The Seven Heads Are Seven Kings

23 Feb
Seven Hills of Jerusalem

from Google Images

In the seventeenth chapter of the Apocalypse, the angel began to unveil the identity of the beast by saying: “The seven heads are seven mountains,[1] on which the woman sits” (Revelation 17:9). That is, she rests or finds her life in these seven heads. Much has been said by Biblical scholars to show that Rome was built upon seven hills (or mountains), thereby seeking to substantiate their futuristic conclusions about the Apocalypse. After all, Rome wasn’t destroyed in the first century AD, so the Apocalypse must have been written with a view toward some point in time far into the future. Nevertheless, there were other cities in the ancient world that were built upon seven mountains or hills. Jerusalem was one of those cities.[2]

As interesting as this is, a mountain in Scripture often refers to a kingdom (Isaiah 2:2; Daniel 2:35, 44-45), and, therefore, a king. Revelation 17:10 seems to say the seven mountains are seven kings or governors, five of which have already reigned or governed, and their government had come to an end. Either they died or were replaced. The sixth king or ruler was already reigning at the time angel spoke with John. Thus, showing that the heads of the beast do not necessarily identify the beast. According to Revelation 17:8, the beast is not in existence at the time the angel spoke with John, at least not in the context of chapter 17, but, according to Revelation 17:10, not only is the sixth ruler or head of the beast in existence, he is also reigning. But, what does all this mean? How does it fit into the context of the first century AD?

The seventh head, or ruler was yet to arise to power at the time that the angel spoke with John in the seventeenth chapter of the Apocalypse. However, when he would arise, he would rule for only a short time before he would die or be removed from office. The beast, itself, is described in the next verse as a head, an eighth head! “And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goes into perdition” (Revelation 17:11). What could this possibly mean? In the words of Sir Author Conan Doyle: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”[3]

It is impossible for the beast to be the Roman Empire, because it didn’t cease to exist in the first century AD. It is impossible for it to be the Vatican (as many Protestant interpreters believe), because it didn’t exist at all during the first century AD, when Daniel’s “stone” struck the image at its feet (Daniel 2:44-45). What is left, in the context of the Scriptures is the Jewish state, itself. It did end in the first century AD. Therefore, no matter how improbable this may seem, the rebellious Jewish state must be the beast of Revelation 17. Its heads were the high priests, but in the context of rejecting Christ and persecuting his followers, the high priestly line must be that of Annas, the high priest, who was so instrumental in the crucifixion of Christ. After all, all three of the first major persecutions of Jesus’ disciples began when one of his sons (or son-in-law) was officiating that high office.[4]

Moreover, the text concludes that “the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goes into perdition” (Revelation 17:11). If the beast is “of the seven” and an eighth head, then…

The Beast of Revelation 17

1 Annas high priest from 6 AD to 15 AD
2 Eleazar high priest from 16 AD to 17 AD
3 Caiaphas high priest from 18 AD to 36 AD
4 Jonathan High priest from 36 AD to 37 AD & 52 AD to 58 AD
5 Theophilus High priest from 37 AD to 41 AD
6 Matthias High priest from 42 AD to 44 AD
7 Ananias High priest in 62 AD (two or three months)
8 (Matthias) High priest from 65 AD to 67 AD

The graph shown above lists Rome’s first choice of a high priest, Annas, followed by the rest of the males of his family. They were local rulers of the Jews, beginning in 6 AD. Annas had five sons who also held the office: Eleazar, Jonathan, Theophilus, Matthias and Ananias. Caiaphas (of the Gospels) was Annas’ son-in-law, and he had the longest reign of the seven. Jonathan, Annas’ second son (#4 in the list above) reigned twice, according to Josephus.[5] Felix, the Roman procurator had Jonathan killed, while he officiated within the Temple compound. Jonathan was killed for meddling in Felix’s affairs. The timing of this event coincides with Jerusalem’s efforts to have Paul killed, while Felix had no desire to hand over a Roman citizen to be slain by the Jews.

Notice, as well, that there is an eighth head, Matthias, the son of Theophilus. He reigned as high priest from about a year before the war to about a year after the war had begun, at which time he was removed by the rebels. He was the grandson of Annas, so the beast, in the context of its heads being high priests, began with the appointment of Annas, and it went into perdition through war with Rome with Matthias, Annas’ grandson, officiating.


[1] Or hills, depending upon the translation.

[2] See Earnest L. Martin The Seven Hills of Jerusalem at Associates for Scriptural Knowledge (ASK).

[3] Quoted from The Sign of Four; chapter 6, page 111; a mystery about the investigations of Sherlock Holms (1890).

[4] The persecution that began with the murder of Stephen (Acts 7:59; 11:19) began under Caiaphas (cir. 34-40 AD); the persecution of the Apostles that began with the death of James, the son of Zebedee (Acts 12:1-3), began while Matthias was high priest (cir. 42-44 AD). The final bloody persecution of the church began with the stoning of James, the Lord’s brother, and that was done by the authority of Ananias, the fifth son of Annas (cir. 62-66 or 67), and that is recorded in Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1, occurring just after Paul was sent to Rome.

[5] Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews 20.6.2 & 8.5


Posted by on February 23, 2020 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation


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2 responses to “The Seven Heads Are Seven Kings

  1. Eddie

    February 23, 2020 at 18:35

    Thank you for your kind words, Patricia. Lord bless you.

    Actually, I did address the issue in question, but after rereading my two posts, I have to agree I wasn’t clear enough. Perhaps I should place a footnote in this one to make it clear.

    The “beast” is the Jewish state, ruled by the Annas family of high priests, but at the assent of Rome. The text claims that five heads (high priests) had fallen: Annas through Theophilus; the sixth head was Matthias, but he officiated under Herod Agrippa senior, so the “beast” wasn’t in existence during his reign. The church was persecuted under Matthias, but, technically, Herod’s kingdom was not that of the beast, even though Herod slew James the Apostle and brother of John (Acts 12). A few years after Herod’s death Jonathan (head #4) arose to power once more, but he was slain by Felix for meddling in his affairs (probably over what should be done with Paul). Ananias junior is the seventh, and by his word James the Less (the Apostle, also “called” the brother of the Lord, but not his half-brother by Mary) was slain, along with several other good men.

    I’ll think about what I should do to the body of the study to make this clearer.

  2. Patricia Watkins

    February 23, 2020 at 12:46

    Hi Eddie,

    Superb! There’s not one word of this excellent post that I disagree with. I have noticed that this interpretation of the seven and the eighth “kings” as the high priests related to Annas is beginning to emerge on various other Preterist websites as well as yours. It is a sound interpretation that matches all the curious descriptive terms for this Rev. 17 Beast and makes total sense of it. Unfortunately, many still stick to the group of 7 and 8th “kings” as being the emperors of Rome, but that list of emperors does not really match the activities or the history and origins of this on-again-off-again Beast.

    One thing you have not touched on in this post (or your previous post either) is how this Rev. 17 Beast once WAS in existence. Personally, I believe it first came into being (the Beast “WAS” in existence) under the time of the Maccabean revolt and subsequent victories. Those victories secured an independent nation for Israel that lasted about 80 years until Israel was subjugated to the Roman republic under Pompey (the time when the Beast “IS NOT” in existence). The minting of the nation’s currency which began under the Maccabean period, (as well as starting up again under the Zealot uprising in AD 66), seems to be the sign indicating that the rebellious state of Israel was claiming sovereignty, and provides proof of the “WAS” and “YET IS” status of the Rev. 17 Beast. “Follow the money” I guess was true back then also.

    Eddie, you may have another interpretation for this “WAS” period of existence for the Beast, which I would be interested to hear.

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