“And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their hand, or on their forehead and that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of man, and his number is six hundred sixty six” (Rev 13.16-18). No number has fascinated Bible believers like 666. There has been so much written about it and what it is, so let’s look at it from a Hebraic perspective and see what we can learn.
The Hebrew letter “shin” has three heads to it (look it up in any Hebrew alphabet). This letter is symbolic of the words “Shaddai” and “Shalom.” Its meaning is “teeth, tooth or destroy.” In Deut 12.11 it says, “then it shall come about that at the place in which the Lord your God shall choose for his name to dwell, there shall you bring all that I commanded you, your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contributions of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the Lord.” These titles are not God’s unique name Yehovah (YHVH), but this place is Jerusalem (2 Chr 6.6) and Jerusalem has three valleys that form the letter shin. The three heads symbolize the Triune Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In Deut 6.4-9 the Lord commands that his commandments should be bound as a sign upon your hand (action) and on the forehead (intellect), and on the doorposts of your house (body). This are seen as metaphors by some, and taken literally by others. A “Mezuzah” is a box that contains Scripture that can be fastened to the doorpost on homes in a literal sense. But what is interesting is the Mezuzah has the letter shin on it symbolizing God. So, the name of God can be symbolized by the Hebrew letter shin and in Rev 3.12; 7.3; 9.4; 14.1 and 22.4 says that his name is written on the foreheads (the seat of the intellect, intelligence and thought) of those who are Torah observant.
Now, the False Messiah will cause people who follow him to receive a mark, which is the number of his name, in their foreheads (thinking) or hands (actions) in a metaphoric sense. The letter vav in Hebrew is the number 6, the number of man. A false shin can be made using three vavs, or 6,6,6 to counterfeit the true shin of God. A shin can denote “falsehood” (“sheker”-Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet”, Artscroll Mesorah Series, p 211).
We know Satan is a counterfeiter and full of falsehood. He declares himself to be God through the False Messiah in 2 Thes 2.4 and is the head of the “unholy trinity” made up of himself, the False Messiah and the False Prophet. Satan will counterfeit the Lords name.
Sometimes the vav can be substituted for the letter shin (“Daniel”, Artscroll Mesorah Series, p 227). So, the vav in Hebrew has the numerical value of six, the number of man and weakness, and it’s symbol is a tent peg, hook or nail. You can place three vavs (6,6,6) together to form a counterfeit and a “forgery” of the letter shin. When looking at the vav it looks like a serpent ready to strike.
Now, the hook and the serpent bring to mind the Nachash (Gen 3.1) and Leviathan, the fleeing serpent who is a picture in the Scriptures of the False Messiah (Isa 27.1; Job 41.1-2; Ezek 29.4). This may be a literal mark, but it may also be a “spiritual” mark as well because what we do (the hand is action) and what we think (the forehead denotes thinking) marks us anyway. This is indicated in the Shema (Deut 6.4) and unless you had wisdom (Rev 13.18) you would not recognize the significance of this.
The mark of the Beast may very well resemble the Hebrew letter shin but a counterfeit, but it also can be spiritual. This concept can be seen by those who were Torah observant and groaned over all the abominations being done in Ezek 9.4. These believers were marked and spared from the coming judgment. This mark was spiritual and it doesn’t mean that anyone could see this mark on the people, but the Lord could.
In the same way, the mark of the Beast can be spiritual, indicated by what the people do and think, just like in Ezek 9.4. The Hebrew word “Torah” means “instruction, teaching and guidance.” It is translated “law” in English Bibles from the Greek word “nomos.” Lawlessness is “anomos” in Greek in the Scriptures and it means no Torah (observance). Some believe they have been “set free from the law.” That is biblical lawlessness. As a result, they will not be Torah observant and will go along with the Beast and what he wants. People have been “marked” for thousands of years by their actions and how they think and this mark can be of a spiritual nature.