Revelation 18:17

Revelation 18:17

Rawlinson [Herodotus, i. 512] speaks of the Euphrates as being navigable for ships for some 500 miles from its mouth. And with little effort could be made available for ships of large size.3

Today these two streams [the Tigris and the Euphrates] are joined together and flow as one river, the Shatt el-Arab, 190 km (120 mi) to the gulf, where the water is deep enough for warships.4

Rome was not a major seaport or trading city. Rome was never a great city of commerce described in Revelation Rev. 18:1+. Revelation Rev. 18:17+ actually fits Babylon better than Rome because Rome had no seaport. . . . Revelation Rev. 18:17-18+ which describes those who make their living from the sea standing a far off and wailing at the sight of Babylon’s destruction, fits well with the geography of Babylon on the Euphrates. In ancient times, the Euphrates was navigable for ships for some 500 miles from its mouth.6

It is perfectly well known that Rome was never either “great” or commercial. It is no Port; and no “shipmaster” goes thither. . . . if Rome be the city, Rome must yet become the great political and religious centre; with port and harbour. And it is quite as difficult to believe in this revival of Rome, as to believe in the revival of Babylon.7


1 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 172.

2 “The Euphrates is about 2,890 kilometers (1,780 miles) long and is navigable for smaller vessels for about 1,950 kilometers (1,200 miles).”—Ronald F. Youngblood and R. K. Harrison, eds., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995), s.v. “Euphrates.” “The entire course is 1780 miles, and of this distance more than two-thirds (1200 miles is navigable for boats).”—William Smith, Smith’s Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997), s.v. “Euphrates.”

3 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 18:17.

4 C. E. Harrington and W. S. Lasor, “Euphrates,” in Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979, 1915), 2:203.

5 Some recognize the unsuitability of Rome, but are so set in their identification of Babylon as Rome, they attempt to circumvent Rome’s failure in fulfillment by spiritualizing the commerce: “Rome was not a commercial city, and is not likely from her position to be so. The merchandise must therefore be spiritual, even as the harlot is not literal, but spiritual.”—A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 18:10.

6 Andy Woods, What is the Identity of Babylon In Revelation 17-18?.

7 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 18:1.

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