The Number 40

The Number “40”

(Waiting, Preparation, Test, The Punishment)

Meaning and symbology

  • Symbolize the death with oneself and the spiritual rebirth.
  • The number 40 as used in western theology and occultism resonates with probation, trial, chastisement, divine tests & punishment.
  • Whenever the number 40 is used in theology it is used to inpart humility and service upon humanity.

In The Bible

  • Moses spent three consecutive periods of “forty days and forty nights” on Mount Sinai:
  1. He went up on the seventh day of Sivan, after God gave the Torah to the Jewish people, in order to learn the Torah from God, and came down on the seventeenth day of Tammuz, when he saw the Jews worshiping the Golden Calf and broke the tablets (Deuteronomy 9:11).
  2. He went up on the eighteenth day of Tammuz to beg forgiveness for the people’s sin and came down without God’s atonement on the twenty-ninth day of Av (Deuteronomy 9:25).
  3. He went up on the first day of Elul and came down on the tenth day of Tishrei, the first Yom Kippur, with God’s atonement (Deuteronomy 10:10).
  • There are presumed to be 40 contributing authors to the Holy Bible.
  • God caused it to rain upon the Earth for 40 days and 40 nights. (Gen 7,4)
  • Forty days after the birth, Jesus was presented to the Temple of Jerusalem for his legal purification, according to the established law.
  • Jesus was tempted by the devil for 40 days in the desert.
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. (Mt 4,2)
  • Jesus appeared to his disciples and others for 40 days after his resurrection.
  • Forty days separate the Ascension of Jesus of his Resurrection. (Act 1,3)
  • The Flood of Noah lasted 40 days. (Gn 7,4)
  • Elijah walked 40 days and 40 nights before reaching Mount Horeb. He fasted during 40 days before beginning his ministry and he remained on Mount Horeb for 40 days. (1 K 19,8)
  • The priest Eli was the judge of Israel for 40 years. (1 S 4,18)
  • Moses was 40 years old when he was called by God and that he killed an Egyptian, and escaped in the desert of Midian. He kept the herd of Jethro for 40 years. He resided finally 40 days and 40 nights to the summit of Mount Sinai before to receive the Tables of the Law. (Ex 24,18)
  • Moses was also on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1 – 28), receiving God’s laws. He also sent spies, for forty days, to investigate the land God promised the Israelites as an inheritance (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).
  • For 40 days Goliath defied David.
  • The children of Israel lived during 40 years in the constraint with the Philistines. (Jg 13, 1)
  • The Hebrews wandered 40 years in the desert. (Nb 32,13)
  • The reign of Joash lasted 40 years in Jerusalem. (2 Ch 24,1)
  • The people of Nineveh had to repent for 40 days. (Jon 3,4)
  • Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah. (Gn 25,20)
  • The embalming of Jacob was prolonged for 40 days. (Gn 50,3)
  • The reign of David on Israel lasted 40 years (7 years he reigned in He’bron, and 33 years in Jerusalem)
  • David’s father Solomon also reigned in Jerusalem for 40 years. (1 K 2,11 and 11,42; 2 Ch 9,30)
  • Ezekiel supported the iniquity of the house of Juda for 40 days.
  • The 40 emissaries of Canaan.
  • The 40 years of repentance of Adam after his corrupt practice.
  • The book of Exodus has Forty chapters. This chapter is all about God testing and punishing the Jews.
  • The prophet Jonah powerfully warned ancient Nineveh, for forty days, that its destruction would come because of its many sins. 
  • The prophet Ezekiel laid on His right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah’s sins (Ezekiel 4:6).
  • God smote Egypt for 40 years that it be desolate and barren. That no man or beast should pass through it. (Ez 29,11)
  • The 10 lavers in the Temple each held “40 baths” (about 230 gal.) of water (1 Kin 7:38).
  • 40 lashes is one of the punishments meted out by the Sanhedrin (Deuteronomy 25:3), though in actual practice only 39 lashes were administered.


  • The number 40 is used 98 times in the Bible.
  • The number 1 under its cardinal form is used 40 times in the Gospel of Saint John.
  • The number 40 is used 5 times in the Koran. (Koran II,48, V,29, VII,137, X,17 and XLVI,14)
  • The term “city of David”, designating Jerusalem, appears 40 times in the OT. The verb to adore is used 40 times in the NT and the verb to disavow, 40 times in the Bible.

In other Religion

  • Enki ( /ˈɛŋki/) or Enkil (Sumerian: dEN.KI(G)𒂗𒆠) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the CanaanitesHittites and Hurrians. He was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lake water (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make bear). He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.”
  • In the Hebrew Bible, forty is often used for time periods, forty days or forty years, which separate “two distinct epochs”.
  • One of the prerequisites for a man to study Kabbalah is that he is forty years old.
  • (Islam) Muhammad was forty years old when he first received the revelation delivered by the archangel Gabriel.
  • (Islam) Masih ad-Dajjal roams around the Earth in forty days, the first day length is like one year, the second day is like one month, the third day is like one week and the next day (until 40th day) is like one day.
  • (Islam) God forbade the Israelites from entering the Holy Land for 40 years to separate them from Musa (Moses) and his brother.
  • (Yazidism) In the Yazidi faith, The Chermera Temple (meaning “40 Men” in the Yazidi dialect) is so old that no one remembers how it came to have that name but it is believed to derive from the burial of 40 men on the mountaintop site.
  • Some Russians and Serbs believe that ghosts of the dead linger at the site of their death for forty days. After the forty days, additional prayers are performed at the grave (parastos (парастос) or panihida (панихида)), to escort the soul on its way to God’s court.
  • Many Christian Filipinos mark the end of the initial mourning period on the fortieth day after death, and have a Mass said. They believe that the soul remains on the earthly plane for forty days before entering the afterlife, recalling how Christ ascended to heaven forty days after his Resurrection.
  • In Hinduism, some popular religious prayers consist of forty shlokas or dohas (couplets, stanzas). The most common being the Hanuman Chalisa (chaalis is the Hindi term for 40).
  • (Sikhism) Anand Sahib, the fifth and the final of the daily Sikh prayers have 40 paragraphs, and the 40th paragraph is often read when concluding any Sikh ceremony.
  • (Sikhism) Chali Mukte (40 liberated ones) refer to the 40 soldiers in the army of Guru Gobind Singh. These 40 disciples were the most favorite and beloved disciples of the Guru.


  • The atomic number of zirconium.
  • Negative forty is the unique temperature at which the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales correspond; that is, −40 °F = −40 °C. It is referred to as either “minus forty” or “forty below”.
  • The average length of a woman’s pregnancy is 40 weeks.
  • Lent is the 40 days before Easter (not counting Sundays).
  • A mikvah consists of 40 se’ah (approximately 200 U.S. gallons or 760 liters) of water
  • in the saying “Life begins at forty”
  • in the expression “forty winks”, meaning a short sleep
  • in the trademark name of the penetrating oil and water-displacing spray WD-40; “WD-40” is an abbreviation of “Water Displacement, 40th formula”.
  • the caliber of the bullet in a number of firearms cartridges, most notably the .40 S&W. (The 10mm Auto, although designated as metric caliber, uses the same caliber, and often uses the same bullets.)
  • the number of years of marriage celebrated by the ruby wedding anniversary
  • the code for direct dial international phone calls to Romania
  • the number of spaces in a standard Monopoly game board
  • the number of thieves in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and in Ali Shar and Zumurrud, from Thousand and One Nights (both the numbers 40 and 1001 are more likely to mean “many” than to indicate a specific number)
  • the customary number of hours in a regular workweek.
  • the number of weeks for an average term of pregnancy, counting from the woman’s last menstrual period
  • a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor.
  • The Tessarakonteres, or 40, the largest ship of antiquity, constructed by Ptolemy IV
  • Forty is the only integer whose English name has its letters in alphabetical order.
  • Forty Foot, a promontory on the southern tip of Dublin Bay, Ireland, from which people have been swimming in the Irish Sea all year round for some 250 years
  • After the Civil War, there were plans to offer freed slaves 40 acres and a mule.
  • To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days. ~Arabic proverb
  • Quarantine, the practice of isolation to prevent the spread of epidemic disease, derives from a Venetian dialect of the Italian ‘quaranta giorni’ meaning ‘forty days’, the period that ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the Black Death.
  • To qualify for retirement benefits under Social Security (United States), a person must have earnings for 40 quarters (equivalent to 10 years).
  • Forty-shilling freeholders, a nickname, given to those who qualified for a franchise, the right to vote, based on their interest in land and/or property with an annual rental value of 40s. Introduced in England in 1430, it applied there and in many associated territories, in various forms, up to 1918.

In Mathematics

In Sports

  • In baseball, each team in Major League Baseball is allowed to have 40 players under major-league contracts at any given time (not including players on the 60-day disabled list). From September 1 to the end of the regular season, teams were allowed to expand their game-day rosters to include the entire 40-man roster through the 2019 season, but from 2020 teams are only allowed 28 players on their game-day rosters during that period.
  • In horse racing, the maximum permitted number of runners in the Grand National is 40.
  • The 40-yard dash is an important metric in American football scouting.
  • In tennis, the number 40 represents the third point gained in a game. A score of 40-40 (three points each) is called “deuce”, at which time a player must score two consecutive points to win the game.
  • In NASCAR, the number of cars that have run each race in the top-level Cup Series since 2016, and the second-level Xfinity Series since 2013.

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