The Writers’Circle: Some intriguing numbers


    By Gregg Heid
    PREVIEW Columnist

    I’ve always been a numbers guy. I guess that’s why I taught mathematics for 25 years. Here are some numbers that intrigue me.

    The average human heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through its chambers every day. You take around 12,000-14,000 breaths a day and don’t have to think about a single one of them. Your brain doesn’t stop working either. It is estimated that 50,000 thoughts pass through it daily: That’s a roughly 40 thoughts per minute, 50 if you are drinking wine.

    You blink about 29,000 times every day. You shed more than a million skin cells a day that are constantly replenished. Skin is the largest of your organs, with a surface area of approximately 18 square feet. If you’re a woman, the brain and mouth work together to help you speak an average of 5,000 words per day, considerably less if you’re a man — around 3,000.

    Back in my firefighting days, I was astonished by the fact that an inch of rain on an acre equals 27,000 gallons of water.

    Did you know if you gave every family in the U.S. an acre of land, they could all live in Texas with its 268,581 square miles? And you could bury every human on earth — all 7.5 billion — in the state of Oklahoma. Do the math.

    When you multiply, 111,111,111×111,111,111 the result is 12,345,678,987,654,321. Can you read that number aloud?

    Google comes from the mathematical word meaning 10 to the 100th power. A googolplex is 10 to the power of google or 10 the power of 100 to the power of 100.

    The Bible uses the number six to indicate imperfection. The work of God at creation is six days long, but it is missing something until God decides to set aside another day on which no work is done.

    One of the most well-known numbers in the Bible is, 666, which symbolizes the unholy trinity (Satan antithesis of Holy Spirit, Antichrist versus God and false prophet vs. Jesus), whereas the Holy Trinity is 777.

    Our God consists of three persons, written about in the four major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel) and the four gospels. Four directions in Hebrew numerology represent the whole world. There were four horsemen of the apocalypse and four angels standing ready at the four corners of the earth, and four beasts (Ezekiel identifies as Cherubim) with four wings and four faces to torment and deceive those on earth.

    Three, in Hebrew numerology, is the number of completion. Three is the number of the Trinity, of course, and thus, indicates a wholeness, but it also seems to indicate an inner sanctity. Of Jesus’ 12 apostles, he loves three of them more than the rest. They are Peter, and brothers John and James. They also witnessed his transfiguration — Jesus with Moses and Elijah. 

    Samuel is called by the Lord three times before he realizes it and answers. Satan tempts Jesus three times before giving up. It is on the third day of creation that Earth is made. The sign on the cross is written in three languages. Jesus raised three people from the dead, Lazarus, a widow’s son and Jairus’ daughter. 

    There are three angels named in the Bible: Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer. Jesus fell under the cross three times on the Via Dolorosa. He was nailed to the cross at the third hour of the day, and lasted until the ninth. He rose from the dead on the third day, just as Jonah was in the belly of a great fish three days.

    The Bible uses the number seven to indicate perfection. God finished His creation in seven days. The seven candelabra (menorah) set on the tabernacle in Exodus and Deuteronomy are an homage to God’s “sevenfold Spirit.”

    In Revelation, John writes to the seven churches in Asia minor, depicted as seven lampstands. Seven bowls of wrath are poured out on the earth. Noah led the clean animals into the ark in sets of seven pairs for each species. The unclean animals were saved to the tune of one pair each. 

    Joshua led the Israelites, with the Ark of the Covenant, seven times around Jericho. Jacob served seven years for Rachel and another seven for Leah. The seventh year is the year of jubilee, allowing the fields to rest, so the poor may come and eat. Aaron and his sons became the first priests in a consecration that lasted seven days. There were seven nations in the land of Canaan, Miriam was punished with seven days in seclusion outside the camp, and Jacob bowed to the ground seven times in front of his brother Esau.

    Pharaoh’s dream had the seven fat cows and seven thin cows, meaning seven years of bounty followed by seven years of famine. We are to forgive wrong doers 7×70 times, or innumerable times. But what if it is a man exorcised of an unclean spirit and it comes back with seven more, each more wicked than the first?

    We have seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, Catholics have seven sacraments, Christians talk of the seven deadly sins, Ruth is worth more than seven sons, and Naaman the leper dipped himself seven times in the Jordan and was cleansed.

    The tribulation will last seven years. The book of the living was sealed with seven seals. When Jesus feeds the 4,000, he does so with seven loaves and his disciples pick up seven basketfuls of pieces.

    The instances in which the number 10 shows up are few but important. Aside from the Ten Commandments, Noah was the 10th patriarch before the flood. The fourth beast in the book of Daniel had 10 horns, there were 10 plagues on Egypt, and there is the parable of the 10 talents. 

    I found this interesting: John 3:16 is pretty much the thesis of the Bible and is the mirror image of the laws in the Old Testament — its digits add up to 10.

    Next we have the number 12. It is used 187 times in the Bible, in a similar way to 3, 10, and 40. It indicates a kind of totality and completeness. The most obvious example is the 12 tribes of Israel. Revelation incorporates multiple uses of 12: 144,000 people, 12,000 from each tribe of Israel, will be converted to Christianity and die as martyrs under the reign of the antichrist. The New Jerusalem, the city of Heaven, is described as having walls 144 cubits thick, symbolic of the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles. 

    The foundations of the walls are made of 12 precious stones. The city is foursquare, actually cubic, with walls 12,000 furlongs, long, wide, and high (about 1,500 miles). There are three gates in each side, 12 total with 12 angels, one at each gate. The gates are made of single pearls, giving us the phrase “pearly gates.” Inside, the tree of life yields 12 different kinds of fruit. 

    Daniel is also concerned with the end of time. His book has 12 chapters. Daniel 12:12 states, “Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.” 1 + 3 + 3 + 5 = 12. 

    When Jesus feeds the 5,000, his disciples pick up 12 basketfuls of leftovers.

    Forty is another popular number. In addition to completeness, is symbolic of testing and trial. The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert and Moses stayed on Mount Sinai for 40 days to receive God’s law and another 40 days on the mountain after the golden calf sin. The rain of the great flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights. Jesus was led into the wilderness for 40 days before starting his public ministry. Lent is a period of 40 days. Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples between his resurrection and ascension.

    This column includes both fiction and nonfiction, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN. Submissions can be sent to