Revelation of John 8


The opening of the seventh seal, 1.

The seven angels with the seven trumpets, 2-6.

The first sounds, and there is a shower of hail, fire, and

blood, 7.

The second sounds, and the burning mountain is cast into the

sea, 8, 9.

The third sounds, and the great star Wormwood falls from

heaven, 10, 11.

The fourth sounds, and the sun, moon, and stars are smitten;

and a threefold wo is denounced against the inhabitants of

the earth, because of the three angels who are yet to sound,

12, 13.


Verse 1. The seventh seal] This is ushered in and opened only by

the Lamb.

Silence in heaven] This must be a mere metaphor, silence being

put here for the deep and solemn expectation of the stupendous

things about to take place, which the opening of this seal had

produced. When any thing prodigious or surprising is expected, all

is silence, and even the breath is scarcely heard to be drawn.

Half an hour.] As heaven may signify the place in which all

these representations were made to St. John, the half hour may be

considered as the time during which no representation was made to

him, the time in which God was preparing the august exhibition

which follows.

There is here, and in the following verses, a strong allusion to

different parts of the temple worship; a presumption that the

temple was still standing, and the regular service of God carried

on. The silence here refers to this fact-while the priest went in

to burn incense in the holy place, all the people continued in

silent mental prayer without till the priest returned. See

Lu 1:10. The angel mentioned here appears to execute the office

of priest, as we shall by and by see.

Verse 2. The seven angels which stood before God] Probably the

same as those called the seven Spirits which are before his

throne, Re 1:4, where see the note. There is still an allusion

here to the seven ministers of the Persian monarchs.

See Tobit 12:15.

Verse 3. Another angel] About to perform the office of priest.

Having a golden censer] This was a preparation peculiar to the

day of expiation. "On other days it was the custom of the priest

to take fire from the great altar in a silver censer, but on the

day of expiation the high priest took the fire from the great

altar in a golden censer; and when he was come down from the great

altar, he took incense from one of the priests, who brought it to

him, and went with it to the golden altar; and while he offered

the incense the people prayed without in silence, which is the

silence in heaven for half an hour." See Sir Isaac Newton.

Much incense, that he should offer it] Judgments of God are now

about to be executed; the saints-the genuine Christians, pray much

to God for protection. The angelic priest comes with much incense,

standing between the living and those consigned to death, and

offers his incense to God WITH the prayers of the saints.

Verse 4. The smoke of the incense-with the prayers] Though

incense itself be an emblem of the prayers of the saints,

Ps 141:2; yet here

they are said to ascend before God, as well as the incense. It

is not said that the angel presents these prayers. He presents the

incense, and the prayers ascend WITH it. The ascending of the

incense shows that the prayers and offering were accepted.

Verse 5. Cast it into the earth] That is, upon the land of

Judea; intimating the judgments and desolations which were now

coming upon it, and which appear to be farther opened in the

sounding of the seven trumpets.

There were voices] All these seem to point out the confusion,

commotions, distresses, and miseries, which were coming upon these

people in the wars which were at hand.

Verse 6. Prepared themselves to sound.] Each took up his

trumpet, and stood prepared to blow his blast. Wars are here

indicated; the trumpet was the emblem of war.

Verse 7. Hail and fire mingled with blood] This was something

like the ninth plague of Egypt. See Ex 9:18-24: "The Lord sent

thunder and hail-and fire mingled with the hail-and the fire ran

along upon the ground." In the hail and fire mingled with blood,

some fruitful imaginations might find gunpowder and cannon balls,

and canister shot and bombs.

They were cast upon the earth] ειςτηνγην Into that land;

viz., Judea, thus often designated.

And the third part of trees] Before this clause the Codex

Alexandrinus, thirty-five others, the Syriac, Arabic, AEthiopic,

Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, Andreas, Arethas, and some others,

have καιτοτριτοντηςγηςκατεκαη And the third part of the land

was burnt up. This reading, which is undoubtedly genuine, is found

also in the Complutensian Polyglot. Griesbach has received it into

the text.

The land was wasted; the trees-the chiefs of the nation, were

destroyed; and the grass-the common people, slain, or carried into

captivity. High and low, rich and poor, were overwhelmed with one

general destruction. This seems to be the meaning of these


Many eminent men suppose that the irruption of the barbarous

nations on the Roman empire is here intended. It is easy to find

coincidences when fancy runs riot. Later writers might find here

the irruption of the Austrians and British, and Prussians,

Russians, and Cossacks, on the French empire!

Verse 8. A great mountain burning with fire] Supposed to signify

the powerful nations which invaded the Roman empire. Mountain, in

prophetic language, signifies a kingdom; Jer 51:25, 27, 30, 58.

Great disorders, especially when kingdoms are moved by hostile

invasions, are represented by mountains being cast into the midst

of the sea, Ps 46:2.

Seas and collections of waters mean peoples, as is shown in this

book, Re 17:15. Therefore, great commotions in kingdoms and among

their inhabitants may be here intended, but to whom, where, and

when these happened, or are to happen, we know not.

The third part of the sea became blood] Another allusion to the

Egyptian plagues, Ex 7:20, 21.

Third part is a rabbinism, expressing a considerable number.

"When Rabbi Akiba prayed, wept, rent his garments, put of his

shoes, and sat in the dust, the world was struck with a curse; and

then the third part of the olives, the third part of the wheat,

and the third part of the barley, was smitten "Rab. Mardochaeus,

in Notitia Karaeorum, p. 102.

Verse 9. The third part of the ships were destroyed.] These

judgments seem to be poured out upon some maritime nation,

destroying much of its population, and much of its traffic.

Verse 10. There fell a great star from heaven] This has given

rise to various conjectures. Some say the star means Attila and

his Huns, others, Genseric with his Vandals falling on the city of

Rome; others, Eleazer, the son of Annus, spurning the emperor's

victims, and exciting the fury of the Zealots; others, Arius;

infecting the pure Christian doctrine with his heresy, &c., &c. It

certainly cannot mean all these; and probably none of them. Let

the reader judge.

Verse 11. The star is called Wormwood] So called from the bitter

or distressing effects produced by its influence.

Verse 12. The third part of the sun-moon-stars, was smitten]

Supposed to mean Rome, with her senates, consuls, &c., eclipsed by

Odoacer, king of the Heruli, and Theodoric, king of the

Ostrogoths, in the fifth century. But all this is uncertain.

Verse 13. I-heard an angel flying] Instead of αγγελουπετωμενου,

an angel flying, almost every MS. and version of note has αετου

πετωμενον, an eagle flying. The eagle was the symbol of the

Romans, and was always on their ensigns. The three woes which are

here expressed were probably to be executed by this people, and

upon the Jews and their commonwealth. Taken in this sense the

symbols appear consistent and appropriate; and the reading eagle

instead of angel is undoubtedly genuine, and Griesbach has

received it into the text.

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