Seventeen: a prime number that is also the sum of the first four prime numbers (2+3+5+7). It is the atomic number of Chlorine. It is the number of syllables in a haiku poem (5+7+5). It is the number to call for the police in France. It is also the apparent percentage of alcohol in Baileys Irish Cream.
In the Harry Potter world, seventeen is the age when wizards come of age, rather than the traditional eighteen. In the UK, seventeen is the youngest age at which you can give blood and the minimum age for taking driving lessons. On the other hand, in the USA, seventeen-year-olds can apply for private pilot licences!
The fear of the number seventeen is called “heptadecaphobia” or “heptakaidekaphobia”; although why people should fear the number, I am not sure.
In the Bible, the number seventeen has become associated with victory and overcoming enemies. It is believed that Jesus Christ was resurrected, thus overcoming death, on the seventeenth day of the month Nisan (8thApril 30 AD).
In the Book of Genesis, God began to flood the earth on the seventeenth day of the second month, in order to overcome the sins of the people who had turned away from him. As we know, only Noah and his family were saved; Noah’s ark came to rest on Mount Ararat on the seventeenth day of the seventh month.
In Judaism, Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, occurs on the tenth day of the seventh Hebrew month. One of the key themes of the festival is the binding of Satan. Therefore, the number seventeen (10+7) has come to symbolise this.
Let’s take a look at some example where the number seventeen is written in the Bible. It is believed there are at least thirteen instances (depending on the version) of the number but I will leave it up to you to find them all!
Seventeen enemies of Israel have been recorded throughout the Old Testament:
It is believed the apostle James wrote his Epistle seventeen years after the crucifixion of Christ. He also used material from seventeen books of the Old Testament. Likewise, the book of 1 Corinthians has seventeen direct quotes from the Old Testament.
Obadiah, the seventeenth book of the Bible is also the shortest.
Finally, I leave you with the knowledge that there is a seventeen-letter name in the Bible: Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years. (Judges 3:8, KJV)
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon