Sweet sixteen; the smallest number with five divisors: 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16. Those who still use the imperial measurement system will know there are sixteen ounces in one pound, and other cultures also counted many things in groups of sixteen, for instance, Chinese Taoists used their fingertips and joints of the fingers to count up to sixteen on each hand.
In science, sixteen is the atomic number of sulphur, which is apparently the fifth most common element on Earth. Those interested in psychology will know there are sixteen Myers-Briggs personality types. In music, a semiquaver lasts for one-sixteenth of a semibreve and is, therefore, known as a “sixteenth note” in America. In a game of Chess, there are a total of sixteen pawns on the board at the beginning of play.
In America, girls celebrate a “Sweet Sixteen” party on their sixteenth birthdays; however, the age was not good for the fictional Briar Rose in Sleeping Beautywho was cursed to "prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die" on her sixteenth birthday.
In Chinese history, between the years AD 304 to 439, the country was split into sixteen kingdoms. In Ancient Greece, a symbol known as the Vergina Sun had sixteen rays. In Japan, the Imperial Seal of Japan, also known as the Chrysanthemum Seal, is made up of sixteen petals.
In the Bible, the number sixteen is said to represent love and loving. God’s name is written in various ways in the Old Testament, however, sixteen of these, when written in Hebrew, have meanings that indicate His constant, never-ending love for His people. Also, the phrase “the Father”, appears sixteen times in scripture.
The number sixteen itself has been counted only twenty-one times in the Bible. Here are a handful of examples:
Since there are so few occurrences of the number sixteen, it is unlikely that it held any particular value in these examples; its meaning of love has been added much later. The meaning has likely derived from the well-known verses in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, wrote that there are sixteen distinct qualities of God’s love:
In addition to this list, the Book of 1 John mentions the word love numerous times, the sixteenth being “There is no fear in love.” (1 John 4:18, NIV)
In the Old Testament, between the times the Israelites took possession of the Promised Land until Saul was anointed their first king, there were a total of sixteen judges who governed the whole of or part of Israel:
Finally, just as I did with the number fifteen, I have found a few words in scripture that are sixteen letters long!
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon