A puzzle

featuring the numbers of the beast

and the golden ratio.


Yes, a close approximation of the golden ratio can be derived from the “number of the beast” found in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament (Revelation 13:18 (NIV)), if you make certain unusual assumptions.


The number of the beast is 666.  But some manuscripts say 616 (see footnote Revelation 13:18 (NLT)).


Could there be some way that both numbers are correct?  That is, in the original text, when it was first written, both numbers were somehow present?  That both numbers are essential to solving the puzzle of the number of the beast?


>> 666 is written with these three Greek characters:  Chi (600) Xi (60) Stigma (6)

>> 616 is written with these three Greek characters:  Chi (600) Iota (10) Stigma (6)


Now if I assume that the biblical author wanted to include both numbers, I have to find a way to do this.  One possible approach, purely hypothetical:


In the following drawing, I have overlaid one number on the other.  The middle character now is a combined Xi and Iota.  Artfully arranging letters like this is known as making a monogram.  If the biblical author made such a monogram, a reader would first have to dissect the middle combination figure.


2013 12 28 Revelation's numbers of the beast 666 and 616 combined gif

Xi and Iota as one monogram


It looks like it contains a cross, a cross bridging the divide between heaven and earth.


I have used the capital form of the letters (Χ Ξ Ϛ and Χ Ι Ϛ) because that yields a workable graphic.  I don’t see a way to combine lower case letters.  My understanding is that only upper case letters would have been used by the biblical authors.  Lower case was gradually developed later by Christian scribes in monasteries.


How would a scribe copying decades after the biblical author deal with combined letters?  Maybe figure that a letter had been crossed out and pick one or the other.  Pick either the Xi or the Iota.  End up with either 666 or 616, not both.  Well, that’s just my theory.


It is not entirely clear what we are supposed to do with these numbers, 666 and 616.  Evidently, there is something to be calculated (NIV).


It is popular to think that numerical values can be assigned to the letters in a man’s name (a supposed beast), based on the known numerical values of letters in the Greek or Hebrew alphabet or some other language, and that if the values add up to 666, its him!  But there’s no proof that method is what was intended.


I’ll assume this is not a puzzle for only 666 or only 616, but that the solution is to use both numbers!  I’ll use both 666 and 616!


I couldn’t resist getting my calculator.  I discovered the following solution.  It is easy to understand because it uses simple arithmetic:


Let A = 666 and B = 616; then (A x 1000) divided by ((A x B) + (A + B)) = 1.6183 . . . .


The result is the golden ratio to three decimal places, not more.  I don’t know if the author of Revelation living in the first century would have known or wanted to know more places, not having access to a calculator.  The actual golden ratio is 1.6180339887 etc., a number derived from the proportions in the pentagram (five-pointed star).


I feel that the golden ratio may be the intended solution to the puzzle, not because I am able to get the above quotient – conceivably any number pair can yield such an approximation with enough manipulation, but because the quotient falls out neatly and easily from the assumed number pair.


However, there are many number pairs (an infinite number of pairs taken from the Fibonacci series), which will yield an approximation of the golden ratio with no manipulation other than plain division.  Is there something special about the pair 666 & 616 that would make it preferred over all other pairs?  Some symbolism?  Who knows?


The biblical text says the number of the beast is the number of a man.  The New International Version lets me know that this can also be understood as “humanity’s number” (see footnote in Revelation 13:18 (NIV)).


The golden ratio is found most notably in the pentagram (five-pointed star), and is a number that can bring to mind the magnificence and complexity of the world we are co-creating.  So truly it would be “humanity’s number.”


Was the biblical author pointing to the golden ratio?  Possibly.  But this post is just a lot of theorizing and I haven’t even fully convinced myself.  I really liked the way 1.618 jumped out at me from 666 & 616.  I was happy for almost a day!


Update:  Well, I couldn’t resist going back to my calculator.  I created another equation from the number pair 666 & 616.  The equation also yields the golden ratio to three decimal places, neatly and easily.  Again, simple arithmetic.


Equation 2


Let A = 666 and B = 616; then (A x 2000) divided by ((A x A) + (B x B)) = 1.6184 . . . .


Maybe there is something mysterious about the pair 666 & 616?


The next day I was remembering there is a passage in Revelation, something about the “eighth king,” and filled with a jumble of numbers (Revelation 17:9-11).    I looked it up thinking maybe it was instructions on how to do the number of the beast puzzle.  Oddly enough, both passages, 13:18 and 17:9, start off with an appeal to “Wisdom,” and so appear to be linked.


Equation 3 – developed from Revelation 17:9-11


In the “instructions” I find these numbers 7, -5, 1, 1, and in the next idea-set, 8, -1.  Again, simple arithmetic:


Let A = 666 and B = 616; then (B x (8 – 1)) divided by (A x (7 – 5 + 1 + 1)) = 1.6186 . . .


Simplifying to:  7B / 4A = 1.6186 . . . .


The result is the golden ratio to three decimal places.  By the way, the number 7 is used many times in Revelation as if it was favored.  No lack of fours.


So does that clinch it for me?  Have I definitely found the solution to the number of the beast puzzle using the “instructions” for it?  Was the biblical author pointing to the golden ratio?  Of course I don’t know what was in that person’s head anymore than anyone else does.  But I have a certain level of satisfaction about all this.




Am I impressed by online chatter that says sin 666 = -1.618 x 0.5?  It does equal that.  But many angles (54, 126, 234, 306, 414, 486, 594, 666, 774, 846 and so on to infinity) have exactly that same sin value whether +/-.  No, I am not impressed by one instance in an infinite series.  Not unless some significance is added to “666” that would make it unique.  Besides, I’m not sure anyone in the first century had any use for angles greater than 360 degrees.


Updated December 28, 2013: to add stigma




  1. truleeyours says:

    The numbers of the beast (666 and 616) can be derived from the Pascal’s Triangle as explained in my post at this blog,

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