We now come to the Word of God, which is the greatest, and, to us, most important of all God's works. May we not look for, and expect to find, number used not only with the same wondrous design, but, here, with significance also? If there be design, there must be significance. We may not always see the reason for the latter in the works of creation; but we cannot fail to do so in the great work of Divine Revelation.
In Daniel 8:13 we read, "Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation," etc.? Here, a revelation of a certain future prophetic event was made to Daniel, by a certain saint or holy one, i.e., a holy angel; and "another" angel asked a question concerning numbers—"How long," etc.? The name of "that certain saint" is given in the Hebrew, and is placed in the margin, with its meaning. His name is "PALMONI," and it means "the numberer of secrets, or the wonderful numberer."
So that there is one holy angel, at least, whose function has to do with numbers. Numbers, therefore, and their secrets, hold an important place in the words as well as in the works of God. "A wonderful numberer" ("PALMONI") presides over them, and has his place in making known the things of God.
This certainly looks like design; and, if so—if not only the "days" in which revealed events shall take place are numbered, but the words also themselves are numbered— then we shall have a great and wondrous proof of the Divine, verbal, and even literal inspiration of the Word of God.
"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter" (Prov 25:2). In searching out, therefore, the secrets of the Word of God, we are doing not only a royal, but an honourable work.
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever" (Deut 29:29). Our searching must be confined to what is revealed. With what God has been pleased not to reveal, but to keep secret, not only have we nothing whatever to do, but we are guilty of the sin of presumption in even speculating about it. If a child of God is observed to be much occupied with God's "secret things," he will be found to be one who neglects the study of the things which God has revealed.
We can have neither words nor works without "number." The question which we have to answer is—Is number used with design or by chance? Surely if God uses it, it must be with infinite wisdom and with glorious perfection. And so it is. Each number has its own significance; and its meaning is found to be in moral harmony and relation to the subject matter in connection with which it stands. This harmony is always perfect. Every word of God's Book is in its right place. It may sometimes seem to us to be deranged. The lock may be in one place, and the key may sometimes be hidden away elsewhere in some apparently inadvertent word or sentence.
A volume might be written in illustration of this fact; and it would be a profitable Bible-study to search out these little seemingly unimportant keys.
For example: In Genesis 11 and 12, we see how Abram came out of Ur of the Chaldees, but instead of going on at once to Canaan, he stops a long time in Haran. The explanation of this delay is not given there. It is hidden away in Acts 7:4, where we read, "from thence [i.e. from Haran] when his father was dead." From which we learn that Terah was the hindrance; and we are taught by the fact, thus emphasized, how earthly relationships may sometimes hinder our complete obedience.
Another example is Isaiah 52:4: "My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without case." Here is a very difficult lock. This verse has greatly puzzled commentators, who assume that two oppressions are spoken of, one in Egypt and the other in Assyria. They are therefore at a loss to understand and explain why these two oppressions are mentioned together in one verse, as though they were closely connected, when in fact they were separated by more than seven centuries. The key is hidden away in one little word in Acts 7:18, "There arose another king." The word here translated "another" is not alloV, another of the same kind; but it is eteroV, another of a different kind; showing us that it was a different dynasty altogether: and the monuments now prove that it was a new Assyrian dynasty.*
Many other examples might be given to show how a name, or a word, or a genealogy, or a date, may be found, which is seemingly of little or no importance in its context, and yet may throw wondrous light on a passage written elsewhere, and be a key to a difficulty, otherwise, inexplicable. "But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit," whose infinite wisdom is seen inspiring the whole of Divine revelation and securing a uniformity in results which would be absolutely impossible in a work written separately by different writers.
Let us defer for the present the subject of significance, and look at a few facts which show a manifest design pervading the whole Bible, by which various agents, writing at different intervals, and thus separated both by place, and time, and circumstance, are yet made to use certain words a definite number of times.
The actual number depends upon the special significance of the word; for the significance of the word corresponds with the significance of the number of the times it occurs.
But where there is a general importance in the word, apart from its direct significance, then the word occurs according to law.
All such general and important words—i.e., such words on which the Holy Spirit would have us place special emphasis, or would wish us to lay special stress—occur a certain number of times. These are either—
It is interesting to notice why these numbers should be thus associated together. They are significant in themselves, for seven is one of the four so-called perfect numbers, 3, 7, 10 and 12, as we shall see below.
The association of the numbers 11 and 7 connects this arithmetical law with the geometrical, and calls our attention to the phenomena presented by the sides of the four primary rectilineal forms—
The number 18 (the sum of these, 7 + 11) in Scripture and in nature is usually thus divided into 7 and 11, or 9 and 9.
As 7 is to 11 expresses also the ratio between the diameter of a circle and its semi-circumference; or between a semi-circle and its chord.
Further, as 18 in Scripture and in nature is divided into 7 and 11, so 7 is divided into 3 and 4 (3+4=7), and 11 is divided into 5 and 6 (5+6=11).
These numbers, 3, 4, 5, and 6, are related by a perfect arithmetical progression, whose difference is unity (1). Their product gives us the well-known division of the circle into 360 degrees (3x4x5x6=360)*. No one can tell us why the great circle of the heavens (the Zodiac) should be divided into 360 parts, instead of any other number, for apart from this it appears to be perfectly arbitrary. This is the number, however, which gives us the great Zodiacal, Prophetic, and Biblical year of 360 days, which was given originally to Noah, and employed by the Babylonians and Egyptians.
It is the multiplication of seven of these great Zodiacal circles, or years, by seven, which gives us the great number expressive of chronological perfection (360x7=2520).
The number 2520 is, perhaps, the most remarkable of all others, for
Finally, in the musical scale, as we have already seen, we again meet with these numbers seven and 11 as the expression of the seven primary notes and the 11 semitones.
What there is of design or chance in all this we must leave to the judgment of our readers.
It is sufficient for our purpose now, merely to note that these two numbers, seven and 11, have been specially selected to play so important a part;* and that there is such a remarkable relation between them must be due to design.
Why should it be these two numbers seven and 11? Why not any other two numbers? or why two at all? Why not three? We may or may not be able to explain why, but we cannot close our eyes to the fact. We are now merely observing phenomena and noting the working of laws. Let us look first at
The Old Testament
The Authorised Version, and indeed all printed Bibles, contain and reckon 39 separate books in the Old Testament.
The Alexandrian Jews and early Christian Fathers reckoned 22 (2x11) books. This number was arbitrarily and artificially made by putting certain books together in order to make the number of the books agree with the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.*
But all these reckonings are of no value, none of them being based on any authority, and all of them being against the authority of the Hebrew MSS, which is all that we have to guide us in the matter. In other words, the number and order of the books of the Bible come to us on precisely the same authority as its facts and doctrines.
In the Hebrew MSS Ezra and Nehemiah are always reckoned as one book, with the one name, Ezra. Each of the double books is reckoned as one book (e.g. 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles), and all the minor prophets are also reckoned as one book. This makes 24 books in all. This is 8 x 3, both factors stamping the number with the seal of Divine perfection. (see under the numbers Three and Eight).*
The New Testament contains 27 separate books (3x3x3 or 33).
Of these 27 books, 21 (3x7) are Epistles.
If we take the agents employed, we have 28 writers (4x7) in the Old Testament, and 8 (23) in the New Testament; or together, 36 (62).
Of the 21 Epistles of the New Testament 14 (2x7) are by Paul, and seven by other writers.
In this we have an argument for the Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews; an argument which is confirmed by the numbers of verbal occurrences shown below. (See pages 37-41.)*
Not only do we find these phenomena in the books and the writers of the Bible, but in the occurrences of important words and phrases.
In God's covenant with Noah (Gen 9) the word tyrb@, Berith, "covenant," is used seven times; with Abraham (Gen 15 and 17) 14 times.
"Verily" is shown to be a weighty word. It occurs 49 times (72) in the first three Gospels* and 25 times in John (52). In the Gospel of John, however, it is always used double ("Verily, verily"), making 50 altogether in John, and 49 in the other three, or 99 in all (32x11).
If we separate those which were spoken to the Disciples and those spoken to others, we have
"Moses" occurs 80 times in the New Testament (42x5) (or 23x10). The Concordance gave only 79, overlooking Hebrew 11:23.
The names of the Apostles conform to this law:—
Seven were called before the whole Twelve were appointed:—
Here the seven is divided as usual into 4 and 3. Four being recorded in John's Gospel, and three in the other Gospels.
It is probable also that they belonged to seven different families, but the relationships are too uncertain for us to speak positively. At any rate seven were brothers:—Peter and Andrew; James and John; James (the less), Judas (Lebbaeus or Thaddaeus), and Simon (Zelotes).
Side by side with this seven-fold order, marking the number of the Apostles, there is a three-fold division of the twelve into fours.
Altogether there are four (22) lists of the Apostles' names; three in the Gospels and one in the Acts. In each list the order of the names varies, but with this remarkable agreement, that the first name in each group is the same in each list, while the other three, though they are in a different order, are never in a different group, thus:—
Note (1) that 4 hold the same place in each list, Judas Isacriot being always last.
(2) That in Matthew and Luke the first four are arranged in pairs according to their calling and sending out; while in Mark and Acts they are placed individually according to their pre-eminence.
(3) The second four are given in Matthew, Luke, and Acts, in pairs; while in Mark they are given individually.
(4) The third four are in Matthew, again given in groups; while in Mark, Luke, and Acts the order is individual.
(5) That each group furnished a penman of the NT: from the first Peter and John; from the second Matthew; from the third James and Jude.
The illustrations of the working of this law might be indefinitely extended. We have given merely a selection from our lists, which contain a large number of examples. Let us turn to
In the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, seven seems to be the predominating number, not only used as a numeral, but in the occurrences of the important words:—
These are some examples, among many others, from one book.
tw$dl:w$t@ hl@e)' (aleh tol'doth), these are the generations, i.e., these are the events that time brought forth to him; (from dly (yalad), to bring forth); or these are the things or persons produced by him. This phrase occurs 14 times in the Bible, 13 times in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament.
The first and last are used only of the "first Adam" and of the "last Adam." But these have the additional formula, "This is the book of," etc. (Gen 5:1 and Matt 1:1).
While the total number is 14, Genesis has 11, which divide the book into twelve sections. The first section being the Introduction, and the rest consisting of these eleven "Tol'doth," making twelve divisions in all, in Genesis.
The eleven Tol'doth in Genesis are as follows:—
The Massorah calls attention to the fact that the word Tol'doth, in the Old Testament, is spelt in two ways. The first and the last occurrences (Gen 2:4 and Ruth 4:18) are spelt with two Vaus, (tw$dl:w$t@); the other eleven are spelt with one Vau (td&l:w$t@). Various fanciful explanations of the phenomena are indulged in by Jewish Commentators. But the simple reason seems to lie in the fact, that the spelling of the first and last is called plene, i.e., full or complete; while the spelling of the other eleven is called defective. Thus the eleven which relate to Adam and his posterity (5:1, &c.) are stamped with defect: while the first, which relates to the heavens and the earth, tells of the perfection in which they were created; and the last, which relates to Pharez (Ruth 4:18), contains the first mention of the name of David, and tells of the Perfect One—David's Son and David's Lord, who shall restore perfection to His people as well as to the new heavens and the new earth.
It is instructive to notice these divine divisions, and see how different they are from either man's chapters, or man's theories as to the Jehovistic and Elohistic sections, according to which some editor is supposed to have pieced together a number of separate documents by two different authors, one of whom used the word Elohim (God), and the other Jehovah (LORD).
As a matter of fact, if we take these divinely marked sections, five of them contain both titles (viz., the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 11th); four of them contain neither (the 5th, 7th, 9th, and 10th); only the first has the combined title Jehovah Elohim (the LORD God); and only the Introduction has Elohim alone; while "Jehovah" is used by nearly all the speakers, except the Serpent, Abimelech (to Abraham, not to Isaac), the sons of Heth, Pharaoh, Joseph, and his brethren.
Thus, this simple fact to which we are led by the consideration of design in the employment of numbers, entirely explodes the elaborate theories of the so-called "higher critics" concerning the Book of Genesis
We must not, however, multiply these seven-fold occurrences, because they properly come under our head of "significance," and belong to the many illustrations of this number of spiritual perfection. We shall treat them more fully under the number "Seven." We will close these few specimens, selected from a long list of over one hundred, with the phrase, thus shown to be important:—
Of these 28, note, that 7 are in the Gospels, and 21 in the rest of the New Testament; a seven-fold arrangement within the square numbers.
This law, affecting the occurrence of important words, may be used in evidence as to authorship. For example, if we take certain words in Paul's Epistles alone, we do not find the law operating unless we include the Epistle to the Hebrews. If we add the occurrences in Hebrews to those in the other Pauline Epistles, the harmony is at once restored. Omitting those numbers which have their own special significance, such as 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12 ,13, etc., let us note the following examples of squares, cubes, 7, and 11:—
This list might be greatly extended, especially if we included groups of words from the same root.
When we consider the same phenomena with regard to the other numbers according to their own peculiar significance,* the evidence is overwhelming as to the so-called Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Without it the Epistles of St. Paul are only thirteen in number, with it they are 14 (2x7). This principle governs the occurrences and use of words.
The same test may be applied to
In the same way we may take both Old and New Testaments together, and see how marvellously thirty-six writers so use their words that when all are taken together we find the same law at work! This would be absolutely impossible if "one and the self-same Spirit" had not inspired the whole so as to produce such a harmonious result. The instances are very numerous, and the following words and phrases are given merely as examples:—
The half of the important Prophetic period (Daniel's last week, or the last of the 70 weeks, Dan 9:27) is mentioned seven times. This, perhaps, ought to be reserved and considered in its significance under the number "seven." The point, however, now is the manner in which this seven is made up; for though the period is given in three different languages, two Testaments, and three forms (years, months, and days) the number is still seven:—
Have we not in all this a design which is far beyond nature? A supernatural design? Numbers must occur; and the only question is, Shall they be used by design or by chance? In order, or disorder? According to law, or without law? In the works of God they are used always in perfect order. Surely then we ought to look for the same order in His Word; and be surprised if we do not find it.
If we look at a window of coloured glass, made after the modern fashion, with pieces of various colours put in at haphazard, we see at once that there is no design. But if we observe another window in which the pieces of glass are arranged in a perfect and intricate geometrical pattern, or with human or other forms, we immediately acknowledge design, and say that the hand that formed that window must have been guided by a head that designed the whole!
This is our conclusion, then, as to the works and Word of God. Neither Moses nor any other person could have secured the above results. Moses used a certain word by Divine inspiration, not knowing, in all probability, how many times he had used it. It is inconceivable that, even had he known, he could have told Joshua how many times he was to use it; and that Joshua could have arranged with another; and that this could have gone on for fifteen centuries and ensured that the last writer should use the word only a certain definite number of times so as to secure a particular result! Impossible! No! Each writer must have been ignorant as to this final result; but each wrote "as he was moved by the Holy Ghost"; and hence, each contributed such a part as should end in perfecting the original design.
This sweeps away as with a flood, all the puny attempts of man either in attacking or defending the inspiration of the Word of God; for that word has suffered almost as much from the unwise defences of its friends, as from the malignant attacks of its enemies.
We take the high ground of making everything else submit to it. Instead of making the Bible agree with science, science must agree with the Bible. If it does not, it is only because it is "science falsely so-called," and not real science. Scientia is the Latin word for knowledge. Whereas very much of what goes by the name of "science" to-day is not science at all. It is only hypothesis! Read man's books on this so-called science, and you will get tired of the never-ending repetition of such words as "hypothesis," "conjecture," "supposition," etc., etc. This is the reason that such theories, which are falsely dignified by the name of science, are constantly changing. We talk of the "Science of Geology," or of "Medical Science"; but read books on geology or medicine, for example, written fifty years ago, and you will find that they are now quite "out of date." But truth cannot change. Truth will never be "out of date." What we know can never alter! This of itself proves that the word science is wrongly used when it is applied only to hypotheses, which are merely invented to explain certain phenomena.
It is not for such theories that we are going to give up facts. It is not for conjectures that we are going to abandon truth. Man must offer us something better than his own thoughts if he wants us to give up the thoughts of God. In the Bible we have got something certain and something perfect. Every fact and truth which is discovered only helps to prove its truth and to exhibit its perfection. No monument that has ever been dug up—no manuscript that has ever been discovered, has ever been other than an evidence of Bible truth! We are not afraid of any phenomena which may be observed in the rocks, or of any monuments or tablets which may be dug up from beneath them. These are not, and never have been, contrary to the Word of God. It is only man's interpretation of them which is against that Word, because it is only his thoughts which oppose it.
Man, and all his thoughts are imperfect; so imperfect that he has failed even to take proper care of God's perfect Word.
Like a beautiful stained glass window which has suffered from accident, or fire, or siege, and which man has endeavoured to "restore." We can see how exquisite are its colours and patterns; how perfect it once was. Here and there is a tiny piece wanting, or misplaced. But it does not hinder us from discerning the perfection of the original geometrical figure, or from admiring the delicacy of the features of the figure pourtrayed. The window is indeed marred. And one man has done much to repair the injury caused by the negligence of another. We can see the defect of the repairs; but we can see also that the design was originally perfect, and we praise and admire the wisdom of the designer.
So it is with the Word of God. Nothing can hide the perfection displayed in its design. Man has been false to his trust. He has not preserved it with the faithfulness which should ever characterise a steward. But because man has been unfaithful, we are not going to question the faithfulness of God! Because man has not properly cared for this precious gift of God, we are not going to question the perfection of that gift!
But this is what man has done and is doing;—he is charging upon God the result of his own sin, neglect, and folly!
God has given man this "bread of life," and he is analysing it instead of eating it! God has given man His Word, and he is criticising it instead of believing it! This is the "wisdom" of man "up to date." This is the highest flight of his wisdom—"higher criticism"! Truly "the world by wisdom knew not God" (1 Cor 1:21). It never did and never will. Human wisdom ever leads from God. It is so with nineteenth century wisdom! It may seem very clever, very daring, very wise, for man to criticise the Word of God, but it is still true, as it is written (1 Cor 3:19).
Then away with man's wisdom! we do not want it. What we want is God's truth, and if man's science does not agree with God's Book, then so much the worse for his science.
We will come to God's Word as those who are foolish in the eyes of the world, because we desire to be made wise unto salvation (2 Tim 3:15); and because we remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures" (Matt 22:29).