Thank you for your questions. I am going to start with the last once first, comparing Revelation 13:18 and 17:9-12. I agree that too many folks spend too much time trying to specifically identify the beast when 666 tells us three things; 6= the number of man
6= the number of a liar
6= one who is incarnated by Satan
So, we know all we need to know about him according to what G-d has given us in the Bible. Furthermore, he must be of Jewish genealogy, lest the Orthodox Jewish community, Conservative, and Reform congregations would not consider him the Messiah during the first 3 ½ years of the tribulation period. We also note that Dan is no longer listed as a tribe in Revelation 7 and it makes since that the beast will be from that tribe based on the blessings of the tribes found in Genesis 49:16-17: “Dan will judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a viper on the road, a horned snake in the path that bites the horse’s heels so its rider falls off backward.”
I am not sure what connection you are attempting to draw from 17:9-12. These numbers do not correlate to the mark of the beast himself, represent the various kingdoms and rulers of those kingdoms first in their mortal stage, then in their superhuman stage. We need to back up to the beginning of the chapter for a complete understanding of the verses you addressed. The scarlet beast is described in verses 8-11; full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. Let’s look at this verse, expressing the vision in terms of the interpretation; 3And I saw that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth (verse 18), supported by the Beast full of blasphemous names which was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition (verse 8), even he who is the eighth king, and is of the seven (verse11), having seven kings (verse10), which support that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth (vv.9,18); and ten kings which are contemporaneous and which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings at one and the same time with the Beast (verse 1), who is the eight king (verse11), that was, and is snot, and shall be present”(verse 8).
From this, is it not clear that we are dealing not with world powers in the successive or mortal stage, but with individuals in their contemporaneous and superhuman form? It is very important for us to note this fact, which is vital to understanding of the whole Vision and its Divinely-given interpretation. Our business is not to interpret the Vision, because that is done for us as you mentioned earlier. What we must do is first, believe what G0d says, then prayerfully study to understand. The world-powers od=f Daniel 2 are then seen in their mortal stage, and are hence seen in their successive existence, in which they were rival powers. In Rev. 13 and 17, they are seen in their superhuman stage, and they then form one vast colossal Power, having absolute dominion in the world. In Daniel 7:26, this Power is seen judged as a whole, and goes down into perdition. Daniel 7:26 treats of the superhuman a stage as do chapters 13 and 17 in Revelation.
The Beast receives his deadly wound in his mortal stage, before going down into the Abyss. He comes up with other heads and ten horns. All come together are seen together in superhuman form.
Chapter 12 when compares with Chapters 13 and 17 shows that there are two great confederacies treated of-the Heavenly and the Earthly- and they are not identical. There is the Dragon Confederacy of seven heavenly dominions with their ten armies. This is a confederacy of evil angels with Satan at their head (Chapter 12). The other Confederacy is of mortals who went down into the Abyss, and come up a superhuman Confederacy on the earth (Chaps. 13 and 17). Angels form the Confederacy under Satan in the heavens. Superhuman men form the Confederacy under the Beast on earth. These Confederacies are distinct from each other. What we are told of the Beast in 17:4 concerns his relationship to Babylon.
17:4: “And the woman (i.e., the great city, verse 18), was arrayed in purple (Judges 8:26. Est 1:6), and scarlet, and bedecked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup (Jer. 51:7) in her hand full of abominations and having the unclean things of her fornication.” Again, we must present the vision of this verse in terms of the interpretation: ” And that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth (verse 18), was beautified with purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones, and pearls, having a wondrous and attractive idolatrous system full of abominations, and having the unclean provisions for her idolatrous practices.”
The great city is described as having all luxuries, combined with her idolatrous worship. The word “Abomination” is used as an idol (see 2 Kings 23:13; Isaiah 44:19); and in the plural, of idolatry (see Deut. 18:9; 29; 17;32:16; 1 Kings 14:24; 2 Kings 16:3;21;2;23:24). Also see Ezekiel 8:6,9,13,15,17;11:18;14:6;16:2;20:7,8). Doubtless, the idols and idolatry were so called, because of the uncleanliness practiced in their worship. Can we doubt that when we meet with the word here in revelation 17:4-5, that we have the same idolatrous uncleanliness?
