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CHAPTER 12

12:118. THE WOMAN WITH CHILD, AND THE GREAT BLOOD-RED DRAGON .
1. ] Hitherto a fresh vision has been announced
by the formula [] , or the simple or (11:19). The
present vision is the first characterised as a ; others follow, cf. 13:3
, 15:1 . . . In the

LXX. is usually the equivalent of ,, and is used either of celestial


phenomena, e.g. the heavenly bodies (Gen. 1:14), and the rainbow (Gen. 9:12 ff.), or of
tokens of Gods presence or purpose given upon earth, e.g. the miracles in Egypt (Exod.
7:3, etc.). In the N.T. the latter is the prevalent sense of ; the word goes with
(Jo. 4:48) and (Acts 2:22), and it is thus used in this book (cc. 13:13 ff.,
16:14, 19:20), though only of wonders wrought by evil powers. But the Gospels speak
also of () (Mc. 8:11, Mt. 16:1, and of a
(Mt. 24:3, 24:30), which is to attend the Parousia. Such signs, like the ,, of Gen.
ll. cc., would be visible in the skies to men upon earth, and this is probably the nature of
the sign now displayed to the Seer. It is not the interior of the heavenly world that he
sees, as in 4:1 ff., but its outer veil, the sky, on which the vision is depicted.
.] The first sign in heaven is a Womanthe
earliest appearance of a female figure in the Apocalyptic vision. She is arrayed with the
Sun; for the constr. see 7:9, 7:13, 10:1, 11:3, 17:4, 18:16, 19:8, 19:13, and for the idea,
cf. Ps. 103. (104.) 2 , and the partial parallels in Apoc.
1:16, 10:1, 19:17. The moon is her ; the phrase may be
borrowed from Ps. 109. (110.) 1 (Mc. 12:36) or from Ps. 8:7 (Heb. 2:8). The Seer
perhaps has in mind Cant. 6:9 (10) ,
, ; Further, this Woman in the sky is crowned with a wreath
(c. 2:10, note, of twelve stars, a coronet of celestial diamonds. The reader is reminded of
Josephs second dream (Gen. 37:9
), and of Test. 12. patr. Napht. 5
, .
... ,
passages which shew that Semitic fancy was apt to decorate ideal or
representative persons with the heavenly bodies. The mention of twelve stars (,
not . ) is sufficiently explained as an allusion to the twelve tribes (Jac. 1:1,
Apoc. 21:12) or possibly the twelve Apostles (21:14), regarded as the crowning
ornament of the Jewish Church; for the notion of the stars forming a wreath or circlet,
cf. Sap. 13:2 (v. l. ), and perhaps Apoc. 1:16.
2. .] The Woman is with child, and near to her delivery; in
sharp contrast with the splendour of her attire the Seer places her cries of pain and the
tortures () of the birth-pangs. He can scarcely have failed to remember
Isa. 7:14 (Mt.
1:23 ), a passage familiar to Christian thought towards the end of
the Apostolic age, as its use by Mt., and apparently also by Lc. (1:31), attests. But if so,
he purposely substitutes for , for the Virgin-Birth is not a point on which

he wishes to insist; the ideal mother of the Lord is not the Virgin, but the Jewish Church
(see below). Jerusalem is described in the Prophets as a travailing woman; cf. Mic. 4:10
... , , Isa. 26:17 f. ...
... , ib. 66:7 ,
, . The same metaphor is
used by our Lord to characterize the anguish of the Apostles on the eve of the Passion
(Jo. 16:21 ... ), and by
St Paul in reference to the spiritual travail of the guide of souls (Gal. 4:19 ,
).
The reading is somewhat uncertain: (, ) is easier than
, , but the latter has on the whole better support and makes excellent
sense; if it be accepted, . will range with ., while
begins a new clause.
The ancient expositors in general, beginning with Hippolytus and Methodius,
understood the Woman with child to represent the Church, though some identified her
with the Blessed Virgin. See Hipp. (ed. Lag. p. 31):
,
; Andreas: ..
[conviv. 6 ff.] . The majority
take the birth-pangs to symbolize the spiritual travail of the Church (Hipp. l.c.:

; Ps. Aug.: quotidie parit ecclesia. Andreas:
; Bede:
semper ecclesia, dracone licet adversante, Christum parit). But the earliest Latin
expositor of the Apocalypse, Victorinus, has grasped the meaning more precisely:
antiqua ecclesia est patrum et prophetarum et sanctorum et apostolorum; quae gemitus
et tormenta desiderii sui habuit usquequo fructum ex plebe sua secundum carnem olim
promissum sibi videret Christum ex ipsa gente corpus sumpsissea comment which.
Beatus repeats, adding: semper enim haec mulier ante adventum Domini parturiebat in
doloribus suis. Similarly Augustine in Ps. 142: haec autem mulier antiqua est civitas
Dei. The two views are not, however, wholly inconsistent. Doubtless the Church of the
Old Testament was the Mother of whom Christ came after the flesh. But here, as
everywhere in the Book, no sharp dividing line is drawn between the Church of the Old
Testament and the Christian Society; the latter is viewed as the Jewish Church come to
its maturity. Thus the woman who gave birth to the Christ is identical with her who after
His departure suffered for her faith in Him (v. 13) and who is the mother of believers (v.
17, cf. Gal. 4:27).
In the infinitive is epexegetical (WM. p. 140), representing the
issue, almost the purpose (Vg. cruciabatur ut pariat), of the torture endured. Burton,
389, less simply explains it as an object inf. governed by the idea of desire implied in
the preceding participle. For see 9:5 note.
WM. Winer-Moulton, Grammar of N. T. Greek, 8th Engl. ed. (Edinburgh, 1877).
Vg. The Latin Vulgate.

3. .] A second tableau, following close upon the first


and inseparable from it. The Dragon is the Serpent of Gen. 3:1 ff., as the Apocalyptist
himself tells us (v. 9). But the preference of (= J ,
Job 7:12
i
ib. 26:13,

,
J ib. 40:20 (25)) to , both in this context and in cc. 13., 16., 20., is significant.
It is a mythical, symbolical, monster which is before us, whether suggested by the
Babylonian Timat (Gunkel, Schpfung u. Chaos, p. 361, Enc. Bibl. 1131 ff.), or by
Hebrew fancy (Ps. 73. (74.) 13 cod. R,
: cf. Job 26:13, Isa. 27:1, Ez. 29:3). The
Seers Dragon is , fiery red (Apoc. 6:4, note; cf. Hom. Il. 2:308
, ), the epithet denoting his murderous work (Andreas,
, cf. Jo. 8:44 , 1 Jo. 3:12
). He has seven heads (cf. 17:3, 17:7;
Kiddushim, f. 29 b, visus ei est daemon forma draconis septem habentis capita; Pistis
Sophia, p. 90 basilisci serpentis, cui septem erant capita), symbolical of a plenitude of
power; and every head is crowned with the fillet which denotes sovereignty: for
as contrasted with (v. 1) see 1 Esdr. 4:30
, Isa. 62:3 , 1 Macc. 11:13, 13:32
; and for the conception of a diadem-crowned serpent cf. Pliny, H. N.
8:21. 33, where he describes the basilisk as candida in capite macula ut quodam
diademate insignem. The Beast of c. 13. has ten diadems on his horns; the Divine
Conqueror of c. 19. has on His head . The Dragons ten diadems
represent his power over the kingdoms of the world; cf. Lc. 4:6 , Jo.
12:31, 14:30, 16:11 , and contrast Apoc. 1:5
. See 17:3, 17:7, 17:9 ff., notes.
4. .] A reference to Dan. 8:10 where it is said of the
Little Horn:

J,



J


,


i

;
softens the hyperbole, as in c. 8:7 ff. A similar incident occurs in the Babylonian myth
of the conflict between Timat and Marduk (Gunkel, op. cit. p. 387), but the
Apocalyptist may well have had no other thought than to depict the colossal size and
vast strength of the monster. Heaven (the sky) is too small to hold him; when he lashes
his tail, it drags along (, Vg. trahebat, cf. Jo. 21:8, Acts 14:19, 17:6) a third of the
stars, and dashes them to the earth: for the change of tense cf. 2:3, note.
was frequently understood by the ancient interpreters in reference to the fall of the
Angels (Jude 6 (see Dr Biggs note); thus
Arethas:
. But other views obtained support; e. g., according to Bede, Tyconius more
suo tertiam partem stellarum quae cecidit falsos fratres interpretatur. Origen has a
similar explanation in Mt. comm. (Lomm., 4. p. 306): qui peccatum sequitur,
trahitur a cauda draconis vadens post eum.

Enc. T. K. Cheyne and J. S. Black, Encyclopaedia Biblica (London, 1899


1903).

.] The relation of the second


to the first now becomes evident. The appearance of the Woman with Child has
provoked a counter-manifestation on the part of the Dragon. His quarrel, however, is
not immediately with the Woman, but with the Child, and he waits his time till the
Child is born. For cf. 3:2, 3:16, note. is at first sight a
strange verb in connexion with the serpent, cf. Gen. 3:14
. But the is a glorified , which, as Pliny (H. N. 8:21. 33)
says, nec flexu multiplici ut reliquae corpus impellit, sed celsus et erectus in medio
incedens.
... : cf. Jer. 28. (51.) 34 ...
, .
A greater sufferer than Jerusalem is here, and a greater foe than the King of Babylon.
The Seer looks back over the long period of expectation which followed the original
sentence on the Serpent (Gen. 3:15; see Drivers remarks on this n Genesis, p. 57, and
cf. Primasius: in conspectu autem mulieris stetisse dicitur, quoniam illa (inquit)
observabit caput tuum, etc.). Two figures dominate pre-Christian historyhumanity,
fallen but struggling to the birth of a higher life, and the hostile power of evil, watching
(Gen. l.c., LXX., ) its opportunity to defeat the realization of the hope; such
tyrants as Pharaoh (Exod. 1:22, 2:1 ff.) and Herod (Mt. 2:7 ff.) may be in the Seers
mind, but his words cover the whole conflict which culminated in the Cross and its
issue. On see Burton, 305.
5. , , .] Either or seems to be redundant.
is a familiarphrase in the LXX.; cf. Exod. 1:16 ff., 2:2, Lev. 12:2, 12:7,
Num. 3:40, Isa. 66:7, Jer. 20:15, 37. (30.) 6, and would have sufficed here. On the other
hand , or may have been suggested by

( Jer. 20:15), or
A
deliberately written instead of (cf. r. Eccl. 549) in order to call attention
to the sex of the Child which by itself does not emphasize: cf. Hippolytus (ed. Lag.,
p. 32): ; Andreas: .
The man-child is primarily the Son of Mary, with whom he is identified by
.; cf. 2:26 f., 19:15, notes. The reference to Ps. 2. does not indeed
exclude the thought of the members of Christ who are potentially interested in the
promise, as 2:26 shews ( ... ,
); and the ancient interpreters lay the chief stress on this wider
sense, cf. e.g. Primasius: Christus in singulis membris dicitur nasci and Bede, quoted
above, p. 145 b. But it seems better in this place to limit the words to our Lord Himself,
regarded as the offspring of the O.T. Church; the faithful (v. 17) are
.
.] The Seer foreshortens the Gospel
history; for his present purpose the years between the Nativity and the Ascension are
non-existent, and even the Passion finds no place in his summary. It is enough to point
out that the Dragons vigilance was futile; he failed to destroy the Womans Son, and
his failure was manifested by the Ascension. Interpreters who understand the whole
Ar. Arethas.

passage in reference to the Church think here of the conglorification of the members
with the Head; e.g. Primasius: licet in capite Christo praecesserit congruit tamen et
corpori. hinc suni illae voces Apostoli, qui nos resuscitavit et consedere fecit in
caelestibus.
With (Vg. raptus est, A.V., R.V., was caught up) compare Acts 8:39
, 2 Cor. 12:2, 12:4 ...
... , 1 Th. 4:17 . Here, if
our interpretation is correct, it answers to in 4 Regn. 2:11, Acts 1:2, 1:11,
1:22, 1 Tim. 3:16, representing the Ascension as a rapturea graphic and true, if not
exhaustive description. indicates the direction or goal, which was (1) God Himself
(cf. Jo. 20:17 ... ), and (2) Gods Throne.
The Ascension involves the Session of the Sacred Humanity at the Right Hand of the
Father (see Mc. 16:19, Eph. 1:20, Heb. 1:3, Apoc. 3:21), and not merely an elevation
of spirit into the Divine Presence, which was never wanting to the Divine Son of Man.
6. .] The Mother of Christ, the Church (which
has now become the larger Israel, the Christian Society) does not at once share the
rapture of her Son, but is put beyond the reach of the Dragohs rage, so that his efforts
to destroy are as unavailing in her case as in that of the Lord. A place of safety has been
provided for her in the wilderness, and thither she flees after the Ascension. The Seer
may have in his thoughts either the wanderings of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai
(Deut. 8:2 ff.), or Elijahs two withdrawals from Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 17:2 f.,
19:3 f.), or the flight of many devout Jews from Antiochus (1 Macc. 2:29
), or the flight of Mary and
Joseph with the Child into Egypt (Mt. 2:13). But the event immediately in view is
doubtless the escape of the Church of Jerusalem to Pella, alluded to in Mc. 13:14
(cf. Eus. H.E. 3:5). In the wider sense the , as
Primasius says, is the solitudo huius vitae in qua ut passer singularis [Ps. 102:7]
vivit ecclesia; and the figure is suggested either by the rocky wastes of the Sinaitic
peninsula, or more probably by the wide wild country of rolling hills and hollows
(Benson, Apocalypse, p. 32) which lay to the south of Jerusalem, or the high lands to the
east of it on the further side of Jordan. Of this country the most striking feature is the
absence of human habitations, and the mention of it suggests what was after all the
heaviest trial of the Christian life in early times, the loneliness experienced by those
who had cut themselves off from the sympathy of their neighbours and even of their
nearest relatives. On the Lords Day the brethren met for fellowship, but for the rest of
the week the majority of them stood alonein the world, but not of it. Yet in this
solitude of her life the Church has a place of safety and repose prepared for her by God;
for this use of see Mt. 20:23, 25:34, 25:41, Lc. 2:31, 1 Cor. 2:9, Heb. 11:16,
Apoc. 9:15, and for cf. 1 Chron. 15:3, Jo. 14:2 f. What is meant by
this may be gathered from Ps. 30. (31.) 21
, cf. Col. 3:3
. Fellowship with the Father and the Son in the Spirit (1 Jo. 1:3, 2 Cor. 13:13) is at
once the Churchs consolation and her safeguard.

For ... =
i
i
see Blass, Gr. p. 175. .
The reference to Elijah is here apparent, cf. 3 Regn. 17:4
, ib. 19:5, 19:7; though the subject of is purposely left
undefined. But the daily supply of manna during the Wanderings in the desert of Sinai
may also be in view, as Bede supposes: instar Israeliticae plebis, quae pane caelesti
pasta [est] in eremo. The provision made for the Church in the wilderness of life is the
spiritual food of the word of God (Mt. 4:4) and the Flesh and Blood of the Lord (Jo.
6:48 ff.). The supply lasts for 1260 days, or (v. 14) a season seasons and a half,=3
years; see Dan. 7:25, and c. 11:2, note; i.e. to the end of the age of persecution, and
beyond it, to the end of the present order, or, as Primasius well says, omnia
Christianitatis tempora. Thus the story of the Woman in the wilderness synchronizes
with the prophesying of the Two Witnesses (11:3); in fact the Woman and the
Witnesses symbolize the one Catholic Church under different aspects.
The whole of this verse is anticipatory, and the symbolism is repeated in v. 12 f.,
where see notes.
7. ] Another tableau, not a (vv. 1, 3),
but consequent upon the two which precede it. The birth and rapture of the
Womans Son issue in a war which invades the ; for the conception cf. Yalkut
Rub. f. 87. 2 (on Ex. 14:7): bellum fecit grave in caelo. It is impossible to admit with
Andreas that the original rebellion of Satan is intended, though Papias whom he quotes
seems to have understood the passage so. Still less can we accept the interpretation of
proposed by several of the Latin commentators, e.g. Bede: caelum
ecclesiam significata view which throws the symbolism into hopeless confusion.
The Seer sees an assault directed by the powers of evil against the Exalted Christ. As
the Incarnation called forth a counter-manifestation of diabolic power on earth (Mc.
1:13, Lc. 22:3, 22:31, Jo. 12:31, 14:30, 16:11), so after the Ascension the attack is
supposed to be carried into Heaven.
Battles in the sky, suggested no doubt by the threatening phalanxes of clouds which
forebode a storm, are familiar to the later Jewish writers (e.g. 2 Macc. 5:2 f. ...
... , Orac. Sibyll.
3:805 . But in St Johns vision the
fighting occurs in Heaven itself; it is a and not a mere spectacle
in the upper air. The words hint at nothing less than a supreme attempt on the part of the
Dragon to unseat the Womans Son, and to re-establish himself in the Presence of God.
.] It is a war of Angels, in which
one angelic host is led by the Archangel Michael, and the other by the Dragon.
According to Daniel (10:13, cf. Jude 9 , and see note on c. 8:2) Michael is
one of the chief princes, and champion of the Jewish people (Dan. 10:21, 12:1); and
consistently with this position he now leads the armies of Heaven against the adversary
of the Womans Son. The construction is one of unusual difficulty; the inf.
seems to require some such verb as or (cf. v. 2, note on
. ). But it is simpler to repeat before : there arose war in
heaven; [there arose] Michael to make war. Blasss rendering (Gr. p. 236) it

