Revelation 17:9
And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
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(9) And here is the mind . . .—Better, Here (omit “and”) is the mind, &c. Attention is asked to the fuller explanation which follows. It needs true wisdom to behold many incidents of the world’s history and not find stumbling-blocks in them (Psalm 73:2-3; Psalm 119:165). The seven heads are seven mountains where the woman sitteth upon them. The description seems to be drawn from Rome, the seven-hilled city. This keeps the reference to Rome before us, but at the same time the further explanation (in Revelation 17:10) widens our thoughts, and shows us that the literalism on which the imagery is based is used to convey a broader symbolical meaning. The seven heads are seven mountains, &c., and they (the seven heads; the words “There are seven kings” in the English version are confusing) are seven kings: the woman rides on the seven-headed beast; even so Rome dwells on her seven hills, and so also the world-city, seen in vision, sits among the various empires which have risen, like great mountains, in the history of the world.

17:7-14 The beast on which the woman sat was, and is not, and yet is. It was a seat of idolatry and persecution, and is not; not in the ancient form, which was pagan: yet it is; it is truly the seat of idolatry and tyranny, though of another sort and form. It would deceive into stupid and blind submission all the inhabitants of the earth within its influence, except the remnant of the elect. This beast was seven heads, seven mountains, the seven hills on which Rome stands; and seven kings, seven sorts of government. Five were gone by when this prophecy was written; one was then in being; the other was yet to come. This beast, directed by the papacy, makes an eighth governor, and sets up idolatry again. It had ten horns, which are said to be ten kings who had as yet no kingdoms; they should not rise up till the Roman empire was broken; but should for a time be very zealous in her interest. Christ must reign till all enemies be put under his feet. The reason of the victory is, that he is the King of kings, and Lord of lords. He has supreme dominion and power over all things; all the powers of earth and hell are subject to his control. His followers are called to this warfare, are fitted for it, and will be faithful in it.And here is the mind which hath wisdom - Here is what requires wisdom to interpret it; or, here is a case in which the mind that shows itself able to explain it will evince true sagacity. So in Revelation 13:18. See the notes on that place. Prof. Stuart renders this, "Here is a meaning which compriseth wisdom." It is undoubtedly implied that the symbol might be understood - whether in the time of John, or afterward, he does not say; but it was a matter which could not be determined by ordinary minds, or without an earnest application of the understanding.

The seven heads are seven mountains - Referring, undoubtedly, to Rome - the seven-hilled city - Septicollis Roma. See the notes on Revelation 12:3. (d).

On which the woman sitteth - The city represented as a woman, in accordance with a common usage in the Scriptures. See the notes on Isaiah 1:8.

9. Compare Re 13:18; Da 12:10, where similarly spiritual discernment is put forward as needed in order to understand the symbolical prophecy.

seven heads and seven mountains—The connection between mountains and kings must be deeper than the mere outward fact to which incidental allusion is made, that Rome (the then world city) is on seven hills (whence heathen Rome had a national festival called Septimontium, the feast of the seven-hilled city [Plutarch]; and on the imperial coins, just as here, she is represented as a woman seated on seven hills. Coin of Vespasian, described by Captain Smyth [Roman Coins, p. 310; Ackerman, 1, p. 87]). The seven heads can hardly be at once seven kings or kingdoms (Re 17:10), and seven geographical mountains. The true connection is, as the head is the prominent part of the body, so the mountain is prominent in the land. Like "sea" and "earth"and "waters … peoples" (Re 17:15), so "mountains" have a symbolical meaning, namely, prominent seats of power. Especially such as are prominent hindrances to the cause of God (Ps 68:16, 17; Isa 40:4; 41:15; 49:11; Eze 35:2); especially Babylon (which geographically was in a plain, but spiritually is called a destroying mountain, Jer 51:25), in majestic contrast to which stands Mount Zion, "the mountain of the Lord's house" (Isa 2:2), and the heavenly mount; Re 21:10, "a great and high mountain … and that great city, the holy Jerusalem." So in Da 2:35, the stone becomes a mountain—Messiah's universal kingdom supplanting the previous world kingdoms. As nature shadows forth the great realities of the spiritual world, so seven-hilled Rome is a representative of the seven-headed world power of which the dragon has been, and is the prince. The "seven kings" are hereby distinguished from the "ten kings" (Re 17:12): the former are what the latter are not, "mountains," great seats of the world power. The seven universal God-opposed monarchies are Egypt (the first world power which came into collision with God's people,) Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Medo-Persia, Rome, the Germanic-Slavonic empire (the clay of the fourth kingdom mixed with its iron in Nebuchadnezzar's image, a fifth material, Da 2:33, 34, 42, 43, symbolizing this last head). These seven might seem not to accord with the seven heads in Da 7:4-7, one head on the first beast (Babylon), one on the second (Medo-Persia), four on the third (Greece; namely, Egypt, Syria, Thrace with Bithynia, and Greece with Macedon): but Egypt and Greece are in both lists. Syria answers to Assyria (from which the name Syria is abbreviated), and Thrace with Bithynia answers to the Gothic-Germanic-Slavonic hordes which, pouring down on Rome from the North, founded the Germanic-Slavonic empire. The woman sitting on the seven hills implies the Old and New Testament Church conforming to, and resting on, the world power, that is, on all the seven world kingdoms. Abraham and Isaac dissembling as to their wives through fear of the kings of Egypt foreshadowed this. Compare Eze 16:1-63; 23:1-49, on Israel's whoredoms with Egypt, Assyria, Babylon; and Mt 7:24; 24:10-12, 23-26, on the characteristics of the New Testament Church's harlotry, namely, distrust, suspicion, hatred, treachery, divisions into parties, false doctrine.

And here is the mind which hath wisdom; that is, here is that which requireth a mind endued with spiritual wisdom.

The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth; the seven heads which he saw the beast with, signified seven mountains or hills upon which Rome is situated; they were named before: See Poole on "Revelation 17:3". They tell us now Rome is situated in Campo Martio. Resp. Whatever it now is, certain it is, that in St. John’s time it was situated upon them, and they are now within the compass of Rome.

And here is the mind which hath wisdom,.... This refers either to what goes before, concerning the beast, his various states, rise, and ruin, and his admirers; or to what follows after, concerning the meaning of his heads and horns, or to both; and the sense is, that notwithstanding the interpretation of these things by the angel, yet it requires a large share of wisdom to understand them; and here is enough to exercise the mind that is ever so well stored with knowledge and understanding; and so the Arabic version renders it, "here it is required that one should have judgment and wisdom"; for to a man that has not, the affair will still be obscure and unintelligible. The words may be rendered, "here is the mind, he that hath wisdom"; that is, let him make use of it, as in Revelation 13:18 and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "and this is the sense, he that hath wisdom"; this is the sense of the beast, and of his heads and horns; and he that has wisdom, let him consider it, and take it in, and apply it to proper persons, things, and times; and so the Ethiopic version, "he that has wisdom and understanding, let him know this"; or take cognizance of it, it being a matter of importance, and attended with difficulty:

the seven heads are seven mountains of which the woman sitteth that is, they signify seven mountains, or are symbolical representations of them; just as the seven good kine, and seven good ears, in Pharoah's dream, signified seven years of plenty, and seven thin kine, and seven empty ears, seven years of famine, Genesis 41:26. As the woman is a city, Revelation 17:18 these seven mountains, on which she sits, must be so many mountains on which the city is built; and what city can this be but Rome, which is so famous for being built on seven hills? This is taken notice of by Virgil (m), Horace (n), Ovid (o), Claudian (p), Starius (q), Martial (r), and others; and indeed there is scarce a poet that speaks of Rome but observes it: hence it has been sometimes called, by writers, the seven hilled city, and sometimes Septiceps, the seven headed city, which comes near to the language here: the names of the seven mountains were these, Capitolinus, Palatinus, Aventinus, Esquilinus, Coelius, Viminalis, and Quirinalis; the four first of these were taken in by Romulus, the first founder of it, and the three last by Servius Tullius, when he enlarged it; and upon the addition of the seventh mountain there was a feast kept, called Septimontium; and which was kept in seven places in the city (s); and was annually observed; and in this situation it was in John's time; for Pliny (t), who was contemporary with him, expressly says, that in his time it took in seven mountains; and that this refers to a city in John's time, then reigning over the kings of the earth, is certain from Revelation 17:18. Now there was no imperial city, so built in his time, but Rome: for though Constantinople is built on seven hills, yet this was not in being in John's time, but was built by Constantine many years after, in imitation of Rome; and though the situation is much altered now, being in Campus Martius, it being greatly reduced, and in a less compass, yet this hinders not but that it is the same city here designed: and this confirms that the beast before spoken of, on whom the woman sat, is the Roman empire, since she is here said to sit on the seven mountains, on which Rome, the metropolis of that empire, was built; and this shows the pope of Rome to be antichrist, the great whore, Babylon, the mother of harlots, since no other has his seat at Rome but he.

(m) Aeneid. 6. (n) In Carmine Seculari. (o) De Trist. l. 1. Eleg. 4. (p) L. 3. de Laud. Stilicon. l. 3. ver. 135. (q) Syl. l. 1. Syl. 2. ver. 191. (r) L. 4. Ephesians 53. (s) Alex. ab Alex. Genial Dier. l. 6. c. 11. (t) Nat. Hist. l. 3. c. 5.

{16} And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The {c} seven heads {17} are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.

(16) An exhortation preparing for the readers in the same argument, as that of Christ He that hath ears to hear let him hear. I would rather read in this passage Let there be here a mind, etc. So the angel passes to the second place of this description.

(c) Children know what the seven hilled city is, which is so much spoken of, and where of Virgil thus reports, And compasses seven towers in one wall, that city it is, which when John wrote these things, had rule over the kings of the earth. It was and is not, and yet it remains to this day, but it is declining to destruction.

(17) This is the description of the beast by things present (as I said before) by which John endeavoured to describe the same, that he might be both known of the godly in that age, and be further observed and marked of posterity afterwards. This delineation has one tip, that is, his heads, but a double description or application of the type: one permanent, from the nature itself, the other changeable, by the working of men. The description permanent, is by the seven hills, in this verse, the other that flees, is from the seven kings, Re 17:10,11. Here it is worthy to be observed, that one type has sometime two or more applications, as seems good to the Holy Spirit to express, either one thing by various types, or various things by one type. So I noted before of the seven spirits in see Geneva Re 1:4. Now this woman that sits on seven hills, is the city of Rome, called in times past by the Greeks, upon a hill i. of seven tops or crests and by Varro, septiceps i. of her seven heads (as here) of seven heads, and by others, septem collis i. standing upon seven hills.

Revelation 17:9. ὄρη, cf. Prop. iii. 11, 57 (“Septem urbs alta iugis, quae praesidet orbi”), Verg. Georg. ii. 534.

9. And here] Omit “and.” Compare Revelation 13:18. As there, the words seem to indicate that “the mind which hath wisdom” will recognise the meaning of the image, though it is obscurely expressed. But the “wisdom” required is not merely the faculty of guessing riddles—it is the wisdom enlightened from above; including however, we may suppose, an intelligent knowledge of the facts and principles of human history.

seven mountains] These words prove decisively that Babylon represents the City of Rome It is needless to quote classical descriptions of Rome as the City of the Seven Mountains: the designation is as unmistakeable as the name would be. Nevertheless, it is curious that the number is rather conventionally than actually true. The original seven hills were the Palatium, the Germalus (virtually a part of the Palatine hill), the Velia (the low ridge crossing the Forum), the Cispius, Oppius, and Fagutal (three summits of the Esquiline), and the Suburra which is not a hill at all. But Rome in the days of its greatness covered the Palatine, Capitol, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline (two of the ridges of which, though not very well defined, are yet as distinct as the two next), the Quirinal, the Viminal (these two, for some inexplicable reason, were never counted among the “seven mountains,” though higher than any of them, but were always called “hills”), and the Janiculum and Vatican on the other side of the Tiber. In modern Rome, the buildings have spread over the Pincian Hill, but the Caelian, Palatine, Aventine, and much of the Esquiline are nearly uninhabited.

Revelation 17:9. Ὄρηβασιλεῖς, mountainskings) The seven mountains of Rome were formerly defended and adorned with seven citadels. Pacatus in Paneg.: “These things thou didst survey, O Rome, from thy hills; and, elevated with seven CITADELS, thou wast lifted up to a greater height through joy:” ch. 46. “These hills,” says G. Fabricius, in ch. 3 of his Rome, “Virgil in his Georgics, and Ausonius in his Epithalamium, on account of the royal dwellings which were at one time situated on them, called the seven Citadels.” Those seven mountains were the Palatine, the Capitoline, the Cælian, the Esquiline, the Viminal, the Quirinal, and the Aventine. But the prophecy regards the seven mountains according to the time of the beast, in which the Palatine is deserted, and the Vatican flourishes. The others are the same as they were of old. Nor indeed have the seven heads of the beast a double signification,—the one of the mountains separately, in a confused manner; the other of the kings separately, in a distinct manner: but they have one signification only, in such a way, however, that the thing signified is something compound, consisting of a mountain and a king. Some seek for the seven mountains at Jerusalem; but, as Wolf forcibly teaches, they do not make out their point. See Isaiah 10:32. But grant that there were formerly seven mountains there; there were never seven kings there also, much less were seven mountains joined with seven kings individually: the city itself was destroyed before John wrote; Jerusalem is never called Babylon, even when it is most blamed; and the order of the prophecy thrusts Babylon into much later times. All these things are in agreement with the city Rome. And the first head of the beast is the Cælian Mount, and on it the Lateran, with Gregory VII. and his successors: the second, the Vatican Mount, with the temple of St Peter, built by Boniface VIII.: the third, the Quirinal Mount, with the temple of St Mark, and with the Quirinal Palace, built by Paul II.: the fourth, the Esquiline Mount, with the temple of St Maria Maggiore, built by Paul V. Thus far the dwelling and the action of the Pontiffs perambulate these mountains; and that in such a manner, that to the first head there is added a second, but not so that the first immediately falls to decay; to these two a third; to the three a fourth; and afterwards to the four a fifth, until the five kings, and all things that have been established by them on the five mountains, fall. Turn over the Bullarium in order: you will observe four times from Gregory VII., in the first of which almost all the Bulls, given in the city, are dated from the Lateran; in the second, at St Peter’s; in the third, at St Mark’s and from the Quirinal; in the fourth, at St Maria Maggiore. No fifth, and undoubtedly no sixth or seventh mount, is seen to have been thus honoured by the Popes: and this very fact tends to prove the truth of this interpretation. The seven mountains will be distinctly seen, when the seventh is honoured.—ὅπουἐπʼ αὐτῶν) for ἐφʼ ὧν. Hebr. אשר עליהם.

Verse 9. - And here is the mind which hath wisdom. Omit "and." Read, Here is the mind (or, meaning), etc. These words (as in Revelation 13:18) draw attention to the explanation which follows - or else that which precedes (cf. Revelation 13:18). They also make it appear that the explanation which the angel offers of the "mystery" is not one to be understood without some difficulty. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. The diversity of opinions on the interpretation of this passage is mainly owing to the fact that writers are not consistent in their application of symbols and numbers; in one place interpreting figuratively, in another literally. We have repeatedly seen that the language of the Apocalypse and its numbers are symbolical. The seals are not literal seals, the Lamb is not a literal Lamb, the beast is not a literal beast, etc. So here, the mountains are not literal mountains. A mountain is a symbol of power (see on Revelation 8:8); seven is the number significant of universality (see on Revelation 1:4; 5:1, etc.). The plain meaning of the passage, therefore, is that the woman relies upon a visibly universal power. This is precisely the idea contained in ver. 3, which describes the faithless part of the Church (the harlot) trusting to the power of the world (the beast). Of course, the most prominent form of this world power in St. John's time was heathen Rome, hence some writers believe that "the seven-hilled city," Rome, is referred to here - either pagan or papal Rome. And, indeed, this may be a partial fulfilment of the vision; but it is not the whole signification. To understand seven mountains literally in this place renders it necessary to interpret forty-two weeks, etc., literally in another. Revelation 17:9Here is (ὧδε)

Bespeaking attention and spiritual discernment for that which follows. See on Revelation 13:18.

The mind (ὁ νοῦς)

I. Νοῦς is the organ of mental perception and apprehension - of conscious life, the mind, comprising the faculties of perceiving and understanding, of feeling, judging, determining.

(a) The intellectual faculty or understanding (Luke 24:45). So here, according to some.

(b) The reason, regarded as the faculty of perceiving divine things: of recognizing goodness and hating evil (Romans 1:28; Romans 7:23; Ephesians 4:17).

(c) The power of calm and impartial judgment (2 Thessalonians 2:2).

II. Νοῦς is a particular mode of thinking and judging: moral consciousness as a habit of mind or opinion. Hence thoughts, feelings, purposes (Romans 14:5; 1 Corinthians 1:10). Some render here meaning.

Seven mountains

Many interpreters regard this as conclusively defining the reference of the woman to Rome, which was built upon seven hills. Others deny the local reference, and understand the principle of worldly greatness and ambition. Others again claim that many cities besides Rome can boast of their seven hills, as Constantinople, Brussels, and especially Jerusalem.

Upon them

Redundant, the idea being already expressed by where. A Hebraism.

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