The Biblical Meaning of 41 and 42
Oct 03, 2011
To write "41" in Hebrew, they use two Hebrew letters, mem and aleph. The mem means water, and the aleph means an ox.
The Hebrew numbers from 41-49 are all signified by water (mem) in some way. The series of the 40's generally have to do with a flow of events or a flow of time.
When paired with the aleph, the ox signifies strength or that which is first, since it is also the first letter of the alphabet. In this case, paired with water, it signifies a strong flow of water, a rushing stream, which can separate people on either side of the river. In fact, the Hebrew word badal, "separate," has a numeric value of 41. You will find that word used in Isaiah 56:3,
(3) Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, "The Lord will separate [badal] me from His people."
The 41st time that Noah's name appears in Scripture is found in Gen. 10:32,
"These are the families of the sons of Noah . . . and out of these the nations were separatedon the earth after the flood."
In this verse we see both separation and water.
The 41st time that Abraham's name appears is in Gen. 21:10,
(10) Therefore she said to Abraham, "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac."
Again, the central focus of this verse is that of separation.
The 41st time that Isaac is mentioned is in Gen. 46:18,
"Then Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham; and he gave them the same names which his father had given them."
In this case the wells of water were an occasion of conflict that shows the separation between the clan of Isaac and the Philistines.
The 41st time that Israel is mentioned is found in Num. 26:5, which we must link to verse 4:
(4) ... Now the sons of Israel, who came out of the land of Egypt, were: (5) Reuben, Israel's first-born...
This speaks of Israel's separation from Egypt. We might also point out the fact that Reuben is mentioned first in verse 5. When Jacob blessed his sons, he said in Gen. 49:4 that Reuben was "uncontrolled as water" (NASB).
The 41st time that Joshua's name is mentioned is in Joshua 4:4 where he calls for the 12 princes of the tribes who had been separated for service.
The 41st time that David's name appears is in 1 Sam. 17:54, where it refers to the fact that Goliath's head had been separated from his body.
The 41st time that Jerusalem is mentioned is in 2 Sam. 20:2, "So all the men of Israel withdrew from following David." They separated themselves from David.
The 41st time that Paul's name is mentioned is in Acts 17:53, "So Paul went out of their midst." Again, there is separation.
Recall also that Israel had 41 encampments in the wilderness prior to crossing the Jordan. One might say that the water of the Jordan separated them from the Promised Land during those 41 encampments.
Likewise, in Matthew's genealogy, there are 3 sets of 14 generations listed (Matt. 1:17). However, we can count only 41, as one seems to be missing. It was 41 generations to Jesus, but we, the Body of Christ, are the 42nd generation. It requires a Jordan crossing of our own to enter the Promised Land. Meanwhile, as the parables of Jesus tells us in Matt. 21:33 and again in 25:14, Jesus has "gone to a far country."
In all of these examples, the dominant idea behind the number 41 is that of SEPARATION. It is followed by the number 42, which is the number of ARRIVAL.
42 is written in Hebrew as mem-beth. Together, these letters signify a flow of time and events until the arrival of a house or household (family).
The 42nd time that Abram's name appears is in Gen. 15:13,
(13) And God said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants ["seed"] will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years."
Here we see a 400-year flow of time being oppressed as aliens until the arrival of their time of release.
The 42nd time that Joshua's name appears is in Joshua 4:5, while Israel was crossing the Jordan toward their 42nd encampment in the plains of Jericho. They took up stones to build a monument to commemorate their arrival in the Promised Land.
(5) And Joshua said to them, "Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel."
In the New Testament there is an interesting "arrival" of the Holy Spirit as it is poured out upon the "gentiles." The 42nd time that Peter's name is mentioned in the book of Acts is found in Acts 10:45,
"And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also."
One can look at this in two ways. First, the time had "arrived" when the Jewish Christians finally began to understand that the Holy Spirit was not theirs as an exclusive genealogical right of inheritance. Second, the time of the non-Jews had arrived to receive the Holy Spirit.
In Revelation 13:5 we read of the "tribulation" time period of 42 months before the arrival of deliverance.
When one measures the flow of time in relation to the number 42, it is pictured in the biblical measures of distance as well. The standard of measure here is the reed (Rev. 11:1), which is 42 handbreadths. It pictures 42 months of time (Rev. 11:2). This is the biblical key to understanding the relationship between space and time in prophecy.
There were two biblical cubits. The regular cubit was 6 handbreadths in length. The cubit of the sanctuary, or the Great Cubit. These are mentioned in Ezekiel 43:13, when measuring the prophetic temple, where he reminds us, "the cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth."
In other words, the cubit to measure the Sanctuary was one handbreadth longer than a regular cubit. The regular cubit was 6 handbreadths, while the Great Cubit was 7 handbreadths. A reed was 7 regular cubits, but only 6 Great Cubits.
Of all the numbers from 41-49 dealing with water (the flow of time), the number 42 is the key, because it is the number of a reed. In distance it is 42 handbreadths, but in time it is 42 months.
Six cubits of time, then, is only six months long. Thus, a regular cubit falls short of the 7th month on the Hebrew calendar, wherein we see the fulfillment of the second set of feast days. It takes a Great Cubit (7 handbreadths) to include Trumpets, Atonement (or Jubilee) and Tabernacles, which occur in the 7th month.
When our "temple" is measured by the Great Cubit, we are able to leave the wilderness (41) and to arrive in the Promised Land to inherit the Kingdom. In that sense, it is the number of arrival.
Dr. Stephen Jones