The ride of the fourth horseman
Revelation 6:7-8 tells us this about the fourth seal: “When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him.”
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says this about the color of the fourth horse: “ ‘Pale’ (chloros) denotes a yellowish green, the light green of a plant, or the paleness of a sick person in contrast to a healthy appearance.” Put bluntly, this horse is the color of death.
In Jesus’ parallel prophecy in Matthew 24, He explained that in the wake of religious deception, war and famine would come “pestilences” or disease epidemics (Matthew 24:7).https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-horsemen-of-revelation/the-horsemen-of-revelation-the-pale-horse-of-pestilence
The Old Testament Revelations has triggered many an imaginative mind to take it to mean whatever the reader wants it to mean. Artists have created wonderful interpretations of what the vile horsemen might look like, such as this one:
Where this blog is concerned, I am using the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse as the closest tale which has been told for thousands of years to express how I think those victims of the invaders from Europe must have felt when they encountered them.
As the explorers, sailors, conquistadores, Friars and their host of animals, stepped off their ships onto land, not only did they look frightening but they also carried unseen threats. These were diseases to which the Europeans were accustomed over centuries. One of these was Smallpox. The earliest evidence of small pox disease dates to the 3rd century BCE in Egyptian mummies. Nobody knows its origin.
The disease historically occurred in outbreaks. The initial symptoms of the disease included fever and vomiting. This was followed by formation of sores in the mouth and a skin rash. Over a number of days the skin rash turned into characteristic fluid-filled bumps with a dent in the center. The bumps then scabbed over and fell off, leaving scars. The disease was spread between people or via contaminated objects. Millions have died from smallpox and only in recent times has a successful vaccine become available to protect some of the people in the world from it.
Image of victim of smallpox
As more Europeans moved into the Americas, more natives grew sick and died. The Europeans would recognise the illness, the natives would be overwhelmed by its horrific symptoms.
They had no resistance to these foreign diseases. Millions of indigenous peoples across the Americas were extinguished so suddenly due to violence, disease, slavery and exploitation.
The consequent lack of slave labour created a need to continue the exploitation of resources by the new ‘owners’.
Spain’s monarchs had broadly granted colonists dominion over Amerindian subjects, compelling native populations to pay tribute, often in the form of labor. The latter practice was largely an extension of the medieval encomienda, a quasi-feudal system in which Iberian Christians who had performed valuable military service were granted authority to govern people and resources in lands conquered from Iberian Muslims. Also, despite their objection to a trans-Atlantic slave trade of Amerindians, the Crown permitted their outright enslavement and sale within the Americas. During the first half of the sixteenth century, Spanish colonists conducted raids throughout the Caribbean, bringing captives from Central America, northern South America, and Florida back to Hispaniola and other Spanish settlements. Two of the principal arguments used to justify the enslavement of Amerindians were the concepts of “just war” (i.e. the notion that anyone who refused to accept Christianity, or rebelled against Spanish rule, could be enslaved), and “rescate” or ransom (the idea that Amerindians held captive by other groups could be purchased in order to Christianize them, and to rescue them from captors who were allegedly cannibals).
Thus the slave trade began, and imported slaves from Spanish territories began to arrive by the boat load to replace the millions of Amerindians who had perished. They came from West Africa or Spanish colonies such as the Philippines.
From 1492 through the the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th century the Spanish Empire expanded built on the wealth and power gained from exploiting the New World. Queen Isabella pushed this moment in history into a lasting legacy. The crown’s main source of wealth was from gold and silver mined in Mexico and Peru. The empire reached the peak of its military, political and economic power under the Spanish Habsburgs, through most of the 16th and 17th centuries, and its greatest territorial extent under the House of Bourbon in the 18th century.
The intermingling of slaves stolen from their homelands to work for colonialists on land they secured under a legal framework created by the Spanish monarchy, set up generations of genetic mixtures which are difficult to disentangle today. Nevertheless, work continues on that task.
Andreas Morenos research in 2013 has studied genetic influences linked to medical aspects. For example, he and his team found:
“Caribbean populations have a higher proportion of African ancestry compared to mainland American populations, a result of admixture during and after the Atlantic slave trade. Surprisingly, the authors found that all samples tightly clustered with present day Yoruba samples from Nigeria rather than being dispersed throughout West Africa. However, because other analyses suggested that there might have been two major waves of migration from West Africa, the authors decided to analyze “old” and “young” blocks of African ancestry separately. This analysis revealed that “older” segments are primarily derived from groups from the Senegambia region of Northwest Africa, while “younger” segments likely trace to groups from the Gulf of Guinea and Equatorial West Africa (including the Yoruba).”
Citation: Moreno-Estrada A, Gravel S, Zakharia F, McCauley JL, Byrnes JK, et al. (2013) Reconstructing the Population Genetic History of the Caribbean. PLoS Genet 9(11): e1003925. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003925
Paper author Andres Moreno-Estrada is a research associate in the lab of Carlos Bustamante.
The consequences of the Spanish invasion, and ensuing other European land grabs, has been so immense, it is hard for us to grasp looking back through biased historical documents.
It is my belief that this exemplifies the prophesy of the Revelations and that we, as humans, could have taken a different path than the one pursued since 1492. But our mental illness through religious fervour leading to warring tendencies, our land grab greed, our pursuit of power and criminal acts against fellow humans over the previous centuries all culminated to that point in history to ensure this catastrophe would occur. It was the perfect storm.
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