Revelation 18English Standard Version (ESV)
The Fall of Babylon
18 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. 2 And he called out with a mighty voice,
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
“Come out of her, my people,
9 And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
“Alas! Alas! You great city,
11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.[b]
14 “The fruit for which your soul longed
15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,
16 “Alas, alas, for the great city
And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,
“What city was like the great city?”
19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out,
“Alas, alas, for the great city
21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,
“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
Revelation 18The Voice (VOICE)
Because Babylon is the city responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem’s first temple in 586 b.c., John uses this ominous symbol to describe the Babylon of his day—Rome, the city on seven hills. In a.d. 70, the Roman armies march against Jerusalem, destroy the second temple, and scatter the Jewish people.
The whore, who is identified as Babylon, is a symbol to readers in John’s day of Rome and its allure. Its beauty and power are legendary, but beneath the surface lies the truth of its nature. People who ally themselves with Rome and all that it represents are partners with ruin. In the years since John’s Revelation was first written, the whore has been seen as many different world forces. What Rome represents in John’s day has been replicated by many different world powers and their material attractions.
18 Next I saw another messenger descending from heaven. I knew he possessed great authority because his glory illuminated the earth.
2 Heavenly Messenger (with a powerful voice): Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great city!
4 Then I heard another voice from heaven urge,
A Voice: My people, get away from her—fast.
9 And the kings of the earth, who committed lewd, sexual acts and lived lavishly off of her, will weep and wail over their loss when they see the smoke from her burning body rise into the sky. 10 They will stand at a distance, fearing they, too, might fall victim to her torment. They will moan,
Woe to you, our great city!
Since greed and seeking unjust gain are two of Babylon’s greatest sins, economic collapse becomes the basis of God’s judgment.
11 And the merchants and the magnates of the earth weep and mourn over her demise because no one is buying their goods any longer: 12 warehouses remain full of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls; fine fabrics, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; fragrant woods, items made of ivory, and items finely crafted out of expensive wood; bronze, iron, and marble; 13 cinnamon, spices, incense, myrrh, and frankincense; wine, olive oil, rich flour, and wheat; cattle, sheep, horses, chariots, and human cargo (the trafficked souls of humanity).
14 Everything your heart desired
15 The sellers of these goods, who made a fine profit from her, will stand at a distance. Like the kings, they will fear her punishment might fall on them too. They will weep and mourn their loss.
16 Woe to you, our great city,
And all the sea captains, all those who sail the seas, sailors, and those who make a living by the sea, stood at a distance. 18 Strong men were reduced to tears as they gazed on the smoke that rose from her ruins. “Was there ever any city like her?” they asked. 19 They threw dust in the air covering their heads. They wept bitterly and mourned their loss.
Woe to you, our great city;
20 Rejoice over her torment, O heaven. Join in the celebration, you saints, emissaries,[a] and prophets because God has judged in your favor and against her.
21 Then a mighty messenger picked up a huge stone—it looked like a great millstone—and he cast it into the sea.
Mighty Messenger: Watch and see. This is how Babylon, the great city,