Biblical Numerology

Learn the meaning of numbers in the Bible

Biblical Meaning of Numbers

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Biblical numerology is the study of individual numbers in Scripture. It relates particularly to the meaning of numbers, both literal and symbolic.

Conservative scholars remain cautious about assigning too much importance to the meaning of numbers in the Bible. Such attribution has led some groups to mystical and theological extremes, believing numbers can reveal the future or uncover hidden information.

These groups delve into the dangerous realm of divination.

Biblical Meaning of Numbers

Certain prophetic books of the Bible, such as Daniel and Revelation, introduce a complex, interrelated system of numerology which exhibits definite patterns. Given the elaborate nature of prophetic numerology, this study will deal only with the meaning of individual numbers in the Bible.

Traditionally, most Bible scholars agree that the following numbers possess either symbolic or literal significance.

One

The number one denotes absolute singleness.

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." (Deuteronomy 6:4, ESV)

Two

The number two symbolizes witness and support.

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. (Ecclesiastes 4:9, ESV)

Three

The number three signifies completion or perfection, and unity. Three is the number of Persons in the Trinity.

Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2:19, ESV)

  • Many significant events in the Bible happened "on the third day" (Hosea 6:2).
  • Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish (Matthew 12:40).
  • Jesus' earthly ministry lasted three years (Luke 13:7).

Four

The number four relates to the earth.

He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:12, ESV)

  • Earth has four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall.
  • There are four primary directions: north, south, east, and west.
  • There are four earthly kingdoms (Daniel 7:3).
  • Jesus' parable had four types of soil (Matthew 13).

Five

Five is a number associated with grace.

Portions were taken to them from Joseph's table, but Benjamin's portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merry with him. (Genesis 43:34, ESV)

  • Thre are five Levitical offerings (Leviticus 1-5).
  • Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread to feed 5,000 (Matthew 14:17).

Six

Six is the number of man.

"The cities that you give to the Levites shall be the six cities of refuge, where you shall permit the manslayer to flee ..." (Numbers 35:6, ESV)

  • Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day (Genesis 1:31).

Seven

Seven refers to the number of God, divine perfection or completeness.

When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. (Exodus 21:2, ESV)

  • On the seventh day, God rested after completing the creation (Genesis 2:2).
  • God's Word is pure, like silver purified seven times in the fire (Psalm 12:6).
  • Jesus taught Peter to forgive 70 times seven (Matthew 18:22).
  • Seven demons went out from Mary Magdalene, symbolizing total deliverance (Luke 8:2).

Eight

The number eight may signify new beginnings, although many scholars don't attribute any symbolic meaning to this number.

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." (John 20:26, ESV)

  • Eight people survived the flood (Genesis 7:13, 23).
  • Circumcision took place on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12).

    Nine

    The number nine may mean fullness of blessing, although many scholars don't assign any special meaning to this number.

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV)

    Ten

    The number ten relates to human governments and law.

    And he [Boaz] took ten men of the elders of the city [as judges] and said, "Sit down here." So they sat down. (Ruth 4:2, ESV)

    • The Ten Commandments were the Tablets of the Law (Exodus 20:1-17, Deuteronomy 5:6-21).
    • Ten tribes made up the northern kingdom (1 Kings 11:31-35).

    Twelve

    The number twelve relates to divine government, God's authority, perfection, and completeness.

    It [the New Jerusalem] had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed -- on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:12-14, ESV)

    Thirty

    Thirty is a time frame and number associated with mourning and sorrow.

    Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? See to it yourself." And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-5, ESV)

    • Aaron's death was mourned for 30 days (Numbers 20:29).
    • Moses' death was mourned for 30 days (Deuteronomy 34:8).

    Forty

    Forty is a number associated with testing and trials.

    Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain [Sinai]. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24:18, ESV)

    • During the flood it rained for 40 days (Genesis 7:4).
    • Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years (Numbers 14:33).
    • Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days before being tempted (Matthew 4:2).

    Fifty

    The number fifty holds significance in feasts, celebrations, and ceremonies.

    And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. (Leviticus 25:10, ESV)

    Seventy

    The number seventy is tied to judgment and human delegations.

    And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. (Ezekiel 8:11, ESV)

    • 70 elders were appointed by Moses (Numbers 11:16).
    • Israel spent 70 years in captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10).

    666

    666 is the number of the beast.

      Source

      • Book of Bible Lists by H.L. Willmington, Tyndale Bible Dictionary.