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.
“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.
Sixty years: a diamond anniversary. Unlike the previous nine numbers, the number sixty appears multiple times in the Bible. It also appears numerous times in everyday life: sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour. It is the atomic number of neodymium, which can be found in some magnets, loudspeakers and electric cars.
There are sixty marbles used in a game of Chinese chequers. In darts, sixty is the highest score that can be scored with a single dart.
In old literature, sixty was sometimes called “three score” because it was three times twenty (a score). The Babylonians had a number system with a base of sixty, which is known as sexagesimal. In some cultures, sixty is considered to be the age in which someone becomes a senior citizen. In Buddhism, Buddha had sixty disciples.
The number sixty appears approximately thirty-two times in the Bible. Occasionally, a particular instance is repeated in different books. Take, for example, Deuteronomy 3:4, which says:
Here’s another example:
The measurements of Solomon’s temple are mentioned in both 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles:
In the book of Ezra, temple measurements are also given:
Other measurements of sixty cubits include:
A handful of people have been quoted as being sixty years old at the times of certain events:
Let’s take a look at some more examples of the number sixty in the Old Testament:
I have mentioned a couple of New Testament verses above already but I have a few more to share with you. Both Matthew and Mark write about the parable of the sower, therefore, the same information is repeated, including two mentions of the number sixty.
So, does the number sixty mean anything in scripture? The French psychoanalyst René Allendy believed it represented the global karma of the world. The German philosopher Jakob Böhme called this number “the earth”. There is, however, no obvious answer based on the examples above.
I leave you with the knowledge that the word “Sabbath” is used sixty times in the New Testament.
I have nothing to tell you about the number fifty-one other than it is the atomic number of antimony. It does not appear in the Bible. The number fifty-two, however, does.
The number fifty-two is the atomic number of tellurium. There are fifty-two weeks in a year and fifty-two white keys on a piano. There are also fifty-two cards in a pack of playing cards and the British Grand Prix consists of fifty-two laps. The Ancient Mayans divided their calendars into periods of fifty-two years.
The number fifty-two appears in the Bible six times. Twice, it is mentioned that Uzziah became king when he was sixteen and reigned in Jerusalem for fifty-two years (2 Kings 15:2 and 2 Chronicles 26:3). In 2 Kings 15:27 it is recorded that “In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah son of Remaliah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twenty years.” (NIV)
In Ezra 2:29 and Nehemiah 7:33, a census of the people of Israel logs that there were fifty-two descendants of a man named Nebo.
Finally, Nehemiah writes that the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. (Nehemiah 6:15)
The number fifty-three does not appear in the Bible, although you may be interested to know that the First World War lasted fifty-three months. It is the sixteenth prime number and the atomic number of iodine. The fictional Volkswagen Beetle Herbiehas the number fifty-three painted on its side and bonnet. In Catholicism, there are fifty-three beads on a standard rosary.
Apparently, the phrase “I am” appears fifty-three times in the Gospel of John. On three occasions, John the Baptist utters this phrase and Jesus speaks the remaining fifty.
The number fifty-four does not appear in the Bible either. In case you are wondering, it is the atomic number of xenon. There are fifty-four coloured squares on a Rubik’s cube. In golf, a score of fifty-four is referred to as a perfect round. There are fifty-four countries in Africa. In Judaism, the Torah is divided into fifty-four weekly sessions, which are known as Paracha or Sidra. These are read in the synagogue during the morning of the Sabbath.
Now, you’ll be pleased to know there are two instances of the number fifty-five in the Bible, although they both record the same thing. Fifty-five is the atomic number of caesium and is represented by the emerald in wedding anniversaries.
The first instance of the number fifty-five in the Bible is in 2 Kings 21:1 (NIV): “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah.” This is repeated word for word in 2 Chronicles 33:1.
Fifty-six, the atomic number of barium, only appears once in the Bible. It records the number of decedents of a man named Netophah in the census mentioned in Ezra 2:22.
Fun fact: Shirley Temple wore fifty-six curls in her hair as a child. Her mother set her curls every day and ensured there was the exact number. Another point of interest is that Aristotle believed there were fifty-six layers of the universe.
