Meaning of 40

How did Jews Interpret the Number 40? What does the number 40 mean in Science & Literature? What are Other Significant Numbers in the Bible?
meaning of 40

Numbers are believed to be an invention of the Egyptians and the Greeks. However, Aryabhatta and Brahmaputra, from ancient India, are credited for the number system. Every number holds a special meaning for people from astrological and religious points of view. So, in this article, we will discuss the meaning of number 40 in Jewish culture, Science & Literature, and the meaning of 40 in the Bible.

1. The Number 40

It is a natural number that is succeeded by 39 and preceded by 41. The English spelling of 40 was changed from Fourty to Forty in the 17th century, which is now involved in the standard table of numbers.

2. Number 40 in Religions

In the olden days, the religious beliefs of Muslims, Christians, and Jews for the number 40 held a significant meaning. For them, it was a symbol used for representing the period of trial and correction of oneself or others. However, at times, the exact spelling or number was not used. Instead, certain phrases or words with the meaning of 40 were used to denote this number.

  • They used it in a phrase 40 days and 40 nights only to show that the period is very long.
  • A Jewish form of numerology, known as Gematria, was used in the process wherein Jews substituted Hebrew alphabets with their corresponding numbers. (See Why is Sunday the First Day of the Week?)

3. Forty in the Bible

  • According to the Bible, Jesus fasted for forty days in the Judean Desert.
  • The event of the ascension of Jesus relates to the day when he left the world in his physical form and reached the heavens above. The period between his resurrection and ascension is believed to be 40 days. The ascension also took place on the 40th day.
  • During the Great Flood in the Old Testament, it rained continuously for 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:4). (See Why is 666 the number of the devil?)

Meaning of 40

  • The practice of lent followed by Christians is the period of 40 days of fasting and avoiding every kind of worldly pleasure.
  • The Holy Forty, also known as the Forty Martyrs, is the group of European soldiers who were killed near Sebaste, Lesser Armenia, because of the persecutions of a Roman Emperor, Licinius. They hold a high place among Christians because of their sacrifice for the sake of their tradition.
  • In Turkey, there is a place known as Kirklareli (Kirk Kilisse) famous for its 40 churches in Eastern Thrace. (See How Many Number of Days in a Month?)

5. Meaning of 40 in Science

  • According to the activity series in chemistry, the meaning of 40 is the atomic number of Zirconium.
  • The Negative Forty (−40) is used as a temperature unit. It is either called Minus Forty or Forty Below or Below Forty. It is the only temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit measuring the same. (See How Hot is Lava in Fahrenheit?)
  • Another achievement in the field of science related to number forty was the Water Displacement 40th Formula. This formula got its name from the laboratory book of the scientist Norm Larsen, the founder of this formula in 1953. This formula was developed in the 40th attempt to displace water faster and further. It was developed with an intention to protect the sea vessels from getting rusted by the moisture that remains on them.

6. Number 40 in Literature

  • In our favorite childhood storybook, The Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah, there is one famous story that incorporated the number forty in its name. Yes, you guessed it right! It is Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Forty thieves in the story had access to the secret treasure cave.
  • Another famous mention of the number in literature was in the guide written by Dr. William Kitchiner. In his guide, he suggested a trick to a peaceful sleep is to wink 40 times.

7. Other numbers appearing in the Bible

Other than 40, the numbers 6 and 8 also have a significant place in the Bible as they denote different things.

  • Number 6 indicates Human Perfection, and 66 is the stronger version of this as it includes two 6s. Christians believe that the person who was an Antichrist has his name’s gematria version as 666.
  • Other numbers in the Bible are 4, 0, 1, 8, 3, 5, and 2.
  • Also, the number 7 appears on several occasions in the Bible. For instance, God took 7 days to create the world, there are 7 last sayings of Jesus on the cross, and 7 trumpets were played by 7 priests for 7 days to bring down the walls of Jericho. (See Is Seven Really a Lucky Number?)

Fun fact, the spelling of forty is the only spelling in the number system in alphabetical order. With this, we now know the meaning of 40 in various different aspects, including the meaning of 40 in the bible and how the number 40 is incorporated in it. 

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