Revelation 8:10
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
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(10) And the third angel . . .—Translate, And the third angel sounded, and there fell out of the heaven a great star burning (or, kindled—the light is not inherent, but borrowed) as a torch (or, lamp—same word as in Revelation 4:5), and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the springs of the waters. The flaming star seems to symbolise the fall of a potentate; the trumpet-blast proclaims that the mighty who have been, as luminaries, admired, and perhaps worshipped, will fall. The advancing progress of Christianity is to be marked by many such a fall. The rulers of earth, burning with lust of conquest or with pride of fanaticism, will be plucked from their seat among the stars (Obadiah 1:4); but their fall is accompanied, as in the last instance, with miseries. The fountains and rivers are smitten, the sources of health and joy, the streams of prosperity, are injured.

Revelation 8:10-11. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven — Bengelius, and some other commentators, interpret this of Arius and his heresy, and the persecutions connected therewith; “and no doubt,” as Mr. Scott observes, “such events might very aptly be represented by the falling of a star, and its imbittering and poisoning the waters to the destruction of those who drank of them: yet the series of the prophecy favours the interpretation of those who explain these verses as predicting the continuation of those calamities which subverted the empire.” Stars, in prophetic style, are figurative representations of many things. Among others they signify kings and kingdoms, eminent persons of great authority and power. Rivers, and fountains of waters — To supply them, may be considered as necessary to the support of life; the drying up these expresses the scarcity of things necessary. Here then we have a prophecy which aptly expresses a judgment to come on the seat of the Roman empire, which should destroy the power of it in its spring and fountain, and cut off all its necessary supports; as when rivers and fountains, so necessary to life, are infected, and become rather deadly than fit for use. At the sounding of the third trumpet, says Bishop Newton, “a great prince appears like a star shooting from heaven to earth, a similitude not unusual in poetry. His coming therefore is sudden and unexpected, and his stay but short. The name of the star is called Wormwood, and he infects the third part of the rivers and fountains with the bitterness of wormwood — That is, he is a bitter enemy, and proves the author of grievous calamities to the Roman empire. The rivers and fountains have a near connection with the sea; and it was within two years after Attila’s retreat from Italy, that Valentinian was murdered; and Maximus, who had caused him to be murdered, reigning in his stead, Genseric, the king of the Vandals, having settled in Africa, was solicited by Eudoxia, the widow of the deceased emperor, to come and revenge his death. Genseric accordingly embarked with three hundred thousand Vandals and Moors, and arrived upon the Roman coast in June, 455, the emperor and people not expecting nor thinking of any such enemy. He landed his men, and marched directly to Rome; whereupon the inhabitants fleeing into the woods and mountains, the city fell an easy prey into his hands. He abandoned it to the cruelty and avarice of his soldiers, who plundered it for fourteen days together, not only spoiling the private houses and palaces, but stripping the public buildings, and even the churches, of their riches and ornaments. He then set sail again for Africa, carrying away with him immense wealth, and an innumerable multitude of captives, together with the Empress Eudoxia and her two daughters; and left the state so weakened, that in a little time it was utterly subverted. Some critics understand rivers and fountains with relation to doctrines; and in this sense the application is still very proper to Genseric, who was a most bigoted Arian, and during his whole reign most cruelly persecuted the orthodox Christians.”

8:7-13 The first angel sounded the first trumpet, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood. A storm of heresies, a mixture of dreadful errors falling on the church, or a tempest of destruction. The second angel sounded, and a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea; and the third part of the sea became blood. By this mountain some understand leaders of the persecutions; others, Rome sacked by the Goths and Vandals, with great slaughter and cruelty. The third angel sounded, and there fell a star from heaven. Some take this to be an eminent governor; others take it to be some person in power who corrupted the churches of Christ. The doctrines of the gospel, the springs of spiritual life, comfort, and vigour, to the souls of men, are corrupted and made bitter by the mixture of dangerous errors, so that the souls of men find ruin where they sought refreshment. The fourth angel sounded, and darkness fell upon the great lights of heaven, that give light to the world, the sun, and the moon, and the stars. The guides and governors are placed higher than the people, and are to dispense light, and kind influences to them. Where the gospel comes to a people, and has not proper effects on their hearts and lives, it is followed with dreadful judgments. God gives alarm by the written word, by ministers, by men's own consciences, and by the signs of the times; so that if people are surprised, it is their own fault. The anger of God makes all comforts bitter, and even life itself burdensome. But God, in this world, sets bounds to the most terrible judgments. Corruption of doctrine and worship in the church are great judgments, and also are the usual causes and tokens of other judgments coming on a people. Before the other three trumpets were sounded, there was solemn warning how terrible the calamities would be that should follow. If lesser judgments do not take effect the church and the world must expect greater; and when God comes to punish the world, the inhabitants shall tremble before him. Let sinners take warning to flee from the wrath to come; let believers learn to value and to be thankful for their privileges; and let them patiently continue in well doing.And the third angel sounded - Indicating, according to the interpretation above proposed, some important event in the downfall of the Roman empire.

And there fell a great star from heaven - A star is a natural emblem of a prince, of a ruler, of one distinguished by rank or by talent. Compare the notes on Revelation 2:28. See Numbers 24:17, and the notes on Isaiah 14:12. A star falling from heaven would be a natural symbol of one who had left a higher station, or of one whose character and course would be like a meteor shooting through the sky.

Burning as it were a lamp - Or, as a torch. The language here is such as would describe a meteor blazing through the air; and the reference in the symbol is to something that would have a resemblance to such a meteor. It is not a lurid meteor (livid, pale, ghastly) that is here referred to, but a bright, intense, blazing star - emblem of fiery energy; of rapidity of movement and execution; of splendor of appearance - such as a chieftain of high endowments, of impetuousness of character, and of richness of apparel, would be. In all languages, probably, a star has been an emblem of a prince whose virtues have shone brightly, and who has exerted a beneficial influence on mankind. In all languages also, probably, a meteor flaming through the sky has been an emblem of some splendid genius causing or threatening desolation and ruin; of a warrior who has moved along in a brilliant but destructive path over the world; and who has been regarded as sent to execute the vengeance of heaven. This usage occurs because a meteor is so bright; because it appears so suddenly; because its course cannot be determined by any known laws; and because, in the apprehensions of people, it is either sent as a proof of the divine displeasure, or is adapted to excite consternation and alarm. In the application of this part of the symbol, therefore, we naturally look for some prince or warrior of brilliant talents, who appears suddenly and sweeps rapidly over the world; who excites consternation and alarm; whose path is marked by desolation, and who is regarded as sent from heaven to execute the divine purposes - who comes not to bless the world by brilliant talents well directed, but to execute vengeance on mankind.

And it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters - On the phrase, "the third part," see the notes on Revelation 8:7. This reference to the "rivers" and to the "fountains of waters" seems, in part, to be for the purpose of saying that everything would be affected by this series of judgments. In the previous visions the trees and the green grass, the sea and the ships, had been referred to. The rivers and the fountains of waters are not less important than the trees, the grass, and the commerce of the world, and hence this judgment is mentioned as particularly bearing on them. At the same time, as in the case of the other trumpets, there is a propriety in supposing that there would be something in the event referred to by the symbol which would make it more appropriate to use this symbol in this case than in the others. It is natural, therefore, to look for some desolations that would particularly affect the portions of the world where rivers abound, or where they take their rise; or, if it be understood as having a more metaphorical sense, to regard it as affecting those things which resemble rivers and fountains - the sources of influence; the morals, the religion of a people, the institutions of a country, which are often so appropriately compared with running fountains or flowing streams.

10. a lamp—a torch. There fell a great star from heaven: stars, in their metaphorical notion, signify some eminent persons in the state, or in the church; accordingly interpreters are divided in their senses; some thinking that it is meant of a political star, some eminent civil governor, and apply it to Caesar Augustulus, who, about the year 480, was forced to give over the empire, by Odoacer; of him Mr. Mede understands this prophecy. Others understand it of some ecclesiastical star, who apostatized, and apply it to Pelagius. I do rather incline to those who apply it to some ecclesiastical star; and Pelagius might be pointed at, as probably as any other in these times, for he was a great professor, and so burned

as a lamp. And it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and did corrupt a great part of the church.

And the third angel sounded,.... His trumpet:

and there fell a great star from heaven; not Mahomet, as some think, for this time is too soon for him, who rose up under the fifth trumpet; nor Arius, for whom it is too late, who lived in the times of Constantine; and still less Origen, who lived before his time; but rather Pelagius, who was a man of great eminence in the church, of much learning, and made great pretensions to religion and holiness, and, like a star and lamp, shone forth awhile, with great lustre and splendour, but fell into very great errors; denying original sin, and asserting the purity of human nature, crying up the power of man's free will, and asserting that human nature, without the grace of God, was able to keep the whole law, even to perfection; and his name, according to his doctrine, was wormwood and gall, which embittered the sweet doctrines of the free grace of God, and affected the fountains and rivers, the sacred Scriptures, from whence these doctrines flow; so that instead of being pleasant and wholesome to men, through his false glosses and perverse interpretations of them, they became bitter and poisonous; and many souls, that received and imbibed his sense of them, died spiritually, and were lost and perished, as all must inevitably, who depend on the strength and works of nature, and deny and despise the grace of God: but it is best, as the other trumpets, so to understand this of the invasions of the above barbarous people, particularly the Vandals under Genseric, who being turned out of Spain by the Goths, went into Africa, where peace was made, and part of Africa given them to dwell in; after which Genseric, through treachery, seized upon Carthage, and greatly afflicted Sicily: Theodosius made war against them to no purpose, and peace being made between Valentinian and Genseric, Africa was divided between them; and some time after Rome was spoiled by Genseric of all its riches (r). Mr. Daubuz thinks Attila, king of the Huns, called the dread of the world, and the scourge of God, is meant by this star; who was a rebel against the Romans, and made sad ravages in the empire; at the beginning of which troubles a great comet appeared; and, according to Cassiodorus (s), the Huns were auxiliaries to the Romans against the Goths; but Litorius the Roman general was taken; and after this the Huns rebelled, and depopulated Thrace and Illyricum; and Attila, their king, having slain his brother Bleda, and partner, became sole monarch; and though the Romans under Actius, by the help of the Goths, beat him in the fields of Catalaun, and obliged him to depart, yet afterwards, having got a reinforcement, he entered with great force into Aquileia, with whom Pope Leo made peace:

burning as it were a lamp; this star resembled that which is called Lampadias, which Pliny says (t) imitates, or bears a likeness to burning torches; and he speaks of a spark which fell out of a star, which had such an appearance (u): this is expressive of war, and great destruction in the empire:

and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of water; that is, upon the large provinces and chief cities belonging to the Roman empire, and the governors of them, who suffered very bitterly and severely in these times; compare with this Ezekiel 32:2. The last clause, "and upon the fountains of waters", is left out in the Alexandrian copy.

(r) Cassiodor. Chronicon in Theodos. 44. & in Marcian. 45. (s) Chronicon, ib. (t) Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 25. (u) lb. c. 35.

{7} And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

(7) The third execution on the floods and fountains, that is, on all fresh water, in this verse: the effect of which is, that many are destroyed by the bitterness of the water, in the verse following.

Revelation 8:10-11. The third trumpet brings a poisoning of a third part of the rivers and fountains of waters (upon the land), and thereby the death of many men.

If, therefore, a certain connection with the second trumpet-vision be found in the fact that damage to the other waters follows that done to the sea, yet the two visions need in no way be drawn together, not even in reference to the so-called fulfilment.[2484] The nature of the damage of Revelation 8:10 is entirely different from that of Revelation 8:8; it is also, in Revelation 8:11, intended for men. In general, however, the preparatory visitations represented by the trumpet—just as by the seal-visions—are so directed that one blow follows another until finally the Lord comes.

ἜΠΕΣΕΝ ἘΚ Τ. ΟὐΡ. ἈΣΤΉΡ, Κ.Τ.Λ. That the star “itself is abandoned to ruin, and, hence, has been torn from its place,”[2485] is a statement entirely out of place. The text marks only the ruinous effect which the star is to have; but in connection therewith lies the idea, that, just to produce the effect intended by God, the falling of the star has been caused by the determinate Divine will.

The words ΚΑΙΌΜΕΝΟς Ὡς ΛΑΜΠΆς make it manifest, that the great star which John saw fall from heaven had a luminous flame, but in no way show that “the great star” was any meteor, comet, or falling star.[2486]

ΚΑῚ ἜΠΕΣΕΝ ἘΠῚ ΤῸ ΤΡΊΤΟΝ ΤῶΝ ΠΟΤΑΜῶΝ, Κ.Τ.Λ. If any one should ask how this is to happen, the answer may be given with Ebrard, that the star in its fall is to be scattered so that its “sparks and fragments may fly into the water;” but the question and answer come from a consideration not belonging to the text.

Ὁ ἌΨΙΝΘΟς[2487]. The masc. form, instead of the usual ΤῸ ἈΨΊΝΘΙΟΝ or Ἡ ἌΨΙΝΘΟς, is chosen because of its congruence with Ὁ ἈΣΤΉΡ.[2488] The name designating[2489] the nature of the star declares its effect (ἘΠΙΚΡΆΝΘΗΣΑΝ).

ΤῸ ΤΡΊΤΟΝ ΤῶΝ ὙΔΆΤΩΝ. From this combination of the previously mentioned ΠΟΤΑΜΟΊ and ΠΗΓΑῚ ὙΔΆΤΩΝ, the result is expressly, that already in Revelation 8:10 the third of the ΠΗΓ. ὙΔ. is to be thought of, which is clear also from the connection with ΤῸ ΤΡΊΤΟΝ Τ. ΠΟΤ.


. The same thing is indicated by ἘΠΙΚΡΆΝΘΗΣΑΝ. By the falling star “Wormwood,” the waters are made wormwood-water whose poisonous bitterness brings death to many men. The consideration that wormwood[2490] is no deadly poison, is not at all pertinent, because it is not natural wormwood that is here treated of.

ἐκ τ. ὑδ. Cf. Revelation 9:8; Winer, p. 344. The cause appears as the source from which the effect comes.

[2484] Against Ebrard. Cf. on Revelation 8:8-9.

[2485] Ebrard.

[2486] Ebrard.

[2487] Against C. a Lap., Wetst., Züll., etc.

[2488] Ew.

[2489] Cf. Revelation 6:8.

[2490] Cf. Winer, Rwb., in loc.

The star falling from heaven (the Church), which makes the waters bitter and poisonous, is readily interpreted by allegorical expositors as heresy. So Beda: “Heretics falling from the summit of the Church attempt, with the flame of their wickedness, to taint the fountains of divine Scriptures.” More definitely still, N. de Lyra, who had referred the two preceding trumpets to Arius and Macedonius: “Pelagius, who preached contrary to the sweetness of the Holy Spirit.” Luther: “Origen, who by philosophy and reason imbittered and corrupted the Scriptures, as the high schools with us have done until the present.” Vitr, Beng., etc., refer it to Arius. Mede understands Romulus Augustulus; Laun., Gregory the Great. But to the expositors who find everywhere in the Apoc. the particular facts of the history of the Church and the world represented, such matters are not subject to the option of an allegorizing interpretation, as they refer all to events contemporaneous with John. Thus in the star, Grot. finds the Egyptian mentioned in Acts 21:38; while Herder, whose opinion Böhmer has reproduced, finds Eleazar,[2491] “a fiery, audacious young man, the prime originator of the spirit of the zealots,” through whom the “animosity” was first aggravated. Hengstenb. also here traces again the war. Stars he regards as signifying, in general, sovereigns; “the fire with which the great star burns is the fire of wrath, war, and conquest;” the water of the streams is “a symbol of prosperity:” the whole designates, therefore, the calamity of war.

[2491] Jos., B. Jud., ii. 17.

Revelation 8:10-11. The third part of all drinking waters is poisoned by a huge, noxious, torch-like meteor shooting down from the sky (Vergil’s “de coelo lapsa per umbras Stella facem ducens multa cum luce concurrit,” Aen. ii. 693, 694). Wormwood, a bitter drug typical of divine punishment, was apparently supposed to be a mortal poison; thus Pliny (H. N. ii. 232) ascribes the bitterness of Lake Sannaus (Anava) in the Lycos valley to the circa nascente apsinthio. But this feature of the vision is taken from Iranian or Mandaean eschatology (Brandt, 584 f.), where among the signs of the end are famine, wars, a star falling from heaven and making the sea red [cf. Revelation 16:3], and a cyclone with a dust-storm. Cf. 4 Ezra 5:9, et in dulcibus aquis salae inueniuntur. Rivers and fountains were associated in the ethnic mind (cf. Nehemiah 2:13) with supernatural spirits and curative properties; hence upon them this stern prophet of monotheism sees the doom of God falling. ἐγένετοεἰς, a Hebraistic constr., common in Apocalypse and in quotations from O.T., but “decidedly rare elsewhere” in N.T. (Simcox). Springs (like those, e.g., near Smyrna) and fountains naturally appeared to the ancient mind somewhat mysterious and separate; their lack of visible connexion with rivers or lakes suggested the idea that they sprang from the subterranean abyss or that they were connected with daemons. Hence their role in the final convulsions of nature (4 Esd. 6:24 uenae fontium stabunt, Ass. Mos. x. 8 et fontes aquarum deficient). Cf. Rohrbach’s Im Lande Jahwehs und Jesu (1901), 30 f.; for their connexion with dragons, R. S., 157, 161 f., and for their bubbling as a mark of sacred energy, ibid. 154 f.

The Third Trumpet, Revelation 8:10-1110. burning as it were a lamp] Rather, like a torch, with a flaring trail of fire. The same image is used of natural shooting stars, e.g. Verg. Aen. ii. 694.

Revelation 8:10. Ὁ τρίτος, the third) The connection of events, times, and places, proves that the Arian and Vandal calamities are here pointed out. That Arius is the star, is the true judgment of Bullinger, Nigrinus, Viegas (although, following the opinion of Lyranus and Aureolus, he enters into a disputation also respecting Pelagius), also of Forbes, Cocceius, Gulichius, Sandhagen, N. Muler, Bierman, Amelius, Horchius, Vitringa, Reinbeck, Stock, Lœseken: and before all these, Seb. Meyer thought that Arius, together with other heretics, is here pointed out. The interpretation of Brightman concerning the Arian Emperors, Constantius and Valens, is weightily refuted by Marck. If these emperors are considered as a star on account of their princely majesty, I do not see on what grounds their fall can be referred to their departure from the faith, and not rather to the loss of their imperial glory. By which very argument also James Abbadie is refuted, who, in his work published not only in French but also in Belgic, interprets the star as referring to Count Boniface, by whose invitation the Vandals seized upon Africa. Independently of this, there was a great influx of Arianism into the state also: so that we cannot be surprised that this heresy has a place among the trumpets.

Verse 10. - And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp. In the Old Testament trouble is foretold under the symbol of darkened stars (cf. Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10). In Matthew 24:29 the falling of stars is part of the general picture of the coming of the judgment day. The description here may therefore symbolize an act of judgment - one more of the troubles inflicted by God upon the guilty world. The frequent use of the symbol, star, as a type of one in an exalted position, has led most commentators to interpret the star of individual rulers, especially of those who poisoned the waters of Divine truth by heresy. But it seems more likely that the event here portrayed carries one step further the description of God's vengeance on the wicked, which has been already partially set forth. At first vegetation, then the sea, now the land waters, are smitten. The star, as the means employed by God, is typical of the awe striking nature of the punishment, and is indicative of the fact that the judgment is the act of God, and proceeds directly from heaven, and is not to be attributed to merely natural circumstances. And it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters. Not upon a third part of the fountains, but upon all fountains, just as in ver. 7 "all green grass" is visited with the plague. As stated above, another part of creation (and therefore another portion, of mankind) is afflicted. It is, of course, Impossible to point out the complete fulfilment of this judgment, Which is yet being fulfilled, but we may mention as illustrations the trouble caused to man by means of land waters, by floods, by drought, by pestilence. As before, only part suffers from this visitation; the greater part is spared. Revelation 8:10Lamp (λαμπὰς)

Rev., torch. See on Revelation 4:5.

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