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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are mentioned in the Bible in chapter six of the Book of Revelation, which predicts that they will ride during the
Apocalypse. The four horsemen are traditionally named War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. However, the Bible actually only names one: Death.
Woodcut by Albrecht DĂźrerFrom the King James Version of the Bible, Revelation chapter 6, verses 1 to 8:
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
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.
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.
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.
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the
fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Opinions differ on whether the first horseman, riding the white horse, represents Christ or the False Prophet. The second horseman, riding the red
horse, is generally held to represent War. The third horseman, riding the black horse, is Famine, and the fourth horseman (on the pale, or sickly
horse, which may be the source of the notion of "pestilence" as a separate horseman) is explicitly named Death.
The white color of the first horse could mean victory, because generals of that time often rode white horses after they had won a battle or war. The
crown that its rider wore was a kind of prize awarded for service in a war. The bow that he carried could be a symbol of an enemy at that time, the
Parthians, who were famous for their archery. Some commentators have thought it significant, however, that no arrow are mentioned. The red color of
the second horse could mean bloody war, and the sword held by the rider could symbolize war and violence. The black color of the third horse could be
a symbol of death and famine. Its rider was holding a scale, which means scarcity of food, higher prices, and famine. The pale greenish color of the
fourth horse means fear, sickness, decay, and death. The imagery of the horses and riders is similar to a passage in Zechariah.
An alternate interpretation, likely based on differing translations, holds the first Horseman to represent War and/or the Antichrist, the second to
represent Pestilence (sometimes called Plague), while the third and fourth riders remain Famine and Death, respectivly.
Hope this clears up some of the confusion
[edit on 10/01/2004 by DigitalGrl]