Beasts of Revelation
The beasts of Revelation are two beasts mentioned in the Book of Revelation. The first beast, or Beast of the Sea, is described as, "rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads." The second beast, or Beast of the Earth, is described as follows:
- Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.
The opening of Revelation implies that the author was sent into exile as part of a persecution of Christians. He finds himself on the island of Patmos, “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” So the beast may represent a Roman emperor. This is most likely Nero, who persecuted Christians. The "Number of the Beast" is given as 666. When the Greek of the original text is transcribed into Hebrew, this number yields the name of Nero (Nerōn Kaisar). At this time, many Romans expected Nero's return as Nero redivivus (Nero revived). The indirect mention of Nero suggests a parallel between Nero redivivus legend and the prophecy of the anti-Christ. Revelation is noted for a multi-layered symbolism that lends itself to open-ended interpretation.