What does Revelation 18:12 mean?
ESV: cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble,
NIV: cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble;
NASB: cargo of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet; every kind of citron wood, every article of ivory, and every article made from very valuable wood, bronze, iron, and marble;
CSB: cargo of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet; all kinds of fragrant wood products; objects of ivory; objects of expensive wood, brass, iron, and marble;
NLT: She bought great quantities of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; things made of fragrant thyine wood, ivory goods, and objects made of expensive wood; and bronze, iron, and marble.
KJV: 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,
NKJV: merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble;
Verse Commentary:
This passage is describing the fall of an economic and political superpower in the end times. This verse begins a list of what the merchants sold to the residents of Babylon. The items mentioned here are the most prized commodities of the ancient world—making them a symbolic image of anything valuable and commercial. Rather than being a woodenly literal list, the point made here is to emphasize the affluent lifestyle of the residents of Babylon. Only the wealthy could afford such goods. Likely, the affluent people of Babylon flaunted their wealth by showing off and stockpiling treasures. They likely adorned themselves with jewelry; wore expensive, colorful robes; and used flashy, choice materials in the construction and furnishing of their houses.

As an example, in Old Testament times ivory was employed by kings. Solomon's throne was made of ivory that ships of Tarshish brought to him (1 Kings 10:22). First Kings 22:39 references King Ahab's ivory palace. Psalm 45:8 and Amos 3:15 mention ivory palaces and houses of ivory. Ivory was also used to adorn horses' harnesses. The merchants who mourn the loss of trade with Babylon must have brought their widely-varied and expensive cargo from places across the entire globe.

The list of expensive goods will continue in the following verse.
Verse Context:
Revelation 18:9–20 reports the reactions of kings, merchants, and seafarers to the fall of Babylon. While the fall of ''religious Babylon'' in chapter 17 was un-mourned, these men will passionately lament the demise of ''political Babylon.'' Ezekiel 26:15–21 records similar lamenting at the demise of Tyre. Realted passages such as Revelation chapter 16 described the bowl judgments directed at the beast and his kingdom. Jesus warned about the folly of building one's life on material things instead of on his Word (Matthew 6:19–24; 7:24–27). Paul and James did the same (1 Timothy 6:3–10, 17–19; James 5:1–6). Revelation 19:11–21 reveals the destructive end of the beast and his followers at the return of Jesus to the earth.
Chapter Summary:
A glorious angel announces the fall of Babylon, here used to name a dwelling place for demons and the source of corrupt commercialism. Another angel summons believers to get out of Babylon and avoid being caught up in the judgment for her sins. God is ready to punish Babylon for extensive wickedness. He promises to burn the city with fire. The kings of the earth mourn Babylon's demise, and they keep a safe distance from her as she burns. Merchants, too, weep because no one can purchase cargo from her and profit from selling her goods. Like the kings, the merchants try to put distance between themselves and Babylon for fear of sharing her destructive fate. Their mourning is intense. They throw dust on their heads, weep, mourn, and lament how quickly she fell from prominence and prosperity to a wasteful state. A mighty angel announces Babylon's doom and desolation. The city that once included renowned merchants, deceived the nations, and martyred believers, is now shattered into silence and desolation.
Chapter Context:
Revelation 18:1–8 contains a glorious angel's pronouncement of doom on Babylon. This Babylon here appears to be a literal physical city, whereas the Babylon described in chapter 17 is a corrupt religious system. The Babylon of chapter 17 was associated with a political system but was not the political power. The Babylon of chapter 18 is the center of a demonic political, commercial, and economic system. The fall of Babylon parallels what happened to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1–29). Religious Babylon falls in the middle of the tribulation to the delight of kings. Commercial Babylon falls at the end of the tribulation, and kings lament her fall.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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