The New International Version of the Bible frequently uses the words “crimson” and “scarlet” when other newer versions may simply use “red”. In the original Hebrew text, there were even more ways of describing a reddish hue. Three of these words have been translated as “crimson”. They are karmity, which means deep red; tola, the maggot from which the dye is derived; and shaniy. The term “scarlet” is a translation of the Greek word Kokkinos, which refers to the shape of the insect that dye is extracted from.
Crimson is a strong red colour that slightly inclines towards purple on the colour wheel. The colour was originally produced using the dried bodies of the kermes insect, which could be found in Mediterranean countries.
The plant rhubarb has been poetically referred to as “crimson stalks” for obvious reasons. The crimson sunbird is the national bird of Singapore. In Australia, there is a species of parrot known as the crimson rosella. Occasionally, in places such as Mexico and Florida, a crimson tide occurs when certain algae turn the water red.
In some religions, such as the Bahá’í Faith, crimson stands for tests and sacrifice. Let’s have a look at where it appears in the Bible.
The Second Book of Chronicles, chapter two tells us about King Solomon’s plans to build a temple in Jerusalem. He requested the help of King Hiram of Tyre, with whom he wished to continue the friendly relationship King David had established. The people of Tyre were known for their dyeing industry, particularly for using crimson and purple dyes. Solomon requested Hiram to send him a man who could assist with the decoration of the temple.
There are only two other mentions of the word “crimson” in the NIV Bible and they can both be found in the book of Isaiah. In chapter 63, Isaiah writes about God’s day of vengeance and redemption. The first verse says: “Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendour, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? ‘It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.’”
In this verse, crimson is a sign of splendour and of victory, however, in an earlier chapter, crimson means something entirely different. It is also an example that distinguishes crimson and scarlet as two separate colours – some theologians argue that they are one and the same.
This leads me on to investigating the use of “scarlet” in the Bible. Scarlet lies somewhere between red and orange on the colour wheel, making it less strong than crimson. Nonetheless, the same insects originally produced the scarlet dye. Synthetic scarlet is often called cadmium red and was the standard red of many artists during the 19thand 20thcenturies.
In the 20thcentury, scarlet became associated with revolution. It has been used on revolutionary emblems as a symbol of the blood of martyrs in the French Revolution. It also became the colour of communism, which was used on the Soviet Union’s flag and is still used on the Chinese flag. In China, red is also a symbol of happiness.
Scarlet is the colour of the traditional academic dress of doctorate students in the United Kingdom. The Foot Guards and Life Guards also wear scarlet for ceremonial purposes. Army regiments across the world use the colour scarlet on their uniforms too. The countries that do this include Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand, Fiji, Canada, Kenya, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Brazil and the USA.
In the Roman Catholic Church, scarlet symbolises the blood of Christ and Christian martyrs. In Lutheran tradition, scarlet is used in decorations from Palm Sunday until Maundy Thursday. Other Christians, however, often associate scarlet with prostitution. This is partly due to the description of an adulterous woman in the Book of Revelations, who is sometimes referred to as the Great Scarlet Whore.
Other negative connotations of scarlet in the book of Revelation include:
The first time the word “scarlet” is used in the NIV is in Genesis 38 when Tamar gave birth to twins. A scarlet thread was tied around the wrist of the eldest so that they could differentiate between the two.
The colour is most frequently used in the book of Exodus in relation to the construction of the Tabernacle. This connects scarlet with God, giving it an entirely different meaning in comparison to the final book of the New Testament. Between Exodus 25 and Exodus 39, the colour scarlet is mentioned over 25 times. Examples include:
Leviticus 14 mentions scarlet yarn at least five times in the instructions for the cleansing of defiling skin diseases:
Twice, scarlet is mentioned in the book of Numbers:
Potentially the most famous mention of scarlet in the Bible occurs during the story of Rahab and the Spies. This is found in the second chapter of the book of Joshua. Rahab was a prostitute but in this story, the colour scarlet is not a reflection on her occupation. Rahab helped Joshua’s spies escape and in return, they told her to tie a scarlet cord in her window so that when Joshua’s soldiers attack the city, she will be spared.
Other mentions of the colour scarlet in the Bible are:
Generally, scarlet is a colour associated with wealth and opulence. This meaning is supported with the only mention of the colour in the Gospels:
Despite the unfortunate connection to prostitution, both crimson and scarlet are most representative of wealth and power, both politically and religiously. Even the verses in Revelation refer to this. By the end of times, people were worshipping their wealth and power rather than God.
According to surveys across Europe and the UK, scarlet is also associated with courage, force, passion and joy. Combining this with Biblical meaning, it can be ascertained that scarlet is a powerful, positive colour – crimson, too.
Following on from The Importance of Numbers in the Bible Series, I thought it would be interesting to look at colours in the Bible. How often are colours mentioned and do they have a particular meaning in scripture? We know that a rainbow of colours was symbolic; in Genesis 9:13, a rainbow was used as a symbol of God’s promise that he would never flood the earth again. In Ezekiel 1:27, a rainbow represented the glory of God. Revelation 4:3 records John’s witness of the same rainbow as Ezekiel but he also saw one above the head of a “mighty angel” who carried a book about the events to occur at the end of time.
Our modern understanding of a rainbow was established by Isaac Newton, who divided up the different wavelengths of light (colours) that we are able to see into seven groups. These are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. I will begin by looking at the first of these colours, however, as you will see, there is a whole continuum of colours that fall in-between.
Red is one of the three primary colours (the others are yellow and blue) and can be found on 75% of national flags around the world. In contemporary times, red is associated with a number of different things. Red, when seen on a traffic light or road sign, means “stop”. It is one of the colours used to describe fire, which can have both positive and negative connotations. Fire brings warmth and a means of cooking but, on the other hand, it can also signify danger.
In astronomy, Mars is known as the Red Planet and on Jupiter, there is a Great Red Spot. There are stars known as red giants, red supergiants and red dwarfs. The sky occasionally turns red during sunset or sunrise. This has led to the saying, “Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.” It was believed a red sky signified an approaching storm. The original phrase, however, comes from the Gospel of Matthew:
Human blood is red, which can symbolise both life (i.e. we need blood in order to live) or death (in terms of blood being spilt). Two per cent of the world’s population has naturally red hair. The term redhead, or redd hede as it was originally spelt, has been in use since around 1510.
In human and animal behaviour, red sometimes indicates dominance. Wearing the colour red has been linked with success and enhanced performance, especially in sport. A more controlled test of this theory has suggested this is not entirely true.
Other meanings that the colour red connotes are love (i.e. red roses on Valentine’s day), celebration and ceremony (red carpet), Christmas (Santa Claus), anger (“seeing red”), seduction (red lipstick) and sexuality (red-light district).
In the Bible, the word “red” appears at least fifty times. I am going to use the New International Version because some translations use “red” more broadly. As I mentioned before, there is a wide spectrum of colours and red is only one small section. Either side of red on the spectrum are similar colours, such as, scarlet and crimson, which have their own mentions and meanings in the Bible – at least in the NIV.
On more than one occasion, the colour red is used symbolically as an indication of sin or sinfulness. When Israel attacked the wicked Moabites, the “water looked red – like blood.” (2 Kings 3:22) When the city of Nineveh fell, Nahum tells us “The shields of the soldiers are red.” (Nahum 2:3).
Ezekiel writes about a prostitute and, therefore, a sinner who lusted after a group of men of whom a sketch had been drawn on a wall in red. “But she carried her prostitution still further. She saw men portrayed on a wall, figures of Chaldeansportrayed in red.” (Ezekiel 23:14) An interesting thing to note here is the colour red was the first pigment to be used in art. In this instance, it may be a coincidence that the drawing was in the same colour as one that represents sin.
In Zechariah 1, the prophet is told that the Lord was very angry with his ancestors. Later on that day, Zechariah had a vision: “During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.” (Zechariah 1:8) The prophet records a vision of red horses again in Zechariah 6:2.
Another red horse is mentioned in Revelation 6:4 as a sign war, bloodshed and the end times: “Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.”
A red dragon is used as a similar symbol but also represents Satan’s power and determination to bring about destruction: “Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.” (Revelation 12:13)
Other mentions of the red in relation to the end times are:
Proverbs 23:31 says, “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!” This is a warning about the temptation of sin. It may look good but it will have its repercussions.
In the book of Job, the colour red is a sign of sorrow, grief and distress. “My face is red with weeping,dark shadows ring my eyes.” (Job 16:16)
Red is also a symbol of death. The Red Sea, which lies between Africa and Asia on the edge of the Indian Ocean, has claimed many people’s lives. In the present day, the Red Sea is bordered by Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It is approximately 1400 miles in length and about 220 miles wide.
The most famous Bible passage involving the Red Sea takes place in the book of Exodus. Moses rescued the Israelites from Egypt by parting the waters of the Red Sea. When Pharaoh and his army tried to cross, God caused the waters to return to normal, drowning the entire army.
On a couple of occasions, Biblical characters are given names that mean “red”.
At least three verses of the Bible mention items being dyed or decorated red. The significance of this, if there is one, is uncertain.
These have been the main examples of the colour red I have found in the Bible. There are plenty of mentions in the NIV of crimson and scarlet but I will look into them later. To finish, looking into the importance of the colour red, I have researched what the colour represents in Christianity today.
In the Roman Catholic Church, the colour red is associated with the fire of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. It has also been the colour worn by Cardinals since 1295.
In general, red is the colour of Christ’s blood and, therefore, a symbol of his crucifixion. At Christmas, red tape or ribbon is used during Christingle services to represent the blood. The flags of some historically Christian nations still bear a red cross.
If you have anything you would like to add about the link between the colour red and the Bible, let us know. We value your thoughts.
Whilst I was writing the Importance of Numbers in the Bible series, I had to resist adding little jokes. I saved them all until the very end of the series. Here you go; enjoy and feel free to comment with.your own number jokes.
I got into a fight with 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. – The odds were against me.
How do you make 7 an even number? Take the s out!
Why did the Star Wars movies come out in the sequence 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3? – Because in charge of sequence, Yoda was.
What’s the best thing about 28-year-olds? - There’s 20 of them.
19 and 20 had a fight. 21.
4, 6, 8 and 9 have all been killed. – 2, 3, 5, 7 and 11 are the prime suspects.
What did the 0 say to the 8? – Nice belt.
Why is 6 afraid of 7? – Because 7 8 9.
Why don't you do arithmetic in the jungle?
Because if you add 4+4 you get ate!
I ordered a takeaway from the local Chinese last night. I ordered a 23, a 13, a 31 and a 79.
I had to take them back. They tasted odd.
Teacher: What is 2n plus 2n?
Student: I don't know. It sounds 4n to me.
What happened when 30 got hungry?
One day Jesus was delivering a sermon to his flock. "The path to the Lord lies at y=x²-4x+2."
A passer-by leans over to Peter and whispers "What's he on about?"
Peter replies, "Don't worry, it's just one of his parabolas."
For my final number in “The Importance of Numbers in the Bible” series, I would like to look at the number 666. Immediately, you will be thinking of the number of the Beast but did you know it is also the sum of all the numbers (0-36) on a roulette wheel? In China, 666 is considered to be lucky and is often displayed in shop windows. The number 6 in China is similar in pronunciation to the symbol that means “flowing”, therefore, 666 is interpreted as “everything goes smoothly.”
The connection with the Devil appears in Revelation, however, 666 is mentioned three times in the Old Testament. Both 1 Kings 10 and 2 Chronicles 9 record the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon in Jerusalem. Following this, we are told of Solomon’s splendour. As 2 Chronicles 9:22 says, “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.”
The other documentation of the number 666 in the Old Testament is found in the list of exiles that returned from captivity in Babylon. It lists all the men of Israel and the number of their descendants:
Now we get to the New Testament, or more specifically, the book of Revelation. The number of the Beast is mentioned in Revelation 13:18 (NIV): “This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.”
The number 666 represents the level of perfection man can achieve without the influence of God. Six on its own symbolises incompleteness and imperfection, suggesting that without God, we will always fall short.
The first digit in 666 represents the falsity of man-made religions. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 states that people have become blind to the true God. The god people have established in His place is under Satan’s lead.
The second digit refers to the false governments in the world. These are the people in authority who no longer seek God’s advice when making important decisions. The third six is symbolic of man’s self-centred economy. Rather than looking at the bigger picture and thinking about how monetary decisions will affect the wider world and please God, mankind is only concerned how the decisions would benefit themselves.
Many people have tried to claim numerous things are the work of the Devil. Often, they use various forms of Gematria (Hebrew, German, English and so forth), which assigns numbers to letters. Here are a few examples of words or phrases that total 666:
400 and 430: The Importance of Numbers in the Bible
Did you know the sun is 400 times the size of the moon? It is also 400 times further than us from the moon, which is why it does not look much bigger.
In the Mayan calendars, a year lasted 400 days. In France, the idiom faire les quatre cents coupstranslates as “to make the 400 blows”. This apparently means “to cause trouble in every possible way.”
The number 400 appears approximately twenty times in the Bible and has had several meanings attributed to it. The Mayans used it as a way of expressing inexpressible amounts, the same way we might use “thousands”, “millions” or “a thousand million billion” when telling someone there was a lot of something. Theobald of Langres (12thcentury AD), on the other hand, attributes the number to human fragility.
Some scholars maintain that because 400 is the result of 8 x 50, it is a divine number denoting a perfect period of time. There is some evidence to support this in the Bible, for example:
There are other verses containing the number 400 that are worthy of note. Abraham’s wife Sarah is the only woman in the Bible whose age at death is recorded. She was 127 when she died and Abraham spent 400 shekels on a cave in which to bury her.
When Jacob returned to his homeland, his brother Esau sent 400 men to meet him. Jacob thought he was going to be killed because of the things he had done to his brother in the past, however, after sending a gift ahead of him, the brothers met amicably.
There are plenty of other occasions when groups of 400 men or women are mentioned:
Twice, a measurement of 400 cubits is recorded, however, as you will see, despite being in different books on the Bible, the verses are about the same thing:
Similarly, a description of Solomon’s palace featuring a decoration of 400 hundred pomegranates is also mentioned twice:
Finally, in the dedication of the Temple, the people of Israel offered 400 males lambs amongst other animals to God:
Let’s move on briefly to the number 430. Why is this number worth mentioning? Whilst in Genesis 15:13 the Lord said the Israelites would spend 400 years in slavery, other evidence in the Bible suggests they were in Egypt for a total of 430 years. Exodus 12 states:
There are two other records of the number 430 in the Bible:
Did you know, if you scored a strike in each round of tenpin bowling (ten rounds) you would achieve a score of 300 (twelve strikes)? This is considered a perfect score.
According to Herodotus, 300 Spartans resisted one million Persian invaders during the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC). This was the basis of the 2006 fantasy film 300, which saw Rodrigo Santoro as King Xerxes take on Gerald Butler as King Leonidas of Sparta.
In the apocryphal book of Enoch, it is said that 300 angels guard the Garden of Eden, whilst singing and permanently serving God. There is no way of clarifying this since no one knows where the Garden of Eden is, nor is there any mention of this idea in the Bible.
In the Bible, the number 300 is used approximately thirty times depending on which manuscript you study. According to Theobald of Langres, a 12thcentury scholastic teacher, the number represents victory. One reason for this is in Hebrew the letter T represents the number 300, which is a similar shape to the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
Another reason 300 is linked to victory is Gideon the military leader, judge and prophet’s triumph against the Midianites. With only 300 men, Gideon defeated the opposing army.
Some scholars claim Noah’s Ark as a form of victory because Noah and his family triumphed over the flood. In Genesis, we are provided with the exact measurements of the ark: “This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.” (Genesis 6:15 NIV)
A chief named Abishai became famous for killing three hundred men:
Of course, not all instances of the number 300 refer to victories. The first record of the number is in Genesis 5, which tells us that Enoch lived for a further 300 years after the birth of his son Methuselah.
Other verses containing the number 300 include:
The final occurrence of the number 300, however, does link back to victory. The Jews, who had previously been oppressed, triumphed over the people of Susa:
I would like to finish off this article by taking a look at the number 390. There are only two examples in the Bible and so are not worth their own blog post; however, they are definitely something of which to take note.
In the book of Ezekiel, we read the following verses:
This chapter explores the Siege of Jerusalem and the instructions Ezekiel was given by God in order to save Jerusalem from her sins. For 390 years, Israel sinned against God, beginning with Jeroboam in 974 BC. “And he will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit.” (1 Kings 14:16).
There is no identified symbolism of the number 390 since it is only written in these two verses. As you would have seen in my article about the number 40, Ezekiel was also required to spend 40 days on his other side in repentance of the sins of the people of Judah, which had lasted 40 years.
The number 200 appears over thirty times in the Bible. According to René Allendy (1889-1942), 200 represents “the duality in the creature, duality of tendencies, magnetic polarities, poles of homology, sexuality, but not duality of constitution: soul-body, as claims Descartes with the official church.” Others more simply claim 200 is a symbol of insufficiency, upheaval and antagonism.
In the book of Joshua 7, there is a record of Achan from the tribe of Judah’s sin. Despite being commanded not to, Achan stole 200 shekels of silver and other goods.
It is recorded in the book of Judges that the mother of a man named Micah melted 200 shekels of silver to create an idol.
An example of antagonism in relation to the number 200 can be found in the book of Acts. Paul, who is endeavouring to spread God’s Word, causes an upheaval amongst the Jews. Some accuse him of breaking their laws and others vow to kill him.
King David’s son Absalom tried to take the throne from his father. This upheaval did not bring Absalom the desired result. David sent an army to oppose his son and won, resulting in Absalom’s death. It is recorded that Absalom’s hair weighed 200 shekels:
The number 200 first appears in Genesis 11:23 (NIV), which says, “And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.” The second use of the number appears later in the same book. As you may recall, Jacob tricked his father into giving him his older twin brother’s birthright. Esau vowed to kill Jacob, who escaped to Canaan. Later, God commanded Jacob to return home, despite the risk of being murdered by his brother. When Jacob discovered Esau was marching out to meet him with 400 men, he sent ahead a gift of “two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams.” (Genesis 32:14 NIV) Despite the upheaval and antagonism Jacob’s earlier actions had caused, the twin brothers met peaceably and Jacob safely arrived home.
Another example of antagonism can be found in the first book of Samuel. King Saul hated David and said he would only give him the hand of his daughter Michal in marriage to David if he completed the supposedly impossible task of bringing back the foreskins of 100 slain Philistines. Not only did David achieve this, he doubled the amount:
There are plenty more example of the number 200 in the Bible. Some relate to the aforementioned symbolism and others do not. In some cases, the number may have been used to represent “umpteen”. Here are the rest of the examples I have found. I will leave it to you to decide whether they are meaningful.
Did you know, the number one hundred and twenty (120) was formerly known as “one hundred” in Germanic languages? Six score (twenty times six) was considered to be the “long hundred” or “great hundred”, whereas, 100 (five score) was the “short hundred”. Rather confusing if you ask me!
In science, 120 is the atomic number of Unbinilium, of which many people, including myself, have not heard. This is because it is a hypothetical element, an element yet to be discovered. Scientists apparently know of its existence but have not yet “found” it.
In basketball, the hoop is required to be 120 inches off the ground; that is ten foot. In China, dialling 120 gets you through to emergency services. In Israel, the government or Knesset has 120 seats.
The number 120 appears at least twelve times in the Bible. Some theologians say it is a symbol of a divine waiting time. This idea is taken from Genesis 6 where God talks about the wickedness in the world. Genesis 6:3 (NET) states, “So the Lord said, ‘My spirit will not remain in humankind indefinitely, since they are mortal. They will remain for 120 more years.’” God had seen how sinful his world was becoming and gave his people 120 years to repent until he destroyed the world with a flood.
Moses, a man who did a lot of divine waiting during his lifetime, died at the age of 120. This is recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. Chapter thirty-one explains how Moses appointed Joshua as his successor. He began by saying “Today I am a hundred and twenty years old. I am no longer able to get about, and the Lord has said to me, ‘You will not cross the Jordan.’” (Deuteronomy 31:2 NET)
The following chapters record Moses preparing for his death. He makes sure the Israelites have what they need in order to continue without him. His death is eventually documented in Deuteronomy 34:7 (NET): “Moses was 120 years old when he died, but his eye was not dull nor had his vitality departed.” He died and was buried in Moab after viewing the Promised Land from the top of Mount Nebo. To this day, no one knows where he was buried.
The number 120 frequently crops up as an amount of money or weight. The prices of items mean little to us today unless we have a good understanding of ancient money and how it compares to today’s prices. Nonetheless, the writers of the Bible felt it important to record these:
There are also accounts of groups of people that total 120:
It is thought that Jesus had a total of 120 disciples, including the apostles. Acts 1:15 (NIV) states, “In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty).” These people were gathered for the election of a new apostle to take Judas’ place. From the crowd, two people were nominated: Joseph (also known as Justus) and Matthias. After praying and casting lots, Matthias was elected to be the twelfth disciple.
Mary of Jesus of Ágreda (1602-1665) claimed she saw in a vision that 120 disciples were present during the Ascension of Jesus. Presumably, these are the same people quoted in the Acts of the Apostles.
In the Jewish Talmud, it is stated that Noah had 120 years to build the ark – another example of divine waiting.
My final fact for you is the word “king” is apparently written 120 times in the New Testament.
We’ve made it to one hundred! Also known as five score in medieval contexts, there is so much I could tell you about this first three-digit whole number. There are almost one hundred references to the number in the Bible and I have tried to condense all the important examples in this article.
In science, one hundred is the atomic number of fermium. Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius or centigrade. The Karman line, which separates the Earth’s atmosphere from the rest of space, lies at one hundred kilometres above sea level.
In the United States of America, there are one hundred senators in congress at one time. The $100 bill is known as the “Benjamin” because it features a portrait of founding father Benjamin Franklin. A €100 banknote features the image of a Rococo gateway on one side and a Baroque bridge on the reverse.
A devout Jew is expected to say at least one hundred blessings per day. In Islam, the Koran states that men and women who commit adultery will receive one hundred lashes of a whip. In Greek mythology, the giant Argus had one hundred eyes. He could sleep with fifty eyes open, allowing him to keep an eye on whatever he was charged to guard.
The fourteen epistles written by Paul have in total one hundred chapters. The apocryphal book of Barnabas claims Adam and Eve cried for one hundred days in repentance of their sins.
There are one hundred years in a century and when someone reaches their 100th birthday they become a centenarian. In the Bible, there are records of events that occurred to two people who were one hundred years old – Shem and Abraham:
As you can see, the above examples are from the book of Genesis. There are two more mentions of the number one hundred in this book:
Initially, I was not expecting to find so many mentions of the number one hundred in the Bible, however, when I turned to Exodus and started noting them down, I soon gave up! From chapter 25, the book of Exodus records God’s precise instruction for the construction of the Tabernacle. The courtyard of the Tabernacle (Exodus 27) was to be 100 cubits long on the north and south sides. This information is repeated in Exodus 38 when the Israelites start the building work.
Exodus 38:25-27 records the cost of the building materials used to construct the Tabernacle. The silver obtained from the people in the community weighed 100 talents. “The 100 talents of silver were used to cast the bases for the sanctuary and for the curtain--100 bases from the 100 talents, one talent for each base.” (38:25 NIV)
Later on in the Old Testament in the book of Ezekiel chapters 40-42, we are told the of Ezekiel’s vision for the restoration of the Temple. This includes a number of measurements. The outer court was 100 cubits on the east and north side. The distance between the north gate of the outer court and the north gate of the inner court was 100 cubits. The same measurements were given for the south gates. The measurement of the court was 100x100 cubits. The temple was 100 cubits long as was its court. The building at the rear of the temple was also 100 cubits in length. The rooms for the priests were in a building that was 100 cubits long. The inner passage was the same length.
Other verses from the Old Testament that mention measurements or weight include:
There are quite a few times the number one hundred is used in relation to a group of people:
Other examples of one hundred in the Old Testament include:
In the New Testament, Jesus occasionally refers to one hundred items in his parables. In the parable of the sower, which is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, he says “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:8; Mark 4:8; Luke 8:8) This seed refers to someone who hears the word of God and understands it.
In Matthew 18 and Luke 15, Jesus tells the parable of the wandering sheep.
