Why’s Babylon shown as a woman riding on a beast?


By BibleAsk Team

Babylon – The Mother of Harlots

Literal Babylon was the “great city” of ancient times. The city of Babylon has been representative of organized opposition to the purposes of God on earth (Genesis 11:4–6; Revelation 14:8). The apostle John wrote, “I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns… And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus…” (Revelation 17:3-6).

The Old Testament prophets referred to an apostate people as a harlot (Ezekeil 16:15–58; 23:2–21; Hosea 2:5; 3:1; etc.). This “woman”—the “great whore” (Revelation 17:1), or mystical “Babylon the great” (verse 5)—is guilty of “the blood … of all that were slain upon the earth” (Revelation 18:24),  throughout history. Therefore, mystical Babylon is the organized religious opposition to God’s saints, from the starting of time till the end (Revelation 17:5).

Babylon the great represents the united apostate religions at the close of time (Revelation 14:8; 16:13, 14; 18:24). It refers to the great threefold religious union of the papacy, apostate Protestantism, and spiritism (Revelation 16:13, 18, 19; 14:8; 18:2; Daniel 4:30; Zechariah 10:2, 3; 11:3–9). The apostle John adds, “And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18).

The meaning of the Mother Church Babylon pictured as woman riding upon the beast is that she has direct control of men as individuals, religiously, and also as directing the policies of civil government.  It has been characteristic of apostate Christianity to attempt a union of church and state, in order to obtain religious control over public policy. In direct contrast, we see Jesus declaring that His “kingdom” is not “of this world” (John 18:36).

The Beast

Beasts in Bible prophecy commonly represent political powers (Daniel 7:3–7, 17; 8:3, 5, 20, 21; Revelation 12:3; 13:1). The color of this beast may intimate that it is very evil, as the names of blasphemy with which it is covered indicate that it stands in opposition to God. Accordingly, the beast itself may be identified as Satan working through those political agencies, in all ages, that have submitted to his control.

The beast is full of “blasphemous names” (Mark 2:7; 7:2). In Revelation 13:1 the names are on the seven heads; here, they are scattered over the entire beast. These names indicate the character of the beast—it presumes to usurp the prerogative of Deity. That it is “full” of blasphemous names indicates that it is wholly devoted to this objective (Compare Isaiah 14:13, 14; Jeremiah 50:29, 31; Daniel 7:8, 11, 20, 25; 11:36, 37.)

In certain respects this beast resembles the great red dragon of Revelation 12:3, and in others the leopardlike beast of Revelation 13:1, 2. For more on the beast of Revelation 13, check:

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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