Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 6:6

And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Animals;   Barley;   Famine;   Horse;   Vision;   Wheat;   Scofield Reference Index - Remnant;   Thompson Chain Reference - Abundance-Want;   Agriculture;   Agriculture-Horticulture;   Barley;   Famine;   Grain;   The Topic Concordance - Day of the Lord;   Seals;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Penny;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Coins;   Food;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Money;   Prophet, Prophetess, Prophecy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Measure;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Barley;   Drachma;   Penny;   Weights and Measures;   Zechariah, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Choinix;   Economic Life;   Horse;   Horseman;   Number Systems and Number Symbolism;   Oil;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Beast;   Olive;   Weights and Measures;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Abaddon;   Arts;   Barley;   Domitian;   Eschatology;   Famine;   Horse;   Numbers;   Oil (Olive);   Penny;   Voice;   Wheat ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Barley;   Horse;   Weights and Measures;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Penny, Pennyworth;   Weights and Measures;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Choenix;   Horse, Black;   Hurt;   Measure;   Oil;   Revelation of John:;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

A measure of wheat for a penny - The chaenix here mentioned was a measure of dry things; and although the capacity is not exactly known, yet it is generally agreed that it contained as much as one man could consume in a day; and a penny, the Roman denarius, was the ordinary pay of a laborer. So it appears that in this scarcity each might be able to obtain a bare subsistence by his daily labor; but a man could not, in such cases, provide for a family.

Three measures of barley - This seems to have been the proportion of value between the wheat and the barley. Barley was allowed to afford a poor aliment, and was given to the Roman soldiers instead of wheat, by way of punishment.

Hurt not the oil and the wine - Be sparing of these: use them not as delicacies, but for necessity; because neither the vines nor the olives will be productive.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-6.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say,.... Not the voice of Agabus to the Apostle Paul, Acts 11:28; but rather of Christ, who was in the midst of them, Revelation 5:6; the Ethiopic version adds, "as the voice of an eagle":

a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; "Choenix", the measure here used, signifies as much as was sufficient for a man for one day, as a penny was the usual hire of a labourer for a day, Matthew 20:2; so a choenix of corn was allowed to each man in Xerxes's army for a day, according to HerodotusF4Polymnia, c. 187. ; the same quantity for a day was given by the Romans to their shepherds and servants, and is generally said to be about two pounds; according to Agricola it was two pounds and a quarterF5De Mensuris Graecis, p. 120. . This measure was very different; the Attic choenix was a measure that held three pounds, the Italic choenix four pounds, and the military choenix five pounds, and answers to the Hebrew KabF6Waserus de Mensuris, l. 2. c. 2. sect. 5, 6. & c. 3. sect. 6. & c. 7. sect. 6. ; and in the Septuagint version of Ezekiel 45:10; it answers to the Bath; and some make it to be the fourth part of a bushel, and others half a bushelF7Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 2. c. 20. ; the first account of its being about two pounds, and the allowance of a man for a day, seems best to agree with this place: so that this phrase expresses such a scarcity, as that a man's daily wages would be but just enough to buy himself bread, without any thing to eat with it; and when he would have nothing left for clothes, and other things, nor anything for his wife and children:

and see that thou hurt not the oil and wine; signifying that this scarcity should fall not upon the superfluities, such as oil and wine, which may be spared, and men can live without; but upon the necessities of life, particularly bread: some render the words, "and be not unjust in the oil and wine"; and so think they refer to the laws of the Roman emperors, in relation to wine and oil, and to the just execution of them, that there might be plenty of them; and others understand them in an allegorical sense, of the principal doctrines of the Gospel, comparable to oil and wine, and which Christ takes care of, that they shall not be hurt and destroyed by heretics and false teachers, even when they prevail the most, and bring on a famine of the word, and when the church is blackened and darkened with them; and indeed these may much better be applied to the Gospel, than, as they are by the Jews, to the law; who frequently sayF8Tzeror Hammor, fol. 85. 3. & 96. 1. & 97. 4. & 104. 1. & 105. 2. & 137. 2, 3. that the law is called "oil", and speak of יינה של תורה, "the wine of the law"F9Zohar in Exod. fol. 51. 3. & in Deut. fol. 115. 3. Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Numb. fol. 94. 3. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 5. 3. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 64. 4. :

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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 6:6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-6.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A a measure of wheat for a penny, 5 and three measures of barley for a penny; and [see] thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

(a) It is here signified how little grain there was, for the word used here is a unit of measure for dry things, about an eighth of a bushel, which was a typical daily ration given to servants. {(5)} I would rather interpret and read the words this way, "And the wine and the oil you will not distribute unjustly." In this sense likewise the wine and the oil will be sold a very little for a penny. You will not distribute unjustly, namely, when you measure out a very little for a great price: so are the times evident: otherwise it would be true, as the wise man says, that whoever withholds the grain will be cursed by the people; (Proverbs 11:26).
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-6.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

a voice — Two oldest manuscripts, A, C, read, “as it were a voice.” B reads as English Version. The voice is heard “in the midst of the four living creatures” (as Jehovah in the Shekinah-cloud manifested His presence between the cherubim); because it is only for the sake of, and in connection with, His redeemed, that God mitigates His judgments on the earth.

A measure — “A choenix.” While making food scarce, do not make it so much so that a choenix (about a day‘s provision of wheat, variously estimated at two or three pints) shall not be obtainable “for a penny” (denarius, eight and a half pence of our money, probably the day‘s wages of a laborer). Famine generally follows the sword. Ordinarily, from sixteen to twenty measures were given for a denarius. The sword, famine, noisome beasts, and the pestilence, are God‘s four judgments on the earth. A spiritual famine, too, may be included in the judgment. The “Come,” in the case of this third seal, is said by the third of the four living creatures, whose likeness is a man indicative of sympathy and human compassion for the sufferers. God in it tempers judgment with mercy. Compare Matthew 24:7, which indicates the very calamities foretold in these seals, nation rising against nation (the sword), famines, pestilences (Revelation 6:8), and earthquakes (Revelation 6:12).

three measures of barley for a penny — the cheaper and less nutritious grain, bought by the laborer who could not buy enough wheat for his family with his day‘s wages, a denarius, and, therefore, buys barley.

see thou hurt not the oil, and the wine — the luxuries of life, rather than necessaries; the oil and wine were to be spared for the refreshment of the sufferers.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-6.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

As it were a voice (ως πωνηνhōs phōnēn). “This use of ωςhōs giving a certain vagueness or mysteriousness to a phrase, is one of the characteristics of the writer‘s style, e.g., Revelation 8:1; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 19:1, Revelation 19:6 ” (Beckwith). This voice comes from the midst of the four living creatures, “the protest of nature against the horrors of famine” (Swete).

A measure (χοινιχchoinix). Old word for less than a quart with us, here only in N.T.

Of wheat (σιτουsitou). Old word for wheat, a number of times in N.T., in Rev only here and Revelation 18:13. This was enough wheat to keep a man of moderate appetite alive for a day.

For a penny (δηναριουdēnariou). Genitive of price, the wages of a day laborer (Matthew 20:2), about eighteen cents in our money today.

Of barley (κριτωνkrithōn). Old word κριτηkrithē usually in plural as here. Barley was the food of the poor and it was cheaper even in the famine and it took more of it to support life. Here the proportion is three to one (cf. 2 Kings 7:18). The proclamation forbids famine prices for food (solid and liquid).

Hurt thou not (μη αδικησηιςmē adikēsēis). Prohibition with μηmē and the ingressive first aorist active subjunctive of αδικεωadikeō See Revelation 7:3; Revelation 9:4 for αδικεωadikeō for injury to vegetable life. “The prohibition is addressed to the nameless rider who represents Dearth” (Swete). Wheat and barley, oil and the vine, were the staple foods in Palestine and Asia Minor.

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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)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-6.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Measure ( χοῖνιξ )

Choenix. Only here in the New Testament. A dry measure, according to some, a quart; to others a pint and a half. Herodotus, speaking of the provisions for Xerxes' army, assigns a choenix of corn for a man's daily supply, evidently meaning a minimum allowance (vii., 187); and Thucydides, speaking of the terms of truce between the Lacedaemonians and the Athenians, mentions the following as one of the provisions: “The Athenians shall permit the Lacedaemonians on the mainland to send to those on the island a fixed quantity of kneaded flour, viz., two Attic quarts ( χοίνικας ) of barley-meal for each man” (iv., 16). Jowett (“Thucydides”) says that the choenix was about two pints dry measure. So Arnold (“Thucydides”), who adds that the allowance of two choenixes of barley-meal daily to a man was the ordinary allowance of a Spartan at the public table. See Herodotus, vi., 57.

For a penny ( δηναρίου )

See on Matthew 20:2.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-6.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

And I heard a voice — It seems, from God himself.

Saying — To the horseman, "Hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther." Let there be a measure of wheat for a penny - The word translated measure, was a Grecian measure, nearly equal to our quart. This was the daily allowance of a slave. The Roman penny, as much as a labourer then earned in a day, was about sevenpence halfpenny English. According to this, wheat would be near twenty shillings per bushel. This must have been fulfilled while the Grecian measure and the Roman money were still in use; as also where that measure was the common measure, and this money the current coin. It was so in Egypt under Trajan.

And three measures of barley for a penny — Either barley was, in common, far cheaper among the ancients than wheat, or the prophecy mentions this as something peculiar.

And hurt not the oil and the wine — Let there not be a scarcity of everything. Let there he some provision left to supply the want of the rest This was also fulfilled in the reign of Trajan, especially in Egypt, which lay southward from Patmos. In this country, which used to be the granary of the empire, there was an uncommon dearth at the very beginning of his reign; so that he was obliged to supply Egypt itself with corn from other countries. The same scarcity there was in the thirteenth year of his reign, the harvest failing for want of the rising of the Nile: and that not only in Egypt, but in all those other parts of Afric, where the Nile uses to overflow.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-6.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

beasts

living creatures. (See Scofield "Ezekiel 1:5").

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Revelation 6:6". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/revelation-6.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

Ver. 6. In the midst] The voice of the Lamb, Revelation 5:6, who appoints and orders all; he cuts us out our several conditions, cautioning for the wine and oil, when other food faileth.

A measure of wheat] χοινιξ, a quart, say some, a pottle others, an allowance for a day. Among the Greeks, saith Suidas, Choenix dietim dabatur. And that the Israelites in the wilderness (according to Rabanus) had each of them three choenices of manna by the day, that was to be ascribed to the divine bounty, as Junius noteth.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-6.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny: interpreters are at so great a loss here to fix the sense, that some think this phrase signifies famine and scarcity; others think it signifies great plenty. The Greek word here used, signifieth, say some, half a bushel; others say it signifieth so much bread corn as is sufficient for four loaves; others say, something more than a quart; others, so much as was allowed servants for maintenance for a day: let it be which it will, it signifies no great scarcity; for the word signifying

a penny, signified but as much in our money as came to seven pence halfpenny. I think therefore Mr. Mede judgeth well, that by the black horse was signified not a time of famine and scarcity, but of plenty; and the rather, because it is added, hurt not the oil and the wine: and that the balances in the rider’s hands signified not scales to give men their bread by weight, (as in a time of scarcity), but the balance of justice; nor will the colour of the horse conclude the contrary. The whole therefore of this prophecy seemeth to foretell that this period, from the time of Commodus the Roman emperor, who ruled the empire from the year 180 to 197, and was followed by Severus, Macrinus, Caracalla, Hellogabalus, and Alexander Severus, the son of Mammeas, who came to the empire Anno 222, and reigned to 237, should be a time of great plenty and civil justice. Histories tell us of no famine in that time, but large stories of the great care of two of those emperors especially, for supplying their countries with corn, and for the administering of civil justice. The things foretold by the opening of this seal, our famous Mede makes to have had their accomplishment with the determination of the reign of Alexander Severus.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-6.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

хиникс пшеницы Приблизительное количество, необходимое для поддержания жизни одного человека в день.

динарий Стандартная плата за день работы; за нее можно купить дневное пропитание для одного человека.

три хиникса ячменя Ячмень обычно использовали для корма скота. Это зерно содержит мало питательных веществ, и поэтому оно дешевле, чем пшеница. За дневную зарплату можно купить только небольшое количество ячменя для семьи на день.

елей и вино Хотя можно предположить, что эти продукты не спасут от голода, более честным будет признать, что необходимые продукты питания (елей использовался в приготовлении хлеба, а вино было необходимо в кулинарии и при очистке воды) вдруг станут роскошью, которые надо будет сохранять и использовать бережно.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-6.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

A measure; about enough to sustain a man for a day.

A penny; the price of a day’s labor.

Hurt not the oil and the wine; these would be needed to keep men from starving, so great would be the scarcity of food. Men are dependent on God for the blessings of this life, as well as the life to come. Without his aid, the earth will not yield her increase, and men cannot obtain the necessary means of subsistence.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-6.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The voice in the middle of the four living creatures must belong to God or the Lamb, probably God the Father since He is the ultimate source of all these judgments (cf. Revelation 6:11). The price of wheat (good food) and barley (cheap cattle food) will be very high. A quart of wheat would provide one meal, but it would cost a whole day"s wages. In John"s day a denarius would purchase eight to16 times as much food as what he said it will purchase in the future. [Note: Cicero, In Verrem381.] The poor would have little money left over for oil, for fuel and health needs, and for wine to drink (cf. Ezekiel 4:16-17). "Do not harm" means, "Do not tamper with," reflecting the strict control over prices that ungodly rulers under Antichrist"s leadership will have at this time.

The causes of the famine were not extremely severe since they killed the wheat and barley but not the vines and olive trees ( Revelation 6:6) whose roots go deeper. [Note: Beckwith, p521.] As the Tribulation grows worse, the rich as well as the poor will suffer, but at this early stage the poor will suffer more than the rich. Probably the wars that the ungodly rulers under Antichrist"s leadership begin will reduce the food supply greatly. These rulers will control it strictly with consequent suffering for many people (cf. Luke 21:11).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-6.html. 2012.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

heard. The texts add "as it were".

voice. Same as noise, Revelation 6:1.

measure. Greek. choenix; . App-51.

penny. App-51. Bread by weight means scarcity (compare Ezekiel 4:10, Ezekiel 4:16, Ezekiel 4:17). A denarius was a day"s wage (Matthew 20:2), and a choenix of corn was a slave"s daily ration, an amount usually purchasable for one-eighth of a denarius.

see. Omit, and read the clause "and hurt thou not" (App-105).

oil . . . wine. By Figure of speech Metalepsis this may point to special protection of the elect in famine times. See Revelation 12:14. Zechariah 13:8. Romans 3:1, Romans 3:2; Romans 9:4, Romans 9:5.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-6.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

A voice. So B but 'Aleph (') A C read, 'as it were a voice.' The voice is heard 'in the midst of the four living creatures' (as Yahweh in the Shechinah cloud manifested His presence between the cherubim); because it is only in connection with His redeemed that God mitigates His judgments on the earth.

A measure - [ choinix (Greek #5518)] While making food scarce, do not make it so much so that a choenix (a day's provision of wheat, variously estimated at two or three pints) shall not be gotten "for a penny" [denarius, eight-and-a-half-pence of British money: probably the day's wages of the labourer]. Famine generally follows the sword. Ordinarily, from 16 to 20 measures were given for a denarius. A spiritual famine may be included (Amos 8:11). The "Come" of this third seal is said by the third of the four living creatures, whose likeness is a man: indicative of human sympathy for the sufferers. God in it tempers judgment with mercy. Compare Matthew 24:7, which foretells the very calamities in these seals: nation rising against nation (the sword), famines, pestilences (Revelation 6:8). and earthquakes (Revelation 6:12).

Three measures of barley for a penny - the cheaper and less nutritious grain, bought by the labourer who could not buy wheat for his family with his day's wages-a denarius-but barley.

See thou hurt not the oil and the wine - luxuries rather than necessaries. The oil and wine were to be spared for refreshment of the sufferers.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-6.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
A measure
and see
9:4; Psalms 76:10
Reciprocal: 2 Kings 7:1 - a measure of fine flour;  Ezekiel 1:5 - the likeness;  Zechariah 6:2 - black;  Matthew 20:2 - a penny;  Matthew 22:19 - a penny;  John 6:9 - barley;  Revelation 7:1 - the wind;  Revelation 7:3 - Hurt not

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-6.html.

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

Wheat and barley are necessities of life, and the great price that is indicated by the figures shows that it was to be a time of scarcity, which is generally the case after a siege of warfare. Oil and-wine are not necessary as articles of food, but are helpful as agencies of relief in times of distress. In the midst of the hardships the Lord predicted some relief would be afforded through these articles.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-6.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 6:6

Revelation 6:6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

In this part of the vision, John

heard a Voice say;

that Isaiah, some edict or proclamation of magistrates or justices, crying,

A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny,

though bread corn was dear, yet not so scarce; but that the Roman penny, which was the laboring man's day wages, for his days work would buy him so much as would serve and satisfy him for his day's food.

And see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

So that there was plenty of oil and wine, though some scarcity of wheat and barley. In the midst of judgement God remembered mercy; the oil and wine was spared and preserved. When God gives scarcity of some kind of food for the poor laboring men and women, who have only what they can earn, and are supplied from hand to month yet he usually gives plenty of the other needful things for daily supply.

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-6.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

6.Voice in the midst’ beasts—Stuart infers unwisely that this voice came from God, whose throne was in the midst of the four. It would be a strange communication for the divine voice. Rather we think it the common voice of the suffering world, represented by the four, addressed to the rider of the black horse, and cautioning him to exact no higher price, and not to hurt the oil and wine crops. A penny, according to Matthew 20:2; Matthew 20:9, was price of a day’s labour, and a penny would now buy one measure or choenix of wheat, nearly equal to one quart of our measure, or three choenixes of barley. This would probably be very tight living, but we know how prices advance in times of scarcity. The preservation of oil and wine indicates some mitigation of the scarcity, as these, though much used as aliment, were nevertheless rather luxuries.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 6:6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-6.html. 1874-1909.