Revelation 9:7
And the shapes of the locusts were like to horses prepared to battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
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(7) And the shapes . . .—Translate, And the shapes (or, forms) of the locusts were like horses made ready for war. The resemblance of the locust to the horse (especially in the head) has been remarked upon by travellers, and has found expression in the Italian and German names cavalletta and heupferd. The resemblance is more distinct when the horses are made ready for battle: the hard shell or scales of the locust having the appearance of armour. Hence it has been thought that the sacred writer here alludes to this horse-like appearance of the locust. It seems a little doubtful that this is the case, or that in this or any of the descriptions here there is any reference to the anatomical features of the locust. (See Note on Revelation 9:10.)

And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.—Here again there has been a desire to find some physical appearance in the locust to suggest the crown of gold: the antennae, the rugged elevation in the middle of the thorax, have been imagined to have some resemblance to a crown; and the face of the locust, it has actually been said, bears under ordinary circumstances a distant (the adjective is most needful) resemblance to the human countenance.

Revelation 9:7-9. The shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle — In this and the two following verses, the nature and qualities of these locusts are described, partly in allusion to the properties of natural locusts and the description given of them by Joel, and partly in allusion to the habits and manners of the Arabians, to show that not real but figurative locusts were here intended. The first quality mentioned is their being like unto horses prepared unto battle; which is copied from Joel 2:4. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, &c. Many authors have observed that the head of a locust resembles that of a horse. The Italians, therefore, call them cavalette, as it were little horses. The Arabians too have in all ages been famous for their horses and horsemanship. Their strength is well known to consist chiefly in their cavalry. Another distinguishing mark and character is their having on their heads as it were crowns like gold — Which is an allusion to the headdress of the Arabians, who have constantly worn turbans or mitres, and boast of having those ornaments for their common attire, which are crowns and diadems with other people. The crowns also signify the kingdoms and dominions which they should acquire. For, as Mede excellently observes, “No nation had ever so wide a command, nor ever were so many kingdoms, so many regions subjugated in so short a space of time. It sounds incredible, yet most true it is, that in the space of eighty or not many more years, they subdued and acquired to the diabolical kingdom of Mohammed, Palestine, Syria, both Armenias, almost all Asia Minor, Persia, India, Egypt, Numidia, all Barbary, even to the river Niger, Portugal, Spain. Neither did their fortune or ambition stop here till they had added also a great part of Italy, as far as to the gates of Rome; moreover, Sicily, Candia, Cyprus, and the other islands of the Mediterranean sea. Good God! how great a tract of land! how many crowns were here! Whence also it is worthy of observation, that mention is not made here, as in other trumpets, of the third part; forasmuch as this plague fell no less without the bounds of the Roman empire than within it, and extended itself even to the remotest Indies.” They had also faces as the faces of men, and hair as the hair of women — And the Arabians wore their beards, or at least mustaches, as men; while the hair of their heads was flowing, or platted like that of women; as Pliny and other ancient authors testify. Another property, copied from Joel, is their having teeth as the teeth of lions; that is, strong to devour. So Joel describes the locusts, (chap. Revelation 1:6,) as a nation whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, &c.; and it is wonderful how they bite and gnaw all things, as Pliny says, even the doors of the houses. They had also breast-plates, as it were breast-plates of iron — And the locusts have a hard shell or skin, which hath been called their armour. This figure is designed to express the defensive, as the former was the offensive arms of the Saracens. And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle — Much the same comparison had been used by Joel 2:5, Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap; and Pliny affirms that they fly with so great a noise of their wings, that they may be taken for birds. Their wings, and the sound of their wings, denote the swiftness and rapidity of their conquests; and it is indeed astonishing that in less than a century they erected an empire which extended from India to Spain.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 the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared for battle - The resemblance between the locust and the horse, dissimilar as they are in most respects, has been often remarked. Dr. Robinson (Bib. Research. i. 59) says: "We found today upon the shrubs an insect, either a species of black locust, or much resembling them, which our Bedouin called Farras el Jundy, 'soldiers' horses.' They said these insects were common on Mount Sinai, of a green color, and were found on dead trees, but did them no injury." The editor of the Pictorial Bible makes the following remarks: - "The first time we saw locusts browsing with their wings closed, the idea of comparing them to horses arose spontaneously to our minds - as we had not previously met with such a comparison, and did not at that time advert to the present text Joel 2:4. The resemblance in the head first struck our attention; and this notion having once arisen, other analogies were found or imagined in its general appearance and action in feeding. We have since found the observation very common. The Italians, indeed, from this resemblance, called the locust cavaletta, or little horse. Sir W. Ouseley reports: 'Zakaria Cazvine divides the locusts into two classes, like horsemen and footmen - mounted and pedestrian.' Niebuhr says that he heard from a Bedouin, near Bussorah, a particular comparison of the locust to other animals; but as this passage of Scripture did not occur to him at the time he thought it a mere fancy of the Arab's, until he heard it repeated at Baghdad. He compared the head of the locust to that of the horse; the feet to those of the camel; the belly with that of a serpent; the tail with that of a scorpion; and the feelers (if Niebuhr remembered rightly) to the hair of a virgin" (Pict. Bib. on Joel 2:4). The resemblance to horses would naturally suggest the idea of cavalry, as being referred to by the symbol.

