723. And I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet beast, full of names of blasphemy, signifies that religious persuasion founded upon the Word profaned by them. By "the woman" is signified the Roman Catholic or Babylonian religious persuasion, for it follows, "Upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great, mother of harlots and abominations of the earth." That by "a woman" is signified the church from the affection of truth (see n. 434), here the Roman Catholic religious persuasion, which is in an opposite affection. By "the scarlet beast" is signified the Word, as will be seen presently; and by "full of names of blasphemy," is signified that it was totally profaned; for by "blasphemy" is signified the denial of the Lord's Divine in His Human, and the adulteration of the Word (n. 571, 582, 692, 715), thus profanation. For he who does not acknowledge the Lord's Divine in His Human, and falsifies the Word, though not intentionally, indeed profanes, but lightly; they who ascribe to themselves all the power of the Lord's Divine Human, and therefore deny it, and they who apply all things of the Word to acquiring to themselves dominion over the holy things of the church and heaven, and for that reason adulterate the Word, these profane grievously. From these things it may appear, that by "I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet beast, full of names of blasphemy," is signified that religious persuasion founded upon the Word profaned by them. By "scarlet" is signified the truth of the Word from a celestial origin.
 That by "the scarlet beast" is signified the Word as to celestial Divine truth, appears at first thought remote and strange, yea, absurd, because it is called "a beast"; but that by "a beast," in the spiritual sense, is signified natural affection, and that the expression is thus applied to the Word, to the church, and to man, may be seen above (n. 239, 405, 567). That "the four animals," one of which was a lion, another a calf, and the fourth an eagle, signify the Word, and are also called "beasts" in Ezekiel (n. 239, 275, 286, 672). That "a horse," which is also a beast, signifies the understanding of the Word (n. 298). That "a lamb" signifies the Lord, "a sheep" the man of the church, and "a flock" the church itself, is known. These are quoted, lest anyone should wonder that "the scarlet beast" signifies the Word. And because the Roman Catholic religious persuasion rests its strength and dignity upon the Word, therefore that woman appeared "sitting upon a scarlet beast," as she had before appeared "upon many waters" (verse 1), by which are signified the truths of the Word adulterated and profaned, as above (n. 719). That by that "beast" is signified the Word, appears manifestly from the things said of it in the following passages of this chapter, as:
The beast that thou sawest, was, and is not; and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder on seeing the beast that was, and is not, and yet is (Rev. 17:8).
The beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth king, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition (Rev. 17:11).
The ten horns are ten kings, who shall give their power and authority to the beast (Rev.17:12-13).
God hath given it in their hearts to give their kingdom to the beast (Rev. 17:17).
Such things can only be said of the Word.