And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
And the fifth angel sounded - See the notes on Revelation 8:6-7.
And I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth - This denotes, as was shown in the notes on Revelation 8:10, a leader, a military chieftain, a warrior. In the fulfillment of this, as in the former case, we look for the appearance of some mighty prince and warrior, to whom is given power, as it were, to open the bottomless pit, and to summon forth its legions. That some such agent is denoted by the star is further apparent from the fact that it is immediately added, that "to him (the star) was given the key of the bottomless pit." It could not be meant that a key would be given to a literal star, and we naturally suppose, therefore, that some intelligent being of exalted rank, and of baleful influence, is here referred to Angels, good and bad, are often called stars; but the reference here, as in Revelation 8:10, seems to me not to be to angels, but to some mighty leader of armies, who was to collect his hosts, and to go through the world in the work of destruction.
And to him was given the key of the bottomless pit - Of the under-world, considered particularly of the abode of the wicked. This is represented often as a dark prison-house, enclosed with walls, and accessible by gates or doors. These gates or doors are fastened, so that none of the inmates can come out, and the key is in the hand of the keeper or guardian. In Revelation 1:18 it is said that the keys of that world are in the hand of the Saviour (compare the notes on that passage); here it is said that for a time, and for a temporary purpose, they are committed to another. The word "pit" - φρέαρ phrear - denotes properly a well, or a pit for water dug in the earth; and then any pit, cave, abyss. The reference here is doubtless to the nether world, considered as the abode of the wicked dead, the prison-house of the guilty. The word "bottomless," ἀβύσσος abussos - whence our word "abyss" means properly "without any bottom" (from Α a, the alpha privative (not), and βύθος buthos, depth, bottom). It would be applied properly to the ocean, or to any deep and dark dell, or to any obscure place whose depth was unknown. Here it refers to Hades - the region of the dead the abode of wicked spirits - as a deep, dark place, whose bottom was unknown. Having the key to this, is to have the power to confine those who are there, or to permit them to go at large. The meaning here is, that this master-spirit would have power to evoke the dead from these dark regions; and it would be fulfilled if some mighty genius, that could be compared with a fallen star, or a lurid meteor, should summon forth followers which would appear like the dwellers in the nether world called forth to spread desolation over the earth.
And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
And he opened the bottomless pit - It is represented before as wholly confined, so that not even the smoke or vapor could escape.
And there arose a smoke out of the pit - Compare Revelation 14:11. The meaning here is that the pit, as a place of punishment, or as the abode of the wicked, was filled with burning sulphur, and consequently that it emitted smoke and vapor as soon as opened. The common image of the place of punishment, in the Scriptures, is that of a "lake that burns with fire and brimstone." Compare Revelation 14:10; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10; Revelation 21:8. See also Psalm 11:6; Isaiah 30:33; Ezekiel 38:22. It is not improbable that this image was taken from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:24. Such burning sulphur would produce, of course, a dense smoke or vapor; and the idea here is, that the pit had been closed, and that as soon as the door was opened a dense column escaped that darkened the heavens. The purpose of this is, probably, to indicate the origin of the plague that was about to come upon the world. It would be of such a character that it would appear as if it had been emitted from hell; as if the inmates of that dark world had broke loose upon the earth. Compare notes on Revelation 6:8.
As the smoke of a great furnace - So in Genesis 19:28, whence probably this image is taken: "And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and all the land of the plain, and beheld and lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace."
And the sun and the air were darkened, ... - As will be the case when a smoke ascends from a furnace. The meaning here is, that an effect would be produced as if a dense and dark vapor should ascend from the under-world. We are not, of course, to understand this literally.
And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth - That is, they escaped from the pit with the smoke. At first they were mingled with the smoke, so that they were not distinctly seen, but when the smoke cleared away they appeared in great numbers. The idea seems to be, that the bottomless pit was filled with vapor and with those creatures, and that as soon as the gate was opened the whole contents expanded and burst forth upon the earth. The sun was immediately darkened, and the air was full, but the smoke soon cleared away, so that the locusts became distinctly visible. The appearance of these locusts is described in another part of the chapter, Revelation 9:7 ff. The locust is a voracious insect belonging to the grasshopper or grylli genus, and is a great scourge in Oriental countries. A full description of the locust may be seen in Robinson's Calmet, and in Kitto's Encyclo. vol. ii. pp. 258ff. There are ten Hebrew words to denote the locust, and there are numerous references to the destructive habits of the insect in the Scriptures. In fact, from their numbers and their destructive habits, there was scarcely any other plague that was so much dreaded in the East. Considered as a symbol, or emblem, the following remarks may be made in explanation:
(1) The symbol is Oriental, and would most naturally refer to something that was to occur in the East. As locusts have appeared chiefly in the East, and as they are in a great measure an Oriental plague, the mention of this symbol would most naturally turn the thoughts to that portion of the earth. The symbols of the first four trumpets had no special locality, and would suggest no particular part of the world; but on the mention of this, the mind would be naturally turned to the East, and we should expect to find that the scene of this woe would be located in the regions where the ravages of locusts most abounded. Compare, on this point, Elliott, Horae Apoc. i. 394-406. He has made it probable that the prophets, when they used symbolical language to denote any events, commonly, at least, employed those which had a local or geographical reference; thus, in the symbols derived from the vegetable kingdom, when Judah is to be symbolized, the olive, the vine, and the fig-tree are selected; when Egypt is referred to, the reed is chosen; when Babylon, the willow. And so, in the animal kingdom, the lion is the symbol of Judah; the wild ass, of the Arabs; the crocodile, of Egypt, etc. Whether this theory could be wholly carried out or not, no one can doubt that the symbol of locusts would most naturally suggest the Oriental world, and that the natural interpretation of the passage would lead us to expect its fulfillment there.
(2) locusts were remarkable for their numbers - so great often as to appear like clouds, and to darken the sky. In this respect they would naturally be symbolical of numerous armies or hosts of men. This natural symbol of numerous armies is often employed by the prophets. Thus, in Jeremiah 46:23;
"Cut down her forests (i. e. her people, or cities), saith Jehovah,
That it may not be found on searching;
Although they surpass the locusts in multitude,
And they are without number."
So in Nahum 3:15;
"There shall the fire devour thee;
The sword shall cut thee off; it shall devour thee as the locust,
Increase thyself as the numerous locusts."
So also in Nahum 3:17;
"Thy crowned princes are as the numerous locusts,
And thy captains as the grasshoppers;
And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
And it was commanded them - The writer does not say by whom this command was given, but it is clearly by someone who had the direction of them. As they were evoked from the "bottomless pit" by one who had the key to that dark abode, and as they are represented in Revelation 9:11 as under the command of one who is there called Abaddon, or Apollyon - the Destroyer - it would seem most probable that the command referred to is one that is given by him; that is, that this expresses one of the principles on which he would act in his devastations. At all events, this denotes what would be one of the characteristics of these destroyers. Their purpose would be to vex and trouble people; not to spread desolation over vineyards, olive-yards, and fields of grain.
That they should not hurt the grass of the earth, ... - See the notes on Revelation 8:7. The meaning here is plain. There would be some sense in which these invaders would be characterized in a manner that was not common among invaders, to wit, that they would show particular care not to carry their devastations into the vegetable world. Their warfare would be with people, and not with orchards and green fields.
But only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads - See the notes on Revelation 7:2-3. They commenced war against that part of the human race only. The language here properly denotes those who were not the friends of God. It may here refer, however, either to those who in reality were not such, or to those who were regarded by him who gave this command as not being such. In the former case, the commission would have respect to real infidels in the sight of God - that is, to those who rejected the true religion; in the latter it would express the sentiment of the leader of this host, as referring to those who in his apprehension were infidels or enemies of God. The true interpretation must depend on the sense in which we understand the phrase "it was commanded"; whether as referring to God, or to the leader of the host himself. The language, therefore, is ambiguous, and the meaning must be determined by the other parts of the passage. Either method of understanding the passage would be in accordance with its fair interpretation.
And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
And to them it was given - There is here the same indefiniteness as in the former verse, the impersonal verb being here also used. The writer does not say by whom this power was given, whether by God, or by the leader of the host. It may be admitted, however, that the most natural interpretation is to suppose that it was given them by God, and that this was the execution of his purpose in this case. Still it is remarkable that this is not directly affirmed, and that the language is so general as to admit of the other application. The fact that they did not kill them, but tormented them - if such a fact should be found to exist - would be in every sense a fulfillment of what is here said.
That they should not kill them - This is in accordance with the nature of the symbol. The locusts do not themselves destroy any living creature; and the sting of the scorpion, though exceedingly painful, is not usually fatal. The proper fulfillment of this would be found in what would not be generally fatal, but which would diffuse misery and wretchedness. (Compare Revelation 9:6.) Perhaps all that would be necessarily meant by this would be, not that individual people would not be killed, but that they would be sent to inflict plagues and torments rather than to take life, and that the characteristic effects of their appearing would be distress and suffering rather than death. There may be included in the fair interpretation of the words, "general distress" and "sorrow"; acts of oppression, cruelty, and violence; such a condition of public suffering that people would regard death as a relief if they could find it.
But that they should be tormented - That is, that they should be subjected to ills and troubles which might be properly compared with the sting of a scorpion.
Five months - So far as the words here are concerned this might be taken literally, denoting five months or one hundred and fifty days; or as a prophetic reckoning, where a day stands for a year. Compare the notes on Daniel 9:24 ff. The latter is undoubtedly the correct interpretation here, for it is the character of the book thus to reckon time. See the notes on Revelation 9:15. If this be the true method of reckoning here, then it will be necessary to find some events which will embrace about the period of one hundred and fifty years, during which this distress and sorrow would continue. The proper laws of interpretation demand that one or the other of these periods should be found - either that of five months literally, or that of 150 years. It may be true, as Prof. Stuart suggests (in loco), that "the usual time of locusts is from May to September inclusive - five months." It may be true, also, that this symbol was chosen partly because that was the fact, and they would, from that fact, be well adapted to symbolize a period that could be spoken of as "five months"; but still the meaning must be more than simply it was "a short period," as he supposes. The phrase a few months might designate such a period; but if that had been the writer's intention, he would not have selected the definite number five.
And their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, ... - See the notes on Revelation 9:3. That is, it would be painful, severe, dangerous.
And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
And in those days shall men seek death ... - See the notes on Revelation 9:5. It is very easy to conceive of such a state of things as is here described, and, indeed, this has not been very uncommon in the world. It is a state where the distress is so great that people would consider death a relief, and where they anxiously look to the time when they may be released from their sufferings by death. In the case before us it is not intimated that they would lay violent hands on themselves, or that they would take any positive measures to end their sufferings; and this, perhaps, may be a circumstance of some importance to show that the persons referred to were servants of God. When it is said that "they would seek death," it can only be meant that they would look out for it - or desire it - as the end of their sorrows. This is descriptive, as we shall see, of a particular period of the world; but the language is beautifully applicable to what occurs in all ages and in all lands.
There is always a great number of sufferers who are looking forward to death as a relief. In cells and dungeons; on beds of pain and languishing; in scenes of poverty and want; in blighted hopes and disappointed affections, how many are there who would be glad to die, and who have no hope of an end of suffering but in the grave! A few, by the pistol, by the halter, by poison, or by drowning, seek thus to end their woes. A large part look forward to death as a release, when, if the reality were known, death would furnish no such relief, for there are deeper and longer woes beyond the grave than there are this side of it. Compare the notes on Job 3:20-22. But to a portion death will be a relief. It will be an end of sufferings. They will find peace in the grave, and are assured they shall suffer no more. Such bear their trials with patience, for the end of all sorrow to them is near, and death will come to release their spirits from the suffering clay, and to bear them in triumph to a world where a pang shall never be felt, and a tear never shed.
And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared for battle - The resemblance between the locust and the horse, dissimilar as they are in most respects, has been often remarked. Dr. Robinson (Bib. Research. i. 59) says: "We found today upon the shrubs an insect, either a species of black locust, or much resembling them, which our Bedouin called Farras el Jundy, 'soldiers' horses.' They said these insects were common on Mount Sinai, of a green color, and were found on dead trees, but did them no injury." The editor of the Pictorial Bible makes the following remarks: - "The first time we saw locusts browsing with their wings closed, the idea of comparing them to horses arose spontaneously to our minds - as we had not previously met with such a comparison, and did not at that time advert to the present text Joel 2:4. The resemblance in the head first struck our attention; and this notion having once arisen, other analogies were found or imagined in its general appearance and action in feeding. We have since found the observation very common. The Italians, indeed, from this resemblance, called the locust cavaletta, or little horse. Sir W. Ouseley reports: 'Zakaria Cazvine divides the locusts into two classes, like horsemen and footmen - mounted and pedestrian.' Niebuhr says that he heard from a Bedouin, near Bussorah, a particular comparison of the locust to other animals; but as this passage of Scripture did not occur to him at the time he thought it a mere fancy of the Arab's, until he heard it repeated at Baghdad. He compared the head of the locust to that of the horse; the feet to those of the camel; the belly with that of a serpent; the tail with that of a scorpion; and the feelers (if Niebuhr remembered rightly) to the hair of a virgin" (Pict. Bib. on Joel 2:4). The resemblance to horses would naturally suggest the idea of cavalry, as being referred to by the symbol.
And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold - The writer does not say either that these were literally crowns, or that they were actually made of gold. They were "as it were" (ὡς hōs) "crowns," and they were like (ὅμοιοι homoioi) "gold." That is, as seen by him, they had a resemblance to crowns or diadems, and they also resembled gold in their color and brilliancy. The word "crown" - στέφανος stephanos - means properly a circlet, chaplet, encircling the head:
(a) as an emblem of royal dignity, and as worn by kings;
(b) as conferred on victors in the public games - a chaplet, a wreath;
(c) as an ornament, honor, or glory, Philippians 4:1.
No particular shape is designated by the word στέφανος stephanos and perhaps the word "crown" does not quite express the meaning. The word "diadem" would come nearer to it. The true notion in the word is that of something that is passed around the head, and that encircles it, and as such it would well describe the appearance of a turban as seen at a distance. On the supposition that the symbolic beings here referred to had turbans on their heads, and on the supposition that something was referred to which was not much worn in the time of John, and, therefore, that had no name, the word στέφανος stephanos, or diadem, would be likely to be used in describing it. This, too, would accord with the use of the phrase "as it were" - ὡς hōs. The writer saw such head-ornaments as he was accustomed to see. They Were not exactly crowns or diadems, but they had a resemblance to them, and he therefore uses this language: "and on their heads were as it were crowns." Suppose that these were turbans, and that they were not in common use in the time of John, and that they had, therefore, no name, would not this be the exact language which he would use in describing them? The same remarks may be made respecting the other expression.
Like gold - They were not pure gold, but they had a resemblance to it. Would not a yellow turban correspond with all that is said in this description?
And their faces were as the faces of men - They had a human countenance. This would indicate that, after all, they were human beings that the symbol described, though they had come up from the bottomless pit. Horsemen, in strange apparel, with a strange head-dress, would be all that would be properly denoted by this.
And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
And they had hair as the hair of women - Long hair; not such as men commonly wear, but such as women wear. See the notes on 1 Corinthians 11:14. This struck John as a peculiarity, that, though warriors, they should have the appearance of effeminacy indicated by allowing their hair to grow long. It is clear from this, that John regarded their appearance as unusual and remarkable. Though manifestly designed to represent an army, yet it was not the usual appearance of men who went forth to battle. Among the Greeks of ancient times, indeed, long hair was not uncommon (see the notes above referred to on 1 Corinthians 11:14), but this was by no means the usual custom among the ancients; and the fact that these warriors had long hair like women was a circumstance that would distinguish them particularly from others. On this comparison of the appearance of the locusts with the hair of women see the remarks of Niebuhr, in the notes on Revelation 9:7.
And their teeth were as the teeth of lions - Strong; suited to devour. The teeth of the locust are by no means prominent, though they are strong, for they readily cut down and eat up all vegetable substances that come in their way. But it is evident that John means to say that there was much that was unusual and remarkable in the teeth of these locusts. They would be ravenous and fierce, and would spread terror and desolation like the lions of the desert.
And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron - Hard, horny, impenetrable, as if they were made of iron. The locust has a firm and hard cuticle on the forepart of the breast, which serves for a shield or defense while it moves in the thorny and furzy vegetation. On those which John saw this was especially hard and horny, and would thus be well adapted to be an emblem of the breastplates of iron commonly worn by ancient warriors. The meaning is, that the warriors referred to would be well clad with defensive armor.
And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle - The noise made by locusts is often spoken of by travelers, and the comparison of that noise with that of chariots rushing to battle, is not only appropriate, but also indicates clearly what was symbolized. It was an army that was symbolized, and everything about them served to represent hosts of men well armed, rushing to conflict. The same thing here referred to is noticed by Joel Joe 2:4-5, Joel 2:7;
"The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses;
And as horsemen so shall they run.
Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains, shall they leap;
Like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble;
As a strong people set in battle array.
They shall run like mighty men;
They shall climb the wall like men of war;
And they shall march every one his ways,
And shall not break their ranks," etc.
It is remarkable that Volney, who had no intention of illustrating the truth of Scripture, has given a description of locusts, as if he meant to confirm the truth of what is here said. "Syria," says he, "as well as Egypt, Persia, and almost all the south of Asia, is subject to another calamity no less dreadful (than earthquakes); I mean those clouds of locusts so often mentioned by travelers. The quantity of these insects is incredible to all who have not themselves witnessed their astounding numbers; the whole earth is covered with them for the space of several leagues. The noise they make in browsing on the trees and herbage may be heard to a great distance, and resembles that of an army foraging in secret" (Travels in Egypt and Syria, vol. i. pp. 283, 284).
And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
And they had tails like unto scorpions - The fancy of an Arab now often discerns a resemblance between the tail of the locust and the scorpion. See the remark of Niebuhr, quoted in the notes on Revelation 9:7.
And there were stings in their tails - Like the stings of scorpions. See the notes on Revelation 9:3. This made the locusts which appeared to John the more remarkable, for though the fancy may imagine a resemblance between the tail of a locust and a scorpion, yet the locusts have properly no sting. The only thing which they have resembling a sting is a hard bony subsubstance like a needle, with which the female punctures the bark and wood of trees in order to deposit her eggs. It has, however, no adaptation, like a sting, for conveying poison into a wound. These, however, appeared to be armed with stings properly so called.
And their power was to hurt men - Not primarily to kill people, but to inflict on them various kinds of tortures. See the notes on Revelation 9:5. The word used here - ἀδικῆσαι adikēsai, rendered "to hurt" - is different from the word in Revelation 9:5 - βασανισθῶσιν basanisthōsin, rendered "should be tormented." This word properly means "to do wrong, to do unjustly, to injure, to hurt"; and the two words would seem to convey the idea that they would produce distress by doing wrong to others, or by deeding unjustly with them. It does not appear that the wrong would be by inflicting bodily torments, but would be characterized by that injustice toward others which produces distress and anguish.
Five months - See the notes on Revelation 9:5; (also Editor's Preface).
And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
And they had a king over them - A ruler who marshalled their hosts. Locusts often, and indeed generally, move in bands, though they do not appear to be under the direction of anyone as a particular ruler or guide. In this case it struck John as a remarkable peculiarity that they had a king - a king who, it would seem, had the absolute control, and to whom was to be traced all the destruction which would ensue from their emerging from the bottomless pit.
Which is the angel of the bottomless pit - See the notes on Revelation 9:1. The word "angel" here would seem to refer to the chief of the evil angels, who presided over the dark and gloomy regions from whence the locusts seemed to emerge. This may either mean that this evil angel seemed to command them personally, or that his spirit was infused into the leader of these hosts.
Whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon - The name Abaddon means literally "destruction," and is the same as Apollyon.
But in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon - From ἀπόλλυμι apollumi - "to destroy." The word properly denotes "a destroyer," and the name is given to this king of the hosts, represented by the locusts, because this would be his principal characteristic.
After this minute explanation of the literal meaning of the symbol, it may be useful, before attempting to apply it, and to ascertain the events designed to be represented, to have a distinct impression of the principal image - the locust. It is evident that this is, in many respects, a creature of the imagination, and that we are not to expect the exact representation to be found in any forms of actual existence in the animal creation. The following engraving, prepared by Mr. Elliott (vol. i. p. 410), will give a sufficiently accurate representation of this symbolical figure as it appeared to John.
The question now is, whether any events occurred in history, subsequent to and succeeding those supposed to be referred to in the fourth trumpet, to which this symbol would be applicable. Reasons have already been suggested for supposing that there was a transfer of the seat of the operations to another part of the world. The first four trumpets referred to a continual series of events of the same general character, and having a proper close. These have been explained as referring to the successive shocks which terminated in the downfall of the Western empire. At the close of that series there is a pause in the representation Revelation 8:13, and a solemn proclamation that other scenes were to open distinguished for woe. These were to be symbolized in the sounding of the remaining three trumpets, embracing the whole period until the consummation of all things - or sketching great and momentous events in the future, until the volume sealed with the seven seals Revelation 5:1 should have been wholly unrolled and its contents disclosed. The whole scene now is changed. Rome has fallen. It has passed into the hands of strangers. The power that had spread itself over the world has, in that form, come to an end, and is to exist no more - though, as we shall see (Revelation 11ff), another power, quite as formidable, existing there, is to be described by a new set of symbols. But here Revelation 9 a new power appears. The scenery is all Oriental, and clearly has reference to events that were to spring up in the East. With surprising unanimity, commentators have agreed in regarding this as referring to the empire of the Saracens, or to the rise and progress of the religion and the empire set up by Muhammed. The inquiry now is, whether the circumstances introduced into the symbol find a proper fulfillment in the rise of the Saracenic power, and in the conquests of the Prophet of Mecca:
(1) "The country where the scene is laid." As already remarked the scene is Oriental - for the mention of locusts naturally suggests the East - that being the part of the world where they abound, and they being in fact especially an Oriental plague. It may now be added, that in a more strict and proper sense Arabia may be intended; that is, if it be admitted that the design was to symbolize events pertaining to Arabia, or the gathering of the hosts of Arabia for conquest, the symbol of locusts would have been employed for the locust, the groundwork of the symbol is especially Arabic. It was the east wind which brought the locusts on Egypt Exodus 10:13, and they must therefore have come from some portion of Arabia - for Arabia is the land that lies over against Egypt in the east. Such, too, is the testimony of Volney; "the most judicious," as Mr. Gibbon calls him, "of modern travelers." "The inhabitants of Syria," says he, "have remarked that locusts come constantly from the desert of Arabia," ch. 20:sect. 5.
All that is necessary to say further on this point is, that on the supposition that it was the design of the Spirit of inspiration in the passage before us to refer to the followers of Muhammed, the image of the locusts was that which would be naturally selected. There was no other one so appropriate and so striking; no one that would so naturally designate the country of Arabia. As some confirmation of this, or as showing how natural the symbol would be, a remark may be introduced from Mr. Forster. In his Mohammedanism Unveiled, vol. i. p. 217, he says, "In the Bedoween romance of Antar, the locust is introduced as the national emblem of the Ishmaelites. And it is a remarkable coincidence that Muslim tradition speaks of locusts having dropped into the hands of Muhammed, bearing on their wings this inscription - 'We are the army of the Great God.'" These circumstances will show the propriety of the symbol on the supposition that it refers to Arabia and the Saracens.
(2) the people. The question is, whether there was anything in the symbol, as described by John, which would properly designate the followers of Muhammed, on the supposition that it was designed to have such a reference:
(a) As to numbers. "They (the Midianite Arabs) came as locusts for multitude," John 6:5. See the notes on Revelation 9:3. Nothing would better represent the numbers of the Saracenic hordes that came out of Arabia, and that spread over the East - over Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Spain, and that threatened to spread over Europe - than such an army of locusts. "One hundred years after his flight (Muhammed) from Mecca," says Mr. Gibbon, "the arms and the reign of his successors extended from India to the Atlantic Ocean, over the various and distant provinces which may be comprised under the names of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain," vol. iii. p. 410. "At the end of the first century of the Hegira the caliphs were the most potent and absolute monarchs on the globe. Under the last of the Ommiades the Arabian empire extended two hundred days' journey from east to west, from the confines of Tartary and India to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean" (ibid. p. 460). In regard to the immense hosts employed in these conquests, an idea may be formed by a perusal of the whole fifty-first chapter in Gibbon (vol. iii. pp. 408-461). Those hosts issued primarily from Arabia, and in their numbers would be well compared with the swarms of locusts that issued from the same country, so numerous as to darken the sky.
(b) The description of the people.
"Their faces were as the faces of men" This would seem to be in contrast with other people, or to denote something that was unique in the appearance of the persons represented. In other words, the meaning would seem to be, that there was something manly and warlike in their appearance, so far as their faces were concerned. It is remarkable that the appearance of the Goths (represented, as I suppose, under the previous trumpets) is described by Jerome (compare on Isaiah 8) as quite the reverse. They are described as having faces shaven and smooth; faces, in contrast with the bearded Romans, like women's faces. Is it fancy to suppose that the reference here is to the beard and moustache of the Arabic hosts? We know with what care they regarded the beard; and if a representation was made of them, especially in contrast with nations that shaved their faces, and who thus resembled women, it would be natural to speak of those represented in the symbol as "having faces as the faces of men."
"They had hair as the hair of women" A strange mingling of the appearance of effeminacy with the indication of manliness and courage. See the notes on Revelation 9:8. And yet this strictly accords with the appearance of the Arabs or Saracens. Pliny, the contemporary of John, speaks of the Arabs then as having the hair long and uncut, with the moustache on the upper lip, or the beard: Arabes mitrati sunt, aut intoso crine. Barba abraditur, praeterquam in superiore labro. Aliis et haec intonsa (Nat. Hist. vol. 6, p. 28). So Solinus describes them in the third century (Plurimis crinis intonsus, mitrata capita, pars rasa in cutem barba, 100:53); so Ammianus Marcellinus, in the fourth century (Crinitus quidam a Saracenorum cuneo, vol. xxxi. p. 16); and so Claudian, Theodore of Mopsuesta, and Jerome, in the fifth. Jerome lived about two centuries before the great Saracen invasion; and as he lived at Bethlehem, on the borders of Arabia, he must have been familiar with the appearance of the Arabs. Still later, in that most characteristic of Arab poems, Antar, a poem written in the time of Muhammed's childhood, we find the moustache, and the beard, and the long flowing hair on the shoulder, and the turban, all specified as characteristic of the Arabians: "He adjusted himself properly, twisted his whiskers, and folded up his hair under his turban, drawing it from off his shoulders," vol. i. p. 340. "His hair flowed down on his shoulders," vol. i. p. 169. "Antar cut off Maudi's hair in revenge and insult," vol. iii. p. 117. "We will hang him up by his hair," vol. iv. p. 325. See Elliott, vol. i. pp. 411, 412. Compare Newton on the Prophecies, p. 485.
"And on their heads were as it were crowns of gold" See the notes on Revelation 9:7. That is, diadems, or something that appeared like crowns, or chaplets. This will agree well with the turban worn by the Arabs or Saracens, and which was quite characteristic of them in the early periods when they became known. So in the passage already quoted, Pliny speaks of them as Arabes mitrati; so Solinus, mitrata capita; so in the poem of Antar, "he folded up his hair under his turbans." It is remarkable also that Ezekiel EZechariah 23:42 describes the turbans of the Sabean or Keturite Arabs under the very appellation used here by John: "Sabeans from the wilderness, which put beautiful crowns upon their heads." So in the preface to Antar, it is said, "It was a usual saying among them, that God had bestowed four special things on the Arabs; that their turbans should be unto them instead of diadems, their tents instead of walls and houses, their swords instead of intrenchments, and their poems instead of written laws." Mr. Forster, in his Mohammedanism Unveiled, quotes as a precept of Muhammed; "Make a point of wearing turbans, because it is the way of angels." Turbans might then with propriety be represented as crowns, and no doubt these were often so gilded and ornamented that they might be spoken of as "crowns of gold."
One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
One woe is past - The woe referred to in Revelation 9:1-11. In Revelation 8:13 three woes are mentioned which were to occur successively, and which were to embrace the whole of the period comprised in the seven seals and the seven trumpets. Under the last of the seals we have considered four successive periods, referring to events connected with the downfall of the Western empire; and then we have found one important event worthy of a place in noticing the things which would permanently affect the destiny of the world - the rise, the character, and the conquests of the Saracens. This was referred to by the first woe-trumpet. We enter now on the consideration of the second. This occupies the remainder of the chapter, and in illustrating it the same method will be pursued as heretofore: first, to explain the literal meaning of the words, phrases, and symbols; and then to inquire what events in history, if any, succeeding the former, occurred, which would correspond with the language used.
And, behold, there come two woes more hereafter - Two momentous and important events that will be attended with sorrow to mankind. It cannot be intended that there would be no other evils that would visit mankind; but the eye, in glancing along the future, rested on these as having a special pre-eminence in affecting the destiny of the church and the world.
And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
And the sixth angel sounded - See the notes on Revelation 8:2, Revelation 8:7.
And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God - In the language used here there is an allusion to the temple, but the scene is evidently laid in heaven. The temple in its arrangements was designed, undoubtedly, to be in important respects a symbol of heaven, and this idea constantly occurs in the Scriptures. Compare the Epistle to the Hebrews passim. The golden altar stood in the holy place, between the table of show-bread and the golden candlestick. See the notes on Hebrews 9:1-2. This altar, made of shittim or acacia wood, was ornamented at the four corners, and overlaid throughout with laminae of gold. Hence, it was called "the golden altar," in contradistinction from the altar for sacrifice, which was made of stone. Compare the notes on Matthew 21:12, following on its four corners it had projections which are called horns Exodus 30:2-3, which seem to have been intended mainly for ornaments. See Jahn, Arch. 332; Joseph. Ant. iii. 6, 8. When it is said that this was "before God," the meaning is, that it was directly before or in front of the symbol of the divine presence in the most holy place. This image, in the vision of John, is transformed to heaven. The voice seemed to come from the very presence of the Deity; from the place where offerings are made to God.
Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
Saying to the sixth angel, which had the trumpet - See the notes at Revelation 8:2.
Loose, ... - This power, it would seem, was given to the sixth angel in addition to his office of blowing the trumpet. All this, of course, was in vision, and cannot be literally interpreted. The meaning is, that the effect of his blowing the trumpet would be the same as if angels that had been bound should be suddenly loosed and suffered to go forth over the earth; that is, some event would occur which would be properly symbolized by such an act.
The four angels - Compare the notes at Revelation 8:2. It was customary to represent important events as occurring under the ministry of angels. The general meaning here is, that in the vicinity of the river Euphrates there were mighty powers which had been bound or held in check, which were now to be let loose upon the world. What we are to look for in the fulfillment is evidently this - some power that seemed to be kept back by an invisible influence as if by angels, now suddenly let loose and suffered to accomplish the purpose of desolation mentioned in the subsequent verses. It is not necessary to suppose that angels were actually employed in these restraints, though no one can demonstrate that their agency was not concerned in the transactions here referred to. Compare the notes on Daniel 10:12-13. It has been made a question why the number four is specified, and whether the forces were in any sense made up of four divisions, nations, or people. While nothing certain can be determined in regard to that, and while the number four may be used merely to denote a great and strong force, yet it must be admitted that the most obvious interpretation would be to refer it to some combination of forces, or to some union of powers, that was to accomplish what is here said. If it had been a single nation, it would have been more in accordance with the usual method in prophecy to have represented them as restrained by an angel, or by angels in general, without specifying any number.
Which are bound - That is, they seemed to be bound. There was something which held them, and the forces under them, in check, until they were thus commanded to go forth. In the fulfillment of this it will be necessary to look for something of the nature of a check or restraint on these forces, until they were commissioned to go forth to accomplish the work of destruction.
In the great river Euphrates - The well-known river of that name, commonly called, in the Scriptures, "the great river," and, by way of eminence, "the river," Exodus 23:31; Isaiah 8:7. This river was on the east of Palestine; and the language used here naturally denotes that the power referred to under the sixth trumpet would spring up in the East, and that it would have its origin in the vicinity of that river. Those interpreters, therefore, who apply this to the invasion of Judaea by the Romans have great difficulty in explaining this - as the forces employed in the destruction of Jerusalem came from the West, and not from the East. The fair interpretation is, that there were forces in the vicinity of the Euphrates which were, up to this period, bound or restrained, but which were now suffered to spread woe and sorrow over a considerable portion of the world.
And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
And the four angels were loosed - Who had this mighty host under restraint. The loosening of the angels was, in fact, also a letting loose of all these hosts, that they might accomplish the work which they were commissioned to do.
Which were prepared - See Revelation 9:7. The word used here properly refers to what is made ready, suited up, arranged for anything: as persons prepared for a journey, horses for battle, a road for travelers, food for the hungry, a house to live in, etc. See Robinson's Lexicon, sub. voce Ἑτοιμάζω Hetoimazō. As used here, the word means "that whatever was necessary to prepare these angels" - the leaders of this host - for the work which they were commissioned to perform, was now done, and that they stood in a state of readiness to execute the design. In the fulfillment of this it will be necessary to look for some arrangements existing in the vicinity of the Euphrates, by which these restrained hosts were in a state of readiness to be summoned forth to the execution of this work, or in such a condition that they would go forth spontaneously if the restraints existing were removed.
For an hour, ... - Margin, "at." The Greek - εἰς eis - means properly "unto, with reference to"; and the sense is, that, with reference to that hour, they had all the requisite preparation. Prof. Stuart explains it as meaning that they were "prepared for the particular year, month, day, and hour, destined by God for the great catastrophe which is to follow." The meaning, however, rather seems to be that they were prepared, not for the commencement of such a period, but they were prepared for the whole period indicated by the hour, the day, the month, and the year; that is, that the continuance of this "woe" would extend along through the whole period. For:
(a) this is the natural interpretation of the word "for" - εἰς eis;
(b) it makes the whole sentence intelligible - for though it might be proper to say of anything that it was "prepared for an hour," indicating the commencement of what was to be done, it is not usual to say of anything that it is "prepared for an hour, a month, a day, a year," when the design is merely to indicate the beginning of it; and,
(c) it is in accordance with the prediction respecting the first "woe" Revelation 9:5, where the time is specified in language similar to this, to wit, "five months." It seems to me, therefore, that we are to regard the time here mentioned as a prophetic indication of the period during which this woe would continue.
An hour, and a day, and a month, and a year - If this were to be taken literally, it would, of course, be but little more than a year. If it be taken, however, in the common prophetic style, where a day is put for a year (see the notes on Daniel 9:24 ff; also Editor's Preface, p. xxv. etc.), then the amount of time (360 + 30 + 1 + an hour) would be 391 years, and the portion of a year indicated by an hour - a twelfth part or twenty-fourth part, according as the day was supposed to be divided into twelve or twenty-four hours. That this is the true view seems to be clear, because this accords with the usual style in this book; because it can hardly be supposed that the "preparation" here referred to would have been for so brief a period as the time would be if literally interpreted; and because the mention of so small a portion of time as an "hour," if literally taken, would be improbable in so great transactions. The fair interpretation, therefore, will require us to find some events that will fill up the period of about 391 years.
For to slay the third part of men - Compare Revelation 8:7, Revelation 8:9,Revelation 8:12. The meaning here is, that the immense host which was restrained on the Euphrates would, when loosed, spread desolation over about a third part of the world. We are not to suppose that this is to be understood in exactly a literal sense; but the meaning is, that the desolation would be so widespread that it would seem to embrace a third of the world. No such event as the cutting off of a few thousands of Jews in the siege of Jerusalem would correspond with the language here employed, and we must look for events more general and more disastrous to mankind at large.
And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
And the number of the army of the horsemen - It is to be observed here that the strength of the army seemed to be cavalry. In the former plagues there is no distinct mention of horsemen; but here what struck the beholder was the immense and unparalleled number of horsemen.
Were two hundred thousand thousand - A thousand thousand is one million, and consequently the number here referred to would be 200 million. This would be a larger army than was ever assembled, and it cannot be supposed that it is to be taken literally. That it would be a very large host - so large that it would not be readily numbered - is clear. The expression in the original, while it naturally conveys the idea of an immense number, would seem also to refer to some uniqueness in the manner of reckoning them. The language is, "two myriads of myriads" - δύο μυριάδες μυριάδων duo muriades muriadōn. The myriad was ten thousand. The idea would seem to be this. John saw an immense host of cavalry. They appeared to be divided into large bodies that were in some degree separate, and that might be reckoned by ten thousands. Of these different squadrons there were many, and to express their great and unusual numbers he said that there seemed to be myriads of them - two myriads of myriads, or twice ten thousand myriads. The army thus would seem to be immense - an army, as we should say, to be reckoned by tens of thousands.
And I heard the number of them - They were so numerous that he did not pretend to be able to estimate the number himself, for it was beyond his power of computation; but he heard it stated in these round numbers, that there were "two myriads of myriads" of them.
And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
And thus I saw the horses in the vision - That is, he saw them as he proceeds to describe them, for the word "thus" - οὕτως houtōs - refers to what follows. Compare Robinson's Lexicon on the word (b), and see Matthew 1:18; Matthew 2:5; John 21:1; Hebrews 4:4. Prof. Stuart, however, refers to what precedes. The meaning, as it seems to me, is, that he fixed his attention on the appearance of the immense army - the horses and their riders, and proceeded to describe them as they struck him.
And them that sat on them - He fixed the attention on horse and rider. Their appearance was unusual, and deserved a particular description.
Having breastplates of fire - That is, those who sat on them had such breastplates. The word rendered here as "breastplate" denoted properly a coat of mail that covered the body from the neck to the thighs. See the notes on Ephesians 6:14. This would be a prominent object in looking at a horseman. This was said to be composed of "fire, and jacinth, and brimstone"; that is, the part of the body usually incased in the coat of mail had these three colors. The word "fire" here simply denotes red. It was burnished and bright, and seemed to be a blaze of fire. The word "jacinth" - ὑακινθίνους huakinthinous - means "hyacinthine." The color denoted is that of the hyacinth - a flower of a deep purple or reddish blue. Then it refers to a gem of the same color, nearly related to the zircon of the mineralogists, and the color mentioned here is deep purple or reddish blue. The word rendered "brimstone" - θειώδης theiōdēs - means properly "sulphurous," that is, made of sulphur, and means here simply yellow. The meaning of the whole then is, that these horsemen appeared to be clad in a special kind of armor - armor that shone like fire, mingled with blue and yellow. It will be necessary to look for the fulfillment of this in cavalry that was so caparisoned.