happened that there fought (= .) involves an unnecessary


solecism; Viteaus explanation (tudes, 1. p. 168) is better, but the plural (, or
) is not required. Alford supposes a fusion of two sentences (
. , and .
For see 2:16, note.
.] The Dragon also claims the rank of Archangel, and
has angels under his command; cf. Mt. 25:41 .
8. , .] The Dragohs supreme effort was not only a
failure, but it resulted in his final expulsion from heaven. seems to imply that up to
this moment Satans claims had not been finally disallowed; compare Job 1:6
, , where he still takes his place in the
council-chamber of God. The O.T. phrase (Dan. 2:35 Th., cf. Zech.
10:10, Heb.) occurs again in. c. 20:11; on in this sense see WM. p. 769 f.
9. ... ] Cf. Sohar Gen. f. 27. 107 proiecit
Deus Sammaelem et cateryam eius e loco sanctitatis ipsorum. A similar vision was
present to the mind of our Lord, when the Seventy reported to him their successes; Lc.
10:18 ; cf. Jo. 12:31
. It is vain to attempt to grasp the nature
of the spiritual fact which these visions symbolize, so far as it belongs to the celestial
order. But the extraordinary progress of the Gospel and the Church during the first three
decades and a half that followed the Ascension may well be the earthly counterpart of
Satans fall, while the outbreak of persecution in A.D. 64 shewed that the earth was still
to be the field of his activities; see v. 13 note.
looks back to v. 3 . , serpens
antiquus, the Primaeval Serpent (so Tanchuma, f. 50. 2

i , Debarim

Rabba, f. 23. 3
i ;cf. Syr.gw. ad loc. = , and for this use
of see Acts 15:7, 15:21, 21:16), identifies the Dragon with the serpent of Gen.
3:1 ff., while declares him to be the person so
named in the later books of the O.T. and in Jewish literature. For () as a

personal name=
see Job 1:6 f., Zech. 3:1, Sap. 2:24; though occurs in the
sense of an adversary in 3 Regn. 11:14, 11:23, or 3 (so written
, as Origen says (c. Cels. 6:44)) is not found in the LXX., but the name
had become familiar to the later Jews, and is used in the latter form in the Gospels (14),
Acts (2), Pauline Epistles (10), and Apocalypse (8). : cf.
20:3, 20:7. The earth was no new sphere of Satans working: see Job 1:7
. But he was henceforth to be limited to
it, until the time came for him to fall yet lower.
10. ] Cf. 5:11, 10:4, 11:12,
14:2, 14:13, 18:4. No intimation is given as to the source from which the voice
proceeds, but as seems to exclude both the Angels and the
Bedes congratulantur angeli saluti fratrum suorum cannot be maintained in view of
the usage of the Bookwe are led to attribute it to one of the Elders, who represent the
Church.

.] Compare the outbreak of voices at the sounding of the


Seventh Trumpet (11:15); for see 7:10 note, 19:1. is not qualified
by as in 11:15; it is sovereignty, empire in the abstract, which is here in
view. This is attributed to our God, i.e. the Father; to the Son as His anointed (
=
i J
, Ps. 2:2) belongs , the authority which He exercises
by the Fathers gift (Ps. 2:8, Mt. 28:18, Jo. 17:2).
The downfall of Satan manifests afresh () the saving and sovereign power of
God, and its active exercise by the exalted Christ. The victory is not Michaels, but the
Lords.
.] The O.T. representation of Satan as the accuser of Job
(Job 1:9) suggests that the Dragon similarly attacks the faithful under the New
Covenant. There is perhaps a reference to the zeal of the delatores (cf. Juv. 1:33 with
Mayors notes), who abounded in Domitians time, and were busy with their diabolical
attacks on the Asian Christians. But the epithet must not be limited to one department of
Satans work; in Renans words (lAntechrist, p. 408), he is the critique malveillant do
la crationthe cynical libeller of all that God has made, but especially of His new
creation, the Christian Church. follows the lines of Job 1:6,
while (cf. c. 4:8) indicates the sleepless vigilance of evil when it
seeks occasion against the good (1 Pet. 5:8).
The form , though preserved only by cod. A, is probably right; a
transliteration of the Aramaic ( Dalman, Gr. p. 147), it was perhaps preferred
to the usual Greek (Acts 23:30, 23:35; 25:16, 25:18) on account of its
associations. In Rabbinical writings Satan or Sammael is the accuser of Israel, while
Michael appears as its advocate ( , ); cf. Shemoth Rabba, f. 121. 2:
eo tempore quo Israelitaeex Aegypto egressi sunt, stetit Sammael angelus ad
accusandum ( )eos; ib. 129. 2: si homo praecepta observat tune Satan stat

et accusat eum ( ;)sed advocati quoque ipsius stant iuxta ipsum; Vayyikra
Rabba f. 164. 3 omnibus diebus anni Satanas homines accusat, sola die expiationis
excepta. Shemoth Rabba f. 117. 3: R. Jose dixit, Michael et Sammael similes sunt
et ( ) Satanas accusat, Michael
vero merita Israelitarum proponit.
11. .] The victory of the martyrs marks
the failure of Satans endeavours. is said of Christ Himself (5:5, cf. 3:21, and
see Jo. 16:33); the normal condition of His members is progressive conquest (2:11, etc.,
and even 15:2). But the martyrs fight is over, and they are already victors, though their
triumph is not yet. The Blood of the Lamb is here as in 7:14 (where see note) the
Sacrifice of the Cross, which is regarded as the primary cause (, propter, cf. WM. p.
498) of the martyrs victory; His conquest of Satan rendered conquest possible for them
(cf. Lc. 11:21 f., Heb. 2:18), while the loosing of sins which it effected (Apoc. 1:5)
silences Satans accusing voice. Thus the Lamb is the true of the new Israel,
its (1 Jo. 2:1). His Blood speaks of acceptance and not, as
Abels, of wrath (Heb. 12:24). Yet the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ does not spell

victory except for those who suffer with Him (Rom. 8:17, 2 Tim. 2:11 f.). Thus a
secondary cause of the martyrs victory is found in their personal labour and selfsacrifice; they overcame (cf. 6:9, 11:7, 20:4), i.e.
because of their testimony to Jesus (2:13, note) and their indifference to life itself in
comparison with loyalty to Him. states the extent of this victory; for
Christs sake they overcame the natural love of life. There is here a clear reference to
the Masters teaching in Jo. 12:25 ,
; other
sayings of the same type occur in the Synoptic Gospels (Mt. 10:39, 16:25, Mc. 8:35 f.,
Lc. 9:24, 17:33). Compare St Pauls response in Acts 20:24:
., and see also Acts 21:13, Phil. 1:20 ff. On see Mc.
8:35, note, and for . cf. M. Antoninus 7:46
, is elliptical: their non-attachment to life was carried to
the extent of being ready to die for their faith; cf. Phil. 2:8
obedient to the extent of surrendering life. On , , see c. 2:10, note. On the
whole verse Bede well remarks: merito animas pro Christo contemnunt, qui per
sanguinem Christi tanturn vicerunt adversarium.
This reference to the martyrs is proleptic in the present context, for the fall of Satan
precedes the age of persecution. But the age of persecution and the victory of the
martyrs, which had begun some time before the Apocalypse was written (2:13), were
consequent upon the expulsion of Satan from heaven, and are therefore anticipated in
this acclamation of the Divine victory.
12. , .] The heavens ( , here only in
Apoc.; cf. Dan. 3:59 , , ) and their inhabitants might well
keep high festival (cf. 11:10, note, 18:20, for this sense of ). Earth bad
cause to mourn, since it was henceforth the only field of his baleful energies.
here and in 13:6 seems to be equivalent to , and not to
indicate brief or temporary residence, as in 2 Cor. 5:1, where is
opposed to . Perhaps is avoided because elsewhere in the
Apocalypse it is used in reference to the pagan world (c. 3., note); and in there
may be a reference to the Divine tabernacling of which mention is made in 7:15 and
21:3. As God tabernacles in Heaven with or over its inhabitants, so they are said to
tabernacle there with Him or under His safe keeping. Earth and Sea are probably not to
be explained allegorically (as by Andreas:
), but literally, of the world as the scene of Satans future
operations.
.] The Dragons ignominious fall () is
euphemistically described as a descent (). It has not impaired his strength, and he
sets to work at once with redoubled zeal, goaded by his defeat ( ), and
resolved to make the most of an opportunity which he now knows to be brief (
). The participial clauses are parallel to one another, revealing the
two motives which actuate Satan since the Ascension. With . Primasius
acutely compares the cry of the Legion in Mt. 8:30

; Cf. St Lukes comment (8:32):


. Earth is still the sphere of devihry in all its forms, but the abyss is its
ultimate destination. is relative, like the which accompanies
announcements of the Parousia. In vv. 6, 14, the same interval of time is represented as
3 years.
13. .] The narrative of v. 9 is now resumed.
The Dragon is too shrewd to ignore the fact that his expulsion from Heaven is final and
irretrievable. But he recognises also that his position on the earth offers fresh
opportunities. If he cannot directly attack the Womans Son, he can hurt the Son
through the Mother (cf. Mt. 25:45, Acts 9:4). So he goes in pursuit of the Woman, who
is identified with (, acc. to Blass, Gr. p. 173, here nearly=) the Mother of the manchild. , while bearing its original sense pursue (cf. Rom. 9:30 f., 12:13, Phil.
3:12, 3:14), implies hostile pursuit, as in Mt. 10:23, 23:34, Acts 26:11, and thus
approaches to the technical persecute which is the prevalent meaning of in the
N.T. (Mt. 5:10 ff., 5:44, Acts 7:52, 9:4 f., Rom. 12:14, 1 Cor. 15:9, Phil. 3:6). The
historical moment in the Seers mind is doubtless the dark day in A.D. 64 when Nero
began the policy of persecution. From that time the Empire as such was more or less
hostile to the Church, and in this hostility the Seer sees the hand of the great Adversary.
14. .] is probably here as in Mt.
24:28, and elsewhere in this book, not the true eagle but the griffon (
i , gyps fulvus),
a great bird of the vulture type which abounds in Palestine (Enc. Bibl., 1145); for
cf. Ez. 17:3 , .
is pressed into the interpretation by Hippolytus (ed. Lag. p. 32:
... : he
adds a reference to Mt. 23:37, Mal. 4:2), Victorinus (duo sunt prophetae), and
Primasius (duobus utitur testamentis), but perhaps unnecessarily. The figure as a
whole is based on Exod. 19:4 , and Deut.
32:11 ... [sc. ]; a still nearer
parallel is Isa. 40:31 , where the prophet transfers the eagles
wings to the men who are endowed with Divine strength. For see cc. 8:2, 9:1,
9:3.
The escape of the Woman (v. 6) is now explained; even the Dragon is no match for
God-given powers, is used of the eagles flight in 4:7, 8:13; cf. Job 9:26
, Prov. 24:54 (30:19) . For
. see v. 6, notes; a comparison of the two verses shews that
= . and that the 1260 days and the
season, seasons and a half are strictly convertible expressions; see 11:2 f., note. On the
meaning of the time Iimit here see Hippolytus (ed. Lag. p. 32):
... .
To some extent the solitary life is a necessity imposed upon Christians by their
religion: to the end of the present order the Church dwells in the wilderness, and is a
vox clamantis in deserto. But as an historical fact the withdrawal into the wilderness
began with the outbreak of persecution. The Church was constrained to meet the policy

of persecution by a policy of secrecy; she began to guard the mysteries from the sight of
the heathen, to withhold the Creed and the Lords Prayer from catechumens till the eve
of baptism, to abstain from public amusements and from society, to substitute loyalty to
the Christian brotherhood for an exclusive patriotism; cf. the interesting passage in Ep.
ad Diogn. 5:4, 5:5
, ... ,
.
=

J


cf. Jud. 9:21

(

J ).
15. .] The Serpent is dropt
here and in v. 14; the mind of the Seer glancing back at the of v. 9
unable to follow the Woman in her flight, seeks to intercept it by a flood of waters
which he pours out from his mouth (contrast 1:16, 2:16, 19:15 ff.). The thought of the
godly wrestling with a flood of evil is familiar to the Psalmist (Ps. 17. (18.) 5)
, 31. (32.) 6
, 123. (124.) 4 f. ,
... ( J


), and the Prophets (Isa. 43:2
, ); it may have been
suggested by the passage through the Red Sea and the Jordan, or possibly by the
of Palestinian wadys (cf. Mt. 7:27).
Ps. Cyprian (ad Novat. 14) interprets the flood from the Dragns mouth of the
Decian edicts which led to the fall of many of the faithful; Victorinus sees in it the
passions of the populace aroused against the Church: aqua populum qui persequatur
eam significat, cf. Primasius: impetum persecutorum aqua significat. Andreas offers
a choice of explanations: ,
.
The torrent let loose by the Serpent is designed to sweep away the Woman
is . ., formed regularly after the example of ,
(WM. p. 124); for . cf.
(17:16)the exact phrase is used by Hesychius in his note on Il. 6:348
. The purpose which, consciously or not, animated Imperial
persecutors was to destroy the Christian name. The Seer discovers it already in the work
of Nero and Domitian; in the edicts of Decius and Diocletian it was openly avowed.
16. .] Instances were known in Asia in which
rivers or streams disappeared into the bowels of the earth; thus Herodotus had heard
(7:30) that the Lycus flowed underground near Colossae, and the statement is confirmed
by Strabo and Pliny (Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, 1. p. 210 f.); at the
present time the Chrysorrhoas, which flows from the hot springs of Hierapolis (cf. 3:16,
note), is said to bury itself in the plain between Hierapolis and Laodicea (Ramsay, op.
cit. 2. p. 86, note 2). It is not easy to conjecture the exact meaning of the symbol here.
But the general sense is clear: the Apocalyptist foresees the failure of any attempt,
however virulent, to destroy the Church (cf. Mt. 16:18). Help would arise from
unexpected quarters; the death of the persecuting Emperor, followed by a change of

policy on the part of his successors, sudden revulsions of public feeling, or a fresh turn
of events diverting public attention from the Church, would from time to time check or
frustrate Satans plans.
The phrase . is from Num. 16:30
; cf. Num. 26:10, Deut. 11:6, Ps. 105. (106.) 17.
17. .] The Dragon, enraged at the escape
of the Woman (for with dat. see Gen. 40:2, Num. 31:14; other
constructions are . with acc., 4 Regn. 19:28, Ps. 73. (74.) 1, 105. (106.) 40; .
(Deut. 7:4) or (Jud. 2:20, 3:8, 10:7); . followed by dat. without preposition
(Num. 25:3, Mt. 5:22)), seeks his revenge in other ways. If he can neither unseat the
Throned Christ nor destroy the Church, yet individual Christians may enjoy no such
immunity. In this hope he goes off () to make war on the rest of the Womans
seeda clear reference to Gen. 3:15
, . That
believers are (1) brethren of the Incarnate Son, and (2) children of the Church, is taught
elsewhere in the N.T. (Rom. 8:29 ,
Gal. 4:26 ... ). From these two conceptions,
combined with that of the Church as the Mother of Christ, it follows that the Seed of the
Woman is not to be limited to the Messiah, but embraces all who are Christs: compare
St Pauls argument as to the Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:18, 3:29 ...
... , ). On
see 11:7, 13:7, 19:19.
.] The younger sons of the Mother of
Christ are to be distinguished by two notes; they keep the commandments of God
(14:12), and they bear witness to Jesus (1:9, 6:9, 19:10, 20:4). The O.T. note of piety
takes precedence, for the Apoc. comes from a Christian Jew, whose mind is steeped in
the thought and language of the older Covenant; but it does not stand alone, for the
writer sees that obedience to the Law does not constitute sonship without faith in Christ.
It is those who possess both marks with whom the Devil is at war; as Bede well points
out: mandata Dei in fide Jesu Christi custedire, hoc est pugnare cum diabolo, et ipsum
provocare in praelium. On see 1:3, note.
18. ] On his way to the war the Dragon


comes to a halt (, cf. 8:3) by the seashore ( .,
is found
from Gen. 32:12 (13) onwards: occurs only in Sap. 7:9). is an
attractive reading in view of the Seers circumstances; nothing more natural for an exile
in Patmos than to stand gazing out to sea, and in that position to receive one of his great
inspirations. And, it may be added, nothing more easy than for to lose its bar
at an early stage in the transcription of the book, and degenerate into .
Nevertheless, the latter reading must be accepted, in view of the overwhelming support
which it receives from the best MSS. (see app. crit.). Moreover it yields perhaps a more
relevant if a less obvious sense. The picture of the Dragon halting on the seashore to call
up his terrible ally is one of the highest interest, and forms a real feature in the
revelation, whereas is merely scenic. If is read, the sentence clearly

belongs to c. 12. (R. V.); if , it must stand as in A.V. at the beginning of of c.


13.