And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And in those days . . .—Translate, And in those days men shall seek death, and shall not find it; and they shall yearn to die, and death flees from them. The change of tense from the future (“shall seek— shall yearn”) to the present (“death flees”) gives graphic force to the description. Men will seek for death in vain; they will long to die, and lo ! death is seen fleeing from them. We can see an age in which death will be regarded as a sweet respite from the tormenting trials of life: men will stretch out their hands to death as to a welcome deliverer; but behold! death is seen fleeing from them. The word translated “desire” in our English version is a strong word; it has been rendered vehemently desire: it is a passionate longing, as the yearning of the soul after one we love. There have been ages in which men have thus pined for death, in which light and life seem but mockeries to the miserable, and men “long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures” (Job 3:20-21). Such times are those which have been well called reigns of terror.Revelation 9:5. It is very easy to conceive of such a state of things as is here described, and, indeed, this has not been very uncommon in the world. It is a state where the distress is so great that people would consider death a relief, and where they anxiously look to the time when they may be released from their sufferings by death. In the case before us it is not intimated that they would lay violent hands on themselves, or that they would take any positive measures to end their sufferings; and this, perhaps, may be a circumstance of some importance to show that the persons referred to were servants of God. When it is said that "they would seek death," it can only be meant that they would look out for it - or desire it - as the end of their sorrows. This is descriptive, as we shall see, of a particular period of the world; but the language is beautifully applicable to what occurs in all ages and in all lands.
There is always a great number of sufferers who are looking forward to death as a relief. In cells and dungeons; on beds of pain and languishing; in scenes of poverty and want; in blighted hopes and disappointed affections, how many are there who would be glad to die, and who have no hope of an end of suffering but in the grave! A few, by the pistol, by the halter, by poison, or by drowning, seek thus to end their woes. A large part look forward to death as a release, when, if the reality were known, death would furnish no such relief, for there are deeper and longer woes beyond the grave than there are this side of it. Compare the notes on Job 3:20-22. But to a portion death will be a relief. It will be an end of sufferings. They will find peace in the grave, and are assured they shall suffer no more. Such bear their trials with patience, for the end of all sorrow to them is near, and death will come to release their spirits from the suffering clay, and to bear them in triumph to a world where a pang shall never be felt, and a tear never shed.
shall flee—So B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read. But A and Aleph read, "fleeth," namely continually. In Re 6:16, which is at a later stage of God's judgments, the ungodly seek annihilation, not from the torment of their suffering, but from fear of the face of the Lamb before whom they have to stand.
and shall not find it; or shall not die:
and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them; death will be preferred to a miserable life; it will be chosen rather than life, Jeremiah 8:3. The ravages of the Saracens, their incursions, and the invasions by them, struck such terror into the inhabitants of divers parts of the empire, that they made death more eligible to them than life.And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Revelation 9:6. ἐν τ. ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, viz., when what has been previously seen by John in the vision actually occurs. Just upon the fact that the vision represents prophetically what is to occur, depends the express prophetic mode of expression in the fut. ΖΗΤΉΣΟΥΣΙΝ, together with the formula ἘΝ Τ. ἩΜ. ἘΚΕΊΝΑΙς. Not only is the wish described that the wounds inflicted by the locusts might be mortal, but, in general, the despairing desire to see an end made to life, and thus to escape the dreadful tortures,—a terrible counterpart to the ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑ of the apostle springing from the holiest hope.
 Cf. Revelation 4:1, Revelation 5:1 sqq.
 Cf. Ewald, De Wette.
 De Wette.
 Cf. Jeremiah 8:3.
 Revelation 9:5.
 Php 1:23.Revelation 9:6. The withholding of death, instead of being an alleviation, is really a refinement of torture; so infernal is the pain, that the sufferers crave, but crave in vain, for death (Sibyll. iii. 208: καὶ καλέσουσι καλόν τὸ θανεῖν καὶ φεύξετʼ ἀπʼ αὐτῶν). It is singular that suicide is never contemplated, although it was widely prevalent at this period in certain circles of the Empire (see Merivale’s Romans under the Empire, ch. 64; Lecky’s Europ. Morals, i. 212 f.). For its un-Jewish character see Jos. Bell. iii. 8.5.6. shall flee] Lit. fleeth.Verse 6. - And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them; shall in no wise find it... and death fleeth from them (Revised Version); οἱ ἄνθρωποι, "the men;" that is, the unsealed, who suffer this judgment. This is a characteristic biblical method of expressing great anguish. Thus Job 3:20, 21, "The bitter in soul; which long for death, but it cometh not" (cf. also Jeremiah 8:3; Job 7:15; Luke 23:30; and Revelation 6:16). The description portrays great anguish of mind, and should not be pressed to a literal interpretation, though many have illustrated the passage by pointing to actual occurrences of the kind.
Rather, the men: those tormented.
Shall desire (ἐπιθυμήσουσιν)
Ἑπι has the force of vehemently, earnestly.
Shall flee (φεύξεται)
Read φεύγει fleeth. Aeschylus says: "Not justly do mortals hate death, since it is the greatest deliverance from their many woes" ("Fragment"). Herodotus relates the address of Artabanus to Xerxes, when the latter wept on beholding his vast armament. "There is no man, whether it be here among this multitude or elsewhere, who is so happy as not to have felt the wish - I will not say once, but full many a time - that he were dead rather than alive. Calamities fall upon us, sicknesses vex and harass us, and make life, short though it be, to appear long. So death, through the wretchedness of our life, is a most sweet refuge to our race" (vii., 46).
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