5.1 Pagan/Papal Rome Identification

Although there is agreement that both pagan and papal Rome are represented in 8:9-12, there is significant disagreement between Hasel and Shea in distinguishing papal and pagan activity in the individual verses. For example, Hasel(12) argues that a “horizontal activity” of pagan Rome is represented by verses 9 & 10 whereas the vertical activity of papal Rome is revealed in verses 11 & 12. Shea,(13) on the other hand, argues for a horizontal movement of pagan imperial Rome in verse 9 but a vertical movement of papal Rome against the host of heaven in verse 10. Shea suggests that an attack of a religious character is portrayed in vs. 10 similar to that in Dn. 7: 21-22, 25, 27 by papal Rome against the saints of the Most High.

5.1.1 Gender Oscillations in Dn. 8:9-12. It is readily apparent from the Hebrew Masoretic text that the gender of the verbal subjects and pronouns alternate from feminine to masculine to feminine in verses 10-12 respectively. Hasel argues that the gender change from feminine in 10 to masculine in verse 11 denotes a change in activity from pagan to papal Rome; he suggests further that verses 9 and 10 are of a pagan nature and verses 11 and 12 of a papal nature.(14) His reasoning by gender identification fails to explain the reversion to the feminine gender in verse 12 (“it cast truth to the ground”) which is a definitive reference to papal Rome which should be, by his reasoning, in the masculine gender. Hasel dismisses this anomaly simply by suggesting the feminine (it) refers to another aspect of the horn’s (feminine) activity alluded to in verse 9.(15)

We agree with Hasel in principle that the gender alternation in Dn. 8:9-12 has significant implications regarding the identification of the specific phase of the horn’s activity. But a more comprehensive and self-consistent approach to gender oscillations is adopted in this exegesis of Daniel 8:9-14.

5.1.2 Gender Identification in Verse 9. The primary verb in verse 9 is yatza (to come out) in a Qal perfect, masculine form. However, the nearest subject noun, “a horn of littleness” is feminine which grammatically precludes a subject-verbal linkage. Hasel attempts to explain the anomaly based on Hebrew syntax of a verb preceding an animal subject requiring a masculine form.(16) Although this may be a viable solution based on Hebrew syntax, it is suggested that a more substantive and realistic solution revolves around Daniel’s intentional use of Hebrew syntax to create a distinction by gender between the 2 phases of the horn from littleness and their independent and unique activities delineated in verses 9-12. In verse 9 the evident solution to the gender anomaly is that Daniel intended the masculine verbal subject (he came out) to be accompanied by an explanatory appositional phrase, “a horn from littleness”. Thus verse 9 reads; “out of one of them he came, a horn from littleness, which became great toward the south…”). The net effect is that the horizontal activity of the horn described by Shea earlier(17) in verse 9 is correlated with the masculine gender which in turn corresponds to pagan Rome’s expansion of power. Daniel’s intentional use of Hebrew syntax to distinguish between the two phases of the horn by means of gender distinction will become evident as the discussion on gender in verses 10-11 proceeds.

5.1.3 Gender Identification in Verse 10. In verse 10, the subjects are all verbal in nature and each one is feminine in form. Although it can be argued that feminine verbal subjects refer to the horn from littleness (inherently feminine), this logic would also require the verbal forms of verse 11 to be feminine (it exalts itself); but the verbal form is masculine (he exalts himself). Hence it is suggested that Daniel intended a gender change from masculine in verse 9 to feminine in verse 10 to indicate a distinct phase change in the activity of the horn. The papal aspect of the activity in verse 10 is readily apparent. According to Shea the focus of the activity in verse 10 has a vertical dimension clearly exhibiting a religious character with the horn attacking the host and stars of heaven, symbolically the people of God.(18) This religious persecution is described in Dn. 7:21 & 25 which is explicitly related to the papal phase of Rome according to all historicist expositors.

5.1.4 Gender Identification in Verse 11. The dramatic shift in gender to masculine in verse 11 (he exalted himself) reflects a change in phases of the two entities which the metaphor symbol of the horn represents as suggested by Hasel.(19) Whereas Hasel argues that the masculine gender in verse 11 indicates a shift to papal Rome from pagan Rome in verse 10, it is suggested the change to masculine in v. 11 represents a renewed emphasis on the pagan phase of Rome contrasted with the papal phase in verse 10.

The one who magnified himself even to the Prince of the host is identified in Acts 4:26-28 by the apostle Peter: “The kings of the earth—gathered against the Lord and His Christ. For truly Your holy Servant Jesus whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined to be done”.

Acts 4:26-28 is an allusion to Ps. 2:1 in which the “kings of the earth have set themselves and the rulers have met together against Jehovah and His Anointed”. Further evidence that the one exalting himself in Dn. 8:11 is pagan Rome is found in 8:25 where “he (a king) stands up against the Prince of princes” which bears a striking resemblance to Ps. 2:1. Contrary to most Adventist expositors, it is suggested that the kingly power of 8:23-25 is an explicit description of pagan Rome throughout, although papal Rome may be implicit. Three reasons for this proposition are set forth: l) All the verbal subjects and adjectival pronouns are masculine corresponding with the masculine designations of verse 9 and 11 which it was suggested referred to pagan Rome; 2) The strong linguistic similarity of Dn. 8:25d (“also against the Prince of princes he shall stand”) with Ps. 2:1 and also the internal relationship of Dn. 8:11 with 8:25d , and finally 3) the one (a king) who “shall be broken without hand” in 8:25e is linguistically similar to the Aramaic of Dn. 2:45 (“a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and broke in pieces the iron…”). The reference in 2:45 refers to pagan, political powers and the linguistic similarity to the Hebrew of 8:25 lends credibility to the suggestion of pagan, kingly power throughout 8:23-25. For example, “he shall destroy the holy people” in 8:25 alludes to Rome’s action of destroying the city and the sanctuary in Dn. 9:26 and 11:22. The deceitful tactics of this kingly power are alluded to in 8:25 and its pagan, deceitful characteristics are revealed in 11:23, a clear reference to pagan Rome.(20)

