Biblical Numbers Unlock Secrets of the Hebrew Scriptures
Echad (אֶחָד or א / One, First)
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called." (Ephesians 4:4)
As a number, 1 is unique in the fact that it is the only number that can be multiplied or divided by itself and remain unchanged; for instance, when one is divided by one, the answer is one.
From the Jewish understanding, like the number 1, God is indivisible.
The unique properties of the number 1 reflect God's unchanging Unity or Oneness.
That unique Oneness and Singularity is proclaimed at least twice daily by observant Jews through the Schema, the eternal declaration of Jewish faith:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is Echad [One].” (Deuteronomy 6:1)
Echad has a special place in Judaism.
“The number 1 is an underlying feature of Jewish life: ‘The other nations have many rites, many clergy, and many houses of worship. We, the Jewish people, have but 1 God, 1 Ark, 1 Altar, and 1 High Priest.' That is why the whole Torah was given by 1 Shepherd (God) and taught by 1 leader (Moshe),” states author Osher Chaim Levene. (Jewish Wisdom in the Numbers)
Although, echad does mean singleness or singularity, it also means first, and this meaning is seen in the Bible in many verses:
“There was evening, and there was morning; the First Day [yom echad / Sunday].” (Genesis 1:15)
The idea of first also holds a special importance in Scripture, as is seen in the sanctification of the Firstfruits (Bikkurim), which were given to the Kohen (priest), as well as the sanctification of the firstborn animal and the firstborn son.
"Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God." (Exodus 34:26)
"Consecrate to Me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to Me, whether human or animal." (Exodus 13:2)
In Exodus 4:22, Israel is referred to as God's firstborn son.
The concept of first is also emphasized in the Brit Chadashah(New Testament), where Yeshua is called the firstborn from the dead, as well as the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
"Messiah has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."
(1 Corinthians 15:20; see also Revelation 1:5 and Acts 26:23)
First relates to the beginning, which is the first word of the Bible, bereisheet (in the beginning). The root of this word is rosh, which means head.
Just as God is the beginning and is holy, the first is related to holiness. What comes first sets the stage or the pattern for that which follows.
Colossians 1:18 ties all of these concepts together in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
"Messiah is also the head of the assembly, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything." (Colossians 1:18)
Shnayim (שְׁנַיִם or ב / Two)
"Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit." (2 Kings 2:9)
The Hebrew number 2, shnayim, relates to God's creation, since the Hebrew letter Bet is the first letter of the word bereisheet (in the beginning), the first word of the Torah and the creation narrative.
Bet is more than a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, it is also the number 2. (Hebrew letters are also numbers.)
Two means union, division, and witnessing. It is also means double and is associated with the double portion.
The first word of the Torah, framed by the Star of David, is bereisheet, which means in the beginning.
In the Bible, we see shnayim in the two tablets of the Covenant, the double portion of manna on the sixth day, and the idea of counterparts and pairs, such as God’s creation of both male and female or the sending out of the disciples in pairs (Luke 10:1).
In Deuteronomy 19:15, the number 2 is associated with witness as in the requirement of two witnesses in legal matters.
Two is also associated with blessing since in creation itself, God poured out a bounty of blessings into the earth. As well, creation brought about the possibility of relationship because God created man to be in relationship with Him and with each other.
We can see the possibility of union that two brings in the covenant of marriage, where two become one flesh. (Genesis2:24)
The idea of division is also associated with two since on Day Two (Yom Sheni [Monday]) God divided the waters to form the Heavens above and the oceans below.
Indeed, two represents the possibility of separation due to conflict and sin.
The duality of union and division belonging to the number 2 is perhaps best reflected in the fact that although humankind was created to be in relationship with God, people can either be united with God through holiness or separated from Him through sin.
For a relationship to be true, there must be the freedom to choose to be in the relationship, and people can either choose to be in relationship with their Creator or to be in rebellion against Him.
Of course, sin separates all of us from God, and Yeshua makes it possible to be reconciled with our Heavenly Father. (Ephesians 2:16)
Moreover, He makes it possible for Believers everywhere to be in union with Him.
"I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one; I in them and You in me; so that they may be brought to complete unity." (John 17:22–23)
When two parties form a covenant, they are fused to become one entity.
The two tablets of the law are likened to a marriage covenant between the Israelites and God. They contained the essential contractual terms.
Shlosha (שְׁלוֹשָׁה or ג / Three)
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
Three connotes equilibrium or stability, continuity and permanence. It is considered the number of Divine completeness or perfection.
This number shows up frequently in Scripture and in Jewish life.
In Exodus 34:6, God is ascribed the three attributes of channun(gracious), rachum (compassionate /merciful), and chesed (loving kindness).
The Seraphim (six-winged angelic beings) praise God with a triple invocation that emphasizes God's perfect holiness, crying "Holy, Holy, Holy." (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8)
In the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24–26), God’s covenant name (YHVH) appears three times; an indication perhaps of its completeness and perfection. God is also mentioned three times in the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4–9).
The earth was separated from the waters on the Third Day (Yom Shelishi [Tuesday]). (Genesis 1:9–13)
As a mark of stability or a perfect foundation, Israel has three founding fathers (Avos): the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The Bible specifies three Pilgrimage Festivals (Shelosh Regalim), the three times the Jewish People are obligated to go to Jerusalem bringing at least three offerings: Pesach (Passover), Shavuot(Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks), and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).
These three holidays, which commemorate the Exodus from Egypt, the giving of the Torah, and the wilderness booths and the Cloud of Glory, are more than history lessons; they bring spiritual illumination about the identity of the Messiah.
As well, these three festivals are said to relate to the perfect foundation of the Avos: Abraham to Pesach through the baking of cakes for his guests; Isaac to Pentecost through Sinai's shofar andIsaac's ram in the thicket; and Jacob to Sukkot through booths made for his flocks (Genesis 33:17).
Exodus 19 describes a terrifying scene on the third day of the third month when the Lord descended on Mount Sinai and the Israelites heard Him talking to Moses. This passage describes the sound of the shofar growing louder
as they spoke.
as they spoke.
Three is also linked to salvation.
Abraham journeyed three days to Mount Moriah in obedience to God’s command that he sacrifice his promised son (Genesis 22:1–4). To raise the son of the widow of Zarephat (1 Kings 17:21), Elijah stretched himself out three times over the body. Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a whale (Jonah 1:17).
Esther fasted three days and three nights in preparation to save the Jewish People from certain annihilation.
Yeshua (Jesus) was raised from the dead on the third day.
An empty tomb cut out of the rock in Israel.
Arba’a (אַרְבָּעָה or ד / Four)
"After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree." (Revelation 7:1)
The number 4 is connected to the number 2 through its basic mathematical properties: 2+2=4 and 2x2=4. The number 4, therefore, is related to creation, the physical realm, the earth, and the four seasons.
In the Bible, we see a connection between four and the earth through the fourth commandment, which is the first commandment that mentions the earth. As well, the fourth clause of the Lord’s Prayer is the first to mention the earth.
This number relates to the ideas of place and space, in terms of the physical. In the Bible, four can be identified as the points on the compass: north, south, east, and west.
The connection between four and place and space is evident in Daniel 7:3, which speaks of four earthly kingdoms, and Isaiah 11:12, which promises that God will gather the dispersed of Israel from the four corners of the earth.
The Land of Israel was the Chosen People's designated place.
Redemption involves being returned to one's rightful place, and the return of the Chosen People is necessarily for redemption and fulfillment of their destiny and potential as a nation.
Four also appears in the Bible as the four rivers of Eden; the four divisions of three tribes each surrounding the Mishkan HaKodesh, the holy Tabernacle in the desert (Numbers 2:1–31); four cherubim; four living creatures surrounding the throne (Revelation 4:6, 7:11 ); and the four tassels on the corner of the garment or tallit (prayer shawl).
As well, the Jewish People have four Mothers (Imahos): the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel.
Hamisha (חֲמִשָׁה or ה / Five)
"To redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, collect five shekels for each one." (Numbers 3:46–47)
The number 5 is the number of redemption, Divine grace, and God's goodness.
In Number in Scripture, E. W. Bullinger states, “If four is the number of the world, then it represents man’s weakness, and helplessness, and vanity.... But four plus one (4+1=5) is significance of Divine strength added to and made perfect in weakness; of omnipotence combined with the impotence of earth; of Divine favour uninfluenced and invincible.” (p. 135)
In Jewish Wisdom in Hebrew Numbers, Levene states, “The Exodus was the epitome of the redemption process. God’s appointment of Moshe to redeem the Children of Israel came when Moshe took 5 places to turn toward the 5-leaved burning bush, whose location was actually at the site of Mount Sinai, which has a total of five different names. Indeed, this set into motion the salvation of Israel in the merit of 5 people Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, and Aharon.” (p. 89)
God did not only reveal Himself through Creation. He revealed Himself through the Word.
Therefore, in the Bible, 5 is associated with the five Books of Moses, through which God revealed His will to Israel and the world. As well, the Ten Commandments were written on two tablets, five commandments on each tablet.
The number 5 has also been associated with sacred architecture (1 Kings 7:39, 49), as well as the miraculous feeding of the 5,000(Matthew 14:17) and grace.
Each of us have been empowered to use what we have received by grace from God and expand upon it through hard work and faith:
"The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’" (Matthew 25:20–21)
Shisha (שִׁשָּׁה or ו / Six)
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” (Deuteronomy 5:13)
The number 6 symbolizes the natural world, man, and the six directions of the physical realm (forward, backward, left, right, up, and down). (Jewish Wisdom in the Numbers)
Scripture reveals that God created the natural world in six days and then rested on the seventh, so this number reflects physical completion.
In the same way that God completed His work of creation in six days,people have six days of activity in the week to leave their mark on the world, and are to rest on the seventh, in honor of the Creator of the Universe.
Six has been called the number of man, since Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day and the sixth commandment forbids murder.
The number 6 is considered as the path to the holiness represented in the number 7. If human activities are not sanctioned by God, and not directed toward the final destination of the World to Come, then they are inconsequential. (Jewish Wisdom, p. 106)
Sheva (שִׁבְעַה or ז / Seven)
“The words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.” (Psalm 12:6)
The number 7 is so prominent in Scripture that even scholars who do not give much weight to Biblical numerology recognize its importance.
Seven is the Divine number of completion, fullness, and spiritual perfection, typifying holiness and sanctification.
Seven is such a favorite number in Judaism, in fact, that the Midrash (Rabbinic literature) states, “All sevens are beloved.” (Vayikra Rabbah 29:9)
Sheva shares the root (Shin-Bet-yin) with oath (shevua) and, therefore, is related to commitment.
From this same root is the word for full or complete, and a related word for satisfied.
Israeli secular school children celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), which commemorates the harvest, the Day of the Firstfruits, and the day the Torah was traditionally revealed by God to the Israelites.
Seven is strongly associated with completion and rest through the Shabbat (seventh day) and other complete cycles of time.
The seventh sabbatical year or Shmita (seventh year in which the soil is allowed to rest), is still being practiced in Israel.
Both the Shabbat and the Shmita highlight six mundane units of time follow by one holy unit of time. Both the seventh day and the seventh year are given a special sanctity.
As well, Leviticus 23:1–44 outlines seven annual holy Feasts of the Lord: Pesach, Chag HaMotzi (Feast of Unleavened Bread), Yom HaBikkurim, Shavuot, Yom Teruah (Trumpets), and Sukkot.
The holiness and perfection of the Tabernacle is reflected in its seven furnishings: the Bronze Sacrificial Altar, Bronze Laver, Golden Menorah, Golden Table of the Bread of the Presence (Showbread), Golden Altar of Incense, Ark of the Covenant, and the Mercy-seat/ Seat of Atonement.
The Temple Menorah itself had seven branches, which have a connection to the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), since in the Messianic Prophecy of Isaiah 11:2, the Light of the World, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), is described as having the seven gifts of the Ruach HaKodesh.
According to Rabbinic Judaism, all men are bound by the seven Noahide laws: the prohibition of idolatry, murder, theft, sexual immorality, blasphemy, eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive, and the requirement of maintaining courts to provide legal recourse.
In Leviticus 26:18–27, seven is connected to the punishment of sin:
“If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over.... If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve.... If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over.... If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over.”
Indeed, because of sin, the Jewish people spent 70 years as captives in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10).
Yeshua Unveiled: The Incredible 70 Sevens
“When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:10–12)
While in Babylonian captivity, Daniel received an incredible mathematical message from the angel Gabriel that clearly identified the timing of the coming of the Messiah through a prophecy concerning 70 weeks of years—numbers which we have seen involve holiness, completion, perfection, and cycles of time.
In that passage, Daniel ponders Jeremiah’s prediction that Jerusalem would remain in ruins for 70 years; then, Gabriel appears to him.
Gabriel confirms the timing for the end of captivity in Jeremiah's prophecy, but he does not stop there. He essentially tells Daniel that an end would come to captivity to sin:
"Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place." (Daniel9:24)
This prophecy not only accurately predicts the year that Yeshua’s ministry began, but also His sacrificial death for the sins of the entire world, bringing righteousness to all who follow Him. As well, it looks forward to the end of the age when the prophetic clock begins to tick again after the re-establishment of the independent state of Israel and the final 70th week plays out.
Yeshua’s cutting off only represents 69 of the 70 weeks. The last week (7 years) is yet to unfold with the arrival of the anti-Messiah who will make peace that holds for 3 1/2 years. The remaining 3 1/2 years will be a time of trouble that culminates in the return of Messiah (Daniel9:27,11:31; Matthew 24:15).
The prophecy of the 70 sevens reveals that God’s hand is on historyand that we have a hope and a future.
That hope is not lost on many Jewish people who have been challenged to read the Messianic prophecy found in Daniel, as well as other Messianic prophecies.
For example, one Bibles For Israel worker said that the explanation of Daniel’s vision of the 70 weeks was instrumental in leading him to faith in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
“Before I became a Believer, a good friend who was later to become my pastor, explained to me how Yeshua had to be the Messiah since He appeared in accordance with the description given by Daniel in Daniel 9,” he said.