Revelation 7:4
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

King James Bible
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

Darby Bible Translation
And I heard the number of the sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel:

World English Bible
I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel:

Young's Literal Translation
And I heard the number of those sealed, (one hundred and forty four thousands were sealed out of all the tribes of the sons of Israel):

Revelation 7:4 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

And I heard the number of them which were sealed - He does not say where he heard that, or by whom it was communicated to him, or when it was done. The material point is, that he heard it; he did not see it done. Either by the angel, or by some direct communication from God, he was told of the number that would be sealed, and of the distribution of the whole number into twelve equal parts, represented by the tribes of the children of Israel.

And there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel - In regard to this number, the first and the main question is, whether it is meant that this was to be the literal number, or whether it was symbolical; and, if the latter, of what it is a symbol:

I. As to the first of these inquiries, there does not appear to be any good reason for doubt. The fair interpretation seems to require that it should be understood as symbolical, or as designed not to be literally taken; for:

(a) the whole scene is symbolical - the winds, the angels, the sealing.

(b) It cannot be supposed that this number will include all who will be sealed and saved. In whatever way this is interpreted, and whatever we may suppose it to refer to, we cannot but suppose that more than this number will be saved.

(c) The number is too exact and artificial to suppose that it is literal. It is inconceivable that exactly the same number - precisely twelve thousand - should be selected from each tribe of the children of Israel.

(d) If literal, it is necessary to suppose that this refers to the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. But on every supposition this is absurd. Ten of their tribes had been long before carried away, and the distinction of the tribes was lost, no more to be recovered, and the Hebrew people never have been, since the time of John, in circumstances to which the description here could be applicable. These considerations make it clear that the description here is symbolical. But,

II. Of what is it symbolical? Is it of a large number, or of a small number? Is it of those who would be saved from among the Jews, or of all who would be saved in the Christian church - represented as the "tribes of the children of Israel?" To these inquiries we may answer:

(1) that the representation seems to be rather that of a comparatively small number than a large one, for these reasons:

(a) The number of itself is not large.

(b) The number is not large as compared with those who must have constituted the tribes here referred to - the number twelve thousand, for example, as compared with the whole number of the tribe of Judah, of the tribe of Reuben, etc.

(c) It would seem from the language that there would be some selection from a much greater number. Thus, not all in the tribes were scaled, but those who were sealed were "of all the tribes" - ἐκ πάσης φυλῆς ek pasēs phulēs; that is, out of these tribes. So in the specification in each tribe - ἐκ φυλῆς Ἰούδα, Ρουβὴν ek phulēs Iouda, Roubēn, etc. Some out of the tribe, to wit, twelve thousand, were sealed, It is not said of the twelve thousand of the tribes of Judah, Reuben, etc., that they constituted the tribe, but that they were sealed out of the tribe, as a part of it preserved and saved. "When the preposition ἐκ ek, or "out of," stands after any such verb as sealed, between a definite numeral and a noun of multitude in the genitive, sound criticism requires, doubtless, that the numeral should be thus construed as signifying, not the whole, but a part taken out" (Elliott, i. 237). Compare Exodus 32:28; Numbers 1:21; 1 Samuel 4:10. The phrase, then, would properly denote those taken out of some other and greater number - as a portion of a tribe, and not the whole tribe. If the reference here is to the church, it would seem to denote that a portion only of that church would be sealed.

(d) For the same reason the idea would seem to be, that comparatively a small portion is referred to - as twelve thousand would be comparatively a small part of one of the tribes of Israel; and if this refers to the church, we should expect to find its fulfillment in a state of things in which the largest proportion would not be scaled; that is, in a corrupt state of the church in which there would be many professors of religion, but comparatively few who had real piety.

(2) to the other inquiry - whether this refers to those who would be sealed and saved among the Jews, or to those in the Christian church - we may answer:

continued...

Revelation 7:4 Parallel Commentaries

Library
The Bliss of the Glorified
"They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat."--Revelation 7:16. WE cannot too often turn our thoughts heavenward, for this is one of the great cures for worldliness. The way to liberate our souls from the bonds that tie us to earth is to strengthen the cords that kind us to heaven. You will think less of this poor little globe when you think more of the world to come. This contemplation will also serve to console us for the loss, as we call
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 62: 1916

Appendix the Daughters of Jerusalem
The question is frequently asked, Who are represented by the daughters of Jerusalem? They are clearly not the bride, yet they are not far removed from her. They know where the Bridegroom makes His flock to rest at noon; they are charged by the Bridegroom not to stir up nor awaken His love when she rests, abiding in Him; they draw attention to the Bridegroom as with dignity and pomp He comes up from the wilderness; their love-gifts adorn His chariot of state; they are appealed to by the bride for
J. Hudson Taylor—Union and Communion

The Consecration of Joy
'And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 34. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord. 35. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 36. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord; on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Blessing of God.
NUMB. VI. 22-27. We have already seen the grace of GOD making provision that His people, who had lost the privilege of priestly service, might draw near to Him by Nazarite separation and consecration. And not as the offence was the free gift: those who had forfeited the privilege of priestly service were the males only, but women and even children might be Nazarites; whosoever desired was free to come, and thus draw near to GOD. We now come to the concluding verses of Numb. vi, and see in them one
James Hudson Taylor—Separation and Service

Cross References
Exodus 28:21
"The stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, according to their names; they shall be like the engravings of a seal, each according to his name for the twelve tribes.

Revelation 7:5
from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,

Revelation 9:16
The number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.

Revelation 14:1
Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.

Revelation 14:3
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.

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