Revelation 8:12
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) And the fourth angel . . .—Translate, And the fourth angel sounded, and there was smitten the third part of the sun, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; that the third part of them might be darkened, and the day might not appear as to its third part, and the night in like manner. The dimness which thus falls on the lights of heaven carries us back to the plague of darkness (Exodus 10:21-23); but yet there is this difference: there the children of Israel had light in their dwellings while all the rest of the land suffered the darkness that might be felt; here, however, the darkness is only such as results from the withdrawal of the third part of the light of the sun by day, and of the moon and the stars (so much more brilliant and needful in Eastern lands than in our own) by night. It is a day of the Lord in which the light is not clear nor dark—not day nor night (Zechariah 14:6-7). There will be periods in which the lights which guide men will give forth uncertain glimmers; upon the earth there will be distress of nations, men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken (Luke 21:25-26). Such times of darkness and sorrow must be. It is through seasons such as these, when the lights of human wisdom and of spiritual guidance seem alike obscured, that the Church must go forward. The chaos precedes creation, and it is through chaos again that the Church of Christ must pass to the new heaven and new earth. These trumpet-visions, if read by the side of the story of Genesis, seem like the undoing of creation: the vegetation is smitten, the earth and sea are intermingled, the lights of the heavens are darkened, the living things in seas and streams are destroyed; but

“Fresher life the world shall draw

From their decay.”

The pulling down must precede the building up; the removing of the degenerate is one step in the way to the regeneration.

Revelation 8:12. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, &c. — A fit representation to express the last desolation of the imperial city, which God’s righteous judgment doomed, as Babylon heretofore, to a loss of all power and of all authority. Darkening, smiting, or the setting of the sun, moon, and stars, says Sir I. Newton, are put for the setting of a kingdom, or the desolation thereof, proportional to the darkness. And when darkness is opposed to light, as light is a symbol of joy and safety, so darkness is a symbol of misery and adversity; according to the style of Jeremiah 13:16, Give glory to the Lord before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, &c. The darkness of the sun, moon, and stars, is likewise observed to denote a general deficiency in government, as the prophets describe a day of severe judgment. See Isaiah 13:10-11; Ezekiel 32:7-8. In pointing out the accomplishment of this prophecy, and showing how the great lights of the Roman empire were eclipsed and darkened, and remained in darkness, Bishop Newton observes, Genseric left the western empire in a weak and desperate condition. It struggled hard, and gasped, as it were, for breath, through eight short and turbulent reigns, for the space of twenty years, and at length expired in the year 476, under Momyllus, or Augustulus, as he was named in derision, being a diminutive Augustus. This change was effected by Odoacer, king of the Heruli, who, coming to Rome with an army of barbarians, stripped Momyllus of the imperial robes, put an end to the very name of the western empire, and caused himself to be proclaimed king of Italy. His kingdom indeed was of no long duration: for after a reign of sixteen years, he was overcome and slain in the year 493 by Theodoric, who founded the kingdom of the Ostrogoths in Italy, which continued about sixty years under his successors. Thus was the Roman sun extinguished in the western emperor, but the other lesser luminaries, the moon and stars, still subsisted; for Rome was still allowed to have her senate and consuls, and other subordinate magistrates, as before. These lights, we may suppose, shone more faintly under barbarian kings than under Roman emperors; but they were not totally suppressed and extinguished till after the kingdom of the Ostrogoths was destroyed by the emperor of the east’s lieutenants, and Italy was made a province of the eastern empire. Longinus was sent in the year 556 by the Emperor Justin II. to govern Italy with absolute authority; and he changed the whole form of the government, abolished the senate and consuls, and all the former magistrates in Rome and Italy, and in every city of note constituted a new governor with the title of duke. He himself presided over all; and, residing at Ravenna, and not at Rome, he was called the exarch of Ravenna, as were also his successors in the same office. Rome was degraded to the same level with other places, and, from being the queen of cities and empress of the world, was reduced to a poor dukedom, and made tributary to Ravenna, which she had used to govern.8:7-13 The first angel sounded the first trumpet, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood. A storm of heresies, a mixture of dreadful errors falling on the church, or a tempest of destruction. The second angel sounded, and a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea; and the third part of the sea became blood. By this mountain some understand leaders of the persecutions; others, Rome sacked by the Goths and Vandals, with great slaughter and cruelty. The third angel sounded, and there fell a star from heaven. Some take this to be an eminent governor; others take it to be some person in power who corrupted the churches of Christ. The doctrines of the gospel, the springs of spiritual life, comfort, and vigour, to the souls of men, are corrupted and made bitter by the mixture of dangerous errors, so that the souls of men find ruin where they sought refreshment. The fourth angel sounded, and darkness fell upon the great lights of heaven, that give light to the world, the sun, and the moon, and the stars. The guides and governors are placed higher than the people, and are to dispense light, and kind influences to them. Where the gospel comes to a people, and has not proper effects on their hearts and lives, it is followed with dreadful judgments. God gives alarm by the written word, by ministers, by men's own consciences, and by the signs of the times; so that if people are surprised, it is their own fault. The anger of God makes all comforts bitter, and even life itself burdensome. But God, in this world, sets bounds to the most terrible judgments. Corruption of doctrine and worship in the church are great judgments, and also are the usual causes and tokens of other judgments coming on a people. Before the other three trumpets were sounded, there was solemn warning how terrible the calamities would be that should follow. If lesser judgments do not take effect the church and the world must expect greater; and when God comes to punish the world, the inhabitants shall tremble before him. Let sinners take warning to flee from the wrath to come; let believers learn to value and to be thankful for their privileges; and let them patiently continue in well doing.And the fourth angel sounded - See the notes at Revelation 8:6-7.

