Little Horn - Interpretation

The second half of the seventh chapter interprets the vision that concluded in a judgment and with a declaration. The one “like a Son of Man” received the kingship from the “Ancient of Days” so now “all peoples, races, and tongues should render homage to him; his dominion was an everlasting dominion, which should not pass away” - (Daniel 7:9-14).

Previously, the king of Babylon received a dream that deeply troubled him, a vision of a “great image” with a head of gold. Likewise, Daniel finds himself troubled at the end of his vision of the four “beasts.” This is a verbal link between the two visions - (Daniel 2:1, 7:15-18).


In Daniel’s vision, the “Son of Man” receives everlasting dominion over all the nations. In the interpretation, it is the “saints of the Most-High” who receive sovereignty. In other words, the “Son of Man” represents the people of God.

The four “beasts” represent four kings and their respective kingdoms. In the vision, they are ascending “from the sea.” In the interpretation, the “kings” ascend “from the earth.”

Thus, the interpretation moves out of the symbolic world and into the realm of history. The “earth” represents the peoples from which the four kings and their kingdoms originate.

The Aramaic verb rendered “rise” is the same verb found in the earlier declaration by Daniel – It is God who “removes and RAISES UP kings.” Implicit in the present context is that the kings’ rise to prominence is in accord with the purposes of God for His people - (Daniel 7:19-23).

Each “beast” represents a “king” and “kingdom”, and each is set in contrast to the “saints of the Most-High” who are destined to receive the everlasting kingdom.

The “little horn” appears “stouter than its fellows,” that is, the “ten horns,” and it becomes the prominent horn. He will “make war with the saints and prevail against them.” And so, before the “saints” receive the kingdom, they must endure an assault by the “little horn.”

The attack on the “saints” corresponds to the “fourth beast” that “trampled the remnant with its feet.” The “remnant” is identical to the “saints,” and this is confirmed in the next paragraph where the “little horn” speaks words “against the Most-High and wears out his saints.”


  • (Daniel 7:24-26) - “And the ten horns of that kingdom are ten kings who will arise, and another will arise after them, and he will be diverse from the former ones, and three kings will he cast down; and words against the Most-High will he speak, and the holy ones of the Highest will he afflict, and will hope to change times and law, and they will be given into his hand for a time and times and the dividing of time, but Judgment will take its seat, and his dominion will they take away to destroy and make disappear to an end.

The “little horn” symbolizes a malevolent king who attempts to destroy the “saints” - the focus is on his efforts to destroy the people of God. He prevails over them “until the Ancient of Days arrived, and justice was granted for the saints.”

In the vision, the “ten horns” represent ten kings, but the “little horn” is distinct from them. He rises to prominence after three of the ten “horns” are “removed.” Whether the ten kings reign concurrently or consecutively is not stated.

This king “spoke words against the Most-High and wore out the saints,” and this statement expands on the earlier description of the “mouth speaking great things.” Words that “wear out” the “saints” suggest royal edicts intended to harm God’s people.

The “little horn” attempts to “change times and the law” - It trespasses on Divine territory. As Daniel previously declared, God alone “changes times and seasons.”  This ruler presumes to exercise what is God’s prerogative alone - (Daniel 2:21).

The Aramaic word rendered “times” is a generic term and may refer to time delimited in any number of ways - weeks, months, years - (z’man). The Septuagint version uses the Greek word kairos, meaning “season, set time.” Most likely in view are the annual feasts and rituals from the Levitical regulations, and the “little horn” works to change them - (Leviticus 23:1-4).

The “war” against the “saints” lasts for a “time, times, and a dividing of time.” The sentence reads - “time (singular), times (plural), and part of a time.”  The last clause can mean any portion of a full “time,” however long or short that period is.

The “time, times and part of a time” is not the duration of the reign of the “little horn,” but the period during which it persecutes the “saints.” That things and events are “given into his hand” signifies that God remains in firm control of events.


  • (Daniel 7:27) - “And the kingdom, and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under all the heavens shall be given to the people of the saints of the Highest, his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions unto him will render service, and show themselves obedient. Here is the end of the matter.”

The period of suffering will come to an end at the appointed time. In contrast to the kingdoms of the earth, the victory and sovereignty of the “saints” will endure forever. The “little horn” will lose its dominion and be “consumed and destroyed.”

The oppression of the “saints” is part of the necessary process for establishing the kingdom of God, otherwise, why would God “give” persecuting power to a malevolent ruler bent on destroying His people?

The interpretation ends with the “kingdom and dominion” given to the “people of the saints.” The kingdom was given to the one “likened unto a son of man,” then to the “saints.” Again, the “son of man” represented the saints of God.

In verse 27, the plural pronoun gives way to a singular - It is “HIS kingdom” and “all dominions will serve HIM”. The singular pronouns refer to the one like a “Son of Man.”

The chapter concludes with Daniel troubled by his vision, indicating he does not understand it. But he keeps the matter in his heart. This sets the stage for further illumination in the next vision - (Daniel 7:28).

To this point, only the first “beast” can be identified with certainty - The lion-like figure represents Babylon. The beastly symbols for the next three regimes are enigmatic. The pattern of “four beasts” rising in succession indicates that the second, third, and fourth kingdoms followed Babylon in historical sequence.

The several verbal links to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 2 are important. The vision of the “four beasts from the sea” expands on the previous vision of the “great image” divided into four sections that represent four kingdoms. That same fourfold structure is present in chapter 7; the same four kingdoms are in view in both visions.

In the book of Daniel, the several visions are all connected and build on one another as they progressively present a picture of the coming attack on the “saints” of God, their victory, and the establishment of His kingdom.

At this point, there are as many questions as there are answers. The prophet himself did not yet under “the vision.”


Suffering Servant

The Living Word