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Re: [GTh] Number Symbolism in Matthew

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  • Mike Grondin
    ... Unless the god of randomness was smiling on Matthew, there was probably a fudge-factor involved in counting the generations from Abraham on. Most likely,
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 4, 2012
      BRUCE:
      > Probably Matthew could have squeezed any empirically given number
      into
      > a multiple of 7, so the “6” in this formula might not mean
      much.
       
      Unless the god of randomness was smiling on Matthew, there was probably
      a fudge-factor involved in counting the generations from Abraham on. Most
      likely, it came close enough to 42 generations that Matt was able to use that
      number by adding or dropping a few. The '6' would surely have suggested to
      him and his readers the first six days of creation, as well as fitting nicely to divide
      up the 42 generations into three sharply-defined segments. In the Harper's Bible
      Dictionary (1985) entry for numbers, under Symbolism and Significance, it's first
      noted that "Seven probably represented completeness and perfection ... ", then later:
       
      "Three also indicated completeness. The created order has three parts: heaven,
      earth, and underworld. ... Three major feasts appear in the [Jewish] religious
      calendar (Exod. 23:14-19). Also prayer was urged three times daily (Dan. 6:10;
      Ps. 55:17). The sanctuary was divided into three parts: vestibule, nave, and
      inner sanctuary (1 Kings 6:2-22). ... Jesus said that the Son of man would be
      in the grave for three days and nights (Matt. 12:40)."
       
       Bruce:
      > ... there seems to be a certain preference in ancient cultures
      for numbers of
      > the form (n)(n-1), such as 3x4 =12, and 8x9 = 72.
      > (n)(n-1) has a certain power in number theory. I haven’t seen an
      exposition
      > of its use in what I would call literary symbolism, and perhaps
      it is chiefly
      > confined to multiples of 12, which are easy to explain otherwise
      than by that formula.
       
      Well, it isn't chiefly confined to multiples of 12. The series does contain 12 and 72,
      yes, but most of its numbers aren't divisible by 12, and it's missing a lot that are.
      What you may be thinking of is the following, also from the above HBD article:
       
      "Not all number usage in the Bible was symbolic. The pattern x, x+1 appears
      frequently as a device of emphasis in parallelism. A good example may be seen
      in Prov. 30:18-19 with three and four:
          Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand ..."
       
      Mike
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