Saturday, August 28, 2021

Apocalyptic? #29: Armageddon I—Killing the Kings

Bill O’Reilly has made a fortune on his very successful series of “Killing” books—Killing Kennedy, Killing Lincoln, Killing Jesus, Killing Reagan, Killing Crazy Horse, etc.  Perhaps, if he wrote a book on the Battle of Armageddon, he would call it Killing the Kings.  From its origin, the term Armageddon has always referred to a Battle in which Kings were Killed.

The Background and Meaning of the term “Armageddon”:  John is totally consistent throughout Revelation.  He always avoids calling the non-Christian Jews, non-Christian Judea, and non-Christian Jerusalem by any of those names—Jews, Judea, or Jerusalem.  Neither will he call Judea or Jews “Israel,” nor will he call Jerusalem “Mount Zion.” He reserves such honorable names for the Christian Jews and the New Jerusalem. 

In my book The Logic of Christianity (pp. 160-161), I comment:


During the years immediately preceding the destruction of the temple, John refers to Jerusalem as "Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified" (Revelation 11:8).  In this period, John writes of "the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan" (2:9).  At this time, John calls Jerusalem "the harlot Babylon" (as J. M. Ford interprets) and exults in her gory destruction.  Since John cannot refer to the Battle of “Jerusalem,” he gives the battle a new name:  Armageddon.  The word Armageddon is translated into the Greek from the Hebrew HAR MƏGIDDÔ (הר מגידו).  The word HAR is translated into English as “mountain.”  The word MƏGIDDÔ  is spelled  in the Greek  translation (LXX) of  II Chronicles  exactly  as  it  is spelled in Revelation.  Here is the account of the Battle of Megiddo [in which KING Josiah was KILLED] from II Chronicles 35:20-25:


After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt came up to make war at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to engage him. But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, "What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? I am not coming against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from interfering with God who is with me, so that He will not destroy you." However, Josiah would not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo. The archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, "Take me away, for I am badly wounded." So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in the second chariot which he had, and brought him to Jerusalem where he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers.


Note, however, that Megiddo is not a mountain—but a plain.  The only mountain associated with the Battle of Megiddo is Mount Zion (or Jerusalem) where Josiah died.  John is continuing to refuse to refer to Jerusalem as Jerusalem or Mount Zion (a term he uses to refer to the 144,000 Christians).  So, he refers to Mount Zion as Mount Megiddo.  The Battle of Armageddon took place from 66 to 73 A.D.  Jerusalem was annihilated (just as Josiah was killed and his kingdom was destroyed in 609 B.C.). 

Why did John opt for calling the battle the Battle of Armageddon (with allusion to Mount Zion), rather than the Battle of Babylon or Egypt or Sodom (other negative names John had given to Jerusalem, itself) since II Chronicles simply states that Josiah died in Jerusalem?  Because Mount Zion is the “kingly” reference for that portion of (older) Jerusalem where the “king” lived.  Jerusalem, later, had Mount Moriah, where Solomon’s temple was situated, but not at the time of David.  In David’s time, Mount Zion, was on a different hill than Mount Moriah.  It was called Zion, the City of David (II Samuel 5:7, II Chronicles 5:2), the city of the Great King (Psalm 48:2).  David built his palace on Mount Zion.  God Himself, in John’s favorite Psalm in Revelation (Psalm 2:6-7 NKJV) proclaims: “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”  I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.”  The “kingship” related to Zion is both the kingship of David and of Jesus.  Therefore, John CANNOT refer to Jerusalem as “Mount Zion” when he describes the Battle of Armageddon.    The previous picture is the "plain of Megiddo."  The following picture is Mount Zion, today.


Worshipping the Beast:  Who can War with the Beast?  Just as King Neco had warned Josiah and Jerusalem not to make war against himself in the Plain of Megiddo, several individuals argued that the Jews could not possibly “war with the Beast (Rome).”  Revelation 13:4-7 (NKJV) states:

So they worshiped . . . the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?  And he was given . . . authority to continue for forty-two months. . . . It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

Less than a decade after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Roman Emperor Caligula had commanded that his own statue/image be erected in the temple in Jerusalem.  The Jews were appalled at the thought of a “graven image” in their own temple.  Many Christians thought that this event, if enacted, might be the “abomination of desolation” of which Jesus (and Daniel) prophesied, but Caligula died before his command could be carried out.  The Jews had dodged a bullet.  Nevertheless, the Caligula scandal was a foreshadowing of what John in Revelation 13:14-15 would describe (by literary allusion) as “an image to the beast . . . granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” (This “image of the beast” will be explained momentarily.)  Nevertheless, in that decade following the resurrection of Christ, when the Jews objected violently to Caligula’s statue being erected, Petronius asked the Jews (at that time), “Will you then make war against Caesar?” (Wars II.X.4).

Before the Jewish-Roman War of 66-73 started, Agrippa attempted to dissuade the Jews from being provoked into war by Florus:

“[W]ho are you that must go to war, and who are they against whom you must fight?  . . . You are the only people who think it is a disgrace to be servants to those to whom the whole world hath submitted.  What sort of an army do you rely on?  What are the arms you depend on?  Where is your fleet that may seize upon the Roman seas?  . . . Will you not carefully reflect upon the Roman empire?  Will you not estimate your own weakness?” (Wars II.XVI.4).


Some in Jerusalem, especially those of the family of the high priest, were persuaded and proactively argued that it was futile to conduct war against Rome.  Very early in the war, Ananus (perhaps, a member of the high priestly family, a temple governor, but this is NOT THE HIGH PRIEST ANANUS) campaigned to give the city up to Cestius, prior to Cestius’s totally unexpected retreat: “[M]any of the principal men of the city were persuaded by Ananus, the son of Jonathan, and invited Cestius into the city, and were about to open the gates for him” (Wars II.XIX.5).  Later, after the war had progressed to the point of a siege by Titus and the Romans around Jerusalem, Josephus argued to inhabitants of Jerusalem during siege: “So Josephus . . . besought them . . . That they must know that the Roman power was invincible . . . for what part of the world is there that hath escaped the Romans?” (Wars V.IX.3).  It turned out, as Josephus and others predicted, that the Jews were NOT able to successfully make war with the Beast.  (Incidentally, Jesus and his followers did successfully make war with the Beast—but not in the military sense.  Jesus and his followers are called “conquerors=those who overcome.”  Their “conquest” will be discussed in a later post.)


Killing the Ten Kings of the Land:  Even before Josephus fought (and lost to) the Romans at Jotapata, John of Gischala (one of the two rebel tyrants in the Jerusalem civil war) authored a rumor concerning Josephus (which Josephus denied, at the time): “He also spread abroad a report far and near that Josephus was delivering up the administration of affairs to the Romans” (Wars II.XXI.2).  Denial or not, it looks as though there was always something in Josephus that favored giving up to the Romans.  If “worship[ing] . . . the beast,” in Revelation 13:4, consists in “saying ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him,’” notice that (besides Petronius and Agrippa), this thought was being promoted by at least ONE OF THE TEN KINGS:  Josephus.  Therefore, by John’s definition, Josephus was “worshiping the beast.”  What about the other nine kings?  We know that (concerning John son of Matthias), Simon son of Giora (the other of the two rebel tyrants in the Jerusalem civil war) “condemned [Matthias and his sons—one of whom may have been John, one of the ten kings] to die for being on the side of the Romans” (Wars V.XIII.1).  What was the fate of the remainder of the Ten Kings?

Revelation 17:12-18 (NKJV):

The ten horns . . . are ten kings . . . of one mind . . . they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them.  . . . The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.  And the ten horns . . . will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire . . . and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman . . . is that great city which reigns over the kings of the [LAND].”


Those “ten kings who . . . will give their power and authority [and kingdom] to the beast” are:


[1] Joseph son of Gorion

[2] Ananus the High Priest 

[3] Jesus the son of Sapphias, one of the high priests

[4] Eleazar the son of Ananias, the high priest

[5] Niger

[6] Joseph the son of Simon

[7] Manasseh

[8] John, the Essene

[9] John the son of Matthias

[10] Josephus


Josephus:  Josephus, in surrendering to Vespasian, and saving his own life, became an ally to the Romans, constantly attempting to persuade the Jews in every city to surrender to Rome.  He was accused by many of the Jews of being a deserter, a traitor, and a coward (Wars III.VIII; III.IX,6).

Ananus the High Priest: Ananus [who, in 62 A.D., had ordered the execution-by-stoning of James the brother of Christ] . . . prevailed with the people to send ambassadors to Vespasian to invite him to come presently and take the city” (Wars IV.III.14).  Nevertheless, according to Josephus, Ananus was killed by the Idumeans who “sought for the high priests . . . and . . . slew them . . . [resulting in] the death of Ananus” (Wars IV.V.2).

Jesus the son of Sapphias, one of the high priests: At the same time Ananus the high priest was killed, another high priest of the ten kings was also slain.  Josephus tells us: “Accordingly Jesus [whose Hebrew name was Joshua was] the eldest of the high priests next to Ananus” (Wars IV.IV.3), and supported Ananus in his opposition to the rebels. Josephus writes: “Ananus . . . preferred peace above all things; for he was thoroughly sensible that the Romans were not to be conquered . . . .  Jesus was also joined with him . . . those that a little before had worn the sacred garments . . . were cast out naked and seen to be the food of dogs and wild beasts . . . .  And this at last was the end of Ananus and Jesus” (Wars IV.V.2).

Niger and John the Essene:  After the Jews had repulsed Cestius from Jerusalem, two of the ten kings, “Niger . . . and . . . John the Essene” (Wars III.II,1) carried the war to Ashkelon on the coast of the Mediterranean.  They lost.  “[T]en thousand of the Jews’ side lay dead, with two of their generals, John and Silas . . . Niger, their remaining general . . . fled away” (Wars III.II,2).  Niger mounted a second attack in which an additional 8000 Jews were killed but Niger again fled away and hid in “a subterraneous cave” (Wars III.II,3).  Although the Romans never captured Niger, the Jewish zealots themselves managed to kill him in the civil war in Jerusalem.  Josephus explains: “Nor did Niger of Perea escape their hands; he had been a man of great valour in their war with the Romans, but was now drawn through the middle of the city . . . out of the gates . . . so did they slay him [without permitting him to be buried]” (Wars IV.VI.1).

Joseph the son of Gorion:  Gorion, Joseph’s father, was one of the wealthiest men in Jerusalem, but the Jewish zealots in the civil war had a thirst for the “blood of valiant men [such as Niger] and men of good families [such as Joseph the son of Gorion’s] . . . out of envy . . . out of fear . . . they thought their whole security lay in leaving no potent men alive; on which account they slew Gorion, a person eminent in dignity, and on account of his family also” (Wars IV.VI.1).  Perhaps, Joseph the son of Gorion, as a member of his family, was killed at this time.

Joseph the son of Simon:  Perhaps, this was the Joseph who was killed at the battle of Gamala, which has been called the Masada of the Golan heights.  Josephus writes: “[T]he Romans also slew many of those that ventured to oppose them, among whom was Joseph, who was slain by a dart, as he was running away” (Wars IV.I.9).

John the son of Matthias:  If the Matthias who is John’s father is the same Matthias who was high priest at the time the war began and who subsequently allowed Simon son of Giora into Jerusalem to help counteract the tyranny of John of Gischala (Wars V.I.3 and V.XIII.1), he was soon betrayed.  Perhaps, this Jewish rebel leader, Simon son of Giora, who had been “driven away from that Acrabattene toparchy, which he once had,” by Ananus, the high priest, and after Ananus died, was leading “a strong body of men about him” (Wars IV.IX.3-4), still harbored animosity against all the high priests of Jerusalem (Ananus and Matthias, included).  Josephus writes:

Accordingly Simon would not suffer Matthias, by whose means he got possession of the city, to go off without torment.  . . . [Matthias] persuaded the people to permit this Simon to come in . . . .  But when Simon was come in, and had gotten the city under his power, he esteemed [Matthias] . . . as his enemy . . . and condemned [him] to die for being on the side of the Romans, without giving him time to make his defence.  He condemned also his three sons to die with him (Wars V.XIII.1).


Eleazar the son of Ananias, the high priest:  A zealot, but also member of the high priestly family, Eleazar effectively touched off the beginning of the war with the Romans.  Josephus writes: “Eleazar, the son of Ananias the high priest, . . . who was at that time governor of the temple, persuaded those that officiated . . . to receive no gift or sacrifices for any foreigner.  And this was the true beginning of our war with the Romans:  for they rejected the sacrifice of Caesar” (Wars II.XVI.2).  Other than his leading zealots in internal battles in Jerusalem, nothing more is known of him.  We do not know his fate, but assume that he was probably among those killed in Jerusalem


Manasseh:  Manasseh is an unknown entity.  We do not know his fate.


Thus, we have possibly accounted for the fate of eight or so of the ten kings.  The really important kings seem to be Ananus the High Priest, Jesus the son of Sapphias one of the high priests, Eleazar the son of Ananias, the high priest, Niger, and Josephus.  Of these five, Niger and Josephus actually engaged in real fights with the Romans—but Josephus (at least) eventually became pro-Roman.  Eleazar appears to be completely anti-Roman, so the two kings—Eleazar and Niger—were the two clearly anti-Roman kings.  The High Priests Ananus and Jesus, along with Josephus (and perhaps, John the Son of Matthias) represented the kings whom John could have described as “giv[ing] their power and authority [and kingdom] to the beast” and “worship[ing] the beast” if “worship[ing] . . . the beast,” in Revelation 13:4, consists in “saying ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” By John’s definition, Ananus, Jesus, and Josephus were all worshiping the beast.  Since Ananus and Jesus were of the high priestly family, we shall, in the next blogpost analyze how the High Priests became John’s major emphasis as the great villain/s in the “land”—the great enemy of the Church and the face of the Empire in Jerusalem, during the Battle of Armageddon.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Apocalyptic? #28: The Plague of “Locusts”: Josephus

In the
same year Vespasian was ascending to Emperor, and thus had taken a break from waging war in Judea, a Jewish rebel picked up the slack and ravaged the countryside of Judea, since the Romans had placed the war on pause.  This plague also occurred in 69 A.D.—the very year John was writing the Book of Revelation.  There is a semblance of “chronological order” at work in the Seals and Trumpets and Plagues of Revelation: 

Firstly, the end of all three seems to be the destruction of Jerusalem and the initializing of the Kingdom of God. 

Secondly, the waters turning to blood seem to be at the first of the war (as Joppa on the Mediterranean and Taricheae on the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan bloodbath all occurred early in the war) are prophesied as early plagues (trumpet 2, trumpet 3, bowl 2, and bowl 3), and, even then, the plague of blood in the “sea,” as in the battle at Joppa, is referred to earlier in trumpet 2 and bowl 2, while the plague of blood in the fresh “water,” as in Taricheae and the Jordan occurring afterwards, are referred to in trumpet 3 and bowl 3. 

Thirdly, now, during the time John is writing the book, in 69 A.D., the plagues of darkness (bowl 5), frogs from the Euphrates (trumpet 6 and bowl 6), and locusts (trumpet 5) are all clumped together just before the end of the Seals and Trumpets and Plagues lists.

The “locusts” in Revelation 9:1-11:

Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.


The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of menThey had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battleThey had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

The Plague of Locusts in Egypt Transformed into War Terminology                 

Obviously, John is again transforming a natural plague from literal locusts in Egypt into war terminology:  “horses prepared for battle,” “breastplates like breastplates of iron,” and the “sound of chariots with many horses running into battle.”  So, what battle occurred in which the armies “were not given authority to kill”?

The “locusts” mentioned by Josephus:  In the same year in which John wrote Revelation (69 A.D.)—the interval between Nero’s suicide and Vespasian’s ascension to Emperor, an important Jewish rebel leader, named Simon son of Giora, who had at one time been “driven away from that Acrabattene toparchy, which he once had,” by no less than Ananus, the high priest, was leading “now a strong body of men about him” (Wars IV.IX.3-4), now that Ananaus was dead, overrunning villages and the “Acrabat[t]ene toparchy” (where John the son of Matthias—one of the ten “kings” of the land—had, at the first of the war, been made governor).  Simon “enlarged many of the caves . . . as repositories for his treasures, and . . . the fruits that he had got by rapine” (Wars IV.IX.4).  He marched to make “a sudden attack” on Hebron, got “a great deal of prey, and plundered it of a vast quantity of fruit.”  He “laid waste the whole country” and increased his army from 20,000 to 40,000, which was too large of an army for him to feed.  What he was doing was not so much killing Jews, but stealing all their food.  Therefore, writes Josephus:

[I]t came to pass that Idumea was greatly depopulated; and as one may see all the woods behind despoiled of their leaves by locusts, after they have been there, so was there nothing left behind Simon’s army but a desert.  Some places they burnt down, some they utterly demolished, and whatever grew in the country, they either trod it down or fed upon it, and by their marches they made the ground that was cultivated, harder and more untractable than that which was barren.  In short, there was no sign remaining of those places that had been laid waste, that ever they had had a being” (Wars IV.IX.7).


Torment Men but Don’t Kill Them
: Revelation 9:5 says: “And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.  According to the Mayo Clinic, scorpion’s stings are quite painful but rarely life-threatening: “Worldwide, only about 30 of the estimated 1,500 species of scorpions produce venom toxic enough to be fatal.” This rampage of Simon in the countryside took place DURING THE LULL IN THE WAR WITH THE ROMANS, when the throne of the Beast was in darkness.   Perhaps, the reference to “sun and the air [being] darkened because of the smoke of the pit” refers to the Plague of Darkness (blogpost Apocalyptic #26), since it occurred in the same time period.  By the Spring of 69, Simon sought refuge in Jerusalem and the rampage in the countryside ceased.  While the Romans had already raped the countryside in their earlier assaults, I think it is more likely that these “locusts” (in Simon’s army rather than the Roman armies) are the ones John prophesied concerning because Revelation emphasizes that the result of this plague is not primarily death, but torment.  The Romans as they demolished the countryside of Judea were also in the process of massacring thousands of Jews.  Simon’s bands certainly did some killing (as noted in the “Women’s Hair” comment below, for example), but mostly they were just stealing/confiscating the food, livestock, and crops.  Josephus reports: “Thus did Simon unexpectedly march into Idumea, without bloodshed” (Wars IV.IX.7). They didn’t damage the crops and provisions—they stole them.  Therefore, when John states, “They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men,” it is a fair depiction of what actually occurred.

Hair Like Women’s Hair
:  Is John offering this piece of information as a MAJOR CLUE to what he is talking about?  It seems, the Jewish rebel leader Simon and his rogue band indulged themselves in strange tactics that Josephus called “feminine wantonness”:  

[T]hey decked their hair, and put on women’s garments, and were besmeared over with ointments; and that they might appear very comely, they had paints under their eyes, and imitated, not only the ornaments, but also the lusts of women . . . .  And thus did they roll themselves up and down the city as in a brothel-house . . . while their faces looked like the faces of women, they killed with their right hands; and while their gait was effeminate, they attacked men . . . became warriors . . . drew their swords . . . ran everybody through (Wars IV.IX.10). 

Five Months:  R. H. Charles (I.243), citing Bochart, states: “The period of the visitation of these demonic locusts is limited to five months.  This limitation is due to the fact . . . that the natural locust is born in the spring and dies at the end of the summer, and thus lives about five months in all.”  It is entirely possible that the “five months” cited by John relates to the lifetime of an actual locust and that John really is just indicating that this plague would have a short duration. However, coincidentally, the reign of destruction of the Jewish rebel leader Simon in the Judean countryside, in 69 A.D. could also have lasted about five months (although he does continue his terrorist ways in the city of Jerusalem, thereafter, including much killing in the city).  Five months or not, his destructive ways were very short-lived.

  Both of these terms—Apollyon in the Greek and Abaddon in the Hebrew—mean “destroyer/destruction.”  This is precisely what this plague of “locusts” accomplished (destruction) in the Jewish countryside—and who Simon son of Giora was (destroyer).  Simon son of Giora and John of Gischala soon became the two primary antagonists in the civil war in Jerusalem which largely destroyed the city (Wars IV.IX.3).  All of these last three plagues we have considered—Darkness, Frogs, and Locusts--now lead us to the Battle of Armageddon, which we will begin to consider in the next blog post.  Since it is this Battle of Armageddon that the bulk of Revelation is pointing toward, we will need to spend multiple blogposts unpacking this battle.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Apocalyptic? #27: The Plague of “Frogs”: Josephus and Enoch Stories


The Plague of Frogs in Egypt Transformed into Demon and War Terminology                

Moving from Egyptian Plague 1—"Water Turned to Blood”—and Egyptian Plague 9—“Darkness”—to Egyptian Plague 2—“Frogs” (Exodus 8:1-15, Revelation Bowl 6)—John combines “plague” terminology with Hellenistic Jewish “demon” terminology with “war” terminology.  Clearly, Moses’ plague of frogs involved REAL FROGS (in nature), but John’s frogs are a war reference, using a literary allusion to demons in the Enoch legends.  Revelation 16:12-16 (NKJV) reports:

12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. . . .

16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.  (Emphases, mine.)

Just as John alludes to a myth to refer to one of the seven heads of the Beast (Nero) who received a “death blow” (when Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D.) but “came back to life” as an “eighth head” (in the person of Nero’s General Vespasian in 69 A.D.), so John uses the power of “the demon myth” from Enoch legends as a literary allusion here as he describes the manner by which Vespasian and his two sons (Titus and Domitian) ruled as the next three emperors, even at first, effectively reigning together.  (Titus is quoted—using the plural—in Wars VI.VI.2, “we were made emperors.” Josephus also calls Domitian “Caesar Domitian” at the time when “Vespasian was [at] Alexandria, and Titus . . . at the siege of Jerusalem” [Wars VII.IV.2]).  John knows fully-well that “demons” do not actually exist in the real world—they only exist in the lies that people believe, such as the lies concerning false gods and idols.  He states in Revelation 9:20-21: 

And the rest of mankind, who were not killed with these plagues, repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood which can neither see nor hear nor walk, and they repented not of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. (Emphases, mine.)


Importantly, John does not even agree with the Fallen Angel story from Enoch materials as he describes the Fall of Satan in Revelation 12 as occurring following the crucifixion of Jesus.  Enoch materials (incorrectly, for John) placed the fall of the angels at the time of the Flood (in Genesis 6).  John places the fall of the angels (and Satan) in the first century A.D.  Yet, as I state on pages 213-214 of my book Angels and Demons:  The Personification of Communication (Logology):


Bernard Bamberger summarizes the story of how demons originated as that story is presented in the Ethiopic book of Enoch, a second century B.C. work:


One passage states that the giants [who were the offspring of the fallen angels and the daughters of men] became evil spirits; another, that the fallen angels became evil spirits, leading men astray to sacrifice to demons, while the women they married became sirens.  But the usual view is that when the giants were slaughtered, in accordance with the punishment decreed for them, the evil spirits emerged from their bodies.  In any event, the demons, once they made their appearance, remain at large until the final judgment.


John, the author of Revelation uses this “usual view” of the origin of demons only as a literary allusion, to describe the connection between the Roman Emperor Nero (the last of the Caesarean family and the three primary Roman emperors who followed him (from the Flavian Dynasty):  Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian.  Revelation 16:12-13 states:


And the sixth angel poured out his bowl onto the great river Euphrates.  And its water was dried up so that the way of the kings from the land of the rising sun might be prepared.  And I saw out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits coming out as frogs.  And they are spirits of demons doing signs, which go forth to the kings of the land—even of the whole inhabitable world to gather them together to the war of the great day of God Almighty.  (Emphases, mine.)


On page 215 of my book Angels and Demons, I state:


While the story of the origin of demons in the Ethiopic book of Enoch is certainly . . . (Jewish folklore), . .  John is not . . . alluding to this [folklore to] suggest that John believed the [folklore] to be a true account of the origin of demons.  . . . Revelation 9:20 appears to agree with Paul—that demons (like idols) are nothing.  John writes of unrepentant men who worshiped the “works of their hands”—“demons and golden idols, and silver, and bronze, and wooden, which are not able to see, nor hear, nor walk.”  If demons are the works of men’s hands--neither able to see, hear, nor walk—demons do not exist as super-human forces that can take over the bodies of humans.


