Of the eighties, only eighty-three, eighty-four, eighty-five and eighty-six appear in the Bible. Just because some numbers are not mentioned, does not mean there is nothing to connect them with the word of God. For example, the first sixteen verses in Matthew record eighty-one names in the genealogy of Jesus. In Jewish Annals, eighty-one great priests are recorded, beginning with Aaron and ending with Phannias. In Buddhism, it is believed Buddha was eighty-one when he died. The Greek philosopher Plato also died at the age of eighty-one.
Eighty-two is the atomic number of lead, a metal with which we are all familiar. The book of Genesis uses eighty-two different numbers that are greater than one thousand.
Eighty-three is the twenty-third prime number. In Judaism, when a man reaches the age of eighty-three, they may celebrate a second bar mitzvah. The Torah suggests that the lifespan of a man is seventy years; therefore, an eighty-three-year-old has lived thirteen years of a second lifespan.
In the Bible, Aaron is eighty-three at the time the plagues began in Egypt.
Did you know, it takes eighty-four years for Uranus to orbit the sun? That is the same length of time the prophetess Anna waited to meet the child Jesus, for she was eighty-four years old when he was presented at the temple:
The number eighty-five appears twice in the Bible. The first can be found in the book of Joshua. Caleb tells Joshua that he was forty-years-old when Moses sent him out to explore the land. Since then, he has lived forty-five years:
In 1 Samuel, Saul ordered Doeg the Edomite to kill the priests of Nob:
Eighty-six is the atomic number of radon. There are eighty-six elements on the modern periodic table. There is only one mention of the number in the Bible:
The number of stars in the Great Bear constellation total eighty-seven, however, eighty of them are invisible to the naked eye. Eighty-seven is not written in the Bible but those interested in Hebrew Gematria will tell you that the word Eden has the numerical number of eighty-seven.
The planet Mercury takes a mere eighty-eight days to travel around the sun. Whilst the number does not appear in the Bible, the number seven appears eighty-eight times!
According to the apocryphal book of Levi, which is part of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Levi records that he spent eighty-nine years in Egypt.
When combined together, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John total eighty-nine chapters.
Since these numbers are barely touched on in the Bible, it is safe to say they hold no particular meaning. Nonetheless, I have found it fascinating to discover little known facts in my research.
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.
Of the numbers seventy-one to seventy-nine, only seventy-two, seventy-four, seventy-five and seventy-seven are written in the Bible. I have researched all the seventies, however, just in case something interesting cropped up.
Seventy-one is the twentieth prime number and the atomic number of lutetium. There are seventy-one laps of the Austrian, Mexican and Brazilian Grand Prix. It is the age that the Greek philosopher Socrates died.
Seventy-two is the atomic number of Hafnium. Seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit is considered to be the average room temperature. The Second World War lasted seventy-two months (roughly). The heart beats an average of seventy-two beats per minute. The human body is seventy-two per cent water.
According to the Kabbalah (Jewish school of thought), there are seventy-two names for God. The anonymously written grimoire Lesser Key of Solomon claims that King Solomon sealed away seventy-two demons. Some literature suggests that seventy-two languages were spoken at the Tower of Babel.
The only example of the number seventy-two I found written in the Old Testament was in the book of Numbers. It records that of the plunder taken from the Midianites, seventy-two cattle were to be sacrificed to God.
Seventy-two is written twice in the New Testament in Luke 10, which the New International Version titles Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two. There is a slight confusion here because other manuscripts claim Jesus appointed seventy people. Verse one of the NIV version, however, states: “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.”
The seventy-two went out and told everyone they could about Jesus. Luke 10:17 records that they “returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’”
The number seventy-three is not written in the Bible. What I can tell you is that it is the twenty-first prime number and the atomic number of tantalum. This is a metal you may find in your mobile phone or DVD player. In international curling competitions, each team is given seventy-three minutes to complete all their throws.
Some Catholic Bibles, for example, the Jerusalem Bible, contain seventy-three books. The extra books are Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) and Baruch.
Tungsten, one of the strongest metals in the world, has the atomic number seventy-four. A hurricane occurs when there is a sustained wind of at least seventy-four miles per hour.
The number appears twice in the Bible. The first is in Ezra 2:40 (NIV): “The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel (of the line of Hodaviah) 74.” The second is in Nehemiah 7:43, which records the exact same thing.
Seventy-four people ate in the presence of God on Mount Sinai without dying. This is recorded in Exodus 24:9-11 (NKJV): “Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the veryheavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.” The seventy elders plus Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, total seventy-four.
A diamond-wedding anniversary celebrates seventy-five years of marriage. The atomic number of rhenium, one of the most expensive metals in the world, is seventy-five.
The number seventy-five appears twice in the Bible, once in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament. It is first written in Genesis 12:4 (NIV): “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.”
The second time the number seventy-five is mentioned is in the Acts of the Apostles 7:14 (NIV): “After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all.”
Some editions of the Bible, for instance, the New English Translation (NET) have rewritten measurements in contemporary systems. A talent, which is mentioned numerous times in the NIV Bible, is about seventy-five pounds in weight.
I have little to tell you about the number seventy-six other than it is the atomic number of osmium. In colloquial American jargon, seventy-six refers to the year 1776, the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Seventy-seven is the atomic number of iridium. Halley’s comet reappears approximately every seventy-seven years. In English gematria, Christ equals seventy-seven: C = 3, H = 8, R = 18, I = 0, S = 19, T = 20.
The New International Version of the Bible uses the number seventy-seven four times. The first occurs in Genesis 4:24 (NIV): If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” This is part of Lamech’s speech to his wives after he killed a man.
The next two uses of the number seventy-seven are as follows:
The final occurrence of the number seventy-seven is in the Gospel of Matthew. Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brothers and sisters who sin against him. He enquires whether seven times would be enough. Jesus, on the other hand, answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22 NIV) Jesus then goes on to tell the parable of the unmerciful servant.
Neither seventy-eight nor seventy-nine appears in the Bible. I also have little of importance about either number generally. You may be interested to know, however, that seventy-eight is the atomic number of platinum and seventy-nine the atomic number of gold (“Finally, elements we have heard of!” I hear you all say).
Needless to say, the lack of the numbers above in the Bible suggests that there is no real meaning or importance for their use. Seventy-seven, in the examples from Genesis and Matthew, can be linked to the perfection of the number seven. Some manuscripts claim Jesus said “seventy times seven” rather then seventy-seven. Whichever version is read, we can infer that Jesus meant we should continuously forgive rather than pardon someone a specific number of times.
Luke 12:13-21 (NIV)
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Alongside this text, one should read Paul's letter to the Colossians 3:1-17.
At the heart of this reading, is this truth: a person's life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:34 reminds us that "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Take a moment for this sentence to be absorbed. Your life is not a collection of possessions.
What makes the farmer a fool? There is nothing in the text to make you believe he has earned his money illegally or through exploitation. The fact that he is a wealthy man is not bad in itself, so why call this farmer a fool? If you look at the text, you will see that I have highlighted all the "I"s that are quoted. He is a fool because he has put himself first. There is no sense of gratitude and there is no thought of sharing. His thinking is, that if he built bigger barns, his future is secure and he can eat drink and be merry. The foolishness is in thinking that possessions come before God.
We have to ensure we know who is truly God in our lives. Do we bow to the god of money, to the god of time, to the god of family, to the god of holidays? Or, do we bow to the true God from which grace and salvation come?
So, we must check our priorities. Is a million pounds enough or will we always be asking for more money? Are three holidays a year enough or should we be looking for four or five? We must consider what "enough" looks like.
Colossians 3 helps us answer what we should be collecting. We should be getting rid of anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language, and building resources of compassion and kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
The other issue the text indicates is when we have so much money or possessions, we move away from God. This is because we fail to understand our need of God, there again, making us fools.
In Genesis, you will be reminded of Joseph building bigger barns to hold seven years of bumper crops. This, of course, was not for Joseph's gain but to help Egypt through the seven leaner years that followed.
I do not believe that the text in Luke is anti-wealth but it is questioning what you do with your wealth.
I read that there are 194 nations in the world. The top ten nations possess 80% of the world's wealth. Therefore, 184 nations only possess 20% of the world's wealth. The question of knowing what is enough and of sharing our possessions and of putting God first, who has entrusted with us the wealth of the world, seems ever more important in today's world. The text questions our lifestyle choices. Do we, as Christians, make different decisions in comparison with the rest of society?
Today's sermon is short but vital. We must make sure we are not rich fools. We can eat, drink and be merry. We can have wealth. God does not want us to miserable Christians. God wants us to look after all of His children, all 7 billion-plus, so if we are lucky, and have more than enough, remember a sense of gratitude and that sharing is part of God's kingdom. At the end of the day, "We can’t take our riches with us." (Ecclesiastes 5:15 NLT)
“Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” - Psalm 90:10 (NIV)
In some Asian cultures, the age of seventy is called the Rare Age of the Olden Times. It is represented by platinum in wedding anniversaries. Copyrights generally expire after seventy years.
Seventy is the atomic number of ytterbium. In archery, the archers stand seventy metres from the targets. Both the Canadian and Hungarian Grand Prix contain seventy laps. Seventy miles per hour is the national speed limit, although I am sure some drivers appear to be unaware of this! The Earth’s oceans and seas cover approximately seventy per cent of the planet.
In the Bible, the number seventy appears at least sixty times and is considered to be a sacred number. It is made up of the sum of two perfect numbers: seven, which represents perfection, and ten, representing God’s law. As a result, some theologians say the number represents the universe.
The first time the number seventy appears in scripture is in chapter five of the book of Genesis. Here, in verse twelve, we are told that Kenan was seventy years old when he became the father of Mahalelel. Later, in chapter eleven, it is revealed that Terah was seventy when he fathered Nahor, Haran and Abram, subsequently renamed Abraham.
Some sources say that the Ancient Egyptians took seventy days to embalm a body. In the Bible, however, we are told the time required for embalming was forty days. This is written in Genesis 50:1-3 following the death of Jacob (Israel). It is reported that the Egyptians mourned him for seventy days.
Several times in the Bible, it is recorded that there were a total of seventy descendants of Jacob in Egypt:
Another important mention of the number seventy is in relation to the amount of time the Israelites were held in captivity by the Babylonians. The people of Judah were also in captivity for seventy years. In the book of Daniel, Jerusalem was given seventy weeks to put an end to their sins. Records of these are found several times in the Bible. Here are a few:
There are many other mentions of the number seventy but I could spend all day telling you about each one. I have selected a few more verses in addition to those already mentioned to give you a flavour of the significance the number held. Only once is the number seventy mentioned in the New Testament.
Saint Augustine of Hippo (345 AD – 430 AD), a Roman African philosopher, associated the number seventy with the totality of an evolution, i.e. a life cycle being completed. This was mostly in relation to the cosmos, however, other thinkers have connected this theory with the years the Israelites spent in Babylonian captivity followed by the seventy years that Jerusalem thrived.
The fact that the number seventy appears so frequently in the Old Testament suggests that there ought to be a particular reason for its use. Sceptics, however, point out that it could be a rough number to indicate that there were a lot of years, people etc. involved.
What do you think? Does the number seventy hold special meaning in the Bible? I welcome your thoughts.
Once again, I am going to combine several numbers together. Despite the number sixty being prevalent in the Bible, the rest of the sixties appear very little, however, they are still worth studying.
Sixty-one is the eighteenth prime number and is the atomic number of promethium – a very rare element. It is the number of points required to win a standard game of Cribbage.
The only mention of the number sixty-one in the Bible appears in an inventory of the spoils of war mentioned in the book of Numbers: 30,500 donkeys, of which the tribute for the Lord was 61. (31:39; NIV)
Interestingly, 2 Peter, which is the sixty-first book of the Bible, also has sixty-one chapters.
The number sixty-two, the atomic number of Samarium, is found at least four times in the Bible. The first occurrence is in 1 Chronicles 26:8, which states that Obed-Edom had sixty-two descendants:“All these were descendants of Obed-Edom; they and their sons and their relatives were capable men with the strength to do the work—descendants of Obed-Edom, 62 in all.” (NIV)
In the book of Daniel, the number sixty-two is mentioned on three separate occasions:
The number sixty-three does not appear in scripture, however, you may be interested to know it is the atomic number of europium, which was discovered in 1892. In pre-decimal currency, there were sixty-three groats in a guinea.
The number sixty-four does not appear in the Bible either. It is the atomic number of gadolinium. There are sixty-four squares on a chessboard. It is the subject of a song by The Beatles: When I’m Sixty-Four. There are sixty-four generations from Adam to Jesus according to the Gospel of Luke.
Sixty-five, the atomic number of terbium, is represented in years with a sapphire jubilee.
According to Christian historians, the emperor Domitian arrested the apostle John sixty-five years after Jesus’ crucifixion. John was thrown into a vat of boiling oil but came out unscathed.
The number sixty-five appears three times in the Bible. Mahalalel was sixty-five years old when he became the father of Jared (Genesis 5:15). Enoch was also sixty-five when he fathered Methuselah (Genesis 5:21).
The third mention of the number sixty-five is in Isaiah 7:8 (NIV): “Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people.”
Now we reach sixty-six: the number of books in the Bible. It is also the atomic number of dysprosium and the number of laps in the Spanish Grand Prix. There are sixty-six chapters in the book of Isaiah.
In the Bible, the number sixty-six is mentioned twice. The first occurrence is in Genesis 46:26, which says that sixty-six members of Jacob’s family (not including his son’s wives), went with him to Egypt.
Leviticus 12:5 gives instructions about the purification process after a woman has given birth: “If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.” (NIV)
Sixty-seven is the nineteenth prime number and atomic number of holmium. It appears once in the Bible at the end of a list of exiles that returned to Jerusalem and Judah after spending time as captives under King Nebuchadnezzar:
Sixty-eight, the atomic number of erbium, also only appears once in the Bible.
Lastly, we reach number sixty-nine, the atomic number of thulium, which does not appear in the Bible. The only thing worth mentioning here is according to the visions of Mary of Jesus of Ágreda (1602-65), Saint Joachim, the father of Mary and Jesus’ grandfather, was sixty-nine years old when he died.
So, that ends the sixties. There are no apparent meanings associated with them, although, some suggest the number sixty-four being the sum of eight times eight is a perfect number.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon