(9) And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
It will take wisdom to figure this all out, according to the angel. This is similar to what is told to John in 13:18. Wisdom, being the application of knowledge, is essential to a proper understanding of these descriptions. No knowledge = No understanding of the vision. So, the Revelation of Jesus Christ was given in such a way that it required the churches to apply their knowledge to understand the figures. Therefore, it is so important to understand Revelation not based on what we know today, but on what the churches of the first century knew. We have an equal advantage with them because we can know the Old Testament text just as they knew it. However, we are at a disadvantage because we know not all the history which they were living in that generation. I am thankful to God that we have the preservation of history by both Jewish and Roman sources, but we are still at a disadvantage because they were living it.
“The seven heads are seven mountains.” The first detail that we are given about the heads of the beast is that they are a figure of seven literal mountains. That is, the headship of the beast, the power of the beast originates on seven mountains. The Greek word translated “mountains,” simply refers to some lifted place, and could refer to anything lifter higher than a plain. There are at least a couple of first century options for us. Jerusalem was built in a seven-mount region, but while the Jerusalem of the first century could certain be considered a wild beast, after considering this option for a few months, I found it not possible to consistently identify the beast as Jerusalem (or the Jewish zealots and rebel-led Israel). Rome however, is a fitting choice, which many agree upon (though some choose a Roman beast for all the wrong reasons). Rome was indeed built on seven hills, and we will see as we proceed, that Romans fit all other descriptions.
“On which the woman sitteth.”
Many who have already made up their minds on a Roman beast will assume that the woman is the city of Rome, but this is very inconsistent in the context. The very picture in verse one should manifest the fact that the beast hates this woman sitting on him! He wants rid of her. His aim is to destroy her, and that is exactly what the beast will accomplish (17:16). As we have established earlier in this chapter, the woman is the city of Jerusalem, who fits not only the description, but the judgment dealt with in this chapter and the next. She is seen sitting on the beast, the power source of the beast is on the seven mountains of the capitol. Jerusalem is not the capitol, Jerusalem is of the empire and is controlled by Rome. Her insubordination has greatly burdened the whole empire and has enraged the head of Rome.
Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version (Public Domain).