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1. Of the seals. Add seven.
And see. Omit.
2. White horse. For white, see on Luke xix. 29. Horse, see Zechariah i. 7-11; vi. 1-8. All the figures of this verse are those of victory. The horse in the Old Testament is the emblem of war. See Job xxxix. 25; Ps. lxxvi. 6; Prov. xxi. 31; Ezek. xxvi. 10. So Virgil:
"But I beheld upon the grass four horses, snowy white, Grazing the meadows far and wide, first omen of my sight.
So Turnus, going forth to battle:
"He spake, and to the roofed place now swiftly wending home, Called for his steeds, and merrily stood there before their foam E'en those that Orithyia gave Pilumnus, gift most fair, Whose whiteness overpassed the snow, whose speed the winged air." "Aeneid," xii., 81-83.
Homer pictures the horses of Rhesus as whiter than snow, and swift as the winds ("Iliad," x., 436, 437); and Herodotus, describing the battle of Plataea says: "The fight went most against the Greeks where Mardonius, mounted on a white horse, and surrounded by the bravest of all the Persians, the thousand picked men, fought in person" (ix., 63). The horses of the Roman generals in their triumphs were white.
Bow (toxon). See Ps. xlv. 4, 5; Heb. iii. 8, 9; Isa. xli. 2; Zechariah ix. 13,14, in which last passage the figure is that of a great bow which is drawn only by a great exertion of strength, and by placing the foot upon it. Compare Homer's picture of Telemachus' attempt to draw Ulysses' bow:
The suitors propose to anoint the bow with fat in order to soften it.
A crown (stefanov). See on chapter iv. 4.
3. And see. Omit.
Had opened (hnoixen). Rev., rendering the aorist mow literally, opened.
Kill (sfaxwsin). See on chapter v. 6.
Sword (macaira). Compare Matt. x. 34. In Homer, a large knife or dirk, worn next the sword-sheath, and used to slaughter animals for sacrifice. Thus, "The son of Atreus, having drawn with his hands the knife (macairan) which hung ever by the great sheath of his sword, cut the hair from the heads of the lambs.... He spake, and cut the lambs' throats with the pitiless brass" ("Iliad," iii., 271-292). It is used by the surgeon Machaon to cut out an arrow ("Iliad," xi., 844). Herodotus, Aristophanes, and Euripides use the word in the sense of a knife for cutting up meat. Plato, of a knife for pruning trees. As a weapon it appears first in Herodotus: "Here they (the Greeks) defended themselves to the last, such as still had swords, using them (vii., 225) Later of the sabre or bent sword, contrasted with the xifov or straight sword. Aristophanes uses it with the adjective mia single, for a razor, contrasted with macaira diplh, the double knife or scissors. This and rJomfaia (see on Luke ii. 35) are the only words used in the New Testament for sword. Qifov (see above) does not occur. In Septuagint macaira of the knife of sacrifice used by Abraham (Gen. xxii. 6,10).
5. Come and see. Omit and see.
Pair of balances (zugon). Rev., a balance. Properly, anything which joins two bodies; hence a yoke (Matt. xi. 29; Acts xv. 10). The cross-beam of the loom, to which the warp was fixed; the thwarts joining the opposite sides of a ship; the beam of the balance, and hence the balance itself. The judgment of this seal is scarcity, of which the balance is a symbol, representing the time when food is doled out by weight. See Leviticus xxvi. 26; Ezek. iv. 16.
6. Measure (coinix). 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 (coinikav) 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 (dhnariou). See on Matt. xx. 2.
8. Pale (clwrov). Only in Revelation, except Mark vi. 39. Properly, greenish-yellow, like young grass or unripe wheat. Homer applies it to honey, and Sophocles to the sand. Generally, pale, pallid. Used of a mist, of sea-water, of a pale or bilious complexion. Thucydides uses it of the appearance of persons stricken with the plague (ii., 49). In Homer it is used of the paleness of the face from fear, and so as directly descriptive of fear ("Iliad," x., 376; xv., 4). Of olive wood ("Odyssey," ix., 320, 379) of which the bark is gray. Gladstone says that in Homer it indicates rather the absence than the presence of definite color. In the New Testament, always rendered green, except here. See Mark vi. 39; Apoc. viii. 7; ix. 14. Hell. Properly, Hades. The realm of the dead personified, See on Matt. xvi. 18.
With death (ei qanatw). Or pestilence. The Hebrew deber, pestilence, is rendered by the Greek word for death in the Septuagint. See Jeremiah xiv. 12; xxi. 7. Compare the term black-death applied to an Oriental plague which raged in the fourteenth century.
With the beasts (upo twn qhriwn). Rev., by. The preposition uJpo by is used here instead of ejn in or with, indicating more definitely the actual agent of destruction; while ejn denotes the element in which the destruction takes place, and gives a general indication of the manner in which it was wrought. With these four judgments compare Ezek. xiv. 21.
Souls (yucav). Or lives. See on 3 John 2. He saw only blood, but blood and life were equivalent terms to the Hebrew.
They held (eicon). Not held fast, but bore the testimony which was committed to them.
10. They cried (ekrazon). See on Mark v. 5.
O Lord (o despothv). See on 2 Pet. ii. 1. Only here in Revelation. Addressed to God rather than to Christ, and breathing, as Professor Milligan remarks, "the feeling of Old Testament rather than of New Testament relation." Compare Acts iv. 24; Jude 4.
Judge (krineiv). Originally the verb means to separate; thence the idea of selection: to pick out, and so to discriminate or judge.
On the earth (epi thv ghv). Earth, in Revelation, is generally to be understood of the ungodly earth.
11. White robes were given unto every one of them (edoqhsan ekastoiv stolai leukai). The best texts read ejdoqh aujtoiv eJkastw stolh leukh there was given them to each one a white robe. So Rev. Stolh is properly a long, flowing robe; a festive garment. Compare Mark xvi. 5; Luke xv. 22; xx. 46.
Fellow-servants. See Master in verse 10.
12. The sixth seal. "The Apocalypse is molded by the great discourse of our Lord upon 'the last things' which has been preserved for us in the first three Gospels (Matt. xxiv. 4; 25.; Mark xiii. 5-37; Luke xxi. 8-36; compare xvii. 20-37). The parallelism between the two is, to a certain extent, acknowledged by all inquirers, and is indeed, in many respects, so obvious, that it can hardly escape the notice of even the ordinary reader. Let any one compare, for example, the account of the opening of the sixth seal with the description of the end (Matt. xxiv. 29, 30), and he will see that the one is almost a transcript of the other. It is remarkable that we find no account of this discourse in the Gospel of St. John; nor does it seem as sufficient explanation of the omission that the later Evangelist was satisfied with the records of the discourse already given by his predecessors" (Milligan).
Earthquake (seismov). Lit., shaking. Used also of a tempest. See on Matt. viii. 24, and compare Matt. xxiv. 7. The word here is not necessarily confined to shaking the earth. In Matt. xxiv. 29, it is predicted that the powers of the heavens shall be shaken (saleuqhsontai, see on Luke xxi. 26). Here also the heaven is removed (verse 14). Compare Heb. xii. 26, where the verb seiw to shake (kindred with seismov) is used.
Black as sackcloth of hair (melav wv sakkov). Compare Matthew xxiv. 29; Isa. l. 3; xiii. 10; Jer. iv. 23; Ezek. xxxii. 7, 8; Joel ii. 31; iii. 15; Amos viii. 9, 10; Micah iii. 6. For sackcloth, see on Luke x. 13. The moon (h selhnh). Add olh whole. Rev., the whole moon.
14. Departed (apecwrisqh). The verb means to separate, sever. Rev., was removed.
15. Of the earth. See on verse 10.
Every free man. Omit every, and read as Rev., every bondman and free man.
Rocks (petrav). See on Matt. xvi. 18.
Wrath (orghv). Denoting a deep-seated wrath. See on John iii. 36.
Is come (hlqen). Lit., came.