Imperfection, Disorder, Incompleteness
To write eleven in Hebrew, they wrote two Hebrew letters: yod (hand) and aleph (strength). These signify the hand (outworking) of one's strength. Man's works apart from God are imperfect and out of order, and so they come ultimately to disintegration.
Eleven is the number of imperfection, disorder, or being out of order. Jacob had only eleven sons remaining at home after Joseph was lost and presumed dead. This portrays a measure of disorder. Only when Joseph was found and reunited with his brethren was there the order of divine government—the number 12.
Israel was rebellious against God ten times from the time they left Egypt to the day the twelve spies gave their reports (Num. 14:22). God then judged them, saying that they would have to spend 40 years in the wilderness. As we showed earlier, ten indicates the judgment of the law. But then the people refused to accept God's judgment, and this became their eleventh sin—disorder. They attempted to conquer Canaan on their own, but failed miserably (Num. 14:39-45). It does not work to do the right thing at the wrong time, nor to do the wrong thing at the right time. Both manifest disorder.
Also of note is the fact that it was an eleven-day journey from Mount Horeb to Kadesh-Barnea, where the 12 spies gave their report and where Israel committed their eleventh act of rebellion against God.
According to Jer. 39:2, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. Again, to emphasize disorder, God gave Ezekiel a revelation about the destruction of Tyre “ in the eleventh year ” (Ez. 26:1) and also of Egypt “ in the eleventh year ” (Ez. 30:20).
After Judas betrayed Jesus and hanged himself, this left just eleven disciples. As they contemplated the soon-coming day of Pentecost, Peter understood that eleven disciples constituted a number of disorder. He also understood that Judas had played the role of Ahithophel (Psalm 109:8) and that, therefore, he should be replaced (Acts 1:20).
So the disciples cast lots (Acts 1:26), and Matthias replaced Judas, making the total number of disciples back to twelve—divine government. Matthias served temporarily as a stand-in (Acts 1:26) until Jesus appeared to Saul and called Him to the ministry (Acts 9:5). God then trained him for fourteen years before commissioning him on his first missionary journey (Gal. 2:1; Acts 13:2) and renaming him “Paul” (Acts 13:9).
The eleventh time Paul is mentioned is in Acts 14:14. Paul had just worked a miracle, healing a lame man. The multitudes then said, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us” (vs. 11). The people brought out garlands to honor Paul and Barnabas like gods. This was clearly out of order.
14 But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them.”
After Paul brought correction to these people, they dragged him out of the city, stoned him, and left him for dead.
Eleven, therefore, shows disorder and incompletion. For this reason there is often judgment associated with this number.
In similar manner, Egypt was out of order by refusing to let Israel go. So God brought ten plagues upon Egypt —the judgments of God. The eleventh offense was at the Red Sea when Pharaoh tried to bring the “Church in the wilderness” back into slavery. They were out of order.
Canaan himself had eleven sons (Gen. 10:15-18). The Canaanite kings symbolically depict the inner strongholds in our minds (2 Cor. 10:4, 5) that prevent us from submitting to Christ fully. Likewise, there were eleven dukes, or chiefs, of Edom (Gen. 36:40-43).
To write twelve in Hebrew, they wrote two Hebrew letters: yod-beth. These signify the hand (outworking) of the household in harmony under divine authority.
Twelve is the number of governmental perfection and divine authority. It follows 11, which is the disorder preceding this perfection. There were 12 sons of Jacob in the Old Testament and 12 apostles in the New Testament. There are 12 foundations in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:14). It also has 12 gates and 12 angels at the gates (Rev. 21:12) and 12 pearls at the gates (Rev. 21:21). The city is foursquare at 12,000 furlongs (Rev. 21:16). The wall is 144 cubits high (Rev. 21:17), which is 12 x 12. All of this is to portray the concept of divine government and order.
Though all priests and kings were anointed, the Old Testament specifically records 12 anointed men. The first five are priests; the last seven are kings:
- Aaron (Lev. 8:12)
- Nadab (Lev. 8:30; 10:1)
- Abihu (Lev. 8:30; 10:1)
- Eleazar (Lev. 8:30; 10:12)
- Ithamar (Lev. 8:30; 10:12)
- Saul (1 Sam. 10:1); the sixth being man's choice (1 Sam. 8:18)
- David (1 Sam. 16:13); the seventh being God's choice (1 Sam. 13:14)
- Absalom (2 Sam. 19:10)
- Solomon (1 Kings 1:39)
- Jehu (2 Kings 9:6)
- Joash (2 Kings 11:12)
- Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:30)
Jesus spoke of 12 thrones on which the 12 apostles would sit to judge the 12 tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28). Solomon had 12 officers, or deputies, ruling with responsibility in his household (1 Kings 4:7).
The twelfth time Jesus is mentioned is in Matt. 4:10, where He establishes the truth of divine government:
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only'.”
To write thirteen in Hebrew, they wrote two Hebrew letters: yod-gimel. These signify the hand (outworking) of pride.
The number thirteen speaks of rebellion and depravity. The first occurrence of the number 13 in the Bible is found in Gen. 14:4, where it signifies a time of rebellion:
4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled.
There were 13 tribes of Israel, including Levi, after Joseph received the double portion with two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh. And when the tribes were given their inheritances in Canaan, there were 13 inheritances as well. Levi received no inheritance, but Manasseh received a double portion, one on each side of the Jordan River. These show the rebellious heart of Israel after the flesh.
In Mark 7:21, 22 Jesus lists 13 sins that proceed out of the heart of a carnal man. The word “dragon” appears 13 times in the book of Revelation.
Dr. Bullinger points out on pages 206, 207 of his book, Number in Scripture, that in the lineage of Cain (from Adam to Tubal Cain), when we add the gematria of all the names, it comes to 2223, a multiple of 13 (13 x 171). Contrast this with the lineage from Adam to Japheth (Noah's oldest son), which is 3168. This is also the gematria of “Lord Jesus Christ.” (800 + 888 + 1480 = 3168)
On pages 216 and 217, Dr. Bullinger points out that the names of Judah 's kings have a gematria of 4400 (8 x 550), while the names of Israel 's kings have a gematria of 3900 (13 x 300). While Judah 's kings (David's lineage) were anything but perfect, they did provide the genealogy to Jesus Christ, while the kings of Israel were in open revolt against the house of David in Jerusalem. Thus, the gematria of Israel 's kings is a multiple of 13, the number of rebellion or depravity.
To write fourteen in Hebrew, they wrote two Hebrew letters: yod-daleth. These signify the hand (outworking) of the door. It pictures a release or deliverance from the prison with the opening of the door.
Fourteen is the number of deliverance or release. Israel was delivered from Egypt by the Passover lamb that was killed on the 14th day of the first month (Passover). When the ship that was carrying Paul to Rome was caught in the storm, they were delivered on the 14th day (Acts 27:33, 34).
In Gen. 12:10 Abram went down to Egypt in order to deliver himself from the famine in Canaan. This was the 14th time Abram's name is mentioned in Scripture.
The 14th time that Abraham is mentioned is in Gen. 18:13, where the Lord told them that Sarah would deliver a child (Isaac) in the next year. When Sarah laughed, the Lord said, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”
The 14th time Israel 's name is mentioned is in Gen. 45:28, when Jacob-Israel came to understand that God had delivered Joseph. This also released Jacob himself from his second 21-year “time of trouble,” for Joseph had been presumed dead for 21 years.
The 14th time Joshua's name is mentioned is in Num. 27:22. It was the occasion where Moses laid hands upon him to commission him as Moses' replacement. This released Joshua into his calling and released Moses from his own calling.
The 14th time Jesus' name is mentioned in the book of Luke is in Luke 4:35. Jesus delivered a man from a demon.
To write fifteen in Hebrew, they would have written two Hebrew letters: yod-hey, except that these also spelled YAH, an abbreviation of the Holy Name. So instead they wrote the number 15 as teth-hey. But because this innovation was merely a substitute for yod-hey, I do not think that it affects the actual meaning of the number. Yod and hey signify the hand (outworking) of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which gives us a new direction in life. If substituting teth for yod does have meaning, it may be that it signifies coming short of a New Direction, because teth is only nine, which, added to hey (five), comes only to 14. We might interpret this in the light of Judaism’s inability to move into the new direction inherent in the New Covenant.
Fifteen is the number of new direction. Psalm 15 speaks of entering God's rest when we dwell on God's holy hill. This is a new direction from the normal walk of the carnal man. Even as eight follows the perfect cycle of seven and is the number of new beginnings, so also 15 follows 14 (the second cycle of seven).
Israel left Egypt on the morning of the 15th day of the first month. After being in bondage in Egypt for so long, this marked a new direction for the nation.
The 15th time that Noah is mentioned is in Gen. 7:7,
7 Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood.
It was a new direction not only for Noah's family, but for the whole earth as well. The 15th time that Abram is mentioned is in Gen. 12:14,
14 And it came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful.
Here we find Abram taking a new direction by going to Egypt. The 15th time that Abraham is mentioned is in Gen. 18:16,
16 Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off.
After the two angels had appeared to Abraham, they were ready to go in a new direction to Sodom.
The 15th time that Isaac is mentioned is in Gen. 24:14, where Eliezar had gone to Haran to find a wife for Isaac. He arrived at a well and needed to know what direction to go, so he prayed that God's choice of bride for Isaac would offer him and his camels a drink. Rebekah showed up and did this.
The 15th time Jacob is mentioned is in Gen. 27:21,
21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.”
Again, the idea of movement comes into the forefront, the new direction being toward Isaac. The 15th time Israel 's name is mentioned is in Gen. 46:1,
1 So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac.
Israel was going in a new direction—this time to Beersheba. The 15th time Joseph is mentioned is in Gen. 37:28, where Joseph's brothers lifted him out of the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites, effectively sending him in a new direction to Egypt.
In Judges 19:10 Jerusalem is mentioned for the 15th time,
10 But the man was not willing to spend the night, so he arose and departed and came to a place opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem)…
The man departed and went in a new direction. The 15th time David is mentioned is in 1 Sam. 17:23, 24, where Goliath was challenging the armies of Israel.
23 … and he [Goliath] spoke these same words; and David heard them. 24 When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid.
The Israelites fled in a new direction. In the New Testament, the 15th time Jesus is mentioned is in Matt. 4:18,
18 And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casing a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him.
These disciples were called into a new direction for their lives. In the book of Mark, the 15th time Jesus is mentioned is in Mark 3:7,
7 And Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea.
It is obvious that Jesus went in a new direction when He “withdrew to the sea.” The same idea is found in Luke 5:8, where Jesus is mentioned the 15th time in that book:
8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
The 15th time Paul is mentioned is in Acts 15:12, where Paul and Barnabas found a multitude of people who were ready to hear about the new direction of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Evangelist Ed Vallowe says that 15 is the number of “rest.” He cites the fact that the 15th day of the 7th month is the beginning of the feast of Tabernacles, and that it was a Sabbath day of rest. However, a Sabbath is also a new direction insofar as the people were to cease their labor and do something different. Likewise, the 15th time that Naomi is mentioned in Ruth 3:1,
1 Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security [“rest”—KJV] for you, that it may be well with you?
If one continues to read the context, we find Naomi sending Ruth in a new direction in order to make herself noticed by Boaz. The idea of “rest” itself can certainly fit the number 15 at times, because going from “work” to “rest” is a new direction. But the number 15 has a broader meaning.
The first section of the Psalms began with the perfect man in the garden and ended with Noah's flood. Section two began with Nimrod the Rebel and ended with Isaac the obedient servant, the type of Christ who came to redeem rebellious man. Section three of the Genesis Book of Psalms, beginning with Psalm 16 (KJV), focuses more upon the perfect man, Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the Cross.
To write sixteen in Hebrew, they would have written two Hebrew letters: yod-vav, except that these came too close to YHVH, the Holy Name. So instead they wrote the number 16 as teth-vav. But because this innovation was merely a substitute for yod-vav, I do not think that it affects the actual meaning of the number. The Hebrew letters yod-vav signify the hand (outworking) of the nail, which joins the hearts of two people as one.
Hence, if the rabbinic alteration has meaning, and because the actual letters of their innovation add up only to 15, it may be that it shows how they fell short of the Love of God, which is the meaning of number 16. Even as the Jews (children of the earthly Jerusalem) were unable to go in the new direction of the New Covenant, so also could they not comprehend the love of God as defined in Romans 5:8-10.
The Hebrew letters yod-vav signify the hand (outworking) of the nail, which joins the hearts of two people as one.
Sixteen is the number of love. It was because of the love of God that Jesus was nailed to the cross for the sin of the world. The cross manifested the love of God for all mankind. John 3:16 says,
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
In the great “Love Chapter” of 1 Cor. 13:4-8, Paul lists sixteen characteristics of love.
4 Love is patient (1), love is kind (2), and is not jealous (3); love does not brag (4) and is not arrogant (5), 5 does not act unbecomingly (6); it does not seek its own (7), is not provoked (8), does not take into account a wrong suffered (9), 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness (10), but rejoices with the truth (11); 7 bears all things, (12) believes all things (13), hopes all things (14), endures all things (15). 8 Love never fails (16).
In the tabernacle of Moses, there were 16 sockets of silver to hold up the 8 boards on each side. Ex. 26:25 says,
25 And there shall be eight boards with their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board and two sockets under another board.
The sockets held the boards in place and gave the tabernacle stability. But today God indwells us. We are His temple, or tabernacle. Paul alludes to this in Eph. 3:17-19,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love [the sockets], 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
The 16th time Noah is mentioned is in Gen. 7:9,
9 there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.
Does this not speak of love and marriage? Even all the animals went in “ by twos, male and female.” The 16th time Abram is mentioned is in Gen. 12:16, where Pharaoh loved Sarah and took her into his harem. The book of John uses the Greek word agape (“divine love”) precisely 16 times.
To write seventeen in Hebrew, they wrote two Hebrew letters: yod-zayin. It signifies the hand (outworking) of spiritual weaponry, which gives us the victory.
Seventeen is the number of victory. It follows number sixteen, because “ love never fails ” (1 Cor. 13:8). In fact, let it be emphasized that there is no ultimate victory without love. Adding all the numbers from one to seventeen gives us 153, which is the number of fish that the disciples caught in John 21:11. Because 153 is the numeric value of beni h'elohim, “sons of God,” we can see that there is a strong connection between the final victory and the manifestation of the sons of God.
The 17th time Abraham is mentioned is in Gen. 18:18, in connection with the final victory and purpose for his calling:
18 since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed.
The 17th time Isaac is mentioned is in Gen. 24:63, where his bride was coming to meet him after Eliezar had found her. Eliezar means “God helps,” and he is a type of the Holy Spirit, the “Helper” or “Comforter” who is sent to seek out a Bride in the earth for Christ. When the Bride of Christ comes to meet Him, it is a time of great victory.
In Gen. 27:22 we see Jacob mentioned for the 17th time. It is in connection with his victory over Esau in obtaining the blessing from Isaac. However, in this case he obtained victory in a deceitful manner, as his name Jacob suggests. Jacob means “supplanter.”
In 2 Sam. 5:5 we find the 17th time Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible. It says that David reigned in Hebron for 7 years and in Jerusalem for 33 years. The passage also tells us that David conquered Jerusalem and “ the stronghold of Zion ” (2 Sam. 5:7). This portrays David as victorious. In addition to this, Jerusalem is mentioned a total of 17 times in the Psalms in order to portray David's victory in the old Jerusalem as well as Christ's victory in the New Jerusalem.
Jeremiah records 17 prayers. The 17th prayer is found in Jeremiah 32. The prayer is made while the Babylonian army was surrounding Jerusalem. In such circumstances, the prophet redeems land in Anathoth for 17 shekels of silver (Jer. 32:9). It is remarkable that Anathoth means “ answered prayers.” Then in 32:17-25 Jeremiah prays his great prayer of victory. There are no more prayers in Jeremiah, as if to remind us that once we obtain the victory of answered prayer, no further prayer is needed to obtain the object of prayer.
In Mark 5:7 Jesus is mentioned for the 17th time in that gospel, where He is victorious over an unclean spirit. In Luke 5:12, Jesus is victorious over leprosy in the 17th time Jesus' name appears in Luke's gospel. In Rom. 8:35-39 there are 17 things that are unable to separate us from the love of Christ.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation (1),or distress (2),or persecution (3),or famine (4),or nakedness (5),or peril (6),or sword (7)? 36 Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death (8), nor life (9), nor angels (10), nor principalities (11), nor things present (12), nor things to come (13), nor powers (14), 39 nor height (15), nor depth (16), nor any other created thing (17), shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
His love is victorious over all of these. It is plain, then, that the numbers sixteen and seventeen are linked together, because love is the path to victory, and victory is not possible without the love of God.
To write eighteen in Hebrew, they wrote two Hebrew letters: yod-chet. These signify the hand (outworking) of a fence (prison), which brings men into bondage or oppression.
Eighteen is the number of oppression or bondage. The 18th time Abram is mentioned is in Gen. 12:18, where his wife was in the house of Pharaoh (bondage). After Abraham is mentioned for the 18th time in Gen. 18:19, the Lord speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah who were in bondage to sin.
The 18th time Israel is mentioned is found in Gen. 46:8, at the beginning of their Egyptian bondage:
8 Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt …
The 18th time Jesus is mentioned in the gospel of Luke is in Luke 5:19, where a man oppressed by paralysis was trying to come to Jesus for healing. Luke 13:16 also says,
16 And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?
Faith and Hearing
To write nineteen in Hebrew, they wrote two Hebrew letters: yod-teth. These signify the hand (outworking) of the serpent (wisdom). This can, of course, be seen in a negative sense, for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. But when viewed in the positive sense, we see Jesus Christ as the Serpent on the pole in the wilderness, picturing Jesus Christ on the Cross, as Jesus in John 12:32, 33,
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.
The number 19 in Hebrew was meant to illustrate the fact that one must have faith in Christ and His cross, where He died as the Serpent on the pole. Those who listen to Moses and look upon Him (Num. 21:9) are those who hear and who have faith.
The number 19 includes two things: faith and hearing. Though we have said little up to now about the Hebrew letters themselves, it would be helpful to do so now. The 19th letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the kof, which literally means “the back of the head.” The word picture has to do with hearing God's voice in “the back of your head (mind).” The Hebrew word for “voice” is kol, which begins with the kof. When God spoke to Elijah, it was not through the tempest, the earthquake, or the fire, but the “ still small voice ” (1 Kings 19:11, 12). Jewish author, Lawrence Kushner, says in his Book of Letters, p. 68, 69,
“Kof is one of the letters made by two marks. Hay is the other. The lower mark of the kof is man calling G-d. But G-d also calls man. With the upper mark of the kof He whispers very softly to see if you are really listening. kol d'mama daka. A voice which is still and small. A little girl. The daughter of a voice, God's voice, bat kol. Like an echo. Always listen.
“Such is kof. The voice by which man allows G-d to be present by calling: Holy (Kadosh).”
It is significant that this Hebrew letter is in two parts. The first pictures God reaching down to man by speaking to him; the second pictures man responding to God by faith. This is the force behind the number 19. It has two parts to it: God's voice and faith. Hence, it requires God to make a declaration before man can respond to His voice.
There are 19 people of faith in the great faith chapter, Hebrews 11. It begins in verse 3 with “ By faith we …” Verse 4 says, “ By faith Abel …” Verse 5 says, “ By faith Enoch …” The 19th one listed is in verse 32, “ By faith the prophets …” All of them heard the voice of God, and this produced faith in them, by which they preached the Word and even suffered for it at the hands of those who could not hear.
In Paul's great discussion of justification by faith from Romans 3:21 to 5:2, he uses the word “faith” nineteen times, and then the word is not used again until Romans 9:30. Paul also says in Eph. 2:8,
8 For by grace  you have been saved  through faith ; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
Five plus fourteen equals nineteen. Faith is a gift from God, because it depends totally upon God speaking first. One cannot hear God until God speaks and He opens our ears to hear. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). In Jer. 31:18 (KJV) the prophet prays, “ Turn Thou me, and I shall be turned, for Thou art the Lord my God.” We can only respond to God when He takes the first step.
The salvation of Noah and his family came by faith as well, after they had heard. They believed what they heard. That is why they entered the ark and were saved through the flood. Thus, the 19th time Noah is mentioned is in Gen. 7:13,
13 On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them , entered the ark.
The 19th time Abram is mentioned is in Gen. 13:1, where he leaves Egypt and returns to Canaan. This is a prophetic picture of salvation after learning a lesson in faith. He went into Egypt having very little faith, and for this reason he allowed Sarah to be taken by Pharaoh, being too afraid to tell people that she was his wife. He left Egypt with a lot more faith in God's ability to protect him than when he went to Egypt earlier.
The 19th time Isaac is mentioned is in Gen. 24:66,
66 And the servant [Eliezer] told Isaac all the things that he had done.
As we said earlier, Eliezer means “God of help,” and he pictures the Holy Spirit, the Helper, or Comforter, an advocate or helper in a court of law. Faith comes by hearing the Spirit of God. So this is a picture of the Holy Spirit speaking to Isaac, giving him understanding concerning the Bride that he has found for him.
The 19th time that Paul is mentioned is in Acts 15:36,
36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”
Take note that once again, the number 19 is associated with the preaching of the word and the faith-response to that word. Paul wanted to return to these cities and see if their preaching had produced any lasting faith.
Kaph is a palm, an open hand, in Hebrew. It signifies giving freely with the palm up, or covering sin with the palm down.
There is some disagreement on the meaning of the number 20. Bullinger quotes Dr. Milo Mahan and appears to agree with him that it is the number of expectancy. Ed Vallow says it means Redemption.
Bullinger cites Gen. 21:38, 41 saying that Jacob waited expectantly 20 years to get possession of his wives and property before being released. However, this could also indicate that it took 20 years for Jacob to be redeemed from bondage.
Bullinger also cites Judges 4:3, showing that Israel waited 20 years to be delivered from Jabin's oppression. However, we could also say that Israel was redeemed from bondage after 20 years.
As I see it, these examples show the negative and positive sides of a number. When viewed as a time cycle—in this case, 20 years in length—the time indicates a waiting period and can be viewed as negative. But when seen as THE END of the 20 years, that is positive, for it is then the time of redemption. We may view virtually all numbers in this way. When viewed as time cycles, most of these numbers would convey the idea of waiting for the time to be concluded.
For example, 40 is the number of trial, testing, or probation. Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness being tested. That was a hardship for them, and in that sense, the number could be viewed negatively. But when viewed as a single point of time, 40 years was when Israel finished their time of testing and were able to enter the Promised Land. It would not be practical to say that 40 was a waiting period, nor would 30 be a waiting period for the priest's consecration. If so, most of these numbers would be given the same meaning, for when applied by time cycles, they are all waiting periods.
Twenty is the number of Redemption. The Hebrew letter kaph represents the number 20, and it means an open palm, or hand, often cup-shaped as if giving something. The Hebrew word gaal means “a redeemer.” The word is made up of three Hebrew letters: gimel, aleph, and lamed. The gimel is a camel and carries the idea of being lifted up. The rest of the word spells EL, which means “God.” Thus, a redeemer (gaal) literally means “Lifting Up God.” For this reason Jesus said in John 12:32 and 13,
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.
Jesus was about to fulfill the literal meaning of the Hebrew word for a Redeemer. Not only does this indicate His death on the Cross as the Redeemer of mankind, but it also suggests the deity of Christ.
