Forty Appears to Be a Significant Number in the Bible

Forty Days and Forty Nights, Etc.

Just out of curiosity, I went to Bible Gateway.com to see how many times the number forty appears in the Bible. Would you believe that it came up 97 times, from Genesis to Revelation? Apparently, it is a number of some significance.

The first mention is, of course, in Genesis (7:4). God said it would rain for 40 days and 40 nights, which it did in verse 12. The flood continued for 40 days (7:17). At the end of 40 days Noah opened the window on the ark.

In chapter 50 verses 2-4, I read that 40 days were required for embalming. In addition to this, both Isaac and Esau were 40 years old when they took a wife (25:20; 32:15).

Furthermore, forty is used in the Exodus in reference to the people of Israel. They ate manna for 40 years in the desert (16:38). Moses spent forty days and nights on the mountain (24:18). 40 is also the number of silver bases used in the building of the temple (26:19). In the book of Numbers, the spies returned after 40 days (13:25) and the Lord was angry with Israel because only Caleb and Joshua believed that God would deliver the Promised Land. Therefore, God sentenced them to 40 years in the desert, one year for each day spent in Canaan (32:13).

Last but not least, the number 40 is found nineteen times in the New Testament. Jesus also appeared to people for forty days after His resurrection. Let’s not forget the temptation of Jesus found in both Matthew and Luke chapters 4. I do believe that this is where we get the forty days for Lent. I cannot begin to imagine fasting that long.

Something to Consider

Have you ever tried to do the same thing for 40 days and nights? It takes a good bit of will and determination.

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1 Comment

  1. Wow, very very interesting! There are no coincidences with God, so 40 is a significant number. I like your point to consider, I may have to try it!

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