In Chapter 17 the Beast is seen as one individual, as well as collectively. The Dragon in heaven comprises seven heads and ten horns; but, when the one individual who directs all movements of the Dragon Power is spoken of, HaSatan is referred to (Chap. 11:7; 13:5) compare to Daniel 7:11;11:36). The same is tru when the one who is the executive head of the seven, and all the parts comprising the beast is referred to. At the close of his mortal stage (the first 3 ½ years of the tribulation, he receives his death wound. At this stage, before he comes out of the Abyss in his superhuman form, it can truly be said that “he was” and “shall be present.” It could also, at the moment of time referred to by the Angel as “truly said “and is not.” (See Gen. v.24 which explains this meaning. As Enoch “was not” on the earth, but in heaven, wither he had been caught up; so it will be said of the beast, he “is not” on the earth, because he will have been cast into the Abyss. The “is not” does not mean that he never had an existence, for the very expression implies it; as it could not be used of one who never had any existence. Just as with Yahshua Himself, relatively, in regard to the earth, it can at this present time be truly said that He was and is not, yet shall be present here again.
The following verse connects this beast directly with the Beast of Chapter 13, for it is added “Here is the mind which hath wisdom.” This repetition of 13:18 identifies and connects these two chapters. “here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the Beast, for it is man’s number.” The word rendered “mind” in 17:9, and “understanding” in 13:18, is the same, viz. vous(nous). And this: wisdom” is, to understand that, though a “Beast” is seen in the vision, it is not a wild beast that is meant, but one great final superhuman personality “a man” energized by Satanic power I explained at the beginning of this discussion.
The seven heads are or represent, seven mountains on which the woman sitteth, and they are or represent seven kings. This verse is faulty. Verse 9 should end with the word “wisdom,” and the remainder of the verse should form part of the tenth verse. The explanation of the angel would not have then been cut in two, and interpreted separately as is commonly the case; and the “seven mountains” would not have been treated independently of the clause which goes on further to explain their significance. The “seven mountains” are, according to this, “seven kings.” It does not say that there are “seven kings” over and above, and beside the “seven mountains;” but that the “seven mountains are (represent) seen kings.” The seven heads belong to the Beast on which the woman sitteth. According to the structure versus 9,10 have for their subject, the confederates of the Beast. Now, “mountains” cannot be confederates, but kings can. Hence, though the word “mountains’ is used, it is at once explained that “kings’ are meant, so as to keep us from making a mistake. Compare Zech. 4:7. These mountains, then, are no mere heaps of earth or rocks, but “kings.” The word “mountain” is often used as a figure such as a symbol or metaphor for a kingdom. It is used of Babylon in Jer. 51:25 and of Messiah’s kingdom in Dan. 2:35. For interpreters to take these literally as “mountains,” in the midst of a context which the same interpreters take to be symbolic; and in the face of the interpretation actually given by the angel that “they are seven kings,” is to paly fast and loose with the word of prophecy. It says here that “they are seven kings,” and we should believe what is said. Unfortunately, many interpret this to mean the seven hills of Rome.
The seven heads do not belong to any one of the world-Powers; for each kingdom had many such “heads” or kings. They necessarily belong to all of them and are viewed collectively as one Beast, so that they may be seen as belonging to, and forming part of the whole. That is why the Beast in Chapter 13:2 is likened unto a “leopard” (the third, Greece), and his feet as the feet of a “bear” (the second, Persia), and his mouth as a “lion” (the first, Babylon). He combines in himself the symbolic marks of the others. The woman (that great city in verse 18), sitteth on many waters (i.e., reigneth over many peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues (verse 15), and is seen seated on a scarlet colored beast (i.e., carried and supported by all the kings and all the members which make up the body of the Beast. This will be the condition of things at the point of view referred to in the Vision. In this 9th verse, we have a description of what will be at an early part of the first 3 ½ years. It is the present tense, “IS SITTING,” and is prophetic of what is now still future. It does not say has sat; did sit, but is now sitting. This was not at the moment when the Angel was interpreting it to John, but the moment when it will actually be taking place in “the day of the L-rd.” it is the woman (the great city, verse 18), upon which our attention is concentrated in this verse, and the support afforded to her at that time. All are contemporary with each other; joined together as the metals are joined to make up the figure of a man in Daniel. If in verses 9,10, literal mountains are meant, then commentators are divided between Constantinople, Brussels, Jerusalem, and Rome.
Verse 10;” Five are fallen, the one (the sixth) is (at this stage in the Vision), the other (the seventh), is not yet come.” If this this is interpreted of Gentile Dominion at the future point of the Vision referred to by the Angel, then, as to the dominions, the five will have fallen; 1) Babylon, 2) Medo-Persia, 3) Greece, 4) Rome, 50 Christianity/Islam. The sixth will be the Kingdom of the beast (7) the seventh will be the Kingdom of our L-rd/Yahshua. And as to individuals, five of the seven (and the sixth) will have obtained sovereignty or independence for the Jews, and the way will be clear for the seventh to come in his mortal stage.
The seven are all of one series. The question we must consider is how can the sixth be Rome, and thus be the Beast, and contain the whole, including the eighth? If we interpret these kingdoms and kings in any other way, and on any other principle than that previously given, we are at once landed in a mass of conflicting opinions and confusing speculations.
Why go back to Egypt, Assyria, and Nineveh; or begin with Rome, when G-d makes the beginning at Babylon? And with regard to individuals speculated as the Beast, why make all the seven kings belong to one of the four world-powers, when the Beast represents the whole? If we confine ourselves to one-the fourth- it had many more than seven heads. And if we include all the “heads” or “kings” contained in the whole, then we have so many that it is impossible to do anything with them in connection with the interpretation of these prophecies.
The greater error has always been in making anything, rather than Israel, the pivot point of the prophecies: and reckoning the points of the compass from any center except Jerusalem, or the place where the Vision was seen, or the prophecy written.
There are other difficulties connected with the common interpretations of the fourth World Power, which makes Rome the whole beast, and yet one of its heads at the same time. “Respectable interpreters” who make the whole Beast, Rome; make also one of its heads or kings to be Rome; and this one head afterwards comprises the ten kingdoms into which it is subdivided! Whereas the ten kings of Daniel are not identical with the ten of the Apocalypse, for the ten of rev. 17 never were kings in their mortal stage, for it expressly says in verse 12 that they “have received no kingdom as of yet.” It is difficult to understand how anyone can posit that this one “head” afterwards comprises the ten kingdoms. Territory may be divided into ten kingdoms, but the “head” cannot be divided. The image of Daniel 2 was seen complete as it will be in “the end time,” while as yet, only the first of these powers was in existence; all others being future. So, in like manner, the image is to be viewed as complete when the whole shall be combined in the beast (and the 7th and 8th heads), though all others will then be past. The stone (Yahshua), falls on the feet of the image and destroys the entire image at one blow. The Beast as seen in Rev 13 and 17 combines the whole, and is destroyed at one stroke at the Apocalypse of the King of kings in Revelation 19.
It is important to observe that the beast is never seem in the Apocalypse without the seven heads and ten horns, because at that point, they are seen as being contemporary in their superhuman form. But they were successive in their mortal form. The Beast in Daniel does not have seven heads. He could not have unless they were contemporary, which is inconsistent with the prophecy of Daniel. He has ten horns during the time when the seventh head becomes supreme. The only solution to all the difficulties seems to be in the “eighth” king, who is regarded as “of the seven,” and yet fulfills all that is said of “the fourth beast” and of “the little horn” in Daniel 7 and 8.
I hope this commentary answers your questions about the numbers and that the verses to which you refer cannot be compared as to significance of Gematria. Gematria only applies in this case to Rev. 13:18 as I described at the beginning of this commentary.
May HaShem and the Ruach HaKodesh bless and guide you as you continue to knock, seek, and ask for the Biblical truths of G-d’s Torah.
Rabbi Tamah Davis