on Revelation 9 :3
Locusts - Vast hordes of military troops: the description which follows certainly agrees better with the Saracens than with any other people or nation, but may also apply to the Romans.
As the scorpions of the earth have power - Namely, to hurt men by stinging them. Scorpions may signify archers; and hence the description has been applied to Cestius Gallus, the Roman general, who had many archers in his army.
on Revelation 9 :3
And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth - That is, they escaped from the pit with the smoke. At first they were mingled with the smoke, so that they were not distinctly seen, but when the smoke cleared away they appeared in great numbers. The idea seems to be, that the bottomless pit was filled with vapor and with those creatures, and that as soon as the gate was opened the whole contents expanded and burst forth upon the earth. The sun was immediately darkened, and the air was full, but the smoke soon cleared away, so that the locusts became distinctly visible. The appearance of these locusts is described in another part of the chapter, Revelation 9:7 ff. The locust is a voracious insect belonging to the grasshopper or grylli genus, and is a great scourge in Oriental countries. A full description of the locust may be seen in Robinson's Calmet, and in Kitto's Encyclo. vol. ii. pp. 258ff. There are ten Hebrew words to denote the locust, and there are numerous references to the destructive habits of the insect in the Scriptures. In fact, from their numbers and their destructive habits, there was scarcely any other plague that was so much dreaded in the East. Considered as a symbol, or emblem, the following remarks may be made in explanation:
(1) The symbol is Oriental, and would most naturally refer to something that was to occur in the East. As locusts have appeared chiefly in the East, and as they are in a great measure an Oriental plague, the mention of this symbol would most naturally turn the thoughts to that portion of the earth. The symbols of the first four trumpets had no special locality, and would suggest no particular part of the world; but on the mention of this, the mind would be naturally turned to the East, and we should expect to find that the scene of this woe would be located in the regions where the ravages of locusts most abounded. Compare, on this point, Elliott, Horae Apoc. i. 394-406. He has made it probable that the prophets, when they used symbolical language to denote any events, commonly, at least, employed those which had a local or geographical reference; thus, in the symbols derived from the vegetable kingdom, when Judah is to be symbolized, the olive, the vine, and the fig-tree are selected; when Egypt is referred to, the reed is chosen; when Babylon, the willow. And so, in the animal kingdom, the lion is the symbol of Judah; the wild ass, of the Arabs; the crocodile, of Egypt, etc. Whether this theory could be wholly carried out or not, no one can doubt that the symbol of locusts would most naturally suggest the Oriental world, and that the natural interpretation of the passage would lead us to expect its fulfillment there.
(2) locusts were remarkable for their numbers - so great often as to appear like clouds, and to darken the sky. In this respect they would naturally be symbolical of numerous armies or hosts of men. This natural symbol of numerous armies is often employed by the prophets. Thus, in Jeremiah 46:23;
"Cut down her forests (i. e. her people, or cities), saith Jehovah,
That it may not be found on searching;
Although they surpass the locusts in multitude,
And they are without number."
So in Nahum 3:15;
"There shall the fire devour thee;
The sword shall cut thee off; it shall devour thee as the locust,
Increase thyself as the numerous locusts."
So also in Nahum 3:17;
"Thy crowned princes are as the numerous locusts,
And thy captains as the grasshoppers;
on Revelation 9 :3
9:3 And out of the smoke - Not out of the bottomless pit, but from the smoke which issued thence. There went forth locusts - A known emblem of a numerous, hostile, hurtful people. Such were the Persians, from whom the Jews, in the sixth century, suffered beyond expression. In the year 540 their academies were stopped, nor were they permitted to have a president for near fifty years. In 589 this affliction ended; but it began long before 540. The prelude of it was about the year 455 and 474: the main storm came on in the reign of Cabades, and lasted from 483 to 532. Toward the beginning of the sixth century, Mar Rab Isaac, president of the academy, was put to death. Hereon followed an insurrection of the Jews, which lasted seven years before they were conquered by the Persians. Some of them were then put to death, but not many; the rest were closely imprisoned. And from this time the nation of the Jews were hated and persecuted by the Persians, till they had well nigh rooted them out. The scorpions of the earth - The most hurtful kind. The scorpions of the air have wings.