The Visions of Revelation, the 17th Vision

The seventeenth vision; The Great Whore;

Rev. 17:1-18

1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. 7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. 9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. 10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. 11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. 12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. 14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. 15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

Actually if one allows the Bible to explain itself this vision requires very little work to understand. The main item of contention and misunderstanding is in regards to the identity of the image that is referred to as “the great whore” (vs. 1). Elsewhere in this vision it is simply referred to as a woman.

The vision begins with one of the angels that held the seven vials coming and beginning to speak to John; he tells him that he will show John “the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters” (vs. 1). So this vision could be considered a continuation of the previous one; recall that John provided a hint at what was to come[1], but this vision only provides the identity of the great whore, concealed in symbols. It’s almost as if he is making sure we know who all the characters are before showing us the judgment executed against it. We will read about the judgment that God places upon Babylon in the next vision; in this vision, as was just stated, God is highlighting the main actors in this climatic end-time sequence of events.

Before John and hence us, the readers, are shown anything the angel does provide some information about this woman He tells John that she 1) sitteth upon many waters, 2) With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and 3) the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. These pieces will assist us when we attempt to determine who God says this great whore is.

The beast

Before the angel explains who or what this woman is he begins to speak about the beast she is riding. He tells John that the beast will ascend out of the bottomless pit. One will recall that we have encountered this beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit earlier in Revelation. We first hear of the bottomless pit during the sounding of the seven trumps; we had read how, when the fifth trump was sounded, an angel descended and opened the bottomless pit (9:1). We are told that upon it being opened that smoke poured out and this was followed by locusts, however this is not the beast we are seeing here. It is not until John is speaking of the two witnesses in chapter 11 that we first hear him speak specifically of this beast;

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

One is right if they realize that John had also spoke of the rising of this beast elsewhere prior to this vision. Immediately after the vision of the woman and the dragon he talked about the multi-headed beast; recall that John said that this beast had “seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (13:1). If one compares that with how he describes this beast “scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” the only logical conclusion would be that John is speaking of the same beast. Some may question this identification by pointing out that when John first speaks of the multi-headed beast he talks about it rising from the Abyss (11:7) and the second time he tells of it coming up out of the sea (13:1). Is there actually a conflict, could John be speaking of two different beasts? The answer is no; the apparent conflict between where it arose from disappears with knowledge of early Jewish concepts of the Abyss and how it was portrayed by writers;

In Jewish thought, the Abyss was often associated with the ocean depths. Speaking of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures in use at the time of Christ, The New Unger's Bible Dictionary says: "The LXX renders Heb. tehom, 'the primeval ocean' (Gen. 1:2; Ps. 24:2; etc.) as 'abyss'." (p. 18, "Abyss").[2]

The angel then provides us with more details about this beast. First, he tells us that the seven heads are seven mountains which the woman sits on (vs. 9) and also they represent seven kings, a dual meaning in this symbol. Of these seven kings the angel tells us that; five are fallen, one is and the last one is yet to come (vs. 10). Of this last king the angel says that he must rule for a short space. It is not clear, but the implication of what the angel says regarding this seventh king is that the beast supersedes him, possibly by force. The angel simply says that the beast is the eighth king and that he is of the seven and this last one goes into perdition. We need to learn what this place or condition of perdition is. First off it is not hell or the abyss, but it is simply to ruin; the Greek word rendered as perdition simply means a state of ruin[3]. Remember the beast is not an actual living creature, but a symbol of something; the beast is actually an organization.

Many are confused by the angel’s comment about this last king, which the beast epitomizes, he tells John that this last king “was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition” (vs. 8) and again a few verses later “And the beast that was, and is not” (vs. 11). How can something be was, is not and shall be?

To understand this quandary we must remember that the beast is a demonic creation. Remember how we have seen that the angels, that had been given the responsibility to oversee the earth and mankind, disobeyed God and had sexual relations with human women and corrupted the thinking of mankind. How, because of their disobedience, God condemned them to the Abyss[4] and during this end time events they are released. So now we see how this creature was (i.e. their initial role in God’s creation) and currently is not because they are imprisoned in the Abyss and as John has been shown they will be released from the Abyss during the events of the Day of the Lord.

The angel then identifies who or what the ten horns represent. Many commentators have ‘identified’ these ten as being repeated reincarnations of the Roman Empire. However an open-minded examination will clearly inform us that this supposition is incorrect. These ten kings are mentioned earlier in the Bible; in fact they are first mentioned back in the book of Daniel.

Explaining to the King what the different parts of the statue represented, kingdoms that directly affected or afflicted the House of Israel and/or the House of Judah. When he reached the bottom part of the statue, its feet, he says;

And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.

(Dan. 2:41-43)

History has shown that the legs of the statue was the Roman Empire; however Daniel’s words does not indicate that this kingdom (i.e. the kingdom of the feet) is in any way related to the previous kingdom, other then like the kingdoms before it somehow is deeply involved with Israel. While not providing any definite details Daniel tells the King that this kingdom and notice it is referred to singularly shall be divided and that it is partly strong and yet partly broken. In verse forty three there is a serious implication as to the demonic makeup of this kingdom we are told that “they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men”. While it does not say explicitly it is a safe assumption that they are demons based on the signs and occurrences already mentioned in Revelation.

Daniel clearly shows that these ten kings can not be repeated existences of the Roman Empire;

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.

(Dan. 2:44)

Daniel clearly says that while these ten kings are in power God shall reestablish his Kingdom here on Earth. There is no other way, unless one wishes to not accept what God’s written word says, that these ten kings will exist at the same time and during the end times. This is confirmed by what the angel tells John about the ten horns;

And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

(Rev. 17:12)

Of whom these kings/countries are the Bible is mute so trying to identify them is simply an exercise in speculation.

While the identity of these ten kings is unknown at this time John does reveal that it is a love/hate relationship between the kings and the woman. In speaking of these kings the angel tells us that they will “have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (vs. 13). The worldwide extent of these ten kingdoms may be inferred by the angel’s next statement where he says, “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them” (vs. 14). First off this implies that this is, at least in part, a military alliance of some sort. This could possibly indicate that the beast may not actually posses an army and depends on the militaries of allied nations from around the globe. Second, regarding the worldwide expanse of the beast notice how the angel says that the kings make war with the Lamb, but that the Lamb shall overcome them (vs. 14). Remember how we are told that upon the Lamb’s (i.e. Jesus Christ) return the armies of the world had gathered at Armageddon, then head south towards Jerusalem where Christ destroys them in Kidron valley outside of Jerusalem.

With the woman being depicted as riding the beast implies some form of control by the woman over the beast; the fact that it is to the beast that these kings provide military assistance to would also indicate that the woman has no military power of her own. While these kings provide the military power of the beast the angel tells us that “the ten horns…shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire” (vs. 16).

So who or more correctly, what is this great whore?

The great whore

Most commentators tend to ‘identify’ the great whore as the Roman Catholic Church, but if we use the Bible as our guide we shall see that this is not who the great whore is. There are a few things that may be gleaned about the great whore from what we have read so far. First off we know that the woman does not have military strength, seeing that she relies on the beast for that. Second, while we have seen that women are used to depict a system of beliefs, generally religious, this woman is not recorded as having done any religious type of things, such as miracles. Recall that it was the false prophet that used miracles to deceive the people of the earth (13:13-14) and it is the false prophet that causes the people of the earth to worship the beast (13:12, 15). Lastly she is depicted as riding the horse, which would indicate some control or guidance she exerts over the beast. Also while the angel tells John that the woman “which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (vs. 18) it would appear that instead of ruling as a king she exerts more of an influence[5] that induces or compels other countries to do as she wishes.

John provides us with a description of the woman. He tells us that she is “arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (vs. 4). He also tells us that upon her forehead is written “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH”. The woman is also drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus (vs. 6).

As has been shown a woman is used throughout the Bible to represent a system of beliefs. In Revelation twelve, a woman symbolizes the chosen of God (see discussion of this vision in the chapter about the 14th vision). In Isaiah 47, a woman is symbolic of Babylon (whether the nation or the system of Babylon). In Galatians 4:21-31, Paul uses “women” to symbolize the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. In Ezekiel 16, God uses a woman to symbolize Israel: “Aholah” is the kingdom of Israel and “Aholibah” is the kingdom of Judah. So we see that when a woman is used as a symbol, the common denominator is the idea of a system of beliefs and practices that influence other people. A church or religion is a system of beliefs and practices, but so too is a nation.

As was said, many have identified this woman as being the Roman Catholic Church but let us seek her identity through the written word of God. First one must understand that this woman being spoken of is actually a city; it is referred to a number of times in Revelation as either ‘this’ or ‘that’ great city[6]. In fact God indirectly identifies the city during the vision relating to the two witnesses. In verse 8 of chapter eleven where John is telling of the murder of the witnesses, he says that their bodies will lie in the streets of the “great city” shortly after that he adds that this city is “where…our Lord was crucified” (11:8). There is no debate as to where Christ was crucified, it was in Jerusalem[7]. There can or should not be any dispute then that this city that God labels “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (vs. 5) is none other then Jerusalem![8]

God, through the visions recorded in Revelation, provides a number of clues to help confirm this identification. Many of these identifiers can be verified with Scripture, but a few require us to seek this information in other sources but the proof is still valid. These ‘identifiers’ are[9]:

1) The Woman is called "Sodom" and "Egypt" (Revelation 11:8).

2) The Woman has fornicated with the Heathen World against God (Revelation 17:2, 18:3, 18:9).

3) The Woman is the Mother of Whores and Abominable Atrocities (Revelation 17:5).

4) The Woman has blood on her hands (Revelation 17:6, 18:24, 18:20).

5) The Woman is responsible for the death of the Prophets and Apostles (Revelation 17:6, 18:20, 18:24).

6) The Woman has a Full Cup of Iniquities (Revelation 18:5).

7) The Woman will be rewarded as she rewarded God (Revelation 18:6).

8) The Woman glorifies herself (Revelation 18:7).

9) The Woman is pronounced Desolate (Revelation 18:19).

Jerusalem, oh Jerusalem

If the listed identifiers can be placed upon Jerusalem then it is no wonder why Jesus lamented over her just prior to his entrance that final time that culminated in his crucifixion (Matt. 23: 37). Let us look and see if these charges can truthfully be placed on Jerusalem.

1) The Woman is called "Sodom" and "Egypt".

  1. a. Ezekiel 16:46, 48-49, 53, And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters…48 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters 49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy…53 When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them:
  2. b. Isaiah 1:1, 10 1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem…10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

2) The Woman has fornicated[10] with the Heathen World against God.

  1. a. Ezekiel 16:15-17, 25-26, 28_29 But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was…16 And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. 17 Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them…and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms. 26 Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms…28 Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied. 29 Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.
  2. b. Psalm 106:35, 39 35 But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. 36 And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them…39 Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.

3) The Woman is the Mother of Whores and Abominable Atrocities.

  1. a. Ezekiel 16:53 When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them:
  2. b. Ezekiel 23:1-4, 11 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother: 3 And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity. 4 And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah…11 And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms.

4) The Woman has blood on her hands.

  1. Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee
  2. Micah 3:10 They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.
  3. c. Psalm 106: 38 And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.
  4. d. Ezekiel 23:37 That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them

5) The Woman is responsible for the death of the Prophets and Apostles.

  1. Matthew 23:31, 34-35, 37 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets…34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar…O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee
  2. b. Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
  3. Acts 7:52, 58 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:..58 And cast him (i.e. Stephen SC) out of the city, and stoned him

6) The Woman has a Full Cup of Iniquities.

  1. Ezekiel 16:2, 15-17, 20-21, 36, 51-52 Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations…15 But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was…16 And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. 17 Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them…20 Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, 21 That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?... 36 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them…51 Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done. 52 Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.
  2. b. Isaiah 1:1-4, 21 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.

7) The Woman will be rewarded[11] as she rewarded God.

  1. a. Ezekiel 16:38, 43, 59 And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy…43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head…59 For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.
  2. b. Ezekiel 23: 22-24, 31-35 22 Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side; 23 The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them: all of them desirable young men, captains and rulers, great lords and renowned, all of them riding upon horses. 24 And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and wheels, and with an assembly of people, which shall set against thee buckler and shield and helmet round about: and I will set judgment before them, and they shall judge thee according to their judgments…31 Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her cup into thine hand. 32 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy sister's cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision; it containeth much. 33 Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister Samaria. 34 Thou shalt even drink it and suck it out, and thou shalt break the sherds thereof, and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. 35 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.
  3. c. Ezekiel 23: 45, 49 And the righteous men, they shall judge them after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women that shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands…49 And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you, and ye shall bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.

8) The Woman glorifies herself.

  1. a. Ezekiel 16:15-18 But thou didst trust in thine own beauty… 16 And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours…17 Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them, 18 And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them…24 That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.

9) The Woman is pronounced Desolate.

  1. Ezekiel 16:39 And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare.
  2. b. Ezekiel 23:25-26, 28-29 25 And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal furiously with thee: they shall take away thy nose and thine ears; and thy remnant shall fall by the sword: they shall take thy sons and thy daughters; and thy residue shall be devoured by the fire. 26 They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes, and take away thy fair jewels…28 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will deliver thee into the hand of them whom thou hatest, into the hand of them from whom thy mind is alienated: 29 And they shall deal with thee hatefully, and shall take away all thy labour, and shall leave thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.
  3. c. Luke 13: 35 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

We used Revelation 11:8 to initially identify Jerusalem as the great harlot; recall that that scripture says that the great city is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. We have seen where God has referred to Jerusalem as Sodom. However, nowhere in the Bible does he refer to Jerusalem as Egypt. So does this invalidate our identification? Remember Revelation is composed primarily of symbols and this too is the case; the spiritual condition of this great city is symbolic of the situation of Israel’s condition in Egypt. Let us review, using God’s word to lead us. Paul tells us;

1 And I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all to Moses were baptized in the cloud, and in the sea; 3 and all the same spiritual food did eat, 4 and all the same spiritual drink did drink, for they were drinking of a spiritual rock following them, and the rock was the Christ; 5 but in the most of them God was not well pleased, for they were strewn in the wilderness, 6 and those things became types of us, for our not passionately desiring evil things, as also these did desire. 7 Neither become ye idolaters, as certain of them, as it hath been written, 'The people sat down to eat and to drink, and stood up to play;' 8 neither may we commit whoredom, as certain of them did commit whoredom, and there fell in one day twenty-three thousand; 9 neither may we tempt the Christ, as also certain of them did tempt, and by the serpents did perish; 10 neither murmur ye, as also some of them did murmur, and did perish by the destroyer. 11 And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come,

(1 Corinthians 10:1-11 Young’s Literal Translation)

Notice Paul tells us that these things were an example for us (vs. 6, 11) he reiterates this concept, that the experiences and things depicted in the OT are examples, in Hebrews where he, speaking of the Levitical priesthood says;

Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.

(Heb. 8:5)

So how does this relate to Jerusalem and Egypt? Recall that while in Egypt the Israelites were slaves (Ex. 5: 14) and through Moses God delivered them out of this bondage (Ex. 6:6: 13: 3, 14). So too God tells us that we are in bondage to sin and can not free ourselves (Rom. 8:15, 21: Gal. 4:3, 9, 24-25; 5:1).

In the fourth chapter of Galatians Paul helps to bring this together. He shows how the happenings in the OT are allegories and how they relate to our identification of Jerusalem as the great harlot. In the fourth chapter he talks about how Abraham had two sons:

…the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

(Gal. 4:22-23)

He then explains that these are allegories, that actually they represent;

…for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

(Gal. 4: 24-26)

He proceeds to tell of the struggle of the earthly Jerusalem against the Jerusalem of above;

For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

(Gal 4:27-31)

Notice how Paul talks about how the desolate has many more children then she who has a husband (vs. 27) like the great harlot is the mother of harlots. Also how the children of the bondwoman (i.e. the earthly Jerusalem) persecute the children of the heavenly Jerusalem (vs. 29) as does the great city makes war against the saints.

The last two identifiers require us utilize other sources for proof other then the Bible. The final two identifiers are; The Woman "sits on many waters" (Revelation 17:1) and these "waters" are diverse peoples (Revelation 17:15). The Woman sits on seven Mountains (Revelation 17:9).

The city of Jerusalem is considered historically and spiritually significant to Jews, Christians and Muslims. These three religions make up approximately 54% of the world’s population; estimates of the number of Christians are 2.1 billion, Muslim 1.5 billion and Jews 14 million[12]. Recall how when John is told about the seven heads of the beast, that they essentially had a double meaning. They represented seven kings and they also represented seven mountains that the woman sits upon (vs. 9). Many point to the fact that Rome is situated on seven mountains as proof that the great city in Revelation is actually Rome. These people either are unaware or prefer to not mention that Jerusalem is also positioned on seven mountains[13].

The great whore’s daughters

One last point regarding this great whore, the mother of harlots; some are puzzled as to why God refers to the descendents of earthly Jerusalem as sisters and/or daughters (Ezekiel 16: 46, 48-49, 51-53, 55; Is. 1:8). Remember that a woman is used by God to represent a system of beliefs, usually religious, whether it is truly Godly or pagan. That partly explains why God refers to the many divisions that have come from the earthly Jerusalem as daughters. The other part of the reason is simply cultural. In The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery[14]:

The Hebrew idiom reflects a double metaphor common in the culture of the ancient Near East. A capitol city was personified as a woman, and the inhabitants of that city collectively as her daughter. Jerusalem remains distinct as she who’s Husband is the One God, Yahweh. Thus her daughters, the collective inhabitants, depended on her for identity, but also shaped her future by their action.

Thus the terms “sons,” “daughters,” “children,” “harlot,” as well as other descriptive terms like “seed,” “adulterers,” and “liars” are used collectively without regard to specific gender when the sense of the term is “those showing the characteristics of.” That is what a child does. A child shows the characteristics of its parents regardless if it is a male or female. And so the inhabitants of Jerusalem showed the characteristics of Jerusalem. That is why Hosea is told to write “they are all adulterers.” Male and female.


[1] and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath Rev. 16:19

[2] WHO IS THE "DESTROYER"? Bryan Huie, March 14, 2008

[3] Apoleia -- Destroy, Destroyer, Destruction, Destructive [Noun] apoleia akin to appollumi, and likewise indicating "loss of well-being, not of being," is used (a) of things, signifying their waste, or ruin. Vine's Greek New Testament Dictionary

[4] Book of Enoch VI-X

[5] In Rev. 17:18 echo, "to have," with basileia, "a kingdom," is translated "reigneth," lit., "hath a kingdom," suggestive of a distinction between the sovereignty of mystic Babylon and that of ordinary sovereigns. Vine’s Greek New Testament Dictionary

[6] Revelation 11:8, 14:8, 16:19, 17:18, 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21, 21:10

[7] Actually it was outside of the city’s walls but essentially he was crucified at Jerusalem.

[8] The city of Rome is mentioned a total of 9 times in the NT; Acts 2:10, 18:2, 19:21, 23:11, 28:14, 16; Rom. 1:7, 15; II Tim. 1:17.

[9] These are not the only verses that refer to ‘the great city’. The others relate to things that happen during and after God’s judgment is poured out on it.

[10] Strong's G4203 – porneuō 1) to prostitute one's body to the lust of another 2) to give one's self to unlawful sexual intercourse a) to commit fornication 3) metaph. to be given to idolatry, to worship idols a) to permit one's self to be drawn away by another into idolatry

[11] Strong's G591 – apodidōmi 1) to deliver, to give away for one's own profit what is one's own, to sell

2) to pay off, discharge what is due a) a debt, wages, tribute, taxes, produce due b) things promised under oath c) conjugal duty d) to render account 3) to give back, restore 4) to requite, recompense in a good or a bad sense

[12] http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

[13] The seven mountains are: Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath.

[14] The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, page 194, "daughters" or "daughters of":

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