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I've always wanted to do an analyses of the Torah based on the numbers given and their midrashic meanings. Specifically, I'm looking for "base" numbers: that is, which are meaningful inherently, not only as factors or products of other meaningful numbers.

An example of what I mean: 40 is the number given to explain a complete change or growth. 40 happens to be the number of weeks for the average pregnancy, so this makes sense for that meaning. However, 40 is also a product of 4 and 10. 4 is a number which represents the earth, and 10 is a number which represents a complete set. So, 40 could also mean, the complete set of the growth from the earth, which has the same symbolic meaning of the full term of a pregnancy. I'm not sure yet if 40 is a base number or if it's just a product of 4 and 10. (It sort of depends on how much of a stretch the explanation is....) On the other side, the fact that 4 is 2 times 2 doesn't mean 4 is not a base because 2 is Zugim or Binary opposites. 2 sets of Zugim or opposites, don't directly relate to the 4 corners of the earth or the 4 elements of the earth, which the number 4 represents in Midrashim. If there is a way to explain the midrashic meaning of 2 so that 2 x 2 = the midrashic meaning of 4, then 2 would be a base, and 4 would not.

The numbers I have so far come up with are:

  • 1 Hashem or Unity
  • 2 Pairs which have a negative connotation, or opposites
  • 3 Chazakas, stability
  • 4 Not something I fully understand, but something about humility, the elements and winds of the earth, and something very "natural" but which has a divine cause or basis.
  • 7 The entire natural cycle or cycles in general.
  • 8 Spirituality or one beyond the cycle, a restart.
  • 10 Total completeness
  • 12 The nation of Israel
  • 13 Mercy
  • 26 The loving relationship between Gd and the Jewish people. (possibly a combination of opposites and Mercy)
  • 40 A complete growth (possibly the complete outcome of the natural world with a divine basis?)
  • 70 Diversity of the world (Possibly the complete set of natural cycles??)
  • 600 A very large number of something.
  • 613 The Mizvot

Numbers I am not sure about, are 5, 6, 9 and 11. (I'm not aware of independent midrashic meanings for them outside of the song)

Are there any other base numbers that I'm missing?

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Since you're using an ad hoc term ("base"), could you please define more clearly (in the question) how one can determine whether something is a base number? Otherwise, this question is exceedingly vague; I'm sorely tempted to close it. –  msh210 Feb 5 '12 at 3:56
I thought that was clear in my question but I guess not. I guess the proper name is a "factor". But also it should apply to division such that 10/2 gives you 5. –  avi Feb 5 '12 at 7:38
I'm really curious what is so vague when I gave a direct example, and even explained why a number may or may not be base... –  avi Feb 5 '12 at 8:01
For example, how do you know to certainly include 4, as opposed to considering it 2 times 2, but perhaps not 40, which you might consider 4 times 10? I don't see any criteria for considering something a base. –  msh210 Feb 5 '12 at 16:31
It would certainly be useful to show the sources you're aware of. –  Isaac Moses Feb 6 '12 at 3:57

1 Answer 1

Math in Tanach is base 10, which is also the system used in contemporary society.

For example, Genesis 5:3-5 contains the equation 130+800=930.

Important numbers in Tanach are 40, which is the length of a generation, and 7, which appears in many contexts.

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Doesn't look like you read the entire question... –  Danny Schoemann Aug 28 at 13:09

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