Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchThis article is about the concept in the Christian Bible. For other uses, see Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (disambiguation).Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an 1887 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov. From left to right are Death, Famine, War, and Conquest; the Lamb is at the top.
The Four Horsemen are figures in Christian faith, appearing in the New Testament‘s final book, Revelation, an apocalypse written by John of Patmos, as well as in the Old Testament‘s prophetic Book of Zechariah, and in the Book of Ezekiel, where they are named as punishments from God.
Revelation 6 tells of a book/scroll in God‘s right hand that is sealed with seven seals. The Lamb of God/Lion of Judah opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses. To Zechariah, they are described as “the ones whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth” causing it to rest quietly. Ezekiel lists them as “sword, famine, wild beasts, and plague.”
In John’s revelation, the first horseman is on a white horse, carrying a bow, and given a crown, riding forward as a figure of Conquest, perhaps invoking Pestilence, Christ, or the Antichrist. The second carries a sword and rides a red horse and is the creator of War. The third is a food merchant riding upon a black horse, symbolizing Famine. The fourth and final horse is pale green, and upon it rides Death accompanied by Hades. “They were given authority over a quarter of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and plague, and by means of the beasts of the earth.”
The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the Four Horsemen are to set a divine end time upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment. That the number of horsemen is four is important: four is the number associated with creation (e.g., the four living creatures) or the earth (e.g., the four winds) in the Book of Revelation. On the significance of fours in Revelation, see Biblical numerology.