Friday, August 19, 2005

The Symbolic Meaning of Forty-Three

This information is copied verbatim from this site. I copied it just because I wanted a copy of it for my own selfish purposes.

If forty is the number of trial and testing, then forty-three is that plus the divine perfection represented by the number three. Thus forty-three would represent trial and testing with some divine goal in mind. If forty represents a time of testing then forty three represents a time of trial towards some goal such as spiritual growth or some other aspect of Gods plan for us. This idea is particularly exemplified by 10 times 43, 430 years as noted below. Equally forty-three would represent a time of waiting for some blessing from the Lord. This theme is particularly apparent in the story of Rachel trying for a son and Jacob and Laban (see below).

Because the meaning of 43 comes from a joining of the meanings for forty and three, we might expect both of those numbers to figure in any patterns relating to 43. Three seems to figure particularly strongly, as will be seen.

The Gospels
If we remember that the four gospels were written about Jesus life and it was not until 50 days after His death that the New Covenant was ushered in on the day of Pentecost as described in the book of Acts. Then it can be seen that the 39 books of the Old Testament and the four gospels make a total of 43 books written dealing with the Old Covenant. The remaining 23 books being the epistles and Acts making up the 66 books of the Bible.

Of the gospels only Matthew, the first is written specifically to the Jews, and with the Jews in mind. Mark is specifically aimed at Gentile Christian readers. Luke it specifically addressed to Theophilus, who would seem to be a Gentile believer and the book is written so that it will appeal to Gentile readers in general. John is especially written to show the deity of Jesus and is the gospel that stands out from the others. Some think John was written to appeal to the Greek thinkers and thus is also written to with gentiles in mind. Thus with the 39 books of the Old Testament plus Matthew we have 40 books written specifically for the Hebrew/Jewish race. The remaining three gospels are written to Gentile believers. Here is the pattern of 40 and 3 that we are led to expect in the number 43.

The 43rd book
The 43rd book of the Bible is the Gospel of John. The other three gospels are the so called synoptic gospels. They have much in their narrative in common although each brings out its own perspective and details that are unique. John on the other hand, stands out as different. So while it part of a group of four books making up the gospels it stands out distinctly as the 43rd book of the Bible.

The 43rd Chapter of the Bible
The 43rd chapter of Genesis covers the story of the second time Joseph's brothers came down to Egypt to buy grain. In this account Joseph sees his younger brother Benjamin for the first time since he was sold into slavery. Joseph invites them to a midday dinner and they were amazed that their places were arranged according to their age. Thus for Joseph this is the chapter which tells of the blessing of seeing all of his brethren again and how he is able to give blessing to his own family.
29And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son. 30And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.
Genesis 43:29-30
The very next chapter shows how the brothers have changed in that Judah offers to put himself in place of Benjamin for what seems like trouble. The following chapter (45) tells of Joseph's forgiveness and the invitation to the whole family to move to Egypt. Thus chapter 43 is the start of the story of the reconciliation of the twelve brothers, something that has been waiting for about 22 years. Thus the plan of God for the children of Israel is fulfilled through Joseph and thus starts the 430 years in Egypt.

Psalm 43
1Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. 2For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. 4Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God. 5Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Psalm 43:1-5

The first verse of this psalm is in two parts. Part one could almost be the cry of Israel out of Egypt as they were oppressed.

23And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.
Exodus 2:23

The second part of verse one could almost be the prayer of Jacob against Laban. Both of these cases, as will be seen below, have some connection to 43 in themselves. The first two verses of this psalm talk of oppression, indeed verse two ends with the words "the oppression of the enemy." The next three verses talk of the deliverance of God. Verse three mentions Gods light and His truth, verse four praises God and verse five is a message to the writers despair within that God is the health of his coutenance.

43 Verses
The first chapter of the Bible which has exactly 43 verses is Genesis 30. This chapter talks about the waiting Rachel did before she bore a child to Jacob. In this chapter six sons are born to Jacob via Bilhah, Zilpah and Leah, before Rachel finally bears Joseph. Six is the number of natural man, and since Rachel tried to find a solution to her barrenness of her own devising, she had to wait for six more children to be born before she conceived herself. She gave Jacob her maidservant, so that she might bear his children by proxy. This failed in that while her maidservant, Bilhah, did conceive, but Rachel later called her barrenness her reproach. Thus it would seem that she got little if any satisfaction from her own successful plan. Thus Rachel's natural solution is stamped with the number of natural or mortal mankind. Finally when she did conceive the Bible states:

22And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. 23And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.
Genesis 30:22-24

Thus it would seem that it was when Rachel earnestly prayed that God heard her and answered her with her hearts desire. While it must have always have been part of Gods plan for Jacob, later named Israel, to have 12 sons. How many of them might have been Rachel's if she had realized from the outset that the answer was to pray and seek the Lord's blessing, rather than look to her own solutions?

This chapter then goes on to speak of Jacobs's payment for working for Laban for so many years. Laban had changed the wages Jacob was working for many times.

