666 or 616? Do we have to choose a number or could it be both?

by fulltimestudent 7 Replies latest jw friends

  • fulltimestudent

    I'm sure that most longer term readers on this list know that the use of the number in the Revelation was a 'code' using the Jewish concept that assigned number values to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

    A promoter of modern Judaism ( Dr. Eliyahu Lizorkin-Eyzeneberg) explains:

    Today gematria is well-known as a Jewish interpretive method that assigns numerical values of Hebrew letters to words, phrases and/or sentences. Then, by adding them together, seeks to determine their deeper meaning. Sometimes that connection is farfetched, but sometimes it is quite clear. But was Gematria also present the New Testament? The answer is a clear yes.

    Here are two obvious examples among many.

    "In Matthew’s genealogy, which shows that Jesus/Yeshua was a descendent of King David, we read “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.” (Mathew 1:17). The numerical value of the Hebrew characters forming the name of the great King of Israel - David (דוד) is 14."

    ד (4) + ו (6) + ד (4).

    So what about these numbers in Revelation, which have led to so much ignorant speculation?

    Lizorkin-Eyzeneberg comments that:

    In the Book of Revelation, we read, “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” (Rev. 13:18)
    Although the beast of the book of Revelation is almost certainly not limited to the first-century, near the time of writing of the Book of Revelation, there was a blood-thirsty persecutor of the early Christ-followers - Nero Caesar, whose name,if counted from Hebrew, had a numeric value of 666. Interestingly, according to tradition, both Peter and Paul were martyred during his reign. It is likely that Nero Caesar was a symbolic figure of all future government-sponsored persecutions.

    So that could account for the 666 option, but what about 616?

    Here's his answer, in translation, if you apply gematria to Latin,... he argues::

    If the original identification of the beast as Emperor Nero is correct, this explains why some early manuscripts of the Book of Revelation have 616 instead of 666 as the number of the beast. This is the numeric value of Emperor Nero's name calculated from Latin.

    That explanation came from an email circular that Dr. Eliyahu Lizorkin-Eyzeneberg sends out to promote his version of contemporary Judaism.

  • tepidpoultry


  • Crazyguy

    Both piont to Nero

  • shepherdless

    This is pretty much what we learnt in a religious education class when I was in school, decades ago. ie, the "beast" was most probably Nero. I think (but I am not 100% sure) that this is the generally accepted view amongst Catholics and mainstream Protestants.

    The purpose of the coding was probably just so that the casual reader of the book (or casual listener) in around 60 to 90 AD wouldn't pick up that the early Christians were saying such nasty things about their oppressors. It was what we would call "dog-whistling" in politics today.

    There is more evidence that the "beast" of Revelations is Nero (or another Roman Emperor) because of a double meaning in the original Greek for "mark of the beast". It could also mean the currency/coinage of the beast. Someone else can probably explain that point better.

  • dropoffyourkeylee

    I always thought the WT explanation has an inherent anachonism also. They always included the explanation that it was the number 6 repeated three times. But it wasn't, it was the number six hundred sixty-six. The way to 'do math' back then was with Roman numerals, which is not the number 6 repeated three times. The invention of representing larger numerals placing 10's in the second digit from the right, 100's in the third digit from the right, etc., as well as the concept of zero, came into use later. I think that was an Arabic invention.

  • schnell

    Oh. So that's why the Marvel comic universe was called Earth-616 for so long. Eh I figured.

  • Half banana
    Half banana

    FTS, the subject of gematria is important in understanding how irrational certain religious believers think. It is very well regarded in some circles as I am aware from my Jewish clients.

    The fact is that in many languages alphabetic characters double up as numerals. Since the relationships are entirely arbitrary, apart from by chance, they can be no connection of the numerical value of words containing numbers to the meaning of those words.

    This is the rational approach but most religious people are by definition superstitious and therefore having already granted the Bible to be sacred are not content with that, they must see something further in their holy writings.

    With this superstition in mind, I meant to post earlier on the Hebrew word for "thou" and "thee" which is "antah" (pron. an-taw). I think it contains an important JW hidden 'truth'.

    The use of thou" as a pronoun in the singular, is now almost dead in English speech (except in parts of Yorkshire where it is usually pronounced "tha." When my uncle was young, he rather too politely asked someone for the lavatory in Wakefield and was met with the reply "Dost tha mean shit-house lad?") but I digress.

    However in the Bible the word you in the singular, "antah" is used conspicuously in the very late book of Daniel written only one and a half centuries before the Common Era.

    The book of Daniel is irresistible for those trying to divine hidden meanings regarding "the time of the end". If you were into esoteric meanings and masonry in the nineteenth century, like Russell was, it is likely you would be confronted by the forceful use of the word "antah" in chapter 2 to 6 of Daniel, where it is found twelve times with repetition for emphasis.

    The word "thou" in Hebrew also signifies 607.

    What thinkest thou? I'm certain that Fred Franz and his Jewish associates would have been convinced.

  • Vidiot

    I've read about this theory before, too...

    ...that Revelation was actually written as a semi-coded narrative to reassure 1st-century Xtians that Rome would fall and they'd be vindicated.

    Gotta say, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than a prediction of an extinction-level event thousands of years in the future.

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