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The Significance Of The Number 17 In The Bible

The number 17 appears in several key instances throughout the Bible. Many Bible scholars ascribe special meaning to the number 17 and view it as representing completion, new beginnings, overcoming the enemy, or spiritual perfection.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The number 17 symbolizes overcoming the enemy and completion according to God’s perfect order in the Bible.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the significance of the number 17 in depth by looking at major events and verses in the Bible where it appears. We will analyze the meaning and symbolism behind this number to understand why 17 holds special meaning in the Bible.

Overview and Meaning of the Number 17

Perfection and Completion

In the Bible, the number 17 symbolizes “perfection” and “completion”. It is made up of two perfect numbers, 7 and 10, which represent divine perfection and completeness. Seventeen expresses the combination of spiritual perfection (7) with ordinal perfection (10) to signify the absolute perfection of God (source).

Biblically, the 17th time a word or phrase occurs often marks fulfillment or completion of what it represents.

For example, in Genesis 7:11, Noah’s ark set sail on the 17th day of the 2nd month of Noah’s 600th year. This marked the end of preparation and the beginning of God’s judgment through the flood. The 17th mention of Abraham signals the completion of God’s promises to him (Genesis 21:5).

The 17th time Jacob’s name is used is when he changed to Israel (Genesis 32:28). These are just a few examples of the importance of the number 17 representing divine completion and fulfillment of God’s plans.

New Beginnings and Victory

Though 17 symbolizes completion, it interestingly also signals new beginnings. As seen with Noah’s story, the number marked the commencement of a new chapter for mankind. Seventeen also relates to victory and overcoming.

The walls of Jericho fell on the 17th day after the Israelites began marching around them (Joshua 6:14-16). King David ruled for 17 years before the death of King Saul.

Remarkably, when 17 is divided into 7 and 10 and added together, the sum is 8—the number of new beginnings. As Chuck Pierce notes, “Whenever this numbering is understood, the Spirit of seeing and discernment comes upon you!” (source).

So in addition to perfection, 17 carries the meaning of new or revived life and conquering.

Combination of Spiritual Numbers 7 and 10

As mentioned, 17 comes from adding 7 and 10. Seven represents spiritual perfection as seen in the 7 days of creation. Ten symbolizes ordinal perfection and completion of divine order as evidenced in the Ten Commandments.

Together they form number 17, encompassing both spiritual and earthly completeness.

Interestingly, in Greek the 17th letter is Rho, which looks like a P (ρ). This resembles an uplifted or raised P which hints at resurrection power. The 17th Hebrew letter is Pe, which pictures an “open mouth,” capable of speaking divine revelation.

So 17 contains the idea of COMPLETION through spiritual (7) and earthly (10) realms, combined with RESURRECTION and revealed knowledge of God’s Word (source).

The meaning behind 17 indeed showcases God’s sovereignty, perfection, and purpose. As one commentary notes, “All things begin, continue, and end according to His perfect plan. Isn’t our God amazing?”

Key Biblical Events Connected to 17

The flood lasted 17 days

According to the Book of Genesis, the Great Flood that God sent to wipe out life on earth lasted for 17 days. During this time, rain poured nonstop from the heavens and the fountains of the great deep burst forth, flooding the entire planet (Genesis 7:11-12).

The number 17 symbolizes God’s judgment but also his mercy in preserving Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark.

Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years

The biblical patriarch Jacob moved to Egypt with his family to escape a famine in Canaan. Jacob lived there for the last 17 years of his life, under the protection and provision of his son Joseph, the vizier of Egypt (Genesis 47:28).

This represents a period of reunion and reconciliation for Jacob’s family after years of strife and separation.

17th time Moses lifted his hand, the Amalekites were defeated

When the Amalekites attacked Israel in the wilderness, Moses stationed himself on a hilltop with the staff of God raised high. As long as he held up the staff, Israel prevailed in battle. When his arms grew tired and began to lower, the Amalekites gained the advantage.

So Aaron and Hur supported his arms until sunset, and after the 17th time Moses lifted up his hands, Israel finally defeated the Amalekite invaders (Exodus 17:8-13). Here the number 17 conveys persistence leading to victory.

While the significance of 17 in these stories is not spelled out explicitly, many Bible scholars see it as connected to spiritual perfection and completion. Thematically, these key biblical events highlight God’s sovereignty and ultimate triumph despite periods of judgment and hardship.

Bible Verses Mentioning the Number 17

Genesis 7:11 – The flood lasts 17 days

According to Genesis 7:11, God opened the floodgates of heaven for 40 days and nights. After this period, the flood lasted on the earth for 150 days (Genesis 7:24). Doing the math, that means the initial flooding from rain lasted 17 days (40 days + 150 days = 190 days total flooding; 190 – 40 initial days = 150 days).

This 17 day period of intense flooding wiped out life that was not safely aboard the ark.

Genesis 47:28 – Jacob lives 17 years in Egypt

According to Genesis 47:28, Jacob (also called Israel) lived in Egypt for 17 years after being reunited with his son Joseph, before he passed away at 147 years old. Jacob’s 17 years in Egypt were spent peacefully with his descendants in the favorable land of Goshen (Genesis 47:27).

This time in Egypt allowed Jacob’s family to thrive and multiply greatly in number before becoming the nation of Israel.

Exodus 17:11 – Israel defeats Amalekites on 17th try

During a battle between Israel and the attacking Amalekites shortly after the Exodus, Moses stationed himself on a hilltop with the staff of God raised above him. As it says in Exodus 17:11, whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, but when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.

Aaron and Hur sat Moses down on a rock and held his hands up when he grew tired, holding back the enemy. This occurred until sunset, meaning after multiple attempts throughout the day, it was finally on the 17th attempt that Joshua and his army of Israel fully defeated Amalek.

Additional Symbolic Connections

17th book of the Bible is Esther

The 17th book in the Bible is the book of Esther, which tells the story of a young Jewish woman named Esther who becomes queen of Persia and saves her people from destruction. Some key points about the symbolic significance of Esther being the 17th book:

  • The number 17 symbolizes “overcoming the enemy” and “complete victory.” Esther’s story is one of overcoming the schemes of the enemy Haman.
  • Esther boldly risked her life by approaching the king unsummoned to expose Haman’s plot. Her brave act led to the Jews’ deliverance, illustrating courage and total triumph.
  • Esther’s uncle Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, standing up for his faith. This righteous defiance of evil led to the Jews’ rescue, again depicting complete victory.
  • The story culminates in the institution of the feast of Purim, commemorating the Jews’ victory over their enemies. The number 17 points to the completeness of this deliverance.

So the placement of Esther, a book celebrating the definitive triumph of God’s people over evil plots, as the 17th book highlights the symbolism of 17 as overcoming and perfect victory.

17 prophetic books in the Old Testament

There are 17 books of prophetic revelation in the Old Testament, spanning from Isaiah to Malachi. Some key connections between the number 17 and these prophetic books:

  • Prophets brought messages of judgment and restoration, ultimately pointing to Christ’s future victory over sin and death.
  • The 17 prophetic books powerfully testify to God’s sovereignty over history and ability to deliver His people.
  • The prophets confronted rampant immorality and idolatry, overcoming evil with God’s truth and promoting spiritual renewal.
  • Major prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah contain 17 specific predictions about the coming Messiah, signaling His decisive defeat of darkness.
  • The 17 prophetic books contain over 300 prophecies about Christ. This remarkable density underscores the completeness of Christ’s later victory.

So the 17 prophetic books, saturated with messages of overcoming sin through God’s power and the Messiah’s reign, carry symbolic connections to the biblical meaning of the number 17.

17 psalms of ascent

There are 17 songs or psalms in the Book of Psalms identified as “Songs of Ascents” (Psalms 120-134). Some key points on their connection to the number 17:

  • These psalms were sung by pilgrims ascending towards the Jerusalem temple, picturing movement towards God’s presence.
  • The 17 psalms of ascent depict the completeness of joy, protection, and blessing found in God’s presence.
  • Climbing the 17 steps to the Jerusalem temple symbolized overcoming spiritual obstacles to draw near to God.
  • The 17 psalms of ascent contain promises of God’s faithfulness and empowerment to rise above challenges.
  • These songs celebrate God’s sovereign help in defeating enemies and delivering His people.

So the compilation of 17 biblically-themed songs of “ascent” resonates with the symbolic meaning of 17 as overcoming trials and attaining wholeness in God’s presence.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the number 17 holds special significance in the Bible as a number representing completion, new beginnings, victory over enemies, and spiritual perfection according to God’s divine order.

Major events like the flood lasting 17 days and the 17th try defeating Israel’s enemies reinforce 17’s symbolic meaning of finishing and overcoming trials. With its connection to influential numbers like 7 and 10, 17 reiterates themes of spiritual renewal, obedience to God’s commandments, and alignment with His will.

Studying patterns and symbolism in numbers like 17 provides deeper insight into God’s majestic design woven throughout Scripture.

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