Thursday, 17 June 2021
and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men. Revelation 18:13
The list of valuable commodities which began in the previous verse now continues here. It should be noted that there are some differences in source texts, so the list – as evaluated here – may have some variations from the Bible being referred to at any given time.
Understanding this, the list now continues with, “cinnamon and incense.” Cinnamon is both a spice and an aromatic product used in incense. In the Greek of the New Testament, it is found only in this verse. However, it is also found in Exodus 30:23 when used in the holy anointing oil. It is also found in Proverbs 7:17 and the Song of Solomon 4:14. The Hebrew name is qinnamon. In Greek, it is kinamómon. One can see the similarity between both languages and our modern English.
This is the last of six times that “incense” is found in the New Testament. It is the word thumiama. That comes from the root thuó which signifies “to kill as a sacrifice on an altar.” Thus, one can see the intimate connection between sacrifices and the offering of incense.
These are next followed by “fragrant oil and frankincense.” The “fragrant oil” is synonymous with perfume. It is understood that these are the luxurious items found in both temple worship and among people all around the world that have disposable income.
“Frankincense” is mentioned next. It was and continues to be an extremely expensive commodity. It was one of the gifts presented to the Lord in Matthew 2:11, and it was also used during the temple times as part of the incense compound presented to the Lord. Chapter 4 of the Song of Solomon contains a similar list of fragrant products in its beautiful verses.
The list continues with “wine and oil.” Again, these were used in the temple in Israel during offerings and were a part of the daily life of the people of Israel. Both have been items indicating luxury and even wealth. They are valuable items in trading.
Next is listed, “fine flour and wheat.” The word translated as “fine flour” is only found here in the New Testament. Both of these were also used in offerings to the Lord and have been staple foods for thousands of years. Following these are listed “cattle and sheep.”
In Israel, both were considered clean animals, and they are both animals that were used in temple sacrifices. They were also commonly eaten by the people of Israel.
Next in the list are “horses and chariots.” Horses and chariots are noted in the Bible as means of transportation, warfare, and trading. The word translated as “chariots” is rhedé. It is only found here in the New Testament. It is a Latin word, but it is of Gallic origin. It signifies a chariot of four wheels.
Finally, the list ends with “the bodies and souls of men.” The meaning appears obvious. It signifies humans that are traded for-profit and for use. Hence, slavery is the intended meaning. It is something that has existed, and it continues to exist in various forms to this day.
Life application: It should be noted that owning slaves was allowed under the law, and it was commonly practiced throughout ancient times. The biblical rule for slaves was of care and not abuse. However, the master of the slave was given more authority over his slaves than other people because they were his property. The issue of slavery is a part of the human story, and it has always been a reality.
Babylon the great has had great wealth in many forms as has been seen in the past two verses. However, despite its immense wealth, power, and status, it has come to ruin.
When we put our hopes and trust in the creation rather than the Creator, the inevitable result will be mourning, sadness, and loss. And so, let us look to the eternal. Let us allow the words of Scripture to fill our minds, and let us anticipate all goodness in a world that is prepared for us by a loving Creator. He is coming to gather us to Himself. He is JESUS.
To You alone, O God, is our allegiance due. You have given us a world of variety and wonder, and You have given us beautiful things to bring joy to our hearts, but we need to remember that they are a part of what You have created and are not things we are to idolize. Rather, we are to give thanks to You for them. Help us to remember this and to worship and praise You alone. Amen.