Basically the answer to this question is :

  • Yes, for a few very simple Old Testament associations with some numbers – such as 7 for 7 days, and 12 for 12 tribes.
  • No, for most other numbers.

And as regards gematria (a rabbinical term) and the assignment of number values to letters in a word, almost certainly no, and never.

Symbolic associations of some numbers

The number 7 in the Bible – highly significant to Jews because of the Sabbath, the seventh day.

The number 12 in the Bible – again highly significant to Jews because of the 12 sons of Israel which became the 12 tribes, and therefore linked with the 12 disciples of Jesus. A variant on 12 x 12 is the symbolic 144,000 in the tribes of Israel in Revelation..

The number 10 in the Bible?  – the other simple number commonly cited is 10, for example 10 plagues, 10 commandments – but with the idea of commandments and plagues being radically different, it seems unlikely that 10 has any special symbolism beyond “ten”.

153 fishes (John 21:11) – again the meaning may just be what the number says, one hundred and fifty-three fishes.

Gematria and Bible codes.

The only possible case of a coded number in the Bible is 666, which some early Christian interpreters mentioned by Iranaeus tried to spell out by the number values of the Greek letters, attempting to make LATEINOS out of the Greek numbers 666. But even here, there may be no code beyond repeating 6 the number of Adam’s day three times : What does the number 666 mean in Revelation 13:18?

Following on from LATEINOS others since have attempted to read from Greek Iesous back to the number 888. But this seems to be a recent urban legend, and can only be done with fiddling with the Greek name and numerals to produce the result required. Note that neither numerology enthusiast E.W. Bullinger (1894), nor John Davis’ standard work Biblical Numerology (1968) even mention 888 – and both consider 666 and LATEINOS.

Another modern variant on finding codes in the Hebrew text was made popular in Michael Drosnin’s book The Bible Code (1997). But these are dismissed by both mathematical and linguistic scholars.

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