Fifty-seven, fifty-eight and fifty-nine do not appear in the Bible. Just for fun, here are some general facts about these numbers.
The number fifty: the traditional number in a jubilee period. It is the atomic number of tin. There are fifty states in the United States of America, Hawaii being the fiftieth to join. In years of marriage, fifty is the golden anniversary. When written as 50%, it is equivalent to one half. The moon is fifty times smaller than the Earth.
In Kabbalah, a discipline taught in Judaism, there are fifty Gates of Wisdom and fifty Gates of Impurity. In classical mythology, Hercules is believed to have had fifty sons.
Some say that the number fifty in the Bible represents joy and the feast, by which they mean Pentecost, a feast that occurs fifty days after Passover. The word Pentecost comes from the Greek for fiftieth and has come to replace the original name of the festival “Feast of Weeks” or “Shavuot”. Whilst originally a Jewish feast, the day has become important to the Christian faith. As recorded in Acts 2:1-31, the disciples and other followers of Christ were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks when a mighty rushing wind started blowing and tongues of fire appeared. The disciples “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4 ESV) It is this event that we celebrate every year in the Christian calendar.
It is thought there are around seventy-seven mentions of the number fifty in the Bible. It is never actually mentioned in the Pentecost reading from Acts, so I have looked at a few of the other examples to determine whether the number holds any importance elsewhere.
The Feasts of Weeks is first mentioned in Leviticus 23:16: Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. (NIV)
Noah’s ark was fifty cubits wide as commanded by God. “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)
In Leviticus 25, the term “Jubilee” is explained. “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.” (Leviticus 25:10-12 NIV)
Other examples include:
Genesis, the first book of the Bible is fifty chapters long, making it the fourth longest book.
The visions of Mary of Jesus of Ágreda (1602-1665) claim that it took the Holy Family fifty days to flee to Egypt after the angel warned Joseph about King Herod and the Massacre of the Innocents.
In the writings of the Roman Catholic Franciscan tertiary Maria Valtorta (1897-1961), she claims fifty guards were stationed around the summit of Golgotha after Jesus’ crucifixion.
As with the number forty, fifty may have been used as way of saying “a lot” or “umpteen”, however, as you can see from the above examples, the number fifty is most often used in relation to measurements or amounts. This suggests the number may have had a stronger significance, which may or may not be linked to Pentecost. Some theologians say the number fifty is connected to the life of man but there are also other interpretations.
René Allendy (1888-1942) said that fifty symbolises the universe, also stating, “it is a favourable number marking a grace, a kindness, a regeneration.” On the other hand, Karl von Eckartshausen (1752-1803), a devout Catholic, claimed the number fifty represented “the spiritual ascension to the intuition, the number of the illumination.”
Whatever the interpretation, there is no doubt that the number fifty has most strongly become associated with Pentecost. So, to finish, I leave you with a fun fact: the word “soldier” appears in the Bible fifty times.
Do you know what is special about the number forty-three? It is the first number that does not appear in the Bible! Do you know what else does not appear in the Bible? The number forty-four! So, let’s move on to number forty-five.
Forty-five is the atomic number of rhodium. There are forty-five minutes in each half of a football match (discounting any extra added time). In terms of marriage, forty-five years is marked by a sapphire wedding anniversary.
If we add up the numbers one to nine (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9) we get the answer forty-five. This is thought to be the age when Saint Francis of Assisi died. The ancient measurement cubit is believed to be approximately forty-five centimetres.
In the Bible, the number forty-five appears three times:
There is no established significance of the number forty-five, although, psychoanalyst René Allendy (1889-1942) suggests the meaning could be derived from nine (the father, son and Holy Spirit) and five (divine grace), which when multiplied together make forty-five.
Since there is nothing else to say, let’s move on to the number forty-six, the atomic number of palladium. It is also the number of chromosomes in the human body. Oklahoma was the forty-sixth state to join the United States of America.
The number forty-six only appears once in scripture: They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” (John 2:20, NIV) This verse comes from the account of Jesus clearing the Temple courts of moneychangers and animals. When questioned about his authority, Jesus says he could destroy the temple and raise it back up in three days. The sceptical Jews responded by pointing out that it had taken forty-six years to construct the building. Jesus, of course, was metaphorically talking about his body, death and resurrection.
