666 The Number of the Beast?
The Number of the Beast
666 is the Number of the Beast - Isn't it?
The number 666 is taken from a proclamation in Revelation, the last - and Weirdest book in the Bible. The actual quote is "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"
666 has been regarded for the past two thousand years as the symbol of the Anti-Christ who will become the ruler of the world in the days before "The Final Judgement".
Of the books of the New Testament, the book of Revelation was the first to be written, and it is replete with number puzzles.
The Hebrew alphabet consists of twenty-two letters, and unlike the English alphabet, each of the Hebrew letters has a corresponding number associated with it. This of course, means that combinations of numbers can be read not only as numbers, but also as words.
A number of commentators, including Professor David Parker and Friedrich Engels, argue that the book is actually a coded political message.
They regard it as an Anti-Roman tract, numerically ciphered to disguise it's true meaning. The number of the Beast, they argue, is not some mythical creature, but a real life flesh-and-blood monster, which they believed was either Caligula, or Nero, both of whom were reviled as persecutors of the early Christians.
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia (Yes - that's what I said!)
The number 666 is regarded by many people as a very unlucky number. Indeed it is the focus of a full-blown phobia (Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia - fear of the number 666) for the unfortunate few.
There is even a bizarre conspiracy theory that all product bar-codes contain 666 and that the number has been hidden in them in order to control humanity "No one could buy or sell unless he had this mark, that is, the beasts name, or the number that stands for his name" Revelation 13:7-18.
This myth has come about simply because the guard bars in a bar-code, (markers which mark the beginning, middle and end of the code) are similar (but not identical) to the bars that code for the number six.
Conspiracy theorists were mis-interpreting the guard bars for the number six which led them to conclude that the number 666 had been secretly embedded in every bar-code.
But fear of the number is not confined to religious nuts and extremists. Even some solid and sober institutions seem to live in fear of the Devil's number.
- In 2003 it was decided that US Highway 666 (a.k.a. "The Highway of the Beast") would have to be re-numbered - It is now Highway 491.
- The European Parliament always leaves it's seat No.666 vacant
- In 1991, The Moscow Transport Department changed the number of it's bus route 666, because is was regarded as a jinxed route, and this had been attributed to it's number.
Oh, now I feel silly!
In 2005, a new translation was attempted of the oldest known copy of the book of Revelation.
The book was recorded on papyrus that had been recovered from the Egyptian City of Oxyrhynchus. it was over 1,700 years old and had been translated by a palaeographical research team led by the aforementioned Professor David Parker of the University of Birmingham.
According to the latest (and presumably most accurate) translation of this earliest known book of Revelations, the number of the Beast is actually 616 not 666.
So now we can all feel a bit silly over the hysteria that we have generated over the wrong number for the past two thousand years!
But probably not as silly as The Moscow Transport Department will be feeling, because when they changed the number of their jinxed bus route, they changed it from 666 to 616 - Doh!
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