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Bungie seems to have put many references from the Bible, the Torah and the Qur'an in the Halo series, along with references to other cultures and legends. Here are some of the most obvious references.
- Main article: List of Norse Mythology References in Halo
The MJOLNIR Armor that the Spartan-II's are outfitted with, shares its name with the Norse god Thor's legendary hammer, Mjölner, which is said to call forth lightning whenever used.
In Halo: Contact Harvest, the AI named Loki is a reference to the Norse God, Loki. Likewise, the AI Sif is a reference to the Norse Goddess Sif.
In Norse mythology Gungnir was the spear of Odin, which was said to never miss. The rune for Gungnir is also on the side of the Spartan Laser.
Hrunting was a sword given to the hero Beowulf, which he used to fight Grendel's mother. Yggdrasil is the Tree of Life, also known as the World Tree, in Norse mythology.
- Main article: List of Greek Mythology References in Halo
Most religious references in Halo are related to the Covenant. In the three Abrahmic religions, the Holy Covenant is the number of agreements between God and man. It is believed that the prophets and the battle of High Charity are a reference to the book of Revelation, judging by the following verses found in Revelation 11:5-10:
5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over the waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
The "days of their prophecy" are the 9th Age of Reclamation, the final Age in Halo. The "beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit" is the Gravemind. The "great city" is High Charity. The Arbiter and John both fall into "bottomless pits" (although John's was a lake) and were taken by the Gravemind, which can be said to then reside in this "pit", which is presumably located in the Delta Halo Library.
The "people and kindreds and tongues and nations" are the Covenant, while "they that dwell upon the earth" are the UNSC and the human race. The two prophets that die are Mercy and Regret, although it is important to note that the Bible only mentions two prophets in this selection instead of the multiple prophets of Halo. Also note that one of the first "Covenants" between the human race and God is that "Never again shall a flood destroy all," and the Covenant are determined on activating the Halo's which, even if the Covenant don't know it, would destroy all of the Flood, thus having the Covenant stop the Flood.
The Arbiter's ritual humiliation, ordered by the Hierarchs and carried out by Tartarus, is visually evocative of the crucifixion of Jesus. It culminates with the Tartarus stabbing the Arbiter with a brand of the Mark of Shame, similar to how Jesus was stabbed with the Lance of Longinus. His old life effectively "dead", he is then figuratively resurrected as "the Arbiter". Later he is betrayed by his own people (again) when Tartarus knocks him into the pit of the Library (as Jesus was betrayed). As Jesus then passed through Hell, the Arbiter passes through the Gravemind's lair in the pit underneath the Library. The Arbiter then returns and saves the other Elites, having learned the Truth that the Prophets are false, similar to how Christ brought a new message about religious truth. When the Arbiter arrives in the control room of Delta Halo to stop Tartarus from activating it, Tartarus exclaims "impossible!", just as it is frequently said of Christ that "with Him, all things are possible".
Biblical Parallels to Plot events: Daniel
The passages of Daniel 11:21-45 describe with remarkable coincidence the plot of Halo 2 and also parts of Halo 3.
21 And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.
22 With the arms of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant.
23 And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people.
25 “He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South with a great army. And the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand, for they shall devise plans against him.
28 While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land.
29 “At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter.
30 For ships from the west shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage.So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.
31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.
32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.
33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.
34 Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue.
35 And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.
36 “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.
37 He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all.
38 But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things.
39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.
40 “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.
41 He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon.
42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
44 But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.
45 And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.
The King described in the passage very much fits the Prophet of Truth. Contact Harvest describes his rise of power through intrigue (verse 21), and his instigation of the Covenant civil war in Halo 2 illustrates how much damage he will do to former members of the Covenant, the Elites (verse 28).
Apart from depictions of the Prophet of Truth, the verses in Daniel also point to other parts of Halo's plot; from the Covenant civil war (seen in verse 30) and also a "Prince of the Covenant" being destroyed in "the arms of the flood" (verse 22).
Verse 30 and 31 describe the pollution of the "Sanctuary Fortress", an obvious analogue for the Flood's pollution of High Charity.
Verses 40 through 45 of Daniel 11 describe with some metaphorical imagery for parts of Halo 3. The King of the north will "come against him like a whirlwind [...] with many ships". He will enter the "Glorious Holy Land", being the Ark.
The final two verses (44 and 45) of Daniel 11 seem to point to the end of the level "The Covenant" on Halo 3, as well as the end of Truth's life. Verse 44 is particularly analogous to the combined assault against the Ark's citadel, from Elites and humans, and separately the Flood. Guilty Spark by proxy of Commander Keyes says that news of the Flood will only accelerate Truth's intentions to destroy the galaxy.
Isaiah 35:1-10 is full of material which forms direct parallels to the events on the Tsavo Highway in Halo 3. Specifically verses 4-10 which read,
"4 say to those with fearful hearts; Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you;
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lames leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
The Glassing of Earth
This is likely a reference to Revelation 18:21
21 A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone and threw it into the sea and said: "With such force will Babylon (New Mombasa?) the great city be thrown down, and will never be found again.
This may also be the Flood-infected High Charity landing on the Ark.
In Revelation 18: The Fall of Babylon may be a reference on New Mombasa falling, Halo falling, High Charity falling, the Covenant falling, or the flood infection.
18:2 Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great. She has become a haunt for demons (Covenant Loyalists, humans?Spartans?) She is a cage for every unclean spirit, a cage for every unclean bird, [a cage for every unclean/ and disgusting [beast].
8 Therefore, her plagues (Flood) will come one day...
This may also be the Forerunners wiping out the Flood.
In both the opening and closing cinematics of Halo: Reach, a broken mountain range is prominent. This mountain may be a reference to Armageddon, the site of the final battle in Abrahamic apocalyptic literature, and the word can be translated as the "Mountain of Megiddo". Furthermore, such literature also tells that "Fire will come down from God" during this battle to defeat Satan and his minions-which may be a direct reference to the Covenant's Glassing techniques to destroy "unholy" humans. Or it could be a reference to the False Prophet and the Antichrist, who also have the power to call down fire from the heavens. Due to the villainous nature of the Covenant, the latter is probably more accurate.
In all Abrahamic religions, there are two "Arks". Firstly, there is Noah's Ark. Noah was instructed by God, who is comparable to the Forerunners in the Halo Universe, to build an Ark to save all species on earth from a Flood. Similarly, in Halo the Ark was used to save all species from the Flood. Second, there is the Ark of the Covenant. In the Abrahamic religions, the Ark of the Covenant was a very holy object which housed the Ten Commandments, a symbol of God's covenant with Israel. Anyone who touched it would die instantly, just as if the Ark in Halo were activated it would also bring death. In the Halo Universe, this is mirrored by the Covenant viewing all Forerunner objects holy.
Also, the Ark of the Covenant was a weapon of mass destruction in all religions of Abraham, as it decimated the outer, protective walls of Jericho. This was done by encircling the city of Jericho seven times with the Ark itself. The cataclysmical devices in Halo are composed of the Ark and seven circular celestial bodies.
The original Hebrew word for "Ark" (both the Ark of the Covenant and Noah's Ark) means "box", but, more specifically, it means "coffin", especially when in reference to the Ark of the Covenant (Hebrew:'ârôwn). Considering the Ark as a metaphorical coffin carries much weight as both the Covenant and the Gravemind meet their demise there. That fact is also poignant in that upon the discovery of the gateway to the Ark, Lord Hood expresses that he will "drive the enemy into the grave they've been so happily digging".
Additionally, a section of Genesis pertaining to the time directly after Noah's Ark runs thus: "With these words I make my covenant with you: I promise that never again will all living beings be destroyed by a flood; never again will a flood destroy the earth."
Also, another possible reference to the Ark is found in Jeremiah 3:16:
"Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days," says the LORD, "that they will say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore."
This may be a possible reference to the Ark's final fate.
G 617 g
G 617 g was the Forerunner designation for a planet in the G617 system situated within the near border region of the galactic Halo, which was the first world in the Milky Way to be infected by Flood. The name of the planet is a reference to Genesis 6:17, which states: And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
Prior to the release of Halo 3, we witnessed TV spots in which towards the end would display the word "BELIEVE". This next one, read from the Gospel of John 1:1-7 references to John-117 inspiring hope in those around him in the fight for humanity: The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
Probably the most obvious biblical connection to Master Chief is that John I became the seventh bishop of Jerusalem in 117 A.D.
There are many references in the Bible and the Qu'ran about false prophets, such as 2 Peter 2:1
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
This can be related to the Hierarchs of the Covenant, for they knowingly deceived their followers into believing that humans were evil, despite the fact that humans were actually the Forerunners' "Reclaimers". They did this to keep their religion from falling apart, even though according to their doctrines it would technically be heresy to kill them.
At the end of Floodgate (Level), The Gravemind will speak through Master Chief's visor. The first thing the Gravemind says is "Do not be afraid, I am peace, I am salvation". In the Bible and the Qur'an, whenever an Angel appears to a human, he always starts off by saying "Do not be afraid".
The monitor could be a possible reference to the guardian of the sacred garden of Eden, which after Adam and Eve left the angel was given the task by God to guard the garden against intruders. Or the Monitor could be a reference to the watchers in Daniel 4:13, 17. Watchers were angels on special appointment; they were constantly on watch as sentinels for God.
Many Covenant ships and vehicles contain religious references. "Ghost" for example may refer to the Holy Ghost. Seraph fighters may also be a reference to the creatures described to inhabit the House of God. The Spirit may be like the Holy Spirit, a part of the Trinity of God. Also the names of many of their ships contain references to religious concepts or ideals (e.g. Truth and Reconciliation).
It should also be noted, however, that Ghosts and Spirits - as well as notions such as truth and reconciliation - are not exclusively Christian ideals. For instance the Earthly existence of ghosts and spirits are considered more Occult beliefs, and mainstream Christian organization neither confirm nor deny a residential "haunting." The Covenant vehicles named after Wraiths and Banshees take their names from Celtic myths of baleful spirits predating Christianity.
Behemoth and Leviathan
On the Halo 3 multiplayer map Sandtrap, the two Elephants have insignias that read "Behemoth" and "Leviathan" respectively. These are likely references to two legendary creatures in the biblical book of Job. In Job 40:15-24, the beast called Behemoth is described:
New International Version (NIV)
15 “Look at Behemoth,
which I made along with you
and which feeds on grass like an ox.
16 What strength it has in its loins,
what power in the muscles of its belly!
17 Its tail sways like a cedar;
the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.
18 Its bones are tubes of bronze,
its limbs like rods of iron.
19 It ranks first among the works of God,
yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.
20 The hills bring it their produce,
and all the wild animals play nearby.
21 Under the lotus plants it lies,
hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
22 The lotuses conceal it in their shadow;
the poplars by the stream surround it.
23 A raging river does not alarm it;
it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth.
24 Can anyone capture it by the eyes,
or trap it and pierce its nose?
And in Job 41, the beast Leviathan is described:
New International Version (NIV)
1 "Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down its tongue with a rope?
2 Can you put a cord through its nose
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
3 Will it keep begging you for mercy?
Will it speak to you with gentle words?
4 Will it make an agreement with you
for you to take it as your slave for life?
5 Can you make a pet of it like a bird
or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
6 Will traders barter for it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill its hide with harpoons
or its head with fishing spears?
8 If you lay a hand on it,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
9 Any hope of subduing it is false;
the mere sight of it is overpowering.
10 No one is fierce enough to rouse it.
Who then is able to stand against me?
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.
12 “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs,
its strength and its graceful form.
13 Who can strip off its outer coat?
Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?
14 Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
15 Its back has rows of shields
tightly sealed together;
16 each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another;
they cling together and cannot be parted.
18 Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Flames stream from its mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
21 Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.
22 Strength resides in its neck;
dismay goes before it.
23 The folds of its flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm and immovable.
24 Its chest is hard as rock,
hard as a lower millstone.
25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before its thrashing.
26 The sword that reaches it has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron it treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make it flee;
slingstones are like chaff to it.
29 A club seems to it but a piece of straw;
it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
30 Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
31 It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it;
one would think the deep had white hair.
33 Nothing on earth is its equal—
a creature without fear.
