Revelation Jewish New Testament, JNT, CJNT, David H. Stern
1. Next I watched as the Lamb broke the first of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living beings say in a thundering voice, “Go!”
2. I looked, and there in front of me was a white horse; its rider had a bow and was given a crown; and he rode off as a conqueror to conquer.
Some consider the rider on the white horse to be the Messiah depicted as a conqueror (as at 19:1ff.) in the sense that his Gospel conquers the world. But this makes him only one rider among many; moreover, the rest of the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse" bring judgment, not relief. Better to see this rider as bringing judgment in the form of war and conquest.
3. When he broke the second seal, I heard the second living being say, “Go!”
4. Another horse went out, a red one; and its rider was given the power to take peace away from the earth and make people slaughter each other. He was given a great sword.
5. When he broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, “Go!” I looked, and there in front of me was a black horse, and its rider held in his hand a pair of scales.
6. Then I heard what sounded like a voice from among the four living beings say, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages! Six pounds of barley for the same price! But don’t damage the oil or the wine!”
The rich are cushioned by their wealth from the effects of economic inequality and scarcity; but the poor, who must pay a day's wages (literally, "a denarius"; see Mt 20:2) for starvation rations, are brusquely ordered not to meddle with (or "damage") the olive oil or the wine, now luxuries far beyond their means.
Yechiel Lichtenstein (see MJ 3:13N) comments:
"Weighing the bread is a sign of a curse, according to Leviticus 26:26, 'They shall dole out your bread by weight; you will eat, but you will not be satisfied."' (Commentary to the New Testament)
7. When he broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living being say, “Go!”
8. I looked, and there in front of me was a pallid, sickly-looking horse. Its rider’s name was Death, and Sh’ol followed behind him. They were given authority to kill one-quarter of the world by war, by famine, by plagues and with the wild animals of the earth.
The breaking of the first four seals releases the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse," who represent, respectively,
(1) war in its aspect of subjecting peoples one to another,
(2) war in its aspect of hate between nations and individuals,
(3) inequitable economic distribution (or, less likely, general scarcity of goods), and
(4) the death which results from the first three (war, wild animals = hate, famine = inequitable distribution) and from disease (= plagues).
This section is apparently related to Leviticus 16:14-26 and Ezekiel 14:12-20, which speak of similar judgments. Compare also the ravagers at Jeremiah 15:3,24:10, 29:17; Ezekiel 5:17, 14:21; and the four horses at Zechariah 6:2-3. The four living beings were introduced at 4:6 above.
A pallid, sickly-looking horse (or: "a green horse"). Lichtenstein comments,
'The greenness is a sign of death. Death causes the face to turn green, as it says in the Talmud, referring to the angel of death:'... they throw in the mouth of the dying the drop which caused his death, and his skin and face become green' ('Avodah Zurah 26b)."
9. When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been put to death for proclaiming the Word of God, that is, for bearing witness.
Underneath the altar the souls. This odd image should be understood in the tight of rabbinic literature. According to a work attributed to the second-century Rabbi Natan HaBavli,
"HaKadosh ["the Holy One"], blessed be he, took the soul of Moses and stored it under the Throne of Glory.... Not only the soul of Moses is stored under the Throne of Glory, but the souls of the righteous are also stored there.
"Rabbi Akiva used to say,... 'Whoever is buried beneath the altar is as though he were buried beneath the Throne of Glory.' "(Avot diRabbi Natan 12:4,26:2)
According to the Talmud, the third-century Rabbi Abba Arikha, known as Rav, taught that the archangel Michael offers a sacrifice on the heavenly altar in the heavenly temple (M'nachot 110a). The Tosafot, medieval commentators on the Talmud, said about this passage that this sacrifice consists of the souls of the righteous, of Torah-scholars. Similarly Shabbat 152b. On the altar itself, see 8:3N.
Put to death... for bearing witness. The Greek word for "witness" is "marturia," from which is derived the English word "martyr." See Ac 7:59-6ON on the Jewish concept of death 'al kiddush HaShem ("to sanctify the Name" of God).
10. They cried out in a loud voice, “Sovereign Ruler, HaKadosh, the True One, how long will it be before you judge the people living on earth and avenge our blood?”
HaKadosh,... how long,., before you... avenge our blood? People who oppose vengeance on principle can appeal to both Yeshua's example and his teaching (Mt 5:42, 26:51-54; Lk 23:34). Yet the Scriptures make room for vengeance. The martyrs recognize that while vengeance is not properly within the human domain, it is a proper function of God. As Ro 12:19 puts it,
"Never seek revenge, my friends; instead, leave that to God's anger; for in the Tanakh it is written, 'Adonai says, "Vengeance is my responsibility; I will repay.'" [Deuteronomy 32:25]"
Moreover, just as the voice of Abel's blood cries out to God from the ground (Genesis 4), righteousness demands payment (vengeance) for murder or wrongful death. Psalm 79:10 and Lk 18:7-8a suggest that the martyrs here are praying for vindicalion rather than vengeance. But a similar prayer in the Pseudepigraphic book I Enoch 47:1-4 is for vengeance.
11. Each of them was given a white robe; and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow-servants should be reached, of their brothers who would be killed, just as they had been.
White robe See 3:4-5aN.
12. Then I watched as he broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake, the sun turned black as sackcloth worn in mourning, and the full moon became blood-red.
13. The stars fell from heaven to earth just as a fig tree drops its figs when shaken by a strong wind.
14. The sky receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place.
15. Then the earth’s kings, the rulers, the generals, the rich and the mighty — indeed, everyone, slave and free — hid himself in caves and among the rocks in the mountains,
16. and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us (Hosea 10:8) from the face of the One sitting on the throne and from the fury of the Lamb!
17. For the Great Day of their fury has come, and who can stand?”
Six of the seven seals are broken in this chapter; the scroll itself is open when the seventh seal is broken, at 8:1.
The description of the breaking of the sixth seal alludes to descriptions of the end of the world found in Isaiah 2:10-12, 2:19, 13:10, 34:4, 50:3; Jeremiah 4:23-29; Joel 3:4(2:31), 4:15(3:15); Nahum 1:5-6; Haggai 2:6 (compare Mt 24:29, Lk 23:30).
The fury of the Lanib will be fearful because the Lamb is also a Lion (see 5.-5-6&NN). According to Yn 5:22, Ac 17:31, Ro 2:16 and 2C 5:10 God has entrusted judgment to this Lion/Lamb. It will take place on the Great Day, also known as the Day of the Lord (1:10&N above, 2 Th 2:2, 2 Ke 3:10, and more than a dozen places in the Tanakh), the Day of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah (1С 1:8), the Day of our Lord Yeshua (2C 1:14), the Day of the Messiah (Pp 1:10). the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva'ot (16:14 below, Isaiah 2:12, Jeremiah 46:10), the Day of Anger (Ro 2:5; Zephaniah 1:18, 2:2-3; Lamentations 2:22), and the Day of Judgment (Ml 10:15. 2 Ke 2:9, I Yn 4:17 and five other places in the New Testament).
On the Great Day... who can stand? Those of the world who glory in their power will realize that it was all an illusion. Even weak people who manipulate and try to gain power in small ways will be revealed for what they are. Only those who restrict "praise, honor, glory and power" to God and the Lamb (5:13), will survive their fury.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5
- chapter 6
- chapter 7
- chapter 8
- chapter 9
- chapter 10
- chapter 11
- chapter 12
- chapter 13
- chapter 14
- chapter 15
- chapter 16
- chapter 17
- chapter 18
- chapter 19
- chapter 20
- chapter 21
- chapter 22