The Significance of "Seven" in the Old Testament

From Issue: Discovery 11/1/2013

The number seven was very important to God’s people in the Old Testament. God, of course, createdthe seven-day week at the Creation. (He could have created a five-day or ten-day week, but He chose a seven-day week for mankind.) He also set a pattern for work and rest during the Creation that would eventually become a law for the Israelites when He led them out of Egyptian bondage and gave them the Law of Moses (Exodus 20:8-11).

Seven was also an important number for the feasts that the Israelites celebrated. The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days, while the Feast of Weeks began seven weeks and one day after Passover. The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the final major feast of the year—the Feast of Tabernacles—all took place in the seventh month (Numbers 29).

As with the seventh-day rest that the Lord commanded the Israelites, the seventh year was a special year for the Jews because God designated it a year of rest. “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest” (Exodus 23:10-11). What’s more, the Israelites were not only to allow the land to rest every seven years, but every seventh seven years (year 49), the Israelites were to rest that year, plus the next—the 50thyear, known as the Year of Jubilee.

It was also in the seventh month of every seventh year of rest that God commanded Israel to “gather the people together, men and women and little ones,” to read the Law of Moses “before all Israel in their hearing…that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:10-11).

For the Israelite, every seventh day of the week, every seventh month of the year, and every seventh year were marked by God as special occasions. Although Christians are not under these laws that God gave the Israelites, they can remind us of God’s love and care for the Israelites, as well as the importance of taking time to consider and obey the Word of the Lord.


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