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Revelation; Harlot Babylon pt3 (Twinned with Rome)

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posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 04:01 PM
I want to offer some thoughts, once again, on the Harlot of Babylon from Revelation ch17.

I find her a comples figure, as I've said before. Most of the details in this picture look like metaphors about her religious activities.
I've considered this woman in terms of the unfaithfulness of God's people-
"The other woman"
And I've considered this woman in terms of the attractions of other religions-
"Mother of abominations"
But the name "Babylon", in the Old Testament, has political overtones that are inescapable (I know, because I tried to escape them).
There must be a political dimension to this figure, as well as a religious dimension.
In the context of John's time, that means the Roman state.

So I'm going to be asking the question; what's the connection between Babylon and Rome?

Babylon and Rome in the Old Testament

There's no getting away from the fact that Babylon, in the Old Testament, is the name of an empire, based on a city.
It's listed by Arnold Toynbee among the empires which can be called "Universal States", because they fill the complete extent of their own civilisation.
The city was the centre of political and economic power, as well as being the focus of a religious culture which the Jewish religion found threatening.
This was the state which destroyed the Temple and the rest of the city of Jerusalem, and took the Jews into exile.
As an empire and city, Babylon is denounced by the prophets for its treatment of Judah and other nations.
As an empire and city, Babylon is threatened by the prophets with a destruction sent by God.
This is the kind of hostile power which the Harlot must be representing.

Rome itself does not appear in the Old Testament, except perhaps in the prophecies of Daniel.
The Romans may make a brief appearance in the story of ch11;
We're told that the king of the north goes into the south, "but ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid, and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant"- Daniel ch11 v30.
This is thought to be an allusion to an episode in the career of king Antiochus Epiphanes, when the legate Pompilius Laenas, with all the brutal bluntness of a man backed by the Senate, obliged him to abandon his invasion of Egypt. The "circle in the sand" story.

There may be references to both empires in the vision-sequence of the "beasts from the sea" in Daniel ch7.
These are understood to represent four kingdoms, and we can identify most of them with reasonable certainty.
The "winged lion" is one of the characteristic sculptures of Babylon, and probably represents that empire.
The empire of the Medes and the Persians was politically lop-sided (most of the original power and territory had come from the Medes), and would be well represented by the bear which was "raised up on one side".
Alexander's empire came into existence with legendary speed, and then fell apart into four kingdoms. So that would be a natural match for the winged and four-headed leopard.
The common factor is that these were all states which dominated their own world..

Then we come to the fourth beast, which was "different from all the beasts that were before it2, in the extent of its power, being "terrible and dreadful and exceedingly strong".
If the fourth beast is to be understood as the immediate successor of the first three, then the obvious candidate is Rome.

The reign of the fourth beast is brought to a close by the arrival of "one like a son of man", coming to receive "dominion and glory and kingdom".
If the fourth beast is Rome, there's a case, from the Christian viewpoint, that this prophecy was at least partly fulfilled in the first coming of Christ, who named himself the Son of Man, and introduced a kingdom which outlived the pagan Roman empire.
But Christians also understand this passage as a reference to the return of Christ in judgement.
If the beast destroyed on that occasion continues to be understood as "the Roman empire", then it needs to have some kind of continuing existence during the interval

But the fourth beast is radically different from any of its predecessors, and we may not think that the Roman empire properly matches the description. If it is permissable to understand a time-gap, instead of continuity, between the first three beasts and the fourth, then the fourth beast could be a completely new kingdom, coming to power in the period before Christ's return.

Babylon and Rome in the New Testament

The Roman power of John's time resembled the Babylonian city of the Old Testament in two very important respects.
They had a similar place in the world (at the political centre)
And they were both dangerous to God's people.

The Roman empire, like the Babylonian empire, can be found on Toynbee's list of "Universal States". At its full extent, it incorporated a complete civilisation.

Rome was the centre of political and economic and military power, as well as being the focus of an important part of the religious culture. Apart from the imperial cult, there was also the stone identified with "the Mother of the gods", which had been imported from Pergamum in 204 B.C.

And they were becoming dangerous to God's people.
The most obvious parallel to Babylon is the destruction of the Temple and city of Jerusalem (though John Robinson, in "Redating the New Testament", dates Revelation before this event)

More to the point, in a Christian book, is that they were becoming dangerous to Christians.
This really began when Nero made them the scapegoats for the burning of Rome.
The danger continued, because the Christian religion was not legally recognised.
Thus Peter warns the church not to be surprised at "the fiery ordeal which comes upon you"- 1 Peter ch4 v12.
And the same kind of tribulation is in the background of the early chapters of Revelation- "The devil is about to throw some of you into prison"- Revelation ch2 v10.

The church of the time recognised a similarity between Rome and Babylon, as shown by some of the allusions in the New Testament.
Peter's message that "She who is in Babylon salutes you" (1 Peter ch5 v13) is normally understood as an oblique reference to the church in Rome.
We're told that the woman in this chapter, named as "Babylon the great", sits on "seven mountains",which are commonly identified with the seven ancient hills of Rome.
She's also described, at the end of the chapter, as "the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth", which seems to settle the question.

On the other hand, Rome is also the most obvious model for the first "Beast" of ch13, which comes out of the sea, like the beasts in Daniel's vision, and clearly represents the same kind of state.
But we're told, at the end of this chapter, that the Beast and its allies "hate the Harlot; they will make her desolate and naked and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire".
How is it possible to find "Rome" in both parties?

I think the various characters need to be disentangled in this way;
Harlot Babylon = Rome, the city
Beast from the sea = Rome the empire
Beast from the land = the Roman Emperor, the imperial office.
Then this chapter portrays the metropolis, supported by, but finally abandoned by, the strength of the remainder of the empire.

So the connection between Babylon and Rome is that "Babylon" has become a metaphor depicting the kind of hostile power, which, in John's time, can be associated with Rome

(continued in Supplement)


edit on 28-11-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 04:01 PM


Once again, I'm detaching these observations from the OP, because they'll be wandering away from the direct support of the text.

We've established that the Rome of John's time resembled the Babylon of the Old Testament in the sense that they were both centres of hostile power.
And that would explain why the woman in this picture should be named as "Babylon", evoking the memory of Rome's predecessor in the role.

The next task is to consider how this picture can be applied in later times, for the benefit of a later church.

One approach has been to assume that the later equivalent of Rome would be Rome itself. The identification is taken to be continuous, from John's reference to the Rome of his own time, and also from the fourth beast of Daniel's vision.
On that basis, a long-standing Protestant tradition understands the woman in this picture as a reference to the Roman Catholic Church.
At the same time, though, Protestant tradition has identified the Papacy as "the Antichrist"- that is to say, as one of the Beasts of ch13.
But this double identification does not really allow for the conflict between Beast and Harlot at the end of the chapter, and I'm not sure that those who adopt this approach have found a good way to explain it.

Another line of thought, more recently, finds the continuity of "Rome" running through the Holy Roman Empire, vis the Treaty of Rome, into the European Union. To the extent that this interpretation concentrates on Rome as "the Beast", it avoids the objection just mentioned.

But I would question this focus upon continuity, and I think we need to be looking, instead, for similarity.
The two theories just quoted look for the later equivalent of John's Rome by following the name and location of Rome.
But these were not the points on which John's Rome was identified with Babylon.
As already discussed, the resemblance was based on two kinds of similarity;
It was partly because they had a similar dominant position in the world
And it was partly because they had a similar hostility towards God's people.
There was certainly no identity between them in name and location, and those two points did not enter into the comparison.
The Rome of John's time was "Babylon" only in a metaphorical sense.
So perhaps the later equivalent of that power would be "Rome" only in the same, simply metaphorical, sense that Rome had been "Babylon".

If that power is to be found in the current state of the world (though this cannot be taken for granted), then the most obvious candidate would be the United States. Not yet a "Universal State", in the Toynbee sense, but it might be argued that economic and cultural globalisation has a simlar effect.
The suggestion that "America is Babylon", which I've seen on these forums, would be inaccurate, strictly speaking, because "Babylon" seems to represent the metropolis. It would have to be identified with Washington/New York, perhaps in conjunction with San Francisco/Los Angeles, thus combining the centres of political and economic and cultural power.

