The Mystery of Babylon
The flood tide of religious and patriotic zeal will doubtless carry the Jew back to the land of his history and hopes. He will go back, but will he remain there? The question is answered by the Vision of the Ephah (Zech.5:5-11).
The prophet beholds an ephah going forth, and is told: "This is their resemblance through all the earth." The word "eye" or "aspect" here translated "resemblance" was anciently read by some as "perversity." The two words are so nearly identical in the Hebrew that they are easily mistaken for one another. As "perversity" seems to have been the reading when the Greek and Syriac versions were translated, it is probably the correct one. It involves the idea of resemblance and gives a more vigorous and satisfactory sense, so we, too, will adopt it. They have perverted or changed Yahweh's ways, and the symbol of this perversion is a market measure. They were to be tillers and toilers in the land; they have become merchants and money lenders throughout the earth.
Almost all nations have some ensign which is supposed to give concrete expression to the national ideals. Britain has the lion, Germany has the eagle. These are but human attempts to express their pride. Zionism has chosen the double star of David to express its aspirations. But to the mind in touch with God, the true emblem of the sons of Jacob is the bushel measure.
Now an ephah was a dry measure containing about three pints over three English pecks. This may well symbolize the world of commerce, for it was the most common means of exchange. But our interest centers, not in the ephah itself, but in a woman who sits in its midst. She is forcibly detained in it by a round lead cover, which effectually seals its mouth. This is in the land of Israel. Then two other women come out and transport it to the land of Shinar, there to be set on its own base and established.
Need we even mention the fact that the woman hid in the ephah is that same woman which John sees enthroned in Babylon, the great commercial metropolis?
Faithful Israel is not a trader. The fruits of the land are sufficient and grateful sustenance to those who receive it from Yahweh's hand. What need to barter His gifts for the product of foreign climes? So long as He causes the fig, the olive, and the vine to flourish they are content with His bounty.
Unfaithful Israel is not so. They look to the nations, not to Yahweh, for their wealth. They cannot be established in the land. Their base must be in the center of the world's trade where they can take their toll of all its traffic.
The woman in the ephah is apostate Israel. She will be completely enveloped and imprisoned within her inordinate desire to get gain. This is her horizon; this her life. The visions of her prophets who have foretold blessings unbounded from the hand of Yahweh can find no place in her circumscribed circle. She does not need Yahweh and His blessings! She will bring her blessings from afar. She will establish herself in regal style and put the whole world under tribute. By means of capital, she will conquer all nations. Kings will cringe before her, for she alone is able to buy their bonds. Nations will slave for her, for they must pay the interest. The world will be hers, in spite of Yahweh's frown.
Israel may offer contentment and happiness, but the greed of gold will give her no repose. Looking about she finds in Nebuchadnezzar's ancient capital, the center of all world dominion, the proper and appropriate scene for this new despotism--the autocracy of capital. Money rules the world far more really than emperors or kings or the public. The tenfold confederacy, which seems certain to arise out of the present world crisis, will arrogate to itself all political power, but will rule a bankrupt world. Above them will be a woman--faithless, apostate Israel--and she will have a kingdom over the kings of the earth.
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