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eTeacherBiblical Official Newsletter
Issue #84 - 08/11
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Eli Dahan

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Seven- is this a number of creation or destruction?

When I asked my students as a Biblical Hebrew teacher – what is the most important number in the Hebrew Bible- they all answered: the number seven (sheva in Hebrew)

The book of Genesis starts with the number seven, as we are reading that G-d had created the world in seven days, in Genesis 2:1-3-

Creation

"וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ, וְכָל-צְבָאָם. וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה; וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מִכָּל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה. וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת-יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ: כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ, אֲשֶׁר-בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת"
 

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made"

One of the first words to learn when you do your first steps in Biblical Hebrew is the word Sabbath that relates also to the number seven with it's significance. (The seventh day is the last day of creation and the day when G-d rested from his actions) and with The Hebrew letters.

The next important seven for me can be found in the story of Lamech, who lived 777 years, as written in genesis 5:31-

"וַיְהִי, כָּל-יְמֵי-לֶמֶךְ, שֶׁבַע וְשִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה, וּשְׁבַע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה; וַיָּמֹת."
 

"And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died."

Chapter seven in Genesis brought us a lot of sevens- the seven pure animals and the seven days that will pass before the flood will come to the world and almost destroy it, as we reading in Genesis 7:1-4-

Noah's ark

" וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה לְנֹחַ, בֹּא-אַתָּה וְכָל-בֵּיתְךָ אֶל-הַתֵּבָה: כִּי-אֹתְךָ רָאִיתִי צַדִּיק לְפָנַי, בַּדּוֹר הַזֶּה. מִכֹּל הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה, תִּקַּח-לְךָ שִׁבְעָה שִׁבְעָה--אִישׁ וְאִשְׁתּוֹ; וּמִן-הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא טְהֹרָה הִוא, שְׁנַיִם--אִישׁ וְאִשְׁתּוֹ. גַּם מֵעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם שִׁבְעָה שִׁבְעָה, זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה, לְחַיּוֹת זֶרַע, עַל-פְּנֵי כָל-הָאָרֶץ. כִּי לְיָמִים עוֹד שִׁבְעָה, אָנֹכִי מַמְטִיר עַל-הָאָרֶץ, אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם, וְאַרְבָּעִים לָיְלָה; וּמָחִיתִי, אֶת-כָּל-הַיְקוּם אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי, מֵעַל, פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה"

"And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth."

After the destruction comes the creation again with the number seven, when Noah sent two birds in order to find out if the flood is over or not.
Let us enjoy this beautiful Hebrew, as written in Genesis 8:9-12-

"וְלֹא-מָצְאָה הַיּוֹנָה מָנוֹחַ לְכַף-רַגְלָהּ, וַתָּשָׁב אֵלָיו אֶל-הַתֵּבָה--כִּי-מַיִם, עַל-פְּנֵי כָל-הָאָרֶץ; וַיִּשְׁלַח יָדוֹ וַיִּקָּחֶהָ, וַיָּבֵא אֹתָהּ אֵלָיו אֶל-הַתֵּבָה. וַיָּחֶל עוֹד, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֲחֵרִים; וַיֹּסֶף שַׁלַּח אֶת-הַיּוֹנָה, מִן-הַתֵּבָה. וַתָּבֹא אֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב, וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה-זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיהָ; וַיֵּדַע נֹחַ, כִּי-קַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ. וַיִּיָּחֶל עוֹד, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֲחֵרִים; וַיְשַׁלַּח, אֶת-הַיּוֹנָה, וְלֹא-יָסְפָה שׁוּב-אֵלָיו, עוֹד"
 

"But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more."
When Jacob felt that Rachel is the one, he didn't hesitate to wait seven years in order to be her husband as we can read in Genesis 29:18-20-

Jacob, Rachel and Leah

"וַיֶּאֱהַב יַעֲקֹב, אֶת-רָחֵל; וַיֹּאמֶר, אֶעֱבָדְךָ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים, בְּרָחֵל בִּתְּךָ, הַקְּטַנָּה. וַיֹּאמֶר לָבָן, טוֹב תִּתִּי אֹתָהּ לָךְ, מִתִּתִּי אֹתָהּ, לְאִישׁ אַחֵר; שְׁבָה, עִמָּדִי. וַיַּעֲבֹד יַעֲקֹב בְּרָחֵל, שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים; וַיִּהְיוּ בְעֵינָיו כְּיָמִים אֲחָדִים, בְּאַהֲבָתוֹ אֹתָהּ"
 

"And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her."

The next seven that we will meet, will be on our next newsletter that will revolve around Joseph's life- the roller coaster.
 

If you have a comment, or you want to ask something- share your thoughts with us here or on our Facebook fan pages.Have a great week and don't forget to enjoy the Holy Language that everyone deserves to learn it –Hebrew!
 

 
 
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