Revelation 13.1-10

 

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In the next installment of this visionary insight into the future, Dragon takes his stand on the sand of the seashore, and John sees

 

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a Beast rising out of the sea that bears a suspicious resemblance to the Dragon.  He—let’s call it a “he” because of its high status, even though the Greek for “beast,” therion, is neuter—has ten horns and seven heads; but unlike Dragon he has ten crowns, one for each horn.  There are no crowns on the heads themselves, but instead there are writings of blasphemous names.  Oh, and one more thing:  he’s not a serpent.  Rather, he has the overall look of a leopard, with bear’s feet and a lion’s mouth.  Dragon bestows on him his own force (dunamis) and his throne and great power (exousia) (Rev. 13.1-2).

One of Beast’s heads had been “wounded to death,” but Death’s blow has now healed, and all the people of the earth marvel at Beast and prostrate themselves before Dragon, because Dragon has given his power to Beast.  And they cry out, “Who is like Beast, and who can fight against him?” (Rev. 13.2-4).

In other words, we see here the Ancient Serpent in the process of “deceiving the whole world,” with the help of his monster protegé, Beast-from-the-Sea.  The question, “Who is like Beast?” is a parody of the name Michael, which means, “Who is like God?”

To make a long story short, all this business, together with the matter that follows, is an easily recognizable allegory of the Roman Empire and the cult of Emperor worship.  I say “easily recognizable,” but only in globo, not in its particulars.  For instance, there is dispute over the identity of a second Beast who arises from the ground, having two horns like a lamb but the voice of a dragon, and the number of a man, namely, 666 (Rev. 13.11-18).  The favorite candidate is for this Beast is the Emperor Nero, now reincarnated.