The Woman

     Have you ever wondered about the “WOMAN” of Revelation chapter 17?  She represents a religious (worldwide) system that had its beginnings in ancient Babylon and will have its final headquarters in Rome during the Tribulation period.  God will judge the religious system and destroy it during the Tribulation.

     H. A. Ironside, a past pastor of Moody Memorial Church, in his commentary of the Book of Revelation, written in 1920, gives us the following insights:

     “The wife of Nimroud-bar-Cush was the infamous Semiramis the First.  She is reputed to have been the foundress of the Babylonian mysteries and the first high-priestess of idolatry.  Thus, Babylon became the fountainhead mystery-religion that was originated there and spread in various forms throughout the whole earth; it is with us today.

     Building on the primeval promise of the woman's Seed who was to come, Semiramis bore a son whom she declared was miraculously conceived!  And when she presented him to the people, he was hailed as the promised deliverer.  This was Tammuz, whose worship Ezekiel protested against in the days of the captivity.  Thus was introduced the mystery of the mother and the child, a form of idolatry that is older than any other known to man.  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 so like the truth of God that they would not know the true Seed of the woman when He (Jesus Christ) came in the fullness of time.

     From Babylon this mystery-religion spread to all the surrounding nations.  Everywhere the symbols were the same, and everywhere the cult of the mother and the child became the popular system; their worship was celebrated with the most disgusting and immoral practices.  The image of the queen of heaven with the babe in her arms was seen everywhere, though the names might differ as languages differed.  It became the mystery-religion of Phoenicia, and by the Phoenicians was carried to the end of the earth.  Ashtoreth and Tammuz, the mother and child of these hardy adventurers, became Isis and Horus in Egypt; Aphrodite and Eros in Greece; Venus and Cupid in Italy; and bore many other names in more distant places.  Within 1,000 years Babylonianism had become the religion of the world, which had rejected the Divine revelation.  In 316 AD, it became Mary and Jesus.

     Linked with the central mystery were countless lesser mysteries, the hidden meaning of which was known only to the initiates, but the outward forms were practiced by all the people.  Among these were the doctrines of purgatorial purification after death; salvation by countless sacraments, such as priestly absolution; sprinkling with holy water; the offering of round cakes to the queen of heaven as mentioned in the book of Jeremiah; dedication of virgins to the gods, which was literally sanctified prostitution; weeping for Tammuz for a period of 40 days, prior to the great festival of Istar, who was said to have received her son back from the dead; for it was taught that Tammuz was slain by a wild boar and afterwards brought back to life.  To him the egg was sacred, as depicting the mystery of his resurrection even as the evergreen was his chosen symbol and was set up in honor of his birth at the winter solstice, when a boar's head was eaten in memory of his conflict and a yule-log burned with many mysterious observances.  The sign of the cross was sacred to Tammuz, as symbolizing the life-giving principle and as the first letter of his name.  It is represented upon vast numbers of the most ancient altars and temples, and did not, as many have supposed, originate with Christianity.

     From this mystery-religion, the patriarch Abraham was separated by the divine call; and with this same evil cult, the nation that sprang from him had constant conflict, until under Jezebel, a Phoenician princess, it was grafted onto what was left of the religion of Israel in the northern kingdom in the day of Ahab, and was the cause of their captivity at the last.  Judah was polluted by it, for Baal-worship was but the canaanitish form of the Babylonian mysteries, and only by being sent into captivity to Babylon itself did Judah become cured of her fondness for idolatry.  Baal was the Sun-god, the life-giving one, identical with Tammuz.

     When Christ came into this world the mystery of iniquity was holding sway everywhere, save where the truth of God as revealed in the Old Testament was known.  Thus, when the early Christians set out upon the great task of carrying the gospel to the end of the earth, they found themselves everywhere confronted by this system in one form or another; for though Babylon as a city had long been but a memory, her mysteries had not died with her. When the city and temples were destroyed, the high-priest fled with a company of initiates and their sacred vessels and images to Pergamos, where the symbol of the serpent was set up as the emblem of the hidden wisdom.  From there, they afterwards crossed the sea and immigrated to Italy, where they settled in the Etruscan plain.  There the ancient cult was propagated under the name of the Etruscan Mysteries, and eventually Rome became the headquarters of Babylonianism.  The chief priests wore miters shaped like the head of a fish, in honor of Dagon, the fish-god, the lord of life-another form of the Tammuz mystery, as developed among Israel's old enemies, the Philistines.  The chief priest when established in Rome took the title Pontifex Maximus, and this title was held henceforth by all the Roman emperors down to Constantine the Great, who was at one and the same time, head of the church and high priest of the heathen!  The title was afterwards conferred upon the bishops of Rome, and is borne by the pope today, who is thus declared to be, not the successor of the fisherman-apostle Peter, but the direct successor of the high priest of Babylonian mysteries, and the servant of the fish-god Dagon, for whom he wears, like his idolatrous predecessors, the fisherman's ring.”

     For further study a book called Two Babylons by Hislop is recommended.  We are in the latter days, so we expect rapid developments in the “Babylonian Mystery” church system.  Keep your eyes open!