Poole on Revelation 9:7, 8: The Locust-Scorpions Revisited

Verse 7:[1] And (Joel 2:4) the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; (Nah. 3:17) and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, (Dan. 7:8) and their faces were as the faces of men.


[Τὰ ὁμοιώματα, etc.] These things are taken from Joel 1:6; 2:4; Daniel 7:8 (Beza, similarly Grotius, Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:4:8:495). The likenesses (or, appearances [Camerarius, Piscator], forms [Beza, Piscator, Pareus]) of the locusts (understand, were [Piscator]) similar to horses (not the common sort, but [Forbes]) prepared for battle (Montanus), that is, shining, well-fed, robust, and fierce (Forbes). Ὁμοίωμα/likeness here is referred to the eyes, Thus they were wild in appearance, as if war horses (Grotius). They were not unlike horses, either, 1. with respect to the velocity of course and flight (Hebrews in Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:4:5: 474); or, 2. with respect to the head or face. Whence locusts are called cavallette by Italians. Albert’s Concerning Animals[2] 26, They have a head after the form of a horse. And Aldrovandus,[3] They have to a certain extent an equine head. Theodoret has similar things on Joel,[4] and the Arab Writers (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:4:5: 474). [See the words in Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals.] Others: They did not appear in the form of horses, but they were similar to horses prepared, etc.; that is, they were girded and equipped for battle as horses were, or, horsemen eager for battle (Cotterius). Like horses, strong, swift, courageous (Durham), bold and eager for battle, Job 39:22 (Cluverus), charging boldly and without fear (Ribera); unencumbered also, and proceeding with success, etc. (Durham). Others: Similar to horses, that is, horsemen (Mede’s Works 581). This is a symbol of contention (Piscator), and of ferocity (Pareus). Swift and fierce, they rush into anything whatsoever with Diabolical fury, and they always tenaciously defend their doctrines (Zegers). It denotes furious speeches and dissertations, cruel policies and savage crimes (Pareus).


[As crowns (it indicates that those crowns are false; therefore, it does not say στέφανοι/crowns, but ὡς στέφανοι, as crowns: They boast as if they have victory against the Romans in their own power [Grotius]) like unto gold] That is, like unto golden crowns. Metonymy of material (Piscator). He calls helmets crowns, as does Virgil in his Æneid 5, To all according to custom the hair was pressed with a cropped crown; on which place Servius says, Crown here, just as also in Homer, is a helmet. For it follows, he threw down the helmet empty before his feet (Ribera). Crowns, namely, shaved crowns (Piscator, similarly Pareus), which to them is a symbol of holiness (Piscator); by which the Religious say that they are like Kings, for after the fashion of Kings they are able to command the consciences of laymen and to give laws (Pareus). The King bears the triple crown of the locusts: the Cardinals display on the crowns of their head the mitre glittering with gems: Bishops and Abbots, precious headbands, interwoven with gold and silk; so that concerning the crowns here there is not much reason for us to hesitate (Pareus). This was a symbol, either, 1. of hypocrisy (Piscator); or, 2. of usurped spiritual authority (Forbes); or, 3. of external pomp and worldly glory, in which the Roman clergy equals even Kings (Durham); or, 4. because Kings and Emperors protected them (Cluverus), and fight in their army (Ribera); or, 5. of victory (Cotterius), or, of success and altogether complete domination. No people ever in so brief a space of time brought so many Kingdoms under the yoke. Wherefore also there is no mention here of a Third, since this disaster, etc., occurred no less outside the borders of the Roman Empire than within it (Mede’s Works 581).


[As the faces of men] That is, with a human visage; men indeed, not insects (Mede’s Works 582). These are men, but they change their appearance to a certain extent, separating themselves from men by profession and habit. Yet they keep their faces almost human, lest men should abhor them (Pareus). Others: The upright were assuming the appearance. See Daniel 7:4 (Grotius). They display humanity (Pareus, Cotterius, Ribera, thus Cluverus, Forbes, Durham), friendliness (Cotterius, Ribera), clemency (Ribera), moderation and prudence (Cluverus). It denotes charm (Piscator), and flatteries, by which they are ingratiating themselves with all (Pareus, similarly Durham).


And the shapes of the locusts were, etc.: This whole description of these locusts speaks them no insects, but to be mischievous men; they were very terrible to look upon, like horses harnessed ready to fight; so Joel 2:4. And upon their heads were as it were crowns like gold; this signified they should be great and rich conquerors. And their faces were as the faces of men; yet these were men.


Verse 8:[5] And they had hair as the hair of women, and (Joel 1:6) their teeth were as the teeth of lions.



