Revelation of John 9

CHAPTER IX.

The fifth angel sounds, and a star falls from heaven to

earth, 1.

The bottomless pit is opened, and locusts come out upon

the earth, 2, 3.

Their commission, 4-6.

Their form, 7-10.

Their government, 11, 12.

The sixth angel sounds, and the four angels bound in the

Euphrates are loosed, 13-15.

The army of horsemen, and their description, 16-19.

Though much evil is inflicted upon men for their idolatry,

&c., they do not repent, 20, 21.

NOTES ON CHAP. IX.

Verse 1. A star fall from heaven] An angel encompassed with

light suddenly descended, and seemed like a star falling from

heaven.

The key of the bottomless pit.] Power to inundate the earth with

a flood of temporal calamities and moral evils.

Verse 2. He opened the bottomless pit] τοφρεαρτηςαβυσσου

The pit of the bottomless deep. Some think the angel means Satan,

and the bottomless pit hell. Some suppose Mohammed is meant; and

Signior Pastorini professes to believe that Luther is intended!

There arose a smoke] False doctrine, obscuring the true light of

heaven.

Verse 3. Locusts] Vast hordes of military troops: the

description which follows certainly agrees better with the

Saracens than with any other people or nation, but may also

apply to the Romans.

As the scorpions of the earth have power.] Namely, to hurt men

by stinging them. Scorpions may signify archers; and hence the

description has been applied to Cestius Gallus, the Roman general,

who had many archers in his army.

Verse 4. They should not hurt the grass] Neither the common

people, the men of middling condition, nor the nobles. However,

this appears rather to refer to the prudent counsels of a military

chief, not to destroy the crops and herbage of which they might

have need in their campaigns.

Which have not the seal of God] All false, hypocritical, and

heterodox Christians.

Verse 5. To them it was given] That is, they were permitted.

That they should be tormented five months] Some take these

months literally, and apply them to the conduct of the Zealots

who, from May to September, in the year of the siege, produced

dreadful contests among the people; or to the afflictions brought

upon the Jews by Cestius Gallus, when he came against Jerusalem,

before which he lay one whole summer, or nearly five months.-See

Joseph., Bell. Jud., l. ii. c. 19.

Others consider the months as being prophetical months, each day

being reckoned for a year; therefore this period must amount to

one hundred and fifty years, counting thirty days to each month,

as was the general custom of the Asiatics.

Their torment was as the torment of a scorpion] The phraseology

here is peculiar, and probably refers to the warlike weapon called

a scorpion, several of which, or men armed with them, Cestius

Gallus brought with him in his army.

Isidore describes this scorpion thus: Scorpio est sagitta

venenata arcu vel tormentis excussa, quea, dum ad hominem venerit,

virus qua figit infundit; unde et scorpio nomen accepit. "The

scorpion is a poisoned arrow shot from a bow or other instrument,

which, when it wounds a man, deposits the poison with which it is

covered in the wound; whence it has the name of scorpion." Seneca,

in his Hercules OEtaeus, act iv., ver. 1218, describes the torment

which is occasioned by this species of poisoned arrow:-

Heu qualis intus scorpius, quis fervida

Plaga revulsus cancer infixus meas

Urit medullas?

Verse 6. In those days shall men seek death] So distressing

shall be their sufferings and torment that they shall long for

death in any form, to be rescued from the evils of life. There is

a sentiment much like this in Maximianus, Eleg. i., ver. 111,

commonly attributed to Cornelius Gallus:-

Nunc quia longa mihi gravis est et inutilis aetas,

Vivere cum nequeam, sit mihi posse mori?

O quam dura premit miseros conditio vitae!

Nec mors humano subjacet arbitrio.

Dulce mori miseris; sed mors optata recedit:

At cum tristis erit, praecipitata venit.

"Seeing that long life is both useless and burdensome

When we can no longer live comfortably, shall we be

permitted to die?

O how hard is the condition on which we hold life!

For death is not subjected to the will of man.

To die is sweet to the wretched; but wished-for death

flees away.

Yet when it is not desired, it comes with the hastiest

strides."

Job expresses the same sentiment, in the most plaintive manner:-

Why is light given to the miserable,

And life to the bitter of soul?

Who wait for death, but it is not;

And dig for it more than hid treasures.

They rejoice for it, and are glad,

And exult when they find the grave.

Job 3:20-22.

Verse 7. The locusts were like unto horses] This description of

the locusts appears to be taken from Joe 2:4. The whole of this

symbolical description of an overwhelming military force agrees

very well with the troops of Mohammed. The Arabs are the most

expert horsemen in the world: they live so much on horseback that

the horse and his rider seem to make but one animal. The Romans

also were eminent for their cavalry.

Crowns like gold] Not only alluding to their costly tiaras or

turbans, but to the extent of their conquests and the multitude

of powers which they subdued.

Their faces were as the faces of men.] That is, though locusts

symbolically, they are really men.

