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Who is the Whore of Babylon mentioned in the Bible especially in Revelation?

“a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” (Revelation 17:3–6 ESV)


Related:

Is the Babylon of Revelation 14 the same as the Babylon of Revelation 18?

What do the woman and the man child from Rev.12 symbolize, for diferent traditions?

Revelation 18:4 - Should we leave Babylon if we are in the "Great Babylon"?

How central is the claim the pope is the antichrist to Protestant theology?

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    Do you mean to ask Who could the Whore of Babylon be in our present day reality?
    – Jesse
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 15:32
  • The Whore of Babylon is earthly Jerusalem, where our Lord Jesus was crucified. The whole world is under the control of the Evil One, and the Satanic Jewish Zionists, who await the Antichrist and the destruction of this world by their own hands, as Scripture warns us.
    – Joshua B
    Commented May 3 at 13:07

9 Answers 9

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Revelation speaks of this symbolic woman as 'Babylon the great city' (14:8), as well as 'Babylon the whore' (17:5). This combines to make a great mystery, Babylon the Great. There simply is not space here to do justice to a full examination of all that the Bible says about Babylon, or even all that the book of Revelation says. Snippets (to whet the spiritual appetite) can only be offered here.

To identify this wanton-woman rider of the scarlet-coloured beast, that beast would need to be identified. It hardly needs to be said that neither are literal. We seek in vain to identify a particular woman or some beastly creature such as depicted in modern computer graphic games. There is, however, a sense in which both have been invisibly at work over many centuries, but Revelation 17 deals with a final culmination, shortly before Jesus Christ returns in sudden spectacular glory to usher in the Day of Resurrection and Judgment.

In that chapter, we are told that Babylon the Great's name, written on her forehead, starts with 'Mystery'. But God's word gives clues, for example, in Daniel's visions of various gruesome beasts arising, one after the other. In particular, the 4th beast in Daniel 7:1-8 fits the bill as the one ridden by Babylon the Great. Here is how one author explains it:

"...commencing at [Revelation] chapter 12 brought to light the allegorical sign or vision of the great red dragon, that old serpent... so chapter 13 reveals the two global concepts - depicted as powers or authorities - by which that adversary deceives the whole world, and challenges Christ lawfully to recover the throne and dominion which he himself had usurped by spiritual wickedness...

See Daniel 7:1-8. If these beasts seen in vision by Daniel had not the very features combined in the first beast of Revelation chapter 13, what else do these descriptions convey? Even to 'a mouth speaking great things'... But there is this difference. Daniel saw a series of figurative beasts in succession... Not so the vision of the beast in Revelation 13. There is no succession here: it is an amalgamation - the beast is a composite... Daniel's series of beasts combine to give form to the beast of Revelation... The beast of Revelation chapter 13 incorporates features from all the beasts successively revealed in Daniel... such a composite implies all those powers envisaged in Daniel, but more... the beast of Revelation answers to time itself." The Revelation of Jesus Christ, pp304-307, John Metcalfe

When that is combined with Revelation's statements about Babylon the Great, the mystery is resolved. An angel tells the apostle John he will tell him the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides (17:7). From there to the end of the chapter the mystery is unfolded. But not all can understand this revealing, and certainly not those who are being invisibly controlled by this spiritual evil that is riding an equally evil political world system that rises to global power before Jesus returns. Earth-dwellers will marvel at what is ruling (i.e. controlling) them, being utterly deceived by its allurements and wonders:

"Thus all the inhabitants of the earth, the whole world, will be swept away with astonished captivation at the arising of so great an ideal of world government, bringing, they suppose, salvation to the earth. But not the elect." (Ibid. p466)

This is why it is so important to correctly identify the horrendous beastly system Babylon the Great is riding. Get that correct, and identifying the woman rider should fall into place.

Chapter 18 helps identify her, because the merchants of the world bewail her destruction. They profited handsomely from their collaboration with her! They viewed her as a mighty city, a great trading power (cf. Jeremiah 51:42 with Revelation 18:9-10.) This means that politics and commerce were hand-in-glove with Babylon the Great, until the beast turns on her, and God hurls her down to destruction.

