Revelation 16:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Revelation 16:12, NIV: "The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East."

Revelation 16:12, ESV: "The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east."

Revelation 16:12, KJV: "And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared."

Revelation 16:12, NASB: "The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east."

Revelation 16:12, NLT: "Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great Euphrates River, and it dried up so that the kings from the east could march their armies toward the west without hindrance."

Revelation 16:12, CSB: "The sixth poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the east."

What does Revelation 16:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse tells us the sixth angel poured his bowl on the river Euphrates. The contents of the bowl caused the river to dry up. Prior bowl judgments have either corrupted or destroyed most of the water on earth (Revelation 16:1–4). This judgment is not about corrupting or removing the use of this water. Rather, it seems to be about removing a barrier used for defensive purposes: preparing the way for invading kings from the east.

The Euphrates is called "the great river" five times in Scripture. It was the eastern boundary of Israel's inheritance (Deuteronomy 1:7; 11:24). To some extent the river provided protection for Israel because it was difficult to cross and a wilderness to the west separated it from Canaan, the Promised Land. It flows almost 2,000 miles toward Palestine before making its way southeast to the Persian Gulf. In the first century, when Revelation was written, the Euphrates divided East from West, and the kingdoms of China and India lay beyond it to the east.

Centuries earlier, the armies of Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon by diverting the Euphrates that flowed through the city. They were able to march into Babylon on the dry river bed and capture the city. In the great tribulation, the eastern invader will cross the Euphrates, march through Babylon, and enter Palestine.