Furthermore, the historical record substantiates pagan Rome’s consistent self-exaltation to the Prince of the host. Emperor Octavian’s (31 BC-AD 14) adoptive father Caesar, at the Senate’s decree, was elevated to a place among the deities. “Thereafter Octavian called himself son of the Caesar, imperator Caesar divi filius.” Octavian added to his name the one of “Augustus” emphasizing the unique dignity of his position. Until that time this designation (meaning “the exalting one”; cf. Dn. 8:11, “he exalted himself”) had been employed only as a surname of deities conveying the impression that his position of power was of incomparable loftiness.(21) Herod the Great, a native vassal ruler of Palestine under the Romans, exalted to the Prince of the host by slaughtering the infants in Bethlehem seeking to destroy the Christ (Mt. 2:3-16).(22)

Emperor Caligula (AD 27-41) exhibited exaggerated striving for godlike exaltation and demanded worship of himself and ordered his statue placed in the temple at Jerusalem which was thwarted by his death in AD 41.(23) Emperor Nero (AD 54-68), along with Caligula and Domitian, claimed deity for himself while still alive and each one failed to receive the honor at death which was normally the customary practice of the emperor cult started by the Roman Senate of deifying their deceased emperors who had served well.(24) Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96) emphasized his unlimited power as ruler and sought to exhibit the sanctity of his person publicly and liked to be greeted by the cry: “Hail to the lord and his consort!”(25) The biblical and historical records are clear and confirm that the one exalting himself to the Prince of the host is characterized by pagan Rome, the precursor to papal Rome who inherited the same characteristics.

5.1.5 Gender Identification in Verse 12. Further evidence that pagan Rome is represented by the masculine gender in verse 11 is the very fact that the gender reverts back to feminine verbal forms representing papal Rome in verse 12. Verse 12 in its entirety is an unmistakable allusion to the action of papal Rome opposing the “daily” in which it cast truth to the ground, it worked, and it prospered (all feminine verbal subjects in Hebrew). Exegesis of verse 12 will be developed in a later section.

5.1.6 Self-Consistent Gender Summary. Shea has suggested that the gender oscillations in verses 9-12 are due to Hebrew syntax which is unique to Daniel.(26) Since this effect of syntax (see preceding footnote) on determining the gender of verbs finds no precedent in other portions of the book of Daniel or the OT, it seems more reasonable to conclude that Daniel’s intentional use of unique syntax in chapter 8 is to create a distinction by gender between the two phases of the horn delineated in verses 9-12.

The net effect of the gender oscillations from masculine to feminine to masculine and to feminine in verses 9-12 reveals a thematic parallelism of gender with the pattern A:B::A’:B’. Daniel emphasizes the two-phase aspect of Rome by two distinct parallel and repetitive cycles (masculine:feminine) in verses 9 & 10 and again in 11 & 12. The thematic parallelism of gender in verses 9-12 with the A:B::A’:B’ pattern is summarized below in the following chart. Confirmation of the significance of the pagan/papal identification by gender distinction will be established from evidence derived from the counterfeit cultic language and symbols of Daniel 8 which will be presented in Sections 6.0 & 7.0.


Verse Gender Verb/Pronoun Horn’s Phase
A’ 11 MASC. a) HE EXALTED (gadal)
b) FROM HIM (mimmennu)
B’ 12 FEM. a) IT CAST DOWN (shalak)
b) IT WORKED (‘asah)
c) IT PROSPERED (tzalehach)

12) G. F. Hasel, DARCOM: Vol. 2, pp. 381, 399.
13) W. H. Shea, DARCOM: Vol. 2, pp. 507-512.
14) G. F. Hasel, DARCOM: Vol. 2, p. 399.
15) Ibid., pp. 418-419.
16) Ibid., p. 401.
17) W. H. Shea, DARCOM: Vol. 2, pp. 507-512.
18) Ibid., p. 511.
19) G. F. Hasel, DARCOM: Vol. 2, p. 401.
20) U. Smith, The Prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, p. 258, 1944. (Hereafter referred to as “Smith: D & R”).
21) E. Lohse, The New Testament Environment, Nashville: Abingdon, p.199, 1976.
22) R. H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 11, 1981.
23) Ibid., p. 11
24) Ibid., p. 35.
25) E. Lohse, The New Testament Environment, Nashville: Abingdon, p. 206, 1976.
26) W. H. Shea, Personal Communication, February 2, 1993. Herein, Shea suggests that in verses 9 & 11 “two masculine verbs are preceded by dependent prepositional phrases which end with masculine objects, a pronominal suffix in one case and a noun in the other, and neither of these two verbs in the perfect (tense) is converted by waw. These three main features of these verbs contrast, one way and another, with the other eight verbs in this passage for the activities of the little horn. For me, this is not an interpretational feature; it is simply a matter of Daniel’s syntax.”


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