9

"and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things ... Then I desired to know the truth about the ... horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom." (Daniel 7:8, 19-22)

The background to this question is Daniel’s wider vision of 4 beasts representing four empires, which the early writers identified as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Out of Rome would emerge 10 kingdoms, and out of them would emerge this ‘little horn.’

I do not expect an authoritative 'last word' on this prophecy. However, I wish to hear how Jewish commentators deal with who this 'Little Horn' might be?

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Christian Gedge. – ezra Aug 28 '17 at 21:18
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    By the way, early writers are not needed to know that the first two beasts are Persia/Media and Greece. That is explained in Daniel 8:20-21. – ezra Aug 28 '17 at 21:23
  • Sure, I take your point. Never-the-less, it is useful to find extra-biblical references. – Christian Gedge Aug 28 '17 at 21:28
  • @ezra -- The first beast is Babylon, as is the head of the statue in Daniel 2. – Clifford Durousseau Jan 28 '18 at 10:50
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Rashi, a renowned 11th Century commentator on the Bible and Talmud, wrote that this "little horn" in Daniel 7:8 that is "speaking arrogantly" refers to Titus, the one who destroyed the Holy Temple and Jerusalem. He writes thus:

:ממלל רברבן. דברי גאוה, הוא טיטוס שאחז"ל שחרף וגדף ונכנס להיכל בעזות פנים

"Speaking arrogantly." Words of arrogance. He is Titus, who the Rabbis said (Gittin 56b) that he blasphemed and taunted and entered the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple with brazeness.

Translation is mine.

4

In The Jewish Study Bible (2nd edition, 2014), Lawrence M. Wills asserts that the little horn is Antiochus Epiphanes. Ditto 'Daniel, Book of' in Jewish Encyclopedia (online) by Emil G. Hirsch and Eduard König: 'The little horn described in Dan. viii. 9-12, 23-25 has the same general characteristics as the little horn in vii. 8, 20; hence the same ruler is designated in both passages.'*

Metzudat David (18th century) says that the little horn represents the Ishmaelites (the followers of Muhammad). Ibn Ezra also said the symbol is a power which would arise out of the Arabic empire of the Turks: https://www.ou.org/torah/nach/nach.../daniel_chapter_7/. Ditto Saadia Gaon in his commentary: https://books.google.com.tr/books?isbn=3039108115.**

'Most of the later Jewish interpreters refer this to their fabulous Gog and Magog' (Barnes' Notes on the Bible@StudyLight.org). Joseph the son of David the son of Joseph Jachia, commonly called Jacchiades (died in 1539), in his Paraphrase on Daniel provides an example of this line of interpretation.

Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) thought that the little horn was the pope of the Roman Catholic Church. See his commentary on Daniel entitled Ma-Yene ha-Yeshuah published in 1496, four years after the Spanish Expulsion. This view was that of many Protestant commentators until the 20th century. On this, see online Dennis Pettibone, 'Martin Luther's Views on the Antichrist.'


*See the additional sources mentioned in the third comment below for this view.

**Luther and Calvin, the Christians, in the Reformation also pointed to Islam as a possible fulfillment of the little horn of Daniel 7. Earlier, when Islam arose in the 7th century and for some time after, Catholics also identified Islam as the little horn. Thus, not only Jews but Christians as well came to the same conclusion.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya. – mevaqesh Nov 22 '17 at 15:08
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    Yes, it seems more consistent that the 'horns' represent nations rather than individuals. – Christian Gedge Nov 22 '17 at 20:08
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    +1 consider adding links to "Daniel - Chapter 7 - OU Torah - Orthodox Union.com", and clarify where R. Saadya Gaon states this. – mevaqesh Nov 22 '17 at 20:28
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    Regarding the identification with Antiochus IV Epiphanes see this article and footnote 1 for more sources. thetorah.com/… a similar reading (of the visions of Daniel as referring to Greece in general) is offered by R' Yaqov Medan etzion.org.il/en/daniel-and-greek-kingdom – rikitikitembo Dec 13 '17 at 18:45
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    @rikitikitembo -- Great contribution. Interesting to observe that Medan holds the traditional view that Daniel 7 is a true prophecy written in the 6th century BCE but understands the fourth beast as not Rome but Greece, but Segal has been persuaded by the view that it is a vaticinium ex eventu (prophecy after the fact) and was written in the 2nd century BCE. – Clifford Durousseau Dec 14 '17 at 16:14
1

Bereshit Rabba 76:6 identifies this as "Ben Naytzer."

הַצִּילֵנִי נָא מִיַּד אָחִי מִיַּד עֵשָׂו (בראשית לב, יב), הַצֵּל אֶת בָּנַי לֶעָתִיד לָבוֹא מִיַּד בְּנֵי בָנָיו שֶׁבָּאוּ עֲלֵיהֶן מִכֹּחוֹ שֶׁל עֵשָׂו, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (דניאל ז, ח): מְִתַּכַּל הֲוֵית בְּקַרְנַיָּא וַאֲלוּ קֶרֶן אָחֳרִי זְעֵירָה סִלְקָת בֵּינֵיהֵן, זֶה בֶּן נֵצֶר. (דניאל ז, ח):

He has been further identified by most scholars as Odenathus.

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