Numerology — the Numbers Game
September 5, 2023
I’ve read many essays over the last year or so that, in my opinion, are in serious error in one way or another. But, who am I to judge?
Well, first of all, I am not judging in the sense of the phrase “passing judgment” as if my decree should mean anything to anyone. I know the Bible adage about a speck of sawdust in another’s eye while a 2x4 is in my own. I am trying simply to discuss and share what I am learning.
Second, I am convinced my efforts can have a positive effect on people, at least those kinds of people that still maintain curiosity and a learning attitude. I don’t look for arguments as in hostile contention in unfriendly debate. Open discussion void of cynicism is what I hunger for.
To illustrate, one essayist was saying that his research showed Biblical numerology was predicated on numerology from various other cultures, mostly predating the Bible. This is one of many ideas advanced by a certain school of philosophers who are always inferring that the Bible texts, stories, and truths were stolen from other civilizations and cultures. Such attempts come from a school of cynical critics of God, Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity — not from unembellished scholarship. They are “on a mission” — a mission to discredit God, Jesus, the Bible, and well, Christians themselves. Nevertheless, it is a fact that diverse civilizations and cultures use numbers and phrases in similar, if not identical, ways to one another. People who have mastered several languages encounter these diverse linguistic structures. They have nothing to do with their history and etymology. So, would such linguistic origins be significant enough to discredit anything, including the Bible?
Common phrases are just how people talk. In ordinary settings across distance and time, people communicate in similar ways. That is not an earth-shaking revelation. Understanding the use of numbers to communicate ideas across cultures, and diverse languages, and over centuries is not an earth shattering revelation, nor is it a reason to belittle others languages, reality, or worth.
Note this definition of a word — which I think is relevant to my point — “vernacular — using a language or dialect native to a region or country…” — MerriamWevster.com. This is simply how ordinary people talk to other ordinary people as in ordinary people talking to each other at an ordinary grocery store.
Okay. So what is numerology? Few have studied the subject, because it is generally outside of religion, philosophy, and science. It is ethereal, and it proposes mystical ideas gained from within certain numbers related to certain contexts. It’s a complex muddle that has no particular value for normal people living normal lives. It’s actually an intellectual exercise conceived in futility and birthing frustration in an odious mission to bring God down to their cynical level, and trying to corral Christians, herding them into their cynical world.
Everybody I know talks with words, not numbers — even Mathematicians have to put down their chalk once in a while and use their words to order a Pizza.
By my calculations and Bible perspective, it is hard for me to imagine any thinking about the significance of numbers relating to events before the very first events of Creation — which Genesis claims God initiated. He initiated everything… everything, all events, and He is the originating source for all Mankind’s thoughts, religions, philosophies, and all the Sciences and all the diverse dynamics of life… physical, intellectual, emotional, vocational, avocational, social, and centered on the spiritual, which is sometimes called our soul, and which, unfortunately, is in a coma, on life support, needing revival… a miracle.
Regarding this essay, the most significant gift God has given us is our brain, but we really need to learn how to use it… Please don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to draw a picture that gives a false impression and simulates us as part of a puppet show. We are very independent beings who only need to develop what God has given to us. All of us have free will choices in all these matters.
Remember this joke? “When it was time for God to hand out brains, I thought people shouted “Trains!” and ran to the Railroad Station.”
One thing in that person’s essay that I think is true is the significance of the number “40.” As in the story of Noah and the Flood, I have speculated (because I wasn’t there) that the description of a flood that “covered the whole Earth” was only from the perspective of the people living in the Mesopotamean region. It certainly covered their whole world. That is what they saw. That is what they wrote.
So, then, the claim of the significance of the number “40” appearing in many different cultural texts, to me, is that it is allegorical: It was a phrase that means “a long period of time; a generation; or a full period of time.” — (gotquestions.org/Biblical-numerology) So, in the Flood story when it rained for “forty days and forty nights,” it simply means it rained for a long time!
That is also something I first learned from the essay in question. (So, I do give the smallest nod to the essayist.)
This does make sense to me, because in my quest to clarify archaic religious words, I found words and phrases which have become meaningless, even misleading. By using various Bible Dictionaries, including Greek and Aramaic Lexicons, I have discovered new perspectives and discovered a better understanding of God, Jesus, and the Bible — all of which can be applied in pragmatic, “meat and potatoes” ways.
Note: Scholars continuing intensive studies of ancient texts written in Greek and Aramaic, also used in the Bible, are clarifying understanding and then Bible translators can correct editing using this new knowledge.
Understanding the use of numbers, if you want your head to spin, here’s a way to do it. Read the article located online at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_numerology.
Please don’t try to use that info as anything but to understand allegorical definitions as used in phraseology. Above all, please don’t use the “Q” nonsensical and paranoia laden methodology of “connecting the dots”- dots which even they cannot define. Use logical common sense and applied science.
My concluding thought is that it is hard for me to believe there is any useful significance of sourcing numerology in the Bible to oblique writings — outside of using numbers like phrases in ordinary sentences in communication with one another. For Biblical examples, there is the number of Man — 6; completeness — 7; 40 — already discussed; and any other number having clear significance and pragmatic applications merely in the place of regular words. That author is in error, trying to make something out of nothing, arguing something outside of reason and practicality. Who cares where the numerical phrases originated?
I cannot figure how they might have been sourced and were predicated on outside and/or earlier cultures, because “In the Beginning” is significant. The fact that, by definition, nothing could have preceded the beginning. There was nothing said before “God said…” So numbers throughout the Bible only shows that God made an orderly Universe which allows the Sciences to make sense out of it all.
More importantly, God makes the Bible understandable to ordinary folks.
Also, try to remember the use of numbers has no secret message wrapped up in deep, deep caverns that only those “in the know” can fathom. The Bible is meant to reveal God’s excellent nature and His plan for our lives. God wants you to gain things like wisdom. He isn’t trying to hide anything, from anybody. He is not trying to block us from any good gift for life.
So, please, allow me to move on to a more edifying topic…
One clarification of a significant phrase is in the Genesis’ story of the Garden of Eden. Generally, the recounting of events was clear to me. However, I was never clear on what exactly the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was all about. Was it the knowledge of the difference between good and evil? Could be, but that was not exactly how it was written. In my research on another topic, some scholar had found in ancient Egyptian texts that the words “good” and “evil” were not used individually but as a phrase: “good evil” or “evil good” interchangeably. The author said the phrase actually means “the knowledge of everything.” Thus, Satan’s seductive proposition to Eve started to make more sense: Satan’s ploy was, “For God knows that when you eat of it [the forbidden fruit], your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, [knowing everything].” — Genesis 3:5, [my edit]. The significance, which Eve, in her inexperience, did not recognize, and could not have possibly known was that the allure of gaining something that was far, far and away above her pay grade would only lead to misuse and calamity. Its desirability was not so desirable as first perceived.
Don’t we all attempt saying and doing things like Eve did, things far, far and away above our pay grade, that is, beyond what we are capable of?
In the vernacular, it’s called “talking out of our butts” or “just asking for trouble.”
If we want to improve anything safely, we should read the directions…
Don’t get stuck halfway through building our futures. There is a map…
Let’s not be hesitant to ask for directions to get to our vacation spot.
Don’t stay lost in between and in oblivion. Read the Bible and ask God to let you use His map… It’s much better than the old crumpled up and crazily folded one in our glove compartments.
Jesus invited us to understand by saying, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28–30, Berean Standard Bible.
Jesus assured us that He came that “we may have life, and have it in all its fullness.” John 10"10, ibid.
My hope is that you will pursue Jesus and receive His gift of life in its fullness.