Post by Mark Brader Post by CDB Post by J. J. Lodder
Which shows how far humanity has advanced since biblical times.
Their canonical 'great many of' was forty,
I've always thought there was a connection somewhere with the
number of weeks required to conceive and bear a child. Is the
usage found outside of mythical narrative?
Does "forty winks" qualify?
God knows; but I was thinking of the usage in terms of the culture of
ancient Israel and Judea.
After forty days and forty nights, the ark gave birth to new life. OTOH,
the sign for "forty" is the letter "mem" (says WP) and the ark spent
those mem days and nights afloat on the mayim.
No, not that Mayim.
Christ (or possibly Jesus) spent forty days in the wilderness before he
returned victorious from his struggle with Satan.
Those are the two that occurred to me offhand; no doubt there are
others. There are certain numbers that have a habit of hanging around
in religious or mythical stories, like three, nine, and seven. Maybe,
some millennia ago, "forty" was one of them.
Yes, Wp has got a whole lot more:
The number 40 is used in Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and other Middle
Eastern traditions to represent a large, approximate number, similar to
In the Hebrew Bible, forty is often used for time periods, forty days or
forty years, which separate "two distinct epochs".
Rain fell for "forty days and forty nights" during the Flood. (Genesis 7:4)
Spies were sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan (promised to the
children of Israel) for "forty days." (Numbers 13:2,25)
The Hebrew people lived in the lands outside of the promised land for
"forty years". This period of years represents the time it takes for a
new generation to arise. (Numbers 32:13)
Several Jewish leaders and kings are said to have ruled for "forty
years", that is, a generation. Examples include Eli (1 Samuel 4:18),
Saul (Acts 13:21), David (2 Samuel 5:4), and Solomon (1 Kings 11:42).
Goliath challenged the Israelites twice a day for forty days before
David defeated him. (1 Samuel 17:16)
Moses spent three consecutive periods of "forty days and forty nights"
on Mount Sinai:
He went up on the seventh day of Sivan, after God gave the Torah to the
Jewish people, in order to learn the Torah from God, and came down on
the seventeenth day of Tammuz, when he saw the Jews worshiping the
Golden Calf and broke the tablets. (Deuteronomy 9:11)
He went up on the eighteenth day of Tammuz to beg forgiveness for the
people's sin and came down without God's atonement on the twenty-ninth
day of Av. (Deuteronomy 9:25)
He went up on the first day of Elul and came down on the tenth day of
Tishrei, the first Yom Kippur, with God's atonement. (Deuteronomy 10:10)
A mikvah consists of 40 se'ah (approximately 200 gallons) of water
The prophet Elijah had to walk 40 days and 40 nights before arriving to
mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8)
40 lashes is one of the punishments meted out by the Sanhedrin
(Deuteronomy 25:3), though in actual practice only 39 lashes were
Biblical verse Numbers 14:33-34 alludes to the same with ties to the
prophecy in The Book of Daniel. "For forty years--one year for each of
the forty days you explored the land--you will suffer for your sins and
know what it is like to have me against you.'"
One of the prerequisites for a man to study Kabbalah is that he is forty
"The registering of these men was carried on cruelly, zealously,
assiduously, from the rising of the sun to its going down, and was not
brought to an end in forty days" - (3 Maccabees 4:15)
Christianity similarly uses forty to designate important time periods.
Before his temptation, Jesus fasted "forty days and forty nights" in the
Judean desert. (Matthew 4:2, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2)
Forty days was the period from the resurrection of Jesus to the
ascension of Jesus. (Acts 1:3)
According to Stephen, Moses' life is divided into three 40-year
segments, separated by his growing to adulthood, fleeing from Egypt, and
his return to lead his people out. (Acts 7:23,30,36)