Revelation 6:5
Parallel Verses
New International Version
When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand.

New Living Translation
When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, "Come!" I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand.

English Standard Version
When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand.

New American Standard Bible
When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

King James Bible
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" And I looked, and there was a black horse. The horseman on it had a set of scales in his hand.

International Standard Version
When the lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Go!" I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a scale in his hand.

NET Bible
Then when the Lamb opened the third seal I heard the third living creature saying, "Come!" So I looked, and here came a black horse! The one who rode it had a balance scale in his hand.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third Beast saying, “Come”, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat upon him had a balance scale in his hand.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
When the lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Go!" I looked, and there was a black horse, and its rider held a scale.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third animal, which said, Come and see. And I saw and, behold, a black horse, and he that was seated upon him had a yoke in his hand.

King James 2000 Bible
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on it had a pair of balances in his hand.

American King James Version
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and see a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

American Standard Version
And when he opened the first seal, I heard the third living creature saying, Come. And I saw, and behold, a black horse; and he that sat thereon had a balance in his hand.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying: Come, and see. And behold a black horse, and he that sat on him had a pair of scales in his hand.

Darby Bible Translation
And when it opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, Come [and see]. And I saw: and behold, a black horse, and he that sat upon it having a balance in his hand.

English Revised Version
And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, Come. And I saw, and behold, a black horse; and he that sat thereon had a balance in his hand.

Webster's Bible Translation
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living being say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo, a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

Weymouth New Testament
When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come." I looked, and a black horse appeared, its rider carrying a balance in his hand.

World English Bible
When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come and see!" And behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a balance in his hand.

Young's Literal Translation
And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, 'Come and behold!' and I saw, and lo, a black horse, and he who is sitting upon it is having a balance in his hand,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

6:1-8 Christ, the Lamb, opens the first seal: observe what appeared. A rider on a white horse. By the going forth of this white horse, a time of peace, or the early progress of the Christian religion, seems to be intended; its going forth in purity, at the time when its heavenly Founder sent his apostles to teach all nations, adding, Lo! I am with you alway, even to the end of the world. The Divine religion goes out crowned, having the Divine favour resting upon it, armed spiritually against its foes, and destined to be victorious in the end. On opening the second seal, a red horse appeared; this signifies desolating judgments. The sword of war and persecution is a dreadful judgment; it takes away peace from the earth, one of the greatest blessings; and men who should love one another, and help one another, are set upon killing one another. Such scenes also followed the pure age of early Christianity, when, neglectful of charity and the bond of peace, the Christian leaders, divided among themselves, appealed to the sword, and entangled themselves in guilt. On opening the third seal, a black horse appeared; a colour denoting mourning and woe, darkness and ignorance. He that sat on it had a yoke in his hand. Attempts were made to put a yoke of superstitious observances on the disciples. As the stream of Christianity flowed further from its pure fountain, it became more and more corrupt. During the progress of this black horse, the necessaries of life should be at excessive prices, and the more costly things should not be hurt. According to prophetic language, these articles signified that food of religious knowledge, by which the souls of men are sustained unto everlasting life; such we are invited to buy, Isa 55:1. But when the dark clouds of ignorance and superstition, denoted by the black horse, spread over the Christian world, the knowledge and practice of true religion became scarce. When a people loathe their spiritual food, God may justly deprive them of their daily bread. The famine of bread is a terrible judgment; but the famine of the word is more so. Upon opening the fourth seal, another horse appeared, of a pale colour. The rider was Death, the king of terrors. The attendants, or followers of this king of terrors, hell, a state of eternal misery to all who die in their sins; and in times of general destruction, multitudes go down unprepared into the pit. The period of the fourth seal is one of great slaughter and devastation, destroying whatever may tend to make life happy, making ravages on the spiritual lives of men. Thus the mystery of iniquity was completed, and its power extended both over the lives and consciences of men. The exact times of these four seals cannot be ascertained, for the changes were gradual. God gave them power, that is, those instruments of his anger, or those judgments: all public calamities are at his command; they only go forth when God sends them, and no further than he permits.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 5. - And when he had opened the third seal; when he opened, as in the case of the other seals (see on ver. 3). I heard the third beast say; the third living being saying. (On the living beings, see Revelation 4:6.) Wordsworth takes the third living being to be that with the human face, and considers it to be typical of the whole vision of the third seal, by symbolizing the source of the next trial of the Church; namely, the rise of heresy, which he thinks is depicted by this appearance. But probably the four living beings represent all creation, and thus invite St. John to witness the troubles in store for mankind in general. (For a full consideration of this point, see on Revelation 4:6.) Come and see. The majority of authorities emit "and see" (see the corresponding passage in vers. 1 and 3, where also is discussed the question as to whom the sentence is addressed). And I beheld, and lo a black horse. The black is typical of woe and mourning - the result of the scarcity foretold in the following words. This vision is typical of famine; it is the second of the three trials foretold - war, famine, death (cf. Ezekiel 14, where the "four sore plagues" are wild beasts, the sword, famine, and pestilence). St. John seems to foretell the recurrence of three of these troubles to try mankind in general, and Christians in particular. Those who interpret the vision to mean scarcity of faith, or in other words the prevalence of heresy, do so on the supposition that the events denoted at the opening of the seals follow each other in historical order. They therefore assign these events to the period subsequent to A.D. , when persecution had ceased, and the rise of heresies took place. Others, accepting the historical view, yet consider the vision to foretell famine; and Grotius and Wetstein point to the famine in the reign of Claudius as the fulfilment. But it is not probable that the meaning of the book is so limited in extent; but rather that its prophecies point to events which have happened, and are recurring, and will continue to recur until the end of the world. We therefore understand that this vision denotes famine in the ordinary sense, as one of the trials awaiting the members of the Church of God at various times during the existence of the Church on earth. This affliction may happen concurrently with, or antecedent to, or subsequent to, any of those trials denoted by the other visions, and even the victorious career of the Church as foretold under the first seal; for by suffering the Church conquers and is made perfect. And he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. Ζυγός is rightly rendered "a balance," as in Ezekiel 45:10; not (as it primarily meant) a "yoke." The idea intended to be conveyed is that of scarcity so great that food is weighed carefully as something very rare and precious, though there is not yet a complete absence of food.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And when he had opened the third seal,.... Of the sealed book:

I heard the third beast say, come and see; this living creature was that which was like a man, who was on the south side of the throne, as the standard of Reuben, which had the figure of a man, was on the south side of the camp of Israel; this was not the Apostle Paul, as Grotius thinks, to whom was made a prophecy of a famine in the days of Claudius Caesar; nor Tertullian, who made an apology for the Christians in the times of this seal, as Brightman conjectures; but the ministers of the Gospel, whose voice was neither the voice of the lion nor of the ox, but of a man, which was still lower, but yet they retained their humanity, reasoning prudence, and wisdom; and these are represented as calling upon John to come and see, and take notice of the following hieroglyphic:

and I beheld, and lo a black horse; an emblem either of the afflicted state of the church, still answering to the Smyrnaean one, being black with persecutions, schisms, errors, and heresies, which were many; or particularly of the heresies and heretics of those times, who might be compared to a horse for their pride and ambition, speaking great swelling words of vanity, and to a black one, for their hidden things of dishonesty, and works of darkness, for the darkness in themselves, and which they spread over others; or rather of a famine, not in a spiritual sense, of hearing of the word, but in a literal sense; see Lamentations 4:7; not what was at the siege of Jerusalem, or in the times of Claudius Caesar, Acts 11:28; but in the times of the Emperor Severus, and others, as the historians of those times (a), and the writings of Tertullian show; when the Heathens ascribed the scarcity that was among them to the wickedness of the Christians (b), whereas it was a judgment upon them for their persecution of them:

and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand; by whom is meant not some noted heretic, or heretics, who had balances of deceit in their hands to prove their tenets by, such as spurious writings, &c. or who made pretensions to the Scriptures, the balance of the sanctuary, to weigh doctrines in; nor Christ, whose name heretics shrouded themselves under, and professed, and who overruled and made use of their heresies for the good of his people, that they might be made manifest. Mr. Mede thinks that Septimius Severus, the Roman emperor, who came from Africa, from the south, on which side was the living creature that spoke to John, is intended, and in which country black horses were in great esteem; and he was the only African that ever was emperor of Rome before (c): and the same author thinks, that his having a pair of balances in his hand expresses the strict justice that emperor was famous for; but rather it signifies famine, and such a scarcity as that bread is delivered out by weight to men; see Leviticus 26:26.

(a) Spartianus in Vita Severi, & Lampridius in Vita Alexandri. (b) Apolog. c. 40. & ad Scapulam, c. 3.((c) Cassiodor. Chronicon. & Eutrop. Hist. Roman. l. 8.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

5. Come and see—The two oldest manuscripts, A, C, and Vulgate omit "and see." B retains the words.

black—implying sadness and want.

had—Greek, "having."

a pair of balances—the symbol of scarcity of provisions, the bread being doled out by weight.

Revelation 6:5 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Third Seal: Famine
5When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine."
Cross References
Ezekiel 4:16
He then said to me: "Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair,

Zechariah 6:2
The first chariot had red horses, the second black,

Zechariah 6:6
The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south."

Matthew 24:7
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

Revelation 4:7
The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.
Treasury of Scripture

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and see a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

he had. See on ver.

Revelation 6:1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as …

Revelation 4:6,7 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like to crystal: and …

Revelation 5:5,9 And one of the elders said to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the …

a black.

Zechariah 6:2,6 In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses…

had.

Leviticus 26:26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake …

Lamentations 5:10 Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.

Ezekiel 4:10,16 And your meat which you shall eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels …

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