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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 9



Revelation 9:2 . καὶ ἤνοιξεν τὸ φρέαρ τῆς ἀβύσσου . So, correctly, Elz., Beng., Griesb., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.], according to the best witnesses. The words lacking in א , 6, 8, 9, al., Copt., al., are rejected by Mill (Prolegg., 1434) and Matth. But the omission in the codd. is easily explained by the similar conclusion of Revelation 9:1 ; just as in Revelation 9:2 , because of καπνὸς occurring twice, the words καπν . ἐκ τ . φρ . ὡς are omitted by some witnesses. Cf. Wetst. In an exegetical respect, the words κ . ἤνοιξεν τ . φρ . τ . ἀβ . are scarcely needed.

Revelation 9:4 . αὑτῶν . Elz.: αὑτῶν (Tisch.). Apparently interpolated; deleted by Lach. [W. and H.] (A, א , 12, 28).

Revelation 9:5 . βασανισθήσονται . So Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.], according to A, א , 12. The reading βασανισθῶσι (Elz.) arose, like the other variations, from the desire for conformity; cf. the preceding ἀποκτείνωσιν .

Revelation 9:6 . Instead of εὑρήσουσιν ( א , Elz.), [W. and H.] read εὑρωσιν (A, 12, 17, 28, Beng., Lach., Tisch.), to which also the var. εὑρήσωσιν (2, 9, 11, al., Wetst.) points.

The fut. φεύξεται (Elz.) is an emendation, instead of the well-attested pres. φεύγει (Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]). א : φύγη .

Revelation 9:10 . καὶ κέντρα ήν ἑν ταῖς οὐραῖς αὑτῶν καὶἐξουσία αὑτῶν ἀδικῆσαι . Thus Elz., but without attestation. In the beginning, it is undoubtedly to be read only καὶ κέντρα (A, א , 17, al., Matth., Lach., Tisch.). In favor of the succeeding words, the reading of A, א , 17, manifestly the mater lectionis, is decisive: καὶ ἐν ταῖς οὐραῖς αὐτῶνἐξουσία αὐτῶν ἀδικῆσαι , κ . τ . λ . (Lach., Tisch.). In the other text-recensions, the emendizing hand is unmistakable, especially so in that received by Matth., and represented by a respectably large number of witnesses: κ . ἐν τ . οὐρ . αὐτ . ἔχουσιν ἐξουσ . τοῦ ἀδικ . Upon the foundations of inner criticism, next to the correct reading, that of the edition of Beng. commends itself: καὶ κέντρα ἐν τ . ουρ . αὐτῶνἐξουσ . αὐτῶν ἀδικ ., κ . τ . λ .

Revelation 9:12 . Instead of ἔρχονται (Elz.), Matth. has written, in accord with preponderant testimony ( א ): ἒρχεται (Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

Revelation 9:13 . τεσσάρων is lacking in A, 28, Syr., Aeth., Ar., Vulg., Beda, is deleted by Lach. [W. and H.], and rejected also by Ebrard; Tisch. has again adopted it. Possibly it fell out because of its similarity with κεράτων (Beng.); but it was more probably interpolated in order to make an antithesis to the φ . μίαν , and a parallelism with the τ . τέσσαρας ἀγγ . (Revelation 9:14 ).

Revelation 9:14 . ὁ ἔχων . So, already, Beng. The emendation ὄς εἱχε (Elz.) is destitute of all critical value.

Revelation 9:16 . τοῦ ἵππου . So Matth., Tisch., 1854. according to 2, 4, 8, al. The reading τοῦ ἱππικοῦ ( א , Elz., Beng., Tisch., 1859, IX. [W. and H.]), like the var. τῶν ἵππων , appears to be a correction.

δισμυριάδες . A, 11, 12, Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. Also the var. δισμυρίων (18, Wetst.) points to the true reading. The δύο μυριάδες ( א , Elz., Beng.) is, like the mere μυριάδες in Matth., a correction.

The καὶ before ἤκουσα (Elz.) is certainly to be deleted (Beng., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

Revelation 9:20 . οὐ μετενόησαν . This only intelligible reading is sufficiently attested by C, 4, 6, 16, al., Copt., Andr., Areth., and is properly preferred by Griesb., Matth., Tisch. [W. and H.], to the οὔτε (Vulg., Primas, Cypr., Elz., Beng., Lach.). א : οὐδὲ .

Verse 1

Revelation 9:1 . ἀστέρα ἐκ τ . οὐρ . πεπτωκότα εἰς τ . γ . Eichh. is incorrect in explaining the part. pf. as in form and meaning equivalent to καταβαίνειν . The star had already fallen from heaven to earth, and had become just as John saw it; the falling, also, is in no way a spontaneous descent, possibly at God’s command for a definite purpose, [2519] but the expression presupposes that the star was thrown down. [2520] But the “star” is neither to be regarded as changed into a human form, [2521] nor to be understood as a purely figurative designation of an angel, [2522] but the idea of a star mingles with that of an angel, as in the O. T. view of the [2523] צְבָא הַשָׁמַיִם . The star fallen from heaven appears, consequently, not as a good, [2524] but as a bad, angel, [2525] who must serve only to bring a plague of an infernal character upon the godless: καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ , κ . τ . λ . This ἐδόθη would, of course, have its justification if the star were a heavenly servant; but in connection with the πεπτωκότα , the idea is significant that this infernal angel was expressly appointed a place in order to bring in the plagues inflicted by God otherwise than in Revelation 20:1 , where the angel “coming down” from heaven has in his hand the key of the abyss. [2526]

κλεῖς τοῦ φρέατος τἥς ἀβύσσου . The ἄβυσσος (viz., χῶρα ), i.e., bottomless, the abyss, designates like the Heb. תְּחום , which the LXX. often render by ἄβυσσος [2527] the depths of the earth in the natural sense, [2528] then Sheol, Hades , i.e., the place of abode of the departed in those depths, [2529] but in the Apoc., [2530] and Luke 8:31 , the present [2531] abode of the Devil and his angels. From this ἄβυσσος , a φρέαρ (LXX. for בְאַר , “well,” Genesis 21:30 ; Genesis 26:15 ; cf. John 4:11 ), regarded as proceeding and discharging over the surface of the earth, appears like a shaft [2532] of some kind, possibly after the manner of wells or cisterns, to be closed; and hence the angel receives a key, in order, by descending into the deep, to open the shaft of the well, and thus to let out the smoke proceeding from the ἅβυσσος (Revelation 9:2 ). [See Note LVI., p. 292.]

[2519] Cf. Revelation 20:1 .

[2520] Revelation 6:13 . Cf. Luke 10:18 ; Isaiah 14:12 .

[2521] Vitr. Cf. Hengstenb.

[2522] “An angel imitating a star in bright light and splendor.”

[2523] Cf. Psalms 103:21 ; Jeremiah 33:22 ; Job 38:7 . Ewald, who compares Revelation 18:16 , Revelation 21:1-6 , in addition to Enoch, 84 sqq., 139:32.

[2524] Beng., De Wette.

[2525] Beda, who, however, like many of the old interpreters, understands it directly of the Devil; Volkm.

[2526] Against Ew., etc.

[2527] Also in the plural; Psalms 71:21 ; Psalms 107:26 .

[2528] Genesis 1:2 ; Genesis 7:11 ; Deuteronomy 8:7 .

[2529] Psalms 71:21 ; Psalms 107:26 ; Romans 10:7 .

[2530] Revelation 9:11 ; Revelation 20:1 ; Revelation 20:3 . Cf. Revelation 11:7 ; Revelation 17:8 .

[2531] Cf., on the other hand, Revelation 20:10 .

[2532] The idea is otherwise in Psalms 55:23 , according to the Heb., as well as the LXX.


LVI. Revelation 9:1 . τῆς ἀβύσσου

Cf. Gebhardt: “These expressions are based upon rabbinical representations, originating from such O. T. statements as Psalms 81:10 ; Psalms 107:26 ; Isaiah 14:15 (cf. Isaiah 5:14 ; Isaiah 30:33 ), according to which there is under the earth an abyss or bottomless pit, with a lake or sea in which brimstone and fire seethe together. From this abyss goes a channel with a mouth, after the manner of a cistern, a narrow passage, as from a scarcely visible spring, to the surface of the earth. This pit, like an ordinary cistern, can be opened and closed, or sealed.… The abyss in its signification is a perfect antithesis to heaven. The latter is an invisible, but real, ideal world, which one day with the new heavens and the new earth, and the new Jerusalem, will become a visible reality. So also the former is the invisible, but real, world of the anti-ideal and the ungodly, which will also become a visible (cf. ch. Revelation 14:10 ) reality in the lake of fire and brimstone, with its torment and its smoke which ascends for ever and ever; just as the new Jerusalem is now in heaven, so the lake of fire and brimstone is now in the abyss.” Cremer: “It is just this antithesis to heaven that makes ἄβυσσος a synonym for ᾅδης , wherein that remoteness from heaven which is distinctive of Hades finds full expression. In Revelation 9:1-2 , τὸ φρέαρ τῆς ἀβύσσου (Revelation 20:1 ) appears as the receptacle and prison of destructive powers, over which reigns ὁ ἄγγελος τῆς ἀβύσσου (Revelation 9:11 ); cf. the petition of the demons (Luke 8:31 ). In Revelation 17:8 ; Revelation 11:7 , ἀναβαίνειν ἐκ τῆς ἀβύσσου is said of the beast (Revelation 13:18 ).”

