This is a difficult passage. Some people have tried to work out who these kings are; but God has not shown it to us.
The 7 hills or mountains might seem easier to understand. Ancient Rome stood on 7 hills, and Rome ruled a large part of the world at the time of John. Clearly, therefore, Rome is part of the meaning of the woman in this chapter (see verse 18). However, we cannot be sure that this is really the meaning of the 7 hills in verse 9. A hill or mountain can be a word-picture for power and strength (compare Isaiah 2:2), so these 7 mountains might mean 7 governments.
We do not know the names of these 7 kings. However, we can see that there is a series of them. Daniel 2:31-45 describes a series of great nations that would rule the world. Revelation 17:10 says that 5 of the kings are past; therefore, God has already carried out his judgement against them. One king rules now, and one is future. That last one might have the same meaning as the head that suffers injury in Revelation 13:3. It recovers, and that gives the antichrist (Christís great enemy) power over the whole world. The 7th king only rules for a short time. Revelation 17:11 says that the antichrist rules after that 7th king. So although the antichrist will not be one of the 7 kings, he will receive their power and authority.
Then in Revelation 17:12, we have 10 kings. The 7 kings were a series of rulers, who ruled after each other. However, the 10 kings are completely different. They live and rule at the same time as the antichrist. They all accept the antichrist as their leader; they all accept his authority over them. They support his rule, and they support him in his war against Christ (17:14). They rule only briefly before Christ defeats them all. ĎOne hourí in Revelation 17:12 must mean a very short time.
Both the dragon (which meant the devil - Revelation 12:3) and the beast (the antichrist - Revelation 13:1) appeared with these 7 heads and 10 horns (bony points on the head). So clearly all these kings are extremely important in their plan to fight against Christ.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.