Revelation 6:5-6 (NASB)

5" When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.

[Rev 6:6 MGNT] (6) καὶ ἤκουσα ὡς φωνὴν ἐν μέσῳ τῶν τεσσάρων ζῴων λέγουσαν χοῖνιξ σίτου δηναρίου καὶ τρεῖς χοίνικες κριθῶν δηναρίου καὶ τὸ ἔλαιον καὶ τὸν οἶνον μὴ ἀδικήσῃς

  • Need more clarity. The oil reference in the book of Revelation is in my understanding as oil for cooking ( e.g.olive oil) Now you have referred as conclusion, crude oil, possibly. Please clarify. Commented May 26, 2020 at 7:21
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    Fuel rationing is what it cryptically may allude to. Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 0:45
  • Constantthin , I believe the command “do not harm the olive oil and the wine” appears to be advice not to use up these basic commodities too quickly but to be sparing in their use. Otherwise, they will be ‘harmed,’ that is, they will run out before the famine ends. Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 19:10
  • Otherwise “wheat & barely” are examples of cereals used to make ethanol fuel. “Oil” could mean cooking oil, as some diesel engines can run on used cooking oil, like from fish & chips shops. And “wine” could stand for alcohol in general, especially the purer spirits: whiskey, vodka, etc, which can be concentrated in the freezer, and used as emergency fuel. Thus, in a severe oil crises the price of cereals could skyrocket, used cooking oil would be saved and not “damaged”, and spirits, finally, would be converted into spare engine-fuel. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexible-fuel_vehicle Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 22:51
  • @OzzieOzzie A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and neither the oil nor the wine will harm you
    – R. Emery
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 22:55

9 Answers 9


The English Standard Version Study Bible offers an interesting and insightful comment on verse 6:

ESV Comment - Do not harm the oil and wine: Local crops such as oil and wine are unaffected, showing that the scarcity is limited, not comprehensive. Some think the command not to harm the oil and wine may have a social significance, since the rich were the primary consumers of oil and wine. It could also be a prediction of events like that of A.D. 92, when the emperor Domitian during a grain shortage ordered the vineyards cut down to make room for more wheat fields. This caused such a backlash that he rescinded the order. In other words, extreme measures would have to be taken due to the progressive pouring out of judgment.

Other points of view are made in the New International Version and New Living Translation Study Bibles:

NIV Comment - Do not damage the oil and the wine: Sets limits on the destruction by the rider of the black horse. The roots of the olive and vine go deeper and would not be immediately affected by a limited drought.

NLT Comment - Do not waste (or do not harm) the oil and wine: The prices of luxuries such as oil and wine would remain unchanged. It is an image of social and economic imbalance.

I regret I do not have access to the NASB, but the historical events of A.D. 92 as noted in the ESV strike me as meaningful.

  • Interesting comments, appreciate your good effort, but was bread, wine and oil staple food in the Middle East at the time of Jesus Ministry?.If so, why not harm them?1Timothy 5:23 appears that oil and wine were used for medicinal purposes. +1 Commented May 5, 2019 at 18:33
  • "Oil" does not appear in 1 Tim 5:23 and Paul was citing 2 Maccabees 15:38 If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. 39 For just as it is harmful to drink wine alone, or, again, to drink water alone, while wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one’s enjoyment, so also the style of the story delights the ears of those who read the work. And here will be the end. The alcohol kills bacteria in the water. Water by itself was, at that time, hazardous for diarrhea.
    – Ruminator
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 12:13
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    The NASB can be accessed on numerous sites such as biblehub.com/revelation/6-6.htm
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 10:18

As all of Revelation is filled with huge symbolism and metaphors, I think we should look for deeper meaning than those presented in the various commentaries I have reviewed on this verse. Even Clarke's commentary is superficial here. Just pointing out that the prices mentioned for the measures of wheat and barley indicated dire shortages and famine does not play into the reason for not hurting the oil and the wine.

The oil and the wine were key elements of the sheaf / wave offering on the first day following the 7th sabbath after Pesach and Unleavened Bread. The fiftieth day (Pentecost) was memorialized as the type and foreshadow of Christ's pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the people and the beginning / birth of His church.

Lev. 23:11-13 - establishing the feast of Passover (Pesach),

"11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord.

13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the Lord for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin." (KJV)

Then again, the 50th day after the first sabbath for Shavuot / Pentecost,

"15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:

16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.

17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.

18 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord." (Lev. 23: 15-18, KJV)

The bread, the oil, and the wine poured out upon the altar were the emblems of the Lord's sacrifice - the lamb slain, the annointing oil of His priesthood, and the blood spilled. From the article "The Wave Sheaf Offering" by Jerold Aust, 1996 (1) -

"As the wave-sheaf offering represented Jesus Christ, so did these loaves represent God’s spiritual firstfruits, those who are called and faithfully obey God in this life (Romans 8:24; James 1:18). As the wave-sheaf offering was the necessary forerunner of the Pentecost offering, so was Jesus Christ the necessary forerunner of God’s people, who are His spiritual firstfruits."

And, further,

" He was also represented by fine flour (Leviticus 23:17), symbolic of the beating, scourging and suffering through which He was perfected (Hebrews 5:8-9). This fine flour was to be mixed with oil (Leviticus 23:13), representing Christ’s being filled with the Holy Spirit.

The lamb was to be a burnt offering, totally consumed by fire (Leviticus 23:12). In the same way, Jesus Christ was tested and tried in the crucible of life’s trials and problems and then He surrendered Himself totally and completely as a sacrificial offering on our behalf (Hebrews 10:12). His supreme sacrifice was as a sweet aroma (Ephesians 5:2; Leviticus 23:13) to God because Jesus had given Himself voluntarily and unconditionally for sinful mankind.

The accompanying drink offering of wine (Leviticus 23:13) was symbolic of Christ’s pouring out His blood to pay the penalty for our sins (Matthew 26:27-28; 1 John 1:7)."

The representation of the dearness / cost of the grains - the bread of life, and the oil and the wine all together speak to the sacrifice that Christ made. Therefor, the instruction from the midst of the throne - the center of the four living creatures - was from God, and not to hurt the annointed covered by the blood of Christ was meant not to hurt His saints, His children who were anointed / immersed in His sacrifice.

The oil and the wine were symbols of those souls in Christ. The parallel is in Rev. 9:4.

"And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads." (KJV)

As opposed to those men that did not have the seal of God in their foreheads, the first part of this couplet compared the men / people who were the sealed of God - those in Christ - the green grass of the earth, and the green trees. They were commanded not to hurt those covered by Christ's blood through their immersion into His sacrifice.

Do not hurt the oil and the wine is the same as do not hurt the green grass of the earth - do not hurt the sealed of God.


1) The Wave Sheaf Offering at TheGoodNews


The “damage” was to dilute the wine or oil (in order to create more wine and oil), however to do so would diminish their value and utility. Because the immediate context is economic chaos, the temptation would be to dilute these liquids thus depressing their value and diminish their utility for religious uses, economic trade and/or human consumption.

  • This can also show that wine and oil aren't as relevant for people compared to wheat and barley. Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 8:31


“Hurt not the oil and the wine” speaks of not hurting the rejoicing…..the rejoicing of the false prophets who have become rich in this time of famine (the famine of hearing the words of God).

We are in this famine now as there are many who are retailing the Word of God and deceiving many…making merchandise of people… for their own unjust gain.

The shepherds are only feeding themselves as the flock is not being fed spiritually with the sincere Word of God spoken in Christ.

The famine is severe and is part of the judgment of God upon the churches of men who have no understanding (no knowledge = black horse = famine of hearing the words of God) of the Scriptures .

Revelation 6:5-6 KJV (5) And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. (6) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

“Wine” makes the heart of man glad and “oil” makes his face to shine. The “bread”….the “grain”….the Bread of Heaven…strengthens man’s heart.

Yet, this Bread is not being heard in the churches of men who preach for money and the people only feed on "crumbs" rather than the "meat" of the Truth.

Psalms 104:14-15 KJV (14) He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; (15) And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

The “oil” is the “oil of gladness” in the hearts and faces of men.

Psalms 45:7 KJV (7) Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

False prophets always preach for money’s sake in order to get their earthly needs met…..and they are allowed to rejoice (for now) in their activities in this day that the flock is being slaughtered. See to it that the oil and wine are not hurt as they are allowed to rejoice.

The “possessors”…the buyers (those making merchandise of the flock of the slaughter)….rejoice: “Blessed be the LORD, for I am rich”. Their own shepherds have no pity on those they are deceiving and making merchandise of.

Zechariah 11:4-5 KJV (4) Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; (5) Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.

They live in pleasure on the earth. Their hearts are nourished….as they rejoice even as the flock is being slaughtered (the flock of the slaughter). They have no pity as these things are going on as they are too busy rejoicing in their profitable activities done through deceit.

James 5:4-6 KJV (4) Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. (5) Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

The life of Jesus is being prevented from ever appearing in the outer mortal flesh of those who they are deceiving as the good news is not being correctly understood in those who are perishing from off this earth.

The eternal life of Jesus is being cut off from manifesting in this earth by the deceitful words of false prophets who falsely proclaim “peace, peace” to us where there is none. They are not preaching the Word of God sincerely in Christ but instead are preaching the word of men that does not benefit anyone who listens to them as the flesh of no one is being saved as the flock perishes from off this earth.

(6) Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

The false prophets falsely prophesy “peace” in this place…in their churches where they always take from you.

Yet, there is no peace but instead we find the judgment of God in their midst: the sword and FAMINE of hearing the Word of God spoken in Christ…and also pestilence and death.

Jeremiah 14:13-16 KJV (13) Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. (14) Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. (15) Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.

We must not be deceived by them and go and sit together with them in their churches or we perish along with them. If we are already there, we must come out from among them and be separate.

(16) And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.

The false prophets are there serving for their own belly (the meats for the belly) and are being destroyed for it (both the meats and the belly are destroyed by God)….and we must not sit together (the “fornication”) with the son of destruction or we perish along with them.

1 Corinthians 6:13-19 KJV (13) Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. (14) And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

We must NOT be joined together with them in their churches where they use their mouths to preach for money’s sake. We become one flesh with them in their destruction as our mortal body shall perish from off this earth when we sit together with them in their destruction for their deceitful activities.

(15) Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. (16) What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. (17) But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

We must flee the “fornication”….the being joined together with them in their churches.

If we sit together with them in their congregations, we are sinning against our own mortal body as we perish along with them in their judgment…in their destruction.

(18) Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. (19) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

They preach the “word of men”…handling the Word of God deceitfully for their own gain…..and very little truth is being “fed” to those who listen to them. The people are only being fed “crumbs” and not the meat of the Word of God as their congregations give them their hard-earned pay.

They have no knowledge (the black horse) of the Scriptures as it is “night” or darkness to those who are preaching for money’s sake….serving for their own belly (the god of this age).

They have no understanding of the Scriptures. If they have no understanding, then they cannot be preaching the Word of Truth to those who are listening to them.

2 Corinthians 4:1-4 KJV (1) Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

The false prophets are handling the Word of God deceitfully in order to get their belly fed.

(2) But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

The good news of the eternal life of Jesus that is to be made manifest in our mortal flesh in this earth is not understood as the “god of this world”…their belly…has blinded the minds of those who are “lost” (that is, PERISHING from off this earth) lest they should understand and be saved.

(3) But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (4) In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Shouldn’t the shepherds be feeding the flock the Word of Truth rather than feeding themselves with their own earthly necessities gained from their congregations by handling the Word of God deceitfully? They are not feeding the flock.

Ezekiel 34:1-3 KJV (1) And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, (2) Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? (3) Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.

They cry “peace” to those who put food in their mouths but prepare war against those who will not.

Micah 3:5-7 KJV (5) Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.

They have no understanding of the Scriptures because of this. It is “night” unto them. It is “dark” unto them. The black horse represents the lack of knowing/understanding of God’s words and the “famine” that is a result of it.

(6) Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. (7) Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.

They preach for money’s sake and still think that the LORD is among them and that no evil can come upon them. They do not even realize that the judgments of God (the 4 horses) are upon them even as they speak.

Micah 3:11 KJV (11) The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.

MANY follow after them in their destructive ways and are being destroyed along with them in their judgment.

2 Peter 2:1-4 KJV (1) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (2) And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

Through covetousness do they with feigned words make merchandise of you. Their judgment does not linger nor does their destruction slumbers as the judgment of God is already upon them and those who are sitting together with them.

(3) And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

They are in “darkness” as they have no understanding of the Scriptures.

(4) For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

Their “god” is their belly that they are preaching to feed only. Their end is destruction. They are the son of perdition that we must not sit together with.

Philippians 3:18-21 KJV (18) (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

They are only minding earthly things in their preaching. The earthly things: what to eat, what to drink, what to wear.

(19) Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

They have no understanding of the good news (the gospel) for the here-and-now. They are not looking for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ to come and transfigure (change)…transform…our humiliated-by-sin mortal body to be like unto His. This good news is for this earth and not after we “die and go to heaven” as preached by those who are perishing (dying off this earth).

(20) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Yet, they are allowed to rejoice in their activities even as the flock is being destroyed and their possessors have no pity on them. Behold, there is “joy and gladness” while the flock is being destroyed as they preach “let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die”.

Isaiah 22:12-14 KJV (12) And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: (13) And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die. (14) And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

“Tophet” speaks of the drum or tambourine beating of rejoicing of the rich pastors while the people perish in the valley of slaughter. They have no pity upon their congregations as they are filled with joy and gladness as the sheep perish. Hurt not the oil and the wine as they are preoccupied with their own rejoicing and have no reason to turn from their ways.

Jeremiah 7:30-34 KJV (30) For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. (31) And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart. (32) Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place. (33) And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away.

The voice of joy…the voice of gladness….shall be ceased only when the Lord comes to deliver us from them as He will open up the Scriptures to our understanding.

(34) Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.

The Lord comes to deliver us from such men who are only feeding themselves with their “preaching” who diminish the Word of God and make the “shekel” great.

They focus only on money…making it very important (making the shekel great….highly esteemed, large) as they diminish the Word of God to nothing in our hearing (the balances that weigh what they say). They handle the Word of God in our hearing (the balances) deceitfully.

Amos 8:4-5 KJV (4) Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, (5) Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?

Why spend (weigh) money for that which is not “bread”…or grain?

Isaiah 55:1-3 KJV (1) Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Their “grain” does not satisfy us. Why “labor” for that which does not satisfy? Why pay the “pastors” who have no understanding and are not feeding anyone but themselves?

Our hearts are not nourished by their words that they are preaching. Only the words of the Lord can give our souls rejoicing if only we would diligently hear Him. Our “soul shall live” as we shall rejoice in what we hear Him saying.

(2) Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (3) Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.


“When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, 'Come.' I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, 'A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.'”

The condition of the earth in the opening of the third seal is now one of famine but not of absolute famine. This is a natural result of war. The mission of this rider was to bring famine to the land. Black is the color of distress and woe as is found in Joel 2:6, Nahum 2:10, Jeremiah 8:21, and Jude 13. In Rev. 6:5-6, it is used to depict the grimness of famine. Famine is reflected in the inflated prices and the rationing of grain, even of the less desired grain of barley that was generally used by the poorer classes.

The scales represent the measuring of the grain as a rationed commodity. The denarius was the standard daily wage of the soldier and the common man which suggests the level of severity of the famine because he is having to pay out a full days wages for only a quart of wheat, or for three quarts of barley. Thus, for the common man, his entire income is having to be paid out each day just to feed his family for that day. One quart of wheat would perhaps be sufficient to feed one person but hardly enough to feed a family. This then would dictate that he buy the cheaper course barley so that he could feed his family. This is the same imagery used in Leviticus 26:25-26.

"When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied.”

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    It seems that the other two commodities were in fact damaged, that of the wheat and the barley. When crops fail it can be from the result of drought, cereal rust, locusts, or other pests. But for some reason there is wine and oil. Barley might be 3 times as plentiful because of drought. Wine or oil might be grown in another region which may be less affected by whatever is ruining staple crops. You can't live on oil and wine.
    – Ohiovr
    Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 21:10

Before getting into the details of two items mentioned in connection with one of the four "Horsemen of the Apocalypse", it's helpful to bear in mind an over-view of the four riders, and the purpose of them being sent forth into the earth. If we know why they are riding forth, then we can get a better idea about details of one of them.

Four is the number of the earth, in the Bible. And in Zechariah's prophecy (circa 520 B.C.), he had a vision of 4 riders on 4 horses. An angel told him, "These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth." The Lord said how displeased he was "with the heathen that are at ease" (Zech. 1:8-15). Then came a vision of 4 chariots between 2 mountains, and "These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth (6:1-7).

Two branches of the olive tree are also mentioned (4:11-14), their two pipes full of oil. Zechariah is told, "These [are] the two sons of the oil, who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth" (YLT). "The vine giving her fruit" is mentioned elsewhere, as is Jerusalem being "a cup of reeling" to the nations around (speaking of wine), yet Jerusalem's virgins will have new wine and be fruitful. Without delving into such symbolism, all that needs to be pointed out is that this O.T. prophecy needs to be compared with the N.T. one - both being explained by angels.

