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Revelation 11

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

The study Index page.

     Again. This study is verse by verse, IMAGE by Image, IDEA by Idea, and concept by concept. Which means it is a Marathon.
     We are using sources that John the Apostle and those mentioned as the recipients of the letter, the Seven Churches and other First Century Christians, the majority of which were Jews, would / should / could have been familiar with. We will also reference newer translations and versions of the book, beginning with the 1560 Geneva Bible (the bulk source for the 1611 KJV, which we also use) all the way up to much more current publications, and examinations of the text from various scholars, as well as beginning the analysis of the text from the Greek.
     It should be said here, as we are beginning with the Greek, we are going in remembering that John was writing in an 'apocalyptic' style. It seems many translations have forgotten that and 'moderated' the language.
"Most smart people tend to feel queasy when the conversation turns to things like 'certain death' and 'total failure' and the idea of a 'doomed generation'. But not me. I am comfortable with these themes.... Any conversation that can make smart people confront a mix of Death, Doom and Failure with a straight face is probably worth listening in on"
- Hunter S. Thompson

     The original text does not specify just who in Heaven goes to the tool room and then hands out measuring equipment. It could be the angel from the previous chapter continues their conversation and the instructions to John, but that raises a problem in verse 3, which we'll see later. The KJV specifies 'the angel', while the NASV states 'someone', and others, including the NIV, just ignore the issue. Or, perhaps HE that made everything, made a stick when John needed it.
     John is given a "kalamos homoios rhabdo" which is a one piece measuring rod (like a staff). It is most likely that John means the rod used by the Romans to lay out roads and other public works, the 'decempeda', which was a stick that was ten Roman feet long (about 300 cm or 9.8 modern feet) and capped with bronze at each end.
     He is told to "Egeire kai metreson" (wake up/get up and go measure) the temple and alter of God. And then there is an odd addition to the order, he is also to measure those "proskynountas" (worshiping) in the temple.

     He is then instructed not to measure the "aulen ten exothen" (yard outside) because it had been "edothe tois ethnesin" (given to the foreigners), who will stomp on the holy city, for forty two months. This is another of those time spans in Revelation that probably isn't an exact figure, but instead means something like a fairly long period, but not too long.

     Now we'll see why the 'mighty angel' from chapter 10 isn't still speaking even if he had been in verse one. There has to be a change of speaker because of what is said: 1611 "And I will giue power vnto my two witnesses."
     Here the KJV is close enough to the Greek for our purposes, minus the 'power'. The statement is that "doso tois dysin martysin mou" (I will place to the two witnesses) and "propheteusousin" (they will prophesy (foretell events)/ speak under divine inspiration).
     They will speak for a certain number of days while wearing a particular wardrobe...

A potato sack tangent: you just never know what to expect here do you?
     Biblical 'sack cloth' was a very rough woven fabric made of goat's hair or horse mane and tail, flax, hemp, jute, or other such fibers that was used as a bag, as the name implies, and more famously, worn as a symbol of mourning or penance as the cloth was very uncomfortable to wear.
     In later usage it would specifically be a "hair shirt", such as worn by John the Baptist (camel hair, Matthew 3) and even Tsar Ivan the Terrible (1530 - 1584) who in spite of ordering and supervising dramatic atrocities for years, late in his reign he lived a devout and prayerful life and was buried by his own wishes, as a monk. When the patriarch Job had lost everything, he wore sack cloth as a symbol of his state, when King David's child by Bathsheba was dying, he used it during his time prayer and supplication to God. David and his cabinet did the same as outlined in 1 Chronicles 21. Christ even refers to it, with ashes, in Matthew 11 and Luke 10.
     The point being that the wearing of this item, unless you were Marilyn Monroe, was a sign that you were at least attempting to be of a more religious attitude, or in a state of deep mourning. In the Blond Bombshell's case, it was to prove that yes, she did look good in an actual Idaho Potato sack. See link below.
End Tangent

     The number of days is interesting in and of itself. The text is very specific, 1260 days, which is about three and a half years. Yes, it is half of the mystical seven years from Daniel and elsewhere, but there may be something else to it.
     As we mentioned before, numbers in Revelation aren't always actual counting numbers, which means this one may not actually be three and a half years. It could be that the two messengers will speak for a time that isn't a 'long time' but is longer than a 'short time'. Will it be exactly 1260 days? Only God Knows.

     The reference to the olive trees takes us back to Zechariah 4. Where we will also find a candelabra and the famous quote that became a good song: "'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit', saith the Lord of hosts".
     They stand before the "Kyriou" (master, owner, supreme authority) of the planet.

     There is a major difference between the Greek and the KJV. The 1611 says: "And if any man will hurt them, fire ..." That's not what is in the original text. "Kai ei tis autous thelei adikesai ..." (and if anyone them should desire/wish to harm). It includes what George Orwell's "1984" vision termed "thought crime", when somebody is plotting to harm the witnesses. At which point "pyr" (fire or lightening) comes out of their mouth, because it is "dei" (of a necessity) "auton apoktanthenai" (for them to be killed).
     Elijah's fire: 1 Kings 1 beginning about verse 8, and in the next Revelation verse we see another example from 1 Kings 17.

     A description of their further "exousian" (privilege or freedom (power)) follows. And, for a change of pace, the KJV follows the Greek reasonably closely.
     The fact that Moses was also able to turn water to blood and call in various plagues was something he had on his resume. But he isn't alone in this. Elijah had some news that way in 2 Chronicles 21. And during the time of Joshua something nasty was reported in Joshua 22: 17, but it is just an 'oh, by the way'. And then we're back to Zechariah 14 and, it gets nasty, and he discusses bowls before the Alter of the Lord... like in the Apocalypse.
     And then Joel spends some time talking about worms and locusts, but that's another story.

     It is these 'powers' that have led some to emphatically state that the two witnesses are the "lawgiver" Moses, and the "prophet" Elijah. They also point to the great scene of the Transfiguration In Matthew 17 / Mark 9 / Luke 9 / 2 Peter 1where they appear with Jesus. (One has to wonder if the two were wearing their softball jerseys with their names on the back or had some other ID.)
     But there is an issue with Moses. While Elijah "exited stage left" in 2 Kings 2, he was taken up to heaven while still alive, and, presumably, has been on the softball team ever since. On the other hand, Moses, assumed room temperature in Deuteronomy 34 and was buried in Moab, but in the epistle of Jude, namely verse 9, the Lord's brother retells a Jewish legend about the Michael, who is mentioned in Enoch as one of the archangels, is referenced in the apocryphal chapters of Daniel, and the book of Tobit. But it is worth remembering who paid a social call on Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. So they well could stop back by their old neighborhood as depicted in these verses.
     Speaking of Enoch, he would be a reasonable choice for one of the witnesses instead of Moses as he "walked with God and was not...." and was taken alive to heaven, even though he didn't visit with Christ on the Mount.
     AND THEN AGAIN, it could be two rookies recruited from the current class of living evangelists who are given these starring roles on the Lord's Team, but playing the positions formerly occupied by Moses and Elijah. We don't, and can't know, now, and it doesn't matter.

     When the witnesses "telesosin" (accomplished, completed) their "martyrian" (evidence, testimony) the "therion" (beast, brute animal) that comes up out of the "abyssou" (abyss (possibly the bottomless pit)) shall make "polemon" (battle, strife, war) with them, and will "nikesei" (conquer, overcome) them and will "apoktenei" (put them to death).
     We'll take a good look at this beast when he / it comes back on the scene in a bit.

     Their "ptoma" (corpses) will be in the "plateias" (public square or street) of the "poleos tes megales" (city the great) which is "pneumatikos" (there is some differences in interpretation as to usage, it may be read as 'figuratively' and 'spiritually', here, we'll go 'both') called "Sodoma" and "Aigyptos" (Sodom and Egypt), where the "Kyrios auton estaurothe" (Lord of them was crucified).
     There is no doubt about what town John is talking about. The condemnation of Jerusalem is telling. The comparison to the legendary 'sin city' that went up in flame in Genesis 19, and the land of over 2,000 false gods lets us know what John, and by extension, God, thinks of what the holy city has become. Given the general political and spiritual climate of the area, any further deterioration that way and... well. yeah

     Then everybody everywhere will "blepousin" (look and see) the corpses for "treis kai hemisy" (three and a half) days.
     The next section of the verse states that the people would not allow their bodies to be "mnema" (entombed/buried.
     Besides the humiliation to the deceased of 'laying in the street', according to the likes of 1 Kings 14 and Jeremiah 7. The Law required that the dead be buried the same day they died, Leviticus 10, and for other reasons such as Numbers 19. According to Jewish custom, the period of mourning was after the burial, as we see with Christ at the tomb of Lazarus, John 11.
     The Romans, who were in charge at the time, weren't as obsessed with burying their dead the same day as they died, but they embalmed or cremated the body as soon as possible, and then entombed it within a reasonable period of time. To leave them out exposed to the elements, and various rodents and other wildlife, was a sign of total disrespect for the deceased, something reserved for, say, crucified criminals.

     Those "katoikountes" (inhabiting) the Earth "chairousin" (this is the only occurrence of this word in the NT. The root is 'to have joy at', 'find gladness or happiness', so 'rejoice' is reasonable) and "euphrainontai" (revel, feast, victory 'party') and they will "dora pempsousin allelois" (gifts sent to one another) because these two "prophetai" (prophets) had "ebasanisan" (tormented (the same root word is used for those in hell)) those "katoikountas" (inhabiting, living on) the Earth.

     After those three and a half days, "pneuma zoes " (breath existence / life) from God "eiselthen" (entered) them and they "estesan" (stand up) on their feet and great "phobos" (terror and alarm) fell upon the population.
     The root word is for 'breath', such as the "Breath of Life" from Genesis 2. In fact, other than Revelation being in Greek, it is exactly the same idea. Now here, the three and a half days, is probably exactly that.

     They hear a voice, the 'they' is implied to be the two witnesses, "phones megales ek tou ouranou" (voice great out of heaven), it says, "Anabate hode" (come up here). And "anebesan" (they went up) to "ouranon" (heaven) in a "ouranon" (cloud) and there beheld their "echthroi" (enemies).
     Nothing else need be said about that.

     In that "hora" (hour) there was a "seismos megas" (earthquake great). It destroys a tenth of the city and kills seven thousand people.
     The word the 1611 renders as 'men' is "anthropon" which more correctly means 'humans'.
     "Kai hoi loipoi emphoboi egenonto" (and the rest alarmed and terrified became), and "edokan doxan" (gave glory) "to The tou ouranou" (to the GOD of heaven).
     We'll take a closer look at earthquakes in a later chapter when one sets a record.

     The second woe has passed, the third woe is coming quickly.
     We have no idea who made that statement. It could have been the "strong angel", it may have been one of the other cast members, or it may have just been a summary by John.

15 The Seventh Trumpet
     There is no mention of any time lapse. Is there a break of three and a half years between six and seven while the witnesses work, or maybe they testifying during the previous soundings, or some combination thereof? The text does not definitively say.
     And the "hebdomos angelos esalpisen" (seventh angel sounded) and "genonto phonai megalai" (there were voices great) in "ourano legontes" (heaven saying) 'stuff'... Insert Handel's 'Messiah' Here see link below.
     Indeed, the Greek is reasonably close to the lyrics of the epic song most usually heard around Easter.

16 through 18
     The 24 elders "epesan epi ta prosopa" (fell on their faces) and "prosekynesan" (paid homage) to God.
     Saying: "'Prosekynesan' (we give thanks) to You, Lord God Almighty."
     Again they state the same theme we heard in chapter 4 from the beasts around the throne.
     Then they state that God has taken His Great Power "ebasileusas" (to rule).
     And that the "ethne" (foreign countries) were "orgisthesan" (provoked to rage), and then the "orge" (righteous anger / wrath) of You and the time for the "nekron krithenai" (dead stand for judgment (the word implies the legal process)) and to give the "misthon" (payment and/or reward) to the "doulois" (slaves) of You, the "prophetais" and the "hagiois" (those set apart, 'saints'), "phoboumenois" (in awe of / fear) Thy Name, small and great, and "diaphtheirai" (ruin and destroy, waste) those that "diaphtheirontas" (are ruining, etc) the world.
     This is the Judgement of the Dead. Remember, there are people still alive on Earth at this point in our drama.

     And the "enoige ho naos tou Theou" (was opened the Temple of GOD) in Heaven, and the "kibotos tes diathekes autou" (Ark of the Dispensation or Contract (Covenant) of HIM) in the temple of HIM....
     The text does not specify if the last clause of verse 19 happens in Heaven, on Earth, or both.

... ...
           Go back and read that opening quote from Hunter Thompson again. No, we mean it, go read it again.

End 11

Selected Sources for this chapter:
Ancient measurements and tools:

University of Akron Roman Surveying Team

Marylyn, starring as a sack of potatoes.


Egyptian Gods - The Complete List

Roman burial

a Hallelujah hymn You may compare Handel's lyrics to Revelation at your leisure.

a 'flash mob' incident worth watching, AND listening to!

A somewhat more traditional presentation

A massive fire and shockwave caused by the exploding space rock leveled the city,

A Tunguska sized airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam a Middle Bronze Age city in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea

Nuclear war in ancient India?:
"English Indian analyst David Davenport observed proof of what gave off an impression of being the impact epicenter: a 50-yard sweep at the site, where all articles were found to have been intertwined and glassified"rocks had been dissolved by temperatures of around 1500 degrees C and transformed into a glass-like substance."

Tunguska documentary

From 1964: Massacre at Mohenjo Daro

Sources used throughout entire study:
Bible Hub Interlinear pages:

the Geneva Bible downloadable

the 1611 KJV

The study Index page.

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

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