The symbolic meaning of numbers.

meaning of numbers I have studied the meaning and origin of symbols for many years and one specific kind of symbolism is connected with numbers. In almost every culture a special symbolic meaning is assigned to certain numbers. Manny people see the number 11 as the fools number (that's why it's used a lot during the carnival feasts in Europe) and in a lot of cultures the number 13 is the bad luck number. The symbolic meaning of some numbers goes back very far in time and can differ greatly in different cultures. Many numbers are described in the Bible, the Quran and Greek antiquity. Some numbers come from the orbit of our earth and the planets (such as the six-digit system), some number systems (such as our decimal system) originated from our hands with 5 fingers each for a total of 10. Also in the past in stories (oral tradition) people often used the same numbers because it is easier to remember. People have also used mathematics to explain all kinds of natural processes. Sometimes people reverse this description from nature back to the numbers by which it seems as if the numbers have something magical about them. So this is a chicken and egg problem. On this page I try to explain the meaning from a historical and spiritual view and try to give examples of historical regularities or origin for each number. A few numbers stand for letters from the alphabet to form a kind of secret code, I will also describe these. This page is NOT about numerology, I do not believe in this. I have been working on the meaning and origin of symbols for a long time and have an extensive collection of books on this subject. Regards, Hein Pragt

Copyright © Hein Pragt.

