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Can Heads Be Names of Kings?

The answer to the title question of this page is a definite YES.  Heads can in fact be names, and it is something that is commonly done in history, even by historians in modern times.  So, this should be no surprise to the reader.  Here is how it all works:

First, we have the question about the heads of the beasts in Revelation 12, 13, and 17.  What are those heads?  Who do they represent?  According to other pages on this site, those heads represent the names or lines of popes with a given name.  But that still leaves the question of whether or not this assertion that the heads are the names can be or is genuinely true.  Look first in Daniel for the answer:

Daniel 2:37 - Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.

Daniel 2:38 - And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all: Thou art this head of gold.

Note that last phrase: Thou art this head of gold.  That puts a name to a head, which in this case was the name Nebuchadnezzar.  It also means a king, or the one with kingly authority over the empire of Babylon, is what the head represents.  Now, anyone who has studied Babylonian history knows that Nebuchadnezzar had successors, and it is clear that the head of the image represented the kingdom as well as the man Nebuchadnezzar.  The problem with this is that you have the head being given several interpretations that in one way is contradictory.  The dilemma is that the head represents Nebuchadnezzar, who is the first king of his empire that he built, and yet it represents the empire itself which lasted from about 605 B.C. or so to 539 B.C, and clearly outlived him.  So the time frames of the two interpretations do not coincide.  Nebuchadnezzar died before his empire, which the head also represents, died as well.  So, it might be reasonable to consider that the head represented Nebuchadnezzar, and he stood in as a representative of a LINE OF KINGS.  This is not as far fetched as it might sound.  Consider the following verses:

Daniel 7:15 - I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

Daniel 7:16 - I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this.  So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

Daniel 7:17 - These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.

Note that each beast represented four kings.  Now, anybody who has studied ancient history knows that all of these kingdoms had more than one king leading it over the years they existed.  So, what this is telling you is several things: (1) Each beast, as a whole (including heads and horns) is represented by a king, (2) and given that Nebuchadnezzar was named as a head but there were more kings in his line which he obviously was chosen to represent, it is logical that each of the four kings of the beasts are in fact representative of a whole line of kings for each kingdom.

Something very similar is done with the horns of the 4th beast of Daniel 7.  Here is what it says about them:

Daniel 7:19 - Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;

Daniel 7:20 - And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.

Daniel 7:23 - Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.

Daniel 7:24 - And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

Therefore, the Bible does say that the 10 horns are represented by 10 kings.  Anyone who has studied European history knows perfectly well that there were long lines of kings for each of those kingdoms, and the throne was passed down from one generation to the next.  So, what these verses are saying is that the 10 kings are each representative of a whole line of kings, just as the 10 horns are representative of the 10 kings ruling those kingdoms. 

Consider also that the 10 horns not only represented the kingdoms coming out of Rome in Europe, they also represented the time frame in which this occurred, from beginning to end.  Therefore, the king for each of these must encompass the entire line of kings to cover the entire time period represented by the horns.  Consequently, one can conclude that the heads and horns are both used to represent not only the kingdoms and time periods of which they are symbolic, but also lines of kings.  Thus, there are multiple representations in each of these symbols - kings, lines of kings, time periods for each kingdom, the kingdoms themselves, and so on.  It is a very reasonable conclusion based on what the bible says.

Now, who were the heads symbolic of in the case of the leopard beast of Daniel 7?  The founders of each of those empires, just as the head of gold on the image was symbolic of both the kingdom and the founder of that kingdom of Babylon, which happened to be Nebuchadnezzar.  Those founders, represented by the 4 heads of the leopard beast were:

1. Lysimachus

2. Ptolemy

3. Seleucus

4. Cassander

What is interesting is that heads have been taken by modern historians to represent names.  They may not consciously do it, but here is how they in fact do just that.  The kingdom founded by Ptolemy is referred to as the Ptolemaic empire, even though the rulers after him were not necessarily named Ptolemy (most were not).  The famous story of Cleopatra comes from this line of rulers.  Of course, her lover, Mark Anthony, came from Rome.  The kingdom founded by Seleucus is referred to as the Seleucid empire, even though most rulers after him were not called Seleucus.  Yet these empire names were also the heads of the leopard beast of Daniel 7.  Therefore, the heads are in fact given names based on the name of the founder of that empire.  Thus heads can be names, even to modern historians!

The bible even makes a point of this with the goat and the ram vision in Daniel 8.  Here is what it says about the goat:

Daniel 8:21 - And the rough goat is the king of Greece: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.

The goat body and horn formed one symbol for one time period.  Here the horn represented the founder of the Greek empire, Alexander the Great, who was the founder of the line of kings that followed.  His son and half brother were set up as co-rulers after Alexander.  The son was really to young to rule so had a person who ruled in his behalf until he could become capable of ruling on his own, and the half brother was evidently mentally incompetent to rule.  As a result, the empire broke up.  But, the point is that the horn represented the founder of a line of kings and the empire, for it directly says that the horn represented the first king.  When the horn was knocked off, 4 more took its place, and these were said to be 4 kingdoms that stood up in its place.  As we saw earlier in the case of the horns of the dreadful beast, the horns represent kings, and it is obvious that these kings also must represent a line of kings.  So there is biblical support for this idea that heads and horns can both represent king names and lines of kings with the same name.

Daniel 8:22 - Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.

In the bible, the ruler who has authority is called a head.  Here is one example of that from the bible:

1 Samuel 15:10 - Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,

1 Samuel 15:11 - It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.

1 Samuel 15:12 - And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

1 Samuel 15:13 - And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.

1 Samuel 15:14 - And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

1 Samuel 15:15 - And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

1 Samuel 15:16 - Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

1 Samuel 15:17 - And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?

Even today in modern times, we still use similar terminology.  We refer to someone as the "head" of a corporation or any of a number of other organizations, meaning they have final authority over that organization.  So it is that in bible times, the one who was considered the head was the king or ruler of the people.  Consequently it is not unreasonable for the bible to consider the heads in Revelation 17:10 to be kings.  But, as in Daniel, each king would be representative of all members of his line.  So, look for multiple individuals for each line.  But, of course, the term "mountains" referred to in Revelation 17:9 tells us that there are multiple individuals in each line, so the ideas match.

Revelation 17:10 - And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

The heads are kings, just as the bible indicates in the story of Samuel and king Saul of Israel.  And, like is done in Daniel, each of these kings has a name and is representative of a line of kings with the same name. 

It is true that kings of the Ptolemaic kingdom were generally genetically related and the throne was passed down from one generation to the next.  They did not have the same name either, yet are considered to be of the line of Ptolemy.  But this can be because they are of the same genetic heritage and throne, which all inherited from the originator of their line.  On the other hand, the popes are not genetically related, but do receive the same throne from one pope to the next.  So, how can we say that they are divided by name?  Consider that there are only two ways to classify popes as a line of kings: (1) By receiving the throne from his predecessor, a pope continues a line with only a few breaks in history that were of short duration, which is the normal way they pass this throne on, (2) group them by name.  There really are only two alternatives available.  If you group them by the succession to the throne, then you have created only one group or line.  If you group them by name, then using the 7 names available since 1798 gives one a list of 15 popes to divide 7 ways by name.

Each of these 7 names could be considered a type of lineage.  Here is evidence that this is so.  Consider the definition of "lineage" taken from the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

1 a : descent in a line from a common progenitor  b : DERIVATION

2 : a group of individuals tracing descent from a common ancestor;  especially  : such a group of persons whose common ancestor is regarded as its founder

Obviously, the popes have few ancestors in common, and they do not pass the throne down from father to son.  So, definition #2 can be discarded.  Derivation obviously is not connected with the popes as a lineage by name, so definition 1b can be discarded.  That leaves definition 1a.  The key word in that definition is "progenitor".  Here is the definition:

1 a : an ancestor in the direct line : FOREFATHER  b : a biologically ancestral form


Now, in the definition of "progenitor", definition 1 can simply be discarded because the popes are not genetically related in nearly all cases.  Definition 2, however, has a definition that is useful, which is the word "originator".  Substituting that into definition 1a for the word "lineage" yields the following definition:

lineage - descent in a line from a common originator

Popes of the same name have a common originator - the pope who first chose that name.  This is not all that unlike a genetic originator, for which the differences are that the name may not be in common but the genes are.  Sometimes the name itself is in common.  However, in both cases, there is a common originator of some sort, either genetic or of a name.

Now, some would argue that popes by the same name do not form a line.  That may be technically true in that those with the same name do not usually form a line unbroken by time, but I would argue that does not matter to the Catholic Church.  They clearly believe these form a line nonetheless.  That absolutely must be true because they give popes who choose to take the same name a different number to differentiate between them.  Otherwise, they would be indistinguishable from one another by name.  They do not require them to take a different name, something that they could easily do.  By this activity, they create a line of popes who have a common originator, the one who originates their name which is in common with that line and different from all other papal lines.  By going along with this, they are in effect admitting that these popes can be and actually are divided by name and form a line of popes.

Thus, there was in history a papal king by the name of Pius I, and he is representative of a whole line of Pius'.  There was a papal king by the name of John I, and he too is representative of a whole line of Johns.  Likewise, the same is true for the remaining 5 kings of Revelation 17.  Each line of popes takes its name from the originator of that name, who becomes the king for that line in the biblical sense as described in Daniel. 

In conclusion, it is clear that a head represents several things, but among them is the fact that a head can represent a name, the ruler for whom that name stands, as well as a line of kings given the name of the originator of that line.