The Design of Scripture
The Number Three - Completion and Manifestation
As we arrive at the number three, we now begin to get dimension and depth, as in length, width, and breadth. This characteristic of the number three will help us with some insight into it's base meaning of completeness and dimensionality with respect to manifestation and expression. Three gives us the full picture of what we need to gain insight into that which we cannot see. We will see that the number three is found in many of the aspects of the essence of the God of Israel. After all, He is indeed the God of Avraham, Yitz'chak, and Ya‘aqov. Why those three? Why is He not the God of Noach, Mosheh, and Dani'el? Or how about Avraham, Yitz'chak, Ya‘aqov, and Yoseph or Yehudah? These questions we hope to answer in this study of the number three.
Messiah taught that heavenly things are understood by our belief in the earthly things (Yochanan 3:12). We can begin to see what He means when we see the presence of three in creation. What we see in creation is designed to be easily grasped so that we might be able to glimpse into the unseen world. There are three dimensions to our visible world. Time is represented by past, present and future. There are three persons in grammar, as there are three degrees of quality. In school we learned about solid, liquid and gas, and about the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms. The number three is used in a chance to complete something. "I am going to give you to the count of three to ... " Or, "Are you ready? One two, three, Go!" The building blocks of creation are found, according to the voluminous testimony of scripture, in combinations of three letter roots in Hebrew words. Vocals sound their best in three part harmony. Some of my favorite groups are Earth, Wind, and Fire, 3 Dog Night, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash. And how about the 3 Stooges! And why only three blind mice ... or the Three Musketeers? All right, enough already.
Before we talk about the Hebrew word for three, let me stop and explain how Hebrew expresses numbers. In the numerous, available, extant Hebrew texts, we have numbers expressed in fully written words, such as echad for one, 'ariba'ah 'asar for fourteen, and ve'alepayim ve'areba'-me'ot for twenty four hundred. This is what we know from the available texts of the Tenakh. The expression in Hebrew of what we know as Arabic numerals or symbols such as 1, 2, 3, 28, 100, etc., is where much speculation comes in. Historically, the concept of gematria, or each individual Hebrew letter representing a numeral, is considered to be a relatively late phenomenon. Most experts in Biblical languages and numerology consider the idea to be taken from the influence of the Greek culture. It is clear that the Massorites used gematria in the period between 300 and 600 A.D. Little evidence can be seen any earlier than that. However, this does not take away from what is discovered when one applies this concept to the written text. The constant reoccurring presence of certain numerical combinations found in related Hebrew words is too astounding to ignore. Which drives most students of scripture to one inescapable conclusion. YHVH wrote the text and not man. This will become more obvious as we get into larger numbers. I will put enough into each teaching to get the point across, but the abundant presence of these relationships are too numerous for these teachings.
Now, on to the number three. In Hebrew, the cardinal number three is from the word shalosh. The word shalosh means to measure or to sum up. So, you see that even the word itself implies completeness or fullness. Here are a few examples of the number three used in it's root.
"Thou feedest them with the bread of tears, and givest them tears to drink in great MEASURE."
"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and measured out heaven with the span, and MEASURED the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance."
A whole lot of measuring going on there.
"... The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in THREE MEASURES of meal, till the whole was leavened."
Here we have a play on the words three and measure. The idea is to express something that is summed up. Man is summed up by body, soul, and spirit, which produces thought, word, and deed. The Hebrew letter that represents three is gimel, which means to nourish to ripeness or completeness. This letter resembles a camel and it is the ancient source of our word 'camel'. In the Middle East, the camel is used for desert transportation most often because it is a complete, self sufficient animal. There are only a small handful of Hebrew words that have a numerical value of three. The most important one is 'ab, or father. The scriptures are replete with evidence that ALL things come from the Father, and in Him we are complete. He is all and all comes from Him.
"One God and Father of ALL, who is above ALL, and through ALL and in you ALL."
1 Corinthians 8:6
"But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things ..."
The number three demonstrates conclusively the idea of fullness and completeness. The Creator of all who is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient expresses Himself to us through the number three. His servants Avraham, Yitz'chak, and Ya‘aqov, complete with all their faults, are chosen by YHVH to collectively represent His people Israel. This is why these three are understood in the collective phrase, the God of Israel. YHVH has no other people but Israel. They are His assembly and His congregation. As you peruse the less than comprehensive list of threes, I would admonish you to be sensitive to the concept of completeness. Some will be obvious and to some you might have to give some extra thought.
- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - whether you profess the trinity to be scriptural or not, the fact is that the God of Israel does manifest Himself as these three, and does not treat Messiah or the Holy Spirit as other god-beings, intruders or relatives that won't go away.
- Spirit, soul, and body: 1 Thessalonians 5:23
- Delivered, being delivered, and will be delivered: 2 Corinthians 1:10
- Who was, Who is, and Who is to come: Hitgalut 1:4
- The flesh, the world, and the devil: Ephesians 2:1-4
- The Torah, the Psalms, and the Prophets: Luke 24:44
- Prophet, Priest, and King
- The Way, the Truth, and the Life: Yochanan 14:6
- Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life: 1 Yochanan 2:16
- Egypt, the wilderness, and Canaan
- Gospels, Epistles, and Hitgalut
- The three Great Feasts: D'varim 16:16
- Three blessings of Aharon: B'midbar 6:23-24
- Holy, Holy, Holy: Yesha'yahu 6:3
- The seals, bowls, and trumpets: Hitgalut
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego
- Kefa, Ya‘aqov, and Yochanan - the inner circle (three ring circus!)
- Mosheh, Eliyahu, and Yahshua at the Mount of the Transfiguration
- God of Avraham, Yitz'chak, and Ya‘aqov
- Three prayers in Gethsemene
- Three messengers of Avraham: B'reshith 18
- Messiah rose after three days and three nights
- Yonah was three days in the belly of the whale
- Three hours of darkness at the crucifixtion
- Three languages written above Messiah's head
- Tabernacle made up of Most Holy Place, Holy Place and the Court
- blue, purple, and scarlet - colors of the linen curtains in the tabernacle
- Three tribes in each camp around the Tabernacle
- All people come from Shem, Ham, or Yapheth
- Three items in the ark: commandments, manna, Aharon's rod
- Faith, hope, and love: 1 Corinthians 13
- Noach, Dani'el, and Iyov: Yechezk'el 14:14
- Way of Cain, error of Balaam, and gainsayings of Korah: Yehudah 11
- "Write the things what thou hast seen, the things which are, and the things which shall be.": Hitgalut 1:19
- Esther prepares her heart 3 days and nights: Esther 4:16
- Three gifts given to the Messiah: Mattityahu 2:11
One more thing before I go. Please do not send me more lists of threes. Between a wheelbarrow load of books and the research of my dear, sweet friend, Rosemary Brown, I have enough to drown in. I cannot handle a bunch more from every, Tom, Dick and Harry. Hey! I wonder what's up with those three?