The number twenty in the Bible is used with many individuals and with key things in Scripture. My habit is to look at the number itself (Jewish thought) and the meaning of the letter in the Hebrew alphabet and then look at the examples of the number used in Scripture. The number twenty lent itself to nine groupings or usages and three groups of larger numbers – 120, 20,000, and 120,000. 120 and 120,000 could be handled as part of a study in the number twelve. I found 120 interesting, so I will include it and loosely work 20,000 into this study. I viewed other websites but the three I list at the bottom of the post seemed to be less complicated, yet very informative. Twenty is a number that does not stir much interest! I am not sure why. The concordance and the Bible translation you use will produce slightly different results in the number of times it is used. After I grouped and studied them, it seemed to me that I could have put more into the miscellaneous and time column.
The nine groups I picked are miscellaneous, Solomon, Tabernacle, food, Temple, dates and times, Jacob, rulers, and age of males (general population and Levities). But I will start with the letter in the Hebrew alphabet that represents twenty.
Kaph– resembles the palm of an open hand. Kaph is the eleventh letter in the alphabet. The idea of a hand corresponds with ten fingers and ten toes, making twenty a “natural number”.
Reish/resh– This is the twentieth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is taken to represent the head and all that is involved with a human head. The bej.org site has good details. Resh is used for the number 200. 20 x 10:}
Examples – I listed some of the many verses from each group. Use a concordance or Bible Gateway to find all of the references.
- Miscellaneous– Genesis 7:20 the height of the floodwaters above the mountains, this is fifteen cubits in the KJV; Genesis 37:28 the sum of money that the brothers got for Joseph – it came to two shekels each.
- Solomon– 1 Kings 9: 10,11 the years to build the Temple and his palace; towns he gave to Hiram for payment. 2 Chronicles 2: 10 (20,000) the amounts of wheat, barley, wine, oil he paid Hiram.
- Tabernacle and Temple– Exodus 26, 27, 30 36, 38 and for the Temple 1 Kings 6:2,3,16,20 and 2Chronicles 3:3, 4, 8 and 3:11,13; 4: 1, and Ezekiel 40, 41, 42, 45. These references are sizes of rooms, angels, and the shekel.
- Jacob– Genesis 31 and 32 have references for the number of years Jacob worked for Laban and the quantities of certain animals in the gift for Esau.
- Food– 2 Kings 4:42 loaves of bread Elisha gave away. Ezekiel 4:10 amount of food he was to eat at set times of the day.
- Dates/Times– Numbers 10:11 is when the cloud moved so the people would travel again after the Ark and Tabernacle were made. Many of the dates deal with when kings started to rule.
- Rulers– Judges 4:3 Jabin and Sisera oppressed Israel, 2 Kings 15:27 years that Pekah of N. Israel ruled; Assyria deported people, Judges 15:20 years Samson led Israel, 2 Kings 16: 2 the age that Ahaz became king
- Age of males– Exodus 30:14 – age that money was collected for them to ransom themselves, Leviticus 27: 3,5 – ages and shekels if dedicated to the Lord, Numbers 14:29 age of those counted and who grumbled against God, Numbers 26: 2, 4 age for army service, Numbers 32: 11 those who would die before the people could enter the Land,1Chronicles 23:24,27 – age of Levites in David’s counting for service to the Ark,Ezra 3:8 age of Levites to supervise work on Temple
- 120– Genesis 6:3 length of time a man would live, Deuteronomy 31:2, 34:7 Moses’ age, Acts 1:15 number praying in Upper Room
My Thoughts on Twenty
Twenty in many of the examples seem to be a “boundary” for the ending and beginning of things. The Tabernacle and Temple are examples of physical boundaries, while the age of accountability for the complainers is noteworthy. Numbers 10: 11 ended the construction of the Tabernacle and the moving of the camp to the Land.
The age of twenty and the thirty-eight years of wandering have had the greatest impact on me personally. All of the “twenties” had to die during the season of “thirty-eight” before the People could enter the Land. For two years the wonders of God and the labors of Egypt were on display for these men and women. Their paradigms/boundaries that they had set on God had to go away. Unfortunately, they did pass some down to the “nineteens” and they were dealt with but they plagued the people again.
# Jesus, HELP! Reset my Twenties and get me into the Promised Land!
(My DISCLAIMER – People view numbers very differently, so there are many interpretations for twenty. Jewish studies seem to be different than Christian studies and then there are people who do not believe in God/Jesus throwing in their opinions. The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are what makes anything important! God set the boundaries – the size, age, date. He is the One who made the number important and set the pattern and meaning. Look to Them and not a number, because they are a teaching aid in Their hands!)