Gold and the Number of the Beast

Submitted by Pater Tenebrarum  –  The Acting Man Blog

Here We Go Again …

Most readers probably recall the early March 2009 low in the S&P 500 Index. The state of market confidence and the extent of the bullish consensus evident at the time was essentially a mirror image of what we are seeing today. How despondent traders were is probably best illustrated by the fact that on the day the low was put in, the DSI (daily sentiment index) of futures traders had declined to just 3% bulls – the lowest reading in history. There was almost no-one left who could possibly still turn bearish at that point.

the-number-of-the-beast-is-666William Blake’s painting “The Number of the Beast is 666”.

However, numerologists were probably quite fascinated with where exactly the SPX actually bottomed. For some reason, the market picked Ἀριθμὸς τοῦ θηρίου (Arithmos tou Thēriou), a.k.a. the Number of the Beast for putting in the low (if one ignores the numbers after the decimal). This was very Babylonian of the market.

SPX, 2009 goat lowHmmm… what would make a good low? – via StockCharts, click to enlarge.

For those worried about the bestial purity of this low, so to speak, due to the numbers after the decimal point, you obviously don’t know that numerologists have an answer for everything. What is 79? If you add up 7 and 9, you get 16.

Even though St. Irenaeus, an early Church Father and the bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, affirmed in the 2ndcentury that the number of the beast was indeed 666 (ΧΞϚ), and muttered darkly about previous “erroneous transcriptions”, there remain some doubts. For instance, Papyrus 115, a fragment of the Revelation discovered by Grenfell and Hunt in Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, as well as the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, point to 616 (ΧΙϚ) as the correct number. So with 666.79, the market has made doubly sure, as you can now have it both ways (after a little bit of creative addition).

P._Oxy._LXVI_4499The fragment of Papyrus 115 that contains the “616” transcription.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Now it is Gold’s Turn

So what does any of this have to do with gold? As a friend pointed out to us yesterday, as of November 9 2015, the gold ETF GLD had exactly 666.11 tons left in its inventory (the data can be downloaded here).

Fine, you might say, but what about the two 1s after the decimal point? Well, didn’t we tell you that numerologists have an answer for everything? Once again, all that is required is a little bit of imagination. 11 times 6 is 66, but more importantly, in the Babylonian numeration system the symbols for 1 and 60 are exactly the same. For numbers higher than 59, the Babylonians employed a place value system based on 60.

Thus, “61” would be written by jotting down the symbol for “1”, leaving a space and again jotting down the symbol for “1”. The first symbol meant “60”, the second meant “1”, with the space indicating that what was expressed was “61” instead of “2”. Et voila! Now, all you have to do is switch the places of 6 and 1, and you can once again have it both ways (i.e., “666” and “616”).

Incidentally, for the number “3600” the Babylonians also used the same symbol they used for 1 and 60. And as is well known, 36 is of course 6 times 6, and if one adds up all the numbers from 1 to 36 one arrives at…666!

sumeriannumbersBabylonian numbers – similar symbols were used for 1, 60 and 3600.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

So obviously 666.11 will do. In fact, in many ways it is even more perfect than 666.79. Besides their sun god (who went by the name of Shamash), the Babylonians had 36 lesser deities (numbered from 1 through 36, according to their significance). They believed these numbers had power over their deities and Babylonian priests therefore wore so-called “sun seals”, containing a magic square on one side and an image of the sun god Shamash on the other.

A modern representation of the sun seal with Arabic numerals looks like this:

pagan-amulet2Sun seal modeled after the amulets worn by Babylonian priests

The 36 numbers in the magic square representing the sun are arranged in a certain pattern. It looks as follows:

Magic Square for the sunMagic square representing the sun

If one adds up the numbers in any row or column, the result is always “111”. 6 rows, resp. 6 columns times 111 equals 666. We can see here how scribes working for ancient bible text transcription service companies may have gotten confused over the 666 vs. 616 question from time to time. So yes, 666.11 will definitely do.

babylon-9Gods and demons of ancient Babylon

Image via Wikimedia Commons


All of this is of course entirely meaningless fun, but on the upside, some of you have probably learned something new (e.g., you have now heard about St. Ireneaus, Papyrus 115, and the ancient Babylonian numeration system, which may not have happened otherwise).

This reminds us that according to a European TV show, the “Euro Millions” jackpot has been set at precisely 111 million euro this week. Maybe we should punt and buy 6 tips? And buy some gold too, while we’re at it. Shamash would surely be on our side.