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And the number of the armies of horsemen

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was twice ten thousand and ten thousand; I heard their number.

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And the number of the swift and powerful troops was an innumerably vast horde, too vast to fathom, I heard their number described.


1: “the armies of horsemen”

These were not just any troops, but warriors on war horses. The horses combined the qualities of speed and strength making a horseman more powerful than several foot soldiers.


Some people think that because John says he “heard their number” that it is a literal number and not symbolism. However, nothing about that phrase requires that it be literal rather than symbolic. To my knowledge, all the numbers in Revelation have some degree of symbolic meaning, this one is no exception. Also, almost everything in Revelation is symbolic, therefore this is also symbolic. This is indeed as a form of emphasis, but emphasis does not equal literalism.

An Army of 200 Million

In Ancient Israel, 10,000 was the largest number that was used on a semi-regular basis, thus it was by itself a way of saying a vast horde. 10,000 X 10,000 was a way of saying a vast number of vast hordes. If 10,000 is bordering on too many to count, and for them it was, then 10,000 X 10,000 was beyond imagination; they literally could not fathom a number as large as 100 million. But that was not all, this passage would require them to double that number. This was not an attempt to specify the exact number of 200 million, but a way of communicating a number beyond imagination, far too vast to even try to count.

Is this a reference to China?

Some have speculated that this is referring to the army of China because China is the only country at this time capable of putting together an army of 200 million (although India is close behind in numbers but I have never heard anyone say this refers to India). Those who have promoted this idea have failed to look at the context of this verse, instead they have looked only at the big number.

Is this an army of men or of angels?

It is an army lead by angels not by men, prepared and held in readiness for this specific time, sent by God to execute a limited amount of punishment on all mankind, with authority over the whole earth.

But there’s more. Do the “soldiers” or “horses” of the army of China, have heads like lions? Do they have tails like heads of serpents? These factors all point to symbolism referring to an army of angels, not an army of men!