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What Is the Number 66 Meaning in the Bible?

What Is the Number 66 Meaning in the Bible

The number 66 appears several times in Scripture, most prominently as the number of books that comprise the entire Biblical canon. But beyond denoting the count of Biblical books, does the number 66 carry any symbolic significance or meaning in the Bible? This article will explore the instances where 66 arises and examine any theological meaning tied to this number.

Overview of Number Symbolism in the Bible

Unlike modern readers, ancient audiences attributed greater meaning to numbers referenced in key texts. Biblical writers used numbers like 3, 7, 10 and 40 to convey spiritual truths. Specific numbers had ties to concepts like perfection, completeness, atonement, and judgment.

For instance, the number seven often connects to ideas of divinity and completeness across Scripture. God resting on the seventh day offers one famous example. And the number 40 frequently relates to a time of testing or judgment – seen in both the 40 years Israel wandered in the wilderness and Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the desert.

So when we observe numbers in the Biblical text, they warranted greater significance to initial audiences. The specific number 66 surfaces on multiple occasions, which begs the question: did this number hold any symbolic meaning as well?

Instances Where 66 Appears in Scripture

The number 66 emerges in a few Biblical passages and contexts:

66 descendants of Jacob enter Egypt – Genesis 46 tallies 66 members of Jacob’s family who traveled to Egypt during Joseph’s rule. Jacob’s offspring who enter Egypt total 66 people.

Solomon’s molten sea measures 66 feet long – In 1 Kings 7, Solomon constructs a massive bronze basin called the molten sea, filled with water for priestly washing. This basin measured 66 feet long and 33 feet wide.

Dimensions of the gold menorah – In Exodus 25, God gives instructions for constructing a golden lampstand with six branches. The length of each branch was to be 66 feet.

So Scripture mentions 66 explicitly in describing the Israelites who move to Egypt, the dimensions of the ancient Temple molten sea, and the length of the menorah branches. But no definitive symbolic meaning emerges from these contexts alone. We must dig deeper.

The Symbolic Meaning of Six in the Bible

To assess if 66 carries symbolic meaning, we should examine the number six in isolation. What ideas connect to the number six in Scripture?

Six tied to sin/fall of man – The most negative association comes from 666, the notorious “mark of the beast” in Revelation connected to evil and sin. The number six falls short of the perfect number seven, evoking ideas like imperfection and incompleteness antithetical to God’s holiness.

Six days of creation – The Genesis narrative mentions that God created the entire cosmos in six days. The number six relates directly to the material world rather than the spiritual realm. Ancient Jews tied six to tangible things that could be experienced with the five senses.

In many ways, six symbolizes falling short by itself. But what changes when this number duplicates as 66?

The Significance of Repeated Numbers in the Bible

When numbers repeat in Scripture, they often intensify meaning. We see this with the number forty re-appearing across stories to emphasize times of testing. Duplicate numbers also frequently convey unity. The construction of Solomon’s Temple features many double measurements emphasizing harmony.

So while six alone may indicate incompleteness, 66 could signify a unified imperfection or emphatic bondage to sin. 66 then may hint at man’s repetitive failure to follow God’s commands rather than singling out one instance.

The Symbolic Importance of 66 for Bible Students

Drawing these strands together, 66 likely carries symbolic meaning for readers of Scripture. Specifically, 66 may represent:

Completeness of Canon – The 66 books of the Protestant Bible present God’s full revelation to mankind. Just as 66 descendants of Jacob entered Egypt, so too 66 books entered the Biblical canon to detail God’s covenant with His people.

Imperfection – Yet the number 66 falls short of divine perfection represented by 7 or multiples like 77 or 88. The repeating digit underscores sin and hardship borne out through all 66 Biblical books that anticipate the reconciliation Christ brings.

Unity – The duplication visually reinforces the unified narrative arc running through the entire Bible as God interacts with humanity through 66 distinct works over 1500+ years. The symbol draws together each book into one grand story.

So in the end, no definitive singular meaning emerges from 66 in Scripture. But the symbolic value of six combined with duplicated numbers gives Bible readers much to infer and apply to their own study.

Conclusion: Significance Remains Open to Interpretation

The number 66 surfaces multiple times across books written over 1500 years: Genesis, Exodus, 1 Kings all mention 66 explicitly. By evaluating symbolic meanings attached to six in isolation and duplicate numbers in Biblical contexts, 66 likely signals ideas like imperfection alongside unity or completeness.

But ultimately, no dogmatic interpretation presents itself for the appearance of 66 throughout the Bible. Readers must draw their own conclusions about why the Holy Spirit inspired the number 66 across such books written over such a vast expanse of time. And whether divine intent drips symbolism from every digit remains an open question.

Still, the thoughtful Bible student assembles clues like a detective to hypothesize about the probability of a number carrying symbolic weight. And a reasoned case emerges for 66 denoting essential theological concepts that frame mankind’s relationship to the Almighty throughout all 66 books.

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