Menu Close

Tag: Numerology

The First Appearance of the Number 13 in the King James Bible

thirteen

Recently, I stumbled upon a sermon by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) evangelist Bill Grady, preached at Victory Baptist Church in Hartland, Michigan. Grady shared a “revelation” he heard from James Melton, pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Sharon, Tennessee. Both Grady and Melton are disciples of thrice-married KJV zealot Peter Ruckman. (Please see Questions: Bruce, In Your IFB Days Did You Encounter Peter Ruckman? and The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Peter Ruckman Shares His “Love” for Blacks.)

Melton’s “word from the Lord” had to do with the number thirteen in Genesis 1. You can view the video here: Video Link. Start at the 1:11:10 mark.

What was it that the Christian God revealed to Melton? See if you can figure out what God told Melton about Genesis 1:

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Did you see it? Come on, surely you can see what God “revealed” to Melton.

No?

Okay, here ya go. Notice that verses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 all mention God. But when you come to verse 13, God is not mentioned! OMG, what an astounding, breathtaking reveal. Imagine all the things going on in the world that God could address, but the Holy Spirit thought it important to show Melton (and Grady) that the name God is not mentioned in verse 13. And you know how “evil” the number 13 is. That’s what you get when God is missing from a Bible verse. Of course, God’s name is missing from verses 15, 19, 23, and 30 too.

Numerology — the belief in the divine or mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events — is quite popular among Evangelicals. As an IFB pastor, I owned, read, and used in my sermons E.W. Bullinger’s seminal book, Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance.

Bullinger had this to say about the number 13:

For this purpose we must consider the number thirteen here, and out of its otherwise proper order.

As to the significance of thirteen, all are aware that it has come down to us as a number of ill-omen. Many superstitions cluster around it, and various explanations are current concerning them.

Unfortunately, those who go backwards to find a reason seldom go back far enough. The popular explanations do not, so far as we are aware, go further back than the Apostles. But we must go back to the first occurrence of the number thirteen in order to discover the key to its significance. It occurs first in Gen 14:4, where we read “Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and the thirteenth year they REBELLED.”

Hence every occurrence of the number thirteen, and likewise of every multiple of it, stamps that with which it stands in connection with rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, disintegration, revolution, or some kindred idea.

The second mention of thirteen is in connection with Ishmael, Gen 17:25. He was thirteen years old when Abraham circumcised him and admitted him into the covenant to which he was a stranger in heart, and which ended in his rebellion and rejection.

We see it stamped upon the very fore-front of Revelation. For while the opening statement of Gen 1:1 is composed of seven words and twenty-eight letters (4×7), the second verse consists of fourteen words, but fifty-two letters; fifty-two being 4×13 tells of some apostasy or rebellion which caused the ruin of which that verse speaks.

….

THE ENEMIES OF GOD AND HIS PEOPLE as named in Scripture are generally multiples of thirteen.

Let us begin with the great enemy himself, always remembering that though we may give the English for the sake of clearness, the gematria always refers to the original Hebrew or Greek:

Satan, in Hebrew = 364 (13×28)

Satan, in Greek = 2197 (133)

“That old serpent, even Satan” (o ofiV o arcaioV…kai o SatanaV) = 2756 (13×212)

“Ha-Seraph” (Num 21:8) = 585 (13×45)

Beelzebub (with art.) = 598 (13×46)

Belial – 78 (13×6)

Drakwn (Drakon), Dragon (Rev 12:9) = 975 (13×75)

‘OfiV (Ophis), Serpent = 780 (13×60)

Murderer = 1820 (13×140)

Tempter = 1053 (13×81)

The Scape-goat = 585 (13×45)

The Lion (Psa 91:13) = 338 (13×26)

“As a Lion” (1 Peter 5:8) = 1885 (13×145)

“The Power of the Enemy” (Luke 10:9) = 2509 (13×193)

“Your adversary, the Devil, as a roaring lion” = 6032 (13×464)

Fowler (Psa 91:3) = 416 (13×32)

“Who is called the Devil and Satan” (o kaloumenoV diaboloV kai o SatanaV) = 2197 (133)

“Seven Devils” = 572 (13×44)

“Because the Prince of this world is judged” (John 16:11) = 5577 (132x33)

“When he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar” (John 8:44) = 7072 (13×544)

Want to have a numerological stroke? Just read everything Bullinger has to say about the number. Certifiably crazy.

The Bible Study website has this to say about the number 13:

The number 13 is symbolic of rebellion and lawlessness. Nimrod, the mighty hunter who was ‘before the Lord’ (meaning he tried to take the place of God — Genesis 10:9), was the 13th in Ham’s line (Ham was one of Noah’s three sons who survived the flood). Thirteen represents all the governments created by men, and inspired by Satan, in outright rebellion against the Eternal.

The phrase ‘valley of Hinnom’ (or variation thereof) occurs in 13 places in Scripture. The valley was the scene of the evil-inspired rites of the pagan god Moloch (or Molech). The practices related to this false deity received some credibility when they were knowingly allowed by King Solomon (1Kings 11:7) in order to please his non-Israelite wives.

One way Molech was appeased and worshipped was through the sacrifice of children who, placed on the red hot arms of the idol, were burned alive. The valley’s tie to fire made for an apt backdrop of the ultimate punishment unrepentant and rebellious sinners will receive in the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20, 20:9-10, 14 -15).

The longest name of a book, Thessalonians, is 13 characters.

The dragon, a symbol for Satan, is found 13 times in Revelation. Satan is behind all rebellion against God.

In Romans 1 the apostle Paul lists 23 characteristics of sinful people who have a debased or reprobate mind. The thirteenth characteristic is that they are haters of God (Romans 1:28-32).

Haman the Agagite had a decree signed on the thirteenth day of the first month that on the thirteenth day of the 12th month all Jews in the Persian Empire were to be killed (Esther 3:7 – 9).

The destruction of Jericho is stamped with the number 13, for the city was marched around for six straight days, and on the seventh day it was marched seven times, making thirteen total.

King Solomon spent a little more than seven years building Jerusalem’s temple (1Kings 6:38). He, however, spent a total number of thirteen years building a home for himself (1Kings 7:1)!

….

In Mark 7 Jesus mentions thirteen things that defile a person. They are adulteries, fornications, evil thoughts, murders, covetousness, thefts, wickedness, licentiousness, guile, blasphemy, foolishness, pride and an evil eye (Mark 7:20-23).

Imagine the countless hours spent by Bullinger and the Bible Study Website finding the meaning of the number 13 and other numbers in the Bible. Melton didn’t have to put any work into his revelation — God just whispered it in his ear.

Here’s the problem with Melton’s “word from the Lord.” First, Genesis is not the oldest book in the Bible, Job is. So Genesis 1:13 is not the first mention of 13 in the Bible.

Stephanie Hertzenberg writes:

The oldest book in the Bible is, unsurprisingly, found in the Old Testament. Most Christians would likely predict that Genesis was the oldest book in the Bible given that it details the creation of the world. If that was not accurate, then they would probably suggest Exodus or maybe theorize that Psalms or Proverbs were the first to go from an oral tradition to a written one. All of these predictions, however, would be incorrect. The oldest book in the Bible is smack in the middle of the Old Testament. It is the Book of Job.

The Book of Job is one of the lesser read books of the Bible, despite the fact that it is referenced repeatedly throughout Scripture. Unlike the rest of the Bible, Job is written not as prose or poetry but as a drama. In the book, an angel in God’s court, in some translations it is Satan, challenges God that Job is pious because he has a good, comfortable life. God declares that Job will not give up his faith and curse God despite terrible things befalling him. God accepts the bet, and Job suffers every manner of tragedy but still clings to his faith. God wins the wager, restores what Job lost and further blesses him.

The Book of Job is estimated to have been written in the time of the Patriarchs, between 1900 and 1700 B.C. The book deals with similar themes as the Babylonian work “Ludlul-Bel-Nimeqi” and is sometimes considered to have been based on the Babylonian work, but similar themes are not enough to state that one work is a derivative of the other. People have been questioning why suffering occurs for almost as long as humanity has existed. As it is, Job and “Ludlul-Bel-Nimeqi” have very different endings to the stories of their protagonists and are written in different styles. Job is a drama while “Ludlul-Bel-Nimeqi” is a monologue. Truthfully, the theme found in the two works is common enough that “Ludlul-Bel-Nimeqi” could be compared almost as closely to Ecclesiastes or Lamentations as Job. 

While the themes found in Job are common across the ancient world, the language is not. Job is written in a form of Hebrew that is even older than the ancient Hebrew that makes up most of the Old Testament. In fact, the language used in Job is not even usually referred to as ancient Hebrew. Instead, it is called “Paleo-Hebrew.” The book also contains Syriac and Arabic expressions which point to a period of time between 1900 and 1700 B.C. when the Shemitic tribes had not yet separated into speaking separate Syriac, Hebrew and Arabic dialects. Instead, they still shared a common language.

The language in which Job was written is not the only clue to its age. In addition to using a language that differs from the Hebrew used in other Old Testament manuscripts, Job also mentions several creatures and conditions that are unknown today. The phrases may refer to animals that have gone extinct or, more likely, were called by a different name in later books of the Bible. It is these currently unidentifiable and untranslatable names that have led some translators of Job to translate the animals as more traditionally mythical creatures such as unicorns. 

The age of the book of Job can also be found in what is noticeably missing from the book. There are no mentions of the covenant, the Law of Moses or the priesthood. There are not even any mentions of the Israelite people or the Promised Land. Instead, Job offers sacrifices himself for his sons without the use of a priesthood, temple or consecrated altar. His wealth is measured by the size of his herds and the amount of “qesiytah,” unique silver coins, he possesses. Both herds and silver were used as ancient systems of money between 1900 and 1700 B.C. The names of Job’s sons were also uncommon in later time periods but were common before and during the time of the patriarchs.

Exactly when the book of Job was written remains something of a mystery, but there is no doubt it is the oldest book in the Bible. While the early chapters of Genesis cover events that happened before Job, the actual written accounts of those events were not recorded until after the book of Job had already been composed. In fact, Job is over 400 years older than Genesis. This means Job is not only the sole drama in the Bible but also the oldest book by far and all the more fascinating for it.

Second, the original text of the Bible did not have verse numbers. Chapters and verses were written hundreds and thousands of years after the original writings (Wikipedia). Thus, when God “inspired” Genesis 1, there was no verse 13.

Melton’s revelation was nothing more than human pattern recognition. All of us “see” patterns. Those of us, in particular, who have OCD tendencies see patterns everywhere we look. I can be sitting in my doctor’s exam room and see all sorts of matching patterns. (Yes, I am the guy who counts the tiles on the ceiling and floor.) Melton’s “revelation” didn’t come from God. It is nothing more than Melton’s brain seeing a pattern and ascribing to it some sort of religious significance.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Fear, Paranoia, and Superstition: Friday the 13th

friday the thirteenth

Last week, Janice Williams, a writer for Newsweek, churned out a bit of irrational nonsense about Friday the 13th. This nonsense made it into the newsletter sent out weekly by a local school near where I live. In this short post, I plan to dismantle Williams’ notion that the superstition surrounding the day stems from certain Christian beliefs; beliefs that I had never heard of until I read Williams’ article:

However, reasons why and how Friday the 13th got its unlucky association remain a mystery. But some do believe the superstitions and fear surrounding the date stem from religious beliefs and Christianity specifically.

