Revelation 9: A Preterist Commentary–Who is Apollyon?

Overwhelming Evidence that the Earthly Shadow of the Locusts are the Roman Legions and the Human Counterpart of Apollyon is Titus Flavius Vespasianus

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A Preterist Commentary on Revelation 9: Summary and Highlights

In the following preterist Bible commentary on Revelation 9 the reader will be exposed to overwhelming evidence that the earthly reflection of the locusts of Revelation 9 are Roman soldiers and the General Titus is the human reflection of Apollyon. Following the precedent set in the Book of Joel, the locusts in this chapter are an invading army.  Roman legions and auxiliaries were often represented by different constellations and signs of the zodiac.  Interestingly, all the attributes used to describe this locust army were taken directly from constellations that would have been visible the night of Passover, the holiday in which Jesus was crucified and Titus and his army began their five month siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  The fact that Jerusalem fell after five months fulfills Revelation 9:5: The locust army was “not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months.” Abaddon and Apollyon is an angel with an obvious human counterpart. Apollyon is a play on words for “Apollo” and “destroy.”  Apollyon is Vespasian’s son Titus, the commander of the Legio XV Apollinaris (the Fifteenth Apollonian Legion).  At the start of the Jewish War, Titus was the commander of the 15th Apollonian Legion before being promoted to general over all the Roman legions in Israel at his father’s coronation.  Thus Apollyon is an apt title for the former commander of the 15th Apollonian legion who destroyed Jerusalem and its temple.  The soldiers of the Apollonian Legion are represented by locusts because locusts are sacred to Apollo.  Just prior to the fall of Jerusalem a multitude of auxiliary units from the Euphrates converged on Jerusalem in fulfillment of Revelation 9:14. The four auxiliary units that reinforced Titus’ army during the siege of Jerusalem were donated by four Roman client kings Antiochus, Agrippa II, Sohemus and Malchus.  And just as Titus is Apollyon, the angel of the Abyss of v.11, these four kings are the earthly counterparts of the four angels bound at the Euphrates of v. 14 since Sohemus and Malchus ruled kingdoms on opposite sides of the Euphrates.  Thus two out of these four units were drawn directly from the Euphrates.  Verse 16 says that the number of these “mounted troops was two hundred million.”  However, this figure may be a mistranslation, the Interlinear and Young’s Literal Translation seems to translate the number of these troops in v. 16 as 20,000–the exact number of auxiliary troops that accompanied the Roman at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  In Revelation 9:1-3 a swarm of locusts is released from the Abyss, the dark underworld of the dead.  This resurrection motif points to the rise of the Flavian Dynasty who together revived the Roman Empire by putting an end to the civil war following Nero’s death.  In other words, the Roman Empire under the Flavian Caesars is the beast whose wound had been healed of Revelation 13:3 and the beast that rises out of the Abyss in Revelation 9:2-3, Revelation 11:7 and Revelation 17.  In the following preterist Bible commentary on Revelation 9, the reader will be exposed to compelling evidence of the fulfillment of every detail of every verse in this chapter.

The following may seem unbelievable.  However, all information is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable.  Sources listed at the end.

The locusts of Revelation 9 are the Roman army described in the image of those constellations visible in the night sky on Passover, the night in which Rome began its siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70

The locusts of Revelation 9 are the Roman army described in a blended likeness of those constellations visible in the night sky on Passover, the night in which Rome began its siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Overwhelming Evidence that the Earthly Shadow of the Locusts are the Roman Legions and the Human Counterpart of Apollyon is Titus Flavius Vespasianus

Revelation 9 Commentary Intro: As is the Case in Ezekiel 28 in which the Earthly Fall of the King of Tyre is depicted as the Fall of an Angel from Heaven, Revelation 9 also describes earthly events in Otherworldly Imagery.

In Ezekiel 28, Ezekiel predicts ruin for the king of Tyre, a prophecy likely fulfilled in the sixth century B.C. However, while predicting the fall of this earthly king, Ezekiel describes this event as if describing the fall of an angel from heaven:

“Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. . . . You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. . . . You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. . . . So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings (Ezekiel 28:12-17).

Revelation 9 also describes earthly events in otherworldly imagery. In this chapter, the resurrection of the beast under the Flavian Dynasty and the subsequent return of the Roman army to besiege Jerusalem is depicted in the image of spirits rising out of the Abyss. (Though I believe that it is likely that spiritual beings truly did rise from the Abyss to act behind the scenes to aid in the fall of Jerusalem as implied in this chapter.)

Revelation 9 Commentary Intro: The Fifth Trumpet was Fulfilled Twice.

In Revelation 9:1-3 an army rises out of the Abyss. As stated often throughout these commentaries, the sea or Abyss has a double meaning. Throughout Revelation these two terms point to both the dark underworld of the dead and the Gentile nations, specifically Rome, simultaneously. Thus the locust army is both a spiritual army from the realm of the dead and a Gentile or Roman earthly army. In other words, the predictions concerning the fifth trumpet and bowl of Revelation may have a dual fulfillment. These predictions were fulfilled on earth metaphorically from A.D. 69 to 70 with the resurrection of the beast during the rise of Vespasian and the Flavian dynasty and the subsequent return of Titus and the Roman army to Israel. These predictions may have also been fulfilled quite literally in a vision of supernatural beings seen coming out of a volcano during a famous volcanic eruption.1  See The Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20.

Revelation 9 Commentary Intro: Rome’s Darkest Hour . . .

As prophesied in Revelation 9:2 and Revelation 16:10, the beast’s kingdom was plunged into a darkness.  In A.D. 69, Rome faced what may have been its darkest hour.  That year warring generals pitted the empire’s legions against one another threatening to collapse the empire and ultimately resulting in the deaths of three self-proclaimed Caesars.  Ripped apart by civil war, Rome temporarily ceased its assault on Israel.  Then order arose out of chaos as control of the empire fell securely into the hands of the former general of the Jewish War—Vespasian.

The sixth trumpet and bowl describe what happened next: Upon Vespasian’s ascension, in A.D. 70, control of the Roman legions in Israel passed to his son Titus.  Desiring a quick victory, Vespasian drew thousands more Roman soldiers and auxiliaries from neighboring provinces to aid in the war effort.  This plague describes the mobilization of these troops and their subsequent assault on Jerusalem.

Martin, John. One of the Seven Plagues of Egypt.

Martin, John. One of the Seven Plagues of Egypt.

Revelation 9 Commentary Intro: The Fifth and Sixth Trumpets are the Eighth and Ninth Plagues of Exodus.

Holding to the theme of the last chapter, John continues to connect future events to the plagues of Exodus. This chapter represents the plague of locusts and the plague of darkness. This plague of darkness links the fifth trumpet with the fifth bowl of Revelation 16:10 in which the beast’s kingdom is plunged into darkness. Thus in both Revelation 9:2 and in Revelation 16:10, the beast’s kingdom is cast into darkness.

Locusts are an ancient Canaanite and Biblical metaphor for an invading foreign/Gentile army.  This fact appears to explain the similarity between the Hebrew word for “locust,” hargol, and the Arabic word for “troops,” hargal.2  The similarity between these two words in these neighboring languages implies a common origin to both words and the fact that locusts were likened to troops in ancient Middle Eastern cultures.  This point is illustrated in the first and second chapters of Joel where the Babylonian army of the sixth century B.C. is portrayed as a swarm of locusts.  This imagery is also found in Judges 6:5, 7:12; Jeremiah 51:14, 27; and Nahum 3:15. The fact that foreign/Gentile armies are symbolized by locusts is not just found in the Bible, it is also implicit in the Babylonian Talmud where it is said, “The destruction of Jerusalem [during Israel’s first century war with Rome] came through a Kamza [locust] and a Bar Kamza [son of a locust].”3  Here one can see that according to the Babylonian Talmud, first century Jerusalem was destroyed by locusts. The reason the Talmud says that Jerusalem was destroyed by locusts is because locusts are a symbol of Gentiles or foreigners.  This point is shown in Strong’s Concordance which defines Gentile in the following terms:

#1471 gowy go’-ee rarely (shortened) goy {go’-ee}; apparently from the same root as 1465 (in the sense of meaning); a foreign nation; hence, a Gentile; also (figuratively) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts[.]”

The fact that locusts represent Gentile or foreign invaders is echoed in this chapter of Revelation as will be exhaustively shown below. This locust symbolism is multifaceted. When laying siege to a city, invading forces, much a like a swarm of locusts, will leave the surrounding countryside stripped of food, timber and vegetation in order to feed the war effort. These armies will also often set fire to anything their enemies might find useful as the Romans did when they burned many of the cities and rural areas of Palestine during the Jewish War. Interestingly, locusts “were known to the people of Palestine as ‘burners of the land,’ a phrase derived from the literal meaning of ‘locust.’”4  Furthermore, when seen at a great distance, an army of several thousand troops even looks like locusts in a field. But what do locusts look like?

There is an old Arab saying paraphrased by Isbon Beckwith in which locusts are described as having “ a head like a horse, a breast like a lion, feet like a camel, a body like a serpent, and antennae like the hair of a maiden.”5 The locusts of Revelation 9 with their woman’s hair, lions’ teeth, serpent heads and serpent tails are described somewhat similarly. However, there is much more to the description of the locusts in Revelation 9 than a common Middle Eastern anatomical description of locusts.

Revelation 9 Commentary Intro: The Fact that the Locust Army is described in the Attributes of the Zodiac Implies that this Army is the Roman Legions.

In this chapter, the author of Revelation describes the Roman military, which is soon to attack Jerusalem, as a plague of locusts from the Abyss.  The soldiers of the vast Roman military are said to breathe fire, have woman’s hair, lions’ teeth, serpent heads and scorpion tails.  This odd choice of symbolism, like much of John’s vision, has double meaning.  Roman legions were often signified by a different sign of the zodiac or constellation in the night sky.  Each Roman legion and auxiliary cohort often carried an image of a sacred constellation or a sign of the zodiac when going into battle.  The sign of the zodiac for a particular legion or cohort typically represented the month in which the unit was created.  The fact that this army from the Abyss is described in the image and attributes of the zodiac and its surrounding constellations broadly hints at the identity of this locust army as the Roman legions.6

The fact that the Roman legions are described in the imagery of the zodiac also serves an important literary function that compliments a major theme in Revelation.  The zodiac was originally developed and disseminated by and from ancient Babylon.  Therefore, the fact that the Roman legions are described in stereotypical Babylonian iconography points to Rome as spiritual Babylon mentioned later in the Book of Revelation.  (It should also be noted that Jerusalem is called Babylon in Revelation as well. This is because as a result her spiritual act of adultery with Rome, Jerusalem became one flesh with Rome like a prostitute becoming one flesh with her lover (1 Corinthians 6:16). For a detailed explanation of how the spiritual act of adultery between first century Jerusalem and Rome accounts for why Jerusalem is also called Babylon in Revelation see preterist the commentary on Revelation 17.)

Roberts, David. The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70 . 1850. Yeshiva University Museum, New York.

Roberts, David. The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70 . 1850. Yeshiva University Museum, New York.

Revelation 9 Commentary Intro: The Constellations used to describe the Locust Army were all visible the First Night of the Roman Siege of Jerusalem.

The choice of constellations used in Revelation 9 to describe this army also portrays the appearance of the Roman army in the image and attributes of those constellations visible in the night sky during the first night of Titus’ five month siege of Jerusalem.7   Thus through the zodiac imagery of this chapter, John sends four messages:

1) The zodiac symbolism in this chapter is designed to describe the appearance and tactics of the army soon to invade Jerusalem.

2) The zodiac symbolism points to the Roman Legions which were each represented by a constellation of the night sky.

3) The zodiac iconography hints at the identity of this army as spiritual Babylon.

4) The constellations of the zodiac referred to in this chapter also point to the time of attack.

The Zodiac

The Zodiac. On Passover, the holiday in which Jesus was crucified and the Romans began their siege of Jerusalem, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Ophiuchus and Sagittarius would have stretched across the night sky in a band with the Hydra below Leo and Virgo. All the attributes of the locust army were taken directly from these constellations.

Titus began his assault on Jerusalem during Passover—the anniversary in which these people had killed the Messiah.  That night the constellations Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Ophiuchus and Sagittarius would have stretched across the night sky in a band with the Hydra below Leo and Virgo to the southwest.8  Most of the symbolism in this chapter comes from these constellations.  In vs. 8 and 17 the locusts of Revelation 9 are said to have the head and teeth of a lion.  When a nighttime observer is facing north on Passover these attributes are on display just over the western horizon in the constellation of the lion, Leo.  Along the ecliptic, just above Leo is the lady Virgo, giving rise to the woman’s hair in v. 8.  Beyond Virgo are the scales of Libra.  In Revelation 9:15, the four horsemen of Revelation 6 are released–one of which is holding the scales of Libra in his hand–warning Jerusalem to ration its food for the coming siege.  The next constellation in this procession is Scorpio: symbolizing the tail of the scorpion in v. 10.  Interestingly, in ancient Hellenistic calendars locusts appear in this sign of the zodiac: astrologically accounting for the locust imagery in this chapter.9  Just above Scorpio is Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer.  The constellation Ophiuchus is a man holding a snake.  Here one can see the serpent head and tail symbolism in v. 19.  At the end of the southern horizon is Centaurus with Sagittarius at the southeast.  Sagittarius and Centaurus are both centaurs.  Half man and half horse, these two star clusters account for the imagery of the horse with a human face in v. 7.

Directly beside these signs of the zodiac, in the part of the sky called the sea, lies the Hydra.  This constellation originally represented the fire-breathing leviathan, a seven-headed serpent used by John and the prophet Daniel to symbolize Rome.  In this constellation one can see the origin of the firebrand symbolism mentioned in vs. 17 and 19.  As will be exhaustively shown in the remainder of the chapter, these attributes of the above mentioned constellations highlight important elements of the weaponry, war tactics and appearance of the Roman military.

1The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth.  The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.  2When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace.  The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.  3And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth.

The Eruption of Vesuvius

Martin, John. The Eruption of Vesuvius.1789 – 1854

Revelation 9:1-3 Commentary: Was there a Volcanic Eruption in Campania in A.D. 69 at the Rise of the Flavian Dynasty?

As also implied in Revelation 9:1-3, 1 Enoch 10:4-7 reveals that the Abyss, like the fiery magma of the earth’s core, is located under the earth (Numbers 16:31, Ezekiel 26:20, Luke 16:23 and 2 Peter 2:4). In Revelation 9:1-3 an angel opens the Abyss releasing smoke and fire. This smoke is so dark that according to v. 2 it darkens the sun and sky. Revelation 9:1-3 appears to be describing a volcanic eruption. Volcanic eruptions often release so much smoke and ash that they can cover vast areas around the eruption in darkness so thick that it can blot out the sun sometimes hundreds of miles away as was the case with the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79.10  And like the eruption of Vesuvius which completely buried the town of Pompeii in ash, volcanic eruptions can also quickly bury a city in volcanic debris and hot ash. In his historical account of A.D. 69, the unusually calamitous year before the rise of the Flavian Dynasty, Tacitus writes, “Whole towns were burnt down or buried throughout the richest part of the coast of Campania [central, coastal Italy].”11  Could these towns in Campania have been burned down and buried from a volcanic eruption in explicit fulfillment of Revelation 9:1-3?

The A.D. 70 Doctrine View, Interpretation, Exposition and Commentary of Revelation 9:1-3: Rome, the Beast, dies with Nero Caesar and rises from the Dead with the Flavian Dynasty–Vespasian, Titus and Domitian–Who together revived the Roman Empire by putting an End to Rome’s Civil War and the War with Israel.

Regardless of whether or not a volcano actually erupted in A.D. 69, Revelation 9:1-3 is replete with resurrection imagery pointing to the release of the beast from the Abyss, the underworld of the dead, at the rise of the Flavian Dynasty.  In Revelation 9:2-3 a locust army is released from the Abyss.  In Revelation 9:11 the king of this army is identified as “the angel of the Abyss, whose name . . .  [is] Apollyon.”  Apollyon is the beast that “once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss” in Revelation 17:8.  Because the Abyss is the spiritual realm of the dead, the expression “once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss” is a cryptic way of saying, “This beast once was alive, now is dead, and yet will rise from the dead.”  This beast who dies and then rises out of the Abyss is Rome represented by its Caesars.

After the death of Nero Caesar in June of A.D. 68, Rome collapsed because of civil war and the Roman legions withdrew from Israel.  This period of civil war from the death of Nero in the summer of A.D. 68 to the rise of Vespasian in A.D. 70 represents the death of the beast.  This period from A.D. 68 to A.D. 70 is the period of the fifth trumpet of Revelation 9:1-12 and the fifth bowl of Revelation 16:10-11.  The fact that Rome, the beast, had been hurled into darkness in Revelation 9:2 and Revelation 16:10 during the fifth trumpet and bowl implies that the beast had been cast into the Abyss, the dark underworld of the dead described in Job 10:19-22 as “the land of deepest night, of utter darkness” and called outer darkness by Jesus in the Gospels.12

Vespasian and Titus. The rise of the Flavian Dynasty is the beast that rises out of the Abyss also known as the beast whose wound has been healed.

