The Meaning of 666 in the Book of Revelation

Chapters 13 and 14 of the book of Revelation describe two groups of people.    The group described in chapter 14 has God's name written in their foreheads.    This group did not defile themselves with women, had no guile found in their mouths, and are without fault.    The group described in chapter 13 is everyone else, and they have the mark of the beast in their right hand or in their forehead.    The Greek word used for "mark", caragma, according to the Liddell, Scott Greek dictionary, can mean "any mark engraved, imprinted, or branded".    The mark or branding is probably not literally a branding of the person as in the branding of a camel, but rather a symbolic branding of the person, symbolizing ownership.

The book of Revelation is basically describing two kinds of people on the earth, those who serve God and Jesus, and those who do not serve God and Jesus, but serve the beast.

In talking about the first and second beasts, in the King James Version of the bible, the book of Revelation 13:16-18 says

   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.

These verses tell us a number of things about 666, and bible scholars have tried to unravel the mysteries of these verses, and determine just what 666 means.   Unfortunately for those scholars, the translation of the original Greek matters a great deal in determining just what 666 means.    So fasten your seat belts, brace yourselves, and hold on, because the answer is...

in a strict sense, 666 means
666 talents of gold given to King Solomon each year by the Queen of Sheba,
and in a broad sense, 666 means
wealth or money.

Concerning the strict interpretation, 1 Kings 10:14 says

   Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year
   was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,

and 2 Chronicles 9:13 says

   Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year
   was six hundred and threescore and six talents of gold;

Further evidence that the 666 refers to Solomon's gold is that verse 18 says

   Here is wisdom.

King Solomon had great wisdom.

In addition, verse 18 says

   Let him that hath understanding count the number of
   the beast:

The author is saying you can determine the mark of the beast by counting the talents of Solomon's gold, 666 talents of gold.

The original Greek word used for "count", yhfisatw, can take on several meanings such as "to pebble", "to pebble as in voting", or to "let him calculate".    Because some translators have used calculate, some readers felt the need to assign numerical values to the Hebrew and Greek alphabet in an attempt to calculate the sum of the letters in arriving at 666, such as assigning a number to each letter of "Neron Caesar" and adding up the numbers for a total of 666.    But this translation is not as accurate as the interpretation of "to pebble" or "count", and therefore should not be used.

Professor Richard Kraut of Northwestern University explained that

   The original meaning, literally, is "to pebble," i.e. to
   reckon or count with a pebble. The most common use of
   the term in classical Greek was political -- i.e. to
   cast one's pebble as a vote. But the first meaning
   listed in LSJ is "to count or reckon" which was
   presumably done with pebbles.

As you can see then, counting the talents of gold is the preferred interpretation, rather than calculating a sum of numbers equivalent to Greek or Hebrew letters.  If the translator insists on using "let him calculate", then the proper use of the translation is to sum or calculate the separate weighings of the talents of gold in arriving at a total weight of 666.

And finally, evidence that the 666 refers to Solomon's gold is
in verse 17 which says

   so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark,

In order to buy or sell, Solomon's gold (money) is indeed required.

Concerning the broad interpretation, 666 refers to money since Jesus said in Matthew 6:24

   No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the
   one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one,
   and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Jesus is here referring to the two groups of people on the earth just as the book of Revelation refers to two groups of people. Many will choose to serve mammon (material wealth), and few will choose to serve God.

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