When Adam and Eve disobeyed God "the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken" (Ge 3:23). Sin took hold, and when Cain killed his brother, God told him, "'You are cursed from the ground'" (4:11). Then Cain settled "east of Eden" (:16) and his wife "gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city" (:17). Sin was still operative as evidenced by Lamech telling his wives, "'I have killed a man for wounding me; and a boy for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-seven fold'" (:23-24). Nonetheless "men began to call upon the name of the Lord" (:26). However, "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth" (6:5) and said, "'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land'" (:7). "But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord" (:8) and "became the father of three sons" Shem, Ham, and Japheth" (:10). God directed Noah to "'make for yourself an ark'" (:14) because "'I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh'" (:17).
When the flood subsided God told them, "'I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood'" (9:11). "The Lord said to Himself, 'I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth'" (8:21). "Noah began farming and planted a vineyard and he drank of the wine and became drunk" (9:20-21). It resulted in an offence made by Ham whereby Noah stated, "'Cursed be Canaan'" (:25). Canaan was one of the "sons of Ham [who] were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan" (10:6). Some would say a curse would be genealogically inherited. God says, "'I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children . . . of those who hate Me'" (Ex 20:5). "Cush became the father of Nimrod" (:8). But Nimrod was not directly in the line of Canaan. His name means "strong, valiant, brave." "He was a mighty hunter before the Lord" (:9). Truscott says it "should read 'Nimrod the mighty hunger against the Lord.' The Hebrew word for 'before' used here is li-phene, 'in the face of,' and can be translated 'against.'" (Truscott 421). "The beginning of his kingdom was Babel . . . in the land of Shinar" (:10). He was the thirteenth generation from Adam and, in the Bible, the number 13 is the number of rebellion. In that sense "a direct line can be traced from Nimrod and Babel in Genesis to Antichrist and Babylon in Revelation." (Truscott 421).
Babylon is the second most referenced city in the Bible after Jerusalem and is mentioned over three hundred times (McGuire and Anderson 35). Revelation 17-18 deals with its judgment and about fifty verses in the book are devoted to the judgment of that city (Truscott 417). Babylonia is in Central Asia in the Tigris River valley in present-day Iraq. It was composed of Upper Mesopotamia called Accad and Lower Mesopotamia named Chaldea. Mesopotamia means "between the rivers." The Chaldians were originally from the salt-marsh area at the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. These Sumerians first appeared around 6000 to 9000 BC (McGuire and Anderson 38) and made huts out of reeds and mud. It was a very fertile area capable of supporting a large civilization. God told Adam and Eve, "'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth'" (1:28). Also, "God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth'" (9:1). "It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there" (11:2).
In Shinar they said to each other, "'Let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven'" (Ge 11:4). Cain had built cities. Did they feel insecure or powerless? These postdiluvian people were the first to repopulate the world after the flood so why would they need defenses from enemies? Years ago I purchased a cassette tape by a musical group from the Midwest. On the back of the case they commented that being raised on the Great Plains built "intestinal fortitude" because there were no crutches such as mountains to psychologically depend on. The Hebrew word for tower is "migdal" which refers to an elevated structure providing protection. "There was a strong tower in the center of the city, and all the men and women with all the leaders of the city fled there and shut themselves in; and they went up on the roof of the tower" (Jdg 9:51). The city would have provided unity and purpose and a division of labor promoting efficiency. But the other side of the coin is that they would "'make for ourselves a name'" (Ge 11:4). That could reflect a need to feed their pride and to subsidize self-sufficiency. God observed that "'now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them'" (:6). Also they desired to build "'a tower whose top will reach into heaven'" (:4). That goes beyond the requirement of self-defense and encroaches on divine territory. The serpent deceived Eve arguing when "'you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God'" (3:5).
