Poole on Revelation 8:13: Woe! Woe! Woe!

Verse 13:[1] And I beheld, (Rev. 14:6; 19:17) and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, (Rev. 9:12; 11:14) Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!

[And I saw] I looked to see whether anything would be shown to me. He advises that he, cognizant and considering, took in all things, and therefore reports them accurately (Cotterius).

[And, etc., καὶ ἤκουσα ἑνὸς ἀγγέλου, etc.] In the place of ἀγγέλου/ angel, some read ἀετοῦ/eagle, including the Vulgate, Arethas, and the Complutensian codex[2] (Beza) [and Grotius[3]]. Whichever way you might read it, it amounts to the same thing, for those Eagles signify Angels (Cluverus). An eagle is drawn to cadavers, Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37; and is therefore suitable for the prediction of massacres, Ezekiel 17:3 (Grotius). A flying eagle fortells great calamities, and that those will come swiftly and with great force (Ribera). [Thus they render the words:] And I heard one angel flying (he understands, either Christ [Cotterius], or, some great Prophet that is going to be at that time [Ribera], or, a herald of future calamities [Pareus], or Teachers [Cluverus], or preachers flying through the Church [Zegers]) in the midst, or through the midst, of heaven[4] (Montanus, Beza, Piscator). So that he might be seen and heard by all (Cluverus, similarly Ribera, Durham). It signifies that this forewarning was beyond the grasp of earthly men, for it was delivered at such a distance and with such obscurity, that few pay any attention to it (Forbes). That part of heaven in which Eagles, and similar birds, fly is called μεσουράνημα, Revelation 19:17,[5] being so far above the earth that they appear no less near to the starry heaven than to the earth, that is to say, between heaven and earth, as in Zechariah 5:9, or, בָּרָקִיעַ, in the firmament[6] (Grotius).

[Woe, woe, woe (the threefold repetition denotes, [either] the remaining three trumpets [Pareus]: or, three classes of plagues, from a comparison with Revelation 9:12; 11:14 [Piscator]: or, the weight of the following calamities beyond that of the preceding [Cotterius, similarly Cluverus out of Arethas, Durham, Mede], for, of course, the Roman world had added a new sin, Idolatry, to the prior sin of the murder of the Martyrs, Revelation 9:20 [Mede’s Works 579]) to those dwelling in the earth (that is, hypocritical or impious men [Pareus, similarly Ribera, Cluverus], who are often denoted by this expression in Scripture [Ribera], and in this Prophecy, as in Revelation 3:10; 6:10 [Pareus], and in Revelation 12:12 [Cluverus], and in Revelation 11:10; 13:8 [Ribera]) on account of, etc.] Ἐκ/from here,[7] as is often the case with the Hebrew מִן/from, means because of. Thus ἀπὸ/from is placed after οὐαὶ/woe in Matthew 18:7[8] (Grotius). Because of the remaining sounds (or, voices: A synecdoche of kind [Piscator]) of the trumpet, etc. (Beza, Piscator, etc.). To three Angels is attributed one Trumpet, because the three following calamities are one, if you consider the degree of severity, that is, each one is grievous in the extreme (Cotterius). This is an introduction to what follows, which things pertain, not to a certain third part, but to the whole of Judea, and especially to its chief city. The three woes agree with three Angels, whom you have in Revelation 9:1, 14; 10:7; 11:15. The first of these announces matters a little before the siege; the second, the siege and the storming of the city; the third, those things that were after the storming of the city (Grotius). These things best agree with that voice of Jesus, son of Ananias,[9] which Josephus relates in Jewish War 6:31, φωνὴ, etc., A voice from the East…from the West, etc. Then he adds, woe, woe to the City, and to the People, and to the Temple (Grotius, similarly Hammond); and then, woe also to me, with which spoken a stone, falling from the wall, crushed and killed him (Hammond).

Woe, woe, woe, etc.: This verse is but an introduction to the other three angels sounding, declaring that the times which were to follow would be much more full of miseries and woes to the inhabitants of the earth; by which I understand all those countries which lately were subject to the Roman empire. Others understand the more earthy, unsound, hypocritical part of the church. The woe is thrice repeated, either to show the greatness of the calamities, or rather correspondently to the number of the angels yet to sound.

[1] Greek: Καὶ εἶδον, καὶ ἤκουσα ἑνὸς ἀγγέλου πετωμένου ἐν μεσουρανήματι, λέγοντος φωνῇ μεγάλῃ, Οὐαί, οὐαί, οὐαὶ τοῖς κατοικοῦσιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ἐκ τῶν λοιπῶν φωνῶν τῆς σάλπιγγος τῶν τριῶν ἀγγέλων τῶν μελλόντων σαλπίζειν. [2] The Complutensian Polyglot (taking its name from the university in Alcalá [Complutum, in Latin]; 1514) contained the first printed edition of the Septuagint, Jerome’s Vulgate, the Hebrew Text, Targum Onkelos with a Latin translation, and the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament. The labor of the scholars was superintended by Cardinal Francisco Ximénez de Cisneros. [3]Ἀετοῦ is favored by most of the Byzantine manuscripts and Codices Alexandrinus and Sinaiticus; ἀγγέλου by some Byzantine manuscripts and the Textus Receptus. [4] Greek: ἐν μεσουρανήματι. [5] Revelation 19:17a: “And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven (ἐν μεσουρανήματι)…” [6] See Genesis 1:20: “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven (וְעוֹף֙ יְעוֹפֵ֣ף עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ עַל־פְּנֵ֖י רְקִ֥יעַ הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃).” [7] Revelation 8:13b: “Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of (ἐκ) the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” [8] Matthew 18:7a: “Woe (οὐαὶ) unto the world because of (ἀπὸ) offences!...” Ἀπὸ and ἐκ are both prepositions of separation, with similar semantic domains. [9] Jesus ben Ananias, a plebian and husbandman, prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem beginning in 62 AD. He was eventually turned over by the Jews to the Romans, was tortured and released. He died in the siege of Jerusalem in 73 AD after being struck by a stone thrown by a Roman catapult.

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