Revelation 18
Vincent's Word Studies
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
Was lightened

Compare Ezekiel 43:2.

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
Mightily with a strong voice (ἐν ἰσχύΐ́ φωνῇ μεγὰλῃ)

Lit., in strength with a great voice. Omit μεγάλῃ great, and read ἰσχυρᾷ φωνῇ with a mighty voice. So Rev.

Babylon - is fallen

The Rev. improves on the A.V. by placing fallen in the emphatic position of the Greek: "Fallen, fallen is Babylon." Compare Isaiah 21:9.

Is become (ἐγένετο)

Lit., became.

Devils (δαιμόνων)

Properly, demons, which Rev., strangely commits to the margin. See on Mark 1:34. See Isaiah 13:20-22; Isaiah 34:13-15. Also on Luke 11:24.

Hold (φυλακὴ)

See on 1 Peter 3:19, and see on Acts 5:21. Rev., in margin, prison.

Cage (φυλακὴ)

The word rendered above hold. Rev., hold. Some, however, explain it, not as a cage where they are kept, but as a place of safety to which they resort.

Bird (ὀρνέου)

Only in Revelation, here, Revelation 19:17, Revelation 19:21. Compare Jeremiah 50:39.

For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
Have drunk (πέπωκεν or πέπωκαν)

Some, however, read πέπτωκαν have fallen. So Rev.

Of the wine (ἐκ τοῦ οἴνου)

Thus if we read have drunk. If we adopt have fallen, ἐκ is instrumental, by. So Rev.

Of the wrath

The wine of fornication has turned to wrath against herself.

Merchants (ἔμποροι)

The word originally means one on a journey by sea or land, especially for traffic. Hence a merchant as distinguished from κάπηλος a retailer or huckster.

The abundance of her delicacies (τῆς δυνάμεως τοῦ στρήνους αὐτῆς)

Lit., as Rev., the power of her luxury. Στρῆνος is akin to στερεός firm, hard, stubborn (see on steadfast, 1 Peter 5:9). Hence over-strength, luxury, wantonness. Only here in the New Testament. The kindred verb στρηνιάω to live deliciously occurs Revelation 18:7, Revelation 18:9.

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Come out of her

Compare Jeremiah 51:6, Jeremiah 51:45; Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:11; Numbers 16:26.

Have fellowship with (συγκοινωνήσητε)

This compound verb is not of frequent occurrence in the New Testament. It is found only in Ephesians 5:11, Philippians 4:14, and here. On the kindred noun συγκοινωνὸς companion, see on Revelation 1:9.

For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Have reached (ἠκολούθησαν)

Lit., followed. But the best texts read ἐκολλήθησαν clave. Compare Jeremiah 51:9. For different applications of the verb see on Matthew 19:5; see on Luke 15:15; see on Acts 5:13. Compare the classical phrase for following up closely a fleeing foe, hoerere in terga hostium, to cleave to the backs of the enemy. See also Zechariah 14:5 (Sept.), "The valley of the mountains shall reach (ἐγκολληθήσεται) unto Azal." The radical idea of the metaphor is that of following or reaching after so as to be joined to.

Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
Double (διπλώσατε)

Only here in the New Testament. Compare Isaiah 40:2; Jeremiah 16:18; Zechariah 9:12. The Levitical law insisted on the double recompense. See Exodus 22:4, Exodus 22:7, Exodus 22:9.

How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
Lived deliciously (ἐστρηνίασεν)

See on Revelation 18:3.

Torment (βασανισμὸν)

Only in Revelation. On the kindred word, βάσανος torment, see on Matthew 4:23, Matthew 4:24.

I sit a queen and am no widow

See Isaiah 47:8; Zephaniah 2:15.

Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
Therefore shall her plagues come, etc.

See Isaiah 47:8, Isaiah 47:9.

Who judgeth (ὁ κρίνων)

Read κρίνας judged.

And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
Merchandise (γόμον)

Only here, Revelation 18:12, and Acts 21:3. From γέμω to be full. Hence, literally, lading or cargo. So Rev., in margin.

The main features of the following description are taken from that of the destruction of Tyre, Ezekiel 26, 27.

The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
Fine Linen (βύσσου)

See on Luke 16:19.

Purple (πορφύρας)

See on Luke 16:19.

Silk (σηρικοῦ)

Properly an adjective, meaning pertaining to the Seres. From Σῆρες Seres, a people of India, perhaps of modern China.

Before the time of Justinian, when silkworms were first brought to Constantinople, it was thought that the Seres gathered or combed the downy substance woven by the worms from the leaves of certain trees. Hence Virgil speaks of the Seres, how they comb (depectant) the fine fleeces from the leaves ("Georgics," ii., 121).

Silk was a costly article of luxury among the Romans, so that Tacitus relates that in the reign of Tiberius a law was passed against "men disgracing themselves with silken garments" ("Annals," ii., 33). "Two hundred years after the age of Pliny," says Gibbon, "the use of pure or even of mixed silks was confined to the female sex, till the opulent citizens of Rome and the provinces were insensibly familiarized with the example of Elagabalos, the first who, by this effeminate habit, had sullied the dignity of an emperor and a man. Aorelian complained that a pound of silk was sold at Rome for twelve ounces of gold" ("Decline and Fall," ch. xl.).

At the time of Justinian the Persians held a monopoly of this trade. Two missionary monks residing in China imparted to Justinian the project of introducing the eggs of the silkworm into Europe, and returning to China concealed the eggs in a hollow cane and so transported them.


See on Matthew 27:6.

Thyine wood (ξύλον θύΐ́νον)

Only here in the New Testament. From θυία or θύα the citrus, a North-African tree, a native of Barbary, used as incense and for inlaying. Pliny speaks of a mania among the Romans for tables made of this wood. The most expensive of these were called orbes, circles, because they were massive plates of wood cut from the stem in its whole diameter. Pliny mentions plates four feet in diameter, and nearly six inches thick. The most costly were those taken from near the root, both because the tree was broadest there, and because the wood was dappled and speckled. Hence they were described by different epithets according as the markings resembled those of the tiger, the panther, or the peacock.

Vessel (σκεῦος)

See on 1 Peter 3:7, and see on Acts 9:15. Also see on goods, Matthew 12:29; see on Mark 3:27; and see on strake sail, Acts 27:17.

Of ivory (ἐλεφάντινον)

Only here in the New Testament. References to ivory are frequent in the Old Testament. The navy of Tarshish brought ivory to Solomon with apes and peacocks (1 Kings 10:22). His great throne was made of it (1 Kings 10:18). Ahab's ivory palace (1 Kings 22:39) was probably a house with ivory panels. "Ivory palaces" are mentioned in Psalm 45:8, and "houses of ivory" in Amos 3:15. The Assyrians carried on a great trade in this article. On the obelisk in the British Museum the captives or tribute-bearers are represented as carrying tusks. The Egyptians early made use of it in decoration, bringing it mostly from Ethiopia, where, according to Pliny, ivory was so plentiful that the natives made of it door-posts and fences, and stalls for their cattle. In the early ages of Greece ivory was frequently employed for ornamental purposes, for the trappings of horses, the handles of kegs, and the bosses of shields. Homer represents an Asiatic woman staining ivory with purple to form trappings for horses, and describes the reins of chariot-horses as adorned with ivory. The statue of Jupiter by Phidias was of ivory and gold. In the "Odyssey" of Homer, Telemachus thus addresses his companion, the son of Nestor as they contemplate the splendor of Menelaus' palace:

"See, son of Nestor, my beloved friend,

In all these echoing rooms the sheen of brass,

Of gold, of amber and of ivory;

Such is the palace of Olympian Jove."

"Odyssey," iv., 71-74.

Marble (μαρμάρου)

From μαρμαίρω to sparkle or glisten.

And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
Cinnamon (κινάμωμον)

Mentioned as one of the ingredients of the holy oil for anointing (Exodus 30:23), and as a perfume for the bed (Proverbs 7:17).

And spice (καὶ ἄμωμον)

These words are added by the best texts. A fragrant Indian plant, with seed in grape-like clusters, from which ointment was made. Preparations for the hair were made from it. Virgil, describing the coming golden age, says: "The Assyrian amomum shall spring up as a common plant" ("Eclogue" iv., 25; Compare "Eclogue" iii., 89). Forbiger (Virgil) says that the best was raised in Armenia, a poorer quality in Media and Pontus.

Fine flour (σεμίδαλιν)

Only here in the New Testament.

Cattle (κτήνη)

See on Luke 10:34.

Merchandise of horses

Merchandise is not in the text. It resumes the construction of γόμον merchandise with the genitive in Revelation 18:12.

Chariots (ῥεδῶν)

A Latin word though of Gallic origin, rheda. It had four wheels.

And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
The fruits (ἡ ὀπώρα)

Originally, the late summer or early autumn; then, generally, used of the ripe fruits of trees. Only here in the New Testament. Compare the compound φθινοπωρινὰ autumn (trees). See on whose fruit withereth, Jde 1:12, and compare Summer-fruits, Jeremiah 40:10.

That thy soul lusted after (τῆς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ψυχῆς σοῦ)

Lit., of the desire of thy soul.

