John Edward Clarke.

Dissertation on the dragon, beast, and falseprophet, of the Apocalypse; in which the number 666 is satisfactorily explained. And also a full illustration of Daniel's vision of the ram and hegoat online

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Online LibraryJohn Edward ClarkeDissertation on the dragon, beast, and falseprophet, of the Apocalypse; in which the number 666 is satisfactorily explained. And also a full illustration of Daniel's vision of the ram and hegoat → online text (page 1 of 27)
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RAM AND HE-GOAT^jj^-gj^^-g:

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THE principal design of the following
pages is to shew, by means of the number
666, what is intended in the Book of the Re-
velation by the Beast and Fahe-prophet,
This is a subject which has long exercised
the learning and ingenuity of commentators
in general ; and hitherto with comparatively
little success, as not one of the vast variety
of opinions upon the number of the Beast,
already before the public, is allowed to be
sufficient to elucidate the whole that is men-
tioned in the Apocalypse, with which this
number has, directly or indirectly, any con-
nection. Therefore none of these imperfect
solutions could have been designed by the
Holy Spirit ; for the number of the Beast,
which refers, according to the plain tenor of
the text, to his name, must symbolize a
name, with which the whole description of
the Beast agrees in every particular. As,
therefore, so much depends upon having a

correct view of the number 666, that, inde-



pendently of it, the whole of the prophecy
relating to the Beast and False-prophet can
never be satisfactorily explained, I have
treated this part of my subject with very
considerable detail ; what mode of number-
ing is intended in the prophecy is stated,
and numerous examples given in support of
it. A great variety of opinions respecting
the Apocalyptic number, are also produced
that the reader may have in one view the
principal part of what has been written upon
it from the time of Irenceus to the present
period. A calculation of the number of the
Beast is also given, which I believe to be
the only true meaning of the passage. Upon
this I have spent several pages ; and have
succeeded, as far as I am able to judge, in
shewing that the calculation upon which al-
most the whole of what is contained in the
following pages rests as a foundation, is that
which is alone designed in the prophecy.
That the prophetic description of the Beast
may be shewn to agree exactly with the
name derived from his number, the thirteenth
and seventeenth chapters of the Apocalypse
have been examined with considerable de-
tail ; and that nothing may be wanting to
make this work as perfect as possible, some

observations are added upon the twelfth
chapter of the Revelation respecting the
Woman and the Dragon; with which the con-
tents of the thirteenth and seventeenth cliap-
ters have a very intimate connection. Un-
willing to lose this opportunity of elucidat-
ing, as far as it is in my power, those pro-
phecies which I believe have been hitherto
generally misunderstood, I have entered in-
to a minute examination of Daniel's vision
of the Ram and He-goat contained in the
eighth chapter of his Prophecy. This por-
tion of the Sacred Writings I am satisfied
has been almost wholly misunderstood, as
those verses relating to the little horn,
liave been by ancient commentators sup-
posed to refer to Antiochus Epiphanes; and
by moderns either to the Roman empire, or
Mohammedanistn .

In collecting materials for this work, I
have availed myself of every information that
I could find in authors upon the same sub-
ject, in almost all of whom I have met with
something that appeared to me excellent ; so
that in gathering a little from one, and a lit-
tle from another, and in numerous instances
differing from all, I believe I have, through


the blessing of God, succeeded in removing
many of the difficulties that have hitherto
lain in the way of commentators, in their
various attempts to illustrate the prophecies
relating to the Dragon, the Beast, the False-
prophet, and Daniel's vision of the Ram and

One principal reason why commentators
have so generally failed in their attempts to
explain the prophecies contained in Daniel
and the Revelation, arises from their misap-
prehension of many of the symbols with which
their subject has been connected ; and also
in often attaching to the same symbol differ-
ent ideas; by which very injudicious pro-
cedure they have rendered their observations
extremely dubious ; and darkened rather
than elucidated their subject. In the fol-
lowing work I have endeavoured to correct
this general error by assigning to each sym-
bol one determinate idea, which I have fixed
upon by a comparison of the different pas-
sages in the Sacred Oracles where it is used
with any explanation ; and this idea, with-
out the least variation, I have carried through
the whole of this work, for Scripture, all
must acknowledge, is the best interpreter of


The subject of the following pages occu-
pies but a very small part indeed of Daniel
and the Apocalypse ; the entire explanation
of these books is reserved, according to the
express declaration of God, to the time of the


CHAP. 1. lutroducHon of the subject — What is to be un-
derstood by counting the Number of the Beast^-The
phrase " For it is the number of a juan''' examined.
Page 1 — 5.

CHAP. II. Inquiry info the different hinds of number-
ing in use among the ancients — Determination of that
species of computation (alluded to by the Holy Spirit)
ishich is to be used in numbering the Beast. 6 — 36.

CHAP. III. Examination of the various interpretations
of the number of the Beast — Insufficiency of any inter-
pretation yet given in solving the mystery — That the
number of the Beast is not 616, as in some Greek copies ,
hut GQQ^ deynonstrated. 37 — 80.

CHAP. IV. The meaning of the prophetic sytnbol Beast
ascertained — The number 666 must be contained in the
Greek name of some power expressed in the most simple
form of which the language is capable — The species of
power represented by the Apocalyptic Beast demonstrated^
to he the regal or imperial — The number in the various
kingdoms or einpires that have appeared in the world^for
zohich there are Greek appellations^ computed — Only one
kingdom or empire contains the number of the Beast,
which must be that of Antichrist. 81 — 128.

CHAP. V. Exposition of the twelfth chapter of the Reve-
lation respecting the Woman and the Dragon. 129 — 168.

CHAP. VI. Exposition of the seventeenth chapter of the
Apocalypse, respecting the Whore and the Beast. 169-247.

CHAP. VII. Exposition of the thirteenth chapter of the
Revelation, respecting the seven-headed and ten-horned
Beast which rises out of the sea ; and of the two-horned
Beast which rises out of the earth. 248 — 345.

CHAP. VIII. Explanation of DaniePs vision of the
Ram and He-goat. 344—393.

CONCLUSION. 394—400.



auTou ^^g .



Introduction of the Subject — What is to be under-
stood by '' counting the number of the Beast" —
The phrase, ^' For it is the number of a man,"

jL here is no prophecy in the whole Book of God
which is more strongly marked than this which re-
spects the number of the Beast ; for it is introduced
with these solemn and impressive words '' Here
is wisdom." The right understanding of all that
is spoken relative to the Beast hangs, therefore,
upon tliis passage; it is evidently the key by



wliicli the sacred mystery is unlocked : conse-
quently, every attempt to explain the prophecies re-
lative to the Beast, which has not the correct com-
putation of the number 666 for its basis, must be
necessarily loaded with many insurmountable diffi-
culties. In order, therefore, to come at the truth,
a careful inquiry must be made respecting that spe-
cies of computation here alluded to ; for the number
contained in the Beast, or in his name, is directed
to be counted, as it is expressed in the preceding-
verse, '" 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." It is hence evident,
that the Beast, or the name of the Beast, contains
the number 666 ; which must be reckoned accord-
ing to some mode of numbering that is or has been
in use among men; for, otherwise, the number
would be totally inexplicable.

That the number of the Beast is to be counted
after some human mode of computation has been
very generally admitted by commentators; and
within these three last centuries the phrase '' For
it is the number of a man" has been conceived to
be equivalent to " It is a mode of numbering prac-
tised among men." Upon this side of the question
Cotterius, in his Commentaries on the thirteenth
chapter of the Apocalypse, appears to have spoken
the best. His words, together with Potter's para-
phrase upon them, are as follows : '' Numerus enim
hominis est: av'^^/oTrs, non rou av^^wTrs, quasi hic
appellatio hominis Antichristo tribuei^etur ; de bes-

tia agltur, cui appellationem hominis competere re-
piignat; vult igitur Scriptura numerum bestiseejus-
dem esse speciei cum nostrate ; numeri enim ratio
una lion est : nos res nostras ad decadum, et centu-
riariim, et chiliadum, et myriadum rationes exig'i-
mus^ quid ni vero angeli alias numerorum contabu-
lationes sequantur? That is, for it is the number
of a man, or of man ; not of this man, or that man,
or any particular man, as if the name of a man were
here attributed to Antichrist ; the prophet speak-
eth of the Beast, to whom the name and appellation
of a man cannot agree. The meaning, therefore,
is, that this number of the Beast is of the same kind
as other numbers are, which are used by us, who
are men and inhabitants of this world. For all
numbering is not after the same manner ; we that
are men number our things by tens, and by hun-
dreds, and by thousands, and by tens of thousands ;
but why may not angels rank and dispose units ac-
cording to other progressions and proportions ?
Forasmuch then as this number is the number of a
man, that is, a number of the same kind that other
numbers are, that are used by men; therefore we
cannot doubt that the computation and counting of
this number is such a kind of computation as is
usual among* men."*

In confirmation of this mode of interpretation,
that remarkable passage in the 17th verse of the
21st chapter of the Revelation has been produced
by Dr. Henry More and others, where mention is

* See Potter's Interpretation of the Number 666, chap. 10.


made of " the measure of a man/' [xir^ov av'^^wTre,
the form of the expression in this case being" the
same witli the a^i'^fjiog uv'^^wtts in the other, both
bcino- found without the definite articles o and roD.
In this last passag-e ixir^ov olv^^cotts must mean a
mode of measuring in use among men : for the ori-
ginal words, where this forms a part, are the follow-
ing : Kai 6ixsTqr^(re to rei-^og auT% kxccTov TS(r(ra&axov-
roi-Tso'crdocov tttj^cov, ^aroov av^Qioirs, b lg\v ayfiXs. Th&
most literal English version of which is, '" And he
measured its wall a hundred and forty-four cubits,
a measure of a man, which is that of the angel.'*
The evident sense of these words, which every per-
son who considers the subject must allow, is, un-
doubtedly, that St. John in his vision observed that
the angel measured the wall of the New Jerusalem
precisely with the same kind of cubit as is in use
among men. This is certainly a very powerful ar-
gument in favour of Cotterius's interpretation ; for
aqi^pLog av'^^u)7rs appears as likely to signify a maris
way of numbering as i^ir^ov av^qaiirs to import a
human mode of measuring.

Notwithstanding the great plausibility of Cotte-
rius's interpretation, it is certain that the argu-
ments are much more formidable which can be
brought against it, than those which can be pro-
duced in its favour. The first objection is, that the
phrase " For it is the number of a man" is wholly
unnecessary, if taken in his sense; for it must be
evident to every one, that if the number be counted
at all by man, it must be according to some system

of numbering" in use among* men. The second ob-
jection is^ that though a.oi^u.1^ uv^^^iutts may pos-
sibly be used in Cotterius's sense, yet it is not its
most obvious meaning; and the majority of com-
mentators, especially the Greek and Latin fathers,
have understood it literally of sojne man. Irenseus,
the most ancient commentator extant upon the
number of the Beast, certainly understood the
phrase in this sense, as he produces three instances
of proper names of men containing 666; and fur-
ther observes that several other names contain it.*
As, therefore, the phrase " For it is the number of
a man," stands in such connection with the number
of the Beast as to affect its meaning, according to
the way in which it is understood; I am fully satis-
fied that its most natural meaning must be that
which is here intended, viz. that it is a man zoho is
Slumbered, and not a man's way of numbering.

* See Irenaeus adversus IIa?reses, Lib. v. c. SO.


Inquiry into the different kinds of nmnbering in use
among the ancients — Determination of that spe-
cies of computation (alluded to hy the Holy Spi-
rit) lohichis to he used in numbering the Beast.

Having shewn in the preceding* chapter that the
number of the Beast is to be calculated according to
some mode of numbering with which men are ac-
quainted, we come now to consider the different
modes of computation in use among the ancients,
in order to discover^ if possible, in what way the
Beast's number should be reckoned. It is a well
known fact among the learned, that long before the
commencement of the Christian aera, the Greeks
held numbers in very high veneration. Pythago-
ras, who lived upwards of five hundred years before
the Incarnation, was the first that we read of, who
reduced the mystery of numbers into some sort of
system ; and Plato, who flourished about a century
later, put himself to incredible pains in explaining
the Pythagorean mysteries with respect to num-
bers; but in many places Plato himself is very ob-
scure, and in some parts of his works upon this sub-
ject his meaning is totally unintelligible, notwith-
standing the great endeavours both of ancients and
moderns to apprehend it. The Pythagorean and
Platonic philosophers held that God, our souls, and

all thing's in the world, proceeded from numbers;
and that from their harmonies, all things were pro-
duced.* Cicero says, that the Pythagoreans con-
ceived that all things are the product of numbers
and the mathematics, f And in his epistle to At-
licus he observes, that the numerical system of
Plato is an obscure thing. ;|: W. Morell, in his
Treatise upon the Origin of the Ancient Philoso-
phers, says that '' Pythagoras, the prince of the Ita-
lian philosophers, and pupil of Pherecydes, taught,
about the 60th Olympiad, that all things consist of
numbers, that the monad is the beginning of things ;
Ihat the dyad is the basis of every thing;, from
whence spring- numbers, points, lines, planes, bo-
dies, &c. &c." § Aristotle || speaks of the opinion
of the Pythagoreans in words to the following ef-
fect: '' These philosophers," says he, " seem to
imagine that number is the beginning- of every

* Augustine's City of God, with notes, by L. Vives, Book vi.
c. 5, note d.

T Pythagorei ex numeris, et Mathematicorum initiis, proficisci
volunt omnia. Cic. Acad. Quaest. Lib. iv. c. 37.

J Augustine's City of God, by L. Vives, B. \i. c. 3, note d.

§ Pythagoras, Italicorum philosophorum princeps, auditor
Pherecydis, Olymp. LX. docuit: Ex nuraeris omnia constare ;
Monadem initium rerum esse; Dyadem rerum esse materiam.
Inde numeros nasci, puncta, lineas, plana, corpora, &c. Antiq.
Graecar. Tom. X. Col. 337, 338.

11 ioilvovrai ^e xal ovroi rov dpi^t^ov vouAi^ovrs; ctp^r^v Sivoci rou
Ss, dpi^ij^ou s'oiy/icc to a.cri(jy >ca< to TTe^irrov ro'Jroiv l\ to Tre-
Ttapca-ijJvov, to 6l d!tzipov. Lib. i. c. 5. See also, Iren. Lib. ii.
c. 19, p. 142. Edit. 1702, a Grabe.

thin^; and that the elements of number are even
and uneven, the former of which is infinite, the lat-
ter finite." Eustratius, in his first book of Ethics,
speaks of the opinion of the Pythagoreans with re-r
spect to numbers in very nearly the same words
with Aristotle, when he tells us, that '' Pythagoras
divided numbers into two orders, one of which is
finite, or uneven, the other infinite, or even."*
Thus we find, from the testimony of several ancient
writers, independently of the great work of Plato
still extant, that the Greeks imagined numbers to
be of the utmost consequence, and to contain the
most sublime mysteries, as, in their estimation,
there existed not one thing in the whole com-
pass of nature, which had not a reference, directly
or indirectly, to some particular number or num-

Of all numbers, under which a mystery or mys-
teries were supposed to be couched, the Pythago-
reans appear to have had the greatest predilection
for those of three, four, seven, nine, and ten. Of
each of these the most extravagant things have been
asserted; and though, in favour of these numbers,
many curious and, it must be allowed, singularly
coincident circumstances have been brought for-
ward; yet it must be granted that the great majo-
rity of the observations of the ancients upon not
only these, but almost all other numbers which they
have deemed mysterious, are ridiculous and absurd.

'TTfciTTov itioa.y 0£ Ta'ji-t;v arefcovj aprioy. Iren. Lib. ii. c. 19.

Aristotle tells us, that '' it was a saying* of the Py-
thagoreans that the whole and all things are termi-
nated by threes, for/' say they, " this number has
the beginning, middle, and end of every thing." *
With respect to this number there are numerous
passages f in ancient authors. There were three
Graces, three Fates, three Furies, the Muses were
three times three, the bolt of Jove was trifid, the
sceptre of Neptune was a trident, and the dog of
Pluto had three heads. In this number the Pytha-
goreans also placed perfection, and made great use
of it in their religious ceremonies. Virgil seems to
have copied this sentiment, when he says in his
eighth Eclogue : 1. 73, &c.

Terna tibi haec primum triplici diversa colore

Licia circumdo : terque^ hsec altaria circum

Effigiera duco : numero deus impure gaudet.

Necte tribiis nodis ternas Amarylli colores :

Necte Amarylli, mcdo : et Veneris die vincula necto.

Around this waxen image first I wind

Three woollen fillets of three colours joined;

Thrice bind about his thrice devoted head,

Which round the sacred altar thrice is led.

Unequal numbers please the gods. —

Knit with three knots, the fillets knit them straight;

And say, These knots to Love 1 consecrate.


The tetrad or quaternion number was emphati-
cally called the mysterious number of Pythagoras,

"* Ka^oLTiep ya.p (pa<r] xa) oi liv^xyopeioiy ro Tray, y.x\ rot irdvrx
toli rflo'iy oas-a)' rsXsvrrj yap ^Jcrov kou oip^rj rhv a.pi^ix,ov
a^si rlv rou Trcivro^. — Aristot, Stagirltae, De Coelo, Lib. i. c. 1.

+ Aulus GeUius's Attic Nights, by the Rev. W. Beloe, B. iii.
c. 10.


comprehending', according- to him, all perfection,
referred by some to the four elements, by others to
the cardinal virtues. * " The Pythagoreans, and
with them Plato, attached to the number seven the
mystery of a great revolution ; and that when it
had run through all its periods, nothing farther
could be added, but the pristine state of things be-
ing then changed, a new one would commence." f
Plato and others made a subtle distinction betwixt
the numbers seven and nine, supposing the former
to influence the body, the latter the mind. J Par-
ticular numbers were also supposed applicable to
virtues, as four was called the number of justice,
&c. &c. the world was also said by the Pythago-
reans to have ten for its number. § " The heathen
deities had also peculiar numbers assigned them ;
as one was called the number of the chief god, two
that of Pallas, three that of Minerva, four that of
Apollo, five that of Isis, six that of Osiris, seven
that of Mercury, eight that of Ammon, &c. Hence
a grass or flower that has a particular number of
leaves clustered together was consecrated to that
god to whom the respective number was appropri-

* Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius, by Beloe, B. iii. c. 10.

+ Pythagorei, et cum illis Plato, in septenario numero myste-
rium [j.sraf3oXrj; iJ.Byd\r/S ponunt, ut illo per spatia sua confecto,
amplius nihil addi possit, sed mutato pristine rerum statu, novus
incipiat. — Georgius Schubartus de Diluvio Deucalionis, c. 2.
Antiq. Graec. Gronov. Tom. X. col. 709.

:[ Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius, by Beloe, B. iii. c. 10.

§ Beverley's Great Line of Prophetical Time, p. 134.


ated." * It was not among' tlie heathen nations of
the Greeks and Romans exclusively that the science
of particular numbers was studied; for even the
primitive Christians themselves carried it to as
greats if not greater^ extent than any other people,
the Jews and Arabs alone excepted. There is
scarcely a number in the scriptures of the Old and
New Testaments which they did not imagine to
have some great mystery concealed under it ; and
in the several passages where similar numbers are
used, they have endeavoured to prove that there
exists a strange coincidence of circumstances. To
detail all that the Latin and Greek Fathers have
written upon this subject would require a volume of
no mean magnitude ; and would add but little to the
quantum of evidence already produced upon this
point. Those who desire to have fuller informa-
tion may consult Canisius's Lectiones Antiquae,
where they will find dissertations upon the numbers
2, S, 4, and 11. Very numerous examples of the
meaning of particular numbers will also be found
in the voluminous writings of Jerome. The
mystery of number is also very largely considered
in the Miisurgia Universalis of Athanaslus Kir-
cher. We shall here give only one example from

* Neque omittendum quod Kircherus, Tom. III. CEdipi, p. 65.
observat numeros Diis sacratos unarium summo Deo, binarium
Palladi, ternarium Minervae, quaternarium Apollini, quinarium
Isidi, senarium Osiridi, septenarium Mercurio, octonariura Am-
moni, &c. Hinc quot foliis herba vel flos gauderet, ei Deo fuisse
consecratum. — Selden.


the ^vriling's of the primitive Christians, which is
that of Aiig'ustine concernino- the number six.
He says, that '' God created all things in six days to
denote that every thing was done in the most per-
fect manner; for six/' he observes, '' is the least
perfect number known ; the sum of its aliquot
parts being equal to itself." *

Another mode of mystical numbering, of great
antiquit}^, was by counting the number of letters
in a person's name, or the number of letters in a
particular phrase or set of words. Thus Capelia,
who lived in the age of Julius Caesar, calls Pallas
eTrTOLg in numeris, f " seven in number," because
Minerva, the name by which this heathen goddess
was commonly known, consists of seven letters. It
was also a custom among the young Romans to
toast their mistresses at their meetings as often as
there were letters in their names. Thus Martial,
who flourished in the reign of Domitian, says,

NaeTia sex cyathis, septom Justina bibatur. t
" Let six cups be drunk to Naivia, seven to Justina."

Here it is evident that the former name contains
six letters, and the latter seven, whence the mean-
ing of Martial is clearly ascertained. In the first
centuries of the Christian ara this species of num-
bering was in very great estimation, especially
among the heretics. The Marcosians placed a

* Book xi. c. 30.

+ Martiani Minei Felicis Capqlla; Carthaginiensis, Lib. vi. Ds

X Chambers' Dictionary on the word Onomantia.

Online LibraryJohn Edward ClarkeDissertation on the dragon, beast, and falseprophet, of the Apocalypse; in which the number 666 is satisfactorily explained. And also a full illustration of Daniel's vision of the ram and hegoat → online text (page 1 of 27)