In the Bible, the number eight sometimes signifies the start of something new or a significant change in someone’s life.
The number seven signifies completion and the end of a cycle so naturally, the number eight represents what comes next – a new start.
While there are some random occurrences of the number eight in Scripture, there are times when it is clear that the number eight holds a special significance. Blessed with both the Old and New Testaments, there are some special connections involving the number eight that we can appreciate. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The Number Eight
If you’re from Asia, it’s a lucky number. Eight features in some pretty serious roles in our everyday lives. It’s the base of the octal system, there are 8 bits in a byte of digital data, and in music, there are 8 notes in each scale.
Spiders have eight legs (and starred in their own movie in 2002: Eight Legged Freaks) and octopi have eight tentacles. The adult human mouth houses eight teeth in each quadrant including the wisdom teeth.
Just in case there aren’t enough “eights” to acknowledge, some families even end their daily dining experience with “After Eight” mints.
But how does the number eight feature in the bible and what significance does it have? Let’s take a closer look.
The Number 8 in the Bible
In the bible, there are a number of indirect references to the number eight. In other words, when we do the math ourselves, we see the number clearly. In many cases though, the number eight is clearly expressed.
There are more direct references to the number eight in the Old Testament than the New, especially surrounding the Abrahamic covenant and the Festival of Booths. Let’s look at some specific passages that include the number eight or imply it strongly.
Significant Mentions of the Number Eight in the Bible
Significance of The Number Eight in the Old Testament
Gen 17:12 ESV And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring
In this passage we see God choosing circumcision on the eigth day as a reminder of His covenant and as a means to set His people apart from others. For the Jews, the spilled blood signified the beginning of the child’s life. Science confirms that the eighth day is the safest for a baby boy to be circumcised as that is when his blood-clotting ability is at its peak. Coincidence? No way!
Gen 7:13 ESV On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark,
Here the LORD, in His mercy and kindness preserves mankind from the worldwide flood via a family of eight people. A new beginning began with eight.
Leviticus 23:36 ESV For seven days you shall present food offerings to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work.
The above passage refers to the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths, a seven day period of celebration of God’s provision for His people when they wandered in the desert for 40 years. The Jewish people would construct temporary dwellings, or booths, for this celebration. The eighth day is significant as it ends this festival with an opportunity to commemorate God’s special relationship with His people as they move into a new chapter, a fresh start.
Significance of The Number Eight in the New Testament
You might know the passage well without ever knowing that there are eight beatitudes (Blessed are the poor in spirit… Matt 5:1-12). Here the content is of far greater significance than the actual number of statements as Jesus lays out a description of what a true follower of Christ would look like.
Matthew 5:1-12 ESV
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
You might have read through the bible numerous times over the years without ever realizing that the New Testament is written by eight men; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude.
Matthew 28:1 – 6 ESV Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
Jesus’s resurrection happened the day after the Sabbath – the eighth day. Here the number eight signifies the start of something new as it was Christ’s death and resurrection from the dead that flooded the world with hope of eternal life with God.
Number 8 in the Bible
In the Bible, the number eight is often connected to a new start, a fresh beginning. For the Jews in the Old Testament, circumcision (the spilling of blood) on the eighth day marked the beginning of a Jewish life. In the New Testament, after Christ’s blood was spilled on the cross, the resurrection on the eighth day signifies hope and a new life for anyone who accepts his free gift of salvation.