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Symbolism of the Number 40

Symbolism of the Number 40

The number forty occurs 146 times in the Bible, It usually generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation. Mem (maym), the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; its numerical value is forty.

  • 40 Days of Flood Waters (Genesis 7:4,12,17; 8:6)
  • 40 Years old Moses was called by God
  • 40 Years in the Egypt for Moses
  • 40 Years in the Desert for Moses before God selected him to lead his people out of slavery.
  • 40 Days Moses was on Mount Sinai on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1 – 28), receiving God’s laws.
  • 40 Years wandering in the desert for the Israelites. Numbers 32,13
  • 40 Days Moses sent spies, to investigate the land God promised the Israelites  (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).
  • 40 Cubits the holy place of the temple was forty cubits long (1 Kings 6:17).
  • 40 Years of peace forty-year periods of peace: Judges 3:11; 5:31; 8:28
  • 40 Years old Isaac was when he married Rebekah. (Genesis 25,20
  • 40 Days of Selichot (teshuvah before Rosh Hashanah)
  • 40 Days Jonah  warned ancient Nineveh.
  • 40 Days embalming of Jacob  prolonged during 40 days. (Genesis 50,3)
  • 40 Years reign of King Saul
  • 40 Years reign of King David (1 K 2,11 and 11,42;)
  • 40 Years reign of King Solomon in Jerusalem. ( 2 Ch 9,30)
  • 40 Days Elijah went without food or water at Mount Horeb.
  • 40 Days Ezekiel laid on His right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah’s sins
  • 40 Days after birth Jesus was presented to the Temple of Jerusalem for his legal purification
  • 40 Days of fasting by Jesus in the desert (Mt 4:1-2 pp Mk 1:13 pp Lk 4:1-2)
  • 40 Months Jesus preached
  • 40 Days after his resurrection from the dead Jesus appeared to his disciples. (Acts 1:3)
  • 40 Stripes was the maximum number allowed for anyone to be punished (Duet 25:3).

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