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Chapter 12

Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and The Woman on the water

Rev. 17: 1-2 And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke to me, saying: Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.

Read it carefully. John is not seeing a woman sitting on water at the opening of Chap 17.  The angel is only making reference to a woman on water that John saw earlier, in his visions! At this point he is now going to see the judgment that will come upon that women he saw on the water at some point in the vision.

When did John actually SEE a woman sitting on many waters? The only woman John "SAW" flooded with water was in chapter 12 and she was Israel. Satan poured a flood out of his mouth to try and wash the woman/Israel away.  She was surrounded by water.

Later in the description of the Harlot the angel says. "and the water that you saw is nations and peoples, and tongues."  So satan flooded Jerusalem with nations, and peoples, and tongues to try and destroy her.  Now John is going to be shown the woman on the waters judgment.

Rev. 17: 3: And he carried me away in the spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.

Only one beast has seven heads and ten horns! So John is just being shown another symbolic picture of this same beast, most likely it is the "image of the first beast" of chapter 13.

Rev. 17: 4-6 The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood
of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly

Only one city can be the Mother of Harlots, and that is Jerusalem. She is the greatest of Harlots. The woman represents a great city; a city that became a harlot to the nations as Jerusalem/Israel did, many times over, with all these kingdoms that the seven heads represent.

It is a mystery, a riddle so to speak, that her name is Babylon the great. This doesn't mean this woman actually represents the old city of Babylon. Israel lived in exile in Babylon for 70 years. In Chapter 11, she is also called, mystically, "Egypt", a country where she was exiled to for 450 years. And also called "Sodom", a place of sin that came to destruction at the hand of the Lord for being a harlot. Jerusalem is a harlot because she was chosen by God to be His nation and spread His word to the ends of the earth, as a "Light shining" but instead she plays the harlot with the nations, not trusting in God.

Rev 18:24 It is said of this Harlot: "And in her was found the blood of the prophets and of the saints and of all who have been slain on the earth."

Also, in Matthew, Jesus tells of her responsibility in this: 23:34-38 Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,  so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!

She is drunk with the blood of saints and prophets. (Also Lk 11:47-51, Lk 13:34, Acts 7:52, 1Thes 2:15, etc..)

Israel played the Harlot with Babylon, Media-Persia, and Greece. Israel sold herself to the world for profit rather than giving herself to God for gain, and so God gave her over to them.

She is a spiritual whore (compare Isa 1:21, Jer 3:6-4, Exe 16, Eze 23, Hos 2, Hos 9:1)

The woman/harlot is a city that sits on the seven heads. The heads are mountains that are kings. So the mountains are symbolic of kingdoms. Israel plays the harlot for the kings of the earth of these kingdoms. The kingdoms of Babylon, Media-Persia, the four kingdoms of Greece, and finally the last kingdom, which make up the seven heads of the beast, which I spoke about in the previous chapters.

John tells us the woman is also a city. 

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

The woman that John saw on the beast was the same woman he saw on the water. So she represents all Israel. Symbolism is very expressive, kind of like the old picture that says a thousand words.  She is Israel, and so is guilty of the death of all the prophets and saints. At the same time we are to see that she is a city.

She is Babylon, the Great City.

Jesus showed John about the great City many times before chapter seventeen:

Rev 11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. :8 And their (two witnesses) 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 14:8 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.

Jerusalem is the Great City of the Book of Revelation

We certainly see this happening today. The whole world has become involved with the Jerusalem because of the peace talks. As scripture says, Jerusalem is like a heavy stone around their neck.

During the pouring out of the 7th bowls of God's wrath, it says: Rev 16:19 "And the great city was split into three parts and the city of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath."

Revelation 18:7-9 speaks of the Harlot "To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’ 8 For this reason in one day her plagues will come, [b]pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong. 9 “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning,

Compare Isaiah 47:7-9 Which is speaking of Jerusalem " Yet you said, ‘I will be a queen forever.’These things you did not consider Nor remember the outcome of them. 8 “Now, then, hear this, you sensual one, Who dwells securely, Who says in your heart,‘I am, and there is no one besides me. I will not sit as a widow, Nor know loss of children.’ 9 “But these two things will come on you suddenly in one day: Loss of children and widowhood. They will come on you in full measure In spite of your many sorceries, In spite of the great power of your spells.

which reigns over the kings of the earth.

As of today NO ONE city rules over the kings of the earth.  I think as with most of the Book of Revelation that we have to look in the OT to gain understanding.  

Deut 15:6 "For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee."

This is another place that I would prefer to be reading this in Greek. A friend did a search of this;

Here's the Greek for "which reigns over the kings": "ἔχουσα βασιλείαν ἐπὶ τῶν βασιλέων"

Each word has a variety of possible English renderings, but what struck me more than anything else was that "βασιλείαν", which here at Rev 17:18 is rendered "reigns" is most often translated throughout the New Testament as a
noun(!), specifically, most often, referring to the Kingdom of Heaven. The word "ἐπὶ" which in 17:18 is rendered "over" could also be rendered as "before", or "over" And finally, "ἔχουσα" which is rendered "which" in 17:18 is far more often rendered in the New Testament as "has" or "have" usually indicating possession

So another possible rendering of "which reigns over the kings of the earth" could be "which has the Kingdom over the kings of the earth".

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