In my article about the number forty, I stated that there are forty days in the season of Lent. This is not strictly true. If you added up the days from Ash Wednesday until Easter day, you will see there are in fact forty-six days. So, why do we say there are only forty? According to the ancient church, the six Sundays during Lent were not days of penance. Good news for all of you who give something up for Lent, you could have a reprieve on Sundays!
According to the visions of Mary of Jesus of Ágreda (1602-1665), Saint Joachim, the father of Mary, mother of Jesus, was forty-six when he married Saint Ann. Sicard of Cremona (1155-1215), an Italian prelate, claims Mary was forty-six when her son was crucified.
I am afraid to say, the number forty-seven does not appear in the Bible either, however, forty-eight and forty-nine do appear, albeit briefly.
According to Judaism, forty-eight prophets (discounting the seven prophetesses) were recorded in the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. Also, according to the Mishnah or Oral Torah, there are forty-eight ways to acquire wisdom.
The Counting of the Omer, which is based on passages from Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16, is a Jewish holiday that lasts forty-nine days.
Although there is no direct meaning of the number forty-nine from the Bible, the Christian mystic Jakob Böhme states that as the square of seven, forty-nine symbolises paradise. I will let you decide whether to agree with him or not.
There is little to say about the number forty-one in the Bible. It is only written five times. Rehoboam was forty-one when he began to reign in Jerusalem. Later, King Asa ruled Jerusalem for forty-one years. Plus, Jeroboam reigned in Samaria for forty-one years.
The number forty-two, on the other hand, holds far more importance. It is, as Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. Unfortunately, no one knows what the question is.
Another author to utilise the number forty-two is Lewis Carroll. There were forty-two illustrations in the original publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In the book, Rule 42 is quoted at Alice stating, “All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.”
Forty-two is the atomic number of molybdenum. It is also the angle of a rainbow. There are forty-two laws in a game of cricket.
In Japanese culture, the number forty-two is considered unlucky because it sounds like their word for “dying”. In Egyptian mythology, the dead are asked forty-two questions to determine their fate. In Buddhism, there is a scripture known as the Sutra of 42 Sections. The Guttenberg Bible, the first book to be printed on a printing press, was nicknamed the “42-lined Bible” because there were forty-two lines of text on each page.
Some people believe the number forty-two has a direct connection with the antichrist. His malevolent force is predicted to last forty-two months at the end of time.
Revelation 11:1-2 (NIV) says “I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.”
Forty-two also crops up in Revelation 13:4-5 (NIV): People worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshipped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.
Other uses of the number forty-two in the Bible, however, are not related to the coming of the antichrist.
According to the Gospel of Luke, there are forty-two generations between David and Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew, on the other hand, records forty-two generations between Abraham and Jesus.
My final fun fact: the word “star” is written forty-two times in the Old Testament.
Life begins at forty, so the saying says and there are lots of instances of the number in the Bible. First, let’s look at examples of forty in everyday life. Forty is the atomic number of Zirconium. Negative forty is the unique temperature at which the Fahrenheit scale and Celsius scale overlap. In other words, -40 degrees Fahrenheit is the same temperature as -40 degrees Celsius.
Those who have been married for forty years will be celebrating their Ruby Wedding Anniversary. After celebrating, they may find themselves in need of “forty winks”, i.e. a short nap.
There are forty squares on a standard Monopoly board. There were forty thieves in the story Ali Shar and Zumurrud (Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves) from the stories of Thousand and One Nights. There are forty weeks in an average human pregnancy term. The trademark name WD-40 is an abbreviation of “Water Displacement, 40thformula”.
According to the Arabic proverb, “to understand a people, you must live among them for forty days.” The number forty as written is the only number to be spelt in English with its letters in alphabetical order.
Typically, the number forty is used to represent a large, approximate number. In these cases, it is a synonym for the word “umpteen”. As a result, the number forty appears multiple times in many religions.
In Islam, Muhammad was forty years old when he first received the revelation from the angel Gabriel. Non-believers were banned from entering the Holy Land for forty years. Musa, who we know as Moses, spent forty days on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments. Muhammad prayed and fasted in a cave for forty days. Muhammad had forty followers who helped to spread the religion of Islam.
In Judaism, a mikvah (a ritual bath) consists of 40 se’ah of water, which is equivalent to approximately 760 litres. A man is expected to study Kabbalah until he is forty years old.
In Christianity, one of the most important festivals of the year is the season of Lent, which lasts for forty days. The reason there are forty days in Lent is that the Bible records Jesus fasted for forty days and nights. "After fasting forty days and fortynights, he was hungry." Matthew 4:2 (NIV). As we know, the forty days of Lent led up to Jesus' crucifixion, which is swiftly followed by his Resurrection. Another link appears in Acts 1:3, which records that Jesus visited his Disciples to prove to them he had risen from the dead. This took place over a forty-day period until his ascension.
Due to the forty-day periods either side of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the number forty has come to symbolise the death of the body and spiritual rebirth. Several theologians have attributed the number to the cycle of the world, a repetitious circle of birth and death throughout the universe.
In the Bible, there are nearly one hundred mentions of the word forty. I will not list them all but let’s have a look at the most significant ones.
So, Jesus’ fast in the desert lasted forty days. The flood of Noah lasted forty days. Elijah walked for forty days. Moses resided on Mount Sinai for forty days. The Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years. Several leaders and kings ruled for forty years. Are these coincidences, approximations or a symbol of something much bigger?
There are a number of events that are not directly written about in the Bible, however, have come to be believed by various groups of Christians. Some of these also involve the number forty. Some say that Jesus preached over a period of forty months. Between his death and resurrection, he spent forty hours in the tomb. According to the Roman Catholic writer Maria Valtorta (1897-1961), Jesus received forty lashes during his whipping. This, however, is disputed by the earlier visions of Mary of Jesus of Ágreda (1602-1665) that claimed Jesus received 5115 blows of the whip.
According to an old prophecy, no man or animal would have crossed Egypt for forty years. In the Book of Secrets of Enoch written in 1896 by Robert Charles (1855-1931), the four rivers in the Garden of Eden were subdivided by forty and surrounded the entire planet. According to the Gospel of Barnabas written by a man claiming to have been one of the original disciples, at the end of the world, there is going to be a forty-year period of darkness.
Returning to the Bible, the Book of Exodus, which is the seventh longest book in the Bible, contains forty chapters. The number one is mentioned forty times in the Gospel of John alone. The term “City of David” is used forty times in the Old Testament. Finally, the word “adore” appears forty times in the New Testament.
As you can see, I have combined three numbers into one article. This is not to say they are irrelevant, rather there are only a few examples of each in the Bible. So, I thought we would take a quick look at thirty-seven, thirty-eight and thirty-nine before we move on to forty, which I promise will be much more exciting.
Here are the few mentions of each number in the Bible. I will go into more details below.
Thirty-seven is the twelfth prime number and the atomic number of rubidium. The normal human body temperature is thirty-seven degrees Celsius.
According to the Early Church Fathers, thirty-seven is a symbol of Christ. According to Gematria, the numerical value for the words “I am” is thirty-seven, as is ALEA, which means “Word of God”. Thirty-seven is also the numerical value of the name Abel.
According to Talmudic tradition, Isaac was thirty-seven years old at the time he was taken to Moria to be sacrificed. Usually, in Christian teachings, we assume Isaac is still a child at this point.
In the New Testament, there are four chapters with a total of thirty-seven verses: Mark 7, Mark 13, Luke 17 and Acts 4.
Thirty-eight is the atomic number of strontium. I am afraid that is all I have got to tell you.
Thirty-nine is the sum of five consecutive prime numbers (3+5+7+11+13). It is the atomic number of yttrium. In Afghanistan, it is an unlucky number. The “curse of 39” is the belief that the number is cursed and purportedly linked with prostitution.
In the Bible, the words “mischievousness” and “impurity” are written thirty-nine times.
Finally, have you heard of the Bible of Ostervald? Compiled by Protestant pastor Jean-Frédéric Ostervald, the Old Testament only contains thirty-nine books.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon