Who is the little horn of Daniel 8?

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Rome? or Antiochus Epiphanes?

Notice: Sometimes we come across some valuable information which is worthy of sharing with our audience at this website. But we don’t want to just copy and paste this information here, lest our opponents accuse us of plagiarism (a common occurrence among our critics. Sorry, its true, see our “Meet the Critics” section). So, instead of doing it all over again in our own words, we believe the following author explained himself the right way, and used just the right words and phrases. For this reason, we will share with you some very important information our critics avoid about the little horn power of Daniel chapter 8, and we will do it by quoting everything he has to say on this issue. His name is Uriah Smith, an Adventist Apologetic and Defender of the historic Adventist faith, and the following will be an excerpt from the 1912 edition of his book “Daniel and the Revelation,” pages 150 through 156. All empesis, including coloring and bolding, was done by us:


“And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of this sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced and prospered.” -Daniel 9:12

A third power is here introduced into the prophecy. In the explanation which the angel gave to Daniel of these symbols, this one is not described in language so definite as that concerning Medo-Persia and Grecia. Hence a flood of wild conjecture is at once let loose. Had not the angel, in language which cannot be misunderstood, stated that Medo-Persia and Grecia were denoted by the ram and the he-goat, it is impossible to tell what applications men would have given us of those symbols. Probably they would have applied them to anything and everything but the right objects. Leave men a moment to their own judgment in the interpretation of prophecy, and we immediately have the most sublime exhibitions of human fancy. (p. 151, Para. 1.)

There are two leading applications of the symbol now under consideration, which are all that need be noticed in these brief thoughts. The first is that the “little horn” here introduced denotes the Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes; the second, that it denotes the Roman power. It is an easy matter to test the claims of these two positions. (p. 151, Para. 2.)

Is the little horn of Daniel 8
Antiochus Epiphanes?

Does it mean Antiochus? If so, this king must fulfil the specifications of the prophecy. If he does not fulfil them, the application cannot be made to him. The little horn came out of one of the four horns of the goat. It was then a separate power, existing independently of, and distinct from, any of the horns of the goat. Was Antiochus such a power? (p. 151, Para. 3.)

(1) Who was Antiochus? From the time that Seleucus made himself king over the Syrian portion of Alexander’s empire, thus constituting the Syrian horn of the goat, until that country was conquered by the Romans, twenty-six kings ruled in succession over that territory. The eighth of these, in order, was Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus, then, was simply one of the twenty-six kings who constituted the Syrian horn of the goat. He was, for the time being, that horn. Hence he could not be at the same time a separate and independent power, or another and remarkable horn, as the little horn was. (p. 151, Para. 4.)

(2) If it were proper to apply the little horn to any one of these twenty-six Syrian kings, it should certainly be applied to the most powerful and illustrious of them all; but Antiochus Epiphanes did not by any means sustain this character. Although he took the name Epiphanes, that is, The Illustrious, he was illustrious only in name; for nothing, says Prideaux on the authority of Polybius, Livy, and Diodorus Siculus, could be more alien to his true character; for, on account of his vile and extravagant folly, some thinking him a fool and others a madman, they changed his name of Epiphanes, “The Illustrious,” into Epimanes, “The Madman.” (p. 152, Para. 1.)

(3) Antiochus the Great, the father of Epiphanes, being terribly defeated in a war with the Romans, was enabled to procure peace only by the payment of a prodigious sum of money, and the surrender of a portion of his territory; and, as a pledge that he would faithfully adhere to the terms of the treaty, he was obliged go give hostages, among whom was this very Epiphanes, his son, who was carried to Rome. The Romans ever after maintained this ascendency. (p. 152, Para. 2.)

(4) The little horn waxed exceeding great; but this Antiochus did not wax exceeding great; on the contrary, he did not enlarge his dominion, except by some temporary conquests in Egypt, which he immediately relinquished when the Romans took the part of Ptolemy, and commanded him to desist from his designs in that quarter. The rage of his disappointed ambition he vented upon the unoffending Jews. (p. 152, Para. 3.)

(5) The little horn, in comparison with the powers that preceded it, was exceeding great. Persia is simply called great, though it reigned over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces. Est. 1:1. Grecia, being more extensive still, is called very great. Now the little horn, which waxed exceeding great, must surpass them both. How absurd, then, to apply this to Antiochus, who was obliged to abandon Egypt at the dictation of the Romans, to whom he paid enormous sums of money as tribute. The Religious Encyclopedia gives us this item of his history: “Finding his resources exhausted, he resolved to go into Persia to levy tribute, and collect large sums which he had agreed to pay the Romans.” It cannot take long for any one to decide the question which was the greater power, — the one which evacuated Egypt, or the one which commanded that evacuation; the one which exacted tribute, or the one which was compelled to pay it. (p. 152, Para. 4.)

(6) The little horn was to stand up against the Prince of princes. The Prince of princes here means, beyond controversy, Jesus Christ. Dan. 9:25; Acts 3:15; Rev. 1:5. But Antiochus died one hundred and sixty-four years before our Lord was born. The prophecy cannot, therefore, apply to him; for he does not fulfil the specifications in one single particular. The question may then be asked how any one has ever come to apply it to him. We answer, Romanists take that view to avoid the application of the prophecy to themselves; and many Protestants follow them, in order to oppose the doctrine that the second advent of Christ is now at hand. (p. 153, Para. 1.)

Is the little horn of Daniel 8 Rome?

It has been an easy matter to show that the little horn does not denote Antiochus. It will be just as easy to show that it does denote Rome. (p. 153, Para. 2.)

(1) The field of vision here is substantially the same as that covered by Nebuchadnezzar’s image of chapter 2, and Daniel’s vision of chapter 7. And in both these prophetic delineations we have found that the power which succeeded Grecia as the fourth great power, was Rome. The only natural inference would be that the little horn, the power which in this vision succeeds Grecia as an “exceeding great” power, is also Rome. (p. 153, Para. 3.)

(2) The little horn comes forth from one of the horns of the goat. How, it may be asked, can this be true of Rome? It is unnecessary to remind the reader that earthly governments are not introduced into prophecy till they become in some way connected with the people of God. Rome became connected with the Jews, the people of God at that time, by the famous Jewish League, B.C. 161. 1 Maccabees 8; Josephus’s Antiquities, book 12, chap. 10, sec. 6; Prideaux, Vol. II, p. 166. But seven years before this, that is, in B.C. 168, Rome had conquered Macedonia, and made that country a part of its empire. Rome is therefore introduced into prophecy just as, from the conquered Macedonian horn of the goat, it is going forth to new conquests in other directions. It therefore appeared to the prophet, or may be properly spoken of in this prophecy, as coming forth from one of the horns of the goat. (p. 153, Para. 4.)

(3) The little horn waxed great toward the south. This was true of Rome. Egypt was made a province of the Roman empire B.C. 30, and continued such for some centuries. (p. 154, Para. 1.)

(4) The little horn waxed great toward the east. This also was true of Rome. Rome conquered Syria B.C. 65, and made it a province. (p. 154, Para. 2.)

(5) The little horn waxed great toward the pleasant land. So did Rome. Judea is called the pleasant land in many scriptures. The Romans made it a province of their empire, B.C. 63, and eventually destroyed the city and the temple, and scattered the Jews over the face of the whole earth. (p. 154, Para. 3.)

(6) The little horn waxed great even to the host of heaven. Rome did this also. The host of heaven, when used in a symbolic sense in reference to events transpiring upon the earth, must denote persons of illustrious character or exalted position. The great red dragon [Rev. 12:4] is said to have cast down a third part of the stars of heaven to the ground. The dragon is there interpreted to symbolize pagan Rome, and the stars it cast to the ground were Jewish rulers. Evidently it is the same power and the same work that is here brought to view, which again makes it necessary to apply this growing horn to Rome. (p. 154, Para. 4.)

(7) The little horn magnified himself even to the Prince of the host. Rome alone did this. In the interpretation [verse 25] this is called standing up against the Prince of princes. How clear an allusion to the crucifixion of our Lord under the jurisdiction of the Romans. (p. 154, Para. 5.)

(8) By the little horn the daily sacrifice was taken away. This little horn must be understood to symbolize Rome in its entire history including its two phases, pagan and papal. These two phases are elsewhere spoken of as the “daily” [sacrifice is a supplied word] and the “transgression of desolation;” the daily [desolation] signifying the pagan form, and the transgression of desolation, the papal. [See on verse 13.] In the actions ascribed to this power, sometimes one form is spoken of, sometimes the other. “By him” [the papal form] “the daily” [the pagan form] “was taken away.” Pagan Rome was remodeled into papal Rome. And the place of his sanctuary, or worship, the city of Rome, was cast down. The seat of government was removed by Constantine in A.D. 330 to Constantinople. This same transaction is brought to view in Rev. 13:2, where it is said that the dragon, pagan Rome, gave to the beast, papal Rome, his seat, the city of Rome. (p. 154, Para. 6.)

(9) A host was given him [the little horn] against the daily. The barbarians that subverted the Roman empire in the changes, attritions, and transformations of those times, became converts to the Catholic faith, and the instruments of the dethronement of their former religion. Though conquering Rome politically, they were themselves vanquished religiously by the theology of Rome, and became the perpetrators of the same empire in another phase. And this was brought about by reason of “transgression;” that is, by the working of the mystery of iniquity. The papacy is the most cunningly contrived, false ecclesiastical system ever devised; and it may be called a system of iniquity because it has committed its abominations and practiced its orgies of superstition in the garb, and under the pretense, of pure and undefiled religion. (p. 155, Para. 1.)
(10) The little horn cast the truth to the ground, and practiced and prospered. This describes, in few words, the work and career of the papacy. The truth is by it hideously caricatured; it is loaded with traditions; it is turned into mummery and superstition; it is cast down and obscured. (p. 155, Para. 2.)

And this antichristian power has “practiced,” — practiced its deceptions upon the people, practiced its schemes of cunning to carry out its own ends and aggrandize its own power. (p. 155, Para. 3.)

And it has “prospered.” It has made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. It has run its allotted career, and is soon to be broken without hand, to be given to the burning flame, and to perish in the consuming glories of the second appearing of our Lord. (p. 155, Para. 4.)

Rome meets all the specifications of the prophecy. No other power does meet them. Hence Rome, and no other, is the power in question. And while the descriptions given in the word of God of the character of this monstrous system are fully met, the prophecies of its baleful history have been most strikingly and accurately fulfilled. (p. 156, Para. 1)


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About The Author

Edwin Cotto

With over 13 years of experience in apologetics, evangelism and youth directing, Edwin has worked with various ministries both in English and Spanish. Having had the opportunity to travel to various states in the USA, and also to Venezuela and Mexico, he has enjoyed the privilege of conducting evangelistic meetings and apologetics seminars. His education includes training in the Medical Field, Adult Education at Valencia College, Biblical Hebrew with the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, and Evangelism with Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism. He is furthering his academic studies in theology while also working as a bible worker for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Ordained as an elder, Edwin's passion for ministry begins first at home with his wife and kids.

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