Containing the general design of the Apocalypse

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There are four cardinal times discussed in this prophecy. From the Apostles to the hour of temptation which is to come over the whole world to tempt the inhabi{tants of the earth}. From then until the conclusion of that hour which will also be the end of the world, when Christ destroys the Apostates by the brightness of his coming, 2 Thes. 2.[Editorial Note 1] From then until the end of the Judgement when Christ will surrender the kingdom to the Father. From then finally for ever. Seven Prophecies are deployed in the Apocalypse for the description of these four times

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The Apocalypse consists of seven parts: the prophecy about the seven churches, chs. 1, 2, 3; the prophecy of the sealed book, chs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; the prophecy of the open book, chs. 12, 13, 14; the prophecy of the Vials, ch. 15, 16; the prophecy about the Whore, ch. 17, 18, 19; the prophecy about the millennium, ch. 20; and the prophecy about the new world, chs. 21, 22. The first three are contemporaneous and extend from the times of the Apostles to the end of the world. The next two are also contemporaneous and extend from the beginning of the hour of temptation to the end of the world. The Sixth extends from the end of the world to the end of the judgement, and the Seventh from the end of the judgement for ever. The First describes the primitive times quite extensively, that is, the churches which were to persist in their places until the hour of temptation; it only briefly touches on the times of the temptation itself. The Second gives a continuous account, period by period, of the succession of events from the Apostles to the end of the world, giving equal emphasis to each, except that it is a little bit fuller at the beginning and at the end of the temptation. The Third virtually omits the events of the primitive times, and dwells on the events immediately preceding the hour of temptation and the things which happen during its continuance. The Fourth gives a continuous description, period by period, of the succession of events from the beginning of the hour of temptation to the end of the world, giving equal emphasis to each. The Fifth touches briefly upon what happens at the beginning of the hour of temptation but describes very fully the events that immediately precede the end of the world. The Sixth tells of events following the end of the <1Ar> world. The Seventh tells of what follows the Sixth. Thus the prophecies that are later in order are also later in time, proceeding from the times of the Apostles through all the ages for ever.

The sixth and seventh Prophecies are proclaimed in open and evident words so that they hardly need an interpreter. Likewise the first, second and third, inasmuch as they precede the hour of temptation, are sufficiently clear. The whole difficulty lies in the hour or time of temptation. Many contemporaneous visions and many types of the same thing are employed to delineate it – this is so that the prediction would be fuller and yet seem more difficult to unravel, until, once things were pretty much fulfilled, the time for explication should arrive. The first task therefore is to connect the types with each other correctly, both the contemporaneous and the coincidental types. Until this is done, the interpreter will go completely astray, applying contemporaneous types to different periods and coincidental types to different things. This is the rock on which everyone has stumbled heretofore. In order to throw light on the connection of the visions at the outset, I will go through them one by one.

On the first prophecy

In the first prophecy the Apostle is bidden, ch. 1.19, to write the things that he has seen, both the things that are and the things that are to be hereafter, that is, the vision that he has seen and the discourses related to it that he has heard which involve both present and future things. The purpose of the vision and of the discourses therefore is twofold, to delineate both the present and the future – the present lucidly and in open words, the future covertly and under a mystical meaning of words. In so far as it is present things that are delineated, the reference is to particulars; but in so far as it is future things, the prophecy is about generalities. For Christ is not wont to predict small things covertly, but to conceal great things under small, as one may see in the gospel parables[Editorial Note 2]. He therefore speaks openly and of the present to the individual churches; mystically and of the future, he <2r> of the whole church in so far as the whole church shares a common fate with these seven and their descendants. So when he says to the Church in Philadelphia, I will make those men [who are of the Synagogue of Satan] to come and worship before your feet, and when he also says, I will save you from the hour of temptation which is to come over the whole world,[Editorial Note 3] he is making general predictions. So too in what he says to the Church in Smyrna: You will have tribulation for ten days,[Editorial Note 4] that is, persecution for ten years. For it is the persecution of Diocletian that is signified here, and it raged throughout the east for ten years and surpassed all the other persecutions that were perpetrated at that time. Clearly the seven churches and all those that are akin to them share one mystical body, and when one member suffers the whole body suffers. In so far then as Christ was speaking mystically, he intended to express the sufferings of the mystical body by the sufferings of its members, figuratively putting the part for the whole in the manner of the Rhetoricians. And – a helpful touch – the names of the cities selected by Divine design were such as would be appropriate to the Church in general. The church in Ephesus on account of Εφέσιοι, ‘desirable’[Editorial Note 5]. Smyrna is myrrh[Editorial Note 6], with which the Bride of Christ is sweet-smelling, Cant. 5.5[Editorial Note 7], as also is the bridegroom, Cant {bene}[Editorial Note 8] Myrrhati[Editorial Note 9], as if sweet-smelling of Myrrh. The Bride of Christ, Cant. 5.5, the bride of Ch{rist} 1.13 and 3.6 and 4.6, 14 In {in} Smyrna. Pergamus[Editorial Note 10], a lofty city, Apoc. 21.12, it was situated on a rock. < insertion from the right margin > Pergamus was situated on a rock and formerly signified citadel or lofty city from the so-called citadels of Troy.[Editorial Note 11] In Pergamus the {Citizens} of that lofty city Jerusalem which is founded upon Christ, Apoc 21.12. < text from f 2r resumes > Thyatyra[Editorial Note 12], τα Θυατειρα, worn out, exhausted by sacrifices; not overcome by slaughters. Sardis, a song of happiness, ch. 14.3 and 15.3; also a precious stone, which is both in the foundation of the new Jerusalem, ch. 22.20, and is an amulet against poison and poisoning, i.e. of the cup of the Whore, ch. 18.3, 23. In Philadelphia, that is, in brotherly love, in charity. In Laodicea, i.e. the justice of the people.

This Prophecy therefore is general, and indeed it is about those very things that are described under various types in subsequent Prophecies. It also relates directly to those types, and is as it were the key to <3r> unlocking them. To speak first of the things seen, the appearance of the Son of man is here fully described at the outset so that from the similarity you may recognise the Son of man in what follows, ch. 10.1 and 14.14 and 18.1. Also Dan. 10.5, 6. The seven stars on his right hand or the seven Angels of the churches, in so far as they are understood of the present, are the Bishops of those churches, exactly as the four Angels bound at the Euphrates are the four commanders of the equestrian army, ch. 9.15, 16. But in so far as they are understood as of all time, they are the seven spirits of God, ch. 3.1, and thus the seven Lamps before the Throne, ch. 4.5, and the seven eyes of the Lamb, ch. 5, 6. The sword from the mouth of the Son of man is the same as the similar sword in ch. 19, and signifies that the vision of the son of man in this form lasts until he has cut down the nations with this sword exactly as he[Editorial Note 13] is described in ch. 19. <4r> The seven candlesticks or seven churches are the seven horns of the lamb, ch. 5.6; also similar to them are the seven horns of the Beast who is a False Prophet, ch. 13.11. The vision of the candlesticks too lasts right until the end of the world, as is clear from the words to the Church in Pergamum: Repent, he says; otherwise I will come to you swiftly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth, ch. 2.16. Likewise from the words to the Church in Sardis: If you do not remain watchful, I will come to you like a thief and you will not know in what hour I will come to you. So to the Church in Thyatyra: Hold what you have, he says, until I come, cf. 2.25. Christ selected these seven churches therefore and their progeny to the end of the world – and not the Church of Rome or of Alexandria – to represent his true church insomuch as it opposes the great Apostasy and struggles against it. We must take particular note of this. Christ entrusted these churches, as having the better claim, to be ruled by the single surviving Apostle; he strengthened them by the Apostle’s daily governance; he further strengthened the descendants of the strengthened churches by this prophecy that he addressed to them, and by the same prophecy he chose them to oppose until the end of the world the type and representation of the universal Church as a Synagogue of Apostles.

Such are the things that the Apostle saw. The things that he heard are couched in symbolic words[Editorial Note 14], so that the Churches of that time would suppose that all of it was meant for them, and yet beneath the open sense throughout lies concealed a mystical and prophetic sense that alludes to the subsequent visions. And indeed in some of them the allusion is obvious, e.g. I will grant to the one who overcomes to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of my God, ch. 2.7 and 22.2; He who shall overcome will not be harmed by the second death, ch. 2.11 and 20.6. I will give him power over the nations, ch. 2.26 and 5.10, as also 11.15, 17 as well as 20.3, 4. He shall rule them with a rod of iron, ch. 2.27 and 19.15. I will fight against them with the sword of my mouth, 2.16 and 19.21. The new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from God, ch. 3.12 and 21.2. From these allusions any percipient person will easily see that this prophecy refers directly to the subsequent visions. Undoubtedly the hour <5r> of temptation which is to come over the whole earth to tempt the inhabitants of the earth, denotes the time in which the Dragon would put the woman to flight, make war upon the remains of her seed, and reign together with the two Beasts throughout the whole world, together I say with the seven-headed beast which all the inhabitants of the earth whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb would adore, ch. 13.3, 4, 7, 8. It is not a persecution that is denoted by this temptation but an apostasy. For the church as a whole – and even less the particular church of the Smyrnaeans – was not to be saved from any general persecution because of its faithfulness and patience. This is absurd and does not correspond to history. Protection is promised from seduction – from that seduction namely which the two-horned Beast introduced with its cunning tricks, causing the whole earth to worship the Beast and its Image, and accept its mark, its name and the number of its name, ch. 13.12, 14, 15, 16, 17. What is said to the Church in Laodicea has the same point: Because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to spew you out of my mouth. This was fulfilled as the hour of temptation approached, when all the lukewarm and the hypocrites, because they had not received the love of truth, were seduced through the operation of imposture by signs and lying prodigies so that they believed a lie, 2 Thes. 2.[Editorial Note 15] The previous promise: Because you have preserved the word of my patience, therefore I will preserve you from the hour of temptation,[Editorial Note 16] pertained to the Churches at the time when they had just found relief from persecution, and it was a reward for their constancy. The latter promise pertained to the same churches later when they had grown cold again. Because, he says, you have preserved the word of my patience, that is, because you have bravely borne persecution, I will preserve you, that is, as long as you retain that modest virtue that you have. But when you grow cold, I will spew all of you who are lukewarm out of my mouth. You will no longer be of my Church; but through <6r> the hour of temptation which is approaching yet closer I will exclude you and will surrender those of you who have been led astray by errors to the Synagogue of Satan, so that you may worship the Beast with the rest of the world. So too to the Church in Ephesus: You have abandoned, he says, your first love; remember therefore from whence you have fallen, and repent, and do your first works; if not, I will come to you swiftly, and remove your candlestick from its place if you do not repent.[Editorial Note 17] That phrase, you have abandoned your first love, is the same as you are lukewarm, and I will remove your candlestick from its place is the same as I will spew you out of my mouth. ‡ < insertion from f 5v > ‡ These things do not pertain to all who are in the Church but to the multitude of lukewarm persons. The candlesticks will not be destroyed but removed from their position on their base, and not completely but partially in accordance with the number of the lukewarm. To some extent they will remain in their first places right to the end of the vision. With these words therefore you are lukewarm, remember whence you have fallen, and such like, though Christ was in appearance rebuking the Churches that were flourishing and to some extent drooping at the time of the Apostle, in order to challenge them to greater virtue, nevertheless in reality he was pointing a finger < text from f 6r resumes > finger at the lackadaisical state of religion that immediately preceded the Apostasy. For Christ spewed the lukewarm from his mouth and moved the candlestick from its place, not because of the lukewarmness and lack of love of those Christians who lived in the time of the Apostle, but because of the tepidity of those whom he spat out, because of the lack of love of those whom he moved from their place. The discourses therefore are completely symbolic: they appear to allude to the times of the Apostle, but in truth they prefigure the lukewarm and formal state of the churches which all agree flourished immediately after the end of the persecutions and the great influx of wealth and everything else under the Christian Emperors. This is also the reference of what was said to the Church in Sardis: You have the reputation of being alive and yet you are dead.[Editorial Note 18] < insertion from f 5v > ‡ You are distinguished by the name and external form of a church, but you are not distinguished for virtue. Remember therefore in what manner you have received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore you do not remain vigilant, if you sleep and allow the enemy to sow tares in you, if you do not persevere in the manner that you have received and heard but fall away from the truth, I will in the end come to you like a thief and you will not know in what hour I shall come to you. But you have a few persons in Sardis who have not stained their robes, and they will walk with me in white because they are worthy. Of the whole multitude of your people only a few are worthy to walk with me in white.[Editorial Note 19] Also what is said # < insertion from f 6v > # Also what is said to the Church in Thyatira[Editorial Note 20]: I know your works and your love and faith and service and your patience and your most recent works (i.e. those which you recently exhibited in the very severe persecution by Diocletian[Editorial Note 21]) which were greater than your previous works. But I have a few things against you, because you permit the Woman Jezebel, who says that she is a prophetess and teaches and seduces my servants, to fornicate and eat things sacrificed to idols. The allusion here is to the decree of the Synod of the Apostles, Acts 15.[Editorial Note 22] With respect to this there is another comment further down: I will not put upon you another burden. The meaning is: I have a few things against you because you sleep and permit an enemy to sow tares, I mean you allow a whore to seduce all the lukewarm among my servants to spiritual fornication. And I say to you who remain in Thyatira (you who remain of the seed of the woman, ch. 12.17) – all who do not hold this teaching, all who have not learned ‘the profound things of Satan’ as they call them (since Prophecies have been abolished , tongues have ceased, knowledge has disappeared, barely anything but charity remains, 1 Cor 13.8) – while the empire of Satan lasts I will not put upon you another burden (other than to abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, from fornication and the other ‘profound things’ of his empire). But also keep what you have until I come. In these five passages addressed to five churches a coming Apostasy is predicted for the testing of the servants of God and the lapse of the lukewarm multitude of Christians. Let us now see how the state of Apostasy is described < text from f 5v resumes > <6v> < text from f 6r resumes > <7r>

What is said here is that it is the woman Jezebel who seduces the servants of God. By this name an allusion is made precisely to the vision of the Whore of Babylon, ch. 17. She who is presented there openly <8r> by means of a vision is here named Jezabel. One may infer this also from the harmony of the two passages. The Whore of Babylon held sway over the Kings of the earth, ch. 17.18 and sat on the Beast as a Queen, ch. 18.7; Jezabel likewise was a Queen. The former is called a False Prophet, ch. 16.13 and 19.20; the latter claimed to be a prophet, and thus was a false prophet, ch. 2.20. In the services offered by the former all the nations went astray, ch. 18.23, inebriated with the wine of her fornication, ch. 17.2, and at one time she seduced the whole of Israel, so that the prophet Elijah regarded himself as the only person left who did not worship Baal[Editorial Note 23], and she does the same thing now. The latter teaches and seduces the servants of God to fornicate and eat things that have been sacrificed to Idols, cap. 2.20, and by seduction she spreads temptation over the whole world to tempt the inhabitants of the earth, ch. 3.10. The former is a fornicator, whore and the mother of fornications, ch. 17.1, 2, 5; the latter is a fornicator, ch. 2.21, and an adulteress, verse 22. With the former the kings of the earth have fornicated and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk by the wine of her fornication, ch. 17.2; with the latter those who have been seduced fornicate and commit adultery, ch. 2.20, 21, 22. In both cases therefore it is a mystical and spiritual fornication, namely by Idolatry. For the former, God put it into the hearts of kings to do what seemed good to her and to give their kingdom to the beast, on whom that Whore sits, until the words of God are fulfilled, ch. 17.17. For the latter, God gave her time to repent, and she refuses to repent of her fornication, ch. 2.21. The duration of both therefore is very long. At last, after the fall of the city of Babylon which was the imperial seat of the Whore, the very body of the Whore, great Babylon spread throughout the world, ch. 16.19, the False prophet, as she gathers the nations for the final war by means of the false miracles of her spirit, verse 13, she came into remembrance before God to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath, verse 19, i.e. she is cast, together with <9r> the Beast, into the lake of fire, ch. 19.20, and the rest of the people from the nations were slain by the sword proceeding from the mouth of the one who sits upon the horse, verse 21. And Thrones were set, and the saints sat upon them. And authority to judge was given to them, and they reigned with Christ, ch. 20.4, while the nations that remained were at peace, verse 3. Similarly too because Jezabel refused to repent, in the end she was sent by Christ to a bed (instead of a cup of fornication she receives a cup of wrath, instead of a bed of pleasure a bed of torment, lying in the Lake of fire), and those who fornicate with her (i.e, the ten Kings or the Beast) were dispatched at the same time into great affliction, i.e., into the same lake, and Christ kills her children with death (namely by the sword of his mouth), and he gives a reward to all his churches, distributing to each one according to their works, ch. 2.21, 22, 23, and he gives to them power over the nations, and they shall rule them with a rod of iron, and shall receive the morning star, verses, 26, 27, 28. Both of the whores therefore, together with the nations they seduced, are destroyed in the same manner and at the same time, when Christ comes at that time to judge and reward the saints. Wherefore, since the harmony is perfect – both are Queens, False Prophets, seducers of peoples seducing all the nations, dominant for a long time, perishing at the same time and in the same way together with the nations they have seduced – since it is absurd that there could be two such persons, distinct from each other, at the same time, since in these prophecies points that correspond are to be brought into relation with each other by the Rule     , since it is the manner and intention of this first Prophecy, which is about the seven churches, to allude to subsequent visions, since finally all the discourses of the Apocalypse are related to visions, and there is no vision except that of the Whore of Ba <10r> bylon for the symbolic[Editorial Note 24] discourse about Jezabel to refer to, we are simply compelled to state that this discourse alludes to that vision.

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< insertion from higher up f 9v > So too the Symbolic language[Editorial Note 25] about Satan, Balac, Balaam, the snare, things sacrificed to idols and fornication, the Nicolaitans, the martyr Antipas, and the Jews, ch. 2.13, 14, 15, alludes, item for item, to the Dragon, the seven-headed beast, the two-horned Beast, the Image of the Beast, the worship of the image, those who worship the image, those who were killed because they would not worship, and those who stand on mount Sion, ch. 12 & 13 & 14, < text from f 9v resumes > Satan denotes the Dragon, ch. 12.9, and the throne of Satan where both the Church and Satan live, ch. 2.13, denotes the throne or seat of the Dragon, ch. 13.2. As for Balac, inasmuch as he was a king, inasmuch as he was a secular lord, as he was an idolator, as he was an enemy and corrupter of the peoples of God, as the name Balac signifies the despoiler who reduces all things to solitude and desert, as he listened to the counsels of the false prophet Balaam, he denotes the seven headed Beast. For it is crowned, ch. 13.1, possesses a throne and great power of the same kind as that of the Dragon, verse 2, and is blasphemous, i.e. idolatrous, verse 6, making war upon the servants of God, verse 7, overcoming the saints, killing them all in a mystical sense, reducing all places to the solitude and desert of the saints as the church is laid waste by the abomination of desolation, ch. 13.7, 15 & 17.3, and finally it is adored by all men by the advice and agency of the Beast, verses 12, 14, 15, 16. Hence too by Balaam is meant the two horned Beast. Balaam was certainly a False Prophet; the two horned Beast spread false doctrines by his miracles and cunning tricks, ch. 13.13, 14, hence he too is called a false prophet, ch. 16.13. By his teaching Balaam caused the children of Israel to go astray, ch. 2.14; the two-horned Beast πλανᾷ τοὺς ἐμοὺς, causes the servants of God to go astray, ch. 13.14. The teaching of Balaam was to eat things that had been sacrificed to idols and to fornicate, ch. 2.14, that is, with false gods, Num. 31.16 & 25.2, 3; the two-horned Beast spoke like a Dragon, that is, he taught idolatry, Apoc. 13.11, and instigated the peoples to adore the image of the Beast, verse 14. Balaam, in order to make the children of Israel to fall afoul of this doctrine, taught Balac to put a snare before them, namely the sight of the Idol Baal Peor with < text from f 11r resumes > all the pomp and solemnity of sacrifices and festivals, which would entice them into eating things that had been sacrificed to idols and to fornicate; the two-horned Beast, in order to seduce the servants of God, similarly taught the inhabitants of the earth (those who belonged to the body of the other Beast) to set a snare, the image of the Beast, for them all to adore. The counsel of Balaam succeeded as the multitude of Israel sinned, Numbers 25; the counsel of the two-horned beast also succeeded as the multitude worshipped the image, Apoc. 13.15. Finally the word Balaam in Hebrew signifies the sort of person who grinds down and consumes a people, namely the people of Israel, by his counsel; and such was the two-horned beast, by whose counsel the multitude was undoubtedly seduced, and the rest were slain, Apoc. 13.15.

But in order that the analogy between them may become clearer, some things must be explained. The first thing is that the fornication which Balaam taught is spiritual. I conclude this from the following arguments. First – <12r> Israel not only ate things offered to idols but also spiritually fornicated by adoring Baal Peor; and Christ did not intend, while mentioning the minor charge of eating, to omit the more severe charge of worshipping an idol, lest he compose a defective and imperfect Symbol[Editorial Note 26]. The second argument is that these two charges against Israel are mentioned in the story to which the Apocalypse alludes. The people fornicated with the daughters of Moab, who invited them to their sacrifices. And they took food, and worshipped their Gods, and Israel attached itself to Baal Peor, Num. 25.1, 2. The people fornicated with the daughters of Moab, and that too is spiritually, as the Septuagint Translation and the Jonathan Targum[Editorial Note 27] interpret it. The people began, says Jonathan, to profane their sanctity and to uncover their bodies to the Idol Peor and to consort with the daughters of Moab, who brought out the Image of Peor himself which were concealed under their breast-bands and invited the people to the sacrifices offered to their Idols &c. It was certainly very well-known to Orientals that Idolatry is expressed by the fornication of the seduced with their seducers, as that of Israel with the Egyptians and Assyrians, Ezek. 6.26, 28, of the servants of God with the woman Jezabel, Apoc. 2.20. But the phrase fornicated with the daughters contains the whole charge. The two parts to which the Apocalypse alludes are they ate and they worshipped; or as David puts it: they attached themselves to Baal Peor and ate the sacrifices of the dead, Psal 106.36. The third point is that wherever the scriptures speak of a backsliding by Israel, <13r> the only charge made is that of Idolatry; for this alone the wrath of God is said to be stirred against Israel; this is the only snare mentioned, and contact with it was followed by tribulation for the people. For example, Psal.106.36[Editorial Note 28], Deut. 4.3, & 32.16, Ios. 22.17, as well as the passage to which the Apocalypse especially alludes, namely Num. 31.16; the whole of the sin on which Israel came to grief by the counsels of Balaam is said to be the matter of Peor[Editorial Note 29], i.e. the matter of the God whom they worshipped, whose sacrifices they consumed. The final point is that Christ in Apoc. 2.20, in rebuking for a second time the crime of eating things that had been sacrificed to idols and of fornicating, he specifies a bit further down in verse 22, that that fornication was with the woman Jezabel, i.e., the sort of fornication that Israel had committed previously with Jezabel by the worship of her Idols.

That fornication therefore is spiritual. And from this we also see what the Snare was that Balaam showed how to set. Τὸ σκάνδαλον, scandalum, literally signifies a curved stick on which is suspended a noose or trap, and any animal that runs into it pulls the noose or trap down onto itself with a sudden crash. Among the ancients it is metaphorically any object that one cannot run into without damage or ruin. They have placed a scandalum beside the road for me, Psalm. 140.6.[Editorial Note 30] And it is commonly applied to the Gods of the Gentiles. If you serve their Gods, this will certainly be a scandalum for you, i.e. if you fall into this trap, you will draw the anger of God down upon yourself and you will perish, Exod. 23.33. Thou shalt not serve their Gods because that will be a קומש, scandalum, for thee, Deut 7.16. Take heed never to form friendships with the inhabitants of that land lest it be for a למוקש, scandalum, in your midst, but destroy their altars, break down their statues, i.e. do not make a treaty to permit the nations to worship their Gods in your land, but destroy their altars, smash their statues, lest you fall into these things and perish, Exod. 34.12. They served their graven images, למוקש ויחיו לחס, and they were for a scandalum to them, Psal 106.36. Their Gods will be for a scandalum, למוקש, to you, Iud. 2.3[Editorial Note 31]. This was therefore also the scandalum which Balaam showed how <14r> to set for the children of Israel, as the following words indicate, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to fornicate. The scriptures also agree with this sense, this Idolatry of Israel as the scandalum, describing the plague subsequently sent by God and the tribulation of the people as a disaster brought upon people who had fallen into a scandalum. They attached themselves to Baal Peor and they ate the sacrifices of the dead, and they provoked him to anger with their inventions, and the plague brake in upon them, Psal. 106.28. Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did because of Baal Peor, how he destroyed all his worshippers from among you, Deut. 4.3. Is it a small thing to you that you have sinned with Baal Peor, and even to the present day the stain of this crime remains among you, and many of the people have come to ruin, Jos. 22.17. Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked – they have provoked me with that which was not God, and I will provoke them with that which is not a people. – A fire is kindled in my anger, and it will burn as far as the farthest parts of hell, Deut 32.15, 21. Also in the very passages to which the Apocalypse refers. Israel joined himself unto Baal Peor, and the Lord was wroth with Israel &c, Num 25.3. Surely those are the women who deceived the children of Israel by the counsel of Balaam, and made you transgress against the lord in the matter of Peor, as a result of which the people was struck down, Num 31.16. Since the people fell into the trap of Peor, they were struck down. Balac contrived this so that his formidable enemy Israel might suffer diseaster. That is why he summoned Balaam to him. Since Balaam was forbidden to curse the people, he cunningly shows the importunate king another means of bringing ruin upon Israel, so that the children of Israel would bring the wrath of their God upon themselves by worshipping other gods. The judgment of God was the noose, the foreign God was the snare; association and friendship with the peoples was the path to the snare. * < insertion from f 13v > * eating things that had been offered to idols and fornicating were the falling into it; and gilded idols, splendid rites, the pomp of desirable food-offerings and festivals and frequent discourse about them, were the enticements or bait for the fall. A path had to be made, so that by being enticed and falling into the snare, they might bring down the judgement of God upon their heads. < text from f 14r resumes > Eating things that had been sacrificed to idols and fornicating were the falling into it; and the cult of a gilded Idol, the pomp of desirable foods and festivals and frequent discourse about them, were the enticements to the fall. A path had to be made, so that by being enticed and falling into the snare, they might bring down the judgement of God upon their heads. The actual words of the Apocalypse allude to this sense. Balaam Showed how to βαλεῖν σκάνδαλον ἐνώπιον, lay, drop, place a snare in the path of the children of Israel. <15r> Since therefore s{can}dalum signifies properly a substantial object put before their steps, and alludes here to the Idol Baal Peor, it will be absolutely appropriate to call it the type of the image of the Beast. For that Idol was a God or an Idol or the Image of King Balac; and as Balac is the Beast, the Image of Balac will be the Image of the Beast.

< insertion from lower down f 15r >

1 It is correct then to say that that Image is the scandalum/snare. For since the two-horned Beast attempted to seduce the servants of God, he showed men, i.e. princes, how to make this Image of the Beast, and ensured that the Image should live and speak and terrorise those who did not worship it, and this is spoken of as the sign that the two-horned Beast busied itself in the seduction of men. They were enticed by its splendour, its life and its miraculous utterance, they were terrified by its threats and fell into the snare, they worshipped the Image. It (that two-horned Beast) seduces my people living on earth, because of the prodigies that were given to it to do in the sight of the Beast, saying to the inhabitants of the earth to make an image of the Beast which had a wound from a sword, and lived. And it was given to it[Editorial Note 32] to give breath to the Image of the Beast, both that the image of the Beast should speak and that it should ensure that whoever would not adore the Image of the Beast should be killed, Apoc 13.14, 15.

< text from f 15r resumes >

2 But the worship of Baal Peor was idolatry. Surely the worship of the Image of the Beast will not be idolatry? Why not? You will say: the Image was so called figuratively. The worship of it will also be Idolatry figuratively so called. And so symbolically[Editorial Note 33] it will very aptly be designated by the idolatry of the Jews properly so called, so that in turn also it will aptly designate the idolatry properly so called of the Apostates. For as fornication with the Whore typically designates spiritual fornication perpetrated as a result of the doctrine and authority of the Whore, so adoration of the Image can typically designate idolatry committed as a result of the doctrine or authority of the Image. The latter type is more elegant than the former because adoration of the Image, as the term implies, signifies both Idolatry and the honour and obedience paid to the authority of the Image as a result of which that idolatry is committed.

3 Furthermore, Idolaters of this kind, because of their spiritual fornication and external profession of the Christian religion, are called Nicolaitans. You have there, he says,[Editorial Note 34] those who hold the doctrine <16r> of Balaam to lay a snare before the children of Israel {to eat} things that have been sacrificed to idols and to fornicate: οὕτως ἔχεις καὶ σὺ, thus you too have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. He first calls the doctrine of the Nicolaitans the doctrine of Balaam: you have, he says, those who hold the doctrine of Balaam. Then after describing that doctrine, he repeats: thus you too have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. That οὕτως is relative and comparative, and that is how it is taken in the Arabic and Ethiopic version. This then is how Christ depicts those who spiritually fornicate: he makes an analogy with the sect of the Nicolaitans, who in Apostolic times had women in common. In a single stroke he both condemns in passing that impure sect, and at the same time, with skill and clarity, he depicts the Apostasy that was to come. I stress clarity, both because fornication properly so called is a very well known symbol of idolatry; and because the name of the Nicolaitans means conquerors of the people, i.e. of the people of God, all of whom undoubtedly these men partly seduced and partly caused to be killed, ch. 13.15; and finally because the Nicolaitans were Christians who had been seduced. For such were those who worshipped the image of the Beast: πλανᾳ τοὺς ἐμοὺς, he seduces my people, ch. 13.14. He ensures that no one but his own people can buy or sell, i.e. he excommunicates, verse 17. He makes fire descend from heaven, i.e. by the torch thrown down from on high in the ceremony of excommunication, verse 13. He seduces all men far and wide, 16.17, but all men, through many centuries, were Christians. The Devil descends (i.e. idolatry has recently been thrown down from heaven by Michael) to the inhabitants of the sea and land, ch. 12.12. Not to the ancient gentiles (they were Idolaters already) but to those who did not previously have the devil among them, who were not idolaters before he was thrown down, i.e. to Christians. By this descent and the subsequent seduction, the true Church of God was so diminished that soon to flee into the Desert as if it had become invisible, and only the remains of its seed on the earth ...[Editorial Note 35]

[Editorial Note 1] Cf. 2 Thessalonians, 2.8.

[Editorial Note 2] I have translated ‘parabola’ here as ‘parable’, because of the familiarity of the word in connection with the parables of the Gospels. But in other instances in this piece the word seems to come closer to the root meaning of Greek parabole, which is ‘comparison’, ‘analogy’. In the context of the argument of this piece I thought that the word ‘symbol’ might be appropriate.

[Editorial Note 3] Cf. Revelation, 3.9-10.

[Editorial Note 4] Cf. Revelation, 2.10.

[Editorial Note 5] One meaning of the Greek noun ἔφεσις is ‘desire’. There does not appear to be an adjective ἐφέσιος, as Newton suggests, at least not in classical Greek. ἔφεσις can also mean ‘an appeal’ from one court to another, a meaning Newton noted down and toyed with and then erased.

[Editorial Note 6] ‘Myrrha’, ‘Smyrna’ and ‘Zmyrna’ are alternative spellings for ‘the legendary Levantine beauty who conceived an incestuous passion for her father’. She ‘was transformed into a tree whose bark weeps the eponymous myrrh’ (Oxford Classical Dictionary, p. 1017, s.v. Myrrha. The story is told in Ovid, Metamorphoses, 298-514.

[Editorial Note 7] Canticum Canticorum, Song of Solomon, 5.5: ‘I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh, upon the hands of the lock.’

[Editorial Note 8] Cf. Song of Solomon, 5.13: ‘His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh’.

[Editorial Note 9] This word, apparently, usually means ‘flavoured with myrrh, bitter’, and is used with reference to the drink of ‘vinegar’ given to Jesus on the cross. See Dictionary of Medieval Latin, s.v. Myrrhatus.

[Editorial Note 10] More usually now spelt Pergamum.

[Editorial Note 11] Cf. Homer, Iliad, 4.508, 5.446, etc.

[Editorial Note 12] Normally spelled Thyateira, the transliteration of the Greek, or Thyatira; Newton uses ‘Thyatyra’ several times but also ‘Thyatira’ (e.g. f 6r).

[Editorial Note 13] Or possibly ‘it’, referring to the sword.

[Editorial Note 14] Cf. fn. 2.

[Editorial Note 15] Cf. 2 Thessalonians, 2.9.

[Editorial Note 16] Cf. Revelation, 3.10.

[Editorial Note 17] Cf. Revelation, 2.4-5.

[Editorial Note 18] Cf. Revelation, 3.1.

[Editorial Note 19] Cf. Revelation, 3.1-4.

[Editorial Note 20] Cf. Revelation 2.18 ff.

[Editorial Note 21] Usually spelled ‘Diocletianus’ rather than Newton’s ‘Dioclesianus’.

[Editorial Note 22] Cf. Acts, 15.20.

[Editorial Note 23] Cf. possibly 1 Kings, 18.22 and 19.10, 14.

[Editorial Note 24] Cf. fn. 2.

[Editorial Note 25] Cf. fn. 2.

[Editorial Note 26] Cf. fn. 2.

[Editorial Note 27] ‘Pseudo-Jonathan: Numbers’, ch. 25 in The Aramaic Bible, vol. 4, tr. M. McNamara and E.G. Clarke (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press), p. 263.

[Editorial Note 28] ‘And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them.’

[Editorial Note 29] ‘to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor’, Numbers 31.16.

[Editorial Note 30] Psalm 140.5 (AV).

[Editorial Note 31] ‘Iudices’, i.e. Judges.

[Editorial Note 32] ‘it’ here refers to the ‘two-horned Beast’, I take it.

[Editorial Note 33] Cf. fn. 2.

[Editorial Note 34] Cf. Revelation, 2.14-15.

[Editorial Note 35] The final sentence is incomplete. I inserted ‘it was compelled’.

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Professor Rob Iliffe
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