Today, according to many people, is the day of the Antichrist. Today is the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year of the new millennium. Today is 06-06-06 or 666 for short.
This is also the day the Omen, a remake of the 1976 horror classic The Omen opens in theaters. The movie is the story of an American official who realizes that his young son may literally be the devil incarnate.
There are many theories of who the Antichrist will be. A novel theory proposed by Stephen Hanchett is that the President of the United States, George W. Bush, is the Antichrist. In his Web page, Bush Is the Antichrist, he wrote:
“I submit to you that George Walker Bush is the ANTI-CHRIST. The violence and destruction that began when Bush first entered office, is now certain to culminate in the apocalypse, as predicted in the Bible over 2,000 years ago.”
In his blog, Is Bush the Antichrist?, Hanchett also calls for the impeachment of the president. He wrote:
“Bush’s crimes against America, and against our democracy, against Iraq, and against the world, against humanity and against God cannot be swept under the rug. We cannot simply wait for the next election or the one after that and hope that things will change. The longer he’s in power, the more innocent blood we have on our hands, and the more difficult it becomes to ever redeem ourselves as a nation.”
Putting politics aside, my desire is to study the biblical evidence Hanchett uses to prove that George Bush is the Antichrist. He provides evidence to prove his contention that the President is the Antichrist. One is them is taken from Revelation 13:8, a passage that reveals the number of the Beast, 666. The other is taken from Daniel 7:7-8, a passage that describes the beast in Daniel’s vision.
666: The Number of the Beast
In order to prove that George Bush is the Antichrist, Hanchett uses the letters of the name George Bush and compares them with the numerical equivalent using the Hebrew alphabet. The following is his calculation for the number 666. According to him, if the letters in the name George Bush are added up, the name in Hebrew letters comes out to 666:
G = 3 (gimel)
e = 5 (heh)
o = 70 (ayin)
r = 200 (resh)
g = 3 (gimel)
e = 5 (heh)
B = 2 (beth)
u = 70 (ayin)
s = 300 (shin)
h = 8 (cheth)
total = 666 (Antichrist)
This use of numbers surely seems to prove his point. The only problem (and it is a big one) is that his calculations of the symbolism of the name do not correspond to the correct value in the Hebrew alphabet.
For instance, he uses the vowel “e” in George to correspond to the consonant ה (he) in Hebrew, but the English “e” and the Hebrew he are not the same.
Hanchett uses the vowels “o” in George and the “u” in Bush to correspond to the consonant ע (‘ayin) in Hebrew but the “o” and the “u” in English are not the same as the Hebrew ‘ayin.
Hanchett used the “h” in Bush to correspond to the ח (het) in Hebrew. However, it is more probable that the “sh” in Bush is really the שּׁ (shin) in Hebrew, since it carries the “sh” sound.
Hanchett then concludes: “I would challenge anyone to find another powerful world leader, either now or in the past, whose name adds up to 666 in Hebrew. Unlike Hebrew, the the [sic] letters of the English alphabet don’t automatically have a numeric value.”
The truth is, the name George W. Bush does not add up to 666 in Hebrew.
The Little Horn in Daniel
As for his evidence for the beast of Daniel and the little horn, Hanchett wrote:
“This beast is the image of a world empire– the final world empire, and the one that gives rise to the Antichrist. Its body is likened to a leopard, because according to Victorinus, a father of the early church ‘This signifies the kingdom of that time of Antichrist, and the people mingled with the variety of nations.’ The spots on the leopard are representative of a multi-national, multi-racial and multi-cultural ‘melting pot.’ This was once the case with Rome, and it is currently the case with the United States of America. The mouth is like a lion because Americans speak English, and the United States was once an English colony, and England has always been represented by a lion on the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. The bear is a symbol of Russia, and the bear-like feet of the beast is symbolic of the fact that the only other superpower for forty years was the Russian bear, but now the US is walking all over what was formerly Russian territory, and it now has its ‘feet’, or military bases planted in countries that were once part of the USSR, like Uzbekistan and Kyrgistan.”
“It says this beast comes out of the sea, and this is a reference to the fact that the New World was discovered by navigators like Columbus. The United States came out of the sea in the sense that at the time of St. John’s vision, it was widely assumed that the only thing west of Europe and east of the orient was a lot of water and the end of the world. So the United States, as part of the ‘New World’, seemed from the perspective of the Biblical or ‘Old World’, to come up and literally rise out of the sea.”
“It’s obvious that the horns represent the powerful men who have come to successively rule over this American empire. Daniel even says so quite explicitly Dan 7: 24 >the ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones. (the Antichrist) America acquired superpower status and gained the reach of a world class Empire when it acquired the nuclear bomb, at the very end of WWII. Since then there have been exactly ten >kings= or post war presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, BushSr, and Clinton. The prophecy from Daniel says that after these ten presidents, there will appear another one, an arrogant ‘little horn’, which is the Antichrist, George W Bush Jr. It says this ‘little horn’ is unlike any of the other ten presidents, and this is an obvious reference to the fact that Bush has no popular mandate, that he lost the popular vote, and was appointed to the office by five un elected judges on the Supreme Court. This has never happened before in American history, and that’s what makes him so different from all his presidential predecessors – that and his arrogance, dishonesty and lust for world power.”
Anyone familiar with the interpretation of the book of Daniel realizes that most of the interpretation above is nonsense. The book of Daniel is an apocalyptic book that was written to inspire the Jewish community to endure the hardships the community was facing because of the oppressive policies of Antiochus Epiphanes.
The exegetical methodology used by Hanchett is called “eisegesis.” According to the Wikipedia,
“Eisegesis is the process of interpretation of an existing text in such a way as to introduce one’s own ideas. This is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis draws out the meaning from the text, eisegesis occurs when a reader reads his/her interpretation into the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective.”
This is what Hanchett has done: he has introduced his own hatred of Bush into the biblical text. When people introduce their own views and ideas into the text, we call it “bad interpretation.” What Hanchett wrote is real bad interpretation and it does not deserve a passing grade.
It is amazing how George W. Bush is hated by so many people. This President has inspired more hostile criticism, hatred, vilification, and vituperation than any other President in recent time, including Johnson and Nixon put together. People may disagree with the President and his policies, the war in Iraq, and his views on a multitude of issues, but to call the President “the Devil’s Spawn” is going beyond the norms of civility.
My conclusion: Hanchett’s interpretation is wrong, it is biased, and it has no biblical foundation. The President of the United States is not the Devil’s Spawn. He is a man who is trying to do what he thinks is best for America and that is his right as the President. While Hanchett disagrees with Bush, he has to remember that there are millions of Americans who agree with the President.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary