Updated: Feb 27, 2022
Many claim that Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) was the little horn of Daniel 8. Antiochus was one of more than 20 Syrian kings who ruled the Seleucid kingdom after the fall of Alexander the Great's Grecian Empire. For reasons outlined below Antiochus Epiphanes cannot be the little horn of Daniel 8 as this would break the prophetic harmony found in Daniel chapters 2,7,8 & 11. Similarly others have suggested Turkey / Islam as the King of the North in Daniel 11. But here again the prophecy will not be in harmony with the rest of the prophetic chapters - see the King of the North webpage for Daniel 11.
There are four great lines of unbroken prophecy in the Book of Daniel in chapters 2,7,8 and 11. Chapters 5, 7,8 and 11 expand on chapter 2 identifying the kingdoms of the Daniel 2 image.
The Daniel 2 image stands as the great foundation prophecy outlining the four major world empires to exist from the time of Babylon (head of Gold of the image) to the second coming of Christ (the stone crushing the feet of iron & clay and image as a whole). Daniel 2 interpretated BABYLON as the head of Gold. The other three kingdoms are not identified in chapter 2. Chapters 7,8, &11 outline the identity of the remaining kingdoms to populate the various metals of the Daniel 2 image. Daniel 5 describes the fall of Babylon to the Medes & Persians, the second kingdom to follow Babylon: "And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee..." Daniel 2:39
The prophecy of Daniel chapter 2 is repeated in Daniel chapter 7 with added detail of events happening in the fourth kingdom of iron as it transitions to the feet of iron & clay, as the fourth beast gives rise to the Little Horn.
Daniel 7:23 connects Daniel 7 with the Daniel 2 image"
"...the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom..." This beast represents the fourth kingdom of Iron of the Daniel 2 image.
Daniel 7 introduces the Little Horn. The little horn is part of the fourth beast just as the Iron of the feet of Daniel 2 is part of the Iron legs of the fourth Kingdom. Hence the third (leopard), second (bear) and the first (lion) beasts represent the third, second and first kingdoms of the Daniel 2 image respectively with Babylon being the Lion and the bear, Medo-Persia. The Medes & Persians are crushed by the Grecian He-Goat in the vision of Daniel 8:1-16 becoming the third Kingdom of the Daniel 2 image. The little horn of Daniel 8 which follows the He-Goat with its identifying marks must therefore, be Rome in both its Pagan and Papal phases and not Antiochus Epiphanes.
Daniel 8 is the last prophetic chapter that contains symbols representing kingdoms. With Babylon off the scene, Daniel 8 commences with the Medes & Persians in the form of the Ram with two horns. The Vision of Daniel 8 has four elements:
The Ram with two horns. The higher horn coming up last.
The He-Goat with the notable horn between its eyes.
The Little Horn which waxed exceeding great.
The 2300 days of Daniel 8:14
The only aspect of the vision in chapter 8 which was not explained to Daniel was the 2300 days.
The Ram represented the Medes & Persians - Daniel 8:20
The He-Goat represented the Kingdom of Grecia - Daniel 8:21
The Little horn represented Rome, the King of fierce countenance which was to arise in the latter time of the division of the Grecian kingdom. A power whose tongue (language) God's people did not understand. Rome spoke Latin. Moses spoke of this power. Deut 28:49,50
THE LITTLE HORNS OF DANIEL 7 & 8 ARE THE SAME POWER
The same symbol of a little horn indicates that this is the same power described as a little horn in Daniel chapter 7.
