The Seven Trumpets. 1When he broke open the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven* for about half an hour.a 2And I saw that the seven angels who stood before God were given seven trumpets.b
The Gold Censer. 3Another angel came and stood at the altar,* holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne.c 4The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. 5Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.d
The First Four Trumpets. 6The seven angels who were holding the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.e
7When the first one blew his trumpet, there came hail and fire mixed with blood, which was hurled down to the earth. A third of the land was burned up, along with a third of the trees and all green grass.*
8* When the second angel blew his trumpet, something like a large burning mountain was hurled into the sea. A third of the sea turned to blood,f 9a third of the creatures living in the sea* died, and a third of the ships were wrecked.
10When the third angel blew his trumpet, a large star burning like a torch fell from the sky. It fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.g 11The star was called “Wormwood,”* and a third of all the water turned to wormwood. Many people died from this water, because it was made bitter.h
12When the fourth angel blew his trumpet, a third of the sun, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them became dark. The day lost its light for a third of the time, as did the night.i
13Then I looked again and heard an eagle flying high overhead cry out in a loud voice, “Woe! Woe! Woe* to the inhabitants of the earth from the rest of the trumpet blasts that the three angels are about to blow!”
* [8:1–13] The breaking of the seventh seal produces at first silence and then seven symbolic disasters, each announced by a trumpet blast, of which the first four form a unit as did the first four seals. A minor liturgy (Rev 8:3–5) is enclosed by a vision of seven angels (Rev 8:2, 6). Then follow the first four trumpet blasts, each heralding catastrophes modeled on the plagues of Egypt affecting the traditional prophetic third (cf. Ez 5:12) of the earth, sea, fresh water, and stars (Rev 8:7–12). Finally, there is a vision of an eagle warning of the last three trumpet blasts (Rev 8:13).
* [8:1] Silence in heaven: as in Zep 1:7, a prelude to the eschatological woes that are to follow; cf. Introduction.
* [8:3] Altar: there seems to be only one altar in the heavenly temple, corresponding to the altar of holocausts in Rev 6:9, and here to the altar of incense in Jerusalem; cf. also Rev 9:13; 11:1; 14:18; 16:7.
* [8:7] This woe resembles the seventh plague of Egypt (Ex 9:23–24); cf. Jl 3:3.
* [8:8–11] The background of these two woes is the first plague of Egypt (Ex 7:20–21).
* [8:9] Creatures living in the sea: literally, “creatures in the sea that had souls.”
* [8:11] Wormwood: an extremely bitter and malignant plant symbolizing the punishment God inflicts on the ungodly; cf. Jer 9:12–14; 23:15.
* [8:13] Woe! Woe! Woe: each of the three woes pronounced by the angel represents a separate disaster; cf. Rev 9:12; 11:14. The final woe, released by the seventh trumpet blast, includes the plagues of Rev 16.
a. [8:1] Heb 2:20; Zep 1:7; Zec 2:17.
d. [8:5] Ez 10:2; Ps 11:6 / Rev 4:5; 11:19; 16:18.