4/27/10 This is a difficult text that lends itself to many points of view. We know that the beast here is the same as the Euphrates and many waters, which are the resources of Babylon, the nations of the earth. This beast was, is not, and is to come. In the context of the nations of the earth, they were united throughout history for the most part, but now are not, then later will be again. Then the inhabitants of the earth, the wicked, will be amazed at this worldwide unity.
This beast has seven heads and ten horns. The heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits. Heads are kingdoms, so it would follow that the unified world has been under the control of seven kingdoms throughout history. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and religious Rome would fit that bill. The woman’s background is all these kingdoms, for she arose out of the last one, just as each of the them arose out of of the one before it.
Another option is that the number seven is symbolic and there’s not really any need to identify the powers specifically.
Another option is that the four powers of Daniel’s vision are in view, a fifth is religious Rome when it ruled during the Middle Ages, the sixth would be the “slaughtered to death” time of religious Rome during the time of the U.S., and the seventh would be revived religious Rome.