The Tribulation: Third Seal

From my translation (the CPDV) of the Latin Vulgate Bible:

{6:5} And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying: “Draw near and see.” And behold, a black horse. And he who was sitting upon it was holding a balance in his hand.
{6:6} And I heard something like a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A double measure of wheat for a denarius, and three double measures of barley for a denarius, but do no harm to wine and oil.”

The third Seal is a great Famine. This interpretation is not new. The faithful have always understood that the black horse and the rider with a balance (a scale for weighing) symbolizes famine. The denarius was a day’s wage at the time that the Book of Revelation was written. A double measure of wheat for one day’s pay represents the rationing of food. But there are three double measures of barley compared to one double measure of wheat for the same day’s pay. During the time that this book was written, wheat was the food of the wealthy and barley was the food of the poor. So this verse is saying that the great Famine will be more severe in wealthy nations and less severe in developing nations.

The similar passage in the Book of Zechariah says this:

{6:6} The one with the black horses was departing into the land of the North, and the white went forth after them, and the speckled went forth towards the land of the South.

The black horses depart to the land of the North, meaning to Europe. And so Europe is where the great Famine will be most severe. The white horses go with the black horses to the North, meaning that the War (World War 3 symbolized by the white horses) also occurs in Europe. The War makes the Famine more intense in Europe, but the Famine affects the whole world, to one extent or another.

The wine and oil are representative of luxury goods. This Famine is unlike past famines. In past times, and even in recent years, famines only affected the poor. Those who lacked money sometimes also lacked food. But in this unusual famine, the wealthy nations are more severely affected. And so luxury goods will be available and plentiful: electronics, cars, and various other goods. But food will be rationed and sometimes unavailable. This great Famine begins soon, and extends throughout most of the remainder of the 2010’s.

Much more on this topic is found in my eschatology books; see the links in the column to the right, especially The Bible and the Future of the World, ninth edition.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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