As the basis of the decimal system, which probably originated in counting with the fingers, 10 has been a significant number in all historical ages. The 10 antediluvian patriarchs (Genesis 5; compare the 10 Babylonian kings of Berosus, and 10 in early Iranian and far-Eastern myths); the 10 righteous men who would have saved Sodom (Genesis 18:32); the 10 plagues of Egypt; the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 parallel Deuteronomy 5:6-21; the 10 commandments found by some in Exodus 34:14-26 are not clearly made out); the 10 servants of Gideon (Judges 6:27); the 10 elders who accompanied Boaz (Ruth 4:2); the 10 virgins of the parable (Matthew 25:1); the 10 pieces of silver (Luke 15:8); the 10 servants entrusted with 10 pounds (Luke 19:13 ff), the most capable of whom was placed over 10 cities (Luke 19:17); the 10 days’ tribulation predicted for the church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:10); the use of “10 times” in the sense of “many times” (Genesis 31:7; Nehemiah 4:12; Daniel 1:20, etc., an idiom met with repeatedly in Tell el-Amarna Letters); and the use of 10 in sacred measurements and in the widely diffused custom of tithe, and many other examples show plainly that 10 was a favorite symbolic number suggestive of a rounded total, large or small, according to circumstances. The number played a prominent part in later Jewish life and thought. Ten times was the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) uttered by the high priest on the Day of Atonement; 10 persons must be present at a nuptial benediction; 10 constituted a congregation in the synagogue; 10 was the usual number of a company at the paschal meal, and of a row of comforters of the bereaved. The world was created, said the rabbis, by ten words, and Abraham was visited with 10 temptations (Ab v. 1 and 4; several other illustrations are found in the context).
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Author: International Std. Bible Encyclopedia
Keywords: Significant Numbers Ten, ten, 10, numbers, number ten, numeric values, Numeric symbolism
Bible reference(s): Daniel 1:20, Deuteronomy 5:6, Exodus 20:2, Exodus 34:14, Genesis 18:32, Genesis 31:7, Judges 6:27, Luke 15:8, Luke 19:13, Matthew 25:1, Nehemiah 4:12, Revelation 2:10, Ruth 4:2
Source: James Orr (editor), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 5 volume set.
Page indexed by: inWORD Bible Software.