In chapter 17 one of the 7 angels says “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters (1). The next 2 chapters will focus on this woman.
The harlot is riding on a scarlet beast. The beast has 7 heads and 10 horns. The beast from the sea in chapter 13 had 7 heads and 10 horns also.
There are several direct statements which might help us make identification of the great harlot.
For example, the last verse of the chapter says “the woman is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth”. At the time the book was written, that would be Rome.
Verse 9 says “The seven heads are 7 mountains on which the woman sits” which also points to Rome, classically known as “the city on seven hills”.
Also, the woman was “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus”. This would suggest a perverse pleasure obtained by putting Christians to death. Again, that was Rome!
Verses 10 – 17 seems to be describing the political situations of the days….the kings, alliances that are made with other kingdoms, then kingdoms turning against Rome. What does it sound like to you is happening here?
The general idea is summed up in verse 1, Revelation 17:1 “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.
Additional thought: Interestingly 4 Old Testament cities were described as Harlots prior to their destruction (Nineveh, Tyre, Babylon, and Jerusalem). Could God be saying the same thing about Rome?