As explained in Revelation 13:3, the Flavian Dynasty–Caesar Vespasian, Caesar Titus and Caesar Domitian–is the beast whose wound had been healed.  At Vespasian’s coronation as emperor of Rome, Vespasian and his two sons and successors, Titus and Domitian, were simultaneously granted the title Caesar.13  Thus the beast is embodied by Caesar Vespasian, Caesar Titus and Caesar Domitian who shortly after coming to power brought peace back to Rome after destroying Jerusalem.  Having restored the unity of the empire by putting an end to the civil war at the fall of Jerusalem, the Flavian Dynasty brought the Roman beast which had died as a consequence of civil war back to life.  In other words, the Roman Empire under the trinity of Flavian Caesars is the beast whose wound had been healed of Revelation 13:3 and the beast that rises out of the Abyss in Revelation 9:2-3, Revelation 11:7 and Revelation 17.  See Revelation 11: A Preterist Commentary–Who are the Two Witnesses? and Revelation 17: A Preterist Commentary.

In Revelation 9:1-3, a star is given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.  The fact that this star has the key to the Abyss shows that it has power over death itself.  This star appears to be Jesus Christ who says, “I hold the keys of death and Hades” in Revelation 1:18.  Jesus again implies that He is the star of vs. 1-3 when He says that He “holds the key of David” in Revelation 3:7.  This star opens the Abyss causing locusts to be released under the authority of Apollyon (Revelation 9:11).  The ascent of Apollyon and his army of locusts from the Abyss is resurrection imagery.  These verses are a metaphorical depiction of the resurrection of the Roman beast under the Flavians.  But why is the resurrection of Rome also mentioned in Revelation 13:3, Revelation 11:7 and Revelation 17 portrayed as a locust army rising out of the Abyss, the dark underworld of the dead?

Revelation 9:1-3 Commentary: The Death and Resurrection of the Beast is also Illustrated by Titus’ and Vespasian’s Presence in Israel, the Earth, and Rome, the Sea or Abyss.

In the Book of Revelation, the Abyss is not just the land of the dead. Abyss also has a symbolic meaning. The Abyss represents foreign nations, in this case Rome, throughout the Apocalypse just as the earth symbolizes Israel (Revelation 17:15; Daniel 7; Psalm 65:7; 144:7; Isaiah 8:7-8; 17:12; 60:5; Jeremiah 46:7-8; 47:1-2; 51:55-56; Ezekiel 26:3).  After the death of Nero Caesar, Rome ceased its assault on Judea and Titus and Vespasian left Israel not long after.14  Thus around the time of the death of the beast, Vespasian and Titus left Israel, the earth, and went to Lebanon and Egypt in Gentile Rome, the sea or Abyss, in order to plot the overthrow of their rival for the emperor’s throne, Vitellius.  Thus around the time in which the beast was “dead,” Vespasian and Titus were in the Abyss, Gentile Rome.  Immediately after supplanting Vitellius and usurping the throne, Caesar Vespasian dispatched Titus back to Israel, the earth, with full control of the Roman military.  Therefore, at the coronation of Vespasian which represents the resurrection of the beast, Titus and the Roman army leave the Abyss, Gentile Rome, and return to Israel.  Put simply, when the beast, Vespasian and or Titus and the Roman army, was present on the earth, Israel, the beast was symbolically alive.  When the beast departed to the sea or Abyss, representing both Gentile Rome and the realm of the dead simultaneously, the beast was metaphorically dead.  When the beast rises out of the sea or Abyss, the beast is alive again.  Thus the departure of the beast and the Roman army from Gentile Rome, the Abyss, to Israel, the earth, is symbolized in Revelation 9:1-3 as a locust army rising out of the Abyss.  This imagery is appropriate because the return of the Roman army to Israel was roughly concurrent with the coronation of Vespasian which marked the resurrection of the beast.

Revelation 9:1-3 Commentary: Revelation 9 was also fulfilled Symbolically during the Reign of Caesar Titus (A.D. 79-81).

Nero on the throne

The Emperor Nero

As stated above, Revelation 9:1-3 were fulfilled metaphorically from A.D. 68-A.D. 70 with the death of Nero and the rise of the Vespasian and the Flavian Dynasty which represented the resurrection of the beast.  That having been said, it should be noted that an interesting historical peculiarity may hint at the fact that the Flavian Dynasty; Caesar Vespasian, Caesar Titus and Caesar Domitian; signified the resurrection of the beast. During the reign of the second emperor of the Flavian dynasty; Titus, Vespasian’s son and successor; a man resembling Nero, the beast with the wounded head of Revelation 13:3, appeared in Rome.  Describing this man, Cassius Dio writes:

In his reign also the False Nero appeared, who was an Asiatic named Terentius Maximus.  He resembled Nero both in appearance and in voice (for he too sang to the accompaniment of the lyre).  He gained a few followers in Asia, and his advance to the Euphrates attached a far greater number, and finally sought refuge with Artabanus, the Parthian leader, who . . . both received him and set about making preparations to restore him to Rome.15

As indicated in Revelation 13: A Preterist Commentary, Nero, Vespasian and Titus are all represented by the 666 cryptogram. In the Book of Revelation these three men symbolically represent a beast who dies and resurrects from the dead. Vespasian and Titus represent the beast whose wound had been healed while Nero represents the beast with the wounded head. If the Nero imposter was not the actual miraculous resurrection of Nero and thus a literal fulfillment of Revelation 13:3, he at least represents a kind of counterfeit resurrection, a symbol pointing to Titus, one of the Flavians, as the beast who rises from the dead. Called Apollyon in Revelation 9:11 and the beast that comes out of the Abyss in Revelation 17:8, Titus like his father, Vespasian, is also seen as a kind of resurrected devil.

4They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  5They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months.  And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man.  6During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

A Preterist Interpretation, Exposition and Commentary of Revelation 9:5: The Siege of Jerusalem lasted Five Months in Fulfillment of v. 5.

In v. 5 the locusts of the Abyss are given power to torture mankind for five months.  This is the time period in which God had historically destroyed heaven and earth, first during the flood in Genesis 7:24 and later during the Babylonian siege of Israel according to the Septuagint version of Ezekiel 4.  Once again God destroys the land in five months, this time using the Roman army.

The initial purpose of the fifth trumpet of A.D. 68-70 was to prepare the Roman legions for war.  In v. 5 these soldiers are given power to torture the people of Jerusalem for five months, a power they will soon exercise at the blowing of the seventh trumpet.  After the sounding of this trumpet, Titus’ vast army, described here, tortured the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  For five months, from the middle of Nisan to the middle of Elul, Titus’ army induced famine and plague in the closed quarters of the city before finally breaking through the last fortifications and putting thousands of people out of their misery.16  This five month interval from the middle of Nisan to the middle of Elul in which Titus and his army besieged Jerusalem is also the same five month timeframe in which locusts typically appear in Israel.17  This fact is one more piece of evidence pointing to the Roman army as the locusts of Revelation 9.

A Realized Eschatological View and Commentary of Revelation 9:4: : Do “Not to Harm the Grass of the Earth or any Plant or Tree, But Only Those People Who did Not have the Seal of God on Their Foreheads.”

In Revelation 9:4 the locusts are told not to harm or damage the grass and trees.  This verse is meant to show that the locusts of this chapter are not literal locusts.  The NET Bible translates Revelation 9:4 as follows: “They were told not to damage the grass of the earth, or any green plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their forehead [emphasis mine].” At first glance this verse might seem to refute the idea that these locusts represent the Romans since Titus’ army cut down nearly every tree within 90 stadia of Jerusalem in order to build the siege engines that they needed to break through the city walls.18  However, this v. is not specifying that trees would not be harmed, they were, but rather that these trees were not be damaged (adikeo).

Adikeo is also found in Revelation 6:6 where it clearly means damage: “do not damage [adikeo] the oil and the wine!”  Revelation 6:6 was fulfilled when the Zealots under John Gischala drank the wine and anointed themselves with the sacred oil of the Temple that the Levites stored for the purpose of pouring on the burnt offerings.19  See Revelation 6: A Preterist Commentary.  Just as the order in Revelation 6:6 not to damage the oil and wine was fulfilled when the Zealots used this sacred wine and oil, the order not to damage the trees and plants in Revelation 9:4 was similarly fulfilled when the locust army used these trees and plants to feed the war effort and make siege engines.

