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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 9

Wesley's Explanatory NotesWesley's Notes

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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.

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star — Far different from that mentioned, Revelation 8:11. This star belongs to the invisible world. The third woe is occasioned by the dragon cast out of heaven; the second takes place at the loosing of the four angels who were bound in the Euphrates. The first is here brought by the angel of the abyss, which is opened by this star, or holy angel.

Falling to the earth — Coming swiftly and with great force.

And to him was given — when he was come.

The key of the bottomless pit — A deep and hideous prison; but different from "the lake of fire."

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.

And there arose a smoke out of the pit — The locusts, who afterwards rise out of it, seem to be, as we shall afterwards see, the Persians; agreeable to which, this smoke is their detestable idolatrous doctrine, and false zeal for it, which now broke out in an uncommon paroxysm.

As the smoke of a great furnace — where the clouds of it rise thicker and thicker, spread far and wide, and press one upon another, so that the darkness increases continually.

And the sun and the air were darkened — A figurative expression, denoting heavy affliction. This smoke occasioned more and more such darkness over the Jews in Persia.

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.

And out of the smoke — Not out of the bottomless pit, but from the smoke which issued thence.

There went forth locusts — A known emblem of a numerous, hostile, hurtful people. Such were the Persians, from whom the Jews, in the sixth century, suffered beyond expression. In the year540 their academies were stopped, nor were they permitted to have a president for near fifty years. In589 this affliction ended; but it began long before — 540. The prelude of it was about the year455,474: the main storm came on in the reign of Cabades, and lasted from483to — 532. Toward the beginning of the sixth century, Mar Rab Isaac, president of the academy, was put to death. Hereon followed an insurrection of the Jews, which lasted seven years before they were conquered by the Persians. Some of them were then put to death, but not many; the rest were closely imprisoned. And from this time the nation of the Jews were hated and persecuted by the Persians, till they had well nigh rooted them out.

The scorpions of the earth — The most hurtful kind. The scorpions of the air have wings.

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.

And it was commanded them — By the secret power of God.

Not to hurt the grass, neither any green thing, nor any tree — Neither those of low, middling, or high degree, but only such of them as were not sealed - Principally the unbelieving Israelites. But many who were called Christians suffered with them.

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.

Not to kill them — Very few of them were killed: in general, they were imprisoned and variously tormented.

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.

The men — That is, the men who are so tormented.

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.

And the appearances — This description suits a people neither throughly civilized, nor entirely savage; and such were the Persians of that age.

Of the locusts are like horses — With their riders. The Persians excelled in horsemanship.

And on their heads are as it were crowns — Turbans.

And their faces are as the faces of men — Friendly and agreeable.

Verse 8

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

And they had hair as the hair of women — All the Persians of old gloried in long hair.

And their teeth were as the teeth of lions — Breaking and tearing all things in pieces.

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.

And the noise of their wings was as the noise of chariots of many horses — With their war-chariots, drawn by many horses, they, as it were, flew to and fro.

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.

And they have tails like scorpions — That is, each tail is like a scorpion, not like the tail of a scorpion. To hurt the unsealed men five months - Five prophetic months; that is, seventy-nine common years So long did these calamities last.

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 they have over them a king — One by whom they are peculiarly directed and governed.

His name is Abaddon — Both this and Apollyon signify a destroyer. By this he is distinguished from the dragon, whose proper name is Satan.

Verse 12

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

One woe is past; behold, there come yet two woes after these things — The Persian power, under which was the first woe, was now broken by the Saracens: from this time the first pause made a wide way for the two succeeding woes. In589, when the first woe ended, Mahomet was twenty years old, and the contentions of the Christians with each other were exceeding great. In591Chosroes II. reigned in Persia, who, after the death of the emperor, made dreadful disturbances in the east, Hence Mahomet found an open door for his new religion and empire. And when the usurper Phocas had, in the year606, not only declared the Bishop of Rome, Boniface III., universal bishop, but also the church of Rome the head of all churches, this was a sure step to advance the Papacy to its utmost height. Thus, after the passing away of the first woe, the second, yea, and the third, quickly followed; as indeed they were both on the way together with it before the first effectually began.

Verse 13

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

And the sixth angel sounded — Under this angel goes forth the second woe.

And I heard a voice from the four corners of the golden altar — This golden altar is the heavenly pattern of the Levitical altar of incense. This voice signified that the execution of the wrath of God, mentioned verses20,21, Revelation 9:20-21 should, at no intercession, be delayed any longer.

Verse 14

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

Loose the four angels — To go every way; to the four quarters. These were evil angels, or they would not have been bound. Why, or how long, they were bound we know not.

Verse 15

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.

And the four angels were loosed, who were prepared — By loosing them, as well as by their strength and rage.

To kill the third part of men — That is, an immense number of them.

For the hour, and day, and month, and year — All this agrees with the slaughter which the Saracens made for a long time after Mahomet’s death. And with the number of angels let loose agrees the number of their first and most eminent caliphs. These were Ali, Abubeker, Omar, and Osman. Mahomet named Ali, his cousin and son-in-law, for his successor; but he was soon worked out by the rest, till they severally died, and so made room for him. They succeeded each other, and each destroyed innumerable multitudes of men. There are in a prophetic Com. Years. Com. Days. Hour....... 8 Day............ 196 in all212years. Month........... 15.........318 / Year............ 196.........117 / Now, the second woe, as also the beginning of the third, has its place between the ceasing of the locusts and the rising of the beast out of the sea, even at the time that the Saracens, who were chiefly cavalry, were in the height of their carnage; from their, first caliph, Abubeker, till they were repulsed from Rome under Leo IV. These212years may therefore be reckoned from the year634to — 847. The gradation in reckoning the time, beginning with the hour and ending with a year, corresponds with their small beginning and vast increase. Before and after Mahomet’s death, they had enough to do to settle their affairs at home. Afterwards Abubeker went farther, and in the year634gained great advantage over the Persians and Romans in Syria. Under Omar was the conquest of Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Egypt made. Under Osman, that of Afric, (with the total suppression of the Roman government in the year647,) of Cyprus, and of all Persia in — 651. After Ali was dead, his son Ali Hasen, a peaceable prince, was driven out by Muavia; under whom, and his successors, the power of the Saracens so increased, that within fourscore years after Mahomet’s death they had extended their conquests farther than the warlike Romans did in four hundred years.

Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 9". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wen/revelation-9.html. 1765.
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