Saturday, January 13, 2024

The Second Wild Animal (13.11–17a)


And I saw another wild animal rising from the earth, and it had two horns like a lamb, and it spoke like a dragon. And it uses the first wild animal’s authority on its behalf, and it makes the earth and the ones who dwell on it worship the first wild animal, which had been healed of its fatal wound. And it makes impressive signs, so it can even make fire descend from heaven to the earth in front of men. And it deceives those who dwell on the earth through the signs it was allowed to make in front of the wild animal, telling the ones who dwell on the earth to make an image of the wild animal that had the sword-wound and lived. And it is allowed to give breath to the image of the wild animal, so the image of the wild animal could speak and cause whoever would not worship the wild animal to be killed.

And it makes all the small and the great and the rich and the poor and the freemen and the slaves—it gives them a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, so no one can buy or sell if they do not have the mark.


The detail of that animal rising from the sea was taken from Daniel 7, and may be inferred as alluding to the seat of imperial power residing across the Mediterranean Sea. As such, the emergence of this second wild animal ‘from the earth’ has been inferred to mean its referent resides locally to the author. The first wild animal embodied the tyranny of the Roman Empire. Because the second animal compels worship—including idolatry—of the first, the second wild animal has commonly been interpreted as representing the presence of the Roman imperial cult in Asia (Türkiye). The ‘mark of the beast’ parallels the divine seal on God’s faithful in chapter 7. The placement of this mark on either the forehead or the hand may be inspired by the tefillin prescribed in Exodus 13 and Deuteronomy 6 and 11.


Sibylline Oracles

2.165–170 The gathering together is near when some deceivers, in place of prophets, approach, speaking on earth. Beliar also will come and will do many signs for men. Then indeed there will be confusion of holy chosen and faithful men, and there will be a plundering of these and of the Hebrews.

3.63–67 Then Beliar will come from the Sebastenoi and he will raise up the height of the mountains, he will raise up the sea, the great fiery sun and shining moon, and he will raise up the dead, and perform many signs for men.

Ascension of Isaiah

4.5–11 By his word he will cause the sun to rise by night, and the moon also he will make to appear at the sixth hour. And he will do everything he wishes in the world; he will act and speak like the Beloved, and will say, 'I am the Lord, and before me there was no one.' And all men in the world will believe him. They will sacrifice to him and will serve him, saying, 'This is the Lord, and besides him there is no other.' And the majority of those who have associated together to receive the Beloved he will turn aside after him. And the power of his miracles will be in every city and district, and he will set up his image before him in every city.

3.64–70 and he will raise up the height of the mountains, he will raise up the sea, the great fiery sun and shining moon, and he will raise up the dead, and perform many signs for men. But they will not be effective in him. But he will, indeed, also lead men astray, and he will lead astray many faithful, chosen Hebrews, and also other lawless men who have not yet listened to the word of God.

3 Maccabees

2.27–30 He proposed to inflict public disgrace on the Jewish community, and he set up a stone on the tower in the courtyard with this inscription: ‘None of those who do not sacrifice shall enter their sanctuaries, and all Judeans shall be subjected to a registration involving poll tax and to the status of slaves. Those who object to this are to be taken by force and put to death; those who are registered are also to be branded on their bodies by fire with the ivy-leaf symbol of Dionysus, and they shall also be reduced to their former limited status.’ In order that he might not appear to be an enemy of all, he inscribed below: ‘But if any of them prefer to join those who have been initiated into the mysteries, they shall have equal citizenship with the Alexandrians.’

Testament of Moses

8.1 ‘And there will come upon them … punishment and wrath such as has never happened to them from the creation till that time when he stirs up against them a king of the kings of the earth who, having supreme authority, will crucify those who confess their circumcision.’


16.4 and he will work signs and wonders.

2 Thessalonians

2.4, 9–10 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. […] The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of the satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Testament of Abraham

10.10–11 And he saw in another place men breaking into a house and carrying off the possession of others, and he said, ‘Lord, Lord, command that fire come down from heaven and consume them.’

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