The Design of Scripture

The Number 33 and 40

The Number Thirty-Three - Promise

The number thirty-three seems to relate several times to the idea of promise and a very important promise as well. It seems that the most important promise in the scripture is the one that the Father made concerning the destiny and provision made for sinful mankind in the sacrifice and resurrection of His only begotten Son. It is agreed by most biblical scholars, that Yahshua was crucified during the 33rd year of His earthly life. This is partially based upon the giving of Yahshua's age of 30 years at the beginning of His ministry in Luke 3:23. The assumption of His ministry of 3 to 3-1/2 years has much scriptural evidence in spite of a number of interesting evidences for a 1 year ministry.

There are many promises in scripture, including the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but the promise that the universe hangs upon appears to be the coming of Messiah and His work of redemption and restoration (Yirmeyahu 33:14-15, Acts 13:23,32, 26:6-7, Romans 4:13,14,16,20, Romans 9:8-9, Galatians 3:18-19, 4:23,28, Ephesians 3:6, 2 Timothy 1:1, 2 Kefa 3:4). It may be interesting to note that the Hebrew word for promise is dabar. Sound familiar? The most awesome promise has been from the beginning, for the Messiah is not only the Word of God, but the promise of God as well.

The promise was to come through the seed of the woman and it is recorded for us who the promise came through. The 33rd time that Noach's name is mentioned is in B'reshith 9:13-17 and directly related to one of the first promises:

"I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud; And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noach, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth."

The 33rd time Avraham's name is mentioned is the birth of Yitz'chak in B'reshith 21:1-2. One can hardly deny that Yitz'chak's name is connected with promise.

Galatians 4:28
"Now we, brethren, as Yitz'chak was, are the children of PROMISE."

Here is another coincidence. The 33rd time the word 'seed' is mentioned is in B'reshith 22:17, where we have the promise of Avraham's seed again going through Yitz'chak.

"That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;"

In concluding this number it might be noteworthy to add the verse that contains the 33rd time the word 'promise' is mentioned.

M'lakhim Alef 8:25
Therefore now, YHVH ’Elohiym of Israel, keep with thy servant David, my father, that which thou PROMISED him saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou has walked before me.

The Number Forty - Trial and Testing

Certainly this number does not need any contrivance to see it's meaning of trials and testing in the scriptures. Its first occurrence, outside of Mahalaleel's age in B'reshith 5, is the amount of days and nights that it rained during the flood in Noach's time. I would think that this circumstance qualifies as a trial and a testing. Forty shows up in Yahshua's time in the wilderness with hasatan which included a forty day fast. Now there was some serious testing going on. A three day fast is about as much of a trial as I currently wish to face.

Before we list the significant uses of this number in scripture, there are a few interesting examples of the number forty in rabbinical thought. According to various traditional sources, Hillel the Elder ascended from Babylon to Israel at the age of forty, studied under his teachers for forty years, and led Israel for forty years. In Sifre, D'varim 34:7, Rabbi Akiba shepherded flocks for forty years, studied Torah for forty years, and taught Torah to Israel for forty years. And according to Pirkei Avot, one attains insight at forty years of age. In Talmud Avodah Zaroh 5b, we are told that one does not comprehend his teaching until after forty years. The following is a list of the significant occurrences of this number in scripture.

  • Israel 40 years in the wilderness
  • Israel under David's rule 40 years
  • Israel mourns for Ya‘aqov 40 days
  • Jonah preaches 40 days
  • Saul rules 40 years
  • Solomon rules 40 years
  • Israel in wilderness 40 years
  • Israel under the Philistines 40 years
  • Mosheh in Egypt 40 years
  • Mosheh in Midian 40 years
  • Mosheh at Mt. Sinai 40 days
  • Elijah 40 days
  • Yechezk'el lays on right side 40 days
  • Yahshua tempted 40 days
  • Yahshua spoke of Kingdom of God 40 days (Acts 1:3)
  • time of Noach - rained 40 days and 40 nights
  • Goliath defied Israel 40 days
  • Punishment is 40 stripes save 1
  • Isaac takes a wife at 40 years old

It is also understood that a woman's gestation period is forty weeks. If that is not a trial, I don't know what is.

Shalom Alecheim!