34 It looks down on all that are haughty;
it is king over all that are proud.”
Interestingly, the Spartan Laser's full name contains a biblical reference. In the name W/AV Model 6 Grindell/Galilean Nonlinear Rifle, the word Galilean might not in fact refer to Galileo, but to Galilee, the region where Jesus lived for thirty years in what is now Israel.
There can also be yet another reference to Norse lore, as Grindell may be a "variant" spelling of Grendel, the troll that terrorized Herot, the hall of Hrothgar, in the epic poem Beowulf.
Its abbreviated name can also spell out 'Gungnir'.
The songs Behold A Pale Horse and On a Pale Horse could be relating to Revelation 6:8, how the English translation reads: "And behold, a pale horse, and he who sat on it, his name was Death, and Hell followed with him. Authority over one fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword, with famine, with death, and by the wild animals of the earth was given to him.", referring to the end of the world. Under the dictionary definition, Behold A Pale Horse simply testifies as "death" in the written text.
The Transmissions placed on Bungie's website before the release of Halo: Combat Evolved made several references to biblical lines or concepts. For example Cortana states that "He says I came not to send peace but a sword ..." which is a reference to Jesus' famous statement in Matthew 10:34: the line "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword". This reinforces the comparison of John and biblical figures such as Jesus.
Genesis, a new graphic novel explaining what happened before Halo Wars, is more than likely named after the Book of Genesis, the first part of the Old Testament and the Bible. Genesis means "origin", appropriately named.
- Main article: List of seven references in Halo
As is known, there are many references to the number "7" in the game. However, something that is not as widely known is that "7" is the number of perfection in the Bible(not to mention godly perfection, the reverse of 666 is 777 for ultimate luck, which links back to John's luck, and the luckiest number believed in the world). John's gospel, for example, is made up partly of the "Book of Signs," which contains seven miracle stories and seven discourses. In the Roman Catholic Bible, and every other Christian and Jewish bible, the story of Genesis is told, where the Lord's Holy day is the seventh day, Sunday (or Saturday to some). In the New American Bible, Mark 8:1-10 contains the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. In the story, Jesus starts out seven loaves. In Leviticus, there are many rituals in which the same thing is done seven times. In Joshua, in the story of the fall of Jericho, the Lord tells Joshua to "Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times..." In Kings, there are other examples, including Elijah saying "Go back" seven times, a boy sneezing seven times, and Elisha telling a leper to go bathe in the Jordan seven times so that he may be healed. In Psalms, the Word of God is described as "silver...refined seven times," and another Psalm says "...seven times a day I praise you..." In the Book of Daniel, when Daniel's friend is about to be put in a furnace, the furnace is heated to seven times its normal heat. In Matthew, Jesus tells Peter to forgive "seven times seventy" times. The date 7/7/7 is said to be a holy day. This date unlocks a secret in Halo 2 and is also Bungie Day. Also in Daniel:13 an Angel appears before him and tells him that he has waited for 21 days; 7 times 3. 3 is also a very prominent number in the Holy Bible. There are also 7 Archangels who surround God in Heaven.
Possible Bible References
On the Halo 3 level Floodgate at Shadow of Intent, a Major Elite says "High Charity has fallen, become a wretched hive!".
This could be a possible reference to Revelation 18:1-2:
1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.
2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!
A possible reference to the Covenant can be found in Revelation 2:12:
12 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, 'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:
Pergamon is Greek for "citadel" and it may not be a coincidence that the Forerunner Citadel was where the Covenant made their last stand.
On the Halo 3 level Crow's Nest at Gift With Purchase, the Arbiter says to a few Drones, "Half-wit insects! The Prophets use you like they used me! Reject their lies! Rebel, or all your hives will perish!"
"Half-wit insects!" is a possible reference to Matthew 23, Jesus' denunciation to the scribes and Pharisees.
"Rebel, or all your hives will perish!" is a clear reference to Luke 13:1-5:
1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?
3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?
5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
343 Guilty Spark
On the Halo 3 level Halo, 343 Guilty Spark says to John, "I take no pleasure in doing what must be done."
This is a possible reference to Ezekiel 33:11:
Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’