Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Trumpet Five (9.7–12)


And the locusts’ appearance was like horses prepared for battle, and things like golden laurels were on their heads, and their faces were like men’s faces, and they had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’, and they had armor like iron armor, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of horse-chariots rushing into battle, and they have tails like scorpions, and stingers. Their authority to injure men for five months is in their tails. They have a king over them: the angel of the abyss. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and he has the name Destruction in Greek. ‘The first woe is past. See, two woes are still coming after these things.’


The Exodus-like plague of locusts is filtered through a passage from Joel, which depicts an invading army as, among other similes, crop-devouring locusts. While it is possible the author was simply metaphoric like Joel, similar combinations of monstrous physical attributes are found in some contemporary apocalyptic texts to describe divine beings. The author may intend these locust-monsters to be understood literally. The author identifies the angel/star by the name ‘Abaddon’, an entity mentioned in the Hebrew Bible alongside death (which may sometimes be understood as the god of death), burial in a grave, and the underworld Sheol. Despite modern pushback on the notion that the satan rules over Hell and his minions have been given free rein to torture the souls of sinners, 1 Enoch and the Book of Jubilees do depict evil spirits being given permission by God to harass humans on the earth, while other apocalyptic texts describe obedient angels—sometimes having monstrous or terrifying appearances—punishing sinners in the afterlife. Despite the initial inclination of many readers to think of this Abaddon/Destruction as an angel who ‘fell’ into enmity with God yet was permitted a limited amount of power to harm other, earthly enemies of God, it is likewise possible he may be intended to be understood as a faithful angel simply carrying out one of the many judgments God has ordained for the mortal world.



88.11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon?


51.27 Raise a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations; prepare the nations for war against her, summon against her the kingdoms, Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz; appoint a marshal against her, bring up horses like bristling locusts.


26.6 Sheol is naked before God, and Abaddon has no covering.

28.22 ‘Abaddon and Death say, “We have heard a rumour of it with our ears.”’


15.11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before Yhwh, how much more human hearts!


1.6 For a nation has invaded my land, powerful and innumerable; its teeth are lions’ teeth, and it has the fangs of a lioness.

2.4–5 They have the appearance of horses, and like war-horses they charge. As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a powerful army drawn up for battle.

Joseph & Asenath

16.19 And the bees […] had sharp stings, and they would not injure anyone.

Revelation of Zephaniah

B.9 Their hair was loose like that belonging to women. Their teeth were like the teeth of […]

4.3–4 Their faces were like a leopard, their tusks being outside their mouth like wild boars. Their eyes were mixed with blood. Their hair was loose like the hair of women, and fiery scourges were in their hands.

6.8 His hair was spread out like that of lionesses’. His teeth were outside his mouth like a bear. His hair was spread out like women’s. His body was like the serpent’s when he wished to swallow me.


10.19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.

Greek Revelation of Ezra

4.21 And they led me down to the foundation of Destruction and there I saw the twelvefold blow of the abyss.

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