Revelation 18:11
And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buys their merchandise any more:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11-13) And the merchants of the earth . . .—Better, The merchants of the earth weep and mourn (not “shall weep;” the vividness of the description is intensified by the use of the present tense) over her; because their cargo no one buyeth any longer—the cargo of gold, &c. The list of the cargoes and merchandise is not without arrangement. The various goods are placed in groups. The treasures come first—gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls. The soft goods used for raiment are placed next—fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet; in the description of Dives, clothed in purple and fine linen (Byssus, the same word as here), we have a suggestive resemblance. Materials used in giving splendour to the furnishing of houses come next. Thyine wood, and every article (vessel, as in the English version, is hardly wide enough in meaning) of ivory, costly wood, brass, iron, and marble. The thyine wood was derived probably from a kind of citron-tree of African growth; the wood was sweet-scented, and was a favourite wood for doors, panels, and ceilings; its rich brown hue was often relieved by inlaid ivory. To articles used in furniture aromatics succeed. Cinnamon, amomum (this is omitted in the English version, but authority is in favour of its insertion), odours, ointments, and frankincense. Cinnamon, on its use, comp. Exodus 30:2-3; it was one of the perfumes employed to enhance the delight of the voluptuary (Proverbs 7:17). It is doubtful whether it is the same as our modern cinnamon. Amomum, a kind of sweet-scented shrub, yielding an ointment much used for the hair. Odours, employed in incense. Next come articles of food—wine, oil, fine meal, wheat, cattle, and sheep. Then come the equipages—horses and chariots. The chariot (rheda) was a vehicle much used in Rome by the wealthy classes. Lastly, the traffic in human beings closes the list. Slaves (literally, bodies, and souls of men. There is perhaps an allusion specially to those slaves who were attached to the chariots or litters used by the rich. The traffic in slaves (“persons of men”) is mentioned as part of the commerce of Tyre (Ezekiel 27:13). The number of slaves in Rome was enormous. “Souls of men.” The climax of wicked worldliness is reached in this last; it gives the finishing touch to the picture of society wholly engrossed in pleasure and indolence and selfishness, which lays every market under tribute to add to its luxuriousness, and sacrifices not only the happiness, but the lives and liberties of their fellow-creatures, to their own enjoyment. It has been said that the general description here does not suit Rome, as Rome never was, and never could be, a commercial centre; but the picture is designed to show the corrupt luxury and voluptuousness of society in great Babylon, not necessarily the accumulated merchandize of a great commercial city. The various wares are “for her use and consumption,” not for her to sell. All the avenues from every distant spot of the earth found their focus in Rome; her existence, her political supremacy, and her luxuriousness of living, created and sustained all the commercial activity here described; with her fall, the hope of their gains passed from the merchants of the earth. Compare the language of Gibbon:—“The most remote countries of the ancient world were ransacked to supply the pomp and delicacy of Rome. The forests of Scythia afforded some valuable furs; amber was brought from the shores of the Baltic and the Danube; and the barbarians were astonished at the price which they received for so useless a commodity. There was a considerable demand for Babylonian carpets and other manufactures of the East; but the most important and unpopular branch of foreign trade was carried on with Arabia and India. Every year, about the time of the summer solstice, a fleet of an hundred and twenty vessels sailed from Myos-hormos, a port of Egypt on the Red Sea. The coast of Malabar or the island of Ceylon was the usual term of their navigation, and it was in those markets that the merchants from the more remote countries of Asia expected their arrival. The return of the fleet was fixed to the months of December or January; and as soon as their rich cargo had been transported on the backs of camels, from the Red Sea to the Nile, and had descended that river as far as Alexandria, it was poured without delay into the capital of the Empire. The objects of Oriental traffic were splendid and trifling: silk, a pound of which was esteemed in value not inferior to a pound of gold; precious stones also, among which the pearl claimed the first rank after the diamond, and a variety of aromatics that were consumed in religious worship and the pomp of funerals. The labour and risk of the voyage was rewarded with almost incredible profits; but the profits were made upon Roman subjects, and a few individuals were enriched at the expense of the public” (Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, vol. i., Rev. ii.).

18:9-19 The mourners had shared Babylon's sensual pleasures, and gained by her wealth and trade. The kings of the earth, whom she flattered into idolatry, allowing them to be tyrannical over their subjects, while obedient to her; and the merchants, those who trafficked for her indulgences, pardons, and honours; these mourn. Babylon's friends partook her sinful pleasures and profits, but are not willing to share her plagues. The spirit of antichrist is a worldly spirit, and that sorrow is a mere worldly sorrow; they do not lament for the anger of God, but for the loss of outward comforts. The magnificence and riches of the ungodly will avail them nothing, but will render the vengeance harder to be borne. The spiritual merchandise is here alluded to, when not only slaves, but the souls of men, are mentioned as articles of commerce, to the destroying the souls of millions. Nor has this been peculiar to the Roman antichrist, and only her guilt. But let prosperous traders learn, with all their gains, to get the unsearchable riches of Christ; otherwise; even in this life, they may have to mourn that riches make to themselves wings and fly away, and that all the fruits their souls lusted after, are departed from them. Death, at any rate, will soon end their commerce, and all the riches of the ungodly will be exchanged, not only for the coffin and the worm, but for the fire that cannot be quenched.And the merchants of the earth - Who have been accustomed to traffic with her, and who have been enriched by the traffic. The image is that of a rich and splendid city. Of course, such a city depends much on its merchandise; and when it declines and falls, many who had been accustomed to deal with it, as merchants or traffickers, are affected by it, and have occasion to lament its fall.

Shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise anymore - The merchandise which they were accustomed to take to the city, and by the sale of which they lived. The enumeration of the articles of merchandise which follows, seems to have been inserted for the purpose of filling out the representation of what is usually found in such a city, and to show the desolation which would occur when this traffic was suspended.

11. shall—So. B. But A and C read the present, "weep and mourn."

merchandise—Greek, "cargo": wares carried in ships: ship-lading (compare Re 18:17). Rome was not a commercial city, and is not likely from her position to be so. The merchandise must therefore be spiritual, even as the harlot is not literal, but spiritual. She did not witness against carnal luxury and pleasure-seeking, the source of the merchants' gains, but conformed to them (Re 18:7). She cared not for the sheep, but for the wool. Professing Christian merchants in her lived as if this world not heaven, were the reality, and were unscrupulous as to the means of getting gain. Compare Notes, see on [2735]Zec 5:4-11, on the same subject, the judgment on mystical Babylon's merchants for unjust gain. All the merchandise here mentioned occurs repeatedly in the Roman Ceremonial.

As the merchants, Ezekiel 27:27, lamented for Tyre, that they could barter and truck no more there, because all the trade thereof was destroyed; so those ecclesiastical merchants, that were wont to trade with Rome for indulgences, and pardons, and dispensations, and faculties, for cardinals’ caps, and bishoprics, and prebendaries, and other church preferments, shall lament when the papacy falls, that there will be no more such merchandise to be bought or sold there. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over over her,.... Who these are; see Gill on Revelation 18:3 and, what their lamentation, Revelation 18:16 the reason of their weeping and mourning follows: for no man buyeth their merchandise any more; what their merchandise is, is expressed in the two next verses; and this shows that it is not to be understood merely in a literal sense; for such commodities in general as are there mentioned, if they do not sell at one place, they will at another; and the decline of trade in one city does not put a stop to business all the world over; and often so it is, that the ruin of commerce in one place is the rise of it in another; and all the things hereafter spoken of, excepting the last article, are what will be merchandised in one place or another to the end of the world; unless the sense should be, that no man at Rome, and the parts adjacent, will buy of this merchandise any more; but though they should not, this could not be cause of such lamentation as is afterwards expressed, since their goods might be sold elsewhere; but it looks as if this must be understood of such kind of wares as will be disused and despised all the world over, and they will meet with no customers any where to deal with them in them. {9} And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

(9) The lamentation of those that trade by land, as I distinguished before.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 18:11-16. The lament of the merchants.

κλαίουσιν καὶ πενθοῦσιν.

By the present, John passes over to the tone of narration;[3961] but does not choose here as yet the preterite,[3962] so that he still does not express the idea that he himself had observed the destruction of the city, or the accompanying lamentations. The easier afterwards is the return to the original course (Revelation 18:15); but the recent transition to the narrative brings finally with it also the preterites (Revelation 18:17 sq.).