Revelation 11:4 speaks of “the two witnesses” being the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. Yet those two are slain by the beast, to the joy of the whole earth, then God raises his witnesses again, then they ascend into heaven. This gives a clearer picture. It may be that the rider on the black horse is not to harm those witnesses of God on the earth; their spiritual oil flows and gives light. But a time comes when they appear to be harmed by the beast (snuffed out). The rider of the black horse does not do that. I mention this to give an example of the need to collate other prophecies in the Bible and that, despite the complexities, a clear picture finally emerges in Revelation.

The over-view of the four horses of Revelation is that they signify divine powers. Horses were creatures for battle, swift and powerful, directed by their riders. They are the powers that overtake mankind. None of the 4 horses depicts a single event, for they come with the opening of 4 seals in heaven and events consequent to their being sent forth into all the earth are described. So, what does the black horse of Rev. 6:5-6 depict?

"The black horse and rider are indicative of privation, famine, and drought... Nothing man can do can prevent this massive and intelligently guided power, commencing with the Lamb's breaking of the third seal in heaven, in its inexorable ride through the earth..." (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, page 158, John Metcalfe)

After discussing the weighing balances, and how 'a penny' in the N.T. was a day's wages, the author looks at the injunction, "See thou hurt not the oil and the wine."

"What will a penny, swallowed up to buy insufficient bead, buy of these commodities? The poor could hardly reach to their necessary bread... How could the rider hurt, or for that matter refrain from hurting, the oil and the wine? By using his power, all unseen, to sway the economic balance, so that the market price remained stable. Stable, yes, but too high for the poor. Nevertheless, that price and that market were not to be hurt by devaluation. The price must be kept up." (Ibid. page 160)

It's interesting to think about the current global threat to sunflower oil supplies due to the continuing war in Ukraine. Consider also riots in the streets of Sri Lanka very recently, due to its government allowing massive devaluation to ruin the economy and make it almost impossible for poor people to get basic necessities, such as oil for transport and cooking, and bare food supplies. Yet when the mobs entered the palatial residences of some of their corrupt leaders, they saw that those ones never lacked for a second with abundance of oil and wine, and much more besides.

What's happening there shows the poverty masses of people have to be reduced to by the rich, who are not deprived of anything, before the intolerable destruction of the market and the economy drives those rulers to flee for their lives. No government officials want that to happen to themselves, so this is a warning to them, to keep market prices stable enough to protect their appetite for luxuries. The masses might not have enough oil or wine, but the controlling rider of the 'black horse' of privation, famine and drought will protect the vested interests of the few who are rich enough for unlimited oil and wine. Indeed, today's oil moguls are controlling world events by their careful manipulation of such resources.

At one level, there may be applications with literal oil and wine, but supremely, it is the spiritual fulfilment that the book of the Revelation is all about, hence the points made earlier about Zechariah as they relate to Rev.6:6.


Revelation 6:5-6 is most often made to represent famine, but the text in Revelation 6:5-6 does not say that. Revelation 6:5-6 only says the rider carries a balance, the price of the wheat and barley is very high, and then the voice says not to damage the oil and the wine.

In Revelation 10:11, the angel tells John:


and he saith to me, 'It behoveth thee again to prophesy about peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings -- many.'


What is recorded after Revelation 10:11 is about many peoples and kings. But John prophesied again about these things. What came before Revelation 10:11 (including Revelation 6:5-6) is about the same thing - peoples and kings. These symbols in Revelation 6 that are exposed when the seals are broken represent peoples and kings. This particular section in verses 5-6 represents the peoples and kings of Tyre.

When this rider is portrayed carrying a balance, it shows that this political power is a large and powerful merchant. Passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel bear this out. (Some of the passages quoted here are long but we will quote the whole thing because these are relevant passages that the writer of Revelation would have been familiar with.)

Isaiah 23:8 YLT


Who hath counselled this against Tyre, The crowning one, whose traders are princes, Her merchants the honoured of earth?'


Also Ezekiel 27:1-25.

And there is a word of Jehovah unto me, saying:

'And thou, son of man, lift up concerning Tyre a lamentation, and thou hast said to Tyre:

O dweller on the entrances of the sea, Merchant of the peoples unto many isles, Thus said the Lord Jehovah: O Tyre, thou -- thou hast said: I am the perfection of beauty.