"Noah lived 350 years after the flood" (9:28) and was 950 years old when he died (:29). The families were living together as "'one people, [with] . . . the same language'" (11:6). They were familiar with how God rescued them from the flood so why would they need a tower to reach heaven? "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe" (Pr 18:10). They didn't want to disband and disperse and "'be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth'" (Ge 11:4) so a tower would be a symbol of achievement and monument to "'make for ourselves a name'" (:4). Perhaps the phrase was just a manner of speaking such as there were "great cities fortified to heaven" (Dt 9:1). Some cite how they explained the universe. Mountains functioned as supports to the sky and the meeting point was where the gods gathered. On flat lands they built structures as substitutes. The Akkadian word for them was "ziqqurratu" meaning "pinnacle, mountaintop, temple-tower." The ziggurat at Babylaon was called "Etemenanki" meaning "the house of the foundation of heaven and earth." God then "confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth" (Ge 11:9). "Therefore its name was called Babel" (:9). The Hebrew translation means "the city of the dispersion of the tribes." The Sumerian name "ka-dingir-ra" means "gate of god." You might say there was both a political and religious basis for the endeavors.
Sin precipitates a propensity in man to depend upon himself. "The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God" (Ps 14:2). One writer explains the height of the tower as being an observatory to study the moon and stars. God gave the stars "for signs and for seasons" (Ge 1:14). Then their astronomers created a star chart of the constellations which has similarities to a horoscope (McGuire and Anderson 42). It becomes an astrological religious substitute leading to occult practices and turns worship away from God and elevates self instead. God saw that "they have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one" (:3). The Enuma Elish is the Babylonian account of creation. Its mythology relates how gods decide to build a place for King Marduk. Archeologists discovered in Babylon a ceremonial street which led to shrines in a sacred part of the city where there was a 1200x1500 foot court in which was the temple of Bel Marduk, the patron god of Babylon (Truscott 419), and the Tower of Babel. The temple at the bottom was the god's residence. There was also a stairway up the ziggurat to connect the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly pinnacle where there was a shrine to conduct religious rituals (Truscott 419). Their literature says "They raised high the head of Esagila equaling Apsu." "Esagila" refers to the abode of the god and "Apsu" is its high, heavenly location. This happened early in Babylon's existence. "Stand fast now in your spells and in your many sorceries with which you have labored from your youth" (Isa 47:12). This was a man-made religious system referred to as "'Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities of the World'" (Rev 17:5). "Mother" means it is the source of spiritual adultery.
The last book in the Bible is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" (Rev 1:1). It is "the testimony of Jesus Christ" (:2) and "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (19:19). "Blessed is he who reads . . . and heeds the things which are written in it" (1:3) and "who hears the words of the prophecy of this book" (22:18). When Babylon is referred to it is "'the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth'" (17:18). It is "'Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and of the abominations of the earth'" (:5). It must have really been diabolical to deserve that reputation. We know that Nimrod began to build his kingdom in Shinar (Ge 10:10) and built eight cities throughout southern, central, and northern Mesopotamia (McGuire and Anderson 173). He went "into Assyria, and built Nineveh and . . . Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city" (:11-12). In Babylonia's infancy in approximately 3500 B.C. Messopotamia was divided into north and south districts. Sargon of Accad was one of its early kings and he built a large library. After a time the Elamites invaded and controlled the area. Sargon I of Agade (2400 B.C.) began building temples for the gods Anunitum and Amal. The cities had a polytheistic system of recognized gods and each had a patron deity. The god Uruk refers to Nimrod's city Erech (Ge 10:10). One writer notes that early religious practices have no historical documentation. However, others cite that when "the Lord came down to see the city . . . men had built (11:5) he disapproved because he wanted them to disburse and fill the earth. So he "confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad" (:9). Nimrod built a kingdom anyway (Ge 10:10-11) and many interpret it as a rebellion against God. There were religious centers in the cities and each had its patron deity. A patron is a benefactor who provides support and protection. Politically it was exercised at the institutional or community level, although in some ways, individuals could see it as trickling down to the personal level. In 2250 B.C. Khammu-rabi drove the Elamites out and the Euphratean states became a united monarchy making Babylon the capital of the kingdom. He began to build more temples but each political district still supported its own deity. However it was his intention to group about twenty of the most important gods from the cities into a pantheon which would have more influence. Did kings see consolidation of religious influence as a way to enhance their own potential power? The traits of his court of gods began to be attributed to the characteristics of Marduk which is what a one-world religion would be like.