τὸν γόμον. The cargo.[3963]

The entire description of the many precious things, for which the merchants can no more find purchasers, gives a view of the previous necessities of the luxurious[3964] city. The mass of different things are mentioned with suitable grouping

σηρικοῦ. Silk.[3965]

καὶ πᾶν ξύλον θύϊνον, κ.τ.λ. The alternation of accusatives and genitives dependent upon the τὸν γόμον until the close of Revelation 18:13, which is here presented very definitely, may serve as an explanation of the ambiguous construction, Revelation 17:4.

The precious, sweet-scented thyine wood,[3966] the “citreum” of the Romans, comes from the tree called θύον, θύα, θύϊα, which is possibly identical with the white cedar (cupressus thyioides).[3967]

The expression πᾶν ξύλ. θύ. designates, first of all, the collected precious material;[3968] upon this follows the enumeration of the vessels made from the precious material, under which is σκ. ἐκ ξύλου τιμ.

κινάμωμον. Cinnamon.[3969]

ἄμωμον. The precious hair-ointment procured from an Asiatic shrub.[3970]

σεμίδαλιν. Finest wheat-flour, “simila”[3971] or “similago.”[3972]

κτήνη. The general expression, which includes also horned cattle,[3973] precedes.

ῥεδῶν. A kind of four-wheeled vehicle.[3974] Alexander Sev. furnished the Roman senators with such vehicles, decorated with silver,—“thinking that it pertained to the Roman dignity, that senators of so great a city should be carried therein.”[3975]

σωμάτων, i.e., slaves, σώματα δοῦλα[3976] See examples from the LXX. in Biel.[3977] The following expression ψυχὰς ἀνθρώπων[3978] also points to the slaves, and because of the difference in the construction—the γόμον being understood with the genitive—it seems that a distinction is intended to be made.[3979] The most probable[3980] explanation is that which understands the ΣΩΜ. as referring to such slaves as belong to the horses and chariots, and the latter expression, ΨΥΧ. ἈΝΘΡ., as referring to slaves in general. So, too, in Revelation 18:17, Ew. ii. understands, in the last place, female slaves. Volkm., who gives a false emphasis to the ΚΑῚ before ΨΥΧ. ἈΝΘΡ.,[3981] finds here the judgment given by the Christian spirit, that transactions in the slave-trade are not concerning the “bodies,” but the “souls,” of men. But it is nevertheless correct, that, according to the heathen view, the slaves are considered only as ΣΏΜΑΤΑ; the ΨΥΧ. ἈΝΘΡ. also receives a certain importance from the fact that it concludes a short paragraph. Yet the explanation of Volkmar, with respect to the change of construction, seems to me impossible.

The lamentation in Revelation 18:14[3982] turns to the objects that have served another chief class of the ΣΤΡῆΝΟς of the great city, daintiness and gluttony; this part of the description, by its description of the punishment, calls to mind the corresponding guilt of sin.

Ἡ ὈΠΏΡΑ ΣΟΥ Τῆς ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑς Τῆς ΨΥΧῆς. Excellently, Luther, who also describes, with correct meaning, the genitive limitation to Ἡ ὈΠΏΡΑ: das Obst, da Deine Seele Lust dran hatte.[3983]

ἈΠῆΛΘΕΝ ἈΠῸ ΣΟῦ. In the same sense as the parallel ἈΠΌΛΕΤΟ ἈΠῸ ΣΟῦ. Cf. Psalm 142:5. LXX.

ΤᾺ ΛΙΠΑΡᾺ. Properly “the fat,” but its combination with ΤᾺ ΛΑΜΠΡᾺ points to the fact that the expression is to be taken[3984] in the ordinary improper sense.[3985] Every thing pre-eminent and glorious, in its class, is finally grouped together.

The two last verses, which refer to the lamentation of the merchants, establish the conformity with Revelation 18:9 sqq., which could not as yet be attained because of Revelation 18:11-14; also in the two points that the merchants appear standing at a distance and raising the express cry of lamentation. The τούτων, Revelation 18:15, corresponding to this, refers not only to those of Revelation 18:14,[3986] but to all things mentioned by Revelation 18:11,[3987] so that there is no reason to censure the discourse for inconcinnity.[3988]

κόκκινον. That the scarlet raiment here,[3989] like the purple, indicates the royal glory of the city, is self-evident in the impression of the merchants. By those who neither see nor understand the scarlet beast, only such an idea of the woman is presupposed, as she corresponds in harmonious connection with the view of the luxurious glory of the city granted the prophet in ch. 17.

[3961] De Wette.

[3962] Cf. Revelation 11:11.

[3963] Acts 21:3. Cf. Eustath. in Wetst.: φόρτος νηὸς, ὁ καὶ γόμος.

[3964] Revelation 18:3 : τ. στρήνους αὐτ.; Revelation 18:7; Revelation 18:9. Cf. Revelation 17:4.

[3965] Cf. Winer, Rwb., on this word.

[3966] Luther.

[3967] Cf. Wetst. and Winer, Rwb., on the word.

[3968] Against De Wette: “All sorts of vessels made therefrom.” Cf. Hengstenb.

[3969] Luth. Cf. Winer, Rwb., on this word, and Zimmt.

[3970] Plin., H. N., xii. 28. Cf. Martial, viii. 77: “Assyrio semper tibi crinis amomo splendeat” [May thy hair always shine with the Assyrian amomus]. See Wetst.

[3971] Vulg.

[3972] Cf. Plin., H. N., xviii. Revelation 20 : “Similago ex tritico fit laudatissima.”

[3973] See lexicons.

[3974] Isidor., xx. 17.

[3975] Lamprid. in Wetst.

[3976] Pollux, III. 71.

[3977] Cf. Wetst., Wolf, etc.

[3978] Ezekiel 27:13. Cf. 1 Chronicles 5:21.

[3979] Cf. Wetst., who refers the ψυχ. ἀνθρ. to gladiators; Züll., who refers σώμ. to proper slaves, ψυχ. ἀνθρ. to such as are hired also for lust.

[3980] Cf. Beng., Ewald, Hengstenb.

[3981] “Aye, souls of men.”

[3982] Vitr. has thought, with Beza and Laun., that Revelation 18:14 belongs not to this place, but between Revelation 18:23-24. Ew. i. regards the verse as a marginal note of John, who did not immediately find a suitable place for the thought. Ew. ii. concedes it to be possible, that the verse is here derived from an entirely different book; but if it belong to the Apoc., he would introduce it in the midst of Revelation 18:23. Cf. also Volkm. But even though the form of the address giving offence could not be understood as the lament of the merchants,—this does not follow until Revelation 18:15 sqq., in a manner corresponding to Revelation 18:1011. shall weep and mourn] Read, weep and mourn (in the present tense).

for no man buyeth &c.] Their sorrow is even more purely selfish than that of the kings.

merchandise] Strictly, cargo.Revelation 18:11. etc. Γόμον,[199] Κ.Τ.Λ.) The construction is easy from ΓΌΜΟΝ to ΠΡΌΒΑΤΑ, and ΨΥΧᾺς coheres with these in the same case; but at ἽΠΠΩΝ, ῬΕΔῶΝ, ΣΩΜΆΤΩΝ, you may understand afresh ΓΌΜΟΝ: for horses, chariots, and slaves, are serviceable for the conveyance of different kinds of merchandise. There is a mixture of cases, as in Hippocr. de Humoribus, ch. 25. Pricæus is very full, in setting forth this enumeration. If you examine the Romish Ceremonial, you may see that all kinds of these wares repeatedly occur in abundance.

[199] But the reading γόμος also, ver. 12, is preferred in the margin of each Edition.—E. B.

But the oldest authorities read γόμον. Vulg. “merces,” ver. 11; “mercem,” ver. 12.—E.Verse 11. - And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her. Weep and mourn; the historical present (see on ver. 9). The kings have been mentioned; the merchants and next the seamen are referred to, showing the wide distribution of "Babylon," and forbidding the application to a single state or city. The description which follows is analogous to that in Ezekiel 27; Isaiah 23. For no man buyeth their merchandise any more; their cargo. We are naturally reminded of the action of the second beast in forbidding to buy and sell (Revelation 13:17). Alford here recognizes the difficulty in applying the prophecy to Rome, either pagan or papal, and adds, "I leave this difficulty unsolved .... The details of this mercantile lamentation far more nearly suit London than Rome." (See the interpretation given of the harlot and Babylon on Revelation 17:1.) Merchandise (γόμον)

Only here, Revelation 18:12, and Acts 21:3. From γέμω to be full. Hence, literally, lading or cargo. So Rev., in margin.

The main features of the following description are taken from that of the destruction of Tyre, Ezekiel 26, 27.

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