Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Trumpet Six (9.13–16)


And the sixth angel blasted, and I heard one voice from the four horns of the golden altar in front of God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ And the four angels were released, prepared for the hour and day and month and year, so they may kill a third of men. And the number of the armies of the cavalry was double myriads of myriads. I heard their number.


The Euphrates was seen as the approximate edge of both the Israelite world and the Roman world, and kingdoms east of it were regarded as wild and uncivilized. The notion of armies from beyond the Euphrates is mentioned again in chapter 16. The details of these two chapters may suggest the author had in mind the military of the the Parthians. Their population, often translated as ‘two hundred million’, is literally a combination of idioms found in the Hebrew Bible (‘double myriad’ and ‘myriads of myriads’) which simply designate an uncountably large number.



68.17 With mighty chariotry, double myriad, thousands upon thousands

144.13 May our barns be filled, with produce of every kind; may our sheep increase by thousands, by myriads in our fields


44.27–28 [Yhwh] who says to the deep, ‘Be dry, I will dry up your rivers’; who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose’


46.6 The swift cannot flee away, nor can the warrior escape; in the north by the river Euphrates they have stumbled and fallen. […] For the Lord Yhwh of armies holds a sacrifice in the land of the north by the river Euphrates.


32.30 How could one have routed a thousand, and two put a myriad to flight

33.17 such are the myriads of Ephraim, such the thousands of Manasseh.


15.18 On that day Yhwh made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates’

24.60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, ‘May you, our sister, become thousands of myriads’


27.2 ‘You shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze.’

1 Enoch

56.5–6 In those days, the angels will assemble themselves, and hurl themselves toward the East against the Parthians and Medes. They will stir up the kings, and a spirit of agitation will come upon them, and they will shake them off their thrones. They will break out like lions from their lairs, and like hungry wolves in the midst of their flocks. They will go up and trample the land of my chosen ones

Sibylline Oracles

3.611–612 A great king will come from Asia, a blazing eagle, who will cover the whole land with infantry and cavalry.

4.137–139 Then the strife of war being aroused will come to the west, and the fugitive from Rome will also come, brandishing a spear, having crossed the Euphrates with many myriads.


7.10 A thousand thousands served him, and a myriad myriad stood attending him.

6 Ezra

15.28–33 What a terrifying sight, appearing from the east! The nations of the dragons of Arabia shall come out with many chariots, and from the day that they set out, their hissing shall spread over the earth, so that all who hear them will fear and tremble. Also the Carmonians, raging in wrath, shall go forth like wild boars from the forest, and with great power they shall come and engage them in battle, and with their tusks they shall devastate a portion of the land of the Assyrians with their teeth. And then the dragons, remembering their origin, shall become still stronger; and if they combine in great power and turn to pursue them, then these shall be disorganized and silenced by their power, and shall turn and flee. And from the land of the Assyrians an enemy in ambush shall attack them and destroy one of them, and fear and trembling shall come upon their army, and indecision upon their kings.

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