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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 9 - Verse 7

Verse 7. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared for battle. The resemblance between the locust and the horse, dissimilar as they are in most respects, has been often remarked. Dr. Robinson (Bib. Research. i. 59) says, "We found to-day upon the shrubs an insect, either a species of black locust, or much resembling them, which our Bedouin called Faras el Jundy, 'soldiers' horses.' They said these insects were common on Mount Sinai, of a green colour, and were found on dead trees, but did them no injury." The editor of the Pictorial Bible makes the following remarks: "The first time we saw locusts browsing with their wings closed, the idea of comparing them to horses arose spontaneously to our minds—as we had not previously met with such a comparison, and did not at that time advert to the present text, [Joe 2:4.] The resemblance in the head first struck our attention, and this notion, having once arisen, other analogies were found or imagined in its general appearance and action in feeding. We have since found the observation very common. The Italians, indeed, from this resemblance, call the locust cavaletta, or little horse. Sir W. Ouseley reports, 'Zakaria Cazvini divides the locusts into two classes, like horsemen and footmen—mounted and pedestrian.' Niebuhr says that he heard from a Bedouin, near Bussorah, a particular comparison of the locust to other animals; but as this passage of Scripture did not occur to him at the time, he thought it a mere fancy of the Arab's, till he heard it repeated at Bagdad. He compared the head of the locust to that of the horse; the feet to those of the camel; the belly with that of a serpent; the tail with that of a scorpion; and the feelers (if Niebuhr remembered rightly) to the hair of a virgin."—Pict. Bib. on Joel 2:4. The resemblance to horses would naturally suggest the idea of cavalry, as being referred to by the symbol.

And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold. The writer does not say either that these were literally crowns, or that they were actually made of gold. They were "as it were" (wv) crowns, and they were like (omoioi) gold. That is, as seen by him, they had a resemblance to crowns or diadems, and they also resembled gold in their colour and brilliancy. The word crownstefanov—means properly a circlet, chaplet, encircling the head,

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

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

(c) as an ornament, honour, or glory, Php 4:1. No particular shape is designated by the word stefanovstephanos—and perhaps the word crown does not quite express the meaning. The word diadem would come nearer to it. The true notion in the word is that of something that is passed around the head, and that encircles it, and as such it would well describe the appearance of a turban as seen at a distance. On the supposition that the symbolic beings here referred to had turbans on their heads, and on the supposition that something was referred to which was not much worn in the time of John, and, therefore, that had no name, the word stephanos, or diadem, would be likely to be used in describing it. This, too, would accord with the use of the phrase "as it were"—wv. The writer saw such head-ornaments as he was unaccustomed to see. They were not exactly crowns or diadems, but they had a resemblance to them, and he therefore uses this language: "and on their heads were as it were crowns." Suppose that these were turbans, and that they were not in common use in the time of John, and that they had, therefore, no name, would not this be the exact language which he would use in describing them? The same remarks may be made respecting the other expression.

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

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

{b} "shapes" Joe 2:4

{c} "crowns" Na 3:17 {d} "faces" Da 7:4,8

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