The Number 23
I’ve been asked many times if the number 23 holds some significance. Over the years I’ve taken note of the dozens of times where this number has appeared throughout my travels, in my personal life, or within my research. I’ve also studied the scriptures to discover what this number means throughout the Bible. Here are a few details that immediately come to mind:
- The date of my experience was November 23, 1998.
- It took place at 3:23 a.m.
- I finished writing the book 23 Minutes In Hell on the 23rd day of the month.
- I spoke on 23 different occasions in the first year following my experience.
- Every trip I traveled revealed the number 23 somewhere: 23 degrees, 23,000 feet, seat #23, 23 people saved, etc.
- My name is William Wiese. W is the 23rd letter of the alphabet.
- 2 x 23 is 46. I was 46 when God gave me this vision.
- It has been 23 years since my experience occurred.
The word Hell is mentioned 23 times in the New Testament.
Other numbers with significant meaning within the Bible:
1. 3 means perfection; Trinity; Man; 3 properties of water; 3 characteristics of God; Omnipresence – Omnipotence – Omniscience.
2. 5 means grace.
3. 7 means completeness; 7 days; 7 notes in a scale; 7 colors in a rainbow.
4. 10 means law, or perfection of divine order.
5. 12 means to judge; Perfection of government; 12 tribes – 12 Apostles – 12 on a jury.
6. 40 means probation; Trial; Chastisement; Moses was 40 years in the desert (wilderness).
7. 23 means death; Married (death to self).
Matthew Henry’s Commentary, The Whole Bible says,
“The courts of judgment sat in the gate of their principal cities; the judges, ordinarily in number twenty three; these tried, condemned and executed murderers; so that whoever killed, was in danger of their judgment. It is interesting that there were 23 involved in death.”
Unger’s Commentary – page 1075
“Part of man’s curse is toil and labour, occurring 23 times in the book of Genesis. Jezebel is mentioned 23 times – represents evil.”
Interesting facts about the number 23 and Earth:
Before the Flood in Noah’s day, some scholars and scientist believed that the earth’s axis was perpendicular to the sun, and not tilted. This is why there were no seasons, and why all was at an even temperature around the earth. The tilt is what gives us the seasons. Some say that at the time of the Flood, the earth was then tilted on its axis to 23.45 degrees. That time is when much death occurred.
Pastor Chuck Smith said, “According to many physicists, a polar axis shift takes place about every 5,000 years…our present polar axis is set at a 23 degree pitch in its relationship to the sun…this slant gives the earth it’s seasons…physicists tell us that a polar axis shift creates great convulsions throughout the earth, causing mountains to disappear…it is very possible that the Flood in Noah’s time could have been created by the polar axis shift. It would closely correspond to the time some physicists say the last shift took place.”
These additional Bible verses were very significant to me, and added to the confirmation of my experience:
Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes.
Jude 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.
Proverbs 11:23 The expectation of the wicked is wrath.
Matthew 11:23 He shalt be brought down to hell.
1 Corinthians 10:8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
Psalm 23 This scripture is frequently read at funerals.
2 Kings 23:31 Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign…and did evil.
John 8:23 Ye are from beneath.
Matthew 17:23 And they shall kill him.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death.
Job 31:23 For destruction from God was a terror to me.
Time and again we see God has given many numbers a distinct significance through the Bible. More fascinating examples of this involve the Israelites. They were told by God to let the land rest of planting crops every seventh year. They disobeyed God for 490 years. This means they owed God 70 years. God had them go into captivity for those 70 years, in order to have the land rest.
When Peter asked Jesus how many times should he forgive someone, Jesus said seven times seventy, which is the 490 years He forgave Israel. They didn’t repent so they owed the 70 years.
God is very deliberate with His Word, His instructions, and His direction. The use of the number 23, along with other numbers throughout the Bible, points to a God of detail and order. This is just one more reason we can see that the Bible is unlike any other book in the world. We can also see the importance of heeding God’s Word, and paying attention to all that it contains for our lives.
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By Bill Wiese, author of 23 Minutes in Hell