What Is the Whore of Babylon and What Do We Need to Know about Her?

eerie red storm in sky to signify end times whore of babylon in revelation

And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.Rev. 17:5

The term ‘whore of Babylon’ appears in Revelation 17. We may have a familiarity with the term Babylon. This Old Testament kingdom had taken over Israel and taken many of its inhabitants captive in 586 BC. Nevertheless, in the Old Testament, this kingdom fell to the Medo-Persians, never to be heard of again. So why do we see the term Babylon showing up in Revelation? And who exactly is the whore of Babylon, or should we say "what." As Revelation has a great deal of symbolism, perhaps this refers to a something rather than a someone.

What Is the Meaning of Whore of Babylon - Mother of Prostitutes?

Let's dive into the meaning of the whore of Babylon before we explore the characteristics of this entity and what to watch for as we approach the End Days.

Theologians argue about a great deal of the content found within Revelation, but they seem to follow the same line of thinking that Babylon in the modern day can represent paganism or hedonism.

According to Bible Study Tools, "In the Book of Revelation, these themes culminate in the image of the whore of Babylon. As a result of this biblical imagery, Babylon has transcended its historical significance to become synonymous with sin and pride in Western art and literature."

In the Old Testament times, Babylon represented the pinnacle of sin. Imagine what the Israelite captives felt as they marched down the streets of Babylon and through the Ishtar Gate. Although the physical kingdom of Babylon has ceased, it lives on in a figurative sense in the end times.

Some theologians have suggested that perhaps this also represents Rome. According to Matthew Henry, "Rome clearly appears to be meant in this chapter. Pagan Rome subdued and ruled with military power, not by art and flatteries."

Depending on if a believer believes in typology, one could assert that the whore of Babylon could represent both Rome as well as our modern world. After all, we see archetypes throughout the Old Testament that point to Jesus such as Melchizedek. The same could apply to elements we see in Revelation.

No matter what the case, the whore of Babylon represents everything debase, sinful, and that strays away from God. Which sounds a lot like our culture today. Let's dive into some more characteristics of this entity.

Key Characteristics of the Whore of Babylon

To dissect the mother of prostitutes, we need to analyze the chapter of Revelation 17 verse by verse to break down the distinguishing attributes of the whore of Babylon.

Revelation 17:1: "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters."

This means that the whore of Babylon has a wide reach. We don't just restrict Babylon to one kingdom that existed in the Old Testament times in the Middle East. It permeates many places and cultures.

Revelations 17:2: "With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”

Leaders are swayed by the ideologies of Babylon. They give up the ways of the righteous and follow after evil and all acts of sinfulness. As we witness in the Old Testament, when a leader of a nation falls prey to this, the whole nation does so as well.

Revelation 17:3: "There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns."

We previously see this beast in Daniel's visions. Both the whore of Babylon and the Beast play a massive role in the End Times.

Revelation 17:4: "The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls."

Purple and all these other elements show royalty, power, and wealth. The whore of Babylon has influence over culture and over people.

Revelation 17:4: "She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries."

The Bible has often alluded to the cup of God's wrath being poured out. She drinks the cup of sinfulness and adulteries without a care in the world. Without remorse. And yet, the same cup she drinks will lead to her judgment. God's wrath does not stay forever.

Revelation 17:6: "I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus."

The whore of Babylon will persecute believers. As everything she stands for goes against good Christian living, she will retaliate. But her reign will not last forever. 

As we have dissected elements of the whore of Babylon, let's take a look at what the Bible has to say about the Beast who accompanies her.

Key Characteristics of the Beast

Many of us have heard about the Beast of Revelation. We know about things such as the Mark of the Beast or we may have encountered the Beast when we read through the visions of Daniel. Let's take a look at what the Bible has to say about this Beast.

We already know, from the above passages, that the beast has many horns. This represents many kingdoms. Daniel and Revelation seem to indicate 10 kingdoms with 10 horns (Daniel 2). Seven in the Bible also tends to represent completeness, so perhaps this could refer to the Beast's great power he exercises for a short period of time (for seven years). Daniel also seems to indicate that the Beast will take control of calendars and will persecute the people of God, similar to what Antiochus Epiphanes IV did before the Maccabees revolted.

We do need to make a distinction. Revelation seems to talk about two beasts: a Beast out of the Sea and a Beast out of the Earth. Clarence Haynes does a great job distinguishing the two: "(Pertaining to the Beast out of the sea), this beast in Revelation will come out from the sea, which represents the Gentiles. So this leader will be a Gentile ruler ... (pertaining to the Beast out of the earth), this second beast comes out of the earth, which many agree means that it is coming out of Israel."

In other words, two beasts will rule over both the Jewish people and the Gentiles. Meaning that Satan will have a tight grip on all kingdoms in the world. Nevertheless, both beasts come to ruin at the end of the story. Their reign will not last forever.

What This Means for Christians Today

Many of the characteristics of the Beast and the whore of Babylon sound familiar in our culture today. We need to know as much as we can about the events to come and the signs that precede them.

We should also make a distinction that many people have a different interpretation of Revelation. Some believe the events have already occurred, some believe we're in the middle of them, and some believe we have yet to enter the tribulations set forth at the End of Days. No matter what the case, be sure to turn to the words of Scripture and remain vigilant so that we as believers do not stumble when it comes to the devil's schemes and the allure of Babylon.

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headshot of author Hope BolingerHope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,100 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy released its first two installments with IlluminateYA, and the final one, Vision, releases in August of 2021. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.


This article is part of our larger End Times Resource Library. Learn more about the rapture, the anti-christ, bible prophecy and the tribulation with articles that explain Biblical truths. You do not need to fear or worry about the future!

Battle of Armageddon
Tribulation
Signs of the End Times
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The Seventh Seal Opened
What Is the Death Angel?




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