Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 17:18

The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Women;   The Topic Concordance - Empires/world Powers;   Judges;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Cities;   Woman;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Antichrist;   Babylon;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Peter, First, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Church;   Joy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Antichrist;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Marriage;   Revelation of John, the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Antichrist;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Antichrist ;   Horn ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Babylon the Great ;   Roman Empire;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Babylon;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Bab'ylon;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Babylon in the New Testament:;   Perdition;   Reign;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth - It has already been shown that the woman sitting upon the seven-headed beast is a representation of the Latin Church; here we have the greatest assurance that it is so, because the woman is called a city, which is a much plainer emblem of a Church, as the word is used unequivocally in this sense in so many parts of Scripture that we cannot well mistake its meaning. See Revelation 3:12; Revelation 11:2; Revelation 21:10; Revelation 22:19; and also Psalm 46:4; Psalm 87:3; Hebrews 12:22, etc. The woman therefore must be the Latin Church; and as the apostle saw her sitting upon the beast, this must signify that ἡ εχουσα βασιλειαν, she hath A Kingdom over the kings of the earth, i.e., over the kings of the Latin world, for that this is the meaning of earth has been shown before in numerous instances. That Kingdom which the woman has over the kings of the Latin world, or secular Latin empire, or in other words The Kingdom of the Latin Church, is the numbered Latin kingdom or Romish hierarchy. See on Revelation 13:18; (note). The woman is also called a Great city, to denote the very great extent of her jurisdiction; for she has comprehended within her walls the subjects of the mighty dominations of France, Spain, England, Scotland, The Empire, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, and Portugal. What an extensive city was this! Surely such as to justify the prophetic denomination, that Great city.

Having now gone through the whole of the angel's interpretation of St. John's vision of a whore sitting upon the seven-headed and ten-horned beast, it will be essentially necessary to examine a little more attentively the eighth verse of this chapter. It has already been shown that the phrases, was, is not, shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and yet is, refer to the Latin kingdom which existed before the building of Rome, to the Roman empire in the time of St. John, and to the Latin empire which was in futurity in the apostolic age. But as the words was, is not, etc., are spoken of the beast upon which the apostle saw the woman, or Latin Church, sit; how can it be said of this beast that it had an existence before the date of the Apocalypse, when the woman whom it carried was not in being till long after this period? And what connection has the Latin empire of the middle ages with that which derived its name from Latinus, king of the Aborigines, and was subjugated by the ancient Romans; or even with that which existed in the time of the apostle? The answer is as follows: St. John saw the beast upon which the woman sat with all his seven heads and ten horns. Consequently, as the angel expressly says that five of these seven heads had already fallen in the time of the vision, it therefore necessarily follows that the apostle must have seen that part of the Latin empire represented by the seven-headed beast which had already been under the emblem of five heads. Therefore the woman sat upon the beast that Was. But it is plain from the angel's interpretation that the whole of the seven heads fell, before the beast upon which the woman sat arose; and yet the woman is represented as sitting upon the seven-headed beast to denote, as we have before observed, that it is the Latin kingdom in its last estate, or under one of its heads restored, which is the secular kingdom of antichrist. The beast is also said not to have any existence in the time of the vision; from which it is evident that the monarchy of the Latins, and not that of the Romans, is here intended; because the latter was in the time of the vision. Again, the beast which St. John saw had not ascended out of the bottomless pit in his time; consequently the whole seven heads and ten horns were in futurity, for all these heads and horns rose up out of the abyss at the same time with the beast. How is this apparent contradiction reconciled? In the most plain and satisfactory manner, by means of the angel's double interpretation of the heads; for if the seven heads be taken in the sense of seven mountains, (head in the Scripture style being a symbol of precedency as well as supremacy), then the beast with all its heads and horns was altogether in futurity in the apostle's time, for the seven heads are the seven electorates of the German empire, and the ten horns the ten monarchies in the interest of the Latin Church. Finally, the beast is said to exist in the time of the vision; therefore the Roman empire, which governed the world, must be here alluded to; and consequently the phrase and yet is is a proof that, as the beast is the Latin kingdom, and this beast is said to have an existence in the time of the apostle, the empire of the Caesars, though generally known by the name of the Roman, is in a very proper sense the Latin kingdom, as the Latin was the language which prevailed in it. Hence the seven-headed and ten-horned beast is at once the representation of the ancient Latin power, of the Roman empire which succeeded it, and of the Latin empire which supports the Latin Church. Here is then the connection of the ancient Latin and Roman powers with that upon which the woman sits. She sits upon the beast that was and is not, because three of his heads represent the three forms of government which the ancient Latins had before they were subjugated by the Romans, viz., the regal power, the dictatorship, and the power of the praetors. She sits upon the beast which Shall Ascend out of the bottomless pit, because all his seven heads, taken in the sense of mountains were in futurity in the apostolic age. She sits upon the beast that yet is, because four of his heads represent four forms of government of the Roman or Latin empire now in existence, viz., the consulate, the triumvirate, the imperial power, and the patriciate. It is hence evident that the beast, in the largest acceptation of this term, is a symbol of the Latin power in general, from its commencement in Latinus to the end of time; his seven heads denoting seven kings or supreme forms of Latin government, during this period, king or kingdom, as we have already observed, being a general term in the prophetical writings for any kind of supreme governor or government, no matter by what particular name such may have been designated among men. Thus the Latin power from the time of Latinus to the death of Numitor was the beast under the dominion of his first head; from the death of Numitor to the destruction of Alba it was the beast under the dominion of his second head; from the destruction of Alba to the final subjugation of the Latins by the Romans the beast under the dominion of his third head. And as the four Roman forms of government which were subsequent to the final conquest of the Latins, were also Latin dominations, the Latin power under these forms of government was the beast under the dominion of his fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh heads. The beast of the bottomless pit, which followed the fall of all the heads of the sea beast or general Latin empire, is, according to the angel's interpretation, ογδοος, (βασιλευς ), an Eighth king, i.e., an eighth species of Latin power, or, in other words, a supreme form of Latin government essentially differing from all the foregoing; yet, as it is nominally the same with one of the preceding seven, it is not accounted an eighth head of the beast. The first beast of Revelation 13:1; is a description of the eighth or last condition of the General Latin empire, and is said to arise εκ της θαλασσης, out of the sea, because the heads are there taken in a double sense, sea being a general term to express the origin of every great empire which is raised up by the sword; but when (as in Revelation 17:11;) one of the heads of the sea beast (viz., that secular power which is still in being, and has supported the Latin Church for more than a thousand years) is peculiarly styled The Beast, the Holy Ghost, speaking of this secular Latin empire exclusively, declares it to be εκ της αβυσσου, From the bottomless pit.

John Edward Clarke.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-17.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And the woman which thou sawest - Revelation 17:3.

Is that great city - Represents that great city.

Which reigneth over the kings of the earth - Rome would of course be understood by this language in the time of John, and all the circumstances, as we have seen, combined to show that Rome, in some form of its dominion, is intended. Even the name could hardly have designated it more clearly, and all expositors agree in supposing that Rome, either as pagan or as Christian, is referred to. The chapter shows that its power is limited; and that, although for purposes which he saw to be wise, God allows it to have a wide influence over the nations of the earth, yet, in his own appointed time, the very powers that have sustained it will become its foes, and combine for its overthrow. Europe needs but little further provocation, and the fires of liberty, which have been so long pent up, will break forth, and that storm of indignation which has expelled the Jesuits from all the courts of Europe; which has abolished the Inquisition; which has more than once led hostile armies to the very gates of papal Rome, will again be aroused in a manner which cannot be allayed, and that mighty power, which has controlled so large a part of the nations of Europe for more than a thousand years of the world‘s history, will come to an end.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-17.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And the woman whom thou sawest is the great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

The great city ... This is Mystery Babylon, not literal Babylon, but still actually Rome. How so? The city of Rome is the capital of the pagan empire, and of the harlot-beast that succeeded her as the seventh head, the headquarters of her entire operation. She is still careful to preserve the name "Roman" in every particular of her worldwide operations. The view that makes this the literal city of Rome falls woefully short, requiring that the scope of the prophecy cannot extend beyond literal Rome's rule as a world empire, an epoch that ended in 476 A.D. It also requires that the radical alteration of the symbol "Babylon" through changing it to "Mystery Babylon" must be ignored. Therefore, we cannot accept the view that only the literal city of Rome is meant.

Which reigneth over the kings of the earth ... This was literally true in John's day; but it is equally true historically, today, and ever since the words ceased to have any application at all to the literal city.

This verse takes us right up to the judgment day; but another view of final events will be given in Revelation 18, culminating in the final judgment recorded at the end of that chapter.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-17.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the woman which thou sawest,.... Revelation 17:3 as there described,

is that great city, often mentioned in this book; great Babylon, the city of Rome, Revelation 11:8 which reigneth over the kings of the earth; which then reigned in John's time over the kings of the earth; and this clearly points out the city of Rome, for there was no other city then, but that, which reigned over the kings of the earth; that was then the metropolis of the Roman empire, to which the whole world was subject; and therefore it is called all the world, Luke 2:1 and since, all the kings of the empire have been under the jurisdiction of Rome Papal. It was formerly called Urbs Regum, a "city of kings"F26Justin. l. 18. c. 2. , either for the reason in the text, or because its inhabitants looked like kings.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-17.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the woman which thou sawest is that 35 great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

(35) That is, Rome that great city, or only city (as Justinian calls it) the king and head of which was then the emperor, but now the pope, since the condition of the beast was changed.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-17.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

reigneth — literally, “hath kingship over the kings.” The harlot cannot be a mere city literally, but is called so in a spiritual sense (Revelation 11:8). Also the beast cannot represent a spiritual power, but a world power. In this verse the harlot is presented before us ripe for judgment. The eighteenth chapter details that judgment.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-17.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

The woman (η γυνηhē gunē). She is now explained after the beast has been interpreted. Revelation 17:9 made it plain enough, but this verse demonstrates that the woman is the city of Rome “which reigneth (η εχουσα βασιλειανhē echousa basileian the one having a kingdom) over the kings of the earth (επι των βασιλεων της γηςepi tōn basileōn tēs gēs).” Rome followed Babylon, and other cities may follow in their train.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-17.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Reigneth ( ἔχουσα βαοιλείαν )

Lit., hath a kingdom.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-17.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

Ver. 18. Is that great city] Rome, that radix omnium malorum, the base of all evil. This is confessed by Bellarmine, Ribera, Alcasar, and other Jesuits. The Rhemists are so straited, that they know not which way to turn them, or how to deny so clear a truth, which yet they are not willing to acknowledge. The wit of heretics will better serve them to devise a thousand shifts to elude the truth, than their pride will suffer them once to yield and acknowledge it.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-17.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

This is so clear a description of Rome, that the church of Rome herself acknowledges it: for if that be the city built upon seven hills, the city that allures the inhabitants of the earth to idolatry; if her idolatries be a lively image of the old Pagan idolatries; if to her many kings have given their power and strength; and if she reigneth over the kings of the earth; their remains no doubt but that this great city is Rome:--that Rome is mystical Babylon, which has shed the blood of saints and martyrs without number, and must be destroyed for so doing; no pomp nor grandeur can exempt or shall save her from the revenging hand of God, and his just indignation.

Lord! hasten that desirable time.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/revelation-17.html. 1700-1703.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And the woman which thou sawest: see Revelation 17:3.

Is that great city; that is, signifieth that great city, Babylon the great: see Revelation 17:5.

Which reigneth over the kings of the earth, commanding and punishing them as she pleaseth. To what person or power that either now is, or ever was, upon the earth, is this applicable, but to the pope, who makes emperors hold his stirrup, sends his edicts to princes to execute, excommunicates them, and interdicts their subjects, and arms them against them if they refuse? So that if the pope sits upon seven hills, or Rome he built upon them; if the papacy hath allured the inhabitants of the earth to idolatry; if in her idolatries she be the image of the old pagan idolaters; if to her many princes have given their power and strength; if she reigneth over the kings of the earth; and these things be applicable to no other person or government; there is no more doubt, whether the pope be antichrist, and Rome mystical Babylon, which shall certainly be destroyed for her idolatries and shedding the blood of God’s holy ones, than there is of what we have Revelation 1:1,2, that this book contains The Revelation of Jesus Christ, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; which he sent and signified by his angel unto his servant John; who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-17.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

великий город Здесь еще одно упоминание столичного города – Вавилона, центра империи антихриста. Ср. 18:10, 18, 21.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-17.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

That great city; Rome; those who there exerted influence and exercised dominion over Italy, and over a great portion of the earth.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-17.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

Blessed and condescending Teacher of John! Thy Church desire to praise thee, O Lord Jesus, for causing thy servant the Apostle to be shown, and the Church through him also concerning this great spiritual whore, which sitteth upon many waters, committeth fornication with the kings of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and hath been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. Through thy grace, Lord, instructing thy people, we cannot mistake her character. Her purple and scarlet robes, her gold and proud trappings, the blasphemy of her pretended power, and the names she assumes, her whore's forehead and the mystery she hath put there, all mark her out, as the object of horror and detestation, to thy people. And while we behold her drunken with the blood of thy saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, we cannot but wonder, with great admiration! Oh! the awful state, to which the nature of man is brought down! Oh! the astonishing extent of the long suffering of Almighty God.

Dearest Lord Jesus! the souls of thy people are relieved in the pleasing prospect, that shortly thou wilt come and root out of thy kingdom, all things that offend. She, which hath intoxicated herself with the blood of thy saints, shall have her flesh eaten by those who professed to love her. She, who hated the meek and humble followers of the Lamb, shall herself be despised; yea, they shall hate the whore, and make her desolate and naked, shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

Oh! what a relief to my soul is it, to turn from the view of images so horrible, and to contemplate Jesus under his own rightful character, Lord of lords, and King of kings! May every knee bow before thee! And oh! what praises shall I offer to my God, that Jesus hath a seed that serve him, a generation that call him blessed; who are called, and chosen, and faithful! Lord! do thou in those awful times, make them and keep them faithful. It is thy sweet province, and sure I am, it is my Lord's delight, to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/revelation-17.html. 1828.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And the woman whom you saw is the great city which controls (literally ‘has a kingdom over’) over the kings of the earth.’

Here is the explanation of the mystery of the woman. As we have seen the woman is an idea, a symbol, she is Babylon the Great, and as such she is also Rome, for Rome was the manifestation of Babylon the Great at that time. But providentially the ‘great city’ is not named except in symbol. It represents gatherings of peoples in great cities away from God with a view to control and enforcement of their will, as has happened right from the beginning starting with Cain, Nimrod and Babel. It is a city setting itself up above God and indulging itself without regard to Him, in a pool of luxury and degradation. And it controls the kings of the earth.

( It is, of course, possible that the activities described in detail in chapter 13 of the beast from the sea will also be fulfilled more fully in the scarlet beast, for they are things which typify the activity of the Devil in many periods, but where they do so it is not as direct fulfilment of chapter 13. That was mainly spoken of the Rome of that time. We must rightly divide the word of truth).

It is important that we correctly understand these final events. The destruction of Babylon the Great is given central place as the final doom. It is she who has shed the blood of God’s people through the ages (Revelation 18:24). Her destruction is their vindication. But God is not to be seen as defeating Babylon the Great. Babylon the Great is a tool and does not warrant His direct attention. His object is Satan, the one who is finally responsible for all man’s rebellion against God, and so Babylon the Great must be removed out of the way in preparation for this final face to face encounter. It is possible that we are to see in the destruction Satan’s final attempt to direct worship fully at himself. But as ever he is deceived. He merely fulfils the final purpose of God. The whole is symbolic. It is the essence that matters.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/revelation-17.html. 2013.

Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation

With verse eighteen the chapter closes with a significant declaration: And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth. It is this passage that has been the basis of the interpretation and theory that Rome was the city that reigned over the kings of the earth, and was therefore the harlot city. But the conclusion does not follow. In chapter 11:8 Jerusalem is called the great city under the symbols of Sodom and Egypt, hence the term "great city" has been a mystic designation for Jerusalem. In the history of Josephus, Volume 7 of Wars, Section 8, 7, the historical term "that great city" was applied to Jerusalem. This was both the historical and symbolic designation for Jerusalem.

There are no such terms and titles employed to designate Rome. The appellation for Jerusalem comports further with the reference to the city as Babylon, the Great in chapter 11:8, symbolically called Sodom and Egypt, but identified as being Jerusalem by the statement where also our Lord was crucified.

The last statement of verse eighteen "which reigneth over the kings of the earth" did not refer to the empire of the Caesars, nor the city of the emperors. The word reign here denoted a dominion. The earth, as defined at the beginning of the visions and later repeated, referred to the land of Judea, inclusive of Palestine. The city of Jerusalem was the royal city where the kings of Judah reigned. The phrase the kings of the earth was used in the sense of Acts 4:26-27 : "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast annointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together."

These "kings of the earth" were of Judah, and Jerusalem was the capital city of the land, standing in the same relation to these "kings of the earth" as Rome sustained to the emperors.

The second psalm represents Jerusalem as ruling with a rod of iron over "the kings of the earth" who had set themselves against the Lord's annointed One. In the Wars, Book 3, Section 3, 5, Josephus adds that "the royal city Jerusalem was supreme, and presided over all neighboring country as the head does over the body."

There is every contextual reason to apply the language of verse eighteen, "that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth," to Jerusalem in relation to the kings of Judah, as figuratively set forth in the second psalm, and quoted in fulfillment in the gospel of Matthew.

Beside these scriptural applications, it must be true in ordinary logic and common consistency that the beast being the Roman empire, the harlot city which the beast hated could not have been the city of Rome.

The entire vision is centered on the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, the demolition of the Jewish temple and the end of theocratic Judaism and of the Jewish state; and the devastation of the land of Judea, the homeland of the Jews. The persecution of the church was a consequence of such catastrophe, being considered by the Romans as a sect of the Jews. But the Roman empire and Rome, the city, were only collateral to the visions of Revelation as the instrument of the power of destruction and of persecution.

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/foy/revelation-17.html. 1966.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The woman represents "the great city." In the context this undoubtedly refers to Babylon. It is the only city referred to specifically in this chapter ( Revelation 17:5; cf. Revelation 16:18; Revelation 14:8). As a system of apostate religion, which Babylon originated ( Genesis 10-11) and symbolizes, it reigned over the leaders and kingdoms of the world. Though religion has always guided the decisions of political rulers, this is very clear during the Middle Ages in Europe. Then the popes wielded great influence over the political leaders of the Holy Roman Empire. The religious influence of Jezebel over King Ahab is a striking parallel in biblical history.

The focus of the revelation in this chapter is the age-old apostate religious system and its relation to government during the seven-year Tribulation period. During the first half of the Tribulation it will be an ecumenical, worldwide body that will stand above government and will be aggressively hostile to true believers in God. At the end of the Great Tribulation, Antichrist will terminate it and demand universal worship of himself.

"In view of the fact that there does not seem to be any religious opposition to the woman, and her sway seems to be complete except for individual saints whom she persecutes, the evidence seems to support the fact that the woman represents an ecumenical or worldwide church embracing all of Christianity religiously, and therefore including not only the Roman Catholic Church but Protestant and Greek Orthodox as well....

"The final form of world religion will not even be Christian in name, and will actually be an atheistic, humanistic, satanic system which denies everything related to the true God, and is the persecutor of all who fail to worship the political ruler." [Note: Walvoord, "Revival of . . .," pp326-27.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-17.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 17:18. And the woman which thou sawest is the great city which hath a kingdom over the kings of the earth. That Rome may be here present to the mind of St. John it would be difficult to deny. We have seen that Rome may have been thought of in Revelation 17:9. But that we are to confine ourselves to Rome, either Papal or pagan or both, or that we are even to think primarily of them, as is done by different classes of Historical interpreters, can hardly be admitted. Rome may be one of the illustrations or exemplifications of what is alluded to, but the idea of the Seer is certainly wider than that of any single city or power of the world. We have yet to inquire what the ‘city,’ the ‘Babylon,’ so referred to, is. In the meantime it must be enough to say that to think of any literal city whatever is to disturb the harmony which ought to mark the interpretation of the whole passage. The city must be some faithless spiritual power which, under the last manifestation of the beast, enters into a league with the world, ministers to it, and lends to its material forces an influence for evil which they would not otherwise possess.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-17.html. 1879-90.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

The harlot is clearly identified as "that great city," which would seem to be none other than Rome the capital of the Empire and the Holy Roman Empire.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/revelation-17.html. 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

that = the.

reigneth. Literally having a kingdom, or sovereignty.

kings . . . earth. Those who are so called in Revelation 16:14. See also Revelation 17:2.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-17.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

Reigneth - `hath kingship over the kings.' The harlot cannot be a mere city, but in a spiritual sense (Revelation 11:8). Also the beast cannot represent a spiritual power, but a world-power. Now the harlot is ripe for judgment. Revelation 18:1-24 details it.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-17.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(18) And the woman which thou sawest . . .—Read, And the woman whom thou sawest is (not “that,” but) the great city, which has a kingdom over the kings of the earth. With these words the angel’s explanation of “the mystery of the woman” (see Revelation 17:7) ends. The harlot is a city; the Babylon of the past lives again in Rome; the woman is Rome, the goddess of lands and peoples.”

“She who was named Eternal, and arrayed

Her warriors but to conquer—she Who veiled

Earth with her haughty shadow and displayed

Until the o’er canopied horizon failed

Her rushing wings—Oh! she who was Almighty hailed.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-17.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
the woman
16:19; 18:2; Daniel 2:40,41; 7:23; Luke 2:1
which reigneth
12:4 Reciprocal: Isaiah 47:5 - for;  Isaiah 51:23 - I will;  Mark 14:22 - this;  Acts 28:16 - Rome;  Colossians 2:22 - after;  2 Timothy 3:1 - perilous;  Revelation 14:8 - Babylon;  Revelation 17:3 - a woman;  Revelation 17:9 - The seven;  Revelation 18:8 - and she

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-17.html.

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation

ROME, THE SEAT AND CENTRE OF THE WOMAN'S AUTHORITY.

Revelation 17:18. — "And the woman which thou sawest is the great city, which has kingship over the kings of the earth." The papacy and Rome cannot be dissociated. Babylon in the future is the full-blown development of the papal system, and finds her home naturally enough in Rome, where she has ever found it. There the most blasphemous doctrines have been taught, and there, too, claims more than human have been advanced. There will be a fuller development of papal error in the coming apostasy. Rome, therefore, is the city here referred to. The woman is the city, not Rome actually, but the system which has its seat in Rome, the Romish Church or system, the delegate of Satan in religious corruption (Revelation 16:19), and from thence till her destruction she exercises her baneful influence over the peoples of Christendom. The last verse of this deeply interesting chapter states a truth simple, yet important withal.

An outline of the truths and subjects unfolded in the chapter may prove useful to some.

THE CHAPTER REVIEWED.

The immediate design of this and the next chapter is to supplement fully the two previous, but scant, notices of Babylon (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19). Here a full and detailed description of her character and doom is given. But there is another subject of judgment besides that of Babylon. The Beast, the apostate secular power, occupies no unimportant place in this prophecy. The two main subjects then are Babylon, the religious system; and the Beast, the civil apostate power; the former occupying the chief place. The Beast, more prominent elsewhere (Revelation 13:1-18), is here regarded as secondary in interest to Babylon, the harlot.

The chapter is divided into two parts: first, a vision beheld by the Seer (vv. 1-6); second, the interpretation of the vision by one of the Vial angels (vv. 7-18). We may here remark that the interpretation goes considerably beyond what was seen in the vision. The same principle obtains in Daniel 2:1-49 and in Matthew 13:1-58. The interpretation adds instruction to that found in dream, vision, or parable. The Seer first beheld the great whore ripe for judgment (v. 1). She is termed "great Babylon" because of the awful and widespread confusion of which she is the embodiment. She is also "the great whore" because of a frightful system of hypocrisy and lust over the souls and bodies of men. Her licentious character, moral of course, is indicated in the term "whore." She is called a woman because thereby is implied subjection (1 Corinthians 11:3). She assumes to be subject to Christ, as the Church is and delights to be (Ephesians 5:23-25). But in the case of the woman, her pretensions are hollow and unreal. She really cares nothing for Christ, nor will she bow to His headship or own His authority.

She sits upon or beside "many waters" (v. 1). These waters signify vast multitudes of the human race (v. 15) over whom the woman has cast her spell, alluring them to everlasting ruin.

Then the kings and inhabitants of the earth are introduced in their respective relations to the whore (v. 2). This seems a more intimate connection than is indicated in verse 1. There the influence was universal; here is intimated direct intercourse with the whore. We gather, too, that the world at large is in view in the first verse of the chapter; in the second Christendom only. "The kings of the earth" are not the same as the "ten kings" of verse 12; these latter are kings of the Roman empire, the former signify the chiefs and leaders of Christendom generally.

Next, the woman is seen sitting upon a "scarlet Beast." This is the same Beast and the same power as that presented in chapter 13. The ancient empire of Rome, defunct for many centuries, is here witnessed on the scene of prophecy covered with the glory and government of the world, as indicated by the scarlet colour. The woman, too, is arrayed in scarlet, and the dragon bears the same colour (Revelation 12:3). How eagerly the pomp and glory of this world are sought after! The imperial power is subservient to the woman. The Beast, to whom the dragon commits universal authority, is the mere servant and tool of the woman. The secular power supports her arrogant pretensions.

But the Beast is further described as "full of names of blasphemy." Bad as the woman is she is never guilty of this daring and open character of impiety. Deceit, corruption, violence, pride, and shameless evils of every kind are charged home upon ecclesiastical Babylon — the whore. Blasphemy and the public denial of God and of Christ are acts of which the Beast is guilty. The names of blasphemy on the heads of the Beast (Revelation 13:1) stamp the executive, or governing authority, with this awful character of guilt, but evidently we have here the whole body politic — chiefs and people — characterised by it. Fear of God is gone. The empire in all its parts is wholly given up to this most horrible iniquity.

Then the Beast is said to have "seven heads and ten horns," several times repeated. The mention of the Beast in Revelation 13:1 is in similar terms to that of the dragon in Revelation 12:3. In the case of the dragon the heads, not the horns, are crowned; in the notice of the Beast the horns are crowned, while the heads bear the names or public expressions of blasphemy; in chapter 17 neither heads nor horns are crowned (Revelation 17:3). Such then is the general character and description of the Beast, the main supporter of the false and corrupt religious system dominating the empire, and extending her influence throughout Christendom. It does seem, at first sight, strange that the Beast — on which such a liberal grant of power is conferred by Satan (Revelation 13:4-7) — should be found a willing slave at the feet of the woman, but her dazzling splendour and seductive influence are like silken cords binding even the potent chief of the empire to the footstool of her throne.

Having had the Beast before us, we are turned again to view the woman, clothed and adorned with all that the world esteems of highest value (v. 4). She holds a golden cup in her hand; she should have been that in the Lord's hand. The cup is "full of abominations (idolatry) and the unclean things of her fornication."{* Tyre, not Babylon, of old is charged with fornication; this at once shows what the character of the evil is, viewed morally.} All who drink of her cup, and millions do, are morally ruined. Then upon her forehead is stamped her name and character. She bears on her sacerdotal brow the name "Mystery," of iniquity, surely! The second part of the title, "Babylon the Great," speaks of the havoc the woman has wrought. She has filled Christendom with innumerable evils, and brought in hopeless confusion. The third part of the name, or title, of the woman is perhaps the worst of all: "The mother of the harlots, and of the abominations of the earth." Every system which copies the ways and imitates the actions of the woman, imbibing her doctrines and adopting her liturgy, and generally borrowing from or conforming to the Romish Church, now or then, must be regarded as her offspring. She is the mother, or source, of every evil religious system.

But she is a bloody system, as well as a morally licentious one. "I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus" (v. 6). Papal Rome far exceeded pagan Rome in cruelty and bloodshed; and, besides, she is far more guilty as knowing better. She professed to be the spouse of Christ, and yet murdered at will those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; no doubt the Romish Church believed that in killing the saints she was doing God service (John 16:2), but it just shows the awful delusion which had judicially overtaken her. The wonder of the Seer was not caused by the Beast's persecution (Revelation 13:7), but by that of the woman, the professed spouse of Christ, although not she, but the Beast, actually puts the saints to death. But the woman is the power behind.

Then in the second part of the chapter the "mystery of the woman and of the Beast which carries her" is explained. It is a double mystery — the woman and the Beast; a travesty of the New Testament mystery "concerning Christ and the Church." In the mystery of our chapter the woman is first named; in that of Ephesians Christ, and rightly so.

The mystery of the Beast is first explained and shown under four conditions (v. 8). It "was." The Beast existed as one vast consolidated empire under a long succession of imperial rulers. "Is not." It has now no political existence; of course the countries and territories once within the empire remain, but the empire as such came to an inglorious end, A.D. 476. The ancient empire of world-wide fame and extent has for many centuries ceased to exist. "Is about to come up out of the abyss." Its historical and yet future rise out of the sea (Revelation 13:1) is not the point here; comes out of the abyss intimates the epoch at which we have arrived and of which the chapter treats. The Apocalypse gives the history of the last prophetic half week only. "And go into destruction," or perdition. This is the final and everlasting doom of the Beast (Revelation 19:20) — cast into the lake of fire alive with his fellow in crime the False Prophet; their master the devil will join them in the same awful place of misery a thousand years afterwards (Revelation 20:10). The resurrection of the Beast is a cause of wonder to all save the elect (v. 8). Twice the guilty and deluded world wonders, and both times in connection with the reappearance of the Beast on the platform of history (Revelation 13:3; Revelation 17:8).

"The seven heads are seven mountains;" these refer to the hills on which Rome reposes.{* Palestine, Nierinal, Aventine, Caelian, Viminal, Esquiline, Janiculan.} The woman sits on the Beast, and on the seven mountains, i.e., the seven-hilled city of Rome. Rome is so closely interwoven with the life and growth of the papacy that to separate them would be to deal the Romish system a blow from which she could not well recover.

But, further, the seven heads also signify the various and successive forms of government beheld in the "eternal city." The heads are "seven kings," of which five are fallen. The five fallen heads have been applied to the successive kingdoms of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Greece, and Persia; others consider the reference is to the first five emperors of Rome, as Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. The first hypothesis cannot be right, for it is the Beast, i.e., the Roman empire — whose condemnation of Christ and dispersion of Judah makes her pre-eminently guilty — which is before us in the prophecy. Nor can the second theory be right, for the heads are different forms of government. There might have been some ground for terming these emperors "horns," but "heads" they cannot be. They each and all represent one head or form of government, viz., the imperial. After the mention of the five fallen phases of civil and political government the Seer proceeds, "one is." That is the imperial form of rule which existed in John's day — the sixth head. But another has yet "to come" — the seventh. Its continuance is but for a brief season, as the eighth, or last, phase of the empire is the point of interest. Satan's man and king is an eighth, having his rise out of the abyss. He is thus a distinctive object, and fully entitled to the appellation "an eighth," yet he is "of the seven" (v. 11), as the same character of rule under the seventh head will be continued. The outward forms of government will undergo but little change under the last two phases of the empire respectively arising from the sea and from the abyss. But the sure judgment of God overtakes the guilty and apostate power. It "goes into destruction," twice repeated (vv. 8, 11).

Next, the ten horns of the Beast are explained (v. 12). These horns are kings, who come within the scope of action only at the same time and along with the Beast; the duration of his existence and reign determines theirs. The whole mind and purpose of these ten sovereigns is to yield themselves entirely to the will and service of the Beast (v. 13).

Then follows the war with the Lamb. The Beast and his confederate kings and armies on the one side, as against the Lamb in His might as Lord and King{*In Revelation 19:16 the order in the titles is reversed. There it is King of kings and Lord of lords; here it is Lord of lords and King of kings.} of all, and His armies on the other side (v. 14). It is the same war, the same conflict, that is grandly described in Revelation 19:11-21. In our chapter (17) the last act of the Beast and his vassal kings is anticipated, not actually come. Other events transpire between the account of the closing struggle (Revelation 17:1-18) and its actual place in the history (Revelation 19:1-21).

The waters beheld by the Seer (v. 1) signify "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (v. 15). An immense moral influence extending far beyond the limits of the prophetic earth. The masses of mankind, organised and unformed, are brought under the influence of the harlot. "The many waters" (v. 1) draws the attention to the large and multitudinous following of the whore.

The ten horns, or kings, are now seen roused into a state of unusual activity. They, with the Beast, turn round upon the woman, whom they had hitherto upheld, and destroy her. They reduce her to a state of desolation, and grasp at her wealth. Europe, or at least the western part of it, is carried away for a time by the dazzling and meretricious display of the woman, but ultimately snaps the fetters and makes an end of her. They act in vengeful feeling, but, after all, it is God's will which they carry out (v. 17). The ten kings are now free to give their united authority to the Beast, so that he alone occupies the scene and sphere of prophecy till destroyed by the Lord. This goes on till "the words of God shall be fulfilled." In all this the ten kings are the prominent actors.

Then the Romish system, numbering more than 200,000,000 souls in her unholy communion, is identified with Rome itself, the city (v. 18). The verse is a simple statement of a well-known and generally acknowledged fact.

In bringing this review to a close we would draw attention to the contrast between the harlot of Satan and the bride of the Lamb. The former occupies chapters 17 and 18; the latter is the main subject of the chapters which follow. The woman and a city in both portions, but set in sharp contrast.

The worldly, or purely secular side of the woman, is specially treated of in the next chapter. The system represented by Babylon is a combination of worldly pride and religious pretension. Union with the world, which is enmity with God, is the whoredom of the woman.

One in commenting on this chapter has well written: "In the chapter he (the Seer) is awed by the contemplation of her splendour and her guilt, while in chapter 18 he describes the lamentation of the world over her fate in language of almost unparalleled sublimity and pathos."

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sor/revelation-17.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Since the Reformation has not occurred yet, at the point of the great drama applying to this verse, the woman and great city refers to Babylon as the union of church and state.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-17.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 17:18

Revelation 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

This

great city,

literally taken, is the city of Rome, as will appear in the exposition of the eighteenth chapter; See KNOLLYS: Revelation 18:1 [ff] and taken mystically, we may understand Babylon the great; that Isaiah, the whole Roman papal kingdom. { Revelation 18:16-21}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-17.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 17:18. And the woman, that thou, sawest, is the great city, which has kingdom over the kings of the earth. In regard to the great city, see on ch. Revelation 16:19. It is the city, which had dominion in the time of the Seer, that is spoken of. In vain have Bengel and others employed their ingenuity on the has. It never once means: which then has. In the presence of the great city, which then had dominion over the kings of the earth, John must necessarily have expressed himself otherwise, if he had not meant that city, which all his first readers would naturally think of, but another one. Besides, if the kings are worldly kings, then the kingdom, which the woman has, will be a worldly kingdom. Papal Rome, too, has never had for the papacy the same importance, which heathen Rome had for the Roman empire. The pope has never been, like the emperor, only the representative of Rome, so that the dominion might be attributed, not to him, but to Rome, as is done here.[Note: The close connection between Rom and the imperial dignity is manifest alone from this, that the same temple was erected at once to Rome and to Augustus—comp. Spanheim de usu numism. I., p. 138—and also from Hadrian building in Rome itself a temple to the city. Designations of Rome corresponding to what is written in the text may be found among Roman writers in great abundance; for ex. Marial: Terrarum dea gentiumque Roma, cui par est nihil, et nihili secundum; Amm. Marcellinus: Per omnes quotquot sunt partes terrarium et Domina suspecta et regina. The Roman senate was called by Cicero populorum omnium ac regum consilium. See also in Spanheim I., p. 138—and for proofs of Rome being called the queen or reigning city, Ib. II. p. 101.]

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-17.html.

Joseph Seiss' Lectures on Leviticus and Revelation

Lecture 39
(Revelation 17:18)

GREAT BABYLON CONTINUED--THE WILDERNESS IN WHICH SHE APPEARS-HER TWOFOLD-NESS, IN MYSTERY AND AS A CITY--SHALL THE CITY OF BABYLON BE RESTORED--PROPHECIES OF HER ABSOLUTE OBLITERATION NOT YET FULFILLED--PROPHECIES WHICH SEEM TO REQUIRE HER RESTORATION--ZECHARIAH"S EPHAH--HER FEATURES AND FALL TOUCHING THIS QUESTION--REASONABLENESS OF THE IDEA.

Revelation 17:18. (Revised Text.) And the Woman whom thou sawest, is the great city which hath rule [kingdom] upon the kings of the earth.

When John was taken to see "the judgment of the Great Harlot," he was borne "into a wilderness." This description of her dwelling-place is very expressive. Where spiritual harlotry occupies the place of the true worship of God, there is desolation. There may be riches and worldly glory, as here. There may be the fulness of power and dominion; there may be purple, and scarlet, and gold, and gems of stone, and pearls, and drink from golden cups; there may be luxuries, sumptuous living, pomp, display, and everything to delight the sensual heart; and yet, where the word, worship, and institutes of God are trampled underfoot, it is wilderness. Some set great store on general education, on the achievements of science, on the progress of man in his material and social interests, on the success of reforms in government and laws, on the universal spread of liberty, equality, and fraternity, wrought out by the diffusion of intelligence and right reason. Those claiming to be leaders in this line of thought are everywhere full of prognostications of a great and glorious condition of humanity to be achieved by the new ideas over against what they consider the old nonsense, superstition, and ignorance, which, as they say, have too long held dominion. And in proportion to the confidence and zeal in, these hopes is the averseness to the Bible and its teachings, or any such way of receiving it as takes it for what it says. Indeed the Church, its doctrines and confessions, are ignored, sneered at, and more and more resisted and set aside, as the particular impediment to the true interests of man, and the worst hindrances to human progress and blessedness. But the Scriptures have anticipated this, and tell us that so things will go on until the world believes itself wiser than its reputed Maker. And when the gospel of the sensual and devilish wisdom has once won its way to victory, as it surely will; when the atheistic materialism to which so many are betaking themselves has attained its bloom; and when the ten thousand goodishnesses for which so large a portion of the professed Church is selling its birthright have brought forth their inevitable fruits, the result will be a universal wilderness, with nothing but a monster Beast from the abyss for government, a hell-inspired self-will for law, and the uncleannesses of a gaudy Harlot for paradise. And this is the world in its final outcome, when Antichrist reigns and Great Babylon reaches its full development. The true people of God will then have been removed to the heavenly pavilion, or killed off by the powers of a blaspheming persecution. According to the prophet"s figure, they will have become as scarce on earth as the remaining grapes after the vintage has been gathered. The Living Ones will have reached their places in connection with the celestial throne. The Elders will have obtained their crowns and golden seats. The numberless multitude will have taken its stand before the throne of God. The salt of the earth and the light of the world will have been mostly withdrawn. And whatever of accumulated wealth, gorgeousness, luxury, or perfected human civilization may remain, what can this habitation of mortals be but one great moral wilderness and desolation, where the powers are full of blasphemy, and the accredited worship is abomination? Such, at least, is the pictured scene of things to which the Apostolic Seer was carried to see the Great Harlot and the end that awaits her.

When John beheld the Woman, he was much astonished. He tells us himself that he "wondered great wonder." When the Beast first displayed himself all the world wondered after the Beast. (Revelation 13:3.) But that was a wonder of admiration; this is a wonder of perplexed horror. He had had a view of that Beast before. He had beheld and described his heads and horns. He had seen the wounding to death and the healing from the wound, and how men were carried captive by the marvel. But he experienced no such astonishment as here. But he had seen and described the glorious Woman, whose mystic child was caught up to God and to His throne. Could it be that this was the same Woman,-the Bride of Heaven transformed into such a character, with such names on her forehead, and thus associated with the Son of Perdition? God had once exclaimed over the defections of Jerusalem, "How is the faithful city become an harlot!" (Isaiah 1:21.) Was John to understand a similar transformation here? This was the seat of his amazed horror and bewilderment. But the angel at once interposed to relieve him. The Beast is the same which he saw before, but the Woman is not. And the Beast is here seen in the fulness of his development. No colour was noticed on his first rise; but by this time he has developed his bloody hue by his slaughter of the saints. Then he had names of blasphemy on his heads; by this time he is full of them all over. There his infernal origin did not so fully appear; by this time he has demonstrated that he comes up out of the abyss. His seven heads were there left in mystery; here they are explained, and his true history and relations indicated. There his ten horns were noted; but only here is it told that they are ten contemporaneous kings, who arise contemporaneously with the Beast, and who colleague with him in one mind and policy, and give their power and authority to him, and join with him and each other in desolating and devouring the Woman whom at first they carried in affection, and finally make war against the Lamb in a contest for the sovereignty of the world. The Woman is a new and different object. The first was the mother of saints; this is the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth, first organized in the rebellion of Nimrod, and the gaudy but unclean rider upon all the great mountains of world-power from the beginning, for whose special delectation all the martyr blood that ever flowed has been shed, and who is here shown for the purpose of exhibiting her end.

There is a twofoldness of the judgment upon this great Harlot. Not only is her fall mentioned twice, and each time with a double fall; but two sorts of visitation, and seemingly at different times, are here described. At first the Beast carries the Woman; but the angel says that the ten horns, in connection with him, eventually "hate the Harlot, and make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire." In the next chapter, however, there is a different picture, and her final ruin takes the form of a sudden and complete overthrow of a great city, over which these same kings lament and mourn. These two different presentations are owing to the two different aspects in which the Woman is contemplated. In Revelation 17:1-18 we have the picture of Great Babylon in mystery only, in which she has various centres and forms at different times, and presents herself in a variety of ways. The last forms of Babylon in mystery are those which the ten kings with the Beast attack and destroy. How this comes about is plain enough. The two great Beasts, as we have seen, set up an entirely new religion upon earth,-a religion which they insist on making as universal as their own dominion, and so must needs make war on all existing religions, true or false. The record is, that they will not permit anyone to live under them who will not conform to their new worship, nor allow anyone to buy or sell without first accepting their hellish sacrament or mark. Hence every form of existing worship then upon earth, be it Romanism, Mohammedanism, degenerate Protestantism, or any other species of false worship, it will come under the ban of this great infernal confederation. Whatever riches or possessions they may have will be confiscated. Their temples, cathedrals, mosques, institutions, and treasure-depositories, will be rifled, stripped, burned to the ground, and all their owners turned out in perfect nakedness; and any of them daring to resist, or refusing to conform to the new worship of the Beast and his image, will be put to the sword. All this is necessarily implied in what was shown of the doings of the False Prophet, and what occurs under his administrations; but it is here independently stated as part of "the judgment of the Great Harlot." This is the first part of her final calamities.

But Great Babylon in final revelation is also a local city. As a system, its essential principle is alienation of soul from God, and so whatever is developed from the carnal wisdom, either against or in the place of the true worship. But as the sun-clad Woman develops into a heavenly city, the new Jerusalem embodying all the ultimate glories pertaining to the spiritual wisdom and the true devotion, so the Great Harlot also develops into an earthly city, embodying all the completed temporal results of the sensual wisdom and the ultimate bloom of human apostasy. Hence her final overthrow sums up in the fall and destruction of a great, rich, and powerful city. Hence, also, the angel says:

"The Woman whom thou sawest is the great city which hath rule upon the kings of the earth." It is the same Woman which, as a system of false worship, rode all the governments and powers of earth, but which makes its final presentation in the form of a literal city.

Some think only an ideal city is meant, but nearly all interpreters, however diverse their ways of looking at these visions, agree that we must here understand a real city. Most of them say it is the city of Rome; some say it is Jerusalem; and a few say it is the island of England, which they take as the great centre of an unclean system of union between Church and State. My own impressions are that a literal city is contemplated in the vision, but that we must look for it in a different region of the world. However much Rome, Jerusalem, or states having national churches may be involved, they do not, and it is hard to see how they possibly can, fill out the picture of this final Babylon. The realization is yet in the future, and we cannot speak with confidence as to how matters will eventuate; but there seems to be reason for the belief that the literal Babylon will be restored, and that we are to look to the coming up again of that primal city for the fulfilment of what is here foreshown. The mention of such a thing may seem like a wild dream, and appear to clash with some of the prophecies touching the irrecoverable destruction of ancient Babylon. But let us look a little at the subject, and endeavour to construe the Scriptures as they are, and not according to the loose impressions which have found currency as if they were settled truths.

First of all, it seems to be pretty clear that the ancient predictions concerning the utter destruction of Babylon have never yet been entirely fulfilled. Isaiah gives the sentence upon Babylon, in which he says that her destruction shall come suddenly from the hand of the Almighty, that her glory and beauty shall be "as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah," never more to be inhabited, nor dwelt in from generation to generation; and that the Arabian shall never again pitch tent there, nor shepherds make their fold there. (See Isaiah 13:1-22.) So again it was said to Jeremiah, "Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling-place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant." At the same time he directed Seraiah to take the manuscript of this prophecy, after reading it, bind a stone to it, cast it into the midst of Euphrates, and say, "Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her." (Jeremiah 51:1-64.) That all this has been in large measure strikingly fulfilled must be admitted. It is part of the evidence of the truth of God"s word. And if it all belongs to the past, it is equally certain that Babylon never can be restored. Two facts, however, appear, which go very far to prove that these predictions do not belong exclusively to the past, but await further fulfilment. The one is, that Isaiah locates the destruction of which he speaks in "the day of the Lord." (Isaiah 13:6.) That day, in literal fulness, has not yet come. The world has witnessed many earnests and prelibations of it, but that day proper is still in the future, and only comes when Christ himself shall come again. And if the utter destruction thus suddenly to come upon Babylon belongs to "the day of the Lord," she must again revive in order to become the subject of it. The other fact is that Babylon, in all the deep calamities and desolations which have come upon her, never yet experienced all that has been thus prophesied. When did Babylon ever fall with so complete a fall, or meet with such an utter obliteration from the earth, "as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah?" Sodom and Gomorrah were completely blotted out. But this has never yet been the case with Babylon. Such was not its fate when the Medes and Persians seized it from the hands of the infamous Belshazzar, for they made it one of their royal cities. In the time of Alexander it still stood, and was the chosen capital of the Graeco-Macedonian empire, the second city of Alexander"s dominions, where he himself lived and died. It continued to be a populous place under the Syrian kings, who succeeded Alexander in the rule over it. In the time of the apostles it was still a populous place, for both Peter and Bartholomew preached the Gospel there, and there Peter wrote his first Epistle. As late as A.D. 250, there was a Christian church there, and an influential bishopric for many years thereafter. Five hundred years after Christ there were Jewish academies there, who issued the celebrated Babylonian Talmud. Here, then, was a lengthening out of the existence of Babylon as a populated city for more than a thousand years subsequent to the taking of it by Cyrus. And even to this present hour there is a city in the middle of the area occupied by old Babylon containing 10,000 people, and which pays to its governor a revenue of 342,000 Turkish piastres, more than $17,000, a year. Shepherds do make their folds there, as testified by all modern travellers, and the Arabians do pitch their tents there. It is not an utter desolation without inhabitant, and never has been since Nimrod laid its first foundations. The sentence upon Babylon is therefore not yet fulfilled, and cannot be unless that city comes up again into something of its former consequence.

In the next place, there are Scripture prophecies which I am at a loss to understand except upon the theory that Babylon will be restored, become a great commercial centre, and be the last of this world"s great centres to go down under the terrific visitations of the day of the Lord.

What is the world"s common symbol for commerce, the accepted picture to represent it? I have asked this question, and looked to verify the answer. In general I have found it to be an ornamented coin, weight, measure, or bowl of the scales, bearing a representation of the power that authorizes it, and a figure of a woman on each side,--one surrounded with the implements of navigation looking to the sea, and the other surrounded with the implements of trade, husbandry, and transportation looking toward the land,-the two mutually supporting what is between them, whilst above are the wings of some vigorous bird, to indicate the far-reaching flights of what is thus pictured to the eye and imagination. Nor would it be easy to improve on this. It has been evolved in the course of ages, and the whole modern world, so far as I know, has set the seal of its approval upon it as the accepted emblem of commerce. But it is the same that was shown to the prophet Zechariah 500 years before the commencement of the Christian era. Just at the time when he sees the great flying roll of the curse of God going forth over the face of the whole earth to cut off transgressors, he beholds an ephah, the common bushel measure, and a talent of lead, the flat rounded weight used in the calculation of tonnage, put upon the mouth or top of the bushel measure, whilst on each side of it was a woman, having wings "like the wings of a stork," with the winds in their wings; and they two lifted up the ephah between earth and heaven to bear it away. Besides, in the midst of the united measure and weight was another woman called Wickedness, the Lawless Woman, answering to the Great Harlot of these chapters. The prophet wondered what it all meant, and asked the angel in converse with him what these intended to do with the measure and weight inclosing the Woman of Wickedness. The angel said:

"To build it an house in the land of Shinar; and it shall be established and set there upon her own base." (Zechariah 5:1-11.)

Now this joined measure and weight, with the two winged women bearing them, and the winds in their wings, is unquestionably a symbol of commerce; not so much as it was then, but as it was to become in the period verging on the end, and as it has become in our day. The building of a house for it, and the establishment and settling of it upon its own base, can mean nothing less than the creation for it of a great independent centre, with its own ruler, king, or government. The place of this house is specifically stated to be "the land of Shinar." What that land is we can have no difficulty in ascertaining. When the people in Nimrod"s time journeyed from the East they found a plain in the land of Shinar and dwelt there, and there built the city called Babel, or Babylon. (Genesis 11:2-9.) When Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, invaded Palestine, it is said that he took Jehoiakim, and part of the vessels of the house of God, and carried them "into the land of Shinar," that is, Babylon. (Daniel 1:1-2.) "The land of Shinar," then, is Babylon; and in this Shinar the angel said this commerce, borne by the favouring winds on mighty wings, was to be established and settled on its own base.

This prophecy was delivered subsequent to the Babylonish captivity, and at least half a lifetime after Babylon had been conquered by the Medes and Persians. It certainly has never yet been fulfilled according to its terms. By the connection in which it is given, its fulfilment belongs to the time when the great curse of God upon the wicked goes forth over all the face of the earth; that is, in the great judgment period. By the indications thus given as to time, and by the whole contents of the foreshowing, its accomplishment belongs to the future, and necessarily includes the revival of old Babylon as a great commercial centre, standing independent of all other powers, and exercising its own peculiar dominion over the governments of the earth. And this is all the more confirmed in that it exhibits the Woman of Wickedness, the Great Harlot, ensconced in it, as the great spirit which pervades the whole.

It is also distinctly prophesied that Babylon shall be the very last of the powers of the earth compelled to drink of the cup of the divine wrath in the great day of the Lord. That cup is to go around to all the nations and potencies of this world, to "all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world which are upon the face of the earth; and the king of Sheshack shall drink after them." (Jeremiah 25:17-26.) All the Jewish interpreters agree that Sheshack is only another name for Babylon, and so, in another place, Babylon is called "the hindermost of the nations," because thus belated in the judgment which is to make her "a wilderness, a dry land, a desert," so as to be "wholly desolate," and "no more inhabited forever." (Jeremiah 50:12-13; Jeremiah 50:35-40.) Thus far Babylon has been the foremost of the nations in experience of the judgments of God, and cannot possibly to "the hindermost," as thus described, except as rebuilt and become once more a great centre of independent power existing at the time when the final day of vengeance comes.

Furthermore, it seems to me impossible to do justice to the description which John here gives of the features and fall of the Great City which he was called to contemplate, except on the supposition of such a revival of the old Chaldean metropolis.

The name itself is a tower of strength to the idea. There is no great city, Babylon, now; nor has there been for many ages. Nor is there any other great city on the face of the earth that answers to the picture, or that is at all likely ever to answer to it on any possibilities that can be imagined. And yet the name of this great city is Babylon--Babylon living and ruling over the kings and nations of the earth when the day of judgment reaches its consummation. It is not Babylon in mystery, but simply "the great city Babylon, the mighty city;" and there is no intimation whatever that this city of Babylon does not mean the city of Babylon. By what right then are we to think of any other city than that which has been known by this name ever since Nimrod lived?

The city here described is preeminently, if not exclusively, a commercial city,--a great commercial city,--a mart of nations. There is nothing military, nothing ecclesiastical, nothing educational, alluded to in the account; everything is commercial, or merged into the one idea of exchange, trade, and what relates to mercantile aims and accumulations. Ships, merchants, commodities, are the main subjects of the description. And when this city falls, it is "the merchants of the earth" that "mourn and weep over her," and with them such as are most concerned with commerce,--"every shipmaster, and everyone who goeth by sea, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea," for "all who had ships in the sea were made rich from her costliness." The lamentation is of the same character as that over the fall of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:15-18), and we know that Tyre was the great mercantile metropolis of its time; therefore this city must also be a corresponding commercial centre. It cannot, therefore, be Rome, for Rome never was a great centre of commerce. In all the Bible we never read of "a ship of Rome," or of one sailing from or to Rome. It cannot be Paris for similar reasons. It might be London, New York, or San Francisco, but there is nothing whatever in the account to fix the picture on either of them, whilst none of them could become so independent of all government but its own, as indicated in this case. The land of Shinar is named as the locality in the old prophets, and the particular city of that land, in its own proper name, is given by John as the subject of what he describes. And such is the location of that city politically, geographically, and in all the qualities of accessibility, commercial facilities, remoteness from interferences of Church or state, and yet centralness with regard to the general trade of the whole world, as to point it out above any other known as the elect spot for just what is predicted of this great city.

Even apart from the direct Scriptural prophecies and implications on the subject, the prospect is as they represent. The whole world is rapidly developing a system of things which, in the ordinary working of human affairs, must inevitably result in something of the kind. In what, indeed, does the mightiest and furthest reaching power on earth now already centre? A power which looms up in all lands, far above all individual or combined powers of Church, or state, or caste, or creed? What is it that to-day monopolizes nearly all legislation, dictates international treaties, governs the conferences of kings for the regulation of the balance of power, builds railways, cuts ship-canals, sends forth steamer-lines to the ends of the earth, unwinds electric wires across continents, under the seas, and around the world, employs thousands of engineers, subsidizes the press, tells the state of the markets of the world yesterday that everyone may know how to move to-day, and has her living organizations in every land and city, interlinked with each other, and coming daily into closer and closer combination, so that no great government under the sun can any longer move or act against her will, or without her concurrence and consent? Think for a moment, for there is such a power; a power that is everywhere clamouring for a common code, a common currency, common weights and measures; and which is not likely to be silenced or to stop till it has secured a common centre on its own independent basis, whence to dictate to all countries and to exercise its own peculiar rule on all the kings and nations of the earth. That power is commerce; the power of the ephah and the talent-the power borne by the winged women, the one with her hand on the sea and the other with her hand on the land,-the power which even in its present dismemberment is mightier than any pope, any throne, any government, or any other one human power on the face of the globe. Let it go on as it has been going, and will go, in spite of everything that earth can interpose to hinder, dissolving every tie of nationality, every bond of family or kindred, every principle of right and religion which it cannot bend and render subservient to its own ends and interests; and the time must come when it will settle itself down somewhere on its own independent base, and where Judaism and Heathenism, Romanism and Protestantism, Mohammedanism and Boodhism, and every distinction of nationality,-English, German, French, Italian, Greek, Turk, Hindoo, Arab, Chinee, Japanee, or what not,-shall be sunk in one great universal fellowship and kingdom of commerce.

And when it once comes to that, as there is every prospect that it will, for Providence in judgment for the greed and covetousness of men will prosper it, filling the wings of the women with the winds of heaven, where on earth is the spot so suited to the purpose as that where the first city this side the flood was built? There is the great navigable river, emptying out into the open sea, whose waters lave every country and island most filled with the treasures of the far East.(146) From thence there are almost level avenues for railway lines to Egypt, Smyrna, and Constantinople, connecting with Vienna, Paris, and London, for some of which the Turkish Sultan, it is said, has granted Firman, and which Western Europe in its own defence will presently be compelled to construct. There could all the great mercantile combinations unite in one common centre, with no other power on earth to interfere with them. All the considerations which bear on the question speak for old Babylon.

And with a worldwide commercial organization thus established on its own independent base, with the great mercantile houses of England and her colonies, of the Americas, of the other countries lining the Mediterranean, of the maritime and monetary centres everywhere, represented in corresponding houses there; with the ships, and passengers in ships, congregating in and about the Euphrates as the central exchange of the world; and with the gold-kings, money-lords, and merchant princes of the earth, thus combined without regard to creeds or nationalities in the one great interest of regulating and managing the commerce of the globe, it is easy to see how every feature in the Apocalyptic picture of Babylon would be filled out. Her merchants would thus be the great men of the earth. Her chief purchases would necessarily be as here described: (1) the most precious and valuable metals; (2) the costliest articles of clothing, ornaments, and display; (3) the most rare and sumptuous of furniture and materials for it; (4) precious aromatics, spices, and ointments; (5) the finest of eatables; (6) the most luxurious of equipages, chariots, and horses; and (7) slaves and attendants necessary to the maintenance of the style and grandeur going along with such wealth, consequence, and power. The city would thus literally be "clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stone, and pearl," creating a market for the skill and most excellent products of the whole world, enriching artisans, ship-masters, ship-owners, ship-senders, and all the traders in these things in all nations. Kings of the earth would thus naturally find it their interest and their delight to be on good terms and friendliest intimacies with a power so much wider and greater than their own. Governments would have to throw their influence in its favour, legislate out of the way what it wishes away, direct their policies according to its desires, and make war and conclude peace as it dictates, as is even now already largely the case, for commerce is the law-maker of the world. The purse-strings of the nations would thus be in the hands of a universal independent power, whose ban would be worse than the Pope"s edicts of excommunication in the Middle Ages; and to make war with it would be to make war against the allied world. All the kings of the earth would thus necessarily become participant in everything belonging to the system, the very organization of which is the utter negation of all distinctive creeds, and the complete abrogation of all religious and moral laws which stand in the way of its purposes.

And thus also the old harlotry would necessarily be the chief spirit of the whole thing. Zealous and earnest worship there would needs be, but a worship concentrated upon the ephah and the talent; a worship which makes temples of banks, and warehouses, and exchanges, and pleasure-parks; a worship not of the sun, or moon, or stars, or emperors, or popes, but of pounds, and francs, and piastres, and dollars; the worship of greed, and epicurean luxury; the worship of Mammon perfected, and overriding and supplanting all other devotions; the perpetuation and crown of the great moral defilement of the ages, only taking to the souls" embrace and into the place of God the meaner object which the divine word stigmatizes as "filthy lucre." Covetousness is idolatry, and a form of it which is the root of all evil; and here will be covetousness, deep-wrapped in the embracing arms of its god, and dazing and defiling the world with the glory and grandeur of its abominations.

Such would Babylon be under the suppositions to which I have alluded, and such is the Great Babylon of these chapters in its final outcome. Is it not reasonable, therefore, to believe that this is the way in which this prophetic description is to be realized?

Besides, it would be a strange thing if Babylon were to be the only exception to the general revival and renewal which is to come to the long desolations of the East in general. Egypt, long the basest of the kingdoms, is rapidly coming up again, and is everywhere presented as prominent in the time when Christ comes to take the sovereignty of the earth. The English occupation of Cyprus must give strong impulse to the rebuilding of the mighty cities which once had place upon and around that island. Tyre and its associated cities, and Antioch, and Damascus, and Tadmor, and Nineveh, and all the ancient localities, are becoming more and more the objects of interest to the Western peoples and powers, and plans for the revival of some of them, including especially old Babylon, have been put forth with eloquence and received with favour.(147)


The author of this book recounts the many and glowing histories which cluster around the Euphrates and its tributary, the Tigris; points out the extraordinary capabilities of the country, and adds: "Every way, commercially, historically, and politically, the Euphrates Valley route is a grand scheme, and must affect immediately the commerce, and, in some measure, the destinies of our race; and that depends not on a thorough traffic, but holds within its own confines the elements of a great prosperity.


"Why have the governments and peoples of the West combined to uphold the Sultan in the possession of Constantinople? And why has he who thought fit to menace that position met with the armed opposition of Europe? Because the passage from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea is of so much importance that whatever European power might become master of it would domineer over all the rest, and destroy that balance which the whole world is interested in preserving. Establish then, at another and far more extensive point of the Ottoman Empire, a similar and yet more important position; make the Valley of the Euphrates the highway of the commercial world, and you would restore millions of unproductive acres to the revenue, bring thousands of merely vassal tribes within the pale of order and fair tribute, and create in the East another immovable seat of power for the great powers of Europe."


So, also, an article in Colburn"s Monthly, quoted by this author, says: "England and France, and even other nations, appear now called to great works, which throw into the shade the most striking deeds of history. Among these works of the future it appears that the opening of the Euphrates Valley, and the restoration of Syria and Mesopotamia, of Assyria and Babylonia, stands first in rank. Such a proceeding, by multiplying and strengthening the ties by which people of all climates, of all races, of all beliefs, are united to Great Britain and France, would connect forever the general prosperity of nations with the happiness of those countries, their security with their power, and their independence with their liberty."


Mr. Andrew further says: "Amongst the numerous administrations of a wise and merciful design of Providence, it is not unreasonable to believe that the opening of the valleys of the Euphrates and the Tigris, and the resuscitation of the great nations of antiquity, are amongst the events designed to minister to the growing wants and improvements of the human race.... It is not too much to say that there is no existing or projected railroads that can for a moment compare, in point of interest and importance, with that of the Euphrates Valley. It brings two quarters of the globe into juxtaposition, and three continents,--Europe, Asia, and Australia,--into co-relation. It binds the vast population of Hindustan by an iron link with the people of Europe; it inevitably entails the colonization and civilization of the great valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris, the resuscitation in modern shape of Babylon and Nineveh, and the reawakening of Ctesiphon and Bagdad of old."


In the Life of Sir C. Napier, vol. iv, p. 70, there is given an extract from his journal, in which he writes: "Civilization was travelling west in Alexander"s time, but now how changed is the drama! More than 2,000 years have passed, and civilization arises on the rear of barbarism; we English have seized the baggage, are following up our blow, and in a few years shall be at Babylon, a revived empire! We shall go slowly, but one hundred years will see us at Babylon!" This was written fifty years ago.


A letter written at Mosul (Nineveh), February 26th, 1854, and published in the New York Tribune, says: "There is but little soil in the world like that of the valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates.... It is among the possibilities that a railway will ere long be built from Antioch to Seleucia along the Orontes, across Mesopotamia to Mosul, and thence down to Bagdad and Busrah,-the second short route to India. If this part of Turkey should fall into the hands of England, there is no doubt that such a road would be speedily constructed. The line has been surveyed. These barren fields are too rich always to remain idle. Its time has nearly come!"


All these statements are quite apart from what many are too prone to call mere prophetic speculations.

Jerusalem, we know, is to be rebuilt and re-established as a great national and religious centre, of a very numerous, rich, and powerful people. And when Israel with its wealth and commercial energy begins to rally again around its old metropolis, the Euphrates will again be needed as much as Germany needs the Danube, Egypt the Nile, or London the Thames; whilst the prodigious fertility of its great alluvial plains, and the unbounded riches of nature which there spring up almost unbidden to the hand that would gather them, and a ready progress of opulence that would realize the wonderworking power of Aladdin"s lamp, cannot fail to arrest and command the sharp-sighted covetousness of the human heart. How, then, are we to suppose it possible that Babylon will not also come up again with the rest of these Eastern schemes and renovations? Already a walled town there exists, taking in both sides of the river, as old Babylon did. It is encircled with villages, and approached through an outspread country dotted with beautiful groves of date-trees, forming a broad and verdant colonnade to a growing city. That city, strangely enough, also bears the name of Rest (Hillah), as if inviting the wide-wandering tribes of an apostate world to come back to the bosom of the old mother, there to plant and erect the final tower of their finished greatness.

I conclude, then, that such a great commercial city, different from all that now exist, will yet be, and that it will be old Babylon rebuilt. When the New Jerusalem, the Lamb"s Wife, comes down out of heaven from God, there is every intimation that it will be stationed over the old Jerusalem. And when the wisdom, progress, and harlotries of this world come to their final culmination and embodiment in Great Babylon, there is corresponding reason to believe that it will be centralized upon the very spot where it first started, and meet its ultimate doom in the selfsame locality in which it was born.

But the description of that doom, its character, and its results, must be deferred for another occasion. I can only ask you now to think over what has been presented, and not to be envious at the prosperity of the wicked. Let the gold, and the silver, and the scarlet, and the purple, and the fine linen, be to those who make them their God. We have quite another Saviour, and quite another calling. They that worship these things shall lose them, and perish with them; but they who, for the kingdom of heaven"s sake, deny themselves and refuse to be beguiled and swayed by the deceitful glitter and sumptuous allurements of wealth and fortune, shall live to enjoy a far sublimer estate,-one which shall never fade away. Yet a little while, and they shall come forth in a city whose gates are pearl and its streets gold, themselves as pure as the gates through which they pass, and as excellent and glorious as the streets on which they tread; immortal parts of a new and everlasting system of God, when Babylon has gone down into perdition, as a millstone cast into the midst of the sea.

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Bibliographical Information
Seiss, Joseph A. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". Seiss' Lecutres on Leviticus and Revelation. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sei/revelation-17.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

18.The woman’ is that great city—The harlot is Babylon, and Babylon is the beast, for all three are different aspects of the same one antichrist.

Yet the woman survives the city and the beast survives both, Revelation 19:20.

We refer the Babylon-symbol to the politico-ecclesiastical organism of this ever-enlarging antichristic system—a system which finds its immediate symbol in Rome as the seventh head, but its inherited totality symbolized in the eighth. Note Revelation 17:11. It is secular and ecclesiastical CESARISM, which, essentially pagan and atheistic, usurps the place of the true King, and tyrannizes over the consciences and rights of mankind and subjects them to the despotism of antichrist.

The harlot symbol is that unity of corrupt doctrine with corrupt character and conduct once eminently belonging to the ancient Baal system, (see note on Revelation 2:20,) by which whoredom, united with dogma, became a common name for a false and corrupt religionism. This harlotry is a compound of false theology with a debauchery and depravation of mind and manners.

The organic combination falls first, has fallen, and is falling. Men are gaining freedom of conscience; and religious despotism, with its religious wars and inquisitions, is going down by force of right asserting itself. But the purification of thought and life, the banishment of false theology and of all practical depravities and vices, social and individual, is a later reformation. Its fullest earthly completion will not be attained till Satan himself is bound and banished, and the millennial reign is inaugurated.

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-17.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 17:18. The dramatic climax of the oracle: the great harlot is—Rome, domina Roma, the pride and queen of the world! Cf. Spenser’s Ruines of Rome, 360 f. (“Rome was th’ whole world, and al the world was Rome”). For the probable position of Revelation 19:9 b–10 at this point in the original form of the Apocalypse, see below (ad loc.).

After a prelude on the doom of this second and western Babylon (Revelation 18:1-3) two sublime songs follow: one of triumph in heaven (Revelation 17:4-8) one of wailing on earth (9 f.). Both are modelled in semi-strophic style upon the earlier taunt-songs (cf. Introd. § 4) over Tyre and Babylon (cf. also Apoc. Bar. lxxxii. 3–9). But the severe invective against Rome reveals the shuddering impression which this marvel and mistress of the world made upon the conscience of her provincial subjects, Jewish or Christian. They were half fascinated, even as they felt repelled, by the sight of her grandeur. This magnificent doom song (9 f.) like that of Apoc. Bar. 12. (cf. Revelation 17:13), however, celebrates her downfall, partly on grounds which might be justified from contemporary pagan authors (cf. Renan’s Apôtres, ch. xvii.). ver. 24 (note the sudden change from to ) and 20 (in whole or part) are Christian editorial insertions, (a) either by some scribe or editor after the Apocalypse was completed, or (b) by John himself in an earlier source (Jewish or from his own hand). The presence of a special source is suggested by e.g., the unexampled use of (cf. on Revelation 17:16, and Oxyrh. Fragment of Uncan. Gospel, 31), the large number of ( . 3, 6, , cf.1 Timothy 5:17, . 7 and 9, , ., , and in 12, ., , ., , and , [in this sense] in 13, (14), [in this sense in Apoc.] in 17, . 19, . 21, ., , [only in Revelation 14:2] 22, and , 14) and rare terms, for which the special character of the contents can hardly account. Differences of outlook also emerge; e.g., Revelation 18:9 f. is out of line with Revelation 17:17 and Revelation 16:13 f., Revelation 18:1-3 (Rome long desolate) hardly tallies with Revelation 18:9 f. (ruins still smouldering, cf.Revelation 19:3), and the kings of Revelation 18:9-10 lament, whereas in Revelation 17:16 they attack, Rome. These inconsistencies (Schön, Schmiedel) might in part be set down to the free poetic movement of the writer’s imagination, working in dramatic style and oblivious of matter-of-fact incongruities like the sauve qui peut of 4; just as the lack of any allusion to the Imperial cultus, the Lamb, or the martyrs (exc. 20 and 24) does not necessarily denote a Jewish origin. But the cumulative effect of these features points to 20 and 24 as insertions by John in a Jewish (cf. e.g., the special emphasis on the trader’s point of view, 11–17) Vespasianic source which originally formed a pendant to that underlying 17 (so variously in detail but agreeing on a source, probably Jewish—Sabatier, Rauch, Spitta, Weyland, Bousset, J. Weiss, Schmidt, Baljon, Pfleid., Wellhausen, von Soden, de Faye, Calmes). The original breathed the indignant spirit of a Jewish apocalyptist against the proud empire which had won a temporary triumph over the city and people of God. John applies it to the Rome which was also responsible for the persecutions. The tone of it has been severely censured, as if it breathed a malignant orgy of revenge. “It does not matter whether Jewish or Christian materials are the ultimate source. He who takes delight in such fancies is no whit better than he who first invented them” (Wernle, p. 370). So far as this is true, it applies to Revelation 19:17-21 (or 14–20) rather than to 18. But the criticism must be qualified; see notes on Revelation 18:7; Revelation 18:20. There is smoke in the flame, but a profound sense of moral indignation and retribution overpowers the mere vindictiveness of an unpatriotic fanatic who exults to see his oppressor humiliated.

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-17.html. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

18. Is the great city. Rome. See Revelation 17:9.

The Prostitute is “The Great Babylon” – the symbol of anti-christian seduction [the glamour, romance, and appeal of this world (1 John 2:15-17)], at any moment of history. “Babylon” is the world as a center of industry, commerce, art, culture, etc. A WRONG ATTITUDE toward these things (compare 1 Timothy 6:10)will cause a person to turn away from God. Babylon’s FALL happens again and again throughout history, but perhaps the fall of the last Babylon [Babylon in its final form?] will be simultaneous with the Second Coming of Christ, [Anti-christian religion is symbolized by the False Prophet.].

 

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 17:18". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-17.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.