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There are no numerals in the original text of the Bible. Not in the Hebrew of the Old Testament, and not in the Greek of the New Testament. And there is a good reason for this. Numerals (figures for numbers, such as 1, 2, 3, etc) only came into being about 400 years after Jesus was on earth.
Numerals were developed by mathematicians in India. They came long after the canon of the Old and New Testament Scripture was finalised. Wherever you find a number mentioned in the original text of the Bible, it is spelled out.
Take an example ... in 2 Chronicles 26:13, it says, “Judah had an army of 307,500 ...̶. Your Bible almost certainly has this number in figures (numerals). That is easy for us to follow. But the original Hebrew text says, “Shalosh meot elef ve’shivaat alefim ve’chamesh meot̶. Translation ... “three hundred thousand and seven thousand and five hundred”.
In Bible days, people counted with a tally system. One, two, three, four scratches (that is as many as the eye can take in and separate easily) ... then cross them out. That indicates a total of five. A second group of five, and you have a “set” of ten.
And they would use an abacus. Many ancient cultures, the Persians, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and, of course, the Chinese, made rapid calculations using an abacus, or counting frame with beads.
A set of ten, in Hebrew, they say “eser”. In Greek, “deka”. But it is useful to have a symbol. So the Hebrew ancients and the Greeks used their alphabets, and the letters of the alphabet were each allocated a numeric value.
The Romans used letters out of the Latin alphabet to indicate numbers, but only seven of those letters were used. In Hebrew and Greek, every letter of the alphabet has a numeric value.
So, looking at the Hebrew alphabet: ALEF, the first letter, has a numeric value of 1, and has had as far back as anyone knows. (For the numeric values of the remaining letters in the alphabet, see Hebrew numerics)
Of course, the letters KAF, MEM, NUN, PEH, TZADI have a different shape – a final form – when the letter appears at the end of a word, but that doesn’t affect its numeric value.
What about Aramaic? There is a little Aramaic in the Old Testament ... in the book of Daniel and the book of Ezra ... about ten chapters in total. But it is phonetic Aramaic. Hebrew letters are used. And each of those letters has a numeric value.
With that in mind, and believing we can see God’s hand of design in the Scriptures, let us look at the first verse of the Bible.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). In Hebrew ... “Bereshit bara Elohim et ha’shamayim ve’et ha’aretz”. (See Genesis 1:1 values)
In Session 3 of this video seminar series on “Design in the Torah”, we looked at prime numbers. The first four prime numbers – single-digit prime numbers – are 2, 3, 5 and 7. (A prime number is a number that is divisible by 1 and by itself only).
Now in Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew, the middle word has two letters. That is the first prime number and it is a unique prime number, because it is the only prime number that is an even number.
There are three words on each side of this middle word. Three is the second prime number.
There are seven words in total. That is a prime number.
There are five letters in the third word, to the right of the middle word, and five letters in the fifth word, to the left of the middle word. Five is a prime number.
Add the two letters of the middle word to the five letters of the word on the right, and we get seven. Add the two letters of the middle word to the five letters of the word on the left, and we get seven. Seven is a prime number.
There are three letters in the second word, and three letters in the sixth word. Three is a prime number.
Now, let us work out the numeric value of each word. (See Genesis 1:1 numerics)
Bereshit: BET (2), RESH (200), ALEF (1), SHIN (300), YUD (10), TAV (400). Total ... 913
bara: BET (2), RESH (200), ALEF (1). Total ... 203.
Elohim: ALEF (1), LAMED (30), HEH (5), YUD (10), MEM (40). Total ... 86
et: ALEF (1), TAV (400). Total ... 401
ha’shamayim: HEH (5), SHIN (300), MEM (40), YUD (10), MEM (40). Total ... 395
ve’et: VAV (6), ALEF (1), TAV (400). Total ... 407
ha’aretz: HEH (5), ALEF (1), RESH (200), TZADI (90). Total ... 296
The total value of all the letters in all these words is 2,701. And that breaks down to 37 times 73. 37 is a prime number, and 73 is a prime number. Do you see how the numbers reflect each other?
That seems to be by design, doesn't it?
Note how it matches in with the middle five of the seven words. Three, and three letters. Seven, and seven letters. Seven, and seven letters. Three, and three letters. That's clever.
37 is the twelfth prime number, and 73 is the twenty-first prime number. Note how these two numbers reflect each other ... 12 and 21.
Let us make a number by combining the figures of 37 and 73 ... 3773. That breaks down to 7 x 7 x 77.
I don't think that any of this is by accident.
Now, let us work out the value of word one and word three, bereshit and elohim. 913 plus 86 equals 999. That is an interesting number. Break it into its prime numbers and it comes to 37 x 3 x 3 x 3. 37 is prominent again.
Words two, four and five, bara, et and ha-shamayim ... 203 plus 401 plus 395 ... adds up to 999. Again divisible by 37.
What about the three leading words in the sentence? The words for God, the heavens, and the earth ... Elohim, ha’shamayim and ha’aretz ... the third, the fifth and the seventh words. Add the value of these three words. It comes to 777. That is 37 x 7 x 3 ... 3 7 7 3.
And words three, five and six ... Elohim, ha'shamayim and ve'et. 86 plus 395 plus 407. It comes to 888, which is divisible by 37.
One set of words adds up to 777. Another set adds up to 888. And two different sets add up to 999.
What genius created a meaningful, significant sentence ... a theological truth like this ... and designed it with such amazing numeric features?
Now, to end this session, let me show you two more things and we are done.
The Hebrew word for “forever” is “ad olam”. The numeric value of “ad” is 74 (which is 37 x 2). And the numeric value of “olam” is 146 (which is 2 x 73). Interesting to see the reflected image again. (See Forever in Hebrew.) God wants us to think about “for ever”.
And, lastly, in Session 4 of this series, “The letters of the Hebrew alphabet – Signs”, I made the point that there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, with 5 final forms. The first letter of the alphabet is ALEF. The middle letter is MEM. And the last letter is TAV. These three letters spell “emet”, and the numeric value of “emet” is 441, which breaks down to 3 x 7 x 7 x 3. (See Truth in Hebrew.) 3 7 7 3.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life ...” Truth in Hebrew is “emet”. It all points to Jesus.Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; and no one comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6).
With understanding of Hebraic thought, and awareness of design elements in the Scriptures, we take a journey of growth in Christ Jesus.
The seminar “Bringing sons to glory” starts with Session 1: “You are gods” What did Jesus mean? ... and continues through the Psalms of Ascent.
This series will increase your knowledge of biblical Hebrew.