Verses 1-12

Revelation 9:1-12 . The trumpet of the fifth angel brings the first woe, [2518] viz., locusts from hell as a plague upon men not sealed (Revelation 9:4 ; cf. Revelation 7:1 sqq.).

[2518] Cf. Revelation 8:13 .

Verses 2-3

Revelation 9:2-3 . The smoke arising from the opened well, comparable to the smoke of a great furnace, [2533] was so thick that thereby ( ἐν τ . καπν ., cf. Revelation 8:11 ) the sun and moon were obscured.

ἥλιος καὶἀήρ is not an hendiadys, [2534] but, according to the more natural view, it is apparent that both, viz., the sun and the air, are darkened by the thick mass of smoke.

καὶ ἐκ τ . καπν . ἐξῆλθον ἀκρίδες εἰς τ . γ . The καπνός , therefore, was not merely an apparent mass of smoke, yet in fact a dreadful swarm of locusts; [2535] but the infernal smoke is the covering under which the miraculous locusts ascend, and from which they “come out,” in order to execute the plagues with which they are commissioned. [2536] Against the force of the words, Klief. explains: “The material for the locusts already existed on earth, but the smoke ascending from hell converts it into locusts.”

καὶ ἐδόθη

οἱ σκορπίοι τῆς γῆς . The power given (cf. Revelation 9:5 ) these locusts corresponds with their form and equipment (Revelation 9:10 ). The τῆς γῆς with οἱ σκορπἱοι does not refer to the distinction, which is here entirely out of place, between land-and sea-beasts, [2537] but to the fact that the locusts are not from the earth; the infernal locusts receive a power like that of earthly scorpions. Hence no allusion should be made [2538] to the statement of Jewish writings, that hell is full of scorpions.

[2533] Cf. Genesis 19:28 ; Exodus 19:18 .

[2534] “The air, so far as illumined by the sun” (Beng.).

[2535] Vitr., Eichh., Züll., Ebrard.

[2536] Cf. Ewald, De Wette, etc.

[2537] Against Ew. i., without reference to Ew. ii.: “known to men.”

[2538] Ew. ii.

Verses 4-5

Revelation 9:4-5 . There is here a further description as to how this plague of the locusts, proceeding from the abyss, is entirely different from that which the ordinary earthly locusts bring.

καὶ ἐῤῥεθη αὐτ ., κ . τ . λ ., cf. Revelation 6:11 . The ready recollection of the Egyptian plague of locusts [2539] makes the plague here appointed appear the more wonderful and dreadful. Not the grass and all the fresh verdure of field and trees, which are elsewhere devoured by locusts, are now regarded, [2540] but only [2541] men, those, viz., ὍΙΤΙΝΕς ΟὐΚ ἜΧΟΥΣΙ ΤῊΝ ΣΦΡΑΓῚΔΑ , Κ . Τ . Λ . Only as those without the seal, [2542] are they subjected to the plague proceeding from the abyss. The allegorizing interpretation of Beda and many others, according to which the rage of heretics (locusts) against the orthodox is regarded as here represented, miscarries even though in its individual features it is refuted chiefly in that, according to this exposition, the godly (the sealed) must appear as they who suffer. The explanation also which refers the entire trumpet-vision to the Jewish war, and understands by the locusts the Zealots, is also embarrassed on this point, so that Heinr. must remark: “We are unwilling to inquire here whether the Zealots were really grievous and pestilential to the better or the worse part of the race. The poet certainly imagines the latter.”

The injury which, in Revelation 9:4 , the locusts were commanded to inflict upon men, is more precisely defined in Revelation 9:5 ; viz., that they are to torment men with the scorpionic power given them, but are not to inflict death.

ἘΔΌΘΗ ΑὐΤ . ἽΝΑ , Κ . Τ . Λ . Cf. Revelation 9:3 . That the not killing is to be strictly taken, but that it is not to be said that “only the not killed draw attention to themselves, because their number is the greater, and their lot the harder,” [2543] is shown by the tenor of the words, the antithesis ἈΛΛʼ ἽΝΑ ΒΑΣΑΝΙΣΘΉΣΟΝΤΑΙ , and the further description, Revelation 9:6 .

ΒΑΣΑΝΙΣΘΉΣΟΝΤΑΙ . It harmonizes well with the change of subject, that the indic. fut. now follows ἽΝΑ . Cf. a similar change of inf. and indic. fut., Revelation 6:4 .

ΜῆΝΑς ΠΈΝΤΕ . The allegorizing explanations depend, as always, upon extreme arbitrariness. Beda: “That heretics temporarily attack the good. For by five months it signifies the time of a generation, on account of the five senses which we use in this life.” Others reckon five mystical months, as 5 × 30, i.e., 150 mystical days; i.e., ordinary years, which time is referred by Vitr. to the dominion of the Goths, and by Calov. to the duration of Arianism. Bengel fixes five prophetic months as equal to 79 ⅓ years, and proposes the sufferings of the Jews in Persia during the sixth century, which were of that length. Utterly out of place is the reference to Genesis 7:24 ; [2544] or that to the five sins, Revelation 9:20 sqq., [2545] for even if the number of sins were marked there in any way as five, it would nevertheless be preposterous if an entirely special feature of one vision found its significance not within this itself, but only in another. Yet the five months are not to be passed by as “mystical” without an explanation, as if this must be actually given only by its fulfilment. [2546] Besides, Hengstenb. says, arbitrarily, the number five “is absolutely the sign of the half, unfinished, as the broken number. Five months are mentioned, because only the five, in its relation to the twelve months of the year, gives the idea of relatively long duration and dreadfulness;” against which Ebrard already replies that to this sense the number six, the half of the twelve months, would most simply correspond. Eichh., Ew., De Wette, [2547] have properly recognized the designation of the five months as a feature in the vision, which is derived from the popular idea that the locusts usually appeared during the five months from May. [2548] As generally the entire description of visionary locusts, however supernatural they appear, depends upon the basis of a natural view, so, also, that natural conception lies at the foundation of the period given; yet even in this point the natural relation is heightened, as the locusts remain out of the abyss for fully five months, while, naturally, it is only within this time that occasionally a swarm of locusts may come.

βασανισμὸς αὐτῶν . The ΑὐΤῶΝ is the gen. subj., as in the corresponding Ὡς ΒΑΣΑΝ . ΣΚΟΡΠΊΟΥ . The subj. again is the ἈΚΡΊΔΕς , and ΒΑΣΑΝΙΣΜΌς has an active sense, as the form corresponds. [2549]

ὍΤΑΝ ΠΑΊΣῌ ἈΝΘΡ . , when he shall have struck a man. [2550] The correct Greek mode of expression regards a case naturally possible as having already occurred. Significant is the expression ΠΑΊΕΙΝ , which in the LXX., besides ΠΑΤΆΣΣΕΙΝ , [2551] corresponds to the Heb. חִכָֹּה . [2552] The Latins also speak forcibly of the scorpion’s stroke. [2553]

[2539] Exodus 10:12-15 . Cf. also Joel 1:2 .

[2540] Cf. also Revelation 8:7 .

[2541] εἰ μή . Cf. Matthew 12:4 ; Galatians 1:19 ; Galatians 2:16 .

[2542] Cf. Revelation 7:1 sqq.

[2543] Heugstenb.

[2544] Züll.

[2545] Hofmann.

[2546] Ebrard.

[2547] Cf. already Calov., Vitr., etc.

[2548] Cf. Bochart, Hieroz . ii. 495.

[2549] De Wette.

[2550] Cf. Winer, p. 289.

[2551] Jonah 4:7 .

[2552] Numbers 22:28 ; 2 Samuel 14:6 .

[2553] Plin., H. N ., vi. 28.

Verse 6

Revelation 9:6 . ἐν τ . ἡμέραις ἐκείναις , viz., when what has been previously seen by John in the vision actually occurs. Just upon the fact that the vision represents prophetically what is to occur, [2554] depends the express prophetic mode of expression in the fut. ΖΗΤΉΣΟΥΣΙΝ , together with the formula ἘΝ Τ . ἩΜ . ἘΚΕΊΝΑΙς . [2555] Not only is the wish described that the wounds inflicted by the locusts might be mortal, [2556] but, in general, the despairing desire to see an end made to life, and thus to escape [2557] the dreadful tortures, [2558] a terrible counterpart to the ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑ of the apostle springing from the holiest hope. [2559]

[2554] Cf. Revelation 4:1 , Revelation 5:1 sqq.

[2555] Cf. Ewald, De Wette.

[2556] De Wette.

[2557] Cf. Jeremiah 8:3 .

[2558] Revelation 9:5 .

[2559] Philippians 1:23 .

Verses 7-10

Revelation 9:7-10 . Only now, after John has described how he has seen the miraculous locusts rise from the abyss, and what plagues they are to bring, does he proceed to describe the extraordinary phenomenon more minutely and fully. An essential feature in this description, Revelation 9:10 , has express reference to what is said in Revelation 9:3-5 : in other respects the individual points of the description are not to be urged, as the context itself not only does not suggest a special interpretation, which must prove allegorical, but rather excludes it; e.g., there is no question as to something special according to Revelation 9:3 sqq., either as to the teeth of lions, or the hair of women. The infernal locusts are to torment men only after the manner of scorpions (Revelation 9:10 ); of a biting, as with the teeth of lions, nothing whatever is said. But if individual features be pressed in violation of the context, manifest preposterous interpretations follow; as, e.g., the reference of the teeth of lions to the erroneous doctrines and calumniations with which heretics have lacerated the orthodox church. [2560] That which is aimed at is the general impression in a description, in which the actual form of natural locusts lies, in a certain way, at the foundation. These infernal locusts, however dreadful their supernatural form, are nevertheless always to be known as locusts; only in what is described in Revelation 9:10 , they have a wonderful peculiarity of their form corresponding to the plagues committed to them (Revelation 9:3 sqq.), which is without all natural analogy.

ΤᾺ ὉΜΟΙΏΜΑΤΑ ΤῶΝ ΑΚΡ . Incorrectly, Hengstenb. and Ew. ii.: their likeness. ΔΜΟΊΩΜΑ designates regularly [2561] the product of an ὈΜΟΙΟῦΝ , i e, the form so far as it is just like a model. [2562] The forms of the locusts were like ἽΠΠΟΙς ἩΤΟΙΜ . ΕἸς ΠΌΛ . This pertains to the forms as a whole. Cf. Joel 2:4 . In books of travel, it is expressly noted, that the form of the locust has a certain resemblance to that of a horse. [2563] The similarity is especially manifest if we think of the horse as equipped ( ἡτοιμασμ . εἰς πολ .), so that its head rises from the breastplate like the head of the locust from its thorax (Revelation 9:9 ).

ἘΠῚ Τ . ΚΕΡ . ΑὐΤ . Ὡς ΣΤΈΦΑΝΟΙ ὍΜΟΙΟΙ ΧΡΥΣῷ . From the fact that the natural locust has nothing on its head that looks like a crown, it does not follow that the ΣΤΕΦΆΝΟΙ ὍΜ . ΧΡ . are nothing else than the polished helmets of soldiers, who are to be understood under the allegory of locusts. [2564] ΣΤΈΦ . does not mean helmets; and even if there were some ground, in general, for such allegory, yet, at all events, the individual features of the allegory as such could first be harmoniously comprehended, and afterwards be obtained in their individual points. But any mingling of (assumed) allegory and literal statement is to be rejected; and hence the exposition is entirely inadmissible which ascribes helmets, meant literally, to locusts, meant allegorically. The same fundamental principle applies to the other features of the description; so that, e.g., the hair, like the hair of women, ascribed to the locusts, could not be the long hair of barbarian warriors. [2565]

The supposition is readily suggested, that also the words Κ . ἘΠΙ ΤᾺς ΚΕΦ ., Κ . Τ . Λ . , contain an allusion to the natural form of the locust. But even if John says that upon the heads of the locusts there was something “like gold-like crowns” ( Ὡς ΣΤ . ὍΜΟΙΟΙ ΧΡ . , cf. Revelation 4:6 ), he could scarcely have thought of the two antennae about an inch long; [2566] it is more probable, [2567] that the rather strong, jagged elevation, which of course is situated, not on the head, but in the middle of the thorax, [2568] but which in the popular view, not readily distinguishing the line of division between head and thorax, may appear as if upon the head of the insect, serves as the natural type. The yellowish-green brilliant coloring of that elevation of the thorax may then have given John the natural opportunity for describing that which is crown-like on the heads of the demoniacal locusts as ὅμ . χρυσῷ .

ΤᾺ ΠΡΌΣΩΠΑ ΑὐΤ . Ὡς ΠΡΌΣΩΠΑ ἈΝΘΡΏΠΩΝ . The expressly marked comparison dare be denied here as little as the other features of the description. Hengstenb, therefore, is incorrect when, like the older allegorists, not only mistaking the simple comparison for an (imaginary) allegory, but also confounding the literal with an allegorical interpretation, he says, “Their faces were like the faces of men, since a fearful look, the dreadful look of men, shines through the look of locusts. In fact, they were actually faces of men.” The text nowhere says this, but gives an idea of the faces of the demoniacal locusts by representing them as like the faces of men. This also has its natural foundation in the fact, that the head of the locust has actually a faint resemblance to the human profile. [2569] The more strongly this similarity is regarded, as expressed in the supernatural locusts whose entire form has in it something monstrous, the more dreadful must it appear.

ΚΑῚ ΕἿΧΟΝ ΤΡΊΧΑς Ὡς ΤΡΊΧΑς ΓΥΝΑΙΚῶΝ . This feature of the description also is to be apprehended in the same way as the preceding. The words Ὡς ΤΡΊΧ . ΓΥΝ . are intended only relatively; the point of comparison, however, can lie only in the length of the hair, since long hair is peculiar to women, not to men. [2570] In the description which is intended only to make visible the fact that the miraculous locusts have long hair like that of women, there is no special allegorical reference, either to the long hair as it is found in barbarian warriors, [2571] or to the fact that “the spirits of darkness,” or men serving as their instruments, “look so mildly and tenderly from beneath the tresses of women,” while back of these locks they conceal the teeth of lions. [2572] Every thing upon which such allegorical interpretation must lay importance has been improperly introduced. It may appear doubtful whether John, in representing the wonderfully long hair of the supernatural locusts, thinks of it according to the analogy of the antennae of the natural locusts, as is most simple, or whether he understands the hair in the other parts of the body, e.g., the legs; [2573] but it is certain, that if the context is otherwise to be regarded as harmonious and free from perplexity, every other reference, except that indicated by the simple comparison, is to be regarded out of place.

Κ . ΟἹ ΟΔΌΝΤΕς ΑὐΤ . Ὡς ΛΕΌΝΤΩΝ ἯΣΑΝ . Joel already (Revelation 1:6 ) ascribes the teeth of lions to natural locusts. There, as here, nothing else is illustrated but the desolating voraciousness, but not “the rage of the enemy.” [2574] This feature is highly significant in order to answer to the figure of locusts as such, but, like what is said in Revelation 9:7 , is entirely irrelevant in reference to the particular plague which is to be brought by the infernal locusts (Revelation 9:3 sqq.).

Κ . ΕΊΧ . ΘΏΡΑΚΑς Ὡς ΘῶΡ . ΣΙΔΗΡΟῦς . Incorrectly, Hengstenb.: “The iron cuirasses show how difficult it is to approach these horsemen.” Instead of the breastplate of natural locusts, to which natural history has given the significant name thorax , [2575] the supernatural locusts have a cuirass compared only with a coat of mail.

Κ . ΦΩΝῊ Τ . ΠΤΕΡΎΓΩΝ , Κ . Τ . Λ . Like natural, these demoniacal locusts also have wings, whose rushing is very naturally [2576] illustrated by the comparison, ὡς φωνὴ ἁρμάτων ἵππων πολλῶν τρεχόντων εἰς πόλεμον . In these words neither the ἉΡΜΆΤΩΝ [2577] nor the ἽΠΠΩΝ [2578] is to be regarded as interpolated, since the idea “as the sound of chariots of many horses running to war,” is as readily understood as it is throughout suitable. Yet it dare not be said, that, while the rattling of the wagons corresponds to the whizzing of the locusts, the horses are specially mentioned, “because the mass of riders, and not of wagons, are the proper antitype of the locusts.” [2579] Already the expression, in which the ἉΡΜΆΤΩΝ belongs to ἽΠΠΩΝ ΠΟΛΛ . as its subjective genitive, forbids the distinction made in the interests of a perverted (allegorizing) collective view. The entire noise, which is caused as well by the chariot-wheels, as also by the hoofs of the horses driven in the chariots, is designated, since it is designedly that not the chariots alone are mentioned.

κ . ἔχουσιν οὐράς ὁμοίας σκορπίοις καὶ κέντρα . The Comparatio compendiaria [2580] states that tails of the locusts are like the tails of scorpions; in connection with which, the particular ( καὶ κέντρα ) is expressly marked, that is the special subject of consideration. Beng., Hengstenb., [2581] are not willing, however, to acknowledge any breviloquence, but regard the locusts’ tails as the (entire) scorpions, and appeal to Revelation 9:19 . But in the latter passage, where the subject refers to heads and mouths situated in the serpent-like tails of the horses, not only the context in general, but also the special determination ἜΧΟΥΣ . ΚΕΦΆΛΑς , forbids us finding in the words ὉΜ . ὌΦΕΣΙΝ a comparatio compendiaria ; while, in Revelation 9:10 , the intention and expression lead to this most simple mode of statement.

κ . ἐν τ . οὐραῖς αὐτ . ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτ . ἀδικῆσαι , κ . τ . λ . The inf. ἈΔΙΚ . explains the power in the tails furnished with scorpion-like stings. [2582] It is worthy of observation, how this last feature again reverts to the description of the same plagues as are commanded in Revelation 9:3 sqq.; [2583] and thus the whole appears to be harmoniously rounded off. Also the designation ΜῆΝΑς ΠΈΝΤΕ is repeated from Revelation 9:5 , in order once more to emphatically mention that the infernal beasts, with their scorpion-like equipment and power, are to plague men after the manner of locusts during five full months. [See Note LVII, p. 292.]

[2560] Calov., etc.

[2561] Cf. Winer, p. 89.

[2562] Cf. Ezekiel 1:16 ; Ezekiel 10:21 , where the Heb. דּֽמוּת stands; Romans 1:23 ; Philippians 2:7 .

[2563] Cf. Winer, Rwb ., i. 575.

[2564] Eichh., Heinr.

[2565] Against Vitr., etc.

[2566] Ewald.

[2567] Cf. Züll., De Wette.

[2568] Cf. Winer in loc .

[2569] Cf. Züll., Ew., De Wette.

[2570] Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:14 sq. Winer, Rwb ., i. 527.

[2571] As even De Wette tries to establish, although properly rejecting the interpretation of the locusts as warriors.

[2572] Ebrard.

[2573] Ewald.

[2574] Hengstenb.

[2575] De Wette.

[2576] Cf. Joel 2:5 . Winer, Rwb., in loc .

[2577] De Wette.

[2578] Ew. i.

[2579] Hengstenb.

[2580] Cf. Revelation 13:11 ; Matthew 5:20 .

[2581] Cf. also Winer, p. 579; De Wette.

[2582] Cf. Revelation 6:8 .

[2583] Ewald, Hengstenb.


LVII. Revelation 9:7-10

For a very full and condensed statement of the devastations caused by locusts, and their peculiarities, in which some of the features here detailed appear, see Pusey on Joel 2:0 . The significance of the individual features is thus briefly interpreted by Luthardt: “At the basis of the description, there lies, for the most part, reality; but it is increased to what is monstrous and terrible. ‘On their heads, as it were crowns of gold;’ i.e., they are mighty powers. ‘Their faces were as the faces of men;’ i.e., they are intellectual beings, intelligences. ‘They had hair as the hair of women;’ i.e., they are seductive powers. ‘Their teeth were as the teeth of lions;’ i.e., back of their seductive appearance is inevitable destruction. Cf. Joel 1:6 . ‘They had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron;’ i.e., they are unassailable. ‘The sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle;’ i.e., they rush like military squadrons irresistibly. Cf. Joel 2:5 . ‘Tails like unto scorpions;’ i.e., malicious force inflicting injury backwards.”

Verse 11

Revelation 9:11 . As in their form and entire nature, the demoniacal locusts are distinguished from those which are natural, [2584] also in that they have a king, viz., ΤῸΝ ἌΓΓΕΛΟΝ Τῆς ἈΒΎΣΣΟΥ , i.e., not “an angel from the abyss,” [2585] but the angel of the abyss, by which, however, not Satan himself is to be understood; [2586] since this is indicated neither by the designation, Τ . ἌΓΓ . Τ . ἈΒ . , nor the definite appellation. Still less is the “king” to be identified with the “star,” Revelation 9:1 , as Hengstenb. [2587] must do, because he assumes that as often as a star is mentioned in the Apoc. a ruler is meant, and therefore says here, “If what is said here were concerning another king, the locusts would have two kings.” The expression ΤῸΝ ἌΓΓ . Τ . ἈΒ . [2588] makes us think only of such an angel as is in a special way the overseer of the abyss. [2589] One thing, pertaining to this position of his, is here mentioned, viz., that he is the king of the locusts rising from the abyss. As the overseer of the abyss, however, he is not only designated its angel, but bears also the very name which in its Heb. form expressly indicates that relation: ὌΝΟΜΑ ΑὐΤῼ ἘΒΡΑΪΣΤῚ ʼΑΒΑΔΔῺΝ ΚΑῚ ἘΝ Τῇ ἘΛΛΗΝΙΚῇ ὌΝΟΜΑ ἜΧΕΙ ἈΠΟΛΛΎΩΝ . Already in the O. T., אַבַדּוֹך (LXX.: ἈΠΏΛΕΙΑ ), parallel with שְׁאוֹל , designates the kingdom of corruption in a local respect; [2590] with the rabbins, Abaddon is the lowest space of hell. [2591] Accordingly the ἌΒΥΣΣΟς itself receives the name ἈΒ . ; but very appropriately the angel of the abyss here bears it, who as overseer is in a certain respect its personal representative. The Greek interpretation ἈΠΟΛΛΎΩΝ is given in this form not as possibly ὈΛΟΘΡΕΥΤΉς , etc., not to give a sound corresponding with the name Apollo, [2592] but because in the LXX. the personal name is naturally connected with the expression ἈΠΏΛΕΙΑ . An express contrast between Apollyon the Destroyer, and Jesus the Saviour, can be found only by those who [2593] understand the former as Satan himself. [See Note LVIII., p. 292.]

[2584] Proverbs 30:27 .

[2585] Luth.

[2586] Ebrard. Cf. Grot., Calov., etc.

[2587] Also Volkmar.

[2588] Cf. Revelation 16:5 .

[2589] Beng., Ew., De Wette.

[2590] Cf. Job 26:6 ; Job 28:22 ; and, besides, Hirzel-Olshaus.

[2591] Cf. Schöttg.

[2592] Grot.

[2593] Beng., Hengstenb.


LVIII. Revelation 9:11 . Ἀβαδδών

Alford: “It is a question who this angel of the abyss is. Perhaps, for accurate distinction’s sake, we must not identify him with Satan himself (cf. ch. Revelation 12:3 ; Revelation 12:9 ), but must regard him as one of the principal of the bad angels.” Weiss ( Bib. Theol. of N. T. , ii. 270 sq.): “He [sc., Satan] seduced a portion of the angels, who are also (Revelation 1:20 ) symbolized by stars, to fall away from God, so that they are now designated as his angels. It is such a Satan-angel who is the star fallen from heaven (Revelation 9:1 ), who lets loose the plague of locusts from the abyss over the inhabitants of the earth, and is expressly designated (Revelation 9:11 ) as the angel of the abyss, Abaddon or Apollyon.” Luthardt emphasizes the contrast which Düsterdieck rejects, and closely follows Hengstenberg: “The angel of the abyss, i.e., Satan. Between him and the Saviour the choice of the world is divided. He who will not have the latter as Lord must have the former, who is hereafter to attain still greater power on earth than now; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 .” Beck objects to the identification of the angel and the star, on the ground that the latter was only “an astronomico-physical phenomenon.” But to what, then, does the αὐτῷ of Revelation 9:1 refer?

Verse 12

Revelation 9:12 . These words, [2594] serving as well to conclude Revelation 9:1-11 ( ΟὐΑῚ ΜΊΑ ἈΠῆΛΘΕΝ ), as to point to what follows ( ἸΔΟῪ ἝΡΧΕΤΑΙ , Κ . Τ . Λ . ) belong to John’s report, and are not to be taken as the words of the eagle, [2595] or any other heavenly messenger. After the vision just described, John makes prominent that now the one woe of the threefold cry is fulfilled, and accordingly past.

ΜΊΑ , cardinal number, that one of the three, as immediately afterwards ἝΤΙ ΔΎΟ . Cf. Revelation 6:1 .

ΟὐΑῚ . The striking feminine form is explained by the fact that the conception of a ΘΛῖΨς is involuntarily substituted for this announced woe. [2596]

ἸΔΟῪ , ἜΡΧΕΤΑΙ ἜΤΙ ΔΎΟ ΟὐΑῚ Μ . Τ . The sing. ἜΡΧΕΤΑΙ contains an hypallage, which is inoffensive since the verb precedes. [2597]

[2594] Cf. Revelation 11:14 .

[2595] Cf. Revelation 8:13 .

[2596] Cf. Winer, p. 169.

[2597] Cf. Winer, p. 481.

