11

Psalm 136 comprises 26 verses, each ending with

For His mercy endures forever.

(NKJV)

Our pastor stated this morning that 26 was a special number in this regard, but didn't clarify this. Now 26 is of course the number of letters in the Latin alphabet, but that didn't exist when the Psalm was written (Psalm 119 is a well-known acrostic but it uses 22 letters, not 26). If you subtract 2, you get twice the number of tribes, but that's a little far-fetched if you ask me.

Searching on Google didn't yield any meaningful results, and most lists of numbers in the Bible like this one don't include 26. Is there any deeper meaning behind this number, or is it just a wonderful song of praise that happens to be 26 verses long?

  • 2
    Note that the Latin alphabet hasn't had 26 letters for most of its lifetime anyways (not widely accepted until ~1800s), beyond any regional differences. – Clockwork-Muse Aug 10 at 16:48
  • @Clockwork-Muse I've read that the x, y, and z were actually added last? Will we ever know, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_alphabet / en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Latin_script does not say? – prosody-Gab Vereable Context Aug 10 at 20:57
  • It has to have some whole number of repetitions. It can't have 25.9 or 26.1 repetitions. If you look hard enough, you can find any number you want. By analysing the text, you would be able to find 25 somewhere, 27 somewhere, etc. – CJ Dennis Aug 10 at 23:46
  • @prosody-GabVereableContext Reference articles like Wikipedia's are - by definition - a condensed summary of the available knowledge. I'd like to recommend Geoffrey Sampson's Writing Systems - A Linguistic Introduction for a somewhat fuller (but still necessarily abridged) treatment of this evolution. – tripleee Aug 11 at 4:54
15

In Hebrew Gematria, the number 26 = YHVH ( יְהֹוָ֣ה).

The sum of the Name "YHVH" ( יְהֹוָ֣ה) = "Yod"(10) + "Hei"(5) + "Vav"(6) + "Hei"(5).

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  • And also GOD=G(7)+O(15)+D(4)=7+15+4=26 – David Sep 7 at 4:17
6

This will not answer the question but may provide some further information.

If we temporarily ignore the last half of each verse "His love endures forever") and examine the first half of each verse we have the following structure:

  • V1-3 all begin with "Give thanks to ..." (various titles of God)
  • V4-7 all begin with "To Him who ..." (various creative acts)
  • V8, 9 discuss what was created on in the heavens
  • V10 begins with "To Him who ..." (about Egypt)
  • V11, 12 discusses the LORD's delivery of Israel from Egypt
  • V13 begins with "To Him who ..." (dividing the Red Sea)
  • V14, 15 discusses the LORD's delivery of Israel from Egypt
  • V16, 17 begin with "To Him who ..." (led people and struck kings)
  • V18-25 discusses the LORD's deliverance from kings and gift of the promised land
  • V26 begins with "Give thanks to ..." (final title of God)

Thus, we have:

  • 4 verses begin with "Give thanks to ..."
  • 8 Verses begin with "To Him who ..."
  • 14 verses discuss the great acts of God broken into four groups: 2 about creation; 2 + 2 (4 total) about delivery from Egypt; and 8 about conquering the promised land.

Note that in the final category, we have a pattern of 2, 4, 8. The verses that begin with "To Him who ..." always introduces a new theme that is subsequently expanded.

Thus, Ps 136 shows considerable literary and thematic structure.

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1

After searching a bit on other Stack Exchange sites, I found this answer by Mi Yodeya user @Ploni:

Psalms 136 (The "Great Halel"): It contains 26 mentions of the phrase "For His kindness is everlasting", corresponding to the 26 generations from Creation till the Giving of the Torah.

Depending on which source texts you follow, Moses is indeed the 26th in line counting from Adam.

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