1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.
[A clone, as it were, of the dragon, with the addition of the names on its heads...]
The Four Kingdoms Are One
2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.
[All of the four beasts of Daniel's vision combined. But the unique form of combination is meant to be revealing. It is not surprising that the dragon gives its power and throne to this clone. Satan tried to give his kingdom to the true Mashiach but was rebuffed. Here it is not said that the dragon gives all his authority to the beast but that he gives him great authority.]
The Mortal Wound
3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.
[A reference to a false resurrection.. Because the beast is to be understood on two levels prophetically, that of the empire and that of the emperor, this characteristic of being dead and revived, or seeming to have been dead and revived would seem to apply to both...]
They Worshipped The Dragon
4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
[The worship of the beast leads to the worship of the dragon... The worship of the beast comes through its display of power and having conquered all other kingdoms of the earth, etc.]
The Mouth Uttering Blasphemy
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.
[The power comes from a lying mouth that is used to blaspheme the Creator, the G-d of Israel. This is allowed for 3 1/2 years, here designated as 42 months, a term of measure more precise than years but less than days.]
The Mouth That Attacks Heaven
6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.
[The purpose of attacking the God of heaven and his armies is here a direct reference to the war to attack the woman and her child as described in chapter 12.]
Authority To Conquer The Saints Of God
7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,
[Just as it is said in chapter 12 that when the dragon was unable to attack the woman he turned his attack on the remainder of her children, so it is here. This is the same reference but now related from the perspective of the beast, or from the dragon as animating the beast.]
The Book Of The Lamb
8 and all a who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
[Only identification in heaven with the Mashiach of Israel now saves people from taking the mark of the beast, as will be seen.]
Let Them Hear
9 If anyone has an ear, let them hear:
[As was said to the seven assemblies...]
Taking Captivity Captive
10 If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
[This is the outcome of verse 8...]
The Second Beast
11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.
[This is usually thought of as representing a false prophet who does public relations for the anti-Messiah. However, it is not certain whether or not this image represents the king, whereas the previous image represented the kingdom...]
Who Makes The Earth Worship The First Beast
12 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 Revelation has already spoken of the world worshiping the first beast. This may refer to another level or form of worship, as for example, in relation to the image of the beast, as we will see. If so, what seems to be the essential message delivered by the second beast is that power comes through being in the presence of the first beast. As the first beast is to the dragon, so the second beast is to the first beast.]
Signs And Wonders
13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people,
[This is clearly a reference to Elijah. It is as if this is one of the prophets of Baal trying finally to get even with Elijah. There is a reference here to the Two Witnesses, on of which will have a connection to Elijah. So this seems to confirm the idea that the second beast is a witness to the first. This being so, it is interesting that the second witness to the first beast would appear to be the animated image of the beast.]
Making The Image Of The Beast
14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
[It is the people of the earth who make the image of the beast. They do so because they are deceived into doing so by the second beast. Nevertheless, they do so because they are so taken (in) by the false resurrection of the first beast.]
The Image Of The Beast Given Life
15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
[It is as though ritual messages of death and resurrection are being enacted here. The idol becomes a living robot. Those who do not acknowledge its life and worship its creator are killed, as if to show that they were unworthy of this miracle life.]
Marked With The Image Of The Beast
16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,
[The mark, which later could take the form of a number, is, as it were, to demonstrate worthiness of sharing in the miracle life of the image of the beast, which comes from the power of the beast who seems resurrected from the dead and from his animating spirit, the dragon. Those who will not take this mark are treated as though they were unworthy of living at all, as will be seen.]
No One Can Buy Or Sell Without The Mark, Name Or Number
17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
[It is specifically the economy and economic means that is controlled by the image of the beast that is miraculously given a form of life. Whatever eschatology one holds to, it cannot be denied that today's technological system has all the elements in place to fulfill this kind of scenario literally, should there come some one to power with the will and ability to implement it.]
The Number Of A Man
18 This calls for [special] wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
[There is clearly nothing openly revealed in this verse, not even the reason why it is given. The narrator, who seems again to be Yochanan himself, is the one who gives this information. Who are the ones with the special wisdom to understand what he is talking about and what the purpose is for which he is revealing this information? The clue seems to be that the number of Adam, or the number of a certain man, or of his name, that is to say, the false Messiah, is 666. According to what school of wisdom is this numbering system to be understood?
If what were being said was that the gematria of the name of the false Messiah, according to some form of gematria, it would not make any sense for the number itself to serve as a mark for authorization for buying and selling. The popular mythology around this number is, therefore, more unhelpful than helpful, however this is looked at.]