Verse 8. Hair as the hair of women] No razor passes upon their

flesh. Their hair long, and their beards unshaven.

Their teeth were as the teeth of lions.] They are ferocious and

cruel.

Verse 9. They had breastplates-of iron] They seemed to be

invulnerable, for no force availed against them.

The sound of their wings] Their hanging weapons and military

trappings, with the clang of their shields and swords when they

make their fierce onsets. This simile is borrowed from Joe 2:5-7.

Verse 10. They had tails like unto scorpions] This may refer to

the consequences of their victories. They infected the conquered

with their pernicious doctrines.

Their power was to hurt men five months.] The locusts make their

principal ravages during the five summer months. But probably

these may be prophetic months, as above, in Re 9:5-150 years.

Verse 11. A king over them] A supreme head; some think Mohammed,

some think Vespasian.

The angel of the bottomless pit] The chief envoy of Satan.

Abaddon] From abad, he destroyed.

Apollyon.] From απο, intensive, and ολλυω, to destroy.

The meaning is the same both in the Hebrew and Greek.

Verse 12. One wo is past] That is, the wo or desolation by the

symbolical scorpions.

There came two woes more] In the trumpets of the sixth and

seventh angels.

Verse 13. The four horns of the golden altar] This is another

not very obscure indication that the Jewish temple was yet

standing.

Verse 14. Loose the four angels] These four angels

bound-hitherto restrained, in the Euphrates, are by some

supposed to be the Arabs, the Saracens, the Tartars, or the Turks;

by others, Vespasian's four generals, one in Arabia, one in

Africa, one in Alexandria, and one in Palestine.

Verse 15. For an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year] We

have in this place a year resolved into its component parts.

Twenty-four hours constitute a day, seven days make a week,

four weeks make a month, and twelve months make a year.

Probably no more is meant than that these four angels were at all

times prepared and permitted to inflict evil on the people against

whom they had received their commission. There are some who

understand these divisions of time as prophetical periods, and to

these I must refer, not professing to discuss such uncertainties.

Verse 16. Two hundred thousand thousand] δυομυριαδεςμυριαδων

Two myriads of myriads; that is, two hundred millions; an army

that was never yet got together from the foundation of the world,

and could not find forage in any part of the earth. Perhaps it

only means vast numbers, multitudes without number. Such a number

might be literally true of the locusts. Those who will have their

particular system supported by the images in this most obscure

book, tell us that the number here means all the soldiers that

were employed in this war, from its commencement to its end! Those

who can receive this saying let them receive it.

Verse 17. Breastplates of fire-jacinth, and brimstone] That is,

red, blue, and yellow; the first is the colour of fire, the

second of jacinth, and the third of sulphur.

And the heads of the horses] Is this an allegorical description

of great ordnance? Cannons, on the mouths of which horses' heads

were formed, or the mouth of the cannon cast in that form? Fire,

smoke, and brimstone, is a good allegorical representation of

gunpowder. The Ottomans made great use of heavy artillery in

their wars with the Greeks of the lower empire.

Verse 18. By these three was the third part of men killed] That

is, By these was great carnage made.

Verse 19. Their power is in their mouth] From these the

destructive balls are projected; and in their tails, the breech

where the charge of gunpowder is lodged.

Their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads] If cannons

are intended, the description, though allegorical, is plain

enough; for brass ordnance especially are frequently thus

ornamented, both at their muzzles and at their breech.

Verse 20. Yet repented not] The commission which these horsemen

had was against idolaters; and though multitudes of them were

destroyed, yet the residue continued their senseless attachment to

dumb idols, and therefore heavier judgments might be expected.

These things are supposed to refer to the desolation brought upon

the Greek Church by the Ottomans, who entirely ruined that Church

and the Greek empire. The Church which was then remaining was the

Latin or western Church, which was not at all corrected by the

judgments which fell upon the eastern Church, but continued its

senseless adoration of angels, saints, relics, &c., and does so to

the present day. If, therefore, God's wrath be kindled against

such, this Church has much to fear.

Verse 21. Neither repented they of their murders] Their

cruelties towards the genuine followers of God, the Albigenses,

and Waldenses, and others, against whom they published crusades,

and hunted them down, and butchered them in the most shocking

manner. The innumerable murders by the horrible inquisition need

not be mentioned.

Their sorceries] Those who apply this also to the Romish Church

understand by it the various tricks, sleights of hand, or

legerdemain, by which they impose on the common people in

causing images of Christ to bleed, and the various pretended

miracles wrought at the tombs, &c., of pretended saints, holy

wells, and such like.

Fornication] Giving that honour to various creatures which is

due only to the Creator.

Their thefts.] Their exactions and impositions on men for

indulgences, pardons, &c. These things may be intended, but it

is going too far to say that this is the true interpretation. And

yet to express any doubt on this subject is with some little else

than heresy. If such men can see these things so clearly in such

obscure prophecies, let them be thankful for their sight, and

indulgent to those who still sit in darkness.

Copyright information for Clarke