Expositor's Greek Testament
The prophet again breaks off to point his readers across the sombre vista opened up by this oracle of the θηρίον, not to the church as an oasis and asylum on earth but to the glad sure hope of the faithful after death. How can the θηρίον be met? Who (Revelation 13:8) can hold out against such seductions? By way of answer to such doubts and fears the prophet raises the veil of the future for a moment to reveal the heavenly (cf. Revelation 13:15, Revelation 14:3) survivors of the conflict (Revelation 14:1-5); whereupon he rapidly sketches the doom of Rome and the pagan world by way of contrast (Revelation 13:6-18). The latter passage, in its present form and site, gives a proleptic outline of catastrophes described later on (cf. Revelation 14:7 = Revelation 19:1-6, Revelation 14:8 = Revelation 18:2-3, etc.). The two supreme motives for patient loyalty on the part of the saints (Revelation 13:12) are, (a) negatively, fear of the fate reserved for the unbelieving (Revelation 14:8-11), and, (b) positively, the bliss in store for the loyal (Revelation 13:13; Revelation cf.1-5).
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.Revelation 14:1-5, introduced as a foil to what precedes and as an anticipation of 21–22, is “a sort of Te Deum” (Wellhausen), a vision of the Lamb no longer as slain but triumphant (militant on the mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:3 f., against the nations = Revelation 11:8; Revelation 11:18), attended by the élite of the redeemed who had worshipped him, not the Emperor, during their life-time. The Jewish tradition underlying this oracle seems to have been cognate to that of En. Revelation 1:4 f. (Greek), reflected already in Revelation 7:1-8; it showed the rallying of the faithful remnant at mount Zion (Joel 2:32; Isaiah 11:9-12) after the throes of the latter days (cf. on Revelation 11:19). In terms of this John pictures the Christians who appear with Jesus their messiah upon earth (cf. Revelation 5:10, Revelation 20:4-6). Revelation 14:1-5 thus hint faintly and fragmentarily at the belief that, before the general judgment and recompense of the saints (Revelation 11:18, Revelation 20:11 f.), the vanguard who had borne the brunt of the struggle would enjoy a special bliss of their own. The prophet does not stop to elaborate this independent anticipation of Revelation 20:4-6, but hurries on (6 f.) to depict the negative side, viz., the downfall of the enemy. When Caligula first attempted to enforce his worship on the Jews, the pious flung themselves on the ground, “stretching out their throats” in their readiness to die sooner than let their God be profaned (Jos. Bell. ii. 10, 4; Ant. xviii. 8, 3). John desiderates an equally dauntless temper in Christians, though they could not hope to avert, as the Jews had done, the imperial propaganda of the false prophet (Revelation 13:16 f.; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2.). Martyrdom (Revelation 14:13, cf. Revelation 13:15) was all that the majority could expect. But loyalty would bring them ultimate triumph. The passage is not simply Christian but from the hand of the prophet himself.
Revelation 14:1. Instead of the beast, the Lamb; instead of the beast’s followers and their mark, the Lamb’s followers with the divine name; instead of the pagan earth, mount Zion. The vision is based on an old Jewish apocalyptic tradition, copied by the Christian editor of 4 Esdras (2:42) but already present in the Jewish original (13:35: ipse [i.e., Messias] stabit super cacumen montis Sion, 39 et quoniam uidisti eum colligentem ad se aliam multitudinem pacificam, hae sunt decem tribus), which apparently described (cf. Joel 2:32) a further cycle of the tradition underlying Revelation 7:1-8. The appearance of this manlike messiah on mount Zion was accompanied by the manifestation of the celestial Zion (postponed here till 21.). Thus, Revelation 14:1-5 is, in some respects, a companion panel to Revelation 7:9 f., though the retinue of messiah are painted in more definitely Jewish colours. They are distinguished for their testimony borne against the Imperial cultus and the contaminations of the pagan world.
And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.Revelation 14:3. Who sing the new song? angels or the redeemed? In Revelation 5:9 it is chanted not before the living creatures and elders but by them; here it is not originally sung by the redeemed (as in Revelation 15:3-4 Ezra 2:42) but is intelligible to them and to them alone. Their experience enabled them to enter into its meaning. This privilege is due to (Revelation 14:4-5) their previous character and conduct, This inner circle are ascetics, παρθένοι. i.e., not merely unmarried or free from sexual vice but celibates (cf. Cheyne, Orig. Psalter, 446; Hoennicke, das Judenchristentum, 1908, 130 f.; Balden-sperger, 109; von Dobschütz, 39 f., 228, 261); cf. 1 Corinthians 7:32. The prevailing Jewish respect for marriage did not check a tendency to celibacy which was by no means confined to the Essenes or Therapeutae. Even Methodius, who allegorises the seven heads of Revelation 12:3 into the seven deadly sins and the stars of Revelation 12:2 into heretics, takes this phrase literally, in the sense of virginity not simply of purity (so Epiph. Hær. xxx. 2); and, although the touch is too incidental to bear pressing, it is unmistakable (cf. Introd. § 6). In the popular religion of Phrygia there was a feeling (expressed in the eunuchism, e.g., of the priests at Hierapolis) that one came nearer to the divine life by annihilating the distinction of sex, while in the votive inscriptions of Asia Minor (C. B. P. i. 137) marriage is not recognised as part of the divine or religious life. This atmosphere of local feeling, together with the lax moral conscience of the popular religion, would foster the religious tendency to regard celibates as pre-eminently near to God.—ἀκολουθοῦντες: either a historic present to secure vividness (ἀκολουθήσαντες, syr. S), in which case the allusion is to their earthly loyalty (reff.), or, more probably (in view of ὑπάγει, pres.), a description of their heavenly privilege and position (cf. Revelation 7:17), borrowed from Egyptian religion where the “followers of Horus,” the divine and victorious son of Osiris, were a series of celestial kings who were supposed to have reigned during the earlier dynasties. To be among the “followers of Horus” was an equivalent for immortal life. Cf. E. B. D. 101: “Let me rise up among those who follow the great God; I am the son of Maûti, and that which he abominateth is the spirit of falsehood [cf. Revelation 14:5]. I am in triumph!”—ἀπό in 3, 4 is equivalent to the partitive ἐκ (cf. Revelation 5:9).—ἀπαρχή: they form the firstfruits of mankind for God; others are to follow, but these are the élite, they have a prestige all their own. The idea of priority shades into that of superiority, though in a very different way from that of Romans 11:16. Dr. Rendel Harris (in Present Day Papers, May, 1901) describes the interest and excitement at Jerusalem during the early days of summer when “the first ripe figs were in the market. When one’s soul desires the vintage or the fruitage of the summer … the trees that are a fortnight to the fore are the talk and delight of the town.”—καὶ τ. ἀ., usually taken as a scribe’s gloss. Elsewhere the saints are redeemed by, not for, the Lamb (Revelation 5:9).
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.Revelation 14:5. ἄμωμοι, “unblemished” (a ritual term), possibly contains a sacrificial tinge, like ἀπαρχή in some of the inscriptions (= gift to deity), cf. Thieme’s Inschriften von Magnesia, 26. These adherents are redeemed. But in another aspect their qualities of purity and guilelessness form a sweet sacrifice to God. A Christian not only may be redeemed but may sacrifice himself in the interests of the Redeemer.—ψεῦδος. In view of Revelation 21:8; Revelation 21:27, Revelation 22:15 it is superfluous to think of prophets or teachers specially (Weinel, 146–148) in this connexion, although the gifts of utterance and prophecy were particularly associated with asceticism (En. lxxxiii., cviii., etc.) in the early church of the first century; e.g., “the whole yoke of the Lord” in Did. vi. may refer to celibacy (in which case τέλειος would be equivalent to ἄμωμος here). Cf. the discussion of reasons, in a Babylonian incantation (Zimmern, die Beschwörungstafeln Shurpu, 5, 6), why the sufferer was punished. “Has he for ‘no’ said ‘yes’, " For ‘yes’ said ‘no’?… Was he frank in speaking " but false in heart? " Wasit ‘yes’ with his mouth " but ‘no’ in his heart?” The Assyrian idiom for loyalty is “true speech in the mouth of the people,” neither rebellious nor seditious talk.
