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In a vision in the New Testament Book of Revelation, an angel called Abaddon is shown as the king of an army of locusts; his name is first transcribed in Greek as "whose name in Hebrew Abaddon" (Ἀβαδδὼν), and then translated as, "which in Greek means the Destroyer" (Apollyon, Ἀπολλύων). The Latin Vulgate, as well as the Douay Rheims Bible, has an additional note (not present in the Greek text), "in Latin Exterminans", exterminans being the Latin word for "destroyer".
According to the Brown Driver Briggs lexicon, the Hebrew abaddon (Hebrew: אבדון; avadon) is an intensive form of the Semitic root and verb stem abad (אָבַד) "perish" (transitive "destroy"), which occurs 184 times in the Hebrew Bible.
The text of the Thanksgiving Hymns — which was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls — tells of "the Sheol of Abaddon" and of the "torrents of Belial [that] burst into Abaddon". The Biblical Antiquities (mis-attributed to Philo) mentions Abaddon as a place (sheol, hell), not as a spirit or demon or angel. Abaddon is also one of the compartments of Gehenna. By extension, it can mean an underworld abode of lost souls, or hell.
The Christian scriptures contain the first known depiction of Abaddon as an individual entity instead of a place.
Revelation 9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. KJV, 1611
In Revelation 9:1–11, Abaddon is described as a personified star who falls to Earth from heaven and is given the key to open the bottomless pit. Abaddon opens the pit, releasing a swarm of locusts.
Abaddon is also described in the same passage as "The Destroyer", the angel of the abyss, and as the king of a plague of locusts resembling horses with crowned human faces, women's hair, lions' teeth, wings, iron breast-plates, and a tail with a scorpion's stinger that torments for five months anyone who does not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
Abaddon is given particularly important roles in two sources, a homily entitled "The Enthronement of Abbaton" by pseudo-Timothy of Alexandria, and the Apocalypse of Bartholomew. In the homily by Timothy, Abbaton was first named Muriel, and had been given the task by God of collecting the earth which would be used in the creation of Adam. Upon completion of this task, the angel was then named to be guardian. Everyone, including the angels, demons, and corporeal entities, felt fear of him. Abbaton engaged in prayer and ultimately obtained the promise that any men who venerated him during their lifetime stood the chance of being saved. Abbaton is also said to have a prominent role in the Last Judgement, as the one who will take the souls to the Valley of Josaphat. He is described in the Apocalypse of Bartholomew as being present in the Tomb of Jesus at the moment of his resurrection.
The symbolism of Revelation 9:11 leaves the exact identification of Abaddon open for interpretation. Matthew Henry (1708) believed Abaddon to be the antichrist, while the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary (1871) and Henry H. Halley (1922) identified the angel as Satan.
The International Bible Students Association (precursor to the Jehovah's Witnesses) identified Abaddon as Satan in the 1917 seventh and final volume of Millennial Dawn. Jehovah's Witnesses now take the contrasting view, believing that Abaddon is another name of the resurrected and enthroned Jesus Christ.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Abaddon.|