Daily Archives: May 15, 2009

Fun with 666

Outside of Jewish circles, interest in gematria tends to focus on a single number — 666, gematria’s unholy grail. One can only tinker around with gematria for so long before succumbing to the temptation to play “pin the tail on the antichrist” — it’s just too much fun. Here I’ll be using my own pet system, S:E:G: (Simple English Gematria, in which A=1 and Z=26), to explore this most deliciously evil of numbers.

The idea of the number of the beast comes from Revelation 13:18 in the Bible: “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.” S:E:G: points us to that very verse.

  • Revelation of Jesus to John, thirteenth chapter, eighteenth verse = 666
  • Bible, Revelation of St. John the Divine, chapter thirteen, verse eighteen = 666
  • Wisdom: Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast. = 666

Aside from its biblical significance, 666 has some interesting mathematical properties. It is the 36th triangular number — that is, the sum of all the integers from 1 to 36.

  • the thirty-sixth triangular number, declared the number of the beast = 666
  • a numeral thrice repeated, the triangular expansion of thirty-six = 666

Unlike, say, Greek isopsephy or Hebrew gematria, which are based on powers of ten and can represent thee- and four-digit numbers with just a few letters, S:E:G: can requires a fairly long string to yield a number as large as 666. So when it comes to pegging an actual person as “the beast,” an unadorned name is not enough; some kind of title or description must be added. Here are a few examples:

  • the ridiculous Scientologist actor Thomas Cruise Mapother IV = 666
  • George Walker Bush, the Texan President of the United States of America = 666
  • Jann Wenner, who publishes Rolling Stone and other such magazines = 666
  • Hu Jintao, Paramount Leader of the Communist [expletive] occupying China = 666
  • Joseph Smith, Jr., of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints = 666
  • folk music icon Robert Allen Zimmerman, commonly known as Bob Dylan = 666
  • Professor Clinton Richard Dawkins, famous ethologist and atheist = 666
  • William James (also abbreviated Wm Jas) Tychonievich, the second of that name = 666

If you think the people listed above are not really antichrists but have been unfairly accused, don’t blame me; blame the English language. Maybe the alphabet itself is evil!

  • a bee cee dee e ef gee haitch i jay kay el em en o pee cue ar ess tee u vee double-u ex wy zee = 666.

Or perhaps the real blame lies with the book that gave us the whole idea of 666 and the antichrist: the New Testament.

  • the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse = 666

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