Revelation 18:22
And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
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(22, 23) And the voice of harpers . . .—Better, the sound, . . The sounds of mirth and triumph, &c., cease: the sound of harpers, and musicians, and flute-players, and trumpeters, shall not be heard in thee ANY MORE: the power of wealth has gone; her own right hand has forgotten her cunning: every craftsman of every craft shall not be found in thee ANY MORE: the sound of grinding the corn is at an end: the sound of millstone shall not be heard in thee ANY MORE: the cheerful lamps of home and feast are extinguished: light of lamp shall not shine in thee ANY MORE: the sounds of domestic joy are silenced: voice of bridegroom and of bride shall not be heard in thee ANY MORE. The words are an echo of earlier prophecy: “I destroy from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.” It was thus Jeremiah warned Jerusalem of her coming doom (Jeremiah 25:10). Now the same judgments are pronounced against the foe of the true Jerusalem.

Revelation 18:22-24. The voice of harpers — Players on stringed instruments; and musicians — Skilful singers in particular; and pipers — Who played on flutes, chiefly on mournful, whereas trumpeters played on joyful occasions; shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman — Greek, τεχνιτης ωασης τεχνης, no artificer, of whatever art. Arts of every kind, particularly music, sculpture, painting, and statuary, were there carried to their greatest height. No, nor even the sound of a mill-stone shall be heard any more in thee — Not only the arts that adorn life, but even those employments without which it cannot subsist, will cease from thee for ever: all which expressions denote absolute and eternal desolation. There shall be no more musicians for the entertainment of the rich and great; no more tradesmen or artificers to employ those of the middle ranks, and to furnish the conveniences of life; no more servants or slaves to grind at the mill, prepare bread, and supply the necessaries of life. Nay, there shall be no more lights, no more bridal songs: that is, no more marriages, in which lamps and songs were known ceremonies; and therefore the city shall never be peopled again, but shall remain depopulated and desolate for ever. The desolation of Rome is therefore described in such a manner as to show that neither rich nor poor, neither persons of middle rank nor those of the lowest condition, should be able to live there any more. For thy merchants were the great men of the earth — A circumstance which was in itself indifferent, and yet led them into pride, luxury and numberless other sins. For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived — That is, poisoned by thy pernicious practices. So that the reasons assigned for her utter desolation are her pride and luxury, her superstition and idolatry, with various other vices; and especially her cruel persecutions of God’s saints and servants: for it is added, In her was found the blood of prophets, &c. — These seem to be the words of St. John: and of all that were slain upon the earth — As if he had said, Her punishment shall be as severe and exemplary as if she had been guilty of all the persecutions that ever were upon account of religion; for by her conduct she hath approved, and imitated, and surpassed them all. Certainly there is no city under the sun which has so clear a title to general blood-guiltiness as Rome. The guilt of the blood shed under the heathen emperors was not removed under the popes, but hugely multiplied. Nor is Rome accountable only for what hath been shed in the city, but for that shed in all the earth. For at Rome, under the popes, as well as under the heathen emperors, were the bloody orders and edicts given: and wherever the blood of holy men was shed, there were the grand rejoicings for it. And what immense quantities of blood have been shed by her agents! Charles IX. of France, in his letter to Gregory XIII., boasts that in, and not long after, the massacre of Paris, he had destroyed seventy thousand Huguenots. Some have computed that, from the year 1518 to 1548, fifteen millions of Protestants perished by war and the inquisition. This may be overcharged; but certainly the number of them in those thirty years, as well as since, is almost incredible. To these we may add innumerable martyrs in ancient, middle, and late ages, — in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, England, Ireland, and many other parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Now this tyrannical cruelty exercised against God’s saints, apostles, and prophets being considered, we cannot wonder that the sentence of so terrible a desolation and destruction should be passed on this persecuting city. But the reader must observe, Rome hath never yet been depopulated and desolated in this manner. She hath been taken indeed and plundered by Alaric, king of the Visigoths, in the year 410; by Genseric, king of the Vandals, in the year 455; by Totilas, king of the Ostrogoths, in the year 546; and by others since that time: but yet she is still standing and flourishing, and is honoured by many nations as the metropolis of the Christian world; she still resounds with singers and musicians; she still excels in arts, which serve to pomp and luxury; she still abounds with candles, and lamps, and torches, burning even by day as well as by night: and consequently this prophecy hath not yet been, but remaineth still to be, fulfilled.

18:20-24 That which is matter of rejoicing to the servants of God on earth, is matter of rejoicing to the angels in heaven. The apostles, who are honoured and daily worshipped at Rome in an idolatrous manner, will rejoice in her fall. The fall of Babylon was an act of God's justice. And because it was a final ruin, this enemy should never molest them any more; of this they were assured by a sign. Let us take warning from the things which brought others to destruction, and let us set our affections on things above, when we consider the changeable nature of earthly things.And the voice of harpers - Those who play on the harp. This was usually accompanied with singing. The idea, in this verse and the following, is substantially the same as in the previous parts of the chapter, that the mystical Babylon - papal Rome - would be brought to utter desolation. This thought is here exhibited under another form - that all which constituted festivity, joy, and amusement, and all that indicated thrift and prosperity, would disappear. Of course, in a great and "fun" city, there would be all kinds of music; and when it is said that this would be heard there no more it is a most striking image of utter desolation.

And musicians - Musicians in general; but perhaps here singers, as distinguished from those who played on instruments.

And of pipers - Those who played on pipes or flutes. See the 1 Corinthians 14:7 note; Matthew 11:17 note.

And trumpeters - Trumpets were common instruments of music, employed on festival occasions, in war, and in worship. Only the principal instruments of music are mentioned here, as representatives of the rest. The general idea is, that the sound of music, as an indication of festivity and joy, would cease.

Shall be heard no more at all in thee - It would become utterly and permanently desolate.

And no craftsman, of whatsoever craft - That is, artificers of all kinds would cease to ply their trades there. The word used here - τεχνίτης technitēs - would include all artisans or mechanics, all who were engaged in any kind of trade or craft. The meaning here is, that all these would disappear, an image, of course, of utter decay.

And the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more - Taylor (Frag. to Calmet, Dictionary vol. iv. p. 346) supposes that this may refer not so much to the rattle of the mill as to the voice of singing, which usually accompanied grinding. The sound of a mill is cheerful, and indicates prosperity; its ceasing is an image of decline.

22. pipers—flute players. "Musicians," painters and sculptors, have desecrated their art to lend fascination to the sensuous worship of corrupt Christendom.


Ver. 22,23. And the voice of harpers, &c., shall be heard no more at all in thee; all these seem to me but the expression of an utter ruin and desolation, by various phrases and expressions; they should have no more occasion of mirth, nor any more business done in their city. If any will understand these expressions, of their organs, and other musical instruments used in worship, and of spiritual craftsmen, I shall not contradict it; but I think it more proper to understand the words more largely.

For thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived: though thou hast had a trade with great men, and by thy enchanted cups of the wine of thy fornication hast intoxicated many in all nations, yet thou shalt use that trade no more; the nations shall be deceived no more by thee; here shall be an end of thee. And one thing that brings thee to thy ruin, shall be thy seducing others to idolatry, so as they have seemed to reasonable men to be bewitched by thee.

And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers and trumpeters,.... Which were for mirth, delight, and pleasure:

shall be heard no more at all in thee: the words seem to be taken from Isaiah 24:8 and may not only regard the loss of every thing that was delightful and pleasant to the ear in private houses, at festivals, and nuptials, and the like, but the ceasing of church music; there will be no more bells, nor organs, or any other instruments of music; no more chanters, and sub-chanters, choristers, singing men and boys:

and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be shall be, found any more in thee; which are very useful and necessary in cities and societies; it is threatened to Judah, that the cunning artificer should be taken from her, Isaiah 3:3 and it is reckoned as a considerable part of the distress of the captivity that the carpenters and smiths were away from Jerusalem, Jeremiah 24:1 and this judgment may fall on Rome for her worshipping idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, the works of men's hands, artificers and craftsmen, and who are employed in making other trinkets and wares for antichrist:

and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; to grind corn with, see Jeremiah 25:10 there will be a famine at the time that Rome is besieged, Revelation 18:8 and after it is destroyed, there will be no corn to grind, nor inhabitants to eat it, and so no use of the millstone; this is said in opposition to her luxurious and delicious living, Revelation 18:3 and this may also refer to feasts and rich entertainments, for which spices were ground and prepared by an hand mill (m) in the house; and so may signify here that there would be no more of such entertainments and rich living; with which sense agrees what follows. This clause is wanting in the Syriac and Ethiopic versions.

(m) Schindler. Lex. Pentaglott. in Voce Col. 1712.

