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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 13

Section 1 Subsection 4

The Sea



In the Hebrew tongue any collection of waters is termed seas as in Gen. 1:10, "The gathering together of the waters, he called seas." The word before us in the original is thalassa, on which the lexicon says, "when Homer uses it of a particular sea, he means the Mediterranean, for he calls the outer sea Okeanos, Ocean, and holds it to be a river. Herodotus calls the Mediterranean the inside sea; and the Ocean, the outside sea; the Latins called it MARE NOSTRUM, "Our Sea" as it is geographically and apocalyptically. What Matthew in ch. 8:20, calls thalassa, Luke in ch. 8:23, terms limne, a lake, or, an inland sea.

"Many waters," says Daubuz, "upon the account of their noise, number, and disorder, and confusion of their waves, are the symbol of peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. The symbol is so explained in Rev. 17:15. And in Jer. 47:2, waters signify an army, or multitude of men. The comparison of the noise of a multitude to the noise of mighty or many waters, is used by Isaiah in ch. 17:12,13, much after the same manner as Homer compares the noise of a multitude to the noise of the waves of a sea in a storm."

"SEA, clear and serene, denotes an orderly collection of people, in a quiet and peaceable state." "Sea, troubled and tumultuous, signifies a collection of men in motion and war. Either way, the waters signifying people, and the sea being a collection of waters, the sea becomes the symbol of people, gathered into one body politic, kingdom, or jurisdiction, or united in one design."

"The resemblance between the noise of an enraged sea, and the noise of an army, or multitude in commotion is obvious, and frequently taken notice of by the prophets."

Daubuz truly remarks, that "the accomplishment of a prophecy must be considered, and consequently applied according to the signification of the terms by which it is expressed. This signification is either symbolical or literal. But it happens sometimes that there are occasions in which the event appears to be suitable to both these. The first signification, if the terms are in their nature symbolical, is the principle in the intention; the second, if joined with the other, is only concurrent. If both suit the terms, the first (or symbolical) must always have the preference, as being the more noble, and worthy of the Holy Spirit's care to foretell it; and then we may give way to the latter, where it will concur. The principal event is that which answers fully to the majesty and first intention of the symbols; in which God does, as it were, speak in His own dialect, and so is always of greater extent, and more comprehensive than any other. The secondary event of a symbolical prediction is, when such an event, being also concomitant with the other, answers more nearly to the literal signification of the terms in which the symbolical prediction is expressed; and, as it were, alters the nature of the symbols, as if they were literal characters of the things meant by them. An example will set this in a clear light. The prophet Nahum predicts the over-throw of Nineveh in these words: 'with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof (Ch. 1:8). An overrunning flood is the symbol of desolation by a victorious enemy. The accomplishment, however, showed the signification to be two-fold, that is, symbolical and also literal. Diodorus informs us, that in the third year of the Siege, the river being swollen with continual rains overflowed part of the city, and broke down the wall for twenty furlongs; and the enemy entered the breach that the waters had made, and took the city."

According to the same principles, the Sand of the Sea, and the Sea itself may be rightly viewed in the chapter before us. The events in their accomplishment show that the signification of the Sea is both symbolical and literal. Daniel's vision of the ascendency of the Horns plalnly shows, that their manifestation was in connexion with the literal LATIN SEA, the Mediterranean. His words are, "the four winds of the heaven strove upon THE GREAT SEA." This was the name given to the Mediterranean, or Sea in the midst of the earth, by the Hebrews. He describes the four beasts that came up out of it, as four dominions: and in the interpretation, the Sea is styled the Earth; and the beasts arising out of it, are termed kings (Ver. 17,3). Compare the symbol in verse 3, with the signification in verse 17: thus, "Four beasts came up from the sea (upon which the winds strove); diverse one from another;" and now read the explanation, "These great beasts which are four are four kings which shall arise out of the earth". Now the fourth king was the "dreadful and terrible" one. He came up with his body, head, and horns Out of the Great Sea, in the sense of arising out of the countries by which the sea is almost enclosed as a lake. Here is a blending of the symbolical and the literal; and so, that in the interpretation, the symbolical is anchored to the literal; by which I mean, that we must not go away to the Baltic, and Atlantic, and German Oceans, to find the fourth beast and his heads and horns; but must confine our investigations to those countries which in the days of the prophecy had outlets upon the Great Sea.

Now, what Daniel beheld arising out of the sea as the results of the storms of war upon it, John also saw in part from his Patmian stand-point ascending from the same sea and in the same sense. He saw the kingdoms and empires of Modern Europe so far as their origin was Mediterranean, ascending from this sea. He stood literally upon its Patmian Shore, in a numerous cluster of its islands, which were as but the sands of its coast; and from this, as the representative of a multitude occupying the wings of this sea-region, he saw kingdoms arise from the symbolic sea inhabiting the literal maritime earth enclosing the Latin Sea, of which he has presented us with a symbolical description in the chapter we have in hand.




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