The Four Horsemen of Revelation
Writer: Evangelos D. Kepenes (July 24, 2021)
“Do you (Job) give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrifying.
He paws in the valley and exults in his strength; he goes out to meet the weapons. (Job 39:19-21)
The horse has always been used for various symbolisms due to its strength and fearlessness, depending on its color, such as strength, speed, etc., but mainly it symbolized life and death. In Revelation, the white horse and its rider symbolize the Victory and Kingdom of Jesus Christ and the Saints (19:14), and His wrath on the ungodly of the Jews. The red horse, the Jewish Civil War. The black horse, the Hunger (famine) that fell in Jerusalem due to the civil war and the war with the Romans. And the pale horse, the Death that found them from the civil war, the famine and the Beasts of the earth (Roman troops).
The four (4) horses and their riders, symbolized what would happen to the Jews of John's time and their Holy Land and did not concern the future. In more detail:
The white horse
“Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow (to launch the arrows of the wrath of God), and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.” (Rev. 6:1-2)
“His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Ps. 19:6)
“And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: For they are a very froward generation, Children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; They have provoked me to anger with their vanities: And I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in mine anger, And burneth unto the lowest pit, And devoureth the earth with her increase, And setteth on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.” (Deu. 32:20-23)
“And I saw the heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and he that sat thereon, called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. And his eyes are a flame of fire, and upon his head are many diadems; and he hath a name written, which no one knoweth but he himself. And he is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
And the armies which are in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure.
And out of his mouth proceedeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev. 19:11-16)
“And the angel cast his sickle into the earth (the land of Israel), and gathered the vintage of the earth [the fleshly Israel (Jer. 2:21)], and cast it into the winepress, the great winepress, of the wrath of God.” (Rev. 14:19)
The red horse
“When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And another horse came forth, a red horse: and to him that sat thereon it was given to take peace from the earth (the land of Israel), and that they should slay one another (civil war) and there was given unto him a great sword.” (Rev.6:4)
“Now, there were disorders and civil wars in every city, and those that were at quiet from the Romans turned their weapons against each other. There was also a tough controversy between those who wanted war and those who wanted peace.”
“The Roman generals urged Vespasian not to delay, saying that the divine providence was on their side by setting their enemies (the Jews) at variance against each other.”
“There was no part of Judea that wasn't in a miserable condition, including its capital city.” (Jos. War of Jews Bk. IV, chap. III 2, chap. VI 2, chap. VI 2)
The black horse
“When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!” (Rev. 6:5-6)
A period of hunger (famine) is described here during the siege of the Jerusalem of below by Titus, as Josephus writes:
“Many secretly sold their possessions for one measure of wheat, if they belonged to the wealthier class, of barley if they were poorer. Then, they shut themselves up in the inmost rooms of their houses; some ate the corn without grinding it, by reason of the extremity of the want they were in, and others baked bread of it, to the degree that necessity and fear dictated to them.” [Jewish Wars BK. Ε, chap. X:2]
Here the terms of the description [for Rev. 6:5-6] clearly identify the historical time in which the shown ones took place.
The dictionary of the ancient Greek language by Liddell and Scott says:
Pair of scales [Grk txt: Ζυγός - Yoke = the phalanx of the yoke (of the scale), the iron one, that is, the horizontal one, the one that connects and holds the two scales at its ends].
Quart [Grk txt: Χοίνιξ - Choenix = a capacity measure of dry products equal to 315 drams. A choenix of wheat was the daily food of a soldier (or at least the daily food of a slave)].
[Ezek. 45:10 LXXE] «Ye shall have a just balance [Grk txt: Ζυγός - Yoke] and a just measure, and a just choenix for measure».
Denarius = a Roman coin equal to one drachma.
All of the above were in use in the first century A.D.
The pale horse
“When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth (the land of Israel), to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.” (Rev. 6:7-8)
“No part of the city (Jerusalem) was empty, every corner had its corpse, victim of the pestilence or the rebellion.” [Jos. War of Jews Bk. VI, chap. VII 2]
We must realize that the letters in the book of Revelation were written to Jews in Asia, from the Jewish apostle to the circumcised John, and their contents were purely Jewish, based on the Old Testament Prophets and concerning the contemporaries of John.
Jesus bless you
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