In the heart of the seas are thy borders, Thy builders have perfected thy beauty.

Of firs of Senir they have built to thee all thy double-boarded ships, Of cedars of Lebanon they have taken to make a mast for thee,

Of oaks of Bashan they made thine oars, Thy bench they have made of ivory, A branch of Ashurim from isles of Chittim.

Of fine linen with embroidery from Egypt hath been thy sail, To be to thee for an ensign, Of blue and purple from isles of Elishah hath been thy covering.

Inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad have been rowers to thee, Thy wise men, O Tyre, have been in thee, They are thy pilots.

Elders of Gebal and its wise men have been in thee, Strengthening thy breach; All ships of the sea and their mariners, Have been in thee, to trade with thy merchandise.

Persian and Lud and Phut Have been in thy forces -- thy men of war. Shield and helmet they hung up in thee, They -- they have given out thine honour.

The sons of Arvad, and thy force, Are on thy walls round about, And short swordsmen in thy towers have been, Their shields they have hung up on thy walls round about, They -- they have perfected thy beauty.

Tarshish is thy merchant, Because of the abundance of all wealth, For silver, iron, tin, and lead, They have given out thy remnants.

Javan, Tubal, and Meshech -- they are thy merchants, For persons of men, and vessels of brass, They have given out thy merchandise.

They of the house of Togarmah, For horses, and riding steeds, and mules, They have given out thy remnants.

Sons of Dedan are thy merchants, Many isles are the mart of thy hand, Horns of ivory and ebony they sent back thy reward.

Aram is thy merchant, Because of the abundance of thy works, For emerald, purple, and embroidery, And fine linen, and coral, and agate, They have given out thy remnants.

Judah and the land of Israel -- they are thy merchants, For wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, And honey, and oil, and balm, They have given out thy merchandise.

Damascus is thy merchant, For the abundance of thy works, Because of the abundance of all wealth, For wine of Helbon, and white wool.

Vedan and Javan go about with thy remnants, They have given shining iron, cassia, and cane, In thy merchandise it hath been.

Dedan is thy merchant, For clothes of freedom for riding.

Arabia, and all princes of Kedar, They are the traders of thy hand, For lambs, and rams, and he-goats, In these thy merchants.

Merchants of Sheba and Raamah -- they are thy merchants, For the chief of all spices, And for every precious stone, and gold, They have given out thy remnants.

Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, merchants of Sheba, Asshur -- Chilmad -- are thy merchants,

They are thy merchants for perfect things, For wrappings of blue, and embroidery, And for treasuries of rich apparel, With cords bound and girded, for thy merchandise,

Ships of Tarshish are thy double walls of thy merchandise, And thou art filled and honoured greatly, In the heart of the seas.

The prices of the wheat are high because this political power is very good at trading.

Ezekiel 28:1-5

And there is a word of Jehovah unto me, saying:

'Son of man, say to the leader of Tyre: Thus said the Lord Jehovah: Because thy heart hath been high, And thou dost say: A god I am, The habitation of God I have inhabited, In the heart of the seas, And thou art man, and not God, And thou givest out thy heart as the heart of God,

Lo, thou art wiser than Daniel, No hidden thing have they concealed from thee.

By thy wisdom and by thine understanding Thou hast made for thee wealth, And makest gold and silver in thy treasuries.

By the abundance of thy wisdom, Through thy merchandise, Thou hast multiplied thy wealth, And high is thy heart through thy wealth.


Wheat, barley, wine, and oil are the same materials that Solomon traded with the King of Tyre when he was working to acquire materials to build God's house.

1 Kings 5:1-11

And Hiram king of Tyre sendeth his servants unto Solomon, for he heard that they had anointed him for king instead of his father, for Hiram was a lover of David all the days;

and Solomon sendeth unto Hiram, saying,

'Thou hast known David my father, that he hath not been able to build a house to the name of Jehovah his God, because of the wars that have been round about him, till Jehovah's putting them under the soles of his feet.

'And now, Jehovah my God hath given rest to me round about, there is no adversary nor evil occurrence,

and lo, I am saying to build a house to the name of Jehovah my God, as Jehovah spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son whom I appoint in thy stead on thy throne, he doth build the house for My name.

'And now, command, and they cut down for me cedars out of Lebanon, and my servants are with thy servants, and the hire of thy servants I give to thee according to all that thou sayest, for thou hast known that there is not among us a man acquainted with cutting wood, like the Sidonians.'

And it cometh to pass at Hiram's hearing the words of Solomon, that he rejoiceth exceedingly, and saith, 'Blessed is Jehovah to-day, who hath given to David a wise son over this numerous people.'

And Hiram sendeth unto Solomon, saying, I have heard that which thou hast sent unto me, I do all thy desire concerning cedar-wood, and fir-wood,

my servants bring down from Lebanon to the sea, and I make them floats in the sea unto the place that thou sendest unto me, and I have spread them out there; and thou dost take them up, and thou dost execute my desire, to give the food of my house.'

And Hiram is giving to Solomon cedar-trees, and fir-trees, all his desire,

and Solomon hath given to Hiram twenty thousand cors of wheat, food for his house, and twenty cors of beaten oil; thus doth Solomon give to Hiram year by year.

Also 2Chronicles 2:1-16

And Solomon saith to build a house for the name of Jehovah, and a house for his kingdom,

and Solomon numbereth seventy thousand men bearing burden, and eighty thousand men hewing in the mountain, and overseers over them -- three thousand and six hundred.

And Solomon sendeth unto Huram king of Tyre, saying, 'When thou hast dealt with David my father, then thou dost send to him cedars to build for him a house to dwell in;

lo, I am building a house to the name of Jehovah my God, to sanctify it to Him, to make perfume before Him, perfume of spices, and a continual arrangement, and burnt-offerings at morning and at evening, at sabbaths, and at new moons, and at appointed seasons of Jehovah our God; to the age this is on Israel.

'And the house that I am building is great, for greater is our God than all gods;

and who doth retain strength to build to Him a house, for the heavens, even the heavens of the heavens, do not contain Him? and who am I that I do build to Him a house, except to make perfume before Him?

'And now, send to me a wise man to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in iron, and in purple, and crimson, and blue, and knowing to grave gravings with the wise men who are with me in Judah and in Jerusalem, whom David my father prepared;

and send to me cedar-trees, firs, and algums from Lebanon, for I have known that thy servants know to cut down trees of Lebanon, and lo, my servants are with thy servants,

even to prepare for me trees in abundance, for the house that I am building is great and wonderful.

'And lo, to hewers, to those cutting the trees, I have given beaten wheat to thy servants, cors twenty thousand, and barley, cors twenty thousand, and wine, baths twenty thousand, and oil, baths twenty thousand.'

And Huram king of Tyre saith in writing, and sendeth unto Solomon: 'In the love of Jehovah to His people He hath given thee king over them.'

And Huram saith, 'Blessed is Jehovah, God of Israel, who made the heavens and the earth, who hath given to David the king a wise son, knowing wisdom and understanding, who doth build a house for Jehovah, and a house for his kingdom.

'And now, I have sent a wise man having understanding, of Huram my father,

(son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father a man of Tyre), knowing to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stones, and in wood, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson, and to grave any graving, and to devise any device that is given to him, with thy wise men, and the wise men of my lord David thy father.

'And, now, the wheat, and the barley, the oil, and the wine, as my lord said, let him send to his servants,

and we -- we cut trees out of Lebanon, according to all thy need, and bring them in to thee -- floats by sea, to Joppa, and thou dost take them up to Jerusalem.'

When the voice in Revelation 6:6 says not to harm/bruise/damage the oil and the wine, this is because the oil and the wine are being shipped by these merchants. The shippers need to be careful not to damage the goods while they are being shipped.


The phrase from Greek should be translated as "namely the oil and the wine lest you injure." And it is in reference to harming the grace given to one through confirmation and baptism.

For the sacramental churches, the 7 seals represent the 7 mysteries or sacraments in the order of:

Baptism Confirmation/Chrismation Penance/Forgiveness/Confession Extreme Unction Matrimony/Marriage Eucharist/Communion Holy Orders/Ordination

This one, Penance and Forgiveness, describes the penance which must be paid for forgiveness in terms of prices for commodities or prizes. Oil is a symbol of the anointing of the Spirit, and wine is the symbol of the transformation of life.

The phrase from Greek should be translated as "namely the oil and the wine lest you injure."

