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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What is Wormwood as read at Rev. 8:10,11?

Revelation 8:10-11 says:

"And the third angel blew his trumpet. And a great star burning as a lamp fell from heaven, and it fell upon a third of the rivers and upon the fountains of waters. And the name of the star is called Wormwood. And a third of the waters turned into wormwood, and many of the men died from the waters, because these had been made bitter."

A strict literal interpretation of Revelation 8:10,11 relating to the last days, seeing Wormwood as an actual star fated to strike the earth is highly improbable. A literal star is a massive, luminous ball of plasma that is held together by gravity. To get a sense of the size of stars, the nearest star to Earth is the Sun. 1,300,000 Earths could fit in the Sun and the Sun is considered only an average-sized star. If a literal star were to actually stray into the solar system and come into contact with the Earth, the damage would be far more devastating than simply 1/3 of the Earth being affected. The oceans, lakes and rivers would literally boil away (leaving no rivers for the star to fall on in the first place) and eventually the entire earth would be consumed.

Clearly this "star" Wormwood would have to be meant in a figurative sense for it to "fall" upon the Earth. If it were a literal star, considering a star's size and gravity, it is the Earth that would fall into the star...not the other way around.

So what is Wormwood?

Actual wormwood is a somewhat woody plant that has an intensely bitter taste and a strong aromatic odor. Hence, the reference to being made "bitter" in Rev. 8:10,11 has more meaning. And by examining and comparing scriptural references to wormwood, this can aid in discovering it's true identification which is judgment from God:

"Therefore this is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said, 'Here I am making them, that is, this people, eat wormwood, and I will make them drink poisoned water; and I will scatter them among the nations that neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send after them the sword until I shall have exterminated them.'" (Jeremiah 9:15-16)

"Therefore this is what Jehovah of armies has said against the prophets: 'Here I am making them eat wormwood, and I will give them poisoned water to drink. For from the prophets of Jerusalem apostasy has gone forth to all the land.'" (Jeremiah 23:15)

"He has given me a sufficiency of bitter things. He has saturated me with wormwood." (Lamentations 3:15)

"On a crag will horses run, or will one plow [there] with cattle? For into a poisonous plant YOU people have turned justice, and the fruitage of righteousness into wormwood."(Amos 6:12)

Also consider this reference on page 187 of Vol. 1, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1990:

apsinthos - "Rev. 8:11 (bis): masc., as the name of a star; fem., as the name of a bitter liquid into which a third of all water is transformed at the third trumpet sound. Because of its bitterness, [apsinthos], mugwort, is translated traditionally by wormwood, and is an image for damnation and judgment."

For more, see:
Not uncommon for the Bible to use stars in a figurative sense

Wormwood and spiritual poisoning

Search For Bible Truths - ARCHIVE 

Scriptures Index