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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Revelation 18



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Verse 2

Revelation 18:2. καὶ ἔκραξεν ἰσχύϊ φωνῇ μεγάλῃ λέγων) A noun of cognate signification is often added to a verb, for the sake of emphasis, in the Dative case, by the LXX. ἀληθείᾳ ταπεινοῦν, βίᾳ ἀχθῆναι, βρώσει φαγεῖν, δάκρυσι κλαίειν, δεήσει λαλεῖν, θανάτῳ τελευτᾷν, θυμῷ ὀργίζεσθαι, ὀργῇ θυμοῦσθαι, μέτρῳ λαμβάνειν, σοφίᾳ ἀριθμεῖν, τόλμῃ ἐπικεῖσθαι, ὓβρει τρέχειν, ὕβρει φέρεσθαι, ὑπερόψει ὑπεριδεῖν, φόβῳ δειλιᾷν, φυγῇ πορεὑεσθαι, φωνῇ καλεῖν. See also Acts 2:30; Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 1:18; 1 John 3:18. So here κράζειν ἰσχύϊ, and Revelation 18:21, ὁρμήματι βληθῆναι. ἰσχύϊ itself is used absolutely, 2 Chronicles 28:6, ἀνδρῶν δυνατῶν ἰσχύϊ.— ἔπεσεν ἔπεσε, is fallen, is fallen) Some MSS. and translators, ch. Revelation 14:8, and here, put ἔπεσε, is fallen, once only(195): and the one of these passages may appear to have been moulded so as to be in conformity with the other. Sometimes Epizeuxis (Append.) increases the emphasis; but Babylon is fallen, is fallen, is said in Isaiah 21:9, long before its fall; nay, even before its flourishing condition: Babylon is suddenly fallen, Jeremiah 51:8, not long before its very overthrow. Therefore, if one reading is not to be followed in both passages of the Apocalypse, I would read it twice in the first passage, and once only in the second; almost in the same manner in which there are at first set forth three woes, afterwards two, and lastly one: so that, is fallen, is fallen, expresses an overthrow gradually coming on; is fallen, expresses an overthrow sudden, total, and final. For once for all [at once] is often the same as entirely: Numbers 20:8; 1 Samuel 26:8. But the copyists not unfrequently wrote once only words which ought to have been written twice: and ἔπεσεν ἔπεσε is found in many copies at ch. Revelation 16:8, and ch. Revelation 18:2. It is plain, that the actual overthrow is not now to be here understood, but that it is a prophecy respecting the overthrow which is certainly and quickly about to follow; for in Revelation 18:4, and not until then, the people of God are commanded to go forth. But the people of God are not those whose pastor is the Roman Pontiff, as some one has wished to wrest the Apocalypse. It is said, My people, not the people of the Roman Pontiff; as Acts 18:10, the Lord is said to have much people in the city of Corinth, without any particular reference to Paul or any other pastor there.(196)

Verse 5

Revelation 18:5. (197) ἐκολλήθησαν) Wolf says, this reading is suspected by me.(198) For the verb κολλᾶσθαι is said only of those, who adhere to any object or person, as pleasing to themselves; but I do not perceive how this can be said of sins, and moreover of sinners, with reference to the heavens. But the verb κολλᾶσθαι is used in a wider sense, Zechariah 14:5, καὶ ἐγκολληθήσεται φάραγξ ἓως ἀσαής. Lamentations 2:2, τὰ ὀχυρώματα τῆς θυγατρὸς ἰούδα ἐκόλλησεν ( κύριος) εἰς τὴς γῆν. Passages might be added, in which דבק and κολλᾶσθαι correspond with each other. But the two former passages prove the matter: for ἕως and εἰς in them, and ἄχρι in the Apocalypse, render the expression altogether similar; and the word הגיע is found in them, which word is used, 2 Chronicles 28:9, to denote a slaughter reaching to the heaven: LXX., ἔφθακε. The Apocalyptic phrase answers to that passage of Jeremiah 51 (in the Greek 28) 9, ὅτι ἤγγισεν εἰς οὐρανὸν τὸ κρί΄α αὐτῆς ( βαβυλῶνος); in Hebr. it is נגע, of which word John undoubtedly had an idea in his mind. But ἀκολουθέω is never used to express this word; the synonymous words, φθάνειν, ἐγγίζειν, κολλᾶσθαι, are used. The MSS., with general consent, have ἐκολλήθησαν: Erasmus, ἠκολούθησαν, from mere conjecture, as it seems; for not even does Andreas thus read it. Whether αἱ ἁ΄αρτίαι here denote sins, or rather punishments, the passage in Ap. ch. Revelation 16:13 is different; for the works follow with those who die in the Lord the sins do not follow with Babylon even to the heaven.

Verse 6

Revelation 18:6. ἀπόδοτε, reward) The saints will reward in a manner which is holy, and in accordance with their character, rather than violent.

Verse 7

Revelation 18:7. κάθημαιοὐκ εἰμὶοὐ μὴ ἴδω) κάθημαι, from ἧμαι· ἧμαι, a present, has the force of a perfect, from ἓω, as στήκω from στάω, and ἥκω from the same ἓω. Therefore Babylon displays the most unconcerned security as respects the past, the present, and the future time. She calls herself Queen: and Bossuet is in error, when he thinks that a corrupt church only, and not also a royal city, is sought by us in Rome. Both are had in view. See ch. Revelation 17:5; Revelation 17:18.

Verse 8

Revelation 18:8. ἰσχυρὸς, strong) אל, LXX., ἰσχυρὸς, 2 Samuel 22:32, and everywhere.

Verse 10

Revelation 18:10. βαβυλὼν πόλις ἰσχυρά, Babylon the strong city) Illa civitas Valida, Tertull. de Cultu Fœm. c. 12. ῥώμη, strength. The earlier inhabitants had called it Valentia, the Greek settlers, Rome. You may also refer עצומים, the strong, Isaiah 53:12, to the name of Rome. The place, as expressing a mark, is much stronger in the writings of the prophets than of the philosophers. In like manner, chariots and axes ( πεπελεκισμένων, “beheaded with an axe”), peculiarly characteristic of the Romans, are specified, Revelation 18:13, ch. Revelation 20:4.

Verse 11

Revelation 18:11. etc. γόμον,(199) κ. τ. λ.) The construction is easy from γό΄ον to πρόβατα, and ψυχὰς coheres with these in the same case; but at ἵππων, ῥεδῶν, σω΄άτων, you may understand afresh γό΄ον: for horses, chariots, and slaves, are serviceable for the conveyance of different kinds of merchandise. There is a mixture of cases, as in Hippocr. de Humoribus, ch. 25. Pricæus is very full, in setting forth this enumeration. If you examine the Romish Ceremonial, you may see that all kinds of these wares repeatedly occur in abundance.

But the oldest authorities read γόμον. Vulg. “merces,” ver. 11; “mercem,” ver. 12.—E.

Verse 12

Revelation 18:12. θύϊνον) θύα is, according to some, citria:(200) but citria is κιτρία, θύα thya. The latter tree is also fragrant; and thus the citria is not unlike some kinds of thya. See Plin. 50:13. ch. 16 throughout. There is no place here for ebony, but shortly afterwards.— ἐκ ξύλου τιμιωτάτου, of most precious wood) For ξύλου, some African copies read λίθου, from the alliteration to the preceding words.(201) Vessels are not made out of most precious stone, but out of precious stone, or out of most precious wood. Such especially is ebony, which is often mentioned together with ivory. The one excels in whiteness, the other in blackness; each is of remarkable smoothness. See Fuller’s Misc. l. 6, c. 14.— χαλκοῦ, κ. τ. λ.) of brass, and iron, and marble.

A and Vulg. read λίθου: so Lachm. But BCh, ξύλου: so Tisch.—E.

Verse 13

Revelation 18:13. ἄμωμον, amomum) A kind of shrub, the wood of which affords a sweet odour. [This reading is not to be omitted. Amomum is pleasing to the people of Italy.(202)—Not. Crit.]— καὶ κτήνη, καὶ πρόβατα, and beasts of burden, and sheep) These kinds differ, as בקר and צאן among the Hebrews. Thus צאן ובקר, Jeremiah 31 (Gr. 38) 12, καὶ κτηνῶν καὶ προβάτων. One of the LXX., or, as the Talmudical treatise respecting the scribes teaches, according to the number or the books of Moses, one of the five, translators has plainly expressed the passage of Genesis 46:34, ἐρεῖτε, ἄνδρες κτηνοτρόφοι ἐσμὲνβδέλυγμα γὰρ ἐστιν αἰγυπτίοις πᾶς ποιμὴν προβάτων.— ῥεδῶν) Vulg. rhedarum. רכב, LXX., ἅρ΄α, which noun is found also, ch. Revelation 11:9. עגלה is rendered by LXX. often, ἅ΄αξα. But ῥέδη is to be found in no writer, who wrote in Greek before John. Nor does the particular object itself appear to have been known to the Greeks: for different nations delight in different forms of vehicles. Neither is rheda, or, according to Isidore, reda, a Greek word, as Andreas of Cæsareia sufficiently teaches on this passage, explaining ῥέδαν, for the sake of the Greeks, by ὄχη΄α, as Theophylact does κουστωδίαν, by φυλακὴν, Matthew 27:65. Nor did rheda sound with less novelty among the Greeks, than that word ὄχημα would sound in the Latin language. It is owing to this that the Greek copyists wrote in this place ῥεδῶν with such variations.(203) The modern Greek version, ἀμάξια. Many Gallic words prevailed, as rheda, which Cicero uses, says Quintil. l. i. c. 5; but Isidore: the reda is a kind of four-wheeled carriage; these the ancients called retæ, because they had rotæ [wheels]: l. xx. 12. The Arabian version, better acquainted with Greek than with Latin, substituted of mules and camels. The word thus introduced into the Latin state, and therefore become Latin, is not without design used in this passage. This stricture indeed attacks Rome, and the luxury which is peculiar to Rome. Jerome on Isaiah 66 : With Gallic waggon, and war-chariots, and horses of Cappadocia and Spain; and carriages of Italy [REDIS ITALIÆ], etc. On the Hebrews, meant by the use of Hebrew words, comp. note on ch. Revelation 7:4.— καὶ σωμάτων, καὶ ψυχὰς ἀνθρώπων) The Greeks often say σώματα instead of slaves: Tobit 10:10 (11), σώματα καὶ κτήνη καὶ ἀργύριον: and thus LXX., Genesis 36:6, πάντα τὰ σώματα τοῦ οἴκου αὐτοῦ. The same again, Ezekiel 27:13, ἐνεμπορεύονταί σοι ἐν ψυχαῖς ἀνθρώπων. In both these passages נפש and אדם נפש are the words in the Hebrew. ψυχαὶ ἀνθρώπων are used for carcases, the dead, Numbers 9:6; Numbers 19:11, but also for the living, Leviticus 24:17, especially captives or slaves, Numbers 31:35; Numbers 31:40; Numbers 31:46. In this passage, where merchants are introduced complaining, the bodies are slaves, used for carrying merchandise or their masters: the souls of men are slaves, in so far as they are in themselves counted as merchandise.

Verse 14

Revelation 18:14. καὶ ὀπώρα, κ. τ. λ.) ὀπώρα in LXX. answers to the Hebrew קיץ, Jeremiah 48:32, and denotes the fruits of trees. From those things, which were imported into the city by merchants, there is now a transition to those domestic delights, of which this one species only, ὀπώρα, there held of the greatest value, is expressed. But there afterwards follow two kinds; τὰ λιπαρὰ are the rest of the things in the manner of living, which are sources of delight with respect to herself: τὰ λαμπρὰ, consist in dress and clothing, having an appearance of splendour towards others. Therefore these words have a suitable place here, though some have suspected that they ought to be placed after Revelation 18:23. But as the second person is employed in Revelation 18:10, and also follows the third person in Revelation 18:22, so it is here also.

Verse 17

Revelation 18:17. πᾶς ἐπὶ τόπον πλέων) I was not right, I think, in disparaging this reading in my Apparatus.(204) It is supported by the best copies, and denotes indeed a class of men differing from pilots, to whom however it is subjoined, and from sailors, and from all, who trade by sea. Therefore ἐπὶ τόπον πλέων must be he, who repeatedly directs his ship to one place, mart, or country. Others read, πᾶς ἐπὶ τῶν πλοίων πλέων; others, πᾶς ἐπὶ τῶν πλοίων ὅ΄ιλος. The former reading arose from haste, as it seems; the latter from a paraphrase of the genuine reading.— καὶ ὅσοι τὴν θάλασσαν ἐργάζονται) ἐργάζεσθαι is not only to effect anything by labour, but also, which is the meaning here, to be engaged upon, to have to do with. Thus LXX., ἐργάζεσθαι γῆν, παράδεισον, ἀμπελῶνα, πόλιν, χρυσίον, κ. τ. λ.

ABCh Vulg. read ἐπὶ ( τὸν, B) τόπον πλέων. Rec. Text, without good authority, ἐπὶ τῶν πλοίων ὅμιλος.—E.

Verse 18

Revelation 18:18. τίς ὁμοία, what [city is] like) One city above all others in the world was deemed incomparable, viz. Rome. See Pauli Aringhi, Lib. ii. Rom. subterr. c. 1. Rome is spoken of by Martial, as the goddess of the lands and nations, to which NOTHING is EQUAL, and nothing second: and by Athenæus, as the epitome of the world.

Verse 20

Revelation 18:20. οἱ ἅγιοι, the holy) These are put before the apostles and prophets, either as it were a genus before the species, or as those, some of whom were slain before the apostles and prophets.

Verse 22

Revelation 18:22. (206) ΄ουσικῶν) of musicians, that is, singers: for these are the chief [part of musicians]. שרים, LXX. μουσικοὶ, Genesis 31:27; Ezekiel 26:13.— τεχνίτης, craftsman) Nowhere do the arts of painting, sculpture, etc., together with music, flourish more than at Rome: as the Topographies and Itineraries show; for instance, Keyssler’s, Part i. Ep. 49, etc.

Verse 24

Revelation 18:24. ἐν αὐτῇ, in her) The angel speaks this also; and yet he does not say, in thee, but, in her (comp. Matthew 23:37), namely, in the deceiver of the nations, who is now so overthrown, that she does not hear the last part of this address.— πάντων τῶν ἐσφαγμένων, of all, who have been slain) Aringhus, T. i. of the work above quoted, f. 125, shows, that all the theatres of the Roman empire were marked by the slaughter of Christians; and he also says, f. 132, that Rome alone became as it were the GENERAL SHAMBLES for slaying the sheep of Christ. Pagan Rome shed much blood, papal Rome not less. From A. 1518 to 1548, more than fifteen millions of Protestants were put to death through the instrumentality of the Inquisition, according to the opinion of some, as is related in my Germ. Exeg. on this passage. This vast number is even doubled from A. 1550 to 1580, in Hoe on Ap. xvii. qu. 234. Neither of these calculations is probable. More than 900,000 are calculated to have been slain from A. 1540, or 1550, to 1580, by Fred. Seyler, in his Rome Drunken, pp. 339, 340. The true number, whatever it is, is stupendous.


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 18:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 5th, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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