And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast
( Revelation 17:3 ) and which are interpreted of ten kings, ( Revelation 17:12 ) . The Alexandrian copy, the Complutensian edition, and the Syriac Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, read, "and the beast"; and then the sense is, that the ten kings and states in particular, who have defended antichrist, and the whole empire in general, which has bore up and supported the whore of Rome:
these shall hate the whore;
her principles and sentiments, her doctrines, which are doctrines of devils, her wicked practices, her idolatries, adulteries, murders, and thefts; they will repent of their fornications with her, and cease from them; their love will be turned to hatred, and the latter will be greater than ever the former was, like Amnon's to Tamar; and as it usually is with men towards harlots, when they see their follies, and how they have been deceived and abused by them:
and shall make her desolate;
leave her, quit her communion; no more commit fornication with her, or join with her in her idolatrous worship; but come out from that apostate church, and renounce all fellowship with her, and persuade and engage as many as they can influence to do the same:
strip her of her purple, scarlet colour, gold, pearls, and precious stones; cease to give their power and strength, withhold their taxes and tribute, deprive her of her power and authority, civil and ecclesiastical, in their realms, and take away even her patrimony from her; and not only so, but expose her shame and filthiness, her abominable principles and practices, to all the world; which has been in part done already:
and shall eat her flesh;
not literally, but mystically; not out of love, but hatred; they shall take that to themselves, and make use of, which have fattened her, as bishoprics, and other benefices, lands, endowments belonging to abbeys, and monasteries, and other religious houses; an instance and example of which we have in King Henry the Eighth's time; so some understand this phrase of devouring the substance of others, in ( Psalms 27:2 ) ( Daniel 7:5 ) . So the Targumists often interpret "flesh and fatness"; by "riches, goods", or substance; the phrase in ( Isaiah 17:4 ) "the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean", is paraphrased, (hyrqy rtwe) , "the riches of his glory shall be carried away"; and the words in ( Micah 3:3 ) who shall also eat the flesh of my people" are rendered, "and they who spoil" (yme yokn) , "the goods", or "substance of my people, and take away their precious mammon, or money, from them. And again, ( Zechariah 11:9 ) "let the rest eat, everyone the flesh of another", is in the Targum, "let a man spoil" (yokn) , "the goods or substance of his neighbour"; and in ( Revelation 17:16 ) he shall eat the flesh of the fat; the paraphrase is, "he shall" spoil (yokn) , "the goods or substance of the rich".
And burn her with fire:
alluding to the law in ( Leviticus 21:9 ) which required that the daughter of a priest, that played the whore, should be burnt with fire; and this is to be understood literally of burning the city of Rome, the seat of the whore, with fire; of which see ( Revelation 18:8 Revelation 18:9 Revelation 18:18 ) . It has been very near being burnt in times past, as by Alaricus the Goth, Attila the Hun, Genseric the Vandal, and by Totilas, and in later times by Charles the Fifth; and would have been, had they not been dissuaded or diverted from it; and which were so many preludes and warnings of its future fate: and we may learn from hence, that Rome, and the Romish antichrist, will not be destroyed by the Turks, but by the Christians; and by the same states, and kingdoms, and princes, by which the whore of Rome has been supported in her grandeur, power, and authority, who will revolt from Popery, and embrace the pure Gospel of Christ: and this shows, that the ten horns, or kingdoms, into which the Roman empire has been divided, will subsist in this form at the destruction of Rome; wherefore, it has been rightly observed by some, that not one of these kingdoms shall ever be able to rise to universal monarchy. France has been for many years attempting it, but in vain; and we may sit down easy and satisfied, assuring ourselves with the greatest confidence, that all attempts this way will be fruitless; there never will be another universal monarchy on earth but that of Christ's; see ( Daniel 2:37 Daniel 2:39 Daniel 2:40 ) ( Daniel 7:3 Daniel 7:23 Daniel 7:27 ) .