Black Horse
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Black Horse
(Revelation 6.5)
Page 122

"When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, 'Come!' I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand." (Revelation 6.5)

Three Main Crops

Black HorseThe Revelation black horse was a symbol of severe famine indicated by the horseman carrying a pair of scales in his hand. The scales were used for weighing bread during shortages when only a part of a loaf could be afforded by the ordinary people. Famine inevitably resulted in death following war in antiquity, which in its turn created great devastation. Plagues ending in death became the scourge of many areas of the ancient world and often resulted in half or three quarters of the population being wiped out. The first recorded instance of famine was in Rome in BC 441. Between 400 and 800 AD, the population of the city of Rome fell by over 90% because of famine and plague! Nine out of every ten people died! Because of this, the color black had become a sign of death in the communities of the Roman Empire. Even today, black is the standard color for mourning though black and white are now the prefered colors of the younger generations.

Bringers of Death

Wheat FieldThe black horse and its rider were therefore seen as the bringers of death. Even though there was famine and death all around, wheat was short but still available but at prohibitive prices and only to the wealthy few. Wine and oil were also luxury items carefully rationed by the Roman authorities but still affordable by the wealthy elite.✞

Corn Wine and Oil

Grape Vine and LeavesThe three main crops in the Roman Empire were "corn, wine and oil" and it is these three which are mentioned when the produce of the land are being described. The rider of the black horse had a pair of scales and the cross-beam of a balance is in his hand. In the Old Testament, the phrase "to eat bread by weight" indicated a great scarcity of bread in society. Ezekiel 4.16 read, "He then said to me: 'Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair.'" Because it was so scarce, the poor people could not afford a full loaf but only a piece weighed on a scale.

"Black Horse"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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