Revelation Jewish New Testament, JNT, CJNT, David H. Stern

chapter 13
1. and I saw a beast come up out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads. On its horns were ten royal crowns and on its heads blasphemous names.
2. The beast which I saw was like a leopard, but with feet like those of a bear and a mouth like the mouth of a lion. To it the dragon gave its power, its throne and great authority.
3. One of the heads of the beast appeared to have received a fatal wound, but its fatal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed after the beast in amazement.
4. They worshipped the dragon, because he had given his authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying,
“Who is like the beast?
Who can fight against it?”
Who is like the beast? This beast-worship litany is a parody of the name of the angel Mikha'el (Hebrew, meaning "Who is like God"), who defeated the dragon (12:7-9), and of the Song of Moses (see 15:3&N):
"Who is like you, Adonai, among the gods?
Who is like you, glorious in holiness,
fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exodus 15:11)
The authority of the beast comes through the dragon, but the ultimate source of all authority is God (Isaiah 45:6-7; Job 1:12, 2:6). 

5. It was given a mouth speaking arrogant blasphemies; and it was given authority to act for forty-two months.
6. So it opened its mouth in blasphemies against God to insult his name and his Sh’khinah, and those living in heaven;
And his Sh'khinah, and those living in heaven, literally, "and his tent, those tenting in heaven." See 7:15N. 

7. it was allowed to make war on God’s holy people and to defeat them; and it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
8. Everyone living on earth will worship it except those whose names are written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb slaughtered before the world was founded.
Everyone living on earth. See 3:10N.
Book of Life. See 20:12bN.

vv. 3,4,8 The whole earth followed after the beast and worshipped it, except for believers in Yeshua, those whose names are written in the Book of Life (see 20:12bN) belonging to the Lamb, Yeshua, slaughtered before the world was founded (God planned his atoning death before creating the world; 5:6&N, Ep 1:3—12, Co 1:14—23). These verses and 11:7, 17:24 place this chapter in the context ofDaniel 7. The beast is a composite of Daniel's four beasts. Like the dragon (12:3-4&N), it has the ten horns and seven heads of Daniel's "fourth beast" (v. 1, Daniel 7:7); although unlike the dragon, it also resembles the other three (lion... bear... leopard; v. 2, Daniel 7:4-6). It comes up out of the sea (v. 1, Daniel 7:3). It speaks arrogant blasphemies (vv. 5-6; Daniel 7:8, 20, 25). It has authority to act for 42 months (v. 5, Daniel 7:25). Daniel himself explains,
"The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom upon earth, which will be different from all kingdoms. It will devour the whole earth, tread it down and break it in pieces. The ten horns are ten kings which will arise out of this kingdom, and another king will arise after them, and he will be different from the former ones, and he will subdue three kings. He will speak great words against the Most High, he will wear out the holy people of the Most High, and he will think to change times and laws; and they will be given into his hand for a season, seasons and half a season. But they will sit in judgment, and -his dominion will be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed in the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions will serve and obey him. Here is the end of the matter." (Daniel 7:23-27)

Many scholars regard Daniel's prophecy as fulfilled in 168-164 B.C.E. by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, who "changed times and laws," even causing pigs to be offered to idols in place of the daily sacrifice, an abomination which desolated the Temple (Daniel 9:27, 11:31,12:11) for three-and-a-half years ("a season, seasons and half a season"), until the Maccabees recaptured and rededicated it, an event memorialized by the festival of Chanukkah (see Yn 10:22N). But since Yeshua renewed the prophecy two centuries later, there must be a later fulfillment as well. See 17:8&N.

In the Tanakh, "horn" often means "king." Many identify "another king" arising from the ten with the second beast (w. 11-12&N).
The four beasts of Daniel are four kingdoms; and most scholars identify them as Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Since all are ancient history, futurists (see 1:1N) expect the beast of vv. 1-8 to be a revived Roman Empire, or a nation covering the same territory, or a nation in which the brutal and depraved spirit of the Roman Empire finds expression. C. I. Scofield, expressing the Dispensationalist view, regards the head with a fatal wound (v. 3) as the restored Roman Empire, which is "dead" now but will live again, to everyone's amazement. A few years ago the "newspaper exegetes" (1:1N) saw the fulfillment of this prophecy in the ten members of the European Common Market. The fact that the Common Market now comprises more than ten participating nations does not necessarily disprove the futurist approach.

Non-futurists sometimes make this beast an allegory of all Satanic power mobilized against God's people on earth, especially governmental power (as opposed to religious). 

9. Those who have ears, let them hear!
See note at beginning of Chapter 2. 

10. "If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity, he goes! If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he is to be killed!!" (Jeremiah 15:2, 43:11) This is when God’s holy people must persevere and trust!
11. Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. It had two horns like those of a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon.
12. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence; and it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, the one whose fatal wound had been healed.
Another beast. This second beast is the "false prophet" (16:13, 19:20, 20:10). It is the "Anti-Messiah" (1 Yn 2:18); as a travesty of the real Messiah, it has two horns, like those of a lamb (5:6&N). It is the "man who separates himself from Torah" (2 Th 2:3-10&NN), who fulfills Yeshua's prophecy that '"the abomination which causes devastation' spoken about through the prophet Daniel" will one day "stand in the Holy Place" of a rebuilt temple (Mt 24:15, citing Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11). It is the "other king" which arises from the ten (Daniel 7:23-27, quoted in v. 1N). Non-futurists see this beast as symbolizing organized, institutional religion enforcing worship of the first beast. 

13. It performs great miracles, even causing fire to come down from heaven onto the earth as people watch.
14. It deceives the people living on earth by the miracles it is allowed to perform in the presence of the beast, and it tells them to make an image honoring the beast that was struck by the sword but came alive again.
Miracles pose two problems: (1) Do they happen at all? (2) If they do, are they signs from God? Whether miracles happen depends on how one defines a miracle. Without entering into subtleties, I will define a miracle as an event outside the ordinary which involves supernatural intervention. Although this displaces the locus of uncertainty onto what is meant by "supernatural intervention," the Bible, most religions and many nonreligious sources agree that miracles so defined do occur.

The Bible takes some miracles as signs from God, but others are acknowledged as having demonic origin. Thus the second beast deceives the people living on earth. just as the magicians in Pharaoh's court deceived him into discounting the God of Israel (Exodus 7:11. 22; 8:3(7); in the New Testament compare Ac 13:6b-9, 16:16-18, 19:13-16). However, God sets limits to demonic and Satanic capacity to perform miracles (Job 1:12, 2:6; Mt 24:24), just as he did as in Moses' day (Exodus 8:14-15(18-19), 9:11; see also Deuteronomy 18:9ff).

Fire... from heaven. This mimics Elijah's miracle (2 Kings 1:10-13); compare Lk 9:54. The word "fire" appears more than twenty times in the book of Revelation, generally signifying judgment. Thus the beast even mimics God's judgment. 

15. It was allowed to put breath into the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could even speak; and it was allowed to cause anyone who would not worship the image of the beast to be put to death.
16. Also it forces everyone — great and small, rich and poor, free and slave — to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead
17. preventing anyone from buying or selling unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
A mark on his right hand or on his forehead. Compare 20:4, which says "and." not "or": "those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands." This makes mockery of t'fillin (see Mt 23:5N), which Orthodox and Conservative Jews wear in the synagogue on the hand and forehead to obey Deuteronomy 6:8, "You shall bind them [that is, God's mitzvot] for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes." This "mark of the beast" (16:2. 19:20; also 14:9-11) also mimics the sealing of the 144,000 (7:2-3&N). Some suggest that this "mark" refers to a computerized credit-card system coupled with a transmitter-identifier implanted in people's foreheads and hands or some other high-technology development. Regardless of whether such speculations are true or fanciful, the mark points to a time of complete totalitarian control over economic life by religious elements. 

18. This is where wisdom is needed; those who understand should count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person, and its number is 666.
The number of its name. In both Hebrew and Greek each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a number — the first nine letters correspond to 1 through 9, the next nine to 10 through 90. and the last few letters to the hundreds. The number of a word or name is the sum of the numerical equivalents of its letters.

In Jewish interpretation, gematria (the Hebrew word derives from the Greek word "geometria" which underlies English "geometry") is a system of deducing the sod ("secret"; see Mt 2:15N) of a text by positing a meaningful connection between words whose numbers are either identical or related by simple arithmetic. Example: in rabbinic literature, God is sometimes called the "Place" ("Makom"). Why this should be is not evident, so Gematria explains it in this way: the letters of "YHVH" — yud, heh, vav and heh — are equivalent to 10,5,6 and 5. The sum of the squares of these four numbers is 186, which is the same as the number of "Makom" — mem, kuf, vav, mem (40 + 100 + 6 + 40).

Those who understand should count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person, and its number is 666. This has evoked even more speculation than the beast's mark. Who is the beast? Certain forms of the name of the Roman Emperor Nero have that number; moreover, a first-century cult expected him to be resurrected after his death in 68 C.E. Napoleon and other historical figures have been suggested. Moreover, if one uses other languages and manipulates the numerical correspondences, then, as George E. Ladd writes, "Almost anything can be done with these numbers.... If A= 100,B= 101,C= 102, etc., the name Hitler totals 666." Thus wisdom is needed, so that one will remain alert but not be misled.

The number could be entirely symbolic. The name of Messiah in Greek, lesous, equals 888; 7 is regarded as the perfect number; and triple repetition symbolizes absolute ultimacy (as in Isaiah 6:3, "Holy, holy, holy is Adonai of Hosts."). Therefore 888 means that Yeshua is absolutely and ultimately beyond perfection, while 666 means that the beast in every respect falls short of perfection and is therefore absolutely and ultimately imperfect and evil. 

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