But this theory, too, has a very important flaw, because the United States only meets one of the two criteria. The Biblical "Babylon-Rome" represents hostile power, from the viewpoint of God's people.
The United States has much of the power, but where are the signs of hostility?
In the absence of state hostility to the church, we cannot yet say that "Babylon" has emerged into view.

A final possibility is that "Babylon" remains in the future.
That would certainly follow if the Beast itself (as I've argued elsewhere) remains in our future, because the Harlot cannot be separated from the Beast.
The Beast seems to emerge after the world-crisis represented by the "Four Horsemen" of ch6.
I've suggested that the Beast would be able to rise to power on the strength of leading the world into recovery from that crisis.
We're told in ch13 that the Beast had previously suffered "a mortal wound", and we're told in this chapter that the Beast "was and is not" in the time of the earlier "sixth king".
So it seems plausible to me, from these hints, that the power which led the world into recovery from that crisis would NOT be the power which was leading the world when the crisis began.
This possibly rules out the United States, but certainly makes it impossible to identify the Beast, with any certainty, before the events of ch6 have taken place.
If we cannot identify the Beast, with certainty, then we cannot identify the metropolis of the Beast.
Which means that we cannot identify that "Babylon" aspect of the Harlot.

But we should be better able to recognise Babylon, in that sense, when she arrives.
She would be seen as a central power, dominating the world, and acting in hostility to God's people.

edit on 28-11-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 04:49 PM
Pointless (tldr) thread, since you haven't identified who the whore of Babylon is.

You have it in your name, just take the first and last letters away (tell your employer [M....D] you have been compromised).

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 04:54 PM
reply to post by Phanthom

I have two other threads covering the same figure, from different angles.
Maybe the interpretation you're looking for is in one of them.

Incidentally, I named myself after a British Conservative Prime Minister, because I am British,Conservative, and interested in history.
I am not Jewish, and I have no employer.

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 04:58 PM
I know exactly who Benjamin Disraeli is, and I don't believe in some "coincidences", but I might be inclined to believe you on the rest.
Care to provide a link to that other thread of yours, please? (I may need to apologize...)

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 05:01 PM
Just some food for thought....

Rome does not sit on seven hills... it encompasses many more than that, in actual fact.

However, the city of Jerusalem does, in fact, sit on seven hills.
Mt. of Olives, Mt. Scopus, Mt. Zion, Mt. Moriah (the Temple mount), Golgotha, Hill of Moses, and Mt. Herzl.

What does this mean? I am simply stating that the city of Jerusalem may be in fact the "Babylon" in which was referred to by John.

That does bear out the writings in the Bible much more factually than Rome does.

And one must also keep in mind that the Catholic Church is the Church that was founded by Jesus Christ Himself. Despite personal feelings regarding the Magesterium of the Church, Christ made two promises regarding His Church. One, that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. Two, that he would remain with it until the end of the age.

Therefore, it would be impossible for the Pope to be the AntiChrist, or frankly, for the Catholic Faith to be the "beast" of the Book of Revelation.

Just my 2 cents.

As always, I like your posts and your civility, Disraeli.

Also, this is off topic, but I saw this the other day and thought of you... have you seen this story?

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 05:03 PM
reply to post by Phanthom

Links provided with pleasure;
Babylon-"The other woman"
Babylon- "Mother of abominations"
If you check through my profile, you will see that I've been going through Revelation systematically.
From a Christian standpoint.

edit on 28-11-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 05:20 PM

Originally posted by thegoodearth
Just some food for thought....
Rome does not sit on seven hills... it encompasses many more than that, in actual fact.

The "seven hills" question is ambiguous.
I went into it as part of the "seven kings" thread.
Yes, classical Rome was famous for NINE hills, and I was originally intending to settle for that.
But then I came across the point that there was an ancient festival, the SEPTIMONTIUM, celebrating a time when the city was focussed on seven. Seven spurs of the Palatine, I think, without looking it up again. So the comment could be referring to this older association; it seems plausible to me that the people of John's time would have recognised it, knowing about the festival.

You've seen in the Supplement how I questioned the later continuation of the "Rome" identification.
And you may have seen in "Other woman" how I identified the Jews as the most likely meaning intended by John for his own time.

must also keep in mind that the Catholic Church is the Church that was founded by Jesus Christ Himself.

However, I disagree with this identification.
To me, the Christian church,as founded by Christ, includes all who belong to Christ,in all denominations.
I do not think the Catholic community is entitled to take the word "Church" out of the New Testament and apply it to itself exclusively.

Than you for that link.
I may comment on it after I've had a look to see what else is happening on this thread.
edit on 28-11-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 05:23 PM
ive got a question, do you think your over thinking?

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 05:26 PM
reply to post by vjr1113

I believe that I'm giving the subject exactly the right amount of thought.
I want to know what the writer means.
This involves thinking about what he says.

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 06:33 PM

Originally posted by thegoodearth
Also, this is off topic, but I saw this the other day and thought of you... have you seen this story?

Oh yes, and thank you for that link.
Yes, I was aware of that particular developing story.
From a more "Protestant" viewpoint, it is not necessarily a bad thing.
Every time a member of the more "Catholic" party within the Church of England transfers across to Rome, it weakens the numerical strength of the "Catholic" party that remains. The balance shifts.

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 07:19 PM
Babylon is equated with Confusion... so Babylon in the Theological sense is every mankind created
empire, or latter-day superpower that is inherently wrapped in chaos & confusion ...

'Babylon' being the Archtype of confusion and disorder...
so every major world empire is identifiable as a 'Babylon', including the ancient Roman, the Papacy of the middle ages, also the Byzantine and the Once world wide Islamic Caliphate, on through British, Spanish...then the Kaiser and then the 3rd Reich both of Germany, the USSR and finally the present USA ...

the 'Harlot' Babylon, is the system of money creation & money... associated with the then pinnacle worldly power i.e.: empire/kingdom/superpower

so, Rome is only one of the many faces of the Harlot/ mystery Babylon throughout history,

identifying Rome as the sole incarnation of Babylon, is insisting the Book of Revelation is a 'snap-shot'
of prophetic time and is forever frozen in place...
rather than the identity of the forewarned 'Babylon' ever changing ...with each suceeding hedonistic,
self serving government which is guaranteed to eventually crumble into decay, chaos and cultural entropy,
as all previous world powers have

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 07:26 PM
reply to post by St Udio

Thank you for those comments.
I certainly agree in not limiting it to Rome.
My first thought was that Babylon is more about Power than about confusion- it's the use of power that makes the prophets complain about it.
I see the symptoms of an over-controlling society- one of the reasons why the Christians were harassed by Rome was that the state did not like people belonging to "unlicensed" organisations.
Having said that, there is the Jeremiah ch50 passage which I quoted in the "Mother of Abominations" thread, about Babylon as a cup in the Lord's hands "making the whole earth drunken". . Although arguably this is still about the effects of power in action.

PS Compare the Genesis image of Babel.
What the men try to achieve is Power.
Confusion is what God brings upon them to overcome what they are trying to achieve.
edit on 28-11-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 08:49 PM
Daniel ch11 vv29-30
"At the time apponited, he shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be as it was before.
For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged".

Here is, from Livy, the probable background of this story;

"After [King Antiochus Epiphanes] had crossed the river at Eleusis, a place four miles from Alexandria, he was met by the Roman commissioners. As they approached, the king greeted them and stretched out his right hand to Popilius; whereupon Popilius handed him the tablets containing the Senate's resolution in writing and bade him read this before doing anything else. After reading the decree, Antiochus said that he would summon his friends and consult with them about his course of action; at which Popilius, in keeping with his general acerbity of temper, drew a circle around the king with the rod he carried in his hand and said "Before you move out of this circle, give me an answer to report to the Senate". The king hesitated for a moment, astounded by the violence of the command; then he replied "I shall do what the Senate decrees." Not until then did Popilius hold out his hand to the king as an ally and friend".
Livy, History of Rome, Book XLV.12

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 09:03 PM

Originally posted by DISRAELI
However, I disagree with this identification.
To me, the Christian church,as founded by Christ, includes all who belong to Christ,in all denominations.
I do not think the Catholic community is entitled to take the word "Church" out of the New Testament and apply it to itself exclusively.

I realize how you feel about this, and respect your opinion...
However, I must comment on one little bit-
just to say that the Catholic Church was established for a long, long time before the New Testament was published. St. Peter and the Apostles were preaching the Good News of Christ as he commanded them to do in his name, baptizing, preaching, and celebrating Mass, consecrating Holy Communion in distant lands from Jerusalem. It was a largely oral tradition, until the Gospels were initially written in the mid- first century, the letters written in the first century...

Obviously the Bible in its entirety was not available until the 300's. The Catholic Church was firmly established well before that time.

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 09:11 PM
reply to post by thegoodearth

OK- but I put it to you that the "Roman Catholic Church" is only one segment of the "Catholic Church" of that period.
And that Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, etc, are similarly descendent fragments of that same Catholic Church.
Church= "Body of Christ", and
Church = "this particular institution" are two distinct meanings.
The standard Roman Catholic argument assumes their identity, and that's what I dispute.

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 09:23 PM
hello all... i'm really skeptical of rome...rome is the church, london is the bank, washington is.....
now this rome.....good gravy....the catholics are hi-jackers and lost in evil. yep, one can read their letters and see what is coming. they have sunday worship as critical to life.this means they're telling on themselves....look out. i'm trying to reach as many as i can to no avail....they don't read the word. i have a list 4 pages long of their anti-scriptural decrees...decorum prevents me from writing it out plainly in this post, i could fill volumes

one could say they're a pretty worldly bunch.

edit on 28-11-2010 by GBP/JPY because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 09:37 PM
reply to post by GBP/JPY

Unfortunately the church at large can be fairly worldly, as sceptics love to point out.
That's why it may be a mistake to demonise one particular fragment of it, the scapegoat tendancy.
I can certainly see flaws in the Roman catholic teaching and practice, but I'm convinced that the real trouble is going to come from elsewhere.

edit on 28-11-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 09:55 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

yes, i keep open ....just mastering all the possibilities...'

my main surmisal on this....they are the leaders (not the church members at issue here ) whom have changed the times and the law.....
i like these threads....

they won''t let me flagg.....
edit on 28-11-2010 by GBP/JPY because: so i'll flag this thread tomorrow

posted on Nov, 28 2010 @ 10:05 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

Ok, now I understand....

However, St. Peter established the Christian Holy See and the Bishop seat in Rome. That is where he was martyred. That is why the Roman Catholic Church is based in Rome.

As St. Peter was commissioned by Jesus Christ to hold the keys to Heaven (the only one of the Twelve to be given the keys), was also asked for by Satan from Christ Himself, prayed for deliverance from Satan by Christ Himself, and told by Christ to confirm the rest of his brothers (at the Last Supper), as well as asked three times to feed His sheep, tend His sheep, feed His sheep, after the Resurrection...

St. Peter was the first Apostle called by Christ to ministry. He is the most numerous mentioned in the Gospels. He is the first to rise and decide to appoint a successor to Judas the Iscariot in the Book of Acts. He is the leader throughout most of the Book of Acts. The Apostles all acted according to Christ's command "As the Father sent me, so I send you".

The Roman Catholic apostolic Church is one that can be traced back to St. Peter completely from present day. I think this alone can show that Jesus has kept his promises. He established His church and has stayed with her since then. No matter what has beseiged the Church, it has not failed.

The Reformation was a sad attempt of Martin Luther to impose his own authority over the Pope at that time... what many people do not understand about the Reformation, or about Martin Luther in particular, was that he taught very forcefully that if one did not follow what he taught, alternatively, that they were damned. This sadly led to mass schisms and splinterings where many of the faithful were misled, duped and bewildered. His translation of the Bible alone had over 1000 errors in it, where he had blurred and changed Holy Scripture into what he wanted it to say.

He threw out entire Books of the Bible as well as adding words... it is sad.

Not to be outdone, Calvin wrote in a letter to Melanchthon during this time:
"It is of great importance that the divisions which subsist among us should not be known to future ages; for nothing can be more ridiculous than that we, who have been compelled to make a separation from the whole world, should have agreed so ill among ourselves from the beginning of the Reformation."

I am willing to talk further regarding this... not trying to argue at all, really, this is all said with a informative tone...

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