And the third part of the sea was smitten - On the phrase the third part, see the notes on Revelation 8:7. The darkening of the heavenly luminaries is everywhere an emblem of any great calamity - as if the light of the sun, moon, and stars should be put out. See the notes on Revelation 6:12-13. There is no certain evidence that this refers to rulers, as many have supposed, or to anything that would particularly affect the government as such. The meaning is, that calamity would come as if darkness should spread over the sun, the moon, and the stars, leaving the world in gloom. What is the precise nature of the calamity is not indicated by the language, but anything that would diffuse gloom and disaster would accord with the fair meaning of the symbol. There are a few circumstances, however, in regard to this symbol which may aid us in determining its application:

(1) It would follow in the series of calamities that were to occur.

(2) it would be separated in some important sense - of time, place, or degree - from those which were to follow, for there is a pause here Revelation 8:13, and the angel proclaims that more terrible woes are to succeed this series.

(3) like the preceding, it is to affect "one third part" of the world; that is, it is to be a calamity as if a third part of the sun, the moon, and the stars were suddenly smitten and darkened.

(4) it is not to be total. It is not as if the sun, the moon, and the stars were entirely blotted out, for there was still some remaining light; that is, there was a continuance of the existing state of things - as if these heavenly bodies should still give an obscure and partial light.

(5) perhaps it is also intended by the symbol that there would be light again. The world was not to go into a state of total and permanent night. For a third part of the day, and a third part of the night, this darkness reigned; but does not this imply that there would be light again - that the obscurity would pass away, and that the sun, and moon, and stars would shine again? That is, is it not implied that there would still be prosperity in some future period? Now, in regard to the application of this, if the explanation of the preceding symbols is correct, there can be little difficulty. If the previous symbols referred to Alaric, to Genseric, and to Attila, there can be no difficulty in applying this to Odoacer, and to his reign - a reign in which, in fact, the Roman dominion in the West came to an end, and passed into the hands of this barbarian. Anyone has only to open the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, to see that this is the next event that should be symbolized if the design were to represent the downfall of the empire.

These four great barbarian leaders succeed each other in order, and under the last, Odoacer, the barbarian dominion was established; for it is here that the existence of the Roman power, as such, ended. The Western empire terminated, according to Mr. Gibbon (ii. p. 380), about 476 or 479 a.d. Odoacer was "King of Italy" from 476 a.d. to 490 a.d. (Gibbon, ii. 379). The Eastern empire still lingered, but calamity, like blotting out the sun, and moon, and stars, had come over that part of the world which for so many centuries had constituted the seat of power and dominion. Odoacer was the son of Edecon, a barbarian, who was in the service of Attila, and who left two sons - Onulf and Odoacer. The former directed his steps to Constantinople; Oloacer "led a wandering life among the barbarians of Noricum, with a mind and fortune suited to the most desperate adventures; and when he had fixed his choice, he piously visited the cell of Severinus, the popular saint of the country, to solicit his approbation and blessing. The lowness of the door would not admit the lofty stature of Odoacer; he was obliged to stoop; but in that humble attitude the saint could discern the symptoms of his future greatness; and addressing him in a prophetic tone, 'Pursue,' said he, 'your design; proceed to Italy; you will soon cast away this coarse garment of skins; and your wealth will be adequate to the liberality of your mind.' The barbarian, whose daring spirit accepted and ratified this prediction, was admitted into the service of the Western empire, and soon obtained an honorable rank in the guards.

His manners were gradually polished, his military skill improved; and the confederates of Italy would not have elected him for their general unless the exploits of Odoacer had established a high opinion of his courage and capacity. Their military acclamations saluted him with the title of king; but he abstained during his whole reign from the use of the purple and the diadem, lest he should offend those princes whose subjects, by their accidental mixture, had formed the victorious army which time and policy might insensibly unite into a great nation" (Gibbon, ii. 379, 380). In another place Mr. Gibbon says: "Odoacer was the first barbarian who reigned in Italy, over a people who had once asserted their superiority above the rest of mankind. The disgrace of the Romans still excites our respectful compassion, and we fondly sympathize with the imaginary grief and indignation of their degenerate posterity. But the calamities of Italy had gradually subdued the proud consciousness of freedom and glory. In the age of Roman virtue the provinces were subject to the arms, and the citizens to the laws, of the republic; until those laws were subverted by civil discord, and both the city and the provinces became the servile property of a tyrant. The forms of the constitution which alleviated or disguised their abject slavery were abolished by time and violence; the Italians alternately lamented the presence or the absence of the sovereigns whom they detested or despised; and the succession of five centuries inflicted the various evils of military license, capricious despotism, and elaborate oppression.

During the same period the barbarians had emerged from obscurity and contempt, and the warriors of Germany and Scythia were introduced into the provinces, as the servants, the allies, and at length the masters of the Romans, whom they insulted or protected," ii. 381, 382. Of the effect of the reign of Odoacer Mr. Gibbon remarks: "In the division and decline of the empire the tributary harvests of Egypt and Africa were withdrawn; the numbers of the inhabitants continually decreased with the means of subsistence; and the country was exhausted by the irretrievable losses of war, famine, and pestilence. Ambrose has deplored the ruin of a populous district, which had been once adorned with the flourishing cities of Bologna, Modena, Rhegium, and Placentia. Pope Gelasius was a subject of Odoacer; and he affirms, with strong exaggeration, that in Aemilia, Tuscany, and the adjacent provinces the human species was almost extirpated. One-third of those ample estates, to which the ruin of Italy is originally imputed, was extorted for the use of the conquerors," ii.383.

Yet the light was not wholly extinct. It was "a third part" of it which was put out; and it was still true that some of the forms of the ancient constitution were observed - that the light still lingered before it wholly passed away. In the language of another, "The authority of the Roman name had not yet entirely ceased. The senate of Rome continued to assemble as usual. The consuls were appointed yearly, one by the Eastern emperor, one by Italy and Rome. Odoacer himself governed Italy under a title - that of Patrician - conferred on him by the Eastern emperor. There was still a certain, though often faint, recognition of the supreme imperial authority. The moon and the stars might seem still to shine in the West, with a dim reflected light. In the course of the events, however, which rapidly followed in the next half-century, these too were extinguished. After above a century and a half of calamities unexampled almost, as Dr. Robertson most truly represents it, in the history of nations, the statement of Jerome - a statement couched under the very Apocalyptic figure of the text, but prematurely pronounced on the first taking of Rome by Alaric - might be considered at length accomplished: 'Clarissimum terrarum lumen extincturn est' - 'The world's glorious sun has been extinguished;' or, as the modern poet Byron (Childe Harold, canto iv.) has expressed it, still under the Apocalyptic imagery:

'She saw her glories star by star expire, '

Till not even one star remained to glimmer in the vacant and dark night" (Elliott, i. 360, 361).

continued...

12. third part—not a total obscuration as in the sixth seal (Re 6:12, 13). This partial obscuration, therefore, comes between the prayers of the martyrs under the fifth seal, and the last overwhelming judgments on the ungodly under the sixth seal, at the eve of Christ's coming.

the night likewise—withdrew a third part of the light which the bright Eastern moon and stars ordinarily afford.

Interpreters (setting aside one or two, who conceit the Revelation is nothing but a repetition of things that happened in Judea before John’s time) generally agree, that the period of time to which this prophecy relates, is from the year 480, when the western empire ceased. The history of the age next following, both relating to civil and ecclesiastical things, doth so fit this prophecy, that interpreters are much divided about the sense of it, whether it be to be understood of the miseries befalling the Roman empire or the church in that time; for, as great princes in the former, so great lights in the latter, are metaphorically expressed in Scripture under the notions of the sun, moon, and stars, in regard of the great influence they have upon men, as those luminaries of heaven have upon the earth. Mr. Mede understands it of political magistrates, here expressed (as in Joseph’s dream) by the sun, moon, and stars: and to show us how the event fitted the prophecy, he tells us out of the best authors, that when Odoacer had routed Augustulus, and turned him out of the empire, himself ruled Rome under the title of a king sixteen years, and destroyed all their old magistracy, but after two years restored it. That Theodoricus, following him in the government of Italy, restored all their rights again, which so continued under three kings (all Goths) for near fifty years. But after the year 546, Rome was taken and burnt once and again, and a third part of it demolished by Totilas. Others understand it of Pelagius, or some famous heretic in that time. But to speak freely, the words of the prophecy, and the histories we have, rather agree to Mr. Mede’s sense; for (except Pelagius, who began about the year 406) we read of none in this age to whom the words of this prophecy will agree in any good sense. And the fourth angel sounded,.... His trumpet. Some think this refers to the Eutychian heresy, which confounded the two natures of Christ, and of two made one mixed nature, neither human nor divine; and brought great darkness upon the doctrine of Christ's person, the sun of righteousness and into the church, signified by the moon, and among the ministers of the word, the stars. Others are of opinion that that darkness which preceded the rise of the Papacy, and introduced it, is here intended:

and the third part of the sun was smitten and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars, so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise; when the doctrine concerning the person and offices of Christ, who is the sun and light of the world, was obscured by heresies; and the discipline of the church, which, like the moon, has all its light, beauty, and order from Christ, was sadly defaced by the introduction of Jewish and Paganish rites and ceremonies; and the ministers, the stars, were drawn by the tail of the drag on, and cast to the earth, became corrupt in their principles, and carnal and sensual in their lives; so that it was a time of great darkness and gloominess, night and day: but rather this trumpet has respect to that darkness and ignorance which the above barbarous nations, the Goths, Huns, Vandals, and Heruli, spread, and left throughout the empire; for from this time there was a visible decline, as of evangelical light and knowledge, so of all kind of useful knowledge, and nothing but ignorance, stupidity, and barbarity, took place everywhere; and which were very assisting to the man of sin, antichrist, to fix and settle his dominion over the kingdoms which rose up out of the empire at this time; and it also refers to the entire destruction of the western Roman empire, which is expressed by much the same figures as the ruin of the Roman Pagan empire, in Revelation 6:12; and which the various irruptions of these savage people issued in; compare with this Ezekiel 32:7, where the destruction of the Egyptian monarchy is signified in like terms: Jerom, who lived about the time of the first inundation of these nations, in very mournful language expresses the inhumanity and impiety of them, and the ruin they threatened the empire with; and, says (w), "Romanus orbis ruit", "the Roman empire is falling". About the year 455, when Rome was taken by Genseric the Vandal, the empire was divided into ten kingdoms; and in the year 476, Augustulus, the last of the Roman emperors, was obliged to quit his imperial dignity: the Heruli, a people of the same kind with the Goths, and originally Scythians, as they, under their king and leader Odoacer seized on Italy, took Rome, killed Orestes and his brother Paul, and deposed Augustulus, the last of the Roman emperors, and banished him into Campania; and so the western empire ceased, Odoacer taking upon him the title of king of Italy, and translated the seat of the empire from Rome to Ravenna (x); and then might the sun be truly said to be smitten: but still, though Odoacer the Herulian reigned in Italy, the Roman form of government was not altered, the consulship and senate still continued, as they did also under Theodoric the Goth, his successor; but when Italy was recovered by Narses, the Emperor Justinian's general, these, with other magistrates, ceased, and Rome became a dukedom, and was subject to an exarch of Ravenna; and then the moon and stars were smitten also. The phrase of smiting the sun, moon, and stars, is Jewish; for the Jews express the eclipses of the luminaries in this way, and say (y) that when the luminaries "are smitten", it is an ill omen; when , "the sun is smitten", it is an ill sign to the nations of the world; and when , "the moon is smitten", it is a bad omen to the nations of Israel (z) and so the phrase, "the day shone not", is also Jewish; it is said (a) of some Rabbins, that they sat and studied in the law , "until the day shone"; and when "the day shone", they rose up and went on their way.

(w) Epitaph. Nepotian. fol. 9. l. Tom. 1. vid. etiam Epist. ad Gerontiam, fol. 32. E. & Epitaph. Fabiolae, fol. 68. H. (x) Vid. Casssiodor. Chronicon in Zenon. 47. Hist. Eccl. Magdeburg. cent. 5. c. 16. p. 876. Petav. Rationar. Temp. par. 1. c. 18. p. 304. (y) Jarchi in Genesis 1. 14. (z) T. Bab. Succa, fol. 29. 1. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 62. 1.((a) Zohar in Deut. fol. 113. 3.

{9} And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

(9) The fourth execution on the lights of heaven, which give light to this world.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 8:12. The fourth trumpet brings damage to sun, moon, and stars, whereof the third of all is darkened, and thus the light is withdrawn from a third of the day and of the night, ἐπλήγη. That a “preternatural striking” is to be thought of,[2492] which has as its consequence the intended darkening (ἽΝΑ ΣΚΟΤ.), Wolf already mentions, in opposition to the leaning towards the rabbinical way, whereby the darkening itself of sun and moon is represented as a “smiting.”[2493] The miraculous eclipse is in itself, as already according to the O. T. representation,[2494] a foretoken of the coming day of judgment;[2495] the limitation of the same, however, to a third of the sun, moon, and stars, and consequently to a third of the day and night ruled over by them,[2496] corresponds to similar statements in the preceding trumpet-visions.

ΚΑῚ Ἡ ἩΜΈΡΑ ΜῊ ΦΆΝῌ, viz., as the apposition ΤῸ ΤΡΊΤΟΝ ΑὐΤῆς more explicitly says, the third part of the day. And likewise the night. The words cannot mean that the light proceeding from the smitten stars has lost the third of its brilliancy, the reverse of Isaiah 30:26;[2497] still less does the expression bear the explanation of Ebrard, “that the third of the stars was smitten with respect to time, so that they were darkened only for a third of the day, contrasted with nighttime, while for the other two-thirds they are bright.” But the idea is this: Since a third of the sun is eclipsed, a third of the day (regarded in its temporal length) is deprived of its sunlight, and the night likewise of the shining of moon and stars. So De Wette, who judges likewise that here the sameness between the third of the stars and the third of day and night “is carried out even to what is unnatural.” The exception is correctly taken, and therefore expressed without impiety, because the present vision of John is to him as little as all the rest an absolutely objective incident, a likeness presented him by God as complete;[2498] of course, also, no real fiction,[2499] but a view communicated through the prophet’s own subjectivity.

[2492] Cf. Exodus 7:25.

[2493] Succa, p. 29, Revelation 1 : “When the sun is struck, it is a bad sign to the whole world.” In Wetst.

[2494] John 3:4; Amos 8:9. Cf. Exodus 10:21[2495] Cf. also Revelation 6:12 sqq.

[2496] Genesis 1:16.

[2497] Beng., Züll., Böhmer, Klief.

[2498] Against the inspiration theory of Hengstenb., etc.

[2499] Against Eichh., Ew., De Wette, etc.

The allegorical expositors find here[2500] the obscuration, confusion, and diminution of beneficial institutions, whether of a spiritual or a political kind. Beda proposes the disturbance of the Church by false brethren; N. de Lyra, the heresy of Eutyches. The injury done by Islam is understood by Stern, who mentions the fact, that instead of the full moon the Church has become a half moon (ἐπλήγη

τὸ τρίτον τ. σελ.), and many stars have vanished, i.e., the sees of many bishops have been overthrown. Wetst.,[2501] Herder, etc., propose political confusion; so, too, Vitr., Beng., who, however, have in mind the incursions of the Goths and Vandals into the Eastern Empire, and Hengstenb., who very generally understands sad times full of the calamities of war. Böhmer combines the reference to Jewish temporal relations with his interpretation of sun and moon as applying to spiritual things, already employed on Revelation 6:12 : “That sun and moon and stars are smitten with darkness, we explain from the fact that sad prophecies have transpired, and the law has begun to be neglected. But the end of prophecy and the law has not, as yet, actually come, on which account only a third thereof is regarded as having been obscured.”

[2500] Cf. Revelation 6:12 sqq.

[2501] “There was pure ἀναρχία, the magistrates were despised, all Judaea conspired for sedition.”

Concerning the visions coming with the first four trumpets, which are to be distinguished from the three immediately following (Revelation 8:13), it is to be remarked in general: 1. The plagues described in them, which concern the entire sphere of the visible world (the earth, Revelation 8:7; the sea, Revelation 8:8-9; the waters of the main land, Revelation 8:10-11; the stars, day and night, Revelation 8:12; cf. Beng., Ew., etc.), are perceptible not only to unbelievers, but also to believers.[2502] This necessarily lies in the very nature of the plagues; and the sealing correctly understood (Revelation 7:2 sqq.) in no way gives any other idea.[2503] 2. The allegorical explanation, and the reference founded thereon to events or circumstances of ecclesiastical or civil history,—of which Ebrard emphasizes the latter,[2504] has no foundation whatever in the text, and, therefore, leads necessarily to arbitrary suppositions. But the context, according to which the trumpet-visions proceed from the seventh seal, shows that this vision, in its eschatological significance, has reference to the end to be expected already after the sixth[2505] and in the seventh seal; viz., the actual coming of the Lord, in connection with which the plagues described by the first six seals are to be regarded as premonitory signs of the impending end of the same character as those described in the fundamental prophecy of Matthew 24:29. The same relation as subsists there between Matthew 8:29 and Matthew 8:6-7, recurs in the signs portrayed in the four trumpet-visions and those described in the seal-visions. It is true that the sixth seal already has introduced foretokens of the nature of Matthew 24:29, and this is developed in close connection until the description of the last end; but by the fact that in Revelation 7:1, between the sixth and seventh seals, the four angels come forth who are to bring a new plague, the final development is further postponed. And if now the final catastrophe actually proceeds from the seventh seal,—as is to be expected after Revelation 6:17,—yet this occurs only after a further development, which, as first of all in the first four trumpet-visions, brings with it new foretokens of the coming end. The introductory significance of this sign is expressed in the fact that only a third of the earth is concerned; thus a new course is designated after the points marked by the already strong signs of the sixth seal. Yet that a progress occurs, and that the trumpet-visions do not, in any way, again prevail before the sixth seal, the context indicates by the fact that the plagues befalling a third of the earth mark an advance when compared with the plagues of the fourth seal (Revelation 6:8).

[2502] Against De Wette, etc.

[2503] Cf., on the other hand, Revelation 9:4.

[2504] Cf. also Hengstenb.

[2505] Revelation 6:12 sqq.Revelation 8:12. “So as to darken a third part of them, and (i.e.) to prevent a third of the day from shining (φάνῃ, or φάνῃ Win.) and of the night likewise”. Daylight is shortened by a third, and the brightness of an Eastern night correspondingly lessened (cf. the Egyptian plague of darkness). The writer either forgets or ignores the fact that he has already cleared the heaven of stars (Revelation 6:13).The Fourth Trumpet, Revelation 8:12-1312. the third part of the sun, &c.] Here we may think either of the Egyptian plague of darkness, Exodus 10:21 sqq., or of a reversal (as in the last case) of the blessing of Isaiah 30:26. There, as here, there seems to be no distinction made between an increase, or decrease, in the intensity of light and in its duration.

so as the third part of them was] More accurately, that the third part of them might (lit. may) “be darkened, and the day not shine, &c.”Revelation 8:12. Ἐπλήγη, was smitten) That was done in the fifth century, when Italy and Rome, the seat of empire, were occupied and obscured by foreign nations.Verse 12. - And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars. Still the created universe is the direct object of these visitations. The planets were smitten, but we are not told with what instrument. As Alford points out, this may teach us not to lay too great stress upon that part of the visions which describes the means. Our attention is to be fixed upon the effect, the stroke, not upon the mountain or the star by whose means the result is attained. (For the signification of the third part, vide supra.) In the Bible, frequent use is made of this figure to express trouble and commotion (see Isaiah 13:10; Isaiah 24:23; Jeremiah 15:9; Ezekiel 32:7; Amos 8:9; Matthew 24:29). The sun, etc., are also looked upon as examples of stability. Thus Psalm 72:5, "As long as the sun and moon endure" (see also Psalm 72:17; Psalm 89:36). The vision may therefore be suggestive of God's power over things the most permanent and stable, and thus demonstrate to Christians his ability to punish "the ungodly who prosper in the world." Thus Job 9:7 attributes omnipotence to God, "which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and scaleth up the stars" (see also Psalm 136:8; Jeremiah 31:35). Thus, then, God can turn even the benign influences of the sun and planets into means for the destruction of man. In the countless evils which have their origin in the excess or defect of the power of the sun, we may see an illustration of the fulfilment of this judgment. We may point out that the very existence of such visitations as are here portrayed preclude the possibility of the fulfilment of the trumpet visions being subsequent in time to those of the seals. So as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise; that the third part of them should be darkened, and the day should not shine for the third part of it, and the night in like manner. Probably, total darkness for a third part of the day and night is meant; not a third of the usual amount of light during the whole day and night (as Bengel and others). Renan, as a preterist, sees the fulfilment in the eclipses of A.D. . De Lyra, Wordsworth, and others see in this judgment a symbol of the infidelity, heresies, apostasies, and confusions in the world in the seventh century and at other times. Vitringa, adopting the historical view, refers the fulfilment to particular periods of the Roman empire.
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