Horn (קֶרֶן, ke'ren, identical in root and signif. with the Latin cornu and English. horn; Gr. κέρας) is used in Scripture with a great latitude of meaning.
I. Literally (Jos 6:4-5; compare Ex 19:13; 1Sa 16:1,13; 1 Kings 1, 39; Job 42:14). — Two purposes are mentioned in the Scriptures to which the horn seems to have been applied. As horns are hollow and easily polished, they have in ancient and modern times been used for drinking vessels and for military purposes. They were especially convenient for holding liquids (1Sa 16:1,13; 1Ki 1:39), and were even made instruments of music (Jos 6:5).
1. Trumpets were probably at first merely horns perforated at the tip, such as are still used upon mountain farms for calling home the laborers at mealtime. If the A.V. of Jos 6:4-5 ("rams' horns," קֶרֶן הִיּוֹבֵל) were correct, this would settle the question, SEE RAM'S HORN; but the fact seems to be that יוֹבֵל has nothing to do with ram, and that קֶרֶן, horn, serves to indicate an instrument which originally was made of horn, though afterwards, no doubt, constructed of different materials (comp. Varro, L. L. 5, 24,33, "cornua quod ea quae nunc sunt ex aere tune fiebant e cornu bubuli"). SEE CORNET. The horns, which were thus made into trumpets, were probably those of oxen rather than of rams: the latter would scarcely produce a note sufficiently imposing to suggest its association with the fall of Jericho. SEE TRUMPET.
2. The word "horn" is also applied to a flask, or vessel made of horn, containing oil (1Sa 16:1,13; 1Ki 1:39), or used as a kind of toilet bottle, filled with the preparation of antimony with which women tinged their eyelashes (Keren-happuch = paint-horn; name of one of Job's daughters, Job 42:14). So in English drinking-horn (commonly called a horn). In the same way the Greek κέρας sometimes signifies bugle, trumpet (Xenoph. An. 2, 2, 4), and sometimes drinking-horn (7, 2, 23). In like manner the Latin cornu means trumpet, and also oil-cruet (Horace, Sat. 2, 2, 61), and funnel (Virgil, Georg. 3, 509). SEE INK HORN.
II. Metaphorically. — These uses of the word are often based upon some literal object like a horn, and at other times they are purely figurative.
1. From similarity of Form. — To this use belongs the application of the word horn to a trumpet of metal, as already mentioned. Horns of ivory, that is, elephants' teeth, are mentioned in Eze 27:15, either metaphorically, from similarity of form, or, as seems more probable, from a vulgar error. SEE IVORY. But more specific are the following metaphors:
(1.) The altar of burnt offerings (Ex 27:2) and the altar of incense (Ex 30:2) had each at the four corners four horns of shittim-wood, the first being overlaid with brass, the second with gold (Ex 37:25; Ex 38:2; Jer 17:1; Am 3:14). Upon the horns of the altar of burnt offerings was to be smeared with the finger the blood of the slain bullock (Ex 29:12; Le 4:7-18; Le 8:15; Le 9:9; Le 16:18; Eze 43:20). By laying hold of these horns of the altar of burnt offering the criminal found an asylum and safety (1 Kings 1 50; 2:28), but only when the crime was accidental (Ex 21:14). These horns are said to have served as a means for binding the animal destined for sacrifice (Ps 118:27), but this use Winer (Handwörterb.) denies, asserting that they did not and could not answer for such a purpose. These altar- horns are, of course, not to be supposed to have been made of horn, but to have been metallic projections from the four corners (γωνίαικερατοειδεῖς, Josephus, War, 5, 5, 6). SEE ALTAR.
(2.) The peak or summit of a hill was called a horn (Isa 5:1, where hill= horn in Heb.; comp. κέρας, Xenophon, An. 5, 6, 7, and cornu, Stat. Theb. 5, 532; Arab. "Kurun Hattin," Robinson, Bibl. Res. 2, 370; German Schreckhorn, Wetterhorn, Aarhorn; Celt. cairn).
In Isa 5:1, the emblematic vineyard is described as being literally "in a horn the son of oil," meaning, as given in the English Bible, "a very fruitful hill" — a strong place like a hill, yet combining with its strength peculiar fruitfulness.
(3.) In Hab 3:4 ("he had horns coming out of his hand") the context implies rays of light (comp. De 23:2).
The denominative קָרִן = "to emit rays," is used of Moses's face (Ex 34:29-30,35): so all the versions except Aquila and the Vulgate, which have the translations κερατώδης ην, cornuta erat. This curious idea has not only been perpetuated by paintings, coins, and statues (Zornius, Biblioth. Antiq. 1, 121), but has at least passed muster with Grotius (Annot. ad loc.), who cites Aben-Ezra's identification of Moses with the horned Mnevis of Egypt, and suggests that the phenomenon was intended to remind the Israelites of the golden calf! Spencer (Leg. Hebr. 3, Diss. 1, 4) tries a reconciliation of renderings upon the ground that cornua=radii lucis; but Spanheim (Diss. 7, 1), not content with stigmatizing the efforts of art in this direction as "prepostera industria," distinctly attributes to Jerome a belief in the veritable horns of Moses. SEE NIMBUS.
2. From similarity of Position and Use. — Two principal applications of this metaphor will be found — strength and honor. Of strength the horn of the unicorn, SEE UNICORN, was the most frequent representative (Dent. 32:17, etc.), but not always; comp. 1Ki 22:11, where probably horns of iron, worn defiantly and symbolically on the head, are intended. Expressive of the same idea, or perhaps merely a decoration, is the Oriental military ornament mentioned by Taylor (Calmet's Frag. c14), and the conical cap observed by Dr. Livingstone among the natives of S. Africa, and not improbably suggested by the horn of the rhinoceros, so abundant in that country (see Livingstone's Travels, p. 365,450, 557; comp. Taylor, 1. c.). Among the Druses upon Mount Lebanon the married women wear silver horns on their heads. The spiral coils of gold wire projecting oil either side from the female headdress of some of the Dutch provinces are evidently an ornament borrowed from the same original idea. But it is quite uncertain whether such dresses were known among the covenant people, nor do the figurative allusions in Scripture to horns render it in the least degree necessary to suppose that reference was made to personal ornaments of that description. (See below.)
In the sense of honor, the word horn stands for the abstract (my horn, Job 16:15; all the horns of Israel, La 2:3), and so for the supreme authority (comp. the story of Cippus, Ovid, Met 15, 565; and the horn of the Indian sachem mentioned in Clarkson's Life of Penn).
Perhaps some such idea may be denoted by the horned conical cap peculiar to the regal apparel on the Ninevite sculptures. It also stands for concrete, whence it comes to mean king, kingdom (Da 8:2, etc.; Zec 1:18; compare Tarquin's dream in Accius, ap. Cicero, Div. 1, 22); hence, on coins, Alexander and the Seleucidae wear horns (see cut in vol., p. 140), and the former is called in Arab. two-horned (Kor. 18:85 sq.), not without reference to Dan. 8. SEE GOAT.
Out of either or both of these last two metaphors sprang the idea of representing gods with horns. Spanheim has discovered such figures on the Roman denadrius, and on numerous Egyptian coins of the reigns of Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines (Diss.v., 353). The Bacchus Ταυροκέρως, or cornutus, is mentioned by Euripides (Bacch. 100), and among other pagan absurdities Arnobius enumerates "Dii cornuti" (c. Gent. 6). In like manner river gods are represented with horns ("tauriformis Aufidus," Hor. Od. 4, 14, 25; ταυρόμορφον ὄμμα Κηφισοῦ, Eurip. Ion. 1261). For various opinions on the ground thought of this metaphor, see Notes and Queries,. 1, 419, 456. Manx legends speak of a tarroo-ushtey, 1.e. water-bull (see Cregeen's Manx Dict.). (See Bochart, Hieroz. 2, 288; and, for an admirable compendium, with references, Zornius, Bibliotheca Antiquaria, 2, 106 sq.).
