And the fourth angel sounded
His trumpet. Some think this refers to the Eutychian heresy, which confounded the two natures of Christ, and of two made one mixed nature, neither human nor divine; and brought great darkness upon the doctrine of Christ's person, the sun of righteousness and into the church, signified by the moon, and among the ministers of the word, the stars. Others are of opinion that that darkness which preceded the rise of the Papacy, and introduced it, is here intended:
and the third part of the sun was smitten and the third part of the
moon, and the third part of the stars, so as the third part of them
was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the
when the doctrine concerning the person and offices of Christ, who is the sun and light of the world, was obscured by heresies; and the discipline of the church, which, like the moon, has all its light, beauty, and order from Christ, was sadly defaced by the introduction of Jewish and Paganish rites and ceremonies; and the ministers, the stars, were drawn by the tail of the drag on, and cast to the earth, became corrupt in their principles, and carnal and sensual in their lives; so that it was a time of great darkness and gloominess, night and day: but rather this trumpet has respect to that darkness and ignorance which the above barbarous nations, the Goths, Huns, Vandals, and Heruli, spread, and left throughout the empire; for from this time there was a visible decline, as of evangelical light and knowledge, so of all kind of useful knowledge, and nothing but ignorance, stupidity, and barbarity, took place everywhere; and which were very assisting to the man of sin, antichrist, to fix and settle his dominion over the kingdoms which rose up out of the empire at this time; and it also refers to the entire destruction of the western Roman empire, which is expressed by much the same figures as the ruin of the Roman Pagan empire, in ( Revelation 6:12 Revelation 6:13 ) ; and which the various irruptions of these savage people issued in; compare with this ( Ezekiel 32:7 Ezekiel 32:8 ) , where the destruction of the Egyptian monarchy is signified in like terms: Jerom, who lived about the time of the first inundation of these nations, in very mournful language expresses the inhumanity and impiety of them, and the ruin they threatened the empire with; and, says F23, "[Romanus] orbis ruit", "the [Roman] empire is falling". About the year 455, when Rome was taken by Genseric the Vandal, the empire was divided into ten kingdoms; and in the year 476, Augustulus, the last of the Roman emperors, was obliged to quit his imperial dignity: the Heruli, a people of the same kind with the Goths, and originally Scythians, as they, under their king and leader Odoacer seized on Italy, took Rome, killed Orestes and his brother Paul, and deposed Augustulus, the last of the Roman emperors, and banished him into Campania; and so the western empire ceased, Odoacer taking upon him the title of king of Italy, and translated the seat of the empire from Rome to Ravenna F24; and then might the sun be truly said to be smitten: but still, though Odoacer the Herulian reigned in Italy, the Roman form of government was not altered, the consulship and senate still continued, as they did also under Theodoric the Goth, his successor; but when Italy was recovered by Narses, the Emperor Justinian's general, these, with other magistrates, ceased, and Rome became a dukedom, and was subject to an exarch of Ravenna; and then the moon and stars were smitten also. The phrase of smiting the sun, moon, and stars, is Jewish; for the Jews express the eclipses of the luminaries in this way, and say F25 that when the luminaries (Nyqwl) , "are smitten", it is an ill omen; when (hqwl hmxh) , "the sun is smitten", it is an ill sign to the nations of the world; and when (hqwl hnbl) , "the moon is smitten", it is a bad omen to the nations of Israel F26 and so the phrase, "the day shone not", is also Jewish; it is said F1 of some Rabbins, that they sat and studied in the law (amwy ryhnd de) , "until the day shone"; and when "the day shone", they rose up and went on their way.
F23 Epitaph. Nepotian. fol. 9. l. Tom. 1. vid. etiam Epist. ad Gerontiam, fol. 32. E. & Epitaph. Fabiolae, fol. 68. H.
F24 Vid. Casssiodor. Chronicon in Zenon. 47. Hist. Eccl. Magdeburg. cent. 5. c. 16. p. 876. Petav. Rationar. Temp. par. 1. c. 18. p. 304.
F25 Jarchi in Gen. 1. 14.
F26 T. Bab. Succa, fol. 29. 1. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 62. 1.
F1 Zohar in Deut. fol. 113. 3.