Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 18:19

And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!'
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Thompson Chain Reference - Ashes;   Dust;   The Topic Concordance - Judges;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Commerce;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Poetry of the Hebrews;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - City;   Head;   Ship;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Dust;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Babylon;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Debt, Debtor;   Dust ;   Head;   Mourning;   Numbers;   Sea ;   Ship ;   Witness;   King James Dictionary - Costliness;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Babylon the Great ;   Dust;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Babel;   Babylon;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Babylon in the New Testament:;   Costliness;   Dust;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Attitudes;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

They cast dust on their heads - They showed every sign of the sincerest grief. The lamentation over this great ruined city, Revelation 18:9-19, is exceedingly strong and well drawn. Here is no dissembled sorrow; all is real to the mourners, and affecting to the spectators.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-18.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And they cast dust on their heads - A common sign of lamentation and mourning among the Orientals. See the notes on Job 2:12.

By reason of her costliness - The word rendered “costliness” - τιμιότητος timiotētos- means, properly, “preciousness, costliness”; their magnificence, costly merchandise. The luxury of a great city enriches many individuals, however much it may impoverish itself.

For in one hour is she made desolate - So it seemed to them. See the notes on Revelation 18:17.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-18.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And they cast dust on their heads,.... As the seafaring men on account of Tyre, Ezekiel 27:30 this was a gesture used in mourning when persons were in afflicted and distressed circumstances, denoting disorder, confusion, and debasement; see Joshua 7:6

and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, alas, alas! that great city; as in Revelation 18:10 so it was once, though now in flames:

wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea; not only the merchants of the earth, as in Revelation 18:3 the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, but the governors of religious houses; these accumulated great wealth to themselves, and got the best of lands into their possession for the use and support of their abbeys and monasteries:

by reason of her costliness; or costly things; pardons, indulgences, absolution, saying Mass, and praying souls out of purgatory, all which are costly, and hereby these traders have been enriched; and now the remembrance of these things, of which they will be deprived, will affect and grieve them, as well as the suddenness of Rome's ruin:

for in one hour is she made desolate; her judgment come, and her riches come to nought, Revelation 18:10.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-18.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

wailing — “mourning.”

that had ships — A, B, and C read, “that had their ships”: literally, “the ships.”

costliness — her costly treasures: abstract for concrete.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-18.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

They cast dust (εβαλον χουνebalon choun). Second aorist active of βαλλωballō ΧουςChous is old word (from χεωcheō to pour) for heap of earth, dust, in N.T. only here and Mark 6:11. Cf. Ezekiel 27:30; Luke 10:13. This is the dirge of the sea-folk (cf. Revelation 18:10, and Revelation 18:16).

By reason of her costliness (εκ της τιμιοτητος αυτηςek tēs timiotētos autēs). Occasionally in later literary Greek, though here only in N.T. and not in lxx. The same use of τιμηtimē appears in 1 Peter 2:7. Common in the papyri as a title like “Your Honor” (Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-18.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Cast dust on their heads

Compare Ezekiel 27:30. See on Luke 10:13.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-18.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

And they cast dust on their heads — As mourners. Most of the expressions here used in describing the downfall of Babylon are taken from Ezekiel's description of the downfall of Tyre, Ezekiel 26:1.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-18.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

Ver. 19. And they cast dust] As men willing to be as far underground as now they were above ground. Having lost their livelihood, they had little joy of their lives.

All that had ships in the sea] All churchmen, i.e. all, for the most part; some of them have little enough. Sanders was starved. Stapleton was made a professor of a petty university, scarcely as good as one of our free schools. On Harding his Holiness bestowed a prebend {a} of Gaunt, or (to speak more properly) a Gaunt prebend. Allin was commonly called the starveling cardinal.

{a} The portion of the revenues of a cathedral or collegiate church granted to a canon or member of the chapter as his stipend. ŒD

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-18.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Revelation 18:18"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-18.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

посыпали пеплом головы свои Древний способ выражения печали (ср. Нав. 7:6; 1Цар. 4:12; 2Цар. 1:2; 15:32; Иов. 2:12; Плач. 2:10; Иез. 27:30). в один час Не за 60 минут, но в течение короткого периода быстрого суда (см. пояснение к ст. 8).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-18.html.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, wherein all that had their ships in the sea were made rich by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

Note that it is not for the harlot that all of the weeping and wailing and mourning and crying and casting dust on the heads comes about, but for "the great city." This is the great world-city, the complex of urban civilization, so identified in earlier chapters. Even at this late hour, the mourners cannot see the connection that the harlot had with all this.

Cast dust on their heads and cried, etc. ... "The awful woes that are sure to come upon mankind when they turn completely away from God and burn even the apostate version of holy religion, which is all that they know, will issue in the wholesale destruction of all that is worthwhile on earth. In a pale little epitome of what is yet to happen upon a far more vast scale, Hitler and his peers burned the Bibles at Nuremburg; and what followed? The most awful slaughter in nineteen centuries! When the liberal theologians, atheistic humanists and insane Marxists have finally dismantled the last vestiges of religion, even in its apostate forms, the true and final holocaust will suddenly appear. God be merciful and delay that day.

