The Number Twenty-one in the Bible

Twenty-one in the Bible is associated with four major topics and a minor one.  The minor topic is found in 1 Chronicles 24 + 25.  These references are the list of people who have a job that has been assigned to them and the numerical ranking of these people.

The four major topics are Zedekiah, Daniel’s fasting, the seventh month, and the Passover and unleavened bread.

  1. 2 Kings 24:18, 2 Chronicles 36:11, and Jeremiah 52:1 reference that King Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began his reign of Jerusalem/Judah.  He would have been ten years old when his father Josiah died.  He was the last king of Israel, until Jesus, and he did not follow God or listen to the prophets.  2 Chronicles 36 mirrors Jeremiah 52 and gives a good summary of his life.  Nebuchadnezzar made him king and changed his name from Mattaniah (gift of God) to Zedekiah (Yahweh is righteousness).  He is one of several people in the Bible to have their name changed.  The change may have been to remind him to follow the rules!  The ten and twenty-one we will see again in another topic. 
  2. Daniel 10:13 is part of the story of Daniel’s fast.  The twenty-one days have become important parts of fasting and warfare narratives.  In studying this I feel it is important to remember the reason and the timing of his fast.  The reason was the ending of the seventy years of rest for the land.  Okay, that is also the time that Jerusalem would be vacant before Cyrus king of Persia would let Israel go home.  If “the first month” was the Jewish religious calendar this fast went through the time of Passover.  (Which started on the tenth of the month and went to the twenty-first of the month with the end of Feast of the Unleavened Bread.  So, Daniels’s fast could correspond to the birth/rebirth of the nation of Israel.)
  3. Exodus 12:18 is the reference for the first Passover and the ending of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  This should have been the time period for the crossing of the Red Sea and a time of freedom for Israel.
  4. The last major topic also deals with the Feast of the seventh month.  The best reference is Haggai 2:1 when a word of encouragement went to Zerubbabel.  This occurred in the seventh month or during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.  This commemorates Israel living in tents for forty years.  This feast comes after the Day of Atonement, which is on the tenth day of the seventh month. (Study Leviticus 23.) The prophet Jeremiah was also being taken to Egypt, against his will, during this time period after the fall of Jerusalem.

The twenty-first letter of the Jewish alphabet is “shin” and it is the letter that looks like a crown.  The number value of shin in the Hebrew language is 300.  This letter is associated with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) because of its gematria is 300. To appreciate the full scope of shin go to Chabad.org as they have a good article on this topic.

An interesting “twenty-one” I found is in Luke 3:34-38.  Start with Adam, as number one, and count to Abraham.  I just read in my devotional book that we give up the curse of Adam at the cross and take on the blessing of Abraham – who is twenty-one from Adam.

 

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/137093/jewish/Shin-Sin.htm

https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Shin/shin.html

https://imgbin.com/png/b8eFPpq5/shin-hebrew-alphabet-letter-png

I do not believe in “good luck” numbers as Jesus does not do things by luck.  But because of this study, I would associate twenty-one with the Feasts of Israel and the beginning of the nation.

Day of Atonement, Passover, Epiphany

The Day of Atonement, Passover, and Epiphany may seem like three strange Feast to be linked together when talking about the birth of Jesus.  Bear with me as I explain their connection.  

I know it is a good thing that God is a “God Who hides Himself” and did not give us exact dates for everything that occurred.  “He concealed things” so we could search them out.  Luke or Matthew could have given us “better” timestamps but Holy Spirit stopped them.  But Luke did give us some very important calendar dates.

Time

Jewish timekeeping is different than Western thought, it was started by God in the Garden.  (another post on time) The Biblical day starts in the evening and goes to daylight.  This thought is consistent in the Bible as there are many examples of things going from dark to light.  The Jewish religious month is lunar-based; they would add an extra month when needed to keep them in line with the revolution of the earth.   In the Book of Leviticus, the major feasts are set in this framework of months.

Day of Atonement

This important day, for the Jews, of fasting, prayer, and repentance is explained in Leviticus 16.  In Leviticus 23: 26 its time is given as the tenth day of the seventh month.  In Luke we find Zachariah, John’s father, doing the offering of incense behind the Veil in the Second Temple.  Luke 1: 23 had him finish “his time of service” before going home.  This possibly was until the end of the month, so he was with Elizabeth in the eighth month.  She stayed secluded for five months.  (I am not trying to do days or exact times, those belong to God!)

Passover

Luke 1:26 has the “sixth month” for Mary’s visit with Gabriel.  That should be the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, which makes it the first month of the Jewish year, the month of Passover!  The Father is a God of order.  It would seem fitting to “birth” Jesus in Mary at Passover. That would put Jesus’ “coming out party” with the angels and shepherds in the December/January time frame (Julian Calendar) of the month of Tevet.  (see the calendar below)

Epiphany 

From ancient times (before the fourth century) the 6th of January has carried special importance in the Church!  Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his Testament to Freedom, pgs. 504-5 talks about Epiphany.  I read it in a compilation called God is in the Manger.  On page 90, he talks about four events associated with that date – the birth of Jesus, His baptism, the wedding of Cana, and the arrival of the Magi. Traditions are frequently built on fact.  Some of these I will not try to defend or deny, but it sure is interesting.  (Again, I am not trying to be dogmatic in writing this.)

Tevet is the Jewish tenth month.  The root of the word comes from tov or nine.  The meaning of the word is “good”.  If you look in Psalm 119: 65 – 72, the ninth section of that acrostic psalm you will find the idea of good four times in the NIV. (I did an alternative to how Psalm 119 is written.)

Matthew, in his telling of the Christmas story, injects that the Wise Men had seen the star two years earlier (Herod killed the babies two and under.).  He gives no timestamp, but if it was on Jesus’ birthday (Passover) when they found Him, it would fit. 

Okay, I will go out on a limb here, because I know the Father is a God of order!  Jesus’ return with Mary and Joseph from Egypt should have been at the same time as the Exodus (Passover).  I will inch a little further out and say that Jesus’ baptism with John coincided with the anniversary of the “baptism” of the people in the Red Sea. 

The wedding at Cana – I am clueless!  John was writing about proofs of Jesus’ divinity when he wrote on the Seven Miracles (or the Plus One I added), not about dates and times.  

For you scholars out there, I have not researched any of these thoughts on Epiphany!  It may well be that someone else has already come up with the same ideas!  I like the way they fit together, and it gives me a reason to reflect on Epiphany.  One day in Heaven I will have to ask how close I was to being correct.