Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Number Thirteen

People have always regarded the number thirteen as an unlucky number. They fear the date Friday the thirteenth. They avoid buying a house with the number thirteen (in fact, in most streets, there is no house of that number). Considering the number as bad luck and undesirable omen, people tend to avoid it as often as they can.

Old-wives tales told us that long, long time ago, in the ancient days, witches and sorcerers would gather on any Black Sabbath, which fell on Friday the thirteenth, numbering twelve of them. And, the devil would come in their midst and made the number thirteen.
So they said.

Is the belief truly so?

Let's forget about folklores, superstitions, and tales for the time being.
What written evidences have we got about the number thirteen?

We know that the sons of Israel numbered twelve in all. But Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were "adopted" by his father, Jacob (Israel) and were added to the rest. So the tribe of Joseph were split into two, thus making the whole number of the tribes of Israel thirteen!
However, since the tribe of Levi devoted themselves to serving in the Lord God's Tabernacle (sanctuary), their inheritance was not counted along with their brethren, thus making the number of twelve, though in fact there are thirteen tribes in existence.

There were twelve judges ruling Israel during the time they hadn't had a king to rule in the land.
As a matter of fact, there were thirteen of them! Deborah was not counted as a judge because she was a woman, and according to tradition, women were not permitted to rule over men. Thus she handed her leadership to Barak.
Thus, people regarded there were twelve judges of Israel, though in reality there were thirteen of them.

There were twelve apostles of Christ in the New Testament.
After Judas fell, Matthias was elected to fill in the twelfth seat.
But then, God called Paul and consecrated him to be the apostle to the Gentiles, making the number of the apostles thirteen!
Yet, though approved as an apostle, Paul refused to take his right to be equal with the other twelve since he was determined to preach the Gospel to the uncircumsiced. Thus, there were thirteen apostles in all: twelve were sent to the children of Israel, while one ministered to the Gentiles.

In the last book of prophecy in the Bible, the Revelation, John saw the glorious New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven of God. As we read on, we find twelve precious stones in the Holy City of God. And -- how shocking! -- one precious non-mineral jewel: the pearl, making the number of jewels thirteen!

So, is it true that the number thirteen represents bad luck?
We all agree that the number twelve is the number of fellowship, of reunion, and of complete unity.
And I say the number thirteen is the number of abundance!

[Picture taken from the anime Saint Seiya, representing the twelve gold saints. As a matter of fact, there are thirteen of them, since the Gemini Gold Saints are twins: Saga and Kanon. In the final combat, their souls unite into one body.]

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