Here we go again. Somebody is claiming that Monster Energy drink has the number of the Beast of Revelation 13 as its symbol since it looks like the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It’s right there on the can:
“Certain blogs and websites have noticed that the logo is very similar to the Hebrew letter ‘Vav.’ In the Hebrew Alphabet, every letter is also a corresponding is the Biblical number of the Beast.”
I suspect that the figure is that of a fictional monster’s claw marks. To me, they look like stylized railroad spikes.
Not too long ago, the “www” — World Wide Web — was said to be representative of the number of the Beast for the same reason. In Hebrew, the Vav can also be read as a “W.” The following is from the late end-time conspiracist Zola Levitt (1938-2006):
“To begin with, the familiar symbol for the Internet, World Wide Web or ‘www.’ would be rendered in Hebrew as Vav, Vav, Vav (the Hebrew alphabet does not have a ‘W’ and Hebrew-speaking people use the Vav, or ‘V’ in place of our ‘W’). The interesting part is that, since Hebrew letters also have numerical values (the Hebrew language does not recognize Arabic numerals), we can arrive at a number for the letter Vav. Since it is the sixth letter of the alphabet, the expression “www,” in Hebrew, is 666. [See the May 1999 Levitt Letter for more]
Then there was the bar code. This whacky interpretation was made by Mary Stewart Relfe, author of the 1981 book When Your Money Fails. “Her second book, The New Money System, was the source of the now-widespread belief that the then-new Universal Product Codes contain a hidden 666 encoded in them.” The three longer lines in a standard bar code supposedly came to 666, actually 6-6-6.
Gary H. Kah wrote, “It will only be a matter of time before humans are tattooed with a similar mark to the codes in the supermarket.”1
This nonsense never seems to stop.
There are numerous problems with these types of claims.
First, there is relevance. What would the people who first read the prophecy about the two beasts (that’s right, two beasts, a sea and a land beast) in Revelation 13 have thought of the number and who it might refer to given the fact that the temple in Jerusalem was still standing when the book of Revelation was written (11:1-20), and John was told that these things “must shortly come to pass” (1:1) because “the time is near” (1:3; 22:10)?
They would have looked for a candidate in their day. Civil rulers were often described as beasts of some sort. It’s a biblical staple: “And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another” (Dan. 7:3). As we’ll see, Nero was a monster of a beast who fit the time period and matches the number revealed to John.
Second, the number of the Beast is not 6-6-6 but 666 or six hundred and sixty six: “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six” (Rev. 13:18). Three Hebrew Vavs do not add up to six hundred and sixty-six.
There is a big difference between 6-6-6 (the Greek ἕξ three times) and 666: ἑξακόσιοι (600) ἑξήκοντα (60) ἕξ (6) as it is found in Revelation 13:18 or the use of the obsolete Greek letter stigma three times.
A Jew would immediately have looked to his own language for an explanation, especially in a book that is written with the Hebrew Bible as background:
“Every Jewish reader, of course, saw that the Beast was a symbol of Nero. And both Jews and Christians regarded Nero as also having close affinities with the serpent or dragon . . . The Apostle writing as a Hebrew, was evidently thinking as a Hebrew . . . Accordingly, the Jewish Christian would have tried the name as he thought of the name — that is in Hebrew letters. And the moment that he did this the secret stood revealed. No Jew ever thought of Nero except as ‘Neron Kesar.’”2
Third, there is a candidate that fits the time period (before the destruction of the temple in AD 70),3, his beastly character, and a match of his name and title to the number 666 when Hebrew is used: Nero Caesar. Nero went by both Neron (Latin) and Nero (Greek). When Neron Kaiser is put into Hebrew (there are no letters for vowels and letters substituted for numbers), it looks like this:
Fourth, as to Nero’s beastly character:
“One is hard pressed to ‘rehabilitate’ a man who, according to historical accounts, ordered his first wife, Octavia, killed; kicked his second wife, Poppaea, to death when she was pregnant; saw to the murder of his mother, Agrippina the Younger (possibly after sleeping with her); perhaps also murdered his stepbrother, Britannicus; instructed his mentor Seneca to commit suicide (which he solemnly did); castrated and then married a teenage boy; presided over the wholesale arson of Rome in A.D. 64 and then shifted the blame to a host of Christians (including Saints Peter and Paul), who were rounded up and beheaded or crucified and set aflame so as to illuminate an imperial festival. The case against Nero as evil incarnate would appear to be open and shut.”
There is no doubt that Nero was a beast.
Fifth, a curious variation on 666 adds validity to the argument that Nero was considered to be the sea beast of Revelation 13:1, 18. Some Greek New Testament manuscripts read 616 instead of 666. Why would someone making a copy of the Revelation scroll make such a number change? “Perhaps the change was intentional, seeing that the Greek form Neron Caesar written in Hebrew characters (nrwn qsr) is equivalent to 666, whereas the Latin form Nero Caesar (nrw qsr) is equivalent to 616.”4
Taking all this into consideration, Revelation’s beast that carried the number six hundred and sixty and six is long gone. Are there beasts today like Nero? There certainly are. Lots of them. The 20th century was filled with them. But in terms of prophecy, the beast with the number 666 is dead and gone.
There’s no fear that you are supporting a coming antichrist if you drink a Monster Energy drink, although if you drink too much of it, you may end up looking like Nero.
Here’s a video I did on the subject of identifying the 666 candidate.
- Gary H. Kah, En Route to Global Occupation (Lafayette, LA: Huntington House, 1991), 12. [↩]
- Frederic W. Farrar, The Early Days of Christianity (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1882), 471. [↩]
- According to Rev. 11:1-2, the temple is still standing in Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified and the city is linked to Sodom and Egypt (11:8). This is not a description of events in the distant future. [↩]
- Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: United Bible Societies, 1971), 751–52. [↩]