Revelation 16:12
And the sixth angel poured out his vial on the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBIBonarCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerNewellParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(12) And the sixth . . .—Better, The sixth (angel) poured out his vial on the great river Euphrates; and its water was dried that the way of the kings who are from the rising of the sun might be prepared. The symbolical meaning of the Euphrates has been touched upon before. (See Notes on Revelation 9:14.) In the great age-long struggle between the kingdoms of Christ and the world the Euphrates represents the great separating boundary between the two kingdoms, as the literal Euphrates formed the barrier between Israel and the hostile northern and eastern kingdoms. It is the great impediment to war. It is true that there is a great interposed boundary of public opinion, which restrains evil from breaking forth in its ruder and more violent forms. Men may be hostile to spiritual religion, yet they scarcely like to shock public sentiment, or to incur the charge of depraving public morals; but there may come a time, after false principles have been taught, corrupt manners tolerated, and the light of better things darkened, when the public sentiment loses all sense of shame, and the decorums of life, which have acted as a breakwater against the tide of outrageous evil, are swept away: then is the Euphrates dried, and then may the hostile powers of evil, unrestrained by any considerations, unchecked by the popular conscience, cross boldly over and invade the whole sacred soil of human life. There have been times like this when shameless sin has walked forth, secure of public favour, to desecrate every sanctuary of purity and faith—when the most barbarous manners and the most unscrupulous violations of public faith and morals have been not only tolerated, but applauded. The “kings of the east” (or of the sun-rising) represent the forces of rude and open evil which have been long restrained. As the four barbarian and tyrant kings (Genesis 14:1-24) from the East invaded the land of promise in Abraham’s days, so the leaders of open and violent hate of right, purity, and Christ, have the way of their advance prepared. But certain agencies go forth to bring about this uprising of rude revolt against every sanctity of life.

Revelation 16:12-14. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates — Affected also by the sixth trumpet; and the water thereof was dried up — And of all the rivers that flowed into it. The Turkish empire seems to be here intended, lying chiefly on this side the Euphrates. The Romish and Mohammedan affairs ran nearly parallel to each other for several ages. In the seventh age rose Mohammed himself, and a little before him Boniface III., with his universal bishopric. In the eleventh, both the Turks and Gregory VII. carried all before them. In the year 1300 Boniface appeared with his two swords at the newly-erected jubilee. In the self-same year arose the Ottoman Porte; yea, and on the same day. And here the vial poured out on the beast is immediately followed by that poured out on the Euphrates; that is, as appears, on the Mohammedan antichrist, as the former were on the Papacy. And as the sixth trumpet brought the Turks from beyond the Euphrates, from crossing which river they date their rise, this sixth vial dries up their waves, and exhausts their power, as the means and way to prepare and dispose the eastern kings and kingdoms to renounce their heathenish and Mohammedan errors, in order to their receiving and embracing Christianity. To nearly the same purpose Mr. Faber interprets the effects of this vial. “Under the sixth trumpet,” says he, “the four Turkish sultanies, the mystic waters of the Ottoman empire, issued from the river Euphrates: under the sixth vial the waters of the same Euphrates are to be dried up. We cannot, therefore, reasonably doubt that the symbolical Euphrates means, in both cases, the same power. Rivers typify nations; and when a particular river is specified, the nation immediately connected with that river is obviously intended. Such being the case, as the issuing forth of the four sultanies, those mystic waters of the Euphrates, which deluged the eastern empire, denotes the rise of the Turkish power, so the drying up of those waters must evidently denote its subversion.” As a prelude to this, if we advert to the present state of the Turkish power we shall be convinced that, for several years, it has gradually been upon the decline; and the approaching termination of the Ottoman empire is so manifest, that even those whose attention is solely directed to politics, are sufficiently aware that the time of its extinction cannot be far distant. Of late it has been preserved rather by the jealousy of the great European powers than by any physical strength of its own; and it doubtless will be preserved by the hand of Providence, until his own appointed season shall approach for preparing a way for the kings of the east, and for gathering together the kings of the Latin world to the battle of the great day of God Almighty — By the kings of the east are probably meant the kings or kingdoms lying east from the Euphrates, namely, in Persia, India, and perhaps also China, for the conversion of whom to the Christian faith, it seems the removal of the Mohammedan empire will prepare the way. But though this seems probable, there can be no certainty of it; nor can the matters here predicted be more than the subjects of conjecture. Whoever these kings or kingdoms may be, they appear, Bishop Newton thinks, to threaten the ruin and destruction of the kingdom of the beast; and, therefore, the agents and emissaries of Popery, (Revelation 16:13-14,) of the dragon, the representative of the devil, and of the beast, the representative of the antichristian empire, and of the false prophet, the representative of the antichristian church, (that is, as some think, the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits,) as disagreeable, as loquacious, as sordid, as impudent as frogs, are employed to oppose them, and stir up the princes and potentates of their communion to make their united and last effort in a religious war. These three unclean spirits, it is said, are the spirits of devils working miracles — Namely, pretended miracles, to impose upon the weak and credulous; which go forth to the kings of the earth — Της οικουμενης ολης, of the whole Roman world, or empire, as the expression frequently means; to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. That is, they use all their evil arts and wicked policy to excite the princes and great men of the world to unite more firmly against all who aid and abet the cause of truth and righteousness, of God and religion.16:12-16 This probably shows the destruction of the Turkish power, and of idolatry, and that a way will be made for the return of the Jews. Or, take it for Rome, as mystical Babylon, the name of Babylon being put for Rome, which was meant, but was not then to be directly named. When Rome is destroyed, her river and merchandise must suffer with her. And perhaps a way will be opened for the eastern nations to come into the church of Christ. The great dragon will collect all his forces, to make one desperate struggle before all be lost. God warns of this great trial, to engage his people to prepare for it. These will be times of great temptation; therefore Christ, by his apostle, calls on his professed servants to expect his sudden coming, and to watch that they might not be put to shame, as apostates or hypocrites. However Christians differ, as to their views of the times and seasons of events yet to be brought to pass, on this one point all are agreed, Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, will suddenly come again to judge the world. To those living near to Christ, it is an object of joyful hope and expectation, and delay is not desired by them.And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates - On the situation of that river, and the symbolical meaning of this language, see the notes on Revelation 9:14-21. The reference there was supposed to be to the Turkish power, and the analogy of interpretation would seem to require that it should be so understood here. There is every reason, therefore, to suppose that this passage has reference to something in the future history of the Turkish dominions, and to some bearing of the events which are to occur in that history on the ultimate downfall of the anti-Christian power referred to by the "beast."

And the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared - That is, as the effect of pouring out the vial. There is an allusion here, undoubtedly, to the dividing of the waters of the Red Sea, so that the children of Israel might pass. See Exodus 14:21-22. Compare the notes on Isaiah 11:15. In this description the Euphrates is represented as a barrier to prevent the passage of "the kings of the East," on their way to the West for some purpose not yet specified; that is, applying the symbol of the Euphrates as being the seat of the Turkish power, the meaning is, that "that power" is such a hindrance, and that, in some way that hindrance is to be removed as if the waters of an unbridged and unfordable river were dried up so as to afford a safe and easy passage through. Still there are several inquiries as to the application of this, which is not easy, and, as it refers to what is still future, it may be impossible to answer. The language requires us to put upon it the following interpretation:

(a) The persons here referred to as "kings of the East," were ready to make a movement toward the West, over the Euphrates, and would do this if this obstruction were not in their way. Who these "kings of the East" are is not said, and perhaps cannot be conjectured. The natural interpretation is, that they are the kings that reign in the East, or that preside over the countries of the eastern hemisphere. "Why" there was a proposed movement to the West is not said. It might have been for conquest, or it might have been that they were to bring their tribute to the spiritual Jerusalem, in accordance with what is so often said in the prophets, that under the gospel kings and princes would consecrate themselves and their wealth to God. See Psalm 72:10-11; "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him." So also Isaiah 60:4-6, Isaiah 60:9,Isaiah 60:11; "Thy sons shall come from far - The forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee - All they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense - The isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them - Thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought." All that is fairly implied in the language used here is, that the kings of the East would be converted to the true religion, or that they were, at the time referred to, in a state of readiness to be converted, if there were no hindrance or obstruction.

(b) There was some hindrance or obstruction to their conversion; that is, as explained, from the Turkish power: in other words, they would be converted to the true faith if it were not for the influence of that power.

(c) The destruction of that power, represented by the drying up of the Euphrates, would remove that obstruction, and the way would thus be "prepared" for their conversion to the true religion. We should most naturally, therefore, look, in the fulfillment of this, for some such decay of the Turkish power as would be followed by the conversion of the rulers of the East to the gospel.

12. angel—so Coptic and Andreas. A, B, C, Vulgate, and Syriac omit.

kings of the east—Greek, "the kings who are from the rising of the sun." Reference to the Euphrates similarly occurs in the sixth trumpet. The drying up of the Euphrates, I think, is to be taken figuratively, as Babylon itself, which is situated on it, is undoubtedly so, Re 17:5. The waters of the Euphrates (compare Isa 8:7, 8) are spiritual Babylon's, that is, the apostate Church's (of which Rome is the chief, though not exclusive representative) spiritual and temporal powers. The drying up of the waters of Babylon expresses the same thing as the ten kings stripping, eating, and burning the whore. The phrase, "way may be prepared for," is that applied to the Lord's coming (Isa 40:3; Mt 3:3; Lu 1:76). He shall come from the East (Mt 24:27; Eze 43:2, "the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the East"): not alone, for His elect transfigured saints of Israel and the Gentiles shall accompany Him, who are "kings and priests unto God" (Re 1:6). As the Antichristian ten kings accompany the beast, so the saints accompany as kings the King of kings to the last decisive conflict. De Burgh and others take it of the Jews, who also were designed to be a kingdom of priests to God on earth. They shall, doubtless, become priest-kings in the flesh to the nations in the flesh at His coming. Abraham from the East (if Isa 41:2, 8, 9, refers to him, and not Cyrus) conquering the Chaldean kings is a type of Israel's victorious restoration to the priest-kingdom. Israel's exodus after the last Egyptian plagues typifies Israel's restoration after the spiritual Babylon, the apostate Church, has been smitten. Israel's promotion to the priest-kingdom after Pharaoh's downfall, and at the Lord's descent at Sinai to establish the theocracy, typifies the restored kingdom of Israel at the Lord's more glorious descent, when Antichrist shall be destroyed utterly. Thus, besides the transfigured saints, Israel secondarily may be meant by "the kings from the East" who shall accompany the "King of kings" returning "from the way of the East" to reign over His ancient people. As to the drying up again of the waters opposing His people's assuming the kingdom, compare Isa 10:26; 11:11, 15; Zec 10:9-11. The name Israel (Ge 32:28) implies a prince with God. Compare Mic 4:8 as to the return of the kingdom to Jerusalem. Durham, several centuries ago, interpreted the drying up of the Euphrates to mean the wasting away of the Turkish power, which has heretofore held Palestine, and so the way being prepared for Israel's restoration. But as Babylon refers to the apostate Church, not to Mohammedanism, the drying up of the Euphrates (answering to Cyrus' overthrow of literal Babylon by marching into it through the dry channel of the Euphrates) must answer to the draining off of the apostate Church's resources, the Roman and Greek corrupt Church having been heretofore one of the greatest barriers by its idolatries and persecutions in the way of Israel's restoration and conversion. The kings of the earth who are earthly (Re 16:14), stand in contrast to the kings from the East who are heavenly.

Upon the great river Euphrates; upon the Turkish empire: See Poole on "Revelation 9:14".

And the water thereof was dried up; their force, power, and strength shall be destroyed.

That the way of the kings of the east might be prepared; that a way may be prepared for the conversion of the Jews. This I find to be the sense of the most learned and judicious interpreters of this mysterious book, amongst whom I count Mr. Mede, Dr. More, Pareus, Mr. Durham; &c. But it will be reasonable to say something further to show the probability of this sense. Euphrates was a great river that ran by Babylon, the depth of it was (as historians tell us) about two men’s height. When Cyrus and Darius came to conquer Babylon, they diverted this river, Jeremiah 51:32,36. Here is an allusion to that history. The Turks first took up their habitation about this great river, as was said in our notes on Revelation 9:14, where the providence of God restrained them for many years, till the sixth trumpet sounded. The Jews, who are observed to be in greatest numbers in the Eastern countries, having had a promise, Exodus 19:6, to be a kingdom of priests, may well be called here the kings of the east. Two things hinder their embracing the Christian faith:

1. The image worship and idolatry of the papists.

2. The power of the Turks, with the success they have had against Christians.

But both these being taken away, by the fall of Babylon and the ruin of the Turks, the way seems to be prepared for the Jews’ receiving of the Christian faith. In a case where nothing can be certainly determined, this seemeth a very probable opinion. To which it contributes a little, that it is probable, that the sixth vial answereth the sixth trumpet; and that as they were the people first let loose by Euphrates, where they were bound, so they are the people to be destroyed under the notion of drying up the waters of Euphrates: and this seemeth to be a work of providence brought forth after the ruin of Rome, and the total breaking of the power and dominion of the papacy. Thus we have foretold the breaking both of pope and Turk, and all their upholders; but we must not imagine them so ruined, but that parties of both should be left in the world, which combining, made up the army to fight the devil’s last battle in Armageddon, of which we shall read, Revelation 16:16. And the sixth angel poured his vial on the great river Euphrates,.... Which is not to be understood literally of the river Euphrates, which ran through Mesopotamia and Chaldea, and by the walls of Babylon; and of the drying of it up to make way for the Jews in the eastern parts of the world, to pass into their own land, and possess it; when a like miracle will be wrought for them as was when they came out of Egypt, by dividing the Red sea for them; and as when they entered into Canaan's land, by laying the waters of Jordan on heaps, so that they passed over as on dry land; in favour of which sense the passage in Isaiah 11:15 is thought to be, which the Targum interprets of God's smiting the river Euphrates; though the river Nile in Egypt seems rather to be meant: but it does not appear that there is any number of Jews beyond the river Euphrates; the far greater number of them is in the western and northern parts of the world; so that there will be no need for the drying up of this river for their passage into their own land; nor, if there were any in those parts, can any reason be given why they should be called the kings of the east, who, wherever they are, are a poor contemptible people, and have never had any ensigns of royalty among them for many hundreds of years; nor can that river be thought much to hinder, were all other impediments out of the way, nor the drying of it up much facilitate their passage to Judea, and much less affect their conversion: besides, this vial, as the rest, is a plague on antichrist, in some branch or other, or on some part or other, of the antichristian state; which, if not designed here, is nowhere in the account of this vial, and therefore this must be understood mystically; there is no doubt an allusion to the draining of this river at the taking of Babylon by Cyrus, according as was predicted in prophecy, Isaiah 44:27 who, making sluices and drains, turned the river another way, and marched through it with his army, and surprised and took the city at once, while Belshazzar and his nobles were indulging themselves in rioting and drunkenness, as Daniel relates, Daniel 5:1. Now some, because that Babylon was situated upon the river Euphrates, and Rome, or the Romish antichrist, is mystical Babylon, think that is here designed, and is the object of this vial; and that the drying up of this river designs the withdrawing of nations and kingdoms, signified by waters, Revelation 17:15 from its jurisdiction and power, which will bring on its ruin; and also the stoppage of dues and tithes, annates, Peter's pence, and of all its traffic in indulgences, pardons, &c. whereby it will be greatly impoverished, and brought to nothing: but it should be observed, that the fifth vial affects Rome, the seat of the beast; and as for the beast himself, he will not be destroyed till the battle of Armageddon; and mystical Babylon, or the antichristian state, in the whole compass of it, will not be destroyed until the pouring out of the seventh vial; wherefore rather the eastern antichrist, the Turks are meant, in whose dominions this river is; for as the Assyrian monarch is signified by the waters of this river, when he was in his glory, and had his seat at Babylon, by which this river ran, Isaiah 8:7 so may the Turks, who inhabit by this river, be intended by it; and the rather, as this sense exactly corresponds with the sixth trumpet; for as the sounding of that trumpet looses the four angels bound in the great river Euphrates, which founded the Turkish empire, as we have seen; so the pouring out of this sixth vial affects the same empire, and brings it to ruin. Mr. Daubuz is of opinion that this plague refers to the depopulation and destruction of the Grecian empire, and the bringing of the Turks into Europe, who have greatly distressed and tormented the corrupted Christians or Papists.

And the water thereof was dried up; the Ottoman empire will be extinct, just as the destruction of the Babylonish monarchy is expressed by the drying up of its sea, Jeremiah 51:36 so the destruction of the Turkish empire is signified by the drying up of the water of this river, which is in the heart of it: and this is the passing away of the second woe, Revelation 11:14

that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared; which some understand of Christians in general, who are made kings and priests unto God, and of Christian kings in particular, whose way will be prepared, by the declining state of antichrist, to express their hatred to the whore of Rome, and burn her flesh with fire; but the Romish antichrist is not here intended: others think, as before observed, that the Jews are designed; that the Jews will be converted in the last days seems manifest from Hosea 3:5 and other places; and that they will return to their own land is suggested in abundance of prophecies, particularly in Ezekiel 37:21 Amos 9:14 and it must be allowed that the eastern, as well as the western antichrist, is a stumbling to them; and especially the advantage which the Turks have gained over the powers that go under the Christian name, and their possession of their land is an hinderance to their return to it; so that the destruction of the Turkish empire will undoubtedly make way for their conversion, and restoration to their own land; but then this will be equally advantageous to the Jews in the west as to those in the east, if there be any numbers of them there, which does not appear, and therefore there seems no reason why they should be pointed at, and be called the kings of the east: rather therefore to me it seems, that, through the fall of the Ottoman empire, way will be made for the kings and princes of the east, literally understood, to have and embrace the Gospel of Christ; for, the Turks being destroyed, the Mahometan religion will decline, the Gospel will be carried into the eastern parts of the world, into those vast kingdoms and countries which lie in those parts, when they will become the kingdoms of our Lord, and the kings and princes of them will come to the brightness of Zion's rising; so that the ruin of this monarchy will pave the way for the spread of Christ's kingdom from sea to sea, and front the river, the river Euphrates, to the ends of the earth; and this also will prepare the way, and lead on for all the saints, who are kings, and shall reign with Christ a thousand years, who is said to come from the east, Revelation 7:2 or from the rising of the sun, as these are said to do, as the words may be rendered, to possess the kingdom under the whole heaven: Philo the Jew (z) has some expressions illustrating the literal sense of this, where he speaks of a Roman army on the banks of Euphrates, which kept the passage of "the eastern kings".

(z) De Legat. ad Caium, p. 1022.

{9} And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river {10} Euphrates; and {11} the water thereof was dried up, {12} that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

(9) The story of the sixth angel, divided into his act, and the event of it. The act is, that the angel cast out of his mouth the plague of a most glowing heat, in which even the greatest floods, and which most were accustomed to swell and overflow (as Euphrates) were dried up, by the counsel of God in this verse. The event is, that the madness with which the wicked are enraged that they may scorn the judgments of God, and abuse them furiously to serve their own turn, and to the executing of their own wicked outrage.

(10) The bound of the spiritual Babylon, and to the fortresses of the same Re 9:14.

(11) So the Church of the ungodly, and kingdom of the beast is said to be left naked, all the defences of it in which they put their trust, being taken away from it.

(12) That is, that even they who dwell further off, may with more convenience make haste to the sacrifice, which the Lord has appointed.

Revelation 16:12-16. The sixth vial is poured upon the Euphrates, and causes it to dry up, in order that the kings of the East might pass through. Three unclean spirits, which in the form of frogs issue from the mouths of the dragon, and the two beasts serving the dragon, gather the inhabitants of the earth at Armagedon.

τὸν ποταμὸν τὸν μέγαν τὸν Εὐφράτην. In the sense of Revelation 9:14 the starting-point is indicated, in a schematic way, for the kings coming from the East, for whom God himself makes the way by drying up the Euphrates. The correct estimate of this point is gained only by considering it in connection with the correct conception of “the kings” coming from “the East.” The problem in general is so to understand all the particular features of the representation (Revelation 16:12-16), especially also the significant local designation (Revelation 16:16), that this vial-vision correspond with the essential meaning of the other vials. Accordingly, as a whole, nothing else can be represented than a revelation of judgment pertaining to the inhabitants of the earth, according to the analogy of the plagues proceeding from the other vials. By a comparison with Revelation 9:14 sqq., the suggestion is readily made, that the Eastern kings themselves may be regarded the executors of the plagues. So Ewald, who refers to the Parthian allies with whom the returning Nero[3715] would go up against Rome.[3716] But the kings of the East belong rather to the ΒΑΣΙΛΕῖς Τῆς ΟἸΚΟΥΜΈΝΗς ὍΛΗς (Revelation 16:14), and appear as leaders of the inhabitants of the whole earth, and, accordingly, as instruments of the dragon and the beast (cf. Revelation 16:13), who go up to war, not against Babylon, but rather against believers.[3717] The kings of the East are identical with the ten kings (Revelation 17:12 sqq.) who give their power to the beast.[3718] Just as in Revelation 11:7 the beast from the abyss was mentioned proleptically, which nevertheless does not enter definitely into the development before ch. 13, so here a statement is made concerning definite kings (ΤῶΝ ΒΑΣ. ΤῶΝ ἈΠῸ ἈΝ., Κ.Τ.Λ.), whose more specific relation to the beast[3719] does not become clear until from Revelation 17:12 sqq., but whose fate is indicated first only in this passage (Revelation 16:16), yet is not expressly stated until the actual end.[3720] For the plague of the sixth vial does not lie in the fact that those kings come,—this is rather a proof of the apparently victorious defiance of the secular power,—but that they assemble at Armagedon; i.e., a place where they shall be brought to naught with their insolent power.[3721] Bengel[3722] has already correctly acknowledged this by saying very appropriately, even though he very preposterously thinks of the inroads of the Turks: “It is these very kings who blindly incur the plagues.” While in Revelation 16:12 the coming of the kings was so stated, that thereby the purpose of God leading those enemies to destructive judgment might be marked;[3723] on the other hand, in Revelation 16:13 sq., it is emphasized as to how these Eastern and all kings of the earth in general are gathered together by the dragon to the conflict against believers. [See Note LXXIX., p. 425.] Immediately from the mouth of the dragon himself (ἘΚ Τ. ΣΤΟΜ.),[3724] and mediately from the dragon, from the mouths of the two beasts equipped by the same for the conflict against believers,[3725] three unclean spirits are sent forth, of those which serve the dragon, in order to bring together the kings of the earth.

ἈΚΆΘΑΡΤΑ. This formal attribute also[3726] designates the demoniacal nature of these spirits.[3727]

ὡς βάτραχοι. This addition is not to be referred to the mere ἀκάθαρτα, but designates, in the sense of the var. ὅμοια βατράχοις, the form in which those spirits appear. It is possible that this form of illustration depends upon an allusion to Exodus 8:1 sqq.,[3728] although the batrachian form of the spirits bears no reference whatever to any peculiar pestilential nature of frogs, as the spirits are to be regarded only as such as, according to the wish of the dragon and of the two beasts, by their deceptive persuasion, move the kings to the expedition against Babylon. But what or who be meant by these three spirits, is a question originating from the same misunderstanding as that which, e.g., attempts in Revelation 9:14 sqq. to find a supposed fulfilment of prophecy within the sphere of ecclesiastical or secular-historical facts. To the false question, necessarily, the most arbitrary answers are given. The three spirits are, according to Grot.: “Divination by inspection of entrails, by the flight of birds, and the sibylline books, in which Maxentius trusted” (for Revelation 16:12-16 refer, according to Grot., Hammond, etc., to the rout of Maxentius by Constantine); according to Vitr., who explains the drying-up of the Euphrates by the circumstance that the kingdom of France, drained by its kings, could send no more money to the Pope, the spirits are to be understood as referring to the Jesuits; according to Calov.: “The Jesuits, Capuchins, and Calvinists;” according to others,[3729] “The Jesuits, Macchiavellians, and Spinozists.” Even Luther explains: “The frogs are the sophists, like Faber, Eck, Emser, etc., who banter much against the gospel, and yet effect nothing, and remain frogs.” But to the contemplation of the seer, the three spirits have the same reality as the dragon and his two beasts, from whose mouths the spirits actually proceeded.[3730]

εἱσὶ γὰρ πνεύματα δαιμονίων ποιοῦντα σημεῖα. The parenthesis which designates the unclean spirits expressly as spirits of demons explains their efficacy by the remembrance that they are spirits of demons which could perform miraculous signs. Just as the dwellers upon the earth are brought by the false prophet to the adoration of the beast,[3731] not without the working of miracles, so these three spirits also use their miraculous signs as a means whereby they attempt to bring together the kings of the earth.

ἃ ἐκπορεύεται ἐπι τ. βασιλ. τῆς οἰκουμ. ὅλης, συναγαγεῖν αὐτοὺς, κ.τ.λ. As the words ἃ ἐκπορ. referring back to what precedes the parenthesis, relatively carry still further the clause κ. εἷδον ἐκ τ. στομ., κ.τ.λ., they supply in this way the partic. ἐκπορεύομενα not written in Revelation 16:13.

