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Revelation; Harlot Babylon (Pt1)- "The other woman"

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posted on Nov, 7 2010 @ 03:55 PM
I want to offer some thoughts on the "Harlot of Babylon" from Revelation ch17.

This is not going to be simple, because she's a very complex figure.
On the one hand, that name of "Babylon", in the Old Testament, has political overtones.
But some of the other details in the picture seem to have religious overtones.
For the moment, I propose to focus on one aspect of the religious dimension.
This woman. and the "woman in heaven" seen at the beginning of ch12, are one of the "contrasting pairs" of Revelation.
I've already looked at the first woman; see The Woman in Heaven

Now I'm going to be asking the question; what is the difference between these two women?

We're told that this woman is a great harlot.
We're told that she's the mother of harlots.
We're told that she carries a golden cup full of the impurities of her fornication, that the kings of the earth have comitted fornication with her, and that the dwellers on earth have become drunk with the wine of her fornication.

In the words of the old-fashioned euphemism, this woman is obviously "no better than she should be".

Theres a contrast implied in Proverbs between the provident wife and the adulterous wife; and also between the adulterous wife and the feminine figure of Wisdom, both offering themselves on the streets, for different purposes.
This suggests, amongst other things, that the adulterous woman represents what happens when people are deficient in the Wisdom which comes from God.

But this kind of language in the prophets is frequently a metaphor for spiritual fidelity and infidelity.
In the Old Testament, God can be called "husband" to his people Israel, and he's expecting the same kind of loyalty and commitment in return.
So when his people are disobedient, and particularly when they're devoting themselves to other gods, their disobedience can be described in terms of "adultery" and "fornication".
The classic example is at the beginning of Hosea, where the prophet is instructed to marry a known harlot, so that God can make a point about Israel. The complaint is made that Israel has become like an adulterous wife;
"For she said, i will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water".- Hosea ch2 v5
Similaryly Jeremiah's complaint about Judah is that she "polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree"- Jeremiah ch3 v9
Ezekiel elaborates the metaphor with such graphic imagery that the offending passages (e.g. ch16) can't safely be read out in church; see for example, the Anglican lectionary, which carefully skips over them.

But the most important model for the image in this chapter comes from another passage in Jeremiah, when he's addressing the city of Jerusalem;
"And you, O desolate one,
What do you mean, that you dress in scarlet,
That you deck yourself with ornaments of gold,
That you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself,
Your lovers despise you, They seek your life"- Jeremiah ch4 v30
Those last two lines are alluding to the fact that Judah's "flirtations" with foreign gods and foreign powers had not prevented the foreign powers from invading and despoiling the land.

The Harlot in Revelation echoes the appearance of the woman in this picture.
She is "arrayed in purple and scarlet, and bedecked with gold and silver and pearls."
She also suffers the same fate, of putting her trust in lovers who betray her. At the beginning of the chapter, she's resting upon, getting support from, the great scarlet Beast. Yet, at the end of the chapter, that same Beast has turned against her;
"The ten horns that you saw, they and the Beast will hate the Harlot; they will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire"- v16

The Jeremiah passage continues, in the next verse;
"And I heard a cry as of a woman in travail,
Anguish as of a woman bringing forth her first child".
But that verse finds its echo in Revelation ch12, in the description of the "woman in heaven";
"She was with child, and she cried out in the pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery"- ch12 v2
In effect, the "woman in heaven" and the "Harlot of Babylon" have taken Jeremiah ch4 vv30-31 and carved it up between them, taking one verse each.
Nothing could bring out more clearly the fact that these women are two sides of the same coin.
They are two different versions of Jerusalem.
They are two different versions of God's people, the "faithful" version, and the "unfaithful" version.

I've been assuming that these visions were addressed, in the first instance, to the church of John's own time, and then to the church of a later time.
How would the Christians of John's time have understood this picture?

