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MYSTICAL SYMBOLISM

Mystical symbolism is another frequent characteristic of apocalyptic writing. This feature is illustrated in the instances where gematria is employed either for the sake of obscuring the writer's meaning, or enhancing its meaning further as a number of ancient cultures used letters also as numbers (i.e., the Romans with their use of 'roman numerals'). Thus, the mysterious name "Taxo," "Assumptio Mosis", ix. 1; the "number of the beast" 666, of Revelation 13:18; the number 888 ('Iησōῦς), Sibyllines, i.326-330.

Similar to this discussion is the frequent prophecy of the length of time through which the events predicted must be fulfilled. Thus, the "time, times, and a half," Daniel 12:7 which has generally been agreed to be 3½ years in length by dispensationalists; the "fifty-eight times" of Enoch, xc.5, "Assumptio Mosis", x.11; the announcement of a certain number of "weeks" or days, which starting point in Daniel 9:24, 25 is the "the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks", a mention of 1290 days after the covenant/sacrifice is broken (Daniel 12:11), 12; Enoch xciii.3-10; 2 Esdras 14:11, 12; Apocalypse of Baruch xxvi-xxviii; Revelation 11:3, which mentions "two witnesses" with supernatural power, 12:6; compare Assumptio Mosis, vii.1. Symbolic language is also used to describe persons, things, or events; thus, the "horns" of Daniel 7 and 8; Revelation 17 and following; the "heads" and "wings" of 2 Esdras xi and following; the seven seals of Revelation 6; trumpets, Revelation 8; "vials of the wrath of God" or "bowl. . ." judgments, Revelation 16; the dragon, Revelation 12:3-17, Revelation 20:1-3; the eagle, Assumptio Mosis, x.8; and so on.

As examples of more elaborate prophecies and allegories, aside from those in Daniel Chapters 7 and 8; and 2 Esdras Chapters 11 and 12, already referred to, may be mentioned: the vision of the bulls and the sheep, Enoch, lxxxv and following; the forest, the vine, the fountain, and the cedar, Apocalypse of Baruch xxxvi and following; the bright and the black waters, ibid. liii and following; the willow and its branches, Hermas, "Similitudines," viii.

 

 
 
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