BABYLON - WHAT CITY IS SYMBOLISED AS BABYLON IN THE BIBLE?
 
Revelation warns against the Woman. An angel says in Revelation 17:7, 18 that he will show the readers who she is.  So we get the following information.

The author is taken to the desert by an angel to see her.  Why the desert?  Jerusalem was not in a desert and neither was Rome.  The real Babylon however was.  The author is taken away in the spirit which is a way of saying he was not physically taken there.  The Woman then is clearly very like Babylon in her paganism.  She is not Jerusalem.

The Woman is called "Sodom" and "Egypt" and "Babylon" (Revelation 11:8; 17:5, 14:8, 18:10, 21).  But the Woman Sodom is not necessarily the same as the Woman Babylon.

The Woman is located where Jesus was crucified (Revelation 11:8).

The Woman's dwelling place becomes a River of Blood (Revelation 14:20).

The Woman is Split into 3 Divisions (Revelation 16:19).

The Woman "sits on many waters" (Revelation 17:1) and these "waters" are diverse peoples (Revelation 17:15).

The Woman has fornicated with the Heathen World against God (Revelation 17:2, 18:3, 18:9).

The Woman is born along on a Beast (Revelation 17:3).

The Woman is the Mother of all Whores and Abominable Atrocities (Revelation 17:5).

The Woman is Drunk on the Blood of Old Testament and New Testament Saints (Revelation 17:6, 18:24, 18:20).

The Woman is responsible for the death of the Prophets and Apostles (Revelation 17:6, 18:20, 18:24).

The Woman sits on 7 Mountains (Revelation 17:9).

The Woman is a dwelling place of devils (Revelation 18:2).

The Woman is a Prison for Evil Spirits (Revelation 18:2).

The Woman is a Cage, full of Dirty Birds (Revelation 18:2).

The Woman has a Full Cup of Iniquities (Revelation 18:5).

The Woman is Doubly Judged (Revelation 18:6).

The Woman considers herself a Queen (Revelation 18:7).

The Woman still considers herself Married (Revelation 18:7).

The Woman was Rich and Mourned when Judged (Revelation 18:10, 16-19).

The Woman merchandised the Souls of Men (Revelation 18:13).

The Woman is pronounced Desolate (Revelation 18:19).

The Woman's sound of Joy is taken away (Revelation 18:22).

The Woman's position of Creativity is taken away (Revelation 18:22).

The Woman's authority as someone equipped to Judge is removed (Revelation 18:22).

The Woman's Light-Bearing ability is snuffed out (Revelation 18:23).

The Woman's Bridegroom has Divorced Her (Revelation 18:23).

The Woman's Engagement/Marriage has been annulled/abrogated (Rev 18:23).

The Woman is called "This/That Great City" (Revelation 14:8, 16:19, 17:18, 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21, 21:10).

Babylon the Great is Babulon a megala in the Greek.  The term appears five times in Revelation (14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2, 18:21).  Otherwise it gets the great city.  Jerusalem gets the name the great city too but only in 11:8.

There is no evidence however that the great city term cannot refer to more than one city.  Those who say it does then conclude that Jerusalem is the Whore of Babylon.  But Revelation takes steps to say that Jerusalem's symbol is not Babylon but Sodom and Egypt.

Who is this Woman the Whore of Babylon or Babylon the Great? Notice all her sins are spiritual ones so she is not a political entity.  She is not an earthly empire.  She is a religion.  Her divorce means she is a Church that calls herself Christian for the only person she can divorce is Jesus who states that the Church is his bride.  She is not Israel for Israel was divorced in the past and this lady is not divorced yet.  And there is a difference between saying Israel is the bride of God and the Church is the bride of Christ.

She appears in a context where a lot of people are killed by plagues and punishments from God and the rest who live are into worshipping demons and idols which cannot see or hear or walk (Revelation 9:20).  The implication is that she will work in a period in which the Christians are not on the earth.  It is one thing to worship something such as a statue.  But Catholics worship a Jesus who takes the form of bread.  It could be understood that the idol here is the bread and/or worshipping a body that you pretend is there. It is like worshipping an idol that is not there.  That is even more extreme and crafty than adoring an obvious idol.
 
Some believe it means the literal Babylon - now a ruined city near Baghdad - which was once the centre of a great empire.
 
Others believe Babylon is Rome.
 
Others believe it is Jerusalem.
 
Babylon sits on seven hills. Revelation says that the seven hills are seven kings. Five of the kings have fallen, one is currently reigning and the one that is hypocrisy incarnate is still to come. See 17:10.
 
Commentators say the five that have fallen refers to the fallen empires of Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Greece and Medo-Persia. The reigning "hill" is Rome. The new empire has not come yet. The new Empire is like Babylon in its outlook which is why it is called the Whore of Babylon. Revelation would not symbolise the kings as hills and then say the hills were kings. Why bother giving a symbol you are going to clarify? Why not just say kings? The answer is that the hills are both kings and real hills - the seven hills of Rome.
 
The whore is not the real Babylon for Babylon is listed as an empire that is dead and gone.
 
Some say that as Rome is the reigning empire, the whore cannot be Rome.

Romans 13 commands obedience to Rome and many feel it is about Rome before it started persecuting Christians so that is significant. But does that really matter? Rome was not interested in Christians then and would have slaughtered them if it had been.
 
One thing is for sure, Revelation is pointing to an Empire that will succeed Rome. The Whore as fully grown Whore is not on the planet yet. The Roman Catholic Church based in Rome is the only possible candidate. Catholic Rome the new empire after pagan Rome? The new Rome is a different empire ie a spiritual one. The seven empires she sits on were also religions as well as empires. She has their DNA.
 
The Book of Revelation tells us that the Roman Catholic Church is a godless pagan organisation which it calls the whore of Babylon or Babylon the Great. Her title in full according to Revelation 17 is Mystery Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. Revelation takes its symbols from the Old Testament. Woman is used as a symbol of a Church "I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman" (Jeremiah 6:2). Whore is a bad woman meaning bad Church.  Who is the whore sold to? To whom does she sell herself? The answer Revelation gives is to the kings of the earth. She is not an empire that takes over them. She is a religion they embrace.
 
Babylon is the Greek form of the name of the city in what is now Iraq. The name is Babilu. It means the Gate of God (Helps to the Study of the Bible, page 188). Ancient Babylon, though it was a powerful pagan city, to many would seem hardly the perfect name for the evil personified figure in Revelation. It meant Gate of God. And Babylon was not as good a symbol of evil or paganism as Egypt was. But if the author of Revelation wanted to use Babylon as the symbol for a Church that claimed to be the Gate of God or the one true Church or the way to Heaven then he was spot on. He picked the right name.
 
The Mystery Babylon is a religion because a political empire or commercial one is no mystery. Every religion claims to serve mystery and be mystery. John as good as wrote that she was Religion Babylon the Great, in other words, the most powerful religion that ever graced the earth. Roman Catholicism fits the bill.
 
The ancient godless city of Babylon was destroyed so what does Babylon stand for here? The proof that this is not the Roman Empire which existed when the book was written is that no hint is given that the whore is an empire or a kingdom in the political sense. It is a spiritual kingdom, the Catholic Church is a spiritual kingdom with Pope as Emperor and the priests and bishops under him to help him rule. The merchants of the world mourn Babylon at a distance as she is destroyed so she is not a commercial or political empire though she may get involved in both. Pagan Rome is referred to in Romans 13 by Paul the apostle as having been set up by God to administer justice and he tells believers to respect it. Pagan Rome was not unusually evil. It was evil in the sense that its religion was false. Those who look at the Catholic Church and don't see enough hatred and evil in that faith should not conclude that it cannot be the Whore of Babylon.
 
