The number 17 is not very popular in the Bible but it is still an important number. It appears 10 times in the King James Bible and the 17th day of the month also features in some important historical events in the Bible.
Number 17 is a number of complete victory and dominion. We can infer this from different contexts. For instance, Yom Kippur is celebrated on the 10 days of the 7th month of the Jewish calendar. It is a season of celebrating God’s victory over the enemies of Israel and this is considered the holiest day of the Jewish calendar,
The story of Noah is the first indication we have in the Bible that the number 17 represents complete victory. The story of the flood comes on the backdrop of Genesis 6:1-3 where God was fed up with the sin of mankind. He says,
My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years. Genesis 6:3
The first judgment was a shortened life span as we see in the verse above. But this did not deter man from sin and so God decided to hit the reset button by killing all mankind save for the handful of righteous ones. Noah was instructed to build an ark in which he would save different animal species and the 8 righteous humans.
After Noah had finished building the ark, God opened the floodgates of heaven and the springs of the deep on the 17th day of the second Hebrew month and it rained for a total of 40 days and nights (Genesis 7:10 -11). God had been patient with man’s sinful ways since the fall of Adam but the coming of the flood signified his judgement – and the fact that the rain started on day 17 of the second month illustrated that God was finally demonstrating his complete authority and victory over sinful man.
The flood waters were so much that it took a total of 150 days for the waters to rescind. Incredibly, when the waters finally rescinded, the Bible records that the Ark of Noah rested on Mt. Ararat on the 17th day of the 7 month (Tishri) of the Hebrew calendar (Genesis 8:4). The resting of the ark on land on the 17th day of the month also signified God’s dominion over sinful man that had been demonstrated through the flood.
Victory over Israel’s foes
The 83rd Psalm documents 17 enemies of Israel. At the time of writing the scripture, 7 out of the 17 enemies had already been destroyed. The 7 are the Midianites, Sisera, Jabin, Oreb, Zeeb, Zebah, and Zalmunna. The Davidic priests that authored this Psalm are expressing optimism that the same God who destroyed the 7 enemies would also destroy the remaining 10. The 10 enemies that were yet to be destroyed are Edom, Ishmaelites, Moab, Hagarenes, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Philistines, Tyre, and Assyria.
The 17 enemies are given in this Psalms as a symbol that the God of Israel would help them to have complete victory over their foes. Israel as a Nation has had to deal with many enemies some of which brought them near extinction. For instance, it is estimated that 6 million Jews were killed during the holocaust. However, Israel has always arisen from the ashes like a phoenix because God promised to give them victory over their enemies as outlined in Psalms 83.
Victory over satan
Number 17 is also a symbol of complete victory over satan’s kingdom. In the book of Daniel, Daniel describes seven beasts, and each of the beasts had 7 heads and 10 horns. The same beasts are also described by John the Revelator in Revelation 13. These beasts represent the kingdoms of the world (in Daniel) and the system of the antichrist (in Revelation). The fact that they had 7 heads and 10 horns (17) symbolizes the dominion of the kingdom of God over the kingdoms of the world and over the kingdom of Satan.
When all is said and Daniel, the dominion of Christ will become evident as prophesied by John in the following verse;
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever Revelation 11:15
Christians are reminded that the devil may have a shortlived victory but if they endure to the end, they will eventually emerge victorious (Revelation 15:2; 20:4).
The day of atonement (Yom Kippur) is observed on the 10th day of the 7th month of the Hebrew calendar. This is considered the holiest day of the Hebrew calendar and it marks the day of total victory over Satan (or Israel’s enemies). Yom Kippur may also be observed by Christians because it demonstrates Christ’s perfect authority over satan. In John 10:10, Jesus made it clear that even though the devil came to destroy, He came to give abundant life. In 1 John 3:8, the Bible says that Jesus was made manifest so that he may destroy the works of the devil.
The complete victory over death and over Satan was achieved through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus was raised from the dead on the 17th day of Nisan to signify that he had complete authority over the devil and over death. This is why after his resurrection, Jesus said that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him (Mathew 28). This authority was then delegated to the church and God expects the church to demonstrate it on earth.
To sum it up, number 17 symbolizes complete authority and dominion. We can see this from the dominion over sin as demonstrated in the flood of Noah or the victory over Israel’s foes demonstrated in Yom Kippur as well as in certain passages of Scripture like Psalms 83.