Do you know what is special about the number forty-three? It is the first number that does not appear in the Bible! Do you know what else does not appear in the Bible? The number forty-four! So, let’s move on to number forty-five.
Forty-five is the atomic number of rhodium. There are forty-five minutes in each half of a football match (discounting any extra added time). In terms of marriage, forty-five years is marked by a sapphire wedding anniversary.
If we add up the numbers one to nine (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9) we get the answer forty-five. This is thought to be the age when Saint Francis of Assisi died. The ancient measurement cubit is believed to be approximately forty-five centimetres.
In the Bible, the number forty-five appears three times:
There is no established significance of the number forty-five, although, psychoanalyst René Allendy (1889-1942) suggests the meaning could be derived from nine (the father, son and Holy Spirit) and five (divine grace), which when multiplied together make forty-five.
Since there is nothing else to say, let’s move on to the number forty-six, the atomic number of palladium. It is also the number of chromosomes in the human body. Oklahoma was the forty-sixth state to join the United States of America.
The number forty-six only appears once in scripture: They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” (John 2:20, NIV) This verse comes from the account of Jesus clearing the Temple courts of moneychangers and animals. When questioned about his authority, Jesus says he could destroy the temple and raise it back up in three days. The sceptical Jews responded by pointing out that it had taken forty-six years to construct the building. Jesus, of course, was metaphorically talking about his body, death and resurrection.
In my article about the number forty, I stated that there are forty days in the season of Lent. This is not strictly true. If you added up the days from Ash Wednesday until Easter day, you will see there are in fact forty-six days. So, why do we say there are only forty? According to the ancient church, the six Sundays during Lent were not days of penance. Good news for all of you who give something up for Lent, you could have a reprieve on Sundays!
According to the visions of Mary of Jesus of Ágreda (1602-1665), Saint Joachim, the father of Mary, mother of Jesus, was forty-six when he married Saint Ann. Sicard of Cremona (1155-1215), an Italian prelate, claims Mary was forty-six when her son was crucified.
I am afraid to say, the number forty-seven does not appear in the Bible either, however, forty-eight and forty-nine do appear, albeit briefly.
According to Judaism, forty-eight prophets (discounting the seven prophetesses) were recorded in the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. Also, according to the Mishnah or Oral Torah, there are forty-eight ways to acquire wisdom.
The Counting of the Omer, which is based on passages from Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16, is a Jewish holiday that lasts forty-nine days.
Although there is no direct meaning of the number forty-nine from the Bible, the Christian mystic Jakob Böhme states that as the square of seven, forty-nine symbolises paradise. I will let you decide whether to agree with him or not.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon