I will keep the question simple. Who is the little horn that 'has eyes' and is 'speaking' blasphemous things in Daniel 7?
An answer for the 'little horn' rests on which presuppositions the reader is willing to make about the book of Daniel. Having at least one presupposition is inevitable, no matter who you are, and that affects the way one reads the entire book. My presupposition is this: Daniel is about kingdoms, and the author names all of the kingdoms that figure into his visions.
Daniel's apocalyptic themes
The first six chapters, the stories about Daniel and his fellow Jews during their activities in the royal courts of foreign kingdoms (aka, the court tales), establish two themes in union together. First, God controls the rise and fall of kingdoms (Daniel 5.21). Second, it is better to serve this God than submit to pressure or pain to commit idolatry or other sins (Daniel 3.17-18).
By the time these two themes are established after the six stories that illustrate them, the narrative begins to elaborate on the dream from chapter 2. This elaboration comes in the form of Daniel's own dreams and visions, and an angel who interprets their symbolism to Daniel. What we read in chapters 2, 7, 8, 9, and 10-12 are all parallel and complementary descriptions of the same thing: the rise and fall of a series of four kingdoms, the last of which is oppressive toward 'the saints', before that kingdom is in turn overthrown.
Identifying the subject matter
Again, my presupposition is that the author names all of the kingdoms in the series he describes: the first is Babylon (based on 2.36-38), the second is a unified Media and Persia (based on 8.20; 10.20a; 11.2a), and the third is Greece led by Alexander (based on 8.21; 10.20b; 11.2b). To any historian of the ancient near east, what the author is portraying is very clearly the series of kingdoms that held power over the Jewish people: Babylon (605-538 BC),1 then Media-Persia (538-330 BC), then Alexander's Greece (330-323 BC).
This is where most presuppositions diverge, so that the fourth kingdom is thought to be the Roman empire, or the Roman papacy, or Islam, or what-have-you.
The details in Daniel 8 and 11, however, keep the historical context in the line of kings that followed Alexander. Both chapters mention how the king of Greece will suddenly die (as Alexander did), with his empire splitting four ways (an overly simplistic summary, but true enough). This is the fourth kingdom (323-140 BC). Chapter 11 describes the feuding of these successor kings, the Diadochi, in great detail. The series of events in Daniel 11 are easily connected to events that occurred in the fourth, third, and second centuries BC. The 'king of the south' refers to the Ptolemies (south of Israel, in Egypt), while the 'king of the north' refers to the Seleucids (north of Israel, in Syria).
The little horn
This brings us to the main question. The culminating events of each section are complementary details of the same historical events. Each section even uses several of the same words or phrases: there is a 'little horn' in chapter 7 and chapter 8, there is a 'desolation' caused by transgression/abomination in chapters 8, 9, and 10-12, as well as halted 'offerings' in the same chapters.
The descriptions of historical events in chapter 11 are too precise to be talking about anyone other than Antiochus Epiphanes.2 The overt parallelism with the dreams and visions makes it certain that he is the 'little horn'.
Critical scholars opine that Daniel was written during or shortly after Antiochus' reign, particularly 170-164 BC. The two themes from the first six chapters are used to illustrate the situation of the author and his fellow Jews: they are under the rule of an evil kingdom and were to resist any coercion to sin, as they saw happening under Antiochus. Further, it seems this was the 'original' interpretation of Daniel just a few decades after it was written (see note 2 below). Whether it became a widely recognized one is another issue, though. As early as the first century, some Jews (like Josephus) thought Daniel was a prophecy about Rome.
1 The critical history doesn't have Babylon take the Jews into exile until 597 BC. However, the first chapter of Daniel dates this to 605 BC, so I'm following the author's understanding of history, since it's his book.
2 The first several chapters of 1 Maccabees, written decades after the Maccabean revolt, make a few direct references to Daniel's descriptions, but does so without saying so. These include references to the 'abomination of desolation' carried out at Antiochus' order (1 Maccabees 1.54, cf. Daniel 11.31), the account of Antiochus' war against Egypt with ships and mounted troops (1 Maccabees 1.17-19, cf. Daniel 11.40), and a somewhat dissimilar description of three of Israel's neighboring countries siding against them (1 Maccabees 5.1-8, cf. Daniel 11.41).
In order to identify the symbolic in Daniel it is interesting to take note of their reception and similarities within the Apocalypse of John along with the fact that according to Matthew (ch.24) Jesus identified events in 1st century Jerusalem with parts of Daniel's prophecy.
This last of the four animals representing political powers (kingdoms) is the most devastating, the Roman, that killed God's anointed and certainly ten thousands, perhaps even hundred thousands of Jews, and destroyed holy city and temple.
The ten horns standing for successive kingdoms could mean those powers that came up after the Roman Empire fell apart. The Kaisers (gr. kaesaros for lat. cæsar) e.g. led the so called Holy Roman Empire up to the 19th century. The title (such as Czar in Russia) was used by different powers for their kings until the 20th century. Roman law formed the basis for the law of most western states up to our days, even the Roman catholic church law is in many of its (non-biblical) aspects derived from there. Republican state constitutions took name and principles from the res publica of ancient Rome. Fascism also borrowed symbols and ideas - its martialism and hybris - from there.
If the ten horns stand for these states after Rome, what is that other different small horn that is speaking arrogantly against God and harassing the holy ones standing for?
When looking into Revelation the ten horns are there. The beastly animal here has traits of all other animals, though, and seven heads, here even more representing a totality of political powers. Where is the different horn? No additional horn but another animal is introduced here (ch.13). With horns like those of a male lamb but a mouth like a dragon's mouth speaking things like the small and different horn did in Daniel's vision.
What things? Here (Revelation 13) forcing the worship of images / idols of political power, there (Daniel 7) changing times and law.
What kind of power is that, different from the others yet having great influence through speech and manipulation?
Towards the end of the visions of Revelation (ch.17) again a wild animal with ten horns appears, here explicitly representing the kings of the earth. The small horn? Not there, but again something else instead: the infamous whore, mother of whores, being a great city by which she is ruling and deceiving and whoring with the powers of the earth.
Very likely it is about religion, cultic idolatry affiliated with state power, in its different manifestations:
Cesarean cult (for dissenters murderous; comp. Letters of Pliny to Emperor Trajan, ~110 C.E.)
Church authority suppressing freedom, pleasing and at the same time abusing the political powers (e.g. popes ruling arrogantly, commanding armies, and investing the title of Kaiser during middle ages)
different types of misleading and abusive religious power (comp. motives of / allusions to anti-christ in gospels and letters, e.g. to the disciples in Thessalonich)
This is one of those questions highly subject to speculation. As best, one can only off the answer based on their perspective. Mine is a mild version of Partial-Preterism.
Domitian, aka, Titus Flavius Caesar Domitianus Augustus
The 11th Emperor of Rome
Points of Interest
The horns are identified as kings in Daniel 7:24, so we are looking for a king of a kingdom, either present or past. We find the fulfillment in the past, so a proposed future search seems to be unnecessary.
- The horn is a member of the fourth beast (v7), as were the ten before it.
- Three horns were uprooted before it (v8,24).
- It waged war against God's people and was defeating them (v21).
- Attempted to change set times and laws
- God's people given over to it for 3 1/2 years (v25)
This interpretation hinges upon identifying the historic Roman Empire as the fourth beast of Revelation. Specifically, it began in 31 BC with Caesar Augustus. Julius Caesar, before him, was during Rome when it was a republic, and is not counted in the list of kings.
Figured this way, Domitian is the 11th king (Emperor / Caesar). Before him, were his father, Vespasian, and his brother, Titus. The followed on the wake of a level of unrest in the 'year of the four emperors', 69AD. The three could be interpreted as the three horns who fell. Eusebius of Caesarea wrote that Domitian persecuted Christians heavily towards the end of his reign.
Specifically, it was Domitian that attempted to implement wide-spread legal changes and changes to the calendar, at the prophecy predicted. He also was worshipped as God, and had many temples set up for worship to himself. He even had a 25' or so statue of himself erected in Ephesus.
Accord with Revelation
This accords with the passage in Revelation 17, speaking of the beast with 7 heads. Here, overlooking the three short-lived emperors in 69 AD (all of who, it can be said, did not rule in Judea), Domitian is the 8th. The 7th king would have been Titus, his brother, and remained only a 'short time', reigning 2 years and 3 months. Domitian, Titus' brother and also Vespasian's son, would have been "one of the seven".
Both of these, when interpreted this way, would accord with a historical interpretation of much of Daniel and the book of Revelation.
The United States.
To explain this, we first must understand that the Context is Figurative/representitive of another reality, as the 'natural'(historical/grammatical) method applied to this text makes no sense and "does violence to the text"(per J.N. Darby-Father of Dispensationalism).
We also must employ an important rule of Figurative Interpretation:
If the symbol is interpreted in one place in Scripture, then the SAME INTERPRETATION must be applied throughout Scripture(both Old and New Testaments), unless God changes it(gives the same symbol a different meaning).
In Dan. 7:7, Daniel sees,"A fourth Beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great *IRON(*not gold, not silver, not brass) TEETH.
To understand IRON, we turn to Dan. 2:40,"And the FOURTH KINGDOM shall be strong as IRON"-this coincides with Nebuchadnezzar's Statue (vs 33**)"...had legs of IRON**".
Since Figurative "Iron"="Iron", then "Fourth Kingdom"="Fourth beast", and since these kingdoms and beasts are Progressive(one succeeding another), then the 4th Beast HAS TO BE ROME! The Greeks were the 3rd Beast in succession, represented by BRASS, the 2nd Beast was the Mede/Persians(Silver), and Babylon was GOLD-which Daniel indicated was Babylon in Dan. 2:38.(Thou art this head of GOLD.)
The TEN HORNS which came from Rome are the very same TEN HORNS we see in Rev. 12:3, 13:1, and 17:3. The TEN HORNS are interpreted for us in Rev. 17:12,"The ten horns are 10 kings, which have received NO KINGDOM AS YET(during the time of John); but receive power as kings one hour with the beast." Since the Context is Figurative, the 'one hour' doesn't mean 60 minutes; but it is a relatively short period of time, compared to the rest of the Heads of which the Horns rest on.
These Horns can also be interpreted 'kingdoms', since in Rev. 12:3 they appear "without crowns"; in Rev. 13:1, they appear "with crowns"-signifying their arrival to power.
But back to Dan. 7:8, and 25-26, which are the explanation of it: "...another shall rise after them and subdue 3 Kings" Notice that it didn't say 'entirely remove them', and we see in Revelations, it is the Beast with 7 Heads and TEN HORNS, not '8 horns'.
Therefore, 3 HORNS from the HEAD of ROME were 'subdued' to make room for this 'little horn'. FRANCE, SPAIN, ENGLAND, all former colonies of Rome; now nations in their own right, WERE MOVED(subdued) to make room for this "little horn". The 'little' means 'brief', insignificant(for a season), lesser(in terms of gathering colonies and expanding their rule globally). Compared to the French, British and Spanish Empires, the US is insignificant.
But it is DIVERSE(different) from the others: The US ORIGINATED AS A DEMOCRACY, which none of the other "horns" have done; consequently, it's government is expressed as "The Will Of The People", vs Divine Decree which the other "Horns" originated as. THERE IS NO ONE NATIONALITY GROUP OR RACE, IT IS THE MIXTURE OF ALL RACES AND NATIONALITIES. It is as if to say the "Tower of Babel" being built all over again. There was NO NATURAL GEOLOGICAL BORDERS which 'separate' us; the US occupied a land that was largely barren of people.
The GREAT BOASTS are what distinquish this Horn:,"We will conquer space", "We will conquer disease, poverty, drug abuse, over-population, global warming," etc. WE will adjudicate and resolve all conflicts, including Israel's conflict with it's Arab neighbors and Palestinians. We have exported our goods and entertainment until they become the standard by which all others are measured 'corrupting the earth' as we have progressively lowered the bar of acceptable standards.
The "Names of Blasphemy" are 'Man is god': this is what Jesus was put to death for, Matt. 26:65 spells this out,"...He has spoken blasphemy; what further need we have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard blasphemy". This is after Jesus said,"Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in clouds of heaven."
Secular Humanism is the religion of "Man as god." This has become increasingly the 'religion' of this land-"...Having a 'form' of godliness, but denying the power thereof."(2 Tim. 3:5) We see this in the laws being changed to permit those things God calls evil, and exclude those things God calls good. This is how the "saints are worn out"(Dan. 7:24)
The "spirits of man" identify the 'eyes' of this horn, versus the "Spirits of God" which are the "7 eyes, which are the 7 Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."(Rev. 5:6). The eyes- "see"(know/understand). Just as God's eyes "see" all and understand all there is, so does this little horn "attempt" to see all, and understand all there is-from man's perspective. It is no accident that the major reasearch, and greatest minds from around the world are brought here, to 'solve' mankind's problems.
Conclusively, the 'little horn', in this instance represents the United States.
Since "little horn" has been used in regards to Antiochus Epiphanes, and I have stated that this Figurative symbol MUST be interpreted the same, unless it is interpreted differently in the text, I will explain how the "little horn" CAN mean Antiochus Epiphanes in Dan. 8:9(NOT IN DAN. 7:8) and also refer to the United States.
To understand this, one must understand the principle of Dual Fulfillment: just as the prophecies of Christ include His 1st time appearance as the Suffering Servant of Isa. 53, and yet also refer to His Coming as King and Lord, reigning in Jerusalem(Zech. 14:3-4), so also the "little horn" must be understood.
