Biblical numerology refers to the interpretation, by some biblical scholars, of numerical values used in the Pentateuch and, consequently, the New Testament that they believe relate to symbolism, which imply quality or attributes, of the value rather than to an actual quantity. While studied by theologians, not all agree with this interpretation. Others, preferring a more fundamental approach, believe that the numbers represent the literal quantities. This article explains the interpretation of those who believe that numbers sometimes represent attributes and not the number itself. According to the theory, these numbers were purposely inserted by their authors to emphasize a particular message. Numerical symbology is most often found in Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation, but is not confined to those books. Biblical numerology is not necessarily the same as Bibliomancy. For more on Bibliomancy see the article here.
While many ancient languages, religions, and philosophies contained numeric interpretation of events, words, and names; this article is concerned with those uniquely affecting Judeo-Christian beliefs. Although Greek culture was well-known to scholars in the first centuries BC and AD in the Middle East, Greek ideas about biblical numerology do not seem to have permeated Jewish and Christian beliefs.
What the Numbers Mean in Biblical Numerology
One implies “unity.” (e.g. Deut 6:4 Eph 4:5, )
Among other definitions, two can imply “witness.”
The implication of three is “divine perfection” or “holiness.”(e.g. (Matt 12:40).
Three major feasts appear in Jewish Tradition (Exod 23:14-19)
Prayer was urged three times daily (see Dan 6:10 and Ps 55:17)
Three-year-old animals were prized for special sacrifices (Gen 15:9)
In Christianity, there are three persons in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Four signifies “the world,” preeminently in the Book of Revelation.
Four corners of the earth (Rev 7:1)
Construction of the altar: 4 corners, 4 pillars, etc. (see Exo 27:1-8 and Exo 27:16)
Both Hebrew and Christian sources believe six indicates “imperfection,” “man”, or “evil.” For Christianity, this occurs preeminently in the Book of Revelation. Some Christians believe that 666 is the Number of the Beast.(see Rev 13:18) However, a secular source, Britannica, reports that it means “perfection” in religion.
Both religions believe that seven implies “totality of perfection,” “completeness.”
There are seven days in a week
In the Book of Revelation, there are multiple examples, including 7 churches, 7 bowls, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 spirits.
Eight means a “victory”.
8 people on Noah’s Ark (see Gen 7:7 and 2 Peter 2:5)
Circumcision on 8th day (Gen 17:12)
Twelve implies “governmental perfection.”
The twelve tribes of Israel
There are multiple examples in Ezekiel regarding construction in the heavenly Jerusalem for the twelve tribes, including 12 foundations, 12 pearly gates(Ezek 48:30-35), and 12 angels.
1,000 signifies “immensity” or “fullness of quantity”, preeminently in the Book of Revelation.
Learn more here:Biblical Numerology
Biblical Numerology [Kindle Edition] by John Davis
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A sane explanation of biblical numerology. Davis explains the conventional, rhetorical, symbolic, and mystical use of numbers in this fascinating study of the structure and syntax of biblical numbers.
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