For reasons I may go into in a future post, I am going through the Akkadian omen series Šumma izbu. This series of 24 tablets contains omens whose protases concern birth and developmental anomalies in everything from humans to dogs. The earliest recorded omens in this tradition go back to Old Babylonian times and parts Šumma izbu continued to be copied as late as 100 BCE. Archaeologists uncovered related texts at Ugarit in both the Akkadian (AO 18.892) and the Ugaritic language (KTU 1.140). There are also fragments from Boğazköy in Akkadian and Hittite. But like much Akkadian literature the most complete set of tablets comes from the Aššurbanipal library. Take a look at this from tablet 9. I follow Leichty and von Soden’s translation.
33’ If an anomaly has only one horn, and it protrudes from the top (of its head) – the land of the prince will expand; [. . .]; your enemy will reside in the land; the king will have auxiliary troops and will overthrow the land of his enemy.
34’ If an anomaly has only one horn, and it protrudes from its forehead (SAG.KI-šú, ina pūtišu) – weapon of Sargon.
35’ If an anomaly has only one horn, and it protrudes from its back – the land of the prince will be plundered; [. . ] will constantly send news to him.
There are more such omens having to do with, for example, a single horn protruding from the right or left ear.
Now look at Daniel 8:5-25 and think of the male goat having “a conspicuous horn between its eyes (קֶרֶן חָזוּת בֵּין עֵינָיו) (8:5). We learn (8:20-21) that this goat is “the King of Greece” and the ram with two horns is the king of Media and Persia. There is a lot going on in Daniel’s vision of the two horned and one horned animals but it seems to me that an echo of Šumma izbu like divination is part of it.
By the way, Guinan, 423, notes a few other omens from Šumma izbu that she seems to associate with Daniel’s two horned ram but her reference is so cryptic that it’s hard to know exactly how she associates her example(s) with Daniel 8:3. I haven’t checked any commentaries on this as yet but I have a general feeling that this chapter is often interpreted as somehow relating to astrology rather than fetomancy. Obviously, more thought and work needs to be given to this.
Ann K. Guinan, “Divination,” in The Context of Scripture: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World, vol. 1 (eds William Hallo and K Lawson Younger, Jr.; Brill Leiden, 1979), 422-26.