Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 17:1
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AR 717. Verse 1. What goes before, from chapter 7 to chapter 16, inclusive, treats of the Reformed; this chapter and the next treat of the Papists, among whom they who have claimed to themselves the power of opening and shutting heaven are meant by "Babylon." Here therefore it shall first be said what is specifically meant by "Babylon." By "Babylon" or "Babel" is meant the love of dominion over the holy things of the church from self-love, and because that love ascends in proportion as the reins are relaxed to it, and as the holy things of the church are also the holy things of heaven, therefore by "Babylon" or "Babel" is also signified dominion over heaven. And because this love thus acts the part of the devil, because it aspires to the same things, it cannot do otherwise than profane things holy, by adulterating the goods and truths of the Word, therefore by "Babylon" or "Babel" is also signified the profanation of what is holy, and the adulteration of the good and truth of the Word. Such is the signification of "Babylon" here in the Apocalypse, and of "Babel" in the prophetic and historical Word, in these passages:--

Concerning Babel: Behold the day of Jehovah cometh cruel; the stars of the heavens and the constellations thereof shall not shine with their light; the sun is darkened in his rising, and the moon shall not cause her light (lumen) to shine. I will cause the exaltation of the proud to cease, and I will humble the pride of the violent. Babel, the ornament of kingdoms, shall be as Godís overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah; the tziim shall lie there, their houses shall be filled with the ochim, and the daughters of the owl shall dwell there, and the satyrs shall dance there; the ijim shall answer in her palaces, and the dragons in the palaces of her delights (Isa. 13:1, 9-11, 19, 21, 22).

Besides many other things in the whole of the chapter.

Thou shalt declare this parable concerning the king of Babel: Thy magnificence is brought down into hell; thou hast fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, thou hast said in thy heart, I will ascend the heavens, above the stars of God I will exalt my throne, I will ascend above the heights of the cloud, I will become like the Most High; but yet thou shalt be brought down to hell: I will rise against thee, and will cut off from Babel the name and residue (Isa. 14:4, 11-15, 22).

Besides more things in the whole chapter.

Jehovah hath spoken against Babel: Your mother was exceedingly ashamed, she that brought you forth was suffused with shame; behold, the last end shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert. Set yourselves in array against Babel round about, shoot against her, spare no arrows; how is Babel become a desolation among the nations! she acted insolently against Jehovah, against the Holy One of Israel. A drought is upon her waters, that they may dry up, because it is a land of graven images, and it glories in horrible things; therefore the ziim shall dwell there with the ijim, and the owls shall dwell therein, as GodĎs overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah (Jer. 50:1, 12, 14, 23, 29, 31, 38-40).

Besides many other things concerning "Babel" in that whole chapter.

Babel is a cup of gold in the hand of Jehovah, making the whole earth drunken; the nations have drunk of her wine, therefore they are mad; forsake her, for her judgment hath reached to the heavens, and hath lifted itself up even to the clouds; behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, that destroyest the whole earth. I will roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a mountain of burning. I will visit upon Bel in Babel; I will bring forth his morsel out of his mouth, that the nations may no longer flow together unto him; yea the wall of Babel shall fall. Behold the days are coming, in which I will visit upon the graven images of Babel, that her whole land may be ashamed. Though Babel should ascend into the heavens, and though she should fortify the high places of her strength, from Me shall wasters come. Yea, I will make drunk her princes and her wise ones, and her leaders, and her primates, that they may sleep the sleep of an age, and not awake (Jer. 51:1, 7, 9, 26, 44, 47, 53, 57).

Besides many other things concerning "Babel" in that whole chapter.

Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babel, sit on the earth; there is no throne: take the mill-stones and grind meal; uncover the thigh, pass over the streams, thy nakedness shall be uncovered, thy disgrace shall be seen. Thou hast said, I shall be mistress to eternity; thou didst not remember the end: thou hast trusted in thy wickedness; thou hast said, No one seeth me; thy wisdom and thy knowledge hath seduced thee, when thou saidst in thy heart, I, and there is none else like me; devastation shall come suddenly, thou shalt not know; persist in thy enchantments, in the multitude of thy sorceries, in which thou hast labored from thy youth, peradventure they will be able to profit, peradventure thou shalt become terrible (Isa. 47:1-3, 7, 10-12).

Besides other things concerning "Babel" in that chapter. Similar things are signified by:--

The city and tower whose head was in heaven, which they that came from the east attempted to build in the valley of Shinar, whose speech Jehovah descending from heaven confounded; whence the name of the place was called "Babel" (confusion) (Gen. 11:1-9).

Similar things are signified by the following passages in Daniel:--

By the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel, the feet of which were partly iron and partly clay, which the stone cut out not by a hand smote and ground to pieces, and all the parts of the statue became as the chaff in the threshing-floors; and the stone became a great rock (Dan. 2:31-47).

By the great image which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel made, and commanded that they should fall down and adore before it; and that they who would not should be cast into the furnace of fire (Dan. 3:1-7).

By the tree that grew until its height reached unto heaven, and the sight of it unto the end of the earth, which a Watcher and a Holy One, coming down from heaven, commanded to hew down, to cut off, to strip off, and to scatter; and because the king of Babel was represented by it, it came to pass that he was driven away from man, dwelt with the beasts, and ate the herbage like an ox (Dan. 4:1-37).

By Belshazzar king of Babel drinking wine with his nobles, wives, and concubines, out of the vessels of gold and silver of the temple of Jerusalem, and praising the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, and stone; on account of which there was a writing on the wall, and the king himself was slain the same day (Dan. 5:1-31).

By the decree of Darius the Mede, king of Babel; that no one for thirty days should seek anything from God or man, but from the king alone; if otherwise, he should be cast into the den of lions (Dan. 6:8-28).

And by the four beasts seen by Daniel to come up out of the sea, of which the fourth, terrible, strong, having great teeth of iron, it devoured and crushed in pieces, and trampled the residue with his feet; and that then the judgment was set, and the books were opened, and the beast was slain, and given into the burning of fire: and that then there was seen coming with the clouds of heaven one like the Son of man, to whom was given dominion and glory and the kingdom, and all peoples, and nations and tongues shall worship Him; His dominion is the dominion of an age which not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not perish (Dan. 7:1-14).

AR 718. And there came one of the seven angels that had the seven vials, and spake with me, signifies influx now and revelation from the Lord, from the inmost of heaven, concerning the Roman Catholic religion. Thus far the state of the church of the Reformed at the end has been treated of; but now the state of the Roman Catholic religious persuasion at its end is treated of; and this follows in the order mentioned in the introduction. It is not called the Roman Catholic church, but the Roman Catholic religious persuasion, because they do not approach the Lord, nor read the Word, and because they invoke the dead; and a church is a church from the Lord, and from the Word, and its perfection is according to its acknowledgment of the Lord, and according to its understanding of the Word. The reason why one of the seven angels having the seven vials came and spoke with John, is because by "the seven angels who had the seven vials," is signified influx from the Lord out of the inmost of the Christian heaven into the church, to disclose the evils and falsities therein, see above (n. 672, 676, 677, 683, 690, 691, 699, 700); here therefore by those "seven angels" is signified the Lord speaking from the inmost of heaven, and revealing the state of the Roman Catholic religious persuasion at its end. Hence also it is, that one of those seven angels took John upon a high mountain, and showed him the Lambís wife, which is the New Jerusalem (Apoc. 21:9, 10).

AR 719. Saying unto me, I will show unto thee the judgment of the great harlot, that sitteth upon many waters, signifies a revelation concerning that religious persuasion, as to its profanations and adulterations of the truths of the Word. "To say" and "to show" signifies revelation. By "judgment" is signified its state at its end. By "the great harlot" is signified the profanation of the holy things of the Word and church, and the adulteration of good and truth. By "many waters" are signified the truths of the Word adulterated. By "sitting upon them" is signified to be and to live in them. That by "committing whoredom" (meretricari), harlotry (moechari), scortation (scortari), and adultery (adulterari), is signified to falsify and adulterate the Word, see above (n. 134, 620, 632); and that by "waters" are signified its truths (n. 50, 563, 614, 685); here, those truths adulterated and profaned, because it says "the harlot" sat upon them. From these things it is evident, that by "saying unto me, I will show unto thee the judgment of the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters," is signified revelation concerning that religious persuasion, as to its profanations and adulterations of the truths of the Word. The like is said of "Babel" in Jeremiah:--

Jehovah hath done that which He spake against the inhabitants of Babel; O thou that dwellest upon many waters, great in treasures, thy end is come, and the measure of thy gain (Jeremiah 51:12, 13).

The reason why they are said to have adulterated and profaned the truths of the Word, is, because they have applied the truths of the Word to obtaining dominion over the holy things of the church and heaven, and to claiming to themselves the Divine authority of the Lord; and to apply the truths of the Word to obtaining dominion over the holy things of the church and heaven, is to adulterate them; and to apply them to the purpose of claiming to themselves the Divine authority of the Lord, is to profane them. That they have confirmed their dogmas from the Word, is known. But read them with attention, and you will see that they applied all those things taken from the Word to obtaining dominion over the souls of men, and to acquiring to themselves Divine power, authority, and majesty. It is on this account that Babylon is called "the mother of whoredoms and the abominations of the earth" (verse 5).

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info