The Mega-Hail Stones
Sunday, July 28, 2013 10:00 PM
Living in Indiana, hail storms are natural weather phenomena which one has to periodically endure. Frequently, one hears meteorologists using coins and balls to describe the relative size of larger hail stones (i.e. nickel, quarter, ping pong ball, golf ball, baseball, and softball). We have never personally witnessed a storm of softball size hail stones; nor do we harbor any desire to witness such an extraordinary storm. While on the isle of Patmos, the apostle John envisioned Jerusalem suffering a storm of mega-hail. "And great hail, every stone about the weight of a talent, cometh down out of heaven upon men: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof is exceeding great" (Rev. 16:21). Imagine a storm of bowling ball size hail; with each stone weighing sixteen pounds. No doubt, such a storm would be very devastating to the area impacted. The mega-hail stones envisioned by John probably weighed about 100 pounds; over six times the legal weight of the heaviest bowling balls. Obviously, the mega-hail envisioned by John is not a natural weather phenomenon.
When the Romans besieged Jerusalem in A.D. 70, they used many diverse kinds of war machines against the imposing walls of the Jewish metropolis. These war machines, known collectively as tormentum, included "scorpions" and catapults of various sizes (Rev. 9:5). "The engines, that all the legions had ready prepared for them, were admirably contrived; but still more extraordinary ones belonged to the tenth legion: those that threw darts and those that threw stones, were more forcible and larger than the rest, by which they not only repelled the excursions of the Jews, but drove those away that were upon the walls also. Now, the stones that were cast were of the weight of a talent, and were carried two furlongs and farther. The blow they gave was no way to be sustained, not only by those that stood first in the way, but by those that were beyond them for a great space" (Josephus, Wars V. vi. 3).
Grievous hail was one of the plagues God had used to devastate Egypt (Ex. 9:22-35). Moses warned the children of Israel that, should they break their covenant with Jehovah, God would execute the vengeance of the covenant, and bring upon them the plagues of Egypt (Lev. 26:21-25; Deut. 28:58-61). Interestingly, the Roman Tenth Legion that operated these extraordinary catapults were ordered to encamp on the Mount of Olives, at the distance of six furlongs from Jerusalem (Josephus, Wars V. ii. 3; iii. 5). This is where Jesus Christ had prophesied the coming destruction of Jerusalem four decades earlier (Matt. 24:3). -DEL