Is ‘Babylon’ Rome or Jerusalem?

In my commentary on the Book of Revelation, I assume without much discussion that references to ‘Babylon’ are in the first instance (for John and his readers) allusions to the power of Rome and the imperial system. Someone commented to me that I don’t give much space to debating this, or considering the other main possibility, that it is in fact an allusion to Jerusalem, thus highlighting the twin pressures experienced by John’s first readers from both imperial culture and an antipathetic Jewish community. The reason I didn’t give space to this is that the ‘Rome’ position is taken by the vast majority of commentators, and that the reasons for the ‘Jerusalem’ position are not at all persuasive in my view.

But Peter Leithart’s ITC commentary, rather surprisingly, does take the ‘Jerusalem’ position (whose previously best known exponent was Kenneth Gentry), so it is worth rehearsing some of the key issues in the discussion.

The term ‘Babylon’ occurs in six places. The first is in a characteristic anticipation of what is to be expounded more fully later:

A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” (Rev 14.8)

It is worth noting here that Babylon has global significance, from the reference to ‘all nations’, and is depicted by John as a particular centre of idolatry, which I think is what the ‘adulteries’ must be referring to, drawing on the OT use of the sexual metaphor for spiritual unfaithfulness.

The second reference comes at the end of the sequence of bowls in chapter 16:

The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. (Rev 16.19)

Here, Babylon is identified with ‘the great city’ which is destroyed, creating a parallel with Rev 11.13 (to which we shall return), The judgement of Babylon is actually a very close parallel to the sin of Babylon mentioned in 14.8, though English translations disguise this: the ‘wine of the fury of her adultery’ is met with the ‘wine of the fury of his wrath’ and this parallel is an important expression of the justice of God’s judgements, for which God is praised in Rev 16.7 and in chapter 18.

The third occurrence introduces the vision and long narrative explanation of the woman on the beast in the desert in chapter 17:


Once again we find the association between ‘Babylon’ and ‘great’, and the indication of global significance (‘of the earth’).

The final three mentions come in chapter 18, in the extended ‘funeral dirge’ and mourning of the three groups of the kings of the earth, the merchants, and the sea captains, grieved at their loss when Babylon is destroyed. The first use of the name is by the angel who announces the destruction in Rev 18.2; the angel’s ‘mighty voice’ signifies universal hearing of the message, and the reason for the fall parallels and expands the earlier anticipation from Rev 14.8, adding ‘the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries’. The following command from the angel to God’s people to ‘come out of her’ links to Jeremiah’s call (Jer 51.45) to leave the historical place of exile as it faced God’s judgement and destruction.

The next mention comes in the declaration of woe by the kings of the earth (Rev 18.10), and this is paralleled by a similar refrain by the merchants and by the sea captains, though both of these simply refer to ‘the great city’:

“Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!” (Rev 18.16)

‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’ (Rev 18.19)

Babylon is thus depicted as a global power, one that prospered particularly through maritime trade, having client kings (‘kings of the earth’) who worked in partnership, and whose trade led to the widespread prosperity of merchants. The repeated mention of pearls is also notable, and the vision of the great prostitute adorned with pearls and precious stones in chapter 17 is a literary counterpoint to the description of the bride of the lamb, the holy city, built with precious stones and having pearly gates.

If these were the only references to consider, then I don’t think there would be any debate. The only cosmic, trading, sea-faring power that accrued enormous wealth to itself is Rome, and this fits with many other themes, ideas and images in the text. But the waters are muddied and the situation slight confused by the one other mention of the ‘great city’, in Rev 11.8.

Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

This verse is notable as containing the only explicit reference to Jesus’ crucifixion, and it illustrates the fate of ‘two witnesses’ (a duel personification of the people of God exercising the ministry of Moses and Elijah in their faithful testimony). And, so the argument goes, this ‘great city’ was clearly Jerusalem, so this must give us the identity of Babylon.

But there are numerous problems with this argument. The first is in this text itself. Within the biblical tradition, Sodom was a by-word not only for sexual immorality, but also for its violence, injustice, arrogance, neglect of the poor and idolatry (Gen. 19:1–25; Isa. 1:9–10; Jer. 23:14; Ezek. 16:46–50) and as a supreme example of judgement, including the judgement that the city of Babylon would face (Isa. 13:19; Jer. 50:40). Egypt is consistently assumed to be the enemy of God, and is frequently the unreliable ally who should not be trusted for national salvation in preference to the call to trust in God (Isa. 31:1). Rome/Babylon is identified with Sodom and Egypt ‘figuratively’, though the word pneumatikos can mean ‘symbolically’ or (perhaps better) ‘spiritually’, that is, by the insight of the Spirit who identifies what the spiritual or theological reality is.  Although Jerusalem was the physical location of Jesus’ crucifixion, the cultural location was that of Roman rule and collusion by the Jewish leaders with Roman authority, and crucifixion was a Roman (rather than Jewish) punishment. So (I would argue) it was in the great city’s orbit that his death occurred. 

And identifying Babylon as Jerusalem makes little sense of chapter 18, which draws extensively on Ezekiel’s critique of Tyre (in Ezekiel 27), along with other OT images of those who are oppose both to Jerusalem and the people of God.

In Leithart’s commentary, it seems to me that this identification really pushes our reading of the text out of shape. The ‘trinity’ of dragon, beast from the sea and beast from the land, which are in most commentators identified as Satan, Roman imperial power (which has come across the sea to Turkey) and local religion which has supported the imperial cult in this eastern part of the empire (as evidenced by archaeology), becomes Satan, Rome and the Jews. of course, there is precedent in John’s gospel for identification of ‘the Jews’ with the devil (John 8.44), and there is strongly antipathetic language of this sort earlier on in Revelation (‘the synagogue of Satan’ Rev 3.9) which corresponds with some of the tensions in the region that we know of from other sources. But Rev 13 talks of the beast from the land ‘exercising all the authority of the first beast’ (v 12) and performing signs which we know occurred in the local cults (on ventriloquism and moving statues, listen to Radio 4’s In Our Time on automata) and these don’t really make any sense in relation to the role of Jews in the region.

This theory also pushes Leithart into seeing the 144,000 in Rev 7 as a different group from those ‘from every tribe, language, people and nation’, whereas a better reading, paying attention to the dynamic of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ in the text, as well as John’s wider theological concerns, sees them as identified. At every point, John uses this kind of OT language of the first covenant to describe the people of God who are followers of the lamb, just as Paul sees gentile believers as now incorporated into the ‘Israel’ of God.

Throughout Revelation, images and ideas from Roman imperial practice, mythology and propaganda are subverted by their integration with ideas from the (Jewish) Old Testament; identifying Judaism as the second enemy within the text makes little sense of this dynamic.

The other strange thing which Leithart’s proposal does is force his hand on the dating of the text. If Babylon is Jerusalem, then the destruction of Babylon must be the fall of Jerusalem in 70 at the end of the first Jewish war. Like other ‘preterists’ (who believe that all of Revelation is referring to things that have passed in history), Leithart dates the text very specifically to the time just before this fall. And he does so (p 27) with this logic: Revelation is a text of crisis; we must therefore look for a crisis to find its date; what greater crisis can there be than the fall of Jerusalem? But this logic has a fundamental flaw: writers of texts do not survey all of history in this way in order to ‘choose’ at which point to write their text! Besides, it is not clear that Revelation is reflecting a crisis so much as creating one; the messages to the assemblies in the seven cities contain plenty of rebukes to complacency, and are not the kind of thing you would write to people who are already in crisis.

In fact, the evidence for dating is very mixed, with some clues pointing to an earlier date, and others to a later date. Bu there are some external details worth noting which do appear to support a later date of writing. Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake in AD 60, and the message to the assembly there seems to assume that it is prosperous and well established, which could hardly be the case if John was writing in the late 60s. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, says (Philippians 11) that the church in Smyrna did not exist in the time of Paul which would imply a later date for Revelation. And Epiphanius, writing much later (in his Panarion), notes that it was believed there was no Christian community in Thyatira until late in the first century. This external evidence must be set aside to support an early date—and in fact the argument connecting ‘early date’ and ‘Babylon is Jerusalem’ is entirely circular. 

It is worth noting that, even if Babylon does primarily refer to Rome for John’s first readers, that does not exhaust the poetic surplus of meaning in the text, and Leithart is very good at pointing that out. I have explored elsewhere why this is at a literary level, because of the particular nature of the metaphors that John deploys. (For an example, see the illustration above from Luther’s Bible of Babylon wearing a papal tiara.)

But identifying Babylon with Jerusalem does not fit the details of the text, does not take proper account of historical issues we find in the text, and ultimately depends on circular reasoning about the dating of the text. It pushes our reading of the book out of shape—and is rightly rejected by the vast majority of commentators.

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141 thoughts on “Is ‘Babylon’ Rome or Jerusalem?”

  1. The undoubted weight of association of ‘the great city’ with the Rome of the 7 hills (further confirmed by 1 Peter) leaves the question of how the great city can also be ‘where their Lord was crucified’.

    Is it textual emendation that makes no sense? (But in that case why the further inclusion of Sodom and Egypt, suggesting multiple identity?) Is it referring to the broad sweep of Roman rule? Is it referring to some spiritual identity of geographically disparate places? Was Jesus actually crucified in Rome? We need to be told.

    Requires lateral thinking. The procedure of puzzling over the 2 witnesses’ identity seems not to point uniformly to one pairing. On the other hand it suggests *at different points* far more different pairings than would be possible from an author who was intending to indicate only one pairing. This last sentence I find almost irrefutable.

    But we then *add* to that that the author himself confesses (right here, nowhere else) a plural location. He names 4 locations. This is a separate point.

    A third point. Lots of the main characters in this book have multiple identities or manifestations. Within this particular book, that should therefore be treated as par for the course, whether or not we can at once say why.

    Then there is the 4th point of neat para division. When we note that the narrative shifts neatly para by para from the normal great city of Rome (where Christian martyrs are killed in a cosmopolitan city) to Jerusalem ‘where their Lord was crucified’, then it looks like John is splicing 2 events deliberately. Perhaps the move straight from Rome to Jerusalem would be far too jarring, so he does a ‘get from Rome to Jerusalem in 3 easy moves’. More likely, however, he is just continuing his general fourfold-identity mandate. There would be 4 locations anyway, but it is not surprising that he does not juxtapose Rome with Jerusalem. Elsewhere in Rev. the 2 are opposites. He assigns Rome the fates that actually befell Jerusalem (horses up to their necks, talent-weight boulders, a city split in 3). So what makes him make Jerusalem (the beloved city which he cannot bear to name, resorting to periphrasis) participate in the nature and identity of the great city? The heinous behaviour to the 2 high priests (probably of his own family – see Bauckham) whose bodies were left to lie in the streets. In alternate paras, however, the talk is of the Christian martyrdom of the pairing of Peter and Paul in Rome around the same Purim 68 (at the time of Nero’s return to the capital) – and he points up the spiritual connection between the 2 events, whose simultaneity at his chosen midpoint of the 7 years he does not see as a coincidence.

    Returning to our 3rd point, the multiple identities assigned to main characters seem (far too often for coincidence) to number precisely 4. That is not the sort of thing that just happens. The most common occurrence would be for characters in a book to have one name or identity, or at most 2. Even in ch12 we get dragon-serpent-devil-satan, though at present I am not sure how to match these up with the angel of the abyss (Abaddon/Apollyon) nor the star (Wormwood) -and he does assign other numbers to the demonic, like 8 which may signify overweening, overreaching, pride. The similarity of ‘Apollyon’ to ‘Apollo’ may perhaps be part of the anti-Apollo/anti-emperor invective.

    Of course, the gospel did go all over the province of Asia in the time of Paul. It is highly doubtful that a central coastal location like Smyrna could have been missed out. Maybe Polycarp’s own church did not begin in Paul’s lifetime, but maybe in Smyrna there was by 70 at least a few believers, a church. He has little to say to Smyrna, and what he does say does not suggest a long history. This is after Paul’s death, and in John the Elder’s time the gospel may have gone out far and wide. Epiphanius is not the most reliable and did live a long time later, though preserves important information.

    Second beast – I don’t think that there is anywhere where more than one statue is referred to. The widely-famous colossus statue (after which the Colosseum was named) was of Nero in the guise of Apollo, of course, whereas Vespasian was derided by prophet John as not being a kosher prophet despite his Alexandrian healings which had given him his reputation. It could be a Delphi image, one of the multiple Apollo images in the book: Vespasian being the mouthpiece (that is what false prophets like the Pythia do) but Nero redivivus talking through him.

    • Thank you, for I have done extensive research into the arguments of Babylon being Rome or Jerusalem, and have found exactly what you’ve found.
      I can’t imagine why anyone would think Babylon is Jerusalem. There are too many holes that don’t connect the scripture dots, as you have done, and that even after the fall of Babylon, the little horn would rise up. Jerusalem will NEVER RISE UP, NOR ISRAEL.
      It’s clear that the nation of Israel had their chance.
      “Until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, is understood by starting with the Old Testament. The N.T. reiterates the prophecies found in the O.T.

      Key words are the “mystery” and “as it is written.” The mystery focuses primarily on the of the coming in of the Gentiles and defined in Ephesians as the uniting of Jew and Gentile in one body by the cross.(Ephesians 3:2-6, and 9-12.

      According to Revelation 10:7, the mystery of God is finished at the sounding of last
      trumpet, of the seventh angel. “But in the days of the sounding of the seventh
      angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.”

      Isaiah 59:20 shows God indicted Israel for the crime of shedding innocent blood, (59:7). To save Israel, the Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob”

      So, the time of fulfillment for the Gentiles came when Christ came and then died for ALL. That was the “gathering in’ of the Gentiles. The time of fulfillment of the Old Covenant becomes the chronological timeline for the fulfillment of the the coming of Christ out of Zion. Luke 21;20-22, 32. This occurred in A.D. 70.

      We Know that as a Nation, Israel forfeited their destiny and were rejected by God, because they rejected their Messiah. Christ said while he was still alive “your house is left to you desolate. Desolate of God HIMSELF. Babylon is most DEFINATELY ROME! The Catholic Church, of coarse, disagrees with this, but it’s futile!

      I’ve had many discussions with Jews still steeped in Judaism and they Revelation isn’t talking about the Church, but of Israel who will be reestablished, but they are very, very wrong as well.
      Again, THANK YOU

  2. It would be odd to equate Babylon the Harlot with Jerusalem seeing that the final climax to Revelation is the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven as a Bride representing sexual purity.
    I suppose some problems depend on how the book is interpreted overall. Is it a book for the first 2 centuries or a book with a spiritual message for Christians until Christ returns? The metaphors (or allegories) have a relevance to the first readers in being grounded in figures of speech which they understood then, such as Roman power on 7 hills (although I am sure they didn’t believe in dragons!) But if the spiritual meaning is extracted it becomes a book of inspiration for the ages. Hendriksen is very helpful in unpacking this.
    Christ (and his church/bride) have 5 enemies: the dragon (Satan), the beast from the sea (secular and political power), the beast from the land (the power of false religion), Babylon (the world as a seducing power which ensnares through sin and the flesh) and the people with the mark of the beast (ordinary people who persecute the church).
    Of all those, it seems to me that today Babylon is the one power which is most effective in robbing the church of its spiritual power and purity. When did any of us last hear a reference to ‘the world’ as it is denounced in the New Testament. We hear plenty about ‘God so loved the world’ interpreted in an affirming way whilst ignoring all other references to the dangers inherent in the ‘kosmos’ by Jesus, Paul, John and James. Babylon is characterised by the sexual metaphor to emphasise its corrupting power and James does this too in his stark assessment: ‘Adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God! (Jam 4.4). The degree to which the church tragically becomes indistinguishable from the world is a sign of its seduction by Babylon.

  3. The two witnesses of Revelations 11 have with it a “Great” and “Holy” city. Revelations 17 & 18 shows us the colours of the v4tican ( serpent worship lit) of purple and scarlet. The vatican / Rome, which has led to the greatest persecution and deaths of true Christians, via it’s many tentacles. She which is also set on 7 hills and is truly guilty of being the mother of all h4rlots. She with her j3su1ts has created most wars, of which millions of protestants and orthodox Christians have perished. She also which has led to the formation of many false religions and cults etc; ties also with the illumin4ti and enslaved m4sonry etc.

    • Thanks for commenting–but I am not sure that your argument is persuasive. What rules out John’s vision being an actual critique of Rome? And why are you inserting numbers into your words?

    • God is not God of Rome, his God of Israel who is Jacob, anything happens it is got to do with Jews, not Gentiles. So, Jews rebelled against the Lord in the wilderness and he gave them to the serpent, and the Lord told Moses to lift up the bronze serpent, in that he gave them to the king of Babylon who is the devil according to Isaiah 14. In Isaiah 47:6, the Lord said that he gave them to the wicked one and he did not show them mercy, now was that Rome? The answer is no, Jews played the harlot and worshipped Baal and made Baal Berith their god Judges 8:33.
      Isaiah 1:10, God called them rulers of Sodom and people of Gomorrah, In Isaiah 1:21, they were faithful but turned to be harlots and murderers.
      The serpent made them harlots and murderers and Jesus said in Matthew 23:35, that they are responsible for all who were killed from Abel to Zechariah, because their father the devil is the one who does it, Satan is the one who they worship, he also helped them to build the temple, Tyre was the devil who shipped cedar by sea and brought them to Solomon after that he said Jerusalem is ruined it has turned to him, Ezekiel 26:2.
      Revelation 11:8, that great city is Jerusalem and the one who kills the witnesses is the beast which ascends from the bottomless pit which is the serpent according to Revelation 20:1-3.
      And Revelation 18:23 the bride and the bridegroom, were in Jerusalem, according to John 3:29, Jeremiah 7:34 and Jeremiah 33:11. So, the great city is where Christ Jesus was crucified, and the one who bruised his heel was the serpent the devil to fulfill Genesis 3:15. Nothing will take place outside Jerusalem.
      Satan is not against Rome, his against God, Rome is not what Jesus chose, the Lord chose Jerusalem, Babylon is the devil himself, he is the golden city Isaiah 14:4. As the Lord is a strong tower, Satan is also a city and a tradesman and a sorcerer.

      • Hang on—so the serpent in the wilderness stands for Babylon and the devil—but this also describes Jesus? (John 3.14)

        And Satan is a city? I confess I am a bit lost here!

        And like all the other respondents in this direction, you haven’t explained how Jerusalem could be the city that made wealthy all the kings, sea captains and merchants of the world (ch 18). It didn’t.

        • I think the secret my friend is revealed in Luke 13:33-34

          “Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her” – Luke 13:33-34

          Some translations say its impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem, only the prophets of God can be killed in Jerusalem. What does this mean then for Mystery Babylon?

          “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be cast down, never to be seen again…. And there was found in her the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who had been slain on the earth.” – Revelation 18:21-24

          We can see that Babylon was guilty of the blood of the prophets, and only Jerusalem fits that description, as no other place is responsible for the killing of prophets but Jerusalem.

        • “So, you are arguing that no followers of Jesus were killed apart from in Jerusalem…?” – That’s not what I’m saying.

          I’m saying none of the PROPHETS were killed outside of Jerusalem, which is reiterated by Jesus Christ himself in Luke 13:33-34 & also in Revelation 18:21-24.

          We know from scripture the last of the prophets was John the Baptist.

          “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.” – Luke 16:16

          • Except that that is not true. John repeated mentions the ‘prophets’; they are a group of which he is a part (Rev 22.9); they are the ones to whom the good news has been announced (Rev 10.7); the followers of the lamb are characterised as having the ministry of two prophets (Rev 11.10); and they even appear to be identified as the whole of God’s people (Rev 16.6, 18.24). They are continually being inspired (Rev 22.6) in line with elsewhere in the NT where prophecy is a gift the Spirit continues to give.

      • For more then 50 years, I always connected Revelations with Rome, now, I changed back to a connection between Jerusalem and Revelations. Why?
        The reason is vey simple, and God’s plans is with Jerusalem and Israel. The scope of the relationship between God and Israel, impacted the whole world, the same happens with the book of Revelations. Revelations is the culmination of the relationship between God and Israel, is the seventh week of the prophet Daniel, and is the hope of the New Jerusalem. God’s people is Israel not Rome.
        The mystery of God, the Church of Jesus, is gone in Chapter 4, and then enters the full and final episode of God dealing with Israel, and as usual, this will affect the whole world.

  4. I think there are some missing links not detected in Revelation, compare:

    “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne. The woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place for her to be nourished for 1,260 days.”- Revelation 12:6

    Note the woman flees to the wilderness, and is there 1,260 days = 42 months = 3.5 years.

    “The beast was given a mouth to speak arrogant and blasphemous words, and authority to act for 42 months.” – Revelation 13:5

    same period of time 1,260 days = 42 months = 3.5 years.

    “And the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, where I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.” – Revelation 17:3

    The vision returns to the wilderness where we see the woman, now riding the wild beast.

    “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 17:5-6

    The woman is called Babylon the great, and she persecutes Jesus servants.

    the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come – Rev 17:9

    We know that the beast is represented by the different world powers down to Rome.

    “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.” – Rev 17:16-18

    The woman can’t be Rome, because she gave birth to the Son of God, but it is eventually destroyed by the beast, which we know is a ruling power. Sounds like the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

    • Are you suggesting that the woman in the wilderness in Rev 12 is the *same* as the woman in the wilderness in Rev 17? Despite the completely different descriptions?

      Are there any reputable commentators who agree with this proposal?

      • Disagree, impossible for them to be the same woman. Just because chap. 12 woman flees to a wilderness, and chap. 17 woman is in a wilderness, does not make them the same.

    • I get a really strong feeling it is Jerusalem that is the harlot, because I have read several times in the Bible where God calls her the harlot, as if she is a cheating wife. Yes, Rome could be the actual antichrist. That sounds like a very possible scenario. As for the woman clothed with the “son”, here is my take: As a woman travailing with pain as with child, that is the born again children in Christ. She is standing on the moon (Lilith), an evil woman God, and has a crown of ten stars, which could be the ten lost tribes of God’s people (not necessarily Jewish, but they could have come from those tribes. And get this: There was a sign in sky about 3 years ago on September 23, 2017, with this exact constellation, like it said in Revelation 12!!! A woman clothed with the Son, who was with child travailing in pain, and the Dragon was wroth with her and tried to destroy the remnant of her “seed”! IN comes the Covid 19 vaccination which changes our DNA from 2 strand to a 3 strand DNA. See my Facebook page for more information:

      • Thanks for commenting Debra. We all have a tendency to read with our ‘strong feelings’, but the problem is that in doing so we impose our own agenda and culture on the text.