Both begin small and become great (Dan 7:8 & Dan 8:9)
Both are blasphemous (Dan 7:8, 25 & Dan 8:11, 25)
Both persecute the saints (Dan 7:21, 25 & Dan 8:11, 25)
Both endure for long periods of prophetic time (Dan 7:25 & Dan 8:11, 25)
Both suffer a similar fate ((Dan 7:26 & Dan 8:25)
In Daniel and Revelation it is not uncommon to use the one symbol to represent Rome in its Pagan and Papal phases. Note the symbol of the LITTLE HORN in Daniel 8 is used to represent ROME in both its Pagan and Papal forms. In Daniel 7, the fourth beast with ten horns was ROME and out of that fourth beast's head springs forth the little horn, therefore, one can say the same beast represented ROME in its Pagan and Papal forms. Similarly in Daniel 11, the KING of the NORTH is symbolic of both the Rome of the Caesars and Papal Rome. Likewise in Revelation 12, the Dragon with seven heads and ten horns is a symbol not only of Satan but of Rome which Satan used to try and kill the infant Jesus and also of the persecuting power of Papal Rome as the Dragon sends forth a flood after the woman (God's true church) to try and destroy her - One symbol representing the same power in its different phases or forms.
Antiochus Epiphanes could not be the little horn of Daniel chapter 8 for the following reasons:
1. On the principle and precedent that succeeding visions in Daniel parallel and amplify earlier visions we see that the little horn cannot be Antiochus. Daniel 2 & 7 describe four powers under various symbols as noted above. In Daniel 2:34 a stone cut out of the mountain "without hands" representing Christ, strikes the image after the period of divided Rome (the feet of iron & clay) destroying all earthly kingdoms. The statement that the little horn of Daniel 8 will be destroyed "without hands," (Dan 8:25), connects it with the fourth power of Daniel 2 and 7, namely Rome.
2. Horns represent kingdoms, not just individual kings so king Antiochus could not be the little horn.
The four horns in Daniel 8:22 are said to be “four kingdoms,” therefore the “little horn” which followed them likewise represented a “kingdom.”
The fact that Daniel 8:23 say the little horn was a “king,” (Hebrew, “melek.”), does not prove that the horn was just one king:
The four beasts of Daniel 7 were said to be four (melek) (Dan 7:17). However, the fourth beast is also said to be the fourth “kingdom” (malkuw) (Dan 7:23). Thus Daniel uses melek (king) as a synonym for malkuw (kingdom). With this understanding the prophetic symbol of a horn retains one meaning, it represents a kingdom. The horns of the Ram of Daniel 8 are called “kings”, (melek), yet once again melek must here represents the “kingdoms” of Medo-Persia for the following reason:
The Ram existed from the beginning of its conquests (Dan 8:3-4) till they were broken by Grecia (Dan 8:7). As this period spans the entire existence of the Medo-Perisan empire the horns cannot represent just two individual kings
Furthermore as this little horn arose in the latter time of the four Grecian divisions (see point 2), stood up against Christ (see point 8) and reached into "the time of the end" (see point 11) it cannot refer to one king as no king lived so long.
Therefore, because Antiochus was only a king and not a kingdom he cannot be the little horn.
3. Verse 23 said that the little horn was to arise “in the latter time” of their kingdom i.e. in the latter time of the divided Grecian kingdoms (the four horns).
The Seleucid dynasty, one of the original four horns, ran from 312/311-65 B.C.. Antiochus reigned slightly before the middle of the dynasty, 175-164 B.C. as eighth of the twenty-six kings who constituted the Seleucid horn (kingdom). Therefore Antiochus could not be the other little horn which arose in the “latter times” as he didn't live in the latter times of the kingdom.
4. The little horn of Daniel 8 was not one of the four horns into which the kingdom of Greece divided, but another fifth, separate and distinct horn/kingdom. However, Antiochus Epiphanes was simply one of the kings who constituted the Seleucid horn (kingdom) of the goat. He was for a time one of those horns; hence he could not be at the same time a separate and independent kingdom, as the little horn was.
The little horn did not arise from one of the four horns, it arose from one of the four winds, i.e. four directions of the compass. This is evident in the original language based on the use of gender. The little horn cannot therefore be Antiochus because he arose from one of the four horns.
5. Verse 9 said that the little horn would "PROSPER" (verse 12) and become“EXCEEDING great...” These statements are made releative to the Medo-Persian and Grecian kingdoms.
Medo-Persia was "great" v 4, referring to its power and dominion which lasted centuries.
Greece was “very great” v 8, referring to its power and dominion which also lasted centuries
The little horn was "exceeding great."v 9, likewise referring to its power and dominion.
An escalation of power is seen showing that the little horn would exceed in power the previous kingdoms. However Antiochus was most certainly not greater than Medo-Persia or Grecia. Antiochus was king over only one part of what was Alexander the Great's empire.
Far from being exceedingly great, some of his contemporaries even sarcastically called Antiochus, “Epimanes,” - "the mad man."Polybius, The Histories, 26.1
6. Verse 9 said that the little horn “waxed exceeding great...TOWARD THE SOUTH, EAST, and pleasant land.” Again this statement is made in comparison to the exploits of Medo-Persia and Greece. Antiochus certainly did not wax exceding great when compared to the preceeding powers. After a short lived triumph in the "south," (Egypt), Antiochus was totally defeated when the Roman ambasador, C. Popilius Laenas, merely informed him that the Roman Senate wanted him to leave. The grim Roman drew a circle around Antiochus with his cane and demanded a decision before he stepped out of it. See: The Classic Account in Livys, History of Rome, 45.12
In the “East” Antiochus died under obscure and sorry circumstances. Even in “the glorious land” (Palestine), where at first he seemed successful, all his ambitions came to nothing within his lifetime. Antiochus did not conquer Palestine, he inherited it from Antiochus III who had subjected it in 198BC
7. Verse 25 said that the little horn was to be destroyed or “be broken without hand.” Heb 9:11; Dan 2:34; 2 Thess 2:8, show that the term, “without hand,” means by divine or supernatural power. There is no proof that the death of Antiochus over 2100 years ago, was supernatural! No inspired writings say that Antiochus' death was supernatural.
The passage in Daniel 2:34, which mentions things done without hand, is most significant as it leads on to the next point.
8. The little horn would “magnify himself against the Prince of the host,” and stand up against the “Prince of Princes” (Dan 8:11, 25). The Prince of the host is Jesus (See Josh 5:14 margin). As Antiochus died over 160 years before Christ was born he cannot be the little horn.
Some attempt to spiritualize this but context is against it:
Daniel 8:10 -11 concern the little horns literal actions, i.e. "cast down some of the host (Gods people v 24)...taking away the daily...sanctuary cast down.” Pagan Rome destroyed the temple in 70 AD. As the context refers to literal events it is natural to understand that the standing up against Christ was also a literal event.
Peter said, “The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ...both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together” Acts 4:26. Clearly Rome fulfils the prophecy, not Antiochus.
9. While the dragon of Revelation 12 primarily represents the Devil (Rev 12:9) it also represents an earthly kingdom through which Satan worked to try to kill baby Jesus (Rev 12:4-5). That power was the Roman Empire. Scripture teaches that beasts, like this dragon, represent kingdoms (See Daniel 7:23).
The little horn of Daniel 8 has the same characteristics as the dragon of Rev 12...
1. Both said to be "great" (Dan 8:10; Rev 12:3)
2. Both cast down some of the stars to the ground (Dan 8:10; Rev 12:4)
3. Both attacked Jesus (Dan 8:11, 25; Rev 12:4-5)
4. Both attacked God's people (Dan 8:24; Rev 12:13)
5. Both exist at the end of the world (Dan 8:18, 25 see point 6 on Dan 8:25; Rev 12:17)
As this power literally attempted to kill baby Jesus (Rev 12:4) it could not be Antiochus Epiphanes who died over 160 years before Jesus was born!
10. Verse 23 said that the little horn spoke a language that the Jews did not understand, or “dark sentences.” Deut 28:49-50 describe the same power which God brought against his disobedient people as “a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue [language] thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce coutenance...” Daniel called this power “a king [kingdom] of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences” Dan 8:23. However as Antiochus spoke Greek which was very familiar to the Jews, he cannot be the little horn. Note also that the power is called a nation in Deuteronomy 28.