John is also illustrating the fact that one need not believe in the historical truth of the stories from the various books of Enoch in order to use them for literary purposes.


On pages 186-188 of my book
Angels and Demons, I write concerning Paul’s view of demons:


In . . . I Corinthians 10:18-26, Paul returns to the issue of eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols, and introduces the way he understands and uses the term “demons”:


Observe those physically the people of Israel!  Are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers of the altar?  What then is my suggestion?  That an idol offering amounts to anything or that the idol itself is anything?  No, but that what they sacrifice, they are offering to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to fellowship with demons.  You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and a demon’s cup.  You cannot participate in the Lord’s table and in a demon’s table.  Or shall we provoke the Lord to indignation?  Are we mightier than He?  Everything is allowed, but not everything is helpful.  Everything is allowed, but not everything is constructive.  . . . Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, without asking questions for conscientious scruples, for the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s (Berkeley).


. . .  I [Stan Lindsay] am writing about demons, and whether they exist, according to Paul.  Paul has asked a rhetorical question: “What then is my suggestion--that an idol offering amounts to anything or that the idol itself is anything?”  When asking a rhetorical question, no answer needs to be given, because the answer is obvious.  Nevertheless, Paul actually answers this one—just to be sure that everyone understands: “No, but that what they sacrifice, they are offering to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to fellowship with demons.”  In a Burkean sense, Paul has made “idols” equal “demons.”  He has stated (rhetorically) that “idols” are “not anything.”  Earlier, in I Corinthians 8:4, he had stated, “We know that no idol really exists; that there is no God but one.” 


Logically, if there is no God but one, and idols do not therefore exist, and offering to idols is the same as offering to demons, we may conclude that “DEMONS DO NOT EXIST.”  THEY ARE FALSE ENTITIES.  If Paul had thought that there really were true entities called demons, who were at war with God, could he ever have concluded that eating meat he claims is “offered” to them might be called innocent?  Could he ever have suggested, “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, without asking questions,” if he thought the meat had been associated with an existing entity at war with God?  The entire basis of his reasoning that allows the conclusion that it is not sinful to eat meat sacrificed to idols is that idols are nothing.  They are like demons—they do not exist.


Incidentally, neither the Gospel of John nor the Epistles of John mention demons either.  Yet, here is John in Revelation making reference (not primarily to Demons but, rather, to FROGS—as in the plague of frogs) in a context reminiscent of the origin of demons folklore.  THREE FROGS emerge from MOUTHS of the Dragon (Satan), the Beast (Nero), and the False Prophet (Jewish High Priest).  These three (Satan, Nero, and the High Priest) were the “giants” in John’s literary analogy.  The three FROGS (Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian) were the “demons” in John’s literary analogy.


Josephus expands:


But when Vespasian had overthrown all the places that were near to Jerusalem, he . . . heard . . . that Vitellius was emperor.  This produced indignation in him . . . he was not able to . . . apply himself to other wars [such as the Jerusalem siege] when his native country was laid waste . . . .  But now his commanders and soldiers . . . consulted openly . . . there is so much juster reason for Vespasian’s being emperor than for Vitellius . . . neither will the Roman Senate . . . bear . . . Vitellius, if he be compared with their chaste Vespasian . . . him that is a father . . . we ought to have Vespasian,--or . . . from the strength of a young man, we ought to have Titus; for . . . we shall have the advantage of both their ages . . . those that shall be made emperors . . . Vespasian’s . . . other son [Domitian;] . . . intrusted with the government of the city, which office of his will be no small means of Vespasian’s obtaining the government . . . they declared Vespasian emperor (Wars IV.X.1-2).


After accepting the emperorship proclaimed by his soldiers, Vespasian proceeded to Egypt to gain the support of the Roman legions there.  John gives the following “hints” so that we may understand his war-time analogy:


Hint #1:  Nero-redivivus.  The Nero-redivivus myth is explained by Wikipedia as “a belief popular during the last part of the 1st century that the Roman emperor Nero would return after his death in 68 AD. The legend was a common belief as late as the 5th century.  The belief was either the result or cause of several pretenders who posed as Nero leading rebellions.”  As I mentioned previously, John refers to one of the seven heads of the Beast (i.e., Nero) receiving a “death blow” (when Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D.) but “came back to life” as an “eighth head.”  Revelation 13:3 (NKJV) declares: “And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.”  On pages 41-42 of my book Revelation:  The Human Drama, I write:


Caird comments:  "Since the main trait of the monster's character is that it wages war on God's people, the emperor who best fits the specifications is Nero.  His suicide in A.D. 68 could have been regarded as a deadly wound.  . . . Only with the accession of Vespasian did the monster come to life again."  . . . [A]s Caird has seen, the clearest fit in terms of the monster's character would be Nero, the emperor who declared war on the Jews in 66 A.D.  Vespasian was Nero's general whom Nero sent to besiege Jerusalem, and who in 69 A.D. became emperor after the Roman civil war which followed Nero's suicide (in 68 A.D.).  With Caird, I find Vespasian to be the best candidate for the head which "seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed" (Revelation 13:3).  No other candidate for emperor could more clearly have represented Nero-returned-to-life to the Jews in 69 A.D. than did the general whom Nero sent to attack Jerusalem.

Hint #2:  The Origin-of-Demons Imagery.
  Bamberger observes that in Ethiopic Enoch, “when the giants [the offspring of fallen angels and women] were slaughtered, in accordance with the punishment decreed for them, the evil spirits emerged from their bodies.”  The “giants” were dead before the demons emerged.  Likewise, the “beast” (Nero) and the “false prophet” (the High Priests Ananus and Jesus) have died by the time the three “frogs” emerge “from their bodies.”  Revelation 16:12 states: “And I saw out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits coming out as frogs.”  The dragon has not yet, of course, died, but he has, at least, been cast out of heaven in Revelation chapter 12.  (Note also that while the Beast and False Prophet were cast into the Lake of Fire at the beginning of the Millennium in Revelation 19:20, the Dragon was only chained in the abyss, during that time—to be released later.)  Nero had, of course, commissioned Vespasian (with his mouth, presumably) to conduct the war in Judea.  Ananus (and Jesus) had attempted to give Jerusalem to Vespasian (using his/their mouth/s to persuade the populace of Jerusalem). Hence, Vespasian proceeded out of their mouths.

Hint #3:  The Beastly Trinity.
  Romans were accustomed to thinking of powerful trinities, so it was not hard for them to conceptualize an emperorship that was divided among three emperors.  According to Wikipedia:

The Capitoline Triad was a group of three deities who were worshipped in ancient Roman religion in an elaborate temple on Rome's Capitoline Hill . . . .   The triad held a central place in the public religion of Rome.  . . . The three deities who are most commonly referred to as the "Capitoline Triad" are Jupiter, the king of the gods; Juno (in her aspect as Iuno Regina, "Queen Juno"), his wife and sister; and Jupiter's daughter Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.

In Revelation, the “diabolical” trinity of dragon, beast, and false prophet (aka, second beast) is matched by the “Beastly trinity” of frogs.  They are three in number.  When Vespasian’s commanders and soldiers consulted concerning declaring Vespasian emperor, they argued that all THREEVespasian, Titus, and Domitian—would play a role in Vespasian’s ruling of the Roman Empire (Wars IV.X.1-2).  Josephus comments (Wars IV.XI.3-4) concerning Antonius’s defeat of Vitellius:

[M]any . . . perished, and among them Vitellius’s whole army, being thirty thousand and two hundred, while Antonius lost no more than . . . four thousand and five hundred . . . he then . . . sent . . . to Vespasian, to tell him the good news.  . . . And now . . . that Antonius was approaching . . . Rome, . . . many men of character came over to him, with Domitian . . . .  Antonius . . . then produced Domitian and recommended him to the multitude, until his father should come himself.

Perhaps, some of the confusion church fathers in the second century had concerning Revelation being written during the reign of Domitian pertains to the fact that DOMITIAN ACTUALLY DID REIGN IN THE CITY OF ROME DURING THE TIME HIS FATHER VESPASIAN WAS EMPEROR, while Vespasian was away in Egypt cementing the alliance there.  Domitian became the sole and official emperor of Rome after his brother Titus died (in 81 A.D.)  Titus had become the sole and official emperor of Rome after their father Vespasian died (in 79 A.D.); however, Josephus constantly referred to Titus as “Caesar” during the siege of Jerusalem (in 70 A.D.), even though, technically, Vespasian was the emperor at that time.  When Titus had completed his destruction of Jerusalem and marched in triumph to Rome, according to Josephus, “what made the most splendid appearance in Titus’s opinion was, when his father met him and received him; but still the multitude of the citizens conceived the greatest joy when they saw them all three [Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian] together” (Wars VII.V.3).  Josephus uses the plural “emperors” to describe them (Wars VII.V.4, 6).  This trinity of emperors would not have confused the Romans.

Hint #4:  The Euphrates.
  Both Trumpet 6 and Bowl 6 have a concern with something happening at the Euphrates:  Revelation 16:12-13 (NKJV) reports: “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth(s).  Revelation 9:13-19 (NKJV) adds:

And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.  . . .  By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth.

In Exodus 8:5 (NKJV), Moses had Aaron stretch his rod “over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.”  Likewise, John has his “frogs” emerge from a river—the Euphrates.  The Euphrates was the eastern border of the Roman Empire and Nero had placed Vespasian in command of preserving that border (“the East”), along with the campaign against the Jews (Wars III.I.2).  Josephus (Wars III.V.7) muses: “[W]hat wonder is it, that Euphrates on the east, the ocean on the west, . . . Lybia [Libya, bordering Egypt, in Africa] on the south, and the Danube and the Rhine on the north, are the limits of this empire?” Syria was the Roman province that bordered the Euphrates, and it was in Syria that Vespasian took command of the Roman armies and “sent his son Titus . . . to Alexandria [Egypt], to bring from thence the fifth and tenth legions” (Wars III.I.3), thus, bringing the armies at the eastern and southern borders of the empire together to battle Judea.  It was to Syria that Titus sailed back from Greece “and came in great haste to Cesarea, to his father” when the unstable situation in Rome was known to him (Wars IV.IX.2).  When Titus was then commissioned to prosecute the war against Jerusalem, “There followed him also three thousand, drawn from those that guarded the River Euphrates(Wars V.I.6).

Hint #5:  Marching through the Cities of the Seven Churches.  I pointed out in my earlier blogpost—Apocalyptic?  #20:  Mirroring the Gospels:  Jesus in Heaven! (Rev. 4-5)—"What is remarkable is that (after Chapter 3) John, in Revelation, NEVER AGAIN mentions those [seven] churches.”  Instead, he turns his attention to the “land” of Israel.  Some may wonder why, then, he addressed the book to the seven churches in Asia Minor at all, if he were concerned primarily with the events in Judea.  Here is why:  The very year John wrote Revelation, Vespasian’s armies were marching through Asia Minor where many of the Jewish Christians from the “land” of Israel had migrated (perhaps, even “fled,” in response to Jesus’ warning—this possibility, considered in a future blogpost).  Now, the very armies that had demolished virtually all of Judea—except Jerusalem—are coming through their towns!  They (those to whom John is writing) are also “Jews,” albeit “Christian Jews.” These churches needed to understand God’s plan and what was happening to them and to the homeland.  Furthermore, there would have been no point in addressing Revelation to churches in Judea because, by now, the Christians who believed Jesus’ prophecy have fled away.  Yet, in Asia Minor, the Jewish Christians are located IN THE VERY MIDDLE of the wars with the Beast.  Nero had blamed the Christians for the Roman fire of 64 A.D., just five years prior to this (so Christian Jews are already targets of the Beast), and now the armies are marching from the Land of Israel back to Italy, after conducting war with the entire Jewish nation (including any Christian Jews).  Vespasian, having won the support of the governor of Alexandria and Egypt to be emperor and considering himself already to be emperor is ready to take Rome and the Empire by force.  Writes Josephus (Wars IV.X.6):

[Vespasian] got all things ready for his journey [to Rome.]  Now fame carried this news abroad more suddenly . . . that he was emperor over the east, upon which every city kept festivals, and celebrated sacrifices and oblations for such good news; the legions that were in Mysia and Pannonia . . . were very glad to take the oath of fidelity to Vespasian . . . .  Vespasian then removed from Cesarea to Berytus, where many embasaages [embassies] came to him from Syria, and many from other provinces . . . and . . . told him of every city that had taken the oath of fidelity to him.

I have already mentioned “how Antonius Primus and Mucianus slew Vitellius” (Wars IV.IX.2), but we return to that period of time to explain how that event took place.  Josephus explains in Wars IV.XI.1-2:

[W]hen Vespasian came to Antioch [Syria] . . . he sent Mucianus to Italy, and committed a considerable army . . . to him; yet was Mucianus afraid of going by sea, because it was the middle of winter; so he led his army on foot through Cappadocia and Phrygia.  In the meantime, Antonius Primus took the third of the legions that were in Mysia, for he was president of that province and made haste in order to fight Vitellius.

The province of Mysia from which Antonius Primus took the third of the legions is where some of the seven churches to whom John addressed Revelation are located, especially Pergamum, of whom John quoting Jesus writes (Revelation 2:13 NKJV): “where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is . . . Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.  The cities in Mysia are certainly counted among “every city [that] kept festivals, and celebrated sacrifices and oblations for such good news.”  Is this the “porneia” of which Jesus warned the seven churches?  Did “Jezebel” and “Balaam” join the “Nicolaitans” in celebrating sacrifices for Vespasian? Were “Jezebel” and “Balaam” and the “Nicolaitans” trying to protect themselves from the wrath of Vespasian that had already demolished most of the “land” of Israel?  The province of Pannonia was north of Mysia, on the land route from the seven churches to Italy.  The provinces of Cappadocia and Phrygia through which Mucianus led his army on foot are located to the east of the area with the seven churches, so those armies would have marched through the region of the seven churches on their way westward to Rome.  Antioch [Syria]—in the land of the Euphrates—from whence Vespasian commissioned his armies to go to Italy was between Judea and Asia Minor; the home of the seven churches lay in the pathway.

Hint #6:  The Kings from The
Land Of The Rising Sun.  The kings from the land of the rising sun (i.e., from the land of the “east”) are either Vespasian and Titus or they are Mucianus and Antonius Primus, as just described, or perhaps, all of the above.  The Plague of Darkness (Bowl #5) which had been poured out “on the throne of the Beast” has now been completed—as the Plague of the Frogs, with Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian now move to occupy the “Throne” of the Beast.  We return our focus to the “land” of Israel in the next blogpost.