        This was written by and to people 2,000 years ago, in another language and culture. So if we want to hear what God is saying to us through this, we first need to ask what John might have been writing to his audience.

        Jerusalem is called a harlot in many places—but it is completely implausible that Jerusalem is the place that rules the kings of the earth and through which many have enriched themselves—as I point out in the article.

        The word ‘antichrist’ comes nowhere in the text of Revelation.

        Read in the context of the NT, the woman is very clearly the people of God in the birth pangs of awaiting the new age that will be brought by Christ, and he is the male child who will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

        Rev 12 does not depict any specific constellation arrangement, and even if it had, that would occur periodically throughout history.

        Your comment about Covid is simply factually in error.

        You might like to read my commentary on Revelation which you can buy here, or if that is too much my Grove booklet here:

        best regards

  5. Babylon is Britain is it not. And the ‘Queen’ is the whore. Who on planet Earth currently fits the discription of the whore. ‘Decked with precious stone and jewels’. The commonwealth is the beast system. And BREXIT and particularly this years makes 70 years of the commonwealth. After this Babylon modern day Britain is about to be destroyed!

    • On what possible grounds do you think ‘Babylon is Britain’? You might want to point out some parallels…but are you saying that John, writing a pastoral letter to the Christians in first century Asia, was telling them about 21st-century Britain? Why would he do that?

  6. The best studies and commentaries I’ve read, and the most logical conclusion to the Prophets descriptions in the OT, definitely demonstrate Jerusalem, or the eschatological city of Jerusalem, to be the woman riding the beast. She is that great city which shall reign over the kings of the earth. She is the center of worship of the antichrist, where his image sits and where he declares himself God or Messiah. She is decked in the purple and scarlet, only missing the blue of the temple priests–perhaps with a reason we don’t know. She is the city where Jesus was crucified. She is the city that killeth the prophets and stones the ones sent unto her. And in her will be found the blood of all slain. She is the city that God told to Isaiah to make known to her her abominations. She is the city that experiences the great earthquake when the feet of the LORD touch the Mount of Olives. And finally, she is the harlot city that is replaced with the descent of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. The Bible is Hebrew and Judeo-centric. Rome and the papal regimes are simply a daughter of the harlot.

  7. That may be so. But that is most likely because of the Protestant Reformation and the focus the Reformers had on the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic church’s use of scarlet and purple, etc. As well as an apprehension of committing replacement theology. However, Jerusalem also sits on 7 hills, and the temple used the same colors with the addition of blue. The passages concerning the woman riding the beast parallels Isaiah 1:21 and Ezekiel 16, both of which depict Jerusalem as the harlot city. In Revelation 18, we are even given the same motif of the cessation of the voices of the bride and bridegroom as in Jeremiah 7:34. Not to mention that only one city has been responsible for killing the prophets. There is overwhelming evidence that the writers were speaking of the Last Days city of Jerusalem, with near/far application to the prophecies. Rome, the real Babylon (which shall never again be inhabited) Mecca, and New York all disconnect from the continued use of harlot imagery, as well as disconnect from the fact that the antichrist will rule from Jerusalem, and most likely attempt to be seen as the Jewish Messiah.

  8. I have great difficulty believing Jerusalem would rule over the kings of the earth. It is so ludicrous considering it cannot even rule itself. It has no self-determination other than what the nations allow it to have. Most recently was Jerusalem recognized as being the capital of the nation. Israel is always on the verge of annihilation by her neighbors. Really? Israel rule over the Arabs?

    Most people misunderstand the seven mountains (oros, G3735) to be the seven hills (bounos, G1015) of Rome. There is a difference between hills and mountains.
    I have been wondering for some years if the seven mountains are representations of the seven nations on the beast that comes out of the sea (people’s and nations, Revelation 13). My reasoning comes from the interpretation given to John, because the guy really doesn’t understand what he is seeing. Revelation 17:9, Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are the seven mountains on which the woman sits. NKJV.

    Revelation 13: Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a best rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads (plural) a blasphemous name (this would be calling its god G-d). Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard (Medes), his feet were like the feet of a bear (ancient Persia was the bear); and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. These are ancient concepts of the Middle Eastern nations. These seven nations are confederate, one organism, one beast.
    Recently there has been some major developments with the US leaving Syria. The Kurds, which are the ancient Medes, have sided with Syria against Turkey. Russia is on the side of Syria. It is looking, right now, quite eventful in the Middle East with the Arab nations that surround Israel. Europe/Rome will align itself with the Arabs. Germany allied itself during WWI and WWII with the Arabs. All of them hate Israel. History repeats itself. All want the destruction of Israel.

    I am very confident that Israel will be redeemed as Paul said in Romans 11. Revelation is the redeeming of Israel and the destruction of her enemies. Her enemies and not just hers, but the saints as well.
    By the way, it was a good article.

      • In Revelation 17:5, the Harlot appears as “Babylon the Great.”

        She is repeatedly called “The Great City.”

        We then encounter the phrase “the great city” in

        Revelation 11:8 “And their dead bodies will lie in the street of THE GREAT CITY which is mystically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.”

        Two things to consider.

        1. There is only one city throughout the Bible which is referred to as Sodom and Egypt and guess which city IT IS NOT? IT IS NOT ROME.

        But the Bible does refer metaphorically to on multiple occasions Jerusalem as Sodom and Egypt.

        2. Notice the last 6 words of Revelation 11:8 “WHERE ALSO THEIR LORD WAS CRUCIFIED.”

        Jesus was NOT crucified in Rome.

        Jesus WAS crucified in Jerusalem.

        Therefore, The Harlot, and Babylon can be none other than Jerusalem NOT Rome.

        Revelation 18:24 says “In her (Babylon) was found the blood of prophets and saints.”

        This same language appears in Revelation 16:6, 17:6, and 18:21 and 18:24. John is making the same statements as Jesus made in Luke 11:50-51.

        Luke 11:50-51: “In order that the blood of all the prophets, she’d since the foundation of the world may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the house of God, yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.”

        Rome never killed an Old Testament prophet as per Revelation 18:24, but Jerusalem certainly did.

        The New Testament shows over and over the Jewish persecution of the prophets (Matt. 23:29-37; Luke 6:23-26; Luke 11:47-50; Luke 13:34; Romans 11:3; 1Thessalonians 2:15; and Hebrews 11:32-38.)

        The Harlot being drunk on the blood of the saints and prophets ONLY fits Jerusalem.

        Last thing: Even the Harlot’s attire provides evidence of Jerusalem.

        Revelation 17:4 The woman was clothed in PURPLE AND SCARLET…”

        Revelation 18:6 “Woe, woe, the great city clothed in fine linen and PURPLE and SCARLET…”

        Notice the clothing of the Harlot is the exact clothing required of the priests who served in the Temple in Jerusalem (Exodus 28:4-5 and also verses 8-9.)

        This attire of the harlot also matches the decor of the Temple (Exodus 26:1).

        Lastly notice the harlot has headgear (Revelation 17:5)

        And so did the High Priest who served in the Old Testament Temple (Exodus 28:36 -38).

        The Harlot and Babylon again only fits Jerusalem and NOT ROME!

        Most that identify Rome as Babylon do so because of the phrase “the city on 7 hills” and Rome certainly was known as the city on 7 hills, but what most don’t know or either forget is that Jerusalem was known first as the city on 7 hills.
        1. The Mount of Olives
        2. Mount Scopus
        3. Mount of Corruption
        4. Original Mount Zion/called Temple Mount
        5. The New Mount Zion/called Western Hill
        6. Mount Ophel
        7. Antonia Fortress Hill

        • This all works perfectly—as long as you are narrowly selective of the evidence, as you are here.

          Scarlet and purple were principally known as the colours of the ruling classes of Rome.

          Jesus was in fact killed ‘in Rome’, in that he was crucified by Roman soldiers, on the order of the Roman ruler of Judea, and in the Roman fashion.

          Rome was the one who killed the prophets and saints of the Jesus movement. See Nero…

          There are quite a few cities which claim to be built on seven hills!

          But the key thing you don’t explain is the primary descriptions of Babylon:

          A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” (Rev 14.8)

          ‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’ (Rev 18.19)

          on which I comment:

          Babylon is thus depicted as a global power, one that prospered particularly through maritime trade, having client kings (‘kings of the earth’) who worked in partnership, and whose trade led to the widespread prosperity of merchants. The repeated mention of pearls is also notable, and the vision of the great prostitute adorned with pearls and precious stones in chapter 17 is a literary counterpoint to the description of the bride of the lamb, the holy city, built with precious stones and having pearly gates.

          I also comment:

          And identifying Babylon as Jerusalem makes little sense of chapter 18, which draws extensively on Ezekiel’s critique of Tyre (in Ezekiel 27), along with other OT images of those who are oppose both to Jerusalem and the people of God.

          How do you make sense of this prominent data in the text?

          • I notice that you refute even the comments that are SO obviously true (backed with even many biblical verses). Is this because you’re trying to get people to purchase your informational book or pamphlet??

        • For the most part I agree with you Wesley. However, many well known commentators have wrongly assumed that Rev 17:9-10 is talking about literal hills or mountains. Within the Greek Text the KJV and only a handful of other versions wrongly translate the Greek into English as “and there are…”. The Greek word εισιν (eisin) here translated “there are” in the KJV is the 3rd person plural of εἰμί (eimi), meaning “I am”, which should be rendered “they are”.SO THE 7 HILLS ARE 7 KINGS. The majority of translators got it right: ASV, ESV, CJB, NIV, NASB, Even the Geneva Bible, Bishops Bible, and the English translation from the Latin Vulgate- to name a few. Jerusalem (mystery babylon) will be the center of worship for the Beast system as he tries to fulfill prophecies All the wealth of the world will pour in to Jerusalem- where the Antichrist Temple will be. Also, the ONLY city in the Bible to receive DOUBLE for her sins is JERUSALEM (Isa 40:2)just as Mystery Babylon will receive: Rev 18:6

        • Hi! Mount Zion,mount Ophel,Mount Moriah,Mount Bezetha,Mount Acra,Mount Gareb,Mount Goath: Those are the Mounts where She is seated! Jerusalem is that woman seating on the beast! God is remembering Babylon because Jerusalem has committed all the sins Babylon had done it ! So it’s mean She is the Mother because She was since the beginning of the world foundation! So the Woman over the beast is Jerusalem definitely! God Bless you Shalom!

          • Thanks–but you don’t appear to have engaged at all with either my comments or the text. How could Jerusalem be the ‘great city which rules over the kings of the earth’? How could it be described as a major port, trading with all the world? How could it be pictured as the place which has made rich the merchants of the world?

            I don’t think your claim really makes any sense of the text.

  9. Only one city killed her prophets. In Hebrew gender is applied to all persons, places n things. ” In her was found the blood of the Prophets.”
    The nation of Israel was scattered to the four winds n she had SYNAGOGUES in every major city of tgecRoman Empire. SHE rode THE BEAST. All the Herodians were Edomites appointed by Rome to rule over Judea, Samaria n Idumea. Prophets were 3rd party mediators between God n mankind until RECONCILIATION came. No prophets exist after AD 70. ” No PROPHET can die outside JERUSALEM.”

    • Er, so you don’t think that Rome killed Christian prophets, for example in the persecution of Nero?

      And you think that Paul’s instruction to seek the gift of prophecy in 1 Cor 12 and 14 now no longer applies…?

      • Hi Ian. You have dismissed the “blood of the prophets” in Jerusalem argument a couple of times with a wave of your continuationist wand. I think Jesus was explicit and unmistakable about what city kills prophets, and Revelation picks up the same theme, because it is talking about the same city. I don’t think bringing in the gift of prophecy helps your case.

        Also, you dismiss Jerusalem as a contender for “ruling over the kings of the earth.” But if Revelation speaking covenantally and not geo-politically, which city was the highest and most significant city, a light to the nations covenantally? Jerusalem.

        • Hi Dave. I don’t have a continuationist wand I am afraid!

          The text in Rev 11 is genuinely contradictory, if taken at face value. So every reader has to resolved the contradictions. Noting that Jesus was in fact killed by Romans, as every gospel agrees, on the order of the Roman governor, is not insignificant.

  10. Rome is not and was never a port City it is landlocked. As for egypt being unworthy egypt protected Joseph Mary and YAHUSHUA so that makes it good enough for me plus Dueteronomy CH 23verses 7-9 thou shalt not hate an Edomite for he is they brother and thou shalt not hate an Egyptian for thou were strangers in his land and the children born unto them may enter the congregation of the MOST HIGH in their 3rd generation. And YAHUSHUA THE HAMISHIAC was Crucified in Jerusalem not Rome Rome is not a holy city. Why do you thinks New Jerusalem will descend out of the sky? Because the old one will be DESTROYED!

  11. Rev11;7,8 Jesus ‘s witnesses will be killed where? 7 . ‘the beast that comes up out of the ABYSS [Ezekiel 8 that exists under the Dome of the Rock – Netanyahu’s Synagogue Temple] will make war with , and overcome them’. 8. ‘And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the GREAT CITY which is mystically called Sodom & Egypt where also their LORD [Jesus Christ] was crucified.’…..Babylon the Great Rev17;5’ the Great City which rules reigns over the kings of the earth.’……….JERUSALEM ! the Harlot !……..servant of Jacob

  12. I have a 4 week “degree” in Truck Driving Science. That being said, many OT prophets wrote time and again of the harlotries of Israel.
    I am 75% sure that Israel was the Harlot, but my main hang up is I cannot see Jerusalem as “The Great City that reigns over the kings of the
    Earth”. Her being burned with fire, to me, seems to be the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 ad.
    That being said, the Book of Revelation
    has boggled my mind for 35 years.
    Final analysis, 75% sure Israel is represented by the Whore,
    and 99.9 % boggled by the Book of Revelation and eschatology. Period.

    • Thanks for the great comment!

      I think your ‘main hang up’ is spot on. It just cannot fit. The bigger problem is actually chapters 17 and 18, and the depiction of Babylon as the one who has enriched kings, sea captains and merchants of the world, and is laden with jewels. It fits Rome very well, Jerusalem not at all!

      On being burned with fire, and other images of destruction, you need to note that John uses the language of the destruction of Babylon, Tyre, and other cities from the OT—that is the primary source of his imagery. This is judgement *on Jerusalem’s enemies* not on Jerusalem…

  13. I do believe everything points to Rome. But I wonder if to completely fulfill these thoughts….”‘great city which rules over the kings of the earth, described as a major port, trading with all the world, pictured as the place which has made rich the merchants of the world?”…..

    that Rome will rise again to be a world power with all those descriptions? It seems that the people mourn because of her destruction, etc. Today Rome is not like that; even if we add the religious aspect of the Roman Catholic Church, it may have engaged in all that trading in the past, but what about now? Maybe Rome and the Catholic Church will have a huge resurgence. Surely if the Roman Empire is restored as indicated by the 7 heads and 10 horns (toes in Daniel), it could become a world power, which rules, trades, etc. But why would the last Caesar, Antichrist and the 10 kings destroy the city Rome? Would it not be one of his centers of control and rule? So maybe it refers to the Vatican or something like that.

  14. _Jerusalem’s Harlotry_
    Ez.15:15-16, “But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it. 16 You took some of your garments and adorned multicolored [g]high places for yourself, and played the harlot on them. Such things should not happen, nor be. _The Degenerate City_
    Is.1:21 “How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of justice;
    Righteousness lodged in it, But now murderers.
    Je.2:20 “For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds;
    And you said, ‘I will not transgress,’ When on every high hill and under every green tree You lay down, playing the harlot.
    Re.11:8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also _our Lord was crucified_.
    It was, it is and it will ever be Jerusalem!

    • Thanks–but I don’t know if you read the post?

      I do comment that there is some ambiguity. But you don’t here answer the major problem: Jerusalem was never a city that made all the kings of the earth, all the merchants, and all the sea captains rich from her trade, was she? That is a major theme in several chapters.

      So how do you answer that?

      • I also I’m leaning toward JERUSALEM as the harlot but I see the view of both arguments. To answer the question about the merchant’s being rich

        When ISRAEL’S land was TAKEN and they were sent into CAPTIVITY in SHIPS the MERCHANT’S AND KINGS of the earth got RICH through slave trade an unfair WAGES

        Deuteronomy 28:51
        [51]And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.

        Deuteronomy 28:68
        [68]And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

        Romans 11:11-12
        [11]I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
        [12]Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

        Zechariah 11:5-6
        [5]Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.
        [6]For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour’s hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.

        Joel 3:2,5
        [2]I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
        [5]Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:

        Isaiah 1:7
        [7]Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

        Jeremiah 51:51
        [51]We are confounded, because we have heard reproach: shame hath covered our faces: for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the LORD’S house.

        Jeremiah 25:13-15
        [13]And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations.
        [14]For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.
        [15]For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.

        These are just a few verses but there are many more in the bible, apocrypha and dead Sea Scrolls showing the NATION’S getting rich from JERUSALEM because ISRAEL was SCATTERED among the nations

        • Yes, you can prove either by selecting verses or evidence supporting one or the other. The question is how do you make sense of *all* of the data in Revelation.

      • It is written … after Gods chose and blessed Abram (Gen 12:2-3), Abraham acquired great wealth; as did his son Isaac, as did his son Jacob–whose 10 sons “traded their brother Joseph for 20 pieces of silver” (Gen 37:28). Lying to their father that “he was killed by dogs.” (Gen 37:19-33). Yet Joseph was risen second highest in command of all Egypt under Pharaoh; and made exceedingly wealthy his house and the house of Israel, when they left with the wealth of Egypt 400 years later via Moses, also a Hebrew raised Prince of Egypt. (Ex 3:22, 11:3, 12:36) & (Ps 105:37).

        Fast forward past Queen Esther; formally known as Hadassah. A poor jewish orphan taken and chosen to be Queen of Persia, wife of King Ahasuerus aka Xerexs I (Est 1:19-2:10), and Esther’s uncle “Mordechai the Jew rose up to be second only to the king.” (Est 10:3).

        Go past THE King, Christ Yeshua/Jesus “The Son of God Who is the same as God” (Jn 1:1-3, 18, 10:30). Who came into the world as a man who owned nothing, yet owns ALL of creation.

        Go past after Jerusalem and Israel were expelled in 70 AD for rejecting Christ Jesus, the Messiah
        (Jn 7:1, 11:50-53), and ask yourself … who began and has continued since to help rule nations? Rule the worlds monetary/banking systems? Rule world governments (usually behind the scene of public leaders). Answer: Jewish families. Last couple hundred years; some rarely heard of and others commonly named. Rothschild, Rockefeller, Soros, Brin, Bloomberg, Meyer, Koch, Ellison, Zuckerberg, Gates, Musk, Bezos … just to name a few.

        1945 Rockefeller bought and donated a six-block track of land on the East River in New York City to secure the area where the UN tower now stands–international territory. A copy the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), whereby a one world order can be established with new leadership of the False Prohet, AC, and the devil working to usher in a false peace and world domination. (Rev 13).

        God does not make this difficult.

        • Well, I don’t disagree that some of the world’s wealthiest men have had Jewish names. But not many of them are believing Jews.

          And when John was writing to his readers, it is certainly not the case that Jerusalem was a ‘great city’ through whom the whole world was made wealthy. It is not Jerusalem that has made the kings of the earth, all the merchants of the world, and all the sea captains rich. That is very clearly Rome.

          So you are right—God does not make this difficult.

          • My father is an atheist from Hungarian Jews who fled WW II. His unbelief does not stop God from His promise He made to Abraham (Gen 12:3). I have seen the wonderful and creative blessings my father has received all my life; he is now 82 y/o. Though extremely successful and quite attractive … despite his unbelief … he has suffered greatly because of his rejection; including the loss of my only sibling, my 17 y/o little sister, in ’83 to fire.

            My dad asked me next to her mummy wrapped body … “Were is your God now?” I was only 19 y/o. I’m firstborn, she was 2-yrs younger. God was all around me like a warm blanket hugging me. I could feel Him comforting me, giving me strength, yet I had never read a single verse of the Word. (Off topic, sorry). But I walked out of a room never to see my little sister again in the natural–yet walked with and into the arms of my Savior I had thirsted for all my life, falling in love with my beloved Lord over time. Beginning a new life in my deepest hour of grief to this day; yet I felt the Comforter and His peace, exactly as Christ said He would send. (Jn 14:16, 16:7)

            I was blessed at a very young age (about 5 years old) by God’s grace with a faith that I have defended against my father, small faith mother, an unbelieving ex-husband and others all my 59 years of life. (Eph 6:10-12). Dad does not understand God’s GRACE. (Eph 2:8-9). Yet he has read the Word many times, but is spiritually blind. So it matters NOT if one does not believe yet are of Jewish decent. They are blessed, but have a partial blindness. (Rom 11:25).

            It is written…
            “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
            (Rom 11:29)

            Forgive me. I left off on the previous post with typos and on a negative note regarding the unholy triune coming. NYC will be a 2nd Tower of Babel or HQ for a one world order; but it is in JERUSALEM that the AC (the devil in a man) will declare himself to be God. (2 Thes 2:4), thus, stealing God’s identity. (The thing we all diligently try to keep secure today).

            It is written …
            “I AM the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.” (Isa 42:8).

            So then comes God’s wrath in the middle of the seven year tribulation. In JUDEA.

            It is written …
            “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the HOLY PLACE (let the reader understand), then those who are in JUDEA must flee to the mountains.”
            (Matt 24:15-16).

            But until then, we have the blessed hope knowing the KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS (Rev 19:16) will return to rule and reign from a new Heaven to a new Earth in the HOLY CITY, the NEW JERUSALEM. (Revelation 21).

            There is no Temple, for the Lord Himself is the Temple. As we are vessels for His Spirit, as we sojourn thru this life having a physical experience.

            “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” (Revelation 22:17). Amen.

          • Thanks for the fascinating comment.

            But Paul wrote 2 Thess 2.4 whilst the temple was standing, and someone did indeed come and set himself up in it.

            The events of Matt 24.15 were fulfilled in AD70; as Jesus himself says, the generation he was speaking to would not die until all these things had happened.

            And can you point me to a biblical reference that mentions a ‘seven year tribulation’? I cannot find one in my Bible.


  15. I think we should focus on a logical line to understand which city it is referring to. We know that Jerusalem in the first century was a rich city with a large population that attracted merchants, it was also famous for its temple, and became corrupted in its religion by allowing all kinds of abuse from Rome and sharing with it the persecution and death of God’s saints.
    The book of Revelation uses the same poetic language to describe Jerusalem that was used in the OT, in Is.62 we see in verse 2: “The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory”. In verses 4 and 5 it is described as the bride of the Lord. In verse 7 as the praise of the earth, and Jerusalem was admired by kings and received many gifts and contributions from Jews who livid outside Israel, Tacitus in his book V ch 5 wrote about the Jews that: “always kept sending tribute and contributions to Jerusalem, thereby increasing the wealth of the Jews”, and in Ch 8 about Jerusalem that “It is the capital of the Jews. In it was a temple possessing enormous riches”. Jerusalem in the first century was a large and prosperous city, and its population, according to Tacitus, was around 600.000 and during Passover could be around 1 million people.
    In Revelation 18 the term Babylon is employed figuratively to show how degenerate Jerusalem had become, a Holy city who became a prostitute, by brutally killing God’s prophets and most recently her bridegroom, and did not repent, in verse 7 we read: “In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow; I will never mourn.’ Similar terms, “Sodom and Egypt”, were used in Re.11:8 to show how spiritually decayed she had become!
    In verses 22 and 23, things that were usual in the city would vanish because it would be destroyed, as it happened when Jerusalem was burned down completely.
    In chapter 19, verses 2 we see the condemnation on the city: “for its judgments are true and just. He condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the land with her prostitution. He took the blood of his servants from her”. Judgment based on the death of her saints, as said in Rev. 18:20, “Celebrate what happened to her, O heavens! Celebrate, O saints, apostles and prophets! God judged her , giving back to her what she did to you”. And that city could only be Jerusalem, where according to Re.18:24, we see the city responsible for the death of the prophets of God: “in it was found the blood of prophets and saints, of all who were killed on earth”. Which city among all in history has killed the most prophets and saints of God? Who did Jesus blame for the blood which had been shed since Abel? Compare Re.18:24 to Lu.11:50-51, Therefore, this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets, shed from the beginning of the world: from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was dead between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for all this. Jesus proclaims the judgment on the generation of Jerusalem to whom he spoke! And on the city.
    In chapter 19, after the condemnation and destruction of the city we see in verse 7 the marriage of the Lord with His new bride who replaced Jerusalem, and that is the “New Jerusalem” His beloved Church!

    • Honestly, I feel it is easy to pick a country- Britain, Jerusalem, Rome, USA or Russia,..etc and look for some characteristics in those nations that will fit into the harlot of Rev 17.
      But if we allow the Bible to give the clear landmarks, we will not have multiple conclusions.

      Let me explain:
      Dan 7, clearly explains that the fourth beast is Rome…
      Out of Rome comes the little horn which is the eschatological enemy of God that wears out the saints. For how long ? 3 and half times (Dan 7:25); 42 months (Rev 13:5), 1260 days(Rev 12:6 &14) All these are the different expression of same time period……..

      Prophecies in Revelation expanded on the prophecies of Daniel.
      So many other parallel characteristics exits between Dan 7, Rev 13 and Rev 17 showing it is speaking of same power that comes from Rome.
      History shows that Rome both in her pagan and papal stages shed the blood of the saints in their countless millions.
      Please verify these and let me know your thoughts.

      Actually being in Christ is the main key to staying secure in the last days’ drama ahead (Rev 13:8).

  16. Hmm, how interesting! Is it Rome or Jerusalem??? I wonder how many opinions on this topic are formed from a false Scofield/Darby dispensationalism view? Well no matter.
    I’m just an old not so learned fellow thats been reading history, Bible and such many years and I also like to observe the three main specialties of humanity which are: 1. lying , 2. believing lies, 3. dieing from lies, and 4. populating fast enough to keep ahead of number3.
    Myself, I’m for Jerusalem plain and simple. Revelation 14:8 talks about all the nations drinking the maddening wine of her adultries. Kinda sounds like whats going on now and it’s been a long slow endeavor thats been going on a very long time by that smelly old girl. And is still going on.
    Or should I say, that thousand pound gorilla in the world/room which everyone can see, but careful, don’t look in her eyes. Her with that nasty ancient Babylonian spiritual habit of slowly bringing corruption to anywhere she can by any means and making that corruption to look like real freedom until people start dying ? Don’t get all flustered with me now, I well know that she couldn’t get it done without consent of her monetary subjects. Gee, I wonder who she could be?
    Anoying, ain’t I?
    Could the question be framed simply as,,,,,
    In these present and troublsome times has the Papish Roman/Babylonian Whore syndicate been effectively co-opted by thy Jerusalem/Babylonian Whore syndicate or visa versa?
    Seems it’s gotta be one or the other.
    Possibly dangerous scribblings in this worlds power/political climate but i don’t care as I’m an harmless old not so healthy curmudgeon who likes to call a spade a spade in his last days.
    Tis But a Scratch!

    • Thanks for commenting. But first century Jerusalem is a place where ‘all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries’? How does that make sense…?

  17. “That Great City” is neither Rome nor Jerusalem.
    What is causing confusion is that the “city sits on 7 hills” and this is always thought to be Rome but if you refer to Google, Wikipedia will tell you there are more than 150 cities which qualify as “sitting on 7 hills”
    The whore of Babylon, indeed the “Mother of Harlots” is the organiser of the harlots of the temple in Babylon, who was named Ishtar, otherwise known by the Romans as Libertas.
    The Whore of Babylon, is the Statue of Liberty which sits on the seven hills of STATEN ISLAND and “that great city” is New York
    The reference to “the city that made all the kings of the earth, all the merchants, and all the sea captains rich from her trade” is a lament to the demise of the World Trade Centre in New York City, which was destroyed on 9/11 when “the dead bodies lay in the streets for 3.5 days because the rescue crews could not remove them for fear of falling masonry.
    Babylon has fallen, has fallen, refers to both the towers falling and it has even been suggested that the repeat of “has fallen, has fallen” refers to both towers falling consecutively.
    I’m not sure about the reference to Sodom and Egypt but the statement about “where our Lord was crucified” must be a play on the the word “our Lord” and maybe also on the word “crucified” because Jesus was certainly not crucified in New York.
    Ian asks: “How could Jerusalem be the ‘great city which rules over the kings of the earth’? How could it be described as a major port, trading with all the world? How could it be pictured as the place which has made rich the merchants of the world?
    Does this response now answer all these points?
    There are other points which are still not clear but between us, maybe we can answer some of these if we can agree that the above identifies Babylon as New York City?

    • Thanks Alan, but I don’t find your observation persuasive! It might surprise you to know that there have been many more important global cities in the history of the world than New York!

      And why on earth would John be writing a pastoral letter to specific people in the seven cities in Asia about something they could not possibly understand or act on?

      I don’t think you have actually addressed the good reasons I give for seeing ‘the great city’ is Rome.

      In one respect I agree with you though: John’s vision and audition report offer a trenchant critique of Rome as a global superpower, which exploits others for its own ends, dominates economics and trade in order to make itself rich, and supports this with bloody violence in its oppression of other nations. I think we might see some parallels there with the US—and it is in finding those parallels that perhaps Revelation can speak freshly to us today…


  18. The Book of Revelation is about The End Times and America is the most powerful nation during this period. To me the message is quite clear.
    You asked some pertinent questions and I gave you the answers which must be obvious to anyone who has seriously studied the Book of Revelation.
    It is your prerogative choose to ignore the information

  19. Jesus was Crucified outside of the city walls of Jerusalem in land controlled by Rome so in this way Rome could still be the city being referenced.

      • 22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene[b] by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. 25 King David said this about him: Notice; “ you “ with the help of lawless gentiles, stop looking for loopholes to grit your ideas. Your in this way adding to the text, dangerous!

  20. Polycarp never said the church in Smyrna didn’t exist in the time of Paul. He said that there was no church at Smyrna at the time of the writing of Philippians, which has been variously dated from as early as 54-55 (Ephesian hypothesis) to 61-65 (traditional view).

    • Well, possibly. Here is the English text (Roberts-Donaldson):

      I am greatly grieved for Valens, who was once a presbyter among you, because he so little understands the place that was given him [in the Church]. I exhort you, therefore, that ye abstain from covetousness, and that ye be chaste and truthful. “Abstain from every form of evil.” For if a man cannot govern himself in such matters, how shall he enjoin them on others ? If a man does not keep himself from covetousness, he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the heathen. But who of us are ignorant of the judgment of the Lord ? “Do we not know that the saints shall judge the world ?” as Paul teaches. But I have neither seen nor heard of any such thing among you, in the midst of whom the blessed Paul laboured, and who are commended in the beginning of his Epistle. For he boasts of you in all those Churches which alone then knew the Lord; but we [of Smyrna] had not yet known Him. I am deeply grieved, therefore, brethren, for him (Valens) and his wife; to whom may the Lord grant true repentance! And be ye then moderate in regard to this matter, and “do not count such as enemies,” but call them back as suffering and straying members, that ye may save your whole body. For by so acting ye shall edify yourselves.

      A natural reading of this would be that there were no Christians in Smyrna in Paul’s lifetime, but I agree it could be more nuanced. I think the majority view is a later date for Philippians, and it would be odd to think there was a community of faith there large enough to merit being counted as one of the seven by eg the mid-60s.

      In any case, this is only one piece of evidence amongst others. Thanks for commenting, and making me go back to Polycarp.

      • Thanks for the reply.

        I’d disagree that it’s the more natural meaning. It only says that those in Smyrna had not known the Lord at the time of the writing of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and Polycarp seems to have understood when the church was founded.

        Acts 19:10 relates that “all Asia” heard the word of God during the time of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. While we might need to be careful with pushing this beyond its intended meaning, it does seem to presuppose that there would have been some Christians in Smyrna at that early time.

        And, for what’s its worth, the Life of Polycarp by Pionius (late fourth century) depicts Paul visiting the church at Smyrna. Late fable or drawing from earlier traditions? Who knows?

        I was under the impression that the Ephesian hypothesis was gaining a lot of ground. Even using the traditional dating, some would place Philippians as early as 59. I can’t myself really see this as a make or break argument for late dating.

        • Well I agree–this is not a ‘make or break’ argument for dating one way or another. But it is one piece contributing to the jigsaw of evidence, and unlike the debate about the temple in Rev 11 and the king list in Rev 17, it is external rather than internal to the text, and so avoids circularity.

          I would also add that interpretations of any text which lean heavily on a very specific date of year X rather than year Y are problematic, since we cannot know with the certainty that is required—and texts do not require this specificity to be interpreted well.

          The world of John’s readers did not change so much between eg 64 and 94 that the meaning of the text changes!

          • I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree over whether it contributes to the question. I agree that it’s possible to read it that there were no Christians in Smyrna in Paul’s lifetime, but then why did Polycarp specify only the time of the writing of Philippians? Why didn’t he say “we didn’t know him when you knew him”? Of course, Polycarp wasn’t expecting anyone to try to dissect the meaning two thousand years later, but it isn’t quite what I would expect, if he were making that point, but it might have been.

            I guess I would also ask, how large were young congregations in the 60s, and how large would they have to be to warrant having letters sent to them? How large were Paul’s congregations that received letters in the 50s?

            I can’t disagree with any of the rest of your reply. While I think the external evidence favours an earlier date, I’m not persuaded of preterist interpretations of the text. And with respect to the main point, Babylon seems to point clearly to Rome, not Jerusalem.

            Thanks for the interaction, and for forcing me to think a bit more about Polycarp’s text.

