Their wine [is] the poison of dragons
Of these creatures, both land and sea dragons, (See Gill on Micah 1:8); (See Gill on Malachi 1:3); Pliny says F12 the dragon has no poison in it; yet, as Dalechamp, in his notes on that writer observes, he in many places prescribes remedies against the bite of the dragon; but Heliodorus F13 expressly speaks of some archers, whose arrows were infected with the poison of dragons; and Leo Africanus F14 says, the Atlantic dragons are exceeding poisonous: and yet other writers F15 besides Pliny have asserted that they are free from poison. It seems the dragons of Greece are without, but not those of Africa and Arabia; and to these Moses has respect, as being well known to him. The Targum of Jerusalem is,
``the poison of this people is like the poison of dragons as they drink wine;''and the Targum of Jonathan,
``as the poison of dragons, when they are at or from their wine;''that is, after and as soon as they have drank it; for, according to natural historians, serpents, though they need and use but little drink, yet are very fond of wine: and it seems that thereby their poison becomes more sharp and intense, as Bochart F16 observes; wherefore the allusion is very proper and pertinent, and denotes the wine of fornication of the apostate church of Rome, frequently spoken of ( Revelation 14:8 ) ( 17:2 ) ( 18:3 ) ; which is no other than her corrupt doctrines, intoxicating, enticing, and leading to idolatry and superstition; and as the true Gospel of Christ is sometimes compared to wine, so the false doctrines of this church; but then it is such that is not only loathsome and abominable, but poisonous and pernicious to the souls of men, damnable and ruinous, and brings upon them swift destruction, ( 2 Peter 2:1-3 ) ( Revelation 14:9-11 ) ; and may well be compared to the poison of dragons for such reasons; as also because they are doctrines of devils, and come from the great dragon, that old serpent called the devil and Satan, ( 2 Timothy 4:1 ) ( Revelation 12:3 Revelation 12:9 ) ;
and the cruel venom of asps;
which, of all kind of serpents, Pliny F17 says is the least curable; nay, according to the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions of this clause, it is incurable; and so Aristotle says
F18 there is no remedy for it; and so says Aelianus F19, who also observes F20, that the mark it makes is so small, that it is scarcely discerned by the sharpest eye. Pliny F21 represents it as a most revengeful creature; when its mate is killed by any, it will pursue the slayer, flee where he will, and as far and fast as he can: it breaks through all difficulties, and is not to be stopped by rivers, or any obstacles, and will attack the person, whom it presently knows, let him be in ever such a crowd: and therefore it and its poison may well be called cruel; and as the poison of this creature lies under its tongue, this is a fit simile to express the poisonous and pernicious doctrines of the apostate church.
F12 Nat. Hist. l. 29. c. 4.
F13 Ethiopic. l. 9. c. 19. p. 438.
F14 Descriptio Africae, l. 9. p. 763.
F15 Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 8. c. 4. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 72.
F16 Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 3. c. 14. col. 438, 439.
F17 Nat. Hist. l. 29. c. 4.
F18 Hist. Animal. l. 8. c. 29.
F19 De Animal. l. 1. c. 54. & l. 6. c. 38.
F20 Ibid. l. 9. c. 61.
F21 Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 23.