« Prev Revelation 9:17 Next »

REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 9 - Verse 17

Verse 17. And thus I saw the horses in the vision. That is, he saw them as he proceeds to describe them, for the word thusoutwv—refers to what follows. Compare Rob. Lex. on the word, (b,) and see Mt 1:18; 2:5; Joh 21:1; Heb 4:4.

Professor Stuart, however, refers it to what precedes. The meaning, as it seems to me, is, that he fixed his attention on the appearance of the immense army—the horses and their riders, and proceeded to describe them as they struck him.

And them that sat on them. He fixed the attention on horse and rider. Their appearance was unusual, and deserved a particular description.

Having breastplates of fire. That is, those who sat on them had such breastplates. The word here rendered breastplate denoted properly a coat of mail that covered the body from the neck to the thighs. See Barnes on "Eph 6:14".

This would be a prominent object in looking at a horseman. This was said to be composed of "fire, and jacinth, and brimstone;" that is, the part of the body usually encased in the coat of mail had these three colours. The word "fire" here simply denotes red. It was burnished and bright, and seemed to be a blaze of fire. The word "jacinth"—uakinyinouv— means hyacinthine. The colour denoted is that of the hyacinth—a flower of a deep purple or reddish blue. Then it refers to a gem of the same colour, nearly related to the zircon of the mineralogists, and the colour here mentioned is deep purple or reddish blue. The word rendered "brimstone"—yeiwdhv—means properly sulphurous, that is, made of sulphur, and means here simply yellow. The meaning of the whole then is, that these horsemen appeared to be clad in a peculiar kind of armour—armour that shone like fire, mingled with blue and yellow. It will be necessary to look for the fulfilment of this in cavalry that was so caparisoned.

And the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions. Resembled, in some respects, the heads of lions. He does not say that they were the heads of lions, or that the riders were on monsters, but only that they, in some respects, resembled the heads of lions. It would be easy to give this general appearance by the way in which the head-dress of the horses was arrayed.

And out of their mouths issued. That is, appeared to issue. It is not necessary to understand this as affirming that it actually came from their mouths, but only that, to one looking on such an approaching army, it would have this appearance. The heathen poets often speak of horses breathing out fire and smoke, (Virg. Geor. ii. 140; iii. 85; Ovid, Met. vii. 104,) meaning that their breath seemed to be mingled smoke and fire. There is an image superadded here not found in any of the classic descriptions, that this was mingled with brimstone. All this seemed to issue from their mouths; that is, it was breathed forth in front of the host, as if the horses emitted it from their mouths.

Fire and smoke and brimstone. The exact idea, whether that was intended or not, would be conveyed by the discharge of musketry or artillery. The fire, the smoke, and the sulphurous smell of such a discharge, would correspond precisely with this language, and if it be supposed that the writer meant to describe such a discharge, this would be the very language that would be used. Moreover, in describing a battle, nothing would be more proper than to say that this appeared to issue from the horses' mouths. If, therefore, it should be found that there were any events where fire-arms were used, in contradistinction from the ancient mode of warfare, this language would be appropriate to describe that; and if it were ascertained that the writer meant to refer to some such fact, then the language here used would be that which he would adopt. One thing is certain, that this is not language which would be employed to describe the onset of ancient cavalry in the mode of warfare which prevailed then. No one describing a charge of cavalry among the Persians, the Greeks, or the Romans, when the only armour was the sword and the spear, would think of saying that there seemed to be emitted from the horses' mouths fire, and smoke, and brimstone.

« Prev Revelation 9:17 Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |