The Number 40

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exegete

Active member
Dec 23, 2018
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My Tiny Apartment
#1
The number 40 appears in scripture many times (40 years in the wilderness, Jesus fasted for 40 days, etc.). What is the significance of the number 40? I have no problem when it comes to say, the number 12 in scripture, but the number 40 remains a mystery. Any thoughts?
 
Nov 23, 2013
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#2
The number 40 appears in scripture many times (40 years in the wilderness, Jesus fasted for 40 days, etc.). What is the significance of the number 40? I have no problem when it comes to say, the number 12 in scripture, but the number 40 remains a mystery. Any thoughts?
I think it represents a time of trials or testing.
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
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#3
The best thing to do is study it for yourself. Look up every instance in an exhaustive concordance (such as the one on BibleGateway.org). See if there is a pattern to the situations in which it appears, and look for any situations where the number itself is given significance in the text.
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
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#4
What is the significance of the number 40?
Forty represents a time of probation and testing. However in the book of Judges 40 years appears several times as a time of rest.
 

Kavik

Senior Member
Mar 25, 2017
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#6
In most of these instances, one finds it in connection with the phrase "40 days and 40 nights" or just simply "40 days". It is an idiomatic expression in simply meaning "for a long (indeterminate amount of) time". One could also argue the 'meaning' - "we're not really sure exactly how long, but....it was longer than a few weeks, but probably not more than a month or so". It's not a literal count of 40.
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
30,875
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#7
In most of these instances, one finds it in connection with the phrase "40 days and 40 nights" or just simply "40 days". It is an idiomatic expression in simply meaning "for a long (indeterminate amount of) time". One could also argue the 'meaning' - "we're not really sure exactly how long, but....it was longer than a few weeks, but probably not more than a month or so". It's not a literal count of 40.

I can see how 'a thousand' is possibly idiomatic for 'more than can be counted' or 'a really big number' - notwithstanding that there are very exact numbers given in scripture bigger than this - but it's not beyond anyone to count to 40.

Hard for me to believe that 40 just means 'more than 10 but less than 100`
 
Jun 13, 2014
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#9
The number 40 appears in scripture many times (40 years in the wilderness, Jesus fasted for 40 days, etc.). What is the significance of the number 40? I have no problem when it comes to say, the number 12 in scripture, but the number 40 remains a mystery. Any thoughts?
'40' is one of many numbers or things that have divine significance tracing back to the sovereignty of God. Meaning the end of a season or journey. However so does the numbers 1,3,6,7,8,10,12,17,30,33,40, 41,666,777,888,10000, 100000,144000 and there tons more. They all have special meanings. They can create spiritual messages to the one who understands
 
Mar 28, 2016
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#10
'40' is one of many numbers or things that have divine significance tracing back to the sovereignty of God. Meaning the end of a season or journey. However so does the numbers 1,3,6,7,8,10,12,17,30,33,40, 41,666,777,888,10000, 100000,144000 and there tons more. They all have special meanings. They can create spiritual messages to the one who understands
Yes without parables Christ spoke not. Number metaphors are frequently used to hide the spiritual understanding from natural man. .

Like 10 in multiples . 10 or 100 or 1,000 or 10, 000 etc.They are used to represent a unknown signifying the whole of it as to complete . To include the word 144, 000 to represent a unknown amount of saints that make up the bride of Christ the church .

The word δεκα (deka) means ten. Apart from signifying a quantity between nine and eleven, this cardinal also served to indicate a collection of undetermined size but signifying the whole of it. How large the collection then actually was depended mostly on the size of the unit.

When describing the tower that fell interestingly the word 18 is used .looking at the Greek it is the word "deca for ten" . signaling indiscriminately the tower killed all (deka) again meaning a unknow as to whatsoever is in view.

Luke 13:4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

Luke 13:11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.






.
 
Dec 12, 2013
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#11
I can see how 'a thousand' is possibly idiomatic for 'more than can be counted' or 'a really big number' - notwithstanding that there are very exact numbers given in scripture bigger than this - but it's not beyond anyone to count to 40.

Hard for me to believe that 40 just means 'more than 10 but less than 100`
AMEN......did it not rain 40 days and 40 nights......that seems like a finite amount of time to me.........
 

tourist

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2014
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Tennessee
#12
Absolutely none whatsoever!
If there was no significance than there would be no point in stating '40' or any other number for that matter. Every word, jot, tittle in the bible holds great significance in understanding the character of God and to apply what is discerned in our spiritual walk with the Lord.
 

tourist

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2014
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#13
I can see how 'a thousand' is possibly idiomatic for 'more than can be counted' or 'a really big number' - notwithstanding that there are very exact numbers given in scripture bigger than this - but it's not beyond anyone to count to 40.

Hard for me to believe that 40 just means 'more than 10 but less than 100`
God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah if 10 righteous souls could have been found. If Abraham was bold enough to continue his inquiry it is possible that God would have spared both cities if only 1 righteous person was found.
 
Dec 12, 2013
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#14
If there was no significance than there would be no point in stating '40' or any other number for that matter. Every word, jot, tittle in the bible holds great significance in understanding the character of God and to apply what is discerned in our spiritual walk with the Lord.
AMEN.....my bible states clearly that every word is inspired and profitable...............we may not grasp the significance, but it the end it ALL means something or has bearing on the text......
 

Kavik

Senior Member
Mar 25, 2017
622
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#15
I can see how 'a thousand' is possibly idiomatic for 'more than can be counted' or 'a really big number' - notwithstanding that there are very exact numbers given in scripture bigger than this - but it's not beyond anyone to count to 40.

Hard for me to believe that 40 just means 'more than 10 but less than 100`
No, it's not beyond anyone to count to 40; however, the phrase itself "40 days and 40 nights" was an idiomatic phrase/expression simply indicating a long indeterminate amount of time. It's not a literal count of time. Idiomatic expressions rarely make sense (I'm sure you've heard the quintessential "How do you do? - how do you do what?").

I'm not sure we have anything similar in English. I think the closest we have to it is "in the long run" - in the sense of an indeterminate amount of time. In this phrase though, said indeterminate time span will happen in the future. With '40 days and 40 nights' the reference is typically to time in the past, but the concept is the same - both refer to a long indeterminate amount of time.
 
Jun 13, 2014
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#16
Yes without parables Christ spoke not. Number metaphors are frequently used to hide the spiritual understanding from natural man. .

Like 10 in multiples . 10 or 100 or 1,000 or 10, 000 etc.They are used to represent a unknown signifying the whole of it as to complete . To include the word 144, 000 to represent a unknown amount of saints that make up the bride of Christ the church .

The word δεκα (deka) means ten. Apart from signifying a quantity between nine and eleven, this cardinal also served to indicate a collection of undetermined size but signifying the whole of it. How large the collection then actually was depended mostly on the size of the unit.

When describing the tower that fell interestingly the word 18 is used .looking at the Greek it is the word "deca for ten" . signaling indiscriminately the tower killed all (deka) again meaning a unknow as to whatsoever is in view.

Luke 13:4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

Luke 13:11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.





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Parables? Symbolism can be meaningful without parables.
 
Mar 28, 2016
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#17
Parables? Symbolism can be meaningful without parables.
Hi thanks for the reply. Sorry in adavance for the length .

I see that a little differently. Symbolism I beleive provides the signified meaning in parables or patterns same word.The Bible informs us the gospel is hid from those who do not search for the hidden meaning. Comparing the unseen understanding to the same, or faith to faith , the unseen to the unseen. The power of the gospel.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.Roman 1:16-17 (Not of our own self previously having no faith , nothing.).

That I think would help us understand the purpose for the phrase "hidden manna" (What is it???) found in Revelation 2. The unseen understanding. It does not take away from the accuracy of the historical event but uses them, incorporating them as object lessons as a witness he moved the holy men of old. and it was not of their own selves. . . Law and prophets . The will and the witness Christ in us to both will and perform the good works he desires of us. We should do so without murmuring.

When we do not look at the object lessons as a parable then things like in Acts 14 begin to develop. And cause false sign gifts as lying wonderments And people with no faith attribute the human touch as the power to heal as if God was served by human hands .
Blasphemy as a violation of the first commandment.

Parables in that way always bring out the gospel . It is the power of God by which he heals us.

And there they preached the gospel. And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Acts 14: 10

Stand upright on thy feet.. the word of. . . . as the very power of God not that of Paul. . it performed its good work to represent the unseen as a parable or pattern.

The false gospel of Paganism, no faith, that alone comes from hearing as it is written. But rather walk by sight than the hidden understanding of the parable..

In the last days he has spoken to us through His Son . In that way as a living parable, teaching us how to eat food the disciples at first knew not of . Which is doing the will of our father as he works to strengthen us to make it possible to please.

I think that is what he meant that without parables he spoke not. Parables unravel the mysteries .All mysteries are given as parables

In all things shewing thyself a pattern of "good works": in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,Titus 2
 

Hazelelponi

Active member
Jul 8, 2019
190
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43
USA
#18
The number 40 appears in scripture many times (40 years in the wilderness, Jesus fasted for 40 days, etc.). What is the significance of the number 40? I have no problem when it comes to say, the number 12 in scripture, but the number 40 remains a mystery. Any thoughts?
I don't know but you can add another 40 to the list... the length of time from when Jesus began His ministry on earth to the destruction of the Temple was 40 years.. (or, depending on the dating of Jesus's birth would be 40 years from His crucifixion to the destruction of the Temple was 40 years)

I don't know the meaning though, I just don't know that we can speculate as to what that is.
 
Dec 12, 2013
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#19
God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah if 10 righteous souls could have been found. If Abraham was bold enough to continue his inquiry it is possible that God would have spared both cities if only 1 righteous person was found.
AND just think....ONE was found, but his spirit was VEXED with the filthy conversation of the wicked in JUST SEEING their sinful ways....... <---people should apply that to porn
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
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#20
Yes without parables Christ spoke not. Number metaphors are frequently used to hide the spiritual understanding from natural man.
Again you are misapplying the statement regarding parables. The text absolutely does not say, and does not mean, that every statement in Scripture is a parable.

If you disagree, then kindly explain what this parable means: "Without parables Christ spoke not."