Each Hebrew number has a meaning. Those meanings seem to relate to each psalm given its numeric allocation.
The best place to begin is with the number one and Psalm one. The number one consists of a single Hebrew letter (aleph) meaning the head of an ox. It is the animal used for sacrifice. It could be symbolic of Israel, which has suffered at the hands of almost every nation through history. Psalm one depicts the beginning of the century which has seen the sacrifice of millions of Jews.
As a numeral, it stands for one, but with two dots above aleph, it becomes a thousand. It is a simple matter, then, for one to become a thousand, as Moses wrote,… a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past (Psalm 90:4).
The number two consists of a single letter (beth) meaning a house or tent. Psalm two predicts that God will set my King upon my holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:6) as a reference to the rebuilding of the Third Temple – the house of the Lord.
The number three consists of a single Hebrew letter (gimel) meaning a camel. Its shape looks like the neck of a camel. We cannot draw a clear inference, but Psalm 3:3 calls the Lord a lifter up of mine head.
The number fourconsists of a single Hebrew letter (daleth) meaning a foot. Again, we cannot draw a clear implication, but Psalm 4:4 says, Stand in awe, and sin not.
The number five consists of a single Hebrew letter (he) meaning a lattice, a window. The emphasis is on looking to see what is on the other side of the wall. It reminds us of a passage in the Song of Solomon 2: 9 &10, Behold, he standeth behind our wall; he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice. My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. The bridegroom comes for his bride. Someday, Christ will come for his bride as well. Symbolically, five stands for grace in the Bible. Psalm five captures the meaning in verse 7, But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy.
The number six consists of a single letter (vav) meaning a nail or hook. One is reminded of Isaiah 22:23 and 24, I will fasten his as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house… Six is the number of man and may have messianic overtones of Christ, the perfect man, who will come to occupy the throne someday. Psalm six presses the question, How Long? And pleads, Return, O LORD.
The number seven consists of a single letter (zain) meaning a weapon. Psalm 7:12 and 13 plainly refers to God’s weapons, …he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.
The number eightconsists of a single Hebrew letter (cheth) meaning a hedge or fence. Perhaps it has a reference to the Shepherd’s protection of his flock. Christian theologians have suggested the number eight to be the number of “new beginnings.” Perhaps that is why Psalm 8 says, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength…God was preparing a new generation for the protection of the Chosen People in the Promised Land.
The number nine consists of a single Hebrew letter (teth) meaning a serpent, something rolled or twisted together. It is the number of the antichrist. Psalm 9 certainly refers to the antichrist as verse 6 says, O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end. Also, verse 17 says, The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. That is a reference to Armageddon and Christ’s judgment at His coming.
Consider the perfection of God’s design.
The numbers ten through nineteen each begin with (yod), the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Because yod is the first letter in the name of God, I think we can see the hand of God in the meanings of these ten numbers. Eleven is yod-aleph; twelve is yod-beth; thirteen is yod-gimel; etc. Of the numbers ten through nineteen, two are considered as denoting God’s perfect design. Ten is God’s number of ordinal perfection and twelve is God’s number of governmental perfection. The other seven numbers appear to be the work of God’s divine will, both in blessing and in judgment.
The number eleven is made up of two Hebrew letters, yod and aleph, and as such does not comprise a word. Yod and aleph do make up the first two letters of yaab (yod, aleph, beth) meaning to desire, to long. The letters are also part of Yaah (yod, aleph, he) meaning to be suitable.
These meanings, however, do not lend themselves to the accepted definition given to eleven by Dr. E. W. Bullinger. He saw an evil connotation. Being between ten and twelve (two numbers denoting perfection), eleven adds to or takes away from God’s perfection.
Bullinger wrote, “If ten is the number which marks the perfection of Divine order, then eleven is an addition to it, subversive of and undoing that order. If twelve is the number, which marks the perfection of Divine government, then eleven falls short of it. So…it is the number which marks disorder, disorganization, imperfection, and disintegration.”
Even the term “the eleventh hour” carries with it the connotation of impending doom. Such seemed to be the case for Germany in World War I. Had they not agreed to signing an armistice, the nation would have faced the victorious allied armies. The German delegation averted catastrophe by signing the agreement and ending the war on November 11, at 11 A.M. – the eleventh month, the eleventh day, and the eleventh hour.
Psalm 11 seemed to allude to that or a similar judgment upon the wicked as David wrote in verses 2 and 6, “For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright…Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.”
The number twelve is made up of two Hebrew letters, yod and beth. Though these do not make a word, they comprise the first two letters of yabab (yod, beth, beth) meaning to bawl or cry out. It is at least noteworthy that the first word in Psalm 12 follows that connotation. It is a cry for “HELP.”
Twelve is another perfect number. It is the last of four numbers (three, seven, ten, and twelve) which denotes God’s perfection in His design of this world. Three denotes divine perfection; seven denotes spiritual perfection; ten denotes ordinal perfection; and twelve denotes governmental perfection.
Twelve is the product of three and four (3X4=12), while seven is the sum of three and four (3+4=7). There are twelve divisions of the heavens that govern the night and twelve months that govern the year. There were twelve tribes of God’s Chosen People and twelve disciples chosen by Jesus.
The holy city, New Jerusalem, is described as being 12 thousand furlongs in length, breadth, and height. Someday, God will choose a group of 144,000 Jews, 12 thousand from each of the 12 tribes. They will have the opportunity to restore Temple worship in Jerusalem – preparing for the kingdom and the coming King of kings to govern this world.
The number thirteen is made up of two Hebrew letters, yod and gimel. Though they are not a word, they at least comprise the first two letters of yagab (yod, gimel, beth) meaning to cut, dig or plow. This alludes to God’s work in the lives of His people, pruning, chastening and correcting. Perhaps that is why God’s people posed the question in Psalm 13, “How long, O Lord, How long?”
Thirteen is a number of ill-omen. Many superstitions cluster around it. In the Bible, every occurrence of the number and its multiples are connected with rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, disintegration, or revolution.
In the very first two verses of the Bible, we can see the effects of apostasy. Our English translation reads, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” In the original Hebrew, the passage is comprised of seven words and twenty-eight letters (4X7). However, the next passage reads, “And the earth was without form, and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” In the Hebrew, it is comprised of fourteen words and fifty-two letters (4X13). The first passage speaks of good (denoted by the number seven) and the next passage speaks of evil (denoted by the number 13). The number four seen in each passage refers to things created and especially the earth.
It was in the thirteenth year that Sodom rebelled against its overlords and was carried into captivity – and so it is throughout the Bible. From its evil connotation has grown up a variety of superstitions. That is why some buildings have no thirteenth floor; some airlines used to have no thirteenth row of seats; etc.
Even the word for Satan in Hebrew has a gematria (numerical value) of 364 (13X28=364). Also, in the Greek language, Satan has a gematria of 2197 (13X13X13=2197).