“And it cometh to pass, in the sixth year, in the sixth [month], in the fifth of the month, I am sitting in my house, and elders of Judah are sitting before me, and fall on me there doth a hand of the Lord Jehovah,
2 and I look, and lo, a likeness as the appearance of fire, from the appearance of His loins and downward — fire, and from His loins and upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of copper.
3 And He putteth forth a form of a hand, and taketh me by a lock of my head, and lift me up doth a spirit between the earth and the heavens, and it bringeth me in to Jerusalem in visions of God, unto the opening of the inner gate that is facing the north, where [is] the seat of the figure of jealousy that is making jealous,
4 and lo, there the honour of the God of Israel, as the appearance that I saw in the valley.
5 And He saith unto me, `Son of man, lift up, I pray thee, thine eyes the way of the north.’ And I lift up mine eyes the way of the north, and lo, on the north of the gate of the altar this figure of jealousy, at the entrance. (Ezek. 8:1-5, YLT)
During the sixth year of Ezekiel’s captivity in Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, the Lord came to him in a vision and showed Ezekiel the evil and wicked acts carried out in the temple in Jerusalem. The inner gate on the path or street (way) led to the court of the priests where the “seat of the figure of jealousy” had been placed at the entrance of the north gate.
The figure of jealousy was the image of an idol that made YHVH jealous as the priests had turned their worship from YHVH and were bowing before a carved statue, or possibly an engraving upon a wall. Clarke’s Commentary offers an opinion from Calmet that this figure was either that of Tamuz or Adonis.
“The name agrees perfectly with him. He was represented as a beautiful youth, beloved by Venus; at which Mars, her paramour, being incensed and filled with jealousy, sent a large boar against Adonis, which killed him with his tusks. Hence it was the image of him who fell a victim to jealousy.” (1)
However, the image of jealousy was not called that in scripture because of any specific false pagan idol that was being worshiped. It was the act of false idol worship which caused our heavenly Father to be jealous for the regard of his people. He was jealous for them.
“And I have caused My fury against thee to rest, And My jealousy hath turned aside from thee, And I have been quiet, and I am not angry any more.” (Ezek. 16:42, YLT)
See also Psa. 79:5; Ezek. 23:25; 36:5-6, Zeph. 1:18; 3:8.
The image of jealousy was that which caused YHVH’s jealousy and fury against His people. They began worshiping idols, images, representations of fake and false beings of their imaginations, as well as images of the animal world (Ezek. 8:8-11). They were worshiping the very lower forms of life that YHVH had created and over which He had given man dominion (Gen. 1:26-28).
The image of jealousy was any false idol which the people set up to worship in their “high” places with their arches and burning altars. The act of worshiping these idols was the abomination before the Lord.
“13 And He saith unto me, `Again thou dost turn, thou dost see great abominations that they are doing.'” (Ezek. 8:13, YLT)
It was the abomination – the false idol worship – that caused YHVH’s jealousy and anger which then resulted in the desolation He sent upon Judah and Jerusalem.
“4 And desolated have been your altars, And broken your images, And I have caused your wounded to fall before your idols,
5 And put the carcases of the sons of Israel before their idols, And scattered your bones round about your altars.
6 In all your dwellings the cities are laid waste, And the high places are desolate, So that waste and desolate are your altars, And broken and ceased have your idols, And cut down have been your images, And blotted out have been your works.“ (Ezek. 6:4-6, YLT)
The Israelite who returned from the Babylonian captivity to rebuild Jerusalem and the second temple were monotheistic, only worshiping YHVH in accordance with the first and second commandments (Ex. 20:1-6). (2) (3)
The lesson they learned through the first destruction of Jerusalem was implanted so firmly in the national politic of Judah and Jerusalem that it was still evident in their resistance to the attempts of the Romans to set up images of Caesar in Jerusalem in the first century AD. (4) (5) (6)
So, as the Jews of the second temple period refused to bow to an idol image of any form, then what was the image of the beast before whom Rev. 13:5, 8, 12, 14 said they bowed?
Reasoning from what we have already explored:
- Revelation was written before the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, before AD 70. This is evidenced internally in many scriptures of the book, but especially in Rev. 11:1-2 where people were still worshiping at the temple in Jerusalem. As no one worshiped there after the temple was destroyed, then it is not possible that this verse could have been written after AD 70. See also the previous posts “The Signs of Revelation – Part I: The Time of His Coming” and “It’s Not The End of The World – Part V: Dating The Book of Revelation.”
- Revelation was the prophesy of the second destruction of Jerusalem that was to come upon the Jews shortly after the book was written (Rev. 1:1; 2:5, 16; 3:11; 22:6, 7, 10, 12, 20). See also the previous posts “The Whore of Babylon” and “The Beast of Revelation”.
- Judea became an occupied Roman province annexed to Syria in 63 BC under Gen. Pompey. (7) (8)
- The sixth king of the beast kingdom of the Roman empire was ruling as listed in Rev. 17:10 that five are fallen and “the one is”. Present tense when written, the sixth king of the 4th beast kingdom was ruling before the temple was destroyed.
- The name of the sixth beast ruler is identified in code in Rev. 13:18: “for the number of a man it is” and that his number “is” 666. Hebrew Gematria for the letters of his name which spelled the Hebrew form of Caesar Nero. (9) (10) (11)
- Caesar Nero ruled from 54 – 68 AD, therefore the latest possible date for the writing of Revelation was 68 AD.
- It was Nero who ordered Vespasian to put down the rebellion in Judea in AD 67, and who was given power to make war for 42 months (Rev. 13:5) and who spoke great blasphemies and evil against God (Rev. 13:6). (12) (13)
- But the Christians had already fled Jerusalem after the retreat of Cestius Gallus in 66 AD. (Ibid, 12, 13) (14)
“ 15 `Whenever, therefore, ye may see the abomination of the desolation, that was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever is reading let him observe) 16 then those in Judea — let them flee to the mounts;“ (Matt. 24:15-16, YLT)
“ 14 `And when ye may see the abomination of the desolation, that was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (whoever is reading let him understand), then those in Judea, let them flee to the mountains;” (Mark 13:14, YLT)
“ 20 `And when ye may see Jerusalem surrounded by encampments, then know that come nigh did her desolation; 21 then those in Judea, let them flee to the mountains; and those in her midst, let them depart out; and those in the countries, let them not come in to her; 22 because these are days of vengeance, to fulfil all things that have been written.” (Luke 21:20-22, YLT)
The abomination of the desolation in both Matt 24 and Mark 13 is restated in Luke 21 as the Roman army encamped around Jerusalem. As Christ had told his disciples to flee to the mountains when they saw the Roman army, and as they did flee after the unexpected retreat of Cestius Gallus in 66 AD, then that confirms the Roman army to have been the agency of the desolation of Jerusalem.
And, still the abomination was not the Roman legions in and of themselves. They were the force of the fourth beast kingdom prophesied in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. They were the force sent out by the sixth ruler of that fourth beast kingdom, who was the face or image of the beast.
The Roman legions carried standards with banners and emblems of their fighting forces. The XII Fulminata was the thunderbolt legion and their emblem was the lightning bolt. (15)
Pilate had set up standards with either the name of Tiberius Caesar in Jerusalem, or his image which the Jews recognized as a dedication to a person calling himself a “god,” and were therefore dedications to an idol. The Jews successfully protested for their removal. (16)
Every ruler of a kingdom becomes the face or image of that kingdom. He represents that kingdom to the rest of the world. The sixth ruler of the ancient Roman empire was Caesar Nero and was therefore the image of the sea beast in Rev. 13. As the Jews did not allow a standard or statue of Caesar in Jerusalem, then how was a graven image of Caesar Nero being worshiped?
Nero’s Gold Coin
Minted in 56/57 AD, and discovered in 2016 at the Mount Zion archeological dig south of the Old City of Jerusalem, it has on the face (obverse) “NERO CAESAR AVG IMP” (Nero Caesar Augustus Imperator).” (17)
On the back (reverse) would have been the inscription ““EX S C” (Ex Senatus Consulto—“ meaning by order of the Senate – as well as ““PONTIF MAX TR P III”.
An example with the reverse side of these coins:
From the article at Biblical Archeology:
“Pontifex Maximus means ‘greatest priest,’ and it was the most important religious position in Rome,” explained Jane Sancinito, a Ph.D. candidate in Ancient History at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in Roman imperial and Byzantine numismatics, in an email to Bible History Daily. “The Tribunicia Potestas, or tribunician power, was an important legal power first given to Augustus. The legend says this is the third (III) year in a row that Nero held this power and thus provides us with the date. Nero became emperor in 54 C.E., so three years later is 56/57 C.E., depending on the month.” (Ibid, 17)
The area of the dig is thought to have been the wealthy quarter in the Upper City which were the homes of the priests and aristocracy of Jerusalem. (18) (19)
The title Pontifex Maximus literally means “greatest Pontiff,” or high priest, and was the highest office of the state religion of Rome. (20) (21)
” for a root of all the evils is the love of money,…” (1 Tim. 6:10, YLT)
Ezekiel’s vision was of the priests in the temple worshiping and bowing before graven images of pagan idols. Revelation’s image of the beast was a graven image on a gold coin of a man calling himself a “god” and a “high priest,” that was the face of the fourth beast kingdom which ruled Judea and Jerusalem in the first century AD, and which the Sanhedrin priests received for services rendered in subjecting the people to that pagan beast ruler.
“ 16 And it maketh all, the small, and the great, and the rich, and the poor, and the freemen, and the servants, that it may give to them a mark upon their right hand or upon their foreheads,
17 and that no one may be able to buy, or to sell, except he who is having the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Rev. 13:16-17, YLT)
1) Clarke’s Commentary on Ezekiel 8:3 – here
2) Babylonian Exile – here
3) Ezra and Nehemia – My Jewish Learning
4) Non-violent Resistance of the Jews to the Roman… – Beki
5) Pilate & Caligula – here
6) Emperor Worship – Jewish Virtual Library
7) Pompey’s Siege of Jerusalem – Livius
8) Pompey The Great – Jewish Encyclopedia
9) Calculating the Number of The Beast – American Vision
10) The Gematria of the The Number of The Beast – 666 – Agape Bible Study
11) Comments of Eduard Wilhelm Reuss, David Chilton, & F.W. Farrar at Preterist Archive
12) The First Jewish-Roman War – HistoryNet
13) Jewish War (66-70) – Livius3
14) The Campaign of Cestius Gallus … – Josephus
15) Legio XII Fulminata – Livius
16) Pontius Pilate – Livius4
17) Nero’s Gold Coin – BAR
18) Rare, 2,000-year-old Roman Coin – here
19) Rare Gold Coin with Nero’s Face – LiveScience
20) Pontifex Maximus – here
21) Pontifex Maximus – Livius