11. Verse 17 said “for at the time of the end shall be the vision.” K.J.V. Translations are consistent on this rendering:
Even the N.I.V & R.S.V. agree with the K.J.V.
“the vision concerns the time of the end.” N.I.V.
“the vision is for the time of the end.” R.S.V.
As the vision concerns events at the time of the end it cannot possibly refer to Antiochus who died over 160 years before Christ.
12. The little horn took up the “daily.” The term “take away” in Daniel 8 is from the Hebrew word “ruwm,” which means “take up, exalt, raise up, lift up.” See Strongs Concordance. This is also the way Daniel used this word everywhere else in his book (e.g. Dan 11:36). Therefore the little horn raised up, lifted up and exalted the “daily.” Therefore the “daily” cannot possibly be the Jewish daily sacrifices as Antiochus certainly did not raise up, lift up or exalt the Jewish sacrifices, rather he stopped them. Antiochus actions are not therefore the taking away of the daily.
Furthermore, the word “sacrifice” is not in the original text, hence the Daily has nothing to do with the sanctuary service.
13. All attempts to fit the desecration of the Jewish Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, into “2300 evenings and mornings” have uniformly failed. The most nearly contemporary account, in Maccabees 1:54; 4:52-54, is very precise in stating that Antiochus interrupted the temple services for three years and ten days (from Chislev 15, 168, to Chislev 25, 165), which is far short of 2300 days.
All attempts to reduce the 2300 days (evening mornings) to 1150 literal days are likewise faulty.
The 2300 “evening morning” cannot refer to the twice daily sacrifices of the Jews, & thus be shortened into only 1150 days, as the sacrifices were never referred to as evening & morning in the Bible. The sacrifices were only ever called morning & evening sacrifices (Exo 29:38-39).
14. The taking away of the daily was to set up the abomination of desolation (Compare Daniel 8:11 with Daniel 11:31; Dan 12:11 margin). Paul who had been reasoning with the Thessalonians out of the Scriptures about the taking away and the setting up of the man of sin and the mystery of iniquity, taught that this “taking away” to set up the abomination was FUTURE of his time (2 Thess 2:6-8).. Thus those who maintain that Antiochus was the power which took away the daily to set up the abomination of desolation are in opposition to the teachings of Paul who taught that this would take place AFTER his time.
1 Maccabees 1:54 applies the phrase “desolating sacrilege” (bdelugma eremoseos Daniel 9:27, Greek) to what Antiochus Epiphanes did to the altar in the Jewish temple. (He evidently erected an idol on it and sacrificed a pig, to the horror of all devout Jews, for whom pigs have always been unclean.) But Jesus in the Olivet discourse said that Daniel's “desolating sacrilege” ("abomination of desolation") was still FUTURE of His day. He told His disciples “When ye therefore SHALL see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet...flee” (Matt 24:15) and added, “whoso readeth, let him understand.” So to understand the identity of the little horn of Daniel 8 we shall have to conclude with Jesus that it cannot have been Antiochus Epiphanes.
15. Were we to apply the little horn to any one of these twenty-six Syrian kings, it should be to the most illustrious and powerful one of them all. But this was not Antiochus Epiphanes. For historians inform us that his name, “Epiphanes,” the “Illustrious,” was changed to “Epimanes,” the “fool,” on account of his vile and extravagant folly. Antiochus the Great was perhaps the most famous of the Syrian kings, but the specifications of the prophecy would not fit him either.
16. We will see that the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 are cut off this 2300 day period. As the 70 weeks represented 490 years it is obvious that the 2300 days cannot be literal days but must also represent years reaching to "the time of the end." Daniel 8:17.
17. The actions of the real little horn are of sufficient importance and scale to bring about a vast judgment scene in heaven with millions of angels in attendance and described in Daniel 7:9-14. The actions of Antiochus were not sufficient to bring about such a scene. An evil far greater than Antiochus is thus clearly described.
18. The little horn cast down the place of God’s sanctuary. Antiochus did no damage to the sanctuary or the place (Heb. Makon) it stood.