Before the final siege of Jerusalem, the Romans enacted a scorched-earth policy in which they burned everything that could be used by their enemies which included trees, farms and all the suburbs surrounding rebellious cities.  This was all done in fulfillment of Revelation 8:7: “A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.”  During the siege of Jerusalem, the Romans could not and did not burn the trees around Jerusalem because they needed them.  In fact they guarded this lumbar with their lives while the zealots tried to burn them.  This is because the Zealots and Romans knew if these battering rams and other siege engines made from the trees around Jerusalem were destroyed the Romans would never be able to break through the city walls and conquer Jerusalem:

And now the banks [made from the wood around Jerusalem] were finished, they afforded a foundation for fear both to the Romans and to the Jews; for the Jews expected that the city would be taken, unless they could burn those banks, as did the Romans expect that, if these were once burnt down, they should never be able to take it [Jerusalem]; for there was a mighty scarcity of materials[.]20

Thus in fulfillment of v. 4 the locust army did not damage or permit the trees to be damaged as there was a scarcity of lumber around Jerusalem and without this timber the Romans would not be able to build the battering rams and other siege works necessary in order to penetrate the walls of Jerusalem.

In fulfillment of the rest of v. 4 the Roman army would have also not damaged “any green plant” around Jerusalem since like the trees which afforded the Romans necessary lumbar any plant especially fruit-bearing ones would be of use to the Romans encamped outside of Jerusalem.  Therefore, just as the order not to damage the oil and wine in Revelation 6:6 was fulfilled when the Zealots actually used the sacred oil and wine of the Temple, the order not to damage the trees, grass and green plants in Revelation 9:4 was also fulfilled when the Romans used these trees to make siege engines and the fruit-bearing plants for nourishment.

Thus the Romans did precisely as the Israelites were instructed to do according to the Law:

When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?  However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls (Deuteronomy 20:19-20).

Revelation 9:4 appears to mirror Deuteronomy 20:19.  Perhaps Revelation 9:4 is a reference to Deuteronomy 20:19 and that this order not to harm the trees only applies to trees that bear good fruit?  In Matthew 7:15-19, Jesus likens the saints to trees that bear good fruit and sinners to trees that do not bear fruit:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Furthermore, Israel is likened to a fig tree that does not bear fruit according to Luke 13:6-9.  According to Revelation 9:4 the locust army is only allowed to torture those people who did not have the seal of God.  In light of the verses cited above, I believe the fact that the Romans cut down all the trees that did not bear fruit during the siege of Jerusalem was an omen that those sinners trapped in Jerusalem during the Roman siege were also about to be cut down as well since these wicked people were also trees that did not bear good fruit.

7The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle.  On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces.

Revelation 9:7 Commentary: The Roman Calvary is described in the Likeness of Sagittarius.

Sagittarius, the centaur, and Corona Australis, the crown. Revelation 9 A Preterist Commentary

Sagittarius, the centaur, and Corona Australis, the crown. “The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces.”

As stated above, people of the ancient Middle East sometimes described the anatomical features of locusts in a chimeric fashion (using characteristics of other animals). In Revelation 9, John also describes Roman soldiers chimerically using various features of those constellations that were visible in the night sky on the day in which the Romans began their siege of Jerusalem. In this verse, John describes soldiers on horseback wrapped-up in the likeness of the constellation Sagittarius, the constellation seen on the southeastern horizon at the start of the siege.  Having the face of a man and the lower body of a horse, Sagittarius, like the locusts in this verse, also wears a crown, the constellation Corona Australis.21  Here one can see how the locust cavalry of Revelation 9:7 wore a crown, had the face of a man and the body of a horse.

Preterism Explained and Interpreted, A Commentary of Revelation 9:7: Locusts also represent an Invading Army in the Book of Joel.

As stated earlier, John follows the precedence set by the prophet Joel, who in a similar vision describes the Assyrian army invading Israel as a swarm of locusts.  The first half of this verse is a virtual quote of Joel 2:4.  This fact suggests that these locusts may again refer to human soldiers on horseback. But having an earthly fulfillment to the fifth plague does not mean that there may not also be a spiritual one as well. The locusts of Revelation 9 are frequently seen to be a spiritual army because of the fact that these beings are released from the Abyss, the realm of the dead.  For this reason, I believe that there is a dual fulfillment of this plague, one that points first to the Roman army under Titus’ leadership and then again in the mass-vision of spiritual beings seen in the ash of a famous eruption. See The Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20.

Moving to the next half of the verse, these locusts are said to wear crowns of gold and have human faces.  J. Massyngerde Ford believes that these crowns of gold “may be borrowed from the bronze helmets of the Roman legionaires which were burnished with gold.”22  Furthermore, high ranking Roman cavalry often wore masks sometimes ornately adorned with crowns or laurel wreaths.  Many of these masks were adorned with long hair, hence “the hair of women” in v. 8.  Below is an example of one such mask worn in the middle of the first century.

Roman equestrian helmet. Revelation 9 A Preterist Commnetary

“On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces.” Roman equestrian helmet. Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen.

Above one can see how the faces of these locust soldiers resembled that of a man wearing a golden crown.

A Preterist Interpretation, Exposition and Commentary of Revelation 9:7: Roman War Horses Sometimes Wore Helmets with Reliefs of Human Faces in Fulfillment of v.7 in which the Horses are said to have Human Faces.

Roman war horses also wore armor guards over their heads.  These armor guards made the horses appear as if they were wearing crowns in fulfillment of v. 7.  These armor guards could be very ornate containing reliefs of women, lion heads, or human faces with crowns just to name a few possibilities.

The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Revelation 9 A Preterist Commentary

“On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces.” Roman Horse Armor Straubing, Germany.

8Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth.

Revelation 9:8 Commentary: The Roman Calvary is described in the Likeness of Leo and Virgo.

Leo (the lion) Revelation 9 A preterist Commentary

Leo (the lion) “Their teeth were like lions’ teeth.”

The second half of this verse bears a striking resemblance to Joel 1:6.  Here the invading Assyrians are said to have “the teeth of a lion.”  Under the surface of this understanding is the subliminal reference to the lion Leo.

A Preterist Exposition and Commentary of Revelation 9:8: Helmets Worn by Roman Calvary had Plums of Long Hair like that of a Woman in Fulfillment of v. 8: “Their Hair was like Women’s Hair.

Virgo (the virgin) Revelation 9 A Preterist Commentary

Virgo (the virgin) “Their hair was like women’s hair.”

The hair like that of a woman is the hair of the lady Virgo. It is interesting to note that the original Babylonian constellation of which Virgo was later derived is the ancient Babylonian constellation Erua.23  As Babylonian astrology passed from Babylon to Persia to Greece and then to Rome it underwent some modifications. The original Babylonian constellation of the lady Erua was later moved slightly down from its original position by the Greeks so as to traverse the ecliptic, the invisible line that traces the path of the sun through the sky, thus becoming the constellation Virgo, the virgin. In its place was substituted the constellation Coma Berenices, the “Hair of Berenice,” in 246 B.C. In the Coma Berenices, “the Hair of Berenice” one can see the “hair like women’s hair” referred to in v. 8.24

The woman’s hair of the constellation Virgo and the “Hair of Berenice” resembles the mane of the horses ridden in battle. It also seems to point to the long horse hair worn on some Roman cavalry helmets at the time. Roman auxiliary cavalry troops also often wore long hair over their masks. Perhaps some of the cavalry that attacked Israel in the first century wore such helmets? Below is a relief dating to the end of the second century B.C. depicting a high-ranking Roman cavalry officer wearing a helmet with a horse-hair plume. Notice that the long hair of the helmet resembles a woman’s hair tied into a ponytail.

And their hair was like woman's hair. Revelation 9 A Preterist Commentary

“Their hair was like woman’s hair.” Middle detail of the Census Frieze. From the Altar of Domitius Ahenobarbus at the Campo Marzio, Rome. Louvre Museum, Paris.

9They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle.

"The sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle." Revelation 9:9 a preterist commnetary

Roman cavalry. “The sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle.”

Revelation 9:9 Preterist Commentary: Roman Soldiers Wore Breastplates of Iron in Fulfillment of v. 9:  “They had . . . Breastplates of Iron.”

Revelation 9 A Preterist Commentary

“They had breastplates like breastplates of iron.” The standard issue armor of the first century shown above was constructed of plates of iron.

First century Roman soldiers wore breastplates made of iron plates just like the locusts of v.9: “They had breastplates like breastplates of iron[.]”   Furthermore, the trampling sound of hoof beats resembles the thundering sound of a swarm of locusts.25

10They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months.

Revelation 9:10 Commentary: The Roman Calvary is described in the Likeness of Scorpio.

Revelation 9:10 A Preterist Commentary scorpion tails are scorpio

Scorpio (the scorpion) “They had tails and stings like scorpions . . .”

Here the tail of Scorpio may be a metaphor for the Roman spear, with its tail representing the shaft and its stinger the blade.

The Roman soldier with his standard-issue spear looks like a scorpion.

The Roman soldier with his standard-issue spear looks like a scorpion.

It is also possible that the scorpion image in v. 10 may refer to the Roman ballista, a siege engine that hurled darts or arrows, and even the onager also known as the catapult. The ballista was called the scorpio meaning scorpion. Thus it is perhaps not surprisingly that some translations of The Wars of the Jews translate the ballista as “scorpion.”26  According to Amminaus Marcellius, 4th century A.D., the Onager (Lat., ‘wild ass’) was [also] originally known as the ‘scorpion.’”27

scorpion ballista

According to Brian Martin some translations of The Wars of the Jews translate this siege engine as “scorpion.”

11They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.

Preterist Bible Commentary on Revelation 9:11: Apollyon is an Angel with a Human Counterpart.

Many commentators have identified Abaddon and Apollyon as an angel and rightly so. Abaddon is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for destruction and it is used virtually interchangeably with Sheol or the Abyss, the realm of the dead (Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Proverbs 15:11; 27:20).28  Thus Apollyon does appear to be an angel.  However, there can be no doubt that this angel has a human counterpart.

As frequently stated and emphasized in this commentary, events in the Book of Revelation are often fulfilled both in heaven and on earth. In other words, events said to have transpired in the spiritual realms often have reflections on earth that also fulfill these predictions. The fact that Apollyon or Abaddon is said to be an angel does not preclude him from being a man. Each of the human pastors of the seven churches in the introduction to John’s vision are addressed as the “angel” of their church (Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). Other examples in the Bible in which saints or prophets are called angels or messengers of God include 2 Chronicles 36:15-16; Haggai 1:13; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:10; 24:31; Luke 7:24; 9:52; 1 Timothy 3:16; and Revelation 21:17. Similarly just like the star or angel said to come down from heaven in v. 9:1, the king of Babylon and the king of Tyre are also depicted as stars or angels who have fallen from heaven (Isaiah 14:12, Ezekiel 28:16).  Furthermore, in Revelation 9 Apollyon appears to come out of the pit or Abyss.  Interestingly, the Dead Sea Scrolls label perverse men “men of the pit.”29  But why would a man be called “the angel of the Abyss?” Before answering this question, let us turn our attention to the implicit meaning behind the name Apollyon.

Revelation 9:11 Commentary: Who is Apollyon?

The name Apollyon is a Greek play on words for Apollo and destroy.30  The blending of these two words is meant to call attention to this agent’s identification with the Greek God Apollo and his active role as the destroyer of Israel.   So who could this be, and why is he given the name Apollo?

A Preterist Interpretation, Exposition and Commentary of Revelation 9:11: Apollyon is Titus the General of the Fifteenth Apollonian Legion.

The earthly reflection of Apollyon is Vespasian’s son Titus, the commander of the Legio XV Apollinaris (Fifteenth Apollonian Legion).  Initially the commander of the Fifteenth Legion, Titus then went on to succeed his father as general over all the Roman legions during the Jewish War after his father had become Caesar, a title also bestowed on Titus at his father’s coronation.31   As Caesar, Titus was entitled to worship as a god in the imperial cult, and like Apollo, the son of Zeus, could also be labeled the Son of God–a perfect title for the beast.

A Realized Eschatology Interpretation and Commentary of Revelation 9:11: The Soldiers of the Apollonian Legion are represented by Locusts, an Animal Sacred to Apollo.

At the start of the Jewish War, Titus was the general of the Fifteenth Legion.  With Apollo as its patron, the Fifteenth Legion was suitably nicknamed Apollinaris, a name meaning “devoted to Apollo.”  The Fifteenth Legion would always carry an emblem of Apollo or one of his holy animals wherever it went.  Not surprisingly, the locust was one of Apollo’s holy animals.  Now it is easy to see why the author of Revelation chose locusts to symbolize the soldiers of the Roman army.  So “devoted to Titus” was his army that at the taking of the Jewish temple, they unanimously declared him emperor of Rome in fulfillment of v. 11 in which Apollyon is said to have been “king over them.”

A Covenant Eschatology Exposition and Commentary of Revelation 9:11: Apollyon is the Perfect Title for Titus.

The blending of the Greek words for Apollo–the god of death and plague–and destroy in the name Apollyon perfectly describes the man directly responsible for the remaining plagues of Revelation, including the complete destruction of Jerusalem.  That being said, an interesting coincidence occurred two months after Titus’ coronation further solidifying his link to Apollo, the God of death and plague: Mt. Vesuvius erupted causing a massive loss of life and later a terrible pestilence throughout Rome.32  Below is a Roman coin representing Titus as Apollo.

Caesar Titus is Apollyon revelation 9 preterist commentary

Titus 79-81 A.D. AR Denarius. Rome Mint. Jan 1-June 30 80, A.D. (3.17g, 18.1m, 6h). Obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG PM, laureate head right. Rev: TR P IX IMP XV COS VIII PP, tripod with fillets, above dolphin; on tripod, two ravens, left and right, and wreath under the dolphin. RIC II 131. From the private collection of Lucas Harsh posted on Forvm Ancient Coins. Web. 1 June 2013. Used with permission.

On the front of the coin is the bust of Titus.  On the back is a tripod, laurel wreath, a dolphin and two ravens: all symbols of Apollo.  At the top of the coin are two ravens and a dolphin, both animals are sacred to Apollo.  The tripod is Apollo’s most famous attribute representing his prophetic powers.  Perhaps this is partially why Titus is also identified in Revelation as the false prophet (Revelation 19:20)?

Revelation 9:11 Commentary: Why is Caesar Titus called the Angel of the Abyss?

Having explained how the earthly counterpart or fulfillment of Abaddon and Apollyon is Caesar Titus, let us now focus on why he is called “the angel of the Abyss?”  As stated above, the leaders of the seven churches are each called the “angel” of their particular church.  Here angel is used instead of leader to address the human leader of each of these churches. As stated many, many times in this commentary, in the Apocalypse events in heaven are also often fulfilled on earth.  In light of this fact, it is not surprising that as implied in Revelation 17:15 and stated many times throughout this commentary on Revelation, the  sea and Abyss are used interchangeably to signify both the Gentile nations and the afterlife underworld of the dead simultaneously.  See The Poetic Biblical Link Between “Sea” and “Abyss”.  If this fact is true, then Apollyon is not just a literal angel of the underworld; he is also the “angel” or leader of the sea, Gentile Rome.  See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations.  Having also been bestowed the title of Caesar at the time of his father’s coronation, Titus was joint emperor with his father, Vespasian, during the final stages of the Jewish War.  Thus the earthly shadow of the angel of the underworld is Titus, the angel or leader of the Abyss representing Gentile Rome.

This is not the only reason why Titus is linked to the angel of the Abyss.  The fact that Apollyon is said to be the king or angel of the Abyss in v. 11, implies that he must also be the angel with the keys to death in v. 1.  Like the angel with the keys to the Abyss who is given power over death in v. 1, Titus also symbolically conquered death.  As stated above, as the second member of the Flavian Dynasty that revived the Roman Empire after it received a fatal wound in Revelation 13:3 at the death of Nero, Titus represents the resurrection of the beast.  In this chapter, this resurrection is portrayed as Titus and his locust army, the Roman legions, coming out of the Abyss, the underworld of the dead.

Revelation 9:11 Commentary: Why is Rome Symbolized by the Sea or Abyss in Revelation?

Having explained why Titus is called the angel of the Abyss, I think it is important to briefly explain why Rome is represented as the sea or Abyss in the Book of Revelation.  This symbolism presents two complimentary messages.  First, it presents the destruction of Israel, the earth, by Rome, the sea or Abyss, as a return to the precreation state of the earth in Genesis 1:1-3.  Here Israel, the earth, is metaphorically pictured returning to the formless abyss or water world of Genesis 1:1-3 after its conquest and destruction by Rome, the sea.  This return of the earth to its preformed state sets the stage for its recreation as the new earth of Revelation 21:1.  Second, the fact that the Romans are signified by the Abyss, the realm of the dead, is also appropriate in light of the fact that during the subjugation of Israel by Rome during the Jewish War this powerful army left so much death in its wake.

12The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.  13The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God.  14It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”  15And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.  16The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million.  I heard their number.  17The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur.  The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur.  

Revelation 9:12-21 Commentary: The Sixth Trumpet and an Another Army. . .

In Revelation 9:1-12 John sees a vision of an army from the Abyss and its earthly reflection in the Roman legions.  In remainder of this chapter, John describes the effect of the sounding of the next trumpet–the sixth trumpet.  In the sixth trumpet, John sees another army.  This army is the auxiliary cohorts which reinforced Titus’ Roman legions.

Preterism Explained and Interpreted, A Commentary of Revelation 9:14-16: In Fulfillment of vs. 14-16 A Multitude of Soldiers from the Euphrates converged on Jerusalem.

The voice coming from the horns of the golden altar instructs the sixth angel to release the four angels bound at the Euphrates. Recall as stated above that people on earth are sometimes called angels (2 Chronicles 36:15-16; Haggai 1:13; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:10; 24:31; Luke 7:24; 9:52; 1 Timothy 3:16; and Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14; 21:17). And if it is true that Titus is the earthly counterpart of the “the angel of the Abyss” in v. 11, then it follows that these four angels bound at the Euphrates may also have human counterparts. This would certainly not be the first time that angels and humans though separate beings are addressed together (Ezekiel 28, Daniel 10:10-21; 12:1). I believe the human reflections of these four angels are the four kings that aided Titus in his campaign against Jerusalem by supplying auxiliary troops during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. I believe these four kings or angels are Antiochus, Agrippa II, Sohemus and Malchus.

At the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem there were four Roman legions and four auxiliary units who reinforced these legions.33  According to Josephus, these four auxiliary units were collectively furnished by the four Roman client kings mentioned above–Antiochus, Agrippa, Sohemus, and Malchus.34  I believe these four Roman client kings who reinforced Titus’ Roman legions are the earthly representatives of the four angels bound at the Euphrates mentioned in v. 16 since Sohemus and Malchus ruled kingdoms on opposite sides of the Euphrates.  Thus two out of these four units were drawn directly from the Euphrates in fulfillment of v. 14: “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”

Upon the release of these four angels, thousands of auxiliary troops specifically those under the authority of Antiochus and Sohemus were drawn from Euphrates in order to reinforce Titus’ Roman legions stationed at Caesarea, near Mt. Megiddo fulfilling vs. 14-16.35  From there, Titus’ coalition of Roman legions and auxiliary troops closed in on Jerusalem intent on killing the Jewish rebels seeking refuge within the protective walls of the city.  The sixth trumpet is a call to mobilize these allied troops stationed at the Euphrates.

A Full Preterist View and Commentary of Revelation 9:16: The Interlinear and Young’s Literal Translation Appears to Translate the Number of Troops in V. 16 as 20,000–The Exact Number of Auxiliary Troops Present with Titus’ Legions at the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. 

If the army of the sixth trumpet are the Roman auxiliaries from the Euphrates who reinforced the Roman legions during the siege of Jerusalem, then what about v. 16: “The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million.”  As Adam Maarschalk points out the number of soldiers in this locust army is a bit unclear.  The NIV quoted above translates this number as two hundred million.  However, as indicated in the word-for-word Interlinear Translation from Greek to English, this verse would perhaps most literally read, “[A]nd the number of the armies of the cavalry [was] twice ten thousand ten thousands[.]”  Interestingly, the word-for-word Interlinear also appears to translate the Hebrew equivalent of this number as “20,000” in Psalm 68:17: “[T]he Lord of angels [even] thousands twenty thousand of God [are] [t]he chariots in holiness . . .”   The New King James Version also translates Psalm 68:17 in the same way: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, Even thousands of thousands[.]”  Young’s Literal Translation also suggests that the number of soldiers might be more accurately translated “20,000.”  Young’s Literal Translation reads, “[A]nd the number of the forces of the horsemen [is] two myriads of myriads[.]”  In Greek antiquity a myriad is a unit of ten thousand.  Thus two myriads is 20,000 troops–the exact number of Roman auxiliary troops present during the siege and fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.36

Josephus says that Antiochus, Agrippa, Sohemus and Malchus each furnished one thousand horsemen.37  Thus out of these 20,000 auxiliary troops roughly four thousand were cavalry.  But doesn’t Revelation suggest that all 20,000 of these soldiers are horsemen?   As cited above, in the word-for-word Interlinear Translation from Greek to English, Revelation 9:16 literally reads, “[A]nd the number of the armies of the cavalry [was] twice ten thousand ten thousands[.]”  Though some Bible translations explicitly indicate that the “twice ten thousand ten thousands” are horsemen, the majority of English Bible translations translate Revelation 9:16 similar to the Interlinear: “[A]nd the number of the armies [or army] of the cavalry . . .”  In translating the Greek in this way it is less clear as to whether the entirety of the army are horsemen or if the total number of soldiers in the army is “twice ten thousand ten thousands” and the horsemen just compose a part of this total force.  The 20,000 Roman auxiliaries who supplemented Titus’ legions during the siege of Jerusalem were about 20% horsemen.  This is a very high percentage especially when compared to the Roman legions whom they reinforced which totaled about 480 cavalry out of the roughly 40,000 soldiers in the four legions under Titus’ command.38  Thus there was only about 1.2% cavalry in the Roman legions that besieged Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  In other words, perhaps in v. 16 John is calling this army of auxiliaries “The Army of Horsemen” as though it is a label or name given to these troops considering the extremely high percentage of horsemen in these auxiliary units.

It seems especially likely to me that it was John’s intention to number the total army, not just the number of horsemen, in v. 16 since 20,000 horsemen is a grossly inflated figure for any besieging force in ancient times.  Horses were just not that useful during a siege.  Furthermore, it is unlikely that v. 16 is expected to be fulfilled at any point in the future as modern armies no longer use horsemen in battle.

Revelation 9:14 Commentary: Rivers Sometimes Represent Foreign Armies in the Bible.

Kurt Simmons notes that rivers in the Bible are sometimes used to symbolize foreign armies.  For example, the Assyrian conquest of Israel is depicted as a river overflowing its banks in Isaiah 8:7-8:

[T]herefore the Lord is about to bring against them [Israel] the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates—the king of Assyria with all his pomp.  It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck.  Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, Immanuel!’

Similarly, the invading forces of the Egyptian army are depicted as the Nile River overflowing its banks in Jeremiah 46:7-8: “Who is this that rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters?  Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters.  She says, ‘I will rise and cover the earth; I will destroy cities and their people.’  Similar imagery is also found in Jeremiah 47:2.39  Perhaps the reference to the Euphrates in Revelation 9:14 points not only to the mobilization of Roman troops from that region before besieging Jerusalem but is also be a symbol of the Roman Army itself?

Revelation 9:17 Commentary: Iron Can be Manipulated to Appear “Fiery Red, Dark Blue, and Yellow as Sulfur” in Fulfillment of v. 17.

In v. 17 the cavalry have fiery red, hyacinth and sulfur yellow breastplates. These colors hint at the fire, smoke and sulfur of the Abyss.40  They also foreshadow the fire, smoke and sulfur soon to engulf Jerusalem when it was burned by the Romans at its fall in A.D. 70.  Earlier in v. 9, John reveals the fact that these soldiers wore breastplates of iron.  Iron is found in a wide array of colors and is responsible for the pigmentation of an assortment of different colored crystals.  As indicated in this verse, using ancient chemical techniques, iron can be manipulated into colors ranging from sulfur yellow to red ochre or Prussian blue: the colors of fire, smoke and sulfur.41

Preterism, A Commentary of Revelation 9:17: Some Roman War Horses had Lion Heads on Their Helmets in Fulfillment of v. 17: “The Heads of the Horses Resembled the Heads of Lions.”

Perhaps one of the most compelling pieces of evidence linking the locusts of Revelation 9 to the Roman cavalry of the Jewish War is this next enigmatic statement: “the heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions.”  Below is a photograph of the armor guards worn over the heads of some Roman war horses.   

The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions Who is Apollyon Revelation 9:17 A Preterist Commentary

“The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions.” Roman Horse Armor Landesmuseum Bonn, Bonn. Roman Legions. Web. 4 April 2013.

Here one can see the image of a lion’s head displayed prominently over what would have been the horses’ forehead.

Revelation 9:17 Commentary: The Roman Calvary is described in the Likeness of the Hydra.

Next, like the leviathan of Job 41, these horses are said to breathe fire.  John ties the locusts of this army to the leviathan, a mythical sea monster often used to symbolize an oppressive empire as is the case in Isaiah 30:7, Isaiah 51:9-10 and Ezekiel 32:1-9.  Concerning this beast–better known today as it Greek counterpart, the Hydra– Job 41:19 reads, “Firebrands stream from his mouth.”  Firebrands are burning objects, like flaming arrows used as weapons of war.  These locust soldiers collectively embody the mighty leviathan, Rome, who is shown here launching firebrands into the city of Jerusalem.  Though Josephus does not specifically say that the Roman army launched firebrands into Jerusalem, he does indicate that they had done so earlier in the war during the siege of Jotapata; therefore, it seems reasonable that the Roman legions did the same during the later siege of Jerusalem.42

fire from heaven The Romans launched firebrands during the Jewish War. These firebrands are LITERALLY "fire from heaven."

The Romans launched firebrands during the Jewish War. These are the firebrands that stream out of the mouth of the leviathan in Job 41:19.

The leviathan is called to mind in this verse because it, like the other constellations mentioned, was also visible the first night of Titus’ five month siege in the form of the Hydra.  As shown in this illustration, directly underneath the constellation Virgo lays the constellation of the Hydra.  The Hellenistic conception of the Hydra is believed by many scholars to have been adopted from the Middle Eastern myth of the seven-headed leviathan.

"[O]ut of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur." The hydra is the Greek equivalent of the fire-breathing leviathan.

“[O]ut of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur.” The hydra is the Greek equivalent of the fire-breathing leviathan.

Revelation 9:17 Preterist Commentary: The Fire, Smoke and Sulfur that came out of the Mouths of the Locusts represent the 12th Legion. 

The fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of the mouths of the locusts in vs. 17-18 is the fire from heaven mentioned in Revelation 13:13 and the fire said to come from the mouths of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:5.  This fire from heaven said to come out of the mouths of the locust army seems to have been fulfilled in the firebrands this army likely shot into Jerusalem during the siege as mentioned above.

Thus as stated above this fiery locust army of Revelation is very similar to the locust army described in the Book of Joel which signified the Babylonian army who besieged Judah in the sixth century B.C.  Describing the Babylonians, Joel 2:3 reads, “Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes.  Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them.”

4 horsemen Revelation 7 A Preterist Commentary

Dürer, Albrecht. The Revelation of St John: 4. The Four Riders of the Apocalypse. 1497-1498 Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany.

Revelation 9:13-14 Commentary: Withheld from Enacting their Intended Purposes in Revelation 7:1-3, the Four Horsemen of Revelation 6 are given the Signal to act in Revelation 9:13-14.

I believe the four angels bound at the Euphrates in v. 14 are also the four horsemen of Revelation 6 and the angels of the four winds in Revelation 7.  These four angels were instructed in Revelation 7:1-3 to hold off their assault.  It seems that these four angelic horsemen would still be withholding their intended purpose today and Revelation 6:1-8 would not have been fulfilled unless these four horsemen were given the signal to act later in the text.  This signal seems to come in v. 14.

Aside from the Biblical clues mentioned above, there are historical reasons to believe that the six seals do not begin to unfold until the sixth trumpet of Revelation 9:13-14 and the sixth bowl of Revelation 16:12.  (Remember that the same events that fulfill each of the six trumpets also fulfill each of the six bowls respectively.)  As explained in Revelation 6: A Preterist Commentary, all of the events described in the seals of Revelation 6 were fulfilled in the Roman siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the immediate events leading up to this siege.  In confirmation of this idea, the famine induced by the third and fourth horsemen did not appear to be adequately fulfilled in the Jewish War prior to the siege of Jerusalem.  An extended siege is required to induce outrageous food prices and subsequent death by famine as accomplished by the third and fourth horsemen in Revelation 6:6-8.  The five month siege of Jerusalem, not the numerous battles in Israel prior to this siege, appears to be in focus here.  The siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was long enough to induce significant death by famine even if the population expected a siege.43  This famine induced in Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was especially bad because the vast majority of people stuck in the city were pilgrims visiting the city to celebrate Passover.  Expecting to stay in the city for only about a week, these travelers would have been the first to succumb to famine as they would not have possessed sufficient money to buy enough food and drink to last five months–especially when the cost of food was greatly inflated by the siege.

famine

As is often the case in Revelation, vs. 12-18 may have a dual fulfillment in both the heaven and earth.  This is because, as stated many times in this commentary, events in heaven often have earthly types or shadows.  I believe the myriads of myriads of soldiers bound at the Euphrates described throughout the remainder of this chapter are both human and angelic warriors drawn from this river.  Therefore, I believe, the four angels bound at the Euphrates brought with them a heavenly army of myriads of myriads of angels to aid the Roman auxiliaries–also from the Euphrates–in their battle against Jerusalem.  This heavenly army appears to have worked in concert with these human forces to assist in the fall of Jerusalem in the same way that an invisible heavenly army aided Elisha in 2 Kings 6:17.  See Is the Army from the Euphrates in Revelation 9 also a Heavenly Army?

18A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths.

Preterism Explained and Interpreted, A Commentary of Revelation 9:19: According to Josephus’ estimates One-Third of the People Trapped in Jerusalem during the Siege of A.D. 70 were Killed in Explicit Fulfillment of v. 18.

Verse 18 predicts that a “third of mankind was killed” by this locust army. As explained above, the earthly reflection of this locust army is the Roman army led by Caesar Titus during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Interestingly, Josephus says that 1,100,000 Jews died in Jerusalem during this siege. Furthermore, Josephus estimates that almost 3,000,000 people were trapped in the city during the siege.44  Here one can see how v.18 was fulfilled when according to Josephus’ estimates a third of the people trapped in Jerusalem during the Roman siege were killed.45

19The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.  

Revelation 9:19 Commentary: The Roman Calvary is described in the Likeness of Ophiuchus.

In v. 19, John gazes up at the night sky and sees the constellations Serpens Cauda, the snake tail, and Serpens Caput, the snake’s head.  Lying directly above Scorpio, these constellations would also have been visible that Passover night at the start of Titus’ five month siege.  In v. 10, the tails of the horses were said to be like that of a scorpion.  In v. 19, they are compared to that of a snake.  As in v. 10, John describes a Roman spear with the tail of the snake representing the shaft and the head signifying the tip.  John switches gears in v. 19 in order to turn his readers’ attention away from the tail of Scorpio toward Ophiuchus, the serpent holder, who while holding Serpens Cauda and Serpens Caput resembles a Roman soldier grasping a spear.  It should not seem a big stretch that a snake and scorpion tail could represent a spear when in Psalm 57:4 teeth are said to be spears and arrows.46

"[F]or their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury." Revelation 9:19 A Preterist Commentary Who is Apollyon

Ophiochus. “[F]or their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.”

20The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.  21Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

As a Roman province, first-century Israel probably had its fair share of idol worshippers especially among but not limited to the Gentile settlers in the region.  In the Midrash Lamentations, Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish attributes the destruction of both the first Temple by the Babylonians and the second Temple by the Romans to the worship of idols in Israel:

‘Woe unto them that join house to house’: ye have joined the destruction of the first Temple to that of the second Temple.  As with the first Temple [‘]Zion shall be ploughed like a field[‘] (Jer. 26:18), so with the second Temple ‘Zion shall be ploughed like a field’. [sic.]  ‘Till there be no place’: what caused the ‘place’ to be destroyed?  Because they left no place where idolatry was not practiced by them.47

Rabbi Lakish then goes on to list all the various places where the Israelites worshiped idols from the secret places to the rooftops, the mountains, the fields and in the streets. 

That having been said, it is also possible that the idolatry mentioned in v. 20 may refer to native Jews who continued to make animal sacrifices for sin according to the Law after Jesus had already made remission for sins by his death on the cross. Isaiah 66:3 reads, “But he who kills an ox is like one who slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb like one who breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering is like one who offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense is like the one who blesses an idol.” Perhaps the idolatry mentioned in v. 20 also applies to those who continued to practice the Law after Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross?

Though both interpretations regarding the source of Israel’s idolatry are possible, I believe the ultimate source of Israel’s idolatry had something to do with the mark of the beast. See the preterist commentary on Revelation 13. In the next chapter, John is shown the surprising vision of the risen Christ acting as a beacon orchestrating the destruction of Jerusalem.  The once faithful city is about to face justice for her idolatry, murders, magic arts, thefts and sexual immorality.

 

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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse?  It DID happen just like the Bible says!  If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!

Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.

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The A.D. 70 Doctrine View, Interpretation, Exposition and Commentary of Revelation 9: Conclusion

In the above covenant eschatology commentary on Revelation 9, the reader was shown how the locusts of Revelation 9 are Roman soldiers and Titus, the general of the Fifteenth Apollonian Legion, is Apollyon.

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A Preterist Commentary on Revelation 9

 

  1. There are a multitude of examples of dual fulfillment found throughout the Bible.  One such example is found in Isaiah 7:14.  In this verse Isaiah writes, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  This prophecy is fulfilled initially in Isaiah 8:3 and Isaiah 8:18 with the birth of Isaiah’s son and once again in the birth of Jesus.
  2. J. Massyngberde Ford, The Anchor Bible: Revelation A New Translation With Introduction And Commentary, (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1975), 150.
  3. T.B. Gittin 55c.
  4. Foy E. Wallace, Jr., The Book of Revelation: Consisting of a Commentary on the Apocalypse of the New Testament, (Fort Smith, AR: Foy E. Wallace Jr. Publications, 1966), 179.
  5. Isbon Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (New York: Macmillan, 1919), 562.
  6. The legions that besieged Jerusalem under Titus’ authority were the Legio XV Apollinaris represented by Apollo; the Legio V Macedonica represented historically by both Taurus, the bull, and Aquila, the eagle; Legio XII Fulminata represented by a thunderbolt; and Legio X Fretensis represented throughout its existence as a Bull, ship, Neptune and a boar.  It may be worth noting that Aquila, the symbol of the Legio V Macedonica, would have been visible on the eastern horizon during the start of Titus’ siege, though Taurus would not.
  7. The Roman attack on Jerusalem began on Passover and ended on the eighth day of Elul, five months later.  According to the Bible, each time heaven and earth had been destroyed it often spanned a course of five months.  The first time this occurred was during the Genesis flood.  The second time was during the Babylonian siege according to the LXX version of Ezekiel 4, and the last time was during the Jewish War with Rome.  See Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.3.1, 6.8.5.
  8. Between four to six signs of the zodiac are visible at any moment in the night sky.  However, six to eight may become visible throughout the course of the night.
  9. J. M. Ford, Revelation. The Anchor Bible (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975), 152, cited in Jacques M. Chevalier, A Postmodern Revelation: Signs of Astrology and the Apocalypse (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), 299.
  10. Cassius Dio Roman History 66.22-23.
  11. Tacitus The Histories 1.2.
  12. Job 10:19-22: “If only I had never come into being, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave!  Are not my few days almost over?  Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and utter darkness, to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.”  This description of the underworld as a realm of darkness is also widely attested to by survivors of clinical death.  The virtual consensus seems to be that there are many afterlife realms, the lowest are the darkest and gloomiest and the highest are the brightest and most beautiful. See also 1 Enoch 10:4-7 and1 Enoch 18:10-16.
  13. Cassius Dio Roman History 66.1.
  14. After Nero’s death, Vespasian initially stayed in Caesarea at the edge of the Roman province of Israel, the earth.  From there he moved to Berytus–Beirut, the sea–in Josephus The Wars of the Jews 4.10.6.  Then he departed to Alexandria in Egypt, the sea—according to Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 10.7.
  15. Cassius Dio Roman History 66.19.
  16. Titus’ siege began on the fourteenth of Nisan during Passover according to The Wars of the Jews 5.3.1.  The siege ended five months later on the eighth of Elul as stated in The Wars of the Jews 6.10.1.
  17. David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Dallas, GA: Dominion Press, 2011), 244.
  18. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.1.1.
  19. Ibid., 5.13.6.
  20. Ibid., 6.1.2.
  21. http://www.seasky.org/pictures/sky7b08.html (Summer 2008).
  22. J. Massyngberde Ford, The Anchor Bible: Revelation A New Translation With Introduction And Commentary, (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1975), 151.
  23. To be completely accurate, the constellation Virgo actually evolved from a combination of two ancient Babylonian female constellations, Erua and Shala.
  24. Interestingly, Caesar Titus had an adulterous affair with the firstborn princess of Israel, Berenice, during and after the Jewish War.  As is explained in detail in the commentary on Revelation 17, Queen Berenice is the human embodiment of Jerusalem, the whore of Babylon.  The whore of Babylon had an adulterous affair with the beast according to Revelation 17 and 18.
  25. Sagittarius is identified today as a centaur.  However, this constellation represented the god Pabilsag in earlier cultures like the Babylonians.  Like the locusts of Revelation 9, Pabilsag had wings and a lion’s head.  The constellation of Sagittarius seems to have embodied many of the attributes of the locusts throughout the history of this constellation.  See Jacques M. Chevalier, A Postmodern Revelation: Signs of Astrology and the Apocalypse (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), 301.
  26. Brian L. Martin, Behind the Veil of Moses: Piecing Together the Mystery of the Second Coming, (USA: Xulon Press, 2009), 289.
  27. Kurt M. Simmons, The Consummation of the Ages, (Canada: Bimillennial Preterist Association, 2003), 308.
  28. Homer Hailey, The Book of Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary, (Las Vegas: Nevada Publications, 2007), 232.
  29. J. Massyngberde Ford, The Anchor Bible: Revelation A New Translation With Introduction And Commentary, (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1975), 289.
  30. The name Apollo, Apollon in Greek, was often linked in ancient Greek writings with the verb apollymi or apollyo, “destroy.”
  31. Cassius Dio Roman History 66.1.
  32. Ibid., 66.22-23.
  33. Samuel Rocca, The Forts of Judaea 168 BC-AD 73: From Maccabees to the Fall of Masada, (Osprey Publishing), 51.
  34. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 3.4.2.
  35. Ibid., 5.1.6.
  36. Sir Charles Moore Watson, The Story of Jerusalem, 2nd ed. (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1918), 109.
  37. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 3.4.2.
  38. Thomas Lewin, The Siege of Jerusalem by Titus: With the Journal of a Recent Visit to the Holy City, and a General Sketch of the Topography of Jerusalem From the Earliest Times Down to the Siege, (London: Logman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green, 1863), 4-5.
  39. Kurt M. Simmons, The Consummation of the Ages, (Canada: Bimillennial Preterist Association, 2003), 198.
  40. It is worth noting that sulfur is an important component of the earth’s molten core.  The locust army described in Revelation 9 is the angelic winds of Revelation 7:1.  A logical question must now arise: How could the angelic army mentioned in Revelation 7 be the army from the Abyss in Revelation 9?  In Daniel 12:13, Daniel is told that he will rest in Sheol until the resurrection.  Many spirits of the saints were confined to Sheol, the underworld, before they could be resurrected into heaven.  Upon their release, do these spirits having received glorified heavenly bodies become the angelic winds of heaven?  According to the Bible, the heavenly bodies that the saints receive after the resurrection appear  indistinguishable from Biblical descriptions of the angels of heaven. See How the Resurrection Bodies of the Saints Perfectly Mirror Jesus’ Resurrection Body after His Ascension Into Heaven Fulfilling Philippians 3:20-21 and ALL Other Bible Verses on the Resurrection!!!.
  41. Iron is a versatile element that exists in many chemical forms with a wide array of colors.  Aquamarine, amethyst and emerald green all receive their color from iron.  These natural colors can be magnified using ancient chemical techniques forming a very diverse spectrum of colors.
  42. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 3.7.9.
  43. The weakest and poorest of the city would be expected to be the first to succumb to the effects of famine.
  44. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.9.3-4.
  45. Arthur M. Ogden, The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets: Commentary on Revelation, (Pinson, AL: Ogden Publications, 2006), 240-241.
  46. In The Prose Edda, Gangleri, a pagan king of Sweden, has an interesting encounter with what seems to be a three-in-one god called High, Just-as-High and Third.  This inquisitive king asks this god or gods many questions and is given many enigmatic answers.  One such answer provided by this god or gods is the symbolic meaning of war and weapons of war.  During this discussion it states, “Thrusting weapons can appropriately be referred to as snakes . . .” Not only does this explanation confirm our interpretation of Revelation 9:19, it also substantiates our interpretation of Revelation 8:7:  “Cutting weapons, such as axes and swords are called the fires of blood.”  Gangleri is also told, “Thrown weapons are frequently referred to as hail.” These statements by this mysterious trinity seem to confirm the idea that the “hail and fire mixed with blood” in Revelation 8:7 were in fact Roman weapons of war.  Of course many Christians may outright dismiss this evidence because of the abundance of pagan content within this sacred text, but it is, at least, worth noting. Snorri Sturluson The Prose Edda: Skaldskaparmal. References to Battle, Weapons and Armour.
  47. Midrash Rabbah Lamentations Proems 22.

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