A dear friend who pastors an inspiring church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex wrote me asking about the significance of various numbers in ancient Jewish wisdom. Since he will be marrying soon, two seemed an appropriate number to explore.
The first time a word occurs in Scripture provides deep insight, so we need to know the first time the number two appears. (Hebrew grammar causes earlier appearances of two to have variant forms.)
And of all that lives, of all flesh, two of each you shall bring into the ark to keep alive with you, male and female they should be.
This reveals that the fundamental “two-ness” in the universe is male and female. Since the ultimate act of human creativity is creating a baby, we understand that two people can be far more creative than merely one, particularly if there is a male/female dynamic. However, two men or two women can have a male/female dynamic as well, for example in brainstorming a business idea. At any given moment one of the participants, whether male or female biologically speaking, is implanting the seed of an idea while the other is absorbing it. A moment later they exchange roles as the conversation continues.
Another aspect of the number two is that the Hebrew root of two = tooth.
Even the very sound of the English word “tooth” carries within itself the sound of the number two (2-th). This highlights the point that two things complement one another. We have both upper and lower teeth and we need them both. Having only upper teeth or only lower teeth is worse than having no teeth at all.
One of the best Biblical examples of two is the Two Tablets that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Bible rarely refers to the Ten Commandments but calls them the Two Tablets about thirty times. This is because the quality of two they possess is so important. The two tablets complement one another and make it possible for us to create our moral matrix by consulting them both.
[There is so much vital information for our lives (and the life of our nation) buried in the Two Tablets that I created an audio CD linking the respective pairs of commandments such as one and six, two and seven. In a stunning transformation, this converts Ten Commandments into five fundamental principles of human interaction. If the feedback I get is representative, you too will be amazed at how these commandments will come alive as you listen.]
Lastly, the Hebrew word for two is the same as the Hebrew word for years. This informs us that there is some common feature linking the concept of two to the idea of years.
Each passing year naturally possesses similarities to its predecessor on both a global and very personal level. Nonetheless, nobody experiences two successive years as being identical.
Similarly, when we think of the power of two we think of two things close enough to be counted together, but not so identical as to be duplicates. Our spouses are incredibly close to us, we can often complete their sentences. But they are also sufficiently different to make the connection meaningful. I may consult two books for guidance in repairing my plumbing. They will both be about the problem I am experiencing but, to be helpful, each should tackle the project in a different way.
We understand that if we wish to change our oneness into a two, whether in seeking a spouse or a business partner, we need to find someone close and similar but not identical.
Essentially, the number two speaks to the fundamental duality which is so much a part of life. Day/Night. Good/Evil. Man/Woman. Light/Darkness. Plus/Minus. Hot/Cold. Yes, many things do exist on a spectrum, but they are easier to analyze and understand when we know the two dualities that anchor the ends of the spectrum.
I hope that this will be useful to our pastor friend who will soon be marrying. I know it will be useful to you as you form relationships both social and business and as you explore how the world really works through Bible study.
Read more about our Ten Commandment CD here.