Twenty-four: the number of hours in a day; the atomic number of chromium; the number of carats in pure gold; the number of letters in the Greek alphabet; the maximum number of Knight Companions in the Order of the Garter; the number of blackbirds baked in a pie in the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence.
In Indian religions, the Ashoka Chakra, which represents the Dharma Chakra, has twenty-four spokes. This is the symbol shown in the centre of the Indian flag.
In the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, there are twenty-four books. In our Bible (protestant) there are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament but, despite being shorter, the Hebrew Bible manages to encompass the same material.
In the Bible, the number twenty-four takes its meaning from the number twelve. As we know, the number twelve is a perfect number representing God’s power and authority. The number twenty-four, therefore, is an even stronger demonstration of God’s strength.
The number is also associated with the priesthood, who oversee God’s work on Earth. This is due to the Divisions of Priests recorded in 1 Chronicles 24:1-19, also known as the descendants of Aaron. “With the help of Zadok a descendant of Eleazar and Ahimelek a descendant of Ithamar, David separated them into divisions for their appointed order of ministering.” (1 Chronicles 24:3, NIV) They are as follows:
The number twenty-four is written approximately twenty times in the Bible, depending on which translation you read. Many of these occur in the Book of Revelation. In Christian apocalyptic literature, the number twenty-four represents the church because it is the sum of the number of tribes of Israel (12) and the Apostles (12). Here are the examples of the number twenty-four in Revelation:
Other examples from the rest of the Bible include:
There are twenty-four chapters in the Book of Joshua, 2 Samuel and the Gospel of Luke. Although the Book of Acts has twenty-eight chapters, the Gospel of Luke contains more words, making it the longest book in the New Testament.
The Gospel of Mark, whilst being the shortest of the four gospels, contains references to twenty-four books of the Old Testament.
In my research, I have discovered a couple of examples of twenty-four that are not in the biblical canon. For example, Saint Ann, the mother of the Virgin Mary, was supposedly twenty-four years old when she was married to Saint Joachim, according to the visions of the Franciscan abbess Mary Ágreda. In the Gospel of Thomas, it is written that twenty-four prophets appeared in Israel before the arrival of Jesus.
The word “judges” is used twenty-four times in the New Testament.
The word “lamb” appears twenty-four times in the book of Revelation.
The words “water” and “spirit” both appear twenty- four times in the Gospel of John.
I’ll leave you with the weirdest fact about the number twenty-four. Whether or not this is true, the Ancient Egyptians apparently discovered that the monkey urinates regularly twenty-four times a day!
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon