Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance
by E.W. Bullinger
Philologos Religious Online Books
Back | Contents | Next
ITS SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE
This number has been considered in connection with the number eight, to which the reader is referred (see pages 205-232).
ADDITIONAL MISCELLANEOUS ILLUSTRATIONS
Thirteen famines are recorded in the Scriptures:—
- Genesis 12:10
- Genesis 26:1
- Genesis 41:54
- Ruth 1:1
- 2 Samuel 21:1
- 1 Kings 18:1
- 2 Kings 4:38
- 2 Kings 7:4
- 2 Kings 25:3
- Nehemiah 5:3
- Jeremiah 14:1
- Luke 15:14
- Acts 11:28
being a multiple of seven, partakes of its significance; and, being double that number, implies a double measure of spiritual perfection.
The number two with which it is combined (2x7) may, however, bring its own significance into its meaning, as in Matthew 1, where the genealogy of Jesus Christ is divided up and given in sets of 14 (2x7) generations, two being the number associated with incarnation.
The same principle may be applied to other multiples of seven, and Bible students can find their own illustrations.
ADDITIONAL MISCELLANEOUS ILLUSTRATIONS
Fourteen times in the Book of Proverbs the expression occurs "the fear of the Lord":—Proverbs 1:7, 29, 2:5, 8:13, 9:10, 10:27, 14:26, 27, 15:16, 33, 16:6, 19:23, 22:4, 23:17.
being a multiple of five, partakes of the significance of that number, also of the number three with which it is combined, 3 x 5.
Five is, as we have seen, the number of grace, and three is the number of divine perfection. Fifteen, therefore, specially refers to acts wrought by the energy of Divine grace.
Deity is seen in it, for the two Hebrew letters which express it are y, Yod (10), and h, Hey (5). These spell the ineffable Name of hy, Jah, who is the fountain of all grace. The number fifteen is thus made up, by addition, 10 + 5; but as the Jews would not, by the constant use of these two letters, profane the sacred name, two other letters were arbitrarily used for this number, and a different and artificial combination was thus formed—+ (Teth) = 9, and w (Vau) = 6. The number 9 + 6 would thus represent the number fifteen, but without any significance.
Fifteen being 8 + 7 as well as 3 x 5, it may also include a reference to resurrection, as being a special mark of the energy of Divine grace issuing in glory.
A few examples may suffice:
The Ark was borne by the Flood fifteen cubits upwards, Genesis 7:20.
Hezekiah's reprieve from death was fifteen years, 2 Kings 20:6.
The Jews were delivered from death under Esther on the fifteenth day of the month (9:18,21). This is specially significant, as we have seen (p. 222), that their sentence to death was connected with the number thirteen.
Bethany, where Lazarus was raised, and from whence the Lord ascended, was fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem, John 11:18.
Paul's ship anchored safely in fifteen fathoms on the 14th day, after thirteen days of toil and trial, Acts 27:21.
On the fifteenth day of the first month was the feast of unleavened bread, Leviticus 23:6; and
On the fifteenth day of the seventh month was the feast of Tabernacles (v 34).
stands out very prominently as a significant number. It is not a multiple of any other number, and therefore it has no factors. Hence it is called one of the prime (or indivisible) numbers. What is more, it is the seventh in the list of the prime numbers.
The series runs 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, etc. Thirteen, it will be noted, is also a prime number, and is therefore important; but it is the sixth of the series: hence it partakes of the significance of the number 6, and is indeed an intensified expression of it.
In like manner seventeen being the seventh of the series, it partakes of and intensifies the significance of the number seven. Indeed, it is the combination or sum of two perfect numbers—seven and ten—seven being the number of spiritual perfection, and ten of ordinal perfection.
Contrasted together the significance of these two numbers is clear; and when united in the number seventeen we have a union of their respective meanings, viz., spiritual perfection, plus ordinal perfection, or the perfection of spiritual order.
We see a beautiful illustration in
which concludes the first great division of that all-important Epistle, and sums up the blessings of those who are dead and risen in Christ. First we have a series of seven, then a series of ten. The seven are marked off by being put in the form of a question, while the ten are given as the answer to it.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall
- Or distress,
- Or persecution,
- Or famine,
- Or nakedness,
- Or peril,
- Or sword?
as it is written, For Thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all
these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that,
- Neither death (1),
- Nor life (2),
- Nor angels (3),
- Nor principalities (4),
- Nor things present (5),
- Nor things to come (6),
- Nor powers (7),
- Nor height (8),
- Nor depth (9),
- Nor any other creature (10),
shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Thus is set forth the spiritual and eternal perfection of the believer's standing in Christ.
By forming the conclusive answer to the question, and giving us the positive assurance (though in a negative form), it seems as though the number ten is of more weight than seven when thus used together. It is so in 2 Chronicles 2, where, in verse 7, Solomon sends to Hiram for a cunning workman, and seven particulars are specified; and in verse 14 a man is sent and his qualifications are enumerated in ten particulars. A more important illustration will be found in
where the Old Dispensation and the New are thus contrasted:
"Ye are not come
- Unto the mount that might be touched,
- And that burned with fire,
- Nor unto blackness,
- And darkness,
- And tempest,
- And the sound of a trumpet,
- And the voice of words...
but ye are come
- Unto Mount Zion (1),
- And unto the city of the living God (2).
The heavenly Jerusalem (3),
- And to an innumerable company of angels (4),
- To the general assembly (5),
- And church of the firstborn which are written in heaven (6),
- And to God the judge of all (7),
- And to the spirits of just men made perfect (8),
- And to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant (9),
- And to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel (10)."
Here again the blessings of the New Covenant are seen to be higher than those of the Old, both in number and in importance. The Old were spiritual (7), but the latter are more so, for they are doubly the manifestation of Divine grace, ten, or 2 x 5.
gives us the ten and the seven in a different order. Verses 6-9 give us a confederation of ten enemies for the purpose of making Israel extinct, and "to cut them off from being a nation"; while verses 10 and 12 give us an enumeration of seven enemies which the Lord had destroyed in the past, with the prayer that He would do to the confederacy of the ten what He had done to the seven in the past.
The commentators agree that no such confederacy can be found in the past history of Israel, so that we are shut up to the conclusion that the Psalm is Proleptic, and speaks of a yet future confederacy of which the later Prophets speak more particularly.
Verses 6-9: The ten-fold confederation:—
- The Ishmaelites
- The Hagarenes
- The Philistines
- Assur (Assyria)
Then follow, in verses 10-12, the seven enemies which had been destroyed in days of old:
- Midianites (1), Judges 7:8
- Sisera (2), Judges 4:5, 21
- Jabin (3), Judges 4:5, 21
- Oreb (4), Judges 7:25
- Zeeb (5), Judges 7:25
- Zebah (6), Judges 8:5
- Zalmunna (7), Judges 8:5
The number seventeen (not the word merely) has a significance of its own, and therefore an importance which must be taken into account wherever it appears in the Word of God by itself or as a factor.
It forms a great factor in the number 153 (see pp. 273,274).
ADDITIONAL MISCELLANEOUS ILLUSTRATIONS
Seventeen Angelic appearances are recorded in the Gospels and Acts:—
1-3. Three to Joseph, Matt 1:20, 2:13,19
4. To the Lord in the wilderness, Matt 4:11
5. In Gethsemane, Luke 22:43
6. On the stone at the sepulchre, Matt 28:2
7. Within the sepulchre, Mark 16:5
8. To Zecharias, Luke 1:11
9. To Mary, Luke 1:26
10, 11. Two to the Shepherds, Luke 2:9,13
12. At the pool of Bethesda, John 5:4
13. To the disciples, Acts 1:11
14. To the disciples in prison, Acts 5:19
15. To Cornelius, Acts 10:3
16. To Peter in prison, Acts 12:7
17. To Paul, Acts 27:23
is a number not without significance. It is a combination of 10 and 9, and would denote the perfection of Divine order connected with judgment. It is the gematria of Eve and of Job.
is the double of ten, and may in some cases signify its concentrated meaning. But its significance seems rather to be connected with the fact that it is one short of twenty-one, 21 - 1 = 20; that is to say, if 21 is the three-fold 7, and signifies Divine (3) completion as regards spiritual perfection (7), then twenty, being one short of 21, it would signify what Dr. Milo Mahan calls expectancy, and certainly we are not without illustrations in support of it:
Twenty years Jacob waited to get possession of his wives and property, Gen 21:38,41.
Twenty years Israel waited for a deliverer from Jabin's oppression, Judg 4:3.
Twenty years Israel waited for deliverance through Samson, Judg 15:20, 16:31. But his work was never much more than "begun," Judg 13:25.
Twenty years the Ark of the Covenant waited at Kirjath-jearim, 1 Sam 7:2.
Twenty years Solomon was waiting for the completion of the two houses, 1 Kings 9:10; 2 Chron 8:1.
Twenty years Jerusalem waited between its capture and destruction; and
Twenty years Jeremiah prophesied concerning it.
ADDITIONAL MISCELLANEOUS ILLUSTRATIONS
Twenty dreams are recorded:—
1. Abimelech, Gen 20:3
2, 3. Jacob, Gen 28:12, 31:10
4. Laban, Gen 31:24
5, 6. Joseph, Gen 37:5,9
7, 8. The butler and the baker, Gen 40:5
9, 10. Pharaoh, Gen 41:1, 5
11. The man in Gideon's army, Judg 7:13
12. Solomon, 1 Kings 3:5
13, 14. Nebuchadnezzar, Dan 2:3, 4:5
15. Daniel, Dan 7:1
16, 17, 18. Joseph, Matt 1:20, 2:13, 19
19. The wise men, Matt 2:13
20. Pilate's wife, Matt 27:19
times in the Book of Kings it is said that Jeroboam the son of Nebat "made Israel to sin":—1 Kings 14:16, 15:26, 30, 34, 16:19, 26, 21:22, 22:52; 2 Kings 3:3, 10:29, 31, 13:2, 6, 11, 14:24, 15:9, 18, 24, 28, 17:21, 23:15.
being the double of eleven, has the significance of that number in an intensified form,—disorganization and disintegration, especially in connection with the Word of God. For the number two is associated with the second person of the Godhead, the living Word.
It is associated with the worst of Israel's kings,—Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:20), and Ahab (1 Kings 16:29), each reigning 22 years.
Eleven, we have seen, derives its significance by being an addition to Divine order (10), and a subtraction from Divine rule (12). These are two of the three ways in which the written Word of God can be corrupted—the third being alteration. "The words of the LORD are pure words"—words pertaining to this world and therefore requiring to be purified (see p. 169). But these words have been altered, taken from, and added to by man. Is there anything in this which connects it with the fact that the letters of the alphabet (Hebrew) are twenty-two in number? Does it point to the fact that the revelation of God in being committed to human language and to man's keeping would thereby be subject to disintegration and corruption?
being a multiple of twelve, expresses in a higher form the same signification (as 22 does of 11). It is the number associated with the heavenly government and worship, of which the earthly form in Israel was only a copy. We are told that both Moses and David ordered all things connected with the Tabernacle and Temple worship by direct revelation from God, and as a copy of things in the heavens, Hebrews 8:5; 1 Chronicles 28:12, 19. And the sevenfold phrase (in Exo 40) "as the LORD commanded Moses" witnesses to the Divine ordering of all. It was so with the twenty-four courses of priests in the earthly Temple; these were formed on the "pattern of things in the heavens." Why is it necessary for us, when God tells us anything, to conclude that it means something else? Why, when, in Revelation 4, we read of the twenty-four heavenly elders, are we to assume they are anything but what we read, viz., the leaders of the heavenly worship? Why seek to make them redeemed men, or the symbolical representation of redeemed men? Why not leave them alone? It is by such additions as these to what is written that the people of God are divided up into so many schools and parties.
Those who regard them as representing the redeemed have done so on the supposed authority of Revelation 5:9; but they have been misled by some scribe who, in copying Revelation 5:9, altered certain words either to make the passage conform to Revelation 1:5, 6 (which is somewhat similar), or to support this very view. Thus it has been handed down that these twenty-four elders were redeemed, and are therefore glorified human beings.
But it is now known that the ancient and true reading was very different. That reading is given in the Revised Version thus:—"And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for Thou wast slain and dist purchase unto God men* of every tribe,
and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them** to be unto our God a kingdom^ and priests: and they reign^^ upon the earth."
* The word hmaV (heemas), "us," goes out, with the authority of Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Westcott and Hort, the Revisers, and the Codex A. It is true that the authorities are divided as to this word, but as they are unanimous as to the other changes in the verse, this word necessarily must go out as the result.
** The word hmaV (heemas), "us," must be changed for autouV (autous), "them," with all the critical authorities.
^ The word basileiV (basileis), "kings," must be changed for basileian (basileian), "a kingdom," with all the critical authorities.
^^ The word basileusomen (basileusomen), "we shall reign," must be changed for basileuousin (basileuousin), "they reign," with Lachmann, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort, the Revisers, and Codexes A and B. Or, for basileusousin (basileusousin), "they shall reign," with Griesbach, Scholz, Tischendorf, Tregelles in margin, and Sinaitic Codex.
Thus the ancient and true reading takes away all ground for making these elders redeemed men, and leaves them the angelic leaders of the heavenly worship.
being the square of five (52 or 5x5), expresses the essence of the signification of five, i.e. grace, whether used alone or occurring as a factor in larger numbers. The same may be said of
being the cube of three.
is a multiple, and therefore has the significance of seven. Being also the product of 4 x 7 it partakes of the significance of 4. See pp. 194, 195.
is the combination of 20, the number of expectation, and 9, the number of judgment.
being 3 x 10, denotes in a higher degree the perfection of Divine order, as marking the right moment. CHRIST was thirty years of age at the commencement of His ministry, Luke 3:23.
JOSEPH, His type, was the same age, Genesis 41:46.
DAVID also, when he began to reign, 2 Samuel 5:4.
The Hebrew expression of this is l), El, the name of God, and its signification as a number or factor would be Deity.
has long been universally recognized as an important number, both on account of the frequency of its occurrence, and the uniformity of its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement—(not judgment, like the number 9, which stands in connection with the punishment of enemies, but the chastisement of sons, and of a covenant people). It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). This is certainly the case where forty relates to a period of evident probation. But where it relates to enlarged dominion, or to renewed or extended rule, then it does so in virtue of its factors 4 and 10, and in harmony with their signification.
There are 15 such periods which appear on the surface of the Scriptures, and which may be thus classified:—
Forty Years of Probation by Trial:
Israel in the wilderness, Deut 8:2-5; Psa 95:10; Acts 13:18 (the third 40 of Moses' life, 120 years).
Israel from the crucifixion to the destruction of Jerusalem.
Forty Years of Probation by Prosperity in Deliverance and Rest:
under Othniel, Judg 3:11,
under Barak, Judg 5:31,
under Gideon, Judg 8:28.
Forty Years of Probation by Prosperity in Enlarged Dominion:
under David, 2 Sam 5:4,
under Solomon, 1 Kings 11:42,
under Jeroboam II. See 2 Kings 12:17,18, 13:3,5,7,22,25, 14:12-14,23,28,
under Jehoash, 2 Kings 12:1,
under Joash, 2 Chron 24:1.
Forty Years of Probation by Humiliation and Servitude:
Israel under the Philistines, Judg 13:1.
Israel in the time of Eli, 1 Sam 4:18.
Israel under Saul, Acts 13:21.
Forty Years of Probation by Waiting:
Moses in Egypt, Acts 7:23.
Moses in Midian, Acts 7:30
There are eight of such great periods on the surface of the Bible:
Forty days Moses was in the mount, Exo 24:18; and to receive the Law, Exo 24:18.
Forty days Moses was in the mount after the sin of the Golden Calf, Deut 9:18,25.
Forty days of the spies, issuing in the penal sentence of the 40 years, Num 13:26, 14:34.
Forty days of Elijah in Horeb, 1 Kings 19:8.
Forty days of Jonah and Nineveh, Jonah 3:4.
Forty days Ezekiel lay on his right side to symbolize the 40 years of Judah's transgression.*
Forty days Jesus was tempted of the Devil, Matt 4:2.
Forty days Jesus was seen of His disciples, speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, Acts 1:2.
