Questions From Readers
● At Revelation 12:3, 4 it tells that the tail of the dragon drew down a third part of the stars. Who are the stars, and is the third part to be taken literally?—C. S., U.S.A.
The texts referred to read: “Look! a great fiery-colored dragon, with seven heads and ten horns and upon its heads seven diadems; and its tail draws a third of the stars of heaven, and it hurled them down to the earth.” In the Scriptures spirit creatures are at times referred to as stars, as at Job 38:7: “When the morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause.” They are fittingly termed stars, for they reside in the spiritual heavens, even as literal stars are in the literal heavens or sky.
The stars of Revelation 12:4 appear to be spirit creatures who became demons by reason of their deflection, which was caused by the great Dragon, Satan. His causing them to join him in the rebellion is pictured by the dragon’s drawing down the stars with its tail, even as a large serpent, when it attacks its victims, may enwrap them with its body or tail. That the fall of these stars refers to their deflection rather than their being ousted at the time of the war in heaven is clear from the fact that the Dragon, Satan, is said to be responsible for their being hurled down to earth, whereas Michael and his angels, Jesus Christ and his heavenly hosts, are the ones that cast down Satan and his demons, as recorded at Revelation 12:9.
As for the expression, “a third part of the stars,” we are not to think that this means that literally a third of all the holy angels deflected to Satan the Dragon over the years. Rather, this appears to be a symbolic way of stating that a considerable number were involved, and yet less than half, and therefore definitely a minority. Thus we find that in Revelation the expression “third” occurs repeatedly, in relation to the earth, the trees, the sea, the boats and creatures in the sea, the waters, the sun, the moon, the stars, the day and the men.—See Revelation 8:7-12; 9:15.
● Is there any explanation of the seeming discrepancy between Jeremiah 52:12 and 2 Kings 25:8? Jeremiah 52:12 says the tenth day of the month, while 2 Kings 25:8 reads the seventh day of the month.—G. G., U.S.A.
The full text of 2 Kings 25:8 reads: “In the fifth month on the seventh day of the month, that is to say, the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the chief of the bodyguard, the servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.” Jeremiah 52:12 speaks in this regard of the “tenth day of the month.” As to the three-day difference, it has been explained by some that Nebuzaradan went to Jerusalem, leaving Riblah on the seventh day of the month but not reaching Jerusalem till the tenth of the month. However, it appears that this high Babylonian official who assumed command of the Babylonian forces after the termination of the siege did arrive on the scene on the seventh day of the month, to begin to dispose of the city. His job would be to oversee the demolition of fortifications, the plundering of the city, the razing of the city and the transporting of inhabitants into captivity. The tenth day of the month appears to mark the completion of his operations.
It is noteworthy that 2 Kings 25:8 says that on the seventh day of the month Nebuzaradan “came to Jerusalem.” It does not say “into” Jerusalem. On the other hand, Jeremiah 52:12 says that this Babylonian commander, on the tenth day of the month, “came into Jerusalem.” The Revised Standard Version also shows a similar distinction between these two scriptures, 2 Kings 25:8 saying that the Babylonian chief of the bodyguard “came to Jerusalem” on the seventh day, and Jeremiah 52:12 saying that on the tenth day he “entered Jerusalem.”
The Babylonian commander, upon arriving at the scene, no doubt set up his headquarters or occupied a headquarters that had already been set up outside the city’s walls. Then from there he appears to have directed the operations, such as tearing down the city’s walls. (2 Ki. 25:10; Jer. 52:14) The Babylonian troops also looted both the city and Jehovah’s temple and had a good time for themselves. (Jer. 52:17-23; 2 Ki. 25:13-17; Dan. 5:2, 3) Since the plundering of the city and the pulling down of the walls occupied the Chaldean troops for several days, they apparently did not get to the actual burning of the city until the tenth of the month. On that day Nebuzaradan “came into Jerusalem” or entered the city to complete the operation and, when satisfied with matters, gave the order to burn the city and its holy temple. According to Josephus (The Jewish War, Book VI, Chapter IV, 5, 8) Herod’s temple was burned on the tenth day of the fifth month (A.D. 70), and Josephus adds that it was a marvelous coincidence that the first temple was burned on the same day by the Babylonians. No doubt by the close of the tenth day, the city was burning and much of it reduced to ashes, Nebuzaradan having completed his appointed duty to dispose of the city.