• Sun. Nov 29th, 2020

The Third Seal Revelation 6:6: The End Times Famine & Food Prices

Oct 6, 2020
Revelation 6:6: The End Times Famine & Food Prices

You may wonder how much more expensive food items like wheat and barley will become during the end times after reading Revelation 6.

It’s beneficial for us to have some idea of how much more expensive food items like wheat and barley may cost at that time. This knowledge may give us some idea of what global conditions will be like at that time and it what kind of price shocks we’ll experience in the future.

In this article, I will share my research concerning the end time cost of food and famine revealed in Revelation 6:5-6.

Revelation 6:5-6 The Third Seal

Revelation 6:5-6 are the key verses to focus on when trying to quantify the end time cost of food. These verses give us information about the price of food items like wheat and barley:

“(5) And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. (6) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:5-6)

The Greek word for “measure” is choenix, which is equivalent to a dry quart.

  • A dry quart of wheat is approximately enough to make 1.5 to 1.875 loaves of one-pound bread or the average amount of bread a person living in the Roman Empire ate per day.1
  • Meanwhile, the Greek word for “penny” is denarius, which was a coin that was used during the time of the Roman Empire.

The first century A.D. was a time when one denarius was approximately the amount of money some workers were paid for a full day of work. For instance, Matthew 20:2-9 suggests workers were paid one denarius (penny) for 8 hours of labor or a full work day:

“(2) And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. (3) And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, (4) And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. (5) Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. (6) And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? (7) They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. (8) So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. (9) And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.” (Matthew 20:2-9)

Some commentators use this detail to state that Revelation 6:5-6 implies that a dry quart of wheat will cost a person a whole day’s worth of wages.

  • Some Bible versions go as far as to change the words “A measure of wheat for a penny” (KJV) to “a quart of wheat for a day’s wages” (NIV) in Revelation 6:6.
  • A few Bible versions and some commentators go as far as to say that a loaf of bread will cost a person an entire day’s worth of wages.

Since I am using the King James Bible in this article, I’ll work under the assumption that Revelation 6:6 states “a measure of wheat for a penny” instead of a “quart of wheat (or a loaf of bread) for a day’s wages”.

The Value of a Denarius in Christ’s Time

We can get some idea of the significance of Revelation 6:6’s wheat price by examining how much bread a denarius could buy during Christ’s time.

We can figure out how much a loaf of bread cost back in the time of Christ by examining Mark 6:35-6:44. Before Christ performed a miracle to feed at least 5,000 people His disciples asked Him whether they should go buy 200 pennyworth (denarri-the plural for denarius) of bread to feed the people:

“(35) And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: (36) Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. (37) He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? (38) He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. (39) And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. (40) And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. (41) And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. (42) And they did all eat, and were filled. (43) And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. (44) And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.” (Mark 6:35-44)

If we divide 5000 loaves of bread by 200 denarri, we’ll find that one denarius bought 25 loaves of bread in Christ’s time. 2 Conversely, if we divide 200 denarri by 5000 loaves of bread, we’ll find that 0.04 denarius bought 1 loaf of bread.

  • Therefore, a worker could afford to buy 25 loaves of bread after an 8-hour workday in the time of Christ.
  • The typical loaf of bread weighed 1 lbs during the Roman Empire, so we’ll assume that these loaves of bread weighted 1 lbs each.3

Why Do People Say There’s Famine in Revelation 6:5-6?

Many teach that the third seal describes a great famine. I wondered why so many taught this when I was younger. After doing the research to write this article, there’s no doubt in my mind that these people are correct.

If you consider the context of the first century A.D., John clearly predicted a very dramatic increase in the price of wheat.

  • A person reading Revelation 6:5-6 in the first century A.D. would have read that a denarius would buy only enough wheat to make 1.5 to 1.875 1 lbs loaves of bread instead of 25 loaves of bread.
  • This would represent between a 1333% and a 1667% increase in price!4

The very dramatic rise in the price of wheat that John described indicates a great food shortage will come. Food prices rarely rise this much without a major supply shortage.

Here are two ways this shortage could arise:

  • Weather across the world could become very bad for growing crops.
  • The wars after the opening of the second seal (Revelation 6:4-4) could lead to a significant decline in crops grown.

A Day of Work for a Loaf of Bread?

I want to address the idea that Revelation 6:5-6 implies that a day’s wages will only be enough to buy a choenix of wheat or a loaf of bread. I do not fully agree with this view. Here’s why:

  • Revelation 6:5-6 focuses on the price of items in terms of money instead of labor. You could argue that John tried to convey the idea that an entire day’s wages would only be enough to buy a choenix of wheat. However, why did John choose to quote the price of food in terms of money instead of time worked?
  • Saying that a whole day’s wages will only be enough to buy a choenix of wheat or a loaf of bread implies that everyone will earn the same for their work during the end times. This idea seems unlikely unless Communism takes over the world.

Nonetheless, I calculated how much a choenix of wheat would likely cost at the minimum in the United States today if a day’s wages could only buy one choenix of wheat:

  • The federal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 an hour (each state has their own minimum wage laws, so I’ll use the federal minimum wage to make a generalization about the entire country).
  • The standard work day in the United States is around 8 hours.
  • A choenix of wheat would cost $58 ($7.25 x 8) today if third seal conditions were prevalent in the world right now and we assume a day’s wages could only buy a choenix of wheat.
  • A choenix of wheat costs approximately $0.13 given a $4.33 wheat price per bushel, so prices would need to rise by an astronomical amount.5

We can confirm from all this that Revelation 6:5-6 does describe extreme famine conditions around the world after the third seal is open.

Are Wheat Prices Near Third Seal Famine Levels?

As I said, I disagree with the idea that a whole day’s wages will only be enough to buy a choenix of wheat or a loaf of bread.

I believe Revelation 6:6 tells us that a denarius will only be worth enough to buy a choenix of wheat or three choenixes of barley during the third seal famine. Using this interpretation, you may wonder if the world is seeing or close to seeing the third seal famine.

I believe we can measure if we are seeing or close to seeing third seal famine conditions. We can do so by using the Bible and price data. We will do this next.

The Value of a Denarius Now

We do not use the denarius as money today, but it still has value. The denarius’s value now comes from the metal content or the value of the metal it is made from.

Below I provide denarius values for 70 A.D. and for 95 A.D.: the two dates most people associate with the writing of the Book of Revelation.

The Denarius of Vespasian (70 A.D.)

A denarius weighed approximately 3.36 grams and had 91.25% silver purity during the reign of Vespasian.6

  • This translates to nearly 3.066 grams of silver or 0.099 troy ounces of silver.

Using this information, we can estimate the current value of a denarius:

Denarius Value Under Vespasian

Silver Purity in Denarius 91.25%
Weight of Denarius (in grams) 3.36
Grams of Silver in a Denarius (3.36 x 91.25%) 3.066
Grams in a Troy Ounce of Silver 31.1
Troy Ounces of Silver in a Denarius (3.066/31.1) 0.0986
Silver Price Per Ounce (Updated Hourly) $23.37
Metal Value of Denarius (Silver Price Per Ounce x 0.0986) $2.304

The Denarius of Domitian (95 A.D.)

A denarius weighed approximately 3.51 grams and had 93.50% silver purity during the reign of Domitian.7

  • This translates to nearly 3.28 grams of silver or 0.1055 troy ounces of silver.

Using this information, we can estimate the current value of a denarius.

The calculation is shown in the table below:

Denarius Value Under Domitian

Silver Purity in Denarius 93.50%
Weight of Denarius (in grams) 3.51
Grams of Silver in a Denarius (3.51 x 93.5%) 3.28185
Grams in a Troy Ounce of Silver 31.1
Troy Ounces of Silver in a Denarius (3.066/31.1) 0.1055
Silver Price Per Ounce (Updated Hourly) $23.37
Metal Value of Denarius (Silver Price Per Ounce x 0.1055) $2.466

The Choenix/Denarius Ratio (CDR) for Wheat

The price for a choenix of wheat will be equal to the value of a denarius after the opening of the third seal. This statement is shown in the equation below:

Price for a Choenix of Wheat = Value of a Denarius

We can rearrange this equation to create a ratio between the price for a choenix of wheat and the value of a denarius. We’ll call this ratio the “choenix/denarius ratio for wheat” or CDW.

The CDW is shown in the equation below:

Price for a Choenix of Wheat = 1
Value of Denarius

The CDW will equal 1 when we see third seal conditions since the value of a denarius will be the same as the price for a choenix of wheat. In addition,

  • The CDW will be less than 1 when the value of a denarius is greater than the price for a choenix of wheat. This means that a denarius can buy more than a choenix of wheat.
  • The CDW will be greater than 1 when the value of a denarius is less than the price for a choenix of wheat. This means that a denarius is not enough to buy a choenix of wheat. This occurs when famine conditions are worse than the famine of the third seal.

I found a dataset from the World Bank that has monthly wheat price data and silver price data as far back as 1960.8

9 This data allows me to create a graph tracking the CDW as far back as 1960.

Wheat Attic Choenix

The CDW has stayed well below 1 in recent decades. This suggests we have not seen the famine that will occur after the third seal is open.

A Different Measure

The size of a choenix varied throughout the Roman Empire. Keep this in mind because the size of a choenix does impact its weight.

Most Bible commentaries mention the Attic choenix in relation to Revelation 6:5-6.

The city of Flaviopolis used an alternative choenix measure. The choenix at this city was 1.5 liters while the Attic choenix was 1.087 liters.10 11

The difference is big enough that I also looked at the CDW since 1960 using the Flaviopolis choenix instead of the Attic choenix like in the prior graph:

Wheat Flaviopolis Choenix

The CDW was above 0.8 in 1973 amid a major global food crisis triggered by poor harvests (aided by bad weather) and growing food demand from developing countries.

Equalizing the CDW

We can get an idea of how much the price of wheat may rise in the future by finding how much the price has to rise to get the CDW equal to 1. The tables below show how much higher wheat prices would be versus current prices if third seal conditions were here now.12

Information Attic Choenix Choenix at Flaviopolis
Denarius Value (Vespasian) $2.30 $2.30
Value of Denarius = Value of Choenix $2.30 $2.30
Choenix Weight in Lbs 1.843 2.543
Price Per Lb (Choenix Value/Choenix Weight) $1.25 $0.91
Price Per Bushel (Price Per Lb x 59.74 lbs) $74.68 $54.13
Wheat Price Per Bushel (Updated Hourly) #N/A #N/A
Price Appreciation (Price Per Bushel/Current Price) #N/A #N/A
Information Attic Choenix Choenix at Flaviopolis
Denarius Value (Domitian) $2.47 $2.47
Value of Denarius = Value of Choenix $2.47 $2.47
Choenix Weight in Lbs 1.843 2.543
Price Per Lb (Choenix Value/Choenix Weight) $1.34 $0.97
Price Per Bushel (Price Per Lb x 59.74 lbs) $79.94 $57.94
Wheat Price Per Bushel (Updated Hourly) #N/A #N/A
Price Appreciation (Price Per Bushel/Current Price) #N/A #N/A

The price rises shown in each table are staggering. These figures suggest that we are still not yet close to seeing the type of shortages and prices that will come during the third seal famine.

Are Barley Prices Near Third Seal Famine Levels?

The Choenix/Denarius Ratio (CDB) for Barley

Revelation 6:6 tells us that the price for three choenixes of barley will be equal to the value of a denarius after the opening of the third seal. This statement is shown in the equation below:

3 x Price for a Choenix of Barley = Value of a Denarius

We can rearrange this equation to create a ratio between the price for a choenix of barley and the value of a denarius. We’ll call this ratio the “choenix/denarius ratio for barley” or CDB.

The CDB is shown in the equation below:

3 x Price for a Choenix of Barley = 1
Value of Denarius

The CDB will equal 1 when we see third seal conditions since the value of a denarius will be the same as the price for three choenixes of barley. In addition,

  • The CDB will be less than 1 when the value of a denarius is greater than 3 times the price for a choenix of barley. This means that a denarius can buy more than 3 choenixes of barley.
  • The CDB will be greater than 1 when the value of a denarius is less than 3 times the price for a choenix of barley. This means that a denarius is not enough to buy 3 choenixes of barley. This occurs when famine conditions are worse than the famine of the third seal.

I used the same dataset from the World Bank, which includes barley price data as far back as 1960. This data allows me to create a graph tracking the CDB as far back as 1960.

Attic Choenix

Barley Attic Choenix

Flaviopolis Choenix

Barley Flaviopolis Choenix

The CDB has stayed well below 1 in recent decades. However, the ratio has approached 1 in times of major shortages:

  • The CDB was near 0.7 in 1973 during a major global food crisis triggered by poor harvests and growing food demand from developing countries.
  • The CDB exceeded 0.8 in 2002 amid a global barley shortage caused by bad weather.

Nevertheless, the barley charts suggest we are not close to seeing the type of shortages and prices that will come during the third seal famine.

Conclusion

We are nowhere close to seeing food prices related to the opening of the third seal. As a result, you could use this study to argue that the opening of the third seal is not near.

However, price history shows us that food prices can increase quickly. A huge spike in prices before the third seal is possible since global conflict will accompany the second seal:

“(3) And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. (4) And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” (Revelation 6:3-4)

Therefore, do not worry about the third seal being opened right now. But, be aware that things can change quickly if global conflict breaks out.

 

 

Source: Revelation 6:6: The End Times Famine & Food Prices

 

15 Signs Economic Depression Is Accelerating As We Head Toward The Holidays

 

Facebook is cracking down on Conservative Christian content. Many of you have complained that you never see our content in your news feeds.When you share with your friends, however, you greatly help distribute our content. Please take a moment and consider sharing this article with your friends and family and on your Facebook wall or other social networks that you use! Thank you.