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What is the Significance of the Number 40 In the Bible?

Summary:  Surprisingly a time period of 40 (days, weeks, years) is actually significant.  The information below is from Nave’s Topical Bible.  Each time period of 40 units is related to testing, probation or being tried.  Also notice each period ends with a time or item of blessing.

Forty from Nave’s Topical Bible

Remarkable coincidences in the number


Of rain, at the time of the flood
Genesis 7:17

Of flood, before sending forth the raven
Genesis 8:6

For embalming
Genesis 50:3

Of fasting

By Moses
Exodus 24:18; 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9,25

By Elijah
1 Kings 19:8

By spies in the land of promise
Numbers 13:25

Of probation, given to the Ninevites
Jonah 3:4

By Jesus
Matthew 4:2

Christ’s stay after the resurrection
Acts 1:3

Ezekiel 4:6


Wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness
Exodus 16:35; Numbers 14:34

Peace in Israel
Judges 3:11; 5:31; 8:28

Egypt to be desolated
Ezekiel 29:11

To be restored after
Ezekiel 29:13


Administered in punishing criminals
Deuteronomy 25:3; 2 Corinthians 11:24


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