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Poole on Revelation 8:7: The First Trumpet

Verse 7:[1] The first angel sounded, (Ezek. 38:22) and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast (Rev. 16:2) upon the earth: and the third part (Is. 2:13; Rev. 9:4) of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

[And the first, etc.] Just as the first Horse in Revelation 6 revealed the reason why three other horses would follow, so here the first Trumpeter unfolds the reason of the others (Grotius).

[And there was hail and fire mixed in blood] The type here is compound, and these three things have one rationale, and describe a tempest of the atmosphere, and an extremely great calamity of the Earth and plants. It rains with hail, fire, blood (Cotterius). Blood is mixed with hail and with fire (Ribera, thus Cotterius). It is a mark of incredibly foul air, if blood rains down (Cotterius). Hail is numbered among the scourges of Divine wrath, Psalm 18:13; 78:47, 48; etc., and is used of most grievous punishments, Isaiah 28:2; 30:30; 32:19. Fire renders affliction (which is also called fire, 1 Peter 1:7; 4:12) more penetrating and terrible. Blood instills horror and dread in all, polluting all things with putrid matter and filth (Cluverus). Fire is conjoined with hail, here and in Exodus 9:23; Psalm 18:12-14, for it is common to have Hail with lightning, especially in warmer regions. But John adds blood here, beyond nature, so that he might indicate that the entire Image by this token has regard unto slaughter (Mede’s Works 570). There is an allusion here to the Egyptian plagues (Durham, Forbes), and here, as there, the plagues are made worse by degrees, so that men might fear and repent (Ribera). Now, these things are to be taken, either, 1. literally (Lapide out of Arethas and Ribera, Menochius), of lightnings and fiery exhalations, and stones of hail, with which will be mixed a bloody rain (Menochius, Lapide), which will begin to happen before the final judgment, and before Antichrist (Lapide, similarly Ribera); or, 2. mystically, as show, 1. the subsequent Trumpets, which are to be taken altogether mystically; 2. the scope of the Apocalypse, which is to predict the world’s greatest changes/revolutions; 3. that there was never any such tempest, in which these things were mixed. Wherefore all take it Allegorically, but in diverse ways (Cluverus). Hard hail signifies the obduracy of souls, as in Revelation 11:19; 16:21. Bloody fire quite plainly denotes bloodthirsty passion. In a manuscript it is μεμιγμένα/mixed/mingled,[2] so that this might be referred to the hail, no less than to the fire (Grotius). These are symbols of the judgments of God (Forbes, similarly Cluverus). Now, these things signify, either, 1. conflicts (Pareus), and persecutions (Pareus, thus Gagnæus, Napier[3]), whether of the Jews against the Apostles everywhere (Pareus, similarly Gagnæus), or of Pagan Emperors against the Church (Napier, Cotterius), until Constantine the Great (Cotterius) [concerning which things see Cotterius’ diffuse explanation here]. Or, 2. the vengeance of God against the Jews (Zegers). The earth here is Judea. Into that is sent from heaven hardness of heart and bloodthirsty passion, which two thus appeared at that time among the Jews as never greater in any people (Grotius). Or, 3. most grievous punishments to be sent into the World through the change of the seasons of the year, etc. (Lightfoot’s Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament 157). Or, 4. that terrible and bloody invasion of the Northern Nations into the Territory of the Roman World (Mede’s Works 570), devastating a great many of its provinces, and that without intermission (Mede’s Works 813); overthrowing and consuming great men and commoners (Mede’s Works 570), through the space of fifteen years (Mede’s Works 738), indeed, nearly forty-five (Mede’s Works 813, 1125). Concerning which Writers thus speak, as if they wish to expound this passage of the Apocalypse. In Ammianus Marcellinus’[4] Matters Conducted[5] 26:5: At this time, says he, as if throughout the entire Roman World, with Trumpeters sounding the march, the cruelest Nations, having been summoned, were leaping over the borders nearest to them, etc. And in Matters Conducted 26:14: Dreadful tremors suddenly proceeded throughout the entire circuit of the World, which sort neither fables nor histories set forth to us. Somewhat after the coming forth of the light, the stability of every earthly weight, having been made to tremble by the previous abundance of lightnings flashing fiercely, is shaken (Mede’s Works 1124). And Nicephorus Gregoras, in his Roman History[6] 2:7, treating of the Scythians: As terrors from heaven, says he, often are instilled in men by God, like lightnings, fires, and thick showers, etc., so these Northern and Hyperborean terrors are reserved by God, so that they might be sent as punishment, when and for what it might seem good to Providence (Mede’s Works 572). The beginning of this Trumpet, until it be more certain what it consists of, I would reckon from the death of Theodosius I,[7] that is, after the year of Christ 395, as at a certain common boundary of the sixth Seal finishing and of the first Trumpet beginning; for at that time the Roman Idolarchy had already been completely upset and cast down, and the Christian Religion appears to have completely triumphed over the gods of the Nations. It makes for the confirming of this opinion, both, that the image of Hail has regard unto a hostile assault, Isaiah 28:2; 30:30; and that Achmet[8] has concerning the significations of Hail, Fire, and Trees, Oneirocriticon 191, Snow, hail, and frost portend afflictions, anxieties, and torments. Achmet, in Oneirocriticon 159, 160, Fire signifies affliction, war, and ruin. Achmet, in Oneirocriticon 151, The Persians, Indians, and Egyptians interpret Trees of men, especially Magistrates, nobles, and the most distinguished men (Mede’s Works 570). [These things concerning the fourth opinion.] Or, 5. disputes, and contentions and divisions arisen in the Church and among Bishops, which were sharp and heated; yet they send forth cold hail, and icy showers φιλαυτίας, of self-love, and of self-affections. Now, the fire and hail are said to be mixed with blood, both because this evil of fiery contention began to be carried into effect even under the Pagan persecutions, as it is proven in Victor, the Roman Bishop;[9] and because in those things it finally came to barbarity and an effusion of blood, and the pastors were beginning to express a spirit of pride and tyranny, concerning which see Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 5:24; 8:1, and Socrates’ Ecclesiastical History[10] 1:34 (Forbes). Or, 6. heresies (Durham, thus Piscator, Cluverus, Brightman, Gravius); either, those having arisen about or after the times of John (Gravius), of which sort were the Nicolaitan,[11] Simonians,[12] Basilidians,[13] and Saturninians[14] (Cluverus), the Gnostics (Cluverus) [concerning whose blasphemies see Cluverus]; or rather, latter heresies, those especially of Arius and Macedonius:[15] as suggest, 1. the magnitude of the alteration and danger of the Church from that evil, so that it is not likely that that would be passed over here, while lesser evils are mentioned, neither is another place agreeable to that able to be assigned; 2. the order and time of that evil, which is the first after the peace of the Church under Constantine; 3. that this heresy carried away many eminent and good men, Emperors, Bishops, etc., at least for a time, and infected almost the entire World; 4. that this prepared the way for Antichrist, and provided an occasion to the Roman Bishops of taking greater power to themselves and of determining controversies presented to them, etc.; 5. the nature of that evil, aptly signified by these words. Hail is mentioned, on account of the fury, violence, and cold which it introduces in the love of God and neighbor, and because it renders men fruitless in the practice of piety, etc.; Fire, on account of contentions, divisions, and provocations arising from thence; Blood, on account of the massacres and persecutions of the Arians, which were by far the most grievous (Durham). As hail is harmful to crops, so these heresies were harmful to the Church. And, as hail is, as it were, mixed with lightning and fire, so the heretics mixed their own fantasies with the divine oracles. The blood mixed with those is able to denote their atrocious crimes, etc. (Gravius).

[It was sent into the earth] That is, either, into Judea (Grotius): or, into the visible Church (Durham, Forbes, thus Cotterius), which, after the likeness of the Earth, bears and nourishes its own trees (Cotterius): or, into the fundamental truths, without which the Church is not able to stand, which sort are those concerning the Person, Natures, and Offices of Christ: in that the earth in both the Pagan World, Revelation 6, and the Antichristian World, Revelation 16, denotes the foundations of those (Durham).

[And, etc., καὶ τὸ τρίτον—κατεκάη] And a third (understand, part [Erasmus, Beza, Piscator]: a Synecdoche, which is explained in Revelation 13:12 [Grotius]) of the trees were consumed, or destroyed by fire (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, etc.). The trees signify, either, the Apostles and extraordinary Teachers (Pareus): or, Magnates and rich men (Mede’s Works 570, similarly Piscator), as it appears out of Isaiah 2:13; 14:8; 37:24; Zechariah 11:2, and out of Achmet (Mede’s Works 570): or, Professors of piety, eminent either for knowledge, or virtue, or authority (Durham). Arethas, whom an Ancient manuscript follows [and this one Grotius follows according to his custom] before these words reads, καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῆς γῆς κατεκάη, and the third part of the earth was burned[16] (Beza). [Which they thus explain:] And a third part (not taken conjointly, but mixedly and strewn, for example, a certain part in Spain, another in Italy, etc. [Lapide, similarly Ribera]) of the earth (that is, of the inhabitants in Judea [Grotius]: Others: that is, those places, in which were the worst inhabitants and greatest persecutors of the faithful [Lapide]) was burned up (Lapide), or, kindled in this smoke (Grotius).

[All green hay[17] (or, grass [Beza, Piscator, etc.] was burned up] Χόρτος to the Hellenists signifies herb (Mede’s Works 570, similarly Drusius), as it was observed out of Genesis 1-3[18] (Mede’s Works 570). Χλωρὸν sometimes signifies pale, as in Revelation 6:8, sometimes green. The significations are to be distinguished according to the subject matter. [The sense:] What especially ought to be green, that is, good, that also was kindled. Concerning green in this sense, see Luke 23:31. It signifies the Priests, who ought to have surpassed the rest in modesty and the study of peace. And there is a mystical explication of this which we have in Exodus 9:24. For many allusions are here made to the plagues of Egypt (Grotius). It indicates great sterility, as if the pleasant earth was turned into a desert (Durham). By analogy it is easily gathered (Mede’s Works 570) that the Herbs are to be taken for common people (Mede’s Works 570, thus Gravius, Pareus), when, as here, they are placed together with Trees (Mede’s Works 570). The herb, green, or tender, denotes those in whom the word of God had not put down roots, according to Mark 4:6, 17 (Cotterius). Others: It signifies, rather, pious men, from a comparison of Ezekiel 20:47 with 21:3, where a tree, green and dry, is explained concerning a just man and an impious man, where grass and a green thing are opposed to those that are not sealed. Here, therefore, it denotes Christians in Judea, on whom the seditions of the Jews lay heavily, etc. (Hammond). Others: The burning of the grass and trees signifies the disappearance of spiritual life, and of all the sap of true Christianity; both in the weak, like grass, and in the strong, like trees (Forbes). Others: This Trumpet and plague is to be understood literally; 1. because it is of the same sort as the seventh Egyptian plague, Exodus 9:18, etc., which no one understands mystically. 2. Because this plague is less calamitous than the fifth, Revelation 8:13, which does not yet touch souls, but bodies only, and that only for a time, neither unto death, Revelation 9:4, 5. Therefore, this Trumpet is not to be understood of Wars, which destroy the body, neither of Heresies, which destroy the soul. 3. Because the trees and green grass are not men, for the locusts were not harming those things, but men only, Revelation 9:4. Likewise the second, third, and fourth Trumpets are to be taken literally. Moreover, these four Trumpets, as I suppose, are not yet fulfilled, but are yet expected; as it appears from this, that the sixth Seal (which is the same as the Prophecy of Christ in Matthew 24:29, at least in kind, if not in particulars, which Prophecy was to be fulfilled literally) is yet expected [which, nevertheless, others will not at all concede, as it is evident from the things said on Revelation six]; and therefore the seventh Seal, in which the Trumpets are, is not yet fulfilled. In fact, the sealing of the servants of God [chapter 7] is yet expected (Anonymous 66, etc.). [Concerning these things let the Reader judge, partly from the things said, partly from the things to be said in the following chapter.]

The first angel sounded; the first of the seven angels to whom the seven trumpets were given, verse 2, began to execute his commission; the consequents of which were hail and fire mingled with blood, cast upon the earth: by which some understand the primitive church’s persecutions by the Jews and the heathen emperors; but these were over. Some understand God’s revenge upon the Jews; but this also was taken some hundreds of years since. Some understand unseasonable weather in many parts of the world; but we read nothing like this in history. Some understand contests happening in the church; others understand heresies. But I cannot but rather agree with the reverend Mr. Mede, who expounds it of great troubles, and blood, and slaughter which should happen; and thinks that this prophecy began to be fulfilled about the death of Theodosius, AD 395. For in this very year (saith he) Alaricus the king of the Goths[19] brake into Macedonia,[20] with a great army went into Thessalia,[21] and so into Achaia,[22] Peloponnesus,[23] Corinth,[24] Argos,[25] Sparta,[26] burning, wasting, and ruining all places; and so went on till the year 400; then fell upon the eastern empire, and committed the same outrages in Dalmatia[27] and Hungary;[28] then went into Stiria[29] and Bavaria,[30] thence into Italy and to Venice.[31] After this, in the year 404, these barbarous nations invaded Italy, and took divers places. In the year 406 the Vandals[32] and Alans,[33] with many others, invaded France, Spain, and Africa: all which he proveth from the testimony of Jerome, Letters 3:11. This he judgeth the effect of the first angel’s sounding, and to have been signified by the hail and fire mingled with blood, consonant to other scriptures. Isaiah, in Isaiah 28:2, compareth Shalmaneser to a storm of hail; and, in Isaiah 30:30, he so likeneth the ruin to come upon the Assyrians. By the trees burnt up, are (saith he) the great and rich men to be understood, ordinarily in Scripture compared to trees, Isaiah 2:13; 14:8; Zechariah 11:2; and by the green grass, the ordinary common people. Thus he judgeth the effects of this first trumpet’s sounding to have been determined in fifteen years, namely, from the year 395 to 410.

[1] Greek: Καὶ ὁ πρῶτος ἄγγελος ἐσάλπισε, καὶ ἐγένετο χάλαζα καὶ πῦρ μεμιγμένα αἵματι, καὶ ἐβλήθη εἰς τὴν γῆν· καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῶν δένδρων κατεκάη, καὶ πᾶς χόρτος χλωρὸς κατεκάη. [2] Revelation 8:7a: “The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled (μεμιγμένα; thus in the overwhelming weight of manuscripts) with blood…” Μεμιγμένα is neuter plural, agreeing with πῦρ/fire in the neuter and χάλαζα/hail in the feminine. A few manuscripts, most notably Codex Sinaiticus, read μεμιγμένον, neuter singular, which would only agree with πῦρ/fire. [3] John Napier (1550-1617) was a Scottish mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and student of Scripture. He employed his mathematical skills in his Plaine Discovery of the Whole Revelation of St. John. [4] Ammianus Marcellinus (c. 330-c. 390) was Roman noble, soldier, and historian. [5]Res Gestæ. [6] Nicephorus Gregoras (c. 1295-1360) was a Byzantine historian from Pontus (in modern-day Turkey). His great work was his Roman History (Byzantina Historia). [7] Theodosius I (347-395) was the last Emperor of both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire. In 380, he banished all religions from the Roman Empire except Nicene Christianity, making it the sole state religion. [8] Achmet was an eighth century AD Muslim interpreter of dreams. [9] Victor was the first bishop of Rome born in the Roman Province of Africa (serving from c. 189 to c. 199). He was involved in the Quartodeciman controversy, and he decreed that the Roman mass was to be conducted in Greek no longer, but in Latin. According to Jerome, Victor was the first Christian theologian to write about theology in Latin. [10] Socrates of Constantinople, sometimes called Socrates Scholasticus (born c. 380), was an historian from Constantinople; he wrote Historia Ecclesiastica. [11] Although the Nicolaitans are mentioned by the early Church Fathers, little is known with certainty about them beyond what is mentioned in John’s Apocalypse, that they ate things sacrificed to idols, and committed fornication. See Revelation 2:6, 14, 15. [12] The Simonians were a second century Gnostic sect; they claimed to be followers of Simon Magus. [13] The Basilidians were a second century Egyptian, dualistic Gnostic sect; they were followers of Basilides of Alexandria. [14] The Saturinians were followers of Saturninus of Antioch (c. 150), an early Gnostic teacher. [15] Macedonius I of Constantinople (flourish 350) was the progenitor of a heretical group known as the Macedonians; he denied the Deity of the Holy Spirit. [16] This clause is included by Codices Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus, and by the vast majority of Byzantine manuscripts. It is omitted by the Textus Receptus. [17] Greek: πᾶς χόρτος χλωρὸς. [18] For example, Genesis 1:11a: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the herb of grass (βοτάνην χόρτου, in the Septuagint)… [19] Alaric I (c. 370-410) was king of the Visigoths, reigning from 395 to 410. He sacked Rome in 410, the first to do so in nearly eight hundred years. [20] Ancient Macedonia was the northern part of Greece, adjacent to the Ægean Sea. [21] Thessaly is just south of Macedonia, on the Ægean Sea. [22] Achaia was an ancient province of Greece, located on the northern coast of the Peloponnesus. [23] Peloponnesus is a peninsula situated in southern Greece. [24]Corinth was an ancient city situated on the Isthmus of Corinth, which joins the Peloponnesus to the Greek mainland. [25]Argos was a city on the Peloponnesus. [26]Sparta was an ancient city-state, located in the southern part of the Peloponnesus. [27] Dalmatia was a Roman province situated on the eastern Adriatic coast where Bosnia and Croatia are now located. [28] The western portion of modern Hungary includes the ancient landlocked provinces of Pannonia and Dacia, bounded by the Danube River and the province of Dalmatia, and including the Balkan Mountain range. [29] Stiria was a province situated in what is now southeastern Austria. [30]Bavaria was a region located in what is now southeastern Germany. [31]Venice is a city located in northern Italy. [32] The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe; they first entered the Roman Empire in the fifth century. The breached the Roman frontier of Gaul in 406, conquering Carthage in 439, and finally sacking Rome in 455. [33] The Alani were a nomadic group among the Sarmatians (Iranians). They conducted incursions into the Danubian and Caucasian provinces of the Roman Empire in the second and third centuries. They entered into Gaul in 406, spreading south into the Iberian Peninsula in the fifth century.

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