Did the White Horseman have a bow, bow, or bow?

Symbols in the Bible are not always easy to decipher. Over the past two thousand years there have been numerous writings and re-writings of the Holy Scriptures. In order to keep the Word alive and comprehensible, scholars have continually strived to perfect the Bible’s language to align with their respective cultures and language.

There have been many debates, clashes, and arguments amongst Christians as to how the Word of God should be interpreted. Given how many developments there have been over the past two thousand years I like to keep an open mind. Therefore, to come across an evangelist, or to be precise, a Christian cult leader (FYI, the term cult leader is not used lightly), who believes that they have the capacity to interpret the Bible in a superior manner to all others intrigues me.

I do not want to unduly direct people to this man’s cult so I won’t mention them by name, however, I will give a little description of one their YouTube propaganda videos in which they discuss the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. They suggest the White Horse represents Jesus – which I dispute on the grounds that it is more probable that the ‘lamb’ in Revelations 6:1 who opens the seals and witnesses the horses is Christ. Therefore, how can Jesus be both the opener and the contents of the first seal? My greater curiosity, however, is in their point regarding how the word ‘bow’ should be interpreted.

In the video produced by the cult leader, they reference the White Horseman as depicted in Revelations 6:2:

And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

King James Version – BibleHub, 2020

Initially, the commentator, known as “the Voice”, considers ‘bow’ may be a reference to a weapon, which is a common inference.

Archer holding a ‘bow’ and arrow. Picture: ClipartMax

However, he isn’t too sure about associating Jesus with a weapon, so it’s suggested ‘bow’ is better interpreted as a ribbon. The video clip then flashes to a piece of fabric and the Voice says that Jesus’ has the miraculous capacity to save the world with a flimsy piece of cloth.

Floating piece of ribbon as a ‘bow’. Picture: PNGWING

A point overlooked with the bow as fabric interpretation is that it could be a ‘bow’ that represents status, like soldiers who receive ribbons of honour.

Ribbon of honour. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

The Greek word for ‘bow’ in Revelations 6:2 is τόξον [toxon] and there is some legitimacy to the interpretation of it being a ribbon of some sort. There are a number of Christian’s who share the opinion that the White Horseman’s bow is a simple piece of fabric. Justification for this view includes there being no mention of arrows in the Bible verse which is a point I appreciate, but I’m still not convinced about ribbon hypothesis. To investigate further I looked at a few other versions:

And I saw: and behold, a white horse, and he that sat upon it having a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went forth conquering and that he might conquer.

Darby Bible Translation – BibleHub, 2020

And I looked and a white horse appeared, and its rider carried a bow; and a victor’s wreath was given to him; and he went out conquering and in order to conquer.

Weymouth New Testament – BibleHub, 2020

I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

New International Version – BibleHub, 2020

Quick recap:

  • King James Version (1611) – Rider of white horse had a bow
  • Darby Bible Translation (1890) – Rider of white horse having a bow
  • Weymouth New Testament (1903) – Rider of white horse carried a bow
  • New International Version (1973) – Rider of white horse held a bow

It is interesting to note that between 1611 to 1973 the proposition of ‘had’ evolves into ‘held’. It’s only a little detail, but the semantics of the phrasing drastically alters the potential meaning of the overall symbolism.

In each of the interpretations I can see how the propositions ‘had’, ‘having’, ‘carried’ and ‘held’ can lead to the interpretation of ‘bow’ being a noun that refers to a physical object like a bow and arrow or piece of ribbon. But what if ‘bow’ was actually a verb? Could it be that the rider of the White Horse bowed their head to receive the crown?

‘Bow’ as a verb describing the act of bowing down to someone. Picture: PNGWING

In accordance with the King James Version, it makes sense: “He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him … “. I do not believe the King James Version of the Bible is perfect (future blog about the terms Hell and Hades will highlight why), however, it is a very concise Old English version. Crudely, it can be perceived as being written closer to the primary source by roughly four hundred years, and the reference material of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew versions of the Bible were also in an earlier form. Hence, I give credence the proposition of ‘had’ over ‘having’, ‘carried’ or ‘held’.

Admittedly, I am partial to the interpretation that the bow in Revelations 6:2 is a reference to someone taking a bow, as in bending over to show honour. However, I’m also aware that someone participating in a bow does not linguistically flow in the phrase “had a bow”. Rather, it’s more likely that they ‘gave’ a bow than ‘had’ one.

Perhaps the term “had a bow” would suit better if whomever was giving the White Horseman the crown (i.e. the Christ-like figure) was the one who bowed? In order to read this interpretation, it needs to be understood that the Old Greek script did not have punctuation. Likewise, Old Hebrew was also written in a continuous script. All full stops, commas, paragraphs, and other punctuations have been added over the years. Hence, if the King James Version is read without the semi-colon: “He who sat on it had a bow and a crown was given to him and he went out conquering and to conquer“, the interpretation that a bowing gesture was given to the White Horseman before he received is crown becomes plausible.

Complicating the matter is that the word ‘bow’ appears in English versions of the bible about 248 times, however, Revelations 6:2 is the only time τόξον [toxon] is used (other Greek words used in reference to ‘bow’ include υποκλίνομαι [ypoklinomai], υπόκλιση [ypoklisi], τόξο [toxo], δοξάρι [doxari]). Like the English word bow, τόξον [toxon] can be a reference to a weapon, a ribbon, a bending gesture, and more.

Interestingly, the word τόξον [toxon] in ancient Greek also refers to a rainbow. It’s plausible this is an another option for how the Bible verse should be read. The symbolic image of a rainbow doesn’t fit the overall vibe of terror presented in Revelations, although it does have connotations of peace that nicely juxtaposes with the idea of the White Horseman representing goodness. Personally, I quite like the idea of a rainbow conquering the world … that is so long as I don’t think too deeply about the other reference in the Bible where a rainbow was used as symbol of God’s harsh judgment of the earth’s inhabitants … then again, perhaps there is a symbolic link between the of rainbow in the Old Testament and Revelations?

Rainbow. Picture: Kiss Clipart

If τόξον [toxon] has been used to portray a rainbow, then the next question is whether the rainbow is an object or an allegory? While pondering those possibilities, there are additional options of what ‘bow’ might mean.

In Hebrew word for bow is קשת. In the context of Revelations 6:2 it means much the same as is English and Greek in that is it has multiple meanings of reference which include a weapon, ribbon, bending gesture, and rainbow. Further, קשת has the additional meaning of oxbow which refers to curved wood that goes around the neck of an ox. Perhaps the White Horseman was wearing an oxbow?

Oxbow. Picture: Wikipedia

To seek clarity around what ‘bow’ in Revelations 6:2 is all about, I decided to look for clues in the propositions of ‘had’, ‘having’, ‘held’, and ‘carry’. The Greek word of interest in this instance is ἔχον [echon]. I compared its usage throughout other Bible verses (see below) but again this didn’t help because it appears the interpretation of ἔχον [echon] can have different connotations depending on the context, therefore, ‘had’ and ‘having’ are both technically correct.

ἔχον [echon] can refer to the verb of possessing or getting possession of something; therefore, the term ‘held’ in the New International Version and ‘carrying’ in Weymouth New Testament are interpretations that can’t be definitely perceived as correct. Subsequently, they create subtle alterations to the mental imagery of the scene that may not be appropriate if bow is a verb or adjective, opposed to a noun.

Verses from KJV Bible that illustrate different usages of the Greek term ἔχον [echon] in contextual situations:

Matthew 12:10 And, behold, there was a man which had [ἔχων – echōn] hand withered. 

Mark 1:22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had [ἔχων – echōn] authority, and not as the scribes.

Luke: 33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had [ἔχων – echōn] a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,

Luke 7:2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was [ἔχων – echōn] sick, and ready to die.

Luke 7:8 For I also am a man set under authority, having [ἔχων – echōn] under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth;

John 5:5 And a certain man was there, which had [ἔχων – echōn] an infirmity thirty and eight years.

John 18:10 Then Simon Peter having [ἔχων – echōn] a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear.

Revelations 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had [ἔχων – echōn] power over fire;

Revelations 17:7 And here the mind which hath [ἔχων – echōn] wisdom. 

To add a final layer of complexity to what ‘bow’ might mean, it’s possible that the colloquialisms of the Greek τόξον [toxon] have been lost to time. For example the word “sick” literally refers to something that is unwell, however, it can also be used colloquially (particularly among younger people) to mean something which is great. Language constantly evolves and the meanings of words can also change, especially if they are tied to cultural influences. Therefore, does the term ‘bow’, or rather the Greek τόξον [toxon], have a colloquial meaning that is no longer known?

Overall, the most popular interpretation of ‘bow’ for centuries has been the idea that it is a reference to a weapon, as notable in Dürer’s woodcut from the fifteenth century. I have great admiration for Dürer. Still, with my recent experience of the flat earth myth, I wonder how valid it is to rely upon popular opinions. 

Albrecht Dürer, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1498, woodcut. (White Horseman is depicted in the background, right side of composition) Picture: Smart History

It is worthy to note, that Dürer’s woodcut is not a literal representation of the book of Revelations. He applied creative licensing in an imaginative manner that combines various elements of the narrative into a single scene, plus he has added details like the Fourth Horseman holding a pitchfork which is not mentioned in the Bible. A lot can be learned from appreciating Dürer’s work, however, ultimately, it is an expression of his personal opinions. Pictures can be very persuasive but they are not always truthful.

So what does this all matter? Symbolically, it matters a lot. The mental representation of a rider on a White Horse armed for war, compared to one fashioning a ribbon, bending in reverence to receive a crown, or having the glow of a rainbow, all carry very different meanings.

Holistically, examining how the interpretation of a single word can drastically alter the meaning of text is a prudent reminder that making inferences from the Bible are not easy. 

Whether or not the Bible is the true word of God remains a matter of faith. As for translations and interpretations, they appear to be a matter of human choice. Further, cult leaders who assert they are authorities on interpreting words and symbols need to brush up on their history of linguistics.

For an in extended analysis see Interpreting The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse In A Historical Context

P.S. ‘Bow’ is an extremely interesting word, in addition to all the meanings explored in this blog, it also can be used to refer to a curved piece of wood with horse hair used to play a musical instrument, the fore-end of ship, or anything with a curved shape.

Bibliography

BibleHub. (2020a). Revelation 6:2 So I looked and saw a white horse, and its rider had a bow. And he was given a crown, and he rode out to overcome and conquer. Biblehub.com. https://biblehub.com/revelation/6-2.htm

BibleHub. (n.d.). Bow (248 Occurrences). Bibleapps.com. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://bibleapps.com/b/bow.htm

BOW. (n.d.). Definitions.net. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://www.definitions.net/definition/BOW.

Kiss Clipart. (n.d.). Download Rainbow Line. KissClipart. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://www.kissclipart.com/rainbow-png-clipart-clip-art-qzfxip/

Messie2vie. (n.d.). echo – Strong’s number G2192 – Greek Lexicon | Bible Tools – Messie2vie. Messie2vie. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://www.messie2vie.fr/bible/strongs/strong-greek-G2192-echo-page-4.html#concordance

Parsing and Strongs Definition. (n.d.). http://Www.Misselbrook.org.Uk. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from http://www.misselbrook.org.uk/Parsing.aspx?PNum=1078

Smart History. (2015). Albrecht Dürer, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Smarthistory. Smarthistory.org. https://smarthistory.org/albrecht-durer-four-horsemen/

toxon – Strong’s number G5115 – Greek Lexicon | Bible Tools – Messie2vie. (n.d.). Messie2vie. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://www.messie2vie.fr/bible/strongs/strong-greek-G5115-toxon.html

What does קשת mean in Hebrew? (n.d.). WordHippo. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/the-meaning-of/hebrew-word-88b07c9532c6189b876c72b39e2f635c8f2ad642.html

Wikipedia Contributors. (2018, November 28). King James Version. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_James_Version

20 thoughts on “Did the White Horseman have a bow, bow, or bow?

Add yours

  1. Here is an interesting definition of Bow from Webster’s 1828 dictionary:

    Bow – 4. To depress; to crush; to subdue.
    His heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave.
    He bows the nations to his will.

    [Rev 6:2 KJV] 2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

    Here’s an interesting speculation: Could that “simple piece of fabric” be a cotton mask? A sign of authority and submission?

    God bless

    1. Indeed, this this an interesting definition of “bow” … I wonder if it is applicable to the ancient Hebrew/Greek/Latin/Old English definitions? … remembering language is fluid … e.g., “awful” was once a positive term that meant to be someone was in “awe of God” (in a positive sense but now it had the opposite meaning and denotes something unappealing … hence, the ancient term of “bow” (as started in my blog) may have a meaning that had been lost to time …

      As for your speculation: Bow = Ribbon = Piece of fabric = Cotton mask = Authority and submission … 😂😂😂😂🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣… thank you 🙏 I needed a good laugh today 😃

      Long story short, the “bow” the white horseman is carrying or gestures does not matter (just like it does not matter if the creator of a bolognese sauce used this spice or that). It is the overall impact of the Revelation(s) (or overall impact of the pasta dish) that is of importance. To this end, I can only say that interpretations of The Book of Revelation(s) that suggest impending doom/apocalypse/rapture/tribulation are incorrect analysis derived from corrupted text(s). My research (from various sources, including careful consideration and prayer) concurs with Newton … The Book of Revelation is a delicious dish of peace for all humanity.

      Once again, thank you for you comments, David Little. I’m prayer you will continue your journey of Bible interpretations and be open to new possibilities.

      Best,
      Renee

  2. The book of Revelation does not end with an “s”. To teach on a blessed book of the holy scriptures and not even know the books name is dangerous considering the following verse:

    [Rev 22:18-19 KJV] 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.

    I wouldn’t add letters to the name of this book, or teach it without very careful consideration and prayer.

    God bless

    1. Hi David (or is it Dave?),

      Thanks for your comment. I find it most interesting that you say: ‘The book of Revelation does not end with an “s”. To teach on a blessed book of the holy scriptures and not even know the books name is dangerous considering’ a verse from KJV. My apologies if my colloquial slur offends you. I’m curious to know why you would be so hung up about a single letter may supposedly inter with the prophecies bigger picture? Perhaps it would help if I explained the semantics of the terms Revelation and Revelations?

      To begin, I hope that we may both be in agreement that The Book of Revelation details a vision that John of Patmos experiences. Within his “vision” were several “visions”. I’ll use a metaphor to unpack this a little more.

      Imagine you are at a dinner table and you are presented with a meal, for arguments sake, let’s say it is pasta bolognese dish. It could be said that you have ‘a plate of “food”’ in front of you. The preference of the article “a” denotes a singular because the “food” is presented as “one” meal. However, it could also be accurately said that you have many “foods” on your plate, i.e., pasta, cheese, and the myriad of “foods” in the bolognese sauce (usually this is tomatoes, onion, minced meat, herbs and spices, etc.). It may sound a little odd to say you have been served ‘a plate of “foods”’, nonetheless, it would be accurate of the situation. Likewise, John of Patmos, was metaphorically speaking, “served” visions which were a “Revelation” but they can also be described as “Revelations” because the singular contained multitudes.

      Another example of the semantics at play here is that of the term “picture”. E.g., Picasso’s “Guernica” in its entirety is a “picture”, however, it’s made up of many “pictures”.

      To summarise, “The Book of Revelation” is a book of revelations, just as “a plate of food” is a plate of foods, or a “picture” (in many cases) is the sum of “pictures”.

      In due consideration of semantics and the everyday use of the English language, the tort that referring to “The Book of Revelation” as the “Book of Revelations” is an attack upon the Holy Scriptures is an arbitrary remark. Whether one wants to call John of Patmos’ visions a Revelation or revelations, is like arguing over whether pasta bolognese is a singular food or a collection of foods put together.

      To view the situation from a different angle, which is more important, the overall singular “Revelation” (like the whole dish of pasta bolognese) or components thereof which were “Revelations” (like the components of bolognese sauce)? If your argument is that the details of the “Revelation”, like the “bow” are of less importance than the overall picture of the visions, or should I say vision (comparatively, the additives in bolognese – salt, pepper, paprika, sage, oregano, parsley, etc. – may be deemed as being of lesser importance than the overall presentation but of the dish), then I am in agreement with you. However, that is not the argument that you have implied. Rather, you have implied that my slurring of semantics by saying “The Book of Revelations” instead of “The Book of Revelation” somehow discredits my discussion. Moreover, you have clearly stated that you believe adding the letter “s” to end of “Revelation” is indicative of lack of careful consideration being given to its contents. Like, WOW! Clearly you believe you have given more careful consideration and prayer to this topic than I have … thanks for giving my your judgement …

      I can easily concede and apologise for incorrectly citing this chapter of the New Testament. But clearly, that’s not what your comment is about.

      Personally, I believe there are much broader corruption issues of Biblical scriptures than adding an “s” to Revelation. Your citation of KJV, which is indicative of you believing that version to be the authentic “word of God”, is a curious thing … what’s makes you think the KJV is an authentic holy scriptures? The KJV was written in a period during which the English language was still in its infancy. The original KJV spelt “Jesus” as “Iesvs”. Why? Because the letter “J” was not incorporated into the language in 1611. The letter “u” had semi-been incorporated but not enough to make it into the first KJV edition. Ergo, you may not be willing to change a single letter of the holy scriptures but many before you have.

      (“Iesvs” is a translation of the Greek “Iēsous” (Ἰησοῦς) which was translated as “Iesus” in Classical Latin … Iēsous in Greek was a name that means “Son of Zeus” (Zeus crudely means “God”) … in Aramaic “Jesus” (Joshua in modern English) was is “Yeshua” which means “to deliver/rescue” … “Yeshua” and “Iesus” are not direct comparisons, nonetheless, the amalgamation of their combined meanings in modern English is “Jesus”.)

      Language is fluid, in a constant flux of change. The English language especially so. There is much to ponder upon when this fact is accepted.

      Original Christian texts were written in Hebrew and Greek, then translated in Latin. To cut to the core of the matter, the KJV is a bastardisation of original Jewish and Christian writings, that were Romanised before morphing into an “English” text. (I was tempted write English texts, but I’m guessing your a semantic Nazi that has a thing against pluralism.)

      Moving on, let’s deal with nuances of the KJV of the Old Testament first. This was only written in Hebrew and there are many ancient copies dating back to before the Christian era that can be used to prove early Christians (who used the Greek Septuagint) altered the original text to make it appear that Jesus’ birth was prophesied by Jews. Rabbi Tovia Singer presents this argument well in numerous YouTube videos. I’ll leave it at that for you to do your own research.

      Moving on further to the KJV version of the New Testament, here we see the misappropriations of Jewish theology blended with pagan ideas of the Greco-Roman world. Once again I could direct you to Singer, however, it is probably best to use evidence from a Christian. Precisely, we need a Christian who had faith in Jesus, plus studied the Bible from Hebrew, Greek, and Latin sources then compared these to the original KJV text. Is there such a person with suitable credentials? Yes, Isaac Newton.

      Newton, had a superb analytical mind (he was instrumental in setting a new bar for scientific enquire methods), and he had unwavering commitment to Christendom. While most people only know of Newton’s contribution to physics and mathematics, his true passion lied in Bible interpretation, namely, The Book of Revelation. Newton infallibly concluded that this chapter of the Nee Testament correlated to the vision(s) presented in the Book of Daniel. Moreover, Newton’s analysis concluded that the holy scriptures had been corrupted by early church fathers.

      During his lifetime, Newton could not make his findings that public (reminder, he began with the original KJV text) because to do so would have had him publicly declared a heretic. Punishments during the 17th and 18th centuries for disagreeing with the Holy Roman Church and/or the Anglican Church (Newton’s heritage) were not as severe as those in preceding eras, nonetheless, it was not a desirable situation. Namely, Newton risked loosing his post at Cambridge University and/or being publicly humiliated if he disclosed his critical analysis of Biblical texts. Consequently, it has only been relatively recently (gradually over the past 100 years, increasingly so over the past few decades) that the Newton family have deemed it safe to begin sharing his private notebooks that contain detailed studies of the scriptures.

      Did Newton detail what the “bow” symbolised? To the best of my current research he did not. Perhaps the ingredients would of the bolognese sauce were not as important to him as the sensual effects the taste had upon humanity …

  3. Dear Renée
    Your love for the word of God and investigation for it is commendable. Here is the Gospel
    Man is Bad, All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. GOD is good and he will judge the disobedience (Sin) that humans have and had and will have until the appointed time of judgement. If there is noone to pay the price for our Sin towards God then we will be resurected to be tormented in the Lake of Fire for all of eternity. Jesus saves us from this punishment though. The Son of God Jesus Christ died for our Sins so that we could have eternal life through him. God has appointed his son Jesus to judge our Sins but the judge is also the justifier. Who ever believes in him is not condemned but whoever believes in him not is condemned already.
    What must we do to be saved?
    Repent of your Sins (this means turning away from your sinful nature) and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
    Your belief in the Son of God will be counted for righteousness.
    You say well Renée that you are living in tribulation. You have done much searching and have increased in knowledge.
    Now it is time to stop being a hearer of the word and being a doer of the Word.
    Repent of your Sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ friend before it is too late.

    1. Hi Ansen,

      Thank you for reading my blog and commenting.

      With all due respect, the concept that the Gospel message is “Man is Bad” sounds absurd to me. To begin with, do you know that the concept of “Man” 2000 years ago was quite different to that of today? In ancient terms (especially according to Greek theology, and you know most of the New Testament was written in Greek?) a “Man” was a being who had more “rational soul”. Hence, women and slaves (even if they were male) were not considered to be “Man”. Conversely, the concept of “Man” in Hebrew traditions could be a male or female. Iamblichus (3rd century Egyptian priest/Neoplatonist) wrote an in interesting piece in which he says some women are more masculine (as in they have more rational soul) than males, and some males are more feminine than women (as they have more irrational soul).

      The concept of “sin” is also a concept that needs to be unpacked. I’ll spare the finer detail for the moment and simply point out that Jesus’ death and resurrection are adaptions of the Jewish Yom Kippur … this makes sense considering Jesus and the first Christians were Jews. (Richard Carrier explains this really well).

      As for your description of Jesus being the judge of souls, what you’ve written sounds more like a representation of Osiris than anything in the Bible. Bishop Tom Wright explains the theology and significance of Jesus’ resurrection in Christian terms that you may find interesting. Wright also gives a great rebuttal as to why we are NOT currently going through tribulation (at least not in the “end is nigh” kind of way). Although, personally, I favour Isaac Newton’s interpretations.

      In sum, I’m more than happy with my relationship with God and do not need saving from you’re your version of God.

      I wish you well, and I hope you continue your journey of exploring Biblical texts from multiple perspectives, as opposed to blindly following interpretations that were created by narcissistic cult leaders – history is full of those guys! It only by disregarding those who use distort Biblical passages for their own grandiose means that authentic inquiry into the mysteries of Christ can be conducted.

      Best wishes,
      Renee

  4. Could this scripture shed any light? Honest question. I just stumbled upon it. I believe it points to Yeshua. And so I believe the bow is a weapon. The bough is a main branch or vine as Christ said he is.
    Genesis 49:22 22Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:

    23The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:

    24But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)

    25Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:

    26The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

    27Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

    I left verse 27 on purpose. I believe it is pertinent for us today. Paul is from the tribe of Benjamin. I don’t listen to him. What did he give us that Jesus didn’t? I don’t judge him but be careful of your understanding of him as Peter said. Jesus told Peter to care for his sheep. Also see John 10:27.

    1. Hi Tomas, apologies for the late reply.

      I am correct in my understanding that you’re suggesting the “bow” is a weapon, however, the symbolism transcends its weapon function to that of being metaphorical? Kind of like “sword” is used as a metaphor for words (revelation 19:15), i.e., a sword a physical weapon and but the sword of the word word of God (John 1:1) is a spiritual weapon. Likewise, the “iron sceptre” is metaphorical, as too is the wine press, etc., etc., etc. …. If so, I’d agree, Revelations (and the whole Bible for that matter) is filled with mixed-metaphors, therefore, any literal interpretations are nuanced, to say the least. To exaggerate the point, literal interpretations of The Book of Revelation are bit like believing that cats and dogs really fall from the sky during a heavy downpour of rain.

  5. Hi. May I suggest a different hermeneutical approach?
    The 7 letters to the churches, while having specific relevance to the churches extant to John’s time, also have prophetic relevance to church ages, beginning from the time of the prophecy to the second coming. This hermeneutic as you may know is historicism. I suggest that the 7 trumpets, and the seven seals, have similar applications to periods of time, beginning from when the prophecy was first given. This is in perfect harmony with the prophecies of Daniel.
    Therefore in reference to the first horse, this symbolizes the first church age, that of the apostles until the end of the 1st century. For the church, this certainly was a time of victory and conquering. The later horses depict a slow slide from persecution, to compromise, and then to apostasy by the time of the dark ages.
    In context then, could the bow, and the root nuances of birth, seedling, bringing forth etc, harmonize better with the early church, it’s innocence, purity, and youth?

    1. I love it! Indeed, I definitely support the idea that the trumpets and seals refer to periods of time, moreover, extended time periods. Personally, I suspect we’re still thousands of years away from the final trumpet. Could you expand upon you’re understood of time frames?

      To clarify, the main point of this blog was not so much to interpret what the significance of the white houseman’s “bow” is, rather to point out that being fixated on a single word and interpreting it literally can lead to erroneous tangents. Biblical symbolism is nuanced by many factors.

      I’ve written a few other posts that refer to Newton’s interpretations of Revelations in correlation to Daniel’s prophecies, if you have the opportunity you’re welcome to look at these and provide feedback.

      Thanks for you’re comment :-).

  6. Your determination that the symbols of Revelation need to be understood in a historical context is appreciated, Renée, but isn’t there at least a possibility that certain elements could be using the book of Revelation as a playbook? In that case any precise interpretation gets thrown out the window, and all bets are off. And so we get “white”, in which all the colours of the rainbow are found, as well as the white coats seen on the science and medial communities; and we get “bow”, as in the rainbow (seen in abundance today connected with the LGBT movement, and the “support the NHS” business, and the Noahide laws) and we get toxon and tikto(k); and we get the “crown” or corona. Let’s see if it’s followed up shortly with wars and food shortages…which is not beyond the realms of possibility. An orchestrated chaos, if you will, from which order can arise, Lord help us.

    And let’s not overlook the proliferation of 666 imagery, seen most effectively at work in the logo for the WEF (not to mention Disney).

    In this way prophecy can be fulfilled merely by dint of the fact that the prophetic writings exist. It might also be a way for Revelation 17:17 to be fulfilled, “For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose.”

    I’m not saying I necessarily adhere to these ideas – I am keeping an open mind on world conditions today – but I do find it compelling, and I’m just throwing it out there.

    1. Hi Rory, thanks for your comment.

      I also like to keep an open mind to different ways of interpreting Biblical prophecies. I suspect they can be read on multiple levels.

      I agree, certain elements of the book of Revelation are superfluous and focusing on a single point like “bow” doesn’t add much value to overall interpretations. I’d even go so far as to say any abstract extrapolation of a single word is pointless (which is kind of the point of this blog entry). The whole picture is sometimes more important than any single part.

      What is the whole of Revelations? It appears to be describing a world with many problems, from wars to corrupt government bodies (police, politicians, money lenders, some entertainment establishments, biased university leadership that have links healthcare, etc.); none of this is new, it’s been going on for thousands of years. The spirit of evil – whether you want to call it Lucifer, Satan, demons, or 666 – appears to have ruled for a very long time.

      It’s easy to get lost in doomsday images, the Christian Church of the Middle Ages certainly emphasised this. Looking back further, to Jesus day, I get the impression the Early Christians viewed the prophecy very differently, through the lens of a saviour who promoted peace and love. You might want to check out a piece I wrote a few days ago about how Jesus changed once Emperor Constantine took over the religion. https://renaissance-well-beings.com/2022/02/14/did-romans-kill-jesus-twice-the-beardless-versus-the-bearded-jesus/#more-4202

      The world has already seen many wars and food shortages, and it will probably see some more … Covid-19 is a “thing”. But hope need not be lost.

      Overall, I give the most credence to Isaac Newtons reading of Biblical symbolism. I’ve written a few posts about this too: https://renaissance-well-beings.com/2021/12/13/reading-the-symbols-of-the-apocalypse-according-to-isaac-newton/

      And https://renaissance-well-beings.com/2021/12/17/the-final-fall-of-rome-babylon-and-the-harlot-on-the-beast/

      Newton said that the Beast’s reign would end in approximately 2060 and after that, an era of peace would begin, and that era would last indefinitely. I can see this happening, for while there is much doom and gloom in the world, there are also a lot of positive advancements. The change is coming from everyday people. Healing of trauma and refusing to tolerate abuse are significant starting points. Medical establishments have suppressed an understanding of the need for humans to have a healthy nervous system for too long.

      In peace, Renée 🙏

      1. I really appreciate your reply, Renée. Thank you.

        Personally, I’m fascinated by the interpretation of individual words. It was seeking after the understanding of this word “bow” which led me to your essay. It seems a great deal can be extrapolated from that one word alone. Perhaps too much to be a coincidence.

        Here’s a little bit more: According to Abarim Publications, this related word tikto means “to give birth, or rather the whole process of bringing into the world via sexual reproduction from conception to post-parturition; to engender (as in: “you wove me in my mother’s womb” ; Psalm 139:13)” That in itself renders renders “bow” as much more than a flimsy bit of ribbon. It brings us in to the world of DNA, and the very building blocks of life itself. Look at images of RNA and DNA and tell me you can’t see pictures of bows and ribbons.

        And what are the men in white coats doing today but messing with genes and injecting mankind with mRNA altering substances.

        No, I think too much to be a coincidence.

      2. Hi Rory,

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The etymology of words is indeed an important aspect of biblical interpretations.

        I’m going to be rather direct and succinct in my response, I mean no rudeness by doing so. For more details, I encourage you to look at some of my blogs that deal with the history, artistry, and psychological principles of ancient religions and their practices.

        Firstly, while etymology is super important, this needs to be balanced with an appreciation that fixating on word definitions has the following issues –
        – [ ] 1. the colloquial and/or secret codes of ancient symbols and words is extremely difficult to ascertain with absolute accuracy. Having said that, it is amazing how much accuracy is still present in Biblical themes given its history.
        – [ ] 2. contemporary Bibles have translations issues; the oldest copy – or rather fragments thereof – of the New Testament are only from the late second century. I’m not one to unduly go down conspiracy theory paths but the fact is, there’s sufficient evidence to suggest forgeries have taken place, especially around the time Christianity became Romanised. Additionally, in some instances the translators used poor word replacement and/or had to invent new words that don’t fully capture original meanings. Hence, it’s a waste of time to spend to copious amounts of energy on a single word or concept that is not authentic. (Comparatively, there are fragments of the Jewish Torah that date back to around 500BCE. Additionally, the “apocryphal” gospels that’s Emperor Constantine did not allow to be part of Christianity is a thorn in Christianity’s past … labelling them as “heretic” may have worked back in the day, but, in my humble opinion, this reasoning needs to be re-visited by contemporary scholars.)
        – [ ] 3. human behaviour and communication expression of the past was based more on feelings having an authority than on intellect, like it is today. Therefore, striving for answers based on intellectual enquiries alone can lead to far fetched abstract theories that have no grounding in the evidence.

        To be honest, I think your connection to scientific white lab coats and bows that resemble DNA may be appropriate if the book of revelation was written by a contemporary person with genuine prophetic abilities, but it wasn’t. Psychological research suggests visions, dreams, and delusions are tied to an individual’s culture with symbolic associations that are consist to their society. Eg., Christians are more likely to have visions of Jesus, Hindus of Durga, etc. Likewise, an Ancient Egyptian is more likely to dream of being chased by a crocodile than a red Volkswagen, like a contemporary dreamer might.

        Of additional interest is that the differentiation of colours and their associated meanings in the past was not like that of today. According to my research, I think it’s more than a coincidence that the colours of the four horsemen correlates with the colours attributed to the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire – that is how the ancients perceived the world, through 4+ realms – this point cannot be stressed enough; it was the backbone of so many theologies – even Thomas Aquinas referred to it in the 1200s. I’ve written about this aspect of Christianity in many blogs. My interpretations may not be spot on – exactly how Hebrew and Greek thought was harmonised into Christianity depends on who the writer or interpreter was so I can only make educated guesses.

        I hope that helps you with your personal investigations. You appear to be a person with a genuine desire to pursue the truth, and that is very admirable.

        Best,
        Renée

  7. Well written. I can write like you, but, bear with me Renee. Is the first horse and the entire scenario a picture of the tribulation? I think the white horse raises the ire of God like I see as I read the Bible over and over since 1975. Is there a similar situation that parallels the destruction of society? The general rule of first mention ( first sin, murder , annuals toon of a society reveals a few principals. Just how mad was God at what went on in Sodom and Gomorrah? Way! Hang with me now. 2 hot buttons God Hates. Homosexuality and Abortion. Wait for it now. Interesting that God put the rainbow as his symbol, and the parade in San Francisco had a very, very long multicolored flag in their 1980? Homosexual parade. Get where I’m coming from. The BOW may be the Homosexual flag. The rider had a bow…. Now, in 1975, homosexuality was such an immoral crime, but now, you can be prosecuted for speaking against it, your church prosecuted,; these people have reached such a “level of sin”, like when God waited in the Old Testament “until their wickedness reach its full level. From Gods view, homosexuality and acceptance has caused him to destroy Sodom. The homosexuals went forth to conquer and did they ever! They’re crowned and protected! We’re starting the tribulation now I believe. Thanks

    1. Dear Steven, thank you kindly for your comment. I’ll do my best to address all the points you have raised. Firstly, your question: Is the first horse the entire scenario a picture of the tribulation? No, I agree with you that it is not. I explore the symbolism of the horse in detail in my more recent blog Interpreting: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse In A Historical Context.

      Secondly, is there a similar situation that parallels the destruction of society? I don’t know if this is exactly what you meant, however, I’d like to point out that the Ancient Etruscans and the Norse cultures had stories of world destruction. In both cases it may be perceived that their stories came true, i.e., the Etruscan and Norse “worlds” (societies) came to an end. Perhaps Revelations is really a story of the end of Christianity, not the earth. If so, then I guess that could be seen as we are currently in tribulation. However, that doesn’t take into account all of the symbols, so I wouldn’t put too much weight on that interpretation.

      Thirdly, you mention 2 hot buttons that God hates as being homosexuality and abortion. I do not believe God hates, rather some human beings hate. I believe “God” loves all humans, irrespective of their sexuality and personal choices. Having said that, your creative interpretation of the rainbow being a symbol of sexuality is absolutely brilliant! You have illustrated my point perfectly! That is, cult leaders (not saying that you are a cult leader) use this tactic of taking symbols from the bible out of context and weaving them into their own stories all the time. It is the very nature of the human experience to be creative – that is why I believe it was written that we are made in “God’s” image – “he” was a creator and we too are creatures that create. I like using the pun that humans are create-ures.

      Our imaginative mind has infinite potential. In order to appreciate what the original messages in the bible mean, the symbols need to be understood in a historical context, e.g., in antiquity, horses were a symbol of the intellect, and this symbolism connects to a more dense and complex philosophical framework. Imagine reading Edith Blyton books and thinking that all the children were homosexual because they are described as “gay”. Language and symbols change all the time.

      Thank you once again for your comment.

  8. I like your thoughts. Words certainly change of the years. It is a bit like chinese whispers. Hard to find out their true meaning.

    PS like the castration picture too

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