When you’re pregnant,
numbers become really
important to you. People
constantly ask you
questions like: How many weeks/
months? When’s your due date? Is this
your first? How old are your other children?
And the list goes on. In fact, even
when you go into labor, it’s all about
the numbers: How far apart are your
contractions? How many centimeters
are you dilated?
And I should know. As I sit here writing
this column, I am very aware—and
feeling it—that I am in my 35th week
of pregnancy with my third child. That
means I only have 41 days or a little less
than six weeks left—not that I’m counting.
Yes, these days numbers are very significant
Maybe it’s because we are so inundated
with numbers that we often fail to recognize
the significance they can have.
For instance, stop and think about all
the numbers you have to carry around
in your head: phone numbers, cell
phone numbers, birthdays, anniversaries,
ages, ATM pin numbers, account
numbers—and the list goes on. But
sometimes certain numbers take on a
greater significance, like milestone
birthdays or anniversaries.
One place where many—if not most—numbers matter a lot is in the
Bible. Now I must confess that I was not
always aware of this. I guess I just
always assumed that someone probably
had a really good reason for designating
Lent as lasting for 40 days. And it
seemed totally feasible to me that Jesus’
passion, death and resurrection lasted
Boy, was I wrong.
And it seemed that, once I started
taking notice of this significance, it
was overwhelming. Now every time I
see a number in the Bible, I’m curious
to know its hidden meaning.
For instance, I did not realize that the
number seven means perfection; thus
God created the world in seven days. Or
that the number three indicates completeness,
as in the Holy Trinity. And
the list goes on.
Do the Math
I found it quite fun, once I discovered
this hidden treasure, to go in search of
answers to the significance of biblical
numbers, as well as others. Here are some
ideas for having fun with numbers.
¦ Sit down as a family and try to come
up with numbers from the Bible or our
faith that seem to have significance.
Assign one number to each person and
have him or her find out its meaning.
They can find the answer in a book or
ask a priest or teacher. Or maybe they
For instance, why were there 12
apostles? Seven sacraments? (Of course,
there are some numbers which remain
a mystery as to their symbolism, such
as the 153 fish in the Gospel of John.)
Give everyone a few days to find an
answer and then come back together.
It’s a good excuse to have a family
evening together and you’ll all learn
¦ For one day, take note of all the things
in your life that revolve around numbers
from the time you glance at the
numbers on your clock when you get
up. Some examples might be checking
prices when you’re shopping, surveying
the cost of gas at local stations, counting
the number of plates you need for
dinner, balancing your checkbook or
¦ Do some baking by the numbers.
Here’s a fun recipe for a Bible cake that
I found on the Internet. Keep the actual
ingredients a secret and enlist some
help from your kids or grandkids to do
the detective work.
A. 1/2 cup Judges 5:25 (butter)
B. 2 cups Jeremiah 6:20 (sugar)
C. 2 tbsp. 1 Samuel 14:25 (honey)
D. 6 Jeremiah 17:11 (eggs)
E. 1-1/2 cups 1 Kings 5:2 (flour, sifted)
F. 2 tsp. Amos 4:5 (baking powder)
G. 4 tsp. 2 Chronicles 9:9
(spice, likely cinnamon)
H. A pinch of Leviticus 2:13 (salt)
I. 1/2 cup Judges 4:19 (milk)
J. 2 cups (chopped) Nahum 3:12 (figs)
K. 2 cups 1 Samuel 30:12 (raisins)
L. 2 cups (chopped) Numbers 13:23
Cream together A, B, C and the yolks of D.
Sift together E, F, G and H.
Combine the above together with I.
Add J, K and L. Add in stiffly beaten whites
Bake in a well-greased, rectangular 13” x 9”
pan at 325 degrees for an hour or until
a toothpick inserted in the middle comes
Next Month: What's a Jesse Tree?