      • Let me ask you a question ? Wouldn’t you say that Jesus himself has already fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament in his birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection? or do you think the old testament still has parts unfulfilled in the future ?
        Don’t you think that also, that not all scriptures are to be understood literally? sometimes yes, and sometimes no. many times, throughout the scriptures, the mysteries or prophecies were revealed in a spiritual form, and not with the literal message of the text (as only seen by those who read the scriptures before they were fulfilled …) as it is even clarified in Revelation 11, 8. And also, like so many prophecies that Jesus himself fulfilled in his time, prophecies that were fulfilled, in a way that was not entirely literal, but rather a variation of what was written, expressed by God in its fulfilment , in a very different way from what we could perceive with the naked eye … a form that we could not think or understand, before its fulfilment, as Jesus himself explains that parables are… the real meaning that the scriptures also have in the background. history and real events in front, and also the spiritual message throughout the text… we always see the material side of things, and not the plan of God, and that plan, normally, is not understood in the spiritual form, it is easier for us, and also, like the Pharisees of the time of Jesus, to interpret according to what is easier for us , to understand and see. and also, interpret, as we would like it to be, and not like the text clearly indicates most of the times … (which always also, what we would like it to be, is normally, contrary to the will of God… ) to my mind, I believe, the book of revelation ,it is in the same way tried to be understood
        , we are trying to see the simple message that the text seems to have (regarding the identification of the characters and their roles… everything seems very clear there, but is it really?) if we are more truthful with him Jesus is , and what he Stand fore, and what he, entrusts us to do, and what not to do, as followers of his path, as true followers of christ (being himself the greatest example of all …) the book of revelation has too many inconsistencies with a true image of Jesus christ… and with the gospels , and with the rest of the prophecies of the old testament also… Jesus himself, already fulfilled all the prophecies of the old testament in his time, and after, trough the apostles and the church… the book of revelation, is not what appears to be…

      • Ian, it seems your view is strictly from the theological Lens of what the audience at the time would have understood of the text and what had already taken place. Clearly , Daniel’s interpretation of the kingdoms could not have made sense to the people of that time. How do you reconcile this?

        • I think that, with all scripture, we need to start with what the writer, under the inspiration of God, was communicating with the contemporary readership, since that is the primary meaning of the text. What God now, in our different context, wants to say to us through it must surely start there, otherwise the text becomes a wax nose which we fashion in whichever way we want.

          The text of Daniel is clearly set in the sixth century BC, but I agree with the majority of scholarship that it was written in the second and relates to events then.

        • Daniel was told to seal his prophecy up because it’s fulfilment was a long way off. John was told NOT to seal his prophecy up because it was all about to happen, all about to unfold.

  21. My comment will not add more clarification but to add more confusion actually. Sorry…
    I know it seems everyone is set on their respective views but I hope you would consider this:
    * Don’t we think that the alliances/peace treaties that Israel is making with her neighbors so far is part of the story unfolding? She’s in peace treaty deal with 7 countries so far.
    * What does God feel about Judah and Israel making alliances with her neighbors in the past? Did it make her in good terms with God?
    * Could it be that these 7 countries will become 10 and these “lovers” will come against her in the future?

  22. I’m not convinced at all by your suggestion that the obvious reference to the Lord being crucified in Jerusalem (Rev 11:8) really means “in Rome.” This seems very forced. Rome, moreover was never called “Egypt” of “Sodom,” although both are associated with Jerusalem.

    Also, language about the nations growing wealthy through trade with Jerusalem is not entirely incorrect–and may just be hyperbole, of which there is a great deal in Revelation.

    My own thoughts are that the temporal proximity of the burning of Rome under Nero (64AD), and the destruction of Jerusalem in Rome (in the war of 66-70AD) provide the backdrop to John’s prophetic visions.

    It is out of these two shocking events, and how they impacted on Christians, that John, through the Spirit, taps into and more more fully interprets Jesus’s great eschatological discourse (in Matt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21).

  23. Thanks Ian.

    Ezekiel 17 is interesting, and other scriptures too, which describe Jerusalem as being a “whore.”

    Isaiah frequently refers to the wealth and opulence of Jerusalem, and of course, under Herod’s building programme Judah became renowned in the Roman world, especially the temple. This all involved trade and business with other peoples and countries. I don’t see how Revelation 18 could not refer to Jerusalem, which was on a favourable east-west trade route.

    The problem with Revelation 18 referring to Rome is that Rome wasn’t of course destroyed – not till the fifth century. Yet at the outset of his volume John says that all these events were going to happen soon and culminate in Christ’s parousia.

    • Yes, but Ezekiel and other prophets use this sexual language primarily because of the corruption of worship not the corruption of wealth.

      Jerusalem was on a trade route, but it hard to claim that all the kings of the earth, all the merchants, all sea captains enriched themselves there. That is just not what Jerusalem was known for in the ancient world—but it was what Rome was known for. I identity in my commentary the specific details of the cargo list which relate to Roman wealth, including the mention of the fashionable carriages used in Rome by the wealthy.

      The problem that Rome was not destroyed was an embarrassment to patristic commentators—which demonstrates the strong consensus view.

      And the problem with all readings is that the parousia has not yet happened…in case you hadn’t noticed!

      • Hi Ian,

        Thanks for your reply.

        In the time of David, and especially Solomon, Jerusalem was indeed a world trading centre (if like me you believe David and Solomon existed–and their respective kingdoms!).

        Sepphoris in Galilee, as you are surely aware, is described by Josephus as “the ornament of all Galilee” (including a Roman theatre possibly in the first, or later in the second century).

        Peter Richardson, if I remember rightly, has a lot to say about the opulence of Herod’s reign, including his architectural projects which put Judea on the map.

        The temple in Jerusalem was one of the wonders of the ancient world, remarked upon by foreign visitors (as Sheba remarked upon the wonder of Solomon’s Jerusalem based kingdom).

        I think it would be fair to say that Jerusalem, over several centuries, had the ambience of a wealthy city, which is frequently adverted to by the prophets.

        It is not, I would suggest, inaccurate, for either the prophets or the author of Revelation (with some justifiable hyperbole), to view their own capital as great economic centre, if even in their own eyes (as an Irish man I believe Ireland is by a long stretch the greatest centre of culture and scholarship country on earth – saints and scholars!).

        Moreover, in the gospels, as you will know, somebody like Luke describes as a “polis” something that was really a “kome.” For gentile readers this would have given a “polis” like “Bethlehem” a metropolitan feel, and all that that might imply.

        I believe likewise in Revelation, that it would not be either inaccurate or unwarranted to view the destruction of Jerusalem in terms of the economic impact of people who did business with her around the Mediterranean – again even in hyperbolic fashion.

        John’s putative vision of Rome’s utter destruction is troubling, unless he took the burning of the city under Nero as some kind of prophecy of it’s end – but that wouldn’t come till the 5th century.

        In close proximity Rome burned, and Jerusalem was destroyed (the latter fulfilled Jesus’s prediction) and therefore must have been of great significance to Christians.

        I side with N T Wright who argues that Matt 24 etc is not about the parousia, even if the language is eschatological.

  24. So…I have one thing that strikes me as weird about all this…
    Why would “Babylon” not refer to, well, Babylon. You know, the city of Babylon, that actually existed and was called Babylon. A city with which the ancient Jewish people had a lot of contact with, seeing as they’re all from the same region, and with whose mythology the Biblical one has many connections and parallels. A city often mentioned throughout the biblical texts, and whose Kong’s often play a part in Biblical text.

    Seems to me most likely that ancient biblical writers might think that this real city could one day become a world power. So Babylon would refer in fact to Babylon.

    Now, of course they didn’t achieve that worldwide power, but that would just one more failed biblical prophecy, and that’s noting new.

    • Well, the trouble with this is that

      a. virtually all commentators agree that this is not a literal reference; the majority think it is a metaphor for Rome, the minority for Jerusalem. I’ve not come across a single serious commentator who takes the line you suggest

      b. there is external evidence for the labelling of Rome as Babylon, including in 1 Peter 5.13.

      c. this city is ‘great’ and a centre of global trade, especially by sea, which does not fit Babylon in the first century, but does fit Rome.

      d. The language of wealth, oppression and judgement are derived from OT language about the judge of (Babylon) and in particular Tyre.

      e. Revelation is full of metaphorical language that we clearly should not read ‘literally’.

  25. The main theme of prophesy is:
    The condemnation of Israel and Jerusalem.
    The punishment of Israel and Jerusalem.
    The return of Christ.
    The restoration of Israel and Jerusalem.
    Now Rev 17 depicts two women. The whore who sits on many waters is Jerusalem. The woman riding the beast is Babylon. The beast and the ten kings under the leadership of Babylon will invade Israel and Jerusalem and carry off many captives into the wilderness. This is the punishment shown in chapter 17. See also Ezek 23, Zec 14:2, Luke 21:24 and others.

    • And yet that contradicts the reality of the first century world, and fails to pick up that the language of judgement here is mostly OT language of Jerusalem’s enemies.

  26. Babylon has never been destroyed by the Medes as required by the prophecies. This is a future event and will take place after the battle of Armageddon. There are currently about 250,000 people living in Babylon right now. It will grow to become prosperous as depicted in Rev 18 before its king talks his way into the leadership of the beast. The ten kings rule the 10 areas listed in Ps 83 and are all Arab peoples conspiring together to destroy Israel.

      • Maybe the first audience of John engaged in the same sort of speculation that is rife today.
        My approach here is to eliminate guesswork and seek a scriptural interpretation of latter day prophecy. Here’s how I tackled Rev 17:
        I did a search of the words “whore” and “harlot” on E-sword looking for cities and found one instance each for Tyre and Nineveh. Both of these have fallen away from God. But there were over 100 instances for Jerusalem. Now Rev 11:2 and 11:8 clearly show that Jerusalem will be occupied by the beast in the future. This is a punishment and follows years of condemnation. Elijah will first return and a new generation of saints will be revealed from the tribes of Israel who will then preach the gospel in Israel first and then abroad. Israel will generally reject the gospel and will then be punished with the tribulation. This includes drought, famine, pestilence, invasion by first Assyria, then Babylon and the ten horns. All this is easily proved from scripture.
        Most people have not noticed that Babylon is the only kingdom that is named in Neb’s image and that all four kingdoms have to be present at the time of the end. They have rejected the city of Babylon from their thinking and have substituted guesswork. They have not noticed that the Medes have never destroyed Babylon and think that all those destruction prophecies have been fulfilled. But look at Jer 50 and 51. This is clearly a latter day prophecy because the sins of Israel have not yet been forgiven.
        Jer 50:20 In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.
        I can only follow what the scripture tells me. I am happy to explain or prove any or all of the above but only from the Bible.

  27. In Bible symbology a hill is a nation. Israel was given the land of 7 nations in Canaan (Deut. 7:1) – thus she sat on 7 hills. She is identified as a harlot in many places in the Old Test. eg. Ezekiel 16. Israel never left Babylon spiritually… she ‘became Babylon’. She is the woman in the ephah basket of Zechariah 5 who in symbol goes back to Shinar where her heart is

    • ‘A hill is a nation’. That is clearly not the case in Rev 17 (where the symbolism is multiple), nor in Matt 28, nor in many other places in Scripture. And I cannot find anywhere else where Israel is described as either a land of seven nations or sitting on seven hills. And where does it actually say in Scripture that Israel has become Bablyon?

  28. In Revelation 17 the symbol concerns the land of 7 nations where the harlot sits, and the ‘kings’ who ruled the same area. We are told multiple times that Israel sat on the land of 7 nations – Deut. 7:1 “When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to possess, and He drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, SEVEN nations larger and stronger than you” Thus the land given to Israel is called the land of 7 nations. Also Acts 13:19 says the same “having vanquished SEVEN nations in Canaan, He gave their land to His people as an inheritance”. So, Israel the harlot and mother of harlots as she is described in Ezekiel 16, sat on the land of 7 nations. How Israel became the harlot is explained more fully here

  29. Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the whore of Babylon is that her punishment is to be made to drink from the cup. This is not a simple detail that can be overlooked flippantly, because in Numbers 5 the punishment of drinking from the cup for an unfaithful wife, not a simple unmarried harlot, was something the Jews understood all too well. And God’s complaint in Ezekiel 16 is that his wife Jerusalem broke wedlock. And the destruction of Jerusalem in that chapter by her lovers is the same as the destruction of the whore by the kings she fornicates with in Revelation 17. Also, you will note in Ezekiel 16 the reference to “woe woe” is also used with respect to Jerusalem, who is in fact first to drink from the cup of punishment with all the other nations in Jeremiah 25. So, why did God constantly single out his unfaithful wife, Jerusalem, in these prophecies, and never Rome to make these complaints against? Do you have any idea how many prophecies cover the ongoing drama of the merital problems God had with Jerusalem? God had no merital problems with Rome, because Rome was never God’s wife in prophecy or Scripture either one, so the punishment of drinking from the cup would not apply to Rome which further explains why Rome is not even mentioned in Jeremiah 25 as ever being among those drinking from the cup. And we also know this is the temple punishment, because in the seventh plague the matter comes out of the temple as the cup is being given to Babylon, and Jeremiah said it was the vengeance of the temple what was happening to Babylon.

    And why is it that immediately after Babylon is destroyed, all of a sudden in Revelation 21 we need a New Jerusalem? Why didn’t God preserve the old Jerusalem? What was wrong with it that God needed a quick replacement to take its place?

    Also, the problem of arguing for the prophets and apostles being killed in Rome in Revelation 18 is a glaring problem, because Christ in Matthew 23 declared publically “Jerusalem Jerusalem, Thou who killest the prophets…” And Christ warned them also in the same chapter that he would send the Jews of Jerusalem prophets and apostles and that they would persecute them to strange cities and kill them: something Paul admits to being a party to in Acts 26 when testifying before King Agrippa, something Acts 9:1-3 authorized him permission to do from the priests in Jerusalem. Never is Rome charged anywhere in Scripture with these sins by God or Christ. You have to go well outside the Bible to make such a case for Rome in contradiction to God’s very blatant Scriptural claims on the matter.

    And Revelation 11 and 17 are also united by the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit being uniquely described in both those chapters with respect to its relationship with “that great city”. Pretend as one might, Christ was never crucified anywhere close to Rome. And Isaiah 1 directly refers to Jerusalem as Sodom the same chapter that asks us how the faithful city became an harlot, never is Rome refered to as Sodom or Egypt either one. But, why Egypt? Because Christ was crucified in sacrificial type under the first Passover in Egypt, just as he was crucified literally in Jerusalem, linking these two places and events together quite directly. How would Rome even remotely pretend to fit into that relationship?

    • Well put, but are you saying that only Jerusalem is in view in Revelation? You made the point that not only did Jerusalem have to drink the cup of wrath in Jeremiah 25, but also those nations with whom she committed adultery. Why would this dual application not apply then to Revelation? In accusing Christ to Pilate the Jews said they have no king but Caesar, and used the Romans to carry out their evil deed of crucifying Christ. Is this not committing fornication with Rome, and brining it into the sins committed by Jerusalem? Did God not use nations to punish Israel and then punish those same nations for their deeds? So would they not both drink of the same cup, as you pointed out from Jeremiah? The point was made elsewhere that the symbolism in Revelation seems to have multiple applications. Why would this not apply to the symbol of Babylon? Could it not be that it stands for Jerusalem in some applications and for Rome in others?

  30. Hi Ian,

    I believe I can address a couple of your main objections against Jerusalem being Babylon that you have mentioned a number of times earlier.

    Corey has made some excellent points just above in support of Babylon being Old Jerusalem. We read that Babylon’s destruction in Revelation 18 would cause rejoicing in heaven, as well as from the apostles and prophets who received satisfaction when God “avenged” them on her. The “Days of Vengeance” were concentrated on JUDEA AND JERUSALEM, as Luke 2:20-24 tells us – NOT on Rome. The disciples were to flee Judea and Jerusalem when they saw her surrounded by armies, and were not to re-enter those areas for any reason. The disciples fleeing from those “Days of Vengeance” on Judea and Jerusalem was the same reason why Revelation told the saints to “come out of her” (out of Babylon) “that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).

    There is a very definite reason why Jerusalem (at the time John was writing Revelation) was said to be presently then “reigning over the kings of the earth” in Revelation 17:18. Ian, the problem lies in your assumed definition of who those “Kings of the earth” were. “Kings of the earth” (tes ges) were not the same as the “kings…of the whole habitable world” (oikoumenes). Revelation lists them as separate kinds of kings in Rev. 16:14(YLT).

    The “kings of the earth” (tes ges) were the HIGH PRIESTS OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL. Here are just a couple scripture texts that show this to be true. Psalms 2:2 prophesying of Christ’s crucifixion said that “the KINGS OF THE EARTH set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” This would be fulfilled by Annas and Caiphas as HIGH PRIEST rulers of the people, and the religious leaders of Israel taking counsel together to have Christ crucified. They actually broke the bonds of the law in the way they apprehended Christ and put him on trial – casting those rules aside in order to get rid of Christ whom they hated.

    Another text is Matthew 17:25-26, when Christ asked Peter, “Of whom do the KINGS OF THE EARTH take custom or tribute? Of their sons, or of others? Peter saith unto him, Of others.
    Jesus saith unto him, Then are the sons free.” That annual Temple Tax was a didrachma collected from the adult males for the maintenance of the Temple, but the HIGH PRIESTS (those “kings of the earth”) were responsible for the collection of this Temple Tax, and they and their sons were exempted from paying this. That’s why Christ said the “sons” of the high priests were “free” – from being expected to pay this Temple Tax as the other tribes did. This exception for the high priest / kings of the earth and their sons originated in the time of Moses and the tabernacle, when the Levitical tribe was not numbered as the rest of the people were, and were therefore not expected to pay a half shekel per each adult male. The high priest / kings of the earth were the beneficiaries of that Temple Tax – not the ones paying it. Christ who would become our high priest, and as a “Son of His Father’s house” had every right to refuse paying this Temple Tax, but to avoid offense He paid it anyway by the coin Peter found in the fish’s mouth.

    Why is this definition of “kings of the earth” as being high priests so important? Because any of the prophecies of Revelation mentioning those high priest “kings of the earth” had to be fulfilled when there were still high priests around in Israel to fulfill those prophecies. The Revelation 17 Scarlet Beast had seven of these high priest “kings”, as well as an eighth high priest “king”, all coming from the family of the high priest Annas. Their collective history matches the Revelation 17:10-11 prophecy down to the very last detail.

    At the time John was writing, “Babylon” as Jerusalem was then reigning over the high priest “kings of the earth”. That was because the religious leadership had prostituted itself to Rome in collaboration with them, just so they could preserve the flow of money into their own pockets and keep their position. Rome was behind the appointment of the high priests at that time, as well as keeping the high priest’s vestments locked up in the Roman Antonia fortress, instead of the Temple where they used to be stored, to be doled out on the Jewish Feast celebrations at Rome’s discretion.

    Rome-governed Jerusalem had limits on the judgments Israel’s religious leaders could pass down on their own people. This was an upside-down situation, and a complete reversal of the high priesthood role as originally given by God. The high priest was supposed to be the ultimate authority of deciding judgment cases in Israel, but in those first-century days, they were hampered by their subjugation to Roman power.

    Worst of all, the high priests back in 19 BC had gone to Rome to beg the privilege of minting their own pure silver coins for Temple transactions. (I suspect this was to help pay for Herod’s mammoth Temple renovation project beginning in 17 BC.) The high priests were granted this rare approval, but only on condition that they keep the same pagan images and inscriptions of the old Tyrian shekel on the new coins – in clear violation of God’s commands against this in Deuteronomy 7:25-26. From 19 BC onward, those imitation Tyrian shekel coins minted by the Jews had the initials “KP” on the reverse side, standing for “Kratos Romaion”, or “power of the Romans”, meaning Rome had authorized their production. Every time an Israelite exchanged his currency for the high priesthood-required Tyrian shekel (for an onerous fee) before he made a sale or purchase in the Temple (sound familiar?), he was given a humiliating reminder that Rome was in league with the high priests, and had the ultimate control over his own country’s high priesthood system. This was Jerusalem “reigning over the kings of the earth” in those days, by keeping them under its thumb.

    The family of Annas was hated by the people for its covetousness, and even the Talmud pronounced a curse against them for their greed. and cruelty. They had market booths outside the Temple which made vast profits for them, as well as the continual stream of exchange fees collected because the Tyrian shekel coins were the only currency they would accept for Temple transactions. The “moneychangers” were raking in those profits for the high priesthood, which is why Jesus said they had made the Temple a “den of thieves”. For the language of Revelation 18, it is not necessary that Jerusalem be a “port city” on the coast – only that they be a trade center supplied by the trade routes running through this region. The millions who came for the yearly feast celebrations provided the opportunity for merchants to profit off of this multi-national traffic flocking to Jerusalem for worship.

    • Some good things to ponder and research. One thing that never sits right when looking at Revelation as entirely addressing Jerusalem’s destruction–why was it written to seven churches in Asia? That seems to be a major disconnect.

    • Hi Patricia. Fascinating details. Have you got any sources for this stuff about the coins minted in 19BC etc? I would love to look into it more.

      – Dave

  31. Babylon is neither Rome, Jerusalem, Mecca, Medina, Dubai, Iraq, Saudi Arabia,This was once a settled issue among the Christian Churches more or less.50 years ago everyone knew exactly where Mystery Babylon was..
    I’ll start my rebuttal by quickly eliminating both wrong assumptions. JOHN as well as every other Biblical man of God knew of Jerusalem guaranteed existence but its name also.The Almighty is not a God of confusion.Why wouldn’t they just call it by its known name??This is inclusive for the entire old world.But John and others referred to a new Babylon because by John’s time ancient Babylon was already under desert sand.

    [rest of this massively long essay deleted]

  32. Hi Ian…

    Thanks for a helpful essay, and for your grace and patience dealing with such a group of commentors as these. And to think we are the salt of the earth. Lord have mercy on us all.

    I am persuaded that “the great city” is, in all likelihood, Rome. And while I appreciate your attempted explanation of the great city in 11:8 as a spiritual-symbolic reference to Rome, I’m not 100% “there.” I think I’m close, though–at least when considering the context of Revelation 11 and the death of the two witnesses as an event which would best be understood alongside a Jerusalem parallel.

    But I’m still a bit confused by John’s language. How is the great city spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified? I think it’s just a tough phrase that is tripping up a lot of people. As another option, is it possible John is just being a bit unclear? Or is something getting lost in translation? Was he basically trying to say, “Their bodies will lie in Rome, which is a terrible place–like Sodom and Egypt–and also kind of like happened what to their Lord, who was crucified in Jerusalem”? Are we modern Christian readers seeing in John’s confusing phrase a reference to Jerusalem that we want to see, based partly on the OT’s judgments on Jerusalem but also on other more culturally conditioned theological assumptions?

    Or, is it possible there are two “great cities” referenced in Revelation?

    Anyway, thanks again for your help, and God bless your teaching ministry.

    Matt Herndon
    St. Louis, MO

    • Hi Matt! Thanks for asking.

      I would note that ‘Sodom’ is a place of (sexual) immorality from which God’s people must flee, and Egypt is a place of exile/slavery, coming under judgement, from which God will deliver his people.

      I think John is seeing Rome in both these sets of terms; hence the description of the ‘maddening wine of her adulteries’ in Rev 18.3, and the use of the Isaianic ‘Come out from among her’ in Rev 18.4.

      Also note that John systematically identifies the exodus with the exile, not least through his use of numerology. The 42 months alludes to the desert wanderings, but that is equal to the 3.5 years which are Daniel’s time of tribulation in exile.

      Does that help?

      Do you know my commentary?

  33. Hi Ian…

    Another thought. Chapter 11:1-14 describes a scene apparently in Jerusalem–based on the angel’s instructions to John to “measure the temple of God,” and his statement that “They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.”

    How would you reconcile this reference to “the holy city” with a Babylon=Rome perspective? Does the scene shift to Rome in 11:8? For my part, I don’t see much of a transition.

    It makes me wonder if, in this particular section, the holy/great city really is Jerusalem, while other “great city” references are Rome. What are the interpretive downsides of John using “great city” to refer to two separate cities in Revelation, to suit different literary needs?

    Thanks again for any response you have time to make,


    • Mystery Babylon is Jerusalem
      She is a mixture between Rome and Israel Hence the prophecy of Iron and Clay
      Babel means mixture
      So Mystery Babylon is the mixture between Rome and Israel
      Jerusalem is tread down under foot for 3½ years.
      This would correlate to the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue feet and toes Iron and clay
      See the OT scripture prophecies and the similarities to Revelation

      Rev 17:18
      Rev 11:8

      Rev 14:20
      Lam 1:15

      Rev 18:23
      Jer 7:34
      Jer 16:9
      Rev 18:22

      Rev 17:5
      Ezek 16:28-63

      Jer 9:11
      Jer 51:37

      Burn with fire
      Rev 17:16
      Ezek 16:37-44
      Ezek 16:41-42

      Matthew 23:35
      Rev 18:20

      Potters Clay
      Isa 29:16 (Turning things upside down esteemed as potter’s Clay)
      Dan 2:33 (Potter’s Clay mixed with Iron)

  34. Jerusalem is the Great City Mystery Babylon. God told us
    who the Great City below is and the Angel of the LORD
    tells us explicitly who the Great City is.
    There are many OT verses that speak of Jerusalem and her
    Judgement that is to come. Many of these verses for judgement
    Against Jerusalem are apeaking of the Harlot in Revelation
    Have a look:
    Rev 17:18
    Rev 11:8

    Rev 14:20
    Lam 1:15

    Rev 18:23
    Jer 7:34
    Jer 16:9
    Rev 18:22

    Rev 17:5
    Ezek 16:28-63

    Jer 9:11
    Jer 51:37

    Burn with fire
    Rev 17:16
    Ezek 16:37-44
    Ezek 16:41-42

    Matthew 23:35
    Rev 18:20

    Potters Clay
    Isa 29:16 (Turning things upside down esteemed as potter’s Clay)
    Dan 2:33 (Potter’s Clay mixed with Iron)

    • Sorry—this doesn’t prove anything. God criticises Jeruslame—but also pagan cities, using similar language.

      There is no way Jerusalem can be the great city which enriches all the kegs of the earth. It didn’t.

      • You are mistaken
        Jerusalem is that great city in which Christ was crucified.
        8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified
        Revelation 11:8

  35. Hi Ian,

    Please keep in mind that the *only* city for which harlot imagery is used consistently in the Hebrew Bible is Jerusalem — for example, see Isa. 30:1-6; 31:1-3; Jer. 2:1-37; Ezek. 23:1-21; Hos. 1:2; 5:3-7, 13; 7:8-13; 12:1. Yes, it is also used for the Gentile cities of Tyre and Nineveh (Isa. 23:15-18; Nah. 3:4-5). However, these cities are also said to have broken a covenant with God (Amos 1:9; Jon. 3:5-10). A city can only be described as a covenant-breaker (symbolically a ‘harlot’) if it had a covenant in the first place. Rome never had a covenant with God, so it can’t be the Harlot.

    In addition, the Harlot is called “the great city” which elsewhere designates Jerusalem (Rev. 11:8). You argue that this could also refer to Rome, but the clear reference to the Jerusalem Temple in the immediate context shows that this is very unlikely (Rev. 11:1-2). Furthermore, in the Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem is designated as “the great city” in lamentations over its destruction, just like Babylon in Revelation (Jer. 22:8; Lam. 1:1; cf. Rev. 18:10, 16-21). The Harlot is clothed in purple, scarlet, and gold, which are the colors worn by the high priests at Jerusalem (Exod. 28:6; cf. Rev. 17:4; 18:15-17). In addition, “the great city” and “Babylon” are distinguished from “the cities of the Gentiles” at Rev. 16:19.

    If the Harlot is Rome, this also leads to a very awkward situation. The Harlot sits upon the Beast, whose seven heads “are seven hills” (Rev. 17:9). This is transparently a reference to the seven hills of Rome. So is the city of Rome sitting upon Rome? Furthermore, the Beast (Roman Empire) is said to “hate the Harlot” and destroy and burn it (Rev. 17:16). When did the Roman Empire “hate” Rome and burn it to the ground? Whereas this description perfectly fits Jerusalem.

    Basilein tēs gēs could equally be translated as “rulers of the Land” instead of “kings of the earth.” Note that this is how the phrase is used in Acts 4:26-27, where it refers to “Herod and Pontius Pilate” — the “rulers of the Land,” not the “kings of the earth.” Therefore, it is quite possible to understand it in this way in John’s Apocalypse, especially in light of Revelation’s focus on the judgment of unfaithful Israel (Rev. 1:7; 11:2; 18:24; cf. Matt. 23:37; 24:30; Luke 21:24). Jerusalem could indeed be described as “ruling over the rulers of the Land” (i.e., the high-priestly aristocracy).

    The other argument that you marshal against the identification of the Harlot with Jerusalem is the fact that it committed prostitution with “all nations” (Rev. 18:3). But note what Philo says about Jerusalem, based on the presence of the Jewish Diaspora throughout the Roman Empire:

    “Concerning the holy city I must now say what is necessary. As I have already stated, it is my native country, and the metropolis, not only of the one country of Judaea, but also of many, by reason of the colonies which it has sent out from time to time… So that if my native land is, as it reasonably may be, looked upon as entitled to a share in your favor, it is not one city only that would then be benefited by you, but ten thousand of them in every region of the habitable world, in Europe, in Asia, and in Africa, on the continent, in the islands, on the coasts, and in the inland parts.” (Legat. 281-283)

    Thus, the description in Rev. 18:3 could certainly apply to Jerusalem, especially in light of the fact that (according to the book of Acts) the Diaspora was able to stir up the Gentiles to persecute Christians throughout the provinces (Acts 13:50; 14:2, 19; 17:5-7, 13). This would have had a direct impact on the communities of believers that John wrote to.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Best regards,

    • “If the Harlot is Rome, this also leads to a very awkward situation. The Harlot sits upon the Beast, whose seven heads “are seven hills” (Rev. 17:9). This is transparently a reference to the seven hills of Rome. So is the city of Rome sitting upon Rome? Furthermore, the Beast (Roman Empire) is said to “hate the Harlot” and destroy and burn it (Rev. 17:16). When did the Roman Empire “hate” Rome and burn it to the ground? Whereas this description perfectly fits Jerusalem.”

      This is no problem at all when you actually understand the historical context. The Roman Empire and its allies would eventually turn on Rome itself—a threat concerning the self-destructiveness and lack of faithfulness of those who pursue evil. The image is from the Old Testament (Jer 4:30; Lam 1:2; Ezek 23:9). The burning derives from Daniel 7:11. Although fire was the standard method for destroying captured cities in antiquity (Amos 1:4), some knowledgeable readers might have remembered the rumor that Nero burned down Rome in a.d. 64 and blamed it on the Christians: Rome thus ought to be wiser than to embrace one who might be like a new Nero.

    • Consider the following points:

      Symbolic Use of Harlot Imagery:

      While Jerusalem is indeed described using harlot imagery in the Hebrew Bible, it’s essential to recognize that symbolism in the Book of Revelation may differ from its use in the Old Testament. The use of this imagery in Revelation could symbolize not just unfaithfulness but also corruption, idolatry, and spiritual adultery, which can be applied to various cities or entities, including Rome.
      “The Great City”:

      Andrew points out that “the great city” elsewhere designates Jerusalem (Rev. 11:8). However, this argument hinges on the assumption that Revelation consistently refers to Jerusalem as “the great city” throughout the text. Some scholars might argue that the term can be applied more broadly to various significant cities within the prophetic framework of Revelation.
      High Priestly Colors:

      The mention of purple, scarlet, and gold being worn by the Harlot could also be interpreted as symbolic elements associated with worldly power and wealth rather than a direct reference to the high priests of Jerusalem. Symbolism in Revelation often has multiple layers of meaning.

      “Rulers of the Land” vs. “Kings of the Earth”:

      The translation of “basilein tēs gēs” as “rulers of the Land” in Revelation is a valid point to consider. This interpretation could align with a focus on the judgment of unfaithful Israel rather than a global perspective. However, this interpretation may vary among scholars and may depend on contextual factors.

      “Prostitution with All Nations”:

      Andrew argues that Jerusalem’s interaction with the Jewish Diaspora could fulfill the description of prostitution with “all nations” (Rev. 18:3). Scholars who identify Rome as the Harlot might counter this by emphasizing the extent of Rome’s influence and control over various nations in the Roman Empire.

      Interpreting the Beast:

      Scholars identifying Rome as the Harlot could argue that the Beast’s animosity towards the Harlot symbolizes the self-destructive nature of oppressive regimes. It might not necessarily imply that the Roman Empire literally destroyed Rome but rather conveys a broader message about the consequences of tyranny and evil.

      In responding to these objections, scholars who support the Rome interpretation may emphasize the symbolic and prophetic nature of the Book of Revelation, acknowledging that different readers may arrive at varying interpretations. Ultimately, interpretations of biblical texts like Revelation are shaped by theological perspectives, historical context, and exegetical methods, and there may not be a definitive answer that satisfies all readers.

  36. It’s so obviously the US. No other country in history has met the description better. It’s the biggest exporter of pornography to the world. It’s the ultimate in decadent capitalism.

    • Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘is’. John wasn’t writing to us; he was writing to Christians in the first century Roman province of Asia. So he cannot be referring to the US. He is referring to the Roman Empire.

      Now, whether the US has all the beastly hallmarks that John says were manifested in Rome—that is an interesting question.

      You might be interested in the book Unveiling Empire where the authors outline precisely those kinds of parallels, between imperial Rome and imperial global capitalism.

      • You assume to whom “John” was writing. Let’s be honest. No one really even knows who this John is much less to whom he is writing.

        If the book is prophetic, then it will remain locked until the time of its fulfillment

        But it just might have multiple partial fulfillments along the way.

        • We know very well to whom the book was written. We know the author is called John, though I don’t think we know who he was.

          But I don’t accept anonymous comments, as per the guidance.

  37. Jeremiah 50 & 51 pretty much negates the chance that Jerusalem is the woman on the beast. It is pretty much directly quoted in Revelation.


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