The Significance of the number 40 in the Bible…

The number 40 holds particular significance in the Bible and refers to a precise number, not just a long period of time. There are at least ten instances in the Old Testament and New Testament where 40 occurs, either in years or days, e.g. it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights, the Israelites wandered 40 years, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and was seen on the earth for 40 days after His crucifixion.

A 40-something time period, whether days, months, or years is ALWAYS a period of testing, trial, probation, or chastisement (but not judgment) and ends with a period of restoration, revival or renewal.

Thankfully, God is consistent, so the meaning of a number in Genesis remains the same all the way to the book of Revelation. Sometimes the spiritual significance is not revealed directly, but in the case of “40” and its many examples throughout the Bible, we can be certain of its importance and significance.

(Source: WikiAnswer)

The Number Forty

The number forty has long been universally recognized as an important number, both on account of the frequency of its occurrence, and the uniformity of its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement—(not judgment, like the number 9, which stands in connection with the punishment of enemies, but the chastisement of sons, and of a covenant people). It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). This is certainly the case where Forty relates to a period of evident probation. But where it relates to enlarged dominion, or to renewed or extended rule, then it does so in virtue of its factors 4 and 10, and in harmony with their signification.

There are 15 such periods which appear on the surface of the Scriptures, and which may be thus classified:—

Forty Years of Probation by Trial

Forty Years of Probation by Prosperity in Deliverance and Rest

  • under Othniel, Judges 3:11,
  • under Barak, Judges 5:31,
  • under Gideon, Judges 8:28.

Forty Years of Probation by Prosperity in Enlarged Dominion

  • under David, 2Samuel 5:4,
  • under Solomon, 1 Kings 11:42,
  • under Jeroboam II. See 2 Kings 12:17,18, 13:3,5,7,22,25, 14:12-14,23,28,
  • under Jehoash, 2 Kings 12:1,
  • under Joash, 2Chronicles 24:1.

Forty Years of Probation by Humiliation and Servitude

  • Israel under the Philistines, Judges 13:1.
  • Israel in the time of Eli, 1Samuel 4:18.
  • Israel under Saul, Acts 13:21.

Forty Years of Probation by Waiting

  • Moses in Egypt, Acts 7:23.
  • Moses in Midian, Acts 7:30

Forty Days

There are eight of such great periods on the surface of the Bible:

  • Forty days Moses was in the mount, Exodus 24:18; and to receive the Law, Exodus 24:18.
  • Forty days Moses was in the mount after the sin of the Golden Calf, Deuteronomy 9:18,25.
  • Forty days of the spies, issuing in the penal sentence of the 40 years, Numbers 13:26, 14:34.
  • Forty days of Elijah in Horeb, 1 Kings 19:8.
  • Forty days of Jonah and Nineveh, Jonah 3:4.
  • Forty days Ezekiel lay on his right side to symbolize the 40 years of Judah’s transgression.*
  • Forty days Jesus was tempted of the Devil, Matthew 4:2.
  • Forty days Jesus was seen of His disciples, speaking of things pertaining to God’s kingdom, Acts 1:2.

* Thus 40 becomes a number closely connected with Judah, as 390 (Ezekiel 4:5) is the number of separated Israel. The significance of this will be seen (on note on number 8), for 40 is a multiple of 8, and 390 is a multiple of 13. It may also be noted that 65 (5×13) is the number of Ephraim, while 70 is specially connected with Jerusalem.

(Source: BibleStudy.Org)


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58 thoughts on “The Significance of the number 40 in the Bible…

  1. th3rdsurfer

    My students in fifth grade just found another instance:

    1 Samuel 17:16 – the Israelites were pestered by Goliath for 40 days before anyone was able to stand up to him.

    Thanks for the great resources!


  2. Matt Long

    Thanks for a good background to the number 40 in the scriptures.

    I just wonder if there were superstitions in the Jewish culture at that time that reflected in the writings in the Bible.

    It strikes me that the comparison of 5 X 8 and the meaning of 40 are interesting and must have been derived from prior cultural biases.

    Let me know.



  3. Brian Preddy

    Can someone please answer this question for me?

    In Acts Chapter 4, verse 22, in the New International Version, it says, ” For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years of age.”

    Why do you think this comment was made? What was the need for it?




    1. The comment was made to show Bible readers how long the man has been a lame as he has been lame from his mother’s womb.
      The need for this comment is also to strenghten our faith in the Lord that no matter the lenght of our problem,difficulties, tials and temptation,a day of divine visitation and restoration can still come.No matter how long or hopeless a sickness/disease may be,healing can still take place.


    2. ernie schierbeek

      That is a great question! In the early chapters of Acts the Kingdom is actually being offered to the nation Israel. Acts 3:19~21.
      This is Peters first recorded miracle in Acts and it shows that just as God was ready to lead the children of Israel into the promised land after being in the wilderness 40 years…so now God is offering the healing of a lame people the Kingdom that was promised to them Gen. 12:1~3.. See also John 5:5 and compare that with Deut. 2:14.



  4. I needed some info on the number 40, as it is a good friends birthday. This is a significant time for her and I wanted to write something positive. I have resonanted with the words restoration,revival and renewal as it gives a special meaning to the old ”adage” of r & r. Thank you for this informative site.


  5. Pingback: W2: Monday: Genesis 4-7 | Through The Bible.

  6. toly

    I really needed to hear this. I am 47 this year and need a time of restoration, renewal. All my dreams and plans were! Destroyed when I had a massive stroke when I was 45.I am believing God to restsore what was stolen from me.


  7. Pingback: The Number 40! « Fear Not, do not be dismayed, Just Believe.

  8. Pablo

    Also, there’s some who believe Christ was dead for (40 hours) before being raised from the dead. Approx 2:30 Friday- 6:30 Sunday morning = 40 hours.
    And the Roman’s distruction of Jerusalem occurred (40 years) after his crucification in 70 AD.
    Based on astrological night sightings, his birth is now believed to be around 2 BCE, which would make his crucification around 30 AD.
    And we are now approaching (40 Centuries) from the beginning of the ancient Israelites.


    1. Lisa

      Hi Pablo,
      Christ could not have been dead for 40 hours. This contradicts Biblical scripture. There are a number of people that have studied this and revealed through scripture, the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection. is such a site that answered a lot of questions for me.

      Seeking the truth – always test it against the Word of God.


      1. Paul

        Dear Lisa, thanks for sending me this website link. I will read & study it further. I am always open to different interpretations of scripure. PH.


  9. Bill

    We just had pastor David Edwards ( visit our church fo the DiscipleNow youth weekend. He beautifully tied in many of these Bibical references of the number 40 to the 40th chapter of Genesis where Joseph was imprisoned and going through severe trials despite the fact that he had followed God in everything.. Yet in chapter 41 he was renewed and revived and became the ruler over all of Egypt which led to his reunion and with his conniving brothers who had left him for dead in years past; he nevertheless forgave them and gave them both the food and spirtiual revival they most desperately needed…


  10. Oneida

    I found this really useful! Thanks! I was reading and I kept seeing 40 appear and I was like, “What’s so special about 40?”. It baffled me until I came to your website! Thanks for the useful information.


  11. Katherine

    Wow wanna share this Im turning 40 this year,and when i turned 39 it seems everything went from bad to worst,but reading all this!makes me so excited,im excited,expected so yes Lord!Thank you for the 39 because 40 brings the 3 R!!


  12. wilson

    “It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). ”

    I still get it completely.. grace is five lettered word and revival has 7 letters… how did you tie this ?

    Please help


  13. Elo

    Did you also know that the average full term pregnancy is 40 weeks?
    Makes one think……

    New American Standard Bible (©1995) John 16:21
    “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.


  14. Wilson M. Mutokaa

    I noted that in 1samuel 17:1-40, David prepared to fight Goriath, but in verse 41-57, he(David) actually killed Goliath which was a great gain for the Israelites over the Philistines. Praise be to our Mighty God. Am now 40years and i trust and believe that God will prosper me more so in the ministry in the church He has bestowed to me. Amen.


  15. Pingback: 40 days and 40 Nights - Roving Jay

  16. Susan K.

    I just turned 40 years yesterday, I was very happy the whole day more than any other past birthdays of my life! This morning I decided to search for the meaning of 40 in the bible! I’m glad I found this blog! Thank for the great info. I’ve been blessed and I’m now very ready to enjoy my 40th year with the three Rs! Amazing!
    Thank you and stay blessed!


    1. Politico Pablo

      Some believe Jesus’ ministry also lasted 40 months, beginning with his baptism in the Jordan River and ending with his crucifixion. Scripture does say he remained on earth for 40 days after his resurrection.


  17. Pingback: Pain, Growth and God | I Have Never Been Here Before


    Hi, thanks for the information. I am turning 40 this November and am excited about this.All the people born in 1973 are turning 40 this year. The information is what I required. I have been searching for sometime now. Indeed life begins at 40.


  19. jackie prine

    two strangers approached me at my pickup truck and asked me for 40 cents at first i was scared of them and then one of them noticed i was crying and had a truck full of grandbabies with me and he said God loves you and i will pray for you. i tried desperatly to find change for him and he said im more worried about you crying and he told my grandchildren to take good care of grandma and make her smile because God loves her. i feel he was an angel of the Lords and wondered the significance of the number 40. i gave him all the change i had not sure how much it was


  20. rodah

    so great,i never knew this, may God continue inspiring u more 4 this great message of hope.That no matter the prolonged period it may take finally the saviour is coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. charity nganga

    Thank u so much for your inspiring messages. I enjoy read reading. I JUST HAVE A REQUEST TO MAKE. IAM KINDLY REQUESTING FOR FINACIAL HELP FROM YOU. My names are charity nganga. I live in lusaka, zambia, africa. Iam a single mum of two & hereby asking for finacial help from from you. My son has been admitted to nkrumah university and is supposed to report for school on 11th september, 2017. On the other hand, i also have a daughter in high school, who is also supposed to start school on 11th september, 2017. I know you do not know me. I know iam an african but IAM GENUINELY, HUMBLY & KINDLY ASKING FOR FINACIAL OF ANY AMOUNT FROM YOU. IAM IN NEED OF MONEY TO PAY FOR MY CHILDRENS’ TUITION & ACCOMODATION FEES, BUY SCHOOL REQUIRMENTS SUCH AS LAPTOPS, GROCERIES AND OTHER NEEDS. PLEASE HELP ME TAKE MY CHILDREN TO SCHOOL. My names are charity nganga. I thank you so much for your time. I look forward to hear from you. ANY AMOUNT WILL DO.My email:


  22. valhebener

    oh dear heart blessed be and great blessings to this sight that i see jesus sent me here and you word is not going out void that it is like ripples in the vast sea to come rushing back in like a torrent a tidal wave filled with great blessing of every kind. Just for you and your sight jesus says to bless you as you teach me the way of his thinking of his way i am turly blown away by the no. 40 as it opens many doors to the spiritual pass that jesus truly walk and my answer us found blessed be.


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