on Revelation 19 :16
On his vesture and on his thigh a name written - Dr. Dodd has well observed on this passage, that "it appears to have been an ancient custom among several nations to adorn the images of their deities, princes, victors at public games, and other eminent persons, with inscriptions, expressing either the character of the persons, their names, or some other circumstance which might contribute to their honor; and to that custom the description here given of Christ may possibly have some allusion.
"There are several such images yet extant, with an inscription written either on the garment, or on one of the thighs, or on that part of the garment which was over the thigh; and probably this is the meaning of the apostle. And as these inscriptions are placed on the upper garment, Grotius seems very justly to have explained the words επι το ἱματιον, by his imperial robe, that his power in this victory might be conspicuous to all. But as a farther confirmation of this sense of the passage it may not be improper here to describe briefly several remarkable figures of this sort, which are still extant." This description I shall give from my own examination.
1. Herodotus, Euterpe, lib. ii. p. 127, edit. Gale, speaking of the actions of Sesostris, and of the images he set up in the countries which he conquered, has the following words: Εισι δε περι Ιωνιην δυο τυποι εν πετρῃσι εγκεκολαμμενοι τουτου του ανδρος, κ. τ. λ. "Two images likewise of this man are seen in Ionia, on the way that leads from Ephesus to Phocaea, and from Sardis to Smyrna. The figure is five palms in height; in his right hand he holds a dart, in his left a bow, armed after the manner of the Egyptians and Ethiopians. On a line drawn across the breast, from one shoulder to the other, are these words, written in Egyptian hieroglyphics: Εγω τηνδε την χωρην ωμοισι τοισι εμοισι εκτησαμην· 'I obtained this country by these my shoulders;'" i.e., by my own power.
2. In the Etruria Regalis of Dempster, in the appendix at the end of vol. ii., there is a beautiful female figure of brass, about twelve inches high, the hair gracefully plaited, and the head adorned with a diadem. She has a tunic without sleeves, and over that a sort of pallium. On the outside of the right thigh, close to the tunic, and probably on it, in the original, is an inscription in Etruscan characters. What these import I cannot say. Dempster has given a general explanation of the image in the appendix to the above volume, p. 108. The plate itself is the eighty-third of the work.
3. There are two other images found in the same author, vol. i., p. 91, tab. xxiv.; the first is naked, with the exception of a short loose jupe, or petticoat, which goes round the loins, and over the left arm. On the left thigh of this image there is an inscription in Etruscan characters. The second has a similar jupe, but much longer, which extends to the calf of the leg, and is supported over the bended left arm. Over the right thigh, on this vesture, there is an Etruscan inscription in two lines.
4. Montfaucon, Antiquite Expliquee, vol. iii., part 2, p. 268, has introduced an account of two fine images, which are represented tab. CLVII. The first is a warrior entirely naked, except a collar, one bracelet, and boots. On his left thigh, extending from the groin to a little below the knee, is an inscription in very ancient Etruscan characters, in two lines, but the import is unknown.
The second is a small figure of brass, about six inches long, with a loose tunic, which is suspended from the left shoulder down to the calf of the legs. On this tunic, over the left thigh, is an inscription (perhaps) in very ancient Latin characters, but in the Etruscan language, as the learned author conjectures. It is in one line, but what it means is equally unknown.
5. In the same work, p. 269, tab. CLVIII., another Etruscan warrior is represented entirely naked; on the left thigh is the following words in uncial Greek letters, ΚΑΦΙΣΟΔΩΡΟΣ, and on the right thigh, ΑΙΣΧΛΑΜΙΟΥ, i.e., "Kaphisodorus, the son of Aischlamius." All these inscriptions are written longitudinally on the thigh.
6. Gruter, vol. iii., p. DCCCCLXXXIX, sub. tit. Affectus Servorum et Libertinorum inter se, et in suos, gives us the figure of a naked warrior, with his left hand on an axe, the end of whose helve rests on the ground, with the following inscription on the inside of his left thigh, longitudinally written, as in all other cases: -
A. Poblicius. D. L. Antioc.
Ti. Barbius. Q. P. L. Tiber.
7. The rabbins say, that "God gave to the Israelites a sword, on which the ineffable name יהוה Yehovah was inscribed; and as long as they held that sword the angel of death had no power over them." Shemoth Rabba, sec. 51, fol. 143, 2. Bemidbar Rabba, sec. 12, fol. 214, 2.
In the latter tract, sec. 16, fol. 232, 3, and in Rab. Tanchum, fol. 66, mention is made of the guardian angels of the Israelites, who were clothed with purple vestments, on which was inscribed שם המפורש shem hammephorash, the ineffable name. See more in Schoettgen.
8. But what comes nearer to the point, in reference to the title given here to Christ, is what is related of Sesostris by Diodorus Siculus, lib. i. c. 55, p. 166, edit. Bipont, of whom he says: "Having pushed his conquests as far as Thrace, he erected pillars, on which were the following words in Egyptian hieroglyphics: Τηνδε την χωραν ὁπλοις κατεστρεψατο τοις ἑαυτου Βασιλευς Βασιλεων, και Δεσποτης Δεσποτων, Σεσοωσις·" This province, Sesoosis, (Sesostris), King of Kings and Lord of Lords, conquered by his own arms. This inscription is conceived almost in the words of St. John. Now the Greek historian did not borrow the words from the apostle, as he died in the reign of Augustus, about the time of our Lord's incarnation. This cannot be the same inscription mentioned above by Herodotus, the one being in Ionia, the other in Thrace: but as he erected several of those pillars or images, probably a nearly similar inscription was found on each.
on Revelation 19 :16
And he hath on his vesture - That is, this name was conspicuously written on his garment - probably his military robe.
And on his thigh - The robe or military cloak may be conceived of as open and flowing, so as to expose the limbs of the rider; and the idea is, that the name was conspicuously written not only on the flowing robe, but on the other parts of his dress, so that it must be conspicuous whether his military cloak were wrapped closely around him, or whether it was open to the breeze. Grotius supposes that this name was on the edge or hilt of the sword which depended from his thigh.
A name written - Or a title descriptive of his character.
King of kings, and Lord of lords - As in Revelation 17:5, so here, there is nothing in the original to denote that this should be distinguished, as it is, by capital letters. As a conspicuous title, however, it is not improper. It means that he is, in fact, the sovereign over the kings of the earth, and that all nobles and princes are under his control - a rank that properly belongs to the Son of God. Compare the notes on Ephesians 1:20-22. See also Revelation 19:12 of this chapter. The custom here alluded to of inscribing the name or rank of distinguished individuals on their garments, so that they might be readily recognized, was not uncommon in ancient times. For full proof of this, see Rosenmuller, Morgenland, vol. iii. pp. 232-236. The authorities quoted there are, Thevenot's Travels, vol. i. p. 149; Gruter, p. 989; Dempster's Etruria Regalis, t. ii. tab. 93; Montfaucon, Antiq. Expliq. t. iii. tab. 39. Thus Herodotus (vol. ii. p. 196), speaking of the figures of Sesostris in Ionia, says that, "Across his breast, from shoulder to shoulder, there is this inscription in the sacred characters of Egypt, 'I conquered this country by the force of my arms.'" Compare Cic. Verr. iv. 23; LeMoyne a.d. Jeremiah 23:6; Munter, Diss. a.d. Revelation 17:5, as referred to by Prof. Stuart, in loco.
on Revelation 19 :16
19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh - That is, on the part of his vesture which is upon his thigh. A name written - It was usual of old, for great personages in the eastern countries, to have magnificent titles affixed to their garments.