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No. 1381.-REVELATION ii. 1.
The angel of the church.
Next to the chief ruler of the synagogue was an officer, whose province it was to offer up public prayer to God for the whole congregation, and who on that account was called the angel of the church, because as their messenger he spake to God for them. Hence the pastors of the seven churches of Asia are called by a name borrowed from the synagogue.
JENNINGS's Jewish Ant. vol. ii. p. 55.
No. 1382.-ii. 10. I will give thee a crown of life.] A crown of life is promised to those who are faithful unto death as an everlasting reward for their fidelity. Dr. Gill considers it to be an allusion to the practice of some nations, who used to crown their dead. See Minut. Felix, p. 42.
No. 1383.-iii. 5. The same shall be clothed in white raiment.] The allusion seems to be to the custom of the Jewish sanhedrim in judging of priests fit for service. Maimonides says, “ they examined the priests concerning their genealogies and blemishes: every priest in whom was found any thing faulty in his genealogy was clothed in black, and veiled in black, and so went out of the court: but every one that was found perfect and right was clothed in white, and went in and ministered with his brethren the priests."
GILL, in loc.
No. 1384.-iv. 1. After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven : and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me.) This
may probably allude to the custom of the Jewish church, that upon opening the gates of the temple the priests sounded their trumpets, to call the Levites and station. ary men to their attendance. LOWMAN, in loco.
No. 1385.-iv. 3. A rainbow.] The whole race of mankind being deeply interested in this token of divine favour, it is not at all surprising to find the signification of such an important emblem preserved among various nations. Homer (Il. xi. y. 27.) with remarkable conformity to scripture, speaks of the rainbow which Jove hath set in the cloud a token to men. Iris, or the rainbow, was worshipped not only by the Greeks and Romans, but also by the Peruvians in South America when the Spaniards came thither. (L'Abbè Lambert, tom. 13.)
No. 1386.-v. 14. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.] It was the custom in the temple worship for the singers to make pauses. In every Psalm, say the Talmudists, the music made three intermissions; at these intermissions the trumpet sounded and the people, worshipped. See LIGHTFOOT's Temple Service, c. 7.
No. 1387.-vi. 2. A white horse.] White horses were formerly used in triumphs in token of victory. To see a white horse in a dream was accounted a good sign by the Jews: and Astrampsychus says, a vision of white horses is an apparition of angels. One of those angels, which the Jews suppose to have the care of men, is said to ride by them and at their right hand upon a white horse.
Gill, in loc.
No. 1388.--vii. 2. And I saw another angel ascending from the East, having the seal of the living God.]
The bearing of a seal is a token of a high office, either by succession or deputation. Gen xli. 42. Esther viii. 2. Josephus gives several instances of this, lib. xi. cap. 6. lib. xii. cap. 14. Thus in Aristophanes, the taking away of the ring signifies the discharging of a chief magistrate.
No. 1389.-vii. 9. A great multitude-stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes.] At the feast of tabernacles they walked every day round the altar with palm-branches in their hands, singing hosannah: during this ceremony the trumpets sounded on all sides. On the seventh day of the feast they went seven times round the altar, and this was called the great hosannah. Upon the last day of the feast they used to repeat their hosannah often, saying, for thy sake, O our creator, hosannah: For thy sake, O our redeemer, hosannah: For thy sake, o our seeker, hosannah. See the Jewish Rituals. There seems to be an allusion in these words to this custom.
No. 1390.-vii. 9. And palms in their hands.] Conquerors used to carry palm-tree branches in their hands, (A. Gell. Noct. Att. l. iii. c. 6.) Those who conquered in the Grecian combats not only had crowns of palm-tree given them, but carried branches of it in their hands, ( Alex, ab Alex. Genial, Dier. I. v. c. 8.) The Romans did the same in their triumphs. They sometimes wore toga palmata, a garment with the figures of palm-trees upon it, which were interwoven in it.
Gill, in loc.
No. 1391.--viii. 1. There was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.] Most interpreters agree, that this silence in heaven for half an hour is an allusion to the manner of the temple worship; while the priest
offered incense in the holy place, the people prayed without in silence, Luke i. 10, On the day of expiation the whole service was performed by the high-priest, to which particular service Sir ļ. Newton has observed an allusion. " The custom was on other days, for one of the priests to take fire from the great altar iną silver censer; but on this day, for the high-priest to take fire from the great altar in a golden censer; and when he was come down from the great altar, he took incense from one of the priests who brought it to him, and went with it to the golden altar; and while he offer. ed the incense, the people prayed without in silence; wliich is the silence in heaven for half an hour.” ron Apoc. p. 264.)
It was usual to enjoin silence at all religious invocations amongst the heathen nations. The priest began with the known expression
favete linguis, lest any words of ill omen should injure the sacrifice. See Hor. Ep. lib. iii. od. 1. Virg. Æn. lib. v. Tibull. lib. ii. el. 2.
No. 1392.--xi. 2. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles.] There was a sort of proselytes among the Jews, called strangers of the gate. These were foreigners, who did not embrace the Jewish religion, (and are therefore improperly called proselytes) yet were suffered to live among the Jews under certain restrictions; as, that they should not practise idolatry; that they should not blaspheme the God of Israel ; and that they should keep the Jewish sabbath: these strangers were, moreover, permitted to worship the God of Israel in the outer court of the temple, which for that reason was called the court of the Gentiles. To this is the reference in the charge given to the angel in the passage above cited.
JENNINGS's Jewish Ant. vol. i. p. 143,
No. 1393.-xiv. 4. These are they who follow the lamb whithersoever he goeth.] It has been suggested that these words are probably an allusion to the oath taken by the Roman soldiers, part of which was, to follow their generals wherever they should lead. See 2 Sam. xv. 21. Lydii Dissert. de Jurament. c. ii. p. 258.
No. 1394.--xiv. 10. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.] The wine of the wrath of God, and the cup of his indignation, are expressions taken from the language of the prophets. It was not only customary to treat friends with a cup of wine as a mark of affection, but to execute the sentence of death on offenders by making them drink a cup of wine, in which some strong poison had been infused. Such was the execution of Socrates by a cup of poison, Grotius seems to give a just account of the expression without mixture, that it intimates, that the poisonous ingredients were infused in pure unmixed wine, to take a stronger tincture, and become a more deadly poison.
Lowman, in loco,
No. 1395.-xvi. 5. The angel of the waters.] Among the Jews there was an officer, who was a priest, appointed to take care of the wells, fountains, and ditches about Jerusalem, that the people might have water at the feasts: in this office was Nicodemon ben Gorion, thought to be the Nicodemus mentioned in the gospel. Dr. Lightfoot thinks that there is a reference to this person in the expression, the angel of the waters,
No. 1396.-xvi. 15. And they see his shame.] This is an allusion to the burning of the garments of those priests, who were found asleep when upon their watch in the temple. The Jewish writers give the following