Both numbers and colors have significance in interpreting Scripture (Read also: The Meaning of Colors in the Bible). The Word of God is clear in what is written, and it is deep in what is revealed through patterns, types, and symbolism. Hebrew hermeneutics has an interpretation approach that includes something called a “remez.” A remez is a hint of a hidden message or a deeper meaning that is below the surface or behind the words. Numbers and colors are a remez.
Believing everything in Scripture has significance, and knowing that everything was put there by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we should approach the symbolism of biblical numbers and colors with a desire to understand what God is revealing through them. We will address numbers here and colors next week.
Numbers in the Bible
“If God has given all things their significance, and defined their bounds according to time, space, power, and number, and if He has appointed certain measurements to regulate things and times, biblical numbers must be symbolical, and be worthy of our study; and if a fit subject for study, the laws by which this symbolism of numbers is controlled, require to be ascertained.” — Patrick Fairbairn, Scottish minister and theologian, 1805-1874
Symbolism of numbers is defined by identifying patterns throughout the Bible. Since the patterns vary, some numbers are not as clearly defined as others. The symbolism of numbers 1, 3 and 7 are most agreed upon, while variations may occur with others.
Remember, the meaning of numbers in the Bible is not perfect, but the meaning of the written Word is always perfect. This list of biblical numbers and meanings is by no means exhaustive. It is provided to give a basic understanding of patterns that reveal what these numbers represent.
1. Union and Oneness
One is independent of all other numbers and yet is contained in all other numbers. One is only divisible by itself.
1 represents the union of the Godhead as one God.
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD
John 10:30 I and my Father are one.
1 Corinthians 8:4 …there is no other God but one.
Galatians 3:20 … God is one.
1 represents the union of man and woman becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:7-9)
1 represents the union of God and man in salvation (John 17:11, 20-21, 1 Corinthians 6:17, Ephesians 5:30)
2. Companionship, Witness, Division
Although a man and women are brought together as one in marriage, they are still two individual people, purposed by God to be companions to each other in separate and unique ways (Genesis 2:18, 22, Ecclesiastes 4:9, Amos 3:3).
2 of every kind of animal entered the ark
2 tablets contained the Ten Commandments
2 testaments make up the Word of God
2 witnesses were required by law for valid testimony (Deut 17:6, Num14:6-7, 1 Kings 21:10, Mat 18:16, John 8:17, 2 Cor 13:1, Rev 11:3)
2 times Pharaoh was given a dream “because it was established by God” (Gen 41:32)
2 parts in the day
2 great lights to divide the day and night (sun and moon)
2 cherubim at the 2 ends of the mercy seat
2 turtledoves or two young pigeons served as an acceptable sin offering for the poor (witnessed to the lamb)
2 loaves and 2 lambs were the wave offering of Shavuot
2 goats in the Day of Atonement offering
2 pillars at the entrance of God’s Temple built by Solomon
2 doors, 2 leaves for each door on the Temple in Ezekiel 41
2 olive trees that are “the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:14)
2 blind men who testified of Jesus healed (Matthew 9:27, 20:30)
2 disciples were given the testimony of Jesus to give to John in prison (Matthew 11:2-6)
2 disciples sent to get a donkey and a colt (2) and tell “the Lord has need of them.”
2 commandments on which “hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40)
2 masters (Luke 16:13) One true: God; one false: money
2 thieves on crosses=2 testimonies (but only one true testimony)
2 angels testified at the tomb (John 20:12)
2 witnesses who are the 2 olive trees and 2 candlesticks during the Tribulation (Revelation 11:3-4)
3. Triunity of Divine Design
Three is the number of triunity as perfectly seen in the Holy Trinity — one God in three Persons. Triunity existed before the foundations of the world, with the infinite and eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
God set patterns of three in many of the rituals and instructions for His people Israel:
Three things were put in the Ark of the Covenant (jar of manna, Aaron’s staff, tables of stone); Daily prayers were three times a day; Appointed times (feasts) were three times each year; Three laws: moral, ceremonial and civil; Three types of sacrifice: Sin offering, peace offering and praise offering, and many more. Other patterns of triunity in the Bible and in our world include:
3 places men dwell: Heaven, earth and the underworld
3 time frames: Past, present, and future
3 points of measurement: Beginning, middle, and end
3 measurements: Length, width, and height
3 states of water: Solid, liquid, gas
3 abilities of man: thought, word, and deed
3 qualities: good, better and best
3 gifts of grace: faith, hope, and love
3 temptations of Eve: The tree was good for food, pleasant to the eyes; desired to make one wise.
3 temptations of man: the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life
3 great enemies: the World, the flesh, and the devil
3 kinds of matter: mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdom.
3 Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
3-part deliverance of Israel (in relation to land): out of Egypt, through the wilderness, into the Promised Land
3-part instruction: Law, the prophets and the psalms/writings (Luke 24:44)
3 divisions in the tabernacle and the temple: Outer Court, Holy Place, and Most Holy Place
3 veils in the tabernacle: the outer veil to the inner court, the inner veil to the Holy Place, the innermost veil to the Holy of Holies
3 Kings of the united kingdom: Saul, David, and Solomon
3 faithful ones persecuted: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
3 intimate friends of Jesus: Peter, James, and John (witnesses to the Transfiguration)
3 Witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood (1 John 5:8)
3-part completeness in divine judgment: Numbered, weighed and divided
3-part existence of Jesus: Which was, and which is, and which is to come
3-part fullness of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
3-part fullness of man: Spirit = Essences (I am); Soul = Consciousness (I see and I know); Body = Appearance (I am seen) 1 Thess 5:23
3 redemptive acts of God: Loved, cleansed and crowned
3 times God spoke from Heaven (Matthew 3:17, 17:5, John 12:28)
3-fold growth in the good ground–produces some 30 fold growth, some 60, some 100 (Mark 4:8)
3 Shepherd Psalms prophesied of Jesus: The Good Shepherd telling of His death (Psalm 22, John 10:14-15); The Great Shepherd telling of His resurrection (Psalm 23, Hebrews 13:20) and The Chief Shepherd telling of His glory (Psalm 24, 1 Peter 5:4)
3 appearances of Christ in Hebrews 9: He has appeared to put away sin (vs 26) He now appears in the presence of God (vs 24) and He shall appear (vs 28) to those who look for Him (vs 28)
3-part salvation: Justification, sanctification, glorification (2 Corinthians 1:10)
3-part life in Christ: Positional, practical and spiritual
3 stories high and 300 hundred cubits long was the size of Noah’s ark
3 offices of Christ: Prophet, Priest, and King
3 Spiritual Things — Gifts, Ministries, and Effects (1 Corinthians 12:1)
- Read more: What is the triunity of creation?
4. Creative Works of God
Four pertains to God’s earthly, “under the sun,” creative works.
4 corners of the earth (Revelation 7:1)
4 cardinal directions (N, S, E, W)
4 phases of the moon
4 elements (earth, fire, water, air)
4 rivers of Paradise (Genesis 2:10)
4 winds of heaven (Jeremiah 49:36)
4 Things that make up the universe (time, energy, space, and matter).
4 Seasons (summer, autumn, winter, and spring).
4 Divisions of the day (morning, noon, evening, and midnight).
4 Major provisions for man (earth, air, fire, and water).
4 Winds (Matthew 24:31)
4 generals took over Alexander’s kingdom (broken by God)
4 world empires (beasts) of Daniel
4 horns (gentile powers) of Zechariah
4 guardians of the throne of God
4 horsemen will bring calamity on the earth (Revelation 6:1-8)
4 acts of judgment — sword, famine, evil beasts, and pestilence) with which God condemns the idolators of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 14:21).
5. Humanness: Weakness (man’s limitations), Dependance (man’s insufficiency in himself), Death
5 fingers, 5 toes, 5 senses
5 books of law (Genesis – Deuteronomy)
5 kinds of animals were sacrificed under the Levitical law: goats, sheep, cattle, pigeons, and doves.
5 loaves were not enough to feed the great multitude.
5 brothers in Luke 16 who would not believe Moses and the prophets.
5 husbands could not satisfy the woman at the well.
5 wounds were inflicted upon Jesus (two hands, two feet, and His head) while alive on the cross. A sixth wound was inflicted after his death.
5 empires of man represented in King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue (Daniel 2:32- Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, Final Kingdom — 4 are fallen and the last will fall also)
6. The Number of Man, including the Fallen Nature of Man and the Works of Fallen Man and the Evil of man
Six falls short of the number seven, God’s number of completion and perfection and man falls short of the perfection God created him to be. With 5 as the number of humanness and death, six represents man, his fallen nature, and his works. No wonder the number of the beast is represented as an unholy trinity of 666.
6th day God created man (Genesis 1:27)
6 days were given to man to work (Exodus 20:9, 31:15)
6 generations of Cain’s descendants
6 years a servant had to work before he could be set free
6 times Jesus was accused of being demon possessed
6 times Jesus was asked to give a sign to PROVE Himself
6 people proclaimed Jesus innocent but did nothing to stop His crucifixion (Pilate, Herod, Judas, Pilate’s wife, the thief on the cross, a Roman Centurion).
6 New Testament reference to people practicing sorcery (divination)
666 is the number of Satan
7. God’s Number of Completion, Perfection and Rest
7th day of creation signified completion and rest
7 great land masses form the complete earth
7 great bodies of water form a complete ocean
7 colors make a perfect spectrum
7 colors in the rainbow (interesting that the LGBT flag has only 6 colors; Read Why Does the LGBT Use God’s Rainbow For Its Flag?)
7 notes make a perfect scale
7 covenants of God with man: Adamic, Noah, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Levitic, Davidic, Messianic
7 dispensations of God complete human history
7th day was a Sabbath for Israel, a day of rest
7th year was a Sabbatical year, a year of rest.
7 Sabbatical years, followed by the year of Jubilee.
7 days for the Feast of Passover
7 weeks between Passover and Pentecost.
7 days for the Feast of Tabernacles
7 years was the time it took to complete construction of the first Temple
7 pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle
7 days was the time of mourning for the dead
7 times of forgiving was elevated to 70 x 7 by Jesus
7 Greek-speaking Christians were appointed by the 12 apostles (Acts 6:3)
7 titles for Jesus in Hebrews.
7 Spiritual Gifts—Given from God the Father (Romans 12:1-8)
7 divisions in the Bible: Law, Prophets, Writings (Psalms), Gospels & Acts, Paul’s Epistles, General Epistles, and the book of completion…
The Book of Revelation, which offers this great display of sevens:
7 Letters to the 7 Churches
7 Golden Candlesticks
7 Lamps of Fire
7 Spirits of God
7 Seal Judgments
7 Horns and 7 Eyes on the Lamb
7 Trumpet Judgments
7 Thousand Men Slain
7 Heads and 7 Crowns on the Great Red Dragon
7 Heads on the Leopard-like Beast of the Sea
7 Last Plagues
7 Golden Vials
7 Bowl Judgments
7 heads of blasphemy on the Scarlet Colored Beast
* 7 hours: This is of interest, but understand that it is not of biblical authority. There is a claim in Jewish tradition that the first man, Adam, was completed in 7 hours. The Talmud records,
“How was Adam created? In the first hour his dust was collected; in the second his form was created; in the third he became a shapeless mass; in the fourth his members were joined; in the fifth his apertures were opened; in the sixth he received his soul; in the seventh he stood up on his feet . . .”
8. New Beginnings
8 represents new life, regeneration, resurrection, and commencement.
8 people were on the ark for the new beginning after the flood.
8 words of God to bring forth creation (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26)
8 souls passed through God’s judgment by flood waters and began a new world.
8 beatitudes of the sermon on the mountain. (Matthew 5:3-11)
8th day starts the week over again.
8th note on a piano starts the scale over again.
8th day a male child was circumcised according to the law.
8th day the first-born was given to Jehovah (Exodus 22:29,30)
8th day consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests (Leviticus 9:1)
8 covenants God made with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, 12:7, 13:14-17, 15:13-21, 17:1-22, 18:9-15, 21:12, 22:15-18)
8th dispensation of God with man will usher in the eternal state, the New Jerusalem
8 people were resurrected in the Bible, excluding Jesus’ resurrection and the saints who rose at that time. (1 Kings 17:17-22, 17:17-22, 2 Kings 4:30-37, 13:21, John 11:38-44, Luke 7:11-17, Matthew 8:28-43, Acts 20:7-12, Acts 20:7-12, Acts 9:36-42)
8th son of Jesse was the new King of Israel, David
8th day (day after the Sabbath, the 7th day) Jesus rose from the dead, ushering in a new beginning.
9. Finality and Faith
9th year of the prophet Hosea the faith of the Northern Kingdom was judged by God as idolatrous. The kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians and the people carried away into exile (2 Kings 17:6).
9th year of King Zedekiah, God sent judgment upon the Southern Kingdom. Judah was conquered by Babylon and the city of Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed (2 Kings 25:1).
9th hour Jesus declared, “it is finished.” The penalty for sin was paid by His faithfulness.
9 fruits in the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
9 Gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.8-10)
9 Beatitudes (Mat 5.3-11)
10. Completion of Divine Order
10th generation from creation was judged for sin by the Great Flood.
10 Commandments are the perfect instructions in righteousness
10% tithe was an acknowledgment of God’s gifts of abundance
10 plagues on Egypt completed God’s judgment when Pharaoh failed to release God’s people.
10 spies failed to see Gods power and provision, so they brought back an evil report (Num 13:32)
10 witnesses were called in the Book of Ruth (Ruth 4:1-2)
10 men was a quorum for the Sanhedrin to convene.
10 was the number of generations until an illegitimate son could enter the congregation of Israel (Deut 23:2) David was the 10th generation from Pharez, the illegitimate son of Tamar and Judah.
10 was the number of generations until an Ammonite or Moabite could enter the congregation of Israel (Deut. 23:3).
10 tribes failed to walk with God and to do His will. They established a separate kingdom given to idolatry, which God judged and scattered the people.
10 times weaker than God’s people (Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) were Kind Nebuchadnezzar’s magicians and astrologers (Daniel 1:20
10 lepers were unable to cure themselves, they needed Jesus (Luke 17:12)
10 kingdoms in the end times
Other numbers also have meaning, but most with less significance than 1-10. Exceptions would be the numbers 12 and 40, which are clearly traced throughout the Bible and have clear and significant meanings.
12. God’s Perfect Government
12 lunar cycles corresponding to 12 months in the year
12-hour periods in day and night
12 signs of the Mazzaroth was the order of the stars
12 patriarchs, from Seth to Noah and his family
12 patriarchs from Shem to Jacob
12 powerful judges throughout the national history of Israel
12 stones on the breastplate of the high priest
12 spies commissioned by Moses to spy in Canaan
12 was continuously represented in the design and flow of Solomon’s temple
12 sons of Jacob/Israel (Genesis 35:22-27)
12 Tribes of Israel (Genesis 49:28) came from the 12 sons of Jacob
12 years old Jesus was publicly recognized to have spiritual authority
12 apostles chosen by Jesus (Matthew 10:2-4)
12 Kingdom of Heaven Parables
The Book of Revelation reveals a pattern of the number 12:
12 x 2 (2-the number of witness) = 24 elders around the throne of God (Revelation 4:4)
12,000 (sealed) x 12 (# of tribes) = 144,000 sealed witnesses (Revelation 7:4)
The New Jerusalem is seen in its 12 gates, each with 12 foundations,
The circumference of the New Jerusalem is 12,000 furlongs, and its walls are 144 cubits high (Revelation 21:10-21; Ezekiel 48:30-35).
40. Trials, Probation, Testings, and Preparing
40 days and 40 nights it rained upon the earth
40 years Moses was in the Egypt, 40 years in Midian, 40 years Moses served God
40 days Moses was on Mt. Sinai when he was given the Law
40 days Moses was on Mt. Sinai when he returned after breaking the tablets
40 days after his birth a male child was dedicated to God
40 days the spies were in the land of Canaan
40 years Israel wandered in the wilderness
40-year intervals of peace in the age of the Judges
40 years of war between Israel and the Philistines
40 years Saul ruled as King
40 days Goliath presented himself to the armies of Israel
40 years David ruled as King
40 days and 40 nights Elijah went in strength (angel had provided food)
40 years Solomon ruled as King
40 days Jonah was in Nineveh
40 years Josiah ruled Judah
40 days Ezekiel lay on his right side to symbolize the 40 years of Judah’s transgression
40 days was prophecies by Jonah to be the time before judgment would come on Nineveh
40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness
40 days Jesus taught His disciples after the Resurrection
70. Seventy can be understood by understanding it’s the product of 7 x 10. Seven represents completion, perfection, and rest. Ten represents completion of divine order. Therefore, seventy can be understood as the ultimate completion and perfection of God’s divine order.
70 descendants of Noah repopulated the world after the flood (Gen 10)
70 members of Jacob’s family went down to Egypt (Gen 46:27)
70 elders were appointed to help Moses administer Israel in the wilderness (Num 11:16)
70 years of exile in Babylon for the people of Judah (Jer 5:11; 29:10)
70 weeks (70 sevens) were decreed by God as the period in which Messianic redemption would be accomplished (Dan 9:24)
70 men sent forth by Jesus (Luk 10:1)
70 times 7 times was the number of times Jesus said we are to forgive others (Mat 18:22)
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