There were gods of the universe: Anu, of the heavens; Enlil, of the earth; and Ea, of subterranean waters. There were astral deities: Shamash, the sun-god; Sin, the moon-god; and Ishtar, goddess of the morning and evening star. The king tried to elevate Marduk, a solar deity (Merodach in Jeremiah 50:2), to prominence by calling him Bel (the Canaanite Baal) meaning "lord" (Isa 46:1; Jer 51:44). There were lesser deities such as Ea, god of craftsmen, and Marduk's son Nabu (Nebo in Isaiah 46:1), god of writing. They were all personifications of existences in the cosmos and nature and gained footholds because of these relationships. Ishtar was popular as the "Queen of Heaven" (Jer 7:18; 44:17-19). She also was remade into the Greek Aphrodite, Roman Venus, and the Canaanite Astarte/Astaroth (Jdg 10:6; 1Sa 7:3-4; 1Ki 11:5). Adad (Canaanite Hadad) was god of storms, and Ninurta (from Assyrian Calah) was god of war and hunting.Rewriting of history took place where the incantations for Ea were redone to give Marduk the supreme power over demons, witches and sorcerers. Hymns and lamentations of deities were reattributed to Marduk. The meaning of myths belonging to other deities were redirected to give Markuk the credit. The religious system would then associate with the political system and it would become natural to get people's allegiances to it. Of course, each god had a consort which people could identify with. Then there was a ceremony of installation where a political ruler would "take the hand of Bel" symbolizing a union between the deity of the ruler.
A system of astral theology developed. Heavenly and planetary occurrences were attributed to the gods of those happenings. Of course you had to constantly appease them to ensure they would cooperate. Gods became associated with certain planets. There was a correspondence between what transpired on the earth and in the stars. It came to pass that the signs in the heavens had to be interpreted to predict what would happen in the future. A class of priests was formed to map out the skies and create myths which would explain things. That elite would possess the wisdom to divine solutions through omens which is akin to the system of astrology we see today. Also the priests themselves developed the systems to conform to the means used to operate them. Religious consolidation was therefore achieved. Incantation processes were implemented to communicate with the gods. Myths and legends promulgated the beliefs. Prayers, sacrifices, rituals and rites put it into practice. The deitys' participation resulted in personification where traits such as justice, kindness, or anger were attributed to them. It is no wonder that the Book of Revelation attributes sorcery, harlotry, and idolatry to this.
The people needed a "city . . . a tower . . . and a name . . . [so they wouldn't be] scattered" (Ge 11:4). But to prevent that "the Lord scattered them abroad . . . and they stopped building the city" (:8). Was it just a matter of security? They wanted "a tower whose top will reach into heaven" (:4) which symbolizes ambition and independence. God wanted to keep them from becoming the "mother of harlots" (Rev 17:5). He would rather have them inhabit "the Jerusalem above . . . [who is] our mother" (Gal 4:26). God is "against the fortified cities and the high corner towers" (Zep 1:16). "The name of the Lord is a strong tower" (Pr 18:10). There is the "city of the living God" (Heb 12:22) "whose architect and builder is God" (11:10). Isaiah observed that "the astrologers . . . who prophecy and predict . . . cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame" (Isa 47:13,14). Therefore God advises them to escape so they "'will not participate in her sins and receive per plagues'" (Rev 18:4).
