Eighteen: the age when one becomes an adult and can vote in public elections. It is an important, even life-changing, age in the United Kingdom. No longer constricted by parental consent, eighteen-year-olds have legal control of their lives, actions and decisions. In Chinese tradition, eighteen is also a lucky number because it sounds similar to a word that means, “Definitely get rich”.
In chemistry, the periodic table is comprised of several groups. The eighteenth group is known as the Noble Gases. These include Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon and Radon. The number eighteen is also the atomic number of Argon.
Traditionally, there are eighteen holes on a golf course and in Australian football each team has eighteen players on the pitch during a game. Some countries refer to the penalty area on a football pitch as “the 18” due to it extending 18 yards in front and to either side of the goal.
The Hebrew word for “life” (chai) has the numerical value (gematria) of eighteen. As a result, it has become customary for Jews to give donations in multiples of eighteen as an expression of a blessing for long life. The American author Joseph Heller was initially going to name his well-known novel Catch-18due to the Hebrew meaning of the number, however, it was changed to Catch-22to avoid confusion with another book of a similar name.
In the Bible, the number eighteen has come to mean bondage or slavery. Before Saul was made king of Israel, the Israelites were made slaves to many nations. A couple of their enemies, Eglon the Moabite king and the Philistines and Ammonites, held them in bondage for eighteen years:
In the King James Version of the Bible, the word “bondage” in relation to the Israelites is mentioned eighteen times. In all these instances, it is through God that they are saved: I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3, KJV)
Another form of bondage has a more spiritual nature. Many people in the Bible are slaves to the demons that possess them or are influenced by other people. During his ministry, Jesus healed many of these people including a crippled woman. “… a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteenyears. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.” When Jesus healed her he announced, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” (Luke 13, NIV)
There are other occasions when the number eighteen is mentioned in scripture, but not all of these relate to bondage and slavery. Here are a few examples I have found:
When reading the Bible, you will have noticed that buildings are often described in great detail, down to the exact measurements. You will have also noticed that these measurements are usually recorded in cubits. This was the length of a man’s forearm from the tip of his middle finger to the point of his elbow. It is believed the average man’s forearm is about 18 inches long.
The book of the New Testament 1 Corinthians has references or content from eighteen books of the Old Testament. One of these is Psalm 110:1, which throughout the New Testament, plus the original verse itself, is referenced eighteen times.
Finally, I’ll leave you with the knowledge that there are two eighteen-lettered names in the Bible:Jonathelemrechokim and Mahershalalhashbaz, the latter being Isaiah’s son.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon