The third group of people who express their sad feelings at the loss of Babylon are the seamen. They supplied Babylon with the rich and beautiful things that the traders sold. For the seamen, as for the traders, Babylon was therefore the source of great profits.
The seamen are themselves in 4 separate groups. First, John mentions the captains, who are in charge of the boats. Then there are those who travel by sea. That probably includes those traders who travelled with their valuable objects. Next, there are the ordinary sailors, who for example rowed the boats. Finally there are other men, perhaps of the lowest rank, who work at sea.
Their rank in society separates these groups, but they all join together to express their shock. This passage is like Ezekiel 27:25-34, which describes the defeat of the city called Tyre. Tyre was the city that controlled much of the trade on the Mediterranean sea. Its defeat, therefore, was a terrible loss for the seamen. They had established their lives on the need for that great city to trade by sea. When its enemies destroyed it, the seamen’s ships, businesses, skills and work suddenly lost all value. They could only return to the land and try to find work as unskilled workmen.
So many of this world’s systems - especially its financial and trading systems - depend on people’s selfish behaviour. However, that kind of behaviour is ending, and the final defeat of Babylon is a word-picture of that. When Christ rules, the world’s systems cannot depend on greedy and selfish behaviour. His rule will change the world completely.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.