“While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it.” Daniel 7:8
“The ten horns are ten kings who will rule that empire. Then another king will arise, different from the other ten who will subdue three of them.” Daniel 7:24-25
Almost all scholars identify the fourth beast of Daniel 7 as the Roman Empire who would have “iron teeth” (7:19) and would “devour the whole world, trampling and crushing everything in its path.” (7:23) What they disagree on is who the ten kings were and who the eleventh king was who began as a little horn. Instead of trying to figure out when the ten successive kings begin, I propose we focus on how he comes to power. He begins as “the little horn” and doesn’t become king until three of the other horns or kings are subdued before him.
Remarkably there is an event in our history that fits this description. When Nero committed suicide in 68 AD, the leadership of the Roman Empire was up for grabs. Sixty-nine AD has become known as the year of four emperors. Galba, Otho, and Vitellius all seized control for a time but eventually they were subdued before Vespasian. Vespasian began as Nero’s general (a little horn – a leader, but not a king) and was then the emperor for ten years after coming to power. If he is the eleventh king all we need to do is count backwards to find the first. Five of the kings have already been accounted for (Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian), so who were the other six?
Before Nero was Claudius, then Caligula, before him was Tiberius (the emperor during Jesus’ ministry), then Augustus (emperor when Jesus was born), before him was Julius Caesar who wasn’t called an emperor but “Dictator”, and finally, before Caesar was Pompey, who wasn’t called emperor or dictator, but “Sole Counsel.”
Is there any logical reason why God would identify Pompey as the first of the eleven kings when there were many other Roman leaders before him? There is. Israel did not belong to the Roman Empire until 63 BC when Pompey invaded Jerusalem and desecrated the temple. He was the first leader (king) in Rome when God’s people, Israel, came under the rule of the Roman Empire.