Graveyard Shift

The Surprising Truth Behind 666, The So-Called 'Devil's Number' 

Jacoby Bancroft
Updated May 28, 2020 185.8k views 9 items

There is likely no number so feared as the dreaded 666. It will probably be linked forever with Lucifer and other Satanic entities. Many people may avoid a parking spot with the number 666 or freak out whenever their McDonald's order caps out at $6.66, but have you ever wondered the meaning behind the number?

Why is 666 evil? Where did 666 come from? Is it just a brief biblical reference, or is there a deeper reason why 666 has remained in the public consciousness for this long? The possible hidden meanings behind this spooky number go even deeper than you may think - here's why 666 is associated with the Devil.

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Photo:  Pieter Mortier/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
The Number Is Said To Be The Sign Of The Antichrist

Almost everyone is aware that 666 is associated with the Devil from Christian theology, but not many people know the number's dense history. Society gets its fear of the number from the Bible, specifically in the book of Revelation, chapter 13, verses 16-18. It reads:

Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.

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Photo:  The National Museum in Warsaw/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
The Number Is Connected To The Cruelty Of Emperor Nero

Nero was perhaps the cruelest, most vile Roman emperor of them all. He ordered his mother and first wife slain, and he may have killed his pregnant second wife by kicking her in the stomach. He was also notoriously cruel towards Christians.

Nero is quite possibly the evil figure to whom the biblical passage about 666 is referring. 

The author of Revelations, John, used a puzzle called gematria, in which numbers are used to represent letters. If you translate Nero's name into a numerical value, you get 666. Here is a long list of other biblical names and phrases translated into numbers using this method.

Revelation May Have Used The Number To Mock Rome's Power

The number 666 may represent not just one man, but the entire Roman Empire. When John wrote Revelation, he may have used 666 to mock the oppressive power of Rome. While many consider Nero to be evil, he was likely no more evil than the Roman establishment, which claimed divine authority with no mandate. By all accounts, it was a hedonistic pagan empire at odds with many Christian beliefs.

In numerology of the time period, seven was considered a pure and holy number, one associated with completeness. By referring to Rome as 666, Christians may have been saying the empire could never be complete or whole.

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The Number Is Tied To The Idolatry Of Money

One of the first references to 666 in the Bible comes in 1 Kings, where it's written, "Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six [666] talents of gold."

After associating he Number of the Beast with currency, the Bible goes on to associate gold with a number of nefarious or immoral things, such as idolatry and hubris. As per this theory, money is the physical manifestation of the Number of the Beast, and is therefore the Mark of the Beast.