It was the 13th guest at the Last Supper, Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ, which led to Christ’s crucifixion, held on a Friday. Some biblical scholars also believe it was a Friday when Eve convinced Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, and it was Friday the 13th when Cain committed the first murder, killing his brother Abel.

“Because Friday was the day of the crucifixion, Fridays were always regarded as a day of penance and abstinence,” Steve Roud, author of The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland, told BBC news Friday. “This religious belief spilled over into a general dislike of starting anything or doing anything important on a Friday.”

….

First, Williams suggests that the one of the reasons Friday the 13th being is an unlucky day is that Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, was the thirteenth guest at the Last Supper. This one is easy to debunk. Judas was numbered among the twelve disciples. Thus, it was Jesus, and not Judas, who was the thirteenth guest. And even if people can’t bear the thought of Jesus being associated with the unlucky number thirteen, why was Judas the thirteenth guest, and not Peter, James, John, or any of the other eight disciples? Second, I wonder if Williams is aware of the fact that some Biblical scholars believe that Jesus was crucified on Thursday, and not Friday? I doubt it. Had she done even the slightest bit of research for this filler article, she would have learned that more than a few scholars dispute the Friday-crucifixion-to-Sunday-resurrection timeline because the Bible says Jesus was in the grave for three days. It’s hard to get three days and nights out of Friday to Sunday, especially when you consider that Jesus, according to the Bible, had already risen from the dead by the time the women arrived to his tomb early Sunday morning.

Third, Williams says that some Biblical scholars believe that “it was a Friday when Eve convinced Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, and it was Friday the 13th when Cain committed the first murder, killing his brother Abel.”  Really? I spent fifty years in the Christian church and twenty-five of those years were spent pastoring churches. I spent tens of thousands of hours studying the Bible and reading theological tomes, yet I never read one word about Cain killing Abel on Friday the 13th, nor did I read anything about Adam eating the forbidden fruit on a Friday. I searched the Internet in vain for SOURCE materials — you know ancients texts — that made this claim. All I found were unsupported mentions similar to those “revealed” in Williams’ article.

My first response is this: who makes this shit up? Really? What historical or textual evidence do they have for such claims? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is little to none. I can’t wait for Bart Ehrman’s newest blockbuster book to come out — Numerology, The Hidden Secrets of the Bible Revealed! This thirteen-chapter, six-hundred-sixty-six-page book of blank pages is sure to blow the minds of superstitious Christians and unbelievers alike. Ehrman reveals that Lucifer had thirteen toes, along with other astounding, almost unbelievable, truths. Order it today from Amazon! Price? $13.00.

My second response is that I was unaware that Adam and Eve, along with every other fictional person in the Old Testament used Rolex watches and the Gregorian — or Julian for that matter — calendar to keep track of time and dates. The Julian calendar took effect on January 1, 45 BCE, and the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian in the sixteenth century, well after the mythical events records in Genesis. Now before a “smart” Christian suggests that Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel used the Jewish Calendar, I should let readers know that the Hebrew calendar was not widely used until the Christian era. If you want to kill a bunch of brain cells, spend time reading about how religion can screw up something as simple as a calendar.

I have no doubt that there are Christians who believe this nonsense about Friday the 13th. One of the books that collected dust in my study during my preaching days was E.W. Bullinger’s book, Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance. I tried numerous times to read this book — a preacher friend recommended I purchase this eye-opening, life-changing book — but alas! I found it to be hundreds of pages of delusional nonsense. For example, Bullinger spends twenty-seven pages detailing the importance of the number thirteen (and its connection to the number eight) in the Bible. Here’s a small faux-gold nugget of what he said:

EIGHT AND THIRTEEN TOGETHER, that we may afterwards compare and contrast the two. For this purpose we must consider the number thirteen here, and out of its otherwise proper order.

As to the significance of thirteen, all are aware that it has come down to us as a number of ill-omen. Many superstitions cluster around it, and various explanations are current concerning them.

Unfortunately, those who go backwards to find a reason seldom go back far enough. The popular explanations do not, so far as we are aware, go further back than the Apostles. But we must go back to the first occurrence of the number thirteen in order to discover the key to its significance. It occurs first in Gen 14:4, where we read “Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and the thirteenth year they REBELLED.”

Hence every occurrence of the number thirteen, and likewise of every multiple of it, stamps that with which it stands in connection with rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, disintegration, revolution, or some kindred idea.

The second mention of thirteen is in connection with Ishmael, Gen 17:25. He was thirteen years old when Abraham circumcised him and admitted him into the covenant to which he was a stranger in heart, and which ended in his rebellion and rejection.

We see it stamped upon the very fore-front of Revelation. For while the opening statement of Gen 1:1 is composed of seven words and twenty-eight letters (4×7), the second verse consists of fourteen words, but fifty-two letters; fifty-two being 4×13 tells of some apostasy or rebellion which caused the ruin of which that verse speaks.

….

The Scriptures concerning Judas Iscariot

  • Luke 22:3: “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve” = 8359 (13×643)
  • Luke 22:47, “And he that was called Judas, one of the twelve” = 3458 (13×266)
  • John 12:4: “Judas Iscariot, he that should betray Him” = 4511 (13×347)
  • John 13:26: “Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon” = 19435 (13×1495) The last clause (“when,” etc.) = 7371 (13×567)
  • Matt 26:48: “Now he that betrayed Him gave them a sign, saying Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He; hold Him fast” = 9867 (13×759)
    So with Acts 1:16; Mark 14:44,45, and all the corresponding passages.

….

It is surely impossible to explain all this evidence on the doctrine of chances. There must be design. And design so perfect, so uniform, so significant can only be Divine. And being Divine is an unanswerable argument in favour of the verbal and even literal inspiration of the Scriptures of Truth.

Got all that? Don’t you feel “enlightened” now?

Bullinger was a nineteenth century Anglican clergyman. This numeral-obsessed preacher was also a dispensationalist — people who believe that history is divided into seven periods of time (dispensations), with each period except the last one ending in sin/failure/defeat. In some Evangelical circles, Bullinger is considered an ultra- or hyperdispensationalist due to his belief that the beginning of the Christian church traces back to Paul, and not the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 as “normal” dispensationalists believe.

For you who are not familiar with dispensationalism, here’s a chart detailing Bullinger’s seven dispensations:

According to Wikipedia, Bullinger had several other “interesting” beliefs:

Bullinger was a supporter of the theory of the Gospel in the Stars, according to which the constellations are pre-Christian expressions of Christian doctrine. He strongly opposed the theory of evolution [24] and held that Adam was created in 4004 B.C.[25] He was also a member of the Universal Zetetic Society, a group dedicated to believing and promoting the idea that the earth is flat.

Certainly, nonsensical beliefs about numerals (and the stars) is not the domain of Christian Fundamentalists alone. More than a few non-Christians over the centuries have believed numbers have meaning or significance outside of their use in mathematics. (Please check out the Mystical Numbers website for more information.) Professional sports players are known for believing that certain jersey numbers are lucky, and countless gamblers play their lucky numbers every day in hopes of hitting the jackpot.

We humans, in general, are attracted to patterns, including numerical ones. As someone who is afflicted with Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), I have spent countless hours in waiting rooms counting ceiling and floor tiles as I search for order. While such obsession is often harmless, the numerology nonsense put forth by Bullinger and the school newsletter mentioned above can cause people to behave irrationally. I have no doubt that many Westerners avoided doing certain things or going certain places on the latest Friday the 13th. I sure hope they didn’t see any black cats or walk under any ladders. Doing so would court certain disaster — or so some people believe, anyway.

Did you grow up in a home or attend a church that believed certain numbers had some sort of supernatural significance? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.