As long ago as 1733, Sir Issac Newton wrote:
“This last horn is by some taken for Antiochus Epiphanes, but not very judiciously. A horn of a beast is never taken for a single person: it always signifies a new kingdom, and the kingdom of Antiochus was an old one. Antiochus reigned over one of the four horns, and the little horn was a fifth under its proper kings. This horn was at first a little one, and waxed exceeding great, but so did not Antiochus. It is described great above all the former horns, and so was not Antiochus. His kingdom on the contrary was weak, and tributary to the Romans, and he did not enlarge it. The horn was a King of fierce countenance, and destroyed wonderfully, and prospered and practiced; that is, he prospered in his practices against the holy people; but Antiochus was frightened out of Egypt by a mere message of the Romans, and afterwards routed and baffled by the Jews. The horn was mighty by another's power, Antiochus acted by his own. The horn stood up against the Prince of the host of heaven, the Prince of Princes; and this is the character not of Antiochus but of Antichrist. The horn cast down the sanctuary to the ground, and so did not Antiochus; he left it standing. The sanctuary and Host were trampled underfoot 2300 days; and in Daniel's Prophecies days are put for years; but the profination of the Temple in the reign of Antiochus did not last for so many natural days. These were to last til the time of the end, till the last end of the indignation against the Jews; and this indignation is not yet at an end. They were to last till the Sanctuary which had been cast down should be cleansed, and the sanctaury is not yet cleansed.” Sir Isaac Newton's Daniel and the Apocalypse, ed., Sir William Whitla (London: John Murray, 1922), p222.
Sir Isaac Newton's observations contrast greatly with the note to Daniel 8:1 in the 1967 edition of the Scofield Reference Bible, which refers to the “remarkably precise predictions in chapter 8 and 11 about the reign, character, and antecendents of Antiochus Epiphanes.”
Rome conquered the pleasant [land] - Palestine. - Dan 8:9
Rome "waxed great, [even] to the host of heaven;" persecuted God's people. Dan 8:10
Rome persecuted Christians as “it cast down [some] of the host… and stamped upon them”. Dan 8:10
Rome crucified Christ - “Yea, he magnified [himself] even to the prince of the host,” Dan 8:11
From Rome, “the daily” (pagan idolatry) was taken away, [taken up or exalted] Dan 8:11
Rome’s sanctuary was cast down. The city of Rome was given up when Emperor Constantine moved to Constantinople. Dan 8:11
Armies helped set up Papal Rome. “And an host was given [him] against the daily” - Dan 8:12 cf Dan 11:31
Rome “cast down the truth to the ground;” Dan 8:12
Rome “practiced, and prospered.” Dan 8:12
Rome both Pagan & Papal destroyed the sanctuary and God’s people - “the host to be trodden under foot?” - Dan 8:13
Rome arose in “… the latter time of their kingdom,” i.e. after the division the Grecian Empire - four horns rose on the He-Goat. Dan 8:23
Rome, the little horn, is the king of fierce countenance, Dan 8:23
Rome spoke a different language (Latin) - “understanding dark sentences, shall stand up”. - Dan 8:23 cf Deut 28:49,50 *Antiochus spoke Greek which God's people understood.
Rome destroyed “wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice,” Dan 8:24
Rome destroyed “…the mighty and the holy people”. - Dan 8:24
Rome magnified [himself] in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: Dan 8:25
Rome stood up against Christ, crucified him - “shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; Dan 8:25
Rome shall be destroyed. “shall be broken without hand”. Dan 8:25 cf Dan 2:39, 7:11, 11:45
The Vision of Daniel 8 was to reach to “the time of the end”. “…wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it [shall be] for many days.” - Dan 8:26, 8:17
The prophecy, therefore, remains unbroken from Daniel 2, through 7, 8, 9 and 11
Destruction of the Little Horn of Daniel 8, the feet of iron & clay of Daniel 2, the fourth beast and its little horn of Daniel 7 and the King of the North of Daniel 11.
May God bless you as you study Daniel & Revelation - Rev 1:3