Some of these metaphorical applications of the word horn require more special elucidation.
(1.) Symbolical. — As horns are the chief source of attack and defense with the animals to which God has given them, they serve in Scripture as emblems of power, dominion, glory, and fierceness (Da 8:5,9; 1Sa 16:1,13; 1 Kings 1, 39; Jos 6:4-5; 1Sa 2:1; Ps 75:5,10; Ps 132:17; Luke 1, 69; De 33:17; La 2:3; Mic 4:13; Jer 48:25; Eze 29:21; Am 6:13). In 1Ki 22:11, we find a striking display of symbolical action on the part of the false prophet Zedekiah. He made him horns of iron, and said, "Thus saith Jehovah, With these thou shalt push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them." Hence, to defile the horn in the dust (Job 16:2) is to lower and degrade one's self, and, on the contrary, to lift up, to exalt the horn (Ps 75:4; Ps 79:13; Ps 148:14), is poetically to raise one's self to eminent honor or prosperity, to bear one's self proudly (comp. also 1Ch 25:5). Something like this is found in the classic authors (see Horace, Carm. 3, 21,18). The expression "horn of salvation," which Christ is called (Luke 1), is equivalent to a salvation of strength, or a Savior, who is possessed of the might requisite for the work (see Brünnings, Decornu salutis, Heid. 1743).
Horns were also the symbol of royal dignity and power; and when they are distinguished by number, they signify so many monarchies. Thus horn signifies a monarchy in Jer 48:25. In Zec 1:18, etc., the four horns are the four great monarchies, which had each of them subdued the Jews. The ten horns, says Daniel, 7:24, are ten kings. The ten horns, spoken of in Re 13:1 as having ten crowns upon them, no doubt signify the same thing, for so we have it interpreted in Re 17:12. The king of Persia is described by Ammianus Marcellinus as wearing golden rams' horns by way of diadem (69, 1). The effigy of Ptolemy with a ram's horn, as exhibited in ancient sculpture, is mentioned by Spanheim, Dissert. de Numism. Hence also the kings of Media and Persia are depicted by Daniel (Da 8:20) under the figure of a horned ram. SEE RAM.
When it is said, in Da 8:9, that out of one of. the four notable horns came forth a little horn, we are to understand that out of one of the four kingdoms represented by the four horns arose another kingdom, "which became exceeding great." This is doubtless Antiochus Epiphanes; others refer it to one of the first Czesars; and others refer it to the Turkish empire, and will have Egypt, Asia, and Greece to be the three horns torn up or reduced by the Turk. SEE LITTLE HORN.
(2.) Ornamental. — In the East, at present, horns are used as an ornament for the head, and as a token of eminent rank (Rosenmüller, Morg. 4, 85). The women among the Druses on Mount Lebanon wear on their heads silver horns of native make, "which are the distinguishing badge of wifehood" (Bowring's Report on Syria, p. 8). "These tantours have grown, like other horns, from small beginnings to their present enormous size by slow degrees, and pride is the soil that nourished them. At first they consisted merely of an apparatus designed to finish off the headdress so as to raise the veil a little from the face. Specimens of this primitive kind are still found in remote and semi-civilized districts. I have seen them only a few inches long, made of pasteboard, and even of common pottery. By degrees the more fashionable ladies used tin, and lengthened them; then rivalry made them of silver, and still further prolonged and ornamented them; until finally the princesses of Lebanon and Hermon sported gold horns, decked with jewels, and so long that a servant had to spread the veil over them. But the day for these most preposterous appendages to the female head is about over. After the wars between the Maronites and Druses in 1841 and 1845, the Maronite clergy thundered their excommunications against them, and very few Christians now wear them. Many even of the Druse ladies have cast them off, and the probability is that in a few years travelers will seek in vain for a horned lady" (Thomson, Land and Book, 1, 101). SEE HEADDRESS.