Meaning of Numbers
in the Bible
The Number 120
The Meaning of Numbers: The Number 120
One hundred and twenty is made up of three forties (3 x 40 = 120). When the number 40 is applied to time it signifies a divinely appointed period of probation:
"Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, 'My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS.' " (Genesis 6:1-3, NKJV throughout)
When 120 is applied to persons it points to a divinely appointed group of people:
"And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about A HUNDRED AND TWENTY), and said, 'Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry . . . ' " (Acts 1:15-16)
The number one hundred and twenty is also a factor in those, primarily from the Kingdom of Judah, who returned to Jerusalem and the land of Palestine from captivity in Babylon:
"Now these are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his own city . . . The whole assembly together was FORTY-TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY . . ." (Ezra 2:1, 64)
42,360 is 120 times 353.
One hundred and twenty and the Exodus
The significance of the number 120 is also seen in its role in the Exodus of Israel out of Egyptian bondage:
"Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND men on foot, besides children." (Exodus 12:37)
"Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, 'Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?' So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. Also, he took SIX HUNDRED choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them." (Exodus 14:5-7)
600,000 is 120 times 5,000 and 600 is 120 times 5.
We also find in the Bible 120 in the Book of Revelation. It is a factor of the 144,000 who will be sealed from the twelve tribes of Israel who will be protected in the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7) - 144,000 being 120 times 1,200.
Additional commentary on the Biblical Meaning of 120 *
The Great Synagogue (or Great Assembly) was a group of 120 Jewish elders initially started by the prophet Ezra.
It was Ezra, an Aaronic priest who lived more than eight hundred years after Moses, who led the effort to officially collect and edit the writings that would become what we call the Old Testament:
" . . . such writings were officially made a permanent part of the Word of God when Ezra the priest — assisted by the priests and Levites of the Great Assembly or Synagogue — completed the final editing and canonization of the Old Testament Scriptures in the late fifth century B.C." (The Holy Bible in Its Original Order, Second Edition, page 4)
It was during the canonization process that the number of books in the Old Testament and their book arrangement was set.