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Plague of the Hail

And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.


And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.


And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.


And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great, Revelation 16:18-21.


Verses eighteen and nineteen announce the occurrence of great worldwide earthquake activity, and then go on to describe some of its universal (cities of the nations fell) and local (the great city was divided into three parts) effects. Verse twenty then gives a visual observation of what is producing the effects of verses eighteen and nineteen: the visible movement of the islands and mountains atop the great shifting crust of the earth. This great shifting of the crust producing the earthquake activity of verses eighteen and nineteen will simultaneously be creating the phenomenon described in verse twenty-one.


The “hail” of verse twenty-one is not made of ice. These tal­ent approximated chunks of matter are hot volcanic rocks thrown high in the heaven where the birds fly to eventually come down on sinful mankind as a plague of fire. There are three heavens portrayed in the Scriptures: the heaven where the birds fly (atmosphere); the heaven where the sun, other stars, and the planets exists; and the Heaven where God dwells. Verse twenty-one is an observation of those regions of the heav­ens containing this planet’s atmosphere. The King James trans­lators in 1611 correctly supplied the word “stone” rather than “hailstone” to describe the true contextual meaning 6f the Greek word chalaza.


The word “hail” appears only four times in the entire New Testament, and all four appearances are limited to the book of Revelation. By a process of abridgment the basic meaning of the word chalaza has been lost in a great surge of definition by com­mon usage, which began about the time of the Civil War. The original Greek lexicons of the New Testament were monstrous­ly large, far too enormous to conveniently carry from class to class or place to place. For this reason a historical process of abridgment has gradually reduced the first lexicons to about one fourth of their original size. In order to shorten lexicons to their present day volumes, it was necessary to select those seemingly non-essential Greek words with long definitions for particularly close trimming and chalaza was just such a word; a word appearing only four times in the Scriptures and pos­sessing a lengthy variety of meanings.


In today’s modern era of rapid technological development, vast improvements in the area of creature comfort have slowly given rise to what is now the generally accepted idea: new is better than old. This, of course, is true in most aspects of learn­ing: knowledge of today is better than that of yesteryear. But this idea must be rejected when considering the true meaning of a biblical word. The farther back in time one is able to track the meaning of a word, the closer he or she comes to what the writer meant when he wrote it. In paragraphs that follow, the history of the word chalaza will be unveiled back to the most authoritative lexicons ever written.


Most preachers and commentators after the Civil War began to teach uniformly that the “hail” of Revelation was in the form of ice. Primarily because of this common usage, virtually all new post-Civil War publications simply abridged away the orig­inal basic meaning of the word chalaza. All of the following pop­ular reference publications were abridged in part from post-Civil War sources, and merely list chalazaas “hail”: Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, The Analytical Greek Lexicon, and Strong’s Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament.


Now, please carefully examine the following definitions extracted from pre-Civil War sources from which the post-Civil War sources were abridged.


1857—A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testamentby E. W. Bullinger.

Chalaza—something let go, let fall.

1843—A Greek-English Lexicon compiled by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, based on the work of Franz Passow in his lexicon of 1819.

(1) A pelting shower of anything.

(2) Any small knot like a hailstone.

(3) A knot or hard lump.

(4) A bituminous rock.

1836—A Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament by Dr. Edward Robinson.

(I) In the proper sense, not figurative, something let go, let fall.

1826—A Comprehensive Lexicon of the Greek Language by Dr. John Pickering.

(1) A precious stone.

1819—A Lexicon of the New Testament by Franz Passow.

(1)     Strictly, that which is let loose.


The writings of the early Greeks clearly reveal that the usage of chalazawas not limited to a frozen ball of ice that fell from the heavens. The word chalaza was used by Sophocles, Aristotle, Athenaeus, Theophrastus, Orphica, and Plutarchus to describe the following things:


(1) a knot, (2) a hard lump, (3) a pelting shower of anything, (4) a bituminous rock, (5) a stone that resembles a hailstone, and (6) anything that falls from the heavens.


The 1819 lexicon by Franz Passow is recognized as the grandfather of modern day lexicons even though it was based on the 1797 lexicon of Johann Gottlob Schneider. The noun cha­laza comes from the verb chalao, which means “to let down from above.” Chalaza is whatever happens to be let down from above. Passow’s 1819 definition states its full, basic meaning best:

“Strictly, that which is let loose.”


The four occurrences of chalaza in Revelation do not picture balls of ice being let down, but rather stones of fire from mas­sive volcanic eruptions produced by a fantastic shifting of the plates. A further validation of this statement may be made by an interpretation of Revelation 8:7:


The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.


