Biblical Numbers 11 to 20

Eleven

And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:26)

The number eleven is the number of disorder, imperfection and incompleteness. Eleven signifies a state not yet full. After Judas betrayed Jesus, he committed suicide. One might ask why replace Judas since Jesus had been crucified. Since the twelve disciples represented the twelve tribes of Israel, Judas’ replacement was necessary to bring the number back to the governmental number of twelve. Having only eleven disciples speaks of incompleteness.

Eleven also represents disorder. The parable about the workers coming to work in the eleventh hour is in contrast to what we believe to be right in order and arrangement (Matthew 20:6,9). Disorder arose when the earlier workers found out the eleventh hour workers got paid just as much as those who had worked all day.

The journey of the Israelites through the wilderness should have taken only eleven days (Deuteronomy 1:2). It turned into a 40 years journey because of disorder, disorganization, imperfection, and disintegration.

The number eleven can be traced throughout Jacob’s life illustrating incompleteness. According to Genesis 32:22, Jacob took his two wives, and his two women-servants, and his eleven sons, and headed back home to confront his estranged brother Esau. At the time Jacob had only eleven sons because Benjamin had not yet been born. Benjamin’s birth brought the total of Jacob’s sons to twelve. But then Joseph (the eleventh son) was sold into slavery, and Jacob thought Joseph was dead. This took the total back to eleven. During that period, much disorder and confusion characterized Jacob’s household. Joseph spent eleven years in Potiphar’s household where disorder caused by Potiphar’s wife resulted in Joseph going to prison.

When your life seems to be disorderly, disorganized, imperfect and incomplete, check to see if an eleven is somehow involved.

Twelve

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him. (Genesis 49:28)

The number twelve speaks of governmental perfection or rule. The sun which “rules” the day, and the moon and stars which “govern” the night, do so by their passage through the twelve signs of the Zodiac which completes the great circle of the heavens of 360 degrees (12 x 30) which govern the year. As a symbol, twelve is one of the perfect numbers in the Bible mainly because of the twelve tribes of Israel. Saying the “twelve tribes of Israel” has a double meaning. The tribes are the sons of Jacob whose name was changed to Israel when he wrestled with God. Also, the tribes are of Israel, the nation. Many things in the Bible acknowledge and are patterned after the twelve tribes.

Following the exodus, Moses built twelve pillars on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:4). Twelve spies were sent to spy out the land (Deuteronomy 1:23). Twelve stones were set as a memorial after crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 4:3). Twelve stones were attached to the breastplate of the priestly garments bearing the names of the twelve tribes (Exodus 39:8-14). The temple involved twelve in its measurements and furnishings.

The New Testament records the number twelve many times. Jesus speaks His first words at the age of twelve (Luke 2:42). Later, He chooses twelve disciples. Twelve baskets of fragments were collected after Jesus fed the five thousand (Mark 6:43). The Book of Revelation says there are twelve gates to the city, twelve angels as gatekeepers and the names of the twelve tribes written on the gates. The gates are twelve pearls and the wall will be on twelve foundations which bear the names of the twelve apostles. The measurements of the New Jerusalem also involve the number twelve in its measurements.

The number twelve as the perfect governmental number rule within our own society. That’s why there are twelve people on a jury. That’s why there are twelve eggs in carton (just kidding)! But there is no kidding about the tree of life that once stood in the Garden of Eden and was forbidden to Adam. It will stand in the city and be accessible to all of us. It will bear twelve kinds of fruit for the twelve months for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2).

Thirteen

Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. (Genesis 14:4)

Some people think thirteen is an unlucky number. It does speak of rebellion, sin and disobedience. Israel was in constant rebellion. Seven good kings ruled over the southern kingdom of Judah. Thirteen evil kings led the people away from God. Israel was characterized by rebellion, sin and disobedience mainly because of these thirteen evil kings. We say there were twelve tribes of Israel because of the sons of Jacob. Actually, there were thirteen tribes. Let me explain. Joseph died and that left eleven tribes. But Joseph’s portion of land was divided between his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Technically, that makes thirteen tribes.

Note that there were twelve disciples, but Jesus, the Christ, made the thirteenth member at the Last Supper. Later, Judas went out and betrayed Jesus. There were twelve who were bonded, but Judas, the thirteenth was apart from them all representing rebellion, sin, and disobedience.

Some buildings do not have a thirteenth floor. (Technically, they do have a thirteenth floor. They just don’t number it as such). Some hotels do not have thirteen as a room number. Some people live in fear whenever the thirteenth falls on a Friday because it is a superstition that it is an unlucky day. Here is something to think about. Everyday is the Lord’s Day no matter what date it bears. And when you think a day falls on the thirteenth, it is not actually the thirteenth. Our calendar has been adjusted over the years. We accept today as Wednesday, August 20th, but is it really?

Fourteen

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ. (Matthew 1:17)

The number fourteen speaks of double completion (2 x 7) and compression. We see the meaning of this number played out in the story of Jacob and his marriage to the two daughters of Laban. Jacob worked a complete cycle, seven years for Rachel. Because Leah was older, Laban tricked Jacob into marrying her instead. After the night of consummation, Jacob awakened to weak-eyed Leah. Because of Jacob’s love for Rachel, Laban allowed him to work another seven years for her. Thus making it double completion. However, the time was compressed because after Leah’s honeymoon was over, Laban allowed Rachel to marry Jacob and work off the seven years while being married to both women. (Genesis 29:14-30)

There were three generations from Abraham, the first Jew to David the first king. There were fourteen years from David to the exile to Babylon and fourteen years from the exile to the Christ. Genealogies often compressed history. Not every generation of ancestor was listed. Matthew chose to compress several generations into these three sets of fourteen generations which actually total 42 generations. When preachers say, “Jesus came down through 40 and 2 generations,” they actually illustrate the completion and compression of the history of Jesus.

Is there any significance that Valentine’s Day falls on February 14?

Fifteen

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord. Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears: I will add fifteen years to your life.” (Isaiah 38:2, 4-5)

The number fifteen speaks of addition. The above passage illustrates the addition of fifteen years when Hezekiah prayed to the Lord when he was about to die. When he turned his face to the wall, he shut out everything and everybody except the God to whom he prayed. He reminded God of how he had walked diligently before him and with wholehearted devotion had been faithful toward Him. Then Hezekiah wept. After Hezekiah prayed and humbled himself before the Lord, he was told by the prophet Isaiah that God would add fifteen more years to Hezekiah’s life.

God could do similar things for you if you would do what Hezekiah did. Pray and humble yourself before you ask for your next raise. You might be rewarded with the addition of a fifteen percent increase provided you have already been committed and faithful to what God has entrusted into your care.

Peace and blessings to you who stand ready to accept God’s blessings fifteen-fold.

Sixteen

Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 26:3)

Most teenagers look forward to their sixteenth birthday for that special birthday party and other privileges. Uzziah became king at sixteen and reigned fifty-two years longer than any previous king of Israel. There were two other kings younger than Uzziah. Joash was seven and Josiah was eight. Would your child be able to run an entire nation at seven, eight or sixteen?

Uzziah was a powerful king, but he let pride get in his way. When confronted by the other kings, he responded with anger instead of repentance. God judged him by striking him with leprosy. Uzziah was forced to live out the rest of his life separated from society.

Remember pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18).

Seventeen

Joseph, a young man of seventeen… “Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites…” (Genesis 37:2, 27)

Seventeen stands out as a significant number because it is not a multiple of any other number. It has no factors. It is last of the seven prime or indivisible numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and 17). Seventeen is the sum of two perfect numbers, seven and ten. Therefore, it is a combination of spiritual perfection and ordinal perfection. An example of this perfect union in the Bible is that of Joseph who at the age of seventeen was sold into slavery by his brothers. The story of Joseph also illustrates that seventeen signifies the beginning of temptation. At seventeen, temptation began to surround Joseph in every direction, but he did not take his eyes off the God he served. Let us do likewise.

The union of spiritual perfection and ordinal perfection is clearly seen when Joseph is made second in command in Egypt. He then becomes available to help those who did evil to put him there in the first place. Joseph was able to say to his brothers: “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20)

Eighteen

Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what has bound her? (Luke 13:16)

Eighteen is the number of bondage. We see in the above scripture that Satan had kept the woman bound for eighteen years. By reading the entire passage, we learn that this woman had been “crippled by a spirit.” She was “bent over” and could not “straighten up” at all.

Luke, the physician, lets us know that the illness was not a medical one. It was a spirit of infirmity caused by Satan. He also lets us know that “When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her: “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.”

Are you in bondage of any kind? Let Jesus call you forward and hear Him say, “You are set free.” Notice the woman was where Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues. In order to be set from your bondage, you MUST be in the place where Jesus is.

Nineteen

After Joab returned from chasing Abner, he took a head count of the army. Nineteen of David’s men (besides Asahel) were missing. (2 Samuel 2:30)

There are only about three scriptures in the Bible containing the number nineteen. When nineteen is mentioned, it represents divine order connected with judgment since it is a combination of ten and nine.

The above scripture indicates God’s divine order in having Joab return from chasing Abner at that particular time. This had been a long war with David’s men led by Joab against Abner. When the battle was over and Joab counted his men, he discovered that only nineteen men were missing or killed in battle. It is bad for any life to be lost in battle, but the minimum number points to God’s order. However, it was God’s judgment for the other side. David’s men had killed three hundred and sixty of Abner’s men.

This battle ended with victory for Joab and David’s troops, but the war was between God’s own people, the divided nation of Israel. It started because both sides lost sight of God’s divine order of settling the dispute over land and driving out the enemies. Instead of both sides uniting to accomplish this purpose, they fought against each other instead of against their enemies.

When in conflict, step back and consider your common interest. You will probably find that what you have in common is bigger than your differences. Use that as a tool to work for a settlement. Then God’s divine order instead of his judgment will prevail.

Twenty

Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt. (Genesis 37:28)

Twenty-one is a good number because it is three times the perfect number seven. If that is the case, what can we say about twenty? Twenty is connected with twenty-one in that twenty is one short of completion. Therefore, twenty is one of waiting and expectancy. For example, Jacob expected to leave Laban with his two wives. He waited twenty years before he was able to do so (Genesis 28:38, 41). Israel expected to be delivered from the hands of the Philistines. After twenty years of waiting, Samson delivered Israel from the Philistines (Judges 16:31).

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers for twenty shekels of silver. The brothers expected to be rid of Joseph forever. Their expectancy fell short because they eventually had to face Joseph and own up to what they had done.

The brothers selling Joseph for twenty shekels of silver could not stop God’s plan for Joseph’s life. No one can stop God’s plan for our lives if we continue to serve Him in the midst of our struggles like Joseph did.

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Biblical Numbers from 1 – 10


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