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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 symbolic, midrashic numbers: that is, which are symbolically meaningful. The list of numbers I'm looking for, would then be found to be combined to create other symbolic numbers.

To explain by example consider the following numbers: 12, 40, and 480.

480 is the number given for the number of years since Israel left Egypt, until the First Beit Hamikdash was built. 480 is a combination of 12 ( the twelve tribes) and 40 (great change, or coming out through trials.. . i.e. weeks of pregnancy) The number 480 comes to tell us something about the building of the first beit hamikdash, but the number itself is not symbolically meaningful.

The number 12 is a product of 3x4, or the addition of 6+6, or 2x6. However, in the Torah and midrash, it very clearly is its own symbolic number, and is not meant to be interpreted as a combination of numbers.

Is there a known list of these numbers, to be able to tell when a number is meant to be understood on its own as being symbolic, and when a number is intended to be seen as a composite of other symbolic numbers?

Through the years, the numbers I have become aware of are as follows, to further illustrate my point, and to perhaps help one locate a book which covers them.

  • 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.
  • 6 work
  • 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?)
  • 60 A very large number of something.
  • 70 Diversity of the world (Possibly the complete set of natural cycles??)
  • 248 the bones and sinews in the body
  • 365 the days of the year
  • other numbers I might be missing.

Be aware that most google search results are christian based, and not what I'm looking for.

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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 '14 at 13:09

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