The Biblical meaning of 43
Oct 15, 2011
43 is the biblical number of contention.
The number is written in Hebrew as a mem (40) and a gimel (3). A mem means "water," signifying a flow of history of time. Gimel is a camel, signifying elevation or glorification to a position of authority. (Pride is its negative connotation.)
Because of this, we see the number 43 intertwined with Scriptures dealing with men contending for positions of authority.
The 43rd time that Abram is mentioned in Scripture is in Gen. 15:18, where God gives his descendants possession of Canaan. "To your descendants I have given this land." When the time came to possess it, of course, Israel had to contend for possession of the land.
Abraham is mentioned for the 43rd time in Gen. 21:12, "through Isaac your descendants shall be named." This is the divine decision after Isaac and Ishmael had contended for the birthright.
The 43rd time that Isaac is mentioned is in Gen. 26:20, where he is seen contending with the herdsmen of Gerar for the well of Esek.
(20) The herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, "The water is ours!" So he named the well Esek, because they contended with him. (21) Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over it too, so he named it Sitnah. (22) And he moved away from them there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth, for he said, "At last the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land."
This is perhaps the most significant example of the number 43, showing its connection to quarreling or contention. Isaac's name is not mentioned for the 44th time until the contention is resolved.
The 43rd time Jerusalem is mentioned is in 2 Sam. 20:7, where David's army went out to pursue Sheba, who was contending or quarreling with David for the throne. In verse 18 Sheba was killed, and "thus they ended the dispute."
In the New Testament, the 43rd time that Jesus' name is mentioned in the book of Luke is found on the mount of transfiguration in Luke 9:33,
(33) And it came about, as these were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah."--not realizing what he was saying. (34) And while he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. (35) And a voice came out of the cloud saying, "This is My Son, My chosen One; listen to Him!"
In this case God disputed Peter's proposal.
The 43rd time that Peter's name is mentioned in the New Testament is found in Acts 5:29, where we find him contending with the high priest, who had commanded them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus:
(29) But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men."
The 43rd time that Paul's name is mentioned is in Acts 18:9, 10,
(9) And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city."
The topic is about the people contending with Paul over the Gospel of the Kingdom.
In Galatians 3:17 we read that it was 430 years (43 x 10) from the promise to Abraham to the law of Moses. The promise to Abraham was really a New Covenant promise that was given 430 years before the Old Covenant. The promise came first, Paul says, in order to take precedence over the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant could not overrule the promise to Abraham, because it was given first.
Also, at the conclusion of 430 years, Moses contended with Pharaoh, and God sent 10 plagues to bring Israel out of Egypt. This was a time of great contention.
Paul mentions this time period in the context of the contention between the Old and New Covenants. The two covenants were being disputed in Paul's day, but Paul gives us the clear revelation that the Old Covenant could neither bring justification, nor could its adherents become inheritors.
In Galatians 4 Paul tells us that the Old Covenant and Jerusalem correspond to Hagar, while the New Covenant and the Jerusalem from above correspond to Sarah. Those who adhere to Hagar as their "mother" are not inheritors of the Kingdom, for they correspond allegorically to Ishmael.
The contention in Paul's day was a repeat of the contention in the time of Abraham between Ishmael and Isaac. This same problem has arisen in the 20th century, because many have come to believe that Jerusalem is the "mother" and center of the Kingdom in the age to come. Likewise, they believe that Hagar's children (Jews of Judaism) are the chosen inheritors.
Many have been fooled because they are looking at this issue from a racial position. They see Palestinians as physical Ishmaelites, and the Jews as physical descendants of Isaac. Neither is strictly true, of course, because the Palestinians are not Arabs any more than the Turks, Kurds, or Iranians are Arabs. Likewise, Jews come from virtually all racial stocks--black Falashi Jews from Ethiopia, white Jews from Europe, Asian Jews from China and Japan, and, of course, Khazars (Turkish-Mongolian) from Central Asia.
But Paul was not speaking racially in Galatians 4. He said he was "allegorically speaking" (4:24, NASB). In this allegory, Hagar, the bondwoman, is the Old Covenant itself and corresponds to Jerusalem (4:25), which "is in slavery with her children" (4:25) and "born after the flesh" (4:29). This fleshly religion of Judaism also persecuted the Church ("Isaac"), even as Ishmael had persecuted Isaac.
Paul was the expert on this topic, because he had been the main instigator of this persecution in his earlier days as an allegorical "Ishmaelite." When he was converted, he changed mothers and became a citizen of the Jerusalem from above.
All of this contention is portrayed in the number 43 and 430. It is a very important number that reveals the underlying contention between the two covenants. In our time, the same contention is being played out between Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem. Each city has its adherents, and each city is contending for the birthright.
Who is truly chosen? That is bound up in the meaning of the next number: 44. It is the number of "chosen people."
Dr. Stephen Jones