Jerusalem allegedly has “Seven Hills”

Book of Revelation Theme.

The Bride and the Reject

 

Part Three:

Jerusalem allegedly has “Seven Hills”

 

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

 

 

 

“If this passage of Enoch bears such close resemblance to the Apocalypse, how is it that an apparent reference to Jerusalem sitting on “seven mountains” is ignored?

Is this not easily as significant as the typically cited idiom for Rome?”

 

https://bible.org/seriespage/chapter-4-evidence-jerusalem-harlot

 

 

Hundreds of famous cities throughout the world are said to have been built upon seven hills.

A scan through the Internet will reveal that. It is amazing what can be done with numbers.

 

One intriguing modern case is Washington DC, prompting this question:

https://socioecohistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/is-washington-dc-the-city-of-7-hills-the-endtimes-babylon-city/

 

“Is Washington DC the City of 7 Hills, the Endtimes Babylon City?”

 

There then follows this list of seven:

 

It is well known that the city of Rome was built on seven hills or mountains, but did you know that Washington DC was also has seven hills? Yes, Washington D.C. really does have seven hills:


1. Capitol Hill

  1. Meridian Hill
  2. Floral Hills
  3. Forest Hills
  4. Hillbrook
  5. Hillcrest
  6. Knox Hill


In biblical prophecy, at the end of which the city of seven hills will be destroyed. Will this city be Rome or Washington?

[End of quote]

 

Well, according to this present series, “this city” will be neither “Rome or Washington”.

For, as we read in Part Two, Dr. E. L. Martin ’s account of the “Seven Hills” of Apocalypse:

https://www.academia.edu/33235779/Book_of_Revelation_Theme._The_Bride_and_the_Reject._Part_Two_The_Seven_Hills_cannot_pertain_to_Rome

these were situated in ancient Jerusalem.

And here is another account expressing the same viewpoint:

https://bible.org/seriespage/chapter-4-evidence-jerusalem-harlot

{From the series: The Identification Of Babylon The Harlot In The Book Of Revelation}

Chapter 4: The Evidence For Jerusalem As The Harlot

The City on Seven Hills

 

Advocates of the Rome view have regularly argued that strong, if not conclusive support for their interpretation can be found in Rev 17:9 which describes the “seven hills/mountains” (eJpta o[rh) on which the woman sits. It is beyond dispute that Rome was very commonly called the “city on seven hills” because of its topography.21 A number of references to this in ancient literature could be cited, including, for example, Virgil,22 Horace,23 and Cicero.24 Understandably then, many commentators see this verse as a clear indicator that John is speaking of Rome and doing so in the common language of the day.25 Certainly, it cannot be denied that this is a very significant argument for the Rome view.

However, this line of reasoning is not without its problems, and I believe there may be a more suitable understanding of this verse, one that seems to have been largely overlooked by most writers.

 

One hindrance to an assured link here is the question of how widespread this terminology for Rome really was. Few actually raise this issue, but the truth is that the evidence to which we have access only places this “seven hills” language in the Western Mediterranean regions. As far as whether this usage was familiar in the East, we simply do not know. There just is not any record to indicate this for us.26 It may be hasty therefore to automatically presume that this Roman reference would be the shared understanding in Asia Minor.

 

It could be added, as Beale observes, that every other occurrence of o[ra in Revelation refers to a mountain, not a “hill,” and this may caution us further against viewing 17:9 as a reference to the “hills” of Rome.27 Certainly, the term can go either way lexically, but within the context of this book, a departure from the “mountain” image evoked elsewhere would be unexpected, and should probably be avoided in our translation if possible. A more likely connection is the association of mountains with the symbolism of power and kings/kingdoms that is to be found in the Old Testament and other Jewish works.28 “Seven,” of course, is often symbolic of completion or perfection, and thus it may be that the seven mountains are best understood from a Jewish mindset as a symbol of completeness of authority, or fullness of royal power.29 Still, in harmony with this imagery there is background material to be considered here that may very well give us insight into which royal power we are dealing with.

 

As a number of scholars have recognized, the pseudepigraphal book of 1 Enoch bears numerous striking affinities with the Apocalypse of John; several are even persuaded of literary dependence of portions of the Apocalypse upon Enoch.30 Others are more cautious; Bauckham for instance feels we may not have enough evidence to conclusively identify literary dependence on such a work, though the parallels that must be acknowledged at least give clear testimony to traditional imagery that was already prevalent in Jewish culture prior to Revelation.31

 

The significance of 1 Enoch for our study is that certain passages paint images that are intriguingly similar to Rev 17:9. In 1 Enoch 24–25,32 the writer describes his journey to a certain place on earth where he encounters a great mountain. This great mountain, as the angel Michael explains, is the location of “the throne of God … on which the Holy and Great Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit when he descends to visit the earth with goodness.”33 Furthermore, this place is associated with God’s end-time city-paradise where the elect will find the “fragrant tree” (v. 4) that will give them “fruit for life” (v. 5) in the eschaton, and this tree will be planted “upon the holy place” (v. 5). Clearly, in some sense Jerusalem (albeit in its eschatologically idealized form), or at least the future mountain-throne of Yahweh, is the site being painted with such gloriously vivid language. This passage is in fact regularly cited by commentators for background imagery underlying John’s depiction of the New Jerusalem with its great mountain, throne, and tree of life in Rev 21–22.34

 

What is not mentioned in these discussions is that the passage also says this great mountain is seated among “seven dignified mountains” (24:2). These “seven mountains” (v. 3) are elaborately described as to their appearance and formation in 24:2–3, and the central, taller mountain of the seven is then revealed as the place of God’s earthly rule (25:3–6).35

 

In surveying the major commentaries, I have been surprised to find no mention of this passage in connection with Rev 17:9, though it is repeatedly cited as background for the New Jerusalem.36 If this passage of Enoch bears such close resemblance to the Apocalypse, how is it that an apparent reference to Jerusalem sitting on “seven mountains” is ignored? Is this not easily as significant as the typically cited idiom for Rome? Interestingly, Beale references 4 Ezra for more imagery of the restored Jerusalem, and even notes that work’s amplification of “great mountain” imagery to “seven great mountains,”37 yet he makes no connection with the “seven mountains” of Revelation.38 This seems an unfortunate oversight. Nonetheless, this gives a second example in the apocalyptic tradition for portraying the place of God’s future earthly rule (no doubt the idealized Jerusalem) as located among seven mountains.39

 

Based on this evidence, I do not find the “city on seven hills” argument for Rome to be as persuasive as I once did. It would seem that a very compelling case can be made that the stream of Jewish apocalyptic tradition energizing Revelation more naturally evokes the image of Jerusalem as the city seated on seven mountains in 17:9 than Rome. The view that Babylon is a cipher for Jerusalem in the Apocalypse cannot then be dismissed on the basis of this common objection; not only can it be defended that the evidence of 17:9 can fit Jerusalem, there are strong reasons to believe that it in fact does most properly fit Jerusalem.40

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