And the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions - Resembled, in some respects, the heads of lions. He does not say that they were the heads of lions, or that the riders were on monsters, but only that they, in some respects, resembled the heads of lions. It would he easy to give this general appearance by the way in which the head-dress of the horses was arrayed.
And out of their mouths issued - That is, appeared to issue. It is not necessary to understand this as affirming that it actually came from their months, but only that, to one looking on such an approaching army, it would have this appearance. The pagan poets often speak of horses breathing out fire and smoke (Virgil, Geor. vol. ii. p. 140; iii. 85; Ovid, Met. vol. vii. p. 104), meaning that their breath seemed to be mingled smoke and fire. There is an image superadded here not found in any of the classic descriptions, that this was mingled with brimstone. All this seemed to issue from their mouths - that is, it was breathed forth in front of the host, as if the horses emitted it from their mouths.
Fire and smoke and brimstone - The exact idea, whether that was intended or not, would be conveyed by the discharge of musketry or artillery. The fire, the smoke, and the sulphurous smell of such a discharge would correspond precisely with this language; and if it be supposed that the writer meant to describe such a discharge, this would be the very language that would be used. Moreover, in describing a battle nothing would be more proper than to say that this appeared to issue from the horses' mouths. If, therefore, it should be found that there were any events where firearms were used, in contradistinction from the ancient mode of warfare, this language would be appropriate to describe that; and if it were ascertained that the writer meant to refer to some such fact, then the language used here would be what he would adopt. One thing is certain, that this is not language which would be employed to describe the onset of ancient cavalry in the mode of warfare which prevailed then. No one describing a charge of cavalry among the Persians, the Greeks, or the Romans, when the only armor was the sword and the spear, would think of saying that there seemed to be emitted from the horses' mouths fire, and smoke, and brimstone.
By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
By these three - Three things - explained immediately as referring to the fire, the smoke, and the brimstone.
Was the third part of men killed - See the notes on Revelation 8:7-12, on each of which verses we have notices of calamities that came upon the third part of the race, of the sea, of rivers, etc. We are not to suppose that this is to be taken literally, but the description is given as it appeared to John. Those immense numbers of horsemen would sweep over the world, and a full third part of the race of people would seem to fall before them.
For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
For their power is in their mouth - That is, as described in the fire, smoke, and brimstone that proceeded out of their mouths. What struck the seer as remarkable on looking on the symbol was, that this immense destruction seemed to proceed out of their mouths. It was not that they trampled down their enemies; nor that they destroyed them with the sword, the bow, or the spear: it was some new and remarkable power in warfare - in which the destruction seemed to proceed from fire, and smoke, and sulphur issuing from the mouths of the horses themselves.
And in their tails - The tails of the horses. This, of course, was something unusual and remarkable in horses, for naturally they have no power there. The power of a fish, or a scorpion, or a wasp, may be said to be in their tails, for their strength or their means of defense or of injury are there; but we never think of speaking in this way of horses. It is not necessary, in the interpretation of this, to suppose that the reference is literally to the tails of the horses, anymore than it is to suppose that the smoke, and fire, and brimstone literally proceeded from their mouths. John describes things as they appeared to him in looking at them from a considerable distance. From their mouths the horses belched forth fire, and smoke, and sulphur, and even their tails seemed to be armed for the work of death.
For their tails were like unto serpents - Not like the tails of serpents, but like serpents themselves.
And had heads - That is, there was something remarkable in the position and appearance of their heads. All serpents, of course, have heads; but John saw something unusual in this - or something so unique in their heads as to attract special attention. It would seem most probable that the heads of these serpents appeared to extend in every direction - as if the hairs of the horses' tails had been converted into snakes, presenting a most fearful and destructive image. Perhaps it may illustrate this to suppose that there is reference to the Amphisbaena, or two-headed snake. It is said of this reptile that its tail resembles a head, and that with this it throws out its poison (Lucan, vol. ix. p. 179; Pliny's Hist. Nat. vol. viii. p. 35). It really has but one head, but its tail has the appearance of a head, and it has the power of moving in either direction to a limited degree. If we suppose these snakes fastened to the tail of a horse, the appearance of heads would be very prominent and remarkable. The image is that of the power of destruction. They seemed like ugly and poisonous serpents instead of tails.
And with them they do hurt - Not the main injury, but they have the power of inflicting some injury by them.
And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues ... - One third part is represented as swept off, and it might have been expected that a salutary effect would have been produced on the remainder, in reforming them, and restraining them from error and sin. The writer proceeds to state, however, that these judgments did not have the effect which might reasonably have been anticipated. No reformation followed; there was no abandonment of the prevailing forms of iniquity; there was no change in their idolatry and superstition. In regard to the exact meaning of what is here stated Revelation 9:20-21, it will be a more convenient arrangement to consider it after we have ascertained the proper application of the passage relating to the sixth trumpet. What is here stated Revelation 9:20-21 pertains to the state of the world after the desolations which would occur under this woe-trumpet; and the explanation of the words may be reserved, therefore, with propriety, until the inquiry shall have been instituted as to the general design of the whole.
With respect to the fulfillment of this symbol - the sixth trumpet - it will be necessary to inquire whether there has been any event, or class of events occurring at such a time, and in such a manner, as would be properly denoted by such a symbol. The examination of this question will make it necessary to go over the leading points in the symbol, and to endeavor to apply them. In doing this I shall simply state, with such illustrations as may occur, what seems to me to have been the design of the symbol. It would be an endless task to examine all the explanations which have been proposed, and it would be useless to do so.
The reference, then, seems to me to be to the Turkish power, extending from the time of the first appearance of the Turks in the neighborhood of the Euphrates, to the final conquest of Constantinople in 1453. The general reasons for this opinion are such as the following:
(a) If the previous trumpet referred to the Saracens, or to the rise of the Muhammedan power among the Arabs, then the Turkish dominion, being the next in succession, would be what would most naturally be symbolized.
(b) The Turkish power rose on the decline of the Arabic, and was the next important power in affecting the destinies of the world.
(c) This power, like the former, had its seat in the East, and would be properly classified under the events occurring there as affecting the destiny of the world.
(d) The introduction of this power was necessary, in order to complete the survey of the downfall of the Roman empire - the great object kept in view all along in these symbols.
In the first four of these trumpets, under the seventh seal, we found the decline and fall of the Western empire; in the first of the remaining three - the fifth in order - we found the rise of the Saracens, materially affecting the condition of the Eastern portion of the Roman world; and the notice of the Turks, under whom the empire at last fell to rise no more, seemed to be demanded in order to the completion of the picture. As a leading design of the whole vision was to describe the ultimate destiny of that formidable power - the Roman - which, in the time when the Revelation was given to John ruled over the whole world; under which the church was then oppressed; and which, either as a civil or ecclesiastical power, was to exert so important an influence on the destiny of the church, it was proper that its history should be sketched until it ceased - that is, until the conquest of the capital of the Eastern empire by the Turks. Here the termination of the empire, as traced by Mr. Gibbon, closes; and these events it was important to incorporate in this series of visions.
The rise and character of the Turkish people may be seen stated in full in Gibbon, Decline and Fall, iii.-101-103, 105, 486; iv. 41, 42, 87, 90, 91, 93, 100, 127, 143, 151, 258, 260, 289, 350. The leading facts in regard to the history of the Turks, so far as they are necessary to be known before we proceed to apply the symbols, are the following:
(1) The Turks, or Turkmans, had their origin in the vicinity of the Caspian Sea, and were divided into two branches, one on the east, and the other on the west. The latter colony, in the 10th century, could muster 40,000 soldiers; the other numbered 100,000 families (Gibbon, iv. 90). By the latter of these, Persia was invaded and subdued, and soon Bagdad also came into their possession, and the seat of the caliph was occupied by a Turkish prince. The various details respecting this, and respecting their conversion to the faith of the Koran, may be seen in Gibbon, iv. 90-93. A mighty Turkish and Moslem power was thus concentrated under Togrul, who had subdued the caliph, in the vicinity of the Tigris and the Euphrates, extending east over Persia and the countries adjacent to the Caspian Sea, but it had not yet crossed the Euphrates to carry its conquests to the west. The conquest of Bagdad by Togrul, the first prince of the Seljuk race, was an important event, not only in itself, but as it was by this event that the Turk was constituted temporal lieutenant of the prophet's vicar, and so the head of the temporal power of the religion of Islam. "The conqueror of the East kissed the ground, stood some time in a modest posture, and was led toward the throne by the vizier and an interpreter. After Togrul had seated himself on another throne his commission was publicly read, which declared him the temporal lieutenant of the prophet. He was successively invested with seven robes of honor, and presented with seven slaves, the natives of the seven climates of the Arabian empire, etc. Their alliance (of the sultan and the caliph) was cemented by the marriage of Togrul's sister with the successor of the prophet," etc. (Gibbon, iv. 93).
The conquest of Persia, the subjugation of Bagdad, the union of the Turkish power with that of the caliph, the successor of Muhammed, and the foundation of this powerful kingdom in the neighborhood of the Euphrates, is all that is necessary to explain the sense of the phrase "which were prepared for an hour," etc., Revelation 9:15. The arrangements were then made for the important series of events which were to occur when that formidable power should be summoned from the East, to spread the predicted desolation over so large a part of the world. A mighty dominion had been forming in the East that had subdued Persia, and that, by union with the caliphs, by the subjugation of Bagdad, and by embracing the Muhammedan faith, had become "prepared" to play its subsequent important part in the affairs of the world.
(2) the next important event in their history was the crossing of the Euphrates, and the invasion of Asia Minor. The account of this invasion can be best given in the words of Mr. Gibbon: "Twenty-five years after the death of Basil (the Greek emperor), his successors were suddenly assaulted by an unknown race of barbarians, who united the Scythian valor with the fanaticism of new proselytes, and the art and riches of a powerful monarchy. The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of 600 miles from Taurus to Arzeroum, and the blood of one hundred and thirty thousand Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet. Yet the arms of Togrul did not make any deep or lasting impression on the Greek empire. The torrent rolled away from the open country; the sultan retired without glory or success from the siege of an Armenian city; the obscure hostilities were continued or suspended with a vicissitude of events; and the bravery of the Macedonian legions renewed the fame of the conqueror of Asia. The name of Alp Arslan, the valiant lion, is expressive of the popular idea of the perfection of man; and the successor of Togrul displayed the fierceness and generosity of the royal animal. ('The heads of the horses were as the heads of lions.') He passed the Euphrates at the head of the Turkish cavalry, and entered Caesarea, the metropolis of Cappadocia, to which he had been attracted by the fame and the wealth of the temple of Basil" (vol. iv. 93, 94; compare also p. 95).
(3) the next important event was the establishing of the kingdom of Roum in Asia Minor. After a succession of victories and defeats; after being driven once and again from Asia Minor, and compelled to retire beyond its limits; and after subjecting the East to their arms (Gibbon, iv. 95-100) in the various contests for the crown of the Eastern empire, the aid of the Turks was invoked by one party or the other until they secured for themselves a firm foothold in Asia Minor, and established themselves there in a permanent kingdom - evidently with the purpose of seizing upon Constantinople itself when an opportunity should be presented (Gibbon, iv. 100, 101). Of this kingdom of Roum Mr. Gibbon (iv. 101) gives, the following description, and speaks thus of the effect of its establishment on the destiny of the Eastern empire: "Since the first conquests of the caliphs, the establishment of the Turks in Anatolia, or Asia Minor, was the most deplorable loss which the church and empire had sustained. By the propagation of the Moslem faith Soliman deserved the name of Gazi, a holy champion; and his new kingdom of the Romans, or of Roum, was added to the table of Oriental geography. It is described as extending from the Euphrates to Constantinople, from the Black Sea to the confines of Syria; pregnant with mines of silver and iron, of alum and copper, fruitful in grain and wine, and productive of cattle and excellent horses. The wealth of Lydia, the arts of the Greeks, the splendor of the Augustan age, existed only in books and ruins, which were equally obscure in the eyes of the Scythian conquerors. By the choice of the Sultan, Nice, the metropolis of Bithynia, was preferred for his palace and fortress - the seat of the Seljukian dynasty of Roum was planted one hundred miles from Constantinople; and the divinity of Christ was denied and derided in the same temple in which it had been pronounced by the first general synod of the Catholics. The unity of God and the mission of Muhammed were preached in the mosques; the Arabian learning was taught in the schools; the cadis judged according to the law of the Koran; the Turkish manners and language prevailed in the cities; and Turkman camps were scattered over the plains and mountains of Anatolia," etc.
(4) the next material event in the history of the Turkish power was the conquest of Jerusalem. See this described in Gibbon, iv. 102-106. By this the attention of the Turks was turned for a time from the conquest of Constantinople - an event at which the Turkish power all along aimed, and in which they doubtless expected to be ultimately successful. Had they not been diverted from it by the wars connected with the Crusades, Constantinople would have fallen long before it did fall, for it was too feeble to defend itself if it had been attacked.
Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.