And I stood upon the sand of the sea,.... The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read, "and he stood", c. and so the Alexandrian copy meaning the dragon, said to be wroth with the woman, and to go forth to make war with her seed, in the latter part of the preceding chapter, where some versions place this clause; and the Arabic version reads expressly, "and the serpent stood", c. And this is thought by some to be the better reading, because of the connection with what goes before, and because there is no mention of the name of John, nor of his being called or removed from heaven, where he was beholding sights, and continuing the account of them, Revelation 4:1, as there is when he is shown sights elsewhere see Revelation 17:3. And besides, as the dragon was contriving a new way of persecuting the saints, and about to raise up a beast out of the sea, by which he might do it, to whom he would give his power, seat, and authority, he is represented as standing in a proper place for this purpose; it was upon the sand, which may signify a multitude of people employed by him, and also may denote the weakness and failure of his efforts in the issue; yet the Greek copies in general agree in the common reading, and refer it to John, who stood on the shore of the isle of Patmos, and in a fit place, in a visionary way, to behold the following sight: for that the next clause belongs to him is without doubt,
and saw a beast rise up out of the sea: by which is meant, not the devil, because it is in Revelation 13:2, distinguished from the dragon, who is the devil and Satan, as also elsewhere, Revelation 16:13, nor the old Roman empire, though there are many things which seem to agree; the Roman monarchy is called a beast it is one of the four beasts in Daniel 7:2; which rose up out of the sea, from a multitude of people and nations, which were gathered to it and composed it. Rome Pagan had, as this beast has, seven heads and ten horns, Revelation 12:3; and had power over all nations, and is therefore sometimes called the whole world, and exercised great cruelty upon the Christians; but then this is signified by the red dragon itself, in the preceding chapter, and, besides, had risen up before the times of John, whereas this is one of the things shown him, which should be hereafter: this beast then was not, but was to come, Revelation 4:1; and was not to arise, nor did it arise till after the downfall of Rome Pagan, and after the Arian persecution, after the woman's flight into the wilderness, and after, and upon the inundation of the barbarous nations into the empire, as appears from the preceding chapter; nor will the time of this beast's duration agree with the old Roman empire, for this beast is to continue forty two months,
Revelation 13:5; which is the whole time of the holy city being trodden under foot, and of the church's being in the wilderness, and of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth; whereas the Roman monarchy, governed by emperors, did not last four hundred years. Moreover, as this beast is distinguished from the dragon, so it is said to have its power from him; whereas the Roman empire was of God, and obedience and subjection to it are always recommended to the saints in the Scriptures, Romans 13:1, much less can the empire, as become truly Christian, be intended; nor are either the eastern or the Turkish empires designed, for neither of these had their seat at Rome, which the dragon save to this beast, but at Constantinople: it remains then, that by it meant the Roman empire, when divided into ten kingdoms, and united in the Papacy; or it designs Christ in his secular power, with the ten kings, that receive power with him as such one hour, and give their kingdom to him: now this beast is said to "rise up out of the sea"; either out of the abyss, the bottomless pit of hell, see Revelation 11:7; or out of the sea of this world, and the wicked in it, who are like a troubled sea that cannot rest; or out of the floods of errors and heresies, by which this man of sin was conceived and cherished, and a way was paved for his open rising and appearance in the world; or rather, since waters design, in this book, nations, people, and tongues, see Revelation 17:15; and the four beasts in Daniel are said to rise out of the sea, Revelation 7:2; and a multitude of people are compared to the waves of the sea, Ezekiel 26:3; see also Isaiah 17:12, where the Jewish writers say b, the nations are compared to the sea, as Israel to the sand, the inundation of the barbarous nations, the Goths, Huns, and Vandals, into the empire, seem to be intended, which made great commotions and changes in it: these set up ten kingdoms in it, upon which antichrist arose, and placed himself at the head of them; these gave their kingdoms to the beast; and so may be said to give rise unto him, especially as to his secular power.
Having seven heads: which some understand the seat of knowledge, and seven a number of perfection; and so may refer to those boasted treasures of wisdom and knowledge which antichrist pretends to have, as being the judge of controversies, and the infallible interpreter of the Scriptures; or else the seven fold form of government among the Romans is intended, as in Revelation 12:3; or rather as it is interpreted in Revelation 17:9; the seven mountains on which Rome was built, and so design the city itself built on them, that being the metropolis of the empire; or the seven capital cities of the empire, as Mr. Daubuz thinks; the whole is meant, for it is the same Roman monarchy as before, only in a different form:
and ten horns; the ten kingdoms, into which the empire was divide it upon its being wasted and vanquished by the Goths, and the ten kings of them, which reigned with the beast, and gave their kingdoms to him; so horns signify kingdoms in Zechariah 1:18.
And upon his horns ten crowns; which distinguishes Rome Papal from Rome Pagan; the crowns in Rome Pagan were upon the heads, or the emperors, that resided at Rome; and though it had ten horns, as here, and was divided into so many provinces, which were governed by deputies, proconsuls, c. yet they were not kings, they had no crowns but here the horns have crowns on them because the governors of these ten kingdoms are crowned kings:
and upon his heads the name of blasphemy; which refers not to Rome Pagan being called the eternal city, and Rome the goddess, and the like; but to Rome Papal, or antichrist, who elsewhere is said to have the name "Mystery" written upon the forehead, and to have blasphemy on his heads; and is called blasphemy in the abstract, as being a most blasphemous creature against God, Christ, and his people, and so his name is suitable to his character, mouth, and language, Revelation 13:5; assuming that to himself which only belongs to God and Christ, as power over the conscience, to forgive sin, c. and even deity itself see 2 Thessalonians 1:4. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, "names of blasphemy".
b Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 41. 4. & 55. 2. & 63. 3.