World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them.
This one shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.
He afterwards adds, The ten horns are the ten kings which should arise These Ten Kings are clearly comprehended under one empire, and there is no question here of separate persons. In the Persian kingdom, we observed many kings, and yet the image of the second beast was single, while it embraced all those kings until the change occurred. So also no when treating of the Romans, the Prophet does not assert that ten kings should succeed each other in regular order, but rather the multiform nature of the kingdom, under more heads than one. For the royal office belonged to the senators or leading citizens, whose authority prevailed very extensively both with the senate and the people. And with reference to the number, we said the plural number only was denoted, without any limitation to the number ten. The conclusion is as follows, — this kingdom should be like a single terrible animal bearing many horns, since no single king held the chief sway there, as was customary by constant usage in other lands, but there should be a mixture, like many kings in place of one holding the pre-eminence. The fulfillment of this is sufficiently known from the history of Rome; as if it had been said, there should not be any single kingdom, as of Persia and other nations, but many kings at the same time, alluding to the mixture and confusion in which the supreme authority was involved.
The Little Horn follows: A king shall arise, says he, different from those, other ones, and shall afflict three kings We showed how unintelligible this becomes, unless we refer it to the Caesars to whom the monarchy passed; for after long and continued and intensive strife, the whole power passed over to the Triumvirate. A conspiracy was entered into by Lepidus, Mark Antony, and Octavius. Octavius was then all but a boy, having scarcely arrived at manhood, but all the veteran soldiers were in his favor, in consequence of the name of Julius Caesar and his adoption by him. Hence he was received by the other two into that alliance, of which Lepidus was the first, and Antony the second. At length discords arose among them, and Lepidus was deprived of his place in the triumvirate, and lived, as if half-dead, while his life was only spared to him because he was raised to the office of chief priest
Reverence for the priesthood restrained Antony from putting him to death, so long as he was content to live in privacy and retirement. Octavius at, length became supreme, but by what artifice? We said Julius Caesar took no more upon himself than the office of dictator, while consuls were annually elected as usual. He did not strain the power of the dictatorship beyond moderation, but he so restrained himself, that some popular rights might seem still to flourish. Octavius also followed the cunning of his uncle and adopted father. The same conduct will be found in the other Caesars, though there were many differences between them. As the shadow of a republic yet remained, while the senate was held in some degree of reverence, it is not surprising, if the angel predicts that the beast should survive, when another small horn should arise different from the others
He adds, And shall afflict the three kings I have explained this point by the slight change which the Caesars effected in the provinces, for if any of the provinces were warlike, strong armies and veteran soldiers were usually sent there. The Caesars took these to themselves, while some executive management was left to the senate with regard to the other provinces. Lastly, by this form of speech, the angel portrays the coming dominion of the little horn, and its diminishing the strength of the former ones’ and yet the beast should remain apparently entire; thus, the effigy of the republic was preserved, as the people were always designated — in the forum, by the high-sounding name, Romans, and in battle, as fellow-soldiers. Meanwhile, although the name of the Roman empire was so celebrated, and its majesty was in every one’s mouth, the supreme authority was in the possession of one little horn which lay concealed, and dared not openly raise its head. This, then, is the pith of the interpretation of what the angel here sets before us. It; follows, —