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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


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One obvious feature of the Bible is the frequent occurrence of the number ‘seven’. The number seems to have been used to indicate one complete unit – fulness, completion, perfection (e.g. Genesis 2:2).

This unit of seven features prominently in the organization of Israel’s religious and community life. One day in seven was a holy day of rest, and this weekly unit provided the framework for various religious festivals (Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 23:5-6; Leviticus 23:15; Leviticus 23:34; see SABBATH). The details of many of Israel’s rituals were based on a unit of seven (Leviticus 4:6; Leviticus 8:33; Leviticus 13:4; Leviticus 14:7-8; Leviticus 14:51; Leviticus 23:18). Every seventh year was a year of rest for the land and release for debtors (Leviticus 25:1-4; Deuteronomy 15:1-2; see SABBATICAL YEAR). The symbolic ‘seven’ gave to ordinary events a special religious significance (Joshua 6:4).

The expression ‘seven times’ seems to have been used as a figure of speech to indicate fulness or finality (Genesis 4:15; Genesis 4:24, Leviticus 26:18; Leviticus 26:21; 1 Kings 18:43-44; 2 Kings 5:10; Psalms 12:6; Psalms 119:164; Isaiah 30:26; Daniel 3:19; Matthew 18:21-22; cf. Luke 8:2; Luke 11:26; Luke 20:29). A similar symbolic usage of the number ‘seven’ is common in the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:20; Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:1; Revelation 5:6; Revelation 8:2; Revelation 10:3; Revelation 12:3; Revelation 13:1; Revelation 15:1).

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Seven'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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