7And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.
Genesis 31:7

Here Jacob is speaking to Rachel and Leah about their father Laban. So in chapter 30 we have the final payment to Jacob negotiated and blessed after a long time of working for an ever changing goal.

Thus in both of these parts of the chapter we have a long wait required in order to gain the blessing from the Lord. In both cases the wait was caused by the nature of man, Rachel's natural solution to her despair and Laban's greed. In both cases when the blessing finally came it was abundant, and a part of Gods overall plan. Rachel's firstborn son was Joseph, destined to bring the whole extended family down to Egypt. The wage that Jacob ended up taking from Laban was exceedingly great.

430 Years
The Bible mentions that Israel was in the land of Egypt for 430 years, three times. However as two of those occurrences are in adjacent verses it would be fair to say it mentions it in two places, in the Old Testament and in the New. Also note the two-fold nature of their duration in Egypt. At first they were welcomed and treated as important guests, given the best lands and everything they could want. But later in their stay they were treated as slaves and bond servants, treated despitefully and made to serve their Egyptian masters with hard labor. There is a link to the number two involved with the meaning of number 43.

40Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
Exodus 12:40

41And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.
Exodus 12:41

17And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Galatians 3:17

Thus the number 430 would seem to indicate the specific time that Israel was in Egypt and the nature of their time there. In Micah their time in Egypt is referred to as being in a house of servants.

4For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
Micah 6:4

In Hosea the Bible talks of it as being the childhood of the nation of Israel.

1When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
Hosea 11:1

Finally in Galatians, the same book that contains the other mention of the 430 years, we have the link between what Micah and Hosea have to say on the matter.

1Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Galatians 4:1-2

Thus we can see that 430 is a time of service, waiting, growing or perhaps an apprenticeship or indenture. It represents a time of growing into a worthy receptacle for Gods plans. However we must note that very few institutions or bodies last for such a long period. So while 430 represents in particular that time in Israel's history 43 would be the more general number to represent this thought at other times and places. More of this below.

The only other place in the Bible where 430 is mentioned is:

17And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.
Genesis 11:17

The name Eber means, the other side or beyond. The name Peleg means a divide, to divide or cut in two. Thus Eber lived 430 years on the other side of the birth of Peleg (= division, the theme of the number 2).

25And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.
Genesis 11:25

Peleg is another case of a son being named after the times in which they lived. (See Enos)
So in total the number 430 is mentioned four times. Four being two times two, or two squared (4 = 22 = 2 x 2) is again a link between two and forty three.

The name of Egypt
The number 43 is never directly mentioned in the Bible. However its meaning is not hard to discern from the mentions of 430 and other times it appears indirectly in scripture. For example:

The Hebrew word for Egypt µyIr'x]mi Mitsrayim {mits-rah'-yim} appears in the Bible a total of 681 times in 602 verses. The number of verses in which it appears 602 = 2x 7x 43. Thus a multiple of forty three and two, indicating again the theme of both these numbers is tied in with the time Israel spent in Egypt. Also the total number of occurrences, 681 = 3 x 227. A product of three, which is an essential part of the meaning of forty three, and 227 which is a large prime number. It would seem to indicate that that the time spent in Egypt was appointed by God for a divine purpose. This is in good agreement with what the Bible actually tells us about their sojourn in Egypt.

Other multiples of 43
God promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations. The start of the fulfillment of this promise was when Sarah's handmaid bore Abram a son. God instructed that his name be Ishmael and promised he would be the father of great multitudes. But the interesting point for the moment is:

16And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Genesis 16:16

Abram was 86 (= 2 x 43) years old when Ishmael was born. So we see that Abrams time of waiting for the divine blessing is stamped with 43, but also 2. Two being the number of division or conflict it is interesting to note that Ishmael's descendants have been for many centuries the most bitter opponents of Abram's son of promise, Isaac.

Nehemiah contains two lists of genealogies and many numbers, of the people of various heritages. There is in particular this mention of a multiple of 43.

19Moreover the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, were an hundred seventy and two.
Nehemiah 11:19

172 = 22x 43 = 2x 2x 43. The job of these men was to wait and watch at the gates of Jerusalem in the time of the rebuilding of the city after the 70 years captivity to Assyria. Thus 43 as a time of waiting, but not unproductive waiting, waiting with a goal in mind. In this case to watch and guard the gates of the city. Further 172 is also a multiple of two twice over, again establishing the link between these numbers.

Divide and 43
The Hebrew word divide ld'B; badal {baw-dal’} appears 22 times in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible - the law) the sum of the verse numbers in which it occurs is 387. 387 = 9x 43 = 32x 43 = 3x 3x 43. This also shows the expected appearance of the number three in association with 43.

The second time the this Hebrew word is used in the Bible is:

6And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
Genesis 1:6

Where the exact form of the word used is lyd'B;M the numeric value for this is 40+ 2+ 4+ 10+ 30 = 86 = 2 x 43. Thus here we have the link between 2 and the meaning divide and the number 43 demonstrated yet again.

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