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Daniel 8 symbolizes the Greek (Macedonian?) Empire as a goat. Its first great horn is understood as the united Greek Empire before Alexander died. Then the great horn breaks off and "and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven." (Dan 8:9) These are the four parts into which the Greek Empire divided.

The verse 9 continues:

"Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn."

This sounds as if the horn comes out of one of the four Greek horns. However, some argue that it grew out of the Roman Empire. Since I cannot read Hebrew, my request is that somebody checks the accuracy of this explanation:

Genders

In Hebrew, nouns and pronouns have genders that require agreement. In the English translation, this information is lost, but the Hebrew genders allow one to identify the “one of them,” and therefore to determine whether the evil horn is Greek or not.

The last phrase in Dan 8:8, together with the beginning of Dan 8:9, with the relevant words marked (f) for feminine or (m) for masculine, reads as follows:

8 ... the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns (f) toward the four winds (f) of heaven (m). 9 Out of one (f) of them (m) came forth a rather small horn ...

To understand where the little horn comes from, we need to identify the antecedents of the “one” and “them.”

"Them" refers to the "heavens."

“Them” is plural, and, therefore, can refer to:

  • The “horns” or
  • The “winds” or
  • The “heaven.” (In Hebrew, “heaven” is always plural (heavens).)

Since “them” is masculine, while the Hebrew word for "horn" is always feminine and the word for "winds" is written in Dan 8:8 as a feminine form, “them” can only refer to the “heavens.”

"One" refers to one of the 'winds'.

Since the numeral “one” is feminine in form and since “them” is masculine, the “one” does not have the same antecedent as “them.” In other words, the “one” in the statement “one of them,” does not refer to “one” of the heavens. Nor does the phrase mean 'one of the four horns'.

Since “one” is feminine in form, it can refer either to one of the horns or one of the winds. (“Winds” mean the four directions of the compass.)

So, technically, the phrase “out of one of them” can either mean:

  1. Out of one of the horns of the heavens, or
  2. Out of one of the winds (compass directions) of the heavens.

The first option is not acceptable because:

(a) Heavens do not have horns, and (b) Horns do not come out of horns; they grow on heads.

The only valid option is that the small horn came out of one of the winds (compass directions) of the heavens. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the final phrase in verse 8 is, “the four winds of heaven.”

Conclusion

Four horns appeared in the place of the great horn that was broken. They extended "toward the four winds of the heavens." The little horn came from one of these 'four winds', that is, from one of the four directions of the compass. It, therefore, did not come from one of the Greek horns and, therefore, is not Greek in origin.

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  • That's an intriguing question.
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 14 at 7:58

3 Answers 3

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A horn growing out of a horn is a more natural image than a horn growing out of a wind.

A horn is a fairly frequent Biblical symbol denoting the wielding of power. So the image of "horn growing out of a conspicuous horn" would imply a power developing out of a greater power. The interpretation that the four horns are dynasties and the lesser horn is a member of one of those dynasties (e.g. Antiochus Epiphanes) would be in keeping with that.

In the context of the statement that the four horns came up "toward the four winds of heaven", the "four winds" would appear to mean "the four directions". That is, indicating the approximate location of the successor-states. In which case "coming from one of the four winds" would have much the same meaning as "coming from one of the four horns".

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  • @ Stephen Disraeli - Fortunately, these prophecies are pictures of past history from our perspective. Indeed, Antiochus Epiphanes was a major player that arose out from the 4 Diodochi. History confirms our interpretations.
    – ray grant
    Commented Feb 15 at 22:18
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Answer

The little horn comes up out of one of the Greek horns. This is inescapable when looked from two different angles (two winds of heaven?)

Angle 1

8 ... the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns (f) toward the four winds (f) of heaven (m). 9 Out of one (f) of them (m) came forth a rather small horn ... (copied from the OP).

Let us analyze verse 8:

What was broken? “The large horn was broken”.

What did come up in its place? “Four conspicuous horns (notice that they were very conspicuous) toward the four winds of heaven”.

Now it is very clear that each horn was toward each wind of heaven.

Now let us analyze verse 9:

Out of one horn(f) toward one wind(f) of them/heavens (m) came forth a rather small horn ...

For clarification purpose, I have added certain words from verse 8 to verse 9 without violating the semantics of the verses and the genders of the terms.

Thus, I do not see any problem in seeing the small horn coming up out of one of the four horns.

Do horns come up out of other horns? I think so. The branched horns (called antlers) of certain deer show that horns branch out from horns.

https://www.fieldmuseum.org/blog/antlers-whats-their-function

Angle 2

A) A Greek Example

“and that Rock (feminine) was Christ (masculine)” (1 Cor 10:4).

If masculine Christ can be the feminine Rock in Greek language, I think there need not be any hard and fast rule regarding genders as OP thinks (I could be wrong here).

It is my understanding that certain languages like Hebrew and German (?) still retain the genders for the “inanimate” nouns and pronouns which can go with any gender.

I hope a language expert will throw more light on this.

B) A Hebrew Example

Jehovah (masculine) is ………my fortress (feminine)……..my God (masculine)……..is my shield and the horn (feminine) of my salvation” (Psalms 18:2).

Again, a masculine Jehovah is a feminine fortress and a masculine God is a feminine horn of salvation to David.

Roman little horn?

There is another little horn “with eyes and mouth” (Dan 7:8) “greater than his fellows” (Dan 7:20) from the fourth Beast (Roman Empire).

But that little horn is different from this small Greek horn (Antiochus Epiphanes).

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  • Good answer! It would make a lot of sense if it was an antler. +1
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 15 at 17:40
  • Thanks Jason. I have updated my answer with a Hebrew example as well. Commented Feb 17 at 11:12
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There has been a big debate about this but only in the last 300 years - before that, it was assumed that what everyone knew was correct. Let me quote Dan 8:8, 9 to show the problem:

8 The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.

9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land.

The OP's question can now be stated as, Does "one of then" refer to either:

  • one of the four winds of heaven, or
  • one of the four horns?

The following analysis shows that the OP's comments are grammatically correct; thus, the little horn arose from one of the four winds of heaven and NOT one of the four horns.

Grammar: Gender

The precedents can be seen in the following table -

Gender Feminine Masculine
V8 Hebrew לְאַרְבַּ֖ע רוּחֹ֥ות (le-arbar rûhôt) הַשָּׁמָֽיִם (hashamayim)
V8 Translation to the four winds of the heavens
V9 Hebrew וּמִן־הָאַחַ֣ת (u.min ha'ahat) מֵהֶ֔ם (mehem)
V9 Translation and from the one from them

That is, the little horn arose from of the four winds of heaven, not one of the four horns. By contrast, "horn" is Hebrew (קֶרֶן) is feminine.

The "four winds of heaven" has much the same idiomatic meaning today as it did on Daniel's time - the four directions of the compass, etc.

As if to reinforce this point, the remainder of the verse says this -

... another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land.

That is, the little horn appears to come from the west.

I will resist the temptation to further interpret the little horn prophecy as this goes well beyond the OP's question scope.

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