Plato and the Number of the Beast 666
“Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast, for it is a human number; the number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Revelations 13:18
I think more has been written about the number 666 than any other number, so I’ll try to share one theory that is perhaps less known. You may be familiar with the Nero theory (Nero = 666 via Gematria), the Carbon Atom theory (6 Electrons, 6 Neutrons, 6 Protons) and others, but for me personally, I found the 666 relationship to something known as “Plato’s Number” to be well within the realm of possible explanations.
Plato (About 428BC to 347BC), the Greek Philosopher, student of Aristotle, teacher of Socrates, and founder of the Academy of Athens, first makes mention of this number in his work “The Republic” (380BC). He speaks of a number that should be considered for “Divine begettings”, an auspicious value to follow when considering the birth of children. It is sometimes known as the “Nuptial Number” or the “Number of the Bride”. The passage concerning the number reads as follows:
“Now that which is of divine birth has a period which is contained in a perfect number, but the period of human birth is comprehended in a number in which increments by involution and evolution (Or squared and cubed) obtaining three intervals and four terms of like and unlike, waxing and waning numbers, make all the terms commensurable and agreeing with one another. The base of these, with a third added, when combined with five and raised to the third power furnishes two harmonies, the first a square which is a hundred times as great, and the third a figure having one side equal to the former, but oblong, consisting of a hundred numbers squared upon rational diameters of a square, the side of which is five, each of them being less by one than, or less than two perfect squares of irrational diameters; and a hundred cubes of three. Now this number represents a geometrical figure which has control over good and evil births. For when your guardians are ignorant of the law of births, and unite bride and bridegroom out of season, the children will not be goodly or fortunate.”
I will not pretend that I could arrive at some solution after reading that. But other, less math-challenged folks have dissected it. Although there are other, apparently viable solutions given to Plato’s confusing calculations, the number most commonly agreed upon that adheres to all of his requirements is 216.
As this is a number that is said to be related to human birth, I think this would fit the bill as a “Human Number” as the number of the beast is described in Revelations. How is 216 related to human births exactly? Plato does not exactly spell it out but one theory is that it is related to the human gestation period. 216 days or 31 weeks is just within the third trimester and perhaps in Plato’s time, before modern medical technology, this was the minimum gestation period required for a fetus to survive outside of its mother. The average human gestation period is 280 days or 40 weeks.
Most of those who interpreted the number as 216 show as their proof the fact that 216 is the cube of 6, where 6x6x6 = 216, and therein lies the proposed connection to the number 666 in Revelations. Add in the “Human number” factor as well as the creation story in Genesis in which Adam, the supposed first human, was created on the sixth day and the connection seems to carry a little more weight. The “perfect” number mentioned by Plato is, according to Euclid and others, a number which is equal to the sum of all of its divisors. 6 works in this regard: 6 = 1+2+3. Another relationship these numbers have is through their sine and cosine values. The Sine of 666 = -0.80901699 and the Cosine of 216 = -0.80901699. If you add these values, you get 1.618, the value of Phi, also called the Golden Ratio or Divine Proportion.
It has also been said that Plato was discussing numbers that controlled both the macrocosm and microcosm and that these numbers had a distinct relationship. One referred to human birth and the other, a multiple of the first, controlled the formation of the heavens and earth. As above, so below as it were.
(It should be noted that Plato was likely not the “discoverer” of this number but rather brought it to the forefront. The number has been linked to the ancient Babylonian culture.)
The 47th Problem of Euclid
216 also has a distinct relationship with the Pythagorean Theorem, also known as the 47th problem of Euclid: “In right angled triangles, the square on the side subtending the right angle is equal to the squares on the sides containing the right angle.” If we cube the numbers 3, 4 and 5, then add their sums, (27+64+125) we get 216 once again.
The presentation of the 47th problem of Euclid is a part of initiation into a Freemasonic Lodge. The theorem is explained to the candidate in the 3rd degree initiation. Please remember this connection for later.
The Lamb on Mt. Zion
Immediately following the passage in Revelations in which the number 666 is revealed, we are introduced to another number: 144,000.
“Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” Revelation 14:1
The Lamb on Mt. Zion is the sign of Aries (In my opinion), and I believe these numbers have more than a little to do with a phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes and the cycles of the zodiac. If we were to divide 144,000 by 666, we would get the infinitely repeating number: 216.216216. This seems to be more than just a strange coincidence. But it continues. When the dimensions of things are measured in the bible, they use cubits. 144 Cubits = 216 Feet.
The Hidden Name of God
A Kabalistic tradition holds that there are 72 hidden names of God in the Old Testament collectively known as the “Shemhamphorasch”. If you study the book of Exodus, in chapter 14 you will find three unusual verses from 19-21. Each verse contains exactly 72 letters. The Kabbalists teach that if you were to reverse the order of the letters in the middle verse, you will find that you can form names from every set of 3 letters throughout the verses. These 72 triplets are said to be the various names of God. 72 letters per verse multiplied by three (The number of verses) gives you 216. Plato’s number of 216 is equal to the number of letters it takes to spell out the names of God. Even stranger, the first 72 verses in the Bible consist of 991 Hebrew words. If you compute the value of Pi out far enough, you will find the number 216 within Pi, beginning at the 991st digit. And, remember that 144 Cubits = 216 Feet? The first 144 digits of Pi, after the decimal point, sum to 666.
Precession of the Equinoxes – A brief overview
(Please skip ahead if you are familiar with precession and precessional numbers.)
We know the earth revolves upon its axis. It also revolves around the sun. It has another, very subtle movement. Since the earth is not a perfect sphere, it has a very slight wobble to its rotation. This wobble is in opposition to the direction the earth spins on its axis. This subtle effect means that the stars in our sky appear to change position over very long periods of time. You may have heard that the “Age of Aquarius” is approaching. What this means is that for the last 2,000 years or so, if you woke up before dawn on the Spring Equinox, and looked eastward, you would find the constellation of Pisces sitting directly above the spot on the horizon where the sun was about to rise.
However, due to this wobble of the earth, the stars have appeared to have been slowly “precessing” or moving backwards through the signs of the zodiac, so that the sign of Pisces is moving out of its spot on the horizon and is being replaced by the sign of Aquarius. Therefore it is said we are moving out of the age of Pisces (Symbolized by the Piscean fish-god Jesus) and moving into the Age of Aquarius, the water-bearer.
So, how long does each “Age” last? Each sign gets rule over an age for 2,160 years. (Notice the value of 216 present in that number.) There are 12 zodiac signs, so 12 ages; a full cycle would last 25,920 years. Precession also affects our North Star which also changes over time. When Polaris is displaced from its position in the North, it will be another 25,920 years before it can be the Pole Star once again.
This cycle is separated into 360 degrees, such each constellation representing one of the 12 zodiac signs will take up 30 degrees of the night sky within the zodiacal wheel. If we divide 25,920 by 360, we will see that the time it takes for the stars to appear to precess one degree is 72 years. Every 72 years the constellations of the zodiac appear to shift by one degree. 72 is the number of the hidden names of God which contains 216 letters. 72 = 1 degree. 216 = 3 degrees. It takes 216 years for the stars to pass the third degree.
The Lost Word of Masonry
Masonry has a lot to do with finding a Lost Word. This can be likened to the lost name of God, the ineffable name which was uttered only once per year, on Yom Kippur and then only by the High Priest within the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s Temple. The lesson of the lost word is taught to those masons attaining the degree of Master Mason, also known as the 3rd degree. 3 degrees = 72 x 3 = 216.
I hope I have shown that the number 216 has very strong connections to the number 666, mathematically, esoterically and astronomically, through the Old Testament, the New Testament, Masonry and the NeoPythagoreans, etc. While I don’t claim this is the ultimate answer to the mysterious number 666, I think this avenue of thought deserves some attention.
Thanks for reading.