Revelation 8:7
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast on the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) The first angel . . .—Better, And the first sounded, and there took place hail, and fire mingled in blood, and it was cast upon the earth; and the third part of the earth was burnt up, and the third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. The reference to the Egyptian plagues is obvious: “There was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous . . . and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field” (Exodus 9:23-25). This resemblance to the history of Israel in Egypt gives us the hint of the true meaning. It carries us back to the past, and asks us to remember the mighty works of God in old times. It reminds us that He who bade Joshua cause the trumpets to be sounded by the walls of Jericho, and who delivered His people from the tyranny of Pharaoh, is the same God, mighty to save His people, to break the fetters of ignorance, and to cast down the high walls of pride and sin. But it is needful to observe the variation as well as the resemblance. This plague differs from the Egyptian in the introduction of blood. This variation carries it out of the possibility of literal interpretations. We begin to think of the strongly figurative language of Joel: “the blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke” (Joel 2:30); and we call to mind that St. Peter announced that the fulfilment of this prophecy of Joel commenced with the Pentecostal effusion of the Holy Spirit. Then the war trumpet of deliverance had been sounded; then the process of the earth’s emancipation had begun; then commenced the series of sorrows and judgments which the obstinate love of men for darkness rather than light would bring upon themselves; and through the operation of these the kingdom of Christ would be established. The first judgment falls upon the trees and grass. Beneath its touch the grass withereth, the flower fadeth. Thus the day of the Lord is upon the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan; upon every one that is proud and lofty (Isaiah 2:12-13; and 1Peter 1:24). It matters little in what way this humbling of human pride takes place. The world is full of illustrations. The loftiness of Jerusalem was lowered when the weakness of her self-sufficient religiousness was revealed and her Pharisaic pride was exposed; the loftiness of Rome was humbled when the Gothic invaders, like a storm of hail (so they were described by Claudian), devastated the empire. These are illustrations; but the prophecy is for all time, for the day of the Lord is upon “all that are proud.” We must not press the phrase “the third part” too closely: it clearly is designed to remind us that in wrath God remembers mercy, and that while He humbles all He does not utterly destroy. (Comp. Zechariah 13:8.) Is this the baptism of fire which withers the florid, pretentious, but fruitless religions of mankind?

Revelation 8:7. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood — A proper representation of great commotions and disorders, attended with much bloodshed, and the destruction of many of the several ranks and conditions of men. “A thunder-storm or tempest, that throws down all before it, is a fit metaphor to express the calamities of war, whether from civil disturbances or foreign invasion, which often, like a hurricane, lay all things waste as far as they reach. Accordingly, in the language of prophecy, this is a usual representation thereof. So the Prophet Isaiah expresses the invasion of Israel by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, Isaiah 28:2. And thus he expresses the judgments of God in general, Isaiah 29:6. And in this way Ezekiel expresses the judgments of God on the prophets who deceived the people, Ezekiel 13:13.” — Lowman. Trees here, says Mr. Waple, according to the prophetic manner of speech, signify the great ones, and grass, by the like analogy, signifies the common people. The reader will wish to see how this prophetic representation was verified in corresponding history. Let it be recollected then, as was stated in the notes on the opening of the sixth seal, Revelation 6:12-17, that the former period put an end to the persecution of heathen Rome by the empire of Constantine, about A.D. 323. Then was a time of peace and rest to the empire, as well as the church; which answers well to the time appointed for sealing the servants of God in their foreheads. But this is represented as a short time, and the angels soon prepared themselves to sound when there would be new commotions to disturb the peace of the empire and church. Constantine came to the whole power of the empire about A.D. 323, and continued possessed of that power about fifteen years, namely to A.D. 337. During all this time the empire enjoyed a state of tranquillity unknown for many years; there were no civil disorders; and though the Goths made some incursions into Mysia, the most distant parts of the Roman dominions, they were soon driven back into their own country. The profession of Christianity was greatly encouraged, and the converts to it from idolatry were innumerable; so that the face of religion was in a very short time quite changed throughout the Roman empire. Thus the providence of God, notwithstanding all opposition, brought the Christian Church into a state of great security and prosperity.

But on the death of Constantine the state of things was soon altered. He was succeeded by his three sons in different parts of his empire; by Constantine in Gaul, Constans in Italy, and Constantius in Asia and the East. Constantius in a short time sacrificed his father’s near relations to his jealousy and power; differences arose between Constantine and Constans, and the latter surprised the former and put him to death. Soon after Constans himself was put to death by Magnentius, who assumed the empire. At the same time Constantius, in the East, was hard pressed by the Persians; but apprehending greater danger from Magnentius, he marched against him; and the war between them was so fierce and bloody, that it almost ruined the empire. A little after this bloody intestine war all the Roman provinces were invaded at once, from the eastern to the western limits, by the Franks, Almans, Saxons, Quades, Sarmatians, and Persians; so that, according to Eutropius, when the barbarians had taken many towns, besieged, others, and there was everywhere a most destructive devastation, the Roman empire evidently tottered to its fall. It is a remarkable part of this history, that this storm of war fell so heavy on the great men of the empire, and in particular on the family of Constantine, though so likely to continue, seeing his own children and near relations were so many: and yet, in twenty-four years after his death these commotions put an end to his posterity, in the death of his three sons; and in three years more extinguished his family by the death of Julian in a battle against the Persians. The following reigns of Jovian, Valentinian, Valens, and Gratian, to the time when Gratian nominated Theodosius to the empire, are one continued series of trouble, by the invasion of the several provinces of the empire, and bloody battles in defence of them, for about the space of sixteen years, from the year 363 to 379. Thus Lowman, whose interpretation and application of this part of the prophecy are confirmed by Bishop Newton, save that the bishop considers this first trumpet as comprehending several events subsequent to those which Lowman includes in it. At the sounding of the first trumpet, says he, the barbarous nations, like a storm of hail and fire mingled with blood, invade the Roman territories, and destroy the third part of trees — That is, the trees of the third part of the earth; and the green grass — That is, both old and young, high and low, rich and poor together. Theodosius the Great died in the year 395; and no sooner was he dead, than the Huns, Goths, and other barbarians, like hail for multitude, and breathing fire and slaughter, broke in upon the best provinces of the empire, both in the east and west, with greater success than they had ever done before. But by this trumpet, I conceive, were principally intended the irruptions and depredations of the Goths, under the conduct of the famous Alaric, who began his incursions in the same year, 395; first ravaged Greece, then wasted Italy, besieged Rome, and was bought off at an exorbitant price; besieged it again in the year 410, took and plundered the city, and set fire to it in several places. Philostorgius, who lived and wrote of these times, saith, that “the sword of the barbarians destroyed the greatest multitude of men; and among other calamities, dry heats, with flashes of flame and whirlwinds of fire, occasioned various and intolerable terrors; yea, and hail greater than could be held in a man’s hand, fell down in several places, weighing as much as eight pounds.” Well therefore might the prophet compare these incursions of the barbarians to hail and fire mingled with blood. Claudian, in like manner, compares them to a storm of hail, in his poem on this very war. Jerome also saith, of some of these barbarians, “that they came on unexpectedly everywhere, and marching quicker than report, spared not religion, nor dignities, nor age, nor had compassion on crying infants: those were compelled to die, who had not yet begun to live.” So truly did they destroy the trees and the green grass together. These great calamities, which in so short a time befell the Roman empire after its being brought to the profession of Christianity, and in particular the family of Constantine, by whose instrumentality the great change in favour of Christianity had been effected, was a new and great trial of the faith, constancy, and patience of the church. As it became the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence to punish the wickedness of the world, which caused the disorders of those times, Christ was pleased in his goodness to forewarn the church of it, that it might learn to justify the ways of Providence, and not to faint under the chastisement which the abuse of the best religion in the world had rendered both proper and necessary: and when probably such afflictions, coming so soon after their great deliverance from the persecutions of heathen Rome, would be very unexpected, and the more discouraging.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.The first angel sounded - The first in order, and indicating the first in the series of events that were to follow.

And there followed hail - Hail is usually a symbol of the divine vengeance, as it has often been employed to accomplish the divine purposes of punishment. Thus, in Exodus 9:23, "And the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt." So in Psalm 105:32, referring to the plagues upon Egypt, it is said, "He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land." So again, Psalm 78:48, "He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts." As early as the time of Job hail was understood to be an emblem of the divine displeasure, and an instrument in inflicting punishment:

"Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow,

Or hast thou seen the treasure of the hail?

Which I have reserved against the time of trouble,

Against the day of battle and war!"

7. The common feature of the first four trumpets is, the judgments under them affect natural objects, the accessories of life, the earth, trees, grass, the sea, rivers, fountains, the light of the sun, moon, and stars. The last three, the woe-trumpets (Re 8:13), affect men's life with pain, death, and hell. The language is evidently drawn from the plagues of Egypt, five or six out of the ten exactly corresponding: the hail, the fire (Ex 9:24), the WATER turned to blood (Ex 7:19), the darkness (Ex 10:21), the locusts (Ex 10:12), and perhaps the death (Re 9:18). Judicial retribution in kind characterizes the inflictions of the first four, those elements which had been abused punishing their abusers.

mingled with—A, B, and Vulgate read, Greek, "… IN blood." So in the case of the second and third vials (Re 16:3, 4).

upon the earth—Greek, "unto the earth." A, B, Vulgate, and Syriac add, "And the third of the earth was burnt up." So under the third trumpet, the third of the rivers is affected: also, under the sixth trumpet, the third part of men are killed. In Zec 13:8, 9 this tripartite division appears, but the proportions reversed, two parts killed, only a third preserved. Here, vice versa, two-thirds escape, one-third is smitten. The fire was the predominant element.

all green grass—no longer a third, but all is burnt up.

The first angel sounded; the first of the seven angels to whom the seven trumpets were given, Revelation 8:2, began to execute his commission; the consequents of which were

hail and fire mingled with blood, cast upon the earth: by which some understand the primitive church’s persecutions by the Jews and the heathen emperors; but these were over. Some understand God’s revenge upon the Jews; but this also was taken some hundreds of years since. Some understand unseasonable weather in many parts of the world; but we read nothing like this in history. Some understand contests happening in the church; others understand heresies. But I cannot but rather agree with the reverend Mr. Mede, who expounds it of great troubles, and blood, and slaughter which should happen; and thinks that this prophecy began to be fulfilled about the death of Theodosius, Anno 395. For in this very year (saith he) Alaricus the king of the Goths brake into Macedonia, with a great army went into Thessalia, and so into Achaia, Peloponnesus, Corinth, Argos, Sparta, burning, wasting, and ruining all places; and so went on till the year 400; then fell upon the eastern empire, and committed the same outrages in Dalmatia and Hungary; then went into Stiria and Bavaria, thence into Italy and to Venice. After this, in the year 404, these barbarous nations invaded Italy, and took divers places. In the year 406 the Vandals and Alans, with many others, invaded France, Spain, and Africa: all which he proveth from the testimony of Jerome, Ep. 3. 11. This he judgeth the effect of the first angel’s sounding, and to have been signified by the hail and fire mingled with blood, consonant to other scriptures. Isaiah, Isaiah 28:2, compareth Shalmaneser to a storm of hail; and, Isaiah 30:30, he so likeneth the ruin to come upon the Assyrians. By the

trees burnt up, are (saith he) the great and rich men to be understood, ordinarily in Scripture compared to trees, Isaiah 2:13 14:8 Zechariah 11:2; and by the

green grass, the ordinary common people. Thus he judgeth the effects of this first trumpet’s sounding to have been determined in fifteen years, viz. from the year 395 to 410. The first angel sounded,.... Or blew his trumpet:

and there followed hail and fire, mingled with blood; somewhat like one of the plagues of Egypt, Exodus 9:23; in which was hail mingled with fire, only no blood, but what was caused by its fall on man and beast. Some have thought the Arian heresy is here intended, which may well enough agree with the time; and which may be compared to "hail", for the mischief it did to the vines, the churches; and because of the violence with which it came, and the chillness of affection to Christ and his people, which it brought on professors of religion; and the barrenness which followed upon it, it making men barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ Jesus; and to "fire", because of the wrath, contentions, animosities, and divisions it occasioned among those who were called Christians: and "blood" may be brought into the account, since the like persecutions under Constantius and Valens were raised against the orthodox on account of it as were against the Christians under the Heathen emperors: and this storm fell upon "the earth"; the whole Roman empire; for even all the world was once said to be Arian, except one Athanasius; and particularly upon the carnal and earthly part of the church, who were seeking places and preferments under the Arian emperors: "and burnt up the third part of trees"; the trees of righteousness, the saints, particularly the doctors of the church, the tall cedars in Lebanon; who either seemed to be such, and were infected with this heresy, and destroyed by it, as many were; or were truly such, and were greatly oppressed, afflicted, and persecuted for not embracing it: and also "all green grass"; the common people, private Christians, weak believers, who had the truth of grace in them, and suffered much for not giving into this heresy; or who seemed to have it, but had it not, but withered away, being scorched up and destroyed with this pernicious notion: but rather this trumpet regards not the church, but the empire; and this storm of hail, fire, and blood, designs the irruption of the Goths into it, from the year 395, in which Theodosius died, to the year 408, under Radagaisus their general; with two hundred thousand of them, some say four hundred thousand, be entered and overrun all Italy, but was stopped and defeated by Stilicho; also Alaricus, king of the Goths, penetrated into Italy, came to Ravenna, and pitched his camp not far from Polentia, to whom the Emperor Honorius gave up France and Spain to make him easy, and that he might cease from his ravages and depredations (h); and these irruptions and devastations may be fitly expressed by hail, fire, and blood, just as the coming of the Assyrian monarch into the land of Israel is signified by a tempest of hail, and a destroying storm, Isaiah 28:2; and it is remarkable, as Mr. Daubuz observes, that Claudian the poet (i), who lived at the time of Alarick's war, compares it to hail:

and they were cast upon the earth; the Roman empire, the continent more especially, as Germany, France, Spain, and Italy, which were particularly affected and distressed with these barbarous people:

and the third part of trees were burnt up; by which seem to be meant people of the higher rank, the richer sort of people, who suffered much in these calamities; see Isaiah 2:13; yea, princes, nobles, and rulers, both civil and ecclesiastical, who suffered much at this time, as Jerom (k), who was then living, testifies; and so "trees" are interpreted of kings, rulers, and governors, by the Targum on Isaiah 2:13; "the trees of the field", in Isaiah 55:12; are interpreted of kingdoms (l): the Alexandrian copy, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, read before this clause, "and the third part of the earth was burnt"; that is, of the Roman empire:

and all green grass was burnt up; the common people, who may be compared to spires of "grass" for their multitude, being as it were innumerable; and to "green" grass, for their delightful, comfortable, and flourishing condition before these calamities came upon them; and for their weakness and impotency to withstand such powerful enemies; see Job 5:25; and these commonly suffer most when a country is overrun and plundered by an enemy.

(h) Cassiodor. Chronicon in Arcad. & Honor. 42. Petav. Rationar. Tempor. par. 1. l. 6. c. 10. p. 275. Hist. Eccl. Magdeburg. cent. 5. c. 16. p. 871. (i) De Bello Getico, v. 174. p. 209. Ed. Barthii. (k) In Epitaph. Nepotian. fol. 9. I.((l) Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 50. 1.

{5} The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

(5) The first execution at the sound of the first angel, on the earth, that is, the inhabitants of the earth (by metonymy) and on all the fruits of it: as comparing this verse with the second part of Re 8:9 does plainly declare.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 8:7. “When the first angel sounded the trumpet, “there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth.” The plague is like that of Egypt, Exodus 9:24 sqq., only that with the hail and fire, i.e., masses of fire,[2464] there is no lightning;[2465] nor is there any thing said of a wind, as perhaps the Prester of Plin., H. N. ii. 49,[2466] but blood[2467] is to be added, with which both the hail and fire are mingled.[2468] The ἐν with αἵματι enables us to see the original meaning still more clearly, as, e.g., Revelation 6:8 : the blood appears as the mass wherein hail and fire are found.[2469] The expression μεμιγμ. ἐν αἳμ. does not give the idea of a “rain of blood.” Entirely distorted, however, is the explanation of Eichh.: “While the hail was falling, a shower also poured in the midst of flashes of lightning so rapidly following one another, that the shower itself seemed to be red with the reflected flames of the lightning.” The plague in this passage differs from that described in Exodus 9:24 sqq., also in the fact that there the devastation was wrought by the hail, but here by the fire: κατεκάη.

τὸ τριτον τῆς γῆς. De Wette properly thinks only of the surface of the earth, with that which is upon it. Yet neither the especially prominent trees,[2470] the third part of which are consumed, nor the green grass all of which is burned, are to be regarded upon only that third part of the earth; but besides the τρίτον τῆς γῆς, also (καὶ) the third part of all the trees, and besides (καὶ) all the grass (upon the whole earth).

To explain what is here beheld by John as in any way allegorical, and thus to bring out the assumed “meaning” of the whole, and of its individual features, is an undertaking, which, since it has no foundation in the text, can lead only to what is arbitrary. Beda, according to whom there is described in Revelation 8:7 the destruction of the godless in general, refers the entire portrayal to “the punishment of hell.” Luther, who begins in general with chs. 7 and 8. the prophecy of spiritual tribulations, i.e., of heresies, and then progresses to the Papacy, thinks here of Tatian and the Encratites. Grotius says, “The first trumpet explains the cause of the rest,” and explains χάλαζα = “the hardening of the hearts of the Jews;” πῦρ μεμ. ἐν αῖμ. = “sanguinary rage.” “Civil insurrections”[2471] and wars are suggested, not only by those who everywhere find the Romano-Judaic disturbances, but also by Beng.[2472] and Hengstenb.[2473] Vitr. refers to the plague and famine in the times of Decius and Gallus.[2474] Stem explains persecutions of the Church by the heathen, erroneous doctrines,[2475] and worldly wars in the Roman Empire. Ebrard understands the spiritual famine as it occurs in such Catholic lands as have rejected the light of the Reformation.

[2464] De Wette.

[2465] Ebrard.

[2466] Ew. i.

[2467] Cf. John 3:3.

[2468] The var. μεμιγμενον of א is not a bad interpretation, since the hail does not appear mingled with fire in the blood, but only the fire is combined with the blood. The effect also, which is ascribed only to the fire, corresponds well with this. But for a change of text the authority of א is insufficient.

[2469] Cf. Matthew 7:2. Winer, p. 363.

[2470] Cf. Revelation 7:1; Revelation 7:3.

[2471] Wetst., Herd., etc.

[2472] Wars under Trajan and Hadrian. The “earth” is Asia, as Revelation 7:1; but the trees,” not as Revelation 7:1, Africa, but eminent Jews. The “grass” designates ordinary Jews.

[2473] Who interprets the “trees” and “grass” just as Beng.

[2474] “Globes of fire mixed with hail prefigured the plague enkindled among men from the sulphurous material of the atmosphere.”

[2475] By which the trees themselves, i.e., bishops and priests, were injured.

Revelation 8:7-12. The first four trumpets are expressly distinguished by Revelation 8:13, from the last three. The instrument with which the terrible war alarm[2458] and signals of various other kinds are given[2459] is employed by the seven angels to signalize a series of threatening signs preceding the judgment which is to enter at the coming of the Lord; but just as from the opened seals the impending visitations themselves come forth, so from the trumpets—the comparison of which, in other respects, with the sevenfold trumpet-blasts before Jericho is very remote[2460]—not a mere sound, which could give the signal for the expected horrors, but in consequence of the trumpet-blast, the very things themselves to be announced are presented to the gazing prophet. This is not acknowledged by those interpreters who have imagined that while the good angels, whose trumpet-tones through evangelical preachers like Hus, Luther, etc., from the time of the apostles until the end of the world have not been silenced, call to Christ, a conflict is raised by Satan, who cast (Revelation 8:7) hail and fire (i.e.; erroneous doctrine) upon the earth, so that the trees (i.e., the teachers of godliness) and the grass (i.e., ordinary Christians) are injured.[2461]

Other distorted explanations, as the opinion of Bengel, that the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3 sqq.) and the trumpets of the angels are contemporaneous, and the conjecture of Ebrard, that the first six trumpets occur before the sealing of ch. 7,[2462] or,—as the subject also is changed,—that “the sealing in reference to the first four trumpet-visions is intended to represent only a relation, but in reference to the last three, an event,”[2463]—are decided already by the general remarks on ch. 7 and on Revelation 8:1. Arbitrary interpretations of this kind necessarily accompany the effort to derive the “meaning” of the trumpet-visions from allegorizing.

[2458] Job 39:25.

[2459] Cf. Winer, Rwb., ii. 147: Musikal. Instrum.

[2460] Vitr., Rinck, Hengstenb., etc.

[2461] Aret., Zeger, etc.

[2462] p. 311.

[2463] p. 581.Revelation 8:7. Hail and fire, as in the fourth Egyptian plague, but with the added O.T. horror (see reff.) of a shower of blood instead of rain (see Chag. 12 b, where the sixth heaven is the storehouse of hail, storm, and noxious vapours, enclosed within gates of fire; and specially Sibyll. ver 377, πῦρ γὰρ ἀπʼ οὐρανῶνβρέξειπῦρ καὶ αἷμα). For similar atmospheric phenomena, see on Revelation 6:8; Revelation 6:12. Portents of this abnormal nature are recorded for the seventh decade of the first century by Roman historians, but there is no need to see specific historical allusions in prophecy upon this grand scale. The sight of atmospheric fire always signified to the ancients the approach of various disasters, especially when stars fell. Wetstein cites Bara Mezia, 59, 1; dixit R. Eliezer, percussus est mundus, tertia nempe pars olearum, tertia pars tritici, et tertia hordei. The third is a primitive Semitic (Babylonian: Jastrow, 107 f.) division, which has its roots also in Iranian religion (Yasht, xiii. 3, Yasna, xi. 7, etc.), where the tripartite division of earth, derived originally from the threefold division of earth, atmosphere, and universe, is older than the sevenfold.—δένδρων, see Schol. (τὰ δένδρα δηλονότι) on Thuc. ii. 19 καθεζόμενοι ἔτεμνοντὸ πεδίον. Pausan. ii. 365 (cf. iv. 166 f.) mentions among the phenomena attending earthquakes heavy rain or prolonged drought, the discolouring of the sun’s disc, etc.; “springs mostly dry up. Sudden gusts sometimes sweep over the country, blowing the trees down. At times, too, the sky is shot with sheets of flame. Stars are seen of an aspect never known before, and strike consternation into all beholders.”The First Trumpet, Revelation 8:77. The first angel] Read, And the first.

hail and fire mingled with blood] Cf. Exodus 9:24 : but here the blood marks the plague as more terrible, and more distinctly miraculous. “The stones of hail and the balls of fire fell in a shower of blood, just as hail and fire balls commonly fall in a shower of rain.” (Alford).

the third part] Read, The third part of the earth was burnt up, and the third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. It is certainly a feature to be noticed in the first four trumpets, as contrasted (see on Revelation 6:9) with the last three, that they introduce plagues (i), on the powers of nature only, not on men, and (ii) that on these the plague stops short of entire destruction. But no plausible explanation has been given of the destruction of a third part (cf. Revelation 6:8): still less can any reason be given why all green grass is destroyed, apparently not a third part only. The former feature is perhaps to be illustrated by Ezekiel 5:2; Zechariah 13:8-9.Revelation 8:7. Ὁ πρῶτος) Ἄγγελος[91] is supplied in the text of Andreas: for thus the beginning of the 8th discourse required with him. Erasmus followed that: Wolf defended it. But the Greek copies of the New Testament (all, as we may suppose) omit ἄγγελος. And this agrees with the very intimate connection which exists between ver. 6 and 7, especially urging on the first angel. In the mention of the following angels with trumpets, ἄγγελος is expressed, by reason of the longer intervals between the discourse and the events. That the event of the trumpets began a very short time after the writing of the book, is evident from this, that the sealing defended the servants of God against the plagues which followed, not under the seals, but under the trumpets, and under the very trumpet of the first angel. Add, that the sealing precedes the opening of the seventh seal. But the seals begin immediately after the giving of the Apocalypse: therefore the sealing also must proceed to come to pass presently after.

[91]    AB Syr. omit ἄγγελος. Vulg. h and Rec. Text add it.—E.

The trumpet of the first angel befittingly assails the Jews: and comprises the Jewish wars under Trajan and Adrian, on which the Hist. Annot. of S. R. Abbot Zeller on R. Abraham ben Dior Comment, rerum Rom., p. 69–79, are especially to be read. He copiously recounts the other writers, to which you may add Hottinger Hist. Eccl. N. T., sect. ii. p. 66, and of the ancients, Orosius, lib. vii. c. 12 and 13.—καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῆς κατεκάη) All authorities, or at least those which are entire, and have been thoroughly examined, and among them Andreas, exhibit this clause. But the book of Capnio was without it: and Erasmus follows the hiatus, and Wolf defends it. This clause is as readily omitted, as the following clause is by others, καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῶν δένδρων κατεκάη, namely, through the recurrence of the verb κατεκάη. Neither ought to be omitted:[92] and the former clause, respecting the burning of the earth, is to be retained; because the trumpet of the first angel especially refers to the earth (wherefore the passage, ch. Revelation 9:4, is not suitably compared with this one), and the earth comprises many other things besides trees and grass.

[92] ABh Vulg. support both clauses. Rec. Text omits καὶ τὸ τρίτον τ. γῆς κατεκάη.—E.Verse 7. - The first angel sounded; and the first sounded (Revised Version). The word "angel" should be omitted here, though found in the other trumpets. The first four are marked off from the last three (as in the case of the seals) by distinctive features. The first four refer to the natural life, while the last three are connected more closely with the spiritual life of man. The first four are connected and interdependent; the last three are distinct and more detached. The last three are specially marked off by the announcement of the angel in ver. 13. And there followed hail and fire mingled with blood; mingled in blood. The English Version is ambiguous, but the Greek makes it clear that it is the bail and the fire that are mingled, and that both together are sent in blood. There is an evident likeness between the judgments of the trumpets and the plagues of Egypt. The resemblance is only general, but it serves to corroborate the belief that the trumpets declare God's judgments on the world, not the trials of the Church. The Church is the true Israel which exists uninjured by these manifestations of God's wrath in the midst of the world of Egyptian wickedness. The question next naturally arises - What are the judgments referred to, which are thus to afflict the ungodly while leaving the righteous unhurt; and when and how they are to take place? The answer evidently is - All troubles of the wicked, which are the consequence of misdoing, whether these troubles overtake them in this life or in the life to come. In the words of Alford, "These punishments are not merely direct inflictions of plagues, but consist in great part of that judicial retribution on them that know not God, which arises from their own depravity, and in which their own sins are made to punish themselves." This seems to follow from the view which we haw taken of the trumpet visions. They depict God's judgments on the wicked in all ages. Just as the seal visions were found to relate to the trials of God's people in all time, and the fulfilment is not completed by any one event or series of events, so now the seer is called upon to return, as it were, to his former starting point, and follow out a new path, where he would find displayed the troubles which have afflicted or shall afflict the ungodly. It is very doubtful how much of the imagery used in this series of visions is to be interpreted as applying to some definite event, and how much is to be considered merely as the accessories of the picture, necessitated by the employment of the symbol, and not needing particular interpretation. It is possible that the seer intended first to set forth the judgments which were to descend on those powers which, at the time of the vision, were pressing so heavily upon Christians, and among which the Roman empire held the prominent place. But it also seems probable that the woes symbolized are general types of the judgments in store for the wicked of all ages, perhaps in this life, certainly at the last day. The blood is not found in Exodus. It is mentioned in close connection with hailstones and fire in Ezekiel 38:22, and a similar thought occurs in Joel 2:30. The passage may describe the ruin wrought by war; the consequences of fire and sword. Wordsworth sees the fulfilment in the Gothic invasion of Rome, which descended from the north, here typified by the hailstorm (but see on Revelation 16:21). The vision would thus answer to that of the second seal, though with this difference, that under the seal war was permitted as a trial to the Church; here it is sent as God's vengeance against the persecutors. And they were cast upon the earth. "That is," says Wordsworth, "on the earthly power, opposed to Christ and his Church, which is the kingdom of heaven." But the words seem rather to describe the destruction of inanimate creation, as in the seventh plague of Egypt. The punishment would undoubtedly fall upon mankind eventually, though immediately upon the earth and its productions. Vitringa says the earth denotes the Roman empire; the sea, the barbarous races. And the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. Insert and the third part of the earth was burnt up, as in the Revised Version. "A third of all the trees, etc., on the earth," rather than "all the trees, etc., on a specified third part of the earth." The third part is almost unanimously considered to represent "a large part, but such that the greater part was still uninjured." We are reminded again of the seventh plague, where "the flax and the barley were smitten: but the wheat and the rie were not smitten" (Exodus 9:31, 32). Wordsworth interprets the trees to mean the "princes" of the Roman empire; the grass, the common people. So also Hengstenberg. Elliott thinks "the third part of the earth" denotes the western part of the Roman empire, the eastern and central parts at first escaping the visitation. Bengel sees here a type of the wars of Trajan and Hadrian. Vitringa considers that the famine under Gallus is signified. Renan points to the storms of A.D. -68 as the fulfilment. The first angel

Omit angel.

Hail and fire mingled with blood (χάλαζα καὶ πῦρ μεμιγμένα αἵματι)

Insert ἐν in before αἵματι blood. Instead of "with blood" as A.V., and Rev., we should render "in blood." The hailstones and fire-balls fell in a shower of blood. Compare the account of the plague of fire and hail in Egypt (Exodus 9:24) to which the reference is here, where the Septuagint reads and there was hail and the fire flaming in the hail. Compare Joel 2:30.

And the third part of the earth was burnt up

This is added by the best texts.

Green (χλωρὸς)

See on pale, Revelation 6:8.

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