The Israelite men who were numbered in any census had to be 20 years old, and each was redeemed, or ransomed by a half-shekel of silver, the metal of redemption (Ex. 30:14). (The number 20 is often linked with silver throughout the Scriptures.) Likewise, there were 20 boards on each side (north and south sides) of Moses' tabernacle (Ex. 26:18, 19). Paul says in 1 Cor. 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
Yes, we are God's temple. The Most Holy Place is our spirit; the Holy Place is our soul; and the outer court is our body. Thus, the wall of the tabernacle itself represents the boundary of the soul within the body (outer court). The 20 boards, then, speak of the redemption our souls by experiencing the feast of Pentecost. Psalm 34:22 says, “The Lord redeems the soul of His servants.”
The outer court of the tabernacle was surrounded by a wall anchored by 20 pillars (Ex. 29:10). This wall (curtain with pillars) also pictured the “skin” or outer shell of our body. These 20 pillars reveal “ the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23) by experiencing the feast of Tabernacles.
Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, not only covered our sin, but also freely gave His life to redeem us from the bondage of sin. Boaz, that great kinsman-redeemer and type of Christ, appears 20 times in the book of Ruth. Likewise, there are 20 different people mentioned in the book of Ruth.
The 20th time Abram is mentioned is in Gen. 13:2, “Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold.” Silver is the METAL of redemption, so here we see the number 20 again linked with silver.
The 20th time Abraham is mentioned is in Gen. 18:23,
23 And Abraham came near and said, “Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”
The answer to this question is NO. God will redeem the righteous, even as He redeemed Lot in the context of the verse above.
The 20th time Jacob is mentioned is in Gen. 27:36. As we so often see in the examples of Jacob, the meaning is distorted by its fleshly application. At that time, Jacob was still deceitful, though he thought he was merely helping God. He did not know that his own works (hand) was covering his true motives, so that he could not see his heart as God saw it. And so in this example, his “redemption” takes the form of supplanting in an unlawful manner:
36 Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.”
If Jacob had been led by the Spirit, he would have had the faith in the sovereignty of God to let God handle the situation. Even if Isaac had given the birthright and blessing to Esau, the prophecy was clear that God had chosen Jacob (Gen. 25:23). Therefore, God could have redeemed the birthright from Esau in His own way and in His own time. But Jacob was fearful that God could not fulfill His word and thought God needed help. So in doing it himself by deceit, he “supplanted” Esau. That is, he usurped the birthright. Thus, it has taken nearly 4,000 years for God to unravel this sin, as I showed in my book, The Struggle for the Birthright.
The number 20 appears 288 times in the Bible. This is of particular interest, because there are two groups of 144,000 in the book of Revelation. The first group is in Revelation 7, and these are pictured as warriors being sealed by their captain. It was a custom in those days that warriors who emerged from battle unscathed were given a mark on their forehead to signify that they had been divinely protected. This is the meaning given in Ezekiel 9:4 as well.
The other set of 144,000, those who sing the new song, are mentioned in Revelation 14. Of these we read in Rev. 14:4, “these are the ones who have not been defiled among (meta, ‘with in the sense of amidst, or among') women.” It is apparent, then, that the first group of 144,000 are male, and the second set are female. Together, they form 288,000.
This number is found in connection with David's kingdom in the Old Testament. Since Psalm 20 was written by David, and is prophetic, we can say that David's kingdom was a type of the Kingdom of Christ as pictured in the book of Revelation. David had 288,000 warriors—24,000 from each of the 12 tribes (1 Chron. 27:1)—as well as 288 trained singers (1 Chron. 25:7).
It is no coincidence that “ the bride, the Lamb's wife ” (Rev. 21:9) has a numeric value of 2880. It is no coincidence that “the joy of the Lord” (Matt. 25:21) has a numeric value of 2880. It is no coincidence that the Hebrew word charaph, “betrothed” has a numeric value of 288. It is no coincidence that “a holy calling” (2 Tim. 1:9) has a numeric value of 288.
As we said earlier, there are 20 different people mentioned in the book of Ruth, which is the story of the Kinsman-Redeemer. It speaks of the redemption of the captive bride, the Lamb's wife, so that she may enter the joy of the Lord, which is her holy calling. This is all done by the power of the Spirit, whose work was manifested at the creation when the Spirit of God moved, hovered, or fluttered (rachaph) upon the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2). The Hebrew word rachaph also has a numeric value of 288.