Monday, August 8, 2011

Revelation 18:9-20, The Fall of Babylon Part 2 (The Study of the Apocalypse)


The following describes three “funeral dirges” by three groups of people who have prospered by Babylon/Rome; the kings of the earth, the merchants, and the ship captains and workers. The imagery is built upon Ezekiel 27 which describes the mourning over Tyre, which at the time, was considered “the great maritime and commercial giant in Ezekiel’s day”. It should be noted here that these three groups are probably more concerned with themselves more than with the great city as their income will directly be affected when there is no one left in the city to purchase their goods. Osborne*** (Pgs. 644-645), Mounce** (Pg. 328), Beale* (Pg. 905).

The Mourning of the Kings of the Earth

     9 And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality1 with her and lived in luxury2 , will weep and mourn when they see the smoke from her burning3. 10 They stood4 from a distance5 because of their fear from her torment6 saying,
     “Woe! Woe, the great city! 
          Babylon, the mighty city,
     for in one hour your judgement has come!”

The Mourning of the Merchants of the Earth

     11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn7 over her, because no one can buy their cargo any longer; (12 cargo8 of gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk cloth, scarlet cloth,of iron, or marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh9, frankincense10, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, sheep, horses, carriages, bodies namely, the lives of men11.)
     14 “And your fruit12 from the lust of your soul 
          has departed from you
     and all luxuries and splendor 
          were destroyed from you
     and they will never13 find them any longer.”
     15 The merchants of these goods who become wealthy from her, will stand at a distance14 weeping and morning because of the fear of her torment 16 saying,
     “Woe! Woe, the great city! 
          The one clothed with fine linen
     and purple, and scarlet, 
          and adorned with gold
     and precious stones and pearls 
     17 for so much wealth was made desolate in one hour.”

The Mourning of the Seamen of the Earth

     And every ship captain and everyone who is sailing to a place15, and sailor, and as many as make a living from16 the sea, stand at a distance17 18 and were crying out seeing the smoke of her burning saying, “What city is like the great city?” 19 And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out weeping and morning saying,
     “Woe! Woe, the great city! 
          In her, all the ones having ships in the sea
     became rich from her wealth, 
          because she was made desolate in one hour.”

A Call for Celebration

     20 “Celebrate over her, heaven, and the saints, and the apostles, and the prophets
because God has judged her for how she judged you18.19

1 As it is with all passages like this in the Apocalypse, this refers to the idolatry of the empire.

2 As we see in the seven messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor (Chapters 2 and 3), the state supported idolatry and luxurious living go hand in hand. From the emperor worship to the participation in worshipping the gods of the trade guides, both aided the wealth of the local rulers that were placed their by the “mighty” Roman empire.

3 τς πυρώσεως ατς (from her burning) 

or “of her burning”. This is a genitive of result. The smoke was a result of the burning of the the city.

     Just as Abraham looked off in the distance to see smoke rising from those wicked cities of old, the world will look on the result of God’s judgment.

4 στηκότες (They stood) 

Greek: “having stood”.

5 πμακρόθεν (from a distance) 

Greek: “from a far” or “from a far off”.

6 διτν φόβον τοβασανισμοατς (because of their fear from her torment)

or “because of the fear of her torment”. Another genitive of result. The kings’ fear came about due the city’s torment that they saw from a distance.

     So that they know that I AM GOD...

7 κλαίουσιν καπενθοσιν (weep and mourn)

Note the shift to the present tense. Since the present tense carries a continual aspect, perhaps John wants to paint the picture of continual, on-going weeping and mourning.

     Weeping and mourning does not mean repenting. It seems here to be concerned with the loss of a good thing (from the world view), and not a turning to God.

8 The cargos can be broken down into six categories: 1. Precious stones and expensive metal, 2. Fine fabrics and dyes, 3. Expensive wood and building goods, 4. Perfumes, ointments, and spices, 5. Food, and 6. Animals and slaves.

     It is notable that the vision includes detail of the cargos. It might intimate those things which can take the place of God and become an idol. Jesus said it was impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, but that all things are possible for God.

9 A strongly scented ointment that was very expensive.

10 The aromatic resin of certain trees.

11 κασωμάτων, καψυχς νθρώπων (bodies namely, the lives of men)

A reference to slavery and slaves. Mounce** states that the estimated number of slaves in the Roman empire was about 60,000,000. (Pgs. 330-331).

     All unbelievers are slaves to the dragon. It would only be natural for for them to trade in the business of human traffic. That would be in keeping with the spirit of death that is rebellion to God, to reflect the nature of their father.

12 Referring to the cargos.

13 ομ(never) 

Greek: “not not”. The double “nots” makes this emphatic.

14 πμακρόθεν (from a distance) 

Greek: “from a far” or “from a far off”.

15 An unusual expression. It probably refers to the merchants who own the goods that are shipped to the different ports across the Roman empire. This is so unusual that we find a different reading in the TR/ KJV. καπς πτν πλοίων ὁ ὅμιλος (and every crowd on the ships).

     This may speak to the extent to the commerce network and the dominion of the beast. It encompasses the whole earth.

16 ργάζονται (make a living from) 

Greek: “work”. The expression is used for the ones who earn their living working on the ships and the ports. This can also be seen as fishermen.

17 πμακρόθεν (from a distance) 

Greek: “from a far” or “from a far off”.

18 τι κρινεν θες τκρίμα μν ξ ατς (because God has judged her for how she judged you)

Greek: “because God has judged your judgement from her”. The phrase is ambiguous at best. Beale* points us to 19:2 in order to truly understand this phrase (Pgs. 917-918).

     Her judgment is a double portion of how she dealt with the saints, or how she “judged” to treat them. We will all be judged on how we deal with others. The mercy we give will be the mercy we receive.

     In the parable of the talents, each servant receives double of what they bring to the Lord. We can choose to store in heaven either riches or wrath. Regardless, the odds seem to be double or nothing.

ποκάλυψις 19·2 τι ληθινακαδίκαιαι ακρίσεις ατο· 
     ὅτι κρινεν τν πόρνην τν μεγάλην
τις φθειρεν τν γν ν τπορνείᾳ ατς, 
     καὶ ἐξεδίκησεν ταμα τν δούλων ατοῦ ἐκ χειρς ατς.

19:2 Because true and righteous are his judgements 
     because he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality 
     And he avenged the blood of his slaves from her hand.

19 An allusion to Jeremiah 51:49.

NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)

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