Hebrew Highlights 22 - Seven
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
Ever notice how certain numbers seem to appear over and over in the Bible? Their use often appears completely arbitrary, or at least insignificant. Actually, they may not be intended to be an exact account or even prediction, but symbolic definitions of things greater than their real numeric value.
I want to look today at the number seven, which is found 317 times in the Word of God, sometimes as a simple count of items or people, but very often as an integral part of the scripture passage. We may have to ask a number of questions before we begin to find answers.
In 2KI 5:14 Naaman “went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” Why did Naaman have to wash 7 times? Why not 6, or 8?
PSA 12:6 The words of the Lord are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times. Again, why not 6 or 8?
PSA 119:164 Seven times a day I praise Thee, Because of Thy righteous ordinances. Other places the psalmist said Morning and Evening, or 3 times a day. Why seven?
Seven is sometimes call the perfect number. Actually, if it weren’t for its biblical fame, everyone would ignore it, except to mark the passing of weeks. By the way, seven, in Hebrew, is the word “sheva”, and week is ”shavua”.
Seven is a number associated with mercy, as we read in two passages: PRO 24:16 For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity. MAT 18:21-22 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
I think it is clear, that Yeshua did not mean for us to keep account of our brother’s offences against us, until we get to 490, and then say, I’m sorry, you have used up all of your indulgences.” Next time, I will never forgive you. Likewise, most of us have fallen, to some extent, many more than seven times, yet our Heavenly Father keeps picking us up, dusting us off, forgiving us, and sending on to complete our journey.
Now, to return to Naaman for a moment, His name actually means “faithful one”. Although at first complaining about it, he eventually obeyed the prophet’s words and did exactly as God had commanded, thus proving his faithfulness, and receiving his healing.
As far as the verse in proverbs is concerned, my oldest son, who happens to be a goldsmith, tells me that silver must often be heated up to 6 times to bring all of the impurities to the surface. The seventh time, is to be absolutely certain.
The root, “sheva”, or “sheen”, “bet”, “ayin”, is also found in the word shvua, or oath, or promise. An oath, of course, can go either way between two parties. In 2CH 15:14-15 we read, “Moreover, they made an oath to the Lord with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets, and with horns. And all Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.” The people of Israel made a perfect oath with the Lord, and He let them find Him; in my eyes, anyway, a perfect answer. Of course, you remember that rest is promised, and fulfilled on the seventh day.
One more famous verse, which does not at all remind you of the number seven, unless you speak Hebrew, is LUK 1:13. “But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.” Elizabeth, is actually the Hebrew name, Eli-sheva, yes, like my wife, Elisheva Shomron. The name means God is my oath. God promised Elisheva a son in her old age, and He came through with a perfect answer.
So, God promised us in His word, refined seven times, to pick us up after we fall seven times, to forgive us seventy times seven, to purify us from the leprosy of sin, if we go to His water to be washed seven times. He is our oath, if we are faithful, and often, even when we forget to be.
Surely He is worthy perfect praise, seven times a day.
Shalom, Shalom from Jerusalem.