I have always been interested in things ancient - history, monuments, architecture, myths & legends, writings, and other such. The stories and myths (as some would have it) of differing religions have been of special interest.
Having offered such, this article is on "The Mark of The Beast", or the number "666", as found in the Christian New Testament's last book, "The Book of Revelation".
I am willing to offer a wager that many have never actually read "Revelation" - start to finish. Whether that is a valid assumption or not, it is really beside the point; even if one has never read that portion of The New Testament or any part for that matter, the following may be found to be interesting.
Aspects of "Revelation" are to be found throughout our culture. For example, here is a list of movies dealing, in one way or another, with that found in "Revelation".
In years gone by, the backfield of the Notre Dame football team, under Knute Rockne, was called the "Four Horsemen". This is a direct reference to the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse".
Now, any time one starts to deal with numbers, almost anything can be "derived" - if one works hard enough. This is known colloquially as "Figures lie and liars figure".
As an example of this last point, take your standard Roulette Wheel.
Now, If you desired to know the sum of all sequential numbers starting with 1 all the way to "n" (i.e., 36 in this case), the below formula saves a bunch of adding - That is, adding all the numbers from 1 through 36 together:
So, 36 (i.e., "n") times 37 (i.e., "n" +1) divided by 2 = 666. Does this mean that the roulette wheel is a "Mark of the Beast", a sign of the devil, or a sign of the AntiChrist? Of course not; it's a coincidence. The actual derivation of the number 666 found in "Revelation" is a tad bit more than coincidence.
The number 666 has often been associated with the AntiChrist. Apparently, this is an error. The term "Anti-Christ" appears nowhere in "Revelation". It is found only in the Gospel of John: 1 John 2:18, , 1 John 2:22, and 2 John 7.
In the context of John's Gospel, the term AntiChrist, to some researchers, seems to refer to one who would replace Jesus and NOT one who would operate against Him in real time.
The name of the author of "Revelation" has been attributed to "John of Patmos". This is most likely NOT the John of "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and ____" fame. John of Patmos was a Hebrew Christian and wrote almost exclusively in Greek. However, historians have proffered that he "thought" in ancient Hebrew. Therefore, every now and then, he would inscribe into his Greek writing some Hebrew words.
Stick With Me Here!
Before describing the derivation of "666", let's look at what Revelation actually says on the "Mark of the Beast" (or, more accurately "The Number of the Beast"):
It should be noted that in the original text, the number "666" was written out as "Six Hundred Sixty-Six". This makes a big difference as many, if not most, historians agree that what was written, in fact, was not a number but a name.
It is also generally agreed that this "name" was written in Hebrew - inserted in the middle of Greek text. Further, the "name" specified here was the name of Emperor Nero - Nero Caesar.
Here is how the "666" comes into being:
The below chart shows Hebrew letters and numbers. In ancient Hebrew (and Greek) the language had no numbers, per se. Used instead were letters as substitutes for numbers.
The Greek name for Emperor Nero was "NRON CAESAR". Of course, in Hebrew words are written Right-to-Left , backwards from English. So, In Hebrew, the translation from the Greek becomes (Anglicized): raseaC norN.
Now, translating those letters into numbers and adding them together you get:
Now, it would be easy to attribute the above "number twisting" to the same as with the roulette wheel. However, most historians feel that the above represents the actual meaning and translation. This view is extremely rational as, in the Revelation texts cited above, each calls for a "counting" or "calculating" to be done.
As an alternate for the "666" number, it has been offered that the actual number is "616". This occurred in the Anglicization of "Nron", it didn't match the name "Nero". So, someone removed the second "n" in "Nron". As the value of "n" in Hebrew = 50, 666 - 50= 616. This possibility has been all but fully discredited.
OK! But why would John of Patmos embed a "coded message" in his writings? Back in that age and time offering that the Emperor was "The Beast" would not be in John's best interest - health wise. Not that much different than in some countries today.
Later, I learned that the concept of such a place was buried in ancient Hebrew tradition. For more on both names for this place, click HERE and click HERE.
The "Well of Souls" has this context: This is the place (i.e., The Well of Souls/The Guf) which holds all the souls issued to mankind. When this well is out of souls, then the "Messiah" will present Himself, Armageddon will ensue, followed by the end of the world.
In the above, 2nd link is mentioned "The Tree of Life" that produces souls. This "Tree of Life", by ancient Hebrew tradition, was the symbol for the goddess, Asherah. Click HERE for more on this ancient tradition.