The Meaning of Numbers: The Number 72
The possible meaning of the number 72 is derived from events in Scripture as well as tradition.
Seventy-two (72) plays a central role in one of the most awesome prophecies in God's word! Jesus is crucified Wednesday morning, April 5, in 30 A.D. He then endures excruciating pain until finally dying at 3 p.m. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, with sunset quickly approaching, prepare his body for burial. They place his body, just as the sun is setting, in a newly hewn tomb. Three full days (72 hours) later, as prophesied by Christ himself, he is resurrected from the dead at sunset on Saturday!
Appearances of the number seventy-two
The Psalms were originally divided into five sections, with Psalm 72 being the last one of section two. Songs in this section have the general theme of the land of Israel with allusions to the creation of the New Testament Church.
This Psalm is believed to be the only song written by King Solomon that is included in the book. Its opening mimics the king's request, early in his reign, that God grant him the wisdom to govern His people wisely.
Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king’s son; that he may judge Your people in righteousness and Your poor with justice . . . (verses 1 - 2 of Psalm 72, HBFV).
Jewish Angelology teaches that there are seventy angels that each act as a heavenly guardian or prince over a nation. This concept of the world composed of seventy nations or peoples is partly based on Genesis 10. This chapter delineates seventy peoples (twenty-six from Shem, thirty from Ham and fourteen from Japheth) who were born after the flood.
It is also believed that Michael, as Israel's angel-prince, has been set as ruler over the seventy with God over all. It is these 72 spirit beings, according to this angelology, that sit in council when holding judgment over the world (1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article on Angelology).
Genesis 10, in the King James Bible, lists twenty-six descendants from Shem, thirty from Ham and fourteen from Japheth. The Septuagint, however, a Greek-based version of the Hebrew Old Testament, is somewhat different. It lists twenty-seven descendants from Shem and fifteen from Japheth for 72 total from all three sons of Noah.
Number 72 and punishment
God, through Moses and Aaron, brought ten miraculous plagues upon Egypt. The ninth plague was a profound thick darkness that covered the land for three days (72 hours).
And the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the heavens, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, so that one may even feel the darkness." . . . And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another, nor did any rise from his place, for three days . . . (Exodus 10:21 - 23).
Additional info on Biblical Meaning of 72
The city of Galilee is mentioned, by name, seventy-two times in the KJV translation.
Around 72 B.C. Herod the Great is born to Antipater I the Idumaean. Antipater's Roman connections would eventually lead to Herod, at age twenty-five, being made governor of Galilee. A few years later, he is elevated to the rank of tetrarch of Jerusalem and Galilee. The Roman Senate then appoints him King over Judea in 40 B.C. when he is roughly thirty-two years old.
Psalm 78 is the only Old Testament chapter that contains exactly seventy-two verses. This makes it the fifth largest chapter, in terms of number of verses, in the Old Testament.
Mark 14 is the only New Testament chapter that contains exactly 72 verses. This makes it the third largest chapter, in terms of number of verses, in the New Testament. Only Matthew 26 and Luke 1 have more verses.