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



Chapter 13

Section 1 Subsection 5

The Bottomless Pit


"The Beast that ascendeth out of the Bottomless Pit" - Ch.  11:7

In the apocalypse there are the earth, the sea, the sand of the sea, the abyss, and the pit of the abyss. All these terms have their own special signification where they occur. The sea, the sand of the sea, and the abyss styled in the Common Version, "the bottomless pit," are related to the Beast of ch. 11:7 and chapter 13:1. In the former text, it is said to ascend out of the abyss, and in the latter, out of the sea. But, though the terms expressive of the place of origin are two different ones, there are not two different beasts, but one and the same beast only. But then, why are these two different terms employed with reference to the same beast? There must be a reason for it. In elucidation of this inquiry, then, I remark in addition to what has already been written in Vol.3. p.85, that, though in the Septuagint and certain texts of the New Testament, abyss, or abussos, is identical with the sea and deep, yet symbolically and apocalyptically, sea and deep do not represent all that is intended to be conveyed by the word.

Abussos is derived from a priv. and bussos, the depth, and therefore signifies, that which is not, or has not been, fathomed; hence, in general, boundless, exhaustless. The apocalyptic terms above recited are terms of extension. The sea and the earth of this chapter are coextensive with the Mediterranean and its countries to the Rhine, and Danube; these were a deep that had been politically bounded, or fathomed: but, what of that vast unmeasured, or boundless, region beyond? That region styled in John's time, Germania, European and Asiatic Sarmatia, and Scythia, beyond the Rhine, the Danube, the Carpathian Mountains, the Dniester, the Black Sea, the Caucasian Mountains, and the Caspian Sea? This was a wild, unsubdued wilderness stretching along the northern frontier of the Great Roman Eagle, inhabited by swarms of fierce barbarians, whom the Romans were unable to fathom, or to bring within the appreciable depths of the earth and sea. They were an unorganized confused multitude  an abyss of which no conqueror or legislator had been able to reach the bottom.

But how changed this country of the abyss since John stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw arise out of the Latin Sea and the Earth, the Beasts of the Sea and Earth! Since then the Abyss has been fathomed, and no longer erupts its wild barbaric hordes in destructive inundations, whereby suddenly and without warning, cities and rural districts are plundered and reduced to smoking ruins. The abyss, which was "the Northern Hive" from which swarmed forth the destroying agents of the first four trumpets, sounded against the Roman Earth and Sea, is now the area of Germany from the Rhine and Danube to the Baltic, Bohemia, Poland, the Great Russian empire, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. In the times of the ascending of the Sea Beast, these were the ultramarine, abyssal fountains of the Great Sea; which, when broken up, roared forth their floods and tempests, and developed upon the Latin Habitable the Ten-Horn Kingdoms of Modern Europe. Hence the reason why the same beast is attributed to different sources. He came latent, or hidden, as it were, being as yet undeveloped, from the outlying abyssal region, when the Barbarians of the North rushed in upon the sea, and the rivers, and the fountains of waters, belonging to the Catholic Dragon: and he came up above the waters of the sea when the invading hosts of the abyss effected settlements upon the Dragon-territory, and were developed into the Ten Diademed Horns of the Beast.

But, very different to this is the speculation culled from "Horsley's Sermon on the Descent of our Lord into Hell." He says, "the abyss is where the wicked spirits are reserved in chains unto the great day. This abyss is situated in the central regions of the earth, and therefore is below the sea. It is therefore not impossible that in the ascent of the Beast (Rev. 13:1; 17:8) two different ideas may be combined. He might be described as arising out of the sea in reference to his secular and political resurrection; and as ascending out of the abyss, or region of condemned spirits, with relation to his spiritual removal. Moreover, even if he ascended from Hades, the sea might be the medium of his ascent; and there is a peculiar fitness in its being so represented, to denote his arising out of the commotions and struggles of the nations, the symbolical sea."

"According to the Jews," says Daubuz, "the abyss was a place under the earth, in the most internal parts of it, and was thought to be a great receptacle of waters as a reservatory to furnish all the springs or rivers. And this opinion was not only held by the Egyptians, Homer, and Plato, but also by some of the modern philosophers. And Seneca seems to be of the same opinion. And in this sense, the abyss symbolically signifies a hidden multitude of confused men."




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