The Design of Scripture

The Number Ten - Law, Testing, and Representation

The Number Eleven - Disorder and Judgment

The Number Twelve - Governing Order and Rulership

The Number Ten - Law, Testing, and Representation

I am a person who ponders a great deal, not necessarily curious, mind you, but ponderous. I think that is a word. Anyway, I have always wondered why we have globally agreed that countdowns begin at ten. Whether it be a new year dawning or the launch of the space shuttle, the crowd gets real loud when the count gets to ten. Could it be that the number '10' is when things get serious? When reality begins to sink in? When the number ten is reached it seems as if the realization that whatever is about to happen is now going to REALLY REALLY happen. We also have a lot of top ten lists as well. It is as if to say that of all things considered, these are the top ten, and these ten epitomize all the rest.

The number '10' in scripture seems to have set the pattern for our top ten lists and countdowns. This number pictures the law, testing, and the summing up of a whole. Obviously the Ten Commandments come to mind when thinking about all the commandments being represented or summed up in the 'top ten', so to speak. The Ten Commandments are, after all, things you do, and what sums up good works, at least from God's point of view. Interestingly, YHVH has given man ten fingers and ten toes in order to work, make, form, and otherwise do things. In the account of creation (doing, forming, making, etc.) the phrase 'God said' appears 10 times in B'reshith chapter one. We know from the life of Avraham that he was very wealthy and owned many camels, perhaps 613 of them. When sending Eliezer to find a bride for Yitz'chak, Avraham sends a representative delegation of 10 camels. His instructions were that the woman who gives water to his servant AND takes care of the ten commandments, I mean camels, is the one who will be the bride of his only begotten son. Later, when bargaining with YHVH for the cities of Sodom and Gemorrah, Avraham talks YHVH down to 10 souls. Seems like an average representation of faithful saints in a large city. I do mean faithful.

The number '10' in Hebrew is 'eser, which means to take apart, to portion out. It is the Hebrew word for the 'tithe'. Every man's tithe represents his wealth, whether small or great. Our decimal system is based biblically upon the number ten, for it is a combination of the numbers 0-9 that make up all numbers. The first occurrence of 'eser is found in the number of Seth's age in B'reshith 5:8. The number is actually twelve, but in Hebrew the numbers 11-19 are represented by adding the numbers 0-9 to the number ten. When reading the number twelve you literally read 'ten and two' (sheney 'asar).

The tenth letter of the Aleph-bet is the yod. This word literally means 'of the hand' or lifting of the hand', as in 10 fingers. The hand is that which we work, make, and worship with. Yod is directly linked to Torah and the commandments in Mattityahu 5:18:

"For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one YOD or one tag shall in no way pass from Torah, till all be fulfilled.

It is with the hand that the terumah (heave) offering was lifted up as a representation of all of the dough from the produce of the field (B'midbar 15:17-21). A representative portion was taken from the offering, and when accepted by YHVH, all of the fruit of the land was accepted. The Messiah claimed to be that offering ('eser, or portion) in Yochanan 12:32.

"And I, if I be LIFTED UP from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

The Pharisees also recognized this same concept in Yochanan 11:50-51.

"Nor consider that it is expedient for us that ONE man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spoke he not of himself, but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Yahshua should die for that nation;"

Below are a few examples of the number 10 in scripture.

  • 10 Commandments
  • 10 plagues in Egypt
  • 10 virgins of Mattityahu 25
  • 10 servants and cities of Luke 19:13,17
  • 10 horns of Dani'el 7:7
  • 10 toes of the King's image: Dani'el 2:41
  • 10 vices of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
  • The tithe
  • The Passover lamb to begin testing on the 10th of Aviv
  • Noach was the 10th generation from Adam
  • 10 Gerahs was the redemption money: Sh'mot 30:12-16
  • Israel puts God to the test 10 times in the wilderness: B'midbar 14:22
  • Haman has 10 sons: Esther 9:13-14

The Number Eleven - Disorder and Judgment

All numbers from 10-19 are represented in the scriptures by using the base 10 and adding 0-9. Thus eleven is expressed literally as 'one and ten'. Eleven in scripture seems to speak of disorder and judgment as if adding to the law (the number 10). Adding to God's order or Torah creates disorder and subsequently judgment. Twelve, we will learn, speaks of God's perfect government and eleven seems to fall just short of that. It is almost as if the disciples of Yahshua knew that eleven was short of God's rule, when they quickly chose a replacement for Judas so that the total apostles would be complete at twelve. Otherwise, eleven is not a number that shows up much in scripture. Below is a handful of examples.

  • The 11th judgment on Egypt was burial in the Gulf of Aqaba (erroneously called the Red Sea)
  • Canaan has 11 sons: B'reshith 10:15-18
  • Zedekiah reigned 11 years. He was judged the 11th year: Yirmeyahu 52:1
  • Jehokiam reigned 11 years
  • 11th hour of Mattityahu 20:6,9. A time in our culture that means time is almost up!

The Number Twelve - Governing Order and Rulership

The number twelve in scripture is overwhelmingly expressed as governing order and rulership. In the beginning, YHVH sets the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens to rule the day and the night. Subsequently, we have 12 months in our year, 12 hours of the day, and 12 hours of the night. 12 signs of the mazzaroth and 360 degree (12x30) orbits. Israel was to be represented by 12 tribes as also there were 12 apostles to sit upon 12 thrones (Mattityahu 19:28). Many juries in our judicial system are made up of 12 jurors.

As we related in the number eleven, it appears that the disciples were not prepared to take on their mission of going to the nations until there were 12 of them (Acts 1:20-26). Twelve is the product of 3 (heavenly completion) and 4 (the earth, things of the world). Godly rulership involves righteous judgment in this world based upon the instructions and precepts of a heavenly Creator. The 12th letter of the Aleph-bet is the lamad, which, when written, stands heads above the other letters. The word lamad means to lead or to teach. When we enter the New Jerusalem soon, we will all enter through one of the 12 gates into the city, each representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Below are a few examples of the number 12 in scripture.

  • The 12 tribes of Israel
  • The 12 apostles to sit on 12 thrones
  • Ishmael begot 12 princes: B'reshith 17:20
  • Solomon's 12 officers: M'lakhim Aleph 4:7
  • 12 stones placed in the Jordan river plus twelve more stones on the other side: Yehoshua 4:1-24
  • 12 stones in the priests breastplate: Sh'mot 28:21
  • 12 cakes of shewbread in the tabernacle: Vayikra 24:5
  • 12 spies sent to Canaan
  • 12 wells of water at Elim: Sh'mot 15:27
  • 12 stones of Eliyahu's altar: M'lakhim Aleph 17:30-40
  • 12 legions of angels: Mattityahu 26:53
  • 12 years of the issue of blood: Luke 8:43
  • Jairus's (ruler of the synagogue) daughter was 12 years old: Luke 8:42
  • Yahshua is 12 years old at the Temple: Luke 2:42
  • 12 stars in the crown of the women: Hitgalut 12:1, cp. B'reshith 37:8-10
  • Description of New Jerusalem in Hitgalut 21 - 12 gates, 12 angels, 12 apostles, 12 pearls, 12 stones, 12 foundations, 12,000 furlongs, wall was 144 cubits (12x12)
  • 12 kinds of fruit in the Tree of Life: Hitgalut 22
  • 12 captains of Divre-HaYamim Aleph 27
  • 12,000 of each tribe of Israel in Hitgalut 8

Shalom Alecheim!