The Way It Happened

Revelation 16:19, Who is Babylon? Part III of IV

The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.

//We’re still talking about the identification of the Whore of Babylon, and why we should recognize her as Jerusalem, not the city of Rome.

In today’s verse, God “remembers” Babylon, a very covenantal phrase, adding evidence that Revelation meant its Babylon to be Jerusalem, not Rome or some current-day city. In the Old Testament, whenever God “remembers” the sins of a nation, he refers to a covenantal promise. Of course, no such covenant ever existed with any nation except Israel. Moreover, Revelation is nearly a chapter-by-chapter rewrite of the book of Ezekiel, and if you read Revelation chapters 17 and 18 about Babylon carefully, you’ll note many parallels with Ezekiel chapter 16, which concerns Jerusalem. I won’t bore you with details; feel free to study this on your own, if interested. This allusion to Jerusalem could not have gone unnoticed by Revelation’s intended first-century audience.

But can we really label Jerusalem a “great city,” as today’s verse reads? Pliny the Elder describes Jerusalem as “by far the most famous city of the ancient Orient,” but had its dreams shriveled to a fretful reminiscence of Solomon’s day? Josephus, when describing the utter desolation of Jerusalem after the war of 70 CE writes, “Where is that great city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to defend it, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for war, and which had so many tens of thousands of men to fight for it? Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? It is now demolished to its very foundation.”

If you read my book about Revelation, you’ll recognize that John of Patmos echoes a lot of the same language as Josephus in his book, The War of the Jews. Here is one more instance, discussing the “great city” and her destruction, as prophesied by Revelation.

God was required by his covenant to destroy the “great city” of Jerusalem, and in 70 CE he does so. More tomorrow, when I’ll  bring up some verses that leave little doubt about this interpretation.


  1. So God didn’t simply “punish” Babylon. Instead, he presented Babylon with…a gift…of a cup…of wine…of the fury…of wrath.

    Gee, the author really worked hard to make the text feel obtuse wherever possible, eh? Keeps guys like you in business, I suppose.

  2. Yo, surely you’re not making fun of one of my favorite books in the Bible …

    Yeah, keeps guys like me in business. :)

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