Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is the significance of the numbers seven and forty in the Bible? Anthony, Grade 5

I want to say nice job in picking up that numbers are important in the Bible.  That’s not so different from today.  Ask anyone if the numbers they see when they step on the scale matter or what their best friend’s cell phone number is and they will agree.  Numbers matter.

Numbers were especially important to that ancient Hebrew people.  When they wrote with numbers a message was conveyed.  The message is hidden to modern readers but it was obvious to the Hebrews of Biblical times.

So to answer your question the number 7 is the number of covenant.  It signified an end or completion.  It means perfection.  It is why God rested on the 7th day.  His work was completed and it was perfect.

The number forty symbolizes testing.  Examples of this are the forty years the Hebrew people spent in the wilderness and the 40 days that Jesus was tested in the desert.  These were times of intense, personal trial.  It is also the reason that Catholics observe forty days of Lent, a time of trial and fasting in preparation for the Holy Triduum.

Next time someone asks, what’s your number, think about it.