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,Revelation 14:6-20 : the fearful doom of the impenitent pagans is announced in a triple vision of angels (Revelation 14:6-13), whereupon a proleptic summary of the final judgment on the world follows (Revelation 14:14-20). In 6–13, 12–13 and καὶ ἐν τ. ἀ. (10) are the only specifically Christian touches; but the latter need not even be a scribal gloss, and 6–11 is intelligible as the outburst of a vehement Jewish Christian apocalyptist. The stylistic data do not justify any hypothesis of an edited source. The first angel (Revelation 14:6-7) announces (εὐαγγελίσαι here, and perhaps also in Revelation 10:7, in neutral sense of LXX., 2 Samuel 18:19-20; Dio Cass. lxi. 13) to the universe the news that the divine purpose is now to be consummated, but that there is still (cf. Revelation 11:3) a chance to repent (implicit, cf. Mark 1:15). The sterner tone of Revelation 8:13 to Revelation 9:21 is due to the fact that men were there accounted as strictly responsible for their idolatry and immorality. Here the nations are regarded in the first instance as having been seduced by Rome into the Imperial cultus (Revelation 14:8-9); hence they get a warning and a last opportunity of transferring their allegiance to its rightful object. The near doom of the empire, of which the prophet is convinced even in the hour of her aggrandisement (Revelation 13:8), is made a motive for urging her beguiled adherents to repent in time and her Christian victims to endure (Revelation 14:12). The substance of this proclamation is not much of a gospel, and the prophet evidently does not look for much result, if any. Its “pure, natural theism” (Simcox) is paralleled by that of Romans 2:5 f.
Revelation 14:6. πετόμενον: angels begin to fly in the Jewish heaven about the beginning of the first century B.C. (En. lxi. 1).
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.Revelation 14:7. ποιήσαντι κ.τ.λ. Since he who has created has the right to judge his creatures, as well as to receive their worship (cf. Revelation 4:11 f., etc.).—ὥρα = the fixed (cf. Revelation 14:15), καιρός the fit, moment for action. Contrast with this summons Lucan’s fulsome appeal to Nero (1:57 f.): “librati pondera cœli Orbe tene medio,” etc. The second angel of the trio announces the faults and fall of (Revelation 14:8) Rome as a second Babylon. The prophet quotes from the postexilic oracle appended to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:7-8).—θυμός has probably the double sense carried by the English term “passion”. As history proves, the Cæssar cult fairly intoxicated people, especially in the East. In Asia Minor it became a perfect passion with many communities. They will find it a different kind of passion, the prophet grimly writes, drawing on a powerful O.T. figure; the passion of God’s hot indignation will be forced down their throats, like a bitter draught (Revelation 14:10). θυμός, however, besides translating a Hebrew equivalent for “fury” (Isaiah 51:17 f.), is occasionally a LXX rendering for the analogous idea of “venom” or “poison” (חֵמָה or ראשׁ, cf. Job 20:16), and this would yield a good sense here.
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,Revelation 14:9-11. The third angel proclaims that the deliberate adherents of the Imperial cultus are to be held responsible for their actions, and punished accordingly. The object is that these votaries may be “scared into faith by warning of sin’s pains”. The plea of force (Revelation 13:12) is no excuse (cf Matthew 10:28).
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:Revelation 14:10. κεκερασμένου here as in Revelation 18:6 by oxymoron = “poured out,” the original meaning of “mixed” (with water) being dropped. The torture (depicted from Isaiah 34:9-10) is inflicted before the holy angels (who evidently sit as assessors at the judgment, En. Isaiah 48:9), ἁγίων being either an epitheton ornans or an allusion to Revelation 12:8-9. Normally the prophet refrains from introducing such spectators of doom (Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:10-14). “Fire is the divine cruelty of the Semitic religions” (Doughty), but the torment which Judaism designed for fallen angels and apostates is assigned here to the worshippers of the Cæsars. The Apocalypse is silent upon agents of torture; they are not the angels, much less the devil (who is himself punished, Revelation 20:10). But, like 4 Ezra 7 [ver. 36] (“the furnace of Gehenna shall be disclosed and over against it the paradise of delight”), John locates the place of torment over against the place of rest. For such grim popular fancies Enoch (xxvii. 2, 3, xlviii. 9, xc. 26, 27) is mainly responsible; there (as in Clem. Hom, xvii.) the tortures proceed under the eyes of the righteous, though (especially in the later fragments, as in John’s Apoc.) the moralisation of the idea has advanced, until Gehenna vanishes from the scene of bliss. “It is impossible for us to understand how such a sight could be compatible with heavenly happiness” (Stanton, Jewish and Christian Messiah, p. 344; cf. Lecky’s European Morals, ii. 225 f.), but the psychological basis of the ghastly expectation can be verified in the cruder types of primitive and modern religion. Most critics delete καὶ ἐνώπιον τοῦ ἀρνίου as another gloss (cf. on Revelation 14:4); the position of Jesus after the angels is not unexampled (cf. Revelation 1:4-5), even if before the holy angels were not taken (Bs., Baljon) as a periphrasis for the divine presence (Luke 12:8-9; Luke 15:10).
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.Revelation 14:12. The prospect of this fearful and imminent retaliation is not only a warning to weak-minded Christians but a consolation to the loyal. To be a saint is to obey God and to believe in Jesus at all costs. Contemporary Jews took a similar encouragement: “if ye endure and persevere in his fear, and do not forget him, the times will change over you for good, and ye will see the consolation of Zion” (Apoc. Bar. xliv. 7). John’s words τηρ. τ. ἐντολὰς τ. θ. are an answer to the complaint and claim that God’s commandments were being neglected by every one except the Jews (cf. the plaintive cry of 4 Esd. 3:33: “I have gone hither and thither through the nations and seen their abundance, though they remember not thy commandments”; 32, “Is there any other nation that knoweth thee save Israel? yet their reward appeareth not, and their labour hath no fruit”).
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.Revelation 14:13. The approaching climax of retribution upon pagan Rome affects the dead as well as the living. The latter are encouraged to hold on in hope; the former are brought nearer their reward (cf. Revelation 6:11, Revelation 11:18). Ἀπάρτι goes with μακάριοι (note here and in Clem. Rom. 47. the first application of μ. to the dead saints) rather than with ἀποθνήσκοντες, and οἱ ἐν κ. ἀποθ. (which is timeless, like προσκ. τ. θ. in Revelation 14:11) denotes all who die in the faith, loyal to their Lord, i.e., primarily martyrs and confessors (cf. Revelation 13:8; Revelation 13:15). They die “in His fellowship, as it were in His arms” (Beyschlag). Like Paul (in 1 Thessalonians 4:15), though on different grounds, the writer is controverting a fear (cf. 4 Esd. 13:24) that at the advent of messiah those who survived on earth would have some advantage over those who had already died. “Yea, saith the Spirit”—ratifying what has been said—“happy to rest from their labours” (i.e., their Christian activities, not the special form of their death for the faith). So far as the sense is concerned, it matters little whether ἵνα κ.τ.λ. depends on μακάριοι or ἀποθνήσκοντες. Both constructions are grammatically legitimate, though the former is perhaps closer. The point of the passage (note πνεῦμα and γράψον, as in 1–3., Revelation 22:6 f.) is that the bliss of death for a Christian consists not in mere rest from labour but in a rest which brings the reward of labour. While death brings the rest, the reward cannot be given till the final judgment. Consequently the near prospect of the latter is welcome, among other reasons, because it means the long-deferred recompense (Revelation 11:18) for the faithful dead. So far from being forgotten (Revelation 2:2 f., 19, 23, etc.), their ἔργα accompany them to judgment and—it is implied—receive their proper reward there (cf. Milton’s fourteenth sonnet). The bliss of the departed therefore depends upon two grounds: their ἔργα are not to be overlooked, and the interval of waiting is now (ἀπάρτι) brief. The fourth degree of bliss in 4 Ezra 7 : is that the departed spirits of the just understand “the rest which, gathered in their chambers [cf. Revelation 6:9-11] they can enjoy now with deep quietness, guarded by angels, as well as the glory which still awaits them in the latter days”. John does not share the current pessimistic belief (cf. Apoc. Bar. xi.–xii. 4, Verg. Aen. i. 94, with Isaiah 57:1 f.) that death was preferable to life, in view of the overwhelming miseries of the age. His thought is not that death is happier than life under the circumstances, but that if death came in the line of religious duty it involved no deprivation. The language reflects Genesis 2:2 (with κόπων put for ἔργων), but while it is true enough, it is hardly apposite, to think of the dead as resting from works (Hebrews 4:9), no more being needed. The root of the passage lies not in the Iranian belief (Brandt, 423 f., Böklen, 41) that the soul was escorted by its good deeds to bliss in another world (cf. Maas, Orpheus, 217 f.), but in the closer soil of Jewish hope (cf. Bacher’s Agada d. Tannaiten,2 i. 399 f.; Volz 103) as in En. ciii. 2, 3, Apoc. Bar. xiv. 12, 13, and Pirke Aboth vi. 9 (hora discessus hominis non comitantur eum argentum aut aurum aut lapides pretiosi aut margaritae, sed lex et opera bona). In 4 Esd. 7:35 (where, at the resurrection of the dead, “the work shall follow and the reward be disclosed”) opus may be a Hebraism for “recompense” (Psalm 109:20 ἔργον, cf. 1 Timothy 5:25). Contemporary Jewish eschatology also took a despairing view of the world (cf. 4 Esd. 4:26–33). But while the dead are pronounced “blessed,” e.g., in Apoc. Bar. xi. 7, it is because they have not lived to see the ruins of Jerusalem and the downfall of Israel. Better death than that experience! Death is a blessing compared with the life which falls upon times so out of joint (Revelation 10:6 f.). The living may well envy the dead. In John’s Apocalypse, on the other hand, the dead are felicitated because they miss nothing by their martyrdom. Yet life is a boon. No plaintive, weary cry of Weltschmerz rises from the pages of this Apocalypse.—ἀναπαύω in the papyri means relief from public duties or the “resting” of land in agriculture (cf. U. Wilcken’s Archiv f. Papyrusforschung, i. pp. 157 f.).
