numbers game. Our worth is measured out
on sets of calibrated scales. I'm 38,
a 2.2 GLE with heated seats
and ran a marathon in 2 hours 49. They give me
tumpty thousand pounds a year
for naming things and organising them,
Numbers for the Beast.
Apocalyptic? No, you've seen the codes,
neat black beast-marks, such an efficient system,
across our cereal packs, even in our Bibles—
knows, I'm helping to promote them!
What nonsense! We even got his birthday wrong—
who was born in 4 or 5 BC
laughs and weeps with us, his self-made ciphers.
beast-marks cf Revelation 16:2. The identification of the “mark of the beast” with barcodes is not literal but also not facetious. The requirement for unique numbering of all entities is essential for effective computer management and if there is a literal “mark of the beast” it would probably be (or is) something like a digital barcode. The technology for embedding digital codes is well-established and in the 21st century encoded chips are already sometimes implanted in the human body: after the murders of two girls in Cambridgeshire in 2002, some parents had microchips implanted in their children so they can be tracked. Before another century is out it is likely that newborns will be routinely encoded with one or more digital IDs at birth.
4 or 5 BC Jesus birth is generally placed at this time, or a little earlier. It is generally accepted that he was not born in 0 BC, in part because King Herod, who plays a key role in the birth narrative in Matthew, died four years earlier, and in part by dating back from certain events referred to in Jesus ministry and the fact that he was "about 30 years old" when it began.