In mathematics, the number six is important for all sorts of reasons, the simplest being it is the only number that is both the sum and the product of three consecutive positive numbers (1+2+3=6; 1x2x3=6). It is the smallest perfect number and Granville number – which would need an entire essay to try and explain – as well as a congruent number, a unitary perfect number, a primary pseudo perfect number, a harmonic divisor number and a superior highly composite number. I am not a mathematician so I have no idea what any of that means but it sounds important.
The number six can be represented by the Greek prefix Hex and the Latin prefix Sex, therefore, we have words to describe things that can be grouped in sixes: a hexagon is a shape with six sides; a sextet is a group of six musicians; and a group of six babies delivered in one birth are sextuplets. There is even a term called “sexy numbers” that refers to prime numbers that are six digits away from each other, for instance 5 and 11 … who knew?
A standard guitar has six strings and most woodwind instruments have six basic holes or keys. The Star of David has six points. The cells of a beehive are six sided (hexagonal). Six is the atomic number of carbon. Insects have six legs. There are six sides of a cube. As you can see, there are lots of instances of the number six in our lives, but what about in the Bible?
According to Genesis, God created man on the sixth day. Some scholars claim that the number six represents human weakness and sin, which is why man was subjected to six days labour and only one day of rest. Similarly, in Exodus 21:2, the law states, “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything.” (NIV) This is also comparable to Leviticus 25:3-4 (NIV): For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.”
The number six is also representative of Satan. In Revelation 13:18, the number of “the beast” is recorded as 666. One source states this symbolises the best system mankind could produce under the influence of Satan. They claim that Satan influences three areas of human life: economic, religious and governmental. When 666 is multiplied by 7 it equals 4662, which depicts man's total imperfection under the devil. When the digitals are added, 4 + 6 + 6 + 2 = 18; and 18 divided by 3 is 6.
There are a number of instances the number six or groups of six are mentioned in the Bible. Here are a few:
It is difficult to determine whether there is any significance in the use of the number six in the Bible. Some may be connected to the number of days in the creation story and others the number of the devil, but it is unlikely that these entire instances relate to one or the other. What do you think?
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon