Revelation 17:16
And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) And the ten horns . . .—Translate, And the ten horns which thou sawest (not, as in English version, “on the beast,” but), and the wild beast, these shall hate the harlot. The harlot was seen in splendid apparel riding on the wild beast; now the wild beast, in the day of the seventh head, turns with the ten horns of his power upon her, makes her deserted, strips her of her adornments, consumes the spoil—for this is what is meant by “eating her flesh”—and burns her with fire. The woman in the days of the Evangelist was Rome (Revelation 17:18), but great and resistless as her power seemed, it was doomed; the day would come when other kingdoms would rise who would hate her for her tyranny, envy her splendour, and covet her wealth. Then the great Babylon would fall, like Jezebel of old; the painted cheek, the pencilled eyebrow, and the amorous glance have lost their fascination; those who have pandered to her vices would turn against her, and cast her out to be trampled under foot. So did the Babylon of St. John’s day fall—perishing in the blood that she had spilt, or left “childless and crownless in her voiceless woe.”

17:15-18 God so ruled the hearts of these kings, by his power over them, and by his providence, that they did those things, without intending it, which he purposed and foretold. They shall see their folly, and how they have been bewitched and enslaved by the harlot, and be made instruments in her destruction. She was that great city which reigned over the kings of the earth, when John had this vision; and every one knows Rome to be that city. Believers will be received to the glory of the Lord, when wicked men will be destroyed in a most awful manner; their joining together in sin, will be turned to hatred and rage, and they will eagerly assist in tormenting each other. But the Lord's portion is his people; his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure, to his glory, and the happiness of all his servants.And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast - Revelation 17:3. The ten powers or kingdoms represented by those horns. See the notes on Revelation 17:12.

These shall hate the whore - There seems to be some incongruity between this statement and what was previously made. In the former Revelation 17:12-14, these ten governments are represented as in alliance with the beast; as "giving all their power and strength" unto it; and as uniting with it in making war with the Lamb. What is here said must, therefore, refer to some subsequent period, indicating some great change in their feelings and policy. We have seen the evidence of the fulfillment of the former statements. This statement will be accomplished if these same powers, represented by the ten horns, that were formerly in alliance with the papacy, shall become its enemy, and contribute to its final overthrow. That is, it will be accomplished if the nations of Europe, embraced within the limits of those ten kingdoms, shall become hostile to the papacy, and shall combine for its overthrow. Is anything more probable than this? France (see the notes on Revelation 16) has already struck more than one heavy blow on that power; England has been detached from it; many of the states of Italy are weary of it, and are ready to rise up against it; and nothing is more probable than that Spain, Portugal, France, Lombardy, and the papal States themselves, will yet throw off the yoke forever, and put an end to a power that has so long ruled over people. It was with the utmost difficulty, in 1848, that the papal power was sustained, and this was done only by foreign swords; the papacy could not probably be protected in another such outbreak. And this passage leads us to anticipate that the period will come - and that probably not far in the future - when those powers that have for so many ages sustained the papacy will become its determined foes, and will rise in their might and bring it forever to an end.

And shall make her desolate and naked - Strip her of all her power and all her attractiveness. That is, applied to papal Rome, all that is so gorgeous and alluring - her wealth, and pomp, and splendor - shall be taken away, and she will be seen as she is, without anything to dazzle the eye or to blind the mind.

And shall eat her flesh - Shall completely destroy her - as if her flesh were consumed. Perhaps the image is taken from the practice of cannibals eating the flesh of their enemies slain in battle. If so, nothing could give a more impressive idea of the utter destruction of this formidable power, or of the feelings of those by whom its end would be brought about.

And burn her with fire - Another image of total destruction. Perhaps the meaning may be, that after her flesh was eaten, such parts of her as remained would be thrown into the fire and consumed. If this be the meaning, the image is a very impressive one to denote absolute and total destruction. Compare the notes on Revelation 18:8.

16. upon the beast—But A, B, Vulgate, and Syriac read, "and the beast."

shall make her desolate—having first dismounted her from her seat on the beast (Re 17:3).

naked—stripped of all her gaud (Re 17:4). As Jerusalem used the world power to crucify her Saviour, and then was destroyed by that very power, Rome; so the Church, having apostatized to the world, shall have judgment executed on her first by the world power, the beast and his allies; and these afterwards shall have judgment executed on them by Christ Himself in person. So Israel leaning on Egypt, a broken reed, is pierced by it; and then Egypt itself is punished. So Israel's whoredom with Assyria and Babylon was punished by the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. So the Church when it goes a-whoring after the word as if it were the reality, instead of witnessing against its apostasy from God, is false to its profession. Being no longer a reality itself, but a sham, the Church is rightly judged by that world which for a time had used the Church to further its own ends, while all the while "hating" Christ's unworldly religion, but which now no longer wants the Church's aid.

eat her flesh—Greek plural, "masses of flesh," that is, "carnal possessions"; implying the fulness of carnality into which the Church is sunk. The judgment on the harlot is again and again described (Re 18:1; 19:5); first by an "angel having great power" (Re 18:1), then by "another voice from heaven" (Re 18:4-20), then by "a mighty angel" (Re 18:21-24). Compare Eze 16:37-44, originally said of Israel, but further applicable to the New Testament Church when fallen into spiritual fornication. On the phrase, "eat … flesh" for prey upon one's property, and injure the character and person, compare Ps 14:4; 27:2; Jer 10:25; Mic 3:3. The First Napoleon's Edict published at Rome in 1809, confiscating the papal dominions and joining them to France, and later the severance of large portions of the Pope's territory from his sway and the union of them to the dominions of the king of Italy, virtually through Louis Napoleon, are a first instalment of the full realization of this prophecy of the whore's destruction. "Her flesh" seems to point to her temporal dignities and resources, as distinguished from "herself" (Greek). How striking a retribution, that having obtained her first temporal dominions, the exarchate of Ravenna, the kingdom of the Lombards, and the state of Rome, by recognizing the usurper Pepin as lawful king of France, she should be stripped of her dominions by another usurper of France, the Napoleonic dynasty!

burn … with fire—the legal punishment of an abominable fornication.

And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast: see Revelation 17:3,12.

These shall hate the whore, &c.; the ten kings shall apostatize from the papacy, and be great instruments of God to ruin it. When we see some other kingdoms, now in vassalage to the pope, do as much as hath been done in England, and Scotland, and Sweden, and some other places, we may possibly understand this prophecy better than we yet do. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast,.... Revelation 17:3 and which are interpreted of ten kings, Revelation 17:12. The Alexandrian copy, the Complutensian edition, and the Syriac Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, read, "and the beast"; and then the sense is, that the ten kings and states in particular, who have defended antichrist, and the whole empire in general, which has bore up and supported the whore of Rome:

these shall hate the whore; her principles and sentiments, her doctrines, which are doctrines of devils, her wicked practices, her idolatries, adulteries, murders, and thefts; they will repent of their fornications with her, and cease from them; their love will be turned to hatred, and the latter will be greater than ever the former was, like Amnon's to Tamar; and as it usually is with men towards harlots, when they see their follies, and how they have been deceived and abused by them:

and shall make her desolate; leave her, quit her communion; no more commit fornication with her, or join with her in her idolatrous worship; but come out from that apostate church, and renounce all fellowship with her, and persuade and engage as many as they can influence to do the same:

and naked; strip her of her purple, scarlet colour, gold, pearls, and precious stones; cease to give their power and strength, withhold their taxes and tribute, deprive her of her power and authority, civil and ecclesiastical, in their realms, and take away even her patrimony from her; and not only so, but expose her shame and filthiness, her abominable principles and practices, to all the world; which has been in part done already:

and shall eat her flesh; not literally, but mystically; not out of love, but hatred; they shall take that to themselves, and make use of, which have fattened her, as bishoprics, and other benefices, lands, endowments belonging to abbeys, and monasteries, and other religious houses; an instance and example of which we have in King Henry the Eighth's time; so some understand this phrase of devouring the substance of others, in Psalm 27:2. So the Targumists often interpret "flesh and fatness"; by "riches, goods", or substance; the phrase in Isaiah 17:4 "the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean", is paraphrased, , "the riches of his glory shall be carried away"; and the words in Micah 3:3 who shall also eat the flesh of my people", &c. are rendered, "and they who spoil" , "the goods", or "substance of my people, and take away their precious mammon, or money, from them. And again, Zechariah 11:9 "let the rest eat, everyone the flesh of another", is in the Targum, "let a man spoil" "the goods or substance of his neighbour"; and in Revelation 17:16 he shall eat the flesh of the fat; the paraphrase is, "he shall" spoil "the goods or substance of the rich".

And burn her with fire: alluding to the law in Leviticus 21:9 which required that the daughter of a priest, that played the whore, should be burnt with fire; and this is to be understood literally of burning the city of Rome, the seat of the whore, with fire; of which see Revelation 18:8. It has been very near being burnt in times past, as by Alaricus the Goth, Attila the Hun, Genseric the Vandal, and by Totilas, and in later times by Charles the Fifth; and would have been, had they not been dissuaded or diverted from it; and which were so many preludes and warnings of its future fate: and we may learn from hence, that Rome, and the Romish antichrist, will not be destroyed by the Turks, but by the Christians; and by the same states, and kingdoms, and princes, by which the whore of Rome has been supported in her grandeur, power, and authority, who will revolt from Popery, and embrace the pure Gospel of Christ: and this shows, that the ten horns, or kingdoms, into which the Roman empire has been divided, will subsist in this form at the destruction of Rome; wherefore, it has been rightly observed by some, that not one of these kingdoms shall ever be able to rise to universal monarchy. France has been for many years attempting it, but in vain; and we may sit down easy and satisfied, assuring ourselves with the greatest confidence, that all attempts this way will be fruitless; there never will be another universal monarchy on earth but that of Christ's; see Daniel 2:37.

And the ten {33} horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

(33) The ten kings, as Re 17:12. The accomplishment of this fact and event is daily increased in this our age by the singular providence and most mighty government of God. Therefore the facts are propounded in this verse, and the cause of them in the verses following.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 17:16. Rome perishes at the hands of Nero and his ruthless allies—a belief loudly echoed in the Talmud. In Sib. Or. iv. 145, 350 f. the East then and thus regains the treasures of which the Oriental provinces had been despoiled.—γυμνήνπυρί the doom of a Semitic harlot (Ezekiel 23:45 f., Ezekiel 28:17-18). But no details of the disaster are given.16. upon the beast] Read, and the beast: he (in his personal advent) and they will act together, against Babylon as well as against the Lamb.

shall hate the whore] Though she had been the object of their unchaste love, Revelation 17:2, and will be of their passionate regret, Revelation 18:9. Nero’s treatment of his mistress or wife Poppaea cannot be alluded to, but is a good illustration of the image, and vindication of its consistency with vicious human nature.

naked] Cf. Isaiah 47:2-3; Ezekiel 16:37-39.

eat her flesh, and burn her with fire] i.e. shall plunder and burn Rome. The threat was symbolised and almost fulfilled in the burning of the Capitol by the partisans of Vitellius, and the storming of Rome by those of Vespasian: it received a more complete fulfilment in the repeated disasters of the fifth century. The sack of Rome by Bourbon and the Germans was a less striking fulfilment: but the real and final one is no doubt still to come.

