The Seven Heads & Ten Horns
In this article on the "Seven Heads & Ten Horns," A Personal Revelation author, Eric Fugett, explains the symbolism behind the seven heads and ten horns in the book of Revelation.
In Revelation 12:3, Satan is described as a dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns. In my opinion, Revelation 12:3 is describing Satan as the ruler of the world (John 12:31, Ephesians 2:2). The seven heads represent the Roman Empire or known world, and the ten horns represent the ten provinces of Rome. The seven crowns represent Satan's power or total dominion over the world/Roman Empire.
Chapter thirteen of the book of Revelation opens with a beast coming out of the sea or the world. The beast is said to have the qualities of several animals. Perhaps John is making a reference to the beasts in Danielís visions in Daniel chapter seven. Those beasts represented the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman empires. The last beast mentioned in Daniel chapter seven, as well as the last part of the statue in Daniel chapter two, is a prophecy in reference to the Roman Empire.
Here in verse one, we find that the beast has ten horns, seven heads, and each horn had a crown on it with a blasphemous name on it. The beast out of the sea is again in reference to the Rome Empire. The "sea" can be taken to represent the Gentiles throughout most of the book of Revelation. At the end of verse two, we discover that it is the dragon or Satan who gave the beast his power, throne, and great authority. So the beast is Rome and/or its leadership, which at that point was Nero. The ten horns represent the ten provinces of Rome, the seven heads identify Rome itself, and the ten crowns would have to be the power of the Roman Empire as exercised through the ten provinces. More will be said about the ten horns and seven heads in chapter seventeen. As for the fatal wound that the beast suffered, there are a few possibilities as to what it could be in reference to.
The first possibility is that it could be Cestius Gallusí retreat and defeat at the hands of the Jews in Jerusalem (Josephus, The Wars, Book II, Chapter 19, Section 6).
The second possibility is that it is the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. It is mentioned several times in the Bible that the gospel message was spread around the world or Roman Empire (Romans 10:18; Philippians 4:22; Colossians 1:6; and 1 Timothy 3:16). It was even advancing in Rome itself as is evident by the book of Romans and Philippians 1:12-18. Philippians 4:22 tells us that some of the members of Caesarís own household had become Christians. Because verse fourteen tells us that the beast was wounded by the sword (Word of God), this explanation is stronger than the first. The recovery of the wound would then be Romeís persecution of the church.
The third possibility is the one that results from looking at the word "wound" which occurs twice in verse three. I found it strange that a different word was used each time. The first part of that verse should say, "One of the heads was slain (or butchered) to death" rather than 'seemed to have had a fatal wound.' It could even be translated as "the first of the heads was slain (or butchered) to death." Now which of the Caesars would that be? Julius, of course! Since both Rome and the line of Caesars continued in power, I would say that the wound was definitely healed.
The angel, in Revelation chapter 17, also tells us what the seven heads and ten horns with ten crowns represent, including which emperor this beast who once was, now is not, and yet will come is. We are told that the seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. This is an another obvious reference to Rome, known as the city on seven hills.
Then we are told that the seven hills are also seven kings or emperors. Five have fallen, which is a reference to the five Caesars who had died by this time, Julius Caesar (who was shown to be included in the count because of the reasons given above), Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius. One is, which is a reference to Nero, the current emperor at the time the book is written (See my article on Dating the Book of Revelation).
In Daniel 7:8, Daniel also had a dream about Nero and was given an interpretation that said he would displace three of the ten kings. This is a reference to Azizas being replaced upon his death by Soemus his brother, Aristobulus the son of Herod being entrusted with Lesser Armenia, and Agrippa parts of Galilee, Tiberias, Tarichae, and Julias (Josephus, The Antiquities Book XX, Chapter 8, Section 4).
The seventh emperor we are told is a future one who will only lead for a little while. This is a reference to Galba who reigned for seven months during 68-69 CE. However, this eighth king is a bit of a mystery because there are two men who led for a very short time (a few months), Otho and Vitellus. I doubt either of these men could represent the powerful eighth king, who is to accomplish Godís purpose until Godís words are fulfilled (verse seventeen). The eighth emperor or beast is described as follows, "he once was, now is not, & will come up out of the abyss. This emperor is more than likely Vespasian who became emperor in 69 CE.
Vespasian was once the mightiest of the Roman generals, but was banished from Nero's presence, during the time that John was writing, because he left several times during performances while Nero was singing or fell asleep if he remained. He was brought back to power to squelch the Jewish rebellions because of an old established belief from the Orient that men from Judea would rule the world at this time (Suetonius: De Vita Caesarum--Divus Vespasianus, Section IV). A few short years later, Vespasian became emperor.
David Chilton makes a case for the number "eight" being the number that represents resurrection in his book, Days of Vengeance (pp. 434-437). He sites the eight survivors of the flood, and Jesusí resurrection on the eighth day (since it was a Sunday) as his reasoning. Sunday, the first day of the week, was also referred to as the "eighth day" by early Christians. Here are some examples & they can all be found in "A Dictionary of Ealy Christian Beliefs", David W. Bercot editor.
I will make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. For that reason, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the the dead. Barnabas (c.70-130, E), 1.147. The eighth day possessed a certain mysterious significance, which the seventh day did not possess. It was promulgated by God through these rites. Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.206. Our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath. Although the first day after the Sabbath remains the first of all the days, it is nevertheless also called the eighth. Justin Martyr (c. 160, E) 1.215. There are more statement by Justin Martyr and it was compared to circumcision by Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.354 and Methodius (c. 290, E), 6.333.
Therefore, since Rome had struggled through the reigns of Galba, Otho, and Vitellus, Vespasianís reign represented a resurrection of the Roman Empireís power. Vespasian defeated most of Judea and sent his son Titus to destroy Jerusalem. Titus is the prince (NKJV) who was prophesied to come and destroy the city and the sanctuary in Daniel 9:26.
Next, we are told that the ten horns are ten kings. These are more than likely the leaders of the ten provinces of Rome which were, Italy, Achaia, Asia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, Spain, Gaul, Britain, and Germany (F.W. Farrar, The Early Days of Christianity (Chicago & New York: Bedford, Clarke & Co., 1882) p. 532).
Explanations for the seven heads and ten horns are just a few of the things you will discover if you read my book, A Personal Revelation.
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