The number 9 appears 49 times in the Bible. It is arguably one of the most mysterious numbers in the Bible because it has so many possible symbolisms. Some view it as a perfect number because it is the last number on the number line while others consider it an evil number because of the connotations of the 9th letter on the Hebrew alphabet. In this article, we will look at what the Bible has to say about this number’s symbolism.
The number nine can symbolize a tug-of-war between good and evil. On the good side, 9 represents completeness and spiritual maturity this is seen in the 9 gifts of the spirit as well as the 9 beatitudes of Jesus. However, 9 can also represent finality in judgment as demonstrated by the 9 people who were stoned in the scriptures.
Let’s take a closer look at these symbolisms in the scriptures.
Divine completeness or finality
Number 9 signifies total finality or divine completeness. This is seen on the number line which beings at 0 and ends at 9. However, the concept of completeness can also be seen in several portions of scripture. Jesus died at 3 p.m., which is also referred to as the 9th hour. This signified the divine completion of the work of atonement. Just seconds before Jesus died, he bowed his head and said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). He was making reference to his work on earth which began in Bethlehem where he was born in the manger and culminated on the cross when he paid the ultimate price for man’s sins.
The significance of Jesus’ death at the ninth hour can also be seen in the history of Yom Kippur (the day of atonement). Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day of the year. It starts at sunset on the 9th day of the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar (Leviticus 23:32). The number 9 that appears both on the day Yom Kippur starts and the death of Jesus at the 9th hour can be seen as a pattern that denotes the completion of God’s atonement.
The pattern of completion as represented by can also be seen in the history of Israel. For instance, the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem began on Ab 9 on the Hebrew calendar. The second temple’s (sometimes referred to as Herod’s temple) destruction also started on Ab 9 in 70 AD when it was burned by the Romans. Additionally, King Hoshea of Israel, who was the last King before the Assyrians overthrew Israel in 723 BC ruled for 9 years. The 9 years of Hosheas reign can therefore be seen as the completion of Israel’s freedom – at least for that dispensation.
The number 9 can also be a symbol of spiritual maturity. The Bible speaks of 9 spiritual gifts namely; the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, discernment, working of miracles, healings, special faith, and prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). These gifts are given to spiritually mature believers through the Holy Spirit and they can therefore be a sign of spiritual maturity.
In the book of Acts 10, God appears to Cornelius, A roman Centurion, and prompts him to send for Peter. Cornelius had been in prayer with a group of people at his house and this vision came to him at the 9th hour. When Peter came, the gift of the Holy Spirit was released on the group and they started speaking in tongues. The vision that came at the 9th hour can be symbolism of the spiritual maturity that they had attained which attracted the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the group.
The fight between good and evil
Number nine can also signify the fight between good and evil. This stems from the 9th Hebrew letter (Tet or Teth) which resembles a snake in a basket. The snake is associated with Evil both in Jewish custom as well as in the scriptures. However, the first use of the letter is in Genesis 1:4 where God was separating light from darkness. As such, this letter can be seen as a representation of the war between good and evil, light and darkness, purity and impurity, death and life, etc.
The constant war of good and evil often resulted in judgment as prescribed in the Torah. One such judgment was execution by stoning. The Bible records 9 cases of stoning. These are; Sabbath-breaker (Numbers 15:36), a blasphemer (Leviticus 24:14), Abimelech (Judges 9:53), Achan (Joshua 7:25), Zechariah (2Chronicles 24:21), Adoram (1Kings 12:18), Naboth (1 Kings 21:10), Stephen (Acts 7) and the apostle Paul (Acts 14:19).
While there is judgment (evil) on one end of the spectrum, there is also good on the end. Jesus, in one of his most famous sermons, taught how to win the war over evil. He gave 9 points that we also refer to as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3–12). The 9 beatitudes are:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
- Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
- Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
To sum it up, number nine can either represent good or evil. For instance, 9 represents judgment as seen in the 9 different stonings recorded in the scriptures. The fact that the 9th letter in the Hebrew alphabet resembles a snake can also be interpreted to mean that 9 represents evil (e.g. sorcery). However, 9 can also be seen as a good number which signifies spiritual maturity. One may also argue that in the war of light and darkness which number 9 represents, light always wins. In other words, even though 9 is a sign as a representation of the war between evil and good, it is still a good number since good always trumps bad.