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.Revelation 14:14-20, in their present position, are a proleptic and realistic summary of the final judgment, representing as a divine catastrophe what 16–17. delineate as the outcome of semi-political movements (cf. 18. after 17). The strange picture of messiah (14 f., contrast Revelation 1:10 f., Revelation 19:11 f.), the absence of any allusion to the Beasts (Revelation 14:9-11) or to the Imperial cultus, the peculiar angelology, and the generally disparate nature of the scene as compared with the context, point to the isolated character of the episode. The abrupt mention of the city (20) suggests that the tradition belonged to the cycle underlying Revelation 11:1-13 (the city, 13), and several critics (e.g., Spitta, Erbes, Weyland, Völter, Schon, Briggs, Rauch) regard it variously as a finâle to the oracles of that chapter. But the connexion is one of tradition rather than of literary unity. The data of style and content leave it uncertain even whether the episode goes back to a source or a tradition, whether it is Jewish (so especially Sabatier, Pfleiderer, and Rauch) or Jewish Christian (Schön, Erbes, Bruston, J. Weiss, etc.), and, if Jewish Christian, whether it was written by the author of the Apocalypse (Weizsäcker) or not. The least obscure feature is the victory of the messiah over antichrist and his legions (not of an angelic judgment on Israel, J. Weiss) in the vicinity of Jerusalem (cf. Revelation 11:13, Revelation 14:1 f., and Revelation 20:9) at the end of the world, an expectation of which we have another variant apparently in Revelation 19:11 f. Probably the prophet inserts the episode here in order to repeat, in a graphic and archaic, although somewhat incongruous fashion, the final doom of which he has just been speaking and to which he is about to lead up (Revelation 14:15-20.) through a fresh series of catastrophes. “If one might venture to wish to discard as an interpolation any part of the attested text of the Apocalypse, it would be this passage. How can it be understood of anything but the final judgment? Yet it comes here as anything but final.… The earth goes on just as before” (Simcox). But here, as often elsewhere, the clue lies partly in the vivid inconsequence of dream-pictures, partly in the preacher’s desire to impress his hearers, and partly in the poetic, imaginative freedom of his own mind.
Revelation 14:14. This royal, judicial figure is evidently the messiah (drawn from Daniel 7:13, which had been already inter preted thus in En. xxxvii.–lxxi. and 4 Esd. 13.). The crown (omitted in Revelation 1:13 f.) was a familiar appurtenance of deity in Phrygia (e.g., of Apollo); for the cloud as the seat of deity, cf. Verg. Aen. ix. 638–640, etc.
