|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-8 This vision may represent the ways of Providence in the government of this lower world. Whatever the providences of God about us are, as to public or private affairs, we should see them all as coming from between the mountains of brass, the immoveable counsels and decrees of God; and therefore reckon it as much our folly to quarrel with them, as it is our duty to submit to them. His providences move swiftly and strongly as chariots, but all are directed and governed by his infinite wisdom and sovereign will. The red horses signify war and bloodshed. The black, signify the dismal consequences of war, famines, pestilences, and desolations. The white, signify the return of comfort, peace, and prosperity. The mixed colour, signify events of different complexions, a day of prosperity and a day of adversity. The angels go forth as messengers of God's counsels, and ministers of his justice and mercy. And the secret motions and impulses upon the spirits of men, by which the designs of Providence are carried on, are these four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from God, and fulfil what the God of the spirits of all flesh appoints. All the events which take place in the world spring from the unchangeable counsels of the Lord, which are formed in unerring wisdom, perfect justice, truth, and goodness; and from history it is found that events happened about the period when this vision was sent to the prophet, which seem referred to therein.
Verse 3. - Grisled and bay; rather, speckled, strong; Septuagint, ἵπποι ποικίλαι ψαροί, "horses pied and dapple-grey." But ψαρὸς is explained by the Scholiast in Aristophanes, 'Nub.,' 1225, as "swift;" and possibly the LXX. used it in that sense here. The Vulgate has fortes; Aquila, καρτεροί. One would have expected a colour to be named. but why these are specially mentioned as strong or active is seen in ver. 7. The word beruddim, "speckled," occurs only in Genesis 31:10, 12, where it has no symbolical character. As it denotes a combination of colours, probably spots of white on a dark ground, it may signify a quality of a mixed, nature, thus indicating a visitation of war and pestilence, the sword and famine.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And in the third chariot white horses,.... Which, as referring to Gospel preachers, may denote the purity of their lives and doctrines, and their conquests and victories over the souls of men by the ministry of the word; and, as applicable to angels, may express the purity of their nature and actions, the joyful messages they bring to the heirs of salvation, and their victories over the evil angels; but, as respecting the monarchies, point at the Grecians, and the conquests of Alexander, and his mildness and gentleness to the Jews: white horses were used in triumphs, in token of victory (t); see Revelation 6:2 and they have been reckoned the swiftest in running; and by the "oneirocritics", to see them in a dream or vision is a good omen (u); and so it was accounted with the Jews (w); all which suits very well with Alexander, who was famous for his victories over many nations: and who, with great velocity, overran them, and as soon conquered them, and was kind and beneficent to the Jewish nation:
and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses: signifying either the diversity of gifts in the ministers of the Gospel; or the different employment and services of angels; or rather the Romans are meant, who were collected out of various nations, and consisted of different people, and had dvarious forms of government, and emperors of different dispositions to the Jews; and particularly as two colours are assigned to these, it may respect the division of their kingdom into Pagan and Papal, as is predicted in Daniel 2:41. Kimchi thinks the "bay horses" design the kingdom of the Ishmaelites, or Turks, a strong and powerful people; as some think the word used signifies (x); rather the Goths and Vandals; see Zechariah 6:7. The word for "grisled" is by the Targum rendered "spotted" or "speckled"; and comes from one which signifies "hail"; and so denotes such coloured horses as are spotted with white spots, like hailstones (y), upon another colour, as black or red; and is by the Septuagint, and others, rendered "various" (z), of divers colours: and the other word for "bay" is rendered by them "starling coloured"; the colour of the starling, which is a black bird, with white spots; and so were a fit emblem of the Goths, Huns, &c. who were of various nations, and had various laws, customs, and usages; though some think by these two are meant the successors of Alexander, the Lagidae and the Seleucidae, put together, because of their intermarriages with one another, as well as succeeding Alexander: the former by the "grisled", who went and settled in the south country in Egypt, Zechariah 6:6 whose first king was Ptolemy Lagus, from whence is the name, and who is the king of the south in Daniel 11:5 and the latter by the "bay" or "ash coloured", as the Targum; the kings of Syria hiding deep their counsels, as under ashes, particularly Antiochus, as Grotius observes; and sometimes making war on one nation, and sometimes on another; and both of them in their turns falling upon the Jews suddenly, and with great violence, like hailstones, and making sad devastations among them, reducing them to ashes; but then this sense shuts out the Romans, the fourth monarchy, from having any place in this vision, which cannot be admitted; since these four chariots answer to the four sorts of metal in Nebuchadnezzar's image, and to the four beasts in Daniel's vision. So the Jewish writers (a) say, the red horses are the kingdom of Babylon, which shed much blood in Israel; this is the head of gold: the black horses, the kingdom of the Persians and Medes, like to a bear, who made black the faces of Israel, by the decrees of Haman: the white horses, the kingdom of Grecia, who made white the faces of Israel by reproaches: the horses grisled and bay the fourth kingdom, which decreed various decrees, different from one another: and these four chariots went out from between two mountains, from between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, which dwell between two countries, that beyond Jordan, and the land of Israel; and they went out between them, and carried them captive; and these kingdoms are called mountains of brass, because strong as brass, and hearkened not to the words of the prophets.
(t) Aurel. Victor de Viris Ilustrib. c. 26. in Furio Camillo, & Plutarchus in Camillo. (u) Bochart, ut supra, (Hierozoic par. 1. l. 2. c. 7.) Colossians 105, 106. (w) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 93. 1.((x) "fortes", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; "robusti", Piscator, Tarnovius, Gussetius, Stockius, p. 74. "validi", Burkius; so Kimchi; and the Jews in Pesikta apud Yalkut in loc. (y) "grandinate", Montanus, Cocceius, Burkius; "grandiue gut. tati", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Tarnovius, De Dieu, Pembellus. (z) Sept.; "varii", Pagninus. (a) In Pesikta Rabbati apud Yalkut in loc.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. white—implying joy and victory [Calvin].
grizzled—piebald. Implying a mixed dispensation, partly prosperity, partly adversity. All four dispensations, though various in character to the Gentile nation, portended alike good to God's people.
bay—rather, "strong" or "fleet"; so Vulgate [Gesenius]. The horses have this epithet, whose part it was to "walk to and fro through the earth" (Zec 6:7). However, the Septuagint and Chaldee agree with English Version in referring the Hebrew to color, not strength.
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