Revelation 13:18
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
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(18) Here is wisdom . . .—Translate, Hither is wisdom. This most difficult verse is introduced by this word of preface. Wisdom—indeed, the highest wisdom—is needed for those who would understand it. Two or three points ought to be noticed. (1) The verse surely implies that the understanding of this name and number is attainable; it warns us that wisdom and understanding are needed, but it as certainly leads us to believe that to wisdom and understanding a solution of the problem will be granted. (2) There is a variation in the MSS. respecting the number. Some MSS. read six hundred and sixteen; but the probability is in favour of the reading six hundred and sixty-six. In an excursus (Excursus B) will be found a short account of the various interpretations which have been given. (3) The clause “It is the number of a man,” has been rendered “For number is of man.” The number, then, is the combination of three sixes; there is a wisdom and understanding which may grasp its import, and that import is to be guided by the principle that it is the number of a man, or that number is of man—is, that is to say, a method of computation which is used by man, and used by God in order to symbolise something made thus more intelligible to man. Is the wisdom which is to solve this, then, the mere cleverness which can guess an acrostic or an enigma? or is it rather that the true heavenly wisdom, which is moral rather than intellectual, is needed to unite itself with understanding to solve the problem? Surely the dignity of the Apocalypse is sacrificed when we search for its meaning like children playing with conundrums rather than like men being guided by its principles. There is a wisdom which brings its sevenfold beam of heavenly light to the children of men—a wisdom pure, peaceable, gentle, full of mercy, without partiality, without hypocrisy—and when this wisdom rests on men in the fulness of its seven-fold perfection they may read the number of the beast, and see that, with all its vaunted strength, it is but weak; with all its vaunted perfection, it is imperfect; that though it vaunts itself as rich, increased in goods and needing nothing, it still lacks that “one needful thing”—faith in God, or the love by which faith works. Without this it will never attain even the appearance of that perfect heavenly number symbolised by seven; it may multiply itself in earthly strength—the power of worldliness into the power of worldly wisdom, and this again by the power of a hundred-fold satanic subtlety—but it will remain still short of the tokens of the kingdom of God; and the number when read will be, however godlike it looks, but the number of a man after all.

I am disposed, therefore, to interpret this “six hundred and sixty-six” as a symbolical number, expressing all that it is possible for human wisdom, and human power, when directed by an evil spirit, to achieve, and indicating a state of marvellous earthly perfection, when the beast-power has reached its highest development, when culture, civilisation, art, song, science and reason have combined to produce an age so nearly resembling perfection—an age of gold, if not a golden age—that men will begin to say that faith in God is an impertinence, and the hope of a future life a libel upon the happiness of the present. Then will the world-power have reached the zenith of his influence; then will only a wisdom descended from above be able to detect the infinite difference between a world with faith and a world without faith, and the great gulf which the want of a little heaven-born love can fix between an age and an age.

At the same time, I feel bound to place here, as well as in the Excursus, two other views—one because it has recently been advanced with conspicuous ability; the other because it is perhaps the most generally adopted, as it is certainly the most ancient, view. Both these interpretations are based upon the theory that the letters of the name, when added together, according to their numerical value, will make up six hundred and sixty-six. The first of these alluded to finds the word in Nero Cæsar. The second, and more ancient, finds it in Lateinos: this last was mentioned by Irenæus. It will be seen that both these solutions are at one in making the number point to the great Roman Power; and this was the great embodiment of the terrible spirit of self-sufficiency, tyranny, and utter godless worldliness with which St. John was familiar. These interpretations are interpretations in example, and as such probably true; but they are only types, as it seems to me, of that fuller and deeper view which takes the number as symbolical of that power which, whether directed by Nero, or inspired by Emperor or Pope, or false teacher, or military tyrant, has dazzled mankind by a fictitious glory, a fictitious civilisation, and a fictitious religion, or deceived them by holding out the promise of splendour and happiness without the knowledge and obedience of God, without law, without faith, and therefore without true joy. (Comp. Note of the “Three Frogs,” Revelation 16:13-14.)

Revelation 13:18. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast — In saying, Here is wisdom, the apostle shows that it is not a vain and ridiculous attempt to search into this mystery, but, on the contrary, that it is recommended to us on divine authority. For it is the number of a man — It is a method of numbering practised among men, as the measure of a man (Revelation 21:17) is such a measure as men commonly use. It was a practice among the ancients to denote names by numbers; of which many instances might be given, if it were necessary to prove it. It has likewise been the usual method in all God’s dispensations, for the Holy Spirit to accommodate his expressions to the customs, fashions, and manners of the several ages. Since then this art and mystery of numbers was so much used among the ancients, it is less wonderful that the beast also should have his number; and there was this additional reason for this obscure manner of characterizing him in the time of St. John, that no other manner would have been safe. Several names possibly might be cited, which contain this number; but it is evident that it must be some Greek or Hebrew name, and with the name also the other qualities and properties of the beast must all agree. The name alone will not constitute an agreement; all other particulars must be perfectly applicable, and the name also must comprehend the precise number of six hundred threescore and six. No name appears more proper and suitable than that famous one mentioned by Irenæus, who lived not long after St. John’s time, and was the disciple of Polycarp, the disciple of St. John. He saith, that “the name Lateinos contains the number of six hundred and sixty-six; and it is very likely, because the last kingdom is so called, for they are Latins who now reign: but in this we will not glory:” that is, as it becomes a modest and pious man in a point of such difficulty, he will not be too confident of his explication. Lateinos with ei is the true orthography, as the Greeks wrote the long i of the Latins, and as the Latins themselves wrote in former times. No objection therefore can be drawn from the spelling of the name, and the thing agrees to admiration. For after the division of the empire, the Greeks and other orientalists called the people of the western church, or Church of Rome, Latins: and they Latinize in every thing. Mass, prayers, hymns, litanies, canons, decretals, bulls, are conceived in Latin. The papal councils speak in Latin. Women themselves pray in Latin. Nor is the Scripture read in any other language under Popery than Latin. Wherefore the council of Trent commanded the vulgar Latin to be the only authentic version. Nor do their doctors doubt to prefer it to the Hebrew and Greek text itself, which was written by the prophets and apostles. In short, all things are Latin; the pope having communicated his language to the people under his dominion, as the mark and character of his empire. They themselves indeed choose rather to be called Romans, and, more absurdly still, Roman Catholics: and probably the apostle, as he hath made use of some Hebrew names in this book, as Abaddon, (ix. 11,) and Armageddon, (xvi. 16,) so might in this place likewise allude to the name in the Hebrew language. Now Romiith is the Hebrew name for the Roman beast, or Roman kingdom: and this word, as well as the former word Lateinos, contains the just and exact number of six hundred and sixty-six.


Λ 30

Α 1

Τ 300 Ε 5

Ι 10

Ν 50

Ο 70

Σ 200 666


ר 200

ו 6

מ 40

י 10

י 10

ת 400 666

It is really surprising that there should be such a fatal coincidence in both names in both languages. And perhaps no other word, in any language whatever, can be found to express both the same number and the same thing. See Bishop Newton.

13:11-18 Those who understand the first beast to denote a worldly power, take the second to be also a persecuting and assumed power, which acts under the disguise of religion, and of charity to the souls of men. It is a spiritual dominion, professing to be derived from Christ, and exercised at first in a gentle manner, but soon spake like the dragon. Its speech betrayed it; for it gives forth those false doctrines and cruel decrees, which show it to belong to the dragon, and not to the Lamb. It exercised all the power of the former beast. It pursues the same design, to draw men from worshipping the true God, and to subject the souls of men to the will and control of men. The second beast has carried on its designs, by methods whereby men should be deceived to worship the former beast, in the new shape, or likeness made for it. By lying wonders, pretended miracles. And by severe censures. Also by allowing none to enjoy natural or civil rights, who will not worship that beast which is the image of the pagan beast. It is made a qualification for buying and selling, as well as for places of profit and trust, that they oblige themselves to use all their interest, power, and endeavour, to forward the dominion of the beast, which is meant by receiving his mark. To make an image to the beast, whose deadly wound was healed, would be to give form and power to his worship, or to require obedience to his commands. To worship the image of the beast, implies being subject to those things which stamp the character of the picture, and render it the image of the beast. The number of the beast is given, so as to show the infinite wisdom of God, and to exercise the wisdom of men. The number is the number of a man, computed after the usual manner among men, and it is 666. What or who is intended by this, remains a mystery. To almost every religious dispute this number has yet been applied, and it may reasonably be doubted whether the meaning has yet been discovered. But he who has wisdom and understanding, will see that all the enemies of God are numbered and marked out for destruction; that the term of their power will soon expire, and that all nations shall submit to our King of righteousness and peace.Here is wisdom - That is, in what is stated respecting the name and the number of the name of the beast. The idea is, either that there would be need of special sagacity in determining what the "number" of the "beast" or of his "name" was, or that special "wisdom" was shown by the fact that the number could be thus expressed. The language used in the verse would lead the reader to suppose that the attempt to make out the "number" was not absolutely hopeless, but that the number was so far enigmatical as to require much skill in determining its meaning. It may also be implied that, for some reason, there was true "wisdom" in designating the name by this number, either because a more direct and explicit statement might expose him who made it to persecution, and it showed practical wisdom thus to guard against this danger; or because there was "wisdom" or skill shown in the fact that a number could be found which would thus correspond with the name. On either of these suppositions, special wisdom would be required in deciphering its meaning.

Let him that hath understanding - Implying:

(a) that it was practicable to "count the number of the name"; and,

(b) that it would require uncommon skill to do it.

It could not be successfully attempted by all; but still there were those who might do it. This is such language as would be used respecting some difficult matter, but where there was hope that, by diligent application of the mind, and by the exercise of a sound understanding, there would be a prospect of success.

Count the number of the beast - In Revelation 13:16 it is "the number of his name." The word rendered here "count" - ψηφισάτω psēphisatō - means, properly, to count or reckon with pebbles, or counters; then to reckon, to estimate. The word here means "compute"; that is, ascertain the exact import of the number, so as to identify the beast. The "number" is what is immediately specified, "six hundred threescore and six" - 666. The phrase "the number of the beast" means, that somehow this number was so connected with the beast, or would so represent its name or character, that the "beast" would be identified by its proper application. The mention in Revelation 13:17 of "the name of the beast," and "the number of his name," shows that this "number" was somehow connected with his proper designation, so that by this he would be identified. The plain meaning is, that the number 666 would be so connected with his name, or with what would properly designate him, that it could be determined who was meant by finding that number in his name or in his proper designation. This is the exercise of the skill or wisdom to which the writer here refers: substantially that which is required in the solution of a riddle or a conundrum. If it should be said here that this is undignified and unworthy of an inspired book, it may be replied:

(a) that there might be some important reason why the name or designation should not be more plainly made;

(b) that it was important, nevertheless, that it should be so made that it would be possible to ascertain who was referred to;

(c) that this should be done only in some way which would involve the principle of the enigma - "where a known thing was concealed under obscure language" (Webster's Dictionary);

(d) that the use of symbols, emblems, hieroglyphics, and riddles was common in the early periods of the world; and,

(e) that it was no uncommon thing in ancient times, as it is in modern, to test the capacity and skill of people by their ability to unfold the meaning of proverbs, riddles, and dark sayings. Compare the riddle of Samson, Judges 14:12 ff. See also Psalm 49:4; Psalm 78:2; Ezekiel 17:2-8; Proverbs 1:2-6; Daniel 8:23.

It would be a sufficient vindication of the method adopted here if it was certain or probable that a direct and explicit statement of what was meant would have been attended with immediate danger, and if the object could be secured by an enigmatical form.

For it is the number of a man - Various interpretations of this have been proposed. Clericus renders it, "The number is small, or not such as cannot be estimated by a man." Rosenmuller, "The number indicates a man, or a certain race of men." Prof. Stuart, "The number is to be computed more humano, not wore angelico"; "it is a man's number." DeWette, "It is such a number as is commonly reckoned or designated by men." Other interpretations may be seen in Poole's Synopsis. That which is proposed by Rosenmuller, however, meets all the circumstances of the case. The idea is, evidently, that the number indicates or refers to a certain man, or order of people. It does not pertain to a brute, or to angelic beings. Thus it would be understood by one merely interpreting the language, and thus the connection demands.

And his number is six hundred threescore and six - The number of his name, Revelation 13:17. This cannot be supposed to mean that his name would be composed of six hundred and sixty-six letters; and it must, therefore, mean that somehow the number 666 would be expressed by his name in some well-understood method of computation. The number here - six hundred and sixty-six - is, in Walton's Polyglott, written out in full: Ἑξακόσιοι ἑξάκοντα ἕξ Hexakosioi hexakonta hex. In Wetstein, Griesbach, Hahn, Tittmann, and the common Greek text, it is expressed by the characters χξς equals 666. There can be no doubt that this is the correct number, though, in the time of Irenaeus, there was in some copies another reading - χις equals 616. This reading was adopted by the expositor Tychonius; but against this Irenaeus inveighs (Liv. v. 100:30). There can be no doubt that the number 666 is the correct reading, though it would seem that this was sometimes expressed in letters, and sometimes written in full. Wetstein supposes that both methods were used by John; that in the first copy of his book he used the letters, and in a subsequent copy wrote it in full. This inquiry is not of material consequence.


18. wisdom—the armory against the second beast, as patience and faith against the first. Spiritual wisdom is needed to solve the mystery of iniquity, so as not to be beguiled by it.

count … for—The "for" implies the possibility of our calculating or counting the beast's number.

the number of a man—that is, counted as men generally count. So the phrase is used in Re 21:17. The number is the number of a man, not of God; he shall extol himself above the power of the Godhead, as the MAN of sin [Aquinas]. Though it is an imitation of the divine name, it is only human.

six hundred threescore and six—A and Vulgate write the numbers in full in the Greek. But B writes merely the three Greek letters standing for numbers, Ch, X, St. "C reads" 616, but Irenæus, 328, opposes this and maintains "666." Irenæus, in the second century, disciple of Polycarp, John's disciple, explained this number as contained in the Greek letters of Lateinos (L being thirty; A, one; T, three hundred; E, five; I, ten; N, fifty; O, seventy; S, two hundred). The Latin is peculiarly the language of the Church of Rome in all her official acts; the forced unity of language in ritual being the counterfeit of the true unity; the premature and spurious anticipation of the real unity, only to be realized at Christ's coming, when all the earth shall speak "one language" (Zep 3:9). The last Antichrist may have a close connection with Rome, and so the name Lateinos (666) may apply to him. The Hebrew letters of Balaam amount to 666 [Bunsen]; a type of the false prophet, whose characteristic, like Balaam's, will be high spiritual knowledge perverted to Satanic ends. The number six is the world number; in 666 it occurs in units, tens, and hundreds. It is next neighbor to the sacred seven, but is severed from it by an impassable gulf. It is the number of the world given over to judgment; hence there is a pause between the sixth and seventh seals, and the sixth and seventh trumpets. The judgments on the world are complete in six; by the fulfilment of seven, the kingdoms of the world become Christ's. As twelve is the number of the Church, so six, its half, symbolizes the world kingdom broken. The raising of the six to tens and hundreds (higher powers) indicates that the beast, notwithstanding his progression to higher powers, can only rise to greater ripeness for judgment. Thus 666, the judged world power, contrasts with the 144,000 sealed and transfigured ones (the Church number, twelve, squared and multiplied by one thousand, the number symbolizing the world pervaded by God; ten, the world number, raised to the power of three the number of God) [Auberlen]. The "mark" (Greek, "charagma") and "name" are one and the same. The first two radical letters of Christ (Greek, "Christos"), Ch and R, are the same as the first two of charagma, and were the imperial monogram of Christian Rome. Antichrist, personating Christ, adopts a symbol like, but not agreeing with, Christ's monogram, Ch, X, St; whereas the radicals in "Christ" are Ch, R, St. Papal Rome has similarly substituted the standard of the Keys for the standard of the Cross; so on the papal coinage (the image of power, Mt 22:20). The two first letters of "Christ," Ch, R, represent seven hundred, the perfect number. The Ch, X, St represent an imperfect number, a triple falling away (apostasy) from septenary perfection [Wordsworth].

Here is wisdom; that is, Herein is the wisdom, the unsearchable wisdom, of God seen in the trial of his church; or, (which is more probably the sense), this is a point will exercise the wisdom of men.

Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; let him that is spiritually wise count the number of the beast.

For it is the number of a man; it is such as may be numbered after the way men use to number.

And his number is Six hundred threescore and six: what this meaneth hath exercised the wits of the greatest divines in all ages. A late learned and valuable writer thinks that 666 doth not signity a certain definite number, but an indefinite number, and that not of years, but of pernicious errors, by the broaching and upholding of which antichrist may be known. But the most interpreters think a number, and that a definite, certain number, of years is to be understood here: but they are again divided; some thinking them determining the time of the fall of this beast; others judging them to determine or define the year or time of his beginning to reign, the time from whence his period and term of forty-two months, or one thousand two hundred and sixty years, commenceth: most of those who think this number determinative of the time when he should fall, understood by it the year 1666, which raised the expectation of many good and some learned men (though we see in this thing they were deceived) upon that year. A countryman of our own, who hath written an English Dissertation about the Name, Number, and Character of the Beast, hath with much more probability judged this number definitive of the time when he began to reign under the title of "universal bishop," which was about the year 606; but there seemeth to be a want then of sixty years; to answer which objection, the aforesaid author (N. Stephens) undertaketh to make out, that the year which according to our account was 606, was according to Daniel’s chronology 666; for it is the six hundred and sixty-sixth year of the Roman monarchy, which, saith he, is to be counted from the time when that empire first invaded the church, which was when Cicero and Antonius were cousuls, about sixty years before Christ; for then the Romans first subdued the Jews, the ancient church of God. As to this notion, there is nothing to be proved, but that 666 must be counted from that epocha; for admitting that, the time of the beast’s reign, as to the beginning of it, fell much about the year 666. I shall only say of it, that I do not judge it a contemptible notion. This makes this prophecy a prediction of the time when this beast should begin to show his power, and therefore it is called the number of his name (name in Holy Scripture often signifying dominion and power). But there is yet another notion, which is the most learned Dr. Potter’s, in his book called The Interpretation of the Number Six Hundred and Sixty-six; a book justly valuable both for the great wit and learning in it, and much magnified both by Dr. More, and Mr. Mede, whose judgment of it is prefixed to it; in which he saith: It is the happiest tract that ever yet came into the world, —and though at first he read the book with much prejudice, yet when he had done it, it left him possessed with as much admiration. The foundation on which he goeth is, that this number is to be interpreted by the opposite number of 144, Revelation 21:17, as the measure of the wall of the new Jerusalem; which is to be understood of square measure, as he proveth, Revelation 6:1-17; for the wall could not be 144 cubits high, nor 144 cubits broad; but in square measure so much, that is 12 cubits high and 12 cubits broad (for the length cannot be understood); it being impossible that a wall 144 cubits long, should encompass a city 91 furlongs about. In like manner he thinks 666 ought to be counted by the square root of that number, which is 25??? Hence he concludeth, that as 12, the square root of 144, is God’s number, so 25 is the square root of antichrist’s number 666; and by this enigmatical expression we are taught that antichrist should be a political body, that should as much affect the number of 25, as God seemeth to have in his church affected the number of 12. Under the Old Testament God built his church upon twelve patriarchs, it was made up of twelve tribes: Jerusalem, mentioned by Ezekiel, Ezekiel 48:31, and in this book, Revelation 21:12, had twelve gates; Revelation 21:21, these were twelve pearls; at the gates, Revelation 21:12, were twelve angels; the wall, Revelation 21:14, had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles; Revelation 21:16, the measure of the city was twelve thousand furlongs; Revelation 22:2, the tree of life had twelve manner of fruits: by all which it appears that 12 was the number God affected to use with reference to his church, and the square root, both of the 144 cubits, which were the measure of the wall, Revelation 21:17, and likewise of the 144 thousands, mentioned in the next chapter as the number of Christ’s retinue. On the contrary, 25 is the square root of 666, (adding the fraction), which is the beast’s number; and that learned author proves, that the pope and his clergy as much affected the number of 25 in their first forming their church, as God did the number of 12. They at first divided Rome into 25 parishes, (instead of the old 35 tribes), over which they set 25 cardinals, (which were their first number), who had 25 churches: they made 25 gates to the city; at last they also brought the articles of their creed to 25. This that learned author abundantly proveth, Ezekiel 17:1-20:49 22:1-31, He also, Ezekiel 24:1-26:21, showeth how in a multitude of things of lesser moment they affected this number of 25. This seemeth a very probable notion. I further refer my reader to the learned author’s book, where he enlargeth upon these things with great wit and learning. In this variety I shall positively determine nothing, but have shortly mentioned the senses I think most probable, as to this mysterious number 666.

Here is wisdom,.... Not only in the above description of the two beasts, but in what follows as to the number of the beast, these two now coalescing in one, and have one and the same number; and to wrap it up, and conceal it in such an obscure manner, shows great wisdom in God, as it requires much in men, and serves greatly to exercise all his intellectual powers to find it out:

let him that hath understanding count the number of, the beast; whoever has skill numbers, let him make use of it, that he may know the name and nature of the antichristian beast, and the numerical letters of his name, or the number of him, and of the time when he arose, and when he will expire:

for it is the number of a man: either a number that may be reckoned by man, or which is in common use among men; see Revelation 21:17; or that which is contained in the name of a man:

and his number is six hundred threescore and six: which some think refers to the time of the rise of antichrist, in the year 666; but that seems rather to be in the year 859, when the bishop of Rome obtained the name of universal bishop; others have been of opinion that it refers to the expiration of the beast, which they thought would have been in the year 1666, the number of the thousand being dropped, as it is in our common way of speaking; as when we say the Spanish invasion was in 88, meaning 1588, and the civil wars began in 41, that is, 1641; but time has shown that this was a mistaken sense; the more prevailing opinion is that of Mr. Potter, who has wrote a peculiar and learned treatise upon this passage, who makes the counting of this number to be no other than the extracting of its root, which is the number 25, which when multiplied into itself, and the fraction in working it 41 is added, makes up the square number 666; and now 25 being added to A. D. 33, make 58, which was the time of the beast's conception, to which if 666 is added, it brings us to the year 724, when he arrived to his age of manhood, and when the war about the worshipping of images broke out: but others think that the numeral letters in some man's name which amount to this date, and which agrees with antichrist, are intended; and here various conjectures are made; some have observed, that in genealogical arithmetic the number of Adonikam's posterity is 666, Ezra 2:13; whose name signifies "a lord rising up", or "risen"; and suits very well with antichrist, who is risen up, and assumes a lordly domination over the kings of the earth; and it is further observed, that the Hebrew word which signifies "Roman", and, having the word beast or kingdom joined to it, designs the Roman beast, or kingdom, consists of numeral letters, which make up this sum; and so the Hebrew word "Sethut", which is the name of a man, Numbers 13:13, and signifies "mystery", in its numeral letters comes just to this number, and one of the names of the whore of Babylon is "mystery", Revelation 17:5; but the name "Lateinos" bids as fair as any, which is mentioned by so ancient a writer as Irenaeus, who was a hearer of Polycarp, a disciple of John, the writer of this book; now the numeral value of the letters of this word makes up exactly 666, thus; 30. 1. 300. 5. 10. 50. 70. 200. in all 666; and it is well known that the church of Rome is called the Latin Church and the pope of Rome the head of the Latin church, and his seat is in the Latin empire, and the service of the beast is in the Latin tongue, and the Bible is kept in that language, from the reading of the common people: it has been observed that the numeral letters in Ludovicus, or Lewis, which is a common name of the French kings, and is the name of the present French king, make up this same number; and may denote the destruction of antichrist, which will quickly follow the downfall of the kingdom of France, under a king of this name; and the rather, since this was the last of the ten kingdoms that was set up, and in which the primitive beast subsists, and the only one that has not yet been conquered, or in which a revolution has not been; and since this is the tenth part of the city which shall fall a little before the third woe comes on: and that it may fall under Ludovicus, or Lewis, the present French king (a), may be hoped for, and is desirable.

(a) The reader will bear in mind that the original edition of this work was published in the year 1747. --Ed.

{27} Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the {28} number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

(27) That is, in this number of the beast consists that popish wisdom, which to them seems the greatest of all others. In these words John expounds the saying that went before the number of the beast, what it has above his distinctive mark and his name. These things, says John, the mark and the name of the beast, is wisdom: that is, only the wise and such as have understanding, can come by that number: for they who would attain it must be knowledgeable doctors, as the words following declare.

(28) How great and of what denomination this number of the beast is by which the beast accounts his wisdom, John declares in these words, Do you demand how great it is? It is so great, that it occupies the whole man: he is always learning, and never comes to the knowledge of it: he must be a man in deed that does attain to it. You ask what denomination it is? Truly it is six throughout, all the parts of it in their denominations (as they term them) it stands of six by units, tens, hundreds, etc. There is not one part in the pontifical learning and order, which is not either referred to the head, the top of it, or contained in the same: so fitly do all things in this hierarchy agree with one another, and with their head. Therefore that cruel beast Boniface the eighth, does commend by the number of six those Decretals which he perfected: in the sixth book. Which book (he says) being to be added to five other books of the same volume of Decretals, we thought good to name Sextum the sixth: that the same volume by addition of it, containing a senary, or the number of six books (which is a number perfect) may yield a perfect form of managing all things, and perfect discipline of behaviour. Here therefore is the number of the beast, who empowers from himself all his parts, and brings them all back to himself by his discipline in most wise and cunning manner. If any man desires more of this, let him read the gloss on that place. I am not ignorant that other interpretations are given in this place; but I thought it my duty, with the good favour of all, and without the offence of any, to propound my opinion in this point. For this cause especially, since it seemed to me neither profitable, nor likely to be true, that the number of the beast, or the name of the beast should be taken as the common interpreters take it. This number of the beast teaches, gives out, imprints, as a public mark of those who are his, and esteems that mark above all others, as the mark of those whom he loves best. Now those other expositions seem to be far removed from this property and condition of that number: whether you respect the name Latinus, or Titan, or any other. For these the beast does not teach, nor give forth, nor imprint, but most diligently forbids to be taught, and audaciously denies: he does not approve them, but reproves them: and hates those that think so of this number, with a hatred greater then that of Vatinius.

Revelation 13:18. As John wants to designate the χάραγμα definitely, and that, too, in the form of the ἀριθμὸς τοῦ ὁνόματος of the beast (Revelation 13:17), he mentions first of all, that wisdom and understanding are required for the comprehension of this mysterious mark. The formula ώδε ή σοφ. ἐστιν receives its peculiar meaning[3385] through the context, especially through the express demand Ὁ ἜΧΩΝ ΝΟῦΝ ΨΗΦΙΣΆΤΩ, Κ.Τ.Λ. A reckoning (ΨΗΦΙΣΆΤΩ) is properly required, because the subject has reference to a number, and the value of its letters; yet the invitation to solve the puzzle intelligibly is supported by the explicit remark that the solution can actually be found,[3386] because the number is meant in the ordinary way: ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν. These words do not declare that the number describes the name of any particular human person,[3387]—in order to express which, John would have had to attach a τινὸς, or, after his way,[3388] a ἑνὸς, to ἀνθρ.,—but, as also the γὰρ, and the omission of the art. before ἀριθμ. indicate, that the ἀριθαὸς τοῦ θηρίου express the ὄνομα τοῦ θηρίου in a human way, and therefore according to the value of the letters current with every one. The key to the mystery of the numerical name is, therefore, readily found; but wisdom and understanding are necessary in order to use this key properly. That this is not so easy, the history of the exposition shows, as it[3389] gives the report of hundreds of attempts to solve the puzzle, which failed just because it was not understood, on the part of the large number of men which may contain the names of thousands, how to decipher the only correct name.

With the statement of this riddle John concludes the description of the beast, which thus reaches the most significant climax: καὶ ὁ ἀριθμὸς αὐτοῦ χξϛʹ. The αὐτοὺ belongs to the conception τοῦ θηρίου,[3390] just as ΨΗΦ. Τ. ἈΡΙΘΜῸΝ Τ. ΘΗΡ. was expressed, yet in the sense that the ἉΡΙΘΜ. ΤΟῦ ΘΗΡΊΟΥ is meant as the ἈΡΙΘΜ. ΤΟῦ ὈΝΌΜΑΤΟς ΤΟῦ ΘΗΡ., Revelation 13:17.

Without all doubt the number to be indicated means χΙϚʹ, i.e., 666; for what Irenaeus[3391] reports of those who received the number χΙϚʹ, 616, is the less applicable for causing any doubt with respect to the certainty of the received reading χΙϚʹ, as Irenaeus himself decidedly advocates the latter reading by asserting for it the authority of all good and ancient MSS., and an express tradition which he derived from the author of the Apoc. himself.

In order to find the interpretation of the enigmatical number commended by John to Christian understanding, the indications afforded by the nearer and more remote context are certainly to be observed, which show the entire class of attempts at interpretation to be impossible, and urge the correct interpretation:—

[3385] Cf. Revelation 13:10.

[3386] Against Irenæus, L. V., c. 30. Cf. Intro., p. 75. Andr.: ὁ χρόνος ἀποκαλύψει. Hofmann, who even assumes that John himself did not know the name signified by the number; Luthardt, etc. Cf. Intro., p. 42.

[3387] Beda, Grot., Ew. i., Züll., Hofm. (Schriftbew., ii. 637), Volkm., Klief., etc.

[3388] Revelation 8:13.

[3389] Cf. Wolf, Curae, on this passage; Heinrichs, Excursus 4., De antichristo, et imprimis monogrammate illo, cap xiii. 18, numerum exprimente, vol. ii. p. 235. Züllig, Excurs. ii., 232.

[3390] This reference is not, as Klief. says, “an evasion,” but a philological necessity, which, of course, cannot be acknowledged, if, upon the basis of Revelation 13:18 (ἁρ. γ. ἀνθρ.), it be asserted (Klief.) that the beast is a man, since the number of the beast designates a man. But in truth, the ἀνθρ. is only a qualitative designation of the ἀριθμὸς, so that it is directly impossible to refer the αὐτοῦ in the closing words to ἀνθρ. It can refer only to the chief conception which is designated by repetition in Revelation 13:17 (τ. ἀρ. τ. ὁν. αὐτοῦ) and Revelation 13:18 (τ. ἁρ. τοῦ θηριοῦ).

[3391] L. V., c. 30: “I do not know how it is that some have erred, following the ordinary mode of speech, and have vitiated the middle number in the name, deducting fifty numbers, wishing that only one be instead of six decades. This 1 think was the fault of the copyists,” etc.

(1) All expositors enter into an erroneous course who, in spite of the declaration of the text, understand the number not as τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ θηρίου; i.e., who have held it as any thing else than a definite name expressed in numbers. Therefore, not only is such play-work to be rejected of itself, as that of Zeger[3392] and of Coccejus,[3393] but also all Apocalyptic chronology based upon the number 666. With what confidence this was formerly held, is to be seen from the fact that in the Wittenberg Bible of the year 1661, the note (Luther’s gloss) is given: “It is 666 years: so long does the worldly papacy stand.” The master in the sphere of Apocalyptic arithmetic—in which men even like Isaac Newton have erred[3394]—was Bengel, whose piety remains worthy of respect because it believed that even in the spaces of time which are regarded as revealed in the Apoc., the holy ways of God are to be discerned, although not only is the excessive curiosity which muddled that piety reproved by the wording and spirit of Acts 1:7. Matthew 24:36,[3395] but also the entire theory, as it is built by Bengel upon this text, is deprived of a foundation and basis by making the text itself speak of nothing less than of 666 years. Bengel’s system of Apocalyptic chronology depends essentially upon the fact, that, in order to gain first an arithmetical proportion upon which to work, he combines the 666 years, as ordinary years, with the 3½ times or 42 “prophetical months,”[3396] that thereby he may attain the various chronological determinations,[3397] which he then applies to the history of the popes.

[3392] Viz., that the name Legion, Luke 8:30, is meant, viz., six thousand six hundred and sixty-six, but after a withdrawal of six thousand caused by Christ’s victory.

[3393] Viz., that the Catholic additions to apostolic doctrine are meant, the jus canonicum, espedially the liber sextus, since the number six remains if six hundred and sixty-six be divided by twelve.

[3394] Cf. Lücke, p. 1036.

[3395] In a remarkable way, Bengel (Erkl. Offenb., p. 1090) attempts to prove that Acts 1:7 does not testify against his method of “Apocalyptic chronology.” The Lord, he says, gave his apostles “no pure repulse,” but only informed them that the knowledge of the day and hour did not belong to the apostolic office.

[3396] Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14.

[3397] 666, 777 years.

(2) Against the method, given in the text, for finding the name of the beast from the number 666, in such a way that the numerical value of the letters forming the concealed name gives that sum, Vitringa and Hengstenb. object, with their peculiar interpretation, rejected already by Vitr. and Coccejus. Because, in Ezra 2:13, a head of a family, Adonikam, with 666 sons, is mentioned, the Apoc. number is therefore regarded as referring to this name, אִדַֹנִיקָם (the Lord sets up), and thus, in the sense of Revelation 13:4,[3398] the antichristian arrogance of the beast deifying itself is indicated. Besides, Hengstenb. finds even in the number 666 itself the sign of that which is contrary to God, because, “as the swollen six,” it always remains a world-number, and can never be reduced to the godly number seven.[3399] But even apart from this last mode of trifling, and without considering that it yields a Hebrew name,—while only a Greek name is to be expected,—a mere play-work would be found therein, entirely spiritless, and not in harmony with the holy earnestness of John, if, without all inner reference to the supposed name, it would be referred to the number of children of Adonikam. Yet the name Adonikam could be meant in the assumed sense if that head of a family had had 777 sons.

[3398] 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

[3399] Cf. C. a Lap. and Lnthardt, who refer the antichristian number 666 as in antithesis to the number 888 with which in the Sibyll. Orac., L. I., p. 176, ed. Serv. Gall., the name Ἰησοῦς is described; Herd., etc., mention that the serpentine form ξ occurs between the letters χς, i.e., the monogram of the name of Christ.

(3) We have not only in the wording of Revelation 13:17-18, the clear direction for seeking a name in the enigmatical number; but the Apoc. as a whole, and the context of ch. 13 especially, compel us to reckon that name from no other than the Greek alphabet. A scientific expositor at the present day no longer attempts to introduce the Latin alphabet[3400] or those of modern languages.[3401] It is only either the Greek or the Hebrew alphabet that can enter into consideration. The application of the latter is apparently urged by the O. T. character of the Apoc.[3402] Züllig thus finds the name Balaam in the designation of Joshua 13:33, which,[3403] however, has nothing to do with the θηρίον of whose name it treats. Such interpretations would suit better, as that invented by Ewald for the (false) number 616, רום קיסר, i.e., Cæsar at Rome, or that received by Hilgenf., Renan, etc.,[3404] נרין קסר,[3405] if the presumption that Nero were to be identified with the beast were correct,[3406] and if the introduction of the Hebrew alphabet were not arbitrary. Irenaeus, Primas, Victorin., Beda, Andr., Areth., Wetst., Grot., Calov., Eichh., Ew. i., De Wette, Stern, Rinck, Lücke, Bleek, etc., are correct in their attempt to find the number indicated by the name in the Greek alphabet; for although the Apoc., in its entire mode of presentation and in its style, shows a strongly impressed O. T. type, yet it is intended for the Greek-speaking reader, and, therefore, takes the formula A and Ω[3407] from the Greek alphabet, as also, in its references to O. T. passages, it is not altogether independent of the version of the LXX.[3408] But of the Greek interpretations that have been attempted, most miscarry, because they are either in form intolerable, or without meaning and definite reference. Here belong the solutions εὐάνθας, ἅντεμος,[3409] ἀρνοῦμε,[3410] τεὶταν,[3411] ὁ νικητής,[3412] ἁντίδοκος,[3413] Οὔλπιος,[3414] λαμπέτης, κακὸς ὁδηγος, ἄμνος ἄδικος, etc.[3415] Ingenious is the solution commended by Märcker.[3416] He reckons, according to the Greek alphabet, the numerical value of the initials of the names of the emperors, from Octavianus to the tenth following, Vespasian, inclusive of the three emperors of the interregnum,

Galba, Otho, and Vitellius,—by reckoning the numerical sign ί as the tenth, and so obtaining the letters οʹ, τʹ, γʹ, κʹ, υʹ, γʹ, οʹ, οʹ, οʹ, ιʹ, which, according to their numerical value, give correctly 666, and besides can be combined in the name of the beast, ὀγκότογιον, so that the result is an indication of the vastness and pride (ὄγκος), and of the peculiar garment (toga) in the Roman Empire. This solution is a flagrant act of trifling, to which, besides, a counterpart is offered. It is false, therefore, already, because nothing justifies us in taking the names of the ten emperors as a basis, among which the last is figured only as a numerical sign. The combined name of the beast expresses little.

Kienlen, resorting to the Hebrew alphabet, derives the name of Domitian.

Kliefoth says that no name whatever is mentioned, but only the antichristian character of the beast, which, in every gradation of the world-power indicated by the number six, does not, nevertheless, reach the number seven which symbolizes the divine.

Irenaeus already was acquainted with that solution of the puzzle, which alone corresponds to all demands,

Λατεῖνος, i.e., according to the value of the letters: 30 + 1 + 300 + 5 + 10 + 50 + 70 + 200 = 666. So Calov., Eichh., Ew. i., De Wette, Ebrard, etc. Irenaeus, indeed, preferred the name Τεῖταν, yet said: “But the name Λατεῖνος also has the number 666, and it is very probable, since the last kingdom has this name. For the Latins are they who now rule.” Against this interpretation it dare not be objected, that the usual form of the name is Λατῖνος; for although this is never found in analogous forms, like Σαβεῖνος, Παπείρος, etc., the very nature of the case has determined such a departure from what is usual, for the sake of the riddle. Yet, e.g., in the sibylline books,[3417] the name χρὶστος is changed into χρεῖστος, because in the acrostic description of the words Ἰησοῦς χρῖστος, θεοῦ υἰος, κ.τ.λ., not ι, but only an ει, can be introduced. But if the name of the beast be Λατεῖνος, there is conveyed by this numerical name the most definite designation of the beast as the Roman Empire, not of any individual emperor, and the exposition of ch. Revelation 13:1 sqq., is expressly confirmed. [See Note LXXIV., p. 388.]

[3400] Cf. Bossuet’s interpretation: DIoCLes aVgVstVs = Diocles or Diocletian Augustus, by reckoning only one part of the letters. Similar artificial expedients in Vieg. and the Catholics, who derived the names Martin Luther, John Calvin, Beza antitheos, and the like, reckoning sometimes in German, and sometimes In Greek and Hebrew; while, on the contrary, the old Protestants conjectured the names of Popes, Jesuits, etc.

[3401] Cf. Gerken, with his numerous interpretations with respect to the history of Napoleon.

[3402] Cf. Intro., p. 63.

[3403] Only that Züll., in order to conform to the number 666, must put קסם instead of the הַקו̇סַם.

[3404] Cf. De Wette.

[3405] It ought to be נ ״קיסר, i.e., Nero Cæsar.

[3406] Cf., on the other hand, on Revelation 13:3.

[3407] Revelation 1:8, Revelation 22:13.

[3408] Cf. Revelation 12:5.

[3409] Interpreted as “contrary to honor.”

[3410] Interpreted “denying.” Both these interpretations rejected already by Beda.

[3411] Irenaeus, Beda, Wetst., found therein an allusion to the Emperor Titus.

[3412] Stern.

[3413] Rinck, who has to reckon the smooth breathing as 1, in order to avoid the result 665.

[3414] Interpreted “Ulpius Trajan,” which must reckon ας instead of αϛ.

[3415] Cf., already, Andr.

[3416] Stud. u. Krit., 1868, p. 699.

[3417] L. VIII., p. 723, ed. Serv. Gall.


Revelation 13:18. “Now for wisdom”—skill to penetrate the secret of the cryptogram which would reveal the features of the dread opponent. This cryptic method was a favourite apocalyptic device, due partly to prudential reasons, partly to the desire for impressiveness; Orientals loved symbolic and enigmatic modes of expression in religion (cf. Apoc. Bar. xxviii. 1, 2; Sib. Or. i. 141 f.; Barn. ix. 8, burlesqued by Lucian in Alex. 11). The prophet here drops the rôle of seer for that of hierophant or cabbalist. He invites his readers to count the name or number of the Beast, i.e., to calculate a name whose letters, numerically valued on the fanciful principles of Gematria, would amount to 666. For John and his readers the Beast was primarily the foreign power which opposed the divine kingdom, i.e., in this case, the Roman empire. But the drift of the present oracle is the further identification of the empire with the emperor, or rather (Revelation 13:3) with one emperor in particular. Hence the prophet throws out the hint which will solve his riddle: the number of τοῦ θηρίου is ἀριθμὸς ἀνθρώπου, i.e., of a historic personality. Ἀνθρώπου does not require τινός or ἑνός before it to bring this out. The only intelligible sense of the words is “a human number,” i.e., not a number which is intelligible (for no other kind of number would be worth mentioning) but one which answered to an individual. Hence it is a matter of comparative indifference what the number of the Beast originally meant—ΤΕΙΤΑΝ (so recently Abbott 80 f. = Titus, Teitous), Η ΛΑΤΕΙΝΗ (ΙΤΑΛΗ) ΒΑϹΙΛΕΙΑ (Clemen), ΛΑΤΕΙΝΟϹ, קיסר רום (= 616), קיסר רומים (= 666), Nimrod (נמרד בו כש, Bruston), or any other (cf. Cheyne’s Traditions and Beliefs of Anc. Israel, p. 248). This generic number is expressly identified or equalised by John with the number of an individual, viz., Nero Cæsar (קסר נרון), the Greek letters of which yield 666. The defective writing of קסר (without the yod) is not unexampled. Besides, the abbreviated form would gain, at a very slight expense, this telling and symettrical cipher. Furthermore, when the last letter of Neron is dropped, this Latinised spelling brings the total value of the name to 616, the very variant which puzzled Irenæus. Gunkel’s proposal תהום קדמוניה (primal chaos = Tiâmat) suffers from several flaws; it omits the article, it employs a feminine ending which is not used in adjectives of this type, and “primal” is not a conventional epithet of mystery (cf. G. F. Moore in Journ. Amer. Oriental Society, 1906, 315 f.). Besides, as Gunkel admits, there are no Babylonian parallels to Revelation 13:11-17. Thus, while the application of the term is obvious, its origin is obscure. The basis of such contrivances (which became popular in Gnostic circles) was twofold: (a) gematria, which, using Greek and Hebrew letters to denote numbers, could often turn a name into a suggestive cipher; (b) isopsephia, which put two words together of the same numerical value (cf. for instances of ἰσόψηφα, Farrar 468 f. and Corssen). Probably the number of the Beast belonged to tradition. John plays upon it in order to disclose the shuddering climax of his oracle, that the final foe of the saints was Nero redivivus. The particular number 666 was specially apt as a symbol for this anti-divine power, since it formed a vain parody of the sacred number seven (Gfrörer notes further the ominous usage of 18 = 6 + 6 + 6 in Jdg 3:14; Jdg 10:8; Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 52:29; Luke 13:1, etc.), always falling short of it. In Sib. Or. i. 324 f. 888 represents Christ, and Origen (on Ezekiel 4:9) remarks, apropos of the present passage, ἐστὶν ὁ ἀριθμὸς οὗτος πάθους σύμβολον καὶ κακώσεως τοῦ σωτῆρος τῇ ἕκτῃ ἠμέρᾳ πεπον· θότος. Irenæus explains the suitability of the number as “in recapitulationem uniuersae apostasiae eius, quae facta est in sex millibus annorum” (adv. Haer. ver. 28, 2). Thus the very number 666 by itself, may have been significant of the anti-divine power. The Neronic application would intensify and concentrate its meaning for John’s readers who were initiated. And such calculations, as the Pompeii graffiti prove, were familiar even to Greek-speaking inhabitants of the empire. The Pergamos-inscriptions furnish analogous instances.

18. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding &c.] “The terms of the challenge serve at once to shew that the feat proposed is possible, and that it is difficult.” (Alford.)

the number of a man] Comparing Revelation 21:17, it appears that these words mean “is reckoned simply, by an ordinary human method.”

Six hundred threescore and six] The reading 616 is ancient, but certainly wrong: and it is not impossible that the repetition (which must strike every one in the words, though the Greek figures do not suggest it like the Arabic) of the number 6 is significant: it approximates to, but falls short of, the sacred 7. Certainly we get no help by referring to 1 Kings 10:14—where the number is probably arrived at, by calculating that Solomon got 2000 talents every three years: cf. 1 Kings 10:22.

Revelation 13:18. Ὁ ἔχων νοῦν, ψηφισάτω, Let him that hath understanding, count) It is not said, He who readeth, νοείτω, let him consider, understand, as Matthew 24:15, but νοῦς, mind, understanding, is presupposed; and he who has mind already, is aroused also to computing the number of the beast, and to make a calculation. Νοῦς, the understanding, is contradistinguished from the spirit, 1 Corinthians 14:14; but here it is contradistinguished from wisdom. We must calculate: therefore it is befitting that the numbers should be precisely taken which enter into the calculation, and those which answer to the numbers entering into the calculation. He who has νοῦν, understanding, is ordered to calculate; he ought therefore to bear with calmness another who does not comprehend calculations: only let him not despise and trample upon calculations, especially ὧδε here, where such a remedy [against the delusions of the beast] is necessary for us. Look to the passage, Daniel 12:4; Daniel 12:10. What kind of persons are they to whom, in this business, cither diligence and understanding, or negligence, is attributed?—ἀριθμὸς γὰρ, κ.τ.λ., for the number, etc.) Each noun is without an article, in this sense, ὁ ἀριθμὸς τοῦ θηρίου ἐστὶν ἀριθμὸς ἀνθρώπου. Ἀριθμὸς, without the article, is the predicate: and ἀνθρώπου denotes a number relating to a man. Thus μέτρον, not τὸ μέτρον, ch. Revelation 21:17. The particle γὰρ, for, stimulates us, affording hope, nay, even the key, for solving the number. For immediately afterwards both the quality of the number reckoned is indicated, namely, that it is the number of a man; and the quantity of the number reckoning, namely DCLXVI. I have professedly given the more laborious calculation of this number in my German Exegesis of the Apocalypse, and indeed especially in the Introduction, § 43. I will here give some scattered fragments, by means of certain aphorisms, accompanied by their own illustrations: but I should wish the severer demonstration itself to be sought from that exegesis.

§ 1. It is correctly read in Greek ἑξακόσια ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, in the neuter gender;[148] but in Latin it is also truly read, sexcenti sexaginta sex, in the masculine gender.—Many copies have the numeral letters χξς. This in Latin is DC. LX. VI. There is no vestige of any proof to show, that, in expressing numbers, the prophets and apostles, and first copyists, made use of numeral letters. On the contrary, there is reason to suppose that they did not make use of them: for these numerals would have been a hindrance in the public reading of the lessons. Undoubtedly, whether John denoted the number by χξς, or wrote it out in full, it was necessary for the reader, who was sent from Patmos into Asia, to know, whether it was to be pronounced in the masculine or the neuter gender. It will be worth while to refer to and consider Irenæu[149], Book v. ch. 29 and 30. From thence you may collect, that even then the number of the beast had been described in Greek and Latin by numeral letters, and yet not by all writers. I have shown in the Apparatus, p. 826, that Irenæus wrote his works in Greek, but with this intention, that they might immediately after be translated by others into Latin; and therefore that he had reference alike to the Latin and Greek MSS. of the Now Testament. Wherefore he treated of the number of the beast in such a manner, as that it should agree at once with the Greek and Latin reading. The Alexandrian Copy in Greek, and the Latin translator, as in other places, so in this, agree with one another: for in the former there are ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, and in the latter, sexcenti sexaginta sex. The translator, as I conceive, did not trouble himself as to the sense, in which he either read it masculine in Greek, or rendered it so in Latin: but the Greek copyist seems to have preferred this form, because in the books of the Old Testament he had for the most part been accustomed to the expression of numbers in the masculine gender; for instance, Ezra 2:13, where the same number is used, as applied to men. Thence Irenæus more than once says, sexcentos sexaginta sex. The same writer again, when he writes that the same number had been sought for in the Greek names, ΕΥΑΝΘΑΣ, ΛΑΤΕΙΝΟΣ, ΤΕΙΤΑΝ, shows that ἑξακόσια ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, in the neuter gender, was read in the Greek: for the numerical value of 666, in the abstract, could not have been sought, by means of names of this kind, in the masculine gender, but only in the neuter. In a census of men, for instance in the fourth book of Moses, which from this circumstance has the title, Ἀριθμῶν, of Numbers, and in the book of Ezra, the numbers are put in the masculine gender: but when any number is put absolutely, no other gender than the neuter is conveniently employed. Arias Montanus expresses the Greek number in the masculine gender, after the example of the Complutensians; the Complutensians thus expressed it on the authority of the Vulgate: for in the Greek MS. which was used by them in other places, and which closely resembles the Codex Seidelianus, it was χξς, as is plain from the extracts of the Codex Seidelianus, with which a friend supplied me. Many MSS., as I think, retain the neuter gender; and collators may have judged it superfluous to note down their difference from the notation χξς. For it was not until the close of his labour that Mill himself quoted the Codex Covelianus as an authority for the reading, ἑξακόσια ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, to which my Apparatus added two others, widely removed from each other, and on that account of sufficient weight.

[148] Ah Vulg. have ἑξακόσιοι ἑξηκοντα ἕξ: so Lachm. B has χξςʼ: so Tisch. Orig., 3, 414a has χξʼ. C has ἑξακόσια δέκα ἕξ. Iron. 326 writes, sexcentos sexaginta sex. In 328 also he expressly opposes δέκα, and upholds ἑξήκοντα.—E.

[149] renæus (of Lyons, in Gaul: born about 130 A.D., and died about the end of the second century). The Editio Renati Massueti, Parisinæ, a. 1710.

§ 2. The number 666 is a certain [fixed] one, and is not put for an uncertain one.—We drew this inference a little while ago, in a summary manner, from the very command to calculate. We will hear Joh. March on the same subject. “Carolus Gallus,” he says, “thinks that he has made some important discovery, in believing that the wordman’ is put collectively for men, and then, that a number of men signifies a very numerous multitude. But the Hebrew phrase, which he adduces by way of proof, is altogether opposed to his hypothesis. For they (the Hebrews) use the phrase, ‘men of number’ [Marg. and Hebr. Ezekiel 12:16], for a few, etc. But that opinion appears to be one which ought above all others to be rejected by us, which will have it, that a definite number is here put for an indefinite one, as when 144,000 are given to the Lamb; and that a great number is then denoted, either of blasphemies and errors of Antichrist, which errors make up a body so compact and bound together, that the members depend mutually upon one another; or [as others say] a great number of Papists, followers of Antichrist, in which the Romish beast prides himself, and far surpasses other holy and reformed churches. Gallus prefers this latter sense; but Durham the former, who contends at great length, that the name ought to denote the doctrines by which those devoted to the beast are distinguished, even by reason of the contradistinction to the elect, who have the name of the Father on their forehead; moreover, that the phrase, to number, is sometimes used for, to weigh together with judgment; comp. Daniel 5:27; and that theological wisdom deduces inferences from doctrines and facts, rather than from letters. In reply to these things, it will suffice to have remarked in few words, that when a fixed character is assigned to the beast in the designated number of the name, and when the computation of that number is enjoined upon men, it ought altogether to be understood in a definite sense; and the more so even on this account, because this is not a round number, nor is there in it any allusion to any other calculation of men or opinions, which is elsewhere celebrated. I add, that if it were only a multitude indefinitely that is intended, whether it were of errors, or of persons in error, there would here be need of no such great understanding and attention as that which John requires. I still wonder by what means the number 666 can be taken for a great multitude, and that, too, by comparing it with the elect 144,000, since the latter greatly exceed the former. Gallus acknowledges this, and boldly changes the 666 men into so many myriads of men,” etc.—Comm. on Ap. p. 589, etc. Another interpretation takes the 666 for 6666, the 6666 for a legion, and the legion for a multitude of enemies of the Church. Contrary to this is the opinion of Zeger, who in his Epanorthotes thus comments: “There appears to be an allusion and reference to that name of the legion, which comprises 6666: and while this first number [figure] is taken away, it seems to be insinuated, that very great resources, both of strength and of subjects, have been subtracted from the devil by Christ, so that he cannot now boast and say, as he formerly did, My name is Legion.” Meyer, on Ap. fol. 55, is not at variance with both interpretations; and many things may be advantageously observed, either with reference to both or with reference to either of them. 1) Hesychius, in his Lexicon, is the only one who affirms that the legion consists of 6666 men, unless the copyist intentionally added the lesser sixes [numbers of six]. Weighty writers of military affairs speak otherwise, as Vegetius. l. ii. c. 2, 6. It is certain that the legion cannot be made to consist of 6666 men, so as to fall in with the time of John or the time of the boast. 2) The thousandth number in an epoch, and in the numbers of years from the creation of the world, is not expressed among the Hebrews: and we even now want proof that this custom prevailed among them in the time of John. An anonymous writer, indeed, who is said to have been Tobias Littleton, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and who wrote The Final Downfall of Rome, which was published at London A. 1655, and wished to persuade the English who were living at Rome that the downfall of that city would take place in the 666th year after the thousandth, was mistaken. Among the Romans, whom no one has referred to this point, in a large amount the sestertium [a thousand sesterces] is not expressed. In all other computations, in every nation, it is not the largest, but the smallest part, which is especially accustomed to be omitted. 3) The Hebrews were compelled to use this abbreviation, through want of letters by which they might express thousands; but John had at hand the well-known Greek letters, by which he might, express the whole, σχξς, 6666. 4) The Hebrews supply the defect by a formula expressed by קטון לפרט, to which the formula of our ancestors, nach der mindern Zahl, sometimes answers. But John puts the number absolutely. 5) Without having recourse to the number of a thousand and its ellipsis, without having recourse to the legion and its metalepsis, a tenth part of the legion, the cohort, and thus 666 or 600 (just as six hundred is proverbially used [for any large number]), or 555 or 500 (see Vegetius, as quoted above), might more easily have been put or taken for an indefinite multitude. 6) But neither does one legion nor one cohort always promiscuously represent a great multitude, but according to the given circumstances; for instance, with reference to the one possessed, Mark 5:9. At other times many legions are rather used to express a multitude; for instance, of angels, Matthew 26:53. 7) A multitude would comprise, under the number of the boast, either the seducers only, or the seduced also. But it cannot comprise the seduced, for they are much more numerous, Revelation 13:8 : nor the seducers, for they either have no government at all, or that of a democracy, or an aristocracy, or a monarchy; and any one of these will repel the notion of a multitude. But they have, in my opinion, a government, and that monarchical; and as in a monarchy the denomination is wont to be derived, not from many, much less from very many, but from are that which is especially needed in the case of the beast is, that there may be a place where the seven heads and the ten horns may be fixed. 8) No one who shall have weighed the system of the numbers of this book, the whole picture of the beast, and especially the close of this thirteenth chapter of the Apocalypse, will say that a multitude, whether great or lessened, is indefinitely denoted. The same interpretation of the number of the beast by a reference to the Roman legion, is refuted by the Acta Basileensia, etc., published A. 1730, p. 42, etc.

Lightfoot arrives at the same conclusion by a different course of argument, when he thus writes:— “The 42 months and 1260 days, also a time, times, and half a time, are SHORT PHRASES taken from Daniel, who, when he employs that made of speaking, describes the rage of Antiochus, and the trampling under foot of Religion, which was about last during the space of three years and six months. Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7; Daniel 12:11, in which certain times of adversity and affliction (and NOT ANY DEFINITE PERIOD) seem to be marked out. This meaning of expressions of this kind prevailed everywhere among the Jewish writers”.—Chron. N. T. on Ap. xi. The two examples which he there subjoins are foreign to the purpose; and since the numbers in the same, and the very numbers used by Daniel, have a precise meaning, the numbers used in the Apocalypse ought not, as though they merely contained an allusion to those of Daniel, to be weakened, but to be taken with equal precision. Otherwise, in fact, the number of the for LXX. weeks. which Lightfoot takes precisely, would skill, because it is a round number, have to be taken as a certain number for an uncertain one, by some allusion or other (an error, which God forbid that any fall into!)

In short, the indefinite interpretation is as though he should say: A multitude is designed in general terms: there is to need of an arithmetical computation, by which the numbers are solved in a specific sense. But the text says, Count. And since that is not said at random, but to point out the hope of finding, we now proceed to make the computation.

§ 3. Another number adapted to the explanation of the number of the beast by calculation, and that affording proper facility [for counting], both ought to be sought in the text, and is found, viz. that of XLII. months.—The prophecy. 1) bids us to compute; 2) names the numbers of the beast; 3) names the numbers of a Man 1:4) and says that it is 666. All these things are pertinent to the subject; and we will look to them in the order of the Apocalypse, that is, in retrograde order.

1) The number is said to be 666, the adjective alone being expressed

Revelation 13:1) The number is said to be 666, the adjective alone being expressed. A number expressed both by an adjective and a substantive (for instance, ten months, a hundred drachmæ, a thousand soldiers), the one of which we call the reckoning number, the other the number reckoned, needs no explanation. But when a number is presented to us which requires solution, then either the substantive is expressed, as, for instance, pieces of money; and the adjective is to be sought for and inferred, for instance, five myriads: Acts 19:19; also Luke 14:28 : or the adjective is given, as 666, and so the substantive is to be sought for which is to be joined to it; a mode which, except in enigmas, and undoubtedly here, in a prophetical enigma, scarcely comes into use. The adjective, 666, I say, is given, and that so plainly, that it needs no further solution. It remains, that there should be traced out, and made up by calculation, not indeed another mere numeral adjective, by which no progress would be made, but a noun substantive, and that of a specific meaning, for which a general term of number is substituted. Be that of whatever kind it may, its ellipsis (the readers being now prepared by the ellipsis of the noun tongue and horsemen, in the first and second woe, to submit more readily to that in the third woe, ch. Revelation 9:11; Revelation 9:16, note),—the ellipsis, I say, is certainly that of a substantive: the only question is, whether the 666 are as it were points, such as are accustomed to be sought in systems of years; or men, or times, or anything else which occurs to the mind. In the meantime there appears to be a great difference between the two computations; for in the former case the subject of inquiry is the reckoning number, which is easily to be explained by arithmetic; but in the other, such as is the matter now under consideration, the subject of inquiry is the reckoned number, requiring a greater amount of the power of interpretation.

Wherefore 2) There occurs the mention of “the number of a man,” which is undoubtedly the cause of a difference: whence it is more fully evident, that the reckoned number is that which we are commanded to search out; for no reckoning number is found in the universe different from “that of a man.”[150] It is of no use to pursue this subject further.

[150] Bengel is wishing to prove that the noun to be understood to the adjective 666 is years, and these common years: for it is expressly said, “it is the number of a man.” 666 is a human number in contradistinction to the much longer prophetical year, Revelation 9:15; not angelic-human, as the 144 measuring reeds, Revelation 21:17.—E.

3) It is to be observed, that the number is said to be that of one beast, not of many beasts: and that it is the number of the beast itself, and not that of the name of the beast, which is proposed for computation

A number indeed is both assigned to the name of the beast repeatedly, and in Revelation 13:18, only to the beast itself: and Rupertus Tuitiensis on Ap. p. 380, that I may not appear too minute in my inquiries, has seriously remarked, that the number of the beast is one thing, and the number of his name another; and Potter, in his Interpretation of the number 666, ch. 1, where he quotes many who agree with him, and this is proved by the very peculiarity of the expression. For there occurs, I. The beast; II. His name; III. The number of his name; IV. The number of the beast: and the fourth ought no more to be confounded with the others, than the others ought to be confounded with one another. Since however no number of the name of the beast is indicated apart from the number of the beast, I will readily acknowledge, that the latter is to be investigated by means of the former. In the meantime the prophetic phraseology is to be precisely adhered to, and the peculiarity of the well-weighed expression is to be followed. It is not said that the number of the name of the beast is to be computed, but the number of the beast. Moreover the number both of the beast himself and of one beast only, is a proof, that there is a number or multitude of accidents: for a number indeed of beasts would denote a number which was made up of the substances of many beasts taken together; but the number of the beast is that which is made up of certain accidents of one beast taken together. And since this is the number of the accidents, those accidents are inherent in the beast himself: For as, if the days of the beast were spoken of, I should take those days for a certain duration of the beast himself: so the number of accidents of the beast ought to be looked for in the beast itself, and not outside of him.

4) Here we are commanded not only to number, but to compute. The word is ψηφισάτω, not ἀριθμησάτω, comp. ch. Revelation 7:9. “The peculiar number of the beast,” says Cassiodorus, in his Complexiones on this passage, “is explained under a certain method OF CALCULATION.” Now calculation and computation cannot be carried on in such a matter, except by taking in another number. Potter says, in accordance with reason, “Neither addition, nor subtraction, nor multiplication, nor division, can be carried on, unless two numbers at least are given, so that a third number may be sought out, which must be either their sum, or the remainder, or the product, or the quotient.” Whence the same writer, without noticing another number, which was expressed in a twofold manner, looked to the number 666 itself, endeavouring to extract its square root. See by all means the treatise quoted, ch. 10. What if there should be in the context another number expressed (as Potter required), and that too a more easy one, from which we may elicit a noun adapted to this adjective? Shall we imagine that it is accidentally presented to us? Lo! here are at hand 42 months, Revelation 13:5. Receive that which is produced with a soul desirous of truth, and take it. The 42 months are times: therefore the 666 are also times. For what accidents except times, can one suppose, are possibly contained beneath the number 666?

§ 4. A number is elegantly used for the number of times, for times, years, etc.—This sentiment, the beast has 666 days, years, etc., when it has now been found out, may be suitably expressed in the following words: the number of days, of years, etc., of the beast are 666. But it is a much more suitable expression, compute the number 666, whereby a problem in particular is proposed for solution, so that the sense may be, compute 666, that you may ascertain whether they are days, years, etc.: nor will you be able to devise an easier formula of proposing this problem. What? not even in a categorical enunciation is it foolish to express times either by ellipsis or by trope. For thus the Septuagint, Job 36:26, ὁ Ἰσχυρὸς ΠΟΛΥΣ, God is great, that is, eternal; for it adds, ἀριθμὸς ἐτῶν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀπέραντος. So 2 Chronicles 30:5, לרב, according to the meaning given by some interpreters, denotes often, much, for many years. In the commencement of his eighth book on the Republic, Plato, describing the period of states with the well-known obscureness of his numbers, uses the words τριὰς πεμπὰς, κ.τ.λ., and the very word ἀριθμὸς, absolutely, meaning times: and among all writers, πεντὰς, δεκὰς, εἰκὰς, τριακὰς, hebdomas, are used for a number of days. Caius says of Cerinthus, according to Eusebius, l. iii. Hist. Eccl. c. 25, ἀριθμὸν χιλιονταετίας λέγει γίνεσθαι. Hesychius, σάρος, ἀριθμός τις παρὰ Βαβυλωνίοις. It is a number of years, on which the Ordo Temp, treats, p. 323. Pliny, Hist. Natur. lib. viii. c. 6, says, Seven years being added to the former NUMBER (the 472d year of the city). Orosius, in his Apol. pro Lib. Arb., calls that the number of the world, which he had a little while before called the fulness of the appointed times, p. 753. The phraseology is very similar: The number of the beast, the number of the world. The Latin prologue to Mark: a fast of number, that is, of 40 days. Ticonius, on Revelation 11:3, says, He spoke of the NUMBER of the last persecution, and of future peace, and of the whole time from the Passion of the Lord, etc. Time and place have many points of resemblance. It is a resemblance, that Xenophon in his Cyropœdia says, ἀριθμὸν ὁδοῦ, the number of a journey, for length. Add Eurip. ed. Gr. p. 290, r. 3, ed. Lat. Part II. p. 232; Eus. Præp. Ev. f. 228, ex Afric.

§ 5. The 42 months and the number 666 are equal.—The duration of the locusts, under the first woe, is twice expressed by five months: to the angels of the Euphrates, under the second woe, there is given an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year; and that body of horsemen, two myriads of myriads (200,000,000), is equalled to this space. Thus, under the third woe, 42 months of the power which the beast has, and the number 666 of the same beast, are equal.

§ 6. The form of expression respectingthe number of a manimplies 666 ordinary years, and by way of contradistinction to this, 42 prophetical months.—The number of the beast is said to be the number of a man. This expression, of a man, either denotes a man definitely or indefinitely. If definitely, it has reference either to the beast with ten horns, or to the man computing. There is no need of either of these in a matter which is of itself obvious; and neither would tend to aid the calculation. Therefore it must be used indefinitely, whence the article is not added in the Greek: therefore the genitive singular, of a man, is used for human, as ὀστᾶ ἀνθρώπου, 1 Kings 13:2 (that is, ὀστᾶ ἀνθρώπσα, Numbers 19:16); σωτηρία ἀνθρώπω, Psalm 60:11 [see marg. of Engl. Version]; μάχαιρα ἀνθρώπου, Isaiah 31:8. Moreover it is either human number of times, or a number of human times. It is not the former: for it would then have to be a human number, either of years, or months, or days: but 666 years very far exceed the age of man: but 666 days or months are far too short to express the duration of the beast; and such an ellipsis of days or months is unusual: finally, the word, months, is already preoccupied by the opposite 42 months. Therefore it is a number of times, human, or belonging to man. But the expression, the number of a man, is used for this very conveniently. For as in Galatians 6:11, the greatness [of size] which belongs to the whole epistle is assigned to the letters; and as the curtailing, by which a longer interval is curtailed, is assigned to days, Psalm 102:24-25; and the middle, which belongs to greater times of the world, is assigned to years, Habakkuk 3:2 so, on the other hand, there is sometimes given to a collective noun a predicate, adapted to the individual things separately: Proverbs 30:26, οἱ χοιρογρύλλιοι ἔθνος οὐκ ἰσχυρόν: also, the days of My people are as the days of a tree, Isaiah 65:22,—of the people, that is of the individuals among the people. Among the Romans, Gallia Togata. And this metalepsis was especially befitting in a prophetical enigma, until the units of the times being found out, might themselves support the epithet, human, which was meanwhile sustained by the number, but was properly designed for themselves. Now since it is settled that the epithet, human, is taken indefinitely, and has reference to the individual times, it is evident of itself that such times are even passed by the beast, and, which falls in elegantly with the sense, by the computer of the number. Thus it is also in the case of the measures of the new Jerusalem, which are said, not universally, but each severally, to be the measure of a man, that is, of the angel, ch. Revelation 21:17; and likewise the angel who measures partakes of the measure of a man, which is indefinitely that of an angel.

We have seen in § 5, that the number 666 and 42 months are equal to each other. Therefore the 666 times of man are 666 ordinary years of men; and, on the contrary, the 42 months, inasmuch as in the text they are not said to be the months of a man, are truly prophetical months. Q. E. D.

Thus at length (I use an ad hominem argument) justice is done to the Vulgate translator, who writes, as we have remarked, § 1, sexcenti sexaginta sex. If DIoCLes aVgVstVs, as Bossuet says, or any other name of this kind, would fill up the number of the beast by its 666 points, the Suppositio Materialis [see Append. Techn.] would require sexcenta, etc., the neuter absolute having the force of a substantive; wherefore even Rupertus Tuitiensis, in resolving the word DICLUX, which was invented by Ambrose Ansbert out of DCLXVI, was not able to retain sexcentos, etc., but says that it made sexcenta sexaginta sex: Comm. on Ap. p. 379: which very neuter gender, you may see on this passage, is used by many interpreters willingly, and by Romanists sometimes against their will. Now they ought to bring forward some who read sexcentos sexaginta sex; otherwise they will not be able to absolve the Translator, so highly extolled at Trent, from an error, and that of a serious character (for the subject is both a most weighty one, and the reading in the Latin copies is most unvarying). Those sexcenti sexaginta sex are so many years. Innocent III. long ago interpreted it by years in his Epistle to ALL the faithful of Christ, in aid of the Holy Land, A. 1213, and, to omit others of the intermediate ages, F. Louis S. Francisci, in his Cycle of Secrets, p. 917, edit. Rom. This stricture of Innocent, if there be added to it the parallelism of the 42 months, the length of the first and second woes, which is analogous to these, the intervals after the first and the second woe, the union of the beast and the woman, must persuade even those who depend on pontifical authority, of the true interpretation of the whole prophecy.

We return to the subject itself. The ellipsis of a “year” is of frequent occurrence. Xenophon, οἱ δέκα ἀφʼ ἥβης, who are passing the tenth year from their puberty. Plato, lib. vi. de legib., κατʼ ἐνιαυτὸν δὲ εἶναι καὶ μὴ μακρότερον χρὴ τὴν ἱερωσύνην ἐκάστῳ. ἔτι δὲ μὴ ἔλαττον ἑξήκοντα ἡμῖν εἴη γεγονὼς ὁ μέλλων καθʼ ἱεροὺς νόμους περὶ τὰ θεῖα ἱκανῶς ἁγιστεύειν. Polybius, ὀκτωκαίδεκα γεγονὼς, of eighteen years. But Dio Cass. appropriately to this passage, τόσα γέγονα, as though he should say, this is my number, that is, of years. The two last instances are contained in the Greek ellipses of Bos; and, from all the instances which he has collected of substantives that are usually omitted, you may perceive that nothing but ἔτος is suitable to this passage. In Daniel mention is made of LXX. weeks, the word, yearly times, being understood. Therefore ὁ ἀριθμὸς τοῦ θηρίου is equivalent to ὁ ἀριθμὸς τῶν ἐτῶν τοῦ θηρίου, just as ἀριθμὸς γενημάτων is equivalent to ἀριθμὸς ἐνιαυτῶν γενημάτων, Leviticus 25:15-16.

This ellipsis of years is not without advantage. If they had been expressly mentioned by name, the reader would have been liable to confound together times strictly and figuratively denoted, with an error which would create many disturbances; whereas now ordinary years conceal their own title, in sight of the prophetic months. So much the less ought the human times to cause us any difficulty in this book, since they are so sparingly and providently attempered with so many prophetical times, and so therefore without any danger of their being confounded with one another. For we do not pass by a leap, but we are gradually led from the prophetic times to the ordinary years which are here indicated by the ellipsis, and then in succession to the ordinary years, which are expressly mentioned as such in ch. 20. But the ellipsis even contributes to the seasonableness of the enigma, not only with reference to the beast, to whom, in the same mysterious manner as to the king of Babylon of old, the number and consummation of his kingdom is written before his eyes, Daniel 5:26, but also with reference to the saints, who would have been disheartened by the long duration of those most sorrowful times, if they had known it, both on their own account and on account of their friends; for they did not imagine that so many years remained, even to the world itself. But it is evident that they, both before the Reformation and afterwards, were long supported by that hope, that the war against the saints would quickly come to an end. It was plainly to their own great advantage that they did not comprehend the age of the beast (for it was not then at hand). At one time the beast was acquainted with the times, and not with himself; the saints were acquainted with the beast more than with his times: now both the beast and his number, or, in other words, his times, will together become more and more known.

As to what remains, it is a question whether the number of 666 years in the Greek text is to be taken in the masculine or neuter gender. If the former, the reading is ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἓξ ἐνιαντοί; if the latter, it is ἑξακόσια ἑξήκοντα ἓξ ἔτη. But in truth the neuter gender, to which we gave the preference, § 1, is far superior to the masculine, as we shall presently, § 7, more fully ascertain.

§ 7. These 666 years have an appendage.—The 666 and the 1000 years, or ἔτη, are properly opposed to each other. The beast rages 666 years: they who had not worshipped the beast reign 1000 years. Moreover 666 are to 1000 years as nearly as possible in the same ratio as 2 to 3; but precisely as 3 are to 2, so are 1000 expressed years to 666 666/999 2/3, and this fractional number agrees with the ellipsis, leaving the word year to be understood: for each unit of the number of the beast is a figurative year, but is so with the addition of a few hours; which addition does not take away the truth of the ordinary year, but yet makes the title of year in some degree inappropriate. Thus the number 666 and the 1000 years mutually confirm and explain one another. It has occurred to some, doubtless from that hypothesis of the Apocalyptic year which contains 360 days, that is, the same number of years,—that 1000 years may be taken for 360 thousands of ordinary years. And although this thought is very absurd, yet it may have no slight influence with him who has been struck with the accurate analogy of the Apocalyptic times. Now, it is not only in this one place, but also previously in the number 666, that ordinary years and those “of a man” are employed. On the other hand, because the thousand years are said to be ἔτη, the number of 666 years is furnished with the most appropriate word to be supplied, viz. ἔτος, and the confusion between ordinary and prophetical times is thereby the more avoided; for a prophetical year in this book is called ἐνιαυτὸς, ch. Revelation 9:15, but here they are ἔτη, which are partly expressed and partly understood. Indeed ἐνιαυτὸς has something more of a general meaning than ἔτος. Whence the comic writer said, ἐτῶν ἐνιαυτοὺς, and Plato in his Cratylus does not vary much from him. It has a closer reference to this, that the noun ἐνιαυτὸς is used for denoting any positive year, so to speak, while ἔτος is only used to denote the natural year. Apollodorus, lib. iii., speaking of Cadmus, ἀΐδιον ἐνιαυτὸν ἐθήτευσεν ἄρει· ἦν δὲ ἐνιαυτὸς τότε ὄκτω ἔτη. And the LXX., Deuteronomy 31:10, μετὰ ἑπτὰ ἔτη, ἐν καιρῷ ἐνιαυτοῦ τῆς ἀφέσεως: and thus continually, Leviticus 25:10; Verse 18. - Here is wisdom, Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man. The last clause has no article, ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστί. Compare the expression, "Here is the patience," etc. in ver. 10, where it relates to what precedes. Here it evidently refers to what follows. The form of expression is frequent in St. John's writings (cf. 1 John 2:6; 1 John 3:16, 19; 1 John 4:10, etc.). The plain meaning seems to be that men may display their wisdom and understanding in discovering the meaning of the number of the beast. But the interpretation which Auberlen gives may be correct; viz. that as the first beast is met and vanquished by patience and faith, so this second beast is to be met by wisdom. This agrees with our interpretation of this second beast as symbolizing self deceit. St. John evidently intends that the meaning of the number should be known: "Let him that hath understanding count the number;" that is, "Let him that hath understanding discern in what sense the symbol is used." It is the "number of man;" that is, it describes symbolically something which is peculiarly a characteristic of mankind. Some writers have understood the words to mean, "the number refers to an individual man;" but the absence of the article militates against this view. Others explain, "It is a number which is to be reckoned according to man's mode of reckoning," just as in Revelation 21:17, "a measure of a man." If this be the meaning, it leaves open the question as to what St. John meant by "the usual mode of man's reckoning." His own use of numerals throughout the Apocalypse is, as we have repeatedly seen, symbolical of general qualities, and does not indicate either individuals or exact numbers. We are justified, therefore, according to this view, in interpreting the number symbolically (vide supra). And his number is Six hundred three score and six. The Revised Version is better, Six hundred and sixty and six; it preserves the similarity of form which is found in the Greek words, ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, as found in A. In א we have ἑξακόσιαι, etc.; in P, Andreas, ἑξακόσια. The shortened form χξς' is found in B and most cursives. C, 11, and some manuscripts known to Irenaeus and Tichonius differ by reading ἑξακόσιαι δέκα ἕξ, "six hundred and sixteen," but this is probably incorrect. Commentators have universally attempted to discover the name denoted by this number, by attaching to each letter of the name (generally the Greek letters) its numerical value, the total of which should equal the number 666. To this method there are several objections. In the first place, St. John nowhere else makes such use of a number, though numbers form a prominent feature of the book. In the second place, the adoption of this method seems to have been a consequence upon the interpretation of the words, "number of a man," as meaning "a number to be calculated according to man's methods." But this may not be the meaning at all (vide supra); and, if it is, "man's method" would surely signify the symbolical method which St. John adopts all through the rest of the book, as being a language perfectly well understood by himself and his readers. And thirdly, this numerical method has proved entirely unsatisfactory in the hands of those who have hitherto adopted it. For a complete expose of the fallaciousness of such attempts, we may refer the reader to Dr. Salmon's 'Introduction to the New Testament,' p. 291, et seq. A commonly received interpretation makes the name of the beast to be Nero Caesar, written in the Hebrew characters נרון קסר; and as the name may be written Neron or Nero, the difference of the final n ( = 50) is thought to account for the discrepancy in the manuscript authorities. Dr. Salmon shows that Nero could not have been intended, because (1)the prophecy in that ease would have been immediately falsified;

(2) the solution would have been known to the early Christians; but it was not known, according to Irenaeus. Dr. Salmon then adds (p. 300), "Pages might be filled with a list of persons whose names have been proposed as solutions of the problem. Among the persons supposed to be indicated are the emperors Caligula, Trajan, and Julian the Apostate, Genseric the Vandal, Popes Benedict IX. and Paul V., Mahomet, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Beza, and Napoleon Bonaparte. There are three rules by the help of which I believe an ingenious man could find the required sum in any given name. First, if the proper name by itself will not yield it, add a title; secondly, if the sum cannot be found in Greek, try Hebrew, or even Latin; thirdly, do not be too particular about the spelling." The above objections also hold good very generally with regard to the suggestion of λατεινος, by which may be indicated the Roman or Latin power, either pagan or papal. But if we attempt to interpret this number in the same way as we have dealt with all other numbers in the Apocalypse, viz. by regarding them as symbolical of qualities, we shall be on surer ground. In the first place, the number six is typical of what is earthly as opposed to what is heavenly. As seven is the number of perfection, and is descriptive of universality, and is therefore the symbol pertaining to God, so six is a type of what falls short of the heavenly ideal. Cf. the six days of the creation; the six years of servitude (Exodus 21:2, etc.) and of work (Exodus 23:10). Again, the threefold employment of the number six, while emphasizing the fact of the number referring to what is essentially earthly, has a fulness, importance, and seeming completeness which makes it a type of that which appears to be perfect, but in reality falls short of perfection. It is, in short, symbolical of a deceit, a sham. It is therefore descriptive of the nature of the second beast; of that self deceit which causes men to accept the world as a substitute for God, or, at least, as not antagonistic to him; which enables men to thus quiet their consciences, while in reality becoming followers of the worldly power and subjects of Satan. That this is the meaning of the number six is recognized by some writers, though they do not here so apply it. In the 'Speaker's Commentary,' Introduction, § 11 (a), we find, "Six is the 'signature' of non-perfection;" and, "This number is also a symbol of human rule and power." Wordsworth says, "The numerical symbol of the beast, 666, indicates that he aims at and aspires to the attributes of Christ, and puts forth a semblance of Christian truth, but falls away from it in a triple decline and degeneracy."

Revelation 13:18Here is wisdom

Directing attention to the challenge which follows.

Count (ψηφισάτω)

See on Luke 14:28.

The number of a man

It is counted as men usually count. Compare Revelation 21:17, and a man's pen, Isaiah 8:1. Some explain, a symbolical number denoting a person.

Six hundred threescore and six (χ. ξ. ς')

Each letter represents a component of the whole number: χ equals 600; ξ equals 60; ς' equals 6. In the earlier MSS: it is written in full, ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἐξ. The method of reading generally adopted is that known as the Ghematria of the Rabbins, or in Greek, ἰσοψηφία numerical equality, which assigns each letter of a name its usual numerical value, and gives the sum of such numbers as the equivalent of the name. Thus, in the Epistle of Barnabas, we are told that the name Ἱησοῦς Jesus is expressed by the number 888. Ι equals 10; η equals 8; σ equals 200; ο equals 70; υ equals 400; σ equals 200. The majority of the commentators use the Greek alphabet in computation; others, however, employ the Hebrew; while a third class employ the Roman numerals.

The interpretations of this number form a jungle from which escape is apparently hopeless. Reuss says: "This famous number has been made to yield almost all the historical names of the past eighteen centuries: Titus, Vespasian, and Simon Gioras; Julian the Apostate and Genseric; Mahomet and Luther; Benedict IX. and Louis XV.; Napoleon I. and the Duke of Reichstadt; and it would not be difficult, on the same principles, to read in it one another's names." Some of the favorite names are Λατεῖνος, Latinus, describing the common character of the rulers of the former pagan Roman Empire: Nero Caesar; Diocletian; χς' the name of Christ abridged, and ξ the emblem of the serpent, so that the sublimated sense is the Messiah of Satan.

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