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666 - Good day, bad day, or just another day?
Latest Updated by 2006-06-09 08:52:42
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TUESDAY was the sixth day of the sixth month, six years into the second millennium. For some Westerners, that adds up to Apocalypse while for some Chinese, it is one of the lucky days that happens only once in a lifetime.

A front-page story in Shenzhen Special Zone Daily said some 500 pairs of lovers lined up at Shenzhen marriage registration offices to tie the knot on this particular day. The marriage number was second only to Valentine's Day for the first half of 2006.

The number of newly registered couples was even higher in Beijing, reaching a record 3,000 pairs, the Beijing-based China Youth Daily reported.

The reason for the wedding craze is that the number of the day, 666, is lucky.

Some explain the Chinese affection for lucky number six for its pronunciation, "liu." This sounds like the word for "slippery" and can mean "everything goes smoothly."

A more sophisticated explanation is that the number six signifies the six sides of the universe: east, south, west, north, heaven and earth. If people can develop a balanced relationship with the six sides of nature, everything will run smoothly.

The auspicious implications are even larger in numbers like 66 and 666.

But for Westerners, 666 is the mark of the beast in the New Testament. What's the meaning of the dreaded 666?

"It is a great conundrum," said David M. Scholer, New Testament professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and an authority on the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. "Scholars have debated this throughout the history of the church."

The number comes from Revelation 13:18, credited to John, "This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666."

Scholer says the theory held by most scholars is that 666 is a cryptogram for Nero, the Roman emperor who persecuted Christians with unspeakable cruelty.

Though Revelation is written in Greek, the cryptogram relates to Caesar Nero in Hebrew, pronounced Keser Neron. Hebrew does not have symbols for numbers and instead assigns numerical values to letters of the alphabet.

Scholer said that adding up the value of the Hebrew letters in Nero's name - 100, 60, 200, 50, 200, 6 and 50 totals 666.

Revelation - apocalypse in Greek - was probably written between A.D. 81 and 96, a time when many believed Nero might come back to life.

In A.D. 68, Nero killed himself by slitting his throat. That wound and the fear of Nero's return apparently account for Revelation 13:3: "One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast."

This hasn't stopped some interpreters from identifying others as the beast of Revelation - various popes, Martin Luther, Napoleon, Saddam Hussein and Prince Charles.

Former U.S. President Ronald Wilson Reagan was also suggested because each of his names has six letters. (After the president and Nancy Reagan moved into their new home in Bel-Air, California, she had the address changed from 666 to 668.)

Good or bad in different cultures, one thing in common on this day is that it is good for business.

In China, millions of mobile phone messages were sent giving people blessings. "Liu liu da shun (Big smooth progress)" is the phrase of the day.

In Hollywood, a remake of "The Omen," a 1976 thriller about a family raising a child born June 6, 1966 who is destined to become the antichrist, was released. And, an online gaming site, posted 10-1 odds that there would be an apocalypse June 6, 2006.

Editor: Wing

By: Source: Szdaily web edition
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