Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six (Rev. 13:18 KJV)
Many insist we use Gematria (substituting letters for numbers) to solve the riddle of 666 meaning, although they cannot point to any undisputed examples of its use elsewhere in Scripture. How can we decide this issue?
John states wisdom is required to solve the riddle. If the literal calculation of Gematria precisely identified the name whose number is 666, there is wisdom using Gematria. However, the literal calculation of Gematria results in too many names to solve the riddle, therefore there is no wisdom in using Gematria. As John states wisdom is required, unwise Gematria is ruled out as a way to solve the riddle.
What is a riddle? “A question or statement intentionally phrased so as to require ingenuity in ascertaining its answer or meaning, typically presented as a game.”-Oxford Languages
John gamely invites all “that hath understanding count the number”. It follows solving the riddle depends on how the text is phrased.
Before the invention of chapter and verse ancient writers alluded to scriptures they had in mind by citing something in or taught by it. 666 is found pointing TWICE to one particular name, with a little “counting” and following the phrasing in the text:
John wasn’t like modern textual critics, he would believe every word of inspired Scripture is correct. Therefore, John would conclude the different perspectives found in each verse caused the different counts, as they imply there are two individuals named “Adonikam“.
Father Adonikam had 667 sons, but his firstborn son also named Adonikam had 666. Therefore, when we “count” (5585 ψηφίζω psephizo) “as with pebbles” we have 667-1=666, counting from Father Adonikam. 666 is also “the number of a man” because firstborn Adonikam had “666 sons”, they are “OF” him.
Hebrew Scholar Cyrus Gordon discovered ancient Hebrews used parallelism to communicate meaning, today called Janus Parallelism. Examples can be found in Gen. 6:3; 49:26; Cant. 2:12; Ezek. 20:37; Dan. 11:35; Nah. 1:8; Mat. 16:18.
Janus Parallelism. This type of parallelism hinges on the use of a single word with two different meanings, one of which forms a parallel with what precedes and the other with what follows. Thus, by virtue of a double entendre, the parallelism faces in both directions. Berlin, A. (1992). Parallelism. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 5, p. 157). New York: Doubleday.
John an expert in Hebrew scripture would be familiar with Janus parallelism. Its clear he deployed something similar to it in his riddle; “Adonikam” is the “pivot word” that looks back when counting to arrive at the number 666, and looks forward to learn the “number 666” is “Of a man” because he had 666 sons.
QUESTION—What person is indicated by the number 666?
It may refer to the trinity composed of Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet. Each have the number 6 symbolizing that they each fall short of divinity whose number is seven [Hu]. All other commentaries consulted simply listed the possibilities that have been suggested by authorities, but none committed themselves to a definite answer.-Trail, R. (2008). An Exegetical Summary of Revelation 12–22 (2nd ed., p. 55). Dallas, TX: SIL International.
666 is none of those things. Rather, the great revolt against all called God (2 Thess. 2:3-4) prophesied in Daniel and Revelation make it much more likely it will be a symbol of the revolt against YHWH. Like the Nazi Swastika, people will march under its banner and be proud to wear the mark on their hand and forehead, signifying complete allegiance to Adonikam the Beast and his war against YHWH God. That it identifies who belongs to the 666 economy is its most prominent and practical application (Rev. 13:16-17).
That is consistent with accepting the mark meriting eternal torment (Rev. 14:9-11). Not a sin done in ignorance, those who chose the mark wrongly believed they would win against God (Rev. 16:13-16; 19:19-20).
A friend asked, “won’t the Antichrist change his name Adonikam to hide his identity?” On the contrary, prophecy describes a “little horn” so boastful against God (Dan. 7:8, 11, 20, 25; 8:9-11, 23-25; 11:36-37; 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:5-6) if Adonikam wasn’t his birth name he would change it to “Adonikam“, boastfully doing everything revealed in Scripture the Antichrist would do. It would become his “public persona”, he would glory in it and so will those who accept his mark.
They will celebrate it…until they don’t. Notice the subtle change, men go from boldly blaspheming “the name of God”, to grudgingly conceding His power as “the God of heaven”. This happens after the fifth bowl, when YHWH God strikes the seat of the beast with darkness causing them to gnaw their tongues for pain (Rev. 16:9-11). They became so weak at the knees upon experiencing God’s awesome power a fresh dose of demonic propaganda was necessary to restore courage (Rev. 16:12-14).
On this see:
War between God and Satan
Another interesting riddle is Samson’s riddle, it reveals a blueprint for solving Biblical riddles. An important clue is the double meaning of the words “lion” and “honey” in the language of Samson and the Philistines:
The word “lion” in Hebrew (ʾarî) is almost identical to an Arabic word for “honey” (ʾary).-Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 468). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
So he said to them: “Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet.” Now for three days they could not explain the riddle. (Jdg. 14:14) NKJ
“Eater” in Hebrew can be a man, beast or insect that “devours with extreme violence” (0398 אָכַל ‘akal Num. 23:24; 1 Ki. 13:28). As the “eater” is “strong” (05794 עַז `az) “mighty, fierce” the image of lion naturally arises. Confirming this describes a lion is the irony of taking food from the lion’s mouth, a definite clue.
As for “sweet” honey naturally comes to mind (Jdg. 14:18).
The “lion/honey” homonym is what made this a valid riddle. Notice these points are present in the answer the Philistines gave to Samson:
What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? (Jdg. 14:18)
Many commentators object the riddle was unfair, but the context contradicts that claim. They wouldn’t have wasted three days trying to solve it, or by the seventh day threaten the bride’s family if they could have simply objected it wasn’t a fair riddle (Jdg. 14:14-15). Their answer in Judges 14:18 implies they considered it fair, the answer a valid result of the clues in the riddle.
What likely prevented the Philistines from solving the riddle was the presence of many possible “strong eaters” and “sweets” at the feast. That would misdirect their attention away from the solution.
They broke the first rule for solving riddles, thinking outside of the box is a must.. It is likely John’s choice of “count” (ψηφίζω) is intended to “misdirect” the uninitiated to the wrong solution. If so, it worked fabulously well. Those in the habit of seeking solution to enigma outside of scripture took the bait with Gematria, as they often do appealing to apocrypha and pseudepigrapha rather than seeking the answer in scripture critically thinking on the context.
It is disputed Matthew 1:17 is Gematria pointing to David (14). Jesus is the subject, “carrying away into Babylon unto Christ” does not point to David without circular reasoning, eisegesis which contradicts the theory. Other suggested reasons, none of which satisfy: 1) Emphasize importance of Abraham, David and captivity, that the promises of Messianic kingdom fulfilled in Christ; 2) Show God’s grace in Israel’s rise, fall and redemption. 3) Symbolic of completeness (“7” x 2 = 14, thrice for intensity). This is not a complete list; good hunting.
 Ωδε ἡ σοφία ἐστίν: “Here is wisdom” (KJV); “Wisdom is needed here” (NLT); “This calls for wisdom” (NIV); “This is where wisdom is needed” (CJB).