As Morris pointed out, it is the working class, the sailors, who carry their mourning the furthest by casting dust on their heads.[58] And, as in the case of the other mourners, it is not weeping for lost faith, but for lost jobs. There is here the evident truth that laboring humanity will suffer first and longest. The godless labor unions that have led the world in their defiance of true religion as well as every other form of it shall suddenly discover that the society which they helped to kill was their own. It will be too late for dust on the head to do any good.

What all this means is that a working coalition between a watered-down, apostate Christianity and the unbridled forces of the devil will one day be terminated, and the final prejudgment wreck of the whole social order will reach its roaring climax.

THE FINAL JUDGMENT

Again, the Book of Revelation shows us the judgment, particularly as it comes to human civilization: there will be a summary end of it. Before depicting it, as usually throughout the prophecy, the vision will first show us a scene of rejoicing in heaven, for the purpose of showing that the wreck of all things shall not in any manner hurt God's people.

ENDNOTE:

[58] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 221.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-18.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Throwing dust on one"s head symbolized great grief in the Old Testament (cf. Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 2 Samuel 13:19; 2 Samuel 15:32; Job 2:12; Lamentations 2:10). People earlier behaved similarly over Tyre"s demise ( Ezekiel 27:30). These sea people also echo the laments and repeat the behavior of the kings ( Revelation 18:10) and the merchants ( Revelation 18:15-17).

"How do we see the luxury of this world? Do we see it as it really is? Can we use it without getting it into our hearts? How would you feel if the luxuries in your life which you have come to consider necessities suddenly went up in smoke?

"Would it break your heart if you saw the things of this world go up in smoke? Or is your heart in heaven, fixed on Christ?" [Note: McGee, 5:1041.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-18.html. 2012.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Dust upon the head is a symbol of grief. (Job 2:12; Ezekiel 27:30) They grieve over the collapse of their trade and fortune, not the death of the harlot.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/revelation-18.html. 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

that = the.

wherein = in (App-104.) which.

ships = the ships.

by reason of. Greek. ek. App-104.

one hour. See Revelation 18:10 and compare Isaiah 47:11; Isaiah 18:17 and Jeremiah 50:26, Jeremiah 18:19 and Jeremiah 51:8. Ancient Babylon, after its capture by Cyrus, gradually diminished.

is = was.

made desolate. See "come to nought", Revelation 18:17.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-18.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

Wailing - `mourning.'

That had ships. A B 'Aleph (') C read, 'that had their ships; literally, 'the ships.'

Costliness - costly treasures: abstract for concrete. Costliness - costly treasures: abstract for concrete.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-18.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) Alas! alas! that great city . . .—The lament is parallel with the laments of the kings and the merchants; the difference is the appropriate reference to the destruction of the shipping interests. Woe! woe! (or, Alas! alas!) the great city, in which all who had their vessels on the sea grew rich out of her costliness. By her “costliness” we are to understand her extravagances of living, and the splendour of her palaces which drew materials from all ports of the world. The lament ends with the repeated cry, “in one hour.” Because in one hour she was desolated.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-18.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
they cast
Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 13:19; Nehemiah 9:1; Job 2:12; Ezekiel 27:30
weeping
10,15,16
for
8
Reciprocal: Exodus 11:6 - General2 Kings 6:5 - master;  Ecclesiastes 7:16 - destroy thyself;  Isaiah 25:2 - palace;  Jeremiah 51:13 - and the;  Lamentations 2:10 - cast up;  Lamentations 3:11 - he hath made;  Ezekiel 27:33 - thy wares;  Ezekiel 31:15 - I caused a;  Amos 5:16 - Wailing;  Revelation 14:7 - hour

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-18.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

There is not much change in the significance of the symbols of this verse. Casting dust on their heads as an ancient custom to give expression to feelings of mourning and dismay ( Joshua 7:6; Job 2:12; Lamentations 2:10). One hour is the same figurative phrase that is in verse10. .Made desolate means that Babylon the Great as the union of church-and state was to be deserted and cease to be.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-18.html. 1952.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 18:19. And they threw dust upon their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning, and said, Woe, woe, the great city, by which all were made rich, who have ships in the sea, from her costliness; for in one hour she is laid desolate. In Ezekiel 27:30, it is said of the mariners, "And they cry aloud over thee, they lament bitterly, and throw dust upon their heads, and wallow in ashes." Dust and ashes, and whatever else lies on the dirty ground, is the symbol of a low and humbled condition. Any one that throws dust upon his head, denotes thereby, that a low and prostrate condition has overtaken him (comp. Psalms 102:9). On the words, "by which were made rich," see Ezekiel 27:33, Thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise." The costliness is her pomp and glory, her luxurious mode of life.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-18.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

19.Cast dust on their heads—The Oriental style of self-humiliation; signifying that we are but dust, and in the intensity of our emotions would humble ourselves beneath it.

Her costliness—Her munificence, by which she lived richly for herself, and paid liberally to her providers of supplies.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 18:19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-18.html. 1874-1909.