Abrahamic / Middle Eastern Christianity Why the Number 7 is a Source of Good Luck Share Flipboard Email Print Hartmann Schedel / Public domain / Wikimedia Commons Christianity The Bible Christianity Origins The New Testament The Old Testament Practical Tools for Christians Christian Life For Teens Christian Prayers Weddings Inspirational Bible Devotions Denominations of Christianity Funerals and Memorial Services Christian Holidays Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Catholicism Latter Day Saints View More By Cynthia Astle Religion Journalist A.A., English, St. Petersburg College Cynthia B. Astle is an award-winning journalist who covered religion for 25 years. She has authored a number of books on faith and religion. our editorial process Cynthia Astle Updated January 21, 2019 Ever wonder where the idea of the number seven being lucky came from? More likely than not, the idea of good luck associated with seven comes from the use of the number seven in the Bible. Both Christian and Jewish traditions have used numbers to interpret the Bible. The interpretation of scriptures by using numbers is known as "gematria," a Greek word meaning "calculations." Many cultural traditions of interpretation or good luck, such as the number 7 in the Bible, come from the practice of gematria. Gematria in Jewish and Christian Mysticism Gematria is a mystical method of interpreting sacred manuscripts, based on the identification of secret codes built into the texts using a pre-set system of assignments of a specific number to each letter of the alphabet. Talmudic scholars calculated the numerical sums of words in order to associate them analytically with other words and phrases of equal value—in Jewish mysticism, there were four different methods used to calculate the numbers, four itself an important number. Found in ancient Babylonian texts, and used in Talmudic times to interpret the Hebrew scripture, gematria was used by medieval mystics such as the German Pietist and the Kabbalists, appealing to their interest in occult revelation. The very first example of gematria that occurs in the Torah is that there are precisely seven words in the first verse of Genesis, a reference to the seven days of creation. Examples The most famous gematria example in the Torah is in Genesis 14:14, in which the patriarch Abraham is said to have taken 318 retainers with him to rescue his nephew Lot from an army of marauding kings. Talmudic scholars believe the number doesn't mean 318 people but rather refers to one man: Abraham's servant Eliezer. Eliezer's name means "My God is a help," and the calculated numerical value of Eliezer according to gematria is 318. Gematria is found in the Christian New Testament as well: the number of fish caught by the disciples in John 21:11 is said to have been 153. The number 153 is a reference to the numerical code for "the children of God" in Hebrew. Some Numbers and Their Meanings The following glossary of some examples of the meaning of the number 7 in the Bible and other numbers are based on The Encyclopedia of Jewish Mysticism, Myth and Magic by Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis. 1: The number one means divine unity, as shown by God.3: Three means completeness and stability, as shown in several examples such as the Three Patriarchs recognized by Judaism: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and in Christianity, the three Magi. 4: The number four recurs in many Jewish practices based on historical traditions, such as the Passover Seder, which is built around fours: Four Questions, Four Sons and four cups of wine. Four also refers to the biblical name of God, Yahweh, which is written in four letters YHWH, known as the Tetragrammaton.5: Five is the number of protection, as symbolized by the chamsa, a talisman or charm in the shape of a hand.7: The number seven in the Bible is considered one of the most powerful and lucky numbers in scripture, according to the practice of gematria. Seven refers to the Creation of the world, accomplished by God in seven days according to Genesis. The Hebrew word for "luck," gad, equals seven in gematria.8: Eight represents completion, such as the eight-day festival of Chanukah; in Christian mysticism, eight refers to the day of resurrection.10: Ten is considered another major symbol of power and good fortune, based on the Ten Commandments.12: Twelve is thought to symbolize wholeness and the completion of God's purpose. There are 12 tribes of Israel, descended from the 12 sons of Jacob, as well as 12 months in a year.24: The number 24 represents abundance in gematria. Its meaning is linked to the heyday of Jerusalem as a city when it was said to have had 24 main roads, 24 side-streets, and 24 alleys leading to 24 houses.40: The number 40 represents a time of radical transformation, such as the 40 days of the Great Flood in Genesis 7, or the 40 days spent wandering in the wilderness.70: The number 70 symbolizes the world as represented by the 70 nations, each with its own princely angel, in Jewish mystical imagination. Lastly, in gematria, odd numbers such as the number 7 in the Bible are considered lucky, while even numbers, in particular pairs, are thought to bring misfortune. Sources: Dennis, Geoffrey W. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewllyn Publications, 2007. Print.Gandz, Solomon. "Hebrew Numerals." Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 4 (1932): 53-112. Print.Keller, Eve. "Tetragrammic Numbers: Gematria and the Line Total of the 1674 "Paradise Lost." Milton Quarterly 20.1 (1986): 23-25. Print.Romeo, Joseph A. "Gematria and John 21:11: The Children of God." Journal of Biblical Literature 97.2 (1978): 263-64. Print.Wolfson, Elliot R. "The Mystical Significance of Torah Study in German Pietism." The Jewish Quarterly Review 84.1 (1993): 43-78. Print.