And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold - The writer does not say either that these were literally crowns, or that they were actually made of gold. They were "as it were" (ὡς hōs) "crowns," and they were like (ὅμοιοι homoioi) "gold." That is, as seen by him, they had a resemblance to crowns or diadems, and they also resembled gold in their color and brilliancy. The word "crown" - στέφανος stephanos - means properly a circlet, chaplet, encircling the head:

(a) as an emblem of royal dignity, and as worn by kings;

(b) as conferred on victors in the public games - a chaplet, a wreath;

(c) as an ornament, honor, or glory, Philippians 4:1.

No particular shape is designated by the word στέφανος stephanos and perhaps the word "crown" does not quite express the meaning. The word "diadem" would come nearer to it. The true notion in the word is that of something that is passed around the head, and that encircles it, and as such it would well describe the appearance of a turban as seen at a distance. On the supposition that the symbolic beings here referred to had turbans on their heads, and on the supposition that something was referred to which was not much worn in the time of John, and, therefore, that had no name, the word στέφανος stephanos, or diadem, would be likely to be used in describing it. This, too, would accord with the use of the phrase "as it were" - ὡς hōs. The writer saw such head-ornaments as he was accustomed to see. They Were not exactly crowns or diadems, but they had a resemblance to them, and he therefore uses this language: "and on their heads were as it were crowns." Suppose that these were turbans, and that they were not in common use in the time of John, and that they had, therefore, no name, would not this be the exact language which he would use in describing them? The same remarks may be made respecting the other expression.

Like gold - They were not pure gold, but they had a resemblance to it. Would not a yellow turban correspond with all that is said in this description?

And their faces were as the faces of men - They had a human countenance. This would indicate that, after all, they were human beings that the symbol described, though they had come up from the bottomless pit. Horsemen, in strange apparel, with a strange head-dress, would be all that would be properly denoted by this.

7. prepared unto battle—Greek, "made ready unto war." Compare Note, see on [2695]Joe 2:4, where the resemblance of locusts to horses is traced: the plates of a horse armed for battle are an image on a larger scale of the outer shell of the locust.

crowns—(Na 3:17). Elliott explains this of the turbans of Mohammedans. But how could turbans be "like gold?" Alford understands it of the head of the locusts actually ending in a crown-shaped fillet which resembled gold in its material.

as the faces of men—The "as" seems to imply the locusts here do not mean men. At the same time they are not natural locusts, for these do not sting men (Re 9:5). They must be supernatural.

This whole description of these locusts speaks them no insects, but to be mischievous men; they were very terrible to look upon, like horses harnessed ready to fight; so Joel 2:4.

And upon their heads were as it were crowns like gold; this signified they should be great and rich conquerors.

And their faces were as the faces of men; yet these were men. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses,.... The heads of locusts, especially of some of them, are very much like the heads of horses: and here they are compared to horses

prepared unto battle; as they are in Joel 2:4. The horse is a warlike creature, swift, strong, and courageous, Job 39:21. Locusts sometimes have appeared in the form of armies, and have marched in great order with their leaders before them, and have pitched their camps very regularly; see Joel 2:7; of which we have lately had an account from Transylvania in our public papers. (This was published in 1747, Ed.) This part of their description may denote the wars of the Saracens, and the rapidity, force, and power with which they overran great part of the empire; and as it may be applied to the western locusts, the disputes, contentions, and quarrels raised by the Romish clergy.

And on their heads were, as it were, crowns like gold; and in this shape some locusts have appeared, to which the allusion seems to be in, Nahum 3:17, "thy crowned men are as the locusts". In the year 1542, it is said (l), that locusts came out of Turkish Sarmatia, into Austria, Silesia, and other places, which had on their heads "little crowns"; see Ezekiel 23:42. And the Arabians, as Pliny observes, go "mitrati" (m), with mitres, turbans like crowns, on their heads. This may design the several victories and conquests which the Saracens obtained in Arabia, Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, Spain, and many other places; and supposing this to have any reference to the western locusts, it may respect the triple crown of the head of then, the caps of the cardinals, the mitres of the bishops, and the shaven pates of the priests, in form of crowns.

And their faces were as the faces of men; which may be expressive of the affable carriage of Mahomet, and his followers, especially to the Christians, and of his great pretensions to holiness and religion, and of the plausible and insinuating ways, and artful methods, used by him, to gain upon men; and being applied to the clergy of the church of Rome, may denote their show of humanity, and their pretended great concern for the welfare of the souls of men, their flatteries, good words, and fair speeches, with which they deceive the simple and unwary.

(l) Vid. Frentz. Hist. Animal. sacr. p. 5. c. 4. p. 799. (m) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28.

{7} And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

(7) The form of these hellish spirits and administers, is outlined by signs and visible figures in this manner: that they are very expert and swift: that wherever they are in the world, the kingdom is theirs: that they manage all their affairs with cunning and skill, in this verse: that making show of mildness and tender affection to draw on men with, they most impudently rage in all mischief: that they are most mighty to do hurt Re 9:8 that they are freed from being hurt by any man, as armed with the colour of religion and sacred authority of privilege: that they fill all things with horror, Re 9:9 that they are fraudulent: that they are poisonous and extremely offensive though their power is limited. Re 9:10. All these things are found in the infernal powers and communicated by them to their ministers and vassals.

Revelation 9:7-10. Only now, after John has described how he has seen the miraculous locusts rise from the abyss, and what plagues they are to bring, does he proceed to describe the extraordinary phenomenon more minutely and fully. An essential feature in this description, Revelation 9:10, has express reference to what is said in Revelation 9:3-5 : in other respects the individual points of the description are not to be urged, as the context itself not only does not suggest a special interpretation, which must prove allegorical, but rather excludes it; e.g., there is no question as to something special according to Revelation 9:3 sqq., either as to the teeth of lions, or the hair of women. The infernal locusts are to torment men only after the manner of scorpions (Revelation 9:10); of a biting, as with the teeth of lions, nothing whatever is said. But if individual features be pressed in violation of the context, manifest preposterous interpretations follow; as, e.g., the reference of the teeth of lions to the erroneous doctrines and calumniations with which heretics have lacerated the orthodox church.[2560] That which is aimed at is the general impression in a description, in which the actual form of natural locusts lies, in a certain way, at the foundation. These infernal locusts, however dreadful their supernatural form, are nevertheless always to be known as locusts; only in what is described in Revelation 9:10, they have a wonderful peculiarity of their form corresponding to the plagues committed to them (Revelation 9:3 sqq.), which is without all natural analogy.

ΤᾺ ὉΜΟΙΏΜΑΤΑ ΤῶΝ ΑΚΡ. Incorrectly, Hengstenb. and Ew. ii.: their likeness. ΔΜΟΊΩΜΑ designates regularly[2561] the product of an ὈΜΟΙΟῦΝ, i e, the form so far as it is just like a model.[2562] The forms of the locusts were like ἽΠΠΟΙς ἩΤΟΙΜ. ΕἸς ΠΌΛ. This pertains to the forms as a whole. Cf. Joel 2:4. In books of travel, it is expressly noted, that the form of the locust has a certain resemblance to that of a horse.[2563] The similarity is especially manifest if we think of the horse as equipped (ἡτοιμασμ. εἰς πολ.), so that its head rises from the breastplate like the head of the locust from its thorax (Revelation 9:9).

ἘΠῚ Τ. ΚΕΡ. ΑὐΤ. Ὡς ΣΤΈΦΑΝΟΙ ὍΜΟΙΟΙ ΧΡΥΣῷ. From the fact that the natural locust has nothing on its head that looks like a crown, it does not follow that the ΣΤΕΦΆΝΟΙ ὍΜ. ΧΡ. are nothing else than the polished helmets of soldiers, who are to be understood under the allegory of locusts.[2564] ΣΤΈΦ. does not mean helmets; and even if there were some ground, in general, for such allegory, yet, at all events, the individual features of the allegory as such could first be harmoniously comprehended, and afterwards be obtained in their individual points. But any mingling of (assumed) allegory and literal statement is to be rejected; and hence the exposition is entirely inadmissible which ascribes helmets, meant literally, to locusts, meant allegorically. The same fundamental principle applies to the other features of the description; so that, e.g., the hair, like the hair of women, ascribed to the locusts, could not be the long hair of barbarian warriors.[2565]

The supposition is readily suggested, that also the words Κ. ἘΠΙ ΤᾺς ΚΕΦ., Κ.Τ.Λ., contain an allusion to the natural form of the locust. But even if John says that upon the heads of the locusts there was something “like gold-like crowns” (Ὡς ΣΤ. ὍΜΟΙΟΙ ΧΡ., cf. Revelation 4:6), he could scarcely have thought of the two antennae about an inch long;[2566] it is more probable,[2567] that the rather strong, jagged elevation, which of course is situated, not on the head, but in the middle of the thorax,[2568] but which in the popular view, not readily distinguishing the line of division between head and thorax, may appear as if upon the head of the insect, serves as the natural type. The yellowish-green brilliant coloring of that elevation of the thorax may then have given John the natural opportunity for describing that which is crown-like on the heads of the demoniacal locusts as ὅμ. χρυσῷ.

. The expressly marked comparison dare be denied here as little as the other features of the description. Hengstenb, therefore, is incorrect when, like the older allegorists, not only mistaking the simple comparison for an (imaginary) allegory, but also confounding the literal with an allegorical interpretation, he says, “Their faces were like the faces of men, since a fearful look, the dreadful look of men, shines through the look of locusts. In fact, they were actually faces of men.” The text nowhere says this, but gives an idea of the faces of the demoniacal locusts by representing them as like the faces of men. This also has its natural foundation in the fact, that the head of the locust has actually a faint resemblance to the human profile.[2569] The more strongly this similarity is regarded, as expressed in the supernatural locusts whose entire form has in it something monstrous, the more dreadful must it appear.

ΚΑῚ ΕἿΧΟΝ ΤΡΊΧΑς Ὡς ΤΡΊΧΑς ΓΥΝΑΙΚῶΝ. This feature of the description also is to be apprehended in the same way as the preceding. The words Ὡς ΤΡΊΧ. ΓΥΝ. are intended only relatively; the point of comparison, however, can lie only in the length of the hair, since long hair is peculiar to women, not to men.[2570] In the description which is intended only to make visible the fact that the miraculous locusts have long hair like that of women, there is no special allegorical reference, either to the long hair as it is found in barbarian warriors,[2571] or to the fact that “the spirits of darkness,” or men serving as their instruments, “look so mildly and tenderly from beneath the tresses of women,” while back of these locks they conceal the teeth of lions.[2572] Every thing upon which such allegorical interpretation must lay importance has been improperly introduced. It may appear doubtful whether John, in representing the wonderfully long hair of the supernatural locusts, thinks of it according to the analogy of the antennae of the natural locusts,—as is most simple,—or whether he understands the hair in the other parts of the body, e.g., the legs;[2573] but it is certain, that if the context is otherwise to be regarded as harmonious and free from perplexity, every other reference, except that indicated by the simple comparison, is to be regarded out of place.

Κ. ΟἹ ΟΔΌΝΤΕς ΑὐΤ. Ὡς ΛΕΌΝΤΩΝ ἯΣΑΝ. Joel already (Revelation 1:6) ascribes the teeth of lions to natural locusts. There, as here, nothing else is illustrated but the desolating voraciousness, but not “the rage of the enemy.”[2574] This feature is highly significant in order to answer to the figure of locusts as such, but, like what is said in Revelation 9:7, is entirely irrelevant in reference to the particular plague which is to be brought by the infernal locusts (Revelation 9:3 sqq.).

Κ. ΕΊΧ. ΘΏΡΑΚΑς Ὡς ΘῶΡ. ΣΙΔΗΡΟῦς. Incorrectly, Hengstenb.: “The iron cuirasses show how difficult it is to approach these horsemen.” Instead of the breastplate of natural locusts, to which natural history has given the significant name thorax,[2575] the supernatural locusts have a cuirass compared only with a coat of mail.

Κ. Ἡ ΦΩΝῊ Τ. ΠΤΕΡΎΓΩΝ, Κ.Τ.Λ. Like natural, these demoniacal locusts also have wings, whose rushing is very naturally[2576] illustrated by the comparison, ὡς φωνὴ ἁρμάτων ἵππων πολλῶν τρεχόντων εἰς πόλεμον. In these words neither the ἉΡΜΆΤΩΝ[2577] nor the ἽΠΠΩΝ[2578] is to be regarded as interpolated, since the idea “as the sound of chariots of many horses running to war,” is as readily understood as it is throughout suitable. Yet it dare not be said, that, while the rattling of the wagons corresponds to the whizzing of the locusts, the horses are specially mentioned, “because the mass of riders, and not of wagons, are the proper antitype of the locusts.”[2579] Already the expression, in which the ἉΡΜΆΤΩΝ belongs to ἽΠΠΩΝ ΠΟΛΛ. as its subjective genitive, forbids the distinction made in the interests of a perverted (allegorizing) collective view. The entire noise, which is caused as well by the chariot-wheels, as also by the hoofs of the horses driven in the chariots, is designated, since it is designedly that not the chariots alone are mentioned.

κ. ἔχουσιν οὐράς ὁμοίας σκορπίοις καὶ κέντρα. The Comparatio compendiaria[2580] states that tails of the locusts are like the tails of scorpions; in connection with which, the particular (καὶ κέντρα) is expressly marked, that is the special subject of consideration. Beng., Hengstenb.,[2581] are not willing, however, to acknowledge any breviloquence, but regard the locusts’ tails as the (entire) scorpions, and appeal to Revelation 9:19. But in the latter passage, where the subject refers to heads and mouths situated in the serpent-like tails of the horses, not only the context in general, but also the special determination ἜΧΟΥΣ. ΚΕΦΆΛΑς, forbids us finding in the words ὉΜ. ὌΦΕΣΙΝ a comparatio compendiaria; while, in Revelation 9:10, the intention and expression lead to this most simple mode of statement.

κ. ἐν τ. οὐραῖς αὐτ. ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτ. ἀδικῆσαι, κ.τ.λ. The inf. ἈΔΙΚ. explains the power in the tails furnished with scorpion-like stings.[2582] It is worthy of observation, how this last feature again reverts to the description of the same plagues as are commanded in Revelation 9:3 sqq.;[2583] and thus the whole appears to be harmoniously rounded off. Also the designation ΜῆΝΑς ΠΈΝΤΕ is repeated from Revelation 9:5, in order once more to emphatically mention that the infernal beasts, with their scorpion-like equipment and power, are to plague men after the manner of locusts during five full months. [See Note LVII, p. 292.]

[2560] Calov., etc.

[2561] Cf. Winer, p. 89.

[2562] Cf. Ezekiel 1:16; Ezekiel 10:21, where the Heb. דּֽמוּת stands; Romans 1:23; Php 2:7.

[2563] Cf. Winer, Rwb., i. 575.

[2564] Eichh., Heinr.

[2565] Against Vitr., etc.

[2566] Ewald.

[2567] Cf. Züll., De Wette.

[2568] Cf. Winer in loc.

[2569] Cf. Züll., Ew., De Wette.

[2570] Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:14 sq. Winer, Rwb., i. 527.

[2571] As even De Wette tries to establish, although properly rejecting the interpretation of the locusts as warriors.

[2572] Ebrard.

[2573] Ewald.

[2574] Hengstenb.

[2575] De Wette.

[2576] Cf. Joel 2:5. Winer, Rwb., in loc.

[2577] De Wette.

[2578] Ew. i.

[2579] Hengstenb.

[2580] Cf. Revelation 13:11; Matthew 5:20.

[2581] Cf. also Winer, p. 579; De Wette.

[2582] Cf. Revelation 6:8.

[2583] Ewald, Hengstenb.


