Revelation 16:21
And there fell on men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
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(21) And there fell. . . .And a great hail, as of a talent in weight, descends from the heaven on men. There is again a reference to the Egyptian plagues. But we may also call to mind the great defeat of the enemies of Israel at Beth-horon (Joshua 10:1-11), when “the Lord cast down great stones from heaven.” Such an overthrow awaits every confederacy that sets itself in array against the kingdom of the righteous King. The discomfiture and the plague works no repentance; the men blaspheme God because of the hail, for great is its plague exceedingly. The proud, hard spirit which still hates the good remains: thus is sin its own worst penalty. As an illustration of this hard, unsubdued spirit, we may call to mind Capaneus, in Dante’s Inferno, and the words in which Virgil addresses him:—

“Thou art more punished, in that this thy pride

Lives yet unquenched; no torment save thy rage

Were to thy fury pain proportioned full.

The unrepentant state of those upon whom the vials are poured is to be contrasted with the different result of the earthquake in Revelation 11:13, when men gave glory to the God of heaven.

16:17-21 The seventh and last angel poured forth his vial, and the downfal of Babylon was finished. The church triumphant in heaven saw it and rejoiced; the church in conflict on earth saw it and became triumphant. God remembered the great and wicked city; though for some time he seemed to have forgotten her idolatry and cruelty. All that was most secure was carried away by the ruin. Men blasphemed: the greatest judgments that can befal men, will not bring to repentance without the grace of God. To be hardened against God, by his righteous judgments, is a certain token of sure and utter destruction.And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven - Perhaps this is an allusion to one of the plagues of Egypt, Exodus 9:22-26. Compare the notes on Revelation 11:19. For a graphic description (by Com. Porter) of the effects of a hailstorm, see the notes on Isaiah 30:30. Compare the notes on Job 38:22.

Every stone about the weight of a talent - The Attic talent was equal to about 55 lbs. or 56 lbs. Troy weight; the Jewish talent to about 113 lbs. Troy. Whichever weight is adopted, it is easy to conceive what must be the horror of such a storm, and what destruction it must cause. We are not, of course, to suppose necessarily, that this would literally occur; it is a frightful image to denote the terrible and certain destruction that would come upon Babylon - that is, upon the papal power.

And men blasphemed God - See the notes on Revelation 16:9.

Because of the plague of the hail - Using the word "plague" in allusion to the plagues of Egypt.

For the plague thereof was exceeding great - The calamity was great and terrible. The design of the whole is to show that the destruction would be complete and awful.

This finishes the summary statement of the final destruction of this formidable anti-Christian power. The details and the consequences of that overthrow are more fully stated in the subsequent chapters. The fulfillment of what is here stated will be found, according to the method of interpretation proposed, in the ultimate overthrow of the papacy. The process described in this chapter is that of successive calamities that would weaken it and prepare it for its fall; then a rallying of its dying strength; and then some tremendous judgment that is compared with a storm of hail, accompanied with lightning, and thunder, and an earthquake, that would completely overthrow all that was connected with it, We are not, indeed, to suppose that this will literally occur; but the fair interpretation of prophecy leads us to suppose that that formidable power will, at no very distant period, be overthrown in a manner that would be well represented by such a fearful storm.

21. fell—Greek, "descends."

upon men—Greek, "the men."

and men blasphemed God—not those struck who died, but the rest. Unlike the result in the case of Jerusalem (Re 11:13), where "the remnant … affrighted … gave glory to the God of heaven."

was—Greek, "is."

The hail was another of the Egyptian plagues, Exodus 9:22-25. The allusion also may be to the hailstones by which God fought against the five Canaanitish kings, Joshua 10:11. It signifies only further great judgments with which God will pursue the beast and his party, until they all be destroyed. The latter words only show the continued hardness of heart of the beast, and all his party; wherein also they answered Pharaoh and the Egyptians, (their type), who would relent with no steadiness and certainty, until they were all ruined by the waters of the Red Sea. In all this prediction of the final ruin of the papacy, Pharaoh and the Egyptians are apparently made the type of the pope and all his party:

1. As to their sins, which were idolatry, and the oppression of God’s Israel.

2. In the plagues by which they were destroyed gradually; turning waters into blood, boils and blains, darkness, hail.

3. In their impenitency, and hardness of heart; only with these two differences, by which the antitype exceeded the type in wickedness:

(1.) We read of Pharaoh oft relenting, though his goodness was like a morning dew, and he returned to his former stubbornness.

(2.) We read nothing of the Egyptians blaspheming God, because of their plagues, which is often said of these Egyptians. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven,.... Which must be understood not as after the fall of the cities, and the flight of the islands and mountains, but at the same time; and it looks as if such men that shall escape at the battle of Armageddon, that hail stones from heaven will fall upon them and destroy them; just as the kings of the Amorites and their men were killed by hail stones, cast down by the Lord from heaven, as they fled before Joshua, when more were killed by the stones than were slain by the sword, Joshua 10:11 the allusion seems to be to the plague of hail in Exodus 9:23

every stone about the weight of a talent; which is threescore pound weight, a prodigious weight indeed for a single hailstone! such hail stones were never known to fall; the largest I have read of is what Caspar Wesserus assured Mr. Broughton (f) of, at Zurich, which being brought from a field afar off, to the consul, and so must melt in carriage, yet weighed a pound. It may be said of this hail storm, as of the earthquake in a preceding verse, that it will be such as never was since men were upon earth; and denotes the sore, heavy, and even intolerable judgments of God upon the antichristian party: God's judgments are sometimes signified by hail storms, Isaiah 30:26 and particularly the judgments upon Gog and Magog, Ezekiel 38:22 which may respect the same as here: the Jews (g) now expect a great hail in the times of Gog and Magog:

and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; the plague of hail brought down the hard heart of Pharaoh, and humbled him, so that he acknowledged his wickedness, and the sin of his people, and owned the justice of God; but this more terrible storm will have no effect upon these men, to convince and reform them, but, on the contrary, they will break out into blasphemy against God, who caused it to fall on them; it will have the same effect as the fourth and fifth vials:

for the plague thereof was exceeding great; it must beat down all before it, and be intolerable: whether this hail storm may not also have some regard to coldness and lukewarmness, as Naplet suggests, and so may point at the close of the spiritual reign of Christ, or the Laodicean state, which will bring on the second coming of Christ, and so this effect of the seventh vial will end where the seven churches and seven trumpets do, may be considered; See Gill on Revelation 11:15.

(f) See his (Zohar's) Works, p. 491. (g) Shemot Rabba, sect. 12. fol. 99. 1.

{30} And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a {c} talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

(30) The manner of the particular execution, most evidently testifying the wrath of God by the original and greatness of it: the event of which is the same with that which is in Re 9:12 and that which has been mentioned in this chapter, from the execution of the fourth angel till now, that is to say, an incorrigible pertinency of the world in their rebellion, and a heart that cannot repent; Re 16:9,10.

(c) About the weight of a talent, and a talent was sixty pounds, that is, six hundred groats, by which is signified a marvellous and strange weight.

Revelation 16:21. Even an abnormal hail-ahower (cf. the fourth Egyptian plague) fails to bring pagans to their senses. ὡς ταλ, i.e., literally about sixty times the weight of even the enormous hailstones (μνααῖαι) which Diodorus Siculus (19:45) records. In En. lx. 17 the “spirit of the hail is a good angel,” i.e., amenable to God’s orders.

The obscurity of chapter 17 springs mainly from the differences of tradition and outlook which are reflected in the canonical text. The threefold interpretation of the Beast as the Imperial power (so 13), as Nero redivivus (Revelation 16:8) and as (11) the eighth king (the two latter being applications of the same idea) is accompanied by a twofold explanation of the seven heads (geographical = 9, historical =10), and of the woman’s support (Revelation 16:1; Revelation 16:3; Revelation 16:15). The eschatological tradition of Babylon as the supreme anti-divine world-power is applied to Rome, and this involves the reinterpretation of some details (e.g. 15, 18), while the tradition of the Beast as antichrist is further overlaid by the special tradition of Nero redivivus in that capacity. This dual Beast (as Völtei first recognised; cf. Charles’s Ascensio Isaiæ, pp. lx.–lxi.) is not merely the Imperial power (as in Revelation 13:3) but incarnate in an Imperial personality of infernal and supernatural character, which attacks not only the Christian messiah (14) but Rome itself (Revelation 16:16-17). The latter trait is unmistakably due to the legend of Nero redivivus, apart from which the oracle is unintelligible. Such variations have left traces in the structure of the passage, which point to some process of editorial revision, but it is difficult to disentangle the original source or sources, or even to determine their precise character and period. Revelation 16:14 is certainly out of place, for the allies of the Beast could not destroy Rome after they themselves had been destroyed by the messiah and his allies. It is thus either proleptic or inserted by the Christian writer in his (Jewish) source (so e.g., Vischer, Charles, Briggs, von Soden). Other traces of this editor might be found in 6 b, 8 (9 a?), and 15, and the Jewish character of the source (so Vischer, Weyland, Schmidt, Sabatier, Ménégoz, etc.), would be confirmed by the absence of any polemic against the Imperial cultus. It would be a Vespasianic oracle, inspired by a passion for revenge on Rome for her cruel, recent treatment of the Jewish people. When the source is regarded as Christian (as e.g., by Erbes, Völter, and Schön), Revelation 16:11 would be an addition inserted under Domitian to bring it up to date (so Harnack, Texte u. Unters. II. iii. 134 f.; Chronologie, 245, 246, followed by Briggs, Gunkel, J. Weiss, etc.; cf. Introd. § 7). But even so, the structure of the passage is involved. Revelation 16:9-11 are not vision but calculation or exposition (cf. Revelation 13:18). The waters of Revelation 16:15 are never seen (cf. Revelation 16:1; Revelation 16:3), and the professed explanation (Revelation 16:7) follows a loose order (beast = 8, heads = 9–11, horns=12–14, waters = 15, horns again = 16–17, and finally the woman = 18). The reference to the woman, however, is thrown late in order to introduce the following doom-song (cf. kings in 18, Revelation 18:3; Revelation 18:9, and great in 18, Revelation 18:2), and a similar motive accounts for the irregular position of 16–17 after 14, Rome’s fall, though viewed from different angles, being the main object before the writer’s mind at the moment. The defeat of 14 is taken up, in its true position, afterwards (Revelation 19:11-21). Revelation 16:15 (an echo of Revelation 16:19 b) is probably thrown in at this point, to contrast dramatically the revolt [16] of Rome’s supporters against her. Thus, except for 9–11, there are sufficient psychological reasons to account partially for the order and contents of the oracle; but source-criticism is required to clear up the passage, in the more or less extensive theories of one source (edited in 6, 9 a, 14–15, so J. Weiss; or variously in 8, 12–14, with some words in 6, 9, 11, so e.g. Pfleiderer, Baljon, Bousset and Forbes) or even two sources (Jewish, A = 3–4, 6–7b, 10, [919]=11–13, 16 b–17, Wellhausen’s Analyse, 26 f.), for which the linguistic idiosyncrasies (double use of γέμειν, 3–4, precedence of object over verb 13, 16, 18, οἱ κ. τ. γ. 2, and the construction βλ. τ. θ. ὅτι ἦν, 8) afford some basis. The main problem is to explain how the various strata of tradition overlap; e.g., in 8, 12 f., the beast is Nero redivivus, an infernal power of evil, whereas in 11 Domitian seems identified with Nero the beast. It is hard to believe that one and the same writer could simultaneously regard Domitian as a second Nero and expect Nero redivivus as a semi-supernatural power. In any case the stress falls on the Beast rather than on the woman, and on the eschatological prediction, not on the historical application. It is a fairly open question whether 8 or 11 is the editorial mortar super-imposed upon the earlier tradition. Upon the whole, one of the least unsatisfactory solutions is to take 11 as a Domitianic gloss by the Christian editor, who has also added 6 b (if not all of 6) and 14 to a Vespasianic oracle (possibly of Jewish origin) in Revelation 17:4 f. which anticipated the downfall of persecuting Rome at the hands of Nero redivivus and his Eastern allies. No hypothesis is free from difficulties. But the general Domitianic reference of the Apocalypse and the presence of the Nero redivivus saga must be worked in somehow, and some hypothesis on the above lines seems to do most justice to the literary structure of this chapter as well as to the data of the book in general. It is impossible to determine how far the Christian editor worked over his source. That the difficulties of the oracle arise mainly from the presence of an earlier source (cf. Introd. § 7), which John has revised slightly and brought up to date, is axiomatic, however.

[919] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

The double object of the oracle is (a), by a re-editing of the tradition of 13 to represent Rome in her Imperial pride, before describing her downfall, and (b) to define more precisely the final appearance of the last foe. The chapter could readily be spared as isolated (Simcox), but this only proves that the author is again working upon disparate materials which he inherited. The oracle contains (Revelation 16:1-6) a vision of the Harlot (by way of foil to Revelation 12:1-6 and especially Revelation 21:9 f.) and the Beast, with (Revelation 16:7-18) an explanation of the vision.Revelation 16:21. [186] Ὡς ΤΑΛΑΝΤΙΑΊΑ, as it were of the weight of a talent) Of many pounds singly. I take it in its proper sense, at the beginning of the Non-being of the beast.

[186] Ver. 19. ἡ πόλις ἡ μεγάλη, the great city) Jerusalem; ch. Revelation 11:8.—V. g.Verse 21. - And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent; cometh down upon, the present tense, rendering the description more graphic. Commentators usually quote 'Diodorus Siculus' (19:45), who mentions. as something marvellous, hailstones of a mina in weight; the mina being one-sixtieth of a talent; and also the account of Josephus, who speaks of stones a talent in weight being thrown by machines at the siege of Jerusalem (see Wetstein, ad loc.). "The men," though not pointing to any particular group of men who have been definitely mentioned, nevertheless necessarily refers to the wicked, were are the object of this punishment. "Hail" is frequently mentioned as a judgment of God and is added here to heighten the general effect of the description (cf. Exodus 9; Joshua 10:11; Psalm 78:47; Psalm 105:32; Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:11; Ezekiel 38:22; Haggai 2:17; also Revelation 8:7; Revelation 11:19). And men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great; is exceeding great (vide supra). As in ver. 9, men repent not. Like Pharaoh, their hearts are hardened. These words end the general description of the vial judgments, but the events alludes to under the seventh vial are elaborated and particularized in the chapters which follow; the whole concluding at the end of Revelation 19.


See Exodus 9:18.

Every stone about the weight of a talent (ὡς ταλαντίαια)

The adjective, meaning of a talent's weight, agrees with hail; hail of a talent's weight; i.e., having each stone of that weight. Every stone is therefore explanatory, and not in the text. Hailstones are a symbol of divine wrath. See Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:11. Compare Joshua 10:11.

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