* Thus 40 becomes a number closely connected with Judah, as 390 (Eze 4:5) is the number of separated Israel. The significance of this will be seen (on p. 215), for 40 is a multiple of 8, and 390 is a multiple of 13. It may also be noted that 65 (5x13) is the number of Ephraim, while 70 is specially connected with Jerusalem.
is a number connected with Antichrist. An important part of his career is to last for 42 months (Rev 11:2, 13:5), and thus this number is fixed upon him. Another number of Antichrist is 1260, and this is 30 x 42.
Its factors are six and seven (6x7=42), and this shows a connection between man and the Spirit of God, and between Christ and Antichrist:
Forty-two stages of Israel's wanderings mark their conflict with the will of God.
Forty-two young men* mocked the ascension of Elijah to Elisha, 2 Kings 2:23, 24.
* See note on p. 203.
Being a multiple of seven, it might be supposed that it would be connected with spiritual perfection. But it is the product of six times seven. Six, therefore, being the number of Man, and man's opposition to God, forty-two becomes significant of the working out of man's opposition to God.
There may be something more in the common phrase about things being all "sixes and sevens." They are so, indeed, when man is mixed up with the things of God, and when religious "flesh" engages in spiritual things. See under "Six and Seven," pp. 158-167.
it is a factor in the number of Nimrod's name, which is 294, or 42 x 7. It will be often found as a factor in the Antichristian names. See under the number Thirteen.
It does not often appear as a separate number, but when it is thus seen as a factor of another number, it always imparts its significance to it.
is the number of jubilee or deliverance. It is the issue of 7 x 7 (72), and points to deliverance and rest following on as the result of the perfect consummation of time.
This is the number of Divine revelation,
for there are 24 books in the Old Testament,
and 27 books in the New Testament,
making 51 in all.
This is, of course, reckoning the Divine separation of the books, as exhibited in the MSS, which form our only
authority, and not reckoning according to man's manipulation of them; for both Jewish and Gentile fancies and reasonings make quite a different and conflicting number. See pp. 25, 26
being a multiple of thirteen (13x5=65), is specially associated with Ephraim (see Isa 7:8), and marks the apostasy of that Tribe. This apostasy, which began in Judg 17, afterwards extended to the Ten-Tribe kingdom, which is frequently spoken of therefore under the name of "Ephraim."
"Within three-score and five years shall Ephraim be broken that it be not a people."
is another combination of two of the perfect numbers, seven and ten. We have seen something of the significance of their sum under the number seventeen; their product is no less significant.
As compared with the sum of two numbers, the product exhibits the significance of each in an intensified form.
Hence 7 x 10 signifies perfect spiritual order carried out with all spiritual power and significance. Both spirit and order are greatly emphasised.
THE SEVENTY NATIONS
which peopled the earth are set forth with a particularity which shows the importance of the fact (see Gen 10).
THE SEVENTY SOULS OF GENESIS 46
are marked not only by the perfection of spiritual truth, as seen by the multiple of 7, but by the perfection of Divine order, as seen in the multiple of 10, seventy being 7 x 10.
We stop not to notice the number given in Acts 7:14, which is different because it refers to a different classification, viz., "all his kindred," which amounted to 75. In Genesis 46:26, God is speaking of another class, viz., only those "which came out of his loins"; these were seventy in number.
This number is made up in a remarkable manner, distinguishing the descendants of Leah and her maid from Rachel and her maid,* the latter being a more marked multiple of 7:—
* The gematria of their names is just as remarkable. See pp. 210, 211.
|The Children of Leah
(Only 32 are named, because one, viz., Jochebed,* the mother of Moses, though conceived, was not born till Egypt was reached (Num 26:59), and therefore could not be named here.)
|The children of her maid Zilpah
|Together (though not separately) making a multiple of 7
|The children of Rachel
|The children of her maid Bilhah
|Making separately and together a multiple of seven
* The gematria of her name is 42 (6x7), for though of Divine calling she was very human.
built up the nation of Israel. See Genesis 46:27; Exodus 1:5 and Ruth 4:11.
Seventy elders furnished Israel's great Tribunal, Exodus 24:1; Numbers 11:16, afterwards called the Sanhedrim. See below, under the next number (120).
Seventy disciples sent out by the Lord prefigure the mighty host which followed them (Luke 10:1,17) in spirit and in power.
It is the number specially connected with
for the city kept its sabbaths seventy years, while Judah was in Babylon, Jeremiah 35:11.
And seventy sevens were determined upon it to complete its transgression, and bring in everlasting righteousness for it, Daniel 9:24 (see pp. 5, 6, 7,).
ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY
is made up of three forties (3x40=120). Applied to time therefore it signifies a divinely appointed period of probation, Genesis 6:3.
Applied to persons it points to a divinely appointed number during a period of waiting, Acts 1:15.
It is a factor also in the number of those who returned from Babylon, 42,360, being 120 x 353.
It is also a factor of the number of the men who went up out of Egypt, 600,000, being 120 x 5000.
It is a factor also of the 144,000 who will be sealed from the Twelve Tribes of Israel to go unscathed through the great tribulation, 144,000, being 120 x 1200.
The unanimous voice of Jewish tradition agrees with the Talmud* that "the Great Synagogue" (Neh 10:1-10) consisted of 120 members. "It was called 'Great" because of the great work it effected in restoring the Divine law to its former greatness, and because of the great authority and reputation which it enjoyed." Its greatest work was in completing the Canon of the Old Testament. The Great Synagogue lasted about 110 years, from BC 410-300, or from the latter days of Nehemiah to the death of Simon the Just. It then passed into the Sanhedrim, when its whole constitution was changed.
* Jerusalem Berachoth, ii. 4; Jerusalem Megilla, i; Bab. Meg. 176.
ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY AND THREE
This is a number which has taxed the ingenuity of some of the greatest of Bible students, and that from the earliest times. All have felt there must be something deeply significant and mysterious in this number, from the solemn way in which it is introduced in John 21:11,—"Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land full of great fishes, one hundred and fifty and three."
Other miracles are parables in their lessons, and Augustine* has pointed out the comparison and contrast between the two miraculous draughts of fishes, one at the beginning and the other at the end of Christ's ministry (after His resurrection). He and other Commentators see in this number some connection with the saved, as being definite and particular down even to the last one, making up not a large round number, but a smaller and odd number, 153. They saw in this a proof of the fact that the number of the elect is fixed and pre-ordained.**
* Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John, 122.
** So Trench, Notes on the Miracles, p. 194.
Jerome also sees there is some deeper meaning in the number, and says that there are 153 sorts
of fish, i.e., all kinds of men enclosed in the Gospel net.
Other more surprising suggestions have been made, but they are all the outcome of fancy.
The utmost that can be said is that had it been the round number 150, there would have been an absence of all definiteness, but as it goes beyond and gives the three by which the 150 is exceeded, it does seem to convey the impression that we have here, if these fishes are a symbol of the saved, an illustration and confirmation of our Lord's words, recorded in the same Gospel, "of all that He [the Father] hath given Me I should lose nothing" (John 6:39), and "those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost" (John 17:12).
When we come to the way in which the significance of this number has been estimated, we find a variety of modes. Augustine and Gregory the Great both start with the fact that
17 is the sum of 10 and 7. For the significance of the number 17 (see p. 258). But they deal with the 17 in different ways.
Gregory simply multiplies 17 by 3 and again by 3 (i.e., 17x32), and thus arrives at 153.
Augustine, on the other hand, employs addition, and takes the sum of all the digits to and including 17 as amounting to exactly 153. He says,* "For if you add 2 to 1, you have 3, of course; if to these you add 3 and 4, the whole number makes 10; and then if you add all the numbers that follow up to 17, the whole amounts to the aforesaid number ; that is, if to 10, which you had reached by adding all together from 1 to 4, you add 5, you have 15; to these add 6, and the result is 21; then add 7, and you have 28; to this add 8, and 9, and 10, and you get 55; to this add 11, and 12, and 13, and you have 91; and to this again add 14, and 15, and 16, and it comes to 136; and then add to this the remaining number of which we have been speaking, namely 17, and it will make up the number of fishes."**
* Tractate on John, 122.
** We should express this, now, more scientifically, and say, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 + 13 +14 + 15 + 16 + 17 = 153. And Gregory's we should express thus: (10 + 7) x (3 x 3) = 153.
Bishop Wordsworth arrives at his result in a different manner. He uses two numbers, and employs both multiplication and addition. First he takes the square of 12 (which he holds to be the Church number), and then he adds
the square of 3 (the number of the Godhead), and points out that 122
= 153, or (12 x 12) + (3 x 3).
We might give yet another contribution to these various modes as the result of our investigations in numbers, and say that 153 = 9 x 17, and see in this number all judgment (9) exhausted for the people of God (17) in the person of their Surety.
All, however, agree in the great and blessed fact that "Salvation is of the Lord," Divine alike in its source, its agency, and its results.
The same Divine character is stamped upon this miracle and its lessons by the number of disciples who were present when it was wrought. There were seven. And the seven is divided into 3 and 4 as usual—3 being named, and 4 unnamed.
The one lesson that remains is true, namely, that the whole number of the redeemed are saved by the power of the Triune God.
We may condense all this by calling 153 simply,
THE NUMBER OF THE SONS OF GOD!
The expression Myhl)h ynb (Beni Ha-Elohim), "Sons of God," occurs seven times!*
* One of them is slightly different, yh-l) ynb (Beni El-hai), "sons of the living God." Thus the human and divine element is seen in the six and seven (see p. 164).
Now the gematria of this expression is exactly 153. Thus:
In Greek, the expression exhibits in another form the same phenomena, the gematria being 3213, or 3 x 7 x 153.
It is very remarkable, in connection with this, that in Job 2:1 we have "Beni-ha Elohim with Satan among them." The gematria of this phrase is 1989, and the two factors of this number are 153 and 13 (13x153=1989).
The word sunklhronomoi (sunkleeronomoi), "joint-heirs" (Rom 8:17), amounts to 1071, the factors of which are 153 and 7 (153x7=1071).
The expression suklhronomoi de Cristou (sunkleeronomoi de Christou), "joint heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:17), amounts to 2751. Now the factors of 153, as we have seen, are 9 and 17, and the number 2751 is three times the nine hundred, plus seventeen, viz., 3 x (900 + 17) = 2751.
The expression ktisiV qeou (ktisis Theou), "the creation of God," is 1224, or 8 x 153.
In the record of the miracle itself there are some remarkable phenomena:—
The word for "fishes" icqueV (ichthues), is by gematria 1224, or 8 x 153.
The words for "the net" are to diktuon, and by gematria this also amounts to 1224, or 8 x 153, for it is unbroken, and carries the precious freight from "the right side" of the ship safely to the shore, and "not one is lost."
Quite a new thought has recently been given by Lieut.-Col. F. Roberts, who finds that amongst the multitudes who received direct blessing from Christ there are recorded exactly 153 special individual cases! We append his list, with one or two alterations: and if any names appear to be missing, it will be found on examination that there is good reason for omitting them; e.g., Nathanael is the same as Bartholomew; while Matthias, and Barsabas (Acts 1:23), Joses, Barnabas (Acts 4:36), Stephen, though they with many others may have received blessing from Jesus Himself, and probably did, yet it is not so stated
. Of course Zacharias, Elisabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph, Simeon, and Anna, are not included, as they were all in blessing before the birth of Jesus.
The following is the list:—
- The leper, Matt 8:2 (1)
- Centurion and servant, Matt 8:5 (2)
- Peter's wife's mother, Matt 8:14 (1)
- Two possessed with devils, Matt 8:18 (2)
- Palsied man and bearers [Mark 2:3], Matt 9:2 (5)
- Jairus and his daughter, Matt 9:18 (2)
- Woman with issue of blood, Matt 9:21 (1)
- Blind men, Matt 9:27 (2)
- Dumb man, Matt 9:32 (1)
- Eleven Apostles, Matt 10:2 (11)
- Man with withered hand, Matt 12:10 (1)
- Blind and dumb devil, Matt 12:22 (1)
- Brethren of the Lord [Acts 1:14] Matt 13:55 (4)
- Syrophoenician woman and daughter, Matt 15:22 (2)
Lunatic child and father, Matt 17:14 (2)
- Blind men (leaving Jericho),* Matt 20:30 (2)
- Simon the leper, Matt 26:6 (1)
- Mary (sister of Lazarus. See Nos 32 and 47), Matt 26:7 (1)
- Centurion; Matt 27:54 (1)
- Salome (mother of Zebedee's children), Matt 27:56 (1)
- Mary (mother of James, and wife of Cleopas), Matt 27:56 (1)
- Mary Magdalene, Matt 27:56 (1)
- Joseph of Arimathaea, Matt 27:57 (1)
- Man with unclean spirit; Mark 1:23 (1)
- Man, deaf and dumb, Mark 7:32 (1)
- Blind man, Mark 8:22 (1)
- Son of the widow of Nain, Luke 7:12 (1)
- A woman, a sinner, Luke 7:37 (1)
- Joanna and Susanna, Luke 8:3 (2)
- A disciple—"follow Me", Luke 9:59 (1)
- The seventy disciples, Luke 10:1 (70)
- Martha, Luke 10:38 (1)
- Woman with infirmity, Luke 13:11 (1)
- Man with dropsy, Luke 14:2 (1)
- The ten lepers, Luke 17:12 (10)
- The blind man (approaching Jericho),** Luke 18:35 (1)
- Zaccheus, Luke 19:2 (1)
- Malchus [John 18:10], Luke 22:51 (1)
- Penitent thief, Luke 23:43 (1)
- The two disciples at Emmaus, Luke 24:13 (2)
- Nicodemus, John 3:1 (1)
- Woman of Samaria, John 4:4 (1)
- Nobleman and sick son, John 4:46 (2)
- Impotent man (Bethesda), John 5:1 (1)
Woman taken in adultery, John 8:11 (1)
- Man born blind, John 9 (1)
- Lazarus, John 11 (1)
- Mary, mother of Jesus, John 19:25 (1) = (153)
* Bartimeus being one of them (Mark 10:46), these two being healed as Jesus left Jericho.
** The blind man (No. 36) was healed (Luke 18:35) "as He was come nigh unto Jericho," and therefore is additional to the two who were healed as He was leaving Jericho (No. 16). See Matt 20:30; Mark 10:46.
We give the above not as an alternative solution, but as an additional illustration
, believing that all may be true; and at any rate, that all contribute to, and increase the cumulative evidence in support of the same great and blessed fact, that it is true of the Lord's people as it is of the stars, "He calleth them all by their names" (Psa 147:4). The book of Exodus is the book in which we first hear of redemption (Exo 15:14), and the Hebrew and divinely canonical name for this book is "THE NAMES," because His people are redeemed by name!
This is the lesson of the 153 great fishes.
Twenty is the number of expectancy as we have seen (p. 262). Here we have it tenfold (20x10).
The significance of this number is suggested by John 6:7, where we read, "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is NOT SUFFICIENT for them."
And so we find this number stamping various things with insufficiency.
Achan's 200 shekels were "not sufficient" to save him from the consequences of his sin (Josh 7:21). This shows us the insufficiency of money (Psa 49:7-9).
Absalom's 200 shekels weight of hair were "not sufficient" to save him, but rather caused his destruction (2 Sam 14:26, 18:9). This shows us the insufficiency of beauty.
Micah's graven image was purchased for 200 shekels (Judg 17:4 and 18), and led to the introduction of idolatry into Israel and the blotting out of the Tribes of Dan and Ephraim from the blessing of Revelation 7, showing us the insufficiency of mere religion.
Ezra's 200 "singing men and women" (Ezra 2:65), were "not sufficient" to produce "peace with God," true spiritual worship, or joy in the Lord. Only God's word rightly ministered can lead to this (Neh 8:5-9). This shows the insufficiency of external things in the worship of God, and the impossibility of worshipping God with the senses. True worship, which alone God will accept, "MUST" (John 4:24) be spiritual.
THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY
This is the number of Israel (Eze 4:5), being 13 x 30; as 65 (5x13) is the number of Ephraim (Isa 7:8); as 40 (5x8) is the number of Judah (Eze 4:6); and 70 (7x10) is the number of Jerusalem. See further under these numbers respectively, and under 8 and 13 also.
As a matter of chronology it was 390 years from the division of the Tribes to the Captivity, and thus the duration of the separate kingdom of Israel was 390 years, as referred to in Ezekiel 4. See p. 215.
is the product of 8 and 50, and is a divinely perfect period.
From the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham in the birth of Isaac to the Exodus was a period of 400 years. Stephen mentions it as dating from "his seed" (Acts 7:6), and God dates it from the same point when He says to Abraham, "thy seed" (Gen 15:13).*
* The structure of this verse rescues it from the way in which it is sadly misunderstood:—
A. "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a strange land that is not theirs,
The structure places B and B in a parenthesis. A and A cover the whole time of the sojourn, while B and B refer to the service and sojourn during a parenthesis of unnamed length within that time. The structure of Acts 7:6 is exactly the same.
A. four hundred years."
B. and shall serve them;
B. and they shall afflict them
It is popularly confounded with quite a different period of
FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY
years, which, though it has the same point as to its termination, does not commence at the same point.
From the call of Abraham, or the "promise" made to him at that call (Gen 12:3), unto the Exodus was 430 years. This covers the whole period of the "sojourning"; not of Abraham's "seed," as in Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6, but of Abraham himself. This is what is mentioned in Galatians 3:17 as the period from the "promise" to the "Law." It is referred to also in Exodus 12:40, where the "sojourning" is the nominative case (or subject) of the verb, while the sentence, "who dwelt in Egypt," is merely a relative clause, defining parenthetically an important point concerning them.
FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY
This is the period of the 70 sevens referred to under the head of Chronology (pp. 5, 6). We need not therefore further enlarge on it here beyond pointing out the spiritual significance of the number itself as being seven times seventy.
Daniel was praying, and he was concerned about the
70 years prophesied of by Jeremiah (Dan 9:2 and Jer 25:11,12, 19:10). And the answer meant that though those 70 appointed years were about to end in restoration and blessing, another period of seven times 70 years had been determined (9:24-27), and they would commence from the very "decree" (Neh 2) which should end the former 70 years. And these should run their course, marked by certain incidents, before the full and final restoration of Daniel's "city" and "people" should be accomplished.
The number 490 marks the product of spiritual perfection (7) with regard to the working out of Jerusalem's number (70). For 7 times 70 is 490.
SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY SIX
is "the number of a name" (Rev 13:17,18). When the
name of Antichrist is known its gematria will doubtless be
found to be the number 666. But this number has, we believe,
a far deeper reference to and connection with the
secret mysteries of the ancient religions, which will be again
manifested in connection with the last great apostasy.
Many names may be found, the numerical value of whose
letters amounts to 666. We have a list of about forty such
gematria. Most of them are ridiculous, inasmuch as instead
of the gematria being confined to Hebrew and Greek (which
have no Arabic or other special signs for figures), the principle
is extended to names in English, French, and other
modern languages, on the assumption that they would have
been spelt in exactly the same way; whereas we know that
names both of persons and places are not simply transliterated
in various languages. It is abusrd therefore
to attempt to take words from the modern European languages
which use Arabic figures.
Gematria is not a means by which the name is to be discovered;
but it will be a test and a proof by which the name
may be identified after the person is revealed.
If six is the number of secular or human perfection, then
66 is a more emphatic expression of the same fact, and 666
is the concentrated expression of it; 666 is therefore the
trinity of human perfection; the perfection of imperfection;
the culmination of human pride in independence of God and
opposition to His Christ.
The number, however, has to be computed (yhfizw (pseephizo),
to reckon, to calculate, not merely to count or enumerate). See
Revelation 13:18. Therefore it is not to be known by gematria
merely, though, as we have said, that will be one of the
factors in the calculation, just as the letters in the word Jesus amount to 888.
But 666 was the secret symbol of the ancient pagan mysteries
connected with the worship of the Devil. It is to day the
secret connecting link between those ancient mysteries and
their modern revival in Spiritualism, Theosophy, etc. The
efforts of the great enemy are now directed towards uniting
all into one great whole. The newspapers, wordldy and
religious, are full of schemes as to such a union. "Reunion"
is in the air. The societies for the re-union of
Christendom, and the Conferences for the re-union of the
Churches, are alike parts of the same great movement, and
are all making for and are signs of the coming Apostasy.
During this age, "Separation" is God's word for His people,
and is the mark of Christ; while "union" and "re-union" is
the mark of Antichrist.
The number 6 was stamped on the old mysteries.
The great secret symbol consisted of the three letters
SSS, because the letter S in the Greek alphabet was the
symbol of the figure 6 (see page 49).
a = 1, b = 2, g = 3, d = 4, e = 5,
but when it came to 6, another letter was introduced! Not the
next—the sixth letter (z, zeta)—but a
different letter, a peculiar form of S, called "stigma" (V).
Now the word stigma (stigma), means a mark, but especially a
mark made by a brand as burnt upon slaves, cattle, or soldiers,
by their owners or masters; or on devotees who thus branded
themselves as belonging to their gods. It is from stizw, stizo, to prick,
or brand with a hot iron. Hence it came to be used
of scars or wound-prints, and it is thus used by Paul of his
scars, which he regarded as the tokens of his sufferings, the
marks which he bore on his body for the sake of his Lord
and Master, and marking him as belonging to the one who
had bought him (Gal 6:17).
This letter is becoming familiar to us now; and it is not
pleasant when we see many thus marked (ignorantly, no
doubt) with the symbolical "S," "S," especially when it is
connected, not with "salvation," but with judgment, and is
asociated with "blood and fire," which, in Joel 2:30, 31,
is given as one of the awful signs "before the great and
terrible day of the Lord come."
Apostasy is before us. The religion of Christ has, in the
past, been opposed and corrupted, but when it once comes, as it
has come in our day, to be burlesqued, there is nothing left but
judgment. There is nothing more the enemy can do before
he proceeds to build up the great apostasy on the ruins of true
religion, and thus prepare the way for the coming of the Judge.
It is remarkable that the Romans did not use all the letters of their alphabet, as did the Hebrews and Greeks. They used only six letters,* D, C, L, X, V, and I. And it is still more remarkable, and perhaps significant, that the sum of these amounts to 666:—
* The M appears to have been merely two D's.
|1. D =
|2. C =
|3. L =
|4. X =
|5. V =
|6. I =
In each of the three pairs there is an addition of one, for 6 = 5 + 1. It is the grace of God superseded by the corruption of man.
It will be seen from this that the number 666 is very far-reaching, and is filled with a meaning deeper, perhaps, than anything we have yet discovered. One thing, however, is certain, and that is, that the triple 6 marks the culmination of man's opposition to God in the person of the coming Antichrist.
Further illustration of the significance of this number is seen in the fact that
THE DURATION OF THE OLD ASSYRIAN EMPIRE
was 666 years before it was conquered by Babylon.
JERUSALEM WAS TRODDEN DOWN
by the Roman Empire exactly 666 years from the battle of
Actium, BC 31, to the Saracen conquest in AD 636.*
* See The Witness of the Stars, by the same author.
THERE ARE THREE MEN
which stand out in Scripture as the avowed enemies of God
His people. Each is branded with this number six that we
may not miss their significance:
1. GOLIATH, whose height was 6 cubits, and he had 6 pieces of
armour;* his spear's head weighed 600 shekels of iron (1 Sam 17:4-7).
2. NEBUCHADNEZZAR, whose "image" which he set up,** was 60 cubits
high and 6 cubits broad (Dan 3:1), and which was worshipped when the
music was heard from 6 specified instruments,*** and
3. ANTICHRIST, whose number is 666.
* In Ephesians 6:14-18, the Christian's armour has a seventh piece—"Prayer." See under "Seven."
** We must distinguish the "image" which he set up, from the "man" of whom he afterwards dreamt. The proportions are not the same. The height of a man is to his breadth not as 10:1. Some have therefore thought that this "image" may have been an obelisk. But as the word for "image" denotes a form or likeness, it may have been like the form of a man standing on a pedestal of which the height was included. The pedestal being probably 24 (6x4) cubits, and the image 36 (6x6).
*** The numerical value (by gematria) of the words in Daniel 3:1, which describe the setting up of this image is 4662. The very figures are significant, but still more so are the factors of this number. 4662 = 7 x 666.
In the first we have one
six connected with the pride of
In the second we have two sixes connected with the pride
of absolute dominion.
In the third we have three sixes connected with the pride
of Satanic guidance.
THE TALENTS OF GOLD
brought to Solomon in a year were 666 (1 Kings 10:14).
But this perfection of money-power was only "vanity and
vexation of spirit" (Eccl 2:8,11; compare 1 Tim 6:10).
As to the triple number 666, we have already seen (page 121) that while one figure (6) is significant,
two figures (66) are still more so; and three figures (666) seem to
denote the concentration or essence of the particular number.
We see further examples of this in
Jesus, 888, the dominical number;
Sodom, 999, the number of judgment;
Damascus, 444, the world number;
The beast, 666, the number of man.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you," 888;
The Lord God made, 888; etc., etc.
"The children of Adonikam" who returned from the
Captivity (Ezra 2:13) numbered 666. Adonikam means
the lord of the enemy
. This is suggestive, even though it
may be vague.
The number 666 has another remarkable property. It is further marked as the concentration and essence of 6 by being the sum of all the numbers which makes up the square of six! The square of six is 36 (62, or 6x6), and the sum of the numbers 1 to 36 = 666, i.e., 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 + 13 + 14 + 15 + 16 + 17 + 18 + 19 + 20 + 21 + 22 + 23 + 24 + 25 + 26 + 27 + 28 + 29 + 30 + 31 + 32 + 33 + 34 + 35 + 36 = 666.
They may be arranged in the form of a square with six figures each way, so that the sum of each six figures in any direction shall be another significant trinity = 111.
It is remarkable that the numerical value of the "SONG OF MOSES" (Exo 15:1-18) is 41626, which is the product of the significant factors 13 x 42 x 70.
On the other hand, if we compare "the Song of Moses and of the Lamb," in Revelation 15:1-5, the remarkable value is 9261, which has the remarkable factors 33 x 73.
We have now come to the end of our survey of number as used by God in His works and in His Word, and we have seen that all is perfect.
Our apprehension and interpretation of the phenomena may be marked with many imperfections, and we are conscious that after all we have but touched the fringe of this great and important subject.
One thing, however, is certain, and that is, that we have, in the Scripture of Truth, a revelation from God absolutely without error, and whatever difficulties we may encounter in seeking to understand it, they are all the outcome of our own infirmities.
Of another thing we are also certain, that the Written Word cannot be separated from the Living Word, nor the spiritual meaning of the one understood without a living union with the other.
It may be said of the Word of God, as it is written of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:23),
"THE LAMB IS THE LIGHT THEREOF."
Back | Contents | Next
Philologos | Bible
Prophecy Research | The
BPR Reference Guide | Jewish
Calendar | About Us