ἐπὶ τοὺς βασιλ. Cf. Revelation 14:6; Matthew 3:7.[3732] The kings of the whole earth, the rulers of all the inhabitants of the earth worshipping the beast,[3733] are those to whom the spirits here take their course. They be take themselves to the kings, “to gather them together” (συναγαγεῖν, inf., as Revelation 12:17) “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” That this day is often not understood[3734] in its eschatological definitiveness, i.e.,[3735] as the future day of final judgment,[3736] is owing to the fact that the relation of the sixth (and seventh) vial to the actual end[3737] is not properly appreciated. As by the mention of definite kings, Revelation 16:12 was comprehended already in the development of the proper final catastrophe, so Revelation 16:14 also, by the reference to the conflict against the saints to be undertaken by all the kings of the world combined on the day of final judgment, alludes to a point which does not actually occur until in the last time of Revelation 19:19.[3738] But it is just this which corresponds with the character of the penultimate plagues among those that are “last,”[3739] that here the demoniacal spirits come forth, who unite those kings together with their hosts of people in an attack to be completed at the actual end, which will then result, on that great day, by the judgment of Almighty God (Τ. ΘΕΟῦ Τ. ΠΑΝΤ.),[3740] in the complete ruin of the enemies.[3741] But as thus reference is made from the sphere of the vials to the actual end, the artistic plan of the Apoc. again stands forth, involving with it that the nearer the proper final judgment with its distinct acts occurs, the more definitely appears the connection between it and its various forms of preparations, which have come into view in series of visions that, although they are distinct, yet interpenetrate one another.

In this also the feeling is expressed, that the day of judgment is impending so closely, that the comfort which is introduced with such emphasis in Revelation 16:15 is occasioned by the definite allusion to the same in Revelation 16:14.[3742]

ἹΔΟῪ ἜΡΧΟΜΑΙ, Κ.Τ.Λ. The prophet speaks immediately as in the name of the Lord himself.[3743] With formal incorrectness, Hengstenberg says that Christ himself actually speaks.

Ώς ΚΛΈΠΤΗς, cf. Revelation 3:3. On any day, at any hour, therefore, the Lord may come, and thus that great day of the Lord open. Upon this is based the admonition succeeding without express connection, which, first of all by proffering the blessed reward,[3744] encourages to watchfulness,[3745] and to the faithful keeping, by believers, of their garments,[3746] but then, also, on the other hand, does not refrain from threatening disgrace and punishment against the faithless.[3747] After the parenetic interlude, there follows in Revelation 16:16 the conclusion belonging to Revelation 16:14 : ΚΑῚ ΣΥΝΉΓΑΓΕΝ ΑὐΤΟΎς. As the subject we can regard neither the sixth-vial angel,[3748] nor God,[3749] nor the dragon,[3750] but only the ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΑ ΤΡΊΑ ἈΚΑΘ. (Revelation 16:13),[3751] since the ΣΥΝΉΓΑΓΕΝ, with the corresponding expression, designates that which was named in Revelation 16:14, as the purpose of those spirits.[3752] The peculiar point of the entire section (Revelation 16:12-16) lies in the significant naming of the place of assembling of the antichristian kings of the world: In Hebrew the place is called ἉΡΜΑΓΕΔΏΝ. The name is to be explained either etymologically, i.e., from the meaning of the Hebrew words contained therein, or historically, i.e., so that the Hebrew proper name, by its reference to some fact of the O. T. history, appears characteristically for the present case, which is accordingly transferred to that Armagedon. The etymological explanation is attempted by many of the older writers without a proper foundation in a linguistic respect.[3753] The most admissible is the interpretation of Drusius, who understands the words חרמה “destruction,” and נדהון “army,” so that the entire name means “the slaughter of their army.” This is more correct in a linguistic respect, and as a matter of fact, than when Rinck makes of it a compound of אַרמון (which he regards as meaning “castle”) and נָדֵר “fortress,” and thus finds the capital designated; just as Grot., who in other respects follows, in etymological explanation, the footsteps of Drusius, solves it as “Mons Janiculus.” But if John had had in mind the obscure verbal interpretation of the name Arm., he would scarcely have refrained from giving the Greek explanation to his readers in Asia Minor;[3754] on which account we are the rather directed to the historical interpretation by a significant prototype. This has been attempted in various ways by Tichon., Ribera, Coccejus, Vitr., Bengel, Eichhorn, Ewald, Züllig, Hofm., Hengstenb., Ebrard, Bleek, Volkm.,[3755] in combination with the etymological interpretation.[3756] The place at which, in the times of the judges, the Canaanite kings were slaughtered by the Israelites,[3757] and where King Josiah was defeated by the Egyptians,[3758] the LXX. call Μαγεδώ (Μαγεδδὠ). The allusion to one of the two events would be liable to no doubt whatever, if John had not named the locality meant by him as Ἀρμαγεδών (חַר מִגִדּו), i.e., Mount Megiddo, while the more express determinations in the O. T. read either ἐν τῷ πεδιώ Μαγ.[3759] or ἐπὶ ὕδατι Μαγ.[3760] But this additional circumstance, which also admits at least of a probable explanation,[3761] can in no way lead us astray as to the chief reference of the name Megiddo in the O. T. Yet the defeat of the people of God, and of his King Josiah, cannot be the prototype for this passage,[3762] as the subject here has respect to a defeat of antichristian enemies;[3763] but only the victory of Israel,[3764] as it is described in Jdg 5:19, won by God’s miraculous aid over the βασιλεῖς Χαναάν at Megiddo. By designating the place, therefore, where the antichristian kings assemble for battle against Christ and his Church, by that name, it is indicated that the fate of the antichristian kings shall be the same as that of the Canaanites formerly at Megiddo. With this thought, the designation Mount Megiddo appears also to correspond. For as the subject has to do not with an actual, but only with an ideal, geographical specification, in the designation Mount Meg., there can lie an intimation of the immovableness and victory of the Church of God.[3765] [See Note LXXX., p. 425.] This ideal character of the geographical designation prevents, however, the explanation that Armagedon is Rome,[3766] or the mountains of Judah, where the enemies are to gather until they are annihilated in the Valley of Jehoshaphat.[3767] Without any support whatever in the text is the view of Ew. ii., that since the numerical value of ארמנדון is the same as that of רומה חגדולח (viz., 304), by hieroglyphic art “Rome the great” is expressly designated. Concerning the number of a name,[3768] nothing whatever is said in this passage.[3769]

[3715] Cf. Revelation 13:3.

[3716] “In order to sustain Nero, attending antichrist, they come to destroy the city.” Cf. also Eichh., Heinr., Volkm., Hilgenf.; Ebrard also belongs here, in so far as he identifies the kings of the East with the four angels (Revelation 9:15), and regards their expedition directed first, at least, against Babylon, and then, of course, also against believers.

[3717] Cf. Revelation 12:17, Revelation 13:7, Revelation 17:12 sqq., Revelation 19:19.

[3718] De Wette.

[3719] Cf. Revelation 16:13.

[3720] Cf. Revelation 16:12-16. To facilitate the invasion of the empire (Revelation 17:12; Revelation 17:16) by the Parthians (Revelation 9:14 f.) under Nero redivivus (cf. Revelation 19:19), as in 4 Esd. 13:43–47 to let the ten tribes return in safety from captivity, the Euphrates is to be dried up in the latter days, like the Jordan before Joshua or the Euphrates itself when Cyrus captured Babylon (Herod, i. 191).The Sixth Vial, Revelation 16:12-1612. Euphrates] Revelation 9:14 sqq. Where Babylon confessedly stands for Rome, we should naturally understand the Euphrates to be used also in a symbolical sense, possibly as meaning the Tiber. But the Tiber is not a very “great river:” and the mention of “the kings of the east” (lit., the kings from the rising of the sun) as needing to pass the Euphrates seems to mark it as meant literally.

the water thereof was dried up] Referring to the way that the ancient Babylon was actually captured by Cyrus, by drawing off the water of the Euphrates into a reservoir, so as to make its bed passable for a few hours. Though not mentioned in Daniel 5, nor by Cyrus in his lately discovered account of the capture, there seems no doubt that this incident is historical: the details given in Hdt. I. 191 agree exactly with those of the predictions in Isaiah 44:27; Isaiah 45:3; Jeremiah 50:38; Jeremiah 50:44; Jeremiah 51:30-32; Jeremiah 51:36.

that the way &c.] Compare the prophecies of Cyrus’ advance in Isaiah 41:2; Isaiah 41:25. He is there spoken of as advancing on Babylon “from the East:” much more would any invader of Rome or the Roman Empire come from the East, if he had to cross the literal Euphrates.

the kings of the east] Rather, from the east. In Revelation 17:16 we hear of the kings of the earth combining to attack Babylon, and the Euphrates may be dried up, only that the kings from the east may be able to advance to bear their part in the assault. But why do they specially need their “way to be prepared”? The Euphrates is a far less impassable frontier than the Alps or the Mediterranean: it was in fact in St John’s day the weak side of the empire. And probably in this fact we may see the key to the prophecy. In Daniel 8:8; Daniel 11:4 we have the division of Alexander’s empire described as “toward the four winds of heaven:” in Revelation 11:5-6 the Egyptian and Asiatic kingdoms are designated as “the kings of the south and of the north.” It is implied therefore that the kings of Macedon are kings of the West: and it remains that the other great and permanent kingdom (of smaller ephemeral ones there were more than four) which arose from the dissolution of Alexander’s shall be “the kings of the east.” Now this designation obliges us to think of the Parthians, the longest-lived of all the Alexandrine kingdoms, and the only one surviving in St John’s day. This differed from the others, in respect that its royal dynasty was native, not Macedonian, but it was not the less a portion of Alexander’s empire, inheriting his traditions. (The veneer of Greek culture existing among the Arsacidae is well illustrated by the grim story of the performance of the Bacchae at the time of the death of Crassus: it is instructive also to look at the series of coins engraved in Smith’s Dictionary s.v. Arsacidae, where we see Hellenic types gradually giving way to Assyrian.) In Enoch liv. 9 we hear of “the chiefs of the east among the Parthians and Medes:” that passage throws no real light on this, except as shewing who “the kings of the east” were understood to be, by a person familiar with the same ideas as St John. Now in St John’s time (whether the earlier or later date be assigned to the vision) there were apprehensions of a Parthian invasion of the empire on behalf of a pseudo-Nero (Tac. Hist. I. ii. 3), i.e. a shadow of Antichrist: and it is likely that St John’s prophecy is expressed (as so many O. T. prophecies are) in terms of the present political situation. But it had no immediate fulfilment: the danger from Parthia under Domitian passed off, and soon afterwards its power was broken for ever by Trajan. But its place was taken in time by the Sassanian kingdom of Persia, which remained for three centuries the most formidable enemy of Rome. Then, as Parthia had been broken by Trajan and fell before Persia, so Persia, broken by Heraclius, fell before the Arabs, who endangered the existence, and actually appropriated great part, of the Eastern Empire. To them succeeded the Turks, before whom it fell.

Now while no event in this series can be called a definite or precise fulfilment of St John’s prophecy, we may hold that this habitual relation of “the kings of the east” to the Roman empire supplies a number of typical or partial fulfilments. A pseudo-Nero, made emperor by a Parthian conquest of Rome, and ruling (as might be expected) in Nero’s spirit, would have been almost a real Antichrist: and for such a revelation of Antichrist St John’s immediate readers were meant to be prepared. Again, in the conquests and persecutions of Sapor and Chosroes, of Omar, Mohammed, and Suleiman, it was intended that the Christians of the empire should see the approaches and threatenings of the kingdom of Antichrist. But the empire—whether Roman, Byzantine, or Austrian—continued to “withhold, that he may be revealed in his season”; and its modern representatives will continue to do so “until it be taken out of the way: and then shall that Wicked be revealed.”

It may be observed that Daniel 11:40 sqq. seems to imply that the political situation in the East in the days of Antichrist will be not unlike that in the days of Antiochus: for while it is certain that the early part of that chapter applies to the latter, it is hard to regard the passage beginning at Daniel 11:36 as adequately fulfilled in him. Humanly speaking, it does not seem that the changes now going on in the east are as capable of producing a conquering empire, as they are of producing an antichristian fanaticism: but qui vivra verra.Revelation 16:12. Ἐπὶ) We render ἐπὶ upon, rather than in, because on account of the drying up of the waters no[180] mixture is here made, as in the case of the sea and the rivers, where the preposition εἰς was used. Marck.—ἐξήρανε, dried up) Thus Alex. Lat. It coheres with ἐξέχεε, and with συνήγαγεν, Revelation 16:16. Most editions read, ἐξηράνθη, either from the rhythm ἑτοιμασθῆ, or from habit.[181] For ἐξηράνθη often occurs in the New Testament, and here also it has been readily caught at by the copyists.—αὐτοῦ, of it) and so of those rivers also, which flow into the Euphrates. The Turks at the present day live near that river. Or if Mahometanism, as some think, is shortly about to receive some injury, it may however possibly happen, that the sixth angel will pour out his vial somewhat later.

[180] “Nulla” seems to be required by the sense here, in Bengel’s Latin.—E.

[181] The margin of the larger Edition assigns no value to the reading ἐξήρανε; Edit. 2nd gives it a moderate value; the Vers. Germ., agreeing with the Gnomon, a sure value.—E. B.

Vulg. has “siccavit aquam (other MSS. aqua) ejus.” But Lachm. and Tisch., with the greatest number of oldest authorities, read ἐξηράνθη.—E.Verse 12. - And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river:Euphrates. Omit "angel" (see on previous verses). (On the Euphrates, see on Revelation 9:14.) This river also figures in the sixth trumpet vision, and possesses the same signification in both places. It is the natural direction from which enemies arise; and it derives this signification from the fact that the enemies of the Jews often came from that direction. The next sentence leaves no doubt that this is the meaning, and supports the view taken of Revelation 9:14. It is to be noticed that, though the vial is poured out upon the Euphrates, it is not with the purpose of inflicting injury on the river, but upon the men who are thus laid open to the attacks of their enemies. And the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. The Revised Version gives the sense more plainly, That the way might be made ready for the kings that [come] from the sunrising. The meaning is that a barrier that wards off hostile hosts is removed. The "kings of the cast" represent God's judgments; those who are laid open to attack are the adherents of the beast. The imagery may be derived:

(1) From the fact (as explained in Revelation 9:14, which see) that the enemies of the Jews generally came from beyond the Euphrates. This accounts for the employment of this figure in Revelation 9, and may reasonably be considered to contain the same allusion here. In this case the minor details do not agree; the idea is merely to convey the central fact of an advance of enemies.

(2) From the historical fact of the taking of Babylon by Cyrus, by means of a diversion of the waters of the Euphrates - a circumstance referred to in Jeremiah 51:31, 32, etc.; Isaiah 13; Isaiah 44:27, 28. In this case the details are more in accordance with the general symbolism of the Apocalypse. Babylon would signify the kingdom of the beast (as in ver. 19). The kings of the east would still represent God's judgments, which now assail the kingdom of Satan. Satan attempts to meet this assault by the three spirits, which gather kings from the whole world (ver. 14) to battle against the Almighty. The "kings of the east" are certainly the forces ranged on the side of God. Many writers see an allusion to Christ and the saints. The sun is a frequent figure of Christ in Scripture (cf. Malachi 4:4; Zechariah 3:8 and Zechariah 6:12, LXX.; Luke 1:78; also Revelation 7:2; Revelation 12:1; Revelation 22:16). "The kings of the east" may thus be identified with the armies of Revelation 19:11-16. Euphrates

See on Revelation 9:14.

Of the east (ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνατολῶν ἡλίου)

Lit., as Rev., from the sunrising. See on Matthew 2:2; and see on dayspring, Luke 1:78.

Revelation 16:12 Interlinear
Revelation 16:12 Parallel Texts

Revelation 16:12 NIV
Revelation 16:12 NLT
Revelation 16:12 ESV
Revelation 16:12 NASB
Revelation 16:12 KJV

Revelation 16:12 Bible Apps
Revelation 16:12 Parallel
Revelation 16:12 Biblia Paralela
Revelation 16:12 Chinese Bible
Revelation 16:12 French Bible
Revelation 16:12 German Bible

Bible Hub

Revelation 16:11
Top of Page
Top of Page