Revelation 9:14
Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
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9:13-21 The sixth angel sounded, and here the power of the Turks seems the subject. Their time is limited. They not only slew in war, but brought a poisonous and ruinous religion. The antichristian generation repented not under these dreadful judgments. From this sixth trumpet learn that God can make one enemy of the church a scourge and a plague to another. The idolatry in the remains of the eastern church and elsewhere, and the sins of professed Christians, render this prophecy and its fulfilment more wonderful. And the attentive reader of Scripture and history, may find his faith and hope strengthened by events, which in other respects fill his heart with anguish and his eyes with tears, while he sees that men who escape these plagues, repent not of their evil works, but go on with idolatries, wickedness, and cruelty, till wrath comes upon them to the utmost.Saying to the sixth angel, which had the trumpet - See the notes at Revelation 8:2.

Loose, ... - This power, it would seem, was given to the sixth angel in addition to his office of blowing the trumpet. All this, of course, was in vision, and cannot be literally interpreted. The meaning is, that the effect of his blowing the trumpet would be the same as if angels that had been bound should be suddenly loosed and suffered to go forth over the earth; that is, some event would occur which would be properly symbolized by such an act.

The four angels - Compare the notes at Revelation 8:2. It was customary to represent important events as occurring under the ministry of angels. The general meaning here is, that in the vicinity of the river Euphrates there were mighty powers which had been bound or held in check, which were now to be let loose upon the world. What we are to look for in the fulfillment is evidently this - some power that seemed to be kept back by an invisible influence as if by angels, now suddenly let loose and suffered to accomplish the purpose of desolation mentioned in the subsequent verses. It is not necessary to suppose that angels were actually employed in these restraints, though no one can demonstrate that their agency was not concerned in the transactions here referred to. Compare the notes on Daniel 10:12-13. It has been made a question why the number four is specified, and whether the forces were in any sense made up of four divisions, nations, or people. While nothing certain can be determined in regard to that, and while the number four may be used merely to denote a great and strong force, yet it must be admitted that the most obvious interpretation would be to refer it to some combination of forces, or to some union of powers, that was to accomplish what is here said. If it had been a single nation, it would have been more in accordance with the usual method in prophecy to have represented them as restrained by an angel, or by angels in general, without specifying any number.

Which are bound - That is, they seemed to be bound. There was something which held them, and the forces under them, in check, until they were thus commanded to go forth. In the fulfillment of this it will be necessary to look for something of the nature of a check or restraint on these forces, until they were commissioned to go forth to accomplish the work of destruction.

In the great river Euphrates - The well-known river of that name, commonly called, in the Scriptures, "the great river," and, by way of eminence, "the river," Exodus 23:31; Isaiah 8:7. This river was on the east of Palestine; and the language used here naturally denotes that the power referred to under the sixth trumpet would spring up in the East, and that it would have its origin in the vicinity of that river. Those interpreters, therefore, who apply this to the invasion of Judaea by the Romans have great difficulty in explaining this - as the forces employed in the destruction of Jerusalem came from the West, and not from the East. The fair interpretation is, that there were forces in the vicinity of the Euphrates which were, up to this period, bound or restrained, but which were now suffered to spread woe and sorrow over a considerable portion of the world.

14. in, &c.—Greek, "epi to potamo"; "on," or "at the great river."

Euphrates—(Compare Re 16:12). The river whereat Babylon, the ancient foe of God's people was situated. Again, whether from the literal region of the Euphrates, or from the spiritual Babylon (the apostate Church, especially Rome), four angelic ministers of God's judgments shall go forth, assembling an army of horsemen throughout the four quarters of the earth, to slay a third of men, the brunt of the visitation shall be on Palestine.

By these four angels, or instruments of God to execute his vengeance, I find the most valuable interpreters understanding the Turks, considered as distinct from the Saracens, and succeeding of them, whose empire began in Ottoman, Anno 1296, or thereabouts. Mr. Mede saith these four angels denote so many sultanies or kingdoms, into which the Turks were dispersed, having passed the river Euphrates, which river is famous for four things:

1. It was the boundary of David and Solomon’s kingdom, Deu 11:24 Joshua 1:4.

2. It was that river by which Babylon stood, Jeremiah 13:4-6.

3. It was the boundary of the Roman empire, beyond which it could never extend itself.

4. And it also was the seat of the Turks, who having some years before come over the Euphrates, first divided themselves into a tetrarchy; of which one in Asia, another at Aleppo, another at Damascus, a fourth at Antioch.

Mr. Mede gives us a table or diagram of it, Clav. Apoc. 40. p. 102. Here they were bounded for a while, but about the year 1300 they were loosed, and began further to invade Europe; which is the severe providence of God, conceived to be here foretold as the consequent of this sixth angel’s sounding. The Turks who, though come over the river Euphrates, had hitherto by the providence of God been bounded near unto it, not much contending to enlarge their territories, now joined together with the Saracens under Ottoman, and went further into Europe, and could by no means be stopped till they had got the empire of Constantinople.

Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet,.... The sixth trumpet, which was given him, and he had prepared himself to sound, and had sounded:

loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates; not the four angels in Revelation 7:1; they stood upon the four corners of the earth; these were in, or at the river Euphrates; they held the four winds, that they should not blow, or restrained the savage nations, that they should not hurt; these are bound themselves, that they might not do mischief; nor are angels by nature at all intended; not evil angels, though they are bound in chains of darkness, and are reserved to judgment, they are admitted indeed to rove about in the air and earth, but are under the restraints of the power and providence of God; nor good angels, who are at the divine beck, and go in and out, and are detained and sent forth according to the pleasure of God, and are sometimes employed in killing great numbers of men; see 2 Samuel 24:15; but men are here meant, as appears from Revelation 9:16, and particularly the Turks, as most interpreters agree; who dwelt on the other side the river Euphrates, and were let loose, or suffered to pass over that river into the eastern empire, to ruin and destroy it, as they did: these are called "angels", because of their might and force, their power and strength, with which they bore all before them; and for their great swiftness and rapidity in the victories and conquests which the Ottoman family obtained; who, from very small beginnings, raised themselves, in a very little time, to a large monarchy, and founded the Turkish empire, which, from them, is to this day called the Ottoman empire. Ottoman the First subdued great part of Bithynia, and fixed the seat of his kingdom at Prusa; or rather his son Urchanes, who conquered Mysia, Lycaonia, Phrygia, Caria, and the rest, to the Hellespont, and the Euxine sea. Amurath his son took Callipolis, Hadrianople, and the adjacent provinces. Bajazet added to the empire Thessalia, Macedonia, Phocis, Attica, Mysia, and Bulgaria; and Mahomet the Second took Constantinople itself, and thereby put an end to the eastern empire; and all this was done in a very few years: it is said of this last, that he conquered two empires, and twelve kingdoms, and above two hundred cities (a). And these Ottoman Turks may be called angels, or messengers, because they were the messengers and executioners of God's wrath upon the eastern empire: they are signified by "four angels", either, as some think, because of the four names of Saracens, Turks, Tartars, and Arabians, though all Mahometans, under which they went, before they were united under one emperor, Ottoman; or rather because of the four principalities, or governments, into which they were divided, while they were upon the banks of, or near to the river Euphrates; the seat of one being at Iconium, another at Bagdad, a third at Aleppo, and a fourth at Damascus; and chiefly because, when they passed the river Euphrates, they had four princes at the head of them, Soliman Shak, and his three sons. Soliman himself, as he passed, not knowing the fords of the river, was drowned in it; at which his sons being so affrighted, two of them, Sankur Zengi, and Gun Tugdi, returned to Persia, but the third, Ortogrules, with his three sons (which made "four" again) Condoz, Sarubani, and Othman, or Ottoman, continued, to whom Aladdin, sultan of Iconium, gave them some land among the mountains of Armenia (b); and from hence, by degrees, as before observed, a large empire was raised. Now these are said to be "bound in the great river Euphrates"; which river is to be literally understood, and is the same with that which is so called in Genesis 2:14, and ran through Mesopotamia and Chaldea, and was the boundary of the Roman empire; so it was fixed by Hadrian (c); and beyond which the Turks, before this time did rarely go, and if they did, retired again: for till this time, as the historian says (d), the Turks had Asia, , "within Euphrates", and the Arabians Coelo-Syria and Phoenicia. Now here these were bound; they were not suffered to pass the river, or to make any inroads of any consequence further into the Roman empire; they were restrained, by the decree of God, from proceeding any further till this time; which, as he fixes a decreed place for the sea, that its waves should come thus far, and no further, so he restrains princes from their enterprises, and settles the bounds of empires, as long as he pleases; and they were kept back by the power of God from pouring in upon the empire, and pouring forth their fury upon it, who causes the wrath of men to praise him, and restrains the remainder of it; and they were also prevented from coming any further, as yet, through the internal divisions among themselves, and by the victories of the Christians in Palestine.

(a) Petav. Rationem. Temp. par. 1. l. 9. c. 7. (b) Pocock, Supplem. Hist. Dynast. Abulpharaji, p. 41, 42. (c) Rufi Fest. Brev. p. 368. Eutrop. Hist. Roman. l. 8. p. 502. (d) Nicephor. Gregor. Hist. Roman, l. 2. p. 29.

Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, {12} Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

(12) As if he should have said, these till now have been bound by the power of God, that they could not freely run over all men as they lusted, but were held and restrained at that great river of Euphrates, that is, in their spiritual Babylon (or this is a paraphrase of the spiritual Babylon, by the limits of the visible Babylon long since overthrown) that they might not commit those horrible slaughters, which they long breathed after. Now go to it, let loose those four angels, that is, administers of the wrath of God, in that number that is convenient to the slaughtering of the four quarters of the world: stir them up and give them the bridle, that rushing out of that Babylon of theirs, which is the seat of the wicked ones, they may fly over all the world, therein to rage, and most licentiously to practise their tyranny, as God has ordained. This was done when Gregory the ninth by public authority established as Law, his own Decretals, by which he might freely lay traps for the life of simple men. For who is it that sees not that the laws of Decretal, most of them are snares to catch souls with? Since that time (O good God) how many great slaughters have there been? How many great massacres? All history is full of them: and this our age abounds with most horrible and monstrous examples of the these.

Revelation 9:14. The sixth angel takes part in the action. The Euphrates had been the ideal Eastern boundary of Israel’s territory: it now formed the frontier between Rome and her dreaded neighbour, the Parthian Empire (Philo, leg. ad C[913] § ii.; Verg. Georg. i. 509; Tac. Hist. iv. 51).

[913]. Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.

14. Loose the four angels] We are reminded of the four angels of Revelation 7:1, but it is hardly possible that they are the same as these. The plagues held back by them, on “the earth, the sea, and the trees,” have come already, Revelation 8:7-9 : moreover, these angels do not stand “on the four corners of the earth,” but in one not very remote part of it. No satisfactory explanation of their meaning has been given: nor can we be sure whether the name Euphrates is to be taken literally. We hear of it again in Revelation 16:12, where the arguments for and against a literal interpretation seem almost equally balanced.

Revelation 9:14. Ὁ ἔχων[98]) See App. In what manner τῷ ἀγγέλῳ ὁ ἔχων is said, will be plain from the note on ch. Revelation 20:2.—ΜΕΓΆΛῼ) I have said that this frequent epithet of the Euphrates is more necessary at ch. Revelation 16:12 than at ch. Revelation 9:14. Wolf thinks that it is equally adapted to the two passages: but the greatness, or the width and depth of the river, certainly increases the miraculousness of its being dried up: Psalm 74:15. But here the same greatness of the river does not so greatly apply to the angels who are bound in the river: nay, it is even more inappropriate, if the angels were bound in that quarter, where that river is less; a matter which no one can either affirm or deny. However it is, the commentary of Apringius is added to the authorities which are without this adjective.[99] The great river Euphrates is also read, Deuteronomy 1:7; Joshua 1:4; but it is the river Euphrates, Deuteronomy 11:24, in the Hebrew: for in that place also in the Greek τοῦ μεγάλου is added. Nor is the article repeated without reason, τῷ ποταμῷ τῷ Εὐφράτῃ; for thus we read, Genesis 19:9, τὸν ἀνδρὰ τὸν Λώτ. In Ezek. it is often read, ἐπὶ τοῦ ποταμοῦ τοῦ Χοβάρ. It is Apposition.

[98] ὁ ἔχων, AB. ὃς εἶχε, Rec. Text. Vulg. Cypr. h, “qui habebat” (h, “portabat.”—E.

[99] A Vulg. h, Cypr. 322, support μεγάλῳ, with Rec. Text.—E.