LVII. Revelation 9:7-10For a very full and condensed statement of the devastations caused by locusts, and their peculiarities, in which some of the features here detailed appear, see Pusey on Joel 2. The significance of the individual features is thus briefly interpreted by Luthardt: “At the basis of the description, there lies, for the most part, reality; but it is increased to what is monstrous and terrible. ‘On their heads, as it were crowns of gold;’ i.e., they are mighty powers. ‘Their faces were as the faces of men;’ i.e., they are intellectual beings, intelligences. ‘They had hair as the hair of women;’ i.e., they are seductive powers. ‘Their teeth were as the teeth of lions;’ i.e., back of their seductive appearance is inevitable destruction. Cf. Joel 1:6. ‘They had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron;’ i.e., they are unassailable. ‘The sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle;’ i.e., they rush like military squadrons irresistibly. Cf. Joel 2:5Revelation 9:7. Arabian poets compare locusts in head to the horse, in breast to the lion, in feet to the camel, in body to the snake, in antennæ to a girl’s long, waving hair. The resemblance of the head in locusts and in horses has been often noticed (Cavalleta, Italian), and their hard scales resemble plates of equine armour. The rest of the description is partly fanciful (“crowns gleaming like gold,” human faces; yet cf. Pl. H. N. vi. 28, Arabes mitrati degunt, aut intonsa crine), partly (Revelation 9:8-9) true to nature (woman’s hair [i.e., abundant and flowing, a well-known trait of the Parthians and Persians], and lion-like teeth, scaly plates on the thorax, and rustling or whirring noises), partly (Revelation 9:10) recapitulatory (= Revelation 9:5; note ὁμοίας σκορπίοις, an abbreviated comparison like Homer’s κόμαι Χαρίτεσσιν ὁμοῖαι), partly (Revelation 9:11) imaginative (cf. Proverbs 30:27). The leader of these demons is the angel of the inferno from which they issue. His name is Abaddon (cf. Exp. Times, xx. 234 f.), a Heb. equivalent for שׁאול personified like death and Hades. The final syllable of the name is taken to represent as in Greek, a personal ending. Hence the LXX rendering ἀπώλεια probably suggested the synonym Ἀπολλύων, containing a (sarcastic?) gibe at Apollo with whom the locust was associated (“uelut proprium nomen Caesaribus,” Suet. Oct. 29); cf. Schol. on Aesch. Agam. 1085 and Plato’s Cratylus, 404, 405. Both Caligula and Nero aped the deity of Apollo, among their other follies of this kind, as Antiochus Epiphanes had already done.7. like unto horses] See Joel 2:4. Probably that passage is only a highly idealised description of a natural swarm of locusts, and the verse cited refers to the resemblance in shape of the locust’s head, and perhaps the legs, to a horse’s. It is doubtful whether the words “prepared unto battle” (more accurately “unto war”) suggest comparison between the frame of the locust and the plate-armour of a horse: such armour was rarely used in ancient times. More probably the comparison here is to the discipline of the locust host: as in Joel 2:7-8.

as it were crowns like gold] Lit. as it were crowns like unto gold—perhaps a mere golden mark, such as it is quite possible a real insect might have. But,

their faces were as the faces of men] Marks them distinctly as differing from real locusts. The word used for “men” means, in classical Greek at least, “human beings,” not necessarily males. But in Hellenistic Greek it is not infrequently used in opposition to women, and probably the next clause marks it so here.Verse 7. - And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; rather, the likenesses of the locusts; that is to say, the general appearance. This similarity is brought out in Joel 2, and is alluded to in Job 39:20. The parallel is worked out at some length in Tristram's 'Natural History of the Bible,' p. 314. In what way they appeared "prepared unto battle," is shown in ver. 9. And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold; crowns like unto gold. The language is carefully guarded so as to make it understood that this feature is altogether supernatural. The crowns of gold probably denote the conquering nature of the locusts, and thus they add to the power with which the locusts have already been invested. They may also signify the exalted temporal position of those symbolized by the locusts. Some writers believe the helmets of soldiers are typified, and others the turbans of the Mohammedans. And their faces were as the faces of men. Notwithstanding the general resemblance of the locusts to horses, which resemblance is most clearly shadowed forth in the structure of the head, yet their faces gave the seer the idea of the human countenance. How this was brought about we are not told. Probably St. John himself in his vision received the impression without knowing by what means. The circumstance seems to point decidedly to the fact that human agents are denoted by the locusts.. Shapes (ὁμοιώματα)

Lit., likenesses.


Compare Joel 2:4. The likeness of a locust to a horse, especially to a horse equipped with armor, is so striking that the insect is named in German Heupferd hay-horse, and in Italian calvaletta little horse.


Not actual crowns, but as crowns. Milligan remarks that any yellow brilliancy about the head of the insect is a sufficient foundation for the figure.

As the faces of men

There is a distant resemblance to the human countenance in the face of the locust. Men (ἀνθρώπων) is to be taken not as distinguishing sex, but in the generic sense: human faces.

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