aish.com > Ask The Rabbi > Hebrew > Numerology (Gematria)

Number 176

August 20, 2011 | by Aish.com

Why does the number 176 seem to crop up time and again in traditional Jewish literature?

I was looking through my Jewish library and noticed something really incredible: The longest chapter in Psalms (chapter 119) has 176 verses. The longest parsha in the Torah, Naso, has 176 verses. And the longest tractate in the Talmud, Baba Batra, has 176 pages. What is the connection between all these?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

You are very observant! Here are a few answers to this interesting phenomenon:

Chapter 119 of Psalms has 176 verses because it follows a pattern whereby the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used to begin 8 verses each. That is, 22-times-8 equals 176.

Which of course raises the question: What is the significance of 22 and of 8?

22 is a number of completeness, because it is the full representation of the 22 letters of the Alef-Bet - i.e. everything from A to Z (from Alef to Tav).

As for the number 8: We know that 7 represents the "natural realm" - i.e. 7 days of the week, 7 notes in the musical scale, etc. But 8 represents completeness beyond nature - a completeness in the spiritual realm. That is why Brit Milah is held on the 8th day of a boy's life. This also explains why God first commanded Abraham to perform circumcision with the words, "Walk before Me and be complete" (Genesis 17:1).

The product of two "complete" numbers, "22-times-8," is therefore the ultimate completeness. That's why 176 is used to demonstrate the supernal perfection of our holy Torah.



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