Revelation 9:13
And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Revelation 9:13-15. The sixth angel sounded, &c. — At the sounding of the sixth trumpet, a voice proceeded from the four horns of the golden altar, (for the scene was still in the temple,) ordering the angel of the sixth trumpet to loose the four angels which were bound in the great river Euphrates; and they were loosed accordingly. Such a voice, proceeding from the four horns of the golden altar, is a strong indication of the divine displeasure; and plainly intimates, that the sins of men must have been very great, when the altar, which was their sanctuary and protection, called aloud for vengeance. The four angels are the four sultanies, or four leaders of the Turks and Othmans. For there were four principal sultanies, or kingdoms of the Turks, bordering upon the river Euphrates: one at Bagdad, founded by Togrul Beg, or Tangrolipix, as he is more usually called, in the year 1055; another at Damascus, founded by Tagjuddaulas, or Ducas, in the year 1079; a third at Aleppo, founded by Sjarsuddaulas, or Melech, in the same year, 1079; and the fourth at Iconium, in Asia Minor, founded by Sedyduddaulus, or Cutlu Muses, or his son, in the year 1080. These four sultanies subsisted several years afterward; and the sultans were bound and restrained from extending their conquests farther than the territories and countries adjoining to the river Euphrates, primarily by the good providence of God, and secondarily by the croisades, or expeditions of the European Christians into the holy land, in the latter part of the eleventh, and in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Nay, the European Christians took several cities and countries from them, and confined them within narrower bounds. But when an end was put to the croisades, and the Christians totally abandoned their conquests in Syria and Palestine, as they did in the latter part of the thirteenth century, then the four angels on the river Euphrates were loosed. Soliman Shah, the first chief and founder of the Othman race, retreating with his three sons from Jingiz Chan and the Tartars, would have passed the river Euphrates, but was unfortunately drowned, the time of loosing the four angels being not yet come. Discouraged at this sad accident, two of his sons returned to their former habitations; but Ortogrul, the third, with his three sons, Conduz, Sarubani, and Othman, remained some time in those parts; and having obtained leave of Aladin, the sultan of Iconium, he came with four hundred of his Turks, and settled in the mountains of Armenia. From thence they began their excursions; and the other Turks associating with them, and following their standard, they gained several victories over the Tartars on one side, and over the Christians on the other. Ortogrul dying in the year 1288, Othman his son succeeded him in power and authority; and in the year 1299, as some say, with the consent of Aladin himself, he was proclaimed sultan, and founded a new empire; and the people afterward, as well as the new empire, were called by his name. For though they disclaim the name of Turks, and assume that of Othmans, yet nothing is more certain than that they are a mixed multitude, the remains of the four sultanies above mentioned, as well as the descendants particularly of the house of Othman.

In this manner, and at this time, 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 — That is, as before, the men of the Roman empire, and especially in Europe, the third part of the world. The Latin or western empire was broken to pieces under the four first trumpets; the Greek or eastern empire was cruelly hurt and tormented under the fifth trumpet; and here, under the sixth trumpet, it is to be slain and utterly destroyed. Accordingly, all Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Thrace, Macedon, Greece, and all the countries which formerly belonged to the Greek or eastern Cesars, the Othmans have conquered, and subjugated to their dominion. They first passed over into Europe in the reign of Orchan, their second emperor, and in the year 1357; they took Constantinople in the reign of Mohammed, their seventh emperor, and in the year 1453; and in time, all the remaining parts of the Greek empire shared the fate of the capital city. The last of their conquests were Candia, or the ancient Crete, in 1669, and Cameniec, in 1672. For the execution of this great work, it is said that they were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year; which will admit either of a literal or a mystical interpretation; and the former will hold good if the latter should fail. If it be taken literally, it is only expressing the same thing by different words; as peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues, are jointly used in other places; and then the meaning is, that they were prepared and ready to execute the divine commission at any time, or for any time, — any hour, or day, or month, or year, that God should appoint. If it be taken mystically, and the hour, and day, and month, and year be a prophetic hour, and day, and month, and year, then a year, (according to St. John’s, who follows herein Daniel’s computations) consisting of three hundred and sixty days, is three hundred and sixty years; and a month, consisting of thirty days, is thirty years; and a day is a year; and an hour is, in the same proportion, fifteen days: so that the whole period of the Othmans slaying the third part of men, or subduing the Christian states in the Greek or Roman empire, amounts to three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days. Now it is wonderfully remarkable, that the first conquest mentioned in history of the Othmans over the Christians, was in the year of the Hegira 680, and the year of Christ 1281. For Ortogrul “in that year (according to the accurate historian Saadi) crowned his victories with the conquest of the famous city of Kutahi upon the Greeks.” Compute three hundred and ninety-one years from that time, and they will terminate in the year 1672: and in that year, as it was hinted before, Mohammed the Fourth took Cameniec from the Poles, “and forty-eight towns and villages in the territory of Camenice were delivered up” to the sultan upon the treaty of peace. Whereupon Prince Cantemir hath made this memorable reflection: “This was the last victory by which any advantage accrued to the Othman state, or any city or province was annexed to the ancient bounds of the empire.” Agreeably to which observation, he hath entitled the former part of his history, Of the growth of the Othman empire, and the following part, Of the decay of the Othman empire. Other wars and slaughters, as he says, have ensued. The Turks even besieged Vienna in 1683; but this exceeding the bounds of their commission, they were defeated. Belgrade and other places may have been taken from them, and surrendered to them again; but still they have subdued no new state or potentate of Christendom now for the space of a hundred and fifty years; and in all probability they never may again, their empire appearing rather to decrease than increase. Here then the prophecy and the event agree exactly in the period of three hundred and ninety-one years; and if more accurate and authentic histories of the Othmans were brought to light, and we knew the very day wherein Kutahi was taken as certainly as we know that wherein Cameniec was taken, the like exactness might also be found in the fifteen days. But though the time be limited for the Othmans’ slaying the third part of men, yet no time is fixed for the duration of their empire; only this second wo will end when the third wo, (xi. 14,) or the destruction of the beast, shall be at hand.9:13-21 The sixth angel sounded, and here the power of the Turks seems the subject. Their time is limited. They not only slew in war, but brought a poisonous and ruinous religion. The antichristian generation repented not under these dreadful judgments. From this sixth trumpet learn that God can make one enemy of the church a scourge and a plague to another. The idolatry in the remains of the eastern church and elsewhere, and the sins of professed Christians, render this prophecy and its fulfilment more wonderful. And the attentive reader of Scripture and history, may find his faith and hope strengthened by events, which in other respects fill his heart with anguish and his eyes with tears, while he sees that men who escape these plagues, repent not of their evil works, but go on with idolatries, wickedness, and cruelty, till wrath comes upon them to the utmost.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.

13. a voice—literally, "one voice."

from—Greek, "out of."

the four horns—A, Vulgate (Amiatinus manuscript), Coptic, and Syriac omit "four." B and Cyprian support it. The four horns together gave forth their voice, not diverse, but one. God's revelation (for example, the Gospel), though in its aspects fourfold (four expressing world-wide extension: whence four is the number of the Evangelists), still has but one and the same voice. However, from the parallelism of this sixth trumpet to the fifth seal (Re 6:9, 10), the martyrs' cry for the avenging of their blood from the altar reaching its consummation under the sixth seal and sixth trumpet, I prefer understanding this cry from the four corners of the altar to refer to the saints' prayerful cry from the four quarters of the world, incensed by the angel, and ascending to God from the golden altar of incense, and bringing down in consequence fiery judgments. Aleph omits the whole clause, "one from the four horns."

That is, from God, I heard him give a command, which

voice is said to have proceeded from the golden altar, ( in allusion to Exodus 30:3), because there God received the prayers of his people; and this voice proceeding from that place, might signify the following judgment to come, in answer to the prayer’s of his servants’ souls from thence crying to him for vengeance. See Revelation 6:9,10. And the sixth angel sounded,.... His trumpet:

and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar, which is before God; the allusion is not to the altar of burnt offering, which was covered with brass, but to the altar of incense covered with gold; and hence here, and elsewhere, it is called "the golden altar", and was a figure of the intercession of Christ; for on this altar incense was offered, which was typical of the prayers of the saints offered by Christ, through his mediation: the matter of this altar was shittim wood, a wood that is incorruptible, and of long duration, denoting the perpetuity of Christ's intercession; and its being covered with gold expresses the glory and excellency of it; its form was foursquare, as is the city of the new Jerusalem, and shows that Christ's intercession avails for all his people in the four parts of the world: and on it were "four horns", which some think represent the four evangelists, or the Gospel sent into the four parts of the world, and which is the power of God unto salvation; and for the contempt of which, in the eastern empire, the judgments signified under this trumpet came upon it; though rather these may point at the large extent and fulness of Christ's intercession, for all his people, in the four corners of the earth, as well as his power to protect and defend them, and to scatter and destroy his and their enemies. This altar is said to be "before God", in a visionary way, as the altar of incense was before the vail, and the mercy seat, and by the ark of the testimony, Exodus 30:1; suggesting that Christ continually appears in the presence of God for all the saints. Now from hence was a "voice heard" by John, and which seems to be the voice of Christ, the advocate and intercessor. In the Greek text it is, "one voice"; not the voice of many angels round about the throne, nor of the souls under the altar, but of the one and only Mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ; and this was a voice, not supplicating, but commanding, being addressed to one of his ministering spirits.

{10} And the sixth angel sounded, {11} and I heard a voice from the {b} four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

(10) The sixth execution done on the world by the tyrannical powers of it, working in the four parts of the earth, that is, in most cruel manner execution their tyrannous dominion through out the whole world: and killing the miserable people without punishment, which before was not lawful for them to do in that sort, as I showed in Re 9:4. This narration has two parts: a commandment from God, in Re 9:14 and an execution of the commandment, in Re 9:15.

(11) The commandment given by Christ himself, who is governor over all.

(b) He alludes to the altar of incense, which stood in the court which the priests were in, opposite the Ark of the Covenant, having a veil between them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 9:13-15. At a divine command the trumpet-angel looses the four angels bound thus far at the Euphrates, under whose direction the immense army of horsemen is to bring its plagues.

καὶ ἤκουσα, κ.τ.λ. What John hears[2608] in the vision, he represents just as what he beheld (Revelation 9:17), in consequence of the trumpet-vision.

φωνὴν μίαν ἐκ τῶν (τεσσάρων) κεράτων τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου, κ.τ.λ. In a linguistic respect it is possible that the precise number is intended indefinitely,[2609] so that it is left entirely undecided as to whom the voice belongs, as Revelation 6:6,[2610] although it is impossible to take ἐκ in the general sense of ἀπό,[2611] and to explain that the voice came from God enthroned back of the altar.[2612] Cf., on the other hand, also, Revelation 16:7. Yet a more definite reference of the μίαν would result in connection with the fact that the voice proceeds from the four horns of the altar. The altar from whose horns the voice proceeds is expressly designated as that mentioned Revelation 8:3 sqq.[2613] The circumstance, accordingly, that from its horns the voice proceeds which loosens the plagues described immediately afterwards, must have a similar meaning as the circumstance in Revelation 8:5, that the fire cast upon the earth was taken from the same altar, i.e., the command of the angels to loose appears as a consequence of the prayers presented at the altar;[2614] but after that, it is proper to understand the one (Divine) voice making manifest this special hearing of prayer, in contrast with the many voices of those who pray, heard and referred to also in Revelation 8:3 (τ. προσευχ. τῶν ἁγ.).

It is a perversion, however, to consider the one voice in any special relation to the four horns of the altar; for, even apart from the critical uncertainty of the reading τεσσάρων, the sense forced from it[2615] is extremely feeble, while the allegorical[2616] explanation[2617] is without any support. Also the relation, which is in itself arbitrary, between the four horns and the “four sins,” Revelation 9:21, and likewise the four angels,[2618] falls with the spurious τεσσάρων.

τῷ ἕκτῳ ἀγγ. From the fact that here the trumpet-angel not only sounds the trumpet, but is himself engaged in the act which follows, the inference dare in no wise be drawn that the same relation occurs also in other passages where it is not explicitly stated.[2619] But if the question be asked why there is ascribed here[2620] to the proclaimer of the plagues a co-operation with them, any reference to “economy of means”[2621] affords no satisfactory answer; for why this economy just here, which nevertheless does not universally prevail? As a reason lying in the subject itself is not perceptible, it appears to be adopted only to avoid a barren uniformity, which would occur if the same angel who (Revelation 8:5) cast the fire from the altar to the earth, or even if a new angel, who yet would have substantially the same position with that of the trumpet-angels, received now the command to loose the four angels at the Euphrates.

Αῦσον

Ἐυφράτῃ. The article τοὺς τέσσ. ἀγγ. has its definite reference, as Revelation 8:2, to the following τοὺς δεδ., κ.τ.λ.,[2622] but throughout does not indicate the identity, adopted by Beda, etc., of the angel here named with that mentioned in Revelation 7:1 sqq. That the four angels are wicked angels,[2623] not good,[2624] also not “corruptible,”—as De Wette and Ebrard say, when they uncertainly remark that we must not think directly of wicked angels,—is to be derived from their being bound,[2625] from their position on the Euphrates, and from the fact that they lead an army of an infernal kind, in which respect they are to be compared with the star which fell from heaven, Revelation 9:1, as well as with the angel of the abyss, the king of the locusts, Revelation 9:11.

The number four of the angels does not correspond to the four parts of the army led by them,[2626] for of this the text says nothing,[2627] but indicates[2628] that the army is to be led on all four sides of the earth, in order to slay[2629] the third of all men.[2630] Ebrard, in the interests of his allegorical explanation, emphasizes the number four of the angels leading the army, Revelation 9:16 sqq., in contrast with the one king of the locusts, Revelation 9:11. Thus in the one case there is a monarchical and in the other a democratical constitution; with which it also harmonizes, that in Revelation 9:17 nothing is said of crowns as in Revelation 9:7. Nevertheless, Ebrard does not expect the elucidation of the sixth as well as of the fifth trumpet-vision until its future fulfilment: the “spiritual mercenary hosts of superstition” are only foretokens of the still impending plagues. [See Note LIX., p. 293.] ἐπὶ τῷ ποταμῷ τῷ μεγάλῳ Ἐυφράτῃ. This local designation has been received literally;[2631] and the application has been made, that the Parthian armies, so perilous to the Romans, mentioned in Revelation 9:16 sqq., came from the neighborhood of the Euphrates,[2632] or it is said that the Roman legions indicated in Revelation 9:16 sqq. moved from the Euphrates against Jerusalem.[2633] The latter is without any truth;[2634] Grot. already was therefore compelled to explain: The armies of the Roman commanders, i.e., the four angels, extended to the Euphrates![2635] But it is a valid objection to the view of Ewald, as well as that of Herder,[2636] that the armies portrayed in Revelation 9:16 sqq. are by no means human armies, but just as certainly of a supernatural kind, as the locusts of Revelation 9:1 sqq., in their way. If the language of Revelation 9:16 sqq., concerning actual martial bands, were to be interpreted therefore allegorically, Vitr., Beng., and many older expositors would be justified, who understood the army (16 sqq.) of the Tartars and Turks, and likewise, in connection with this, took the mention of the Euphrates in its proper geographical sense. But, unless we charge John with great confusion, we dare not say that “the bound angels” are allegorical,

Parthian,[2637] Roman commanders,[2638] or Turkish caliphs,[2639]—the “Euphrates” on which they are bound literal, and the troops led by them again allegorical. Such confused inconsistency the purely allegorical explanation indeed avoids; but it also appears here so untenable and visionary, that, as it itself rests on no foundation, it offers no point whatever where it can be met by a definite counter argument. Wetst. says that the Euphrates is the Tiber, just as Babylon, ch. 14 sqq., is Rome;[2640] but in that passage it is explained, in the text itself, as to how Babylon is meant, while here nothing whatever concerning Babylon is said. With entire indefiniteness, Beda: “The power of the worldly kingdom, and the waves of persecutors.”

The context itself offers the correct conception, by recalling in the formal expression τ. ποταμῷ τῷ μεγἀλῷ Εὐφρ.[2641] the O. T.;[2642] combining with this local designation, to be comprehended from the O. T. history, the description of an army whose dreadfulness far surpasses every thing of a human character, and actual historical experience, but, besides, has an allegorical meaning as little as the locusts, Revelation 9:1 sqq. The mention of the Euphrates is schematical; i.e., John designates with concrete definiteness the district whence the supernatural army-plague is to traverse the world, by naming the precise region whence, in O. T. times, the divinely sent plagues of Assyrian armies came upon Israel.[2643] An entirely similar schematical sense would have occurred if John had called the place whence the locusts went forth, Egypt. That the Euphrates is the boundary of the land of Abraham[2644] and David,[2645] is to be urged here as little as that it was the boundary of the Roman Empire;[2646] the only matter of consequence is, that from the Euphrates formerly “the scourges of God” proceeded.[2647] It is also irrelevant to this schematical idea, that the subject of consideration is now a plague for all men, while previously the scourges of God were sent against Israel: the mode of view of the writer of the Apocalypse is only indicated as rooted in the O. T., in the fact that this concrete local designation appears before his gazing eyes. [See Note LX., p. 293.] ἡτοισαμένοι. Cf. Revelation 8:6, where also ἵνα follows. They were already prepared; only, up to the present, the bands held them In Revelation 9:16, therefore, the description of the army breaking forth under their command directly follows; the released angels immediately put themselves in motion with their armies.

εἰς τὴν ὥραν

καὶ ἐνιαυτόν. Although the gender of the nouns is different,[2648] the art. is placed only before the first, not only because it combines in general the common conception of time, but also the close inner relation and determination of the individual conceptions to one another and through one another affords the idea of essential unity. For the expression, ascending from the hour to the year,[2649] shows that the fixed hour occurs in the fixed day, the day in the fixed month, etc.[2650] Incorrectly, Luther: “for an hour,” etc. Just as incorrectly, Bengel: Since the art. occurs only once, a continuous period of time is indicated,—which, as a prophetic hour contains about eight ordinary days, and a prophetic day an ordinary half-year, he reckons as about two hundred and seven years, and understands it of the times of the Turk (634–840 A.D.).

τὸ τρίτον τῶν ἀνθρ. Men, in reference to whose torment (Revelation 9:1 sqq.) nothing was said of a third (cf. Revelation 9:4), are now slain by the sixth trumpet-plague in the same proportion as previously trees, ships, etc., were destroyed.[2651]

[2608] Cf. Revelation 6:3; Revelation 6:5; Revelation 6:7; Revelation 6:10.

[2609] “A voice.” Ewald. Cf. Revelation 8:13. Winer, p. 111.

[2610] De Wette.

[2611] “Forth from,” like the Heb. מִן, which includes the meaning of both prepositions.

[2612] Ew. i., Stern.

[2613] And Revelation 6:9 sqq.

[2614] Cf. Hofm., De Wette, Bleek, Hengstenb., Ebrard, Klief.

[2615] “That these four horns gave forth simultaneously, not a diverse, but one and the same voice” (Vitr., Hengstenb.).

[2616] If it be considered that Beda, who does not have the “four” in his text, yet explains “the horns, the Gospels projecting from the Church,” the conjecture is readily made that the number ten. was inserted in the interests of this allegorizing interpretation.

[2617] “It indicates the harmonious preaching of the one Church, or the one faith, from the Four Gospels” (Zeger. Cf. also Calov, etc.). Or, according to Grot., who understands by the voices, “the prayers of exiles beseeching that they may return at some time to their ancestral abodes,” “all places to which the Jews sent into exile the worshippers of Christ.”

[2618] Hengstenb. Cf. also Beng., Züll., Hofm.

[2619] Against Beng.

[2620] Cf. Revelation 17:1.Revelation 9:13-21. The sixth trumpet blast.The Sixth Trumpet. Second Woe, Revelation 9:13-2113. a voice] Lit. one voice: see on Revelation 8:13. The word “four” just afterwards should probably be omitted: else “one voice from the four horns” would give the numeral a special meaning.Revelation 9:13. Καὶ, and) The second woe relates to the Saracens.—ἐκ τῶν τεσσάρων κεράτων) The ancients omit τεσσάρων:[96] the altar of incense had horns; in the writings of Moses it is not read of as having four horns.

[96] A Vulg. (Amiat. MS.) Memph. Syr. omit τεσσάρων. Bh Cypr. support it.—E.Verse 13. - And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice; I heard one voice, perhaps in contradistinction to the four horns next mentioned. From the four horns of the golden altar which is before God; the golden altar before God. The balance of authority seems in favour of retaining τεσσάρων, "four," although the Revisers omit it. It is inserted in B, P, Andreas, Arethas, Primasius, etc., but emitted in א A, Syriac, Coptic, Bede, etc. Many commentators (eg. Vitringa, Hengstenberg) lay special stress upon it; and some represent the horns as the four Gospels, which speak with one voice. The voice issues from the altar, as in Revelation 6:10; Revelation 16:7. The voice, issuing from the resting place of the souls of the martyrs, denounces the impending woe. The altar is the golden altar of incense (Revelation 8:3) which is before (the throne of) God, and which, in the earthly temple, stood before the veil (Exodus 40:26). This altar had four "horns" projecting at the corners (Exodus 30:2; see also Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' art. "Altar"). A voice (φωνὴν μίαν)

Lit., one voice.

Altar

See on Revelation 8:3.

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