Poole on Revelation 6:13, 14: The Sixth Seal, Part 2

Verse 13:[1] (Rev. 8:10; 9:1) And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs (or, green figs[2]), when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

[And the stars of heaven fell, etc.] That is, they will fall (Gagnæus); either properly (Maldonatus[3] in Menochius): or, the Stars shall be hidden, with the heavens obscured by clouds, and fiery exhalations, after the likeness of stars, shall fall. Thus Ovid’s Metamorphoses 2, It is said that sometimes a star from a clear sky, even if it did not fall, was able to appear to have fallen (Ribera). And Virgil’s Georgics 1, Often also thou shalt see stars, by a driving wind, fall headlong from heaven, etc. (Drusius). And this, if it be frequent, is held among portents. Lucan holds it among the presages of civil war, …and in heaven slanting firebrands flying through space[4] (Grotius). Stars here are, either, the body of the Jewish people (Hammond): or, the holy and just (Gagnæus); or, those that appear to excel the rest with respect to holiness and dignity (Zegers): or, the Bishops and Teachers, as in Revelation 1:20 (Pareus). Those said to be falling here are Apostates from the faith (Pareus, similarly Gagnæus). Others: The Stars here are, both gods and Deastri,[5] and Nobles-Priests, who were cast out of their seats. Thus here and there the Sacred Scripture calls the Gods of the nations the Army of heaven, and the Priests and nobles of Israel are called stars, Daniel 8:10 (Mede’s Works 557).

[As a fig tree…green figs, etc.] A comparison taken from Isaiah 34:4 (Grotius, thus Mede). Ὄλυνθοι, green figs, as in the Glossary (Grotius). פגים in Song of Songs 2:13[6] (Grotius, Drusius). Now, green figs are immature figs (Grotius, Drusius, Erasmus, Zegers), which sort fall off having been struck by a strong wind (as it follows); for the mature fall if they are shaken just slightly, Nahum 3:12 (Drusius).

And the stars of heaven fell, etc.: This is but another phrase signifying a great change: the whole verse is much the same with Isaiah 34:4. Literally these things were never yet fulfilled. It is a phrase signifying the fall of great and mighty men.

Verse 14:[7] (Ps. 102:26; Is. 34:4; Heb. 1:11, 12) And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and (Jer. 3:23; 4:24; Rev. 16:20) every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

[And, etc., καὶ—ἀπεχωρίσθη] Departed, understand ἀπ᾽ ὄψεως, from sight, evidently with dark clouds taking away sight (Grotius). And the heaven receded, or departed (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator), or, vanished, that is, the Stars of heaven disappeared. This is an Hebraic ellipsis of the former Substantive, as in Deuteronomy 20:19; 2 Kings 18:31; etc., in such a way that this concerning the disappearance of heaven, and that concerning the falling of the stars, mutually explain each other, and ought not to be separated from each other, inasmuch the division is incorrect, but ought to be included in the same division (Mede’s Works 557).

[As, etc., ὡς βιβλίον εἱλισσόμενον] Like a book which volvitur, is rolled (Erasmus, Vatablus), or, involvitur, rolled inward (Syriac, thus Montanus), convolvitur, rolled together (Erasmus, Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, Castalio), circumvolvitur, rolled around (Illyricus, Tigurinus, Vatablus), a cylinder (Menochius, Piscator), after the custom of the Ancients (Mede, Menochius), as a testamentary letter is wont to be rolled together (Piscator); [and therefore] it cannot be read (Grotius, Menochius), but the letter [as it were] vanishes (Mede), and is not able to be seen (Tirinus). He says that it is going to be in heaven in such a way that nothing is going to be able to be seen (Grotius, similarly Ribera): the stars, which are as the letters of heaven, shall not appear because of the density of the clouds (Ribera). Here, heaven is able to be understood, either, of the scroll of Sacred Scripture, which withdrew, lay hidden, was cast aside, under the reign of Antichrist: or, concerning the true Church, which at that time ceased, not indeed to be, but to appear in the world (Pareus).

[And every mountain and island, etc.] This is hyperbole. He desires to say that certain mountains and islands fell from their place (Grotius), namely, because of that earthquake concerning which he had spoken (Grotius, similarly Ribera, Tirinus, Menochius, Mede). See Jeremiah 4:24. Pliny’s Natural History 2:80, concerning Earthquakes, Now, the maritime regions are especially shaken: and mountainous regions are not without such an evil. Pliny reports examples of mountains dislodging, Natural History 2:83, and Tacitus makes mention in his Annals 2 that the mountains in Asia sank down for this reason. Seneca, “Concerning the Earthquake”[8] 4, it brings down the mountains; and in 26, every coast of the sea is liable to motion: which he demonstrates by examples. All the maritime regions the Hebrews call islands, indeed even those situated near to all (Grotius). Before that most deadly Civil war, two mountains ran together with the greatest crash, dashing together and receding, etc., with a multitude observing from the great Æmilian way,[9] etc., says Pliny in his Natural History 2:73. Julius Obsequens, in his The Book of Prodigies[10] 116, relates the same (Ribera). In a manuscript, in the place of ἐκινήθησαν, were moved, is ἀπεκίνησαν, moved, the Active in place of the Passive: as we say, The earth moves; the year turns (Grotius). It signifies that men diverse with respect to offices and rank are going to be disturbed by the severity of the persecution (Zegers). By mountains here I understand Emperors and Kings; by Islands, which are in the waters, the peoples subordinate to the Kings: for waters are peoples, Revelation 17:15 (Pareus). Perhaps Mountains and Islands are able to be taken for men of a higher and lower condition, except the name of Island does not quite agree. Therefore, both would better designate men of a higher condition, inasmuch as both are preeminent, Mountains in the earth, Islands in the sea. But I prefer both to be taken of the demolishing of the Temples and Shrines of Idols in the Roman Empire. Of course, those were built in elevated places, whence everywhere the name of High Places, indeed of Hills and mountains, Jeremiah 3:23, with regard to the Shrines of idols. Moreover, these Temples are after the likeness of Islands, since they, surrounded round about, did not make use of the walls shared with their neighbors (Mede’s Works 557).

And the heavens…and every mountain: Two expressions more signifying the same thing. The first is used by the prophet, to signify the change God would make in the state of the Edomites, Isaiah 34:4, as will appear by comparing what that prophet saith, with what Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Obadiah say, upon the same argument, Jeremiah 49:7-22; Ezekiel 35. And every mountain and island were moved out of their places; all sorts of people shall be destroyed, or all the paganish religion shall be rooted out.

[1] Greek: καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἔπεσαν εἰς τὴν γῆν, ὡς συκῆ βάλλει τοὺς ὀλύνθους αὐτῆς, ὑπὸ μεγάλου ἀνέμου σειομένη. [2] Greek: τοὺς ὀλύνθους. [3] John Maldonatus (1534-1583) was a learned Spanish Jesuit. Pope Gregory XIII had such confidence in his learning that he appointed him to superintend the publication of the Septuagint. He wrote Commentarii in Præcipuos Sacræ Scripturæ Libros Veteris Testamenti and Commentarii in Quatuor Evangelistas. [4]Pharsalia 1:527. [5] Deastri were deified mortals, elevated to residence in the constellations of the heavens. [6] Song of Songs 2:13a: “The fig tree putteth forth her green figs (פַגֶּיהָ; ὀλύνθους αὐτῆς, in the Septuagint), and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell…” [7] Greek: καὶ οὐρανὸς ἀπεχωρίσθη ὡς βιβλίον εἱλισσόμενον, καὶ πᾶν ὄρος καὶ νῆσος ἐκ τῶν τόπων αὐτῶν ἐκινήθησαν. [8] Seneca the Younger wrote an account of an earthquake that occurred at Pompeii; it is found in his Quæstiones Naturales. [9] The Æmilian way was the road from Ariminum to Placentia, built by Marcus Æmilius Lepidus, consul (c. 187 BC). [10] Julius Obsequens was a fourth century Roman author, about whom little is known. De Prodigiis is an extract from the work by Livy.