[Hair as the hair of women] That is, Elegant (Tirinus), and hanging down or long (Cotterius, Piscator, Tirinus); for it belongs to women to maintain their hair and to wear it unshorn, 1 Corinthians 11:14, although men of many nations also maintain their hair (Cotterius). By nation they were Arabs, who, says Pliny, wear uncut hair, and (after the fashion of women) spend their time wearing turbans, Pliny’s Natural History 6:28, for whom even today it is the custom, when marching into battle, to weave for themselves out of their own hair horns and ringlets, as Camerarius testifies in Works of Spare Hours[6] 1:93. Therefore, what out of Herodotus is introduced in favor of the shearing of the Arabs, or concerning the rite of the clipping of the beard, or concerning the rounding of the corners of the hair, just short of the complete shearing of the hair, is to be accepted. Both of which, perhaps because it was an emblem of the worshippers of Bacchus,[7] of Deaster who was near to them, God prohibited to His people, Leviticus 19:27; 21:5. As I do not doubt that it might be that Pliny had seen Arabs at Rome (Mede’s Works 582). Some locusts had smooth, or hairless, heads, but others (which nevertheless our Interpreters had ignored) had hairy heads, or were hairy, as the Glossary of the Talmud[8] notes, and is proven out of Arab writers. To which perhaps there is an allusion here (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:4:2:456). Others: In actuality they were not suited for war, not less than women, who are recognized especially because of their hair. Concerning such, Aristophanes: Ὄντες οἴκοι μὲν λέοντες, ἐν μαχῃ δὲ ἀλώπεκες, ruling houses being lions, but in battle foxes.[9] Fearful of strangers, as Tacitus says in his Histories 3. Predator of allies, and himself prey of enemies, as Sallustius[10] says;[11] helmeted hares. This is properly expressed by that sex, which Papinius[12] said to be unskilled with iron. That sex is such to Homer, —Ἀχαιΐδες, οὐκέτ᾽ Ἀχαιοί, Achaian women, no longer Achaian men;[13] and to Virgil, O truly Phrygian women, for not Phrygian men…[14] (Grotius). Others: Here is denoted, either, 1. effeminacy and the love of women (Piscator); or, 2. feigned modesty and simplicity (Forbes); or, 3. the seductive study of insinuating themselves into the souls of men (Cluverus), by feminine charms (Ribera). For the hair of women is beautiful, and awakens passion, and, if it is taken away, it greatly diminishes beauty (Ribera, similarly Cluverus). See Song of Songs 4:1; 6:5 (Cluverus). A womanly and meretricious carriage and elegance is denoted, that they might allure men to their prostitution, whence this Kingdom is called the great harlot, Revelation 17 (Durham). Or, 4. the legal defence of women, by which they significantly advanced (Cluverus, similarly Ribera), and frustrated men (Ribera). Or, 5. a vow of Religion, by which they maintain their hair after the likeness of the Nazarites (Lightfoot’s Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament 158).


And they had hair as the hair of women; disheveled, or hanging loose; the Arabians were wont to go so; or this may signify, that they were beautiful as well as terrible to look upon.


[Teeth…as of lions] Which especially prevail by means of their teeth (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:3:2:733); that is to say, teeth, the sharpest and most powerful (Ribera), solid, curved, stout (Cotterius), mighty to devour, Daniel 7:7, 23; Joel 1:6 (Mede’s Works 581). The power of the locusts is stupendous. What is stronger than these? says Jerome here; and Cyril,[15] Ἀκαταγώνιστος/invincible etc., Their onslaught is absolutely invincible. Pliny says of locusts, They gnaw all things with their jaws, even also the gates of houses (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:4:14:468). It is proverbial, the teeth of a Lion, Ecclesiasticus 21:2;[16] [that is to say] most voracious men (Grotius), and most cruel (Ribera, similarly Forbes, Cluverus, Hammond, Zegers), to destroy [both] the souls (Zegers, Durham) of those that submit themselves unto them; and the bodies and goods of those that oppose them (Durham).


And their teeth were as the teeth of lions; sharp and strong: see Joel 1:6.

[1] Greek: καὶ τὰ ὁμοιώματα τῶν ἀκρίδων ὅμοια ἵπποις ἡτοιμασμένοις εἰς πόλεμον, καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς αὐτῶν ὡς στέφανοι ὅμοιοι χρυσῷ, καὶ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν ὡς πρόσωπα ἀνθρώπων. [2] This is likely a reference to Albert the Great’s De Animalibus (c. 1260), a compendium of natural history studies. Albert (c. 1193-1280) was a German Dominican friar and bishop, a noted Aristotlean philosopher, and teacher of Thomas Aquinas. [3] Ulysses Aldrovandus (1522-1605) was an Italian naturalist (the father of natural history studies, according to some). He wrote Quadrupedum Omnium Bisculcorum Historia (A History of All Four-Footed, Cloven-footed Quadrupeds), which deals mostly with the history, mythology, and uses of the horse. [4] Theodoret (393-457) came up under the tutelage of Theodore of Mopsuestia and John Chrysostom. With such instructors, it is not surprising that his comments on the Scripture are sober, sound in judgment, and clear in expression. He wrote on the Minor Prophets. [5] Greek: καὶ εἶχον τρίχας ὡς τρίχας γυναικῶν, καὶ οἱ ὀδόντες αὐτῶν ὡς λεόντων ἦσαν. [6] Philip Camerarius (1537-1624), son of Joachim Camerarius, was a Nuremberg jurist and philologist. He wrote Operæ Horarum Subcisivarum sive Meditationes Historicæ. [7] Herodotus relates that the Arabians cut their hair in imitation of Bacchus, and to honor him. [8] A gloss is a foreign word or sentence, in Hebrew characters, inserted into the Hebrew text of the Bible or Talmud. There were several famous glossaries (compilations of glosses) that were produced (Gershom’s and Rashi’s, for examples), but it is difficult to determine which might be intended here. [9] Peace 1189, 1190. [10] Gaius Sallustius Crispus (86-34 BC) was a Roman historian. [11]Bellum Jugurthinum 44. [12] This is likely a reference to the Roman poet, Publius Papinius Statius (c. 45-96). [13]Iliad 2. [14]Æneid 9:617. [15] Cyril of Alexandria (c. 378-444) was a participant in the third ecumenical council, held at Ephesus. He repudiated the heretical Nestorian Christology, but tended himself to the monophysitism. He comments on locusts at some length in his exposition of Joel 2:25. [16] Ecclesiasticus 21:2: “Flee from sin as from the face of a serpent: for if thou comest too near it, it will bite thee: the teeth thereof are as the teeth of a lion, slaying the souls of men.”

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