Biblical Numbers have exercised the minds of numerous scholars over the years but we are little wiser after all that ink has been spent. The number 4 and its multiples, such as 40 and 400, play an important role in Biblical chronology – but what does 4 imply?
Harold Bayley, who wrote his The Lost Language of Symbolism many years ago (a reprint came out in 1951) said that Kabbalah exercised a lot of influence upon the thought of Europeans in the Middle Ages and encompassed some 72 different names for God. The number 4 played a specific role as it defined clarity and simplicity according to Bayley, there being four sides to a square (and that sort of thing). Names of various gods in the Near East were spelt with four letters – YHWH, PTAH, ISIS, BAAL, ANAT, ZEUS, ADAD, AMON. THOR etc. We may also note ADAM, NOAH, and MOSU (Moses) and no doubt there were a lot of others. What does this mean? Well, it could be argued that the number 4 was a specific number associated with deity. Therefore, wherever the number 4 and its multiples are used, and then God was assumed by the Biblical author to have intervened in the affairs of man. This is true of Adam, Noah and Moses, and also we might add, in the time of David and Solomon.
How would God have intervened – what is it that I am suggesting. Well, Mike Baillie got the edge on this in one of his books, Exodus to Arthur (Batsford:1999). He suggested the events in the time of David should correspond with the low growth tree ring event he dated 1159-41BC as the story associated with this father and son had all the ingredients, famine and drought, war and banishment, a sword in the sky standing above Jerusalem – and that sort of thing. He implied their reigns should properly correspond with a phase of upheaval in the natural world, probably caused by a cosmic event of some kind (apt as an interference by God in the affairs of humanity). What he then suggested was that David and Solomon should be updated so that their reigns converged on his narrow tree ring event – which was never taken seriously. The other option of course is that the 1159-41BC event is misdated by some means and requires lowering by 150 years. You takes your pick and try and work it out I suppose.