What do we know about the number nine? A nine-sided shape is a nonagon; in Chinese; it is a good number because it sounds like their word for “long-lasting”; in Norse mythology, the universe is divided into nine worlds; and in Greek mythology there are nine muses: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (erotic poetry), Euterpe (lyric poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (song), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy) and Urania (astronomy).
Many idioms incorporate the number nine, for example:
Why nine has been used in these instances I am not sure but many authors have also adopted the number nine. In Dante’s Divine Comedythere are nine circles of Hell. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earththere are nine rings of power and, consequently, nine Ringwraiths. In the Lorien Legacieswritten under the pseudonym Pittacus Lore, nine children are sent to Earth from another planet. Also, in A Game of Thrones,there are nine regions of Westeros.
In Hinduism, the number nine is said to be complete, perfect and divine, and in Buddhism, there are nine virtues. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims partake in fasting and prayer. In Judaism, the first nine days of the month Av are a period of mourning, leading up to the ninth day, the anniversary of the destruction of both temples in Jerusalem. But what about in Christianity; is there any significance of the number nine?
According to the Christian angelic hierarchy, something that is not found in the Bible, there are nine choirs of angels: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels. This was put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and later explored further by Thomas Aquinas who used passages from the New Testament to help establish these spheres or choirs.
The number nine itself is thought to appear in the Bible only 49 times but is believed to symbolise divine completeness and finality. Part of the reason for this is that Christ died at the 9thhour of the day (3pm), assuming that the official start of the day began at 6pm.
Another reason for this definition is the nine fruits of God’s Holy Spirit, which are mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23:
Of the 49 usages of the number nine in the Bible, only a handful is worth mentioning, which may or may not correspond with the divine completeness symbolism.
My final example of the number nine is the number of groups or individuals that practices sorcery in the Old Testament. It is unlikely this has any connection to divine completeness since sorcery was considered to be pure evil, however, it is interesting nonetheless.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon