The Great River Euphrates: Rev. 9:14-16


This is the terminology used by the Bible to describe this river, which is in the "Prophetic Area" since the early part of the Bible.  It is named in Genesis 2:14, and is one of the “four heads” of Gen. 2:10.  It is described in the old Persian as Pura-nun = "the great river" (Companion Bible).

It has played many parts in the history of the area, including ancient Babylon; and it has a special part to play as the future location of Prophetic Israel’s Eastern border, (Gen. 15:18 & Ex. 23:31).

The ref. in Revelation 9:14 to the river, and the angelic release of "armies" (plural), who have the mandate (V15) to kill "the third part of man" (see:; has confused and confounded attempts to understand these words for centuries.

However, the recent events of the "Arab Spring", and the subsequent turmoil in many Arab countries who are named in Scripture regarding the "last days" (2Peter 3:3-4; Jude 4-7; Matt. 24:21-22; 2Tim. 3:1-17; 1Cor. 4:5; Dan. 12:1; 2Thess. 1:8-9 & Matt. 24:37-39); and latterly the emergence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria (old Babylonia); may auger a definite change and acceleration in world events re. the Middle East.

The great puzzle for Bible students has been/ is the number of the people making up the "armies" quoted in Rev. 9:16; as the logistics seemed impossible.  Many ideas have been aired; one being the following in which is copied below to give a flavour of discussion.


Rev. 9:16                   

And the number of the (a)armies of the horsemen were (b)two hundred thousand thousand: I heard the number of them.

(a)  "Armies";  these armies (plural), could be from more than one Nation.  The Euphrates river has Nations on both of its sides that historically and currently are hostile to Israel.  The Caucuses Nations, Persia (Iran), Turkey (Asia Minor, half of which (west) was ancient Greece), Syria, etc. may all be involved.  However, there is speculation that Nations such as India, China and others may be involved, they certainly have the populations; although historically are not foes of Israel, and not listed in Scripture, as are the others.  

The religions of these Countries are all descended from Babylon, except for Islam, which whilst revering "the people of  the Book", deny Christ's deity.  However, the Caucuses, and others from the north together with the "Assyrian", area of old maybe the boundary.

(b) "Two hundred thousand thousand"; the literal wording from the Greek is "two myriads of myriads".  The Oxford English Dictionary defines myriad as 1) "an indefinitely great number".  2) "ten thousand".  If we use the latter, i.e. (10,000 x 10,000) we have 100,000,000 x 2 = 200,000,000.  Such a size of a multiple army is hard to imagine.  The population requirement alone, to say nothing of the economics and logistics drains the imagination.  At present (2003) there are only two countries in the world capable of  producing such numbers, China and India,  however, see note on (a) and below (July 2015).  However, the Bible states these future facts, therefore they are accurate.  

However, if these are demonic beings, they may be literally as described, or they may be demons with the characteristics described, entering into humans worldwide.  Whatever the reality, it will be recognised from the description as written in Revelation at the time. 


It is seen from the above that there are many Christians worldwide who will try to understand what the meanings are in Revelation's words.

The following is a new attempt by the writers to make sense of Revelation's description in V.16, in the light of current events in 2015; and from comments by an author who wrote on the subject of Islam forty years ago (John Laffin, Australia).

It is well known that Islam is fragmented and at war with itself in its many splinters.  The two main divisions are Sunni and Shia, (with splinter groups in each).  Saudi Arabia is Sunni, and Iran (Persia) is Shia.  These two Countries are located on either side of the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Arabia politically leans towards the West, and Iran leans against the West, and towards potential enemies of the West.

Interestingly the Euphrates River leaves Saudi Arabia on the west and Iran on its east.  However, the texts in Rev. 9:14-16 show a thrust from east to west of invading “armies”; so that in attempting to arrive at an hypothesis of Countries involved, looking east is the logical approach.

When researching the population numbers of each Islamic Country eastwards of the Euphrates (mid. 2015), the following results ensue.

-Armenia = 0.15m.

-Azerbaijan = 9m.

-Georgia = 0.5m.

-Iran = 80 million.

-Uzbekistan = 30 m.

-Tadzhikistan = 8 m.

-Turkmenistan = 5 m.

-Kirgizia = 6 m.

-Kazakhstan = 17 m.

-Afghanistan = 31 m.

-Pakistan = 186 m.

-India = 210 m.

-Bangladesh = 160m.

-China (Xinjiang) = 20 m.

-China (remainder) = Estimated 28 m.

- Malaysia = 22 m.

-Indonesia = 260 m.

-Philippines = 102 m.

Total = 1174.7 million. 

It is stressed that these are mid. 2015 approx. figures, erring on the conservative; and only for the Countries East of the Euphrates.  The total world Muslim population at present is nearly 25% of the world total.  It is projected that by 2070, it would be 30% of the world total! 

It is easy to imagine from the above numbers that a compound army of 200 m. would soon be assembled; if the Nations were acting in unison and of one mind and purpose!

That may seem impossible to many, as the religious variations and ideologies of Islam are so opposed.  However; if/when a figure emerges who can unite all these factions, they would run like quick-silver, and be fast and potent!

Such a figure is the “hidden Imam” or “Mahdi”; who many are looking for in Islam; and some see ISIS as the forerunner!

Isis is operating under the banner of "WAHHABISM", which is described as "orthodox", "ultraconservative", and "austere"!  It openly has declared that it seeks "the battle of the Apocalypse", which to the Christian is "Armageddon"; (it clearly does not accept, or understand that the Greek "Apocalypse" means "revealing of Jesus Christ", and Revelation and Old Testament (O.T.) prophecy shows that this is the time when Messiah Christ Jesus rescues, the remnant of His people Israel and re-news the Nation Israel, (Isa. 65:17-25; Ezekiel 36:24-30 & Dan. 12:1-3).  Its growing strength is at present (2015) underestimated by the world's Nations, despite its bloodthirsty record so far!

Many Muslims relate the “Mahdi” to the historic figure of ‘Tamerlane’ (of Uzbekistan) reincarnated for the purpose of leading Islam to world dominance.

The common enemy of Islam is Israel, and they consistently refuse to acknowledge their right to exist in the land they currently occupy. They also are at war with the western Nations that support Israel, especially America; but also most of Europe for the same reason; even though Muslims live now in all those Countries!

Jerusalem is a particular bone of contention, as it houses the Mosque of Omar; due to Muhammad's “night journey” to that point.  The Bible clearly states that Jerusalem is the location that God has chosen for "His Name to dwell" and this fact alone will keep it at the forefront of the world news; and International conflict.  It is also the future location of God and His Christ, and Jeshuran (the ideal Israel).  It is the focal point of the contest and conflict between God and Satan!

These points are impossible for Islam to concede, and that is why they await the “Mahdi” to lead them to victory over the West and Israel, and their imposition of "Sharia" law on the world; which is the most strict, savage and brutal interpretation of the KORAN!

However; see Rev Chapter 13.


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