The number Fifteen -15 in the Bible.
FYI – Depending on the translation and the concordance you use some of these numbers may appear different. For this study, I just wanted the number fifteen (15). The NIV and KJV handle numbers differently. The KJV will spell them out like eight hundred and fifteen while the NIV will write 815 (Genesis 5:10). Also, the NIV translates some numbers in standard units (what Americans will understand) like 15 feet while the KJV would say 10 cubits (Zechariah 5:2).
- The first number fifteen (cubits – this is twenty feet) is in Genesis 7:20 and is the depth of water covering the mountains with the Flood.
- The second usage is with the walls of the courtyard of the Tabernacle. There were two fifteen cubit walls forming the east side leaving a twenty cubit gap that had an offset hanging acting as the gate (Exodus 27:14).
- The third usage is in Exodus 16:1 (see 10 Test and Timeline). This marked the second month of the Israelites marching out of slavery.
- The most references are with Feasts (Leviticus 23).
As I thought about the fifteen cubits in Genesis I realized it was not the depth of water but the fifteen. God used the water to “clean” the earth of corrupt humanity. Several source listed below will tell you that if you added the letter yod (10) and the letter hey (5) you would get 15 which happens to spell out a name of God. In Hebrew, however, it is written with the 9th (teth) letter and the 6th (waw) letter out of respect for God. (Sorry, Hebrew letters are also used as numbers.)
The total width of the courtyard for the Tabernacle was 50 cubits, that was the west and east side (the one that faces the sun). So as you entered on the east side to worship there was a 15 cubit wall on your left and your right. (See Camp and Marching Order) The bases holding up the curtains/walls also had a fifteen associated with them. (Think about that for a minute!)
The most references with fifteen belong to 15th of the month because several Feasts (celebrations) start on that day – Unleavened Bread, Booths/Tabernacles, Purim, and several you may not find in a Christian Bible. Passover is on the 14th of the first month and the 15th is the start of Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is also when Pharaoh let Israel go because the firstborn all died (another cleaning/judgment). The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates the exodus when Israel lived in booths waiting for everyone over twenty to die. A “silent/hidden” fifteen is associated with the Feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23: 17 – 21) it is the number of offerings:
Why the fifteenth of the month? If you do not know it the Hebrew calendar is set on a 30-day month (lunar cycle) with the month being the actual unit of time. The first day is the new moon so the fifteenth day would be the full moon of each month. Here are some thoughts about this: the Feast was a reminder of the “best” of Egypt dying and them leaving; full moon is a reflection of sunlight at its best; it still could add up to be a name of God. (Something to think about.) To be fair to one source I read which said 15 represented “rest.” The Feast do start (and end) with a day of rest but the first one, the day after the first Passover, was them leaving in a hurry. These Feasts (Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur and Feast of Tabernacle) were so important that Jeroboam set up a false holiday on the 15th of the 8th month to act as a distractor for the Ten Tribes (1 Kings 12:33). In Ezekiel 31:17 it is talking about Egypt, the time frame the 15th day of the first month (Passover/ Unleavened Bread). Purim is the holiday from the Book of Esther and is still celebrated today (enemies got cleaned out).
Another notable story that has fifteen wrapped in it is the healing of Hezekiah where God added fifteen years to his life (2 Kings 20:6, Isaiah 38:5). One resource concluded that fifteen must deal with “addition” because fifteen years were added to his life. His reign was twenty-nine years long so this extra fifteen years started in the fifteenth year of his reign.
Some other non-holiday references with fifteen being a part of the story are (You will find these scriptures in a King James Version.):
- Hosea 3:2 where the prophet bought his wife back for fifteen pieces of money (a picture of Jesus redeeming His Bride)
- Solomon had columns in rows of fifteen holding his house up (1 Kings 7)
- Ziba in 2 Samuel 9 had fifteen sons
- 2 Kings Amaziah king of Judah lived 15 years then he was killed (cleaned out)
- Asa king of Judah threw a party in the 15 years of his reign to renew the seeking of God – 2 Chronicles 15:10
- Bethany was fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem
- Paul spent fifteen days with Peter (Galatians 1:18)
- Acts 27:28 finds Paul in a boat over fifteen fathoms of water. Chronologically this would be the last listing of fifteen in the Bible. The first reference (Genesis 7:20) had fifteen units of water and a boat also. (Just saying.)
- Luke 3:1 is where John the Baptist starts to preach and that was the 15th year of Tiberius. (Another party was starting.)
God “cleaning things” and “parties starting” seem to happen, a lot when the number fifteen is involved. The feast were times to enjoy God and His goodness by drawing close to Him so they are cathartic in themselves.
The fifteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet is Samech. I will list some things associated with it but follow the links to the various sources for a better study (Please note that some are Messianic Jew/Christian and others are strictly Jewish).
- Numerically it represents the number sixty.
- The priestly blessing has fifteen words and sixty letters.
- It means “to support” or “to protect.” This is all forms of support: spiritual, financial, physical, moral, etc.
- Samech (15) and Mem (13) surround/support Nun (14). Samech and Mem are the only fully enclosed Hebrew letters. (See studies on Thirteen and Fourteen). Nun may represent someone who is “bent down.”
- Because it is circular it represents the wedding ring.
There are still other references with the number fifteen (15) in the Bible but I hope you will continue to study as this number/letter has a lot associated with it.