1. (a) For how long did Babylon the Great have its seat in the ancient city of Babylon? (b) How did Babylon the Great hold sway over other world powers? (c) To what end has she taken advantage of her religious control?
THE principal seat of Babylon the Great as a world empire of false religion was in the ancient city of Babylon on the Euphrates River. This continued to be the case until Babylon fell from her position as the third world power of Bible history in 539 B.C. and yielded place to the Medo-Persian World Power. Two other world powers preceded the Babylonian World Power, and those two were (1) the Egyptian and (2) the Assyrian. Nevertheless, Babylon the Great, the world empire of Babylonish religion, had also held sway over those two earlier world powers. She took advantage of her religious control over them to use them against the Seed of God’s woman by trying to destroy the line of descent by which the Seed came. Babylon the Great is an international harlot, and she yields herself to the political rulers of the earth in order to gain her religious objectives. She thus unites religion to politics.
2. In Egypt, what did Babylon the Great try to do? With what measure of success?
2 After Joseph, the grandson of the patriarch Isaac, died as the prime minister of Egypt, Babylon the Great as a religious force worked with Egypt’s Pharaohs in a try at destroying Joseph’s people, the Hebrews. These were then guests, alien residents, in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh made them slaves at hard labor, to kill them off. This failing, Pharaoh decreed that all Hebrew male babies should be killed at birth. Babylon the Great must have felt triumphant over God’s woman, who was represented in Egypt by the Hebrews, the sons of Israel. Despite the devilish measure applied by Pharaoh who committed religious fornication with Babylon the Great, Hebrew male babies continued to be born and preserved, including Moses.
3. How was vexation heaped upon Babylon the Great in Egypt?
3 When forty years old Moses tried to lead a movement for liberating the children of Israel, but was obliged to flee to the distant land of Midian. Forty years later Jehovah sent Moses back as his prophet to lead the Israelites out of the land of slavery. By a string of ten devastating plagues in a row upon Egypt Jehovah acted in behalf of the Seed of his woman, for “upon their gods Jehovah had executed judgments,” which left all the firstborn sons of Egypt dead. What a vexation this must have been to religious Babylon the Great! Shortly afterward Jehovah exposed the helplessness of her religion by destroying all of Pharaoh’s military pursuit forces in the depths of the Red Sea but bringing the Israelites safely through and on their way to the land that he had promised to give to Abraham his friend.—Num. 33:4; Ps. 78:43-53; Ex. 15:1-21.
4. (a) The family line of what king of Israel got to be the target of the enemy woman? (b) The overreaching of Solomon was accomplished how?
4 Four hundred and forty-three years later saw King David ruling in Zion, the citadel of Jerusalem, as sovereign over all twelve tribes of Israel. Because David proved to be a man agreeable to his own heart, Jehovah made a covenant with him for an everlasting kingdom in his royal line. (2 Sam. 7:1-18; 1 Sam. 13:14) By this royal covenant with David, God’s woman knew that her promised Seed must come through the family line of King David. In short order, the enemy woman Babylon the Great got to know this and she set herself against David’s royal line. Solomon the son of David succeeded him to “Jehovah’s throne” in Zion (Jerusalem) and built the magnificent temple for Jehovah’s worship. He also further beautified Jerusalem as the holy city of Israel’s God. But Solomon did not prove to be the promised Seed of God’s woman. Religious Babylon the Great overreached King Solomon in his old age by means of her representatives, the many pagan wives of Solomon, for whom he built religious high places for the worship of their gods.—1 Ki. 11:1-10.
5. What developed after Solomon’s death to endanger the earthly representative of God’s woman?
5 After unfaithful Solomon’s death a rebellion split the kingdom of the house of David in two. The rebellious northern kingdom of Israel set up its own national capital and the worship of golden calves, and finally at Samaria, the third capital, the worship of Baal was introduced. But Jerusalem (Zion) remained the capital of the kingdom of Judah of but two tribes, with the tribe of Levi serving at Jehovah’s temple. (1 Ki. 11:41 to 16:33) Two centuries passed thus, and then the Israelites began to feel the domination of a new world power, in the eighth century before Christ. In the year 740 B.C. Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, was sacked by King Sargon II of Assyria and the kingdom was overthrown and the surviving Israelites were deported to Assyrian territories. Some years later came the invasion of the land of Judah by the Assyrians under King Sennacherib son of Sargon II. Jerusalem, the earthly representative of God’s woman, became endangered. At that time Babylon was subject to Assyria; yet Assyria practiced Babylonish religion.
6. On behalf of Assyria’s king and god, what arrogant taunts were hurled at the city of Jerusalem?
6 From his siege position before the Judean city of Lachish the Assyrian Sennacherib sent messengers to Jerusalem and arrogantly demanded that King Hezekiah surrender the holy city. The Assyrian spokesman, Rabshakeh, stood before the city walls and proceeded to act as a witness for Nisroch the god of King Sennacherib. Loudly he shouted out to the Jews on the city walls: “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he allures you, saying, ‘Jehovah himself will deliver us.’ Have the gods of the nations at all delivered each one his own land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who are there among all the gods of the lands that have delivered their land out of my hand, so that Jehovah should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?”—2 Ki. 18:9-37.
7. (a) Did Jerusalem surrender? (b) What answer did Jehovah send back by his prophet Isaiah?
7 Jerusalem sent back to Sennacherib a refusal to surrender. So he found it necessary to send another message belittling Jerusalem’s God Jehovah. Then, from within the holy city, Jehovah by his prophet Isaiah sent back these defiant words: “The virgin daughter of Zion has despised you, she has held you in derision. Behind you the daughter of Jerusalem has wagged her head. Whom have you taunted and spoken of abusively? And against whom have you lifted up your voice and do you raise your eyes on high? It is against the Holy One of Israel! By means of your messengers you have taunted Jehovah . . . I shall certainly put my hook in your nose and my bridle between your lips, and I shall indeed lead you back by the way by which you have come.”—2 Ki. 19:1-28.
8. In fulfillment, what happened to Sennacherib and to his troops?
8 That night Jehovah’s angel struck dead a hundred and eighty-five thousand of Sennacherib’s troops, and in the morning as by means of a hook in Sennacherib’s nose Jehovah yanked him back to Nineveh, capital of Assyria. But after that defeat Sennacherib leveled rebellious Babylon to the ground; yet never was he able to boast of destroying, or even capturing, Jerusalem. It was while Sennacherib was engaged in reconstructing Babylon that he was murdered by two of his sons when he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch. (2 Ki. 19:35-37) What a triumph for God’s woman!
CAPTIVITY AND DELIVERANCE
9. What developments led to the destruction of the city by whose name God’s woman was called?
9 However, the conflict between God’s woman and her enemy Babylon the Great was by no means over. In the following century the reconstructed Babylon rose to the position of the dominant world power, under her greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar II. By now Jerusalem and her temple of Jehovah’s worship had become thoroughly defiled. What now took place was an apparently permanent defeat for God’s woman and a crowning triumph for her enemy, for in 607 B.C. Jerusalem, by whose name God’s woman was called, was destroyed.
10. Why could God’s woman say to Babylon the Great: “Do not rejoice over me”?
10 However, God’s woman, the heavenly Jerusalem, remained and she knew that the destruction of the earthly city was a judgment executed by her husband Jehovah. By statements in the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and other Jewish prophets, she knew that earthly Jerusalem’s destruction was to be just temporary, for just seventy years. Then her exiled children would be liberated from their captor, Babylon, and would return and rebuild Jerusalem and her temple. So, during those years of desolation, God’s woman as represented by earthly Jerusalem could say to Babylon and to her counterpart, Babylon the Great: “Do not rejoice over me, O you woman enemy of mine. Although I have fallen, I shall certainly rise up; although I dwell in the darkness, Jehovah will be a light to me.”—Mic. 7:8.
11, 12. What prophecies were now due to be fulfilled upon Babylon, and what proverbial saying could be raised up against her royal dynasty?
11 Babylon had sinned terribly against Jehovah. His inescapable vengeance deserved to come upon her. The cup of humiliation, despoiling and destruction that she had made earthly Jerusalem drink must now, in turn, be handed to her. Prophecies that Jehovah had spoken by his holy prophets long in advance were now hastening to their fulfillment. The very armies that he had foretold assembled against her from a number of nations. The very man whose name he had announced beforehand he called to head these armies, Cyrus! He put it into his heart to rob the great city of her river defense. He caused the city gates to be left open for the invasion of Cyrus’ troops. He sent a hand to write upon the wall of the banquet hall of King Belshazzar that the number of the days of his kingdom had reached its finish, the balances had found him deficient in weight, and his kingdom was to be divided and shared between the Medes and the Persians. Shortly afterward, the same night in 539 B.C., Belshazzar was killed, the royal dynasty begun by Nebuchadnezzar eighty-six years previously ended, and Jerusalem’s exiles could raise up Isaiah’s proverbial saying against that dynasty:
12 “O how you have fallen from heaven, you shining one, son of the dawn! How you have been cut down to the earth, you who were disabling the nations! As for you, you have said in your heart, ‘To the heavens I shall go up. Above the stars of God I shall lift up my throne, . . . I shall make myself resemble the Most High.’ However, down to Sheol you will be brought, to the remotest parts of the pit.”—Isa. 14:3-15; Dan. 5:1-31.
13. The Jewish exiles were now in position to say what words to the city of Babylon?
13 To the city of Babylon itself the Jewish exiles could now say the prophetic words of Isaiah: “Come down and sit down in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon. Sit down on the earth where there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans. . . . Sit down silently and come into the darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for you will not experience again that people call you Mistress of Kingdoms.” The Jewish exiles could at the same time say to her, their former captor: “There is One repurchasing us. Jehovah of armies is his name, the Holy One of Israel.”—Isa. 47:1-5.
14. How were the exiles restored, the temple rebuilt and the walls of Jerusalem put in respectable condition?
14 Then, as Israel’s Repurchaser, Jehovah roused up the spirit of Babylon’s conqueror, Cyrus the Persian, to publish his decree releasing the Jewish exiles to return to Mount Zion and rebuild Jerusalem and Jehovah’s temple there. Toward the end of Jerusalem’s seventieth year of desolation a faithful remnant of Israelites and thousands of their non-Jewish servants were back in their homeland and located at their former city sites. Jerusalem’s desolation ended, and she woke up from her stupor of affliction, shook herself free from the dust, rose up and sat on a respectable chair as a holy city. On the first day of their seventh lunar month in 537 B.C. an altar was built in the temple area and Jehovah’s worship was renewed. After many years of enemy opposition the rebuilding of the temple was completed, in 516 B.C. Sixty-one years after that the walls of Jerusalem were put in respectable condition, to the further frustration of the enemies who were against Jehovah’s worship and against the Seed of His woman.
15. (a) Although Babylon the city kept declining, how did Babylon the Great continue to flourish? (b) Contrast the reaction by representatives of God’s woman and Babylon the Great to the human birth of the Seed.
15 Thus Jerusalem (Zion) again wielded religious influence over Jehovah’s worshipers. As regards Babylon, this pagan city ceased to be a world power and kept declining politically and commercially. However, her greater counterpart, Babylon the Great, continued to flourish and to retain her religious kingdom over the Gentile kings and world powers of the earth, including the Medo-Persian, the Grecian and the Roman Empires. She kept on the watch for the promised Seed of Jehovah’s woman to appear. She was willing to serve the interests of the Great Serpent, Satan the Devil, toward bruising the heel of the woman’s Seed. She did not rejoice that night in the autumn of 2 B.C. when the Seed had a human birth from a Jewish virgin in Bethlehem and was called Jesus. Representatives of God’s woman, a multitude of the heavenly angels, did rejoice and joined in “praising God and saying: ‘Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of good will.’” But Babylon the Great did not join in. Instead, she schemed for the death of the child Jesus at the hands of Jerusalem’s non-Jewish ruler, King Herod, an appointee of Rome.
16. How did Jehovah prevent for a time the bruising of the Seed?
16 While Jesus was being brought up at Bethlehem she sent some of her religious wise men, astrologers from the east, to notify King Herod that the future king of the Jews had been born. Herod, on information from the unsuspecting Jewish priests and scribes, sent the astrologers to Bethlehem, where they found the child, no longer in the stable of his birth, but in a house. (Luke 2:7, 12; Matt. 2:11) Almighty God interfered with their reporting back to Herod and betraying the whereabouts of the Seed of his woman. He had the child Jesus taken down to Egypt for a while and then, after Herod’s death, taken up to Nazareth in the Roman province of Galilee. So Babylon the Great had to wait for a later opportunity to bruise the Seed.
17. How was an apparent victory over the Seed accomplished, with whom rejoicing and whom mourning?
17 In the year 33 the politically ambitious priests and religious leaders of the faithless Jews lent themselves to the scheme of Babylon the Great. They secretly arrested Jesus Christ, condemned him to death for blasphemy and handed him over to the Roman Governor of Jerusalem with the insistent demand that he be put to death on a torture stake. Finally the governor yielded, and Jesus died at Calvary on the afternoon of the Jewish passover day. As he lay dead and buried, Babylon the Great rejoiced, and the earthly Jerusalem continued to celebrate its passover and the subsequent feast of unleavened cakes. But God’s woman, as represented by a Jewish remnant who faithfully followed her Seed when alive in the flesh on earth, mourned.
18. What reversal of matters occurred on the third day?
18 But O what a reversal of matters on the third day of his death! His heel wound was completely healed when his heavenly Father, Jehovah God, resurrected him to life in the spirit and God’s woman received her Seed to herself in the heavenly realm. By means of angels and by her Seed himself, who manifested himself as alive from the dead, she communicated her joy to the remnant of his followers. Their mourning turned into boundless joy. During the following forty days he made repeated appearances to the faithful apostles and other disciples. Then he ascended to heaven and presented himself before Jehovah God, who seated his beloved Son at his right hand. God clothed him with immortality, beyond all further personal hurt by the Great Serpent, the Devil.
REMAINING ONES OF HER SEED PERSECUTED
19. At Pentecost what took place, giving heavenly Jerusalem occasion to “cry out joyfully”?
19 Ten days later came the Jewish Pentecost. Then Jehovah God made his woman further fruitful, for, by pouring out his holy spirit upon the faithful ones on earth, he had his woman begin to bring forth the remaining members of her seed, the joint heirs of Jesus Christ her Principal Seed. Displaying no bondage to religious Babylon the Great but acting on the freedom for which Christ set them free, the spirit-filled disciples began to preach their marvelous message of liberation. The apostle Peter, as the principal spokesman, said to the inquiring Jews: “Let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.” (Acts 2:36) Three thousand of them believed, repented, were baptized and received the “free gift of the holy spirit” and were added to the spiritual seed of God’s woman. How the heavenly Jerusalem could now “cry out joyfully” as a mother of many spiritual children, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa 54:1-13)!
20, 21. (a) Thereafter, how did Babylon the Great try to prevent the development of the remainder of the seed of God’s woman? (b) At the destruction of Jerusalem did Babylon the Great have cause to rejoice?
20 Religious Babylon the Great could no longer use her kingdom over the political rulers of the earth to bruise the heel of the Principal Seed of Jehovah’s woman, for he was immortal in heaven at God’s right hand of power. But she could try to prevent the development of the remainder of the seed of God’s woman by persecuting them even to the death. Up to the year 64 (A.D.) she used mainly the faithless Jews in Jerusalem and in the synagogues located elsewhere inside and outside the Roman Empire. Then occurred the accidental burning of old Rome. The remnant on earth of the seed of God’s woman were accused of having done this and were persecuted by the Roman authorities. Six years later came the horrible destruction of earthly Jerusalem, not by any spiritual children on earth of God’s woman, but by the Romans against whose domination the faithless Jews revolted.
21 Babylon the Great had no reason to rejoice triumphantly over this destruction of earthly Jerusalem, for the disciples of Jesus had followed his warning and had escaped from the doomed city and continued their worship outside the Roman province of Judah.
22. As regards God’s woman, did she have reason to mourn?
22 As regards God’s woman, the heavenly Jerusalem, she had no reason to mourn as she did in 607 B.C. when the Babylonians destroyed earthly Jerusalem and its temple. Earthly Jerusalem no longer represented her, but she had the remnant of her children, still free, and these together with the glorified Jesus Christ made up a spiritual temple that Babylon the Great could not destroy by destroying earthly, material religious buildings, even the buildings in which the congregation of Christ’s faithful followers held their religious gatherings.
23. Who compose Christ’s Bride, and what is their relationship to God’s woman?
23 The entire congregation of 144,000 faithful spiritual followers of Christ were to make up a figurative Bride for the Lord Jesus Christ, and God’s woman was assigned to bring forth all these 144,000 successfully as the remainder of her seed that she might thus furnish a Bride for her Principal Seed, Jesus Christ. Thus God’s woman would be as a mother to Christ’s Bride, and the whole congregation as a Bride would be her spiritual daughter.
EXPOSURE OF BABYLON THE GREAT THE ENEMY
24. What revelation from God did John disclose about a Greater Babylon to be contended with?
24 Whether the Christian congregation, the Bride class, discerned it beforehand from an understanding of the ancient Hebrew prophecies concerning Babylon on the Euphrates River or not, before the last one of the twelve apostles of Christ died they were definitely informed that they had a Greater Babylon to contend with. The last-surviving apostle, John, was given a revelation from God that pointed her out and gave her the mysterious name “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” From the symbolic description of her they knew that this religious international harlot would become “drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” That meant the blood of members of the Christian congregation of 144,000 disciples, the Bride of Christ. They knew that she would ride a ferocious political system pictured by the scarlet seven-headed, ten-horned beast, and that this beast itself, as a whole, would be an eighth world power, an eighth “king.” In the apostle John’s day the Roman Empire was persecuting Christ’s Bride class
25. How did Christendom come into existence and become a servant of Babylon the Great against the remnant of the seed?
25 In the early fourth century Emperor Constantine became the pagan Roman Pontifex Maximus, and he pretended to become a Christian. He convened the first ecumenical council of religious bishops, not in old Rome, but in Asia Minor, at Nicaea, in 325 (A.D.). With the religious bishops who compromised with him he formed what has been called “the first Christian state.” In this way Christendom came into existence. As a servant of Babylon the Great, Christendom became and still is the worst persecutor of the remnant of the seed of God’s woman, to prevent the completing of the Bride of Christ.
26. (a) Since the breakup of the Roman Empire, has Babylon the Great continued to dominate the world power? (b) What is the scarlet wild beast, and who is its rider?
26 After the Roman Empire, including the so-called Holy Roman Empire, was broken up, Babylon the Great exercised her religious kingdom over the next world power, the seventh, the Anglo-American World Power. After World War I, and at the instigation of the victorious Anglo-American World Power, the Eighth World Power was formed, symbolized by the scarlet, ten-horned, seven-headed wild beast, namely, the League of Nations. Twentieth Century history proves that the League was ridden by the international harlot Babylon the Great; and, by Babylon the Great, the Bible means, not papal Rome or Vatican City, but the world empire of Babylonish religion, all false religions included.
27. When did the scarlet beast go into the abyss, and when and in what form did it climb out and then get what rider?
27 True to the prophecy of Revelation 17:7, 8, and as modern history records, the scarlet beast went into the abyss of helpless inaction in World War II. When in 1945, with the help of the victorious Anglo-American World Power, it climbed out of the abyss, it did so in the form of the United Nations. Immediately Babylon the Great climbed on its back. The last encyclical by the late pope entitled “Peace on Earth” is only one of many available proofs that the world empire of Babylonish religion rides the scarlet beast.
28. (a) How does the rider get unseated from the back of the beast? (b) What judgment from Jehovah descends upon her, and with what result? (c) Before that, what should lovers of clean religion do?
28 But not for long! As the apostle John saw God’s angel hurl a stone the size of a great millstone into the deep sea, John heard him say: “Thus with a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again. Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” That includes, besides the killing of thousands of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, the blood shed in the two world wars of our century. (Rev. 18:21-24) With a swift pitch she will be unseated from the back of the Eighth World Power. Suddenly, as if “in one day,” Jehovah’s long-due execution of judgment will descend upon her, and her whole religious system will be burned like a great city to the ground. She will be reduced to ruins just as certainly as ancient Babylon was. (Rev. 17:12 to 18:20) By all means, before then let all lovers of clean, true religion detach themselves from that ancient enemy of God’s woman. Save yourselves from being caught in her sudden destruction!
29. (a) Besides the woman enemy, who else meet their doom? (b) Demon influences are gathering them to what place? (c) Who finally gets the Seed’s attention?
29 What a victory that destruction will be for God’s woman over her ancient enemy! But matters will not stop there. Shortly afterward those political powers over whom Babylon the Great exercised a religious kingdom or with whom she committed religious fornication will all meet their doom. Even now demon influences are gathering them to the battlefield of Har–Magedon in a challenge to the universal rule of God’s kingdom by his Messiah, the Principal Seed of God’s woman. There her Seed, with all his heavenly armies, will attack those enemy forces and destroy them, proving himself to be King of kings and Lord of lords. Then the devilish Bruiser of the heel of the Seed of God’s woman will get attention and be bound and hurled with his demons into the abyss and imprisoned. Thus at last the Seed of God’s woman will bruise the Serpent’s head.
30. Why will God’s woman have further cause for joy?
30 After that triumphant hour God’s woman will have still further joy. The marriage of her Principal Seed to the Bride class, her figurative daughter, will be fully consummated. The heavenly Father, Jehovah God, will rejoice with his woman, his universal heavenly organization. On earth a “great crowd,” whose final number is not yet known to us, will be survivors of the universal war of Har–Magedon and will rejoice at the union of the Bridegroom and his faithful virgin Bride. Just as God’s woman was symbolized by a city, so the Bride organization of 144,000 members will be like a holy heavenly city, a New Jerusalem. Figuratively speaking, glorious new heavens will reign over a righteous new earth.—Rev. 21:1-21.
31. What benefits will flow from the throne of God to appreciative men and women on earth?
31 Through the heavenly New Jerusalem there will flow forth from the throne of God and of his Lamblike Son Jesus Christ a river of water of life with also trees of life on each side, that all appreciative men and women on earth may partake of these provisions for everlasting life. Even the dead whom God remembers will be resurrected and have the blessed opportunity to partake of those life-giving provisions. Paradise will overspread all the earth. Death inherited from Adam and Eve will be no more. Forever the righteous new earth will ring with praises to Jehovah God for giving victory through Christ to God’s woman over all her ancient enemies.
[Picture on page 722]
King Belshazzar dies at the hands of the Medes and the Persians in 539 B.C.