Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Beast, redux

The Beast
Originally uploaded by alcibiades.
Okay, I don't think I knew this.

It turns out that the number of the Beast, 666, is the Gematria -- that is the numerical value of the Hebrew letters of the name "Neron Caesar," that is, Nero.

As Bruce Metzger points out in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (1971), the numerical value of "666" is derived from the Hebrew/Aramaic values for the letters comprising the name נרון קסר, "Neron Caesar" (in Greek Νέρων Καῖσαρ) The variant "616" results from the alternate spelling נרו קסר. = Nero Caesar.

For those of you unfamiliar with the numerical values of the Hebrew alphabet, the values in the above name are nun = 50, resh = 200, waw = 6, nun = 50, quph = 100, samekh = 60, resh = 200. Add 'em up!

Hee, I guess I never translated that page, which makes sense, since I translated parts of various Gospels, but never Revelation. So I must have missed that explanation. And no one, as far as I can remember, ever whispered it in my ear.

Note that he gives the variant as 616, not as 636, which is mentioned in the NYSun article, cited below. Bad journalist from the NYSun. I cited the number 636 in a post below.

So, too, Irenaeus refutes the notion that 616 is the name of the beast.

Apparently Revelations was written in 68-69.

It's interesting, too, because Nero ended up being so disastrous for Judaism; the revolt against his tyranny and persecutions led to the destruction of the Second Temple.

I've wondered for quite a while what would have happened if the Jews had simply committed themselves to outlasting Nero and his persecutions. Tragic really. The whole fate of Judaism hinged on this revolt. Everything would have been different, as the Temple would not have been destroyed at that time. Without the Second Revolt as a justification for the iron fist, the relationship between Rome and Judea would have been altogether different as soon as a new Emperor replaced Nero. And no Hadrian to build Aelia Capitolina to replace Jerusalem during his reign. So no failed Bar Kochba revolt, with its myriads of ten thousands killed and the ground sown with salt, and the failed economy of a once wealthy land.


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