Well, I finally did it – researched the number 12 in the bible.
For so long, I’ve wondered about the number twelve: 12 apostles, 12 months, 12 sons of Jacob, 12 tribes. Our God is a God of detail. Goodness, ever notice how detailed He is in describing the materials and size of things for the Tabernacle or High Priests robe? Everything He says has purpose and meaning.
Here’s what I found: The number 12 is found in 187 places in the Bible. Revelation alone has 22 occurrences of the number. The meaning of 12 seems to symbolize completeness or the nation of Israel as a whole. For example, Jacob (Israel) had 12 sons, each of which represented a tribe begun by a prince, for 12 princes total. Ishmael, who was born to Abraham through Hagar, also had 12 princes.
God specified that 12 unleavened cakes of bread be placed every week in the temple with frankincense next to each of the two piles that were to be made. The priests were commanded to change the bread every Sabbath day (Leviticus 24). Jesus called and choose 12 men Apostles, to bear witness to what he did.
Twelve thousand from each tribe of Israel (144,000 total) will receive salvation during the end time’s tribulation (Revelation 7). Another set of 144,000 (12 x 12,000) will be taken from earth in order to serve and follow (Revelation 14:1 – 5). Many Christian’s believe that “Christ’s bride” in Revelation 12, the church, wears a crown containing 12 stars. In truth, Israel is God’s Bride.
Heaven evidently, according to Revelation, contains 12 gates made of pearl which are each manned by an angel. Over each gate will be one of the names of Israel’s 12 tribes. The walls are 144 cubits high (12 multiplied by itself – Revelation 21:16 – 17), with the city itself being 12,000 furlongs square.
Plus, let’s not forget that Solomon appointed 12 officers over Israel.
12 people are also noted in scripture as being anointed for a special responsibility. They are Aaron and his four sons to serve as priests (Exodus 29:7 – 9) and Saul (1Samuel 10:1), David (1Samuel 16:13) and Solomon (1Kings 1:39) to serve as kings over a united Israel. David’s son Absalom, who wanted to take the throne of his David but was killed (2Samuel 19:10), was also anointed by some to be king. The remaining three specially anointed are King Jehu of Israel (2Kings 9:6) and Kings Joash (2Kings 11:12) and Jehoahaz (2Kings 23:30) of Judah.
And finally, the high priest’s breastplate, also called the breast-plate of decision, had 12 stones embedded in it. Each stone represented a tribe of Israel. The Urim and Thummim were part of the High Priest’s garment, the breastplate. They were primarily used to consult God regarding important matters (1Samuel 28: 3 – 6, Numbers 27:21 and so on). Both the first century historian Josephus and the Talmud identify the Urim and Thummim with the breastplate stones.
I can’t offer you a conclusion to my study of insurmountable insight, as I’m not a prophet with vision, but, I can note that 12 is special to God. Oh yes, and at 12 a boy has his bar mitzvah; and wasn’t Jesus 12 when he spoke to the congregation?!