The sixth phial will be poured out on the great river Euphrates; so that, being dried up, a passage may be prepared for the new enemies of the beast to come from the East, that is, for the Israelites, wonderfully converted to the pure faith and worship of Christ, and now become candidates for the kingdom promised for so many ages. Whom the followers of the beast, perhaps, may be inclined to consider as the army of their fictitious antichrist, to arise from the Jews, of whom they do not hesitate to assert, that even we of this day are the forerunners. God thus avenging their obstinacy in error.
Now two things induce me to understand |the kings, to come (as it is said) from the rising of the sun,| as spoken of the Jews. First, that it is the last phial but one, during which, therefore, if the Jews are not converted, it must necessarily come to pass, that they would be destroyed with the other enemies of Christ, in the number of whom they would still be included, in that great day of universal vengeance and judgment, which the next and last phial introduces. Besides the passage in Isaiah referring to the same event, brings me to this conclusion, from which, in all probability, this part of the Apocalypse is borrowed. |And the Lord,| says he, ch. xi.15, 16, |shall destroy (I should prefer, As the Lord has destroyed) the tongue of the Egyptian sea, and (I should prefer So) he shall lift up his hand upon the river, (Targum, the river Euphrates) with his mighty wind, (or Spirit) and shall smite it in the seven streams, so that men shall go over it dryshod.| |And there shall be a highway for the remnant of my people which shall be from Assyria, (therefore the Euphrates is meant) as it was in the day when he came up from the laud of Egypt.| Let the reader see Zach. x.10, 11, and the Chaldee paraphrast thereon.
But what then, shall we say, is this Euphrates, whose waters shall be dried up? Whether it is to be taken according to the letter, especially in that passage of Isaiah, I somewhat doubt. In the mean time, I rather think that something of parable and allegory is sprinkled through this part of the Apocalypse, but not much; so that the analogy of the other phials may remain here likewise, well adapted to the object of the effusion. For it seems we are to understand in the same manner as the old Euphrates had, the mystical one has its Babylon also. I think the Ottoman empire will be the only obstacle to those new enemies from the East, and a defence on the part of the beast. Nor will there be wanting an example from Isaiah himself, of Euphrates thus to be understood, who, ch. viii. v.7, has described the Assyrian army, then a borderer on that river, under the similar allegory of the Euphrates. |The Lord will cause to come up against them (that is, the Syrians and the Israelites) the waters of the river, (so the Euphrates is accustomed to be called, kat' exochen,) strong and many, the king of Assyria, and all his glory,| (Targum, his army.) Why should not the Euphrates of the phials be taken, by a parity of reason, for the Turks, not less than the Assyrians, borderers on the Euphrates, before its desication, nay, inhabitants of the same tract?
. It contributes not a little to the establishment of this interpretation, that we explained the letting loose of that vast equestrian army, long bound on the great river Euphrates, at the sounding of the sixth trumpet, ch. ix.15, as intended for the Turks, thence to be poured forth on the Roman world, while we were following the series of the trumpets, and the probable truth of the subject-matter. By the sixth phial, then, will this Euphratean flood be dried up. Evidently, according to what is said ch. xi. next after that destruction of the city to take place in the great earthquake, (which we have applied to the former phial,) the second woe, that is, the plague of the sixth phial, is to pass away. But we shall labour in vain in our conjectures concerning a thing which is wholly future, as to the means by which, or the authors by whom, it is to be effected; whether by the Jews themselves, (as Ezekiel, perhaps, intimates, ch. xxxviii. and xxxix.) taking possession of the Holy Land by restoration to their former state, or by some intestine dissension, opportunely preceding their return; or by both, perhaps, in successive order, or by some other cause.
Whatever it may be, their obstruction being removed, the way of approach is by some means said to be prepared for these new Christians from the East, and that, as it appears, for the purpose of undertaking an expedition against the beast, to whose destruction all the phials are subservient. For whence otherwise, and for what reason, should such a trepidation and panic seize upon the followers of the beast, and even the demons themselves, from the time of the drying up of the. river, as to occasion such a horrible and unheard-of preparation for war as is here described; unless they, with the whole diabolical cohort, feared every extremity from the accession of the new kings of the East?