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Blog Series - The Meanings of NumbersView All Parts
The Hebrew way of writing number 43 is by putting two letters together: mem (40) and gimel (3).
Mem (מ) is water signifying a flow of history or time. Gimel (ג) is a camel in Hebrew, which signifies being lifted up. Pride is its negative side; being glorified or elevated to a position of authority is its positive side. The application depends on the context.
The 43rd time that Abram is mentioned is in Genesis 15:18, where God gives his descendants possession (authority) over the land of Canaan, “To your descendants I have given this land.” When the time came to possess it, of course, Israel had to contend for possession of the land.
Abraham is mentioned for the 43rd time in Genesis 21:12, which says, “through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” It speaks of Isaac’s elevation as the inheritor after his contention with Ishmael.
The 43rd time that Isaac is mentioned is in Genesis 26:20-22, where he is seen contending for the well of Esek:
20 The herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they contended with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over it too, so he named it Sitnah. 22 And he moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth, for he said, “At last the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”
This is perhaps the most significant example of the number 43, showing that it has to do with contention or quarreling. Esek means “contention.” Sitnah means “strife.” The third well was called Rehoboth, “a wide or spacious place.”
Isaac then moved to Beersheba, where “Isaac’s servants dug a well” (Genesis 26:25). This is the 44th time Isaac’s name is mentioned, and this was after the contention was resolved.
The 43rd time Jerusalem is mentioned is in 2 Samuel 20:22, where David’s army, led by Joab, “returned to the king at Jerusalem,” after executing Sheba who was contending with David for the throne. Joab had tracked Sheba to the walled city of Abel (2 Samuel 20:18). While they were trying to breach the wall, “a wise woman” suggested that the dispute could end if Sheba’s head were thrown over the city wall. Verse 18 says,
18 Then she spoke, saying, “Formerly they used to say, ‘They will surely ask advice at Abel,’ and thus they ended the dispute.”
In other words, many disputes had been resolved in past years at the city of Abel. (Perhaps the city was named after the original Abel, who was killed over a dispute with his brother Cain.) The people of Abel threw Sheba’s head over the wall, and this ended the dispute. Once the contention was resolved, Joab “returned to the king at Jerusalem.” This is the 43rd time Jerusalem appears in Scripture.
One can also see contention in the background in the 43rd time that Noah’s name appears in Scripture. It comes in the context of God’s contention against Jerusalem in Ezekiel 14:14,
14 “even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,” declares the Lord God.
In the New Testament, the 43rd time that Jesus’ name is mentioned in the book of Luke is found in the account of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mount in Luke 9:33,
33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”—not realizing what he was saying.
At this, the divine voice from the cloud contended with Peter, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” Here we see how God Himself contended with Peter.
The 43rd time that Peter is mentioned in the New Testament is in Acts 5:29, where we find him contending with the high priest, who had forbidden the apostles from preaching in the name of Jesus.
29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than men.”
The 43rd time that Peter is mentioned in the book of Acts is in Acts 10:46, 47,
46 For they were hearing them [Gentiles] speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter  answered, 47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?”
The context shows the contention that existed between Jews and Gentiles. Even the early church had difficulty accepting the fact that the Gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit. Peter prophetically issued a Supreme Court ruling here, which recognized the right of Gentiles to experience Pentecost and also to be baptized with water.
The 43rd time that Paul’s name is mentioned is in Acts 18:5, 6,
5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul  began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Once again, the topic is about the people contending with Paul as he preached the gospel of the Kingdom.
In Galatians 3:17 we find that it was 430 years (43 x 10) from the Promise to Abraham to the Old Covenant that God made with Israel (Exodus 19:8) through Moses at Sinai.
17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise [to Abraham].
This 430-year cycle was an extended time of contention, beginning with Hagar and Ishmael, and later including their time of bondage in Egypt. In the context of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, he notes that the promise to Abraham could not be nullified by the later covenant with Moses. If there is a conflict (contention), a prior covenant always takes precedence unless it is invalidated for some reason.
In this case, the Old Covenant, which demanded obedience as the condition to justification (salvation), could not take precedence over the promise to Abraham which was based on the will of God alone. The promise to Abraham foreshadowed the New Covenant which was established by faith in God’s promise, rather than in the will of man.
As I said, this time saw the contention between Ishmael and Isaac, because Ishmael was the son of Hagar, the Egyptian. Its connection to the number 43 has to do with the fact that there is an inherent conflict between the children of the Old Covenant and the children of the New Covenant. The children born after the flesh believe they are the true heirs on account of their physical, genealogical descent from Abraham. But those who are children of the promise (i.e., New Covenant) are like Isaac and are the true heirs.
Each side claims to be the heir, and this is the source of contention. But in the end the promise to Abraham prevails, not only because God’s promise came first, but also because it was the only covenant that could actually succeed.
We may also take note of the 43-year period from the start of Jesus’ ministry (Passover of 30 A.D.) to the end of the Jewish Revolt when the Romans finally took Masada at Passover of 73 A.D. Jesus had come of age at the Feast of Trumpets in 29 A.D., and He then went to John for baptism on the Day of Atonement ten days later. However, when He attended the marriage feast of Cana a few months later, He confessed that “my hour has not yet come” (John 2:4), for John’s ministry of preparing the way was yet ongoing.
It was only after John was cast into prison in the early months of 30 A.D. that Jesus began to preach the Word full time. Matthew 4:12-17 says,
12 Now when He heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee . . . 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
We know that a short time later John was executed around the time of Passover. How do we know this?
Matthew 14:10 tells us that after John was beheaded, his disciples came and told Jesus. Jesus then withdrew across the Sea of Galilee, where people followed him. There Jesus fed the 5,000 and then went to the top of the mountain to pray, while the disciples were caught in the storm on the sea. Jesus then walked on the water to them, and the boat immediately landed on the other side in Capernaum.
Matthew does not date these events, but in reading the same story told by John, the apostle tells us in John 6:4, “Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.” Thus, John’s execution came at Passover of 30 A.D., and Jesus was crucified three years later at Passover of 33. I believe that John was the legitimate high priest, divinely called, though his calling had been usurped by the temple priests appointed by King Herod. Only when John died could the mantle of the high priesthood be passed down to his nearest relative—Jesus.
Jesus was John’s near cousin. John’s mother was Elizabeth, and she was Mary’s cousin (Luke 1:36). John died childless, and so the mantle was passed to Jesus according to the heavenly pattern. This provided the transition also from the Levitical to the Melchizedek priesthood, for John’s father was a Levite, while Joseph and Mary were of Judah.
The point is that Jesus began to preach after John was imprisoned. This began a long conflict over the throne and high priesthood, both of which rightfully belonged to Jesus Christ. The conflict began to come to an end with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. The final resolution of the war came in 73 when Masada was taken on the morning of Passover in that year. From 30 to 73 A.D. was 43 years.
All of these examples and more show us that in the flow of history and time, 43 has to do with conflict and contention, ultimately resulting in victory for Truth and elevation to positions of authority for those divinely called.
Blog Series - The Meanings of NumbersView All Parts