Updated: May 17, 2021
Revelation 18:3 – For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
Aw, eschatology: don't you love it? Which one of us can read the book of Revelation and state that we have figured it all out? Oh, there are those who claim they have but I wouldn't believe them. This book is a difficult one.
The only way to discover any of it is to go back to the Torah, the prophets, and the writings: or the TeNaKh (Old Testament). If you try and figure it out without “going back” then you will definitely be lost.
What about this harlot in Revelation? Who is she? We have all heard teachings on this, now I will offer mine for your consideration.
In Numbers Chapter 5:11-31 we can read about a cup of jealousy, or cup of adultery. Much can be learned from this cup which compares to the cup that the harlot is holding in the book of Revelation (Revelation 18:6).
Before I begin, please read the above listed scriptures in Numbers because I will not post them here due to the length.
Here are some basic highlights:
… a jealous husband who is concerned that his wife has committed adultery can bring
charges against her.
…. although it may seem that the command is against the woman, it is literally there to
protect and vindicate innocent women from what could be overbearing, abusive
… the man brings his wife to a priest with an offering of jealousy. This is a grain offering,
not an animal offering with blood. It is stated that it is an offering for remembrance, for
bringing iniquity to remembrance.
… the priest takes a vessel and puts holy water in it and then mixes some dust from the floor
of the tabernacle into it.
… then the priest makes the woman agree to a curse: if she has been unfaithful to her
husband then when she drinks the bitter water calamities will immediately befall her. All
will see her for the adulterer/harlot that she has been. She MUST agree to this curse.
… then the priest writes these curses in a book and wipes them off into the
bitter water. She now must drink the cup to prove her guilt or innocence.
… the husband will either be vindicated for his justified jealousy or he will be seen to be the
one who was overly zealous to falsely accuse his wife. The woman will either be found to
be an adulterer and will be a curse among her people, or she also will be vindicated and
her husband will have to probably treat her better than he had before.
We can find this overwhelming theme throughout the TaNaKh: the LORD testing the faithfulness of the children of Israel. He defines Himself as a “jealous God” (Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:14, Deut. 4:24). Did He have the right to be a jealous husband over Israel? Yes, absolutely! They failed the “fidelity” test too many times to count. They had barely begun their journey from Egypt when they failed the first time with the sin of the golden calf. Keep in mind that this was just after they had entered into a marriage covenant with Him.
In fact, it is with the sin of the golden calf that we can find the first example of the people being made to drink a cup of adultery. In Exodus chapter 32:19 we read that Moses comes down off of the mountain and when he sees what the people have done he breaks the tablets at the foot of the mountain. Then in the next verse it states that “he took the calf which they had made, and burned it with fire, and ground it into powder, and scattered it on the face of the water and made the children of Israel drink it”. What happens after this? They are apparently found guilty because the Levites are commanded to go out into the camp and to start slaughtering the people for their sin. Exactly how they knew who to slaughter we are not told but they killed 3000 people that day. So, we see that calamity followed almost immediately after they drank the cup. Furthermore, just as the priest in Numbers 5 was to write the curses down in a book and then wipe off (blot in some translations) the curses into the cup that she was to drink from – we find in Exodus 32:33 that God says: “Whosoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (the same word is used in both instances). Why? Because at the foot of Mt. Sinai they had agreed to be a faithful wife and do all that Adonai had commanded of them. Because they didn't obey curses came upon them. In regards to keeping the Torah, we later find in Deuteronomy that the blessings and cursings are listed in detail. The children of Israel were judged many times for being an adulterous wife.
In Revelation chapter 17 we read about a woman, a harlot. In 17:18 we are told that the harlot is a great city:
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
In Revelation 11:8 we are given the identity of the great city:
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
We should all know by name the city where Yeshua our Lord was crucified: Jerusalem. In Revelation, and the TaNaKh for that matter, Jerusalem is called Babylon, Sodom, and Egypt. Jerusalem is the woman, the harlot of Revelation.
We further find that the harlot is holding a cup in her hands:
Revelation 18:6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
I like this translation a little better: "Render to her as she indeed did render, and repay her double according to her works. In the cup which she has mixed, mix for her double." (TS2009)
The cup is a cup of jealousy or cup of adultery. She is being judged for her adulteries with the nations. Her cup holds the blood of the saints, prophets, and all the abominations that she has committed against her Elohim. Her cup is so full that she is drunk with their blood (Revelation 17:6).
In Numbers 5 we were told that the offering which was brought was for a "remembrance of iniquity". In Revelation 8:5 we read of the harlot:
For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Also read similar passages in Ezekiel. 21:2 – 24.
We further find that she is found guilty of all of her sins and thus the curses and judgment comes upon her after the cup is mentioned:
Revelation 18:8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
How can a city be a harlot? Jerusalem represents her people, the people of the southern kingdom of ancient Israel: Judah. Like all of Israel (northern and southern kingdoms) Judah agreed to receive the curses of the Torah if they disobeyed.
There is no way of escaping that this narrative follows that of the Numbers 5 passages.
Jerusalem has been punished repeatedly throughout her history. The northern kingdom (represented by the city Samaria) was divorced and banished from the land and never returned in numbers. They are considered the 10 lost tribes. However, Daniel saw the desolations of Jerusalem and his people. Who were his people? Judah. Judah was the largest tribe of the southern kingdom. Daniel saw from the writings of the prophet Jeremiah that Judah would be in captivity to Babylon for 70 years. Then he saw that his people would be restored to the land. However, he also saw 3 more kingdoms that would come against his people. Jerusalem would continue to be trampled until the time of the nations was over. Even Yeshua (Jesus) declares about the future:
Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
In Revelation John saw the destruction of Jerusalem that happened in 70 AD. The destruction that Yeshua predicted. However, there is also a future fulfillment of destruction coming to Jerusalem just before the return of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ). Judah (Jerusalem) still has at least one more judgment coming. When it appears that all hope will forever be gone: their Messiah Yeshua will come to the rescue!
Judgment begins in the House of the LORD!
if you are interested in more concerning this topic then please see part two: Mystery: Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots.