Revelation 9:9
And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
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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 they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron - Hard, horny, impenetrable, as if they were made of iron. The locust has a firm and hard cuticle on the forepart of the breast, which serves for a shield or defense while it moves in the thorny and furzy vegetation. On those which John saw this was especially hard and horny, and would thus be well adapted to be an emblem of the breastplates of iron commonly worn by ancient warriors. The meaning is, that the warriors referred to would be well clad with defensive armor.

And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle - The noise made by locusts is often spoken of by travelers, and the comparison of that noise with that of chariots rushing to battle, is not only appropriate, but also indicates clearly what was symbolized. It was an army that was symbolized, and everything about them served to represent hosts of men well armed, rushing to conflict. The same thing here referred to is noticed by Joel Joe 2:4-5, Joel 2:7;

"The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses;

And as horsemen so shall they run.

Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains, shall they leap;

Like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble;

As a strong people set in battle array.

They shall run like mighty men;

They shall climb the wall like men of war;

And they shall march every one his ways,

And shall not break their ranks," etc.

It is remarkable that Volney, who had no intention of illustrating the truth of Scripture, has given a description of locusts, as if he meant to confirm the truth of what is here said. "Syria," says he, "as well as Egypt, Persia, and almost all the south of Asia, is subject to another calamity no less dreadful (than earthquakes); I mean those clouds of locusts so often mentioned by travelers. The quantity of these insects is incredible to all who have not themselves witnessed their astounding numbers; the whole earth is covered with them for the space of several leagues. The noise they make in browsing on the trees and herbage may be heard to a great distance, and resembles that of an army foraging in secret" (Travels in Egypt and Syria, vol. i. pp. 283, 284).

9. as it were breastplates of iron—not such as forms the thorax of the natural locust.

as … chariots—(Joe 2:5-7).

battle—Greek, "war."

And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; armed with the best armour of defence.

And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle; like locusts, they moved very swiftly. This agreeth to the Saracens, who made such haste in their conquests, that (saith Mr. Mede) in little more than eighty years they had subdued Palestina, Syria, both the Armenias, almost all the Lesser Asia, Persia, India, Egypt, Numidia, all Barbary, Portugal, Spain; and within a few more, Sicily, Candia, Cyprus, and were come to the very gates of Rome; so as they had many crowns on their heads, and moved as with wings.

And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron,.... Alluding to the hard skin of the locusts, with which nature has fenced it (q); see Joel 2:8; and denotes the armour with which the Saracens were accoutred: and if to be understood of the western locusts, the hardness of their hearts, their seared consciences, or their protection by the princes of the earth, the many privileges they are possessed of, the laws made in their favour, and for their security; their breastplates were not breastplates of righteousness, faith, and love, nor in defence of truth, but against it. And some think the iron colour may denote the colour of their habit, their black garments:

and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle; see Joel 2:5. The sound of locusts, when they fly or march in large companies, is very great. Pliny says (r), they make such a noise with their wings, when they fly, that they have been thought to have been other winged creatures; hence a locust, in Hebrew, is sometimes called the same name that is given to the high sounding cymbal. The sound of them is said to have been heard six miles (s). Aristotle (t) ascribes it to the rubbing of their legs or thighs one against another; and so the Ethiopic version here renders it, "the sound of their feet": this may be expressive of the swift and rapid incursions of the Saracens, and of the dreadful alarms to the nations which their invasions made; and may be applied to the noisy declamations, anathemas, excommunications, and interdicts of the Romish clergy.

(q) Claudian. Epigram. 13. (r) Plin. l. 11. c. 29, 51. (s) Altissiodorensis in Joel ii. 5. (t) Hist. Animal. l. 4. c. 9. Vid. Plin. l. 11. c. 51.

{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.

9. breastplates of iron] This probably is an idealisation of the structure of the natural locust.

chariots] Joel 2:5.

Revelation 9:9. Τρεχόντων) That the construction may be plain, the ἅρματα ἵππων πολλῶν τρέχοντα εἰς πόλεμον have φωνὴν, a sound. Andreas here calls them ἅρματα πολεμικὰ. The running horses draw the chariot: but the chariots themselves in their course strictly and closely cause the noise (“sound”). See Joel 2:5.

Verse 9. - And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron. Again, a natural feature of the locust is specifically alluded to, in order to portray the terrible nature of their appearance. The horny substance which appears behind the face of the locust is not unlike the plates of iron with which the breast and shoulders of war horses were protected. And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle; the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to war (Revised Version). The sound of the two things together, viz. that of rushing horses, and that of the chariots which they draw. The same simile is used in Joel 2:5. Revelation 9:9Breastplates

The breast of the locust resembles the plates of a horse's armor.

Sound of their wings

Olivier, a French writer, says: "It in difficult to express the effect produced on us by the sight of the whole atmosphere filled on all sides and to a great height by an innumerable quantity of these insects, whose flight was slow and uniform, and whose noise resembled that of rain." For a graphic description of their numbers and ravages, see Thomson, "Land and Book, Central Palestine and Phoenicia," 295-302.

Of chariots of many horses

That is, of many-horsed chariots. The Rev., by the insertion of a comma, apparently takes the two clauses as parallel: the sound of chariots, (the sound) of many horses.

Tails like unto scorpions

The comparison with the insect as it exists in nature fails here, though Smith's "Bible Dictionary" gives a picture of a species of locust, the Acridium Lineola, a species commonly sold for food in the markets of Bagdad, which has a sting in the tail.

Stings (κέντρα)

Originally any sharp point. A goad. See on pricks, Acts 26:14. Plato uses it of the peg of a top ("Republic," 436). Herodotus of an instrument of torture. Democedes, the Crotoniat physician, having denied his knowledge of medicine to Darius, Darius bade his attendants "bring the scourges and pricking-irons (κέντρα) (3, 30) Sophocles of the buckle-tongues with which Oedipus put out his eyes.

"Woe, woe, and woe again!

How through me darts the throb these clasps (κέντρων) have caused."

"Oedipus Tyrannas," 1318.

Of the spur of a cock, the quill of a porcupine, and the stings of insects.


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