It is a reference that one must do penance and be forgiven in order that no harm is done to the indwelling of the spirit brought about by confirmation or chrismation (anointing of the Spirit) and to the transformation of life brought about by baptism. It is the one which grants grace which dictates the penance needed for the amount and type of grace to be given; and this penance must be duly paid to the one which grants grace, and for such penance, grace can be fully restored.

  • Hi Peter. You're mentioning 7 sacraments but in the given list it's not clear what are the 7 as it appears you're only giving 5 Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 8:26

The reference to not harming the wine appears to be an allusion to and extrapolation of Isaiah 65:

[Isaiah 65:6-12 NASB20] (6) "Behold, it is written before Me: I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will even repay into their laps, (7) Both your own wrongdoings and the wrongdoings of your fathers together," says the LORD. "Because they have burned incense on the mountains And scorned Me on the hills, Therefore I will measure their former work into their laps." (8) This is what the LORD says: "Just as the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, 'Do not destroy it, for there is benefit in it,' So I will act in behalf of My servants In order not to destroy all of them. (9) "I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, And an heir of My mountains from Judah; My chosen ones shall inherit it, And My servants will live there. (10) "Sharon will be a pasture land for flocks, And the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds, For My people who seek Me. (11) "But as for you who abandon the LORD, Who forget My holy mountain, Who set a table for Fortune, And fill a jug of mixed wine for Destiny, (12) I will destine you for the sword, And all of you will bow down to the slaughter. Because I called, but you did not answer; I spoke, but you did not listen. Instead, you did evil in My sight And chose that in which I did not delight."

God is saying that he owes the stubborn and disobedient Jews punishment for their personal and ancestral crimes. He seems to be using the metaphor of paying a debt by pouring grain into their shawl, ala Ruth:

[Ruth 3:15 NET] (15) Then he said, "Hold out the shawl you are wearing and grip it tightly." As she held it tightly, he measured out about sixty pounds of barley into the shawl and put it on her shoulders. Then he went into town,

Then he uses a metaphor of what appears to be an inedible grape cluster but does have one or two grapes, that is not entirely destroyed.

Isaiah had earlier compared the Jerusalem Sinai covenant Temple based theocracy to a deceitful/disappointing vine:

[Isaiah 5:1-7 NET] (1) I will sing to my love - a song to my lover about his vineyard. My love had a vineyard on a fertile hill. (2) He built a hedge around it, removed its stones, and planted a vine. He built a tower in the middle of it, and constructed a winepress. He waited for it to produce edible grapes, but it produced sour ones instead. (3) So now, residents of Jerusalem, people of Judah, you decide between me and my vineyard! (4) What more can I do for my vineyard beyond what I have already done? When I waited for it to produce edible grapes, why did it produce sour ones instead? (5) Now I will inform you what I am about to do to my vineyard: I will remove its hedge and turn it into pasture, I will break its wall and allow animals to graze there. (6) I will make it a wasteland; no one will prune its vines or hoe its ground, and thorns and briers will grow there. I will order the clouds not to drop any rain on it. (7) Indeed Israel is the vineyard of the LORD who commands armies, the people of Judah are the cultivated place in which he took delight. He waited for justice, but look what he got - disobedience! He waited for fairness, but look what he got - cries for help!

In the NT, the Messiah describes himself as the True Vine and the New Covenant People as its fruitful branches:

[John 15:1-11 NASB20] (1) "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. (2) "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every [branch] that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. (3) "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. (4) "Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself but must remain in the vine, so neither [can] you unless you remain in Me. (5) "I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (6) "If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (7) "If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (8) "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and [so] prove to be My disciples. (9) "Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love. (10) "If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and remain in His love. (11) "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and [that] your joy may be made full.

Jesus also promised that the Kingdom of God would be taken from the Jerusalem Sinai covenant Temple based theocracy and be given to a new version of God's people that will bring forth good fruit:

[Matthew 21:43-45 NKJV] (43) "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (44) "And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder." (45) Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them.

The parable he had told them was the same figure of the unfruitful vineyard:

[Matthew 21:33-42 NKJV] (33) "Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. (34) "Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. (35) "And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. (36) "Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. (37) "Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' (38) "But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.' (39) "So they took him and cast [him] out of the vineyard and killed [him]. (40) "Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?" (41) They said to Him, "He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease [his] vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons." (42) Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes' ?

So Revelation 6:6 is, in very cryptic figures describing the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem and its theocracy c. 70 AD/CE and the arrival of the New Jerusalem aka the Body of Christ.

John was a preterist.

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