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2002 11 11
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Chapter 18


1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth became illumined by his splendor.


2 He cried out in a mighty voice: "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great. She has become a haunt for demons. She is a cage for every unclean spirit, a cage for every unclean bird, (a cage for every unclean) and disgusting (beast).


For all the nations have drunk 3 the wine of her licentious passion. The kings of the earth had intercourse with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her drive for luxury."


Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Depart from her, 4 my people, so as not to take part in her sins and receive a share in her plagues,


for her sins are piled up to the sky, and God remembers her crimes.


Pay her back as she has paid others. Pay her back double for her deeds. Into her cup pour double what she poured.


To the measure of her boasting and wantonness repay her in torment and grief; for she said to herself, 'I sit enthroned as queen; I am no widow, and I will never know grief.'


Therefore, her plagues will come in one day, pestilence, grief, and famine; she will be consumed by fire. For mighty is the Lord God who judges her."


The kings of the earth who had intercourse with her in their wantonness will weep and mourn over her when they see the smoke of her pyre.


They will keep their distance for fear of the torment inflicted on her, and they will say: "Alas, alas, great city, Babylon, mighty city. In one hour your judgment has come."


The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn for her, because there will be no more markets 5 for their cargo:


their cargo of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; fine linen, purple silk, and scarlet cloth; fragrant wood of every kind, all articles of ivory and all articles of the most expensive wood, bronze, iron, and marble;


cinnamon, spice, 6 incense, myrrh, and frankincense; wine, olive oil, fine flour, and wheat; cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human beings.


"The fruit you craved has left you. All your luxury and splendor are gone, never again will one find them."


The merchants who deal in these goods, who grew rich from her, will keep their distance for fear of the torment inflicted on her. Weeping and mourning,


they cry out: "Alas, alas, great city, wearing fine linen, purple and scarlet, adorned (in) gold, precious stones, and pearls.


In one hour this great wealth has been ruined." Every captain of a ship, every traveler at sea, sailors, and seafaring merchants stood at a distance


and cried out when they saw the smoke of her pyre, "What city could compare with the great city?"


They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and mourning: "Alas, alas, great city, in which all who had ships at sea grew rich from her wealth. In one hour she has been ruined.


Rejoice over her, heaven, you holy ones, apostles, and prophets. For God has judged your case against her."


A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone and threw it into the sea and said: "With such force will Babylon the great city be thrown down, and will never be found again.


No melodies of harpists and musicians, flutists and trumpeters, will ever be heard in you again. No craftsmen in any trade will ever be found in you again. No sound of the millstone will ever be heard in you again.


No light from a lamp will ever be seen in you again. No voices of bride and groom will ever be heard in you again. Because your merchants were the great ones of the world, all nations were led astray by your magic potion.


In her was found the blood of prophets and holy ones and all who have been slain on the earth."



1 [ 18:1- 19:4] A stirring dirge over the fall of Babylon-Rome. The perspective is prophetic, as if the fall of Rome had already taken place. The imagery here, as elsewhere in this book, is not to be taken literally. The vindictiveness of some of the language, borrowed from the scathing Old Testament prophecies against Babylon, Tyre, and Nineveh (Isaiah 23; 24; 27; Jer 50-51; Ezekial 26-27), is meant to portray symbolically the inexorable demands of God's holiness and justice; cf Introduction. The section concludes with a joyous canticle on the future glory of heaven.

2 [2] Many Greek manuscripts and versions omit a cage for every unclean . . . beast.

3 [3-24] Rome is condemned for her immorality, symbol of idolatry (see the note on Rev 14:4), and for persecuting the church; cf Rev 19:2.

4 [4] Depart from her: not evacuation of the city but separation from sinners, as always in apocalyptic literature.

5 [11] Ironically, the merchants weep not so much for Babylon Rome, but for their lost markets; cf Ezekiel 27:36.

6 [13] Spice: an unidentified spice plant called in Greek amomon.

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