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Revelation 13:16-18
Last update: November 27, 2006

16   He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,

17  and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

18  Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

Revelation 13:16-18 is perhaps the section of Scripture that has inspired the most conjecture for centuries. Although John's description certainly does leave a great deal of interpretive leeway, the proper context in which to approach these verses is from the one John wrote from -- a Hebraic Kabbalistic one.

Our review of this material will be broken up as follows:

  • the "mark" of the beast
  • "wisdom" and "understanding"
  • the number "666"


Although the "mark of the beast" carries a negative connotation, there are a several references in Scripture to a "mark" being placed by God on people (or property), in order to protect them.

The earliest reference is that placed on Cain:

Genesis 4:15 - And the Lord said to him, Therefore whoever slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

Another type of protective "mark" was that placed on the doors of the Hebrews in Goshen. Note that when "unmitigated judgment" is released (i.e., descending from the "left side" directly to Malkut, without being "softened" through Tiferet), then even God's people may face physical harm unless they take the proper steps.

Exodus 12:7 - And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, in which they shall eat it.

Exodus 12:13 - And the blood shall be to you for a sign upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

Ezekiel chapter 9 speaks of a "mark" of God on the foreheads of the righteous. This parallels the mark (also called "seal") of God seen elsewhere in the book of Revelation:

Ezekiel 9:4-6 - And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.

Revelation 7:3 - Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.

Revelation 9:4 - They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

The Zohar associates the letter Tav (Tau), the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with the mark mentioned by Ezekiel (above), associating it with the "seal" of God:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 2b - IN THE BEGINNING. Rab Hamnuna the Venerable said: ‘We find here a reversal of the order of the letters of the Alphabet, the first two words Bereshith bara-”in-the-beginning He-created”-commencing with beth, whereas the two words following, Elohim eth-”God the”-commence with aleph. The reason is as follows. When the Holy One, blessed be He, was about to make the world, all the letters of the Alphabet were still embryonic, and for two thousand years the Holy One, blessed be He, had contemplated them and toyed with them. When He came to create the world, all the letters presented themselves before Him in reversed order. The letter Tau advanced in front and pleaded: May it please Thee, O Lord of the world, to place me first in the creation of the world, seeing that I am the concluding letter of EMeTh (Truth) which is engraved upon Thy seal, and seeing that Thou art called by this very name of EMeTh, it is most appropriate for the King to begin with the final letter of EMeTh and to create with me the world. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to her: Thou art worthy and deserving, but it is not proper that I begin with thee the creation of the world, since thou art destined to serve as a mark on the foreheads of the faithful ones (vide Ezek. IX, 4) who have kept the Law from Aleph to Tau, and through the absence of this mark the rest will be killed; and, further, thou formest the conclusion of MaWeTh (death). Hence thou art not meet to initiate the creation of the world.

The following, from Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh's book on the Hebrew letters, adds deeper insight into the meaning of the letter tav and this "seal" of God:

G-d's seal (in Creation) is truth (in Hebrew, emet, spelled out by the final letters of the three last words in the account of Creation: bara elokim la'asot," " ...G-d created ‘to do’"). The last letter or seal of the word emet, "truth," itself - the seal of G-d's seal - is the letter tav, simple faith, the conclusion and culmination of all twenty-two forces - letters - active in Creation. The three letters which spell emet are the beginning, middle and ending letters of the alef-beit." The alef corresponds to one’s initial awareness of Divine paradox in the infinite source (where the higher and lower waters, joy and bitterness, are absolutely one). From this awareness issues mem, the fountain of Divine wisdom, ever- increasing power of insight into the mysteries of Torah. "The final end of knowledge is not to know." The culmination of the flow of Divine wisdom in the soul (after all is said and done) is the "majestic" revelation of the infinite "treasure-house" of simple faith in G-d's absolute omnipresence below innate in the soul of Israel. The culmination of truth simple faith is the secret of the "tav." ... So we are taught: "Torah is the impression [the tav] of Divinity; Israel is the impression [the tav] of Torah." 1

