Babylon



The Whore of Babylon or Babylon the Great is one of several Christian and Rastafarian figures of supreme evil, who is mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. She is associated with the figures of the Antichrist and the Beast of Revelation.

She makes her appearance in Revelation chapter 17, in which she is described as:

"the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 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." (Rev. 17:1-2 KJV)

She moreover bears the title, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth". She is furthermore described as being "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." (Rev. 17:5-6) Her apocalyptic downfall is prophesied in Chapter 18.

In the Bible, Babylon is demonized because of the Babylonian Captivity According to some, this demonization is carried over to Rome in the form of the whore of Babylon. In this mindset both Babylon and Rome were equal in their sins against the Jewish people.

The central principle of this view seems to be that the term "Babylon" applies to the de facto superpower of the day, and is the typical perceptual characterization of the people whom the superpower typically oppresses and persecutes. So to refer to Rome as "Babylon" would be to compare Rome to that earlier conquering power — viewed as a similarly bloated civilization out of favour with God, and therefore destined to fall.

Thus, in the time of Rome, the Bible's use of "Babylon" would be a metaphor to represent the " Satan" of its day — headed for certain destruction if it does not correct its ways. The downfall of Babylon was the precedent, and it was presumed then that Rome too would fall.

The defeat of the Whore of Babylon would thus represent not just the imminent fall of Rome, but of tyranny itself — the future vision described by John in the Book of Revelation, where "Heaven's rule overtakes the earth", putting an end to strife and evil once and for all.

The title of "Babylonian Whore" has been bestowed upon most if not all of the dominant and exploitative powers throughout history.

In certain passages, when the Bible mentions a virgin it speaks of a pure church. In other passages, references to a whore refer to a corrupt church. Hence the term 'Mother of all harlots', could be used to describe a corrupt mother church.

Many Bible scholars agree that Babylon in the whore's title is meant as an allegory of Rome — perhaps specifically at the time to some aspect; of Rome's rule (brutality, greed, paganism), or even a servant people that does the bidding of Rome. The Roman Catholic commentary of the Jerusalem Bible, the evangelical Protestant commentary of the New International Version Study Bible, the Rastafarians and the liberal Protestant commentary of the Oxford Annotated Study Bible all concur that "Babylon is the symbolic name for Rome" and that (1st century) "Rome" is the "type of any place where evil is supreme." (Jerusalem Bible, commentary to Rev. 17)

Elsewhere in the New Testament, in 1 Peter 5:13, "Babylon" is possibly used to refer to Rome. This is bolstered by the remark in Rev. 17:9 that she sits on "seven mountains", which could be the proverbial seven hills of Rome. "Rome" would therefore be the 'new Babylon' and all of the symbolism characterizing Babylon as a wanton "whore", would be transferable to Rome, according to this view.

However, the author of Revelation elsewhere refers to Jerusalem, as "that great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified." (Rev. 11:8)

There are a number of smaller symbolic clues - that some see as suggesting a link between Rome and Babylon — the Roman Empire in its military occupation of Palestine, its repression of the Jewish nation and religion, its destruction of Jerusalem following Jewish revolts in 70 AD and 135 AD, and its persecution of Christians, would lend meaning to the imagery of the 'whore, drunk with the blood of martyrs,' as a wantonly violent and bloodthirsty entity.

However, it must be noted that in Mt 23:35 and Lu 11:50-51, 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 Revelations 17:6 and 18:20,24 almost identical phrasing is used in charging that very same bloodguilt to Babylon. This along with the characterization of Jerusalem as "Sodom" and "Egypt" in Re 11:8 would tend to cast doubt on the theory that John was referring to Rome as Babylon.

In Rastafarian ideology both Babylon and Rome are also equated with this modern world in which we live. The Rastas have popularised the name Babylon to refer to what they see as the fundamentally evil modern society.

Many Christian scholars 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 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 claims to be the "queen" of the spiritual realm.

This symbolism certainly did not fit the case of Rome at the time.

In this view, Jerusalem ruled by the Pharisees who did not accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah, is seen as being a spiritual harlot and thus a whore.

This was not a new "christian" metaphor. Several Old Testament prophets 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 16:15-18; Ezekiel 23).

Some of these Old Testament prophecies concerning Judah 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 Jeremiah 13, Judah is warned that because of her whoredom: the cups of all the people will be "filled with wine", they will be "made drunk", and then the nation will be suddenly destroyed. This is identical to the scenario in Revelation 17-18. It also correlates with the warning of Jesus that Jerusalem would be suddenly invaded and destroyed just prior to his return to earth, in Luke 21: 20-22.

So according to this view, John's prophecy about Babylon was merely a detailed repetition of warnings already given by many Old Testament prophets and by Jesus himself.

There are other clues in the book of Revelation supporting the idea that Jerusalem is Babylon.

Revelation 17:15-18 says the "woman" (Babylon) is "that great city".

In Revelation 11:8 , speaking of two final endtime witnesses slain by the government of the "beast", it states that "their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also Our Lord was crucified." Jesus Christ was crucified in Jerusalem.

Babylon's trappings of gold and silver and her clothing of diverse colours could refer to the Jewish temple services and the high priesthood of Judaism, according to this exegesis of Revelation, and thus to a possible Third Temple of the future in Jerusalem, in which the Antichrist person might seat himself according to the epistles of the apostle Paul, which was written while the Second Temple still was intact.

These riches are also considered by some to refer to the Jewish nation's historical involvement in the trade of precious metals, jewels, textiles, and other merchandise.

Another point that lends credence to the idea that Jerusalem is Babylon: Rome is not built upon seven mountains as the city of which Revelation speaks is, but rather upon seven hills of which the Vatican Hill was never a part.

Jerusalem, however, is built on seven mountains: Mt. Goath, Mt. Gareb, Mt. Acra, Mt. Bezetha, Mt. Zion, Mt. Ophel, and Mt. Moriah.

Both the Old and the New Testament use different words for hills and mountains. Scripture calls the small mountains of Jerusalem by the very word "mountains". ("As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever." - Psalms 125:2)

Those scholars who defend this position believe that earthly Jerusalem would "ride the beast" that is control and manipulate the Satanic power behind the various "pagan" or "worldly" nations. Some scholars say that this power is presently represented by Freemasonry which itself is indirectly linked to Judaism through some of its occult traditions (Kabbalah).

The influence of Jerusalem and the Pharisees may also have contributed to the anti-Christian activities of ancient Rome biblical scholars say.

The See of St. Peter however in its essence would not fall due to this influence, neither did the Church of the Apostle Peter in Rome fall due to the persecutions of Nero these scholars say. The Papacy in itself would remain "until the end of time" according to the First Vatican Council.

According to this view, the "great city" in the Book of Revelation, the earthly Jerusalem of those who have rejected Christ (Judaism), is opposed to the spiritual, heavenly, new Jerusalem, which is the Christian Church of the faithful of Jesus (the bride): "And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

In this sense earthly Jerusalem is also considered by some to be tied to a world rule of hedonism and (religious) relativism, to have its centre of power in Jerusalem, State of Israel.

Some pre-Reformation writers and most of the Reformers themselves, from Martin Luther (who wrote On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church), John Calvin, and John Knox (who wrote The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women) identify the Roman Catholic Church with the Whore of Babylon. This opinion influenced several generations in England and Scotland when it was put into the 1599 edition of the Geneva Bible. As a tradition, it continues through Scofield Reference Bible (whose 1917 edition identified "ecclesiastical Babylon" with "apostate Christendom headed by the Papacy") and pro-Reformation writings such as those of I.M. Haldeman, and it is kept alive by contemporary figures such as Ian Paisley and Jack Chick. The "drunkenness with the blood of saints and martyrs", by this interpretation, refers to the veneration of saints and relics, which is viewed by the Reformers as idolatry and apostasy. Those who accept this tradition use the phrase "Whore of Babylon" to refer to the Roman Catholic Church.

The Protestant reformers were not the first people to call the Roman Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon. There was a fairly long tradition of this kind of name-calling by opponents of the Papacy. Frederick Barbarossa published missives that called the Papacy the Whore of Babylon, and the Pope the Antichrist, during the course of his protracted quarrel with Pope Alexander III. Dante equated the corruption and simony in the office of the Papacy with the Whore of Babylon in Canto 19 of his Inferno:

Di voi pastor s'accorse il Vangelista,
quando colei che siede sopra l'acque
puttaneggiar coi regi a lui fu vista. . .

("Shepherds like you the Evangelist had in mind when he saw the one that sits upon the waters committing fornication with the kings.")

When the Florentine tyrant Girolamo Savonarola also called the Papacy the Whore of Babylon, he meant something closer to the Reformers' usage. These claims, however, were based chiefly on social and political disagreements with Roman Catholic policy, or at their strongest accuse the Papacy of moral corruption. The Protestant reformers, by contrast, seriously considered the Papacy to be at least potentially the apocalyptic figure mentioned in Bible prophecy, and included the claim in Bible commentaries as well as polemics. They meant something more than to accuse the Roman Catholic Church of political or moral corruption; they claimed that as a church it taught a Satanic counterfeit plan of salvation, one that would lead its faithful to Hell rather than to Heaven.

Mormon Doctrine, published in 1966 by Bruce R. McConkie, contains references linking the Roman Catholic Church to the Whore of Babylon. McConkie become an Apostle six years after its publication, and was a respected scholar and authority regarding the doctrines and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is said that some leaders in the Church at the time urged McConkie not to identify the Roman Catholic Church as such, but the initial publications went out unchanged as McConkie intended. Later editions removed the reference. In the 1960s as well as now, most Mormons do not equate the Whore of Babylon with the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, the Catholic Church, in the 1970s, offered to build, finance, and donate 100% control of a proposed BYU-Italy to the LDS Church, an offer which was rejected by the LDS Church. The most clear LDS doctrine on the matter is that the whore consists of all who fight against Zion (meaning the pure in heart): "Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God." (2 Nephi 10:16). Some LDS people interpret this to mean that the whore consists of any organizations or individuals that collectively fight against God, His followers, or the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since LDS teach that the light of Christ or conscience "lighteth every man that cometh into the world," (John 1:9) those who violate conscience or seek to overthrow or suppress free exercise of conscience, or those who seek to addict or enslave anyone, would belong to this group.

According to Swedenborgian doctrine, the Whore of Babylon symbolizes the lust for power within the Roman Catholic Church. It is believed that the book of Revelation is a spiritual allegory for the downfall of traditional Christianity, and its revival into a New Christian Church. Each symbol in Revelation is thought to have correspondence with some aspect of the spiritual state of the Christian Church. In the book "Apocalypse Explained" Swedenborg expounds an explanation of Revelation, including judgements on the Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon.

The Roman Catholic Church denies the claim that it is the being referred to by the Book of Revelation as the Whore of Babylon; at the height of the Reformation era tensions, Roman Catholic authors often accused specific Protestant leaders of being potential Antichrists; these leaders, however, did not include St Robert Bellarmine, who taught that a personal Antichrist would arise before the end of the world, as do most Protestants who take a position today.

The use of the idiom appears to have dwindled, along with the rise in secular terminology to replace religious symbolism. Among the explanations are that the term is contrary to evangelical methods and goals and socially unconstructive, and so the tradition is kept only internally if it is kept at all. The rise of dispensationalism as a school of interpretation of the end times has also caused many Protestants to revise their interpretation of these passages in a way that diminishes the certainty of their identification of the Whore of Babylon with any present religion.