Please note in figure 3 that many of the great cracks in the crust of the earth pass across large segments of the earth’s dry land mass. What John observes as recorded in verse seven is the opening of these plate boundaries to allow massive showers of hot, burning pyroclastic material to shower down upon the dry land masses. The word chalaza appears as “hail” in this verse, but this chalaza is not made of ice, for ice does not mix with the literal Greek word used for “fire” (pur),nor does it burn up trees or green grass. Because God sent a plague of hailstones and fire against the Egyptians in the Old Testament as one of the ten plagues, most commentaries link this verse in Revela­tion to that event and thereby identify the fire as lightning. I can see the reason for this common interpretation, but I hearti­ly disagree with it. The reason for my disagreement is dramat­ically portrayed by what appears in the preceding two verses of chapter eight.


And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thundering, and lightning, and an earthquake.


And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.


The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up, Revelation 8:5-7.


Please note in verse five that the word “lightning” appears. This is a translation of the Greek word aetrapai, which means “vivid flashes of static electricity,” a very common phenomenon produced by volcanic eruptions. Why am I so sure that the word “fire” in verse seven is not lightning? Because an entirely dif­ferent word from astrapaiis used in verse seven as God’s Holy Spirit causes John to use the word pur, which means, “a visible heat flame evolved by ignition and combustion.” The Holy Spirit would not have caused John to use astrapai for light­ning” in verse five and then suddenly cause him to use an unre­lated word like pur for lightning in verse seven. John reported exactly what he saw. He saw lightning in verse five and he saw fire in verse seven.


The Greek word for “blood” in verse seven is haimati,which can mean any one of three different things: (1) real blood, (2) the blood-red color taken on by an object, (3) any form of liquid hav­ing a blood-red color. The Hebrews had a habit of identifying any color from orange to reddish black as “blood.” The following passages from the Old Testament show that the word “blood” was often used in a figurative sense.


Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidney of wheat; and thou didet drink the pure blood of the grape,Deuteronomy 32:14.


Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes,Genesis 49:11.


And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood:

And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil, 2 Kings 3:22,23.


Certainly grapes do not contain real blood, but many vari­eties contained a blood-red liquid. The Hebrew was familiar with the many various shades of blood from the wounds of the battlefields. They had seen blood from the heart area of an extremely light reddish hue and blood from the femur veins that was almost blackish. Not only is there a tremendous dif­ference in the shades of blood within each individual, but also differences between individuals. Anytime that John observed a color from orange to deep dark red he simply reported the color as “blood.” You will not find the color orange in the Scriptures. In Revelation 6:12 we are not told that the moon will actually turn into real blood, but rather that it will take on a blood-red color (orange to deep red) from volcanic lithometers in the lower stratosphere.


And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood, Revelation 6:12.


In Revelation 8:5-7 John observed an angel take fire from the heavenly altar and then cast it into (eis) the earth to produce the following phenomena: (1) voices (phonai—literally, sounds), (2) thunderings, (3) lightnings and (4) an earthquake. The sounds that John heard were the terrifying sounds generated by movement along the pressurized plate boundaries. The thun­derings were from massive thunderstorms formed by wide­spread uplifting of moisture in hot convective currents above vast volcanic eruptions. The lightning he observed was from vivid static electricity produced by both thunderstorm and the volcanically induced heat component of friction. As a meteorol­ogist and physical scientist, I assure you that sounds, thunder­ ing, lightning and earthquakes are common occurrences in all major volcanic eruptions. And may I also assure you that the sounds, thunderings, lightning and earthquakes occur in conjunction with, and are followed by, chalaza, pur andhaimati. The word translated as “mingled" among these seven frightening phenomena is memigmena,and it means to be mixed in with something, as one would dip a garment in red dye.


Now, armed with all this information, let us carefully exam­ine what John saw in verse seven. He saw chalaza (something let go, let fall). He observed objects being cast upon the earth. These objects were pur (fiery) and they looked like they had been dipped in haimati (a blood-red liquid). The objects were fiery volcanic rocks that looked as if they had been dipped in blood, and that blood-red liquid was lava. This is a perfect figu­rative description of a literal volcanic eruption.


The linguistics of verses five and seven describe massive vol­canic eruptions, but the effect on the dry land is the final proof of the pudding. Please note that all the green grass is destroyed, but only one-third of the trees. Why not all of the trees? Because in all major volcanic eruptions the grass is destroyed over a vast area due to the shallowness of its roots, but only the trees in the immediate vicinity of the eruption are destroyed due to the much greater depth of their tap roots. In virtually all-volcanic eruptions you will find within the same area that all the green grass is destroyed, but only about one-third of the trees are killed, those being the trees nearest the volcanic cone.


If there is a question in your mind concerning the rendering of the word translated as “blood" in the book of Revelation, please consider this reference from volume one of Gerhard Kittel’s Theological Dictionary: In the language of apocalyptic haima “signifies the red color simulate to blood which indicates eschatological terrors in the earth and heaven, such as war (Ac. 2:19), hail and fire (Rev. 8:7), the changing of water (Rev. 8: the coloring of the moon (Rev. 6:12), the judgment of the nations (Rev. 14:20)." This source clearly indicates that the word “blood’ in Revelation may be understood as any liquid substance having a red color.