The Symbolism of Numbers in the Old Testament

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by Blake Bowden, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

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    Worshipful Master, Dale Woodward Lodge, no. 55, Bucharest

    The attentive reading of the Old Testament, the Torah, and Kabbalah and other sacred Hebrew writings presupposes the knowledge of the way in which Jews used the science of names and numbers in their numbers-letters code. The goal of this code was to hide meanings from the uninitiated and at the same time to show the interior teachings to initiates.

    Each letter of the Hebrey alphabet has several meanings – for example, the letter Aleph (A) means „breath of life, power, source“, whereas Beth (B) means „house, shelter“ – and so on with all the others. Symbolism has permitted that the hidden teachings become evident to those who knew how to read the profound meaning of the names of all the persons and places described. The learned can penetrate through the mask of allegory and to receive or to offer a divine guidance through numbers and letters.

    For example, the story (parable) of the killing of Abel by Cain is about brotherly rivalry. But, speaking symbolistically, the name of Cain means organism and the natural material human desires, whereas the name of Abel means soul and the idealistic human nature. These characters were named thus as a warning against the fact that materialism may kill the spiritual ideas; thus, it was said that Abel was killed by Cain. (Genesis 4:8).

    Many biblical characters that reached periods of spiritual growth and development in their lives received other names through divine grace. Thus, Abram becomes Abraham (Genesis 17:5) and Sara becomes Sarah (Genesis 17:15). In both cases, the Hebrew Heh (H), a letter meaning „light“ was added to the name, to denote the attaining of spiritual enlightenment.

    The writers of the New Testament themselves changed names to underline the spiritual evolution of the individual. For example, Saul becomes Paul after conversion to Christianity (Acts 9:1-22 and 13:9). This symbolizes the erasing of the letter Shin (S) and replacement with Peh (P). Shin means „tooth or fang or snake“. Peh means „mouth.“ After this modification, Saul became Paul, „filled with the Holy Ghost“ (Acts 13:9). According to Proverbs 22:1, „A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches.“

    Another use of numbers in the Biblical language implies the recounting of years lived by a person, how much he created and how he died. These numbers did not refer to the age of a man in years, but, rather, to the evolution to spiritual enlightenment. The meaning of the name begotten indicates the development of a characteristic. The cycles were in the like manner presented through the generations of the origin. For example, from Adam to Noah there were nine generations, and from Noah to Abraham there were also nine generations. This made it be that Noah be the ninth from Adam and Abraham the ninth from Noah.

    Adam had three boys – Cain (body), Abel (soul) and Seth (Abel’s replacement to carry forawrd the spiritual light). In a parallel situation, Noah also had three boys – Shem (spirit), Ham (physical nature) and Japhet (mental nature). These names represent the evolution of human consciousness after 18 cycles of change.

    Abram ment „father“ whereas Abraham presupposes the addition of the faith in God that he was conscious of. At the age of 99 years, Abraham had Issac, whose name means „May God smile beautifully.“ Isaac had Jacob, whose name means „enlightenment through soul, the unveiling of the soul.“ The twelve sons of Jaboc (Genesus 35:22-27) signify twelve types of conscience represented by twelve types of character in the signs of the zodiac.

    The study of the whole of the Bible in this light means a life of fascinating discoveries. It may be said that the Hebrew language, more than any other language, offers us the great opportunity to study the profound power and meaning of names.

    Here is a short list of key-words for the numbers of Biblical times:

    The source before manifestation.
    God, the only constant divine unit.
    Duality – human, not divine.
    The attributes of 1+2=3 – the union of human and divine qualities.
    The idea of solidity – stability.
    The humanity with its five developed senses.
    Equilibrium, fitting, peace.
    The septentrional nature of humanity, cyclical plenitude.
    Accumulation, force, power, greatness.
    Consolidation, conservation, humanity.
    God and humanity, father – mother – divinity, completion.
    Modern numerology was partially developed from these concepts. The numbers and letters reflect meanings from the past to which are added many spiritual interpretation. The meanings of our names are today deep and can be described letter by letter and number by number at the moment when we reach the cycles of expresion from one year to another within our own lives.

    0 GENESIS means „first cause,“ it refers to the primordial source. The first couple of verses from Genesis belong only to the One God, as divine creator, who creates the world out of nothing or from the unmanifested.

    1 „Let there be light“ (Genesis 1:3). The first spiritual emanation of light. If our soul continues to follow the light, we will come back to the source. 1 means a new beginning and also it means unity.

    2 „... And God divided the light from the darkness.“ (Genesis 1:4). 2 means duality, day and night, heaven and earth, man and woman and all the polar opposites. Thus, the development of choice started with good and evil, truth and falsity, positive and negative.

    Pythagoras says, „2 is the imperfect condition in which ‚being’ falls, when it becomes detached from the monovalent body (the monad), God.“ Manly Hall, in The Mystical Christ declares: „when the eyes of duality (both) are open, the sight of the soul is darkened.“

    3 THE FIRST TRINITY – Adam and Eve and a child. Thus, 3 means the manifestation and expansion. Other trinities survive in our world – body, soul, spirit, and the three divisions of the mind – conscious, subconcious and superconscious.

    4 MANY BIBLICAL REFERENCES are taken from the cycles of the natural world. The symbolism of the four seasons and the four winds is found in the vision of Ezekiel about the four living creatures – the face of a human, the face of a lion, the face of a buffalo and the face of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:5-14). These four are connected with the four fixed zodiacal signs.

    The four elements appear symbolically as birds of the air, the fish from the sea, the fir of God and the crumbs of the earth. Genesis 2:10-14 tells us: „And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.“ The rivers were named Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel and Eufrat. Metaphysically, these names mean spirit (fire), breath (air), body (earth) and blood (water). These symbolize spirit, reason, body and soul, which are four principles that vitalize the material body during life on earth.

    5 METAPHYSICALLY, a river represents vital force. Human beings are the reservoir of this force, as the garden symbolized the body. The river in Genesis 2:10-14, described as the number 4, represents a flux of humanity itself from the earth, which divides and divides until t covers the entire earth. 5 is the number of humanity with its five developed senses. The five senses are introduced in the first chapters of Genesis to indicate the fact that the senses are essential in human creation; an thus 5 is the number of humanity.

    Five plays an important role in the parable of David and Goliath: „And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook... and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.†(1 Samuel 17:40). The five stones represent the spiritualizing of David’s senses. David believed in the interior God of Love and had learned to use the spiritual poer within himself. According to mystic legends, when David touched the five stones, these became a single stone, combining thus all the powers of his senses. The name Goliath means material power; thus, the parable wishes to prove the existnce of spiritual power over material power.

    6 THE PREPARATIONS for the appearance of humanity were made in the time of the five days of creation, and thus, on the sixth day, God made man. „So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them“ (Genesis 1:27). Thus, 6 is associated with the formation, with maternal instinct, with paternal instinct, with family life, and work. House, family and children are in the care of 6; human relations and love abound.

    Moses, the first legislator, modeled the Ten Commandments on the example of God, who created the world in six days. „Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work“ (Exodus 20:9). Thus, 6 refers to work and labor, as it is the sixth sign of the zodiac, Virgo.

    Through love will evolve the sixth sense, if men show their piety. The Book of Ruth is the key to the number 6 and to love. In Ruth 3:15, Boaz gives Ruth sixes measures of oats, which symbolizes love and protection.

    7 IS THE PRINCIPAL NUMBER in the Bible; it is used very many times (some say, over 360 times) both in the Old Testament and in th New Testament. „But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates“ (Exodus 20:10).

    One of the most profound examples of the use of the symbolic number 7 is the fall of Jericho in the Book of Joshua, 6:1-20.

    And the LORD said unto Joshua: See, I have given into thine hand Jericho... And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days... and seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets... And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. (Joshua 6:2-5)

    It is obvious that the fall of Jericho was not done through fire, but it was used the principle of the number 7. Victory was obtained through the positive vibration of the sound that gave birth to a unprecedented power.

    8 THE MYSTERY of the number 8 is that of eternal and continuous movement in a spiral, which is constant in the universe. The current of the force of life pass through the body forming the figure 8, following the cerebral-spinal and sympathetic nervous systems, as if they were rays of light. That is why in moments of profound meditation a real light can be seen. The horizontal 8 [symbol o0] means „as it is higher, so lower.“ It is a symbol of power. In Genesis 17:10, the rite and vow of circumcision must be done on the eighth day of life of a man-child. This was considered one of the most important vows between God and mankind.

    9 FINALLY, contains the forces of the other numbers. It signifies a complet cycle of evolution. The nine generations from Adam to Noah and from Noah to Abraham show the levels of evolution and development. Noah was ninth from Adam, and Abraham ninth from Noah.

    When Abram receives the covenant of God and his new name, Abraham, he was 99 years old (Genesis 17:1-5). Symbolically, his age reduced to a 9, to indicate the fact that it was a period when the spiritual cycle ended. The addition of the letter Heh (H) to the name Abram also carries the vibration of 9.
     
  2. TCShelton

    TCShelton Founding Member Premium Member

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    Numerology works its way into everything.
     
  3. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    i loved that part of the scottish rite degrees.
     
  4. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member

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    This is precisely what I believe we are attempting to do in Lodge. Our ritual can create some real power which it only increases when performed in unity with other Brethren.
    Super great post Brother Blake where did you dig that up?
     
  5. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

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    The Grand Lodge of Romania.
     
  6. Star Mztyk

    Star Mztyk Registered User

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    Found this thread by search....It is Awesome and needs to be refreshed. I plan to write about Virgo/6 and how the Masonic Work has Esoteric meanings in astrology
     
  7. cog41

    cog41 Premium Member

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    Biblical Mathematics by Edward F. Vallowe may be of some interest. Never read it through but interesting indeed.

    I think much of it is quite a stretch, but also find some of it very enlightening.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2012
  8. Travelinglight357

    Travelinglight357 Registered User

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    Great post!
     
  9. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    Great.

    Thanks.

    Now ... more! more! more!
     
  10. Star Mztyk

    Star Mztyk Registered User

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    I Am waiting myself.......on you
     
  11. Star Mztyk

    Star Mztyk Registered User

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    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  12. towerbuilder7

    towerbuilder7 Moderator Premium Member

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    Excellent Post, Blake. The study of numbers has always fascinated me, and this fascination has only been enhanced since I became a Mason.
     
  13. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    Me too. I'm very fascinated by numbers.

    Let's see:

    2 + 2 = 4

    and

    2 x 2 = 4

    so ...

    how can

    2 / 2 = 1


    See, this stuff is a sho-nuff enigma in my mind!

    :20:
     
  14. cog41

    cog41 Premium Member

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    Could being a Tiger fan have anything to do with that?

    Hook'em Horns and Roll Tide!!!!!

    Sorry, I couldn't resist!:21:
     
  15. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    I'm still sore ... :15:
     
  16. BryanMaloney

    BryanMaloney Premium Member

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    All the stuff about "8" is nonsensical, given that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, which uses "ח". In no case is any sort of "spiral" inferred. Likewise, lying the Hebrew symbol on its side will not result in anything resembling "". Thus, any "8" related "symbolism" is not in the Old Testament. Instead, it is forced onto the Old Testament by external sources, inventing "meaning" out of imagination rather than "discovering" meaning that is there.
     
  17. Dion

    Dion Guest

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    Morning Brother;

    You have likely seen it already, but Manly P. Hall authored a book (1933): The Story of Astrology The Belief in the Stars as a Factor in Human Progress.

    "Is it then superstition or scientific heresy to suggest that a subject, which has occupied the minds of the world's ablest thinkers for the entire period of the world's recorded history, might be worthy of a more tolerant attitude by our modern pedagogues?"

    I've not seen it reprinted online, but it can be purchased reasonably. A good place to begin research.

    You might enjoy this: When The Invisible Sun Moves Northward Pt.1/9 [Video]
    This winds up being about 90 minutes, each segment is about 10 minutes.

    Good luck in your research.


    JacobsLadder.png
     
  18. Dion

    Dion Guest

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    Or possibly Aramaic. Good bet it wasn't English.

    It's a matter of "units" of something, not how they are represented graphically (symbols in their own right, regardless of "language").

    The first cube. (not necessarily OT Biblical unless you choose to relate it to the Holy of Holies - 20x20x20). The arithmetic is the same in all languages, as far as I know. 2x2x2. Everybody comes up with what their language represents as 8.

    There were 8 separate groups/phrases of creative words spoken (specifically, "And God said") in Genesis 1.

    8 were saved on the Ark (Genesis 8).

    Are either of those symbolic? Depends on one's point of view. Given the limitations of our perception as a species (senses), imagination seems to me to be a good thing. I can imagine the Tower of Babel as an 8-step ziggurat (step pyramid), but it may have been as few as 6 steps or as many as 12. Allegorically, does it matter? Maybe I interpret Genesis 11 as an ancient building code: "You shall not construct an edifice above three stories using fired brick and slime mortar".
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2012
  19. BryanMaloney

    BryanMaloney Premium Member

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    While all your statements are valid for the number 8, the supposed meanings in the essay all attached to the numeral "8", which is not the number. Since Hebrew (and Aramaic, for that matter) did not use the symbol "8" to stand for the number eight, speculations based on the symbol that came much later than did the Old Testament, are still off the mark. If one wants to get an amazing amount of numerological speculation on the Old Testament, one should consult the Zohar or other aspects of Kabalah.
     
  20. Star Mztyk

    Star Mztyk Registered User

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    Just a comment not related to the OT but about the #8.... Pythagoras based his cosmology on Base 8. He saw 7 steps then the octave. Bro. Dion, in the thread where I expounded upon the harmonics.....I should have said the 1st harmonic is the symbol that is the circle .....what we dont see is that that circle is spiraling. Take an instrument like the flute that creates a sine wave (lacking harmonics in timbre) and blow harder across the apporture causing the air to spiral around inside faster and it will create the same note but an octave higher. The next harmonic is the Perfect 5th, then 4th, Major third, minor 3rd and so forth.

    ......Pythagoras from all the books that I have read demontrated the quality of synesthesia ....where the senses interact in a strange way. One might taste numbers, smell colors, feel smells, and hear Geometric shapes. It is believed or suggested that Mystics in the past when swept up into states of ecstasy may have been caught up in such an episode.
     

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