A handful of traditionalist Catholics and sedevacantists, who do not accept the Novus Ordo Missae and consider the recent popes to be heretics, believe that the official Roman Catholic Church as it has existed since Vatican II or the election of John XXIII is in fact the Whore of Babylon. This differs from the Protestant view in that the Catholic Church before these events is still considered to be the "real" Catholic Church. Rather, the modern Catholic Church is seen as a blasphemous mockery.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Babylon the Great, the great harlot (NWT) symbolizes the world empire of false religion, including, but not limited to, Christendom, a term they use to refer to all religious organizations who tell lies about the true identity of God almighty and His purpose with mankind.

In Rastafarian ideology it is Queen Elizabeth II who is seen as the modern-day Whore of Babylon. This alleged relation between the Queen and the Whore was elucidated in Jamaica, where the Queen is the Head of state, and where the Rastafarian faith was founded. Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie is not only their God but also their king, and therefore refuse to give their loyalty to the Queen.

The use of the "Great Satan" metaphor by some fundamentalist followers of Islam makes an implicit comparison of the United States to ancient Babylon and Rome. Those who equate the US with Mystery Babylon liken the US to the Roman Empire — and therefore to Babylon — because of what they charge is its high-handed treatment of other countries as a military superpower. South American intellectuals from the 60's and 70's political movements have been known to use this metaphor as well. Conservative moralists, including some in the US, especially those associated with the religious right, see US popular culture as decadent and evil, obsessed with sex and violence.

Not only is Mystery Babylon, in Revelation 17 and 18, described as a great consumer and superpower, but she is destroyed by the beast kingdom of the Antichrist with its seven heads and ten horns. The beast with seven heads and ten hornsis a reference to Daniel's description of the kingdom of the Antichrist, in Daniel 7:23-25).

Revelation 17:15 "Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages." This verse points to the USA due to its dominance over peoples, over nations, and due to New York City being the seat of the UN. Some argue that the UN is the world government so long looked for by fudamentalist Christians as the Revived Roman Empire. Most would deny this though because that would make their instituions the proprietors of that evil. However the UN did make a peace with Israel and the Palestinians that helped form the nation of Israel on May 15, 1948. In fact the main reason for the existence of the UN, it has been argued, is to legitimize Israel's occupation of Palestine.

A number of fundamentalist protestant writers have identified the European Union, as the successor to the Roman Empire, with the Whore of Babylon.

During the Cold War, US popular culture was engendered to view the former Soviet Union as a "Babylon" of sorts —a monster to be defeated. Dispensationalist study Bibles and commentaries such as the Scofield Reference Bible and The Late Great Planet Earth typically identified the Soviet Union, or earlier Russia, with Gog, also an allegorical figure of evil that appears in Revelation and the Book of Ezekiel (although it is important to note that Gog and Magog are themselves defeated by the Beast who rules Babylon). A great many parallels could be drawn to the USSR, and for that matter, the British Empire, and Nazi Germany. The demise of the Soviet Union has led dispensionalists to revise their commentaries.

The Whore of Babylon was also a title bestowed by the magician Aleister Crowley on a number of his female companions and partners in magical rites, most notably Leila Waddell. John Whiteside Parsons attempted to invoke her in his "Babalon Working".

In the movie Metropolis (1927), the Robot Maria was depicted in one scene as the Whore of Babylon. In the movie The Devil's Advocate (1997) it was implied that New York was the Whore of Babylon.

Madonna adapted the Whore of Babylon as a working title for her 2004 Re-Invention tour.

Shadwell from Good Omens continually uses the phrase "Hoor of Babylon!"

The song "Dead Sound of Misery" by the power metal band Blind Guardian includes references to the Whore of Babylon.

The song "Pure Evil" by the heavy metal band Iced Earth includes references to the Whore of Babylon.

The song "Beast and the Harlot" by the heavy metal/hard rock band Avenged Sevenfold includes references to the Whore of Babylon.

The Whore of Babylon appears in the PS2 game Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne as "The Harlot."

In Monty Python's Life of Brian the "Blood and Thunder Prophet" played by Terry Gilliam rants about "...the Whore of Babylon... and there'll be a great rubbing of parts..."Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home