Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (often referred to as the Four Horsemen) are figures in Christian religion, first appearing in the Old Testament's prophetic Book of Zechariah and in the Book of Ezekiel, where they are named as punishments from God, and later in the New Testament's final book, Revelation, an apocalypse written by John of Patmos.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an 1887 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov. From left to right are Death, Famine, War, and Conquest; the Lamb is at the top.

Revelation 6 tells of a book or scroll in God's right hand that is sealed with seven seals. The Lamb of God/Lion of Judah opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses. Zechariah describes them as "the ones whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth," causing it to rest quietly. Ezekiel lists them as "sword, famine, wild beasts, and plague".

In John's revelation, the first horseman rides on a white horse, carries a bow, and is given a crown - he rides forward as a figure of Conquest,[1][need quotation to verify] perhaps invoking Pestilence, Christ, or the Antichrist. The second carries a sword and rides a red horse and is the creator of War.[2] The third, a food-merchant riding upon a black horse, symbolizes Famine. He carries The Scales. [3] The fourth and final horse is pale, and upon it rides Death, accompanied by Hades.[4] "They were given authority over a quarter of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and plague, and by means of the beasts of the earth."[5]

Apocalyptic Christianity sometimes interprets the Four Horsemen as a vision of harbingers of the Last Judgment, setting a divine end-time upon the world.[6][7]


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