Revelation of John 19

CHAPTER XIX.

The whole heavenly host give glory to God, because he has

judged the great whore, and avenged the blood of his saints,

1-6.

The marriage of the Lamb and his bride, 7-9.

John offers to worship the angel, but is prevented, 10.

Heaven is opened, and Jesus the Word of God appears on a white

horse; he and his armies described, 11-16.

An angel in the sun invites all the fowls of heaven to come to

the supper of the great God, 17, 18.

The beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the earth, gather

together to make war with him who sits on the white horse; but

they are all discomfited, and utterly destroyed, 19-21.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIX.

Verse 1. I heard a great voice of much people in heaven] The

idolatrous city being destroyed, and the blood of the martyred

saints being avenged, there is a universal joy among the redeemed

of the Lord, which they commence with the word

Hallelu-Yah, praise ye Jah or Jehovah; which the Septuagint, and

St. John from them, put into Greek letters thus: αλληλουια,

Allelou-ia, a form of praise which the heathens appear to have

borrowed from the Jews, as is evident from their paeans, or hymns

in honour of Apollo, which began and ended with ελελευιη, eleleu

ie; a mere corruption of the Hebrew words. It is worthy of remark

that the Indians of North America have the same word in their

religious worship, and use it in the same sense. "In their places

of worship, or beloved square, they dance sometimes for a whole

night always in a bowing posture, and frequently singing

halleluyah Ye ho wah; praise ye Yah, Ye ho vah:" probably the

true pronunciation of the Hebrew , which we call Jehovah. See

Adair's History of the American Indians.

Salvation] He is the sole author of deliverance from sin; the

glory of this belongs to him, the honour should be ascribed to

him, and his power is that alone by which it is effected.

Verse 2. For true and righteous] His judgments displayed in

supporting his followers, and punishing his enemies, are

true-according to his predictions; and righteous, being all

according to infinite justice and equity.

Verse 3. Her smoke rose up] There was, and shall be, a continual

evidence of God's judgments executed on this great whore or

idolatrous city; nor shall it ever be restored.

Verse 4. The four and twenty elders] The true Church of the Lord

Jesus converted from among the Jews. See Re 4:10; 5:14.

Verse 5. Praise our God, &c.] Let all, whether redeemed from

among Jews or Gentiles, give glory to God.

Verse 6. The voice of a great multitude] This is the catholic or

universal Church of God gathered from among the Gentiles.

The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.] εβασιλευσεκυριοςοθεοςο

παντοκρατωρ. Many excellent MSS., most of the versions, with

Andreas and Arethas, the two most ancient commentators on this

book, add ημων, our, after οθεος and according to this the

text reads emphatically thus: OUR Lord God, the Almighty,

reigneth. What consolation to every genuine Christian that HIS

Lord and God is the Almighty, and that this Almighty never trusts

the reins of the government of the universe out of his hands! What

therefore has his Church to fear?

Verse 7. The marriage of the Lamb is come] The meaning of these

figurative expressions appears to be this: After this overthrow of

idolatry and superstition, and the discomfiture of antichrist,

there will be a more glorious state of Christianity than ever was

before.

Verse 8. Arrayed in fine linen] A prediction that the Church

should become more pure in her doctrines, more pious in her

experience, and more righteous in her conduct, than she had ever

been from her formation.

The fine linen here spoken of is not the righteousness of Christ

imputed to believers, for it is here called the righteousness of

the saints-that which the grace and Spirit of Christ has wrought

in them.

Verse 9. Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage

supper] This is an evident allusion to the marriage of the king's

son, Mt 22:2, &c., where the incarnation of our Lord, and the

calling of Jews and Gentiles, are particularly pointed out. See

the notes there. Blessed are all they who hear the Gospel, and are

thus invited to lay hold on everlasting life.

Verse 10. I fell at his feet to worship him.] Great as this

angel was, St. John could not mistake him either for Jesus Christ,

or for God the Father; nor was his prostration intended as an act

of religious worship. It was merely an act of that sort of

reverence which any Asiatic would pay to a superior. His mistake

was, the considering that he was under obligation to the angel for

the information which he had now received. This mistake the angel

very properly corrects, showing him that it was from God alone

this intelligence came, and that to him alone the praise was due.

I am thy fellow servant] No higher in dignity than thyself;

employed by the same God, on the same errand, and with the same

testimony; and therefore not entitled to thy prostration: worship

God-prostrate thyself to him, and to him give thanks.

The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.] As this is a

reason given by the angel why he should not worship him, the

meaning must be this: I, who have received this spirit of

prophecy, am not superior to thee who hast received the

testimony of Christ, to preach him among the Gentiles; for the

commission containing such a testimony is equal to the gift of

the spirit of prophecy. Or, the spirit of prophecy is a general

testimony concerning Jesus, for he is the scope and design of the

whole Scripture; to him gave all the prophets witness. Take Jesus,

his grace, Spirit, and religion out of the Bible, and it has

neither scope, design, object, nor end.

Verse 11. A white horse] This is an exhibition of the triumph of

Christ after the destruction of his enemies. The white horse is

the emblem of this, and FAITHFUL and TRUE are characters of

Christ. See Re 3:14.

In righteousness he doth judge and make war.] The wars which he

wages are from no principle of ambition, lust of power, or

extension of conquest and dominion; they are righteous in their

principle and in their object. And this is perhaps what no

earthly potentate could ever say.

Verse 12. His eyes were as a flame of fire] To denote the

piercing and all-penetrating nature of his wisdom.

On his head were many crowns] To denote the multitude of his

conquests, and the extent of his dominion.

A name written, that no man knew] This is a reference to what

the rabbins call the shem hammephorash, or tetragrammaton,

YHVH; or what we call Jehovah. This name the Jews never attempt to

pronounce: when they meet with it in the Bible, they read

Adonai for it; but, to a man, they all declare that no man can

pronounce it; and that the true pronunciation has been lost, at

least since the Babylonish captivity; and that God alone knows its

true interpretation and pronunciation. This, therefore, is the

name which no man knew but he himself.

Verse 13. He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood] To show

that he was just come from recent slaughter. The description is

taken from Isa 63:2, 3, where Judas Maccabaeus, or some other

conqueror, is described.

The Word of God.] Written in the Targum, and in other Jewish

writings, meimera daiya, "the word of Jehovah;" by which

they always mean a person, and not a word spoken.

See Clarke on Joh 1:1, &c.

Verse 14. The armies which were in heaven] Angels and saints

over whom Jesus Christ is Captain,

Clothed in fine linen] All holy, pure, and righteous.

Verse 15. Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword]

See Clarke on Re 1:16.

This appears to mean the word of the Gospel, by which his enemies

are confounded, and his friends supported and comforted.

With a rod of iron] He shall execute the severest judgment on

the opposers of his truth.

He treaded the winepress] As the grapes are trodden to express

the juice, so his enemies shall be bruised and beaten, so that

their life's blood shall be poured out.

Verse 16. On his vesture and on his thigh a name written] Dr.

Dodd has well observed on this passage, that "it appears to have

been an ancient custom among several nations to adorn the images

of their deities, princes, victors at public games, and other

eminent persons, with inscriptions, expressing either the

character of the persons, their names, or some other circumstance

which might contribute to their honour; and to that custom the

description here given of Christ may possibly have some allusion.

"There are several such images yet extant, with an inscription

written either on the garment, or on one of the thighs, or on that

part of the garment which was over the thigh; and probably this is

the meaning of the apostle. And as these inscriptions are placed

on the upper garment, Grotius seems very justly to have explained

the words επιτοιματιον, by his imperial robe, that his power in

this victory might be conspicuous to all. But as a farther

confirmation of this sense of the passage it may not be improper

here to describe briefly several remarkable figures of this sort,

which are still extant." This description I shall give from my own

examination.

1. HERODOTUS, Euterpe, lib. ii. p. 127, edit. Gale, speaking of

the actions of Sesostris, and of the images he set up in the

countries which he conquered, has the following words: εισιπερι

ιωνιηνδυοτυποιενπετρησιεγκεκολαμμενοιτουτουτουανδροςκ

τλ "Two images likewise of this man are seen in Ionia, on the

way that leads from Ephesus to Phocaea, and from Sardis to Smyrna.

The figure is five palms in height; in his right hand he holds a

dart, in his left a bow, armed after the manner of the Egyptians

and Ethiopians. On a line drawn across the breast, from one

shoulder to the other, are these words, written in Egyptian

hieroglyphics: εγοτηνδετηνχωρηνωμοισιτοισιεμοισιεκτησαμην

'I obtained this country by these my shoulders;'" i.e., by my own

power.

2. In the Etruria Regalis of Dempster, in the appendix at the

end of vol. ii., there is a beautiful female figure of brass,

about twelve inches high, the hair gracefully plaited, and the

head adorned with a diadem. She has a tunic without sleeves, and

over that a sort of pallium. On the outside of the right thigh,

close to the tunic, and probably on it, in the original, is an

inscription in Etruscan characters. What these import I cannot

say. Dempster has given a general explanation of the image in the

appendix to the above volume, p. 108. The plate itself is the

eighty-third of the work.

3. There are two other images found in the same author, vol. i.,

p. 91, tab. xxiv.; the first is naked, with the exception of a

short loose jupe, or petticoat, which goes round the loins, and

over the left arm. On the left thigh of this image there is an

inscription in Etruscan characters. The second has a similar

jupe, but much longer, which extends to the calf of the leg, and

is supported over the bended left arm. Over the right thigh, on

this vesture, there is an Etruscan inscription in two lines.

4. MONTFAUCON, Antiquite Expliquee, vol. iii., part 2, p. 268,

has introduced an account of two fine images, which are

represented tab. CLVII. The first is a warrior entirely naked,

except a collar, one bracelet, and boots. On his left thigh,

extending from the groin to a little below the knee, is an

inscription in very ancient Etruscan characters, in two lines,

but the import is unknown.

The second is a small figure of brass, about six inches long,

with a loose tunic, which is suspended from the left shoulder down

to the calf of the legs. On this tunic, over the left thigh, is an

inscription (perhaps) in very ancient Latin characters, but in the

Etruscan language, as the learned author conjectures. It is in one

line, but what it means is equally unknown.

5. In the same work, p. 269, tab. CLVIII., another Etruscan

warrior is represented entirely naked; on the left thigh is the

following words in uncial Greek letters, καφισοδωρος, and on the

right thigh, αισχλαμιου, i.e., "Kaphisodorus, the son of

Aischlamius." All these inscriptions are written longitudinally on

the thigh.

6. GRUTER, vol. iii., p. DCCCCLXXXIX, sub. tit. Affectus

Servorum et Libertinorum inter se, et in suos, gives us the figure

of a naked warrior, with his left hand on an axe, the end of whose

helve rests on the ground, with the following inscription on the

inside of his left thigh, longitudinally written, as in all other

cases:-

A. POBLICIUS. D. L. ANTIOC.

TI. BARBIUS. Q. P. L. TIBER.

7. The rabbins say, that "God gave to the Israelites a sword, on

which the ineffable name Yehovah was inscribed; and as

long as they held that sword the angel of death had no power over

them." Shemoth Rabba, sec. 51, fol. 143, 2. Bemidbar Rabba, sec.

12, fol. 214, 2.

In the latter tract, sec. 16, fol. 232, 3, and in Rab. Tanchum,

fol. 66, mention is made of the guardian angels of the Israelites,

who were clothed with purple vestments, on which was inscribed

shem hammephorash, the ineffable name. See more in

Schoettgen.

8. But what comes nearer to the point, in reference to the title

given here to Christ, is what is related of Sesostris by DIODORUS

Siculus, lib. i. c. 55, p. 166, edit. Bipont, of whom he says:

"Having pushed his conquests as far as Thrace, he erected pillars,

on which were the following words in Egyptian hieroglyphics: τηνδε

τηνχωρανοπλοιςκατεστρεψατοτοιςεαυτουβασιλευςβασιλεωνκαι

δεσποτηςδεσποτωνσεσοωσις" This province, Sesoosis,

(Sesostris,) KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, conquered by his own

arms. This inscription is conceived almost in the words of St.

John. Now the Greek historian did not borrow the words from the

apostle, as he died in the reign of Augustus, about the time of

our Lord's incarnation. This cannot be the same inscription

mentioned above by Herodotus, the one being in Ionia, the other in

Thrace: but as he erected several of those pillars or images,

probably a nearly similar inscription was found on each.

9. This custom seems to have been common among the ancient

Egyptians. Inscriptions are frequently found on the images of

Isis, Osiris, Anubis, &c., at the feet, on the head, on the

back, on the girdle, &c., &c. Eight of those ancient images in

my own collection abound with these inscriptions.

1. Osiris, four inches and a quarter high, standing on a thrones

all covered over with hieroglyphics exquisitely engraved.

2. Anubis, six inches high, with a tiara, on the back of which

is cut λεγορνυθ, in uncial Greek characters.

3. The Cercopithecus, seven inches long, sitting on a pedestal,

and at his feet, in the same characters, χαδεο.

4. An Isis, about eight inches high, on her back δρυγο.

5. Ditto, seven inches, beautifully cut, standing, holding a

serpent in her left hand, and at her feet εταπυγι.

6. Ditto, five inches and a quarter, round whose girdle is

πιευχυδι; but part of this inscription appears to be hidden

under her-arms, which are extended by her side.

7. Ditto, five inches high, hooded, with a loose stola, down the

back of which are seven lines of Greek uncial characters, but

nearly obliterated.

8. Ditto, four inches high, with a girdle going round the back

immediately under the arms, the front of which is hidden under a

sort of a stomacher; on the part that appears are these

characters, χενλα. These may be all intended as a kind of

abrasaxas or tutelary deities; and I give this notice of them,

and the inscriptions upon them, partly in illustration of the

text, and partly to engage my learned and antiquarian readers in

attempts to decipher them. I would have given the Etruscan

characters on the other images described above, but have no method

of imitating them except by an engraving.

As these kinds of inscriptions on the thigh, the garments, and

different parts of the body, were in use among different

nations, to express character, conduct, qualities, and conquests,

we may rest assured that to them St. John alludes when he

represents our sovereign Lord with an inscription upon his vesture

and upon his thigh; and had we not found it a custom among other

nations, we should have been at a loss to account for its

introduction and meaning here.

Verse 17. An angel standing in the sun] Exceedingly luminous;

every part of him emitting rays of light. From this

representation, Milton has taken his description of Uriel, the

angel of the sun. Paradise Lost, b. iii. l. 648:-

"The Archangel Uriel, one of the seven

Who, in God's presence, nearest to his throne

Stands ready at command and are his eyes

That run through all the heavens, or down to the earth

Bears his swift errands over moist and dry,

Over sea and land."

All the fowls that fly] The carcasses of God's enemies shall be

food for all the fowls of heaven. This is according to a Jewish

tradition, Synopsis Sohar, p. 114, n. 25: "In the time when God

shall execute vengeance for the people of Israel, he shall feed

all the beasts of the earth for twelve months with their flesh and

all the fowls for seven years." It is well known that both beasts

and birds of prey are accustomed to frequent fields of battle, and

live upon the slain.

Verse 18. That ye may eat the flesh of kings] There shall be a

universal destruction; the kings, generals, captains, and all

their host, shall be slain.

Verse 19. I saw the beast] See the notes on chapters xii.,

xiii., and xvii. Re 12:1-13:18; 17:1-18

Verse 20. And the beast was taken, and-the false prophet]

See Clarke on Re 17:8, &c.

That worshipped his image.] The beast has been represented as

the Latin empire; the image of the beast, the popes of Rome; and

the false prophet, the papal clergy.

Were cast alive into a lake of fire] Were discomfited when

alive-in the zenith of their power, and destroyed with an

utter destruction.

Verse 21. With the sword of him that sat upon the horse] He who

sat on the white horse is Christ; and his sword is his word-the

unadulterated Gospel.

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