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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Revelation 16

The first vial is poured out on the earth, the second on the sea, the third on the rivers and fountains. (1-7) The fourth on the sun, the fifth on the seat of the beast. (8-11) The sixth on the great river Euphrates. (12-16) And the seventh on the air, when shall follow the destruction of all antichristian enemies. (17-21)

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The first vial is poured out on the earth, the second on the sea, the third on the rivers and fountains

1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.

6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

The fourth on the sun, the fifth on the seat of the beast

8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,

11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

The sixth on the great river Euphrates

12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

And the seventh on the air, when shall follow the destruction of all antichristian enemies

17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.

18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. I heard a great voice. Bossuet explains the pouring out of the seven vials in this manner. The five first he supposes to have taken place under the reign of Valerian and Gallien; the sixth he supposes to have been poured out during the reigns of Valerian, Dioclesian, and Julian; and the seventh under Honorius and the Alani. Bossuet. — All commentators, however, seem to agree that the great city mentioned in the 19th verse, is to be understood of Rome, and that the plagues which are here foretold, are denounced against her. Calmet, Pastorini, &c. — Go and pour out the seven vials, &c. According to the exposition followed by the bishop of Meaux, all these seven vials are already past, being punishments and judgments exercised against the heathen emperors, from the time of Valerian even to the time of Julian, at whose death it might be said, (v. 17) it is done. Idolatry is destroyed, as to its public worship. Here in particular, by the drying up of the Euphrates, and by the armies of the East, these interpreters understand those of the Persians, who first gave the great shock to the empire in Valerian’s time, and by whom afterwards Julian the apostate was defeated, and killed. By the great Babylon they also understand idolatrous Rome; and by the islands and mountains sunk by earthquakes, they understand the destruction of divers kingdoms. According to another interpretation, (which is very common) all these judgments are to come before the end of the world; and will be in a manner literally executed about antichrist’s time. At the first vial, men shall be struck with ulcers and wounds, not unlike to the sixth plague of Egypt. At the second and third vial, the sea and fountains shall be turned into blood, as in Egypt. At the fourth vial shall be excessive scorching heats, tormenting men, and burning every thing for their use. At the fifth vial darkness, like that of Egypt. At the sixth vial, (v. 12.) the Euphrates dried up, to open a passage for the armies from the East, to come and join the forces of antichrist. And the three unclean spirits like frogs, may signify devils sent by the dragon, or chief of the devils, to excite the wicked to all manner of unclean abominations. They are here said to be gathered together in a place called Armagedon, perhaps with an allusion to Mageddon, in the tribe of Manasses, where the two kings of Israel, Ochozias and Josias, perished. 4 Kings ix. 21. And they are brought in only to signify a place of great destruction. See also Zach. xii. 11. At the seventh vial, a voice, it is done, i.e. the reign of the wicked in general, and of antichrist, is at an end. Wi.

Ver. 2. And the first. From hence it appears that the first vial was poured out indiscriminately upon the good equally with the wicked. But behold the different consequences that follow: those that have the mark of the beast are afflicted with a sore and grievous wound, which is said in allusion to the madness, fury, and despair with which the wicked were afflicted, whilst S. John’s omitting to say any thing of the just, shews that they bore it with resignation and joy. Calmet.

Ver. 3. And the second. On pouring out the vial follows the divine judgment. There appears blood, like that of a dead man. This passage, Pastorini is of opinion alludes to the Arian heresy, which, like blood, flowed in vigorous circulation whilst in health and strength, gradually retarded its motion, as in a dying man, and was at last totally lost and stopped, like the circulation in a dead man. Hence every living soul died in the sea. Pastorini. — Calmet interprets it as a prediction of the calamities which befell the Roman empire, during the invasion of the Persians on the east, and the Goths and other barbarous nations on the west.

Ver. 4. Upon the rivers. That is, on the Roman provinces in Italy, and Rome itself. This is the last stroke employed by the Almighty for the total destruction of Rome. The divine judgment being executed, the Angel of the waters, that is, the Angel that presided over the Roman states, cries out, (v. 5. 6.) thou art just, &c. Pastorini.

Ver. 8. And the fourth Angel. Here is the punishment of the Greeks during the siege of Constantinople by the Turks, where the fire engines, that were then made use of for the first time, so reduced the Grecian army, that the walls of the city were reduced to ashes, and the whole town to flames. Hence it appears how the Greeks were scorched with great heat; and how they blasphemed the name of God, appears too evident from the history of Notaros, admiral of the Constantinopolitan fleet. Past.

Ver. 10. Calmet explains this passage of Rome the seat of idolatry, which was given up to the pillage of the barbarians under Alaric. Calmet.

Ver. 12. River Euphrates. That is, a passage is laid open for the potentates of the East to lay their destructive hands upon the countries on this side the Euphrates. For they are the spirits of devils working signs, which are sent forth by the eastern princes, to oblige all to unite in arms against the great day of the Almighty God. Pastorini.

Ver. 16. Armagedon. That is, the hill of robbers. Ch.

Ver. 18. The seventh vial is poured out upon the air which lies between the earth and the heavens, to indicate that the judgments of God are going to fall upon the whole creation. After which follow these words, it is done. All is over, time is no more; upon which immediately follow lightnings, &c.

Ver. 19. Great Babylon came in remembrance before God. The time of God’s punishing the wicked world is approaching: for by a third interpretation, Babylon may signify metaphorically all the wicked in general. Wi.

Ver. 21. And great hail like a talent came down, &c.[1] Which need not be taken literally, but only metaphorically, to signify the heavy weight of God’s judgments upon sinners. Wi.

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[1] V. 21. Et grando magna sicut talentum, os talantiaia, quasi talentaris. The Prot. and Mr. N. translate hail about the weight of a talent, as if every hailstone were of that weight.