The Number 666

This number has been described as the "number of the beast" or the "mark of the Antichrist" and has appeared as such in numerous books and movies. But why is this so and what are the origins of this number? To find answers we need to look to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, a line from chapter 13 reads:

"Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666"

The devil

One of the theories relating to this I have put forward in my tarot site Biblical Theory article. In order to analyse the hidden meaning of this number we need to look back to the times when this book was written which was the latter part of the first century BCE.
The Romans
During the first century the Romans occupied Judea (modern day Israel), they subjected the population to heavy taxes and harsh Roman rule, any subversion was dealt with swiftly and brutally. The people, although allowed to follow their own religion demanded self rule and were often in direct rebellion with their Roman overlords. This remote outpost of the Roman Empire became more and more difficult to manage, ultimately resulting in the Jewish wars and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE.

From that time onwards Jews were considered enemies of Rome. The Christian movement which also arose at this time was viewed with suspicion. Anyone reading the apocalyptic writings would have recognised the reference to "The Beast", and the association of that number.

John of Patmos
John as far as we know was a disciple of Paul and is the author of the Gospel of John. He was allegedly banished by the Roman authorities from Rome to the Greek island of Patmos, where according to tradition, he wrote the Book of Revelation. These writings were done at the very time the Jewish uprising was being crushed in Judea. Nero had been responsible for the death of his family and now the destruction of the Jewish/Christian capital.
Understanding the Number
To understand the association requires the reader to know that both the Hebrew and Greek languages used alphabetical letters to represent numbers. They didn’t have the stand-alone numeric symbols we do now. So any number could potentially contain a riddle which would be totally lost when displayed in any translation including roman numerals. Naturally, anything John wrote which could be deemed subversive had to be in code to get past his Roman captors.

In Hebrew the number 666 is represented as a sum and each part of that sum equals a character.

N = 50 R = 200 W = 6 N =50 Q = 100 S = 60 R = 200

From here we can see that it spells out NRWN QSR.

Given that the emperor at the time was Nero Caesar, we can see the direct correlation between the name and number. (This same correlation would also have existed in Hebrew). As simple as this code was it would not have been understood by Latin speaking Romans.

Updated: 10/12/2023