Revelation 17:5

5 A riddle-name was branded on her forehead: great babylon, mother of whores and abominations of the earth.

Revelation 17:5 Meaning and Commentary

Revelation 17:5

And upon her forehead was a name written
As the high priest had on his mitre upon his forehead written, holiness to the Lord, ( Exodus 28:36 ) only a different inscription from that; the allusion is thought to be to harlots, who not only used to put their names over their doors, but some of them upon their foreheads, that all might know who they were; of which Mr. Daubuz has given proofs out of Seneca, Martial, Juvenal, and Petronius; and such might be said to have an whore's forehead indeed: and this is expressive of the openness and impudence of the church of Rome, in her idolatrous worship; she openly declares it, and pleads for it, and invites and ensnares persons to join with her in it: the name follows,

mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations
of the earth;
her name is "mystery"; not the mystery of godliness, that she dislikes and opposes, but the mystery of iniquity; which is the name antichrist went by in the Apostle Paul's time, when he was but in embryo, ( 2 Thessalonians 2:7 ) . Some reference may be had to the mystery of the Mass, in which the Papists pretend are the very body and blood of Christ; to their seven sacraments, for wherever almost they find the word mystery, they make a sacrament of that to which it is applied; and to their unwritten traditions, and the sense of the Scriptures, which are locked up in the pope's breast: and it is very remarkable what has been observed by some, that the word "mystery" was formerly upon the frontlet of the pope's mitre, and was removed by Pope Julius the Third, when it was observed that the Protestants made use of this passage of Scripture, and applied it to the Romish antichrist. Joseph Scaliger F12 affirms, that he saw mitres at Rome with this inscription on them. Though others think that this is not any part of the name, but only signifies that this woman was, in a mysterious or mystical sense, called Babylon just as the great city is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, ( Revelation 11:8 ) but to me it seems to be a part of the name, as well as what follows, "Babylon the great"; that is, the great city, ( Revelation 14:8 ) by which name the church of Rome may well be called, because of the signification of it, confusion, ( Genesis 11:9 ) its doctrine and worship being a confused mixture of Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity; and because of the pride and haughtiness of it, its tyranny and cruelty, and its sorceries and idolatry; see ( Isaiah 14:12-14 ) ( Isaiah 47:6 Isaiah 47:7 Isaiah 47:12 Isaiah 47:13 ) ( Jeremiah 50:38 ) .

And the mother of harlots,
of all antichristian states and kingdoms; and is different from the heavenly Jerusalem, the Gospel church, which is the mother of true believers, ( Galatians 4:26 ) or the "mother of fornications": as some copies read, and the Vulgate Latin and eastern versions render it; that is, the author and encourager of them, as the church of Rome has been; of corporeal fornication, by commanding celibacy, and forbidding marriage to priests, and setting up of brothel houses; and of spiritual fornication or idolatry, everywhere required and encouraged by it: and of "the abominations of the earth"; of abominable doctrines and practices; all manner of wickedness that is to be found in the earth, as murder, adultery, sodomy, perjury these, with everything that is vile and wicked, are practised and connived at by her.


F12 In Scaligeran.

Revelation 17:5 In-Context

3 In the Spirit he carried me out in the desert. I saw a woman mounted on a Scarlet Beast. Stuffed with blasphemies, the Beast had seven heads and ten horns.
4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, festooned with gold and gems and pearls. She held a gold chalice in her hand, brimming with defiling obscenities, her foul fornications.
5 A riddle-name was branded on her forehead: great babylon, mother of whores and abominations of the earth.
6 I could see that the woman was drunk, drunk on the blood of God's holy people, drunk on the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
7 The Angel said, "Does this surprise you? Let me tell you the riddle of the woman and the Beast she rides, the Beast with seven heads and ten horns.