Fallen Babylon, Gustav Doré, 1866, woodcutt, Grande Bible de Tours
The second great vision after the outpouring of the seventh vial of wrath shows the fall of Babylon and its consequences. I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was overglown with his glory. And he cried mightily, with a strong voice: Fallen, fallen is Babylon, the great, and is become a habitation of devils… And I heard another voice from heaven, saying: Come out of her, my people, that you do not become partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues; for her sins have reached to heaven and God has considered her offenses. Reward her even as she rewarded, and double it to her, according to her works! In the cup that she has mixed, mix her double! How much she has glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much sorrow and torment give her. For she speaks in her heart: Here I sit as a queen, and am no widow, and shall see never sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day: death, and suffering, and famine, and she shall be burned with fire; for of strong force is the Lord and God, who has judged her.
Weeping and mourning over Babylon
And we see how all those who are affected by her fall react. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication with her and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, standing far off for the fear of her torment; and they will say: Alas, alas, you great city Babylon, you mighty city! For in one hour came your divine judgment…And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, for no man purchases their merchandise anymore…And every shipmaster, and every master of a coaster and all the company in ships and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood far off and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning…
Kings, merchants and sailors
Bock (p.300-303) points at the three groups affected by the fall of Babylon: kings, merchants and sailors. Kings should be leaders guiding their subjects to freedom, but in Babylon kingdom is no more than suppressing the freedom of others. For the merchants, all trading comes to a halt, because the fundamental requirement of trading, brotherhood, is lost and making money became a purpose in itself. And the sailors observe from a distance how Babylon disappears as well as the reason for their activities. They only had Babylon as their compass, and now emptiness remains. The voices of the groom and bride are no longer heard. No music sounds anymore. No candle will shine light. The connection with the spiritual world is gone. The great city of Babylon falls in the abyss of death and darkness.
Steiner (GA 236, p.153-166) has extensively discussed the fall of Babylon, as was described before. It represents the situation where desires and passions dominate the spiritual and moral values when decisions are made. The Babylonian corruption of morality is in his view a result of the inspirations of Ahriman.
The three angels that speak
Schult (p.288 and following) points at the reversal of the true image of man, represented by the cosmic Sophia, that is shown in the first great vision of the whore of Babylon. Mater has become Matter. The imagination of the whore on the beast evolves in the second great vision to the sounding word of three angels. Their announcements are the content of the second vision. The first vision addressed the solid physical forces, while the second addresses the world of streaming etheric forces.
The first angel, who announces that Babylon is fallen, is bringing light and has great power. According to Schult, this means that he belongs to the hierarchy of the Exusiai or Elohim.
The second voice, saying to the people to leave the falling city, also addresses the demons, that they will receive the judgement of God according to their own works. Schult deduces from the text that the voice is probably coming from the Son of God.
And the third angel, casting a great millstone into the sea, is called the mighty angel, which may, according to Schult, refer to Michael. And the one mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying: Thus, with such a sweep, shall Babylon, the great city, be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
Finally, Schult (p.295) characterizes the mourning kings, merchants and sailors as the spiritual forces of willing, feeling and thinking that cannot join in the upward movement and have to stay behind, because they became demonic in Babylon.