Revelation 18:19
And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) And they cast dust . . .—Comp. Ezekiel 27:30. The casting of dust or earth on the head is a token of sorrow and humiliation; it bears relation to the sitting in the dust. The one upon whom the sorrow had fallen sat in the dust or ashes. The attitude expressed that he had been brought very low, even to the ground. The mourning friends who came round him cast dust on their heads to express that they shared his sorrow. Thus it is related of Job: Job sat in the ashes (Job 2:8); the friends who came to comfort him sprinkled dust upon their heads towards heaven (Revelation 18:12). So in this place, Babylon has been brought low (comp. Isaiah 47:1); the mourners, whose gains sink with her fall, throw dust upon their heads.

(19) Alas! alas! that great city . . .—The lament is parallel with the laments of the kings and the merchants; the difference is the appropriate reference to the destruction of the shipping interests. Woe! woe! (or, Alas! alas!) the great city, in which all who had their vessels on the sea grew rich out of her costliness. By her “costliness” we are to understand her extravagances of living, and the splendour of her palaces which drew materials from all ports of the world. The lament ends with the repeated cry, “in one hour.” Because in one hour she was desolated.

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 they cast dust on their heads - A common sign of lamentation and mourning among the Orientals. See the notes on Job 2:12.

By reason of her costliness - The word rendered "costliness" - τιμιότητος timiotētos - means, properly, "preciousness, costliness"; their magnificence, costly merchandise. The luxury of a great city enriches many individuals, however much it may impoverish itself.

For in one hour is she made desolate - So it seemed to them. See the notes on Revelation 18:17.

19. wailing—"mourning."

that had ships—A, B, and C read, "that had their ships": literally, "the ships."

costliness—her costly treasures: abstract for concrete.

See Poole on "Revelation 18:18" And they cast dust on their heads,.... As the seafaring men on account of Tyre, Ezekiel 27:30 this was a gesture used in mourning when persons were in afflicted and distressed circumstances, denoting disorder, confusion, and debasement; see Joshua 7:6

and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, alas, alas! that great city; as in Revelation 18:10 so it was once, though now in flames:

wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea; not only the merchants of the earth, as in Revelation 18:3 the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, but the governors of religious houses; these accumulated great wealth to themselves, and got the best of lands into their possession for the use and support of their abbeys and monasteries:

by reason of her costliness; or costly things; pardons, indulgences, absolution, saying Mass, and praying souls out of purgatory, all which are costly, and hereby these traders have been enriched; and now the remembrance of these things, of which they will be deprived, will affect and grieve them, as well as the suddenness of Rome's ruin:

for in one hour is she made desolate; her judgment come, and her riches come to nought, Revelation 18:10.

And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. they cast dust &c.] Ibid. 30.

had ships] Read, had the ships or their ships.Verse 19. - And they cast dust on their heads. This continues the description as given in Ezekiel 27:30, "Shall cast up dust upon their heads." And cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city! Weeping and mourning, saying, Woe, woe! etc.; an exact repetition of vers. 15, 16. Wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness. Like the merchants, the men here described regret the loss of their wealth (cf. vers. 11, 15, 16). So in Ezekiel 27:33, "When thy wares went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many people; thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise." For in one hour is she made desolate. Exactly as in ver. 17; and similarly to ver. 10. Cast dust on their heads

Compare Ezekiel 27:30. See on Luke 10:13.

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