Today's Q&A is handled by John Oakes, whose apologetics and teaching ministry I heartily commend. John has traveled all over the world building people's faith. See his website: http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org.
What is the historical meaning of the eleventh horn in Daniel 7:24, who uprooted the sixth, seventh and eighth horns? I am currently reading the book of Daniel and I know that you have a lot of knowledge about this book. However, I cannot make the connection from Daniel 7:24 to anywhere else in historical times. It reads: "The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will rise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings." Assuming the ten horns are Roman Emperors, how can the last Roman Emperor subdue three emperors who are already dead? I am puzzled.
This is a good question. I still remember reading Daniel the first time and being mystified by the imagery and symbolism of the visions. Later, I began to study the history of the Near East after the time Daniel wrote, and the prophetic implications of the visions were made clear. You can read about this is great detail in my book Daniel, Prophet to the Nations. You can read the book online for free at www.greatcommission.com.
But let me get to your specific question. Daniel 7:24 is part of the angel's explanation of the prophecy of four beasts. The first beast, the lion, represents the Babylonian Empire, as personified by Nebuchadnezzar, who happens to be the one who was given the heart of a man (see Daniel chapter four). The second beast, the bear, is the Persian/Median empire which, by the way, conquered three major empires (Lydia, Babylonia and Egypt), represented by the three ribs in verse 5. The third beast, the leopard, is the Greek empire, begun by Alexander the Great. The vision focuses on the fourth beast, which is the Roman Empire. As Daniel was told, the fourth beast is a fourth empire, which has to be Rome, based on Near Eastern history.
As the angel tells Daniel, the ten horns are ten kings. These are the first ten emperors of Rome: Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Caligula, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian and Titus. The eleventh horn, the prideful one who persecuted the saints, is Domitian. Domitian was the first systematic persecutor of the church. The three horns uprooted by Domitian are Galba, Otho and Vitellius. This may seem strange. How can the eleventh emperor subdue the sixth, seventh and eighth emperors? Yet that is exactly what happened. In the year 69/70 AD, after Nero died (68), three generals, Galba, Otho and Vitellius, ruled more or less simultaneously for very short times. All three were uprooted by the favorite general of the Roman troops, Vespasian. At this time, the young Domitian was in Rome, while Vespasian was off at Jerusalem, attempting to put down the Jewish rebellion. Domitian was one of the military leaders who helped defeat Galba, Otho and Vitellius. Therefore, in a very real sense he did in fact subdue three kings.
How is that for a very specific prophecy? I would agree that the prophecy seems very strange: almost impossible under any circumstances, let alone someone accurately predicting it six hundred years before the events. Truly, the Bible is inspired by God!
I hope this clears up your question. -- John Oakes
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