New Light on the Most Ancient East, by V. Childe who was an archaeologist (1957, page 185) says that Babylon used the cross as a major symbol. “The swastika and the cross, common on stamps and plaques, were religious or magical symbols as in Babylonia and Elam in the earliest prehistoric period.” The Cross is the major symbol of Catholicism.
 
Babylon is not a symbol for Jerusalem as some wish.  Babylon was the ancient capital of paganism that was considered reprobate by God and totally hostile to truth. Jerusalem was the city of the Jews which could by no means be given such an awful symbol as the Jews were the true faith supposedly until they revolted into the changes made for Judaism by Christ. But even then they were better than the pagans. Babylon was Rome. Scholars disagree on whether it was pagan Rome or Rome masquerading as Christianity that was meant.
 
We read about Christian martyrs whose bodies will be exposed in the city called Sodom and Egypt where their Lord Jesus was crucified (Revelation 11:8). This is undoubtedly referring to Jerusalem. So Jerusalem had got its nicknames, Sodom and Egypt. Babylon was another city and only Rome could be that city.  There is no reason to say that the whore is Jerusalem.  Also Revelation would have called Jerusalem Babylon if it were the whore.  Babylon and Jerusalem are distinct.  Babylon can only mean another great city - Rome.
 
Why does Revelation refer to the capital city of Judaism as Sodom and Egypt? Sodom indicates sexual depravity and Egyptian paganism. Clearly it was Jerusalem as a Roman centre that was meant. Jerusalem never had much power in the world as the whore of Babylon has in his vision. At the time John wrote, Jerusalem belonged to Rome not the Jews.  Jerusalem was not like Sodom or Egypt even under the Romans.  If it is Jewish Jerusalem that is meant then it is being condemned despite its having the true faith from God and the holy scriptures and its good works as spiritually evil.  If Judaism is being called Sodom and pagan then it is black inside despite seeming pious. 

Revelations two condemned cities are symbols and centres of religious evil not political.  The whore of Sodom or the whore of Egypt do not hint at religion as well as whore of Babylon does.  Babylon also persecuted the Jews as did the Roman Catholic Church so Babylon is a good fit.  

It is interesting that Revelation tells you straight that Sodom Egypt is Jerusalem and just gives clues about which city the whore is.  It is as if it is not current Rome he means but soon to be "Christian" Rome.  So all he can do is give clues for it is not here yet and the clues read as if you need to watch future events to understand the clues.

The book Pope Fiction says that Revelation 17:9 says the whore is a city resting on seven hills using the word ore, the Greek word for mountain. It concludes then that the whore is not Rome because Rome doesn’t rest on seven mountains but on seven small hills that aren’t even big enough to be called hills. Obviously unsure of itself the book then starts to say that mountains here could be a symbol for kingdoms. Yes the Bibles uses the mountain symbolism for kingdoms but it always says so when it does this. To say Revelation is being symbolic here leaves you unable to make any sense of it. The author is exaggerating the hills by calling them mountains to show that the city is very powerful and almost reaches up to heaven in its arrogance. Or perhaps the author did mean hills not mountains – many Bible translations have hills. Pope Fiction then dares to say the whore is Jerusalem – but there is no way it could be. Really! Jerusalem the seat of the true faith both in its Christian and Jewish forms could not be the whore of the earth or Babylon for only the city that is the worst for paganism and evil – Rome – could be.
 
Jerusalem is built on seven hills or mountains Zion, Moriah, Goath, Gareb, Acra, Bezetha and Ophel. As Jerusalem is to the Jews so Rome is to the Catholics. Revelation may play on the similarities of the two cities to make this point.

Why does the book not help us by referring to any specific hills so we can match things up?  It doesn't need to for as we said Jerusalem got its nasty nicknames Sodom and Egypt.

The author of Revelation was aware even that that some form of aberrant Christianity was arising in Rome.  That is the Whore of Babylon.  Her sins are spiritual ones as we know from her fornication with the kings.  It is not real sex.  This is a clue that she may not look that bad to the human eye but God sees it differently.