And the great dragon was cast out
From heaven, or from power and authority in the Roman empire, namely, the devil, where he had long presided; it is observable that Constantine himself speaks of "the dragon" being removed from the government of the commonwealth by the providence of God, and by the ministry, or means of him F13; and he had his own effigies on a table placed before the porch of his palace, with the cross over his head, and a dragon under his feet thrust through with darts, and falling headlong F14;
the old serpent;
who is so called, because, of old, from the beginning, almost as soon as the world was, he appeared in the form of a serpent, or rather made use of it as an instrument and means, by which he seduced Eve, and so brought on the ruin of mankind, it is very usual with the Jews to call the devil (ynwmdqh vxn) , "the old serpent" F15; wherefore John uses this phrase as a known one, to explain who was meant by the great dragon:
called the devil and Satan;
the first of these names signifies an accuser, and a forger of calumnies, and such is the old serpent; he accuses God to men, as if he was envious of their happiness, as in the case of our first parents, and of men to God, of which there is an instance in the case of Job; and hence he is in ( Revelation 12:10 ) called the accuser of the brethren; and the latter of them signifies an enemy, one that is filled with hatred and enmity to God and Christ, and to his church and people, whose adversary he is said to be, and at whose right hand he stands to resist, as he did Joshua the high priest:
which deceiveth the whole world;
which he did by deceiving our first parents, from whom all mankind spring, and in whose loins they were when they were deceived; so the Jews say F16 of the old serpent, that (Mlweh lkl hejm) , "he deceives the whole world"; and so he deceived and corrupted the old world before the flood; and so he seduces every age and generation of men in the world; but here the Roman empire, sometimes called all the world, as in ( Luke 2:1 ) , is meant, whom Satan deceived by drawing it into idolatry and superstition;
he was cast out into the earth;
he was cast out of the Roman empire, from the rule of it, and worship in it, the Heathen gods and Heathen emperors being no more; when he possessed and instigated, and influenced the Huns, Goths, and Vandals, a meaner and baser sort of people, hereafter in this chapter called the earth, which is said to help the woman, contrary to the intention of Satan; the phrase denotes the greatness of the fall of Satan, his loss of power, and the meanness and low estate of the persons he afterwards had the power of, both the savage people before mentioned, and the antichristian party:
and his angels were cast out with him;
the Heathen emperors, magistrates, priests, and other votaries of his, which he made use of as instruments to do his will.
F13 Euseb. de Vita Constantini, l. 2. c. 46.
F14 Ib. l. 3. c. 3.
F15 T. Bab. Sota, fol. 9. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 29. 1. Imre Binah in Zohar in Gen. fol. 3. 1. & 15. 2. & passim, Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Exod. fol. 50. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 7. 3. & 8. 2. & 26. 3. & 46. 1. & Caphtor, fol. 101. 2.
F16 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 13. 3.