Revelation 9:2
And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) And he opened . . .—Translate, And he opened the pit of the abyss; and there went up smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun was darkened, and the air, by reason of the smoke of the pit. The first result of the opening of the pit is the diffusion of such a dense smoke that light and atmosphere are darkened. In the previous vision there was an obscuration of light arising from the smiting of the luminaries; in this the obscuration arises from causes external to the luminaries. In that the light-giving power was enfeebled; in this the light is not enfeebled, but hindered. This must be remembered. The interpretation of these visions is most difficult; but we must bear in mind that they are descriptive of that great war which the Church is waging with the world, which good is waging with evil, but the end of which, we are assured, is the victory of good. The kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15); but during the progress of the war the issue will often appear doubtful: nay, even the triumph may seem to be in the hand of the enemy; but faith disregards the back-flowing waves, for she knows the tide is coming in. We have seen that the advance of Christianity is marked by the manifestation of evils as well as the establishment of good. Christianity does not create evils, but the very intense honesty of her principles reveals the hidden force of unsuspected corruption. Thus the faith of Christ is come to give light unto the world, but in her progress many lights fall—the false lights of world-power, world-wisdom, false religionism, and heresies. The enemy, too, is at work, and seeks to obscure her light by the diffusion of dark and low-born thoughts. The smoke of the pit blackens the light and confuses the atmosphere. Now, this obscuration is surely the diffusion on earth of evil thoughts and ideas, the spirit of falsehood and hate, hostility to truth, and enmity against God and man. The bright, clear air made gladsome by the sun is darkened; “all forms that once appeared beautiful become hideous.”

Revelation 9:2-3. There arose a smoke out of the pit — As a great smoke hinders the sight, so do errors blind the understanding. The apostle keeps to the allegory, says Grotius, for smoke takes from us the sight of the stars; smoke, especially when proceeding from a fierce fire, is also a representation of devastation. Thus when Abraham beheld the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. The great displeasure of God is represented by the same figurative expressions of smoke and fire, Psalm 18:7-8. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth — Many Protestant writers imagine these locusts signify the religious orders of monks and friars, &c., but Mede understands by them the inundation of the Saracens, locusts and grasshoppers being elsewhere expressly made to signify both the multitude of the eastern nations invading Israel, and the swift progress and destruction they made, Jdg 6:5. And Lowman confirms this interpretation, and shows that the rise and progress of the Mohammedan religion and empire, till checked by internal divisions, is a remarkable accomplishment of this part of the prophecy; which is further illustrated by the ignorance and error the Mohammedans everywhere spread, their great number and hardiness, their habits, customs, and manners, namely, twisting their hair, wearing beards, their care of their horses, invading their neighbours in summer like locusts, sparing the trees and fruits of the countries they invaded; the captivity of the men, and the miserable condition of the women, exposed to persons who gave an almost unbounded liberty to their lusts, which was enough to make them even to desire death, Revelation 9:6. All these circumstances are suitable to the character of the Arabians, the history of this period, and to the particulars of this prophecy.

That the Saracens were intended by the locusts here mentioned, was also the opinion of Bishop Newton, who interprets this part of the prophecy as follows: — “At the sounding of the fifth trumpet, a star fallen from heaven, meaning the wicked impostor Mohammed, opened the bottomless pit, and there arose a smoke out of the pit, and the sun and the air were darkened by it; that is, a false religion was set up, which filled the world with darkness and error, and swarms of Saracen or Arabian locusts overspread the earth. A false prophet is very fitly typified by a blazing star or meteor. The Arabians, likewise, are properly compared to locusts, not only because numerous armies frequently are so, but also because swarms of locusts often arise from Arabia; and also because in the plagues of Egypt, to which constant allusion is made in these trumpets, the locusts (Exodus 10:13) are brought by an east wind, that is, from Arabia, which lay eastward of Egypt; and also because in the book of Judges, (Jdg 7:12,) the people of Arabia are compared to locusts or grasshoppers for multitude, for in the original the word for both is the same. As the natural locusts are bred in pits, and holes of the earth, so these mystical locusts are truly infernal, and proceed with the smoke from the bottomless pit.” It is too a remarkable coincidence, that at this time the sun and the earth were really darkened. For we learn from an eminent Arabian historian, that “in the seventeenth year of Heraclius half the body of the sun was eclipsed, and this defect continued from the former Tisrin to Haziran, (that is, from October to June,) so that only a little of its light appeared.” The seventeenth year of Heraclius coincides with the year of Christ 626, and with the fifth year of the Hegira; and at this time Mohammed was training and exercising his followers in depredations at home, to fit them for greater conquests abroad.9:1-12 Upon sounding the fifth trumpet, a star fell from heaven to the earth. Having ceased to be a minister of Christ, he who is represented by this star becomes the minister of the devil; and lets loose the powers of hell against the churches of Christ. On the opening of the bottomless pit, there arose a great smoke. The devil carries on his designs by blinding the eyes of men, by putting out light and knowledge, and promoting ignorance and error. Out of this smoke there came a swarm of locusts, emblems of the devil's agents, who promote superstition, idolatry, error, and cruelty. The trees and the grass, the true believers, whether young or more advanced, should be untouched. But a secret poison and infection in the soul, should rob many others of purity, and afterwards of peace. The locusts had no power to hurt those who had the seal of God. God's all-powerful, distinguishing grace will keep his people from total and final apostacy. The power is limited to a short season; but it would be very sharp. In such events the faithful share the common calamity, but from the pestilence of error they might and would be safe. We collect from Scripture, that such errors were to try and prove the Christians, 1Co 11:19. And early writers plainly refer this to the first great host of corrupters who overspread the Christian church.And he opened the bottomless pit - It is represented before as wholly confined, so that not even the smoke or vapor could escape.

And there arose a smoke out of the pit - Compare Revelation 14:11. The meaning here is that the pit, as a place of punishment, or as the abode of the wicked, was filled with burning sulphur, and consequently that it emitted smoke and vapor as soon as opened. The common image of the place of punishment, in the Scriptures, is that of a "lake that burns with fire and brimstone." Compare Revelation 14:10; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10; Revelation 21:8. See also Psalm 11:6; Isaiah 30:33; Ezekiel 38:22. It is not improbable that this image was taken from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:24. Such burning sulphur would produce, of course, a dense smoke or vapor; and the idea here is, that the pit had been closed, and that as soon as the door was opened a dense column escaped that darkened the heavens. The purpose of this is, probably, to indicate the origin of the plague that was about to come upon the world. It would be of such a character that it would appear as if it had been emitted from hell; as if the inmates of that dark world had broke loose upon the earth. Compare notes on Revelation 6:8.

As the smoke of a great furnace - So in Genesis 19:28, whence probably this image is taken: "And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and all the land of the plain, and beheld and lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace."

And the sun and the air were darkened, ... - As will be the case when a smoke ascends from a furnace. The meaning here is, that an effect would be produced as if a dense and dark vapor should ascend from the under-world. We are not, of course, to understand this literally.

CHAPTER 9

Re 9:1-21. The Fifth Trumpet: The Fallen Star Opens the Abyss Whence Issue Locusts. The Sixth Trumpet. Four Angels at the Euphrates Loosed.

1. The last three trumpets of the seven are called, from Re 8:13, the woe-trumpets.

fall—rather as Greek, "fallen." When John saw it, it was not in the act of falling, but had fallen already. This is a connecting link of this fifth trumpet with Re 12:8, 9, 12, "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth, for the devil is come down," &c. Compare Isa 14:12, "How art thou fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning!"

the bottomless pit—Greek, "the pit of the abyss"; the orifice of the hell where Satan and his demons dwell.

And he opened the bottomless pit; he was a means of hell’s breaking loose, by loosing Satan.

And there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace: I had rather interpret this generally of the great influence upon the world, that the devil, being loosed, had, in filling the world with ignorance, error, and wickedness, (for which this and the following age are infamous in all histories), and then particularly of the errors this time abounded with.

And the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit; this influence of the devil darkened the sun of the gospel, and the whole church of that age, with ignorance, error, and abominable superstition in the worship of God, attended with the lewdness and debauchery of men in their lives, which usually go together. And he opened the bottomless pit,.... With the key that was given him; he made use of his universal power over all bishops and churches, enacted laws, issued out decrees, made articles of faith, and imposed them on men's consciences, and obliged all to submit to his hellish principles and practices; and this, as it may be applied to Mahomet, the eastern antichrist, may regard the publishing of his Alcoran, and obliging all his followers to receive it as the infallible word of God:

and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; the Complutensian edition reads, "of a burning furnace"; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions; which may design false doctrine, and superstitious worship, which sprung from the decrees of popes and councils, and the Alcoran of Mahomet: and smoke being a dark thin vapour, and very troublesome to the eyes and nose, and of a perishing nature, which soon vanishes away, these are fitly expressed by it; for they are the hidden things of darkness, and the authors and abettors of them are such who darken counsel by words without knowledge; they are empty things, have no solidity and substance in them, are comparable to wood, hay, stubble, smoke, and wind; and are very troublesome and offensive to all enlightened persons, and who have the smell and savour of divine things; and will all perish with the using, being the doctrines and commandments of men, when the true Gospel is an everlasting one. Smoke sometimes designs great afflictions, punishments, and judgments upon men, Genesis 15:17; and here may represent those judgments, both spiritual and temporal, which the antichristian doctrine and worship, brought upon the world, and which have been manifest in all ages since.

And the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit; Christ, the sun of righteousness, was greatly obscured by the Romish antichrist, by his false doctrine and worship, in his offices, merits, and grace, he taking upon him to be head of the church, the infallible interpreter of Scripture, and to give out pardons and indulgences; and particularly by the doctrines of merit, of works of supererogation, and of justification by works, &c. as he also was by Mahomet, who represented him only as a mere man, and exalted himself above him as a prophet; and by both were "the air", the church which receives its light from Christ, darkened; or the Scriptures, which are the breath of God, are given by inspiration of him, these were most grievously beclouded, and most wretchedly perverted, both by the decrees of popes, and the Alcoran of Mahomet. And it is remarkable what Abulpharagius (b), an Arabic writer, reports, that in the seventeenth year of Heraclius the emperor, which was the year 627, and the fifth of the Hegira, in which year Mahomet began to plunder and make war; for in this year was his plundering excursion into Dumato'l Jundal, and the battle of Bani Lahyan, that half of the body of the sun was darkened; and the darkness remained from Tisrin the first, to the month Haziran, so that very little of its light appeared; which might portend that darkness he was introducing by his wretched religion. And frequently the sun and air have been darkened at noonday by the locusts, as Pliny (c) relates; and of which we have had a late account from Transylvania; see Exodus 8:15.

(b) Hist. Dynast. p. 99, 102. (c) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29.

{4} And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

(4) To this is added, the smoke of the hellish and infernal dark spirits, darkening all things in heaven and in earth. The spiritual darkness is the cause of all disorder and confusion: For the devil at a certain time sent these spirits into his kingdom, that he might at once and with one action overthrow all things and pervert if it were possible the elect themselves. By this darkness, all spiritual light, both active as of the sun and passive as of the air which is lightened by the sun, is taken away: and this is that which goes before the spirits: it follows of the spirits themselves.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 9:2-3. The smoke arising from the opened well, comparable to the smoke of a great furnace,[2533] was so thick that thereby (ἐν τ. καπν., cf. Revelation 8:11) the sun and moon were obscured.

ὁ ἥλιος καὶ ὁ ἀήρ is not an hendiadys,[2534] but, according to the more natural view, it is apparent that both, viz., the sun and the air, are darkened by the thick mass of smoke.

καὶ ἐκ τ. καπν. ἐξῆλθον ἀκρίδες εἰς τ. γ. The καπνός, therefore, was not merely an apparent mass of smoke, yet in fact a dreadful swarm of locusts;[2535] but the infernal smoke is the covering under which the miraculous locusts ascend, and from which they “come out,” in order to execute the plagues with which they are commissioned.[2536] Against the force of the words, Klief. explains: “The material for the locusts already existed on earth, but the smoke ascending from hell converts it into locusts.”

καὶ ἐδόθη

οἱ σκορπίοι τῆς γῆς. The power given (cf. Revelation 9:5) these locusts corresponds with their form and equipment (Revelation 9:10). The τῆς γῆς with οἱ σκορπἱοι does not refer to the distinction, which is here entirely out of place, between land-and sea-beasts,[2537] but to the fact that the locusts are not from the earth; the infernal locusts receive a power like that of earthly scorpions. Hence no allusion should be made[2538] to the statement of Jewish writings, that hell is full of scorpions.

[2533] Cf. Genesis 19:28; Exodus 19:18.

[2534] “The air, so far as illumined by the sun” (Beng.).

[2535] Vitr., Eichh., Züll., Ebrard.

[2536] Cf. Ewald, De Wette, etc.

[2537] Against Ew. i., without reference to Ew. ii.: “known to men.”

[2538] Ew. ii.Revelation 9:2. For the following description of this destructive horde of weird locusts, see Joel 2. with Driver’s notes and excursus (C. B.) to which add the famous description of a locust-plague in Newman’s Callista (ch. 15). Naturally the sketch is far more idealised than that given by Joel; it often recalls the monstrous associates created by Tiamat out of the primeval abyss (Jastrow, pp. 419 f.); i.e., strong warriors, “great serpents, merciless in attack, sharp of tooth. With poison instead of blood she filled their bodies. Furious vipers she clothed with terror, made them high of stature.”Revelation 9:2. Καὶ ἐσκοτίσθη ὁ ἥλιος καὶ ὁ ἀὴφ, and the sun was darkened and the air) It is an instance of ἓν διὰ δυοῖν, as ch. Revelation 1:14, His head and His hair: ch. Revelation 19:16, His vesture and His thigh. The air was obscured, in so far as it is illuminated by the sun; the sun, in so far as it transmits its light through the air to men. Hence ἐσκοτίσθη is used, not ἐσκοτίσθησαν. Wherefore there is no need to inquire separately here, what the sun is, and its obscuring; what the air is, and its obscuring. The darkness, which arose to the Jews in Persia, is here pointed out. [Cent. vi.]Verse 2. - And he opened the bottomless pit; pit of the abyss, as above. This phrase is omitted by א, B, Coptic, AEthiopic, and others. It is inserted by A, B, many cursives, Vulgate, Syriac, Andreas. And there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace. The smoke of the incense (Revelation 8:4) purified the prayers of the saints, making them acceptable before God; the smoke which ascends from the abyss clouds men's minds and darkens their understandings. And the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. The air, becoming filled with the smoke, obscured the light of the sun, so that both appeared dark. This darkening of the atmosphere may have been suggested by the description of the locust plague (Exodus 10:15), or by the account in Joel 2. But it is the smoke, not the locusts, which is here said to cause the obscurity; the locusts issue forth out of the smoke. It is doubtful whether we ought to seek any particular interpretation of the smoke; it is probably only accessory to the general picture. If we may press the meaning so far, it is perhaps best to regard the smoke as the evil influence of the devil, which darkens men's understandings, and from which issue the troubles which are the result of heresy and infidelity, portrayed by the locusts (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving," etc.). Smoke of a great furnace

Compare Genesis 19:28; Exodus 19:18; Matthew 13:42, Matthew 13:50.

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