Later in the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells Peter the parable of the unmerciful servant. The servant’s master had forgiven him of all his debts but the servant would not do likewise to those who owed him money. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.” (Matthew 18:28 NIV)
In Matthew 19 and Mark 10, Jesus is asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” During his explanation, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:29-31 NIV)
The remaining two examples of the number one hundred in the New Testament come from the book of Romans and Revelation:
With so many examples in the Bible, theologians have been quick to assume the number one hundred holds a special meaning. Once again, it could be a rough estimate, particularly in relation to a number of people and, therefore, represent a large amount. The precise measurements recorded in Exodus and Ezekiel suggest otherwise.
Some writers have proposed one hundred represents wholeness, whereas other Christian literature uses the number as a symbol of celestial beatitude. Saint Augustine, on the other hand, associates the number with martyrdom.
The meaning may derive from the nineteenth letter of the Semitic alphabet. Qoph or qop has a numerical value of 100. In an ancient Jewish interpretation of the book of Genesis, Sarah is described as “Qof years of age.” There are various other meanings of this letter, which include “sun”, “revolution”, “circle” and “horizon.” It can also mean “time” as in the complete orbit of the Earth around the sun. In some ways, this links with other ideas about the number one hundred representing wholeness or completeness.
In other words, the number one hundred was a nice “round number” for the writers of the Bible to use. The measurements of the Temple and Tabernacle may be correct but the reason for building things 100 cubits long may have been due to simplicity and ease rather than divine meaning. Quite often, when the length of something was 100 cubits, the width was exactly half.
When I first started writing about numbers in the Bible, people asked how high I would go. I did not expect to go up to one hundred but here we are. I am not going to continue to write about each successive number, however, there are a few more I would like to look at. My next number will be 120.
Ninety: the number of minutes in a football match; the number of degrees in a right angle. Unlike other multiples of ten, the number ninety appears very little in the Bible. In fact, I have only found three examples.
Twice, the number is written in Genesis:
The third example of the number ninety I found is in Ezekiel’s description of the New Temple he was shown in a vision.
Ninety-one is the sum of the numbers one to thirteen. Some people claim this means the number is linked to the Son of God, i.e. thirteen people at the Last Supper. The actual number, however, does not appear in the Bible.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the longest place name in the world consists of ninety-two characters: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. This is the name of a hill in New Zealand. Before you panic, I can give you the pronunciation: Toe-mah-tah-fah-kah-tah-ngi-hah-nga-kaw-oh-oh-aw-ta-ma-te-a-too-ri-poo-ka-ka-pee-kee-mow-nga-haw-raw-noo-koo-paw-kai-feh-noo-ah-kee-tah-nah-tah-hoo. If that is still too much of a tongue twister you will be pleased to know they often shorten the name to Taumata.
Ninety-two does not appear in the Bible. Nor does the number ninety-three. According to the visions of Augustinian Canoness Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), the apostle Thomas was ninety-three when he died.
The number ninety-four does not appear in the Bible either. Once again, we can turn to the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich for a fun “fact” about the number. Apparently, the apostle John died in 101 AD at the age of ninety-four. She claimed the remains of John’s physical body are not on Earth because it had been transported to somewhere else, a place between the Orient and the North, “a resplendent place like a sun.”
The number ninety-five is written twice in the Bible. The first is found in a list of descendants of the people of Israel who returned to Jerusalem from exile:
The number ninety-six also appears twice in the Bible.
Alas, the number ninety-seven, the twenty-fifth prime, gets no mention. Some theological historians claim that the apostle James the less was ninety-seven when he died. Did you know, there are ninety-seven pyramids in Egypt?
The number ninety-eight appears three times. Eli, a leader of Israel, was ninety-eight when he died:
The second and third mention of the number ninety-eight occurs in the same list of exiles as mentioned above. Ezra 2:16 (NIV) records “of Ater (through Hezekiah) 98.” Nehemiah 7:21 records the same.
Finally, we reach ninety-nine, of which there are six mentions in the Bible. It is the atomic number of Einsteinium, named after the famous scientist. It is also the name of a particularly tasty ice cream.
In the Old Testament, ninety-nine is mentioned twice in relation to Abraham’s age.
In the New Testament, the number is mentioned in the Parable of the Wandering Sheep. This parable is written in two gospels. Matthew:
That ends the nineties. Once again, these number have no particular meaning in the Bible, however, I hope you have found it as interesting as I have in discovering these little snippets of information.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon