Revelation 16

The Seven Bowls

Libation Bowls

Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God onto the earth (Revelation 16:1).

In Revelation 15:7, each of the seven angels was given a golden bowl (Gk. phialē) full of the wrath of God. The picture seems to be similar to the common practice of the 1st century (and much earlier, and for several centuries afterward) of using a shallow bowl to pour out a libation offering on a burning altar. This silver libation bowl from Ithaka was photographed at the British Museum.

Ocean Life

Every living thing in the sea died (Revelation 16:3).

This amazingly life-like mosaic from Pompeii illustrates some of the wide variety of sea life with which people of the 1st century would have been familiar. In addition to many varieties of fish, the mosaic includes an eel, lobster, squid, octopus, and shellfish. This mosaic was photographed at the Naples Archaeological Museum.


And the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast (Revelation 16:10).

The Greeks and Romans had an aversion to kings, and by extension, to the thrones from which they ruled. Because of this, most of the contemporary thrones they depicted belonged to various gods. This throne and footstool were the supporting structure for a statue of Jupiter. This sculpture is considered to be a copy of an original from the 3rd to 1st centuries BC. It was photographed at the Naples Archaeological Museum.

The Euphrates

And the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates (Revelation 16:12).

At its nearest point, the Euphrates River is about 335 miles (540 km) north of Jerusalem. For most of its distance, the Euphrates creates a long ribbon of life in a semi-arid region. With the Tigris River, which is further north and east, it forms a natural barrier to travel across the Mesopotamian River Valley. This American Colony photograph of a fisherman on the Euphrates was taken in the 1930s and later colorized.


And they gathered them together to the place which is called in Hebrew Har Magedon (Revelation 16:16).

The name “Har Magedon” is a transliteration of the Hebrew “mountain of Megiddo” (Heb. har megiddōn). The exact phrase “mountain of Megiddo” (Heb. har megiddōn) does not occur in the Hebrew Bible. Since there is no “mountain” of Megiddo, the word Har in this case should probably be understood to mean “hill country.” Megiddo is situated on the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley, along the northern edge of the Carmel mountain range, and it seems likely that this region is indicated.

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