Today gematria is well-known as a Jewish interpretive method that assigns numerical values of Hebrew letters to words, phrases and/or sentences. Then, by adding them together, it seeks to determine their deeper meaning. Sometimes that connection is farfetched, but sometimes it is quite clear.
In Matthew’s genealogy, which shows that Jesus/Yeshua was a descendant of King David, we read “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.” (Mathew 1:17). The numerical value of the Hebrew characters forming the name of the great King of Israel – David (דוד) is 14.
This is how it works – (4) ד (6) + ו (4) + ד – Matthew uses geneology to intentionally tie Jesus to David numerically (through gematria of 14) three times. And his point is that Jesus is the son of David, i.e. the Messiah.
In the Book of Revelation, we read, “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). The author clearly says the at the number of the beast can be calculated, which is a clear hint to do exactly that.
Although the beast of the book of Revelation is almost certainly not limited to the first-century, near the time of writing of the Book of Revelation, there was a blood-thirsty persecutor of the early Christ-followers – Nero. His name in Hebrew (Nero Ceasar – נרון קסר) has a numeric value of 666. According to tradition, both Peter and Paul were both martyred during his reign. It is likely that Nero was a symbolic figure of all future government-sponsored persecutions. If the original identification of the beast as Emperor Nero is correct, this would explain why some early manuscripts of the Book of Revelation have 616 instead of 666 as the number of the beast. The difference is from spelling Nero’s name in Latin instead of Hebrew. But the method is still gematria.
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