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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Revelation 18

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

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Revelation 18. The Dirge over the Fallen City.— This chapter contains a very fine threnody over Rome after her fall. It describes her desolation and ruin and the paralysis of her trade and commerce.

Verses 1-12

Revelation 18:1 . another angel: we have no means of identifying this angel of doom.

Revelation 18:2 . habitation . . . bird: cf. Isaiah 13:21 f; Isaiah 34:14, where the rained cities of Babylon and Edom become the haunts of unclean spirits.

Revelation 18:3 . kings of the earth: Revelation 17:2 *.

Revelation 18:4 . come forth: “ the cry ‘ come forth’ rings through Hebrew history ( e.g. Genesis 12:1; Genesis 19:12, Numbers 16:26, Isaiah 52:11). . . . In this context the sauve qui peut is to be regarded partly as a feature borrowed from the OT model, partly as a warning to Christians at Rome to shun entanglement in the sin and punishment of Babylon” (Swete).

Revelation 18:6 . double unto her: this phrase is explained by Jeremiah 16:18 ( cf. Isaiah 40:2).

Revelation 18:9 . all the kings of the earth: Revelation 17:2 *. The vassal kings are the first to take up the strain of woe, because Rome was the prop upon which they leaned, and when it fell, they lost their main support.

Revelation 18:11 . the merchants: Rome was the market of the world in the first century of our era, and the merchants bemoan the loss of their trade. The list of the imports given in Revelation 18:11-14 is an indication of the wealth and luxury of the time.

Revelation 18:12 . thyine wood: i.e. all kinds of scented wood. Citrus or thyine wood was much prized for its veining, and was largely used in the manufacture of dining tables.

Verses 13-19

Revelation 18:13 . cinnamon: probably not the spice now called by that name but an unguent or cosmetic used as a perfume.— chariots: a fashionable kind of equipage much used in Rome by the wealthy classes.— souls of men: the Gr. phrase does not refer to what we mean when we use the term “ soul.” It denotes simply “ the natural life.” “ Lives of men” would be the more exact rendering. The writer is alluding to “ the traffic in human life,” whether in the form of slavery or immorality, or the brutal sports of the amphitheatre.

Revelation 18:14 . And the fruits: lit. “ and the ripe fruit of the desire of thy soul is gone from thee” (Swete) and all thy rich and sumptuous things have perished. “ Just when the fruit of the labour of many generations seemed ready to fall into the mouth it had vanished like a dream (Swete).

Revelation 18:17 . The dirge of the shipmasters and mariners follows that of the merchants.

Revelation 18:17-19 . There are many reminiscences in this passage of the lament over the fall of Tyre in Ezekiel 27.

Verses 20-24

Revelation 18:20-24 . The Rejoicing in Heaven over the Fall of Rome.

Revelation 18:20 . judged your judgement: vindicated the cause of the Christian Church against Rome.

Revelation 18:21 . took up a stone: a symbolical action to represent the utter destruction of the city ( cf. Jeremiah 51:63 f.). “ As this stone is flung into the deep, so shall Babylon vanish” (Swete).

Revelation 18:22 . The sound of merriment and revelry is stilled: no sounds will in the future come from its industrial life, or domestic labour. The stillness of death will be over everything. For the imagery cf. Ezekiel 26:13, Jeremiah 25:10.

Revelation 18:24 . all that have been slain: the language of this passage is hyperbolical. Rome could not be held responsible for all the martyrdoms that had occurred in the history of Israel. The seer, however, is referring principally to the martyrdoms of his own day, and as Rome was mistress of the world and responsible for its good government, “ the loss of the lives sacrificed throughout the Empire lay at her door” ( cf. Matthew 23:35).

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Revelation 18". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/revelation-18.html. 1919.
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