Consider the way the Bible depicts centuries of growing corruption between religious people and the political and commercial powers of their day, and we see something spiritual riding on the back of political powers, traders in on the act as well. When religious powers commit spiritual fornication by going after false gods, anti-God political powers and anti-God money-makers, they turn into this wanton-woman. She is "drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (17:6). This spiritual power is anti-God despite appearing to be godly and holy: her true colours are shown in deadly antagonism against those sticking to the pure gospel of Christ. Instead of hating worldly systems and keeping the worship of the one true God pure, religionists have so often led their people into supporting their spiritual adultery. Truly, her cup is full of abominations.

If all of that is combined with Revelation 17:7-18, the mystery of who Babylon the Great is, should be revealed. But it takes more than a few hundred words here to get to the meaning. The angel revealed to John who this ghastly spiritual 'woman' was back then, and the same identifying marks have simply grown greater in the centuries following. God reveals mysteries to those whom he chooses to. And the revealing starts with believing what he has already revealed to us in his word.

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The whore of Babylon was Jerusalem, and it is from Ezek. 17:23-32. This answer is provided previously here and here.

The woman riding the beast - think about her as a rider on a horse - she was directing the beast to do what she wanted it to do, to go where she wanted it to go - was collectively Jerusalem and the Sanhedrin.

"And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.: (Rev. 11:8, KJV)

Our Lord was crucified in, or just outside of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was "the great city" and was therefore figuratively called "Sodom" and "Egypt" by God.

“And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.“ (Rev. 14:8, KJV)

The same "great city" of Rev. 11: 8 is the same "great city" of Rev. 14:8 - Jerusalem. So, Jerusalem was called "Sodom", "Egypt" and "Babylon" identifying her with wicked nations whom God had destroyed in previous judgment days.

"5 And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration." (Rev. 17:5-6, KJV)

The name written on her forehead was "Babylon"..."The Mother of Harlots". Go back to Ezek. 23:17-22,

"And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.

18 So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister.

19 Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.

20 For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

21 Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.

22 Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side;" (KJV)

Aholibah was named in Ezek. 23:4 as Jerusalem.

The whore, the adultress of Ezek. c. 23 was Jerusalem - the same whore of Babylon which committed adultery against their husband (God) by rejecting Christ and making treaties with other nations who were pagan idolators.

During the 1st century AD Judea was a province of Rome. They were under Roman rule. The Sanhedrin had to get the Roman proconsul (Pilate) to carry out the crucifixion of Christ, and they had to prod the Roman governors and Caesars into persecuting the saints.

Rome could never be considered the whore as Rome was not in a covenant relationship with God, and was never considered as a wife, or bride of God. The beast of the sea was Rome, and the woman riding / directing the beast was the old covenant church led by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. She was drunk with the blood of the saints (Rev. 17:6).

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.“ (KJV - Matt. 23:37-38)

“And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.” (KJV - Rev. 18:19)

All of Revelation is from the OT, and mirrors much of Ezekiel. There is much more evidence from scripture that cannot be written here. See more discussion of both the "Whore of Babylon" and "The Beast of Revelation" at my blog ShreddingTheVeil, here, and here.

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  • Gina, you say the whore of Babylon WAS Jerusalem and that all of Revelation is from the O.T. Without going to your (or anybody elses') blog, are you saying that Revelation was fulfilled in the first century, and there is no on-going prophetic element that will reach its climax when Christ Jesus returns? I simply seek clarification in understanding your post.
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 10:05
  • @Lesley, the book of Revelation was the prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem & that earthly animal sacrificial temple of the old Mosaic covenant. That was Christ's return in that generation (Heb. 9:28), his 2nd appearance to those who had already seen His 1st appearance during His ministry. The "climax" was never speaking about the end of all time, nor the end of the physical cosmos. Christ has done everything He needed to do to establish His kingdom, and to provide our salvation (2 Pet. 1:3). We now go to Him. We are now His ambassadors on this earth(2 Cor. 5:20). We have to read ..
    – Gina
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 12:18
  • ,,,the letters written to the assemblies in the 1st cent. AD knowing they were not written to us, but to them. They are recorded for us so that we know how to be reconciled to the Father, and when & how the prophesies were fulfilled, & when His kingdom was fully established for our assurance that He kept His word. But, those letters of the NT are our history. First audience perspective is required. We cannot read a 2,000 year old letter as if it were written yesterday to us. I encourage you to read the posts at my blog to see the scriptural proofs of this perspective.
    – Gina
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 12:20
  • Thank you for the explanation. I will continue to read my Bible.
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 13:19
  • @Lesley. The Bible is the our only standard for truth, and the only word of God. I read it daily.
    – Gina
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 13:22
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The visions given to the Apostle John point to events from the end of the first century forward to events that are still taking place right here and now. It would be foolish to foist a literal interpretation on what John saw. All I can offer are some insights I have gleaned from the 1998 publication ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ’ by John Metcalfe.

