Revelation 18:2

he cried mightily with a loud voice
The angel serves as a divine herald, announcing that which is about to take place. He signals that an event of great importance is about to transpire (Rev. Rev. 5:2+; Rev. 10:3+; Rev. 14:15+).

Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen
The word order is reversed in the Greek to emphasis her fall: It is fallen, it is fallen, Babylon the great. The time has finally arrived for the predicted destruction of Babylon to find fulfillment. Although aspects of Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning her destruction relate to the overthrow of Babylon by Persia in 539 B.C., her catastrophic and permanent destruction had not occurred until now. See Babylon’s Predicted Destruction. Perhaps this is the same angel which flew forth earlier to declare Babylon’s destruction (Rev. Rev. 14:8+ cf. Isa. Isa. 21:9). Like the declaration of that angel, is fallen is ἔπεσεν [epesen] , prophetic aorist tense. The city’s fall is so certain and imminent it is described as if it has already been accomplished. See commentary on Revelation 14:8. Her destruction takes place as a result of the pouring forth of the seventh bowl of God’s wrath (Rev. Rev. 16:19+). The city and the Harlot are given the same title: “Babylon the Great” (Rev. Rev. 17:4+). The Harlot is not some separate entity, but the city itself (Rev. Rev. 17:18+). See One or Two Babylons? She is called great because of her power and commercial splendor, but also because she thought herself to be great. She was built on pride (Isa. Isa. 13:19; Jer. Jer. 50:29; Dan. Dan. 4:30).

has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird
Has become is ἐγένετο [egeneto] , aorist tense. The angel describes her condition after her fall.1 Although foul spirits no doubt frequented Babylon prior to her destruction, this speaks of the incarceration of demons in prison as a result of the judgment.2 Dwelling place is κατοικητήριον [katoikētērion] , used to describe the corporate church as a dwelling place of God, a holy temple (Eph. Eph. 2:22). It indicates a place where residents settle down with the idea of a protracted residence.3 Foul and unclean are ἀκαθάρτου [akathartou] , meaning unclean—matching the character of the filthiness of the fornication of the Harlot (Rev. Rev. 17:2+) and the three unclean spirits which gathered the kings of the earth to the Campaign of Armageddon (Rev. Rev. 16:13+). Concerning foul spirit, see commentary on Revelation 16:13. Certain birds were considered unclean according to the Mosaic Law (Lev. Lev. 11:13-19). In Scripture, birds—and especially unclean birds—often denote evil (Isa. Isa. 13:21; Zec. Zec. 5:9; Mtt. Mat. 13:4, Mat. 13:19). Prison and cage are φυλακὴ [phylakē] : “The place of guarding, prison. . . . The fallen city of Babylon becomes a φυλακὴ [phylakē] haunt for all kinds of unclean spirits and birds.”4 The same term describes the prison which Satan is released from at the end of the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. Rev. 20:7+). During the thousand years that Satan is bound in the abyss, he is unable to escape from his location. Thus, this speaks of a place of involuntary confinement, not merely a “haunt, den, [or] refuge.”5 In various passages concerning the ultimate destruction of Babylon, she is said to become a devastated wilderness (Isa. Isa. 13:21-22; Isa. 14:23; Jer. Jer. 50:39; Jer. 51:37). These passages make mention of various animals of the wilderness as an indication that she will remain uninhabited. Now, John is told at her destruction Babylon has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul [unclean] spirit. The declaration of the angel makes explicit that which was only hinted at in the OT use of certain terms describing the animals attending her destruction:

Therefore the wild desert beasts shall dwell there with the jackals, and the ostriches shall dwell in it. It shall be inhabited no more forever, nor shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. (Jer. Jer. 50:39 cf. Jer. Jer. 51:37) [emphasis added]

Wild desert beasts (Jer. Jer. 50:39) is צִיִּים [ṣîyîm] : Ps. 74:14).”6

But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, and their houses will be full of owls; ostriches will dwell there, and wild goats will caper there. The hyenas will howl in their citadels, and jackals in their pleasant palaces. Her time is near to come, and her days will not be prolonged. (Isa. Isa. 13:21-22 cf. Isa. Isa. 14:23) [emphasis added]