Meaning of numbers

The number zero is a very special number because it did not appear in the western world until around 1300 AD. The real origin goes back much further. According to researchers, in the ancient East (c.a. 3000 BC) people already knew a kind of double slant between wedge to indicate the lack of a digit at a particular position within a number. In India, the number zero occurs around 600 years after Christ. The Arabs took the number zero two centuries later to the west where it took centuries before it was actually used. Despite the fact that the church had a lot of trouble with the pagan zero, traders saw its usefulness, so the number zero finally came into use in the 14th century. Zero is a purely fictitious number invented by man to make math easier.
The number one is sometimes considered to be a sacred number, at least it has the undisputed position as the first of all numbers and was considered the symbol of life, creation and the sole creator God or the primordial unity. The indivisibility of this number is part of the base of this believe. The one is the symbol of the male, the symbol of goodness, friendship and permanence.
The number two is generally a negative number, in ancient Greek culture, the odd numbers were thought to be masculine and good and the even numbers were feminine and bad. So the 2 was the beginning of all the bad. Often it is a symbol for death or of evil in general. This is also the figure of dualism (yin / yang) involving two things that belong together like man and woman and heaven and earth, day and night, good and bad, white and black, poor and rich, water and fire.
The number e is an important mathematical constant, the base of the natural logarithm. It has the approximate value: 2.718281828459. The number is also called Neper's (Napier) constant and was used by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler called the exponential number which is also the explanation for the sign e. Like pi, the number is a so-called irrational number.
In ancient Greek, the number three was the pinnacle of perfection. ("omne trinium perfectum", every triplicate is perfect.) Het number appears repeatedly in the Old and New Testaments, as the symbolic representation of the Holy Trinity. Remember also the three wise men from the east. In the British royal coat of arms we find three lions and three crosses in it city coat of arms of Amsterdam. We also shout hurray three times and we know an expression "three times is a charm". In a fairy tale, things often happen three times. When Peter said the third time that he did not know Jesus, the rooster crowed three times. Jesus rose the third day after his death. The three symbolizes the three dimensions and the image the three is the triangle.
The symbol pi is mainly known from mathematics, it stands for the number pi that is the ratio between the circumference and indicates the diameter of a circle. The number value of pi is 3.141592 (and an infinite number of decimal places). The number of decimal digits of pi seems to be infinite up to now. The symbol comes from the Greek alphabet where it stands for perimeter.
The number four was also a sacred number with the ancient Greeks, because four is the first square. The four also doubles duality of the two. It also stands for the four elements water, earth, fire and air and the four cardinal directions, north, east, south, west. It's also noticed that 1+2+3+4 makes the perfect number 10, in which the number four makes the sequence perfect. In China the number 4 is an unlucky number, in Cantonese four sounds almost the same as death.
Five is the number of five books of the Torah, the number five was the number of knowledge. The symbol of the five is the pentagram. A human hand has five fingers and also the five is seen as a perfect marriage, because the five is the sum is of the male 3 and the female 2.
Six is the number of man, because he was created on the sixth day. The number stands for balance and peace. Mathematically it is also a perfect number because 1+2+3 is six. The symbol associated with the six is the hexagram or seal of Solomon and the star of David.
The number Tau represents twice the value of the number pi (6.28). Since in many mathematical formulas we use 2pi in instead of pi (so not the radius but the diameter of the circle), proponents of the number Tau say that by using Tau in mathematical formulas makes these formulas shorter.
Almost as popular as the number three is the seven, the number seven represents the covenant and in the Bible it comes up often for as seven days from the creation, the seven fat years and the seven lean years. There are seven virtues and there are seven deadly sins. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Seven Colors of the Rainbow, Seven Wonders of the World and the expression the seventh heaven are well-known examples. The Jews know the seven-armed candlestick, the menorah, and they celebrate seven weeks after Passover (the Jewish Passover) the Feast of Weeks. Seven is a special number, in the Bible it stands for: "abundance". Also, the seven is a prime number (it is only divisible by 1 and itself) and also stands for virginity.
For the ancient Greeks the number eight was that of justice because 8 = 4 + 4 and 4 is again 2 + 2 and 2 is again 1 + 1. Since it is also the first cube (2 x 2 x 2), it also became the symbol of abundance. The Resurrection of Jesus is often seen as the eighth day of creation, this is reflected in the often octagonal fontsBaptismal fonts. In the Romanesque art we see the eight-pointed star and the eight-pointed Malterzer cross. Also Buddhism is based on the eightfold way.
The number nine has to do with darkness and it also stands for serpent or womb. A mother carries the child for 9 months in the womb. When Jesus hung on the cross, it was dark until the ninth hour. Many disasters have occurred in Jewish history the ninth of the month. But because 9 is the square of 3, the number nine is an also an auspicious number. Ancient Egypt knew the nine groups of gods and in ancient China it played an important role in the I Ching and in the book of Rites in which there are nine ceremonies.
The number ten represents the words of God in the form of the ten commandments. There were also ten plagues of Egypt. The number ten stands for the absoluteness and for the law. People have 10 fingers to count and if there are at leat ten men needed to continue the service in a Jewish synagogue. The number can be made by adding the first 4 numbers together. (1 + 2 + 3 + 4). It also seems to be asociated with the ten secret names of God.
The number eleven is an evil number because it was a transgression of ten (commandments). Even after Lent during Carnival (in Europe) the ten commandments are violated in many ways. The number is also known as the crazy or fools number and the feast of Carnival is also richly provided with this number, just think of the council of eleven. Some people see the number as a lucky number because it consists of two ones.
The meaning of the number 12 seems quite neutral, but historically it is an important number. There were twelve apostles and Jacob had twelve sons, there where twelve provinces of Israel. There are twelve signs in the zodiac, twelve Greek gods and a dozen is also twelve pieces.
The positive meaning of the number thirteen is unity, among the Jews 13 is the age at which one reaches adulthood (Hebrew Bar Mitzvah). But usually thirteen is an unlucky number. Jesus used the last supper with his twelve disciples, with thirteen of them sitting at the table. (Judas was the number thirteen that ended badly.) Also It ended badly with the flight of the Apollo-13 rocket. Many tall buildings do not have a thirteenth floor and in hotels usually lack room number thirteen. At the coven (gathering) of the twelve witches, the devil would be the thirteenth member to be present. The number thirteen is also called the devil's dozen.
The number 14 stands for 14 Words: "We must secure the existence of our race and the future for white children." This is an American Nazi slogan that is popular among far-right supporters and it is a quote from the American Nazi David Lane, who is in prison for murder.
The number 18 is a symbol that stands for Adolf Hitler, the 1 stands for A (the 1st letter of the alphabet) and the 8 for H. So 18 stands for AH, the initials of Adolf Hitler. It is like 88 one of the secret Nazi symbols.
The number 19 is a prime number it is only divisible by one and itself, in addition it is a special number because it consists of the first and the last number characters, so it also stands for the beginning and the end. The number nineteen also occurs in the name of the virus COVID-19 which is a is abbreviation for 'coronavirus disease 2019'.
The number 22 is the number of suffering, in the Bible Joseph is 22 years old from the moment he was sold by his brothers separated from his father and brothers. In the second world war there were 22 extermination camps. The number 22 gives usually the limit of suffering, after this period a new time begins. Psalm 22 is the Passion Psalm.
In Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, the evening of the 27th day is the highlight. Then one celebrates the night in which the Quran was revealed. From the evening of the 27th day, everything is all about preparing for the party of breaking the fast, the sugar feast.
This stands for the letter (BH) which in turn stands for Blood & Honour, an Ian Stuart Donaldson founded international movement that organizes many concerts for extreme right-wing bands and also sells music.
The number 33 corresponds to the age of Jesus and the number of steps of the Byzantine mystical ladder.
The number 40 stands for tribulation, the Jews traveled 40 years through the desert to the promised land. Moses, Elijah and Jesus each fasted for 40 days. The Christian Lent originates around the third or fourth century and is an imitation of the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert.
The number 42 also appears several times in the bible. The number of men of Beth-azmaveth in the census of Israel at the return of exile. (Bible, Ezra 2:24) The number of months that the Beast reigns over the soil. (Bible, Revelation 13:5) The number of generations from Abraham to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. (Bible, Matthew 1:17). In the well-known cult book The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams, a number of philosophers ask the question to the supercomputer Deep thought what the meaning is of life, the universe and everything else. The computer thinks then 7.5 million years after and then says, the answer is 42. "You're not going to like this," warned the computer even before he gave the answer.
The number 50 is the number of the Holy Spirit and of the Torah. Fifty days after the Exodus, God gave the Torah. Christians celebrate Pentecost fifty days after Easter. Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentakosta which means fifty.
The number 69 is best known because it stands for a intmate position sixty-nine (Soixante-neuf), where both partners lie towards each other like the 6 and the 9 and satisfy each other with the mouth. 69 is also the symbol of the zodiac sign Cancer.
The number seventy symbolizes all peoples as described in the genealogy of all peoples on earth in Genesis 10.
The number 88 is a hidden symbol for Heil Hitler, the 8 stands for the eighth letter of the alphabet the H and 88 stands for so for HH. This again stands for Heil Hitler which is the well-known Nazi salute. 88 is common on racist poster or images or in email addresses.
These numbers represent the letters (ACB) used by neo-Nazis for the text "Adolf Comes Back".
These numbers represent the letters (AIB) used by neo-Nazis for the text "Adolf Is Back".
This is the number of bones man has according to the Talmud, the actual number differs in different people. The part Joshua 12 contains 248 words.
The number of days of the year according to the Jewish and Islamic calendar.
The number of days of the year according to the Gregorian calendar.
This number has several meanings it can stand for smoking marijuana where it probably originated by a secret code of a group of American students that stands for the time that they agreed to meet. The other meaning is the birthday of Adolf Hitler (April 20) and Nazi supporters use this number as a secret code, similar to 88.
The number 666 is the number of the beast. In chapter 13 of Revelation (Bible), John sees in a vision two monsters, a beast from the sea and a beast from the earth. The beast from the earth can be recognized by a number viz. 666. The meaning of this number has been speculated for twenty centuries. The Beast from the Earth is traditionally identified with the antichrist, whose appearance heralds the end of time.
This number is often used to indicate the attacks on September 11, 2001. The US date format is month/day and so September 11 will be written as 9/11. On this date, two planes crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on the southern tip of Manhattan in New York City and another plane in the Pentagon, nearby of Washington D.C. A fourth plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks, according to official reports carried out by members of Al Qaeda. However, there are also some conspiracy theories about the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 in which the US government itself was in some way behind the attacks.
In number mysticism, 999 is the symbol for the maintenance of law and order against the forces of evil. The number 999 is odd and thus masculine and auspicious, it consists solely of nines, the auspicious number. Even more important is the fact that 999 is the opposite of the number of the beast is because it is reversed.
Since 2011, the number combination 1312 made the national news, it has become a widely known number with a clear meaning. Converting forbidden or offensive abbreviations to numbers to create some sort of secret code is not new such as 18 and 88 also refer to Adolf Hitler. The number 1312 would stand for A.C.A.B. which is the abbreviation for All Cops Are Bastards. Since the number in itself is not offensive, one will have to infer from the context in which it is used whether this is the case an insulting abbreviation.
The infinity symbol or the Lemniscate symbol is a 8 laying on its side and this is most known from mathematics. There are several stories about the origin of this symbol, the well-known story is that the word Lemniscate in the Latin stands for ribbon. With some imagination, a twisted ribbon in the shape of an 8 can be recognized in this sign. It symbol was not used for infinity for the first time until the 17th century, by mathematician John Wallis.

Symbolic meaning of numbers for the date of the wedding day

When choosing a wedding date it is nice to take into account the symbolic meaning of your wedding date. For example, the 3 stands for the pinnacle of perfection and 6 for balance and peace and these numbers are nice for a wedding day and can give the date a special meaning. But of course all positive meanings of the above numbers are nice to include in a wedding date. Also 08-08-2008, 09-09-2009 and 10-10-2010 are very popular days to get married, when it is of course possible to get married on these days.

The origin of our numbers

A number indicates a certain amount and numbers are symbols used to represent this. Putting dashes (also called tallying) is the oldest known way of indicating a number. The Romans used a special way of writing numbers using letters as numbers. The I was a 1, the V was a 5 and the X was a 10, the L was 50 and the C was 100. The letters were combined and 1 to 10 became I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X. To shorten the numbers, this letter was used instead of the same letter put before the next character, so not IIII but IV. Today Roman numerals are still used in for example, lists or construction year indications on buildings

old numbers
An important disadvantage of Roman numerals and numbers was that it was not possible to calculate with them, this was mainly due to because the Romans had no symbol for the number zero. The Arabs derived their numeral system from the Indian people and afterwards the Italian trading houses copied this quickly because they could calculate with these figures and numbers. The church initially resisted the pagan numbers, but the advance was despite the resistance, unstoppable. Today we still use the Arabic numeral system with the numbers 0 to 9.

In mathematics, the numbers are classified into different sets such as natural numbers, integers, numbers, positive numbers, negative numbers, rational numbers and irrational numbers. There are also numbers like Pi which cannot be expressed in the form of numbers because it is has an endless series of digits after the decimal point. In addition, there are sets of numbers with special properties such as the even and odd numbers. The best known are probably prime numbers, a natural number greater than 1 and containing only is divisible by 1 and itself.

Maya numbers

meaning maya numbers

In adventure games players often have a tasks is to decode the number system in order to solve puzzles. When we look at old number systems, there is sometimes a beautiful logic and a special philosophy behind it. An ancient culture like that of the Maya had already developed a very clever number system. The Maya used a number system in which the position within the number also counted and that was based on the base 20 (Our number system is based on 10). Maya number system used numbers that were composed of dots and dashes and most importantly the Maya used it number 0 which was represented by a kind of shell.

Calculating with the Maya number system is quite simple, you add all the points together and then all the dashes, after which you replace each group of 5 dots with a dash. What is very interesting is that the Maya number system had only 3 symbols to display numbers. The Mayan number system was mainly used for the Mayan calendar, which consists of 18 months of 20 days.

maya number An example of the Mayan number 76 is shown here. The underlying consists of 3 stripes and 1 dot, and stands for 16. The top symbol consists of 3 dots, and stands for 3 x 20. So together 60 + 16 = 76. In this Notation we read the number from bottom to top in increasing value. The Mayan number system looks beautiful and a Mayan number has a special meaning for the person who can decipher the symbol.

The golden ratio

golden ratio The golden ratio is the division of a line segment into two parts in a special ratio. Although the mathematical properties of the golden ratio were already known in antiquity, the term golden ratio only dates from the 1930s. The golden ratio is also called the Divina proportionia which means divine proportion. The golden ratio is mathematically represented as 1:1618 and is often indicated by the Greek letter phi. This ratio occurs in nature as well as in man-made designs. Early ancient Greek mathematicians such as Pythagoras and Euclid were fascinated by the golden ratio. Both biologists, artists, musicians, architects, psychologists and even mystics have delved into the global occurrence and the special attraction of the golden ratio. Many artists and architects have used the golden ratio for their work, because people seem to find this ratio very pleasant. The golden ratio can be found everywhere, in the ratio of buildings, proportions in the human face, proportions in art. According to some, our entire body is built up of by this ratio.

Fibonacci numbers

Fibonacci numbers The Italian mathematician nicknamed Fibonacci who was actually called Leonardo of Pisa discovered a unique set of numbers called the sequence of Fibonacci. The sequence starts with zero and one and then the last two numbers are always added together to get the next number, so: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc. In 1202 Fibonacci introduced the series in his book Liber Abaci, the Indian grammarian Pingala had already described the series in his book on prosody (metrical verse cultivation) in 450 BC. Prosody was important to the ancient Indians, who attached great importance to the purity of the language. The Fibonacci sequence is also found in the development of many plants and animals, including the spiral of nautilus, sunflowers, daisies and pine cones, whose number of growth points corresponds to the Fibonacci series and mathematically the Fibonacci series is closely related to the golden ratio.

More about the number pi

Some numbers are so special that they even get their own day, the day of the number pi is March 14 because this is in American date format is 3.14. In Europe it would make more sense to celebrate the pi day on July 22 because 22/7 (= 3.14) is the fraction it closest to pi. But since March 14 is also the day Albert Einstein was born, it is also the birthday of the father of modern physics. Since the number pi has an endless series of digits after the decimal point, it is of course a competition to see who knows the most decimal places by heart. There are even apps that let you practice this, who knows it's a new fun challenge. The average person doesn't get that far but there are real bright people who can do it. To temper the enthusiasm, I can mention that in 2010 Benjamin Most at the age of twelve could name no fewer than 2422 and that he then managed to beat his own record as a 14-year-old by 4030 decimal places.

Since people are always looking for something to argue about, this also applies to the number pi. These people are right shows that we use 2pi in almost all formulas, so not the radius but the diameter of the circle. These opponents of the the number pi represent the number tau. The number tau is a mathematical constant whose value is exactly twice that of pi. by tau to be used in formulas, instead of 2pi, mathematical formulas can be shortened. And of course the number has tau in imitation of pi day also has its own day, the tau day is on June 28 because tau is 6.28 with two decimal places. Welcome to the wonderful world of numbers.

Last update: 20-08-2021

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