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 P