Spiritual adultery is when you are unfaithful to the God you should worship and serve. Ezekiel prophesied that you "'made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them'" (16:17). Through Jeremiah God asked, "'Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why do my people say, 'We are free to roam; will come no more to Thee'?" (Jer 2:31). In Tyre, Isaiah stated that "she will go back to her harlot's wages, and will play the harlot with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth" (Isa 23:17). Nineveh was judged "because of the many harlotries of the harlot . . . who sells nations by her harlotries and families by her sorceries" (Nah 2:3). "Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms . . . will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah" (Isa 13:19).
Nimrod "became a mighty one on the earth" (Ge 10:8) who "was a mighty hunter before the Lord" (:9) and started his kingdom (:10) with Babylon. "They said to one another, 'Come let us make bricks'" (11:3) and "'let us build for ourselves a city'" (:4). They discussed it with each other denoting cooperation but some criticize because they argued "'let us make for ourselves a name'" (11:4). That may explain that they were self-centered and seeking power exclusive of God's provision. But God's observation was that they were unified and "'nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them'" (:6). Babylon developed into the "'Mother of Harlots'" (Rev 17:5). Nimrod died. Various legends and extra-Biblical sources are cited by authors about his death. It seems that he met a violent death which could be reflective of his ambitions. His wife, Semiramis, was pregnant at the time and it is surmised she was worried about her power and position. When her son, Tammuz, was born she claimed that he was Nimrod reincarnated. Forty days of mourning (weeping) were initiated. Much later Israel continued the false worship of the sun god where Ezekiel was shown at "the entrance of the Lord's house . . . [where] women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz" (Eze 8:14). Also, there were "'greater abominations then these'" (:15) where they were "prostrating themselves eastward toward the sun" (:16). Spiritual adultery is when you are unfaithful to the God you should worship and serve. Ezekiel prophesied that you "'made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them'" (16:17). Through Jeremiah God asked, "'Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why do my people say,'We are free to roam; will come no more to Thee'?" (Jer 2:31). In Tyre, Isaiah stated that "she will go back to her harlot's wages, and will play the harlot with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth" (Isa 23:17). Nineveh was judged "because of the many harlotries of the harlot . . . who sells nations by her harlotries and families by her sorceries" (Nah 2:3). "Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms . . . will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah" (Isa 13:19).
Babylon instituted the cult. Archaeologists have discovered Babylonian monuments with the goddess-mother Semiramis and her son in her arms. It was said because of reincarnation that the baby was equal to the father. They began to practice the worship of mother and child. Of course, the birth could not have taken place without the mother, so she was elevated to deity status with the title "the Queen of Heaven." Offerings were made of "cakes for the queen of heaven" (Jer 7:18) and they "'were burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven'" (44:19). Nimrod's death and Tammuz' birth were paired together to represent death and rebirth. The winter solstice means the sun "stands still" on the shortest day of the year and then a year gets "reborn" as the days get longer. Israelite idol worshippers faced "eastward toward the sun" (Eze 8:16). The practice spread to Canaan in 1350 B.C. where Ishtar (Ashtaroth) became the goddess of fertility and Baal her son. "The sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth" (Jud 10:6). The practice spread to other nations. In Egypt it was Isis and Horus, in Greece, Aphrodite and Eros, and in Rome, Venus and Cupid. That is why Babylon is called "'the mother of . . . the abominations of the earth'" (Rev 17:5).
John prophesied about the future of Babylon in Revelation chapters 17 and 18. However, Daniel also prophesied regarding Babylon in chapter two. Prophecy often has contemporary application as well as future meaning. In Daniel's case it was that "in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, [the king] had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him" (Da 2:1). Daniel told him that God could provide an explanation saying, "'He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place'" (:29). He related to the king that "'while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future'" (:29). He said the answer was so "'that you may understand the thoughts of your mind'" (:30). The king's initial thoughts were about the future, but he then became concerned about the meaning of the dream.