There's a very suggestive parallel in Galatians, in Paul's distinction between the two Jerusalems, drawn from the story of Sarah and Hagar;
"Now Hagar...corresponds to the present Jerusalem,for she is in slavery with her children.
But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother"- Galatians ch4 vv25-26
The "other woman" in this case, of course, represents the Jews.
And the Jewish community was, in a sense, "resting upon" the support of the Roman state. The Jewish religion was "licensed" by the state (RELIGIO LICITA), while the Christian faith was not. The Jews, it was alleged, might sometimes alert the authorities to this point. Thus in Revelation ch2 "the slanders of the Jews" seem to lead into the imprisonment of Christians. I suggested, when I was dicussing the chapter, that this might be the reason why they were labelled the "synagogue of Satan" (a name which Revelation associates with persecution).
If this was the interpretation which the church of John's time gave to this image, they would surely have recognised the sequel at the end of the chapter, when the Beast turns on and attacks the Harlot, in the events of AD 70.

How might the "unfaithful" version of God's people emerge in the circumstances of a later church?
The real key to the image in Revelation is the relationship with the Beast.
We know from ch13 that the Beast is demanding worship from the world at large.
I suggest that the division between the "faithful woman" and the "Harlot" comes out of the difference bewteen the two ways of responding to that demand.

On the one hand, the faithful portion of God's people would resist the claim.
These are described in many different passages in Revelation. They were "sealed" in ch7 in order to prepare them for this crisis. They are the "worshippers round the altar" and the "Witnesses" in ch11. They are the underground church "nourished by God" in the wilderness in ch12. They are facing the death-penalty as victims of the Beast's "war on the saints" in ch13.
They are the intended readers of this book Revelation, which is designed to encourage them in that time of persecution (which is why we have so much trouble understanding it, when we're not in a time of persecution).

On the other hand, those on the other side of the dividing line would be compromising their faith. They would accept the demands of the Beast, instead of resisting them. They would, perhaps, be co-operating with the policy of the Beast in his treatment of the church. At the beginning of ch12, the dragon's tail sweeps up "a third of the stars of heaven" and draws them down from heaven to the earth; this could be warning us what proportion of unfaithfulness might be expected in the Christian community.

That portion of the God's people would "resting on the Beast" instead of resting upon God.
But the end of the chapter indicates that this would not, in the end, save them from the hostility of the Beast.
Whereas the end of Revelation tells us that the "woman in heaven" is resting upon a God who will be found faithful.


(I have added a Supplement in the next post)
edit on 7-11-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 7 2010 @ 03:56 PM

I'm deliberately detaching these comments from the OP, because they'll be wandering away from the direct support of the text.
I want to speculate on what visible form the division between the faithful and unfaithful portions of the church might take.

The key question is whether the Harlot would represent a visible, identifiable, group.
In Protestant tradition, of course, the Harlot has been identified with the Roman Catholic church.
This argument is based on a number of features in the description.
The Harlot sits on the Beast, and the description of the Beast seems to carry references to Rome.
I hope to be considering the Harlot's connection with Rome on a later occasion.
The Harlot is clothed in purple and scarlet. The same colours can be found on Catholic priests and Cardinals.
The Harlot is associated with idolatry, which is the meaning of the "cup of abominations". There are teachings and practices in the Catholic church which are considered idolatrous from the Protestant viewpoint.
I hope to be considering the Harlot's connection with idolatry on a different later occasion.
Finally, the Harlot is "drunk with the blood of the saints". This has been seen as a reference to the martyrdoms of the Protestant Reformation.
I hope to be considering the Harlot's connection with persecution on yet another later occasion.

Nevertheless, I'm offering a different line of interpretation.
This is partly because the Harlot rests on the Beast (and I maintain that we're still waiting for the Beast to arrive).
It's also because I'm convinced that the difference here between "faithful" and "unfaithful" is founded upon the choice made by individuals, not on the choice made by groups.

The "faithful woman" would then represent, collectively, each and every individual who was found faithful, from whatever denomination or Christian group.
Conversely, the Harlot would represent, collectively, each and every individual who was NOT found faithful, from whatever denomination or Christian group.
Thus the division between the two would be running within denominations, not between them.
There would not be a neat and clearly visible boundary line, but something much more messy.
In which case, the Harlot would not be a visible and identifiable group, except in the eyes of God.

Let me try to imagine how this might be worked out in practice, how it might be experienced from the human perspective.
I've suggested that the Christian community might be divided between those who resisted the claims of the Beast, and those who were compromising their faith.
It seems very plausible, unfortunately, that that the leadership of the various churches would be heavily represented amongst those who were compromising. Those churches with state connections would be particularly vulnerable. I feel confident, as an Anglican, that the Church of England establishment would fold fairly quickly. Archbishops of Canterbury are chosen for their skill in compromising and "inclusiveness", not for their willingness to take firm, "divisive", stances. But the leadership of the more independent churches need not be immune. If the political authority was sufficiently powerful, it would be able to remove them. Thus the Beast could be enabled, as I've suggested elsewhere, to take control of the external features of church life, the structures of organisation.

Up to a point, we can find analogies in the church politics of Nazi Germany.
On the one hand, there was the "German Christian movement", which was sympathetic towards the racial doctrines of the Nazis. They tried to combine the churches into the "Protestant Reich Church" under a "national bishop".
On the other hand, the signatories of the Barmen Declaration, and other pastors, opposed themselves to these doctrines, and formed themselves into a new "Confessing Church"; these had the support of major theologians like Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

In that example, certainly, the division could be visible, because the Confessing Church was allowed to act openly.
But if the "compromising church", in the circumstances which I've been projecting, was more closely connected with the authority of the Beast, resistance would have to be more covert. It might be dangerous (because it would look suspicious) even to leave them. Even the arrangement of secret prayer meetings might become a very anxious business.
This would be a very searching test of the loyalty of all believers.

In such circumstances, it would not be possible to relax in the comforting assurance that the unfaithful church was "that lot over there".
The question of ultimate loyalty, between God and the Beast, would be coming much closer to home.

edit on 7-11-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 7 2010 @ 04:46 PM
A lot of food for thought here. Generally speaking, it's at least an impressive meditation for one to look inwardly with. The idea, too, that in a time that such a persecution, to such a degree, isn't yet evident, makes it harder to accept by the casual onlooker makes alot of sense. S&F for the notable intellect and work that went into this OP. Peace.

posted on Nov, 7 2010 @ 04:50 PM
reply to post by The GUT

Thank you for those encouraging comments.
I was trying to get away from what "everybody says" to what I thought the text itself was actually telling me.

posted on Nov, 7 2010 @ 07:28 PM
Of course another traditional Protestant line of thought is to identify the Catholic Church or Papacy with the Antichrist. The "Antichrist" title (though it is not one that John himself actually uses) belongs, if anywhere, to the Beast, so it is not quite relevant to the theme of this thread.
However I did just want to observe one thing; that identification seems to overlook the fact that the Beast is destroying the Harlot at the end of the chapter. It is not easy to see how the Catholic Church could be on both sides of this conflict at the same time.
So there does need to be a distinction between Harlot and Beast. I would recommend, rather, my own argment in the relevant threads that the two Beasts of ch13 are a world political-state and its leader.

posted on Nov, 7 2010 @ 09:05 PM
NB In relation to the chronology of Revelation;
I would understand ch17 as a "background" chapter, like chs 12-13.
The destruction of Babylon is already well under way at this point- it is first mentioned in ch14.
The "seven bowls" of ch16 are actually winding up the process.
Therefore, just before it is destroyed, there are a couple of chapters of explanation and reflection about what the destruction means.

posted on Nov, 8 2010 @ 11:53 AM
reply to post by DISRAELI

Just a quick observation as for now I've only had time for a quick scan but it seems the crux of it is, she is the mother of the harlots. That would place her as the one all the rest came out of. Which system was that first. which went astry first? That may change the popular opinion of what a lot of people believe. Had that system evoloved when Jesus, Yahshua was here?


posted on Nov, 8 2010 @ 01:42 PM
reply to post by truthiron

Now that is a very good question.
I take refuge in the fact that I said at the beginning she was a very complex figure and I did not intend to cover more than one angle at a time.
The text talks about harlotries and abominations. My suggestion was the "harlotry" ought to relate to unfaithfulness of some kind on the part of God's people. But "abominations" is about idolatry, and that's got greater scope. I'll be looking at those next time, but even that is a big subject.
I suppose from the Old Testament perspective the ultimate source of all this idolatry is the Tower of Babel. But that just helps to tell us why she's called Babylon.

posted on Nov, 8 2010 @ 02:32 PM

Originally posted by truthiron
reply to post by DISRAELI

Just a quick observation as for now I've only had time for a quick scan but it seems the crux of it is, she is the mother of the harlots. That would place her as the one all the rest came out of. Which system was that first. which went astry first? That may change the popular opinion of what a lot of people believe. Had that system evoloved when Jesus, Yahshua was here?


Going on a bit further the beast system of the ten horns that have the kingly power now is our New World Order. This is not the Great Whore but will turn against the great whore and eat her flesh and burn her with fire and hates her. Rev. 17:16 This hasn't happened yet so it is prophecy to come to pass.

I do not see the Papacy to be the beast but only "one" of it's heads.

Re 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

The wounded head was the Papacy and the wound will be healed when the beast can continue unabated as just before the wound was inflicted. It is coming to the place where the beast will again get away with "murder"
The beast is more than the Papacy. Notice from the verse above "all the world wondered after the beast", and not the wounded head.

Now all that must be determined is who is this "Mother of Harlots"? Yes a lot of reform groups broke off of Catholicism but in the first place she traces back to the apostles and Christ. But there was a system Jesus condemned with not soft spoken words. Read the whole chap. of Matt. Chap. 23:. I will drop the next to the last verse here and let all decide this question for yourself.

Mt 23:38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.


posted on Nov, 8 2010 @ 02:39 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

To make reply to your last comment to my first reply, Disraeli, I see this thing right on top of us now. This thing should have been understood before this. The falling away is very fast and furious against all that is right true and just.


posted on Nov, 8 2010 @ 03:40 PM
reply to post by truthiron

So, in a nutshell, you propose that the Jewish community, as criticised by Jesus, is the Harlot?
Yes, I was arguing in the OP that the Christians of John's time would have understood it that way.
I suggested that this interpretation would have been fulfilled by the Roman attack on Jerusalem in AD70.
For me, that interpretation closed at that point.
Whereas you would continue it. I take it that you would be expecting an attack by the world on the Jews and/or Israel, as the fulfilment of that assault at the end of the chapter?
This is a very reasonable line of argument, and it would not be easy to argue against it.
My own approach is governed by the assumptions I've been making; that John is addressing two audiences, the church of his own time and the church of a later time, and has a meaning for each; and that the Beast (in the way that I've been understanding the Beast) has not yet arrived on the scene.

posted on Nov, 8 2010 @ 07:16 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

Hey, I'm enjoying both of y'all, keep it up!

posted on Nov, 8 2010 @ 07:41 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

Just a short reply since I noticed you see the beast of Rev. 13 as a world political state. That is what the NWO is, we the USA created it, the united nations paterned after our United States only it is United Countries of the World. Papa Bush first gave out the grand statement New World Order openly. It had been being put together for many many years. I think it has been working towards what it is today from the time the deadly wound was inflicted on this beast and I see the beast at the time of the wound to be the old world order. the rule changing from the heads in the old to the horns of the beast in the NWO. These were crowns Rev. 13;1 KJV. and Rev. 12:3. It evolved slowly from about 1798.

This is to point out why I see this beast is very present and well.


posted on Nov, 8 2010 @ 07:52 PM
reply to post by truthiron

Thank you for those comments.
And how would you apply the words "The whole earth followed the Beast with wonder"?

posted on Nov, 8 2010 @ 08:34 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

The beast had been seen as very cruel before the wound but after the wound it changed as the 10 most powerful in the world ( the 10 horns with crowns ) brought on better times and no slaughter. The beast has stayed away from being cruel but now is beginning to show it's satanic beastly nature. It has been given admiration and peoples have morveled as the system of united nations was seen to be wonderful. It wasn't seen as to what it really is until lately it is coming out. It is a mean one,--

Re 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

The dragon gives it "His" power, "His" seat and "His" great authority but only until He emerges verse 13:11. This beast is Satan's image beast as it also has 7 heads and 10 horns but appears like a leopard, vese above, heads and horns are seen in verse 1 of Chap. 13.


edit on 8-11-2010 by truthiron because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 8 2010 @ 08:55 PM
reply to post by truthiron

I take it that your timetable identifies the "Four Horsemen" period with the Napoleonic wars? It would have to be, if the Beast was going to begin at that time.
I'm still waiting for someone to match the second Beast and a recognisable "mark", with people suffering death for refusing to worship the Beast. I suppose that would still be in the future on your system as well.

edit on 8-11-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 9 2010 @ 10:42 AM
reply to post by DISRAELI

Yes it appears to me when Jesus went out conquering was after the freedom that came after the wound was inflicted and the beast took on a docile nature for a lot of yrs. and protestantism sprung out and the Bible became widely available and freedom was had to preach the true Word of God. I don't have time to run out the other horses of what they implied now but on the question you bring up on the mark of the beast of Rev. 13: I doubt that it will be a visible mark but may be an implant that can be read of whether one is of the image beast and the master of it. All are to make an image to Satan's image beast, the leopard like beast having 7 heads and ten horns same as himself. That would be in compliance with, being of it. What I find it boils down to is who will we render obedience too. It comes down to the mindset, it is a battle for the mind. An example comes to mind, Rom 13:1 comes to mind. --
Ro 13:1 ¶ Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Notice subject unto the higher powers, well Satan and evil rule is lower powers.
The problem here is "ordained of God". I can only be subject to them if they are ordained of God and it is not hard to determine who they are of. When you know of a certainity they are of Satan would you obey, not me. As soon as to obey is found to conlict with obedience to God I must and will not. God is first and only and Satan is not my master.
The Mark of the beast is about who will you obey?


posted on Nov, 9 2010 @ 10:57 AM
Very good OP!
You know my school of thinking...
I appreciate your time and efforts in presenting theories
and ideas on these without being rude, argumentative and combative...
A refreshing outlook and one I wish all shared in the Religious forums.

God Bless~

posted on Nov, 9 2010 @ 12:34 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

Disraeli, Clearly you have done your homework on this subject.On her head is written Mystery, Babylon the great. The key word here is mystery.Being a catholic, Its our understanding that the word mystery is not something we can not know anything about, rather something we can not know everything about.You my friend have seemed to figure out more than the average Joe, or Protestant, or Catholic, respectfully
Some how I feel like this also ties into the habitation of unclean animals (Leviticus 13:21-22). just my two sense.

posted on Nov, 9 2010 @ 01:04 PM

Originally posted by oliveoil
Some how I feel like this also ties into the habitation of unclean animals (Leviticus 13:21-22). just my two sense.

Thank you for those comments.
I agree that this is a very complex figure. I'm not finding it easy to get to grips with her, which is why I'm tackling her one piece at a time.
I'm a little puzzled by that reference, because it appears in my Bible as a passage about priests examining for leprosy. Is that the right chapter number?[
edit on 9-11-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

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