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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 12

Verse 3

Revelation 12:3 . Πυῤῥὸς ) Others read πυρὸς , [123] which the ancients formed from πῦρ , as though John should say, μέγαν πυρὸς δράκοντα . But πυρὸς is written for πυῤῥὸς , ch. Revelation 6:4 . See Apparat. pp. 805, 820. [Ed. ii., pp. 524, 544.] The colour represents the fiery spirit of the dragon. κεφαλὰς ἑπτὰ , seven heads ) such as even history commemorates; and in this very city (Hamburgh) the skeleton of such a dragon with seven heads was formerly shown. Joh. Diet. Winckler . Disquisition, p. 162.

[123] A Vulg. read πυῤῥός . BC h Memph. πυρός . E.

Verse 4

Revelation 12:4 . Καταφάγῃ , to devour ) The notion formerly prevailed with many persons, that serpents were accustomed eagerly to desire the flesh of new-born infants . Pricæus.

Verse 5

Revelation 12:5 . Ἔτεκεν , brought forth ) The Christian Church brought forth a male child , Christ, considered not personally, but in His kingdom. Vitringa interprets it of Constantine, when he gained possession of the empire; D. Lange weightily refutes him, in his Comm. upon the Apocalypse, f. 137, 141. Nor, however, as the same writer supposes, is the conversion of Israel here signified; for that nation does not bring forth, at its conversion, but is born: and the crown of twelve stars prefigures the conversion of the twelve tribes: comp. Genesis 37:9 . The birth here described has already long ago taken place; that conversion [of the twelve tribes] has not yet taken place. The woman brought forth, when in the ninth century, more nations than before, together with their princes, were, under the name of Slavonians , added to the assembly of the Christian name. Therefore almost the whole of this chapter has been fulfilled, although D. Lange refers it to the future, in the same place (see above), and in Epicr. p. 408. The very war of the dragon with the rest of the seed of the woman, Revelation 12:17 , precedes the rising of the beast out of the sea; but this took place in the eleventh century, as will presently be shown. ὑιον ἄῤῥενα ) Learned men have brought together to this place passages in Aristophanes and Alciphron, where a woman is said to have brought forth παιδίον ἄῤῥεν · but the cases differ; for παιδίον is generic, ὑιὸς specific. Nor, however, does John write ὑιὸν ἄῤῥενα without reason. For thus also Jeremiah 20:15 , it is said בן וכר , where in the Greek it is υἱὸς ἄρσην , or simply ἄρσην as in this passage. Primasius omitting the word son, says male, as Rev 12:13 has it. ἐν ῥάβδῳ σιδηρᾷ , with a rod of iron) The rod is for long continued obstinacy, until they submit themselves to obedience.

Verse 6

Revelation 12:6 . Εἰς τὴν ἔρημον ) The wilderness is the western part of the world, Europe, or its districts in particular on this side of the Danube; for on the other side of the Danube the countries were already before this more imbued with Christianity. ערבה , the wilderness, and נזערב , the west, are connected by derivation. D. Laurence Reinhard, in his chronological arrangement of the Apocalypse, p. 14, rightly thinks that this passage has reference to the state of the Church from the ninth century. ἡμέρας χιλίας διακοσίας ἑξήκοντα , 1260 days) The 1260 prophetic days are 657 ordinary years in full. And if you reckon these from A. 864 to 1521, you will certainly not be far from the truth. The woman obtained a firm place in the wilderness, in Europe, especially in Bohemia, and there, in particular, she was nourished; until more free and abundant nourishment was vouchsafed to her by means of the Reformation. The close of the 1260 days is the Reformation. [124] The close of the times, 1, 2, and ½, is the Millennium. Between the Reformation and the Millennium there is no more remarkable revolution, than the Reformation itself , the great importance of which is sufficiently perceived from this.

[124] By a somewhat different method of computation, in der Erkl. Offeneb. Ed . ii. p . 592, the commencement [terminus a quo] of the 1260 days (by which 677 ordinary years are there equally made up) is fixed not in the year 864, but 940, and the end [terminus ad quem] not in the year 152], that is, at the Reformation, but in the violent suppression of the Bohemian Church, which followed in the year 1617, so that the Reformation itself , ver. 14, finds its place in the middle of times 1, 2, ½, and speaking exactly in the middle of the binary number, which these times represent. That you may not think that a great leap is here made, Reader! I wish you to remember (aus der Einlcitung zur Erkl. Offenb . § 52), that a prophetical day comprises half an ordinary year, with the addition of about 14 days. If you take 14 full days: 1260 days, by this measure will make 678 years, with an addition ( which Erkl. Offenb. nearly represents at the passage quoted); but if , instead of 14 days, you take 8, the sum of 657 years will come forth (which the Gnomon proposes, which is almost equally distant from Erkl. Offenb. c. ix. 15). The method of computation therefore itself introduces a difference of only 21 years ( in which matter I would rather give the preference to Erkl. Offenb., the 2d Edition of which is certainly more recent than the Gnomon, than to the Gnomon): but the places assigned to the beginning and the end respectively [termini a quo et ad quem], vary within a space of 96 years; but this difference makes no variance as far as concerns the chief point of the subject, which comprises most important revolutions, and those brought about gradually. ( Respecting a latitude of this kind, comp. den Beschluss der Erkl. Offenb. ii. St . p. 1082, and the next, or die Vorrede zu meiner erklärenden Umschreibung, etc., p. ix.) To this you may refer the conclusion which presents itself in der Erkl. Offenb., Ed. ii., p. 591. Also wären die 677, Jahre zwischen A. 1524 und 1624 ausgeloffen. In dem Raum dieser 100 Jahre ist nichts bedenklicher, als die Reformation , und die mit deren Bestätigung verknupfte betrübte Zerstörung der Bohmischen Bruder Gemeine: und also ist bey soldier Revolution das Ziel der 677, Jahre order der 1260, prophetischen Tage zu suchen. Wir lassen einem jeden die Freyheit, das Jahr zn bestimmen: doch prüfe man, was folgt. A. 1517, nahm diess grosse Werk seinen Anfang. Die Böbmische Brüder Gemeine, und die Reformation, stunden 100 Jahr nebeneinander , bis auf Jahr 1617. Von A. 1617, kommt man mit 677 Jahren zwuïcke auf das Jahr 940. und also geben die 1260, Tage den Periodum der böhmischen Kirche. E. B.

Verse 7

Revelation 12:7 . Ὁ Μιχαὴλ , Michaël ) The archangel, but still, a created angel. Daniel 10:13 ; Jude 1:9 . Nic. Collado, Raph. Eglinus, Jonas Le Buy, Grotius, Cluver, Mede, Dimpelius, and others, recognise a created angel. τοῦ πολεμῆσαι [125] ) that is, ἮΣΑΝ . An elegant expression. Thus Basil of Seleucia says of Abel, ὍΛΟς ΤΟῦ ΔΏΡΟΥ ΓΕΝΌΜΕΝΟς , altogether intent upon that which he was offering . Comp. 2 Chronicles 26:5 , in the Hebrew. The war was occasioned by the πλάνῃ , with which the whole world was carried away. ΜΕΤᾺ ) together with , that is, against . So μετὰ , Revelation 12:17 ; Revelation 2:16 ; Revelation 11:7 ; Revelation 13:4 ; Revelation 13:7 ; Revelation 17:14 ; Revelation 19:19 .

[125] So AB (omitting τοῦ ) Syr. But Rec. Text, ἐπολέμησαν ; Vulg. “præliabantur.” E.

Verse 8

Revelation 12:8 . Οὐκ ἴσχυσεν αὐτῷ ) Others read, οὐκ ἴσχυσαν , οὐδὲ τόπος εὑρέθη αὐτῶν . [126] If the plural number were correct, it would be ΟὐΔῈ ΤΌΠΟς ΕὙΡΈΘΗ ΑὐΤΟῖς (not ΑΥΤῶΝ ), as it is expressed in Revelation 20:11 ; Daniel 2:35 , also Job 16:18 . Victorinus also has, and there was not found FOR HIM (not, OF THEM) a place in heaven . And Cassiod . in his Complex., The Dragon being cast headlong to the earth, was overthrown, so that he no longer HAD the place of blessedness . The explanation of Andreas likewise speaks of the dragon only, and not of his angels. In which point of view almost all the testimonies for the plural are set aside. The style of the Apocalypse usually attributes the good which is done, or the adversity which happens to the prince or leading person concerned, in the singular number, rather than to those whom he has for his subjects. This is the case in this passage also; for in Revelation 12:7 , in the battle, the dragon is described at first alone, and then the same with his angels. Afterwards this book makes mention of the dragon only; wherefore the angels of the dragon, where occasion requires it, will have to be understood from this passage. The simple verb, ἰσχύειν , for which Pricæus would prefer ΚΑΤΙΣΧΎΕΙΝ , is used in this passage, as in the Septuagint, Psalms 13:0 (12):5; Daniel 7:21 , ἸΣΧΎΕΙΝ ΠΡΌς ΤΙΝΑ . ἘΝ Τῷ ΟὐΡΑΝῷ , in heaven ) in which, all along from the triumph of Christ up to the time then present, he had accused the brethren of the dwellers in heaven, Revelation 12:10 . Comp. Revelation 12:12 . The earth is included in the heaven: not the opposite.

[126] A Memph. read ἴσχυσεν . But BC Vulg. Syr. ἴσχυσαν . ABC Vulg. Syr. read αὐτῶν ; but Memph. αὐτῷ . E.

Verse 9

Revelation 12:9 . Ὁ καλούμενος διάβολος , καὶσατανᾶς , κ . τ . λ . The devil and Satan are exactly synonymous, as Druse teaches, and Raphel, in his Annot. from Polybius, p. 719; for both שטן , and διαβάλλειν mean to place one’ self between for the purpose of resistance; wherefore also the Septuagint frequently has διάβολος for שטן , which is retained at 1 Kings 11:14 ; 1 Kings 11:23 ; 1 Kings 11:25 . Therefore there is no more difference between them than between gladius, in ordinary appellation, and ensis in poetic usage. The only difference lies in the Hebrew and Greek idiom; and the adversary is pointed out, who harasses the Gentiles, as the devil, and the Jews, as Satan; in this place, indeed, saints of both classes. Even Andreas of Cæsareia saw, that there was force in the double appellation; and lest I should be accused of refining too nicely, Grotius refers this double appellation to the Jews and Gentiles. But the observation appertains to this text, in which both the Hebrew and the Greek names are joined together: in other texts, even the appellation of the devil, inasmuch as it is alone, may no doubt appertain to the Jews. ὁ πλανῶν , which deceiveth) The devil is a liar and a murderer, John 8:44 ; a seducer, in this passage, and raging, Revelation 12:12 , where despair, in consequence of the shortness of the time, inflames his rage. But the saints, who overcome him, have faith, love, and hope.

Verse 10

Revelation 12:10 . Ἀρτι , now ) This particle teaches most evidently, that this twelfth chapter, from its very beginning, refers to the trumpet of the seventh angel; for the voice which was heard immediately under the sound of that trumpet, ch. Revelation 11:15 , respecting the kingdom , is here repeated with a remarkable increase of meaning by the figure, Epitasis [see Append.]; nor can it by any means be placed before this trumpet in particular. The accuser attacked the citizens, and not the king. Moreover, the latter part of the twelfth chapter, has a most close coherence with this very passage. In ch. Revelation 2:15-18 , these things are set forth , which this most important trumpet comprises; in Revelation 2:19 , and ch. 12 22 is an Exergasia [see Append. “Epexegesis.”], and copious description of its accomplishment. ὁ κατήγωρ [127] ) A name naturalized and adopted even in the East, and so used by the Syriac translator in this passage. Therefore in this very place it is not used as a Greek word (as Camero remarks), but as a Hebrew word, the purely Greek synonym, ΚΑΤΗΓΟΡῶΝ , following. The two languages are joined together, as in Revelation 12:9 , and repeatedly in this book, which has reference to both Israelites and Gentiles. See Schoettgen, Hor. Hebr. p. 1120, and those winch follow; where also the office of Michaël , and the appellation, old serpent , are illustrated from the writings of the Hebrews.

[127] Κατήγωρ , A. Κατήγορος , BC and Rec. Text. E.

Verse 12

Revelation 12:12 . [128] ΟὐΑῚ , woe ) This is the last denunciation of the third and most grievous woe , which has already been frequently denounced; and under it at length the beast assails. Wherefore the remarks which Wolf makes most recently . T. iv. Curar, p. 530, he also approves of, p. 535, when he prefers to the other interpreters, those who think that the government of the Roman Pontiff is marked out by the beast. Revelation 13:1 . τῇ γῇ καὶ τῇ θαλάσση , the earth and the sea ) The earth is placed before the sea, either because the earth, as opposed to the heaven, is superior (to the sea), and the sea is only a part of the earth, which is understood in the following verse under the earth: or because the third woe really began in Asia, before it began in Europe, through the instrumentality of the beast. ὀλίγον καιρὸν , a short time ) καιρὸς , in this place, has a peculiar signification, a time of 2222/9 years; and ὀλίγός καιρὸς is the period next above the 3½ times, which are the subject of Revelation 12:14 ; and therefore the ὈΛΊΓΟς ΚΑΙΡΌς , is four times , or 8888/9 years, are from a. 947 to A. 1836, as is collected from the proportions of the other periods, with which this is connected. See Erkl. Offenb. p. 619.

[128] Ver. 11. οὐκ , not ) By this negative a contradiction is given to the accusation, the subject of which is indicated by this very expression. V. g.

τὴν ψυχὴν αὑτῶν , their own soul ) or life . In like manner Satan had also accused Job, Job 2:4 . Against him, who renounces his love of life, the calumniator has now no power. V. g.

Verse 13

Revelation 12:13 . Καὶ ὅτε κ . τ . λ ., and when the dragon saw that he was cast to the earth ) Arnolf, a monk of Ratisbonne , says Ussher, who makes himself an eye-witness of the matter, affirms that a portentous dragon was seen in the air about these times ( de S. Emmerammo, l . 2, t . 2, ant. lect. H. Canisii , pp. 98, 99). “Having been placed in Pannonia some years before, on a certain day from the third hour to the sixth, I saw the devil, or a dragon, suspended in the air. But his magnitude was incredible, his length so great, that he seemed to be extended, as it were, through the space of a mile.” Admonitius, who converses with him in this dialogue, asks of Arnolf: Did you at all remember at that time any of these things, which the blessed John writes in his Apocalypse respecting the dragon and the beast? He replies: Truly these things came into my memory, but the recollection of what is written in the same Apocalypse especially harassed me, in which is contained: Woe to you, because the dragon is come to you with great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time . [Ussher [129] ] de success. Eccles. Christian, f. 46, 47. The same, s. 36, from Glaber Rodulph , relates that such a portent was seen in Gaul, about A. 1000 or afterwards. And Arnolf flourished about A. 1040. Wherefore the visions related by Rodulph and Arnolf were between the beginnings of the short time and of the 3½ times , and then the dragon was certainly already cast to the earth, persecuting the woman: but I am not credulous enough to assent to the statement, that this enemy was then actually seen in Gaul and in Pannonia. Yet I thought that this account ought to be mentioned, because a man of great weight, James Ussher, both related it, and plainly enough assented to it. Let those who find more testimonies of such phenomena, produce them: let those who are strong in spiritual judgment, weigh them.

[129] Ussher’s collected works, vol. ii., p. 101.

Verse 14

Revelation 12:14 . Αἱ δύο πτέρυγες ) The Hebrew dual כְגָפַיִם does not always involve the number two: but it is used even in the description of four or six wings, Ezekiel 1:0 and Isaiah 6:0 . Whence in the Septuagint כְגָפַיִם is never expressed by δύο πτέρυγες . Therefore in this passage it is said not without great significance, αἱ δύο πτέρυγες , those two wings. The great eagle itself is the Roman empire: the two wings, the power over the east and the west. εἰς τὸν τόπον αὐτῆς , into her place) This place [130] comprises very large regions, Poland, Russia, Hungary, Transilvania, etc. , by the addition of which to the church, A. 965, and thenceforward, the Christian power reached, in a continuous tract, from the Eastern to the Western Empire. καιρὸν καὶ καιροὺς και ἥμισυ καιροῦ ) So Daniel 7:25 , εὥς καιροῦ καὶ καιρῶν καὶ ἥμισυ καιροῦ ; ch. Revelation 12:7 , εἰς καιρὸν και καιροὺς και ἥμισυ καιροῦ . In each passage the subject is the calamity of the holy people. The plural, καιροὺς , denotes two times . The plural number is to be taken most strictly. In this manner of speaking, after years , the space of two years is signified, l. 17, § 3. Digest, de manum. test. Being indefinitely commanded to be free after years, he shall be free after the space of two years: and that interpretation both the favour of liberty demands, and the words admit . Thus עשר ten , עשרים two decades, that is, twenty. According to the rule of the ancient Hebrew doctors, usually employed in expounding the Sacred Writings, the plural number is to be understood of two, if there is no reason to the contrary . Guil. Surenhusius de Alleg. V. T. in N. T., p. 589. And in this passage, indeed, the taking, in a strict sense, is admissible even on this account, because there is an interval between the one and the half . In an indefinite sense several καιροὶ are a χρόνος . Mæris the Atticist, ὥρα ἔτους , ἀττικῶς · καιρὸς ἔτους , ἑλληνικῶς . Ammonius and Thomas Magister, καιρὸς μέρος χρόνου , οἷον μεμετρημένων ἡμερῶν σύστημα · χρόνος δε , πολλῶν καιρῶν περιοχὴ καὶ σύλληψις . [131] In the Apocalyptic sense ΚΑΙΡῸς a time has a definite length, as is plain from the distribution of this very period into a time, and times, and the half of a time . This period begins before the number of the beast, and extends beyond it: nor however does the whole of it far exceed it. It has 777 7/9 years. By such a method, even a Chronus has a definite length, and comprises five καιροὺς or times: although Leop. Frid. Gans Nobilis de Putlitz determines that καιρὸν has eighty years, and a Chronus 240 years, and thus he takes three καιροὺς for Chronus. Through a time, and times, and the half of a time , the Church is nourished, being removed from the serpent, and assailed by the river, i.e. the attack of the Turks , and not however overwhelmed: therefore those times are terminated by the captivity of the serpent, and are conveniently divided by the parts “joints” of the Turkish history. The beginning of the captivity, as is shown in its place, will be in A. 1836. Therefore the time is 2222/9 years, from A. 1058 to 1280; and in the middle of the eleventh century, a new kingdom arose among the Turks, and shortly afterwards inundated the eastern part of the Christian world; but, at the close of that century, the city of Jerusalem was taken from them, which not long after they took again. The times are 4444/9 years, from A. 1280 to 1725. In that interval they greatly desolated the Church, having taken Constantinople, having long had possession of Buda, and having more than once besieged Vienna. The half a time consists of 1111/9 years, from A. 1725 to 1836. Before the end of this half a time, and indeed considerably before, the earth swallows up the last attacks of the river. ἀπὸ προσώπου ) construed with ΤΡΈΦΕΤΑΙ . Comp. מפני ἈΠῸ ΠΡΟΣΏΠΟΥ , 2 Kings 16:18 , and Jude 1:9 :21, where the Hebrew accent plainly renders it a parallel expression: and Nehemiah 4 :(9)3.

[130] In der Erkl. Offeneb. Ed. II ., p. 642, the place of the wilderness, in the singular , Germany, is much more definitely distinguished from the wilderness which comprises these countries . ( Comp. p . 639), so that the eastern wing might especially subserve her flight into the wilderness, the western ( wing ) her flight into the place. E. B.

[131] Χρόνος and ἀιών are indefinite time. Ὥρα , definite term, generally short; Καιρός , the opportune time. Αἰών , the indefinite flow of time without the notion of an end: Χρόνος , time in its actuality, by which we perceive the succession of things; it is a sort of aggregate of times. Καιρός , a specific time, and, “as opportunity” is fleeting, that time, of short duration: in Revelation 12:14 , a year, not literally but applied to the time of a year. See Tittm. Syn. E.

Verse 17

Revelation 12:17 . Μετὰ τῶν λοιπῶν , with the remnant ) These are the faithful scattered in the lands of the unfaithful.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 12". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.