Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Allusions In Numbers

It is no secret that the Tenakh ("Old Testament") uses numbers symbolically - most readers of the bible are familiar with the frequent use of the number 7 for example. In fact, there is a method of bible study called "gematria", which is the study of numerics in he bible. While I DO believe there is some merit to numerical study in the scriptures, I am very cautious, as one could really come to some bizarre conclusions, hence, I don't particularly follow gematria per se, but rather, I take note of common numerical themes which are demonstrably in the biblical text.

In the first chapter of Matthew, we read of the genealogy of Yeshua. Matthews genealogy is interesting, because he starts at Abraham, and counts it in such a way as to achieve a certain numeric outcome. The verse reads as follows: "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations." Matt. 1:17

Three times Matthew draws out the number fourteen (7x2) in referring to Yeshua's genealogy. Why was this number so important to Matthew? One of the reasons is readily seen if you understand the link that Matthew is seeking to point out to the reader between Yeshua, and His Messianic link to David.

David was anointed King of Israel by Samuel the Prophet in 1 Samuel ch. 16. Of course, he didn't actually take the office of King until many years later. In 2 Samuel ch. 7, David is given a promise by YHVH that his "throne" would be "established for ever" (spec. vs. 16). Without getting into all of the details concerning the issue, I will just point out that, both within Judaism and Christianity, it is understood that the Messiah would be the King of Israel, sitting on the throne of David, His Patrilineal Ancestor.

So, with that quick (very quick!) lesson, let's understand Matthews desire to point out the relevance of Yeshua's genealogy to the fact that He is the Messiah of Israel, via His link to David. The numeric value of David's name happens to be fourteen (David's name in Hebrew is comprised of the letters 'dalet', 'vav', and another 'dalet'. The numeric value of the letter 'dalet' is 4. the numeric value of the letter 'vav' is 6. so with two 'dalet's' and a 'vav', we have fourteen.).

This link between the numeric value of David's name, and the way that Matthew breaks Yeshua's genealogy into three sets of fourteen has been pointed out before by many bible teachers. I simply wanted to explain it so that my next point would have a backdrop that made sense.

This weeks Torah portion is called "T'rumah", and encompasses Exodus 25:1 to Exodus 27:19. This portion begins with the receiving of offerings from the people of Israel for the purpose of constructing the Tabernacle, as well as the various "furnishings" that would go with it. The first three items that we read about are the "Ark" ("of the covenant" as it came to be known), the "Mercy seat", and the "Table" ("of shewbread"). Each item came with specific instructions as to how they were to be built, including the exact size of the item. Now what I really want to get to is the size of these three items. We read in Ex. ch. 25 the following, concerning the actual dimensions of the "ark", "mercy seat", and "table", respectively: "They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height...You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth...You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height" (Ex. 25:10,17,23 - ESV).

Notice that the total size of the ark is 5.5 cubits. The mercy seat comes out to 4.0 cubits. The table ends up being 4.5 cubits. When these three are added together we get a total of 14 cubits!

The symbolism of these three pieces of "furniture" are significant indeed, when viewed from a Messianic perspective, and in light of the Apostolic writings ("New Testament"), however that is not the scope nor purpose of this post. I simply wanted to point out that the measurements of the three first items listed in Ex. 25 equal 14, a number associated with David, the King of Israel, and, according to Matthews genealogy of Yeshua, the "son of David" who is to assume the throne in the future.

I have by no means exhausted the meaning and symbolism of this in my own study (which I will continue to do), and even less so in this post. I merely wanted to share these simple correlations here, and hopefully provoke others out there to examine it in more detail. Hopefully together, we can gain a deeper understanding of the scriptures that will continue to equip us in the knowledge and understanding of God's Holy, AWESOME word!

Be blessed in Yeshua our King!

1 comment:

Gematria Scholar said...

Thanks for your fascinating article, and especially a lot of the numerical connections which I hadn't seen before. Gematria can be taken too far (like anything else) but there are numerous times when Gematria does help to explain otherwise obscure references to numbers in the Bible. It is all a question of knowing when to draw the line!