The Meaning of Numbers: The Number 87
The possible meaning of the number 87 is derived primarily from the frequency of certain words found in Scripture.
Chizkijah (Strong's #H2396) occurs 87 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Its King James English translation is Hezekiah, one of the most righteous rulers to reign over Judah. During Hezekiah's rule he built a now famous tunnel that redirected Jerusalem's only freshwater source at the Gihon Spring to the pool of Siloam (2Chronicles 32:1 - 8). He also witnessed the greatest military defeat in history when God had 185,000 Assyrian troops instantly killed while they surrounded Jerusalem to attack it (2Kings 18 - 19)!
The Greek word hepta (Strong's #G2033) occurs 87 times in the original language of the New Testament. It is Greek for "seven," the name of the Biblically perfect number. It is sometimes used in modern compound words such as heptahedron, which is a solid object that has seven faces.
The Hebrew emoriy (Strong's #H567), found eighty-seven times in the Old Testament, is translated Amorite (or its plural) in the KJV. The Amorites were a fierce, determined and influential enemy of ancient Israel (see Genesis 15:16). They battled the Israelites several times over control of the Promised Land. One of their leaders, King Og, was so big that his bed was roughly 13 1/2 feet (4.1 meters) long (Deuteronomy 3:11)! Even after they were soundly defeated, their pagan culture negatively influenced the Israelites for many years (Ezekiel 16:3, 45).
Appearances of number eighty-seven
The book of 1Chronicles delineates, in chapter 7, Issachar's descendants. Issachar was one of the three youngest sons of Jacob and his wife Leah (the ninth of Jacob's twelve sons produced through four women). At the time of King David, the tribe had eighty-seven thousand (87 x 1,000) fighting men (1Chronicles 7:5).
Methuselah was 187 years old (100 + 87) when he produced his first son (Genesis 5:25). He would ultimately live to become the world's oldest human, dying at the age of 969 (verse 27). Methuselah holds the distinction of dying in the same year, 2313 B.C., that God floods the earth as punishment for man's sins (Genesis 6 - 8).
Number 87 and the Psalms
Psalm 87 is one of eleven songs created for the sons of Korah (the others are Psalms 42, 44 - 49, 84, 85 and 88).
This Psalm reveals that God has chosen Zion as his dwelling place ("the city of God"). It will be the focal point for the entire world to worship their Creator when the Kingdom is established on earth by Jesus Christ.
His foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. Selah.
I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know me; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there (verses 1 - 4 of Psalm 87, HBFV).
Psalm 87, in the King James translation, is one of thirty-one songs in the book that mention Zion (e.g. Psalm 2, 9, 14, 20, 48, 50, 51, etc.). Psalm 48 and 102 record it the most with three occurrences each.
The word "Rahab" found in verse 4 is not referring to Rahab the Harlot, who was one of four Gentile (non-Israelite) women in Jesus' legal lineage through his stepfather Joseph (Matthew 1:5). Bible commentaries believe that Rahab is a symbolic or poetic name for Egypt.
Additional info on Biblical Meaning of 87
The English word 'dream' or its plural is found 87 times in the KJV Old Testament. The book with the most occurrences is Genesis (33 times) followed by Daniel (27 times). Also recorded eighty-seven times is the Hebrew shelem (Strong's #H8002) which is translated "peace offerings."
The Tetragrammaton is the four Hebrew consonants (Yod, He, Vav and He or YHWH) that represent God's name in Scripture. According to a 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia on the Tetragrammaton, it occurs 87 times in the original language version of Proverbs. It occurs the most in the Psalms (645) followed by the book of Jeremiah (555).