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5. THE NUMBER 666.

The last point which confirms us in thinking that Nero is meant by the beast consists in the famous number (xiii. 18): “He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty and six.” The number of a man, or as it is said in xiii. 17, the number of the name of the beast is the number which results when all the numbers are added which are indicated by the letters of the name. In Latin only a few letters (I, V, X, L, C, M, D) are used for numbers, but in Greek and Hebrew all. Now the number 666 does really result when we write N(e)ron K(e)s(a)r (that is to say, Emperor Nero) in Hebrew letters and add up the numbers: 50 + 200 + 6 + 50 + 100 + 60 + 200 (the letters in brackets are not written in Hebrew). The number 666 also results from more than a hundred other solutions which have been suggested. But, apart from other reasons which show that the many popes, princes, and so forth down to the present time which people have tried to find in the beast, cannot be intended, no such calculation has been hit upon which might at the same time give 616 as the correct number. And yet there must be this alternative, for in many copies of the Apocalpyse even before the time of Irenaeus, that is to say, before 185, 616 is given as the number instead of 666, And this is the number we get if an “n” is omitted from Neron Kesar, which represents the number 50: Nero Kesar. This, too, would suit very well, for where Latin was spoken people said Nero, whereas the Greek form, familiar to the author of the Apocalypse himself, is Neron. It was natural to him to use Hebrew for the calculation, for 227in any case it was his mother-tongue, and it would make it less easy for uninitiated persons to solve the riddle. Irenaeus himself no longer knew the solution. It was rejected because Nero failed to return.

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