666: The Number of the Beast"
by Dan Kapelovitz
June 6, 2006, or the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year of the
millennium (or seventh year, depending on where you start counting) is
quickly approaching. While this date might not necessarily mark the end of
the world, now might be a good time to explore the meaning of the number
Six hundred, three score and six, or 666, is probably the most feared number
in the world. The number 13 may be unlucky, but 666 has evil connotations on
a cosmic scale. We're not talking about black cats and spilled salt; we're
dealing with a horned beast that speaks like a dragon and makes fire rain
down from heaven. Just as the fear of the number 13 is called
"triskaidekaphobia," the fear of 666 is similarly named
When Ronald Reagan's Bel-Air home had the address 666, his wife Nancy had it
changed to 668 (a number often jokingly described as "the Neighbor of the
Beast"). U.S. Highway 666, known as the "the Highway of the Beast," was
renumbered in 2003 due to its seemingly satanic nature. Heavy metal bands
often invoke the number to freak out the hexakosioihexekontahexaphobic
parents of teenage headbangers.
The number appears in the last Book of the New Testament, known as the Book
of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John. Revelation describes the end of the
world. Good eventually triumphs over evil, but not before all kinds of crazy
shit goes down, including the appearance of the four horsemen of the
apocalypse, four angels of death, the Whore of Babylon, a dragon, a lamb
with seven eyes and seven horns and at least two beasts, one of whom can be
recognized by the infamous number.
Here are the biblical words that made 666 famous: "And he causeth all, both
small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their
right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save
he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
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." --Revelations, chapter 13, verses 16 through 18 (King
For nearly 2,000 years, there has been debate about what that number really
means. Below are some of the most popular theories.
The Number and Name of the Antichrist:
The word "antichrist" never actually appears in Revelations (although it
does appear elsewhere in the New Testament), but many Christians equate the
Beast with the antichrist and say he will be the planet's final ruler just
before the end of the world as we know it.
To figure out who is the Antichrist, people often "count the number of the
beast" by relating the letters in the name of a famous figure to the number
666 using some form of gematria. Gematria is the calculation of the
numerical equivalencies of letters, words or phrases used to gain insights
into the interrelation of various concepts. Occult-studies expert Lon Milo
DuQuette points out that "John's book [Revelations] was written in Greek by
a Jew who spoke Aramaic (the language spoken by Jesus and his disciples),
and he lived in a Roman-occupied world. Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Aramaic
are all written in alphabets whose letters also represent numbers."
So which language should be used to determine who is the Beast? Of course,
in America, an English-based numerological system is most commonly used.
People couldn't care less that the writers of the Bible had no knowledge of
English, perhaps reasoning that the Bible is the word of God, and surely God
is fluent in English.
No matter what language is used, with enough numerological gymnastics,
anyone's name can be transformed into 666. Below are some of the most
popular Antichrists and the methods used to divine their true evilness.
Some people think that Sadam Hussein who ruled Iraq (modern-day Babylon) is
the Antichrist. Using the Hebrew alphanumeric system, Hussein's first name
adds up to 666 like so: Samekh = 60 , Aleph = 1, Daleth = 4, Aleph = 1, Mem
(final) = 600. The total? You guessed it, 666.
Hitler is another obvious choice for beasthood. His last name adds up to 666
using the following formula: A=100, B=101, C=102 and so on. Therefore H =
107, I = 108, T = 119, L = 111, E = 104, R = 117 and H + I + T + L + E + R =
equals 666. Hitler has also been made into 666 using his first and last
initials in the following manner: Give A the value of one since it is the
first letter of the alphabet, and H the value of eight since it is the
eighth letter. Therefore A. H. = 1,8 or 18, which is 6 + 6 + 6.
In the 1980s, many people believed that President Reagan was the antichrist
based on the fact that his three names, "Ronald," "Wilson" and "Reagan,"
each contained six letters. Reagan also won his first government election
(the GOP primary for California Governor) in June, 1966 (6/66).
One of the world's richest men, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is another
contender for the Beast title. Take all the letters in "BILL GATES" and
convert them into ASCII code (American Standard Code for Information
Interchange), then add up the numbers and add three because he is "Bill
Gates, the Third," and the multibillionaire's name becomes 666 like so: B
(66) + I (73) + L (76) + L (76) + G (71) + A(65) + T (84) + E (69) + S (83)
+ 3 [for "the third"]=666. The fact that his full name is William Henry
Gates III, or that III would really be 73, 73, 73 in ASCII is irrelevant to
The former Vice President's name can also translate into 666 using ASCII
(just as long as you use lower-case letters and include the space between
"al" and "gore"). Here's how: a (97) + l (108) + [space] (32) + g (103) + o
(111) + r (114) + e (101)= 666
Various Popes (if not all of them) have also been thought to be the
antichrist. In addition to adding up the letters of specific popes' names,
the Latin phrase "Vicarius Filii Dei," which means "representative of the
Son of God" has been used to equate popes in general with the Antichrist by
adding up the values of the Roman numerals (giving a value of zero to any
letter that is not a Roman numeral and taking into account that Romans wrote
the letter U as a V). V=5, I=1, C=100, A=0, R=0, I=1, U=5, S=0; F=0, I=1,
L=50, I=1, I=1; D=500, E=0, I=1, with a grand total of, you guessed it, 666.
Of course, the Vatican contends that it never refers to the papacy as
Vicarius Filii Dei.
Another common method of assigning numbers to the letters of the English
alphabet is to use the following system: A=6, B=12, C=18 and so on. Using
this system, the letters in the name "Kissinger" add up to 666.
Famed occultist Crowley is one of the few people in history call himself the
Of course, none of the people listed above even existed until after the
author of Revelation was long dead, which isn't surprising since the text is
considered a prophecy. But many scholars believe that the person known as
John who wrote of the coming apocalypse was actually writing about the
present situation in coded language. The early Christians were being
persecuted by the Romans, and some believe that the Beast refers to the
Roman Emperor Nero. But for Nero to equal 666, the beast counter has to use
the alternate spelling of Nero, which is Neron and add the name Caesar,
which in Hebrew would be Nrwn Qsr. Interestingly Nero Caesar (without the
final "n") or Nrw Qsr is said to add up to 616, which is actually the number
that is used in some versions of the Bible. The alternate spellings of Nero
are supposed to explain this discrepancy.
The Beast is Not a Person, But a Place or a Thing:
Not all people believe that the Beast is a human being; they see the Beast
as an object that will cause the end times or a location where the final
battle between good and evil will transpire.
Some theorists maintain that the exact center of the holy city of Jerusalem
is 31° 47' 00 N by 35° 13' 00 E. They say if these two numbers are added
together 666 is the result, when in actuality, the result is 66° 60', which
would be more easily translated into either the numbers 66.60 or 6,660.
New York and the USA:
Using the same number system as used for Kissinger, "US of America" and "New
York" add up to 666.
Computers figure heavily in many explanations of 666. Some doomsday
soothsayers contend that a supercomputer will enable the Antichrist to rule
the world and that somehow the number 666 will be the number of this
machine. Using the a=6, b=12, c=18 method, the word "computer" adds up to
666. The first Apple Computer, the Apple I was reportedly sold for $666.66.
The World Wide Web:
Others see the Internet's World Wide Web as 666 because WWW in Hebrew is
vav, vav, vav, or 666. Critics of this theory contend that vav, vav, vav
would really be 6 + 6 + 6, or 18. Another related theory points out that
VIVIVI in Roman numerals is 666 and that perhaps the vision from the future
just looked like VIVIVI and was really WWW.
The Mark of Beast:
One of the more popular theories about 666 focuses on the Mark of the Beast,
the mark in (or on) the right hand or in (or on) the forehead, without which
no man may buy or sell. Not surprisingly, "Mark of the Beast" adds up to
666 (using the Kissinger method).
The Universal Product Code:
The invention and use of the Universal Product Code (UPC) has, too many,
seemed a perfect candidate for the Mark of the Beast, but instead of placing
the code on a box of Oreo Cookies, the Beast will force human being to be
stamped with the Mark, otherwise, they will be killed. And if they do get
the Mark, they won't go to heaven. It's sort of a lose/lose situation.
George J. Laurer, the man who invented the UPC barcode system, has been
bombarded with questions about his creation's relation to the Mark of the
Beast ever since he developed it in 1973. People claim that the three sets
of lines that protrude below the UPC barcode each look like the UPC code for
the number six. Laurer admits that they do "resemble" the code for six, but
that "there is nothing sinister about this nor does it have anything to do
with the Bible's 'mark of the beast.' It is simply a coincidence like the
fact that my first, middle, and last name all have 6 letters. There is no
connection with an international money code either."
But there is already a US Patent for invisibly tattooing a UPC barcode on
human skin. Some fear that everyone in the future will be forced to get a
barcode tattoo, sort of an ID/credit card. This number will be three sets of
six-digit numbers, hence 666. The invention of RFID (Radio Frequency
Identification) also has people freaked out. These chips, which send off
radio waves and are currently placed on many products, may one day be
implanted into the right hand or the foreheads of average citizens.
In Roman numerals, 666 is written as DCLXVI, or all of the numerals from 1
to 500 in descending order. D (500) + C (100) + L (50) + X (10) + V (5) + I
(1). Taking out the L would explain the number 616 in some versions of the
Bible. Some believe that the number DCLXVI represents buying and selling in
general, since Roman numerals were used as trading symbols.
Maybe one day we will find out the true meaning of 666. But if we do, then
we are totally fucked.
(This article first appeared in High Society Magazine)
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