Q: #315. What is the significance of the number 7 (seven) in the Bible?
By: Steve Shirley
A: First off, let me begin by saying that I think we need to be careful about searching for hidden messages, meanings, or codes in certain significant numbers in the Bible. If you put the word "Numerology" in a Google search, what you get for a definition is: "The branch of knowledge that deals with the occult significance of numbers." Hence, "numerology" is associated with such things as the occult, the paranormal, astrology, paganism, divination, and wiccans." But, if we put "Biblical" in front of "numerology" ("Biblical Numerology"), this is then supposed to make searching for the significance of number meanings in the Bible acceptable.
Now, I am not saying that there isn't some significance to certain numbers in the Bible, all I am saying is that we should be careful about trying to interpret what these meanings are. Ultimately, I believe God did have reasons for using certain numbers over and over in the Bible, but only He may know the true reasons. Having said this, I do think it is fascinating to see how many times certain key numbers are used over and over in the Bible. In six studies, we will be looking at how six of what I believe are the most key numbers in the Bible are used: 3, 6, 7, 10, 12, 40.
Of these 6 numbers we are looking at, the number 7 is the most prominent, and also most important number in the Bible. It is used 465 times in the Bible, and if you count variations (like seventh), it is used 654 times. It is said to be one of 4 numbers, along with 3, 10, and 12, that symbolize perfection or completion. There are SO many uses of the number 7 in the Bible that it would take many pages to list them all, therefore, I am going to list most of what I consider to be the most significant 7's.
The 7 days of creation (Gen 2:1-3).
*** Note: It should be noted that a 7 day week points ONLY to God. All other measurements of time are loosely based on some astronomical phenomena.
God said that anyone who killed Cain would have vengeance taken on him "sevenfold" (Gen 4:15).
Enoch, the 7th from Adam (Jude 1:14), was taken to Heaven by God without dying (Gen 5:21-24).
God commanded that Noah take 7 of each "clean" animal on the Ark (Gen 7:2) and 7 each of the birds (Gen 7:3).
The flood began 7 days after Noah was in the Ark (Gen 7:4,10).
The rainbow, which is a covenant sign to all men from God that He would never again destroy the world by a flood (Gen 9:12-16), is made up of 7 colors.
God's covenant with Abraham had 7 blessings (Gen 12:2-3).
Jacob agreed to work 7 years for Laban so that he could marry his daughter Rachel. He ended up working another 7 years for her after being tricked into marrying Leah first. He then stayed with Laban another 7 years after marrying both (Gen 29:19-30).
When Jacob went to meet his brother Esau, he bowed 7 times (Gen 33:3).
Pharaoh had a dream, and Joseph interpreted it. In the dream, God said there would be 7 plentiful years followed by 7 years of famine (Gen 41:1-7,25-31).
A Hebrew slave was only to work 6 years, and then be released in the 7th year (Ex 21:2)(Deut 15:12.18)(Jer 34:14).
The firstborn of all cattle and sheep were to be given to God, but not until they had been with their mothers for 7 days (Ex 22:29-30).
God commanded the Israelites to give their land a Sabbath rest every 7 years (Ex 23:10-11)(Lev 25:1-7).
The golden lampstand (or menorah in Hebrew) found in the Tabernacle had 7 lamps on it (Ex 25:31-39)(Ex 37:17-24)(Ex 40:25-26).
As part of the sin offering, the priest was to sprinkle the blood of a bull 7 times "in front of the veil of the sanctuary (Lev 4:6). When entering the sanctuary, the High Priest was to sprinkle the blood 7 times before the mercy seat (Lev 16:14).
Moses sprinkled anointing oil on the altar of the Tabernacle 7 times (Lev 8:11). The altar was also to be sanctified for 7 days (Ex 29:37).
Aaron, and his sons, were to be consecrated for 7 days (Lev 8:33-35)(Ex 29:29-30,35).
After having a male child, a woman was unclean for 7 days (Lev 12:2).
The Day of Atonement was to be held in the 7th month (Lev 16:29-30).
The Year of Jubilee was a year long celebration that occurred after 7 sabbaths of years (7 times 7 years) or 49 years (celebrated in the 50th year) (Lev 25:8-55).
When God delivered Jericho into the Israelites hands, he told them to march around the city once every day for 6 days. Then, on the 7th day, they were to march around the city 7 times, with 7 priests bearing 7 horns before the ark. God would then deliver it (Josh 6:2-6).
Samson had 7 locks of hair (Judg 16:13,19).
It took 7 years for Solomon to build God's Temple (1 Kin 6:37-38).
When Elijah prayed for rain, his servant went to look for rain 7 times, and rain came after the 7th time (1 Kin 18:41-45).
The Shunammite's son sneezed 7 times after Elisha raised him from the dead (2 Kin 4:32-36).
Elisha told Naaman that if he washed in the Jordan river 7 times, he would be healed of leprosy (2 Kin 5:9-14).
David gave 7 of Saul's descendants over to the Gibeonites to be slain (2 Sam 21:6-9).
When Job's friends came to him after he was afflicted, they sat silent with him for 7 days and 7 nights because "they saw that his grief was very great" (Job 2:11-13). Later, God told them they were to sacrifice 7 bulls and 7 rams because they had not "spoken of me what is right" (Job 42:8). Job also had 7 sons (Job 1:2), and 7 more sons after the first 7 died (Job 42:13).
Proverbs mentions 7 things that are an abomination to God (Prov 6:16-19).
Nebuchadnezzar was made insane by God for 7 years (Dan 4:23,25.32-33).
The Tribulation will last for 7 years (Dan 9:24-27)(And other verses).
There were 7 things that Jesus said while dying on the cross (See: Q: #70).
Jesus healed 7 times on the Sabbath.
Jesus fed 4000 men (not counting women and children) with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish. After everyone ate, they had 7 large baskets full of fragments (Mt 15:32-38)(Mk 8:1-9).
Jesus said we are to forgive up to 70 times 7 times (Mt 18:22)(Lk 17:4).
Mary Magdalene had 7 demons cast out (Mk 16:9)(Lk 8:2).
Anna was married for 7 years when her husband died (Lk 2:36-37).
Finally, the book of Revelation contains the most uses of the number 7 in the New Testament (53 times). Here is a chart of the 17 prominent 7's.
|Spirits||(Rev 1:4)(Rev 3:1)(Rev 4:5)(Rev 5:6)|
|Golden Candlesticks||(Rev 1:12,13,20)(Rev 2:1)|
|Stars||(Rev 1:16,20)(Rev 2:1)(Rev 3:1)|
|Seals||(Rev 5:1,5)(Rev 6:1: Not KJV)(Rev 8:1)|
|Angels||(Rev 8:2,6)(Rev 10:7)(Rev 11:15)(Rev 15:1,6,7,8)(Rev 16:1,17)(Rev 17:1)(Rev 21:9)|
|Heads||(Rev 12:3)(Rev 13:1)(Rev 17:3,7,9)|
|Plagues||(Rev 15:1,6,8)(Rev 21:9)|
|Vials||(Rev 15:7)(Rev 16:1: Not KJV)(Rev 17:1)(Rev 21:9)|