Another text speaks of a good mark that comes from the (right) side of grace:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 104a - Said R. Eleazar: ‘Observe how merciful the Holy One, blessed be He, shows Himself towards all beings, and especially towards those who walk in His paths. For when He is about to execute judgement on the world, before doing so He puts in the way of His beloved the occasion of performing a good act. We have thus been taught that when the Holy One loves a man, He sends him a present in the shape of a poor man, so that he should perform some good deed to him, through the merit of which he shall draw to himself a cord of grace from the right side which shall wind round his head and imprint a mark on him, so that, when punishment falls on the world, the destroyer, raising his eyes and noticing the mark, will be careful to avoid him and leave him alone.

This next midrash expounds on Ekekiel's "mark," bringing "the prosecution" (adversary=haSatan) into the equation:

Midrash Rabbah - Lamentations II:3 - The Holy One, blessed be He, never associates His name with what is bad, but only with what is good. Hence it is not written here, ‘And concerning these God said in my hearing,’ but, ’And concerning these He said in my hearing: Go ye through the city after him, and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity; slay utterly the old man, the young man and the maiden, and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary (ib. 5 f.). How can this be? At that time the prosecution sprang before the Throne of Glory and spake before Him: ‘Lord of the universe, which of them was slain for Thy name? Which of them had his head split open for Thy name? Which of them gave his life for Thy name?’

The following text shows God's "mark" of protection being directly tied to the Torah:

Midrash Rabbah - Deuteronomy VII:9 - God said to Israel: ‘When are you called My children? When you receive My words.’ This can be compared to a king to whom his son said: ' Set some mark upon me in the land [that people should know] that I am your son.’ Whereupon the king replied: ' If you wish that all should know that you are my son, then put on my purple cloak and place my crown on your head, and all will know that you are my son.’ So God said to Israel: ‘If you wish to be distinguished as My children, then occupy yourselves with the [study of the] Torah and with the precepts, and all will see that you are My Children. So, when are you My children? When you receive My words.’ Rabbi said: When Israel were in the wilderness, a pillar of cloud journeyed in front of them, and the smoke of the altar and the smoke of the incense went up [towards heaven], and two sparks of fire issued from between the two staves of the Ark and devoured in front of them the serpents and scorpions; and when the nations of the world saw them they exclaimed: ‘These are divine beings, for whatever they do is with fire.’ Thereupon Moses said to Israel: ' All the distinction which [God caused to be] lavished upon you is only because you have accepted His Torah on Sinai.’

The protecive "mark" of God going hand in hand with the Torah is also found several places in John's revelation:

Revelation 12:17: And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah.

Revelation 14:12: Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Yeshua.

Revelation 22:14: Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

As the "anti-Messiah" is referred to as a man of "Torahlessness" in 2Thessalonians 2:3, it would seem the criteria people are judged by has a great deal to do with their response to and relationship with God's Torah, and not any Torahless declaration of "belief" (i.e., Matthew 7:21-24).


Without a doubt, verse 18 is one of the most kabbalistic in the entire "New Testament." John expresses the importance of the reader attaining "understanding" (Binah) to go along with the "wisdom" (Chokmah) that he (John) is imparting. What exactly is this Understanding, how does it relate to Wisdom, how does one attain it, and what is the final result?

In a simple sense, the attribute of Wisdom (Chokmah) is considered to "come out of nowhere" (i.e., Keter - the "unknowable" Sefirah), directly from God. Thus we see Solomon receiving Wisdom as a gift from God. It may also be said that wisdom is associated with the potential given to a person.

Understanding (Binah) however, carries with it the idea of effort on our part. Understanding is required to materialize wisdom's potential. Though Solomon had Wisdom, he fell into sin due to his lack of Understanding.

The following explanation of Understanding/Binah is by way of author/teacher Aryeh Kaplan:

The root of Binah is Bin, which is also the root of the word Hitbonenut meaning, "making oneself understand," that being contemplating something so deeply and completely that one makes himself understand it in all of its aspects. The word is also used with respect to God, and in this sense, it is often a preparation for the mystical state as seen in verses such as these:

Job 37:14 - Contemplate (hitbonen) the wonders of God

Psalms 107:43 - Contemplate the love of God

Psalms 119:95-96 - The wicked waited to destroy me. I contemplate your testimonies. I have seen a purpose to every end. Your commandment is very broad

In Psalm 119 above, the Psalmist is saying that from contemplating on the commandments, he is able to perceive their breadth and true significance. In general, the word Binah is very closely related to the word Beyn, meaning "between." Understanding is then the act of separating something in one's mind, examining it by itself. The reflexive Hitbonen, thus means to cause oneself to separate something in his mind. 2

As discussed in our earlier studies, Binah is associated with the number "eight," it being the eighth Sephirah from Malkut/Kingdom. The idea of the "eighth" has to do with the "next step" beyond the perfection of the physical realm, which is itself associated with the number seven. When the number eight is found in Scripture, it often has to do with bringing someone or something into the spiritual realm (i.e., circumsicion takes place on the eighth day, the Tabernacle and first Temple were dedicated on the eighth days, Psalm 119 follows a pattern of eight verses for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet).

Binah and the number eight are also associated with the festival of Shavuot, which is observed on the first day of the eighth week (day 50) following the "first Sabbath" of Passover week. An important concept to grasp with regard to this is the idea of our own involvement with "God's will". Whereas Passover was entirely God's doing, Shavuot involved work, thought and decisions, on the part of His people. As shown in our background studies, the days leading up to Shavuot are called the Fifty Gates of Understanding, and are a time of deep contemplation of God and Torah.

For a deeper look at this subject, see the kabbalisic text, The Palm Tree of Deborah; Chapter 4, Attaining the Qualities of Binah.


Taking this even further, the confluence of Wisdom (considered Abba/Father) and Understanding (Imma/Mother) is seen as either Da'at/Knowledge or Tiferet (associated with "the Son"). John's instruction makes a connection between attaining da'at and calculating the number of the beast. This is indeed a quality of da'at at this level:

Daat is not just the accumulation of the results of chokhmah and binah; it also has an active function: to summarize and deduce. It fixes in the soul the picture that is absorbed by chokhmah and developed by binah, rendering their constantly changing processes into a focused awareness. Daat is thus the faculty to reach conclusions. 3

One person who was said to have Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge, was Bezalel, the architect of the Tabernacle. Not only was the Tabernacle the precursor to the Temple and place that God would "appear," it also stands as a similar model for our bodies being a Temple:

Moses was commanded to build the sanctuary in which God's Divine Presence would be revealed on earth. "Behold!" God told him, "I have called upon Bezalel ... I have filled him with a Godly Spirit, with Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge." Rashi defines Da'at as ruach hakodesh, divine inspiration. When the powers of Chokmah and Binah are combined, Da'at (Knowledge) is attained and a sanctuary is built. This can be achieved on an individual level, too. Every person is capable of making himself a Holy Temple in which ruach hakodesh can be manifest!

Rabbi Nachman thus taught, "Acquiring Da'at is comparable to the building of the Holy Temple, while an absence of Da'at corresponds to its destruction. Man's goal must therefore be the pursuit of Da'at to build his own personal sanctuary of spirituality, wherein Godliness can be revealed. 4

One can therefore make a connection between John's admonition regarding attainment of Da'at and the coming of the Millennial Temple. As mentioned in our opening notes to Chapter 13, the creation of the Temple is symbolic of the unification of the Name of God. Thus by unifying Wisdom and Understanding in our selves, we serve to hasten the coming of Messiah.

Understanding verse 18 as kabbalistic instruction to unify Wisdom and Understanding for the purpose of achieving a correct (rectified) state of Knowledge, we see a deeper aspect of what is going on with regard to this "beast" and his actions.

As discussed in various places of this study, the anti-messiah places himself in the role of the (false) tzaddik (righteous one) thereby coming between the true Bride below (Malkut/Shekinah) and Groom above (Tiferet/the Son). This connective role/action is that of the Sefirah Yesod, which is between the Bride and the Groom on the kabbalistic Tree of Life.

Throughout kabbalistic literature, this idea of separating the bride from the groom is directly associated with the sin of Adam. When Adam and Chavah (Eve) ate of the Tree of Knowledge (Etz ha-Da'at) they caused this "break" to occur among the Sefirot. Thus, Da'at became "corrupted" and in need of tikkun (rectification). This tikun occured to a degree at Mount Sinai (with acceptance of the Written Torah by the Jews) and continued at the time of Esther and Mordecai (with their acceptance of the Oral Torah). 5

We can therefore draw a direct connection between the events of Gan Edan (with the serpent and sin of separating Malkut from the rest of the Sefirot) with those in the end of days as depicted by John's account of the beast/anti-messiah. HaSatan comes to finish what he started with Adam. The people who "accept his number" place themselves in the camp of those taking part in this separation of the Bride from the Groom (i.e., the unification of the Name of God as mentioned at the beginning of this chapter's notes.)

This sin "against the bride" (the Shekinah) is effectively the same as the "sin against the Ruach haKodesh" (Holy Spirit), as the latter term is directly associated with the Shekinah in both Talmudic and Kabbalistic literature. Just as the sin against the Ruach was deemed the "unpardonable sin" by Yeshua, so is there also no forgiveness for those who receive the mark of the beast (as John mentions further in his revelation).

Refer to our previous notes to chapter 2:1-7 on Midag K'neged Midah ("measure for measure" punishment) for more on this concept.


Just as the "beast" causes people to place something on their head and/or one upper limb to show their allegiance, there is a "similar" action available to the people of God. This is found in "tefillin" -- the implements a Jew binds to his head and arm as a means of literally fulfilling a directive of the Torah:

Deuteronomy 6:8 - You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

Tefillin serves as a symbol of man's partnership of unifying above with below (i.e., the "Groom" and "Bride"), the converse of what the "mark of the beast" stands for. What is fascinating is the idea (mentioned in the text below) that the tefillin act as a "receiver" for spiritual signals. In this sense, the "mark of the beast" may also be a means of transmitting spiritual powers of the Sitra Atra (evil realm) into our world.

The following text from Aryeh Kaplan sheds some light on the essence of tifillin:

Have you ever felt so close to another human being that every moment together was precious? Where every letter and memento from this person was something to be treasured? What if this person gave you a meaningful gift? Every time you looked at it or used it, would it not remind you of this special relationship? ... Tefillin are a sign of this bond between G-d and man. Faith and love are very tenuous things. We can speak of them and think about them. But unless we do something about them we tend to forget; Tefillin serve to help us remember. The essence of the Torah is its commandments, Mitzvos in Hebrew. The word Mitzvah comes from the root meaning "to bind." Every commandment or mitzvah serves to draw us close to G-d and strengthen this connection. With every Mitzvah we forge a spiritual bond with G-d. In the case of Tefillin, this bond is physical as well as spiritual. We literally bind G-d's love symbol to our bodies. Thus, our sages teach us that the commandment of Tefillin encompasses all others. Here, we can actually see and feel the bond. G-d has given us the commandment of Tefillin and clearly spelled out how to do it. Tefillin may seem like simple boxes and straps. But they are much, much more. When a man wears Tefillin, he binds himself to the very highest spiritual level. He achieves a closeness to G-d that even the deepest meditation could not accomplish. Of course, when a man wears Tefillin and also contemplates their significance, his very thoughts are elevated close to G-d. But even the physical act in itself can bring a man to the loftiest heights. We can also understand this in a much simpler sense. In order to create this bond, our Tefillin must conform exactly to G-d's design. The slightest deviation breaks this link. A good analogy is that of a radio. A radio is specifically designed to receive a particular type of signal. Every element in it is needed for this. Cut a single wire, remove a single capacitor, no matter how small, and you no longer receive the signal. There are precise rules by which a radio must be built. These include all the laws of electromagnetism and circuits. If these are not exactly followed, the radio will not function. Tefillin are our receiver for a specific spiritual signal. As such, they must be designed to receive this particular kind of signal. Violate a single rule, and they become like a radio with a transistor removed. The bond just no longer exists. We can carry the analogy still further. You would have to have an extensive scientific education to even begin to understand how a radio works. You would have to know calculus and differential equations and all the complexities of electromagnetic theory. But still, even the youngest child can turn on a radio. The same is true of the Mitzvos. A lifetime of study might lead you to begin to understand their significance But anyone can put them on and receive the signal. 6


The number "666" is of course the centerpiece to this section. This number has been the source of misguided speculation for centuries. Again, any attempt to understand this number, apart from the Hebrew-Kabbalistic context from which John writes, will lead to error. As mentioned above, a key is "Binah" - understanding - which comes from study of Torah at its deepest levels.

We will analyze this mysterious number in the following fashion:

  1. the number six
  2. the three numbers of; 600 and 60 and 6
  3. the total number of "six-hundred sixty six"


The concepts associated with the number 6 are foundational to understanding this passage. Unfortunately, commentaries miss the point when addressing this. A common teaching is the number six is "bad" as it is "the number of man," whereas seven is "good" as it is "the number of God." As interesting as that may sound it has no basis in Torah and has nothing to do with where John is coming from.

"Six" is no more or less "Godly" than seven. In fact, the number six is closely associated with both God and the Messiah, and it is for this reason that it is closely associated with the anti-Messiah, as he comes as a counterfeit. In contrast to the above idea of six being a "bad" number, an argument could even be made that the number six is more closely associated with God than any other number.

An explanation of this is found in a prominent kabbalistic text, regarding the (sixth) Sephirah of Tiferet and the third letter of the name YHVH (the "vav" - with a numerical value of six). As seen in the following citations, the "vav" is said to "stand in place of the complete Name" of YHVH:

The essence of the third letter is the essence of the letter vav, and it includes the six Spheres which are the numerical equivalent of the letter vav [six], three above, which is half of vav and three of its other half below. The three of the upper half are Gedulah (also called Hesed), Gevurah and Tiferet and the three Spheres on the lower half are Netzach, Hod and Yesod. All these Spheres are included in the letter vav. Behold, the letter vav of the special Name (YHVH) stands in place of the complete Name. ... This letter contains the secret of tying all the upper and lower Spheres.  It ascends to Keter and descends to Malchut and it suits all the Spheres., for all are united in it whether they be above or below, to the right or to the left, and it is called the center line. ... Know that this great Name YHVH is the attribute the Kabbalsits call the Middle Line. ... The meaning of the term "the Middle Line" is the essence of the letter vav that is found in the Name YHVH, for it stands in the place where the Name is. It is like an intermediary line, thus this name ascends ever upward until AYN SOF (the infinte), which is the essence of Keter and unites with the name EHYE, which is the essence of the Heavenly Line and then returns to unite below with the Name Adonay. After this He returns and extends to the sides, and all sides from every direction hold fast toHim. One finds that the letter vav of the Name YHVH, may He be blessed, stands in the place of the whole Name, and to it all the other Names hold fast. 7

As shown above, one of the chief ideas associated with the vav is the idea of connection - specifically connecting the heavenly and earthly realms. (Note that at the physical level, the vav is in the shape of a hook.) The six Sephirot of; Hesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod and Yesod (known collectively by the term Ze'er Anpin and singly represented by Tiferet - "the Son"), serve as the connection between the Throne room of God (represented by Binah) at one "end," and the physical realm below (represented by Malkhut) at the other "end."

This idea of unifying the heavens and earth is also associated with the tzaddik (righteous person) specifically Messiah ben Joseph. The following text illustrates the vav as a pillar, specifically the middle pillar of truth as represented by the tzaddik:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 51b - AND THE PILLAR OF THE CLOUD REMOVED FROM BEFORE THEM AND STOOD BEHIND THEM. What was this pillar of cloud? R. Jose said that it was the cloud which is always seen with the Shekinah, the cloud into which Moses entered (Ex. XXIV, 18). R. Abba said that it was that which supports the Zaddik.

This idea of the link between a "cloud" and a great Tzaddik, might shed new light on certain verses in the New Testament:

Matthew 17:5 - While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"

Matthew 24:30 - Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Acts 1:9 - Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

As discussed in earlier studies, the tzaddik is associated with the Sephirah of Yesod, which is the sixth of the seven "lower" Sephirot. Yesod is seen as the connecting point" between Malkut and the upper remaining Sephirot. You could say that Yesod determins how much or little (if any) of God's blessings make it "down to us below." With a righteous Messiah in the role of Yesod, these blessings come full force -- with a false messiah allowed to stand in, it is only a matter of time before judgment befalls the world. 8

Note the relationship between the Sephirah of Tiferet, which is the sixth of the totality of the ten Sephirot and which is associated with Jacob, and the Sephirah of Yesod, which is the sixth of the lower seven Sefirot and associated with Joseph.

The following texts speak to the mirror image relationship between these two patriarchs and their related Sefirot:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 180a - THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF JACOB: JOSEPH, ETC. When Jacob was brought to rest in Joseph, and so the sun was united with the moon, then there commenced a production of offspring, the progenitor being Joseph. For it is that perennially flowing stream which fructifies the earth and from which generations are propagated in the world. For the sun, even when he approaches the moon, cannot cause vegetation without the help of that grade which goes under the name of Righteous (Zaddik). It was, then, Joseph who was the grade of Jacob to bear fruit and bring forth offspring in the world. Hence: “These are the generations (tol'doth, lit. offspring) of Jacob: Joseph.” Or, again, we may take the words to signify that whoever looked at Joseph thought he was looking at Jacob. Hence this form of expression is used only in connection with Joseph and not with any other of Jacob's sons-it is not written, for instance, “These are the offspring of Jacob: Reuben”, the reason being that Joseph was the exact image of his father.

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 176b - The Shekinah was thus leagued with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob together with Joseph, inasmuch as the two latter are one in essence, each one being the image of the other, as indicated in the words: “These are the offspring of Jacob: Joseph” (Gen. XXXVII, 2).

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 173a - But now that Esau is biting him and his children, who will stand up against him? Jacob and Joseph, one on one side and the other on the other side. So Scripture says: “And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, etc.” (Oba. I, 18).


The mathematical relationship between these numbers is simple; 60 is10 times 6, and 600 is 10 times 60. This prompts two questions:

  • What is the significance of ten times a number?
  • Why a set of three numbers?

One of the other key meanings associated with the vav is the power which links together the souls of Israel. 9  The soul is typically associated with the six "emotive" Sefirot of; Hesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod and Yesod (the six of which are also known as Ze'er Anpin).

Within the worlds of creation, our souls exist simulaneously Asiyyah, Yetzirah and Beriah. The soul has a relationship with the Sefirot at each level of "existence" and is said to have the potential of bringing peace to all worlds -- even that of the higher Divine world of Atzilut. 10

HaSatan seeks to impact our souls in each of these worlds. (Recall that his desire is to "be like the Most High.") Thus, he wishes to be the "vav" that unites all worlds. It is interesting to note that just as our souls are rectified in the three worlds of creation, God's rectification of creation itself is effected through three sets of judgments as explained in chapter 6 of this study.

