Revealing Revelation – The Seven Heads of the Beast


With the introduction of the angel sent to help John decipher the bizarre image of the inter-connected Harlot and beast, comes a shift from the focus of the description being about the harlot to an identification of the Beast. We here will find out both who or what the beast represents and the “timing” of the Beast’s existence in relation to the writing of the book of Revelation.

Rev. 17:7-11 But the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. [8] The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.[11] This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; [10] they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. [11] As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction.

As we saw in the previous post it is definitely best to consider the harlot as representing Israel, Jerusalem and the religious leaders of the Jews. She is seen “sitting” on the Beast in the wilderness and receives her power and is dependent upon the beast. This is not a matter of location as it is a matter of dependence and reliance.

So now this angel appears and to John to help him (and us) understand the mystery of the Harlot and the beast. He begins with the Beast. The first thing we learn is that this is the same seven headed beast that appeared in chapter 13 and the same one who was to make war with the saints.

The angel than explains that the seven heads has a dual representation. The first is that the seven heads represent seven mountains or hills upon which the woman is sitting. remember that the woman is “sitting” on the beast and so the beast is represented by it’s placement on seven hills, not the woman. She is seated on the beast, who is, in turn, placed amongst the seven hills.

History and the poets of the day readily support the idea that Rome was the famous city set amongst the seven hills. Some have attempted to make Jerusalem be surrounded by seven hills but are at a great disadvantage here as limited support can be provided. But again, when one looks at the passage and notes that we are told originally that the woman (harlot) is seated on the Beast, it is the beast that is found amongst the seven hills and her covenantal dependence place her upon the beast.And re,member, the heads are part of the beast, not part of the woman and therefor they would represent the placement or location of the beast.

So, the first point has to do with location. Since the seven heads represents the seven hills upon which Rome resides there is no difficulty as finding the location of the beast as the city of Rome, or more precise, the city represents the entire nation as the national capital.

To confirm even further the identity of the beast we are also told the actual timing of the events and the writing of the book. We are told the seven heads of the beast (corporately Rome) are the seven kings of the nation of Rome. These individual heads are “beasts” as well since they come from the corporate and larger beast (the nation).

So, we have a dual representation here as the term “beast” represents both the nation and the individual kings. The greatest “beast” of them all would be the one mentioned in Revelation 13 who also matches the number 666 and was alive at the time of the writing of the book.

We are told that the seven heads not only represent the seven kings, but that of those seven kings five have already passed away (fallen), and that one currently was reigning. We are then told the seventh would reign but for a short while. So, a simple history lesson in monarchical succession should prove helpful. But for a more detailed exposition on the Beast of Revelation the reader may want to refer to the following previous posts.

For quick review of the above post let’s consider this basic information.

  • The five fallen kings would be the first five kings or emperors of Rome. They include Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius.
  • Nero is the sixth emperor of Rome and the last in the line of Julius
  • Galba is the seventh and reigns for roughly six months.

This makes Nero not only the best option, but really the only one. The comment regarding the eighth may best be considered Vespasian for Otho and Vitellus reigns were quite short as they took place during the Roman Civil War and many believed they were never given authority from the Senate as emperor and gained the throne through murder and corrupt means.

Vespasian, though, ended the civil unrest and brought the throne back into control of the land. he was also responsible for the order to attack and destroy Jerusalem (the Harlot). And, as we will see, this command is very important in the following passages.


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