The Birth of the Beast of Revelation 13

12 Nov
Beast out of the sea

from Google Images

Many modern scholars interpret the beast of Revelation 13 and its heads as seven resurrections of the Roman Empire. Indeed, other scholars interpret the heads of the beast of this chapter to be the first seven heads of the Roman Empire. Although I do agree with this second interpretation, I do have exceptions as to how that interpretation was played out in history. For example, although the heads of the beast of Revelation 13 are Roman emperors, the beast is not Rome. The description of the beast in this chapter is based upon the four great empires of Daniel 7: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, and Daniel 7:3 states that these empires would be different from one another. Yet, Revelation 13 seems to make the beast with its seven heads a composite of all four.[1]

If the above is accurate, the beast in Revelation 13 could never be Rome, itself, because Rome was different from Babylon, Persia and Greece. Yet, the beast of Revelation 13 is a composite of all four gentile empires, each having unique characteristics of their own. It simply isn’t logical, nor is it Scriptural, for this beast to represent Rome. Additionally, the beast was destroyed not long after the Apocalypse was written (Revelation 13:10; 19:19-20; 20:10, 14). In this context, the beast must represent an entity that was not any one of the four empires interpreted from Daniel 7. So, whatever the beast of Revelation 13 represents, it was influenced by four ancient world empires and outlived three of them.

Therefore, from the perspective of the nearness of the fulfillment of the Apocalypse (cp. Revelation 1:1, 3; 22:10, 12, 20), the text seems to conclude the beast was destined to be destroyed soon (Revelation 13:10). I, therefore, suggest that the beast is apostatizing Israel. Jerusalem was conquered and its walls and Temple were destroyed in 70 AD, not long after the Apocalypse was written. I don’t mean to say that the seven headed dragon of Revelation 12 and the seven headed beast of Revelation 13 are one and the same, but I do say they both represent the apostatizing Jewish state. Just as Jesus is represented in the Apocalypse as High Priest, Prophet and King of kings, so, too, the rebellious Jewish state is represented in reverse order, first in its regal state (the dragon of Revelation 12), then in its prophetic state (Revelation 13) and, finally, in its high priestly state (Revelation 17).

Some decades before the Apocalypse was written and very soon after the death of Herod the Great, high ranking Jews petitioned Caesar Augustus to reject Herod’s son, Archelaus, as ruler of the Jewish state, but Augustus ruled in favor of Archelaus. Nevertheless, he gave him the title of ethnarch instead of king, which Archelaus hoped to receive. In other words, Augustus assumed rulership over the Jews, with Archelaus governing with his permission and to carry out his, not Archelaus’ will, retaining his government only, if he did well:

So Caesar, after he had heard both sides, dissolved the assembly for that time; but a few days afterward, he gave the one half of Herod’s kingdom to Archelaus, by the name of Ethnarch, and promised to make him king also afterward, if he rendered himself worthy of that dignity. (Wars of the Jews 2.6.3)

Nevertheless, Archelaus didn’t rule wisely. He was very cruel to those who petitioned the Emperor against him, and this finally became his undoing:

But in the tenth year of Archelaus’ government, both his brethren, and the principal men of Judea and Samaria, not being able to bear his barbarous and tyrannical usage of them, accused him before Caesar… (Antiquities 17.13.2)

And now Archelaus took possession of his ethnarchy, and used not the Jews only, but the Samaritans also, barbarously; and this out of his resentment of their old quarrels with him. Whereupon they both of them sent ambassadors against him to Caesar; and in the ninth year of his government he was banished to Vienna, a city of Gaul, and his effects were put into Caesar’s treasury. (Wars of the Jews 2.7.3).

So, Archelaus was removed a few years later, and the Jews became directly subject to Rome, and out of the ensuing turmoil and violence the beast of Revelation 13 was born (Revelation 13:1), just as the gentile empires of Daniel 7 were born (Daniel 7:2-3). The sea represents the wicked and rebellious of a society, who cast up dirt and mire against their foes (Isaiah 57:20; cp. Isaiah 17:12). It is through their efforts that empires were born, and it was through such efforts that the Jewish state of the first century AD was born.


[1] Note that there are seven heads represented in the four beasts / empires in Daniel 7:1-8, and they do represent the seven heads of the dragon of Revelation 12 (see my study The Dragon and His Seven Heads. Nevertheless, the beast in Revelation 13 is only one beast, and it has all seven heads. However, they aren’t the same as the dragon’s heads in Revelation 12.

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Posted by on November 12, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation


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