The allegorical mode of interpretation applies to Revelation 9:1 sqq., as everywhere, the most arbitrary expedients, and does the greatest violence to the context, and that, too, alike in the expositors who make their explanations from an overstrained conception of biblical prophecy, no less than in those who in a more or less rationalistic way consider the prophetic visions of John as vaticinia post eventum , and transform them into allegorical outlines of the events of the Romano-Judaic war. The plague of locusts is regarded as heresy only by interpreters of the first class; [2598] as calamities of war , and similar afflictions, by interpreters of both classes. [2599] N. de Lyra, like many others proposing the Arians, interprets the individual chief features thus: the star, Revelation 9:1 , is the Emperor Valens, “who from the height of Catholic faith fell into the Arian heresy;” the key is the power of exalting this heresy; the locusts are the Vandals whom this heresy infected; the verdure, Revelation 9:4 , represents the Christians in Africa spared by the Vandals; the five months designate the period of the five Vandal rulers. Stern understands by the locusts all imaginable heretics, down even to the Pantheists and German Catholics of our times. The scorpion-tails indicate that “false doctrine bears its sting in its consequences;” the hair of women admonishes that “many false doctrines, occasioned by inordinate love to women, have almost all been diffused by women, to begin with Helena the associate of Simon Magus, down to the bacchantes of modern times, who, with Ronge and his followers, drank the cup of the Devil, and won admirers for the prophet of Laurahütte.”

[2598] Beda, Andr., Areth., N. de Lyra, Luth., Calov., Boss., Stern, etc.

[2599] Vitr., Beng., Hengstenb., Grot., Wetst., Herd., Eichh.

Many older Protestants understand by the star the Pope; by the locusts the degenerate clergy, viz., the monks of the Catholic Church. [2600] This was, as C. a Lap. says, a retaliation for the interpretation of Bellarmin and other Catholics, that it refers to Luther, Calvin, and the Evangelical Church.

If by the locusts warriors are understood (and even Klief. forces from the passage the ideas of military power and its oppression), expositors like Grot., Wetst., Herd., Eichh., Heinr., find a more minute determination derived from the fundamental view of the entire Apoc. The locusts are the Zealots. [2601] The star is, according to Grot., Eleasar, the son of Ananias; according to Herd., Manaim. The abyss opened by him is, according to Grot., “the seditious doctrine that obedience must not be rendered the Romans,” for ( ΚΑῚ , Revelation 9:3 = nam ) from this the party of the Zealots arose to the injury of the Jews; according to Herd., “the fortress Masada.” Abaddon is, according to Grot., “the spirit which animated those Zealots;” according to Herder, Simon, the son of Gorion. To Vitr. and Beng., chronology suggests a more minute determination; in the time succeeding the fourth events of the trumpet-vision, something must be found to which the fifth trumpet-vision could be referred. Hence Vitr. conjectured the incursions of the Goths into the Western Roman Empire in the beginning of the fifth century; Beng. understood the persecution of the Jews in Persia in the sixth century. Volkm. understands the army of Parthians to be led by Nero against Rome. [2602] Without any more minute determination, Hengstenb. interprets the fifth trumpet as referring to the distresses of war, and the locusts to soldiers. “One of the many incarnations of Apollyon” was Napoleon, whose name has a “noteworthy similarity” to the name of the king of the locusts. [2603] A special indication will be found in the text, that the locusts are to be understood allegorically. Beda, already, said that such locusts as, according to Revelation 9:4 , are to eat neither grass nor leaves, could not be actual locusts, but must be men. But Revelation 9:4 is with more justice understood by other allegorists as a “figurative” mode of expression; as, e.g., by Bengel, who suggests “a lower, middle, and higher class of the sealed.” Otherwise N. de Lyra, Vitr., etc. If there be an allegory anywhere, every individual feature must be allegorically interpreted. But for this the text itself nowhere gives the least occasion. It cannot even be said, with De Wette, that what is demoniacal in the plague of locusts here portrayed is only to be conceived of as a symbol of their extreme destructiveness; for however seriously and literally the demoniacal nature of these locusts be intended, it follows that they have no power, [2604] even as demoniacal, over the sealed, who remain absolutely untouched [2605] by all the other plagues of the trumpet-visions. The plagues of the one vision are just as literally meant as those of the other, the infernal locusts with the tails of scorpions no less than war, famine, the commotion and darkening of the heavenly bodies. For John beholds a long series of various, and, as a whole, definitely shaped plagues, as foretokens and preparations of the proper parousia . Whoever, then, as Hebart, [2606] expects the literal fulfilment of all these visions, and, consequently, e.g., the actual appearance of the locusts described in Revelation 9:1 sqq., it is true, does more justice to the text than any allegorist; but, because of a mechanical conception of inspiration and prophecy, he ignores the distinction between the actual contents of prophecy, and the poetical form with which the same is invested in the enlightened spirit of the prophet, and not without a beautiful play of his holy fantasy.

[2600] Aret., Bull., Laun., etc.

[2601] According to Wetst., the army of Cestius.

[2602] Cf. Revelation 9:14 .

[2603] Gerken also, who, through an entire series of trifling expedients, puts a forced construction on the name Napoleon, thinks (p. 26) that we may venture to derive it from ἀπόλλυμι , and therefore writes it Napolleon.

[2604] Revelation 9:4 .

[2605] Cf. Revelation 7:1 sqq.

[2606] Die Zweite Sichtbare Zukunft Christi, Erl., 1850.

Verses 13-15

Revelation 9:13-15 . At a divine command the trumpet-angel looses the four angels bound thus far at the Euphrates, under whose direction the immense army of horsemen is to bring its plagues.

καὶ ἤκουσα , κ . τ . λ . What John hears [2608] in the vision, he represents just as what he beheld (Revelation 9:17 ), in consequence of the trumpet-vision.

φωνὴν μίαν ἐκ τῶν ( τεσσάρων ) κεράτων τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου , κ . τ . λ . In a linguistic respect it is possible that the precise number is intended indefinitely, [2609] so that it is left entirely undecided as to whom the voice belongs, as Revelation 6:6 , [2610] although it is impossible to take ἐκ in the general sense of ἀπό , [2611] and to explain that the voice came from God enthroned back of the altar. [2612] Cf., on the other hand, also, Revelation 16:7 . Yet a more definite reference of the μίαν would result in connection with the fact that the voice proceeds from the four horns of the altar. The altar from whose horns the voice proceeds is expressly designated as that mentioned Revelation 8:3 sqq. [2613] The circumstance, accordingly, that from its horns the voice proceeds which loosens the plagues described immediately afterwards, must have a similar meaning as the circumstance in Revelation 8:5 , that the fire cast upon the earth was taken from the same altar, i.e., the command of the angels to loose appears as a consequence of the prayers presented at the altar; [2614] but after that, it is proper to understand the one (Divine) voice making manifest this special hearing of prayer, in contrast with the many voices of those who pray, heard and referred to also in Revelation 8:3 ( τ . προσευχ . τῶν ἁγ .).

It is a perversion, however, to consider the one voice in any special relation to the four horns of the altar; for, even apart from the critical uncertainty of the reading τεσσάρων , the sense forced from it [2615] is extremely feeble, while the allegorical [2616] explanation [2617] is without any support. Also the relation, which is in itself arbitrary, between the four horns and the “four sins,” Revelation 9:21 , and likewise the four angels, [2618] falls with the spurious τεσσάρων .

τῷ ἕκτῳ ἀγγ . From the fact that here the trumpet-angel not only sounds the trumpet, but is himself engaged in the act which follows, the inference dare in no wise be drawn that the same relation occurs also in other passages where it is not explicitly stated. [2619] But if the question be asked why there is ascribed here [2620] to the proclaimer of the plagues a co-operation with them, any reference to “economy of means” [2621] affords no satisfactory answer; for why this economy just here, which nevertheless does not universally prevail? As a reason lying in the subject itself is not perceptible, it appears to be adopted only to avoid a barren uniformity, which would occur if the same angel who (Revelation 8:5 ) cast the fire from the altar to the earth, or even if a new angel, who yet would have substantially the same position with that of the trumpet-angels, received now the command to loose the four angels at the Euphrates.


Ἐυφράτῃ . The article τοὺς τέσσ . ἀγγ . has its definite reference, as Revelation 8:2 , to the following τοὺς δεδ ., κ . τ . λ ., [2622] but throughout does not indicate the identity, adopted by Beda, etc., of the angel here named with that mentioned in Revelation 7:1 sqq. That the four angels are wicked angels, [2623] not good, [2624] also not “corruptible,” as De Wette and Ebrard say, when they uncertainly remark that we must not think directly of wicked angels, is to be derived from their being bound, [2625] from their position on the Euphrates, and from the fact that they lead an army of an infernal kind, in which respect they are to be compared with the star which fell from heaven, Revelation 9:1 , as well as with the angel of the abyss, the king of the locusts, Revelation 9:11 .

The number four of the angels does not correspond to the four parts of the army led by them, [2626] for of this the text says nothing, [2627] but indicates [2628] that the army is to be led on all four sides of the earth, in order to slay [2629] the third of all men. [2630] Ebrard, in the interests of his allegorical explanation, emphasizes the number four of the angels leading the army, Revelation 9:16 sqq., in contrast with the one king of the locusts, Revelation 9:11 . Thus in the one case there is a monarchical and in the other a democratical constitution; with which it also harmonizes, that in Revelation 9:17 nothing is said of crowns as in Revelation 9:7 . Nevertheless, Ebrard does not expect the elucidation of the sixth as well as of the fifth trumpet-vision until its future fulfilment: the “spiritual mercenary hosts of superstition” are only foretokens of the still impending plagues. [See Note LIX., p. 293.] ἐπὶ τῷ ποταμῷ τῷ μεγάλῳ Ἐυφράτῃ . This local designation has been received literally; [2631] and the application has been made, that the Parthian armies, so perilous to the Romans, mentioned in Revelation 9:16 sqq., came from the neighborhood of the Euphrates, [2632] or it is said that the Roman legions indicated in Revelation 9:16 sqq. moved from the Euphrates against Jerusalem. [2633] The latter is without any truth; [2634] Grot. already was therefore compelled to explain: The armies of the Roman commanders, i.e., the four angels, extended to the Euphrates! [2635] But it is a valid objection to the view of Ewald, as well as that of Herder, [2636] that the armies portrayed in Revelation 9:16 sqq. are by no means human armies, but just as certainly of a supernatural kind, as the locusts of Revelation 9:1 sqq., in their way. If the language of Revelation 9:16 sqq., concerning actual martial bands, were to be interpreted therefore allegorically, Vitr., Beng., and many older expositors would be justified, who understood the army (16 sqq.) of the Tartars and Turks, and likewise, in connection with this, took the mention of the Euphrates in its proper geographical sense. But, unless we charge John with great confusion, we dare not say that “the bound angels” are allegorical,

Parthian, [2637] Roman commanders, [2638] or Turkish caliphs, [2639] the “Euphrates” on which they are bound literal, and the troops led by them again allegorical. Such confused inconsistency the purely allegorical explanation indeed avoids; but it also appears here so untenable and visionary, that, as it itself rests on no foundation, it offers no point whatever where it can be met by a definite counter argument. Wetst. says that the Euphrates is the Tiber, just as Babylon, ch. 14 sqq., is Rome; [2640] but in that passage it is explained, in the text itself, as to how Babylon is meant, while here nothing whatever concerning Babylon is said. With entire indefiniteness, Beda: “The power of the worldly kingdom, and the waves of persecutors.”

The context itself offers the correct conception, by recalling in the formal expression τ . ποταμῷ τῷ μεγἀλῷ Εὐφρ . [2641] the O. T.; [2642] combining with this local designation, to be comprehended from the O. T. history, the description of an army whose dreadfulness far surpasses every thing of a human character, and actual historical experience, but, besides, has an allegorical meaning as little as the locusts, Revelation 9:1 sqq. The mention of the Euphrates is schematical; i.e., John designates with concrete definiteness the district whence the supernatural army-plague is to traverse the world, by naming the precise region whence, in O. T. times, the divinely sent plagues of Assyrian armies came upon Israel. [2643] An entirely similar schematical sense would have occurred if John had called the place whence the locusts went forth, Egypt. That the Euphrates is the boundary of the land of Abraham [2644] and David, [2645] is to be urged here as little as that it was the boundary of the Roman Empire; [2646] the only matter of consequence is, that from the Euphrates formerly “the scourges of God” proceeded. [2647] It is also irrelevant to this schematical idea, that the subject of consideration is now a plague for all men, while previously the scourges of God were sent against Israel: the mode of view of the writer of the Apocalypse is only indicated as rooted in the O. T., in the fact that this concrete local designation appears before his gazing eyes. [See Note LX., p. 293.] ἡτοισαμένοι . Cf. Revelation 8:6 , where also ἵνα follows. They were already prepared; only, up to the present, the bands held them In Revelation 9:16 , therefore, the description of the army breaking forth under their command directly follows; the released angels immediately put themselves in motion with their armies.

εἰς τὴν ὥραν

καὶ ἐνιαυτόν . Although the gender of the nouns is different, [2648] the art. is placed only before the first, not only because it combines in general the common conception of time, but also the close inner relation and determination of the individual conceptions to one another and through one another affords the idea of essential unity. For the expression, ascending from the hour to the year, [2649] shows that the fixed hour occurs in the fixed day, the day in the fixed month, etc. [2650] Incorrectly, Luther: “for an hour,” etc. Just as incorrectly, Bengel: Since the art. occurs only once, a continuous period of time is indicated, which, as a prophetic hour contains about eight ordinary days, and a prophetic day an ordinary half-year, he reckons as about two hundred and seven years, and understands it of the times of the Turk (634 840 A.D.).

τὸ τρίτον τῶν ἀνθρ . Men, in reference to whose torment (Revelation 9:1 sqq.) nothing was said of a third (cf. Revelation 9:4 ), are now slain by the sixth trumpet-plague in the same proportion as previously trees, ships, etc., were destroyed. [2651]

[2608] Cf. Revelation 6:3 ; Revelation 6:5 ; Revelation 6:7 ; Revelation 6:10 .

[2609] “A voice.” Ewald. Cf. Revelation 8:13 . Winer, p. 111.

[2610] De Wette.

[2611] “Forth from,” like the Heb. מִן , which includes the meaning of both prepositions.

[2612] Ew. i., Stern.

[2613] And Revelation 6:9 sqq.

[2614] Cf. Hofm., De Wette, Bleek, Hengstenb., Ebrard, Klief.

[2615] “That these four horns gave forth simultaneously, not a diverse, but one and the same voice” (Vitr., Hengstenb.).

[2616] If it be considered that Beda, who does not have the “four” in his text, yet explains “the horns, the Gospels projecting from the Church,” the conjecture is readily made that the number ten . was inserted in the interests of this allegorizing interpretation.

[2617] “It indicates the harmonious preaching of the one Church, or the one faith, from the Four Gospels” (Zeger. Cf. also Calov, etc.). Or, according to Grot., who understands by the voices, “the prayers of exiles beseeching that they may return at some time to their ancestral abodes,” “ all places to which the Jews sent into exile the worshippers of Christ.”

[2618] Hengstenb. Cf. also Beng., Züll., Hofm.

[2619] Against Beng.

[2620] Cf. Revelation 17:1 .

[2621] De Wette.

[2622] Ebrard.

[2623] Beda, Bengel, Ebrard, etc.

[2624] Boss., Hengstenb.

[2625] For the explanation of Bossuet, “What binds the angels is the supreme command of God,” which Hengstenb. adopts, is a spiritualistic subtilization that, besides, has no sense at all if Hengstenb. explains away the concrete idea of angel itself by the interpretation that in the angels the truth is embodied, that the bands of warriors led by them only act when they are sent.

[2626] Ewald.

[2627] Ew. ii. refers entirely to various nations which must have rendered military service in the Parthian army. Cf. Daniel 7:4 ; Epiphan. ( Haer. li. 34), who mentions Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, and Persians.

[2628] Cf. Revelation 7:1 .

[2629] Cf. De Wette, Hengstenb.

[2630] Revelation 9:15 ; Revelation 9:18 .

[2631] Cf. Revelation 16:12 .

[2632] Ewald. Cf. also De Wette, Rinck, Volkm.

[2633] Herder. Cf. Grot., Eichh., etc.

[2634] Cf. Tacit., Hist ., v. 1.

[2635] “Ingentes exercitus ad E. usque pertingebant.”

[2636] Cf. also Bleek.

[2637] Ew. i.

[2638] Herd.

[2639] Beng.

[2640] Cf. N. de Lyra: “The Euphrates is the Roman Empire.”

[2641] Cf. Genesis 15:18 ; Deuteronomy 1:7 ; James 1:4 .

[2642] De Wette, Züll., Hofm., Hengstenb.

[2643] Isaiah 7:20 . Cf. Isaiah 8:7 ; Jeremiah 46:10 . Hengstenb. Cf. Primas, Züll.

[2644] Hofm.

[2645] Züll.

[2646] De Wette.

[2647] Hengstenb.

[2648] Cf. Winer, p. 120.

[2649] Cf. Numbers 1:4 ; Zechariah 1:7 ; Haggai 1:15 . Hengstenb.

[2650] De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[2651] Cf. Revelation 8:7 ; Revelation 8:9 ; Revelation 8:11-12 .


LIX. Revelation 9:14 . τοὺς τέσσαρας ἀγγέλους

Hengstenberg accounts for the number “four” as indicating the “all-sidedness,” “the œcumenical character, of the Divine judgment.” Alford: “The question need not perplex us here, whether these are good or bad angels; for it does not enter in any way into consideration. They simply appear, as in other parts of this book, as ministers of the Divine purposes, and pass out of view as soon as mentioned.”


LX. Revelation 9:14 . τῷ ποταμῷ τῷ μεγάλῳ Εὐφράτ

Alford remarks, on Düst.’s opinion that if we take the Euphrates literally, and the rest mystically, endless confusion would be introduced: “This is quite a mistake, as the slightest consideration will show. It is a common feature of Scripture allegory to intermingle with its mystic language literal designations of time and place. Take, for instance, the allegory in Psalms 80:8 ; Psalms 80:11 : ‘Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt.… She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river;’ where, though the vine and her boughs and branches are mystical, Egypt, the sea, and the river are all literal.” Nevertheless, the position of Hengstenb., concurring with that of Düsterdieck, seems correct: “The local designation is only a seeming one. The Euphrates belongs no less to the vision, which loves to take, as the substratum of its views, events in the past agreeing in character (cf. Isaiah 11:15-16 ; Zechariah 10:11 ), e.g., the four angels there bound. Every historical interpretation, as, e.g., the reference to the Euphrates as the boundary of the Roman Empire, and to the dangers which threatened the Romans from the Parthians, apart from the mistake, in general, as to the meaning of the trumpets, is excluded by the immense number in Revelation 9:16 . What is said in Revelation 9:20-21 , is not concerning the Romans, but concerning men.”

Verses 13-21

Revelation 9:13-21 . The sixth trumpet-vision; a wonderful army of horsemen slew the third of men without causing repentance in those who were left. This visitation belongs to the second woe. [2607]

[2607] Cf. Revelation 11:14 .

Verses 16-19

Revelation 9:16-19 . Description of the army led by the four released angels; its immense size, Revelation 9:16 ; its supernatural nature, and terrible effect (Revelation 9:17-19 .)

τοῦ ἵππου . The explanatory variations τοῦ ἱππικοῦ and τῶν ἵππων arose from the offence taken because John did not write, in accordance with classical usage, τῆς ἵππου .

δισμυριάδες μυριάδων ; i.e., two hundred millions.

ἥκουσα , κ . τ . λ ., is added by asyndeton, since an explanation is necessary as to whence it was that John knew of the immense number. [2652] Beda, who prefers to render the Greek expression by “ bis myriades myridaum ,” than with the Vulg., “ vicies millies dena millia ,” finds here “a deceitful duplicity of the perverse army.” Beng. thinks that the Turkish army could readily have reached that number; viz., in the course of the entire two hundred and seven years of their dominion (cf. Revelation 9:15 ). Hengstenb. recognizes the unnaturalness of the number, and concludes thence that it is meant allegorically; it is to be ascribed to no particular war, but to “the class personified,” as in all the preceding trumpet-visions. But since the army itself, Revelation 9:17 sqq., is not described allegorically, the number can be allegorical as little as the local designation, Revelation 9:14 : but this number is likewise schematical; [2653] i.e., the army, which is on all occasions beheld as definite, individual, and supernatural in its entire character, appears also in a concrete but supernatural numerical quantity. An allusion to Psalms 68:18 may be regarded as the substratum of the concrete number here presented to the prophet in his vision. [See Note LXI., p. 293.] That John, when he now wishes to describe the horses and riders seen by him ( καὶ οὕτως εἰδον , κ . τ . λ .), adds explicitly ἐν τῇ ὁράσει to the εἰδον τ . ἵππ ., can occasion surprise only as this formula, ordinarily employed by the ancient prophets, [2654] does not occur more frequently in the Apoc.; but from the fact that it is nowhere found except in this passage, although it could stand everywhere with the εἶδον indicating a prophetic ὅρασις , nothing less follows than that the present vision has an allegorical meaning, as Beng. and Hengstenb. [2655] affirm; the latter of whom, spiritualizing throughout, says, “In the vision every thing is seen; that which is inner must imprint itself on what is outward, the spiritual must assume a body;” and thus in the color of the breastplate, described immediately afterwards, he sees only a “pictorial expression” of the murderous spirit of the soldiers, who are to be understood literally. But even granting that the idea of vision here presupposed were correct, the εἰδον , in itself, would here, as everywhere, point to this allegorizing. For, why should we find just here the express addition ἐν τῇ ὁράσει ? In it, no intention whatever is to be perceived, and least of all, that of giving an exegetical hint: it is possible, therefore, that John here added the ἐν τῇ ὅρασει to his εἱδον involuntarily, because, in the sixth trumpet-vision, what has thus far been advanced is what he has heard, while he now intends to describe the forms as they appeared to him in the vision.

The first part of the description, ἔχοντας θώρακας

θείωδεις , is referred by Beng., Ewald, De Wette, Hengstenb., Bleek, only to τοὺς καθημένους ἐπʼ αὐτ ., as if the description of the horses were given uninterruptedly and completely, only after that of the riders had been given more incidentally. But Züll. and Ebrard have more correctly referred the ἔχοντας , κ . τ . λ ., to the horses and the riders; for it is the more improbable that the first feature of the description, which is expressly stated to be a description of the horses, should not apply to them, as the color of the breastplates has a correspondence with the things proceeding from the mouths of the horses. In general, the treatment is not concerning the riders, but the horses; so that the words καὶ τ . καθημ . ἐπʼ αὐτ . contain only what is incidental, and in no way hinder the reference of ἔχ . θώρ ., κ . τ . λ ., to τ . ἳππουσ .

θώρακας πυρίνους , κ . τ . λ . The πυρνους and the θειώδεις designate, just as the ὑακίνθινους , only the color; [2656] and, besides, there are three colors to be regarded in their particularity, because they correspond to the three things coming from the mouths of the horses. [2657] The ὙΑΚΙΝΘΊΝΟΥς , which designates dark red, [2658] corresponds excellently with the succeeding ΚΑΠΝΌς .

ΚΑῚ ΑἹ ΚΕΦ ., Κ . Τ . Λ . The heads of the horses were like the heads of lions, possibly similar to lion heads in the size of the mouths and the length of the manes; [2659] it is a definite, monstrous appearance, that is represented, and not in general that the heads of the horses are “fierce and terrible,” [2660] which, of course, is suited better to the allegorical explanation.

Κ . ἘΚ Τ . ΣΤΟΜΆΤΩΝ , Κ . Τ . Λ . How seriously the description is meant, may be inferred from the fact, that in Revelation 9:18 the fire, the smoke, and the sulphur, proceeding from the mouths of the horses, are expressly designated as the three plagues whereby [2661] these armies are to slay men, just as the locusts tormented them with their scorpion stings. Fire, smoke, and sulphur of which the latter, according to the analogy of Revelation 21:8 , Revelation 14:10 , Revelation 19:20 , indicates the infernal nature of the plagues [2662] are as little intended to be allegorical as, e.g., the famine or the killing in the seal-visions. [2663] The allegorical interpretation, therefore, manifests also here the most singularly arbitrary expedients. They who understand the whole of heretics interpret the fire as “the desire for injuring;” the smoke, as “the seeming zeal of faith,” because smoke is blue like the heavens; the sulphur, as “the deformity of vices.” [2664] Similar is the interpretation in Aret., Luther, Calov., etc., who think, it is true, of the Turks, but have especially in view their erroneous doctrine. What proceeds from the mouths of the horses is, according to Calov., properly the Koran, which comprehends within itself “sulphurous lust, the smoke of false doctrines, and the fires of wars.” To expositors who understand the armies, Revelation 9:16 sqq., of actual soldiers, even notwithstanding the fact that what is said in the text refers not to horsemen, the supposed “cavalrymen,” so much as to the horses, nothing is readier than to ascribe the fire, smoke, and sulphur, to fiery missiles. Much more correctly, therefore, from the standpoint of the allegory, did, e.g., Grotius understand the firebrands cast into Jerusalem, [2665] than Hengstenb., who understands “the fierce animosity, the spirit of murder, and lust for destruction,” described by personification as soldiers; after the example of Bengel, who only is unwilling to think of cannon and powder-smoke, because the followers of Mohammed did not, as yet, possess such implements of war.

γὰρ ἐξουσία , κ . τ . λ . Cf. Revelation 9:3 ; Revelation 9:10 . With reference to Revelation 9:18 , it is especially emphasized, that the proper power of the horses lies in their mouths; besides this, a second point is added, καὶ ἐν ταῖς οὐραῖς αὐτων . But in how far there is also in the tails an ἐξουσία , is explained ( γὰρ ): αἱ γὰρ οὐραὶ αὐτῶν ὁμοιαι ὅφεσιν , κ . τ . λ . The tails of the horses are, therefore, serpent-like, [2666] especially because these tails have heads; so that they are such as to do injury ( ἐν αὐταῖς , sc., οὐραις , ἀδικ .). It is entirely inapplicable to explain this feature in the description of the monstrous horses, from the analogy of the ancient fiction [2667] concerning the so-called ἀμφίσβαινα (i.e., the serpent moving forwards and backwards) with two heads; [2668] since here nothing whatever is said of two-headed serpents, but instead of the usual horse-tail, something in serpent form, viz., which has a serpent’s head, is presented.

