T e n

10 - Ten - 10

By Andrew Harris 28 October 1999 ©

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Introduction

The number ten is the start of a whole new order of numbers and the culmination of the numbers that come before it. This may seem to be merely a distinction given to ten under our decimal numbering system. However the numbering systems in use in the time that the Bible was written were also based upon the number ten. A look at the number values assigned to the Hebrew and Greek letters in the table shown in the introduction Hebrew and Greek numerics will show that the letters were given values from one to ten, then increasing in tens to 100 then increasing by 100's and so on. Furthermore numbering by tens is built in to our very anatomy, count up on your fingers and when they are all used, make a mark on a piece of paper and start from your first finger again. Soon you will have a number of marks, each representing 'two hands' worth. Thus in ancient times as in modern times ten is the start of a whole new order of numbers and the culmination of the numbers that come before it.

Thus wherever ten is found this completeness of order is also seen. Ten implies completeness of order, nothing lacking and nothing over. It signifies that the cycle is complete and that everything is in its proper order. Thus ten represents the perfection of divine order.









Ten is the first of the triangular numbers which has a center. A triangular number is one that can be arranged into a perfect equilateral triangle. Start with a single counter (coin, marble, or indeed anything, but round objects work best). Then add a row of two under it to form a triangle. Thus three is a triangular number, but has no center. Then add a row of three under that, thus six is a triangular number but also has no center. Add a row of four underneath and we have a triangle of ten, which has a center. The central counter of the "ten" triangle is the fifth. The progression of triangular numbers continues on to infinity. It turns out that every third triangular number has a central position. However ten is the only on in which the central position is occupied by the half of the total number. Thus among triangular numbers ten is marked as unique and special. Starting with the number one, ten is the fourth triangular number. Thus ten partakes to some extent of the symbolic meaning of the number four, the number of the world. It is our natural, physical bodies with ten fingers and toes that make it "natural" to use a counting system based upon tens.

Of the four "perfect numbers" (3,7,10,12) the symbolism of ten - ordinal perfection is the only perfection that natural humans can even approach. While man's perfection falls far short of Gods perfection in all things, we can strive and achieve some measure of success with ordinal perfection. We can form a perfect cube, a perfect triangle, and so on. And even if we fall short of perfection in the actuality of these things the conceptual, or mathematical perfection of such is attainable for us. We cannot aspire to divine perfection on our own. We cannot aspire to spiritual perfection on our own. We cannot attain governmental perfection without God. Thus ordinal perfection, as symbolized by the number ten stands out as linked with the natural, the carnal (of the flesh, as our ten fingers literally are) and the world, and yet still perfect.






Ten is also a tetrahedral number. If we start with one marble and then add a layer of three marbles under it we have a perfect tetrahedron of four marbles. If we then add another layer of six marbles under that we have a perfect tetrahedron of ten marbles. Such arrangements occur naturally in atomic structure of metals and other materials. In the physical sciences such an arrangement is called "close packed hexagonal" or cph for short. You may notice that each successive layer that is added is the next triangular number of marbles. Thus tetrahedral numbers are the sums of the triangular numbers. In the same way that ten is the fourth triangular number it is the third tetrahedral number. Thus ten is linked with the first of the "perfect numbers".

The Ten Commandments

These commandments are not th whole of the law, but they are the foundation for all the rest of the law and in that sense they sum up the entire law. It is worth noting that the total number of words in the ten commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) is 132. This is exactly twice 66, the number of books in the Bible. Further the sum of the verse numbers is (3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10 +11 +12 +13 +14 +15 +16 +17 = 150) one hundred and fifty, the number of Psalms in the book of Psalms. This points to the fact that the "Law" was not complete without the wisdom writings, and the scripture not complete until the books of the New Testament were also completed. The number of verses used to give the ten commandments is (17 - 2 = 15) fifteen, exactly one tenth of the sum of those verses. It may be mere coincidence that the numeric value of the first commandment is 696, which is equal to the sum of the tenth triangular number (55) plus the tenth square number (100) plus the tenth hexagram (541). i.e. 696 = 55 + 100 + 541.

Ten Righteous

From a scriptural point of view we note that the Lord was prepared to spare the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah if but ten righteous people were found therein.

And he [Abraham] said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he [God] said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

Genesis 18:32

It may be mere coincidence that the sum of the chapter and the verse numbers for this is 18 + 32 = 40. A multiple of ten and also a number with significance in its own right - trial and testing. A significance that is very appropriate to the verse itself.

The Tenth Verse

The tenth verse of the bible is part of the third "day of creation". We have already noted that ten is linked with the first of the perfect numbers.

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

Genesis 1:10

If ten is ordinal perfection then it speaks of a perfection of order, a perfection of arrangement. In this verse we see that God has made separated and arranged the earth and the sea. Also we see that God sees that it was good.

The Tenth Chapter

The tenth chapter of the Bible is largely a genealogy of the descendants of Noah. Here we have a list, of the organization, the structure, of the family trees of the patriarchs from this period. This in itself is an apt use of the symbolism of the number ten. Also, this genealogy starts with Noah, the tenth generation from Adam.

There are exactly 100 names of people mentioned in this chapter(1). Several of the people are named more than once but the total, with the repeats comes to ten times ten. Also note that Noah, the tenth from Adam, is both the first name in the list and the last. Thus the chapter starts with the tenth generation and also finishes on it. Further there are exactly twenty different places(2) mentioned in the chapter.

Ten Generations

Noah was the tenth generation of the patriarchs and completed the antediluvian age. This list of ten patriachs contains a hidden massage within the meanings of their names. In particular the names and their meanings are:

Name

Meaning

1

Adam

Man

2

Seth

appointed

3

Enos

mortal

4

Cainan

sorrow

5

Mahalaleel

the blessed god

6

Jared

shall come down

7

Enoch

teaching

8

Methuselah

his death shall bring

9

Lamech

the sorrowful

10

Noah

comfort

From Noah's son Shem to Abraham is also ten generations, which completes the age before the covenant.

Ten Passovers

While the Passover was to be observed every year, only ten specific Passovers are recorded in the Bible. The following is a chronological listing of the recorded passovers in the Bible. The first is of course in Egypt, when the passover was first instituted by the Lord.

(1) The First (1)

1And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4...

Exodus 12:1-3...

Note that the taking of the lamb in preparation for the Passover was to be on the tenth day of the month. Also note in verse 6, that the whole congregation was to kill the lamb, just as Jesus was to die for all. The 6th commandment of the ten is 'thou shalt not kill'. and here in verse 6 we have the directions that the Jews would unwittingly follow as they killed Jesus.) Not only was the passover to be a reminder of what the Lord did for them when He delivered them from Egypt but it was also like a flashing neon sign, pointing to what Jesus would do once and for all.

13And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 14And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Exodus 12:13-14

The word token in verse 13 is the Hebrew word twao - owth meaning a sign, signal, a distinguishing mark, banner, remembrance, miraculous sign, omen, warning, token, ensign, standard, miracle, proof. It occurs 79 times in 77 verses in the OT. Its numeric value is 407 = 11 x 37. The first occurance is Genesis 1:14, the last Ezekiel 20:20, interestingly the feast of unleavened bread, which the passover starts, begins on the 14th day of the first month and ends on the 20th. What's more in Exodus 12, where the passover is first introduced, it is explained in the first 14 verses. Then the next verses up to verse 20 explain the seven days feast of unleavened bread. Exodus 12:43-51 Further passover regulations… not one bone to be broken. John 1:29 John the baptist introduces Jesus as "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." 1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out the leaven, for you are new "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:" 1 Peter 1:19 We are not redemmed with anything that can perish "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:" We note the emphasis on the Lord, vs1 - the Lord spoke unto Moses, vs11 - it is the Lord's passover, vs12 - I am the Lord, vs14 - it is a feast unto the Lord. Compare this with the first of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

(2) The Second (2)

1And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, 2Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. 3In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. 4And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover. 5And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.

Numbers 9:1-5

On this occasion more detailed laws were also given about how someone who was ritually unclean or on a journey to observe the Passover. Also if a foreigner was among the people and was willing to take the Passover then they were to do so.

And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.

Numbers 9:14

Thus not only do we see that while two is the number of division or difference, Gods law is without fear or favor all were equally able to partake of the passover. This showed that the sacrifice would cover all who were obedient. Just as Jesus's sacrifice covers all who are obedient. This really points forward to the New Covenant.

(3) The Third (3)

10And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. 11And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day. 12And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

Joshua 5:10-12

This passover was observed just as the people came into the Promised land after wandering in the wilderness for forty years. It marked the changeover from relying on the Lord to provide their every need in the wilderness, and eating manna every day: to living off the land, the promised land. They still had to rely on the Lord every day, for they were promised that they would takeover the land as they went forward. Thus their victories in battle and war only came about by trusting and obeying the Lord. But they now were living off the promised land rather than living off the promise of the land. This represented the fulfillment of the promise to them.

(4) The Fourth (4)

1And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel. 2For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month.

2 Chronicles 30:1-2

This was the first Passover that had been observed by the people for many years. King Ahab had done wickedly and worshiped other "gods". However when his son Hezekiah finally became king he renewed and restored the temple and commanded the priests sanctify themselves so they could offer the sacrifices as they should under the law. So even though they could not keep the passover on the first month which was the ordained time for it, we read in later verses that the Lord blessed them and accepted their efforts all the same.

18For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one 19That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. 20And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.

2 Chronicles 30:18-19

The passover was the Old Testament remembrance of the deliverance of the Lord. It is a pattern for the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, which we remember when we take communion. However, we see that it is not the observance of a ritual or the symbols we share that save us. But rather the Lords merciful and loving response to our sincere approach to Him.

(5) The Fifth (5)

17And the children of Israel that were present kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days. 18And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 19In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this passover kept.

2 Chronicles 35:17-19

This passover was a little like the previous one that was recorded, it was when the nation once again turned back to the Lord and He blessed them. However the Scripture states that this passover was like no other since the days of Samuel the Prophet.

(6) The Sixth (6)

19And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month. 20For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. 21And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat, 22And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Ezra 6:19-22

This was the first passover to be celebrated by those who returned to Jerusalem after the captivity in Jerusalem. It began the unbroken observance of the passover in Jerusalem unto the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

(7) The Seventh (7)

41Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

Luke 2:41-43

The first recorded passover in the New Testament is also the time that jesus stayed behind to learn with the teachers at the temple. When his parents find him at the temple he responds with:

And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

Luke 2:49

(8) The Eighth (8)

13And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 18Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

John 2:13-19

This is the notable occasion of Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple. Further it is the occasion where Jesus prophesies his resurrection three days after his death.

(9) The Ninth (9)

3And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, 9There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

John 6:3-13

The Bible does not make it absolutely clear, but it may be that Jesus fed the five thousand their passover feast. If not then he still miraculously fed 5,000 a feast near the time of the passover. However, if it was the passover feast, then we have the perfect passover lamb (Jesus) feeding the people their passover feast. Not only did he die as a substitution for us on the cross, but he also satisfied the Old Testament pattern by literally providing the passover meal for the people, as the passover lamb did under the Old Testament law.

(10) The Tenth (10)

1And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 2Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. 3Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. 5But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

Matthew 26:1-5

The tenth passover recorded in the Bible (chronologically) is of course the one where Jesus was crucified. It is the fulfillment of the pattern in the one, once and for all perfect sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. Thus ten completes the pattern, once and forever.

Footnotes

1

The complete list of persons names is:
Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, Japheth, Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, Tiras, Gomer, Ashkenaz, Riphath, Togarmah, Javan, Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, Dodanim, Ham, Cush, Mizraim, Phut, Canaan, Cush, Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, Sabtecha, Raamah, Sheba, Dedan, Cush, Nimrod, Nimrod, Mizraim, Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim, Philistim, Caphtorim, Canaan, Sidon, Heth, Jebusite, Amorite, Girgasite, Hivite, Arkite, Sinite, Arvadite, Zemarite, Hamathite, Canaanites, Canaanites, Ham, Shem, Eber, Japheth, Shem, Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, Aram, Aram, Uz, Hul, Gether, Mash, Arphaxad, Salah, Salah, Eber, Eber, Peleg, Joktan, Joktan, Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, Jobab, Joktan, Shem, Noah.
Note: that this assumes the reading that "Nimord went unto Assyria and built cities" rather than that Assyria (or Asshur, a son of Shem and ancestor of the Assyrians) went forth and built the cities.

2

The complete list of places is:
Babel, Erech, Accad, Calneh, Shinar, Assyria, Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah, Resen, Sidon, Gerar, Gaza, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, Lasha, Mesha, Sephar

Where to go from here

The symbolism of the number eleven.

Symbolic meanings of the numbers.

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