And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor,
free and bond
Men of all ranks and degrees, states and conditions, within his jurisdiction; this refers to the beast, and not to the image:
to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads;
or "that they might give themselves marks", as the Complutensian edition reads; which is an allusion either to the custom among the Romans of imprinting marks upon their servants and soldiers, by which they might be known to whom they belonged; servants had them in their foreheads F9, and soldiers in their hands F11; or to the usages of the Jews in binding their phylacteries upon their arms and foreheads, to put them in mind of the law of God, and their obedience to it; or to the practices of the Heathens, in putting the mark of the god they worshipped upon their bodies; Maimonides F12 says, it was a custom with the Gentiles to mark themselves with their idols, showing that they were their bought servants, and were marked for their service: the sense is, that some received the mark in one place, and some in another: those who were obliged to receive the mark in the right hand seem to be the clergy, such who entered into holy orders; who lifted up their right hand, and swore and vowed allegiance to the pope, and testified they were ready to defend and support his religion and interest; and who in their ordination are said to have an indelible character impressed on them: and those who received the mark in their foreheads are the common people in general, who one and all have the same impress upon them; which may intend either the sign of the cross in baptism, or rather their open confession of the Popish religion, which they as publicly avow and declare as if it had been written on their foreheads.
F9 Apulei Metamorph. l. 9. Ausonii Epigram. l. 15. Seneca de Ira, l. 3. c. 3.
F11 Aetius apud Turnebi Advers. l. 23. c. 12.
F12 Hilchot Obede Cochab. c. 12. sect. 11.