The “number of the beast”, the “devil’s number”, the “numbers of the anti-Christ”. 666 is pretty infamous, but other than being a really repetitive number what makes it any different from 555 or 777? For the last 2000 years the numbers have instilled fear and foreboding into the religious and made for some pretty awesome horror movie hints.
Originally the number 666 is found in the Book of Revelations. In ancient times numbers were usually written as letters. This applied to Greek, Roman, and Hebrew texts so the number 6 referred to the letter Vav in Hebrew, Digamma in Greek and VI in Latin.
In Revelations 13 the discussion of the anti-christ as a false prophet and how to recognize him.
“This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666”
From this we can see that the number 666 is a riddle meant to help identify the “beast” and unlike the mark of the beast this number is somehow “his”. Strangely, this number differs across texts and sometimes is written as 616 – possibly an ancient typo?
The number 7 is frequently referred to in the bible as being god’s number while 6 is hinted to be the number of man. This implies that the anti-Christ will be human, and that while he will try to be god-like he will fall short, just like the number 6 falls short of 7.
If you read the line from revelations it is hinting to you that by “solving” the number of the 666 riddle you’ll be able to calculate the number of the beast which will help you identify him. Gematria is a method of using numbers to make letters, much like the ancients did. By combining the numbers and assigning them letters to make a total, mathematicians can create equations showing that 666 = a name. The problem with this is that with enough maths any name can work, and so far some of the suggestions have been Ceasar Nero, Ronald Wilson Reagan and various popes among other political figures.
Who is 666?
It makes sense, given the age of the text that Nero Caesar is more likely than Reagan. The Romans were pretty hated, and considering their killing of Jesus it’s understandable that Caeser would be considered “the anti-Christ”. If you translate 666 in Hebrew it spells Neron Kesar, an alternative spelling of Nero Caesar. This also works with the alternative 616 but spells it correctly.
Considering the political climate of the time if you straight out said “Nero is the anti-Christ” you were likely to get locked up or killed. By using the obscure number which could literally reference anything the author manages to say that Nero is the devil without actually saying it so that it could be easy to pretend it pointed elsewhere.
Being that the Bible is very hard to use as a reference and has no corroboration comparing it to known history of the time makes sense. We’re all guilty of having called someone the devil or thinking our boss is the “anti-Christ” so rather than searching for some vague biblical demon gematria gives a perfectly sensible meaning to the 666 riddle.
Was Nero the anti-Christ for real? Who knows, but then again who knows if anything in the bible is real either.
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