The Importance of the Number “7”

And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.
Genesis 21.29

From the Seven days of Creation to the Seven Seals of Revelation, Scripture is saturated with the Number Seven. Just listing all the occurrences would take several pages. Essentially all biblical scholars, regardless of their stance with respect to the meaning of numbers in Scripture, have recognized the special symbolic use of this Number. It is simply impossible to miss.

The discovery of the symmetric sevenfold Canon Wheel and its corresponding representation in the form of the Menorah is like a capstone to the study of the Number Seven in Scripture. We now can see this number emerging from all levels of the Biblical revelation. It is found in the microstructure of the text (e.g. the seven words and 28 letters of Genesis 1.1), in the plain message of the text (as mentioned above) and now with the advent of the Canon Wheel we see it shine in the largescale structure of the entire Bible. The question now is this:
Why did God do this? What is the meaning of the Number Seven? Why did He indelibly mark his Word with this Number?
Hebrew Sheva
English Seven
German Sieben
Old Saxon Sebun
Sanskrit Sapta
Latin Septem
Greek Hepta

The answers to these questions yield great insight into the Mind of God, His Wisdom, and the Promise revealed in His Holy Word. I begin with the meaning of the Hebrew word for seven, (Sheva), and roots that are closely related to it. This word is often transliterated as Sheba, with a hard Bet (b), but as far as I can tell, the soft Bet (v) is more accurate. The sidebar compares the word for Seven in various languages. Note that words with both the hard Bet (b) and soft Bet (v) appear in the list. The phonetic resemblance is striking, especially since there is a strong similarity between the Hebrew and Sanskrit which are supposedly independent language groups.

Sheva is closely related to two other triliteral roots spelt with the same three consonants that differ only in vowel points.

Thus, there are three Hebrew roots that look identical. Here are three representative entries from Strong’s Concordance:

Strong’s # Meaning
S# H7646
saba: satisfy, fill, full, plenty, satiate
S# H7650
shaba: sware, charge, oath
S# H7651
sheba: seven
The triliteral root (Shin – Bet – Ayin) therefore carries three fundamental meanings:
1) Seven
2) Full/Complete
3) Oath/Sware.

These three ideas are found associated throughout the Bible. For example, the reason for seven angels with seven final plagues is explained in terms of fullness in Revelation 15.1:
“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God”.

Thus we have one very obvious answer to our question:
God marked the Bible with the Number Seven because it is the fulness of God’s revelation!

Yet there is more, much more. The relation between the Number Seven and the idea of an oath is explained in the passage from Genesis 21 quoted at the head of this page. This is especially insightful because these passages reveal the etymology of Sheva/Sheba in the surface text of Scripture. Here, the Bible is serving as its own etymological dictionary.

Genesis 21, which corresponds to Shin within the chapter sequence of Genesis, gives a detailed introduction to the various meanings of the Shin KeyWord (Sheva/Saba). I begin with the question posed by the verse itself “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs?” The next verse gives the answer:

And he said, “For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them”.

The name Beersheba means Beer (well) of the Sheba (Oath). Thus Scripture clearly displays the Number Seven with its associated meaning of Oath, and we have another very obvious answer to our question:
God marked the Bible with the Number Seven because it is His Oath! His Promise! His Covenant!

This further integrates with gematria. The fundamental Greek word for Scripture is (graphe). Its numerical weight coincides exactly with that of the fundamental Hebrew word for Covenant (B’rit). We have the identity:

(Graphe, Scripture) = 612 = (B’rit, Covenant)
The depth of this relation is greatly amplified by this phrase that appears four times in Scripture (e.g. Numbers 15:39):
All the commandments of the LORD

Kol Mitzvoth YHVH = 612

These are the fundamental terms used throughout Scripture for All, Commandments, and LORD. The word (Kol, All) is particularly interesting because it is geometrically integrated with the Aleph and the Tav on the Wheel.

Yet this is but the beginning! The phrase seven times is used frequently in Scripture to mark the work of God. The Levitcal Priests were told to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice seven times, Joshua was ordered to march around Jericho seven times, and Namaan was told to wash in the Jordan seven times to be cleansed of leprosy. In all these cases, the phrase used is:
Seven Times

Sheva Pawmim = 612

The word (Pawmim) is the plural of (Pawm) which carries the meanings of stroke, beat, foot, step, anvil, or occurrence. It is best understood as the sound of a foot striking the ground, or the “pawm pawm pawm” of a drum. It is translated as “anvil” in Isaiah.

Thus Holy Scripture – God’s Covenant – is numerically equivalent to this central phrase which may be interpreted as Seven Occurrences, Seven Beats, or Seven Anvils. We have therefore a fourfold identity based on the Number 612 which reveals the Number Seven as the heartbeat of Scripture!

The Number
612

Scripture
Covenant
Seven Times
All the Commandments of the LORD

I particularly enjoy the meaning of Sheva Pawmim as Seven Anvils in view of the symmetric sevenfold Canon Wheel upon which countless scholars will undoubtedly break many of their hammers!

These identities are further amplified by the explicit statement of the Word concerning itself (Psalm 12.6):

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Yet for all this, we have not come close to exhausting the richness found in the Number Seven. One of the most significant uses of the phrase seven times is found in these words of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 18.21):

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
There is a an entire constellation of reasons why the omniscient Lord Jesus Christ chose the number 490 = 70 x 7 to represents the perfection of forgiveness. First, there is the immediate, double integration with the meaning of Seven as Perfection and Completeness. The duplication emphasizes the meaning, as when Jesus says “Truly, Truly” to emphasize the importance of what He is saying. But the integration goes much deeper than this.

Returning to Genesis, we find that the seventh occurrence of the name Noah is used in the phrase (Genesis 6.9) “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations.” The word translated as perfect is (Thammim). We have the identity:
(Thammim, Perfect) = 490 = 70 x 7

Consider the degree of integration represented here: The Hebrew word Thammim literally means perfect, which is the symbolic meaning of Seven; Thammim first appears in conjunction with the seventh occurrence of Noah’s name; the numeric weight of Thammim is both a multiple of seven and exactly equal to the value the Lord chose to represent the perfection of forgiveness! There is no end to the wonder of God’s Wisdom!

Yet this is but the beginning. My database has a huge set of identities relating to large prime multiples of seven which are semantically integrated with the idea of Perfection and Completion. I begin with these verses from II Corinthians (vss. 12.7f):

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness . Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The word translated as “weakness” is (asthenia). We have the identity:
(Asthenia, Weakness) = 281

The Number 281 is prime. This number and its associated idea of weakness further integrates with the symbol of Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God, as in Revelation 5.6:

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

The Lamb represents the perfection of weakness that Almighty God accepted when he went to the Cross. We have the identity:
(Arnion, Lamb) = 281

These ideas are inextricably integrated with the power of God . The word translated as “power” is dunamis. It is used elsewhere (e.g. II Corinthians 13.4) in the essentially equivalent phrase “the power of God.” In the nominative case, we have the identity:
The Power of God

Ho Dunamis tou Theou = 1967 = 7 x 281

Interpreting this with the associated concepts, we have this relation:
The Power of God = 7 (Perfection) x 281 (Weakness)
• I) The root of the name of the Number Seven means Perfect, Complete, or Satisfied.
• II) Thammim means perfect, and its numeric weight is 70 x 7, which is the number the Lord used to describe the perfection of forgiveness.
• III) Thammim first occurs in conjunction with the seventh occurrence of the name Noah.

Thus we see the explicit message of Scripture encoded in the intrinsic alphanumeric structure of the Greek language! Such is the Widsom of God.

Many other highly significant, deeply integrated, and self-reflective identities based on the meaning and value of the Number Seven may be found in the article Multiples of Seven.

Historically, biblical scholars have long recognized that the books of the Bible fall naturally into seven categories as follows:
Division # Books
NT Epistles 22 Romans, 1,2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1,2 Thessalonians, 1,2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1,2 Peter, 1,2,3 John, Jude, Revelation
NT History 5 Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts
Minor Prophets 12 Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
Major Prophets 5 Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
Wisdom 5 Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
OT History 12 Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I-II Samuel, I-II Kings, I-II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
The Law 5 Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
These seven divisions follow the traditional order of the Christian Canon as exemplified in the King James Bible. The distribution of books in each of these seven divisions is arranged in harmony with the three Cycles in following symmetric fashion:
Cycle Range Distribution
3 Romans – Revelation 22
2 Isaiah – Acts 5 – 12 – 5
1 Genesis – Song of Solomon 5 – 12 – 5

The numbers 5, 12, and 22 are not random; they are geometric numbers. They are successive terms of the pentagonal number sequence.

Thus, we can display the Christian Canon as three perfectly symmetric foundational columns upholding the New Testament Epistles:
Spokes 1 – 5 Spokes 6 – 17 Spokes 18 – 22
New Testament Epistles
Major Prophets Minor Prophets NT History
The Law Old Testament History Wisdom

This gives rise to the obviously divine structure, the Canon Wheel. There is a great cloud of scholars who bear witness to this design. Christian artists also bear a prophetic witness to the divine origin of this pattern. It’s basic threefold cruciform structure has been used in Christian iconography for over 1500 years. Compare Christ’s halo in this icon from the Hagia Sophia Church (~1260 AD) with the Canon Wheel:

The Canon Wheel

Christ Pantocrator

The formal similarity is obvious. The intrinsic geometric structure of the Bible natuarally forms a traditional Christian icon! Could this be a “mere coincidence?” The profound implications are discussed at length in the article Art, Theology, and Prophecy

The Canon Wheel can also be derived from first principles using nothing but 1) The Bible Wheel, 2) Two initial conditions, and 3) Symmetry Constraints. This follows the same pattern many of the fundamental discoveries from theoretical physics.

Symmetry
God built Cycle One and Cycle Two of the Canon Wheel in accordance with two kinds of symmetry, bilateral and radial. The divisions that he placed on these two Cycles broke the infinite symmetry of the simple Circle, thereby allowing him to encode much additional information. Since he left Cycle Three undivided, it retains the infinite symmetry of a perfect Circle.

An object is said to possess bilateral symmetry if its form remains invariant when reflected about an axis called the line of symmetry. The letter A for example is bilaterally symmetric with respect to a vertical line, whereas it is not symmetric with respect to a horizontal line since is certainly not the same as A. On the other hand, the letter E is symmetric about a horizontal line but not a vertical line since that reflection produces .The bilateral symmetry built into the Canon Wheel is particularly intriguing because its line of symmetry divides between the first and last Spokes, whereby we witness the all-encompassing Aleph and Tav “rightly dividing the word of truth.” The implications of this are discussed in relation to Art and Physics in my review of A. Zee’s Fearful Symmetry.

“First and Last”
Yet there is more. Seven times in Scripture the Creator uses the words first and last to convey the idea that he is the eternal God, beyond time altogether. The verses are:

Isaiah 41.4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.

Isaiah 44.6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Isaiah 48.12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.

Rev. 1.11 I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.

Rev. 1.17 Fear not; I am the first and the last:

Rev. 2.8 These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

Rev. 22.13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

These seven verses come from two books – Isaiah and Revelation – which occupy the first and last Spokes of the Wheel, governed by Aleph and Tav.

In other words, God declared that he is first and last only on the first and last Spokes of his Wheel, which means He designed the geometric structure of his Word in accordance with its semantic content.

Restating it yet again: The meaning of the text coheres with the form of the Wheel. As an aside, it should be noted that the words from Revelation 2.8 were spoken from the mouth of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, which gives an unambiguous biblical witness of his true identity as the everlasting God.

In terms of bilateral symmetry, the Torah corresponds to Wisdom in that these portions of the canon are interchanged when the Wheel is reflected about its line of symmetry. This coheres with the explicit teaching of Scripture, as found in such verses as “For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my Law (Torah). … Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. …Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom.” And again, “The law (Torah) of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple,” and yet again, “The law (Torah) of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”

The bilateral correlation between the Major Prophets and the New Testament History is no less striking in that the former predicts the latter while the latter fulfills the former.

The Wheel geometrically displays the reciprocal correspondence between the Prophets and History. This pattern is also revealed in the distribution of the name Isaiah in the text of the New Testament. Each of the NT History books – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts – quotes Isaiah by name, and speaks of the many ways that Christ fulfilled the prophecies found in his book. The bilateral symmetry of the Wheel geometrically manifests this inherent link between the Major Prophets and NT History, which are interchanged when the Wheel is reflected in a mirror. The only other NT book to quote Isaiah by name, Romans, is a manifestation of radial symmetry since Isaiah and Romans lie on the same Spoke (radius).

This means that both the radial and the bilateral symmetry of the Wheel manifest the actual content of the text of Scripture. These two portions are also correspond in that they both consist of five books written by four authors.

The radial symmetry of the Canon Wheel refers to the fact that the sub-divisions on Cycle One correspond exactly with the sub-divisions on Cycle Two, so that the radii dividing the Cycles coincide perfectly. In terms of radial symmetry, the Old Testament History corresponds to the Minor Prophets. Thus, whether we view the Canon Wheel in terms of radial or bilateral symmetry, there is a geometric correlation between the Prophets and History. The radial correlation linking the Law and the Major Prophets relates to the fundamental division of the Old Testament as spoken of by the Lord Jesus when he said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

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