What does the number 12 represent in the Bible?

Author: BibleAsk Team

The Number 12

In the Bible, the number 12 appears 187 times. It signifies perfection of government or rule. It primarily represents leadership in the church. There are many biblical associations with this number as seen in the following:

  1. There were 12 tribes in the Old Testament and 12 apostles in the New Testament (Revelation 7; Matthew 10:2).
  2. There were 12 patriarchs from Shem to Jacob (Genesis 10-36).
  3. There were 12 spies that led the way to the Promised Land (Numbers 13).
  4. There were 12 judges from Joshua to Samuel (Judges 1-12).
  5. The High Priest wears a breast plate bearing the 12 different precious stones (Exodus 39:14).
  6. David’s army was comprised of 12 sets of 24,000, totaling 288,000. That’s two teams of 144,000 (1 Chronicles 27:1-15).
  7. A group of “24 times 12” Levities lead in praise music of the temple—that’s 2 x 144 (1 Chronicles 25).
  8. Jesus healed two women in association with the number 12 (Mark 5:25-42). The first was bleeding for 12 years. Then He resurrected a 12-year-old girl. The first woman represented the Old Testament temple with a continual flow of sacrificial blood. The young girl symbolized the New Testament church that came to life after a resurrection.
  9. John wrote of “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1). The stars are a symbol of the inspired leadership of the church (1 Corinthians 11:10).
  10. There are 24 elders (2x 12) on thrones around the throne of God – 12 patriarchs of the Old Testament and 12 apostles in the New Testament- (Revelation 4:4).
  11. The apostles will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28).
  12. There are 12 foundations to the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:12,14). The walls are 144 cubits thick, and as there will be exactly 144 different kinds of fruit on the tree of life each year (12 different fruits each month).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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