Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Revelation 18:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The merchandise of gold, and silver, etc. - The same author, Bishop Bale, who was once a priest of the Romish Church, goes on to apply all these things to that Church; and whether the text have this meaning or not, they will show us something of the religious usages of his time, and the real mockery of this intolerant and superstitious Church. Speaking in reference to the Reformation, and the general light that had been diffused abroad by the word of God, which was then translated into the vulgar tongue, and put into the hands of the people at large, he says: -

"They will pay no more money for the housell sippings, bottom blessings; nor for 'seest me and seest me not,' above the head and under of their chalices, which in many places be of fine gold. Neyther regarde they to kneele anye more downe, and to kisse their pontificall rings which are of the same metal. They will be no more at coste to have the ayre beaten, and the idols perfumed with their sensers at pryncipall feastes; to have their crucifixes layde upon horses, or to have them solemply borne aloft in their gaddings abroade; with the religious occupyings of their paxes, cruettes, and other jewels which be of silver.

"Neyther passe they greatly to beholde precyous stones any more in their two-horned miters, whan they hollow their churches, give theyr whorishe orders, and tryumphantly muster in processions. Nor in costuous pearles in theyr copes perrours, and chysibilles, whan they be in their prelately pompous sacrifices. Men, knowing the worde of God, supposeth that their ornaments of silk, wherewith they garnishe their temples and adorne their idolles, is very blasphemous and divillish. They thinke also, that their fayre white rockets of raynes, or fine linnen cloath; their costly gray amices, of calaber and cattes tayles; theyr fresh purple gownes, whan they walke for their pleasures; and their read scarlet frockes, whan they preach lyes in the pulpit, are very superfluous and vayne.

"In their thynen wood (whom some men call algume trees, some basill, some corall) may be understande all theyr curious buildings of temples, abbeys, chappels, and chambers; all shrines, images, church stooles, and pews that are well payed for; all banner staves, paternoster scores, and peeces of the holy crosse.

"The vessels of ivory comprehendeth all their maundye dyshes, their offring platters, their relique chestes, their god boxes, their drinking horns, their sipping cuppes for the hiccough, their tables whereupon are charmed their chalises and vestiments; their standiches, their combes, their muske balles, their pomaunder pottes, and their dust boxes, with other toyes.

"The vessels of precious stone; which after some interpretours, are of precious stone, or after some are of most precious wood; betokeneth their costuous cuppes, or cruses of jasper, jacinct, amel, and fine beral; and their alabaster boxes, wherwith they annointe kinges, confirme children, and minister their holy whorish orders. Their pardon masers, or drinking dishes, as St. Benit's bole, St. Edmond's bole, St. Giles's bole, St. Blythe's bole, and Westminster bole, with such other holy re-liques.

"Of brasse, which containeth latten, copper, alcumine, and other harde metals, are made all their great candlesticks, holy water kettles, lampes, desks, pyllers, butterasses, bosses, bels, and many other thinges more.

"Of strong yron are the braunches made that holde up the lightes before their false gods; the tacks that sustayne them for fallinge; the lockes that save them from the robberye of thieves; their fyre pans, bars, and poolyes, with many other straunge ginnes besides.

"With marble most commonlye pave they their temples, and build strong pillers and arches in their great cathedrale churches and monastries; they make thereof also their superalities, their tumbs, and their solemne grave-stones; besides their other buildinges, with free-stone, flint, ragge, and brick, comprehended in the same.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The merchandise of gold, and silver - Of course, these constitute an important article of commerce in a great city.

And precious stones - Diamonds, emeralds, rubies, etc. These have always been important articles of traffic in the world, and, of course, most of the traffic in them would find its way to great commercial cities.

And pearls - See the notes on Matthew 7:6; Matthew 13:46. These, too, have been always, and were, particularly in early times, valuable articles of commerce. Mr. Gibbon mentions them as among the articles that contributed to the luxury of Rome in the age of the Antonines: “precious stones, among which the pearl claimed the first rank after the diamond,” vol. i. p. 34.

And fine linen - This was also a valuable article of commerce. It was obtained chiefly from Egypt. See the notes on Isaiah 19:9. Linen, among the ancients, was an article of luxury, for it was worn chiefly by the rich, Exodus 28:42; Leviticus 6:10; Luke 16:19. The original word here is βύσσος bussos“byssus,” and it is found in the New Testament only in this place, and in Luke 16:19. It was a “species of fine cotton, highly prized by the ancients.” Various kinds are mentioned - as that of Egypt, the cloth which is still found wrapped around mummies; that of Syria, and that of India, which grew on a tree similar to the poplar; and that of Achaia, which grew in the vicinity of Elis. See Robinson, Lexicon.

And purple - See the notes on Luke 16:19. Cloth of this color was a valuable article of commerce, as it was worn by rich men and princes.

And silk - Silk was a very valuable article of commerce, as it was costly, and could be worn only by the rich. It is mentioned by Mr. Gibbon as such an article in Rome in the age of the Antonines: “Silk, a pound of which was esteemed not inferior in value to a pound of gold,” vol. i. p. 34. On the cultivation and manufacture of silk by the ancients, see the work entitled, “The History of Silk, Cotton, Linen, and Wool, etc.,” published by Harper Brothers, New York, 1845, pp. 1-21.

And scarlet - See the notes on Revelation 17:3.

And all thyine wood - The word used here - θύΐνον thuinon- occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It denotes an evergreen African tree, from which statues and costly vessels were made. It is not agreed, however, whether it was a species of cedar, savin, or lignum-vitae, which latter constitutes the modern genus Thuja, or Thyia. See Rees‘ Cyclo., art. “Thuja.”

And all manner vessels of ivory - Everything that is made of ivory. Ivory, or the tusk of the elephant, has always been among the precious articles of commerce.

And all manner vessels of most precious wood - Furniture of costly wood - cedar, the citron tree, lignum-vitae, etc.

And of brass, and iron, and marble - Brass or copper would, of course, be a valuable article of commerce. The same would be the case with iron; and so marble, for building, for statuary, etc., would likewise be.

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 676

Verse 12

Babylon’s Merchandise. — In these verses we have an enumeration of great Babylon’s merchandise, which includes everything pertaining to luxurious living, pomp, and worldly display. All kinds of mercantile traffic are brought to view. The declaration concerning “slaves and souls of men” may pertain more particularly to the spiritual domain, and have reference to slavery of conscience by the creeds of these bodies, which in some cases is more oppressive than physical bondage.DAR 676.2

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The mourners had shared Babylon's sensual pleasures, and gained by her wealth and trade. The kings of the earth, whom she flattered into idolatry, allowing them to be tyrannical over their subjects, while obedient to her; and the merchants, those who trafficked for her indulgences, pardons, and honours; these mourn. Babylon's friends partook her sinful pleasures and profits, but are not willing to share her plagues. The spirit of antichrist is a worldly spirit, and that sorrow is a mere worldly sorrow; they do not lament for the anger of God, but for the loss of outward comforts. The magnificence and riches of the ungodly will avail them nothing, but will render the vengeance harder to be borne. The spiritual merchandise is here alluded to, when not only slaves, but the souls of men, are mentioned as articles of commerce, to the destroying the souls of millions. Nor has this been peculiar to the Roman antichrist, and only her guilt. But let prosperous traders learn, with all their gains, to get the unsearchable riches of Christ; otherwise; even in this life, they may have to mourn that riches make to themselves wings and fly away, and that all the fruits their souls lusted after, are departed from them. Death, at any rate, will soon end their commerce, and all the riches of the ungodly will be exchanged, not only for the coffin and the worm, but for the fire that cannot be quenched.
Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 159.5

Christ gave Himself for the redemption of the race, that all who believe in Him may have everlasting life. Those who appreciate this great sacrifice receive from the Saviour that most precious of all gifts—a clean heart. They gain an experience that is more valuable than gold or silver or precious stones. They sit together in heavenly places in Christ, enjoying in communion with Him the joy and peace that He alone can give. They love Him with heart and mind and soul and strength, realizing that they are His blood-bought heritage. Their spiritual eyesight is not dimmed by worldly policy or worldly aims. They are one with Christ as He is one with the Father. TDG 159.5

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