Often connected with all sorts of misfortune, the end of the world and the Apocalypse, with Satan and the Antichrist, or the Book of Revelation, the number 666 is considered worldwide to be the mark of the beast, the Devil himself. But does it have a real meaning, and should we fear it?
In the Apocalypse (also called Book of Revelation), the final book in the Christian Bible, in Chapter 13 Verse 18, St. John says: “Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.”.
This would mean that 666 would allow us to identify the seven-headed, ten-horned beast that comes from the sea and which would bring the end of the world as we know it. This beast represents the world political system, which rules "over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation" (Apocalypse 13:7).
Another passage points out that "it also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.”(Apocalypse 13:16-18).
Number 6 represents imperfection. In the Bible, numbers are often symbolic, and 7 represents perfection, which is complete, even God himself. 7 days, for instance, was the time taken to create the world according to the Scriptures.
Thus, number 6 represents something incomplete or faulty according to the eyes of the Creator, or connected to God's enemies according to the Book of Daniel. 6 rejects compliance, shuts doors and locks itself into a finite vision of reality.
The fact that the three numbers are identical, 666, is because 3 is the ultimate divine number, from the figure of Trinity. In 3, we can see the principle of figures applied into every level of being: body, soul and spirit.
In the movie The Omen, which we'll discuss later on, it is pointed out that 666 would be the nemesis to the Holy Trinity -the Diabolical Trinity-, and instead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it would be composed of Satan, Antichrist and False Prophet. This is an equivalent to the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet inhabiting the abyss according to the Apocalypse.
The Bible says that people receive "the Mark of the Beast" because, due to their admiration of it, they follow it and even worship it, so it could even be compared to a cult. That is why it is said that the Antichrist is marked by 666.
The hand and forehead reference sends us into another book in the Scriptures, the Book of Deuteronomy, and according to its biblical meaning we understand that the Mark of the Beast is no physical mark, like a tattoo with 666 on it, but something more of a symbol to recognise those who have chosen to quit following God's precepts.
Thus, we shouldn't expect to see the Antichrist, Beelzebub or Satan walking around the streets and recognising them with this sign, because it won't be visible to our plain eyesight.
The figure of 666, according to everything mentioned, points out the fact that the Beast and its followers don't respond to God's creative expectations for humankind, and many have tried to decode the number to find a name.
An usual method to code texts was to replace letters by numbers, and there's authors that point out that 666 would be the hiding spot for emperor Nero. In the last century, the names of Kaiser or Hitler were calculated until reaching the number 666. And another fun fact is that throughout history it has been stated that the Antichrist was actually Napoléon Bonaparte or the eccentric emperor Caligula.
All attempts to identify the number with the literal calculation of the names of certain individuals find difficulties due to the language's metaphorical nature, and the numbers are used in the Book of Revelation, also known as Apocalypse.
The fact that 666 is the Mark of the Beast is well-known thanks to the movies, and in particular, the Richard Donner movie The Omen. In it, diplomat Robert Torn (Gregory Peck) loses his newborn son, but encouraged by the hospital where his wife is staying, they replace the little one with another orphan baby, born to a woman with no home or family.
His wife is ignorant to this secret, and they give a healthy upbringing to the child, Damien, who starts showing strange and sinister behavioural patterns. A priest will warn Robert that his son is the Antichrist and that he wants to bring the world to an end. One of the most well-known instances in The Omen is when he's cutting his son's hair and finds the mark of 666 under his dense mane of hair.
The movie had two sequels with a teen and adult Damien, and a third where the main character is a little girl, Delia, who will turn out to be the daughter of the Antichrist. In 2006 there was a new version, Omen 666, and it premiered on June 6 that same year, so that in the calendar, as a sort of joke, people would see the date 6/6/6.
This number has been used in many other movies as a catch in the title or the posters, and among them we can point out The Mark of the Beast, about a satanic cult that kidnaps a woman with the intention of sacrificing her.