Dainty (λιπαρὰ)

From λίπος grease. Hence, literally, fat. Only here in the New Testament. Homer uses it once in the sense of oily or shiny with oil, as the skin anointed after a bath. "Their heads and their fair faces shining" ("Odyssey," xv., 332). So Aristophanes ("Plutus," 616), and of oily, unctuous dishes ("Frogs," 163). Of the oily smoothness of a calm sea, as by Theocritus. The phrase λιπαροὶ πόδες shining feet, i.e., smooth, without wrinkle, is frequent in Homer. Thus, of Agamemnon rising from his bed. "Beneath his shining feet he bound the fair sandals" ("Iliad," ii., 44). Also of the condition of life; rich, comfortable: so Homer, of a prosperous old age, "Odyssey," xi., 136. Of things, bright, fresh. Of soil, fruitful. The city of Athens was called λιπαραὶ, a favorite epithet. Aristophanes plays upon the two senses bright and greasy, saying that if any one flatteringly calls Athens bright, he attaches to it the honor of sardines - oiliness ("Acharnians," 638, 9).

Goodly (λαμπρὰ)

A too indefinite rendering. Better, Rev., sumptuous. See on Luke 23:11; see on James 2:2. Mostly in the New Testament of clothing. See on Revelation 15:6.

The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
Decked (κεχρυσωμένη)

See on Revelation 17:4.

For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
Shipmaster (κυβερνήτης)

From κυβερνάω to govern. Strictly, steersman. Only here and Acts 27:11.

All the company in ships (πᾶς ἐπὶ τῶν πλοίων ὁ ὅμιλος)

The best texts substitute ὁ ἐπὶ τόπον πλέων, that saileth anywhere, lit., saileth to a place. So Rev.

Trade by sea (τὴν θάλασσαν ἐργάζονται)

Lit., work the sea, like the Latin mare exercent, live by seafaring. Rev., gain their living by sea.

And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
Cast dust on their heads

Compare Ezekiel 27:30. See on Luke 10:13.

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
Hath avenged you on her (ἔκρινεν τὸ κρίμα ὑμῶν ἐξ αὐτῆς)

Rev., more literally, hath judged your judgment on her or from her. The idea is that of exacting judgment from (ἐξ). Compare the compound verb ἐκδικεῖς avenge, or exact vengeance from (Revelation 6:10). The meaning is either, that judgment which is your due, or what she hath judged concerning you.

And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
A mighty angel (εἷς ἄγγελος ἰσχυρὸς)

Lit., "one strong angel."

A great millstone

See on Matthew 18:6.

With violence (ὁρμήματι)

Lit. with an impulse or rush. Only here in the New Testament.

And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

See on Revelation 14:2.

Musicians (μουσικῶν)

Only here in the New Testament. There seems to be no special reason for changing the rendering to minstrels, as Rev. The term music had a much wider signification among the Greeks than that which we attach to it. "The primitive education at Athens consisted of two branches: gymnastics for the body, music for the mind. Music comprehended from the beginning everything appertaining to the province of the nine Muses; not merely learning the use of the lyre or how to bear part in a chorus, but also the hearing, learning, and repeating of poetical compositions, as well as the practice of exact and elegant pronunciation - which latter accomplishment, in a language like the Greek, with long words, measured syllables, and great diversity of accentuation between one word and another, must have been far more difficult to acquire than it is in any modern European language. As the range of ideas enlarged, so the words music and musical teachers acquired an expanded meanings so as to comprehend matter of instruction at once ampler and more diversified. During the middle of the fifth century b.c. at Athens, there came thus to be found among the musical teachers men of the most distinguished abilities and eminence, masters of all the learning and accomplishments of the age, teaching what was known of Astronomy, Geography, and Physics, and capable of holding dialectical discussions with their pupils upon all the various problems then afloat among intellectual men" (Grote, "History of Greece," vi., ch. lxvii.).

Pipers (αὐλητῶν)

Rev., flute-players. Only here and Matthew 9:23. The female flute-players, usually dissolute characters, were indispensable attendants at the Greek banquets. Plato makes Eryximachus in "the Symposium," say: "I move that the flute-girl who has just made her appearance, be told to go away and play to herself, or, if she likes, to the women who are within. Today let us have conversation instead" ("Symposium," 176). Again, Socrates says: "The talk about the poets seems to me like a commonplace entertainment to which a vulgar company have recourse; who, because they are not able to converse and amuse one another, while they are drinking, with the sound of their own voices and conversation, by reason of their stupidity, raise the price of flute-girls in the market, hiring for a great sum the voice of a flute instead of their own breath, to be the medium of intercourse among them" ("Protagoras," 347). Compare Isaiah 24:8; Ezekiel 26:13.


Compare Jeremiah 25:10; Matthew 24:41.

And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
Bridegroom - bride

Compare Jeremiah 25:10.

Great men (μεγιστᾶνες)

Rev., princes. See on Revelation 6:15.

By thy sorceries (ἐν τῇ φαρμακείᾳ σου)

See on Revelation 9:21. Rev., more literally, with thy sorcery.

Were deceived (ἐπλανήθησαν)

Or led astray. See on Mark 12:24.

And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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