Glossary of Images and Related Explanations in the Revelation:

Note:  This section of the glossary of images relates specifically to the use of numbers within the Book of Revelation.

Today, numbers are used not only for mathematical purposes, but also to convey thoughts or concepts.  For example, in some countries the number "13" might mean "unlucky."  The number "911" may represent an emergency (e.g., a 911 phone call) or the World Trade Center disaster that occurred on September 11, 2001 (9/11/01).  The number "1" to many might mean "unity."

Included below are some of the more common numbers used by the Jews and Christians in the Bible that came to have meanings other than the normal mathematical values:

Glossary of Numbers and Their Meanings
Number Meaning* References to Explanation
6 Things of the world.  Falling short of perfection.
  • Seven was considered to represent total perfection (see below).  One less than seven would be less than perfect...or falling short of perfection.  For example, six days of labor did not make a complete week.  Only when the six days of labor were followed by a day of rest was it a full or complete week.
7 Total perfection
  • Seven-Day Creation and Rest - According to the account of the creation (Genesis chapters 1-2), God created all things in six days and then rested on the seventh day, blessing that day as a day of rest.

  • Seven days in a week - the original week as recorded in the Bible consisted of six days of work and then a day of rest.

  • Seven days of unleavened bread in the feast of the Passover (Exodus 12:15-17).

  • Seven days of atoning sacrifices on the altar (Law of Moses - Exodus 29:30-37).

  • Sprinkled seven times before the veil of the sanctuary, altar, etc. (Law of Moses):

    • Book of the bull sacrifice (Leviticus 4:5-6, 16:14-19)

    • The anointing oil (Leviticus 8:10-11)

  • Seven days for priests to remain within the tent of the meeting (Leviticus 8:33-35).

  • Seven day period for quarantine during periods of disease, impurity, etc. (Leviticus chapters 13-15).

  • Seven day offering of fire before the Lord (Leviticus 23:8).

  • Counting of Seven Sabbaths (7X7) - Leviticus 25:8.

  • 70 times 7 - Jesus said that you should forgive someone 70 X 7 times in Matthew 18:21-22.

12 A sacred number.  Sometimes used to represent the entirety of an organized religious group.
  • 12 tribes of Israel.
  • 12 apostles of Jesus.
  • 12 foundations of the eternal city in Revelation.
  • 12 apostles to sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel (see Matthew 28:19, Luke 22:30)
1000 Ultimate completeness
  • "For every beast of the forest is Mine (God's), the cattle on a thousand hills." Psalm 50:10 (NAS)

  • 'Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee, 18 who showest lovingkindness to thousands, but repayest the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The LORD of hosts is His name; Jeremiah 32:17-18 (NAS)

  • "For the LORD has driven out great and strong nations from before you; and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day. 10 "One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you. Joshua 23:9-10 (NAS)

* This is the non-numerical meaning that is oftentimes (but not always) attributed to this number in the Bible.  The meaning would not apply in all instances used.  For example (using a modern-day illustration), if you were reading a book where it referred to a farmer that had a total of nine hundred and eleven cows, you would not normally assume that the writer's use of the number "911" was for the purpose of referring to an emergency or the World Trade Center disaster on September 11th.  However an individual cow with the brand of "911" on its side might be referring to something other than the numerical value.

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