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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 9

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 1

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

The last three trumpets of the seven are called, from Revelation 8:13, the woe-trumpets.

Fall - `fallen.' When John saw it, it was not falling, but had fallen already. This is a link joining this fifth trumpet with Revelation 12:8-9; Revelation 12:12, 'Woe to the inhabiters of the earth ... for the devil is come down,' etc. Compare Isaiah 14:12.

The bottomless pit - `the pit of the abyss:' the mouth of the hell to which Satan and his demons are doomed.

Verse 2

And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 3

And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

Upon - `unto.'

As the scorpions of the earth - contrasted with the "locusts" from hell, not "of the earth."

Have power - namely, to sting.

Verse 4

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

Not hurt the grass ... neither any green thing, neither any tree - on which they ordinarily prey. Therefore not natural locusts. Their instinct is supernaturally restrained to mark the judgment as divine.

Those men which - `the men whosoever.'

In - `upon their forehead.' Thus this fifth trumpet is proved to follow the sealing in Revelation 7:1-17, under the sixth seal. None of the saints are hurt by these locusts; not true of the saints in Mohammed's attack, who is supposed to be meant by the locusts; for many believers fell in the Mohammedan invasions of Christendom.

Verse 5

And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

They ... they. The first "they" is the locusts; the second, the unsealed.

Five months - the ordinary time during which locusts continue their ravages (Elliott); 150 prophetic days,

i.e., years, from 612 AD, when Mohammed opened his mission, to 762 AD, when the Caliphate was moved to Bagdad. Their torment - the torment of the sufferers. This and Revelation 9:6 cannot refer to an invading army; for it would kill, not merely torment.

Verse 6

And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

Shall desire, [ epithumeesousin (G1937)] - set their mind on.

Shall flee. So B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic ['Aleph ('), fugee (G5437)]; but A, 'fleeth,' namely, continually. In Revelation 6:16, at a later stage of God's judgments, the ungodly seek annihilation, not from the torment of suffering, but from fear of the Lamb, before whom they have to stand.

Verse 7

And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

Prepared unto battle - `war.' Note, Joel 2:4, where the resemblance of locusts to horses is traced: the plates of a horse armed for battle represent the outer shell of the locust.

Crowns - (Nahum 3:17.) Elliott, The turbans of Mohammedans. But how could turbans be "like gold"? The correspondences are:

(1) The Turks came from the Euphrates.

(2) Their cavalry was countless.

(3) The breastplates of fire answer to the rich colours (scarlet, blue, yellow) of the Ottoman attire.

(4) Out of the horses' mouths fire and smoke, the Turkish artillery.

(5) The Turkish standard, the horse tails.

(6) The period: an hour, day, month, year; 396 years, 118 days, the time between the going forth of Thogrul Beg, Jan. 18, 1057, and the fall of Constantinople, May 29, 1453. The serpent-like stinging tails correspond to Mohammedanism supplanting Christianity. Alford, The head of the locusts actually ends in a crown-shaped fillet, resembling gold.

As the faces of men. "As" seems to imply the locusts do not mean men. Still they must be supernatural; for locusts do not sting men (Revelation 9:5).

Verse 8

And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

Hair of women - long and flowing. Sign of a half-civilized race (1 Corinthians 11:14-15). An Arabic proverb compares the antlers of locusts to the hair of girls. Ewald understands the hair on the legs or bodies of the locusts: cf. "rough caterpillars" (Jeremiah 51:27).

As the teeth of lions - (Joel 1:6.)

Verse 9

And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

As it were breastplates of iron - not the thorax of the natural locust.

As ... chariots - (Joel 2:5-7.)

Battle - `war.'

Verse 10

And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

Tails like unto scorpions - the tails of scorpions. And there were stings. A B 'Aleph ('), Syriac, Coptic, read, 'and (they have) stings: and in their tails (is) their power (literally, authority) [ exousia (G1849)] to hurt,' etc.

Verse 11

And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

And. So Syriac; but A B 'Aleph (') omit "and."

Had - `have.'

A king ... which is the angel. So A 'Aleph (') read the article before "angel." Translate, 'They have as king over them the angel,' etc.: Satan (cf. Revelation 9:1). B omits the article, 'They have as king an angel,' etc.: some chief demon under Satan. I prefer, from Revelation 9:1, the former.

Bottomless pit - `abyss.'

Abaddon - i:e., destruction (Job 26:6; Proverbs 27:20). The locusts are supernatural-Satan's instruments to torment, yet not kill, the ungodly. As in the case of godly Job, Satan was allowed to torment with elephantiasis, but not to touch life. In Revelation 9:20, these two woe-trumpets are called "plagues." Andreas of Cesarea, 500 AD, held that the locusts mean evil spirits, permitted to come on earth and afflict men with various plagues.

Verse 12

One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

'The one woe.'

Hereafter - `after these things.' These locusts from the abyss are probably judgments to fall on the ungodly immediately before Christ's second advent. None of the interpretations which regard them as past are satisfactory. Joel 1:2-7; Joel 2:1-11, is parallel, and refers (Joel 2:11) to THE DAY OF THE LORD GREAT AND VERY TERRIBLE; Revelation 9:10 gives the portents accompanying the Lord's coming, the earth quaking, the heavens trembling, the sun, moon, and stars withdrawing their shining; Revelation 9:18,31-32 , point to the immediately succeeding deliverance of Jerusalem: cf. Joel 3:11-17, the previous last conflict in the valley of Jehoshaphat, and God's dwelling thenceforth in Zion, blessing Judah. DeBurgh confines the locust-judgment to the Israelite land, as the sealed in Revelation 7:1-17 are Israelites: not that there are not others sealed as elect in the earth: but that, the judgment being confined to Palestine, the sealed of Israel alone needed to be expressly excepted from the visitation. He translates throughout 'THE LAND' (i:e., of Israel and Judah), instead of 'the earth.'

Verse 13

And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

A voice - `one voice.'

From - `out of.'

The four horns. So B, Cyprian; but A, Vulgate (Amiatinus manuscript), Coptic, Syriac, omit "four." The four horns together uttered their voice, not diverse, but one. God's revelation (e.g., the Gospel), though in its aspects fourfold (expressing worldwide extension: whence the evangelists are four), still has one and the same voice. However, from the parallelism of this sixth trumpet to the fifth seal (Revelation 6:9-10), the martyrs' cry for avenging their blood from the altar reaching its consummation under the sixth seal and sixth trumpet, I prefer understanding this cry from the four corners of the altars, to mean the saints' cry from the four quarters of the world, incensed by the angel, ascending to God from the golden altar of incense, and bringing down fiery judgments. 'Aleph (') omits the clause, 'one from the four horns.'

Verse 14

Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

In, [ epi (G1909) too (G3588) potamoo (G4215)] - 'ON,' or 'AT, the great river.'

Euphrates (cf. Revelation 16:12) - whereat Babylon, the ancient foe of God's people, was situated. Again, whether from the literal Euphrates (the boundary between Israel and the great world-kingdom), or from spiritual Babylon (the apostate church, especially ROME), four angelic ministers of God's judgments shall go forth, assembling horsemen throughout the four quarters of the earth, to slay a third of men. The brunt shall be on Palestine.

Verse 15

And the four angels were loosed which were prepared for an hour and a day and a month and a year And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

Were - `which had been prepared.'

For an hour ... - rather, as Greek 'for (i:e., against) THE hour, and day, and month, and year,' namely, appointed by God. The article [ teen (G3588)], once only before all the periods, implies that the hour in the day, and the day in the month, and the month in the year, and the year itself, had been definitely fixed by God. The article would have been omitted had a sum total of periods been specified-namely, 391 years and one month (from A.D. 1281 AD, when the Turks first conquered the Christians, to 1672, their last conquest, since which their empire has declined).

Slay - not merely "hurt" (Revelation 9:10), as in the fifth trumpet.

Third part - (note, Revelation 8:7-12.)

Of men - of earthly men (Revelation 8:13), as distinguished from God's sealed people (of which the sealed of Israel, Revelation 7:1-17, form the nucleus).

Verse 16

And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

Compare with these 200,000,000, Psalms 68:17; Daniel 7:10. The hosts are evidently, from their numbers and appearance (Revelation 9:17), not merely human, but infernal, though constrained to work out God's will (cf. Revelation 9:1-2).

And I heard. A B 'Aleph ('), Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, Cyprians, omit "end."

Verse 17

And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

Thus - as follows.

Of fire - the fiery colour of the breastplates answering to the fire issuing out of their mouths. Of jacinth - of hyacinth colour: answering to our dark-blue iris: their dark-dull-coloured breastplates correspond to the smoke out of their mouths.

Brimstone - sulphur-coloured: answering to the brimstone out of their mouths.

Verse 18

By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

By these three. A B C 'Aleph (') read [ apo (G575) for hupo (G5259)], 'From:' the direction whence the slaughter came; not direct instrumentality, as "by" implies. A B C 'Aleph (') add 'plagues' after "three."

By the fire, [ ek (G1537)] - 'owing to the fire.'

Verse 19

For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

Their. B C 'Aleph (') read, 'the power of the horses;' A [ topon (G5117)], 'of the places.'

In their mouth - whence issued the fire, smoke, and brimstone (Revelation 9:17). Considering the parallelism of this sixth trumpet to the sixth seal, probably events are intended immediately preceding the Lord's coming. "The false prophet" (Isaiah 9:15), or second beast, having a lamb's horns, but speaking as the dragon, who supports by lying miracles the final Antichrist, seems intended. Mohammed is a forerunner of him, not the exhaustive fulfiller of the prophecy. Satan will, toward the end, bring out all the powers of hell for the last conflict (note, "devils," Revelation 9:20: cf. Revelation 9:1-2; Revelation 9:17-18).

With them - the serpent heads with venomous fangs.

Hurt, [ adikousin (G91)] - 'do wrong,' 'injury.'

Verse 20

And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

The rest of the men - i:e., the ungodly.

Yet. So A, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic; B 'Aleph (') read, 'did not even repent of,' so as to give up "the works," etc. Like Pharaoh hardening his heart against repentance, notwithstanding the plagues.

Of their hands - (Deuteronomy 31:29.) Especially the idols made by their hands. Compare Revelation 13:14-15; Revelation 19:20.

That they should not. So B; but A C 'Aleph ('), 'shall not:' a prophecy of certainty that it shall be so.

Devils - `demons:' which lurk beneath idols (1 Corinthians 10:20).

Verse 21

Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

Sorceries - witchcrafts by means of drugs [ farmakeion (G5332)]. A work of the unrenewed flesh (Galatians 5:20), the sin of the pagan: to be repeated by apostate Christians in the last days (Revelation 22:15). The pagan who shall reject the proffered Gospel and cling to fleshly lusts, and apostate Christians who shall relapse into the same, shall share the same terrible judgments. The worship of images was established in the East in 842 AD

Fornication - singular. The other sins (plural) are perpetrated at intervals: those lacking purity indulge in one perpetual fornication (Bengel).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/revelation-9.html. 1871-8.
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