But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Bitter as wormwood.—The absinthium of Revelation 8:11, where, apparently, it is considered as a poison. So God’s message to St. John (Revelation 10:10) was in his mouth sweet as honey (comp. Psalm 19:10), but made his belly bitter: that is, he met with much sorrow and trouble in making it known to men, but through this “much tribulation” (Acts 14:22) he “entered into the kingdom of heaven.”Revelation 8:11. Ecclesiastes 7:26;
sharp as a twoedged sword; which cuts every way; as committing sin with an harlot hurts both soul and body; and the reflection upon it is very cutting and distressing, and destroys all comfort and happiness. This is the reverse of her soothing and softening speech, which is as oil. Such also will be the sad case of the worshippers of the beast, or whore of Rome; who will gnaw their tongues for pain, and be killed with the twoedged sword that proceedeth out of the mouth of Christ, Revelation 16:10.But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. wormwood] The reference is perhaps not merely to the bitterness, but to the noxiousness of this herb. See Deuteronomy 29:18, and Revelation 8:10-11, where “many men died of the waters” into which the star named “wormwood” had fallen.Verse 4. - The contrast is drawn with great vividness between the professions of the "strange woman" and the disastrous consequences which overtake those who listen to her enticements. She promises enjoyment, pleasure, freedom from danger, but her end is bitter as wormwood. "Her end," not merely with reference to herself, which may be and is undoubtedly true, but the last of her as experienced by those who have intercourse with her - her character as it stands revealed at the last. So it is said of wine, "At the last," i.e. its final effects, if indulged in to excess, "it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder" (Proverbs 23:22). Bitter as wormwood. The Hebrew, laanah, "wormwood," Gesenius derives from the unused root laan, "to curse." It is the equivalent to the absinthium of the Vulgate. So Aquila, who has ἀψίνθιον. The LXX. improperly renders χολή, "gall." In other places the word laanah is used as the emblem of bitterness, with the superadded idea of its being poisonous, also according to the Hebrew notion, shared in also by the Greeks, that the plant combined these two qualities. Thus in Deuteronomy 29:18 it is associated with rosh, "a poisonful herb" (margin), and the Targum terms it, agreeably with this notion, "deadly wormwood." The same belief is reproduced in Revelation 8:11, "And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and many men died of the waters because they were made bitter" (cf. Jeremiah 9:15; Amos 5:7: 6:12). The apostle, no doubt, has it in mind when he speaks of any "root of bitterness," in Hebrews 12:15. The herb is thus described by Umbreit: "It is a plant toward two feet high, belonging to the genus Artemisia (species Artemisia absinthium), which produces a very firm stalk with many branches, grayish leaves, and small, almost round, pendent blossoms. It has a bitter and saline taste, and seems to have been regarded in the East as also a poison, of which the frequent combination with rosh gives an intimation." Terence has a strikingly similar passage to the one before us -
In melle sunt linguae sitae vestrae atque orations
Lacteque; corda felle sunt lita atque acerbo aceto." Your tongues are placed in honey and your speech is milk; your hearts are besmeared with gall and sharp vinegar ('Trucul.,' 1:11. 75). Sharp as a two-edged sword; literally, as a sword of edges (kherev piphiyyoth), which may mean a sword of extreme sharpness. Her end is as sharp as the sharpest sword. But it seems better to take the term as it is understood in the Authorized Version, which has the support both of the Vulgate, gladius biceps, and the LXX., μαχαίρα διστόμος, i.e. "a two-edged sword." Compare "a two-edged sword" (kherev piphiyyoth) of Psalm 149:6. The meaning is, the last of her is poignancy of remorse, anguish of heart, and death. In these she involves her victims. Proverbs 9:5, expresses it: μὴ περιβλέπου ἐν ῥύμαις πόλεως - purposeless, curious staring about operates upon the soul, always decentralizing and easily defiling it. But the rule does not exhaust itself in this meaning with reference to external self-discipline; it counsels also straight-forward, unswerving directness toward a fixed goal (and what else can this be in such a connection than that which wisdom places before man?), without the turning aside of the eye toward that which is profitless and forbidden, and in this inward sense it falls in with the demand for a single, not squinting eye, Matthew 6:22, where Bengel explains ἁπλοῦς by simplex et bonus, intentus in caelum, in Deum, unice. נכח (R. נך) means properly fixing, or holding fast with the look, and נגד (as the Arab. najad, to be clear, to be in sight, shows) the rising up which makes the object stand conspicuous before the eyes; both denote here that which lies straight before us, and presents itself to the eye looking straight out. The naming of the עפעפּים (from עפעף, to flutter, to move tremblingly), which belongs not to the seeing apparatus of the eye but to its protection, is introduced by the poetical parallelism; for the eyelids, including in this word the twinkling, in their movement follow the direction of the seeing eye. On the form יישׁרוּ (fut. Hiph. of ישׁר, to be straight), defective according to the Masora, with the Jod audible, cf. Hosea 7:12; 1 Chronicles 12:2, and under Genesis 8:17; the softened form הישׁיר does not occur, we find only הישׁיר or הושׁיר.
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