Definitions

hebrew scripture

Hebrew numerology

Hebrew numerology is the practice of inferring significant meanings that are not immediately obvious from numbers, especially in Hebrew scripture. This takes several forms.

Numeric allegories

Number Meaning Example
1 Unity The Sh'ma: "The Lord your God is one God."
2 Fellowship "The two shall become one flesh
4 The space of the earth Four corners of the earth, four cardinal directions
5 The Law Five books of Moses (Torah)
6 Incompletion, uncleanliness (one less than 7), man Man created on the sixth day
7 Completion, wholeness 7 is most often chosen by God for self-representation
10 Government The ten commandments
12 Belonging to Israel Israel was divided into 12 tribes
40 trial Israel wanders 40 years in the desert

The number may be added or multiplied by itself to emphasize the symbol or by another significant number to combine the meanings of both. For instance, the Year of Jubilee took place every fifty years which is 7 multiplied by 7 (plus 1). The meaning of each number is not universally accepted.

Numbering of occurences

Another form of numerology takes note of the number of times a word occurs within the text. This may apply to the entire Bible (Hebrew or Christian), a single book, or a single passage. For instance, Genesis uses the word "God" 35 times which is 7 times 5.

Gematria

Gematria (Rabbinic Hebrew גימטריה , from the Greek γεωμετρία; English since the 17th century) is the numerology of the Hebrew language and Hebrew alphabet, and is used by its proponents to derive meaning or relationship. Several forms can be identified: the "revealed" form, which is prevalent in many forms of Rabbinic Judaism, and the "mystical form," a largely Cabbalistic practice. The word itself comes from the Greek word 'geometry' and the concept or system is the same as the Greek isopsephy and the Arabic isāb al-Jummal. There is also a gematria of Latin-script languages, dating from the early Middle Ages, and very possibly back to Roman times, too. Recent times have also seen an emergence of new gematrias, though these lack a length of exploration that more ancient versions have seen.

New Testament use

While the New Testament was written in Greek during a time of Hellinization, most of its authors and characters are Jewish and Hebrew patterns of numerology prevail. Like Moses, Jesus fasted for 40 days. As Jacob had 12 sons, Jesus gathered 12 apostles. The Book of Revelation, a book completely steeped in symbolism, contains abundant numbers. The Number of the Beast in Revelation has received the most numerological interest from Christians.

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