Revelation chapter 17 portrays the harlot Babylon although that chapter is mainly about the allegorical beast upon which the whore sits. The whore sits upon many waters (Revelation 17:1), which waters are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues (Revelation 17:15).

“The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18). The mystical woman is a city, and the figurative city is a woman. The whore says in her heart ‘I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow’ (Revelation 18:7).

Both beasts, the whore and the city Babylon are not figures of actual beings, but of ideological conceptions or powers of the dragon. Neither Satan nor the two beasts assume any material form, meaning, or appeal to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life... All the appeal to mankind is manifested through Babylon the woman and Babylon the city. The dragon and his powers, though invisible, become exposed by the revelation (page 454).

She is arrayed in purple and scarlet, decked with gold, precious stones and pearls, holding a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. On her head are the words ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great’ who is drunk with the blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus (Revelation 17:3-5).

Many of the Roman Emperors persecuted the first Christians and this persecution has continued unabated throughout the centuries.

Revelation 17:3 draws our attention to the colour scarlet, a colour reserved for the beast and the whore. Derived from ‘cochineal’ the colour of this expensive apparel was the prerogative of the rich and noble, if not of royalty itself.

The woman’s appearance is resplendent in royalty and the richest refinements reserved for the honourable and noble women of the earth. To suppose bawdiness or the attire of a common harlot altogether misses the point. The very opposite is the truth of her raiment (page 460).

The angel of judgment carried John away in the spirit into the wilderness, to a place of total separation, the very antithesis of the city. Remember, this is highly allegorical and uses figurative language. The wilderness is the place of separation from all that is of the world and it is here that the true nature of the woman is revealed through a spiritual lense.

In the sight of God she is the utmost of revolting filth, but the world does not think so. Men are captivated by all that she represents in the world. To men, nothing is more desirable than that which she symbolises. Even John, when he saw her, “was greatly astonished” (Revelation 17:6)

Only with spiritual separation from the world, the apostasy and false religion, can the vantage of the wilderness reveal all things in their true light. This comes not by reading, or by knowledge: it comes by divine initiative; by the footsteps of faith; by spiritual revelation, and by interior experience (pages 459-460).

Chapters 17 and 18 come together to show the judgment of the great whore and the unfolding of the mystery, culminating in the triumph of God and His Anointed over the dragon, the beasts, Babylon the whore and the city – indeed, all the powers of darkness and evil who prevail against God and his anointed and His church.

Just as the whore of Revelation chapter 17 is disguised in scarlet and purple, gold and precious jewels, and blinds the eyes of people to the poison in her gold cup, so too the inhabitants of the earth are intoxicated by the things of this world. The kings, rulers and governments of this world commit spiritual fornication with the whore, “and the merchants of the earth grow rich from her excessive luxuries” (Revelation 18:3).

When the Whore falls the inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast (Revelation 17:8). They are spiritually blind and dead. They refuse to repent and worship God but continue to curse God (Revelation 16:9. 11, 21).

I believe the highly allegoracal vision granted to the Apostle John is no more representative of a literal woman than it is of a literal church or a literal city. “She” represents all corrupt religious authorities who have committed “spiritual adultery” with worldly political authorities and commercial powers. “She” has grown rich by her dealings with rulers and merchants and has sacrificed God’s elect, the saints and martyrs whom she has slaughtered over the centuries. “She” thinks she is invincible, but the political beast she rides will turn on her and destroy her. All the inhabitants of the earth who have participated in and benefitted from her spiritual poison will suffer.

When the allegorical city Babylon falls, the inhabitants of the earth will likewise partake of the wrath of God (Revelation chapter 18). That is why God's people are commanded to get out of her - out of worldly enticements and apostasy.

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In the Book of Revelation, the Whore of Babylon symbolizes pagan Rome and its empire, which was persecuting the Christian churches at the time the book was written. The Expositor's Greek Testament says:

A fresh vision commences... The Beast which has already (in 13) done duty as the empire is now the support of the capital. Rome, personified as a feminine figure, rides on a beast of the same colour, like a Bacchante on the panther, or like the Syrian Astarte on a lion.

Meyer's Commentary provides more detail:

From the entire presentation, especially from Revelation 17:18, it follows that “the great harlot” is the personification of “the great city,” i.e., of heathen Rome as the metropolis of the entire heathen-Roman Empire; therefore the harlot is designated in like manner as previously the beast, which symbolizes the entire realm. The special description of the city is prepared already by such passages as Revelation 14:8, Revelation 16:19; but the city appears as a harlot, because to this applies what has previously been said concerning it as Babylon the great (cf, Revelation 17:2).

Other commentators have suggested a wide variety of other candidates, including Jerusalem, the Roman Catholic Church, Paris in the days of Napoleon, traditional Christianity, Geneva and its World Council of Churches, Washington DC, New York City as the center of the New World Order and the U.N., Pyongyang and its Korean Communist dynasty, Beijing (associated with the Red Dragon of Revelation 12:3) and others, often based on identifying the Antichrist and associating him with a particular city. A recently revived candidate is Moscow, formerly as the center of World Communism but currently with Putin as the anti-Christ. Some have also suggested that while the "Whore" originally referred to the pagan empire of Rome, it also represents a spiritual power that manifests differently in various ages.

The author originally intended the Whore to symbolize pagan Rome and the empire it controlled. Once one decides to project the vision from that point into the future, a number of other possibilities present themselves.

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Even in modern English, the word "whore" is not a nice concept, and its usage can be offensive. The same is true of any identification made of this symbol in Revelation--the truth is frequently unwelcome. A real-life whore may look very attractive outwardly. Depending on how she is dressed, she may not even appear to be a whore. The same is true of this woman in Revelation. Appearances may be deceiving.

So we must look carefully at the identifying marks, as given in the Word of God, for this woman. Let's start in Revelation 17:1, and work our way through, one piece of information at a time.

And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: (Revelation 17:1, KJV)

What is represented by the "many waters"? What do "waters" represent? We are told their precise meaning.

And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. (Revelation 17:15, KJV)

So whomever or whatever is represented by the whore, the whore is sitting on peoples, nations, multitudes, and languages/tongues. Is this a position of authority? Let's keep the possibility in mind.

And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:5, KJV)

Multiple terms are associated here to the whore: "mystery," "Babylon," and "mother of harlots and abominations of the earth" are all ominous.

A mystery, of course, is something difficult to understand, or that is not understood. "Babylon" represents confusion. And this whore is not alone in her work, as her daughters are whores, too. And who might they be? Evidently, they all have a part in the "abominations of the earth."

To God, any sin that defiles or defaces God's image in Man is considered abominable; or detestable. The unclean animals were to be considered abominable, and were not to be eaten (see Leviticus 11). For a man to sleep with a man as with a woman was an abomination (see Leviticus 18:22; 20:13). Even the silver or gold of a graven image (idol) was to be held in abomination (see Deuteronomy 7:25)--it was not to be brought into one's house (vs. 26). And then we find a specific prohibition relative to a whore.

Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God. (Deuteronomy 23:18, KJV)

Any money earned by prostitution or whoredom was abominable--God would not accept it. So this context of the "abomination" here linked to the whore gives a strong clue that the whore is tendering her "hire" to God. From this, we begin to look for some powerful entity, having authority, that is also making religious claims.

Among acts of a religious nature, making idols was considered an abomination.

Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen. (Deuteronomy 27:15, KJV)

What entity of a religious nature is well known for having many images? But let's continue . . . .

And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. (Revelation 17:16, KJV)

What do the horns represent? Daniel also saw the beast with ten horns, and other beasts having horns as well. In one of his vignettes, we see the following helpful definition for "horns."

The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. (Daniel 8:20, KJV)

This clue is huge. If horns on beasts represent the kings of those kingdoms represented by the beasts themselves, then this beast with ten horns is a kingdom of ten kings. And the whore is seated on this beast, showing she has a position of authority over these kings. The fact that they are kings, and that they hate the whore, might imply that her power over them was usurped, and is an unwelcome power.

A few chapters earlier, in Revelation 13, the beast with seven heads and ten horns first made its debut in the book. Let's scroll back there and search for more clues.

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. (Revelation 13:1, KJV)

What is blasphemy? Let's find the Bible's own definition.

The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. (John 10:33, KJV)

What well known religious power on earth has, as a man, tried to make himself as God?

By now, actually, the picture should be coming into focus. Little more should need to be said. Other answers here have alluded to the truth already. But there are still a few details we have not resolved. Even Sir Isaac Newton was abreast of these details, as shown in the quote below.

Of the ten Kingdoms represented by the ten horns of the fourth Beast.

Now by the wars above described the Western Empire of the Romans, about the time that Rome was besieged and taken by the Goths, became broken into the following ten kingdoms.

  1. The kingdom of the Vandals and Alans in Spain and Africa.
  2. The kingdom of the Suevians in Spain.
  3. The kingdom of the Visigoths.
  4. The kingdom of the Alans in Gallia.
  5. The kingdom of the Burgundians.
  6. The kingdom of the Franks.
  7. The kingdom of the Britains.
  8. The kingdom of the Hunns.
  9. The kingdom of the Lombards.
  10. The kingdom of Ravenna.

Isaac Newtown. Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John (London: 1733). [Also sourced HERE.]

These ten kingdoms were the result of the breakup of the kingdom of Rome. But a new power, that of the harlot or whore, replaced pagan Rome--a religious power, that continued to usurp power over the European nations for centuries to come. Pagan Rome had morphed into Papal Rome. This system and power, then, is the whore and mother of harlots addressed in Revelation.

Let's review the characteristics pointed out earlier:

The Whore

  • sits on peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues
  • is named "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth"
  • abominations include offering the price of whoredom to God
  • abominations include making graven images and bowing to them
  • "Babylon" references confusion
  • her daughters (apostate churches who retain many of her heretical doctrines) are also harlots

Conclusion

The true identity of this whore should be clear, but the reader will need to exercise discernment to reach the final conclusion. One final clue is found in Revelation 14, where the "wine of Babylon," representing the teachings or doctrines of this whore, is specifically addressed. Her doctrines are not supported on the Bible, but can only be upheld on the basis of tradition--of the authority of her own word. And bear in mind that she is the "mother of harlots." It is not merely the mother whore of whom we are warned, but also of her daughters, who have followed much of her false doctrine and who, in reality, are very much like her.

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  • Very bold. Do you think the 7 heads of the beast are the 7 hills of Rome, the 7 continents of earth, or something else? Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 13:01
  • Are you saying false religion based on traditions and teachings of humans is the Harlot of Revelation?
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 13:59
  • @Kris What do these verses tell you? "And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." (Daniel 7:24-25, KJV) Any character claiming to change God's times and laws, as this little horn (whore) does, can only be promoting a false religion.
    – Biblasia
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 14:05
  • @Biblasia - if those kingdoms were the ten horns, their political and religious structures had already gone through a radical change since then. As Jesus 2nd coming is not happening yet, then how are their present state fit into Revelation? Commented Nov 30, 2022 at 3:02
  • @VincentWong Sounds like that could be a good follow up question for posting. In brief, the ten horns, and the beast itself, are part of the history that identifies the woman. The prophecy does not indicate that the horns themselves will continue to the end, nor that they are the special focus. The focus is on the woman. She continues to the end, and her character is to make war with God's saints (because they follow God's commandments instead of hers).
    – Biblasia
    Commented Nov 30, 2022 at 3:15
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The Harlot is a very complex character.

V3 “I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.” This is the Beast from the sea. In the fifth chapter, John heard about a lion, and saw the same lion pictured as a lamb. In this chapter, he’s told to expect a woman sitting on many waters and then sees a woman sitting on the Beast. If these are equivalent seats, then the Beast must also represent “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (as was said about the "many waters"). This confirms the Beast as “Rome, the Empire”, and implies that the Harlot must be “Rome, the city”, necessarily resting on the support of the wider institution.

V4 “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet and bedecked with gold and jewels and pearls.” This is one of the complications. The Harlot appears to be Rome, but she is also “the other woman”. I will quote the diatribe against Jerusalem which provides the model for this scene; “And you, O desolate one, what do you mean that you dress in scarlet, that you deck yourself with ornaments of gold, that you enlarge your eyes with paint? In vain you beautify yourself, your lovers despise you, they seek your life. For I heard a cry as of a woman in travail, anguish as of one bringing forth her first child...” (Jeremiah ch4 vv30-31).

The “woman in heaven” in ch12 has taken over the second verse of that passage. In effect, the two women havedivided the description between them. They must represent the faithful and the unfaithful Jerusalem, the faithful and the unfaithful versions of God’s people. The church of John’s time would probably see the Jews as the unfaithful portion of God’s people, because of their refusal to accept the authority of Christ. Perhaps we should say “the Jews of the city of Rome”, looking for a way to reconcile the two interpretations.

V5 “On her forehead was written a name of mystery; ‘Babylon the great, mother of harlots and of earth’s abominations’.” Here is another complication. What was the significance of the word “Babylon” before the association with “harlot” became familiar? Old Testament history knew Babylon as the kingdom that destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem. The power of religious oppression, then. Old Testament prophecy (e.g. Isaiah ch46) also knew Babylon as the location of many idols, which is the meaning of the word “abomination” (e.g. Deuteronomy ch27 v15). So that is temptation to idolatry.

The Harlot appears to be an amalgam of three elements. These are unfaithfulness, represented by the Jews of Rome; religious oppression, represented by the political establishment of Rome; and the seductiveness of idolatry, represented by the religious establishment of Rome.

V6 “And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” This is the real essence of the Harlot, the reason why the Harlot matters. All three elements in the amalgam will be contributing to this bloodthirstiness. The religious establishment are demanding conformity from the Christians. The Jews of Rome have the opportunity to be informers. The political establishment will enforce the penalties incurred by the recalcitrant.

I will add that anyone looking for a modern version of Babylon should be looking for echoes of the power and character of John's Rome, not following the name itself.

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The voice of the bridegroom and His bride were by implication heard in Babylon at one time, but hearing them in Babylon will cease.

Revelation 18:23

And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

In many places in scripture, Jesus said that if a person has "ears to hear" they are to pay attention.

Babylon appears to be a place (or condition) where Jesus could at one time be heard and then changes into a place where He will no longer be heard.

This brings to mind Jesus' statement in Matthew 13:12, where knowledge of the mysteries of God is taken away from a person.

Matthew 13:12

For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

In 2 Corinthians 3:15 and 16, the veil is taken away from people and they can "hear", and in these verses regarding the falling of Babylon, the veil is again established in their lives, and as a result, they no longer hear.

This was Isaiah's commission:

Isaiah 6:9, 10

9 And he said, Go, and tell these people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

3
  • Given that your answer seems to be summed up by your statement, "Babylon appears to be a place (or condition) where Jesus could at one time be heard and then changes into a place where He will no longer be heard" - could I ask you to clarify, please? That does not seem to actually answer the Q as to who this is, in Revelation, particularly.
    – Anne
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 15:50
  • Babylon seems to be representative of fallen or backslidden Christians. The voice of the bride is no longer heard there and Jesus people seem to comprise the bride.
    – brmicke
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 21:02
  • Thank you for clarifying. I won’t argue about that as comments are not for raising debates; just note it, though your scope seems incredibly limited and harsh given God’s patience and forgiveness of his children. The prodigal son, no? But there are many professed Christians who may not be Christians at all, who never were and never will be part of the Bride of Christ. However, your comment does answer the question.
    – Anne
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 6:37
0

It is physical Jerusalem.

Revelation 18:24 NIV

In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.”

Matthew 23:37 NIV

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

Jerusalem is called a prostitute/harlot in the Old Testament, and in the OT Jerusalem is called the bride, and God the bridegroom.

-1

Let's look at the clues. Firstly, we learn that this symbolic prostitute is very mysterious:

On her forehead was written a name, a mystery: "Babylon the Great, the mother of the prostitutes.."

The Greek word used there for "mystery" is musterion. According to Biblehub, it means:

A mystery or secret doctrine. Usage: a mystery, secret, of which initiation is necessary.

So initiation into a secret doctrine is necessary to be a part of Babylon the Great. Mystery can also be defined as "secret." Which ancient secret and mysterious organization fits this criteria?

We see that this organization is the "mother" of the prostitutes. She is herself a "great" prostitute (Rev. 17:1). The prostitutes are individual false religions that fornicate (commit religious adultery) with the kings of the earth (political empires). Since she is their "mother" they must be her children (Isa. 47:8,9). In other words, she gave birth to all the false religions in the world. This rules her out as being the Roman Catholic Church. It is too young. It also precludes her from being the "world empire of false religion" because all the world's religions combined cannot give birth to all the world's religions combined. No, this great prostitute is much older and is carefully hidden from view. She is a single entity. The oldest religiopolitical empire was founded by Nimrod at Babel, which later became Babylon. Does that ancient religion still exist today? If it does, we can identify Babylon the Great.

Revelation 17:9 provides us with some further clues:

This calls for a mind that has wisdom: The seven heads mean seven mountains, where the woman sits on top.

So, somebody will be given "a mind that has wisdom" to understand how the great prostitute "woman" sits on top of seven world empires (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and Anglo-America). This man will know the mystery (or secret) behind this organization which has ruled over ("sits on top") six world empires and continues to dominate the seventh. Again, this verse proves that the great prostitute cannot be the people of "Jerusalem" or any Christian religious organization or even a modern-day literal city because of her age and the fact that she sat on top of six world empires starting with Egypt. Jerusalem and the Jews did no such thing.

Is there such a man today who has this mind with wisdom? If there is, who gave him that wisdom to understand this vital truth? Is he the final prophet who comes to "restore all things" by exposing how Babylon the Great holds God's modern-day people captive just as Elijah exposed the Babylonish religion that held the Jews captive? (Matt. 17:11; Rev. 18:4).

To find out, please watch the Who is Babylon the Great, 'Mother' of Prostitute Religions? and The Rise and Fall of Babylon the Great videos on this channel To get a clear picture, try and read all the comments posted under the videos by the uploader. There are many!

3
  • This could be better written in two ways: 1. fewer "questions for the reader" (we answer questions on this site; we don't ask more) 2. list the two linked videos as "third party" material that collaborates the ideas here, but not encouraging people to or not to view them. This answer indeed has a hermeneutical-interpretation focus. It goes into modern application, which is understandable since the question itself seems to be asking for a modern application. Allowing "further study" videos and "modern application" scope of the site affect both this question and answer equally.
    – Jesse
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 15:38
  • @Lesley It sounds like you're trying to avoid "anecdotal" sources, which makes sense. Beyond that, bear in mind, users on SE are allowed to be anonymous and most are. And, we don't ask users to give the full identity and background for other sources, so that isn't needed here either. Those videos also contain interviews, which defend only themselves. The issue here is more about whether we can link to YouTube for "further study" or collaborative recognition of our hermeneutical conclusions. This is a sticky question because it asks for modern application and invites answers like this.
    – Jesse
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 15:44
  • If there is a problem with this answer then there must be a problem with the question because it uses hermeneutics to answer the question. So, the issue is whether we can ask questions that speculate about modern application. For example: "Is this Bible prophecy describing something in our present day? If so, then what?" That's a community decision and should probably have a meta post or two to help decide. If anyone has anything further, please tag me and answer this comment. Our policies must be consistent somehow or other.
    – Jesse
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 15:49

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