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.Revelation 14:15. ἄλλος ἄγγελος, as in Revelation 14:6. The alternatives are (a) to translate “another, an angel” (אחר מלאך) which might be the sense of the Greek (cf. Od. i. 132, Clem. Protrept. ix. 87. 3) but is harsh, or (b) to take the figure of Revelation 14:14 as an angel (Porter) and not as the messiah at all (which, in the face of Revelation 1:13, is difficult). The subordinate and colourless character of the messiah is certainly puzzling, and tells against the Christian authorship of the passage. Messiah is summoned to his task by an angel, and even his task is followed up by another angel’s more decisive interference. He seems an angelic figure (cf. on Revelation 19:17), perhaps primus interpares among the angels (so En. xlvi. 1: “and I saw another being [i.e., the Son of Man] whose countenance had the appearance of a man, and his face was full of graciousness, like one of the holy angels”). The conception was inconsistent with John’s high Christology, but he may have retained it, like so much else, for its poetic effect, or as part of a time-honoured apocalyptic tradition. That the messiah should receive divine instructions through one of his comrades (Hebrews 1:6; Hebrews 1:9; cf. Zechariah 2:3-4) was perhaps not stranger than that he should require an angel in order to communicate with men (Revelation 1:1). πέμψον κ.τ.λ. The double figure of judgment (harvest and vintage) is copied from the poetic parallelism of Joel 3:13; the independent rendering of שׁלח by πέμψον and ἔβαλεν, and the change of agent from messiah (Revelation 14:14-16) to an angel (Revelation 14:17-20, so Matthew 13:39 f.), show that the writer is using the Hebrew of that passage (where God does the reaping).
And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.Revelation 14:16. The δρέπανον (only here, Revelation 14:14-19, in Apocalypse; cf. C. B. P. ii. 652 f. for a Phrygian inscription καὶ τὸ ἀρᾶς δρέπανον εὶς τὸν ὗκον αὐτοῦ) is represented as a living thing, probably like the δρέπανον πετὸμενον of Zechariah 5:1 (Wellhausen). The classical use of reaping to symbolise death and destruction is too common to need illustration. “The harvest of the earth is ripe and dry,” but this ripeness of paganism for judgment (Jeremiah 51:33) is re-stated dramatically (Revelation 14:17-20) in a parallel O.T. symbol from the wine-press. The angelic mise-en-scène recalls that of Revelation 8:3-5. Unlike the harvest-symbol, the vintage-symbol is worked out vividly (cf. Genesis 49:11; Isaiah 63:1 f.).
And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.Revelation 14:18. πυρός. The figure of this angel (= Jehuel in rabbinic tradition. Gfrörer, i. 369) has an Iranian tinge. The justice of the punishment is attested by its origin in the purpose of one who corresponded to the Persian Amshas-pand (cf. on Revelation 1:4), Ashem Vahishtan, who presided over fire and at the same time symbolised the closely allied conceptions of goodness, truth, and right in Zoroastrian mythology (cf. H. J., 1904, 350). A similar representation of an angel speaking from the fire in connexion with providence occurs in Chag. 14 b.
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.Revelation 14:19. The ungrammatical τὸν μέγαν may be due to the fact that ληνός is occasionally masculine (Win. § 8.10; Helbing, 46), or—by a rough constr. ad sensum—to apposition with τὸν θυμόν (understood).
And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.Revelation 14:20. The heathen are stamped and crushed till their blood gushes out of the wine-press to the height of a horse’s bridle and to the extent of about two hundred miles. This ghastly hyperbole, borrowed partly from Egyptian (wine = the blood of those who fought against the gods) and partly from Jewish eschatology (En. c. 3: “and the horses will walk up to the breast in the blood of sinners, and the chariot will be submerged to its height”), happens to be used later by the Talmud in connexion with the carnage at Bether (cf. Schlatter’s Die Tage Trajans, p. 37; also Sib. iii. 633 f.; 4 Esd. 15:35; Sil. Ital. iii. 704). The place is to be a veritable Senlac (sang lac).—ἀπό κ.τ.λ., probably a round number (see crit. note) compounded out 4 and its multiples (like 144,000 out of 12), to denote completeness (Vict. = per omnes mundi quattuor partes). After the fall of Rome (Revelation 14:8 f.), the rest of the world (ex hypothesi impenitent, Revelation 14:6-8) is ripe for the traditional (Daniel 9:26) judgment. The same sequence is reproduced roughly and on a larger scale in 17–18. (fall of Rome) and 19–20. (doom of other nations). This parallelism and the sense of the Joel passage militate against the attractive idea that Revelation 14:14-16 is the ingathering of the saints (so Alford, Milligan, Bruston, Briggs, Titius, Gilbert, and Swete).—ἔξωθεν κ.τ.λ. This fearful vengeance is located by Jewish tradition in some valley (of Jehoshaphat = Yah judges?) near Jerusalem (Joel), on the mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4), or in Palestine generally (Daniel 11:45; cf. below on Revelation 16:16), i.e., as a rule in close proximity to the sacred capital, where the messiah was to set up his kingdom.