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Numbers and Verses

Friday, September 15, 2006

One of the areas of study that has intriqued students of the Bible throughout the ages has been the study of Biblical numerology. Books have been written upon the subject and some individuals tend to make this a major theme in their preaching - being certain to point out any time significant numbers are used and reminding their listeners with certainty of what those numbers mean.

I will readily admit that there does seem to be a significance to some of the numbers that are in the Bible. For example, the numbers 3, 7, 12, 40, 666, etc. all seem to have a significance behind their use. Many people will state that 3 is perfection (because of the Trinity, etc.), seven is completion, etc. To a degree, I would think that there may even be some merit in some of those ideas, as well, but would caution about using these numbers to make any kind of point, since God does not give us the meaning of any of the numbers.

What I have found a couple of times,recently, however, is that not only the numbers in the TEXT of Scripture are being used as a basis of interpretation, but even the numbers that are in the DIVISIONS of Scripture are being used as part of the interpreation.

A while ago, someone game me a book entitled, What Hath God Wraught by William Grady. This book is subtitled A Biblical Interpretation of American History. Being an amateur historian, I thought it might be an interesting read. In chapter three, where he argues for the idea that America is mentioned in the Bible, I came across this interesting paragraph.

To find our nation in Scripture, one must tun from Revelation to Genesis, the book of beginnings, for it is not America's ignominious demise but rather her glorious conception that is magnified by the Holy Spirit. And as the number nine in Bible numerology just happens to be God's number for fruit bearing, we know where to find the birth announcement. In Genesis chapter 9, verse 27 (2+7=9), we read: "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." (italics his)

Recently, I also came across a post on SharperIron (in the forums) that used similar reasoning.

Please note first of all that there are 13 verses to this parable. This alone should send up a red warning flag. If the number 13 is involved, more than likely, a misunderstanding is forthcoming or, there is evil lurking.

Later in that same post, the auther commented:

12. National rejection, Kingdom takes on a mysterious form, Watch out for # 13. Mat. 13:11, 13:24, 13:31. 13:33, 13:44, 13:45, 13:47,

Now, despite the fact that I am not sure that 13 is unlucky for the people of God in the Bible (did not the walls of Jericho come down on the 13th time around the city?), there seems to be another more obvious problem with this thinking to me - we are talking about VERSE numbers and CHAPTER numbers here!

Our Bibles were not written in Hebrew and Greek with chapter and verse divisions already there. While there was some divisions in the Hebrew (O.T.) from around 200 A.D., the chapter divisions as we have them were created by Steven Langton in the 1200s A.D., and the verse divisions within the chapters were done in 1488 (O.T.) and 1551 (N.T.).

It seems incredible to me that someone could think that they are making a valid point regarding the significance of a verse or the interpretation of a verse based upon anything to do with chapter and verse numbers that did not exist for well over one thousand years after the verses were written.

Just my thoughts,



Greg Linscott said...

Hey hey- this is the first comment on this post... AND... it's being posted at about 1:00 PM EDT..

That HAS to mean something! :D