We should naturally understand from these words, that the judgement on Babylon described in the next chapter will be executed by the “kings of the earth,” the ten States among which the Roman Empire is partitioned. But it is almost as remarkable as the view of Hippolytus noted on Revelation 17:12, that St Benedict is recorded (S. Greg. Dial. ii. 15) to have said, “Rome will not be destroyed by the nations, but be overthrown by thunderstorms, whirlwinds and earthquakes.” We know what he did not, that Rome stands, like Pompeii, on volcanic soil, within a few miles of volcanos that, though not active now, were so to the verge of historical times, and may be again. This book does not tell us positively how Babylon will fall, and no one has the right to pretend to say: but it is at least suggestive to know that it might fall by a convulsion which unbelievers would think quite “natural,” while believers would see its place in the scheme of providence.Revelation 17:16. Κέρατα, horns) The mention of the ten horns before the beast teaches, that the prevailing party in this most hostile laying waste of the harlot shall be parts of the horns: for even αὐτῶν, of them, Revelation 17:17. has reference to the horns rather than to the beast.—καὶ τὸ θηρίον[192]) Erasmus edited, ἐπὶ τὸ θηρίω, and the editors who usually follow him, follow him here also; although Andreas of Cæsareia even by himself refutes this reading, which is made up from Latin copies of an inferior character. See App. Crit. Ed. ii. on this passage. This sentence indeed,—And the ten horns which thou sawest, καὶ, and [not ἐπὶ, upon, as in Engl. Vers.], the beast, these shall hate the whore,—is very plain, comprising, as it does, the horns and the beast by the word οὗτοι, these; and it is most accommodated to that most weighty sense, which it and it alone conveys, namely, that not only the ten horns, but even the beast himself (by which view Protestants are freed from the most invidious suspicion of sounding the trumpet against Rome), are about to hate the whore. It was provided by Divine government, that the Apocalypse should be published at Complutum, in the midst of Spain, before the Reformation, in a very genuine form, especially in the strictures, which attack Rome. And in this passage the Complutensian Edition both exhibits the reading, καὶ τὸ θηρίον, and marks it with a point, as a sign of approbation. And almost all the copies agree. The collation of so many MSS. would be useless, if the true reading even of such passages were indefinitely postponed, or at least left in doubt. By this one thing Wolf confirms my opinion in almost all the passages, in which he dissents from me.—τὴν πόρνην, the whore) A question arises, whether the beast, ascending out of the bottomless pit, first carries on war against the two witnesses (comp. Erkl. Offenb. p. 546), or lays waste Babylon. He first, as it seems, destroys Babylon, when the kingdom has as yet scarcely been given to him by the ten horns; then, having left that station, he pours out his whole fury upon the sacred city, and soon afterwards with his followers incurs final destruction. For both upon the ascent of the two witnesses into heaven, when the multitude repented after the earthquake [ch. Revelation 11:13], the mystery of GOD is fulfilled: and the ten horns give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of GOD are fulfilled.—καὶ αὐτὴν, and herself) This is emphatic, in antithesis to the flesh, and the resources of the whore.

[192] So AB Vulg. h Memph. Syr. But Rec. Test, ἐπὶ τὸ θήριον, without good authority.—E.Verse 16. - And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast; and the ten horns which thou sawest, and the beast. There is no authority for the ἐπι τὸ θηρίον of Erasmus except the Vulgate, in bestia, and, of course, the description given of the beast (Revelation 13:1, etc,). The two are spoken of separately, on account of the separate juris diction wielded according to vers. 32, 13. These shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire; and shall burn her utterly with fire (Revised Version). These words describe the fate in store for the faithless portion of the Church. That world, to which she trusts, shall turn and rend her - a fitting sequel to her want of faith in the power of Christ. This is exactly the description given of the harlot in Ezekiel 16:37 (cf. also Ezekiel 23:22). "Eat her flesh" and "burn with fire" both describe similar results; possibly the one is thought of in connection with the symbol of "harlot," the other with the symbol of "city," with which the harlot is identical (see on ver. 5; but see Genesis 38:24; Leviticus 21:9; cf. also the judgment upon the wicked rich in James 5:3, "shall eat your flesh as it were fire"). Upon the beast (ἐπί)

Read καὶ and: "the ten horns - and the beast."

Desolate (ἠρημωμένην)

Lit., desolated, the verb being in the perfect participle.

Shall eat her flesh

A token of extreme hostility. See Psalm 27:2; Micah 3:3. Xenophon, speaking of the hatred between the pure Spartans and the Helots, says that no one of the pure Spartans could conceal his readiness to eat the Helot raw. Notice the plural σάρκας flesh, and see on James 5:3.

Burn (κατακαύσουσιν)

Rev., giving the force of κατά down, burn utterly. According to some interpreters the figure is changed from the woman to a city; but this is unnecessary, as the language is probably taken from the punishment of fornication on the part of a priest's daughter (Leviticus 21:9; compare Leviticus 20:14).

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