● Is there any symbolic significance to the number forty? If so, what is it?—A. L., U.S.A.
As to the number forty, it must be noted that it is used in many different connections in the Bible, as shown by an exhaustive Bible concordance. In its publications the Society has never ascribed to this number any one significance that covers every use of the number. However, in The Watchtower of May 1, 1941, on page 138, in discussing Judges 5:31, it commented on a forty-year period of peace, following the deliverance of the Israelites from Canaanite oppression; and it showed that this foreshadowed the time of the peaceful 1,000-year reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Obviously this significance cannot be attached to all other occurrences of the number in the Bible. For instance, the number sometimes seems to be associated with a judgment period, judgment or punishment. Thus the rain of Noah’s day fell for forty days. (Gen. 7:4) The law of Moses provided that certain types of offenders were to be given forty strokes. (Deut. 25:3) Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years as a punishment for their rebellious course. (Num. 14:34) Jonah warned Nineveh that in forty days it would be destroyed. (Jonah 3:4) However, we are not to conclude that every time the number forty occurs in the Scriptures it has symbolic significance.
● Why was Simeon omitted from Moses’ valedictory blessing (Deut. 33:6-24) of the tribes of Israel?—G. S., U.S.A.
Undoubtedly this can be understood by the fact that Simeon’s lot was included with Judah. Simeon and Levi had worked together in an act of cruelty, so that Jacob prophesied: “Let me give them a portion in Jacob, but let me scatter them in Israel.” (Gen. 49:7) Thus though Simeon and Levi were given a “portion” in Israel, it was not an unbroken portion. If one turns to a map of Palestine in the days of the twelve tribes of Israel, he will notice how Simeon is enclosed within the territory of Judah, so that Simeon did not get a self-contained territory. So when Moses turned his attention to Judah, he well knew that Simeon’s portion was included with Judah. Joshua 19:9 states: “The inheritance of the sons of Simeon was out of the allotment of the sons of Judah, because the share of the sons of Judah proved to be too large for them. So the sons of Simeon got a possession in the midst of their inheritance.” Not only could Simeon be included in Judah’s portion but Moses’ blessing was upon all the tribes of Israel, and the tribe of Simeon was assembled there and came under the general blessing: “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is there like you, a people enjoying salvation in Jehovah?”—Deut. 33:29.
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“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
April 12: Telling “the Generation to Come.” Page 137.
April 19: Youth, Get Saved from This Crooked Generation. Page 143.