The Number 4

The Number “4”

(The number of creation and the material universe)


Meaning and Symbolism

  • We see the number four manifesting with the tangible and foundational aspects of creation.
  • In nearly every corner of the world, the number four represents the number for the final product of creation.
  • Simple projection of the unit, it is the number of the organization and the perfect rhythm.
  • In the Greek mythology, it is the number of Jupiter, ruler of the protection and justice, organizer of all that was created.
  • Symbol of the totality, it is considered by the initiates as the root of all things.
  • The number of the double duality, two plus two, and of the universal measure, according to the Pythagorean.
  • Represent the sense of the revelation, the stability, according to Saint Jerome.
  • Saint Ambroise sees in 4 a luckless number.
  • Represented symbolically by the square or the cross.
  • For the Amerindians, this number is the perfection: the prayers are repeated four times, the dances have four count tempo, and the warriors do four pauses before to rush on their enemies.
  • Symbolizes the Earth, or what is terrestrial, the totality of created and revealed, according to the Bible.
  • Symbolize the incarnation of the beings in the matter.
  • Symbol of the feminine or the woman, for anatomical reasons: the four lips on the body of the woman.
  • The number of the force, this symbol is often reproduced on cotes of arms.
  • The number of the balance.
  • In Japan, the four brings misfortune. They avoid to pronounce it because the same word means “the death”.


  • The fourth commandment “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy”  This commandment is intended to recognize the creation
  • The four evangelists of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  • The four days of Lazarus at the grave. (Jn 11,17)
  • The four colors of horses of the Revelation and the four knights who bring the four major curses. (Rv 6,2-8)
  • The four destructive angels standing at the four corners of the earth. (Rv 7,1)
  • The four walls of the celestial Jerusalem. (Rv 21,16)
  • The four living creatures in front of the throne of God. (Rv 4,7-8)
  • The Jews knew four archangels to govern the angelic world.
  • The four living creatures in the vision of Ezekiel. (Ezk 1,5)
  • The four camps of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Nb 2)
  • God called Samuel the child four times. (1 S 3,1-11)
  • The four chariots of Zechariah. (Zc 6,1)
  • The four rivers of the Paradise. (Gn 2,10-14; Koran 157,15)

Biblical Occurrence

  • The number 4 is used 279 times in the Bible.
  • In the Bible, 12 numbers are used 4 times. There are the numbers 31, 37, 39, 72, 112, 128, 137, 430, 450, 666, 1254 and 600000, and 4 numbers are used only in the Revelation: 144, 1260, 144000 and 200000000.
  • The number 4 is used 14 times in the Koran. (Koran II,226; II,234; II,262; IV,2; IV,19; IX,2; IX, 36; XXIV,4; XXIV,6; XXIV,8; XXIV,13; XXIV,44; XXXV,1 and XLI,9)
  • The four forties enumerated in the Bible: the two of Moses, one for Elisha and one for Jesus. (Ex 24,18 and 34,28; Dt 9,11; Mt 4,2)

In Other Religion



  • Four Noble Truths – Dukkha, Samudaya, Nirodha, Magga
  • Four sights – observations which affected Prince Siddhartha deeply and made him realize the sufferings of all beings, and compelled him to begin his spiritual journey—an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and an ascetic
  • Four Great Elements – earth, water, fire, and wind
  • Four Heavenly Kings
  • Four Foundations of Mindfulness – contemplation of the body, contemplation of feelings, contemplation of mind, contemplation of mental objects
  • Four Right Exertions
  • Four Bases of Power
  • Four jhānas
  • Four arūpajhānas
  • Four Divine Abidings – loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity
  • Four stages of enlightenment – stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner, and arahant
  • Four main pilgrimage sites – Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Kusinara
  • The Buddhism is based on the four truths taught by “Cakkya-Mouni”: “Kou”, the pain exists in the birth, the old age, the disease, the attachment, etc.; “Tou”, it is the sharing of all the creatures: its origin is the thirst of existence, pleasures, power; “Mou”, the man must be liberated by the annihilation of the desire; “Tau”, the means to arrive at this setting free is the practice of the “eight branches of the noble path”.
  • The Buddha made four travels which are symbolized by the Four Gates.


  • The four Hebraic letters forming the name of God: YHWH.
  • The Tetragrammaton is the four-letter name of God.
  • The four Matriarchs (foremothers) of Judaism are Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel.
  • The Four Species (lulav, hadass, aravah, and etrog) are taken as one of the mitzvot on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. (Judaism)
  • The Four Cups of Wine to drink on the Jewish holiday of Passover. (Judaism)
  • The Four Questions to be asked on the Jewish holiday of Passover. (Judaism)
  • The Four Sons to be dealt with on the Jewish holiday of Passover. (Judaism)
  • The Four Expressions of Redemption to be said on the Jewish holiday of Passover. (Judaism)
  • The four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. (Christianity)
  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride in the Book of Revelation. (Christianity)
  • Four segments of the holy cross.
  • According to visions of Ann-Catherine Emmerick, Four kinds of wood which were used for the construction of the cross of Christ and also Noah’s Ark: the palm tree, Olive tree, cedar tree, and cypress tree.
  • According to visions of Maria Valtortathe, four Roman executioners who crucified Jesus on the Calvary.
  • Four letters I.N.R.I. “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum” engraved on the cross. Christians interpret this as “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”.  Occultists attribute another sense to it: “Igne Natura Renovatur Integra” The Nature will be Renovated by the Fire.
  • Jesus remained four years in the temple of Juggernaut in Indies, according to the Gospel of the Aquarius.
  • The return to Nazareth of Mary and Joseph lasted four days after that Mary had remained three months with Elizabeth, according to visions’ of Mary Agreda.
  • The four emblems of the tribes of Israel, one for each group of three: the lion, the man, the bull and the eagle.
  • The four necessary elements for the conversion: prayer, penance, fast and sacrifice, given by the messages of the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje.
  • The Israelites were divided into four groups when they arrived at the Red sea: one said “Let’s jump into the sea”, another said “Let’s return to Egypt”, the third said “Fight” and the last group said “Raise the voice against them”, according to writings of the library of Qumran.


  • There are four Vedas: Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda.
  • In Puruṣārtha, there are four aims of human life: Dharma, Artha, Kāma, Moksha.
  • The four stages of life Brahmacharya (student life), Grihastha (household life), Vanaprastha (retired life) and Sannyasa (renunciation).
  • The four primary castes or strata of society: Brahmana (priest/teacher), Kshatriya (warrior/politician), Vaishya (landowner/entrepreneur) and Shudra(servant/manual laborer).


  • Eid al-Adha lasts for four days, from the 10th to the 14th of Dhul Hijja.
  • There are four Rashidun or Rightly Guided Caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib.
  • The Four Arch Angels in Islam are: Jibraeel (Gabriel), Mikaeel (Michael), Izraeel (Azrael), and Israfil (Raphael)
  • There are four months in Islam war isn’t permitted in: Muharram, Rajab, Dhu al-Qi’dah and Dhu al-Hijjah.
  • There are four Sunni schools of fiqh: Hanafi, Shafi`i, Maliki and Hanbali.
  • There are four major Sunni Imams: Abū Ḥanīfa, Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i, Malik ibn Anas and Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
  • There are four books in Islam: Torah, Zaboor, Injeel, Quran.
  • Waiting for four months is ordained for those who take an oath for abstention from their wives.
  • The waiting period of the woman whose husband dies is four months and ten days.
  • When Abraham said: “My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead,” Allah said: “Why! Do you have no faith?” Abraham replied: “Yes, but in order that my heart be at rest.” He said: “Then take four birds, and tame them to yourself, then put a part of them on every hill, and summon them; they will come to you flying. [Al-Baqara 2:260]
  • The respite of four months was granted to give time to the mushriks in Surah At-Tawba so that they should consider their position carefully and decide whether to make preparation for war or to emigrate from the country or to accept Islam.
  • Those who accuse honorable women (of unchastity) but do not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty lashes and do not admit their testimony ever after. They are indeed transgressors. [An-Noor 24:4]
  • The Koran authorizes the polygamy, allowing a man to have as many as four women. (Koran 4,3)

Native American

  • The Apache played a game in the old days based on their creation story wherein four Moccasins were placed about four feet apart in a row of holes in the ground on one side of camp. A similar row of holes was dug on the opposite side of the camp. the players are divided up into 2 groups representing aspects of the creation story. The players then take turns attempting to club the moccasin with a hidden bone. There are only four plays in this game.
  • According to the Apache creation story, there was a dragon which couldn’t be killed, for he was covered with four coats of horny scales which arrows could not penetrate. In the story, a boy ends up shooting four arrows which in turn cause a layer of the dragon’s armor to fall off. The fourth arrow pierces the dragon’s heart and he rolls down four precipices into a deep canyon.
  • Four is the sacred number of the Zia, an indigenous tribe located in New Mexico.
  • The Hopi tribe of Arizona conducts most every sacred prayer in numbers of four. For instance, when they would pilgrimage to great bodies of water, first prayer and thanksgiving is conducted with offerings, then permission to partake of the waters. Then as if cleansing the soul by washing and drinking from the fluid of life, the water is tossed with prayer in the 4 cardinal directions as if rain clouds sent in each way to replenish the earth.


  • The number of fundamental collections (sacred volumes of India Brahman) in which are contained the whole of the knowledge of the Veda: Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda (or Yajour-Veda) and Atharva-Veda.
  • The four rays of the cosmic wheel.
  • The four pillars of the Universe.
  • According to the Tibetans, there are four “chakras”, called also wheels, Lotus or subtle centers.
  • The four petals of the Muladhara “chakra” located at the base of the spinal column.
  • The Cabal distinguishes four worlds in which are the ten “Sephiroth”: the world of the emanation, Atziluth; the world of the creation, Briah; the world of the formation, Yetzirah; the world of the action, Asiah.
  • The quaternary of the motto of the alchemists and the Rosicrucians: to know, to want, to dare, to hush.
  • The quaternary is present in the Egyptian sphinx: head, body, paws, wings.
  • The Pythagorean considered the quadrilateral supporting Hermes as the sign of the infallible reason.
  • The number of the symmetry, it is used in various constructions, one of them being the “mandala” of which emerges an impression of order and discipline.


  •  Franklin D. Roosevelt declared ought to be four basic freedoms enjoyed by everyone in the world: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear.
  • Gang of Four: Popular name for four Chinese Communist Party leaders who rose to prominence during China’s Cultural Revolution, but were ousted in 1976 following the death of Chairman Mao Zedong. Among the four was Mao’s widow, Jiang Qing. Since then, many other political factions headed by four people have been called “Gangs of Four”.
  • There are only four mononucleotides in a DNA strand which are responsible for all genetic programming in the world.
  • According to Hippocrates the number four governs the biological life of the man and according to C.G. Jung, it governs the psyches of the man by the four following psychological functions: the thought, the intuition, the feeling and the sentiment.
  • The four fundamental parts of the organic chemistry: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.
  • The four cardinal points or direction of the space: North, South, East, and West.
  • The four states of the matter: solid, liquid, gaseous and Plasma
  • The four phases of the moon.
  • The four limbs of the man and the four cavities of the human heart.
  • The four known physical forces: the nuclear, radiate, electromagnetic, and gravitational.
  • The four blood groups: O, A, B, and AB.
  • 0x04 is the ASCII code of the character End of Transmission, which is abbreviated to EOT. Interesting  that this the fourth day was the last day God spent making the Heavens and Earth.

In mathematics

  • Four rules: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.
  • Four is the smallest composite number, its proper divisors being 1 and 2.
  • 4 is the smallest squared prime (p2) and the only even number in this form. 4 is also the only square one more than a prime number.
  • A number is a multiple of 4 if its last two digits are a multiple of 4. For example, 1092 is a multiple of 4 because 92 = 4 × 23.
  • In addition, 2 + 2 = 2 × 2 = 22 = 4. Continuing the pattern in Knuth’s up-arrow notation, 2 ↑↑ 2 = 2 ↑↑↑ 2 = 4, and so on, for any number of up arrows. (That is, 2 [n] 2 = 4 for every positive integer n, where a [nb is the
  • In his book “Superior Mathematical Puzzle”, 1968, the American engineer Howard Dinesman indicates a magic square of order 4 (its side comprises four numbers) a little special, whose sum gives 264.
  • 18 99 86 61 66 81 98 19 91 16 69 88 89 68 11 96
  • The number four and its successive multiples are generated by the sum of two successive odd numbers (1+3=4 where 1×4=4, 3+5=8 where 2×4=8, 5+7=12 where 3×4=12) or by the sum of the even number with itself (2+2=4, 4+4=8, 6+6=12).

In astronomy

  • Four terrestrial (or rocky) planets in the Solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
  • Four giant gas/ice planets in the Solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
  • Four of Jupiter’s moons (the Galilean moons) are readily visible from Earth.
  • Messier object M4, a magnitude 7.5 globular cluster in the constellation Scorpius.
  • The New General Catalogue object NGC 4, a faint galaxy in the constellation Pisces
  • The Roman numeral IV stands for subgiant in the Yerkes spectral classification scheme.
  • The Roman numeral IV (usually) stands for the fourth-discovered satellite of a planet or minor planet (e.g. Jupiter IV)

In biology

  • Four is the number of nucleobase types in DNA and RNA – adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine (uracil in RNA).
  • Many chordates have four feet, legs or leglike appendages (tetrapods).
  • The mammalian heart consists of four chambers.
  • Many mammals (Carnivora, Ungulata) use four fingers for movement.
  • All insects with wings except flies have four wings.
  • Insects of the superorder Endopterygota, also known as Holometabola, such as butterflies, ants, bees, beetles, fleas, flies, moths, and wasps, undergo holometabolism—complete metamorphism in four stages—from (1) embryo (ovum, egg), to (2) larva (such as grub, caterpillar), then (3) pupa (such as the chrysalis), and finally (4) the imago.
  • In the common ABO blood group system, there are 4 blood types (A, B, O, AB).
  • Humans have four canines and four wisdom teeth.
  • The cow’s stomach is divided into four digestive compartments: reticulum, rumen, omasum, and abomasum.

In technology 

  • The resin identification code used in recycling to identify low-density polyethylene.
  • Most furniture has four legs – tables, chairs, etc.  (It is interesting to note that 4 is one dimension higher than 3 and that we live in a 3-dimensional world. In physics, any dimension above another has the intrinsic ability to control and or stabilize any lower dimension.
  • The four color process (CMYK) is used for printing.
  • The wide use of rectangles (with four angles and four sides) because they have effective form and capability for close adjacency to each other (houses, rooms, tables, bricks, sheets of paper, screens, film frames).
  • In the Rich Text Format specification, language code 4 is for the Chinese language. Codes for regional variants of Chinese are congruent to 4 mod 256.
  • Credit card machines have four-twelve function keys.
  • On most phones, the 4 key is associated with the letters G, H, and I, but on the BlackBerry cellular phone, it is the key for D and F.
  • On many computer keyboards, the “4” key may also be used to type the dollar sign ($) if the shift key is held down. (Money is the dominant means of building structure here on earth. )
  • It is the number of bits in a nibble, equivalent to half a byte
  • In internet slang, “4” can replace the word “for” (as “four” and “for” are pronounced similarly). For example, typing “4u” instead of “for you”.
  • In Leetspeak, “4” may be used to replace the letter “A”.
  • The TCP/IP stack consists of four layers.
  • Many internal combustion engines are called four-stroke engines because they complete one thermodynamic cycle in four distinct steps: Intake, compression, power, and exhaust.

In sports

  • In baseball:
    • There are four bases in the game: first base, second base, third base, and home plate; to score a run, an offensive player must complete, in the sequence shown, a circuit of those four bases.
    • When a batter receives four pitches that the umpire declares to be “balls” in a single at-bat, a base on balls, informally known as a “walk”, is awarded, with the batter sent to first base.
    • For scoring, number 4 is assigned to the second baseman.
    • Four is the most number of runs that can be scored on any single at-bat, whereby all three baserunners and the batter score (the most common being via a grand slam).
  • In basketball, the number four is used to designate the power forward position, often referred to as “the four spot” or “the four”.
  • In cricket, a four is a specific type of scoring event, whereby the ball crosses the boundary after touching the ground at least one time, scoring four runs. Taking four wickets in four consecutive balls is typically referred to as a double hat trick (two consecutive, overlapping hat tricks).
  • In rowing, a four refers to a boat for four rowers, with or without coxswain. In rowing nomenclature, 4− represents a coxless four and 4+ represents a coxed four.
  • In rugby league:
    • A try is worth 4 points.
    • One of the two starting centers wears the jersey number 4. (An exception to this rule is the European Super League, which uses static squad numbering.)
  • In rugby union:
    • One of the two starting locks wears the jersey number 4.
    • In the standard bonus points system, a point is awarded in the league standings to a team that scores at least 4 tries in a match, regardless of the match result.

In music

  • In written music, common time is constructed of four beats per measure and a quarter note receives one beat.
  • In popular or modern music, the most common time signature is also founded on four beats, i.e., 4/4 having four quarter note beats.
  • The common major scale is built on two sets of four notes (e.g., CDEF, GABC), where the first and last notes create an octave interval (a pair-of-four relationship).
  • The interval of a perfect fourth is a foundational element of many genres of music, represented in music theory as the tonic and subdominant relationship. Four is also embodied within the circle of fifths (also known as the circle of fourths), which reveals the interval of four in more active harmonic contexts.
  • The typical number of movements in a symphony.
  • The number of completed, numbered symphonies by Johannes Brahms.
  • The number of strings on a violin, a viola, a cello, double bass, a cuatro and a ukulele, and the number of string pairs on a mandolin.
  • “Four calling birds” is the gift on the fourth day of Christmas in the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.

Groups of four

  • Four rules: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.
  • Greek classical elements (fire, air, water, earth).
  • Four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter.
  • A leap year occurs every four years.
  • Four is the minimal number of contemporary continents: Americas, Eurafrasia, Sahul, Antarctica.
  • Approximately four weeks (4 times 7 days) to a lunar month (synodic month = 29.53 days). Thus the number four is universally an integral part of primitive sacred calendars.
  • Four cardinal directions: north, south, east, west.
  • Four Temperaments: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic.
  • Four Humors: Blood, yellow bile, black bile, phlegm.
  • Four Great Ancient Capitals of China.
  • Four-corner method.
  • Cardinal principles.
  • Four cardinal virtues: justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude.
  • Four suits of playing cards: hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades.
  • Four nations of the United Kingdom: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland.
  • Four provinces o Ireland: Munster, Ulster, Leinster, Connacht.
  • Four estates: politics, administration, judiciary, journalism.
  • Especially in the expression “Fourth Estate”, which means journalism.
  • Four Corners is the only location in the United States where four states come together at a single point: Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona.
  • The Fantastic Four: Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Human Torch, The Thing.
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael
  • The Beatles were also known as the “Fab Four”: John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney.
  • Gang of Four is a British post-punk rock band formed in the late 1970s.
  • Four rivers in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:10–14): Pishon (perhaps the Jaxartes or Syr Darya), Gihon (perhaps the Oxus or Amu Darya), Hiddekel (Tigris), and P’rat (Euphrates).
  • There are also four years in a single Olympiad (duration between the Olympic Games). Many major international sports competitions follow this cycle, among them the FIFA World Cup and its women’s version, the FIBA World Championships for men and women, and the Rugby World Cup.
  • There are four limbs on the human body.
  • Four Houses of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin.
  • Four known continents of the world in the A Song of Ice and Fire series: Westeros, Essos, Sothoryos, Ulthos.


For More Studies on Numbers Please Visit the “Number Studies” page.



Members of the Hopi and Navajo tribe ( Thank you for your contribution)