The Origin of Cities: Cain built the first city and called it Enoch after one of his sons (Gen. 4:17). The wicked have always congregated in cities. Misery loves company.
The Origin of Babylon: It was built by Nimrod and his ilk for the purpose of defying God (Gen. 10:8-10; 11:1-9). Ancient lore says that Semiramis was the wife of Nimrod. She was the foundress of the Babylonian mysteries and the first high priestess of idolatry. This became the fountainhead of idolatry and the mother of all the pagan system of the world. Its fullest development will come in Babylon of the end time.
"And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."
"And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."
Semiramis bore a son whom she declared was miraculously conceived. When presented to the people, he was hailed as the promised deliverer. This was Tammuz (Ezek. 8:14). The rites of this worship were secret. Only the initiated were permitted to know its mysteries. It was Satan's effort to delude mankind with an imitation of the truth. Within 1,000 years, this had spread throughout the world. The symbols were all the same, although under different names, such as Isis and Horus; Aphrodite and Eros; Venus and Cupid.
The Identity of Babylon: Old Babylon may be rebuilt, or Rome may be the end time Babylon (Rev. 17:1 sitteth upon many waters - thus a great system. Cf. v. 15). It is also a great city, the capital of this great system.
This empire is the fourth great empire of Daniel 2. Political greatness has been transferred from Old Babylon to Rome. But whereas this transfer has been made, the capital may be relocated in the end time. Since the religious aspect is transferred with the political, the same will be true in the end time. The importance of the Middle East today is making this a greater possibility.
The Setting of Chapter 17. This in relation to Chapter 18.
The Key Verse: 17:1. It centers attention upon the religious aspect of Babylon. "The judgment of the great whore." For Chapter 18, it is verse 2, "Babylon the great is fallen."
- The judgment of the great whore comes at the hands of Antichrist in the midst of the week (16-17 cf. with verse 12).
- The fall of Babylon comes at the end of the week and is a direct judgment of God (8).
Chapters 17-18 are an expansion of the 7th vial, while Chapter 19 is an expansion of the 6th vial.