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"7 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,

from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,

from the tribe of Gad 12,000,

6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000,

from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,

from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,

7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,

from the tribe of Levi 12,000,

from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,

8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,

from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,

from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000."

As you know, this quote is from the Book of Revelation, I am interested in knowing why the number of sealed ones is equal in all the tribes?

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    This is a mirror of the OT in ten-fold but for the end times. These are the those who will war and pave the way in the end times. “So there were recruited from the divisions of Israel one thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.” ‭‭Numbers‬ ‭31:5 and they won’t be defeated, if you like they will always succeed‬ “and they said to Moses, “Your servants have taken a count of the men of war who are under our command, and not a man of us is missing.” ‭‭Numbers‬ ‭31:49‬ Jun 20, 2019 at 12:58
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    That the number is equal for each tribe would indicate that the number is a spiritual allusion, not an attempt to catalogue the number of persons to be saved in the day of judgement from each of the twelve tribes. What that spiritual allusion is, exactly, is a matter of interpretation based on the content of scripture, generally.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 20, 2019 at 16:10
  • What I heard was that the number 12 represented something in Hebrew Numerology, and the value 1000 did not specifically represent 1000 but of huge quantity, and since the only reference was who told me, and it's reliability is based on perspective. I add this in the comments, in the case further research feels appropriate. Good luck getting the answer.
    – Decrypted
    Jul 3, 2019 at 2:14
  • God apparently knows the number of hairs on our heads! (Luke 12:7) Sep 25, 2019 at 23:36
  • It may turn out that the right question to ask is the opposite question: “Why is the number of the Israelic tribes reflected in the number of heavenly sealed people?” Jan 6, 2022 at 22:58

4 Answers 4

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That the repeated number 12,000 cannot be taken literally is clear from what the rest of the book of Revelation shows about other numbers. The book of the revelation uses words and numbers to represent symbolic, spiritual realities that cannot be seen with physical eyes, nor comprehended by carnal, fleshy people.

Consistently, numbers are used to depict spiritual truths. Here are some examples.

The number two speaks of a two-fold witness, or testimony: 2 witnesses and 2 horns.

The number three - the divine number; the Trinity (which literalists have trouble with).

The number four - the number of the earth as in Zechariah's 4 horses/chariots; the whole earth, N.S.E & W.

The number six - the number of humanity. One short of the number of perfection, 7, and so on.

Therefore, when we come to the number 12,000 we need to consider what the number 12 means - the number for covenant, both the old and the new. Note that the total number of 12 x 12,000 = 144,000. This is the arithmetically correct total of all of the numbers involved in all of the 12 tribes of Israel in Revelation chapter 7. Note the use of the number four at the start? This has to do with the whole earth not being harmed till angels have completed the sealing of 144,000 humans on the earth. The number 144,000 is derived from 12,000 in each of the 12 tribes of Israel. But, hang on a minute. Two of the tribes of Israel are missing from this list! This is a clue that it's not speaking about the literal tribes of earthly Israel. These 12 tribes in Revelation chapter 7 have a symbolic, spiritual meaning, not a literal meaning. And, if the tribes speak of something symbolic, then so do the numbers. The total is also a symbolic total; 144,000 is not to be taken literally. The question of why two earthly tribes of Israel have been omitted / changed has been answered elsewhere on this site.

The number 144,000 (the total involved here) starts with 12 multiplied by 12 = 144. Consider: 12 patriarchs, 12 apostles. They represent the New Jerusalem (in heaven) with names of the 12 tribes of Israel being on the 12 gates of heavenly Jerusalem (= the names of the 12 O.T. patriarchs); plus the names of the 12 apostles being 12 foundation stones of same symbolic New Jerusalem. There is the perfect representation of the old and the new covenants in the Bible. They represent the full number of the elect of the old covenant and the elect of the new covenant.

When you add 12 to 12 you get 24. There are 24 elders in Revelation, but, multiplied, there is the number 144,000. Thousand = 10 x 10, and 10 stands for completeness. Three is divine. Thus we are seeing the complete, exclusive work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit sealing all the elect from O.T. and N.T. times, right to the day when that sealing has to stop. It has not yet stopped, for souls are still being saved and brought into the new covenant in Christ's shed blood. Clearly, the number so saved, from the start of the Bible till today cannot literally be a mere 144,000!

Likewise, the number 12,000 repeated 12 times cannot possibly be literal. Chapter 7 is speaking of symbolic Israel - Jews which are not confined to fleshly Israel by physical circumcision, but spiritual Israelites. Of course, some literal Israelites are included (who would dare rule out Abraham or Moses from the number of the sealed and saved?)

Further substantiating the need to view 12,000 and 144,000 as a symbolic number is the fact that all those out of the 12 tribes are said to be virgins. They "have not defiled themselves with women". This is not misogynist language, implying that all those sealed for salvation must be literal virgins! It speaks of maintaining spiritual purity, because all the 144,000 are pledged to Christ as a chaste virgin bride (Romans 7:4). The "defilement of women" speaks of spiritual adultery as the Bible so often mentions and especially in Revelation where the great whore, Babylon the Great, is depicted as a woman gorgeously arrayed, sitting on many waters (the nations), riding the symbolic scarlet beast. This 'woman' is "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 17:1-7). That is why God's sealed ones must get out of Babylon the Great, to maintain spiritual purity. They must have nothing to do with this global religious entity, even if it kills them.

That the 12 tribes speak of spiritual Israel and not literal, earthly Israel is clear from New Testament texts such as: Romans 2:28-29 & 9:3-8; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 & 5:17. Too much to go into here. But additional proof that the Revelation is not speaking of 12 literal tribes of earthly Israel, therefore neither is it speaking of literal numbers. Yet some would take half a sentence in Revelation and sat, "The number is literal" but insist that the rest of the sentence is symbolic "they are virgins". No, all the numbers in Revelation are symbolic, and 12 (and its derivatives, such as 12,000 and 144,000) speak of all those saved and sealed in the old and the new covenants.

For much more detail on this, consult the book "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" by John Metcalfe, esp. pp. 200-211 & 343-359, published 1998

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In the chapter "Sealing the Israel of God", the book Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! gives us a clearer understanding of this passage:

Could this not be a reference to literal, fleshly Israel? No, for Revelation 7:4-8 diverges from the usual tribal listing. (Numbers 1:17, 47) Obviously, the listing here is not for the purpose of identifying fleshly Jews by their tribes but to show a similar organizational structure for spiritual Israel. This is balanced. There are to be exactly 144,000 members of this new nation​—12,000 from each of 12 tribes. No tribe in this Israel of God is exclusively royal or priestly. The whole nation is to rule as kings, and the whole nation is to serve as priests.​—Galatians 6:16; Revelation 20:4, 6.

There could be many reasons for one "tribe" to consider itself greater than the others. So by having an equal number in each "tribe" this spiritual nation would impress upon its members the importance of balance and unity in ruling as a royal priesthood.

[All scripture quotations from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)]

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360 Degrees in a full circle of the ecliptic, one year. One degree movement of the Sun, or Son, around the circle is equivalent to four minutes. Four multiplied by 360 equals 144,000. Divide the 144,000 by the 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 Tribes of Israel, 12 apostles, whatever you decide. The answer is 12,000. The four winds are the children of Horus; Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John; and/or the Fixed signs of the Zodiac. They had the Face of a Man, Wings of the Eagle, A lion, and his sole was of a calf; Aquarius, Scorpio, Leo, Taurus.

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    – agarza
    Aug 8, 2021 at 23:29
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Re:" Why an equal number from each tribe? " Was the question asked. REVELATION chapter 7 verse 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed :and there were sealed an hundred and fourty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel" The answer is: "The number is SYMBOLIC 12 x 12 speaks of "PERFECTION OF GOVERNMENT". 12 x 12 x 1000 would represent a Super Government. So to answer your question " Why an equal number from each tribe?" As stated "It's Bible Numerics for the Ruling Government " who will rule and reign with Jesus for a 1000 years here on earth at a future time. ITS SYMBOLIC Good question.

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