Bible Interpretation II - Lesson 5
SYMBOLS IN BIBLE INTERPRETATION (Continued)
- NUMBERS (Continued)
- Number Four
- The number four is not as clearly identified as the first four numbers; however, it naturally indicates stability (a chair or table on four legs or a vehicle on four wheels is much more stable than one on three); by extension, it refers to things having to do with the earth (after sailing or flying, it is comforting to get your feet on the solid, and stable, ground of the earth.
- First mention: the river coming out of Eden parted into four heads (Genesis 2:10)
- The four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:12; Revelation 7:1) match with the four points of the compass (Jeremiah 49:36)
- The night has four watches (Matthew 14:25)
- A house has four corners (Job 1:19)
- Four things the earth cannot bear (Proverbs 30:21-23); four things upon the earth are wise (Proverbs 30:24-28)
- Daniel speaks of four great beasts (four kings) that arise out of the earth (Daniel 7:17)
- When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he had lain in the grave (in the earth) for four days (John 11:17)
- The record of Christ’s ministry on earth is found in four gospels
- The soldiers parted the garments of Christ into four parts (John 19:23)
- In order to keep Peter from escaping, he was delivered to “four quaternions” of soldiers  (Acts 12:4).  Each quaternion had four soldiers for a total of sixteen soldiers.
- The ship Paul was in was held by four anchors (Acts 27:29)
- Number Five
- Five is a difficult number.  Its meaning is hotly contested among Bible students.  Five has been traditionally taught to be representative of grace.  However, recent students have shown that it better represents death.  Since there is no natural significance to the number five and the Bible does not clearly indicate its meaning (as the number six), there will always be disagreements.  We will take it to refer to death.
- The first natural death (that of Adam) is recorded in Genesis 5:5
- When Joseph reveals himself to his brethren, he warns them of five more years of famine (Genesis 45:6)
- The brasen altar of the tabernacle where the sacrificed were burnt was five cubits by five cubits (Exodus 27:1)
- The Ten Commandments are written on two tables of stone—that makes them a five-by-five, just like the brasen altar.  The second record of the Ten Commandments is found in the fifth book of the law (Deuteronomy) and in the fifth chapter of that book.  In the New Testament (2 Corinthians 3:7) is called the “ministration of death”.
- Joshua slew five kings that hid themselves in a cave (Joshua 10:16-27)
- David took five stones to face Goliath (1 Samuel 17:40,49-51)
- Several men in the Bible are killed when they are smitten under the fifth rib (2 Samuel 2:23; 2 Samuel 3:27; 2 Samuel 4:6; 2 Samuel 20:10)
- Mephibosheth was five years old when he fell and became lame (2 Samuel 4:4)
- The rich man feared lest his five brethren come to the place of torment (Luke 16:28)
- The pool of Bethesda, where people were dying from all manner of illness, had five porches (John 5:1-3)
- Jesus died with five major wounds on His body (John 20:27)
- Ananias died in Acts 5:5.  Romans five deals with the death of Adam and of Christ
- Paul received forty stripes save one five times (2 Corinthians 11:24).  This beating was supposed to bring a man to the point of death and some did die of it
- In the tribulation, men will be tormented by the sting of supernatural locusts for five months (Revelation 9:1-11).  The pain will be so bad that men will seek death (verse 6)
- Number Six
- Six clearly refers to man; man was created on the sixth day (Genesis 1:26-31)
- In Revelation 13:18, the number of a man is 666—a trinity of sixes
- Man is to work for six days a week (Exodus 20:9)
- A man’s height is about six times the length of his foot; when he is buried, he is said to be planted six feet under
- A Hebrew servant was to serve for six years (Exodus 21:2); however, the emphasis on the number six here (as well as gathering manna for six days, etc.) was that something special was to happen on the seventh year or day.  Six is incomplete in that it comes one short of seven.
- There were six cities of refuge to which men could flee if they had accidentally killed a man (Numbers 35:15).  These were the cities of men.  God Himself provides the seventh and perfect city of refuge.
- When Boaz determined to take Ruth as his bride, he sent her home with six measures of barley (Ruth 3:15-17).  When God determined to win a bride for His Son, He sent his only begotten Son (a seven) to earth to become a man (a six) to take upon Himself all the sins of man’s rebellious heart (6+7=13).  Note that the genealogy of Christ in Matthew One has 42 generations (verse 17) and 6 times 7 is 42.
- Goliath, the tallest man actually measured in the Bible, was six cubits and a span (1 Samuel 17:4)
- Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, had six steps coming up to his throne with six lions on one side of the steps and six lions on the other side of the steps (1 Kings 10:18-20).  Solomon also received 666 talents of gold a year (2 Chronicles 9:13).
- Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image (of himself) was 60 cubits high and 6 cubits wide (Daniel 3:1)
- At the marriage of Canaan, there were six waterpots that ran out of win (John 2:6) and had to be filled with the wine of God.
- Romans is the sixth book in the New Testament.  It has the word man in it.  The sixth word of the sixth verse of the sixth chapter of Romans is man.
- Special Note:  Here is a ranking of the numbers one through twenty and the multiples of ten up through ninety.  They are ranked in order of most common to least common occurrence.  Since you would naturally expect the smaller numbers to be the most common, numbers that rank higher than you would expect indicate special usage in the Bible.  Just remember that many times these numbers are used in combination with other numbers (for example, eight hundred and forty and two) and so these rankings only give a general feeling of their importance in scripture.
|Number||Mentions in Scripture|
NOTE: This still leaves out some important numbers. A combination of the phrases “twenty and two” and “two and twenty” occurs 25 times. A combination of the phrases “twenty and four” and ‘four and twenty” occurs 27 times. This indicates that both of these numbers have some significance.
- Number Seven
- The number seven is the number that indicates perfection of work; it refers to completion in the divine sense; i.e., God’s perfect work.
- Natural sevens are found in the seven colors of the rainbow and the seven notes in the major scale
- God completed the work of creation and rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2-3). In the course of creation, God saw that His work was “good” seven times (Genesis 1:4,10,12,18,21,25,31).
- The seventh day became the Sabbath which was given to Israel as a special sign (Exodus 31:12-17)
- There were seven lamps in the candlestick (Exodus 25:37)
- The word of God is as silver purified seven times (Psalm 12:6-7)
- Israel was given seven great feasts (Leviticus 23) with the final three (Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles) occurring in the seventh month of the year. The seventh feast (Tabernacles) occurs in the seventh month and lasts for seven days (Leviticus 23:34). From the feast of the wave offering, the Jews counted seven sabbaths plus a day to get to the feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-16)
- The practice of the priestly ceremonies is filled with uses of the number seven (Leviticus 4:6,17; Leviticus 8:11,33,35; Leviticus 13:4,5,21,26,31,33,50,54)
- The Israelites were to celebrate the seventh year as a year of release from servitude, from debt and from planting crops (Deuteronomy 15). After seven sevens of years, they were to celebrate a year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-10)
- Joshua conquered Jericho by sending seven priests with seven trumpets around the city one time each for seven days and seven times on the seventh day (Joshua 6).
- Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam (Jude 14); Eber was the fourteenth generation from Adam (Genesis 10:21-25); David was the seventh son of Jesse (1 Chronicles 2:13-15)
- Ruth was better to Naomi than seven sons (Ruth 4:15)
- Job had seven sons and three daughters…twice (Job 1:2; Job 42:13)
- The psalmist praised God seven times a day (Psalm 119:164)
- The book of Revelation is built on the number seven
- Seven churches (Revelation 1:4)
- Seven spirits (Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:5)
- Seven golden candlesticks (Revelation 1:12)
- Seven stars (Revelation 1:16,20)
- Seven lamps (Revelation 4:4)
- Seven seals (Revelation 5:5)
- Seven horns (Revelation 5:6)
- Seven eyes (Revelation 5:6)
- Seven angels (Revelation 8:2)
- Seven trumpets (Revelation 8:2)
- Seven thunders (Revelation 10:4)
- Seven crowns (Revelation 12:3)
- Seven heads (Revelation 13:1)
- Seven last plagues (Revelation 15:1)
- Seven golden vials (Revelation 15:7)
- Seven mountains (Revelation 17:9)
- Seven kings (Revelation 17:10)
- Number Eight
- Number eight is the number of new beginnings
- The week is made of seven days; the eighth day is when the week starts all over again
- Eight people entered the safety of the ark (2 Peter 2:5); they left the ark to start a new world in the eighth chapter of (Genesis 8:15-22)
- Jewish boys were to be circumcised on the eighth day of their lives (Genesis 17:12)
- The Israelites were to let their land lie fallow every seventh year; on the eighth year, they were to sow and reap again (Leviticus 25:22)
- King Josiah began to reign when he was eight years old (2 Chronicles 34:1); in the eighth year of his reign, he began to seek the Lord (2 Chronicles 34:3)
- Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week; but it would also be the eighth day; certainly the day of resurrection was a day of new beginnings
- Number Nine
- The number nine is not as strongly identified as some other numbers but it seems to refer to fruitfulness
- A child carried to full term in the womb is carried for nine months
- In Genesis 9:1, God tells Noah, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
- Abraham was ninety-nine years (Genesis 17:1) when God made him fruitful (Genesis 17:6) and he conceived his son Isaac who Sarah bore a year later (Genesis 21:1-5)
- The Bible speaks of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Number Ten
- The number ten denotes completeness; not in the sense of perfection so much as in the sense of a full cup or a use of all one’s chances.
- We find the phrase, “God said”, ten times in the creation story of Genesis One (Genesis 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24,26,28,29)
- God gave to Israel ten commandments (Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 10:4)
- Jacob complained that Laban had changed his wages ten times (Genesis 31:7,41); now it is time to leave
- God accused Israel of tempting Him ten times in the wilderness (Numbers 14:22)
- Among the Jews, it takes ten men to have a quorum for law or for full religious service (Ruth 4:2)
- Nehemiah, when rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was threatened ten times (Nehemiah 4:12)
- Job accused his friends of reproaching him ten times (Job 19:3)
- Daniel and his friends were proven with pulse for ten days (Daniel 1:12-15) and they were found to be ten times better than the magicians of the realm (Daniel 1:20)
- The church of Smyrna will have tribulation ten days (Revelation 2:10)
- Ten also seems to make special reference to the Gentiles
- Noah was the tenth generation from Adam. God gave the Gentiles ten generations before judging them with the flood. Abram (Abraham) in the twentieth generation from Adam. God gave the Gentiles ten more generations before He started working through the Jews. Moses is the seventh generation from Abraham; David the fourteenth from Abraham
- Genesis ten has the table of nations which tells where the families of the Gentiles come from. It also has the first use of the word Gentile (Genesis 10:5)
- The ten sons of Haman represent the Gentiles who try to destroy the Jews (Esther 9:10)
- The ten horns of Daniel (Daniel 7:24) and Revelation (Revelation 17:12) represent ten future kings of the Gentiles
- In John 10, Jesus speaks of the “other sheep” which are the Gentiles (John 10:16)
- In Acts 10, the door of the gospel is opened up to the Gentiles (Acts 10:45); ten men go in the group that brings the witness to Cornelius (Acts 11:11-12)
- Romans 10 explains salvation to the Gentiles
- Number Eleven
- Eleven is not used a lot but seems to indicate incompleteness
- Jacob’s eleven sons without Joseph (Genesis 42:13,32)
- The eleven apostles without Judas were incomplete until they chose Matthias to take his place (Acts 1:15-26)
- From Mt. Horeb (same as Mt. Sinai) the Israelites journeyed eleven days to Kadesh-Barnea and encamped (Deuteronomy 1:1-2); but their journey was incomplete
The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.