The Significance of the Number 3 in the Bible - Part 1

THREE:  In sacred Scripture the number three represents that which is solid, real, substantial, and something in its completeness.  This number usually indicates something of importance or significance in God's plan of salvation by identifying an important event in Salvation History.  This number operates as a "sign-post" in Scripture study for the reader to "pay attention" to the significance of the next event. 

In the Old Testament:

  • It is the first of the 4 perfect numbers which are 3 (divine perfection); 7 (spiritual perfection); 10 (ordinal perfection); and 12 (governmental perfection).        
  • The earth was separated from the waters on the 3rd day [Genesis 1:9-13]
  • There were three Patriarchs of the children of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel
  • There are three verses in the Priestly Blessing in which the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, God's holy covenant name, appears three times [Numbers 6:24-26].
  • Three times the angelic Seraphim cry "Holy, Holy, Holy" [Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8].
  • After the Great Flood mankind descended from the three sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. [Genesis 10:1-32]
  • Three "men" announced to Abraham that his barren wife would bear a son [Genesis 18:14].
  • Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son after a three-day journey to Mt. Moriah [Genesis 22:1-4].
  • Baby Moses was hidden by his mother for three months [Exodus 2:1] and the adult Moses requests of Pharaoh that he let Moses take his people on a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifice to their God [Exodus 3:18].
  • There were three divisions of the desert Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem: the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies [Exodus 27:926:1-3035-3731-3438:9-2021-3140:1-331 Kings 6: 1-37].
  • God is mentioned three times in the Shema, the Old Covenant profession of faith [Deuteronomy 6:4] and three times in the priestly blessing [Numbers 6:24-26].
  • The three attributes of God mentioned in Exodus 33:18-19 are hen, rachum, and hesed (gracious, compassionate /merciful, and loving kindness).
  • Of the seven annual Holy Feasts of the Sinai Covenant, three are "pilgrim feasts" in which every man 13 years or older must present himself before God at His Sanctuary and later at the Temple in Jerusalem. This command is repeated three time in scripture [Exodus 23:14-1734:18-23Deuteronomy 16:16]
  • Jonah spent three days in the belly of the great fish [Jonah 1:17]; Jonah took three days to journey across the city of Nineveh [Jonah 3:3]