The Ten Horns of Daniel
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:
- Pontius Pilate – 26-35 CE (Luke 3:1; 23:1)
- Marcellus – 35-38 CE
- Marullus – 38-41 CE
- Cuspius Fadus – 44-46 CE
- Tiberius Alexander – 46-48 CE
- Ventidius Cumanus – 48-52 CE
- M. Antonius Felix – 52-59 CE (Acts 23:26-24:27)
- Porcius Festus – 59-61 CE (Acts 25)
- Albinus – 61-65 CE
- 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. 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.
 “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.