Revelation Jewish New Testament, JNT, CJNT, David H. Stern
1. I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary say to the seven angels, “Go, and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of God’s fury!”
The seven bowls of God's fury, introduced in 15:1. 7-8, contain the third set of seven judgments in the book of Revelation, the others being the seal judgments of 5:1-9,6:1-17,8:1ff., and the shofar judgments of 8:2-11:15ff. The bowl judgments are poured out in this chapter.
2. So the first one went and poured his bowl onto the earth, and disgusting and painful sores appeared on all the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image.
Like the plague of boils which affected only the Egyptians (Exodus 9:8-11), these disgusting and painful sores appear only on unbelievers, the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image. According to v. 11, despite the pain of these sores, their hearts, like Pharaoh's, remain hard — they never turn from their sins to glorify God (v. 9) but curse him to the end (v. 21).
3. The second one poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.
4. The third one poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they turned to blood.
5. Then I heard the angel of the waters say,
“O HaKadosh, the One who is and was,
you are just in these judgments of yours.
О HaKadosh, "О Holy One." Rabbinic writings often refer to God as HaKadosh, barukh hu, "the Holy One, blessed be he"; as, for example, in the well-known 'Aleinu prayer recited near the end of each synagogue service: "We bend the knee, bow and acknowledge before the supreme King of kings, HaKadosh, barukh hu [the Holy One, blessed be he],... that he is our God, there is none else." Here too the reference is to God the Father, but at Ac 2:27, 13:35, quoting Psalm 16:10, the term applies to the Messiah.
6. They poured out the blood of your people and your prophets,
so you have made them drink blood. They deserve it!”
This verse and 17:6, 16 echo Isaiah 49:26, where God says to Israel, "I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh, and they will be drunk on their own blood." The nations that fight against God's people will shed each other's blood in internecine warfare. Compare Ezekiel 38:21-22, Haggai 2:21-22 and Zechariah 14:12-13 (which also suggests the first and fifth bowl judgments).
7. Then I heard the altar say, “Yes, Adonai, God of heaven’s armies (Amos 3:13; 4:13), your judgments are true and just!”
8. The fourth one poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to burn people with fire.
9. People were burned by the intense heat; yet they cursed the name of God, who had the authority over these plagues, instead of turning from their sins to give him glory.
Here is the New Testament's most cogent description of the normal behavior of hardened sinners. They cursed the name of God... instead of turning from their sins, the result of which would have been to give him glory. Although God had the authority over these plagues, these unbelievers, in their irrationality, instead of entreating the only one who could help them, curse him. They recognize that God controls the plagues but blame him instead of themselves, since, being amoral and materialistic, they see no causal connection between their own sinful behavior and these events as judgment. They remain unrepentant throughout the chapter (see vv. 11, 21 and v. 2N).
10. The fifth one poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom grew dark. People gnawed on their tongues from the pain,
11. yet they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and did not turn from their sinful deeds.
12. The sixth one poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east.
The River Euphrates was the center of the major pagan civilizations that pressed against Israel in Tanakh times, and when Revelation was written it was the center of the Parthian kingdom which continually warred with Rome. Think of the Euphrates as the launching point of attack, whether of angel-mediated judgment (9:14), the kings from the east (v. 12), or the whole inhabited world (v. 14).
13. And I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs; they came from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet.
14. They are miracle-working demonic spirits which go out to the kings of the whole inhabited world to assemble them for the War of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot.
15. (“Look! I am coming like a thief! How blessed are those who stay alert and keep their clothes clean, so that they won’t be walking naked and be publicly put to shame!”)
I am coming like a thief. Yeshua interjects his own personal warning into the vision of the bowl judgments. Quoting his own words (3:3&N) he cautions believers to keep their clothes clean (compare 3:4—5a&N).
16. And they gathered the kings to the place which in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo.
The War of Armageddon (Hebrew Har Megiddo, v. 16&N), the final earthly battle, is demonically inspired (vv. 13-14). In v. 14 it is called the war of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva'ot ("the Lord of Heavenly Annies" or "YHVH of Hosts"; see 1:8N). In this conflict the kings of the whole inhabited world (vv. 12,14,16) come against God's people; but God, through his Messiah Yeshua (v. 15), wins the victory (19:11-21 &NN) after "Babylon the Great" has been destroyed (v. 19&N; compare Zechariah 12, 14).
The place which in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo ("Mount Megiddo") or possibly "Ir Megiddo" ("City of Megiddo"). The Greek word here is "Armageddon" — there is no Greek letter to represent the Hebrew "h" sound, and "n" is often added to Greek renderings of foreign words. But in Zechariah 12:10-11, which also places Megiddo in the context of the Last Days, the Hebrew word is actually "Megiddon";
".. .they will look on Me whom they have pierced, and they will moum for him as one mourns for an only son.... On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning of Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megiddon."
Hadad-Rimmon was the place in the Valley of Yizrc'cl (Jczreel) near Megiddo where king Yoshiyahu (Josiah) fell at the hands of Pharaoh Nekhoh in 609 B.C.E. (2 Kings 23:29-30).
The city of Megiddo, which overlooks the Yizre'el Valley and guards a major pass on the ancient Via Maris ("Way of the Sea") connecting Egypt with Syria, has seen many battles and much mourning. The archeological remains, spanning a period from the Chalcolithic Age (4th millennium B.C.E.) to the Persian conquest (7th century C.E.), consist of twenty levels, indicating the city was destroyed and rebuilt many times. In this valley Dvorah and Barak defeated the Canaanites (Judges 4-5; Megiddo is mentioned at Judges 5:19) and Gid'on the Midianites (Judges 6-8). In modern times both Napoleon (1799) and General Allenby (1918) defeated the Turks near Megiddo. The hundred square miles of the Yizre'el Valley would provide more than enough space for the conflict envisioned in the book of Revelation.
However, the final war may not take place at Har Megiddo at all, but in Jerusalem, at Har Migdo, the "mount of his choice fruit," i.e., the mountain of God's blessing. Mount Zion. Mount Zion has already been mentioned at 14:1; moreover, the imagery resembles Joel's picture of the Day of Adonai, when God's power goes forth from Mount Zion against the forces of evil (Joel 2:1-11, 4:16-17 (3:16-17); compare also Isaiah 31:4-9). The next passage (vv. 17-21) resembles 14:14-20, which also draws on imagery from Joel 4 (see 14:14-20N). Strengthening the case further Zechariah 12:11, cited above, mentions Jerusalem along with Megiddon.
17. The seventh one poured out his bowl on the air, and a loud voice came out of the Temple from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
18. There were flashes of lightning, voices and peals of thunder; and there was a massive earthquake, such as has never occurred since mankind has been on earth, so violent was the earthquake.
19. The great city was split into three parts, the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Bavel the Great and made her drink the wine from the cup of his raging fury.
Babylon the Great (see 14:8N) was split into three parts, that is, destroyed, as detailed in the next two chapters. The judgment imagery is taken from the Prophets; see 14:14-20N.
Made her drink the wine from the cup of his raging fury. Compare Jeremiah 25:15. 25:26-31.
20. Every island fled, and no mountains were to be found.
21. And huge seventy-pound hailstones fell on people from the sky. But the people cursed God for the plague of hail, that it was such a terrible plague.
The people cursed God for the plague of hail. See v. 2N, v. 9N, 8:7N, Exodus 9:22-35.
- 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