Whore of Babylon
Overview
 

The Whore of Babylon or "Babylon the great" is a Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 allegorical
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 figure of evil
Evil
Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

 mentioned in the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. Her full title is given as "Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth."
The Whore is associated with the Antichrist
Antichrist
The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

 and the Beast of Revelation by connection with an equally allegorical kingdom. (The word "Whore" can also be translated as "Idolatress").
The Whore's apocalyptic
Apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

 downfall is prophesied
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

 to take place in the hands of the beast with seven heads and ten horns.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia

The Whore of Babylon or "Babylon the great" is a Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 allegorical
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 figure of evil
Evil
Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

 mentioned in the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. Her full title is given as "Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth."

Symbolism

The Whore is associated with the Antichrist
Antichrist
The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

 and the Beast of Revelation by connection with an equally allegorical kingdom. (The word "Whore" can also be translated as "Idolatress").
The Whore's apocalyptic
Apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

 downfall is prophesied
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

 to take place in the hands of the beast with seven heads and ten horns. There is much speculation within Christian eschatology
Christian eschatology
Christian eschatology is a major branch of study within Christian theology. Eschatology, from two Greek words meaning last and study , is the study of the end of things, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, or the end of the world...

 on what the Whore and Beast symbolize as well as the possible implications for contemporary interpretations.

The “great whore”, of the biblical book of Revelation is featured in chapters 17 and 18. Many passages define symbolic meanings inherent in the text.
17:1 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:
17:2 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. ["Fornication" is interpreted/translated as "idolatry" in the Amplified Bible (AMP)]
17:3 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.
17:4 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:
17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written a mystery: BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. [King James Version; the New International Version uses "prostitutes" instead of "harlots"].
17:6 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.
17:9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sat. [King James Version; the New International Version Bible uses "hills" instead of "mountains"].
17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue a short space.
17:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goes into perdition.
17:12 And the ten horns which thou saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
17:15 And he said unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sat, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.

— 
See also: Revelation 17:1, Parallel Translations

Rome and the Roman Empire

Many Biblical scholars believe that "Babylon
Babylon (New Testament)
Babylon occurs in the Christian New Testament both with a literal and a figurative meaning. The famous ancient city, located near Baghdad, was a complete unpopulated ruin by 275 BC, well before the time of the New Testament...

" is an allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 of Rome
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

; perhaps specifically at the time to some aspect of Rome's rule (brutality, greed, paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

), or even a servant people that does the bidding of Rome.

In 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch
2 Baruch
2 Baruch is a Jewish pseudepigraphical text thought to have been written in the late 1st century CE or early 2nd century CE, after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. It is attributed to the Biblical Baruch and so is associated with the Old Testament, but not regarded as scripture by Jews or by...

 and the Sibylline oracles
Sibylline oracles
The Sibylline Oracles are a collection of oracular utterances written in Greek hexameters ascribed to the Sibyls, prophetesses who uttered divine revelations in a frenzied state. Fourteen books and eight fragments of Sibylline Oracles survive...

, "Babylon" is a cryptic name for Rome. Elsewhere in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, in 1 Peter
First Epistle of Peter
The First Epistle of Peter, usually referred to simply as First Peter and often written 1 Peter, is a book of the New Testament. The author claims to be Saint Peter the apostle, and the epistle was traditionally held to have been written during his time as bishop of Rome or Bishop of Antioch,...

 5:13; some speculate that "Babylon" is used to refer to Rome. In Revelation 17:9 it is said that she sits on "seven mountains" (the King James Version Bible—the New International Version Bible uses the words "seven hills"), typically understood as the seven hills of Rome
Seven hills of Rome
The Seven Hills of Rome east of the river Tiber form the geographical heart of Rome, within the walls of the ancient city.The seven hills are:* Aventine Hill * Caelian Hill...

. A Roman coin minted under the Emperor Vespasian
Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

 (ca. 70 AD) depicts Rome as a woman
Roma (mythology)
In traditional Roman religion, Roma was a female deity who personifed the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman state. Her image appears on the base of the column of Antoninus Pius.-Problems in earliest attestation:...

 sitting on seven hills.

According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is a public domain Biblical encyclopedia. This encyclopedia was published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co...

, "The characteristics ascribed to this Babylon apply to Rome rather than to any other city of that age: (a) as ruling over the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:18); (b) as sitting on seven mountains (Revelation 17:9); (c) as the center of the world's merchandise (Revelation 18:3, 11–13); (d) as the corrupter of the nations (Revelation 17:2; 18:3; 19:2); (e) as the persecutor of the saints (Revelation 17:6)."

Because Spiritual Babylon would have worldwide influence, affecting "all nations", Ellen G. White
Ellen G. White
Ellen Gould White was a prolific author and an American Christian pioneer. She, along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders, such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, would form what is now known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.Ellen White reported to her fellow believers her...

 was led to believe that Imperial Rome could not meet such a specification, as she said it only had influence in the Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

.

Protestant Reformation

Historicist
Historicism (Christian eschatology)
Historicism is a method of interpretation, in Christian eschatology, by associating biblical prophecies with actual historical events as well as identifying symbolic beings with historical persons or societies. In prophetic theology, the main texts of interest are apocalyptic literature such as the...

 interpreters commonly used the phrase "Whore of Babylon" to refer to the Roman Catholic Church. Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 writers from Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 (1483–1546) (who wrote On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church
On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church
thumb||FrontspiecePrelude on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church was the second of the three major treatises published by Martin Luther in 1520, coming after the Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation and before On the Freedom of a Christian...

), John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 (1509–1564), and John Knox
John Knox
John Knox was a Scottish clergyman and a leader of the Protestant Reformation who brought reformation to the church in Scotland. He was educated at the University of St Andrews or possibly the University of Glasgow and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1536...

 (1510–1572) (who wrote The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women
The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women
The first blast of the trumpet against the monstruous regiment of women is a polemical work by the Scottish Reformer John Knox, published in 1558....

) taught this association. The Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 denies the claim that it is being referred to by the Book of Revelation as the Whore of Babylon.

Most early Protestant Reformers believed, and the modern Seventh-day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

 teaches, that in Bible prophecy a woman represents a church. "I have likened the daughter of Zion To a lovely and delicate woman." (Jeremiah 6:2 NKJV) A harlot, it is argued, is representative of a church that has been unfaithful:
"Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry,
For the land has committed great harlotry
By departing from the LORD.” (Hosea 1:2 NKJV)


They also believed that the primary location of this unfaithful church is stated in the same chapter.
"And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth." (Revelation 17:18)


The connection noted above on the seven hills of Rome
Seven hills of Rome
The Seven Hills of Rome east of the river Tiber form the geographical heart of Rome, within the walls of the ancient city.The seven hills are:* Aventine Hill * Caelian Hill...

 is argued to locate the church.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 believe that the Whore of Babylon represents "the world empire of false religion", referring to all elements of worldly religions that do not adhere to biblical neutrality with respect to the world's political and commercial elements, including, but not limited to, Christendom, a term they use to refer to 'professed Christianity' as opposed to "true Christianity".

They believe that the harlot—the empire of false religion and an enemy of God—has persecuted God's prophets and people, and that 'false religion' commits and has committed "fornication" with the world's political and commercial elements.

Traditionalist Catholics

Some traditionalist Catholic
Traditionalist Catholic
Traditionalist Catholics are Roman Catholics who believe that there should be a restoration of many or all of the liturgical forms, public and private devotions and presentations of Catholic teachings which prevailed in the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council...

s who hold the position of Sedevacantism
Sedevacantism
Sedevacantism is the position held by a minority of Traditionalist Catholics who hold that the present occupant of the papal see is not truly Pope and that, for lack of a valid Pope, the see has been vacant since the death of either Pope Pius XII in 1958 or Pope John XXIII in 1963.Sedevacantists...

, most notably the Most Holy Family Monastery
Most Holy Family Monastery
Most Holy Family Monastery is a non-profit sedevacantist organization run by Michael Dimond. The diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, condemns them as anti-Catholic, although it is supported by Roman Catholic laymen...

, believe that a counterfeit bride – a Counter-Catholic Church – will arise in the end times in order to deceive faithful Catholics; they teach that this counterfeit Church is the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 after the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

.

Earthly Jerusalem


Many Biblical scholars and theologians point out that although Rome was the prevailing pagan power in the 1st century when the Book of Revelation was written, the symbolism of the whore of Babylon refers not to an invading infidel of foreign power, but to an apostate false queen, a former "bride" who has been unfaithful and who, even though she has been divorced and cast out because of unfaithfulness, continues to falsely claim to be the "queen" of the spiritual realm. This symbolism did not fit the case of Rome at the time. Proponents of this view suggest that the "seven mountains" in Rev 17:9 are the seven hills on which Jerusalem stands and the "fall of Babylon" in Rev 18 is the fall and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD
Siege of Jerusalem (70)
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in...



Several Old Testament prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

s referred to Jerusalem as being a spiritual harlot and a mother of such harlotry (Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:1-11; Ezekiel 16:1-43; Ezekiel 23, Galatians 4:25). Some of the these Old Testament prophecies as well as the warnings in the New Testament concerning Jerusalem are in fact very close to the text concerning Babylon in Revelation, suggesting that John may well have actually been citing those prophecies in his description of Babylon.

For example, in Matthew 23:34-37 and Luke 11:47-51, Jesus himself assigned all of the bloodguilt for the killing of the prophets and of the saints (of all time) to the Pharisees of Jerusalem, and, in Revelation 17:6 and 18:20,24, almost identical phrasing is used in charging that very same bloodguilt to Babylon. This is also bolstered by Jesus' statement that "it's not possible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem." (Luke 13:33).

See also

  • Woman of the Apocalypse
    Woman of the Apocalypse
    The phrase Woman of the Apocalypse refers to a character from the Book of Revelation 12:1-18:1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in...

  • Book of Daniel
    Book of Daniel
    The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

  • Great Apostasy
    Great Apostasy
    The Great Apostasy is a term used by some religious groups to describe a general fallen state of traditional Christianity, especially the Papacy, because it allowed the traditional Roman mysteries and deities of solar monism such as Mithras and Sol Invictus and idol worship back into the church,...

  • Jezebel
    Jezebel
    Jezebel may refer to:* Jezebel, wife of King Ahab*Jezebel, in the Book of Revelation 2:20 a prophetess in the church of Thyatira* Jezebel , starring Bette Davis and Henry Fonda* Jezebel , a blog aimed at women...

  • Lilith
    Lilith
    Lilith is a character in Jewish mythology, found earliest in the Babylonian Talmud, who is generally thought to be related to a class of female demons Līlīṯu in Mesopotamian texts. However, Lowell K. Handy notes, "Very little information has been found relating to the Akkadian and Babylonian view...


  • New World Order (conspiracy theory)
  • Siege of Jerusalem (70)
    Siege of Jerusalem (70)
    The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in...

  • Summary of Christian eschatological differences
  • The Beast (Bible)
    The Beast (Bible)
    The Beast of Revelation, may refer to two beasts in the apocalyptic visions by John of Patmos, as written in the Book of Revelation. The first beast comes from "out of the sea". The second beast comes from "out of the earth" and directs all peoples of the earth to worship the first. This first...

  • The Two Babylons
    The Two Babylons
    The Two Babylons is an anti-Catholic religious pamphlet produced initially by the Scottish theologian and Presbyterian Alexander Hislop in 1853. It was later expanded in 1858 and finally published as a book in 1919...

  • Tower of Babel
    Tower of Babel
    The Tower of Babel , according to the Book of Genesis, was an enormous tower built in the plain of Shinar .According to the biblical account, a united humanity of the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating from the east, came to the land of Shinar, where...



Further reading

  • Harper's Bible Dictionary
    Harper's Bible Dictionary
    Harper's Bible Dictionary is a scholarly reference book of the Bible, containing the texts of the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, and the New Testament. It is written by 180 members of the Society of Biblical Literature, edited by Paul J. Achtemier, and containing 3500 articles and 400...

    Paul J. Achtemeier, general editor (1985, Harper Collins), ISBN 0-06-069863-2
  • The NIV Study Bible, Kenneth Barker, general editor. (1995, Zondervan) ISBN 0-310-92589-4
  • The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible with Apocrypha, Bernhard W. Anderson, Bruce Metzger, general editors. (1991, Oxford University Press) ISBN 0-19-528356-2
  • John Coleman, Conspirators' Hierarchy, 4th ed., Carson City: Joseph Holding Corp., 2006.
  • R. A. Coombes, America, The Babylon: America’s Destiny Foretold In Biblical Prophecy, Leathers Pub, 1998.
  • Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.

External links

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