all the others otherwise it is not first and could not use the term as such.

    End of story on that point.

    As for the horns, I would agree with the guy that says they are all there simultaneously this makes sense because it states,” there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots”. Note the little horn came up among them, and while doing so three were plucked from the roots before him. Basically because of its arrival three where removed for what ever was the cause of their removal.

     
    • Eddie

      December 26, 2015 at 09:38

      Greetings and welcome to my blog. Thank you for reading and for your comment, although there seems to be a misunderstanding.

      So really your assumption on vs 3’s meaning that he saw all the beasts at one time, is incorrect.

      You used 14 paragraphs to refute something I never mentioned! Perhaps you had another blog (not mine) in mind? Whether Daniel saw the beasts chronologically or mentioned them from right to left (Hebrew style) or left to right (gentile style) is really of little importance, as far as I can see. The point was made in Daniel 2 that the empires would come one after the other in time sequence. Just about everything Daniel claims in later visions is an elaboration of his first vision.

      As far as the interpretation of the 10 horns is concerned, you are welcome to your understanding–you are in good company, and you embrace the predominant point of view. I don’t. I have gone on record and named each of the 10 “kings” and disclosed who the “little horn” might be. Anyone can deny my understanding, but few have actually tried to refute what I have claimed. I, therefore, stand in what I have come to believe what God revealed to me. If no one can actually show where I am wrong, then that seems to speak for itself.

      Lord bless you in your study of his word.

       
  3. mrknowyourbible

    September 26, 2011 at 10:48

    Greetings Ed,

    I hope that you are in good cheer!

    I have a couple of thoughts concerning this topic and am interested to hear your comments. In Daniel 7 the beasts that were shown in the vision were in order of their appearance on the world stage. Therefore vs. 4 is the first beast (Babylon), vs 5 the second beast (Medo-Persia), vs 6 the third beast (Greece) and vs 7 the fourth beast (Rome) appeared one after the other in succession. I think we would agree to this. The bible also tells us in the BEASTS (not the horns), though their dominion will be taken away their life will be prolonged for a season and time. (Dan 7:12)

    Notice in vs 7, Daniel saw all the horns all at once “it had 10 horns”. I would think that would suggest that these 10 horns or 10 kings (vs 24) will be ruling at at least in one instance simultaneously and not it succession. If it was in succession Daniel would have seen the first horn rise up, then the 2nd, then the 3rd and so on and so forth; to make it consistent with the way God revealed the beasts to him.

    Notice also the little horn that rose up (vs. 8), he plucked up 3 of the 10 horns (kings) by the root. This further reinforces the point that these kings will be in power when this little horn makes it appearance on the world stage, but 3 of them will be subdued. I would like to submit that the 10 horns cannot be studied apart from the little horn, in fact the reason why the 10 horns were mentioned was to identify the little horn, for it is the little horn that will make war with the saints and prevail against them (vs. 21).

    Blessings

     
    • Ed Bromfield

      September 26, 2011 at 12:35

      Greetings Mr. K-Y-B, and thank you for reading my blog and for taking the time to comment. I always enjoy a good discussion.

      I have a couple of thoughts concerning this topic and am interested to hear your comments. In Daniel 7 the beasts that were shown in the vision were in order of their appearance on the world stage. Therefore vs. 4 is the first beast (Babylon), vs 5 the second beast (Medo-Persia), vs 6 the third beast (Greece) and vs 7 the fourth beast (Rome) appeared one after the other in succession. I think we would agree to this

      You are correct in that we agree that these kingdoms came in succession, one after the other.

      The bible also tells us in the BEASTS (not the horns), though their dominion will be taken away their life will be prolonged for a season and time. (Dan 7:12)

      You are certainly welcome to your opinion, but I believe the sense refers to the horns or kings/governors that arise out of fourth beast.

      Notice in vs 7, Daniel saw all the horns all at once “it had 10 horns”. I would think that would suggest that these 10 horns or 10 kings (vs 24) will be ruling at at least in one instance simultaneously and not it succession. If it was in succession Daniel would have seen the first horn rise up, then the 2nd, then the 3rd and so on and so forth; to make it consistent with the way God revealed the beasts to him.

      According to verse-3 Daniel saw all four beasts at once. They presumably had some order implied in that one was a first and another a second, but verse-3 shows Daniel saw them all at once. Your opinion **presumes** what Daniel “should” have seen. All 10 horns seen at once **is** consistent with Daniel seeing all four empires all at once (v.3).

      Notice also the little horn that rose up (vs. 8), he plucked up 3 of the 10 horns (kings) by the root. This further reinforces the point that these kings will be in power when this little horn makes it appearance on the world stage, but 3 of them will be subdued. I would like to submit that the 10 horns cannot be studied apart from the little horn, in fact the reason why the 10 horns were mentioned was to identify the little horn, for it is the little horn that will make war with the saints and prevail against them (vs. 21).

      Truly, verse-8 does say 3 of the 10 horns are “plucked” up, but it does not say by whom or even if it was through violence. All it says is they were plucked up by the roots—in other words, the little horn was not as the first three are/were. I have shown in my blog-post that there were 10 Roman governors of Judea from the time of Jesus until the destruction of Jerusalem. Everything that Daniel and the New Testament say about those years fit these governors and the Little Horn. You may agree or disagree with me, but the fact remains that everything that is said in Daniel and Revelation fits my conclusions. If these things point to another kingdom or another time—what kingdom and time would that be, and upon what **in Scripture** would you base your conclusions?

      Lord bless you, and have a good day,

      Eddie

       

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