Skip to content

What Is the Number 42 Meaning in the Bible?

What Is the Number 42 Meaning in the Bible?

The number 42 pops up a few times in the Bible, leaving many to wonder if there is a deeper meaning or symbolism behind this number. In this article, we’ll explore the significance of the number 42 throughout Scripture.

What Events in the Bible Involve the Number 42?

There are a few key events in the Bible that involve the number 42:

The 42 Stages of the Israelites’ Journey through the Wilderness

According to Numbers 33, there were 42 places the Israelites traveled to during their 40-year journey between Egypt and the Promised Land. This journey was full of hardship and character development for God’s people. The 42 stages may represent the completeness of their wilderness experience.

The 42 Young Men Killed by Bears

In 2 Kings 2:24, the prophet Elisha calls a curse down upon a group of 42 young men who mocked him, resulting in them being killed by two bears. The number 42 here represents the gravity of their offense.

The 42 Months the Gentiles Trample the Holy City

Revelation 11:2 discusses a period of 42 months where Gentiles will trample the holy city of Jerusalem just prior to Christ’s return. This period represents a time of tribulation and persecution.

What Is the Biblical Meaning of 42?

So what is the deeper meaning behind the number 42 in Scripture? Here are a few key symbolic meanings:

Completeness or Fullness

The number 42 may signify completeness, fullness, or finality regarding a period of trial, suffering, or judgment. This is seen in the 42 stages of the Israelites’ journey before entering Canaan as well as the 42 months of turmoil prophesied in Revelation.


As illustrated with the 42 youths mauled by bears, the number 42 can represent the severity of judgment for rebellion against God. The number underscores the complete consequences of defiant sin.

Additional Symbolism of 42

Looking outside of Scripture, here are some additional symbolic meanings of 42 that may provide further insight:


The number 42 is seen by some mathematicians and numerologists as a transitional number, bridging different stages, realms, or levels of development. This aligns with the transitional nature of the Israelites’ 42-stage journey.


Building on the idea of transition, Douglas Adams’ comedy sci-fi series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy identifies 42 as the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.” 42 represents coming to greater cosmic understanding about our purpose.

While intriguing, these meanings aren’t directly from the Bible itself. But they may help illustrate biblical truths!

A Few Final Reflections

In reviewing the symbolism of 42 throughout Scripture, here are some key things to remember:

  • The number 42 represents completeness and fullness, specifically regarding a period of trial, suffering, or judgment. This is seen in key narratives in Exodus, 2 Kings, and Revelation.
  • It underscores the severity of consequences for defiant rebellion against God. The 42 youths killed by bears illustrate this.
  • Additional meanings such as transition, advent, and deeper understanding may also offer insight but should be considered secondary.

The number 42 only appears a handful of times, but clearly carries weight when it does! God purposes numbers symbolically, so exploring meanings like this can lead to a richer understanding of His Word.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *