Revelation Jewish New Testament, JNT, CJNT, David H. Stern

chapter 17
1. Then came one of the angels with the seven bowls; and he said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great whore who is sitting by many waters.
2. The kings of the earth went whoring with her, and the people living on earth have become drunk from the wine of her whoring.”
The judgment, except for v. 16, is described in Chapter 18.
Sitting by many waters. See 14:8N on Babylon.
Great whore... The kings of the earth went whoring with her. Nahum 3:4 calls Nineveh, another of Israel's nemeses, "the charming and bewitching harlot who sells nations with her lewd practices and families by her witchcrafts." Compare 18:3, 7, 12-23. Isaiah 23:17 says that Tyre "will play the harlot with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth."
The people... have become drunk. See 18:3; also Jeremiah 51:7, quoted in v. 4N. 

3. He carried me off in the Spirit to a desert, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast filled with blasphemous names and having seven heads and ten horns.
Beast... having... ten horns. See 12:3-4N, 13:1-8N. 

4. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet and glittered with gold, precious stones and pearls. In her hand was a gold cup filled with the obscene and filthy things produced by her whoring.
Gold cup. Jeremiah 51:7: "Babylon was a gold cup in the hand of Adonai that made all the earth drunk; the nations have drunk of her wine; therefore the nations are mad."
Cup filled with obscene and filthy things. At 18:6 this cup becomes the cup of God's raging fury, as at 14:10, 16:19.

5. On her forehead was written a name with a hidden meaning,
Contrast this name with that written on the forehead of the redeemed (see 14:1&N, 22:5&N).
Babylon the Great. See 14:8N. 

6. I saw the woman drunk from the blood of God’s people, that is, from the blood of the people who testify about Yeshua.
On seeing her, I was altogether astounded.
On seeing her, I was altogether astounded, since a whore does not usually dress so magnificently (v. 4; see G. E. Ladd, Revelation) 

7. Then the angel said to me, “Why are you astounded? I will tell you the hidden meaning of the woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that was carrying her.
8. The beast you saw once was, now is not, and will come up from the Abyss; but it is on its way to destruction. The people living on earth whose names have not been written in the Book of Life since the founding of the world will be astounded to see the beast that once was, now is not, but is to appear.
The beast once was (in the form of Antiochus IV "Epiphanes"), now is not in such an evil form, and will come as the anti-Messiah — as explained in 13:1—8N. Since the beast pretends to the position of God, the angel sarcastically describes him in language similar to that used to describe God, "the One who is, who was and who is coming" (1:4&N). This beast, Satan, will come up from the Abyss and be "set free for a little while" (20:2-3, 7-8), but he is on his way to destruction in "the lake of fire and sulfur" (20:9-10).

The people living on earth (those in v. 2; see 3:10N) whose names have not been written in the Book of Life (see 20:12bN) since the founding of the world are to be contrasted with "God's people... who testify about Yeshua" (v. 6). Also compare 13:3-4, 8; Ep 1:3-12; and Co 1:14-23. 

9. This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven hills on which the woman is sitting; also they are seven kings —
Seven hills. See 14:8N on Babylon. 

10. five have fallen, one is living now and the other is yet to come; and when he does come, he must remain only a little while.
Seven kings — five have fallen, one is living now, and the other is yet to come. A difficult verse in a difficult book. If "Babylon" means Rome or the Roman Empire (see 14:8N), the fallen could be the first five emperors, of whom Nero was the last. After three emperors who ruled for a very short time each came Vespasian, who would be the sixth, ruling from 69 to 79 C.E., and living now. Titus would be yet to come. In his commentary on Revelation R. H. Charles considers Nero to be the "beast" of this chapter, expected to return from the dead leading the kings of the east against Rome (see 13:17b-18N). 

11. The beast which once was and now is not is an eighth king; it comes from the seven and is on its way to destruction.
12. The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet begun to rule, but they receive power as kings for one hour, along with the beast.
Ten horns. See v. 3N. 

13. They have one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast.
14. They will go to war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are called, chosen and faithful will overcome along with him.”
He is Lord of lords and King of kings. See 19:16N.
See 13:1-8&NN, and compare Daniel 7:19-25. 

15. Then he said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the whore is sitting, are peoples, crowds, nations and languages.
16. As for the ten horns that you saw and the beast, they will hate the whore, bring her to ruin, leave her naked, eat her flesh and consume her with fire.
They will hate the whore. The ten homs and the beast, who are evil, hate the where, who is also evil. Those who are good love even those who, unlike themselves, are evil. But those who are evil hate not only the good but also even those who are like themselves, evil.
And consume her with lire (also 18:8). The same punishment as for the daughter of a cohen who profanes her father by playing the whore, Leviticus 21:9. 

17. For God put it in their hearts to do what will fulfill his purpose, that is, to be of one mind and give their kingdom to the beast until God’s words have accomplished their intent.
God put it in their hearts to do what will fulfill his purpose. In the Tanakh God often uses the wicked to accomplish his purposes; see Exodus 10:1, Habakkuk 1:5-11. This verse is a strong statement of God's sovereignty, like Ro 9:6-29&NN. Though much is said in the book of Revelation about Satan and his power, there is no dualism, not the slightest suggestion that Satan is on a par with God. God's words must accomplish their intent (compare Isaiah 55:10-11, Mt 24:35, Ro 8:28). 

18. And the woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”
The Great City. See 14:8N. 

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