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Revelation 9:5

    Revelation 9:5 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he strikes a man.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And it was given them that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it striketh a man.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    And orders were given them not to put them to death, but to give them great pain for five months: and their pain was as the pain from the wound of a scorpion.

    Webster's Revision

    And it was given them that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it striketh a man.

    World English Bible

    They were given power not to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a person.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And it was given them that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it striketh a man.

    Clarke's Commentary on Revelation 9:5

    To them it was given - That is, they were permitted.

    That they should be tormented five months - Some take these months literally, and apply them to the conduct of the Zealots who, from May to September, in the year of the siege, produced dreadful contests among the people; or to the afflictions brought upon the Jews by Cestius Gallus, when he came against Jerusalem, before which he lay one whole summer, or nearly five months - See Joseph., Bell. Jud., l. ii. c. 19.

    Others consider the months as being prophetical months, each day being reckoned for a year; therefore this period must amount to one hundred and fifty years, counting thirty days to each month, as was the general custom of the Asiatics.

    Their torment was as the torment of a scorpion - The phraseology here is peculiar, and probably refers to the warlike weapon called a scorpion, several of which, or men armed with them, Cestius Gallus brought with him in his army.

    Isidore describes this scorpion thus: Scorpio est sagitta venenata arcu vel tormentis excussa, quea, dum ad hominem venerit, virus qua figit infundit; unde et scorpio nomen accepit. "The scorpion is a poisoned arrow shot from a bow or other instrument, which, when it wounds a man, deposits the poison with which it is covered in the wound; whence it has the name of scorpion." Seneca, in his Hercules Oetaeus, act iv., ver. 1218, describes the torment which is occasioned by this species of poisoned arrow: -

    Heu qualis intus scorpius, quis fervida

    Plaga revulsus cancer infixus meas

    Urit medullas?

    Barnes' Notes on Revelation 9:5

    And to them it was given - There is here the same indefiniteness as in the former verse, the impersonal verb being here also used. The writer does not say by whom this power was given, whether by God, or by the leader of the host. It may be admitted, however, that the most natural interpretation is to suppose that it was given them by God, and that this was the execution of his purpose in this case. Still it is remarkable that this is not directly affirmed, and that the language is so general as to admit of the other application. The fact that they did not kill them, but tormented them - if such a fact should be found to exist - would be in every sense a fulfillment of what is here said.

    That they should not kill them - This is in accordance with the nature of the symbol. The locusts do not themselves destroy any living creature; and the sting of the scorpion, though exceedingly painful, is not usually fatal. The proper fulfillment of this would be found in what would not be generally fatal, but which would diffuse misery and wretchedness. (Compare Revelation 9:6.) Perhaps all that would be necessarily meant by this would be, not that individual people would not be killed, but that they would be sent to inflict plagues and torments rather than to take life, and that the characteristic effects of their appearing would be distress and suffering rather than death. There may be included in the fair interpretation of the words, "general distress" and "sorrow"; acts of oppression, cruelty, and violence; such a condition of public suffering that people would regard death as a relief if they could find it.

    But that they should be tormented - That is, that they should be subjected to ills and troubles which might be properly compared with the sting of a scorpion.

    Five months - So far as the words here are concerned this might be taken literally, denoting five months or one hundred and fifty days; or as a prophetic reckoning, where a day stands for a year. Compare the notes on Daniel 9:24 ff. The latter is undoubtedly the correct interpretation here, for it is the character of the book thus to reckon time. See the notes on Revelation 9:15. If this be the true method of reckoning here, then it will be necessary to find some events which will embrace about the period of one hundred and fifty years, during which this distress and sorrow would continue. The proper laws of interpretation demand that one or the other of these periods should be found - either that of five months literally, or that of 150 years. It may be true, as Prof. Stuart suggests (in loco), that "the usual time of locusts is from May to September inclusive - five months." It may be true, also, that this symbol was chosen partly because that was the fact, and they would, from that fact, be well adapted to symbolize a period that could be spoken of as "five months"; but still the meaning must be more than simply it was "a short period," as he supposes. The phrase a few months might designate such a period; but if that had been the writer's intention, he would not have selected the definite number five.

    And their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, ... - See the notes on Revelation 9:3. That is, it would be painful, severe, dangerous.

    Wesley's Notes on Revelation 9:5

    9:5 Not to kill them - Very few of them were killed: in general, they were imprisoned and variously tormented.