Babylon = Jerusalem

And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:5)

The Babylon of Revelation, chapters 14, 16, 17 and 18, epitomises the degradation and corruption against which the Lord would execute judgement. It represents for many the sinful world, Rome (and hence also the Roman Catholic Church!) or even the United States of America. Its destruction therefore represents the punishment on whatever sinful establishment happens to be prevalent at the time it is interpreted.

I believe that Babylon is no more or less than Jerusalem itself.

God had already prophesied against Babylon and executed judgement on her (Isaiah 13). Its wickedness was directed against God’s chosen people. Israel (Jerusalem) had followed the same path of wickedness, and was to receive the same judgement.

Why would Jerusalem be called by another name?

Why not simply call it Jerusalem? The answer is simply that, well, this is Revelation. Once John gets into his vision, every detail – clear as it might appear – is shrouded by metaphor, analogy, and nick-names. It is for the reader to interpret. “Let the reader understand!”

The context and the descriptions would make it clear enough, and here and there clues are given.

The behaviour of Jerusalem (i.e. its inhabitants) was not befitting that of the Holy City. It had corrupted into another Babylon. It was even equated with Sodom and Egypt (Revelation 11:8 – where also our Lord was crucified). No wonder God turned His back on her, removed His blessing and His presence.

Revelation is all about God’s displeasure with the holders of the Old Covenant, and the establishment of the New Covenant.

The following points show that Babylon as portrayed in Revelation is symbolic for Jerusalem.

1. Both are referred to as ‘The great city’


Revelation 18:10 – ” ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’ (16) … ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls… (18) and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What {city} is like the great city?’ (19) “And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’


Revelation 11:8 – And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

2. Both are described as ‘whores’ and ‘adulterors’


Revelation 17:1 – Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, (2) with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” (5) and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”


Ezekeiel 6:9 – “Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations to which they will be carried captive, how I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from Me, and by their eyes which played the harlot after their idols; and they will loathe themselves in their own sight for the evils which they have committed, for all their abominations.”

Ezekiel 16: 15-16 – “But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing. “You took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen.

Jeremiah 3:1-8 – God says, “If a husband divorces his wife and she goes from him and belongs to another man, Will he still return to her? Will not that land be completely polluted? But you are a harlot with many lovers; Yet you turn to Me,” declares the LORD. (2) “Lift up your eyes to the bare heights and see; Where have you not been violated? By the roads you have sat for them Like an Arab in the desert, and you have polluted a land with your harlotry and with your wickedness. (3) “Therefore the showers have been withheld, And there has been no spring rain. Yet you had a harlot’s forehead; You refused to be ashamed. (4) “Have you not just now called to Me, ‘My Father, You are the friend of my youth? … (6) Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, “Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. … (8) “And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.

Both are responsible for the blood of the saints etc


Revelation 17:6 – And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly.

Revelation 18:24 – “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”


Matthew 23:30 – “…and [you Pharisees] say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ (31) “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. (32) “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers… (34) “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, (35) so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. (36) “Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. (37) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! … (38) “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!”

(Incidentally, if Babylon were not Jerusalem or Israel, and was to be punished for the blood of the saints and prophets, then Jesus’ words in verse 35 would have proved false.)

1 Thessalonians 2:14 – For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, (15) who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, (16) hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.

The saints were warned to escape the wrath that would fall on both cities


Revelation 18:4 – I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; (5) for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

Revelation 18:23 – …and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer. (This may be a reference to Jesus, the bridegroom, and the Church, the bride)


Luke 21:20- “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. (21) “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; (22) because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.

Babylon is adorned like a priest

Exodus 28: 5ff – Here is a description of the priestly garments prescribed by God.

Blue, gold, scarlet, purple. Stones: filigree settings of gold; onyx (9), others (17ff), engraved plate of pure gold to attach to a turban, showing on Aaron’s forehead, with “Holy to the Lord” written on it.


Revelation 17:4 – The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, (5) and on her forehead a name {was} written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

Revelation 18:16 – …Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls;

Both were attacked by huge ‘hailstones’

Revelation 16:19 – Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. (20) And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. (21) And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds (literally: one talent) each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.

The word for ‘hailstones’ is chalaza, which is used only three times in the New Testament, each in the same way. It does not specifically refer to frozen water, although I do not know if this is the exclusive use of the word in the Greek. In Revelation, it may be figurative or descriptive, referring simply to huge stones falling from the sky. Strong’s states that the word is probably derived from chalao, which means to let down or drop.

Josephus relates that Jerusalem was pounded by stones from catapults, each stone weighing a talent, that smashed the defenses of the city. (War of the Jews, Book 5, Ch 6:3).


There are probably other evidences, but the abovementioned convince me that:

  • The prophesies relating to Babylon actually applied to Jerusalem. They reflect other prophesies against Jerusalem, and further show God’s displeasure with what had been the Holy City.
  • The Revelation to John was not a story of the end of the world, but a description of the end of the Old Covenant and the temple.
  • In light of the above, and the fact that (a) the events were to occur ‘soon’, and (b) Jerusalem and the temple were in fact wiped out around that time, the content of the Revelation is the strongest argument for an early writing of the book. It makes no sense for a dating after AD70, when the promised ‘soon’ events actually took place when and to whom they were promised. It would be easier to believe they had been written retrospectively about Jerusalem than that they had been written about the world a couple of thousand years later! Yet there is no need for this: Other evidences show that the book had been written as a divinely inspired prophesy before the event.


Create a website or blog at

Up ↑