Hebrew and number?


First, let me yell my ignorance.

Second, my limited knowledge says that biblical numbers use the letters for numbers.

Does the Bible ever explain the numerical value of the letters?

Or, do we get their value from extra biblical sources?

How does this apply to the ages of the Patriarchs and the antediluvian and people?

Exodus’s journey?



I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking. You will not find an explanation of letter/number combinations in Scripture. Likewise, you will not find the alphabets of Greek or Hebrew in Scripture. These are things that people learned in school, and was common knowledge to the people that wrote and read the Scriptures (just like you (hopefully) would know that “J” is the 10th letter of our alphabet, and that 3 is a number).

Hope this was helpful!



Not as far as I remember, and I’ve read it through at least thrice. :smiley:

Or, do we get their value from extra biblical sources?

Yes. In my case, I’ve seen them explained in commentaries on the Old Testament.

How does this apply to the ages of the Patriarchs and the antediluvian and people?

Not sure about this, though the Samaritan Pentateuch apparently has smaller (but still high) figures for these ages.

Exodus’s journey?

Apparently the total census at the beginning of Numbers (6,03,550) can be interpreted in this way, as the numbers 603 and 550 are the sums of the values for the letters in Numbers 1:3. However, the exact figure is 6,03,551 if you add them up (aww!), and besides, this theory isn’t found in Catholic Bible commentaries.


Cachonga & RPRPsych

I will try to be more clear.

I was under the impression that at the time of the writing of the Bible, letters were used for numbers.

Is that correct?

Were the letter and the numerical value explained in the Bible?

So 603,551 is not stated in numbers but letters.

With the great number genealogies, years in the desert, age of the first ten or eleven generations, none of these were written with numbers, is that correct?

How do translator’s decide on the actual age?

Does the Bible get explain the letter’s value?

If not in Bible, from where do the translator get their interpretations?



Absolutely. Letters could stand for numbers. (We see some of this in the Latin alphabet, where C is 100 and X is 10, for example.)

Were the letter and the numerical value explained in the Bible?

No. However, they are often discussed by scholars in Bible commentaries.

On the rest of your questions (about the ages of the patriarchs and whether they symbolize anything in numbers), I have no idea, but there are plenty of good scholars out there (and out here!)

Anyone up to the challenge? :smiley:


There is no Biblical reference to numerical values of the letters.

In both Greek and Hebrew, letters were used for numbers, rather than a separate set of figures as we have now.

(Although both Modern Greek and Israeli Hebrew now use our so-called “Arabic numbers,” while the Arabs e.g. in Palestine, do not???:))

But the letter numerology was assumed to be known by those who could read Scripture. Our knowledge of it comes from historical sources.





I know the name David equals the number 14 in Hebrew and it is the number of generations in Jesus’s genealogy. 14 generations from David to the Babylonian Exile and 14 generations from the Babylonian Exile to Jesus was how Matthew was able to establish Jesus was the fulfillment of the Davidic Kingdom


David equals 14? Wow! I never knew that!


The letters DVD/Their Hebrew equivalents add up to 4-6-4


Oh! Okay. Thanks!


Please forgive me for thinking out loud.

If the Bible does not explain the correlation of letters with arithmetic, then then the ages of people and the time in the desert are “unknown.”

The historical and literal are difficult to translate?

Any help?



No, because years and lengths of time can be expressed by words rather than numbers, ie, “nine” rather than “9”.




How do we know that letters were used as numbers?

Is it in the Bible?

Is it non biblical?


I want to thank you for your patience.

My IQ is only 100------average.



We know that the Hebrew letters also were used as numbers in the same way that we know that Roman letters were used as numbers – there are a variety of sources in antiquity that demonstrate that this is so! Therefore, if we look at the name ‘David’ (which, in Hebrew would be spelled daleth-vav-daleth (D-V-D)), we would read “David”, but we also could look at as a number (4-6-4… but not four hundred sixty-four; that number would be tah-samech-daleth (IIRC!)). In this case, we’re looking at a word, and interpreting it as if it were a number.

However, in the case of the ages of the patriarchs, for example, you don’t have words being interpreted as if they were numbers – you have numbers being presented as numbers. So, there’s no ambiguity there; it’s not as if those figures are potentially words that are misinterpreted as if they were numbers.

Hope this helps!


Biblical Hebrew does not use letters for numbers. You’ve been misinformed.


Dave Noonan






Go to this site. They have an awesome explaination on numbers in the bible:thumbsup:


Certainly you can make the case that the use of gematria in Judaism was influenced by the Greek usage and was adopted by the Hebrews from that source. However, scholars tend to date the use in Israel to some point in the last few centuries B.C. or the 1st century A.D. That dating allows for the assertion of its use in the context of Matthew’s genealogy, of course. :wink:

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