Around the World in Eighty Days is a novel by Jules Verne about a man named Phileas Fogg who took on the bet that he could circumnavigate the world in eighty days. The fact that I am starting this article with a work of fiction suggests that there are not many details about the number eighty worth sharing. Mercury has the atomic number eighty and the Dutch Revolt of 1568-1648 is also known as the Eight Years’ War. That, I am afraid, is all I have discovered about the number’s use in everyday life. In the Bible, however, it is much more prevalent.
The number eighty is written around sixteen times in the Bible, three of which are in relation to somebody’s age. The first eighty-year-old recorded is Moses. We are told his age moments before God sent the first plague on Egypt. “Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.”(Exodus 7:7 NIV)
In 2 Samuel 19, Barzillai the Gileadite is said to be “very old, eighty years of age.” (V.32) During King David’s time in exile, Barzillai provided for him and his household. He also helped David travel safely to the River Jordan in order to cross over into Judah on their way back to Jerusalem. “Barzillai answered the king, “How many more years will I live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? I am now eighty years old.” (V.34-35)
Twice, the number eighty refers to a period of time. The first is in the book of Judges 30 following Israel’s defeat of Moab, a mountainous tract of land in Jordan.
The second we have already looked at before in my article about the number seventy. It is written in Moses’ prayer in the fourth Book of Psalms:
On only one occasion is the number eighty used in relation to money. 2 Kings 6 records the prices of a few items during the famine in besieged Samaria:
The remainder of the verses containing the number eighty reference a number of people”
According to René Allendy (1889-1942), the number eighty “represents the karmic liberation for the whole of the creatures of Cosmos, or the community of the initiate disengaged of the fate of reincarnations, the communion of Saints or the Great White Lodge.” Looking at the Bible verses above, it is unlikely he came to this conclusion through any of these examples.
To finish, I leave you with one final fact: the word “apostle” is written eighty times in some versions of the Bible.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon