What Does A Horn Symbolize In The Bible?

Have you been reading the Bible at one point and out of nowhere you come across horns? Not many people talk about horns whether in the Biblical context or in normal conversations. According to Biblical scholars, the New King James version mentions the word horn and horns approximately 112 times. Some of the mentions are directly referring to horns of animals or products derived from those horns.

You may also come across horns as a word used to describe other things that resemble horns such as those at the altar that the Bible mentions 26 times. However, the most important reference to horns is their symbolical significance. Whether you read from the Book of Daniel or Revelation, you will come across horns being mentioned in different contexts.

In the passages below, we will dig in into the symbolism of horns as used in the Bible to give you a clear understanding.

Symbol of Mercy and Protection

Symbol of Mercy and Protection

When Moses was building the altar for sacrifices, God instructed him to include 4 horn-like projections each at the four corners of the altar. In the Book of Exodus 27:2, the Bible says,

“Make a horn at each of the four corners, so that the horns and the altar are of one piece and overlay the altar with bronze.”

In terms of functionality, these horns were meant to secure the animal to be sacrificed to the altar. We find in Exodus 29:12, the Bible saying,

“and shall take part of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar.”

All these sacrifices were a foreshadow of the greatest sacrifice that Jesus gave on the cross. The horns were symbolic of the place of mercy where everyone who went there received protection and God’s abundant grace.

During the time of King Solomon, this symbolism comes out clearly. In 1 Kings 1:50,

“Adonijah was afraid of Solomon, so he rushed to the sacred tent and grabbed on to the horns of the altar.”

In another separate incident in 1 Kings 2:28, the Bible also says,

“When the news reached Joab, who had conspired with Adonijah though not with Absalom, he fled to the tent of the LORD and took hold of the horns of the altar.”

Unfortunately, the mercy that Adonijah and Joab were seeking didn’t come through. Instead, their evil deeds caught up with them and they were killed.

A Symbol of God Prophesy

A Symbol of God Prophesy

In the visions recorded both in the Book of Daniel and Revelation, horns signified prophesy. Some of that prophecy is already fulfilled while others are still waiting for their fulfilment. Here are some of the prophesies attached to the horns mentioned in the bible.

Prophecy of the Medo-Persian Empire

In the Book of Daniel 8:3-4, the Bible says,

“Then I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last. I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself.”

In the same chapter in verse 20, the Bible goes ahead to clarify the two horns. This is what it says,

“The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.”

According to Bible scholars, this is a Prophecy that already came to pass.

Prophecy of the Beasts with 10 Horns

In Daniel 7, the Bible leads us into a vision where Daniel saw 4 wild beasts. According to the interpretation of the prophecy, the 4 beasts symbolized the four great empires which included the New Babylon Empire represented by the lion, Medo-Persian Empire represented by the bear, and the Greco-Macedonian Empire represented by a leopard that had 4 heads.

The other beast, which was terrible, dreadful, and powerful, had 10 horns. The bible says in Daniel 7:7,

“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.”

Prophecy of the Little Horn

In Daniel 7:8, the Bible talks of a little horn that was coming up from amongst the ten horns.

“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. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.”

According to the prophecy, the little horn was symbolic of a religious system that would be closely associated with the Roman empire. The result of this is a state and a church combination referred to as the Holy Roam Empire.

Symbol of Satan

In Revelation 12:9, John identifies Satan and the devil as a dragon with 10 horns, atop 7 heads. This dragon is devouring the child who was set to rule nations. The meaning of this prophecy and vision is Satan’s attempt to kill Jesus the Messiah. Luckily, God intervenes and takes up the child to his throne.

In other defections in Revelation 13, John sees the beast rising from the sea having 10 horns and 7 heads. There are many other places where John details the beast and its mission on earth.


Many of the symbolisms involving the horn are part of the end time prophecy. Revelation speaks of many of these symbolisms and at one point in Revelation 17 explains that the 10 horns represent kings who will rule together with the beast for a short time. There is also the horn of salivation that foretold the coming of the Messiah, the Son of David.

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