now moves swiftly. Again, the horse is
war -- but this time the weapon is -- “scales!” What does it mean?
by the futurists, but not incompatible with their vision) is the color of mourning.
|Scales might mean to
us justice. But in this context I
think another meaning much more likely.
We read in Ezekiel 4:16 (and other places) that in times of great
scarcity bread was weighed out on the scales.
These scales are a symbol of great scarcity; hence the traditional identification of
this horseman with famine.
identification would have occurred to the Romans -- taxation. The scales were the symbol of the tax
collector -- for money was weighed to determine its genuineness.
|There is an
interesting contrast between the “quarts” passage and the next. The day’s wage (literally, a denarius)
would by a quart of wheat -- just enough to feed one person on the normal
diet. If the man had a family, then he
could get three quarts -- of barley.
That’s just enough to prevent starvation.
|But- the oil and
wine are unharmed. This is generally
taken (by all) to mean that luxury goods are still available; the distinction between rich and poor
increases. In hard times, there is
always money to be made in caviar.
|How does this fit
the historicist vision? Pretty well --
though the dates aren’t quite so exact.
This is as you would expect, as civil war would give rise to famine
(in any view). The reign of Diocletian
(starting AD 284) was noted for
hopelessness (see mourning)
|• Huge increases in
|• Famine in the face
|One story will
suffice. A ship sailed into Rome’s
harbor from Alexandria. Crowds
gathered to buy wheat, for Egypt was Rome’s granary. A riot ensued when they found the cargo was
not wheat -- but sand! Not just any
sand, but a particular color of sand ordered by the Emperor Diocletian for
the particular purpose of spreading it on the floors of the arenas for