Wild goats (Isa. Isa. 13:21) is שְׂעִירִים [śeʿîrîm] : Mat. 8:30-32).”7 “Satyr, i.e., a spirit being that inhabits desolate areas (Isa. Isa. 13:21; Isa. 34:14).”8

The Hebrew word sāʿîr primarily meant a he-goat. In lower Egypt the goat was worshipped with abominable rites. The word is rendered “satyr” in two passages, Isaiah Isa. 13:21 and Isa. 34:14 (R.V. margin “hegoat”). In both places the Septuagint translates it daimonia , demons, and this gives the true indication of the evil spirits which inspired the particular worship carried on by the idolaters: “the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God” (1Cor. 1Cor. 10:20). The word is translated “devils” (that is, demons) in KJV Leviticus Lev. 17:7 “they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring” . . . that is, to the evil spirits.9

It appears that both Babylon and Edom (Isa. Isa. 34:8-17) will be dwelling places for demons during the Millennial Kingdom:10

It is obvious that the animal inhabitants, as we know them, mentioned in Isa. Isa. 13:20-22 and Jer. Jer. 50:39-40, cannot live in a place of continual burning pitch and brimstone and so there cannot be literal animals. . . . This place of continual burning and smoke will be a place of confinement for many demons during the Kingdom period. . . . In fact, the Hebrew word translated wild goats refers to demons in goat form.11

Hated is μεμισημένου [memisēmenou] , a perfect tense passive participle, while having been hated. These demon spirits were hated in the past, but will now be confined to the region of Babylon. Thus, in the same way that Satan is bound so he is unable to interfere with the Millennial Kingdom, his fallen angels will also be incarcerated during the thousand-year reign of Messiah on earth. Some Greek manuscripts include, and every unclean beast.12


1 Many commentators miss the importance of the aorist tense here: “One has only to walk down the main streets of a great city like New York or London to see the aptness of such a description. Lust is unbridled and tens of thousands of girls each year go on their way to prostitution.”—Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 337. Similarly: “The first cause given for Babylon’s destruction is that she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit.”—John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 18:1. Yet the angel is not describing the condition of the city before its fall, but afterwards, as is made plain by the parallel passages in Isaiah and Jeremiah which describe her demonized condition as the result of her destruction (Isa. Isa. 13:21-22; Isa. 14:23; Jer. Jer. 50:39; Jer. 51:37). Although demons undoubtedly frequent major cities, they are not imprisoned there as this verse describes. “Evidence of the city’s fall is its transition into ‘the habitation of demons.’ ”—Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 18:2.

2 “With its destruction, Babylon is to become a habitation of demons. This will be the dwelling place of demonic abode and confinement during the Messianic Age.”—Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 330.

3 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 226.

4 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 867.

5 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 403.

6 James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997), H6716.

7 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), H8162.

8 Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament), H8163.

9 W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, IL: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996), H8163.

10 “The city of Babylon on the Euphrates during the millennium will be a jail of demons. Compare Isaiah Isa. 24:21-23; which is millennial also, and the judgment upon Edom, in Isaiah Isa. 34:13-15; also millennial. (Of course these conditions give way to the last judgment—when the earth is destroyed, in Rev. Rev. 20:11-15+, and all lost beings are finally sentenced.)”—William R. Newell, Revelation: Chapter by Chapter (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1994,c1935), 286.

11 Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 512-513.

12 “The Committee was of the opinion that all three elements (each of which involves an allusion to Isa. Isa. 13:21; Isa. 34:11) probably belonged to the original text of Revelation; since, however, καὶ φυλακὴ παντὸς θηρίου ἀκαθάρτου [kai phylakē pantos thēriou akathartou] is absent from such important witnesses as א 2053 2080 vg al, it was decided to enclose these words within square brackets.”—Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), Rev. 18:2.