Looking even deeper, the numbers 60 and 600 have an interesting relationship in kabbalah. The numerical value of the letter Samech is 60 while 600 is the value of the "final Mem" (a Mem that comes at the end of a word as opposed to a regular Mem whose numerical value is 40). 11

Once again we turn to Rabbi Ginsburgh's book on the Hebrew letters 12:

The only completely "closed" letters in the Hebrew alphabet are the samech and the final mem, the circle and the square. As the engraved letters of the "tablets of covenant" given to Moses at Sinai penetrated through the tablets from "side to side," the "insides" of these two letters, being entirely closed, were suspended in mid-air, within the stone of the tablets. "Rabbi Chisda said: the mem and samech of the tablets stood miraculously.'" In kabbalah it is explained that these two letters are the secret of the two levels of the future revelation of Divinity of Souls. The closed mem is called "the Coming World," and the samech is called "the Future to Come." The Future to Come is an even higher revelation than that of the Coming World.   ... The Future to Come, the secret of the samech, is the absolute revelation of the future, incomprehensible at present.: "No eye has seen it, G-d, except yours." According to one tradition based upon this teaching of kabbalah, the wedding ring placed by the groom on the "pointing" (index) finger of the bride, is in the form of a circle (samech) inside a square (final mem). The "pointing" finger of the bride points at the revelation of the future, the Future to Come within the Coming World. 13

The relational aspects of the numbers 6, 60 and 600, with regard to our souls, may be seen as follows:

  • In Asiyyah: the six emotive Sephirot of the soul (which in turn are associated with the six "constant commandments" that are not bound by time or space) 14
  • In Yetzirah: the six emotive Sephirot revealed within each of these ten Sephirot = 60
  • In Beriah: the sixty relationships of Yetzirah (above) within each of these ten Sephirot = 600

Now we see how the multipying factor of 10 comes into play. This is similar to the ten menorot Solomon placed in the Temple, representing how all ten Sefirot are present within each individual Sefirah.

As stated by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh:

... ten times a number alludes, in Kabbalah, to its full revelation in all the ten powers of the soul, which correspond to the ten supernal sefirot, the channels by which God created the world. 15

Recall in the previous section of notes that Nebuchadnezzar's idol is linked to the generation of the Tower of Babel in that each wished to connect "below" to "above." This explains why Nebuchadnezzar's statue had the peculiar dimensions of 6 by 60. The addition of 600 to the number of the beast may indicate his continuation of Nebuchadnezzar's plan and/or greater success in challenging the very throne of God.

Another interesting fact that connects these three numbers involves the ancient Babylonian numbering system (used at the time of Nebuchadnezzar). As explained in a popular mathematics textbook:

The babylonians wrote their numbers in a system based on sixty, in the same way we write ours based on ten. 16

For an insightful analysis of multiples of six and tens in this context see Rabbi Pinchas Winston's essay, Since You Asked ... About The Number 600,000.


As seen in an earlier study, gemmatria is useful in revealing hidden dimensions in numbers. In that previous example we showed how the number 153 was linked to both Betzalel and Yeshua, and how 153 is the "triangle" of 17 (the sum of all the numbers from 1 to 17). The number 17 in turn is associated with the idea of joining the spiritual (represented by the number 10) to the physical (represented by the number 7).

In this chapter we have the number 666, which is the triangle of the number 36 (the sum of the numbers 1 through 36). The number 36 is significant in kabbalah as it is associated with the idea of 36 tzaddikim (righteous ones) that sustain the world at any given time.

Sanhedrin 97b, Sukkot 45b - There are not less than thirty-six tzaddikim/righteous persons in the world who receive the Shekhinah/the Divine Presence

It is further taught that these thirty-six tzaddikim possess insight into the Divine order of the universe unknown to the rest of us, hold mystical powers, and that one of them may emerge as the Messiah. This theme is reflected at Chanukkah, where a total of 36 candles are lit over the course of eight days.

It may not be surprising to learn that 36 is the triangle of 8, which itself is associated with the World to Come - the Olam Haba. (See notes on Understanding/Binah and the number "8" above.)

Just as 153 represents the fullness of the "connective" number 17, and assists in identifying an especially righteous person, the number 666 may act in the same fashion toward 36, only in a counterfeit manner.

Finally, as shown in our background study of the Sefirot, there is an amazing metaphysical revelation found within the kabbalistic Tree of Life diagram that relates to everything discussed so far.

There are several traditions concerned with the twenty-two "paths" found between the ten Sefirot on the Tree of Life. Each of these methodologies assigns one of the twenty-two Hebrew letters to each of these paths. Although the "best known" system of numerology is that found in the classic text, Sefer Yetzirah (literally "Book of Formation", often called "Book of Creation"), there is another method based in the influential Spanish (Toledano) school of the middle ages. 17

In the Toledano tradition, the path from Binah to Gevurah (heading down the left side) is linked to the Vav, which has a numerical value of 6. Descending from Gevurah down to Hod we have the letter Samech, with a value of 60. Finishing the path down the left side, between Hod and Malkut at the bottom, is the letter Tav, which has the value of 400. The entirety of the three links of this path therefore has a value of 466.

Compare this journey along the left side to the "descent" of haSatan, who is cast from the heavenly realm (Binah) down to earth (Malkut). He does remain stagnant here however. As seen in the text of Revelation, and expounded on in our notes, from Malkut he elevates himself to the level of Yesod, in the role of the great (but false) Tzaddik.

This "ascent" from Malkut back up to Yesod, is along the path associated with the letter Resh, having a numerical value of 200. Thus, the entire "journey" of haSatan from the Throne Room to his misleading the world, comes to a total value of 666 (Vav-Samech-Tav-Resh = 6+60+200+400).

This section of the study merits further study and, Lord willing, will be updated at some point.

The Hebrew Letters: Channels of Divine Consciousness, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, Linda Pinsky Publications, Jerusalem, 1990, pp. 323-337.

2. Meditation and the Bible, Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel Weiser Inc., York Beach Maine, 1978, p. 131.

3. Opening the Tanya, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Jossey-Bass, 2003, p. 116.

4. Anatomy of the Soul, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Breslov Research Institute, Jerusalem, 1998, p. 180.

5. For a fuller discussion on the topic of the rectification of Da'at, see The Aryeh Kaplan Reader, Mesorah Publications Ltd, Brooklyn NY, 1985, pp. 106-111.

6. From The Mysterious Tefillin, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan,

7. Gates of Light (Sha'are Orah), Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, translated by Avi Weinstein, Altimira Press, London, 1994. Excerpts from pp. 147-246.

8. For additional insight into the meaning of the letter vav, see and also, The Hebrew Letters: Channels of Divine Consciousness, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, Linda Pinsky Publications, Jerusalem, 1990, pp. 93-105.

9. ibid.

10. See for a T-shirt with this representation of "Four Worlds of Peace"

11. There are five letters with "final" forms having "secondary" numerical values: Chaf=500, Mem=600, Nun=700, Pei=800, and Tzadi=900. In addition the Aleph may have a value of 1000 (in addition to its normal value of 1), thus giving us a complete number scheme from 1 to 1000.

12. The Hebrew Letters: Channels of Divine Consciousness, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, Linda Pinsky Publications, Jerusalem, 1990, p. 227.

13. It is interesting to note that when one includes the "pointing finger" itself, the "numerical value" of the bride's finger with the samech and final mem of the ring, comes to 661. This is also the numerical value of "shoshana" (shin-vav-shin-nun-hey, meaning either "rose" or "lily") The shoshana represents the community of Israel (the "bride") as depicted in the opening verse of the Zohar. See also the online study of the shoshana in Zohar 1:1 as found at

14. Living in Divine Space: Meditation and Kabbalah, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, Linda Pinsky Publications, Jerusalem, 2003.

15. ibid., p. 102. The six constant commandments consist of; belief in the existence of God, negation of belief in other gods, belief that God is One, love of God, fear of God, shielding the mind from negative thoughts.

16. Algebra & Trigonometry, Fifth Edition, Michael Sullivan, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1999, p. 17.

17. For a view of the tree with its paths and associated letters and values as found in the Toledano school, see The Way of Kabbalah, Z'ev Ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1976, p. 141.