{14} And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

(14) The events are two, and one of them opposite to the other for amplification sake. There shall be no mirth nor joy at all in Babylon, he says in this and the next verse, Re 18:23 but heavy and lamentable things, from the bloody slaughters of the righteous and the vengeance of God coming on it for this.

Revelation 18:22. μουσικῶν “minstrels or musicians” (1Ma 9:41); the occurrence of the generic term among the specific is certainly awkward and would favour the rendering “singers” (Bengel, Holtzm.) in almost any other book than this. On these musical epithets see Friedländer, iii. 238 f.; the impulses to instrumental music at Rome during this period came mainly from Alexandria. For coins stamped with Nero as harpist see Suet. Nero, xxv. φωνὴ μύλου, the daily accompaniment of Oriental life. The sound of the mill meant habitation, but in the desolation of Rome no more pleasant stir of mirth or business would be heard (Isaiah 47:5). The fanatic Jesus, son of Ananus, who howled during the siege of Jerusalem and for four years previously (Jos. Bell. vi. 5, 3) “woe to Jerusalem,” denounced upon her “a voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the temple a voice against bridegrooms and brides, and a voice against the whole people”.

22. the voice of harpers &c.] Isaiah 14:11, of Babylon, Ezekiel 26:13, of Tyre, are certainly parallels: compare also Isaiah 24:8, which is as similar as the passages of Jeremiah referred to on the following passage, and apparently, like them, spoken of the unfaithful Jerusalem.

the sound of a millstone &c.] Jeremiah 25:10.

Revelation 18:22. [206] Μουσικῶν) of musicians, that is, singers: for these are the chief [part of musicians]. שרים, LXX. μουσικοὶ, Genesis 31:27; Ezekiel 26:13.—τεχνίτης, craftsman) Nowhere do the arts of painting, sculpture, etc., together with music, flourish more than at Rome: as the Topographies and Itineraries show; for instance, Keyssler’s, Part i. Ep. 49, etc.

[206] Ver. 21. οὕτως, thus) This word is a proof that this prophecy is not yet fulfilled.—V. g.

Verse 22. - And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; harpers and minstrels and flute players, etc. (Revised Version). Cf. the description of the desolation of Tyre in Ezekiel 26:13 and Isaiah 24:8. And no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee. "Every craft" is omitted in א, A. (On the last phrase, see on ver. 21.) And the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee. This passage, together with the following verse, is founded on Jeremiah 25:10. Revelation 18:22Harpers

See on Revelation 14:2.

Musicians (μουσικῶν)

Only here in the New Testament. There seems to be no special reason for changing the rendering to minstrels, as Rev. The term music had a much wider signification among the Greeks than that which we attach to it. "The primitive education at Athens consisted of two branches: gymnastics for the body, music for the mind. Music comprehended from the beginning everything appertaining to the province of the nine Muses; not merely learning the use of the lyre or how to bear part in a chorus, but also the hearing, learning, and repeating of poetical compositions, as well as the practice of exact and elegant pronunciation - which latter accomplishment, in a language like the Greek, with long words, measured syllables, and great diversity of accentuation between one word and another, must have been far more difficult to acquire than it is in any modern European language. As the range of ideas enlarged, so the words music and musical teachers acquired an expanded meanings so as to comprehend matter of instruction at once ampler and more diversified. During the middle of the fifth century b.c. at Athens, there came thus to be found among the musical teachers men of the most distinguished abilities and eminence, masters of all the learning and accomplishments of the age, teaching what was known of Astronomy, Geography, and Physics, and capable of holding dialectical discussions with their pupils upon all the various problems then afloat among intellectual men" (Grote, "History of Greece," vi., ch. lxvii.).

Pipers (αὐλητῶν)

Rev., flute-players. Only here and Matthew 9:23. The female flute-players, usually dissolute characters, were indispensable attendants at the Greek banquets. Plato makes Eryximachus in "the Symposium," say: "I move that the flute-girl who has just made her appearance, be told to go away and play to herself, or, if she likes, to the women who are within. Today let us have conversation instead" ("Symposium," 176). Again, Socrates says: "The talk about the poets seems to me like a commonplace entertainment to which a vulgar company have recourse; who, because they are not able to converse and amuse one another, while they are drinking, with the sound of their own voices and conversation, by reason of their stupidity, raise the price of flute-girls in the market, hiring for a great sum the voice of a flute instead of their own breath, to be the medium of intercourse among them" ("Protagoras," 347). Compare Isaiah 24:8; Ezekiel 26:13.


Compare Jeremiah 25:10; Matthew 24:41.

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