Hengstenb. [2669] finds here the “malignity” of war symbolized. But why should Bengel be mistaken, who explains that the horsemen (the Turks), even when they turn their backs and seem to flee, do injury? Or is it not still more consistent when Grot. mentions, with reference to this, that with the ancients infantry frequently sat back of the cavalry? Volkm., without seeming to exercise the best judgment, is satisfied with referring this to the kicking-back of the horses.

[2652] Cf. Revelation 7:4 .

[2653] Cf. Revelation 7:4 .

[2654] Cf. Daniel 8:2 ; Daniel 9:21 .

[2655] Klief. also, who explains (p. 152) the troops of riders identical with the “worldly war-power” described in Revelation 9:1-12 , which now proceeds to slay men.

[2656] Against Züll., who understands a breastplate of copper, blue steel, and brass. Cf. also Eichh., who thinks of an iron and bronze breastplate polished and shining in the sunlight. Still more inaptly, Heinr.: πυρ . is truly fiery; ὑακινθ . signifies polished steel; θειωδ ., exhaling a sulphurous odor.

[2657] Against Ewald: “Regard therefore the red, shining, and glowing colors brought together in order to denote the height of brilliancy.”

[2658] See the lexicons.

[2659] Ewald.

[2660] Beng., Hengstenb.

[2661] ἀπὸ . Cf. Winer, p. 348.

[2662] Hengstenb.

[2663] The classical myth, in accordance with which Ovid ( Met ., vii. 104 sq.) writes:

[2664] N. de Lyra. Cf. also Ebrard.

[2665] “They seemed to proceed from the mouth of the horses, because they flew from before their mouths.”

[2666] See on Revelation 9:10 .

[2667] Wetst., Beng., Herd., Ew., etc.

[2668] Plin., H. N ., viii. 35: “The double head of the amphisbaenae , i.e., also at the tail.”

[2669] Cf. also Stern, Ebrard.

“Ecce, adamanteis vulcanum naribus efflant Acripedes tauri, tactaeque vaporibus herbae Ardent.”

[“So the brazen-footed oxen breathe fire from their adamantine nostrils, and the grass touched by the vapors glows”], (cf. Virg., Georg . 2:140: “Tauri spirantes naribus ignem,” “Oxen breathing fire from their nostrils”), may be compared, as it expresses with all seriousness that those oxen were actually fire-breathing.


LXI. Revelation 9:16 . δισμυριάδες μυριάδων

Beck interprets the number literally, and explains it by colossal military expeditions and wars to occur throughout the whole world, as intimated by Revelation 9:15 ; Revelation 9:18 , τὸ τρίτον τῶν ἀνθρώπων , and Revelation 9:20 , οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων : “a universal war involving all races of men, analogous to the migrations of nations, the first appearance of Mohammedanism, the Crusades,” and illustrates its probability by referring to the now estimated one thousand millions of the earth’s inhabitants.

Verse 20

Revelation 9:20 sq. The plagues that have been introduced cause no repentance in the survivors. [2670]

οἱ λοιποὶ τ . ἀνθρ . The contextual reference to Revelation 9:18 is yet expressly marked: οῖ οὐκ ἀπεκτ . ἐν τ . πληγ . ταύτ . As the ἐκ is meant to limit the οὐ μετενόησαν , the final clause, ἵνα μὴ , κ . τ . λ ., [2671] is explained: they repented not of the works of their hands, in order not (any more) to worship, etc. The μετανοεῖν ἐκ τ . ἔργ . τ . χειρ . αὐτ . would have as its intention the ceasing henceforth the προσκυνεῖν , κ . τ . λ . But by the words ἵνα μὴ προσκ ., κ . τ . λ ., not only is the pregnancy of the clause μεταν . ἐκ τ . ἔργων τ . χειρ . αὐτ ., which in itself is readily intelligible, explained, but an authentic interpretation is also given to the expression τ . ἔργ . τ . χειρ . αὐτ ., which it is here impossible to designate as the entire course of life, [2672] which by no means follows from Revelation 2:22 , Revelation 16:11 , since there the characteristic τῶν χειρῶν αὐτ . is lacking, but just as Acts 7:41 , in connection with O. T. passages like Deuteronomy 4:28 , Psalms 135:15 sqq., must designate idols made with their own hands. [2673] It is, indeed, to be observed, that not only the expression τ . ἔργ . τ . χειρ . αὐτ . in itself, but also the allusion to the material whence human hands have fashioned the idols, and to their blindness and dumbness, refer to O. T. descriptions. But that the discourse is first in general concerning “the works of men’s hands,” and that then a more minute presentation follows ( ἵνα μὴ προσκ ., κ . τ . λ .), contains what is objectionable as little as the directly opposite order of Acts 7:41 .

τὰ δαιμόνια . Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:20 . Bengel suffers here a peculiar embarrassment, because he regards “the rest of men” especially as “so-called Christians,” and then must give the explanation as to how far they worshipped devils. But he knows how to help himself. Notwithstanding the incursions of the Turks, he says that the Christians of that time retained the worship of images and of saints; and now there might be many among the worshipping saints who abode not in heaven, but in hell.

καὶ οὐ μετεν . The repetition is necessary, because the former οὐ μετεν ., Revelation 9:20 , is already too remote to admit of a connection [2674] with what follows in Revelation 9:21 ( ἐκ τ . φόνων , κ . τ . λ .), but is entirely irrelevant for the more detailed explanation of the whole text. [2675] Concerning the sequence of the particles Οὐ , ΟὔΤΕ , ΟὔΤΕ , cf. Winer, p. 457.

ΦΑΡΜΑΚΕΙῶΝ . Sorceries, xviii. 23. [2676] Ebrard understands it symbolically of “seductive enchantments.” He reaches this conclusion, because in Revelation 9:20 he finds sins against God; in Revelation 9:21 , sins against one’s neighbor, while actual sorcery, as a sin against God, does not belong in Revelation 9:21 . [2677] But the established linguistic usage suits no arbitrary dispositions. It is also to be stated against those who have regarded the ΦΑΡΜΑΚ . in a certain combination with the preceding ΦΌΝΩΝ , [2678] or with the succeeding ΠΟΡΝΕΊΑς , [2679] that the very generally expressed idea of sorcery, the plural also should be observed, according to its nature, does not admit of a more specific determination, as the text itself does not give such.

Τῆς ΠΟΡΝΕΊΑς ΑὐΤ . The sing. designates all the particular forms of manifestation [2680] of the always same kind of sins. Beng. says appropriately: “Other crimes are committed by men at intervals; ΠΟΡΝΕΊΑ alone is perpetual with those who are destitute of purity of heart.”

The entire description of sins, Revelation 9:20-21 , which is to be comprehended in its unity, is manifestly directed to essentially heathenish godlessness, so that they of whom the third are killed, and two-thirds survive but are not converted, are to be regarded essentially as heathen. [2681] [See Note LXII., p. 294] It is the mass of the ΚΑΤΟΙΚΟῦΝΤΕς ἘΠῚ Τῆς Γῆς , [2682] in contrast with the sealed. [2683] From the fact that the latter are not affected by the plague of the sixth trumpet, it is to be inferred, according to the standard of Revelation 9:4 , that the armies in this vision, like the locusts of the fifth trumpet, are of a demoniacal kind.

[2670] Cf. Revelation 16:11 .

[2671] Cf. Winer, p. 428.

[2672] “All the deeds of life” (Ewald, De Wette, Ebrard).

[2673] Beng., Hengstenb.; also Ew. ii.

[2674] Ewald, etc.

[2675] Possibly as a designation of ἕργ . τ . χειρ αὐτ . (Revelation 9:20 ), or a classification of sins.

[2676] Cf. Meyer on Galatians 5:20 .

[2677] Cf. also Hengstenb., who, besides, notes the ten sins against the first table (Revelation 9:20 )? and the four sins against the second table.

[2678] Hengstenb.

[2679] Ewald.

[2680] Cf. 1 Corinthians 7:2 .

[2681] Cf. De Wette, etc.

[2682] Cf. Revelation 6:10 .

[2683] Cf. Revelation 7:1 sqq.

Verse 21


LXII. Revelation 9:21 . ἐκ τῶν φόνων , κ . τ . λ .

Luthardt: “These are the chief sins of heathenism. Such moral corruption will occur at the end, in spite of advanced culture; for culture of itself does not promote morality, but, as history teaches, may be employed as well in the service of ungodliness and immorality.” Calov., in harmony with his scheme of interpretation, refers all these crimes to the Papal antichrist.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 9". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.