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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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The number seven is consecrated, in the holy books and in the religion of the Jews, by a great number of events and mysterious circumstances. God created the world in the space of seven days, and consecrated the seventh day to repose. The rest of the seventh day, according to St. Paul, Hebrews 4:4 , intimates eternal rest. And not only the seventh day is honoured among the Jews, by the repose of the Sabbath, but every seventh year is also consecrated to the rest of the earth, by the name of a sabbatical year; as also the seven times seventh year, or forty- ninth year is the year of jubilee. In the prophetic style a week often stands for seven years, Daniel 9:24-26 . Jacob served his father-in-law Laban seven years for each of his daughters. Pharaoh's mysterious dream represented to his imagination seven fat oxen, and seven lean ones; seven full ears of corn, and as many that were empty and shrivelled. These stood for seven years of plenty, and seven of scarcity. The number of seven days is observed in the octaves of the great solemnities of the passover, of tabernacles, and of the dedication of the tabernacle and the temple; the seven branches of the golden candlestick, the number of seven sacrifices appointed on several occasions, Numbers 27:11 ; Numbers 29:17-21 , &c. Seven trumpets, seven priests that sounded them, seven days to surround the walls of Jericho, Joshua 6:4 ; Joshua 6:6 ; Joshua 6:8 . In the Revelation, are the seven churches, seven, candlesticks, seven spirits, seven stars, seven lamps, seven seals, seven angels, seven phials, seven plagues, &c. In certain passages, the number seven is put for a great number. Isaiah 4:1 , says that seven women should lay hold on one man, to ask him to marry them. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, says, 1 Samuel 2:5 , that she who was barren should have seven children. Jeremiah 15:9 , makes use of the same expression. God threatens his people to smite them seven times for their transgressions, Leviticus 26:24 , that is to say, several times. The Psalmist, speaking of very pure silver, says it is "purified seven times,"

Psalms 12:6 . And elsewhere, "Render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom," Psalms 79:12 ; punish them severely, and as often as they deserve it. The slayer of Cain was to be punished seven times; but of Lamech seventy times seven times, Genesis 4:15 ; Genesis 4:24 . The slothful man thinks himself wiser than seven men, that set forth proverbs, Proverbs 26:16 ; he thinks himself of more worth than many wise men. St. Peter asks our Saviour, Matthew 18:21-22 , How many times should he forgive his brother? till seven times? And Christ answers him, I say not only seven times, but seventy times seven; meaning, as often as he may offend, however frequent it may be.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Seven'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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