What does the number 6 mean in the Bible?
Short answer – In the Bible, the number 6 is connected with imperfection or incompleteness, as it falls one short of seven, which represents completeness and perfection. The number 6 appears in the Bible numerous times, most notably in the Book of Revelation, where it is mentioned as ‘666,’ the number of the beast, symbolizing the epitome of human imperfection.
Numbers have fascinated and intrigued mankind for centuries.
In biblical literature, numbers have a symbolic meaning, giving a deeper understanding of various topics and concepts.
One such number is six, which has significant biblical connotations that are worth studying.
The number six has a special meaning in the Bible and also attracts the attention of many people because of its connection with the apocalypse.
In this article, we will learn about what the number six means in the Bible by reviewing some Bible verses.
Meanings of the Number 6 in the Bible:
Exodus 20:9 says, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.”
This verse is part of the Ten Commandments, specifically the Sabbath commandment.
The number six here denotes a normal working week, showing the importance of devoting six days to work.
Symbolically, this emphasizes the importance of productivity and working within God’s plan.
This reflects the balance between work and rest, and Saturday serves as a reminder of the seventh day, which embodies fullness and divine peace.
The number six is associated with a person’s imperfection and his tendency to make mistakes. In the Ten Commandments, God commanded the Israelites to work for six days but to set aside the seventh day as a day of rest and worship.
This instruction implies that six symbolizes the finite and temporary nature of our existence, encouraging us to remember our limitations and our need for spiritual help from God.
“Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather its fruit.” Leviticus 25:3
In the context of the Sabbath year and the Jubilee Year, the number six means the duration of agricultural labor and its productivity.
It symbolizes the cycle of work and harvesting over a six-year period.
The number six symbolizes the completion of a certain time of work and productivity.
This means the concept of working in set seasons, spring fields, pruning vineyards, and picking fruit.
The repetition of the number six emphasizes the consistent rhythm of work and harvesting.
The number six is often mentioned in the Old Testament in the context of God’s instruction to people. In this way, He taught people to do His will.
1 Kings 10:14
In 1 Kings 10:14, we can find the words that later will be connected with the New Testament:
“The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold.”
This verse describes the amount of gold that came to King Solomon every year as tribute.
The number six hundred and sixty-six is important because it represents a large and noticeable number, signifying wealth and prosperity during the reign of Solomon.
This number means great abundance and wealth. It symbolizes the scale of prosperity during the reign of Solomon. However, the use of triple sixes also serves as a cautionary reminder of excessive materialism and the potential dangers of wealth if it doesn’t meet God’s purposes.
In Revelation 13:18, we can meet that number which became the most famous number from the Bible worldwide:
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is six hundred and sixty-six.”
This verse refers to the famous “number of the beast” in the Book of Revelation.
The number six hundred and sixty-six is associated with a beast, often interpreted as a symbol of evil or opposition to God.
The repeated use of the number six shows the imperfection and incompleteness of the power and authority of the beast in contrast to the perfect and complete nature of God. At the same time, this number has a connection with the Old Testament.
King Solomon received exactly this amount of gold, but unlike the Kingdom of Solomon, this number won’t be useful for anyone, but it will pretend that it brings only the best.
Thus, in this context, we see a clear warning about the deception that will occur in the future. It will represent the imperfection of power or might in contrast to the divine perfection associated with the number seven.
The repetition of the number six highlights the fallibility and limited nature of the “beast” or opposing forces in the spiritual realm.
Imperfection or Incompleteness
In the Bible, the number 6 is associated with imperfection or incompleteness, while the number 7 is considered the number of perfection.
Repeating the number 6 can mean an increased state of imperfection or evil.
Also, the number 666 can be a symbol of the fallibility or corruption of humanity.
We can consider this number as a warning against idolatry, materialism, or putting worldly desires above spiritual values.
Because in 1 Samuel 10:14-22, there is a description of the amount of gold that came to Solomon every year, and it is said that the weight of gold that Solomon received in one year was 666 talents.
Some suggest that this connection with wealth and the number 666 led to an association with King Solomon, but in the New Testament, this number has the opposite and negative meaning.
666 shows the inherent flaws and fallen nature of humanity.
It can be seen as a reminder that human beings are imperfect and prone to sin.
Some interpretations associate 666 with materialism, greed, or the love of money. This number means the excessive pursuit of wealth and worldly possessions instead of spiritual values.
Some researchers see it as a symbolic reference to a specific historical figure or ruler from the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation.
Usually, the alphabet is used to determine whose name can be encrypted in this number; theories have been put forward that this name means Nero, Domitian, and even Napoleon, but all these theories haven’t been properly confirmed.
However, it is important not to dwell solely on the negative meaning of the number six in the Bible. Even though this number is associated with imperfection and human limitations, it also carries a message of hope.
The biblical narrative shows that God works through imperfect people to fulfill His divine plan.
For example, in the Book of Joshua 6, God uses the repetition of actions on the sixth day to destroy the walls of Jericho, which means His power over human limitations and His ability to prevail.
Joshua 6:3-4 mentions the number six in the context when God helped His people:
“You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days…”
In the story of the fall of Jericho, number six shows the duration of the daily procession of the Israelites through the city.
This means the obedience and patience necessary for them to follow God’s instructions.
The mention of the seventh day adds a sense of anticipation and tells us about the culmination of their faith and perseverance. This is another example of how God taught people to fulfill His instructions with the number six.
The same example can be found in Exodus 16:5:
“On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”
In this verse, the number six refers to the sixth day of the week when the Israelites were told to collect twice as much manna as they did on other days.
They collected provisions for this day and the Sabbath, showing the importance of preparation and trust in God’s provision.
In this way, God gave instructions about life and harvesting, where this number often appeared.
At the same time, we can see the use of the number six without any symbolism. For example, Acts 10:9 says, “The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.”
In this verse, the number six refers to the sixth hour of the day when Peter went to pray.
This indicates a certain time of day, showing the importance of devotional prayer and communion with God.
We can see Peter’s spiritual discipline and his desire for God’s guidance, but this number only conveys time in this context and doesn’t carry any other meaning.
Summing up, we can say that the symbolism of the number six in these verses emphasizes the themes of completeness, productivity, cycles, abundance, and the limitations of human power.
This reflects both the order and purpose of God’s creation, as well as the need for discernment and caution when dealing with worldly wealth or opposing forces.
As such, the number six has an important biblical significance. It embodies our inner values and plays a role of a reminder of our limitations.
This demonstrates the potential for corruption in our fallen nature and the transformative power of God’s work through our imperfections.
The repetition of the number six in the book of Revelation is a cautionary reminder of the ultimate consequences of a life separated from God. However, the number six also indicates hope for redemption and a new life in God’s perfect plan for humanity.
At the same time, the number six also symbolizes riches that can be used for good, but without God, these riches will only be used for harm.
Opinion of the Church Fathers
Studying the Bible, we can’t ignore the teachings of the Church Fathers – outstanding theologians who interpreted the Holy Scriptures during the first centuries of Christianity.
These wise people had a deep understanding of the hidden meanings and symbolism of the Bible.
Many Church Fathers attached special importance to the number 6, and their interpretations of the number 6 provide a clear understanding.
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons explained the importance of six in the context of creation.
He stated, “The world was made in six days, and on the first day, the creation of man began.”
Here, Irenaeus refers to the six days of creation described in the book of Genesis.
Therefore, the number 6 symbolizes the beginning of human existence, the foundation on which our story starts.
God often corrected human imperfections with the number six; in the same way, He made our world livable in six days.
Speaking about the creation of man on the first day, Irenaeus emphasizes the superiority of humanity in God’s creation.
He interprets the creation of light on the first day as an omen of the creation of a person who has the ability to achieve spiritual enlightenment and communion with God.
Saint Ambrose expanded on the notion of imperfection.
He wrote, “The number six denotes labor and imperfection.”
Ambrose’s interpretation emphasizes the toil and struggles that human beings experience in the earthly realm.
Much like the struggles faced during labor, the road to spiritual growth is often met with challenges and hardships.
The number six represents the beginning of the history of mankind, the imperfections and struggles that one has to face in life, as well as the sinful nature inherent in humanity.
Although these interpretations may seem negative, they show our dependence on God’s grace and the need for redemption.
The number six turns out to be absolutely two-sided.
On the one hand, it symbolizes wealth, the creation of the earth, and God’s help to people; on the other hand, the same wealth can be used to harm, though God helped people using this number, in the Bible there is an indication of the sad fate of using the number six in the future.
Understanding the meaning of symbolic numbers in the Bible helps us to appreciate the depth and complexity of the Holy Scriptures.
As believers, we can find comfort in knowing that the Bible is a guide to salvation and righteousness.
While the number 6 reveals our nature, it also opens the door to transformation and redemption by the grace of God.
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Fyodor Melnikov is an Orthodox Christian. He has a linguistic degree and has devoted himself to Christian theology.