Alexandrian Corn Ship
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Alexandrian Corn Ship (Revelation 6.5-6)

"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. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, 'Two pounds [or "about 1 kilogram"] of wheat for a day's wages, [Greek "a denarius"] and six pounds [or "about 3 kilograms"] of barley for a day's wages, [Greek "a denarius"] and do not damage the oil and the wine!'" (Revelation 6.5-6)✞

Black Horse

Alexandrian Corn ShipAlthough John of Patmos was describing the black horse of famine which preceded the end, he was nevertheless also painting pictures of coming shortages of food in terms of actual historical situations which his readers would have easily recognized.✞

Nero Famines

Wheat FieldIn the time of the Emperor Nero, (37-68 AD) there were desperately severe famines among the poor but the luxury of the rich and "the oil and the wine" was left untouched. The oil and wine were protected from inflation and were readily available to the wealthy elite.

Sand from Alexandria

CrowdA good illustration of this situation occurred when an Alexandrian corn ship arrived from Puteoli North of Naples. This was the great center for shipping for all kinds of goods from Egypt and other exotic places bound for Rome. The ships came to the port of Ostia, which is now inland but its streets and decorated mosaic tile floors still remain outside the great city of Rome in Italy. Puteoli (now "Pozzuoli") was the main hub of the fleet, some 170 miles away in Alexandria. The starving populace in Rome thought the ship contained food, for corn ships normally came from ancient Alexandria.

Corn Shortage

Gladiatorial gamesWhen the people discovered that the ship's cargo was not corn but sand for the Games in the Colosseum they rioted. The special sand in the ship came from the Nile Delta and was to be spread upon the ground in the arena for the gladiatorial games to amuse the people. Sand had the great benefit of soaking up blood spilt in the gladiatorial games!✞

"Alexandrian Corn Ship"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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