Verse 14. - Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet. Tregelles reads, "Saying to the sixth angel, Thou that hast the trumpet," etc.; but the common rendering is much more probable. Here the angel is represented as directly causing the incidents which follow; in the other cases, we are only told that each angel "sounded." Loose the four angels which are hound in the great river Euphrates. This vision has led to a great variety of interpretations. Some are obviously absurd; in all these is considerable doubt and difficulty. The following is offered as a possible solution to some extent, though it is not pretended that every difficulty is satisfactorily disposed cf. In making this suggestion, the following circumstances have been borne in mind:

(1) The trumpet visions seem constructed upon a systematic plan, and therefore it seems likely that this judgment, like the fifth and the seventh, is a spiritual one (vide supra).

(2) The objects of this punishment are those who commit the sins described in vers. 20, 21.

(3) The vision must have borne some meaning for these to whom it was first delivered. It seems unlikely, therefore, that events are here portrayed which could not possibly have been foreseen and understood by the early Christians. This seems to exclude (except possibly in a secondary sense) all reference to the papacy, etc. (as Wordsworth).

(4) Whether the angels here described are good angels or bad angels makes no material difference to the main part of the vision, which is to set forth punishment for the ungodly, sanctioned or originated by God.

(5) The object of the punishment is to bring men to repentance, but it largely fails to do so (ver. 21). We therefore conclude that the whole judgment portrays the spiritual evils which afflict the ungodly in this life, and which give them, as it were, a foretaste of their doom in the life to come. Sin frequently brings unrest and trouble immediately in its train; seldom, if ever, peace and satisfaction. The stings of sin are, perhaps, none the less potent because their effect is frequently unseen by the general public. The terror of the murderer, the shame of the thief, the abasement and physical suffering of the impure, the delirium tremens of the drunkard, are very real torments. The number of such inflictions is, indeed, great enough to be described as "two myriads of myriads" (ver. 16): they destroy a part, but not the greater part (ver. 15, "the third part") of men; and yet how largely they fail to bring men to repentance! Such punishment is a foretaste of hell, as seems to be foreshadowed in the "fire and smoke and brimstone" of vers. 17, 18. Wordsworth and others contend that the "four angels" are good angels, who have been hitherto restrained. As remarked above, the point is not a material one, but it seems more probable that evil angels are intended. Their loosing does not necessarily mean that they are loosed at a time subsequent to this vision, but only that they are under the control of God, Who allows them freedom to carry out this mission. Thus also, in the case of the other judgments, it has been pointed out that the period of their operation may extend throughout all ages, from the beginning to the end of the world. They arise from the Euphrates. Many writers point out that this river was looked upon by the Israelites as the natural source from which sprang their enemies (see Isaiah 7:20; Isaiah 8:7; Jeremiah 46:10). Indeed, the Euphrates was looked upon as the boundary of the Jewish kingdom (Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 1:4; 2 Samuel 8:3; 1 Chronicles 5:9); hence those coming from out of the Euphrates were frequently enemies. The expression may be merely accessory to the general filling up of the picture, or it may teach us that the punishments which follow flow from their natural source, viz. men's sins (cf. Revelation 16:12, where the Euphrates is certainly alluded to as the source from whence arise hostile hosts). Revelation 9:14In the great river (ἐπί)

Rev., more correctly, at.


The Euphrates was known as the great River, the River, the Flood. It rises in the mountains of Armenia, breaks through the Taurus range and runs south and southeast until it joins the Tigris in lower Babylonia Its total length is from 1,600 to 1,800 miles, and it is navigable for small craft twelve hundred miles from its mouth. It was the boundary-line of Israel on the northeast (Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; Joshua 1:4. Compare 2 Samuel 8:3-8; 1 Kings 4:21). It thus formed the natural defense of the chosen people against the armies of Assyria. The melting of the mountain snows causes an annual flood, beginning in March and increasing until May. These floods became an emblem of the judgments inflicted by God upon Israel by means of Babylon and Assyria. The brook of Shiloah which flowed past Zion and Moriah was a type of the temple and of its mighty and gracious Lord; and the refusal of allegiance to God by the chosen people is represented as their rejection of the waters of Shiloah which flows softly, and their punishment therefor by the bringing in of the waters of the mighty and great river (Isaiah 8:5-8; compare Jeremiah 17:13). To the prophets the Euphrates was the symbol of all that was disastrous in the divine judgments.

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