What does Revelation 9:5 mean?
ESV: They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone.
NIV: They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes.
NASB: And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a person.
CSB: They were not permitted to kill them but were to torment them for five months; their torment is like the torment caused by a scorpion when it stings someone.
NLT: They were told not to kill them but to torture them for five months with pain like the pain of a scorpion sting.
KJV: And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
Verse Commentary:
Verse 3 referred to locust-like creatures having a power like that of a scorpion—an animal most infamous for its painful sting. Here, this is further explained. The torment brought by these creatures compares to that of a scorpion's sting. Scorpions sting with the end of their tail, not normally producing death, but the experience can be extremely painful and the effects can last several days. The Lord puts specific restraints on these locusts. They can torment only unbelievers, and only for a period of five months. Further, they are not allowed to kill them.

The locust-like demons released from the bottomless pit are given a specific target: those not marked with the seal of God. In other words, they can only attack non-believers (Revelation 9:4).

Deuteronomy 8:15 reminds the Hebrews that the Lord led them safely through the Negev, "the great and terrifying wilderness," that housed "fiery serpents and scorpions." Just as the Lord protected His people from scorpions during their journey to the Promised Land, so He will exempt His sealed believers from the sting of scorpions in the tribulation, when the fifth angel blows his trumpet. Allegedly, scorpions are still common in the Negev, and a mountainous region that touches Palestine is called Akrabbim from the Hebrew Akrib, meaning scorpion.
Verse Context:
Revelation 9:1–6 tells what happens when the fifth angel blows his trumpet. This trumpet judgment is more severe than the previous trumpet judgments. A star, presumably Satan, falls from heaven and receives a key to the bottomless pit. He uses the key to release a demonic force of locusts that torment unbelievers for five months. The torment is so severe that people seek death but are unable to find it. The verses that follow describe the locusts and tell what happens when the sixth angel blows his trumpet.
Chapter Summary:
Revelation 9 tells us that under the fifth trumpet judgment John sees a star fall from heaven to earth. This ''star'' is Satan, and he is given the key to the bottomless pit. Using this key, Satan unleashes a plague of supernatural demons resembling locusts. They torment unbelievers for five months with such pain that people seek death unsuccessfully. They appear like horses prepared for battle, and they have a king, whose name is Apollyon, meaning ''Destroyer.'' Under the sixth trumpet judgment John sees four angels released from the Euphrates river. Their release coincides with a horde of two hundred million demonic mounted troops that kill a third of mankind. However, the survivors refuse to abandon their idolatry and to repent of their evil deeds.
Chapter Context:
The ninth chapter of Revelation continues the report of what happens when the seven angels blow their trumpets. Chapter 8 described the first four trumpet judgments; chapter 9 reports the fifth and sixth. The events in chapter 9 are much more severe than those which came before. The severity of judgments increases dramatically with each trumpet blast. These judgments precede the final series of events, called the bowl judgments. Revelation chapters 15 and 16 will reveal what happens under these judgments.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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