Daniel 7:8 (KJV) says,

"I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things."

Are there any insights as to the meaning of the three horns plucked up in Daniel 7:8, 20 and 24?

I'm wondering about the plausibility of the horns being the kings of the south, north and east in Daniel 11:40-45 satisfying this symbolism?


2 Answers 2


Daniel and John represent the same dream from two different vantage points. The difference between Daniel and John in their experience with this vision is that Daniel was living in the time of the beginning of these events (he had this vision in the time of Belshazzar) and everything he saw concerned events that were still future to Daniel's time in history.

When John saw this same vision, he was living in the time of the close of these events. Most of the things seen by Daniel had by John’s time, become part of history. When John saw this vision in Revelation 13 and 17, he saw ten horns just as Daniel did, but John’s vision only focused on seven of the horns. Unlike Daniel, John identifies these seven horns, not by name, but by a temporal context.

“The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.”

The vision of the dreadful beast of Daniel seven is a most difficult to understand in relation to human history. Perhaps one of the reasons it is so difficult to put together is because the text of Daniel does not give us a definitive starting point to identify the horns of the beast.

The difference between the historical view and the futurist view is that the historical view actually promotes historical understanding against which prophecies can be examined. Futurism / millennialism attempts to force fanciful projections onto prophecies and projects them into a future that cannot be confirmed or examined against anything. One is based on the historical witness while the other is based on seemingly limitless human imagination as if prophecy were somehow subject to human definition, interpretation, and application.

In order to try to put this vision into some form of credible historical context, (indeed, this vision does establish an historical framework of events), I would like to present two possibilities for a plausible point of reference from which to begin. It is critical to STAY WITH THE LANGUAGE OF THE TEXT! Rather than attempting to force the text to conform to speculative events that have not yet happened (which is what everybody and his brother tries to do), let us see how history conforms to the text. We have to follow the construction of the vision as it appears in the text.

In Revelation 17:9-11, John appears to be seeing elements of this vision that Daniel did not record. You have to remember that Daniel 7:2 tells us that Daniel only summarized the vision and did not record all that he had seen. In Revelation chapters 13 and 17, John appears to be seeing only the succession of the first eight emperors and his own place in the timeline of those emperors. So, unlike Daniel, John provides a temporal index from which to identify the horns. Daniel seems to focus more on Domitian and the second persecution. Daniel mentions nothing about “the eighth” horn nor does he mention the ninth and tenth horns, though he does confirm there were ten horns.

Here is what John saw in Revelation 17:9-11.

“The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. (The woman is Jerusalem and the seven mountains are Rome.) There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, (this establishes the temporal context) and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.”

What John is confirming is that five of Daniel’s horns / kings have now come and gone, that he himself was living in the time of the sixth horn, and that two more would quickly follow.

So, who are these seven kings and who was the first? βασιλεῖς, king, ruler, or sovereign, but as Strong’s says, in some passages it is clearly to be translated as emperor. So, what are the possibilities and where do we begin?

  1. First possibility

If we begin with Julius Caesar as the first horn or king as many expositors suggest, then the five who were fallen would be:

a. Julius Caesar 49 BC – 44 BC b. Augustus, 31 BC-14 A.D. (The second Triumvirate consisting of Augustus, Lepidus, and Mark Antony.) Thus, one could argue that the reign of Augustus actually began in 44 BC as the dominate member of the triumvirate. c. Tiberius, 14-37 d. Caligula, 37-41 e. Claudius, 41-54 - Claudius would have been the fifth who was fallen if we begin counting from Julius Caesar. This would mean that the one who “now is” was Nero. Galba would be the one who had not yet come, "and when he comes, he must continue a short time.” The eighth would be Otho, the one that “was and is not.” Does this work? Perhaps, but it does not correspond very well to the three who are rooted up in Daniel 7:8.

  1. Second possibility

If we begin with Augustus, which seems more plausible since he as actually the first appointed Roman Emperor, then the five who were fallen would be:

a. Augustus, 31 BC-14 A.D. Which makes much more sense since he was the first emperor, not Julius Caesar.

b. Tiberius, 14-37

c. Caligula, 37-41

d. Claudius, 41-54

e. Nero, 54-68

These five rulers were dead and gone when John received this vision. If this is correct, this means that Galba was the one who “now is.” He would be the emperor in power when John saw this vision. John saw this vision during the time of the first horn that was to be rooted up. Otho would then be the one who had not yet come, “and when he comes, he must continue a short time.” This certainly fits because Otho had the shortest reign of any Roman Emperor. The eighth would have been Vitellius.

John also saw something else in Revelation 13.

  1. He saw that the beast received a mortal wound on one of its heads.

  2. He also saw that the wound had become healed.

The wound corresponds to the rooting up of the three horns of Daniel 7; and as we will see in a moment, the reign of Emperor Vespasian was the healing of the mortal wound.

Here is what Daniel saw.

“I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots.”

  1. Daniel saw ten horns just like John did.

  2. Unlike John, Daniel saw three horns that would be rooted up, but he does not speak of the eighth. Remember, both John and Daniel are following a line of ascension in these horns. Following the line of ascension, the three who were rooted up can only be:

  3. Galba, 68-69 – When John saw this vision, Galba was the reigning Emperor. He is the one who “now is” and only reigned for 7 months. This means that John saw this vision sometime between June of 68 and January of 69.

  4. Otho, 69 was the one who has not yet come who would “continue a short time.” Revelation 17:9-10. This was certainly true because he only reigned for about three months from January–April 16th. This was the shortest reign of any Roman Emperor.

  5. Vitellius, 69 was the one “who was and is not.”

Quite a fitting description since he only reigned 5 ½ months from July 1, to December 20. I suppose this would be comparable to saying, “he was there and gone.” This is how one might describe a wisp of smoke; it was there and then it was not. This fits very well with the three who were rooted up in Daniel 7:8.

These three ruled for a total time of about a year and a half during which time Rome was in a state of chaos and it looked as if the Empire was about to collapse from civil war. This was the wound on the head of the great beast in Revelation 13.

  1. Vespasian, 69-79, “who is also an eighth” mentioned by John, was the healing of the wound on the head of the beast in Revelation 13:3. During the reign of Vespasian, Rome began to stabilize and become powerful again. It is also important to note that Vespasian was not a persecutor of the Church.

  2. Titus Flavius (son of Vespasian), 79-81, was the last of the ten horns seen by John but is not singled out as are the others. Titus Flavius was also not a persecutor of the Church. There is no direct mention of Titus Flavius by either Daniel or John. He was merely one of the ten horns.

  3. The Little Horn - “And another (horn) shall rise after them.” That is, after the ten. This can be no one but Domitian, 81-96 (also son of Vespasian), 81-96. He was the eleventh emperor of Rome.

“He shall speak pompous words against the Most-High, shall persecute the saints of the Most-High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.” (25).

  1. “Speak pompous words against the Most-High.”

The deification of Emperors was nothing new. Even Augustus declared himself to be CAESAR DIVI FILIUS, son of god (said to be Zeus incarnate). Nero was said to have been Apollo incarnate. Caligula was the first emperor to demand to be worshiped demanding that citizens everywhere bow to his statue. It was common practice for Caesars to be deified after their death, but Domitian insisted upon deifying himself while he was still living. He saw himself as absolute ruler and declared himself “dominus et deus,” lord god.

  1. This horn would be a persecutor of the saints for “a time and times and half a time.” Domitian only reigned five years. According to Tertullian, (Apology of Tertullian chapter V). Domitian eventually ceased his persecution of Christians and even recalled some of the Christians whom he had exiled. It is doubtful this was in any way an act of remorse on Domitian’s part. It may have simply been that Domitian believed persecuting Christians was not politically advantageous. But for whatever reason, his persecutions ceased. So, according to Daniel, this horn would persecute the saints for a limited time of 3 ½ years of his five-year reign.

Five times in Revelation, John speaks of a specific period of time and the things that are connected to it speaking of it in four different terms – “a time and times and half a time,” 3 ½ years, 1260 days, and 42 months. All of these relate to the same period of linier time, Revelation 11:2 and 3, 12:6 and 14, and 13:5.

  1. He would “intend to change times and law.”

I am sure I do not understand all that is implied in this statement, but one thing Domitian did that relates to the idea of changing law was that when he became emperor, he dissolved the power of the Senate and had some senators executed and others exiled. All power and authority now rested solely with the emperor.

  • 1
    Excellent answer. We seem to think very much alike. +1.
    – Xeno
    Aug 28, 2021 at 21:04
  • Thanks Xeno. This was part of my teaching outline from Daniel and Revelation. I read your answer on that link yesterday and gave you a thumbs up.
    – oldhermit
    Aug 28, 2021 at 21:20


The OP's question is, "What is the meaning of the 3 plucked horns?"

In order to address that question we first must determine what the meaning of the word "horns", and then determine what "3 plucked horns" mean. In the process I will discuss whether it relates to the Antichrist as a prophetic interpretation, and address his secondary question of whether or not the horns of Dan. 11:40-45 satisfy the interpretation of Dan. 7:8.

Interpretive Meaning of 'Horns'

To begin to understand what "horns" means in context with the passage, we must start with verse 1,

"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters."(KJV)

Since he is describing his dream, we must be careful to understand that "dreams" contain symbols which are images that convey a special meaning that in many cases is different from it's normal (historical/grammatical) interpretation.

In this particular passage, the angel interprets them for us: (vs 17, KJV)

"These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth."

"Kings" here must be understood as "Kingdoms", rather than a succession of monarchs: the reason is that in Daniel's interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream in chapter 2, a similar progression of "kingdoms" is described, each with particular characteristics and assigned a particular metal(gold, silver, brass, iron). Daniel's 4th Beast, from which the "horns" in question emanate from, is described as "iron teeth", which relates to the kingdom of "iron".

Therefore, the "beasts" of Daniel are a succession of kingdoms which start with Babylon(the lion): then Mede-Persia(the bear), Greece(the leopard), and finally Rome(the terrible beast that crushes with iron teeth). This progression follows the progression of the statue of Nebuchadnezzar, in which Nebuchadnezzar, representing the gold head(Babylon), is followed by Mede-Persia, then Greece, then Rome, then the Holy Roman Empire(mixture of clay and iron), which culminates into the 10 toe nations.

In this particular instance, the "horns" which grow out of the Roman head are described as "kingdoms", but are best understood as "nations": since Rome disintegrated as a world power, it's colonies(those it had conquered from native tribes, not previous world kingdoms such as Greece, Persia, Egypt, etc.) became nations in their own right. England, Spain, France were once former colonies of Rome, yet became nations(first kingdoms) after Rome fell. Thus, the same progression of kingdoms described in Daniel 2 is also described in Daniel 7, except they are described as "beasts" since they collectively oppose the Kingdom of God, resulting in God's Kingdom being established ("an everlasting dominion"-vs 14) in which the Son of man will reign over them after their dominion is destroyed. Since this event hasn't yet occurred, we see "10 kingdoms" still ruling in this present day-correlating to the 10 toes.

The 3 Plucked Horns

Since the "horns" are Roman colonies, we must look to the colonies which survived the Fall of Rome to determine their fate, as 3 appear to be "plucked up" to make room for the "little horn" of vs 8.

What is apparent is that these "nations' were not removed; they exist within their relative geographical boundaries since the Fall of Rome. Their languages, customs, and national characteristics remain unique, in spite of centuries of assimilation. So, how were they "plucked up" to make room for the little horn?

Several of these nations had colonies: most notably England, Spain, and France. Some they seized from failed states(India, SE Asia, Africa) in an attempt to 'Christianize' them; one in particular was a vast 'unknown' land where indigenous peoples roamed, yet held no central government or ruling council; the land was "up for grabs" so to speak. The continent was North America, and the land is now known as the United States. The original colonists came from England, yet both France and Spain made territorial claims, and sent colonists to the New World. In the resulting wars, England, France, and Spain were driven out to make room for a "diverse" nation; one that was not identified with a national heritage or culture, took great exception not to be labeled as a "monarchy", and established itself as a Constitutional Republic, modeled after Plato's Republic. It welcomed all the nations of the world, so that no one nation can claim dominance as in the rest of the world-it truly is multi-cultural.

Thus, along with the other 10 horns, it reigns as a 'little horn'; little in the effect of it's recent entrance on civilization, and it's territorial claims beyond it's borders, yet it is the apogee and epitome of man's progress, and "boasts" great claims over disease, social engineering, scientific discovery, space exploration, wealth that the rest of the world marvels over. It is the imagination and entertainment capital of the world. It has the "eyes of man", for like the "eyes of God", attempts to "see all, know all". Since it's complexion is composite, and not one nationality, it takes the best that all of man has to offer and calls it it's own.

Is this "little horn" the Antichrist?

The identity of the "Antichrist" has been discussed thoroughly in numerous posts I have written: one of them is this. Since this is a lengthy discussion, not germane to the OP's query I will simply say that it is a significant part of the many nations that comprise the Antichrist.

2 Scriptures to consider:

And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.(Rev. 13:7, KJV)

The US indeed influences the entire earth, but does not have power over the entire earth.

Another Scripture is Rev. 17:10-12(KJV),

And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. 11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. 12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

The beast/Antichrist WAS and is not. The US didn't exist until the 18th Century

Are these 'plucked horns' the same as Dan. 11:40-45?

Simple answer: no.

The North, South, East, and West directly relate to the "pleasant land". In Dan. 8:8-9(KJV), it says,

Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. 9 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.

The "pleasant land" of course is Israel, and as the 4 Notable Horns, which were broken off when the Great Horn(Alexander the Great) died and left no heir, in which case his 4 Generals(Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy took control of the territory Alexander had conquered in the 4 Cardinal Directions(N,S,E,W) and their territory is all in relation to Israel. The "he" is certainly the Antichrist, who (Dan.11:37 KJV)

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

This passage is at the end of a long prophetic description of what will happen during the Greek occupation, which starts at the beginning of the chapter.

In vs. 35 we read,

And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.

Since in Chapter 12:1 it says,

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book",

we have a continuous narrative from vs 36; Israel as a nation has yet to be delivered, and the verse following (vs 2), says

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Since this is talking about the "Parousia", this hasn't happened yet.

The "horns" are the outgrowth of Rome; the "South, North, and East" relate to the Greek Empire that was split up after Alex's death. None of these "horns" are the nations in question-in fact, they are to the west. Therefore the premise that these 'might' be the horns that are plucked is incorrect.


The "3 Plucked Horns" are Spain, France, and England, former colonies of Rome which became 1st kingdoms, then nations of their own right. The United States, which was colonized by these kingdoms, "plucked up" their kingdoms through conquest, and became a 'diverse' kingdom, one that from it's inception was ruled as a Constitutional Republic. The "N, S, E" kingdoms of Dan. 11:40-45 cannot be a part of them, since they were originally empires of their own right and later kingdoms of the breakup of the Greek Empire-not the Roman Empire.

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