A Star Will Shine – Sibylline Oracles Book 5.1-154

The Fifth Sibylline is eschatological, similar in many ways to book 3. There is a clear expectation of an enemy of God who will oppress the people and a savior sent from God to rescue his people. Collins considers this an example of Diaspora / Egyptian Judaism (OTP 1:390-391). As such it may be a guide to Jewish expectations in the first century with more to say about the context of Revelation than the ministry of Jesus. Still, the general eschatological outline (oppression, salvation via a messiah, judgment, rest) seems to be present here as well.

This Sibyl begins with a review of the history of “the Latin race” (1-51). The history becomes most detailed in line 28, “one who has fifty as an initial” becomes commander, this is Nero. He is an “athlete, charioteer, murderer and one who dares ten thousand things.” The history concludes with Hadrian (one who will have his name on the sea – the Adriatic, line 46) and Marcus Aurelius, a “most excellent, outstanding, dark-haired one.”  While in some cases this is cryptic, it is not impossible to figure out these historical references.

Nero or Joffery

This is not really Nero

Egypt faces destruction in the final days (52-92). From the east will come “a savage minded man, much bloodied and raving nonsense” (93-110). This king will conquer the west then turn toward Egypt and lay everything to waste. Only a third of life will remain for “wretched mortals” after this evil man conquers. Collins relates this paragraph to the Nero myth. While I cannot disagree with him, it is not at all obvious this evil man from the east is the same evil one as in 28f. Lines 137-154 are far more explicit in identifying Nero as the eschatological man of evil.The east will be destroyed (111-134). This section mentions places in Greece and Asia Minor; islands will sink and earthquakes will rip apart cities.

A godlike man comes from Rome (a Nero-like figure? 137-154). He will come from the Medes and Persians and will seize the Temple and destroy it, burning the citizens of the city. Despite the fact Nero died before the Temple was destroyed, he was the emperor who ordered Vespasian into Palestine in the first place. He is therefore blamed for destroying Jerusalem and the Temple.

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