Revelation 9:19
For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like to serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.For their power is in their mouth - That is, as described in the fire, smoke, and brimstone that proceeded out of their mouths. What struck the seer as remarkable on looking on the symbol was, that this immense destruction seemed to proceed out of their mouths. It was not that they trampled down their enemies; nor that they destroyed them with the sword, the bow, or the spear: it was some new and remarkable power in warfare - in which the destruction seemed to proceed from fire, and smoke, and sulphur issuing from the mouths of the horses themselves.

And in their tails - The tails of the horses. This, of course, was something unusual and remarkable in horses, for naturally they have no power there. The power of a fish, or a scorpion, or a wasp, may be said to be in their tails, for their strength or their means of defense or of injury are there; but we never think of speaking in this way of horses. It is not necessary, in the interpretation of this, to suppose that the reference is literally to the tails of the horses, anymore than it is to suppose that the smoke, and fire, and brimstone literally proceeded from their mouths. John describes things as they appeared to him in looking at them from a considerable distance. From their mouths the horses belched forth fire, and smoke, and sulphur, and even their tails seemed to be armed for the work of death.

For their tails were like unto serpents - Not like the tails of serpents, but like serpents themselves.

And had heads - That is, there was something remarkable in the position and appearance of their heads. All serpents, of course, have heads; but John saw something unusual in this - or something so unique in their heads as to attract special attention. It would seem most probable that the heads of these serpents appeared to extend in every direction - as if the hairs of the horses' tails had been converted into snakes, presenting a most fearful and destructive image. Perhaps it may illustrate this to suppose that there is reference to the Amphisbaena, or two-headed snake. It is said of this reptile that its tail resembles a head, and that with this it throws out its poison (Lucan, vol. ix. p. 179; Pliny's Hist. Nat. vol. viii. p. 35). It really has but one head, but its tail has the appearance of a head, and it has the power of moving in either direction to a limited degree. If we suppose these snakes fastened to the tail of a horse, the appearance of heads would be very prominent and remarkable. The image is that of the power of destruction. They seemed like ugly and poisonous serpents instead of tails.

And with them they do hurt - Not the main injury, but they have the power of inflicting some injury by them.

19. their—A, B, C and Aleph read, "the power of the horses."

in their mouth—whence issued the fire, smoke, and brimstone (Re 9:17). Many interpreters understand the horsemen to refer to the myriads of Turkish cavalry arrayed in scarlet, blue, and yellow (fire, hyacinth, and brimstone), the lion-headed horses denoting their invincible courage, and the fire and brimstone out of their mouths, the gunpowder and artillery introduced into Europe about this time, and employed by the Turks; the tails, like serpents, having a venomous sting, or, as Elliott thinks, the Turkish pachas' horse tails, worn as a symbol of authority. (!) All this is very doubtful. Considering the parallelism of this sixth trumpet to the sixth seal, the likelihood is that events are intended immediately preceding the Lord's coming. "The false prophet" (as Isa 9:15 proves), or second beast, having the horns of a lamb, but speaking as the dragon, who supports by lying miracles the final Antichrist is a forerunner of him, but not the exhaustive fulfiller of the prophecy here: Satan will, probably, towards the end, bring out all the powers of hell for the last conflict (see on [2697]Re 9:20, on "devils"; compare Re 9:1, 2, 17, 18).

with them—with the serpent heads and their venomous fangs.

By their tails some understand their infantry or foot soldiery; others, their serpentine craft and subtlety: as the locusts, Revelation 9:10, are compared to scorpions, whose sting was in their tails, and who were said to hurt with their tails; so the same thing is said of these armies, intimating that the Turks should be mischievous by the same arts and means as their predecessors the Saracens. These are said to have had heads in their tails, which was not said of the locusts; the reason of which interpreters judge to have arisen from the different animals by which they are represented. For their power is in their mouth,.... In what proceeded out of their mouth, or seethed to do so; in their guns, and what came out of them:

and in their tails; which may design their foot soldiers, which were as the tail to their horse, and who sometimes did great service; or their way of fighting when they fled, by casting up arrows into the air, which would fall upon the heads and horses of those that pursued them; or their ambushments, by which they destroyed many; or their perfidious violation of treaties; or it may be their tails may intend the doctrine of Mahomet, the false prophet, who is the tail, Isaiah 9:15,

for their tails were like unto serpents; crooked, crafty, poisonous, and, pernicious:

and had heads; every tail had a head to it; which may be understood of the officers of the foot soldiers, or of the priests and teachers of the Mahometan religion:

and with them they do hurt; with their guns, the power in their mouth, they did hurt to the bodies of men; and with their false doctrines, their tails, they did hurt to the souls of men; the Ethiopic version here adds, "five months"; which seems to be taken from Revelation 9:10.

For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: {14} for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

(14) That is, they are harmful on all sides: on whatever part you put your hand to them, or they touch you, they do hurt. So the former are called Scorpions, Re 9:3.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 9:19. Heads attached to their serpentine tails are an allusion not only to the well-known tactics of the Parthians (cf. Parad. Regained, iii. 323 f.) but to a trait of ancient Greek mythology; on the altar of Zeus at Pergamos (cf. note on Revelation 2:12) the giants who war against the gods are equipped with snakes (instead of limbs) that brandish open jaws. The amphisbaena of ancient mythology was often described as possessing a headed tail (“tanquam parum esset uno ore fundi uenena,” Pliny: H. N. viii. 35).19. For their power] Read, for the power of the horses. For the use of the word “power” (the same as is sometimes elsewhere translated “authority” or “licence”), cf. Revelation 6:8, Revelation 9:3 : St Luke 22:53 illustrates the meaning of the word in such a context.Revelation 9:19. Αἱ γὰρ οὐραὶ αὐτῶν ὅμοιαι ὄφεσιν, ἔχουσαι κεφαλὰς, καὶ ἐι αὐταῖς ἀδικοῦσι, for their tails (are) like serpents, and have heads, and with them they do hurt) Such is the serpent, the amphisbœna, ἀμφικάρηνος, of which Pliny speaks, lib. viii. c. 23: The amphisbœna has a double head, that is, one from the tail also, as though it were not enough that poison should be poured from one mouth. Lucan: And the dreadful amphisbœna rising upon its double head. Solinus, ch. 30: The amphisbœna rises upon its two heads, of which the one is in its proper place, the other is in that part where the tail is; by which it is occasioned, that by the leaning of the head on both sides it creeps along in circular trails. Add Nicander, and Hesychius, who says that it is εἶδος ὄφεωςτὴν οὐρὰν κολοβὴν ἔχον, καὶ ταύτῃ πολλάκις τὴν πορείαν ποιούμενον, ὥστε τινὰς ἀμφισβητεῖν, μὴ δύο κεφαλὰς ἔχει. Of whatever kind the head in the tail of the amphisbœna is, it illustrates this picture in the Apocalypse.Verse 19. - For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails; for the power f the horses is, etc. Another example of disagreement between Erasmus and all the Greek manuscripts (see on ver. 10). For their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. "Are like," and "have heads," in the present tense. Here (unlike ver. 10) the tails are like serpents themselves. The image is not uncommon among the ancients. We may paraphrase the passage thus: "Their power is for the most part in their mouth; but also, to some extent, in their tails; for their tails are like serpents," etc. An endless variety of interpretations have been given to these details, which are probably not intended to bear any distinct signification. Bengel refers to a species of serpent in which the head and tail were so alike as to be with difficulty distinguished; which he thinks may have suggested the image. Many apply it (though in different ways) to the Turkish horse, who fight as they retreat, etc. Their power (ἐξουσίαι αὐτῶν)

Read ἐξουσία τῶν ἵππων the power of the horses.

Like unto serpents

"Long, smooth, subtle, clasping their victim in an embrace from which he cannot escape" (Milligan). As one of the innumerable fantasies of Apocalyptic exposition may be cited that of Elliott ("Horae Apocalypticae") who finds a reference to the horse tails, the symbols of authority of the Turkish pashas.

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