Revelation 8:10-11 NASB

[10]The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters.

[11]The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter.

Revelation 8 seems to be referring to some cosmic disturbances as the trumpets are sounded,& when the the third angel sounds his trumpet a star called wormwood falls from heaven.

Angels are symbolized by stars in (Rev 1:20),(Rev 9:1) & (Rev 12:4), could it be that the star wormwood is a referent to an angel?

  • 1
    @elikakohen. "Wormwood" is an English word. The original text has αψινθος. This has no connection with "worm" or with "wood".
    – fdb
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 22:56
  • See a suggested etymology of the word at www.etymonline.com
    – enegue
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 9:29
  • @dfb While it's true that the greek word does not contain "worm" or "wood" in it, nevertheless wormwood, which is also not made up of either worms or wood, is actually Artemisia absinthium, so this is exactly the meaning of the Greek word. Let's leave disagreement with folk etymologies aside, as this is a correct translation. Wormwood or absinthium is a plant used to make bitter oils.
    – Robert
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 19:38

5 Answers 5


1. Question:

In Revelation, what might the "Star of Wormwood" refer to?

Note: As this is soliciting an opinion of how prophecy should be interpreted, I feel that it is very presumptuous to claim that a conclusive answer can be given.

2. Probable Answer, Perhaps the Angel: "Abaddon / Apollyon":

Although interpretations vary, it does not seem reasonable to infer another identity - other than Abaddon - from this context, alone.

Yes, it is correct that "Star" is consistently used metaphorically for "angel", (Revelation 1:20; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 12:4).

Revelation explicitly states that the "star" is an Angel:

NASB, Revelation 9 - Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. 2 He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit. 3 Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

The Angel being referred to, in this context, is Abaddon:

NASB, Revelation 9:11 - They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.

Note: Given that the mention of this name is within the same "trumpet blast", it seems reasonable to make this association.

Wormwood is Symbolic of the Pangs of Judgment:

Consistently, in Scripture, Wormwood is compared to "poison", the "state" of bitterness, anguish, and toxicity following the perversion of Justice.

NASB, Amos 6:12 - Do horses run on rocks? Or does one plow them with oxen? Yet you have turned justice into poison And the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,

This is consistent with the historical association between "Abaddon" and the Judgment of Hell/Sheol:

Abbadon, Wikipedia: The term abaddon appears six times in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible; abaddon means destruction or "place of destruction", or the realm of the dead, and is accompanied by Sheol.

  • 1
    Great answer, Elika. There are so many references in Revelation to the Tanakh that one wonders whether these serve as a veiled context, or literary device for interpretation or decryption. We are in complete agreement about the risk of taking a conclusive position in this area. We just don't know.
    – Dieter
    Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 1:01

A "star" burning like a torch was not unknown in the ANE. See http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/1973Metic...8...91B/0000091.000.html

Curiously, after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, many Ukrainians and others dove for their Bibles after someone realized that "chernobyl" is the Ukrainian word for the bitter herb, wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris or Artemisia absinthium). Yes, as in absinthe, the green fairy.

A meteorite that pollutes the a third of the fresh water of the earth resulting in many human fatalities doesn't sound like an angel, or the text in Revelation would have identified it as an angel such as was done with Abaddon, the angel of death.

  • I also hold the view that the "star" in Revelation 8:10-11 (Wormwood) isn't referring to an angel, and in this case, Satan, and many different scholars hold this view. As you noted, it wouldn't make sense for this to be an angel (Satan) considering an angel merely 'falling' upon the third part of the rivers doesn't seem logical, and that a meteor of some sort seems to be more applicable in context, particularly when observing the "...burning as it were a lamp..." etc. As you pointed out, had this been an angel, one would think that it would have been labeled precisely, like in Revelation 9. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 8:49
  • Notice that there are several possible interpretations, including speculative ones. Wormwood could interpreted as the herald of the pollution of significant fresh water sources, a direct cause of the pollution, an allusion to bitter waters in the Tanakh, or even a description of a nuclear weapon on an intercontinental missile or some future weapon that pollutes the same way as Chernobyl has done. Be careful of speculative interpretations since prophecies are most likely designed to be recognized as they occur, especially unlikely sounding ones (i.e. Jerusalem destroyed by a flood).
    – Dieter
    Commented Dec 15, 2018 at 16:20
  • A big meteor could create a big earthquake, or a big tsunami, or both. In Fukushima it was these two things that caused the nuclear reactors to break down and spill out a lot of radiation. Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 22:43

It is not certain that wormwood is the name of an angel. We know only what it will do, not who it is. From the imagery of falling from the heavens and being on fire, it seems like it may be a comet.

The word “wormwood” is mentioned only here in the New Testament, but it appears eight times in the Old Testament, each time associated with bitterness, poison and death. The Revelation passage may not be saying that the star falling to the earth will actually be called Wormwood by the inhabitants of the earth. Rather, wormwood was a well-known bitter herb in the Bible times, so by naming the star Wormwood, we are told that its effect will be to embitter the waters of the earth, so much so that the water is undrinkable.

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/wormwood.html


the described "events" prophesied in The Book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ, by John The Apostle of Jesus Christ, plainly note...."a great star called wormwood fell to the earth" .....that event is then directly desribed in further detail to have 'global geospheric, and catastrophic results' upon the nations of earth. These events are a part of one large event, which has a multiplicity of resultant consequences, these events all plainly being described in great detail in many places in The Book, and within other parts previous to it in The Old Testament Prophecies. The entire Book of Revelation....a.k.a., is the culmination of all previous Prophecies by former Prophets and their descriptions in the Old Testament.....then given further detail and context within the culmination of all those Prophecies in The Revelation, becoming knit together as one by The Spirit of Almighty God,,..and all these describe plainly that all the events noted will occur before, during, and in finality of a global war between the nations of the beast, and image.....and The Almighty God of the Heavens....." their armies at war against Him and His Army" satan then in the details is " cast down" in his angelic nature, no longer existing in form of the image of The Creator.....as an Angel ..., he then must, and is forced to assemble physical, nations of also cast down men and women to achieve a force of power in the earth, as also described in The Old Testament Prophecies....."his power is not of himself" used at place in the context of....the description of the nations being in assembly to serve him in corruption against the Peoples of God Almighty, and against God. This is precisely the context continued in The Book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ, by John The Apostle of Jesus Christ......and then knowing that satan must use the physical forces of nations to fight against The Almighty God and His Peoples, it is highly likely that "wormwood" will be a nuclear event, employed during that 'last global war'.


John was only able to describe what he saw with the knowledge he had of their time. A flaming poisonous star could be a Nuclear bomb! The waters were made bitter, radiation fallout. Also the locusts could be some kind of weaponized drones? We will see! Jesus said be not afraid for Iam with you till the end of the world.😀

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