Daniel began saying, "'This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed'" (:28). He explained, "'You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell . . . He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold.'" (:37). Jeremiah had stated, "Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the Lord, intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; therefore the nations are going mad'" (Jer 51:7). Daniel finished saying, "'In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed . . . [and] it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms" (Da 2:44). Jeremiah had also said, "'Sharpen the arrows, fill the quivers! The Lord has aroused the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because His purpose is against Babylon to destroy it'" (Jer 51:11). "'Consecrate the nations against her, the kings of the Medes, their governors and all their prefects, and every land of their dominion'" (:28). Because the Medes are cited it shows that the prophecy applies to that current period. Also it cites the time of "'in the days of those kings'" (:44) and that God would "'put an end to all these kingdoms'" (:44). Furthermore, Isaiah had said, "'Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldean's pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah'" (Isa 13:19). "'It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation'" (:20). Jeremiah prophesied, "'Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken'" (Jer 51:8) and "'You will be desolate forever,' declares the Lord" (:26). However, one author believes the prophecy can only pertain to the distant future because Babylon dwindled away over many centuries and wasn't destroyed suddenly according to prophecy. Another teacher says it couldn't refer to a future rebuilt Babylon because scripture says the city would "never be inhabited" (Isa 13:20) and "desolate forever" (Jer 51:26). This person argues that Babylon is symbolic of the economic, political and religious end-time world system because it has all the characteristics of Babylon. However, proper exegesis teaches that you should try to interpret prophecy literally before figuratively. The key could be that it cites the "great city, which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt" (Rev 11:8) as being symbolic because it says so. Therefore, if Babylon is mentioned without being defined as figurative, it should be regarded literally as if it will have been rebuilt in the future to qualify.
Daniel had told the king "'while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future'" (Da 2:28) and you "'were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. The head of that statue was made of fine gold'" (:31-32). Then Daniel interpreted saying to Nebuchadnezzar, "'You are the head of gold'" (:38). He must have been self-preoccupied. Afterwards "the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon" (3:1). It was then announced that all "'peoples, nations and men of every language'" (:4) would "'fall down and worship the golden image'" (:5). He purposed for them to "'serve my gods'" (:14). But the Jews who refused responded "[it is] 'our God whom we serve'" (:17) and "'we are not going to serve your gods'" (:18). However God rescued them "out of the midst of the fire" (:26) because they "'put their trust in Him'" (:28) and "'yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God'" (:28). The king concluded "'there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way'" (:30).
The king had attempted to force everyone to worship the pagan religions of Babylon which is a precursor to the Antichrist trying to create a one-world religious system. "The great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (Rev 12:9). "The dragon stood on the sand of the seashore" (13:1). "Then [John] saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads" (:1). Later John was carried away "in the Spirit into a wilderness; and [he] saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns" (17:3). The beast is a governmental power which comes out of the "sea of humanity." "The dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority" (13:2) and "the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast" (:3). "They worshipped the dragon . . . and they worshipped the beast" (:4). In the gospels "the devil took Him [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and said to Him, 'All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me'" (Mt 3:9). Jesus responded, "'It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord Your God, and serve Him only''" (:10).
Zechariah prophesied that God would restore Jerusalem. He saw "a man with a measuring line in his hand" (Zec 2:1) who answered that he was going "'To measure Jerusalem'" (:2). God said, "'I will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst'" (:5) and then "'you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you'" (:11). God told Joshua, "'I have taken your iniquity away from you'" (3:4) and said, "'I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day'" (:9). Zerubbabel began rebuilding and Zechariah prophesied, "'His hands will finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you'" (:9). God keeps track of progress shown by "'the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes'" (:9). "'These seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel-these are the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth'" (4:10). Then Zechariah saw a vision of a flying scroll. An angel explained, "'This is the curse that is going forth over the face of the whole land'" (5:3) and those who sin "'will be purged away'" (:3).
Then the prophet had a vision of an "'ephah going forth'" (5:4). An ephah is a large container for storing grain. The angel explained, "'This is their appearance in all the land'" (:6). It is a symbol of the sinners who would be purged and the iniquity in the land. Under its lead cover was a woman sitting called "'Wickedness'" (:8). Then two women with wings like a stork flew it away (:9). The angel explained they were taking it, "'To build a temple for her in the land of Shinar'" (:11). After the flood Noah's family "journeyed east [and] found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there" (Ge 11:2). Its as if the sin which God is purging is being moved to a different place. Furthermore, "'When it is prepared, she will be set there on her own pedestal'" (Zec 5:11). That would be like an idol in the temple of Babylon. Theologians explain that prophecy can have a current, primary meaning and also a long-term, secondary meaning. Moving the ephah to Babylon could symbolize the rebuilding of that city in the last days so that certain verses in Isaiah 13 and Jeremiah 50-51 could apply to their fulfillment in Revelation 17-18. Babylon was near the Euphrates River. What kind of lawlessness could originate there? At the sixth trumpet judgment an angel said, "'Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates'" (Rev 9:14), and it took place "so that they would kill a third of mankind" (:15). The Euphrates is involved again. "A sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east" (16:12). Wickedness is active there.
Zechariah prophesied from 520-480 B.C. during the rule of the Persian Empire (539-330 B.C.). It was during the period of the restoration of Jerusalem after Babylon (626-539 B.C.) had fallen. He saw a vision of a woman sitting inside of an ephah called "Wickedness" (Zec 5:8). She was then transported so they could "'build a temple for her in the land of Shinar'" (:11). Shinar is the same area that Babylon had occupied, and of course, Babylon had been conquered and no longer existed as such. A woman again is prophetically mentioned by John who "saw a woman sitting a scarlet beast" (Rev 17:3) and "on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, 'Babylon the Great'" (:5). An angel explained, "'The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth'" (:18). Is this the same woman from Zechariah? Peter said, "no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation" (2Pe 1:20) so the meaning would have to be provided "by the Holy Spirit [who] spoke from God" (:21). We know that she is "'the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth'" (Rev 17:5). Just as Zechariah said the woman in the ephah was called "Wickedness" (Zec 5:8) so Isaiah spoke of Babylon saying, "'You felt secure in your wickedness'" (Isa 47:10).
Wickedness means spiritual adultery or idol worship. Ezekiel confronts an "'adulterous wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband!'" (Eze 16:32). God acknowledged the relationship saying, "'I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine'" (:8). But God charged Israel saying, "'Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed Me by acting treacherously against Me'" (20:27). In the land God gave them "'they saw every high hill and every leafy tree, and they offered their sacrifices and there they presented the provocation of their offering'" (:28). "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God" (1Co 10:20). God said, "'You also took your beautiful jewels . . . which I had given you, and made for yourselves male images that you might play the harlot with them'" (Eze 16:17). Babylon is "the mother of harlots" (Rev 17:5). God also pointed out, "'You took your sons and daughters . . . and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter?'" (Eze 16:20).
God then asked, "'Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your fathers and play the harlot after their detestable things?'" (20:30). Detestable things are spoken of as idols or abominations. Babylon is the source of "the abominations of the earth" (Rev 17:5). If something is detestable it is intensely disliked. If it is abominable it is highly detasteful and offensive. It was predicted they'd say, "'We will be like the nations, like the tribes of the lands, serving wood and stone'" (Eze 20:32). "'The great harlot [is one] who sits on many waters'" (Rev 17:1) and the angel said "'the waters . . . are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues'" (:15). Nineveh was "the charming one, the mistress of sorceries" (Nahum 3:4). But God warned Babylon, "'Evil will come on you which you will not know how to charm away'" (Isa 47:11). God notes Babylon saying, "'I am, and there is no one besides me'" (:8), "'No one sees me'" (:10), and "'I will be queen forever'" (:7). The church of Laodicea said, "'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'" (Rev 3:17). God challenges them to, "'Stand fast in your spells and in your sorceries with which you have labored from your youth'" (Isa 47:12). But God concludes that disaster "'will come on you in full measure in spite of your many sorceries, in spite of the great power of your spells'" (:9).