The "Little Horn" of Dan. 8:9 comes from one of the 4 Notable Horns; which ARE NOT THE SAME AS 10 HORNS, rather, they come from the 4 Generals(Seleucus, Ptolemy, Cassander, and Lysimachus), that ruled in Alexander the Great's stead, in the dividing of his kingdom. Their kingdoms were North, South, East, and West, and Seleucus was "south and east-towards the Pleasant Land".(vs 9)
Antiochus Epiphanes was indeed a king who 'connived' his way to power(Dan. 11:21), was AGAINST the Holy Covenant(vs 28-he put a statue of Zeus in the wing of the Temple, causing the "Abomination that makes Desolate", commanded all the people to renounce God and worship his pantheon-at the pain of death(this is found in 1 Maccabees). He of course died, after Judas Maccabees and his brothers repeatedly defeated him, casting him out of Judea, where it is reported he went to his death being eaten alive by worms(2 Maccabees)
But this DOES NOT explain the "king" of the time of the end(Dan. 11:36-45), after which in Dan. 12:1, there comes a 'Time of Jacob's Trouble' and everyone that is "written in the book" shall be delivered. This is also referred to when Jesus said,"When you shall see the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place*(whoso readeth, let him understand*)(Matt. 24:15)
To Summarize why it CANNOT BE Antichus Epiphanes:
1)Then Jesus got it ALL WRONG!
" When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
It CANNOT be Antiochus Epiphanes-he died 160+ years prior to Jesus's statement. So it must be someone else, and the key is Dan. 11:37,"..he shall magnify himself above all."
The 'hermeneutic' used to interpret this passage as 'Antiochus Epiphanes' is Covenant Theology. Covenant Theology attempts to 'reconcile' all of God's dealings with men through a simple formula: "Covenant of Works"(Law), and "Covenant of Grace". According to Covenant Theology, after 70AD, we are no more "Under the Law", but under "Grace". Therefore, any fulfillment of God's promises to the Nation of Israel HAD TO BE FULFILLED before 70AD, or they are fulfilled by the 'Israel of God'(Mistakenly called the church). Covenant Theology does not care if the historical timeline(if it is after the 1st Century), or historical evidence doesn't match(Book of Daniel written about 160BC-even though Josephus records Alexander the Great reading it(340BC). It is content with applying this formula and attempts to explain away the obvious fallacies "spiritually"(Where is the division of the mountains in Zech. 14:4, the binding of Satan in Rev. 20:1-3).
The problem is Jesus Himself apparently hadn't consulted them before making His statement.
IF: We are to look forward(and not backward) at a future Abomination that Desolates, THEN: Antiochus Epiphanes(although a 'type') CANNOT BE the "little Horn".
So then, where do we look?
The 4th Beast of Daniel is obviously Rome-for the above mentioned reasons Covenant Theology 'had' to make it Greece(Rome being during and after 70AD blows their theory out of the water).
Since the 10 Horns(not 4) are what this little horn comes out of, historically the Roman Colonies(unlike the nations such as Greece, Egypt which preexisted Rome) became nations of their own right. They were crowned(Rev. 13:1), as opposed to the Time of John(Rev. 12:3) when the Heads were crowned.
But you must understand the Mystery of the "Eyes" to make the connection.
The "Eyes" are not the 7 All Seeing Eyes of God seen in Rev. 5:6,
" stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."
"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."
These are the "Eyes of Man" which opposes God in all He does.
This "Little Horn" has knowledge-in fact, is the combination of ALL KNOWLEDGE-OF MAN. Yet all he does(changing the seasons and times, boasting and blaspheming) opposes God. The United States is the composite of all the nations of the world, with all their knwoledge. It is an entirely man-made nation, with man-made borders, a man-made system of goverment from it's conception which exalts the Greek Ideal-that man is God!
This is Secular Humanism-it exalts itself "Mankind" over any other force-it doesn't recognize any other. Since this is the "boast" of the little horn" of Dan. 7:8, it is conclusive that the United States is not 'satisfied' with adjudicating the rest of the world's problems, it also wants to "solve" the problems of Israel and their neighbors-by putting in a plan which will divide Jerusalem(read-Road Map for Peace) and leave Jerusalem in the hands of the UN.
This of course will put Israel at the mercy of her enemies, which have sworn to annihilate her. It is then that all the prophecies will be fulfilled, and the Great Battle will take place-of which the Lord will descend with His Armies(Joel 3) and defeat them.
It is amazing in my lifetime how far down the road we have come to fulfilling this prophecy.