The Hidden Meaning of Number 120

Hidden Meaning of Number 120

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The hidden meaning of number 120 is another of the themes that flow through the Bible. The Bible was written by around 40 different people across 1,500 years. Bible themes prove the uniqueness of this library of books and that it is not just a collection of disconnected events.

The Holy Spirit was the real author, but it is still amazing that so many themes can be traced from Genesis to Revelation across all 66 books. The Bible is a well-crafted narrative, where the end is known from the beginning, Isaiah 46:10, and there is a sublime ending where all evil is thoroughly conquered.

Hidden Meaning of Numbers

In many cultures numbers are giving spiritual meanings and the Bible is no exception to this. The study of the context of connections and patterns of numbers used in the Bible, gives revelation of God’s awesome intent and His divine design concerning the created. It is like a secret code that adds additional proof that the Holy Spirit inspired the book, boldly revealing God’s will, plan and purpose for man and that He alone is Creator.

I make no apology that this is a longer study than usual, but you can quickly skim to whatever you want to glean.

Number 120 First Mention

The law of ‘first mention’ says we must find the first place the word, doctrine, or theme is mentioned in order to better understand what is being revealed. The logic is that the first mention of a concept is the simplest and clearest presentation. Using this principle, we find the number 120 represents the end of all flesh; judgment; and a divinely appointed period of probation; besides God’s awesome power and His infinite mercy.

We first meet the number 120 in Genesis 6:3. At that time man had an extended life span. Methuselah, the longest living man, died just before the Flood, at a whopping 969 years. However, mankind had sunk to such a level of depravity, God said He would blot out man, whom He had created, from the face of the land, Genesis 6:6. Being an ever-merciful God He gave man 120 years to repent. The Jewish Talmud states that is the time it took Noah to build the Ark. Only 8 souls heeded God’s warning out of 174 million and so will it be at the end of this age, which is just around the corner.

The number 120 is a continuation of the major theme of the Bible, which began in the Garden of Eden. Disobey God’s word and you will perish, for the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23. However, God is merciful and offers the way of salvation, John 14:6, God will judge a sinful world in His appointed time, Acts 17:31, when Christ will return as a righteous Judge, 2 Timothy 4:1.

Hidden Meaning of Number 120

The Hebrew people were in bondage in Egypt for 400 years. They were used by Pharoah as slave labour, until Moses got into the act. Only the tenth and deadly plague finally convinced Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people go. It is estimated Moses led around 2 million people out, but the Bible only records the number of men, as they were the ones who would go to war. There were 600,000 men, Exodus 12:37. That number is 5,000 x 120. Five being the number of grace; spiritual life; blood; and atonement.

Pharoah then had a wake-up call and realized he was losing his massive economic force. Tyrant as he was, he ordered an army of 600 elite chariots to chase after the departing Hebrews, who were on foot. 600 is 120 x 5.

The Bible says God hardened Pharoah’s heart, Genesis 14:8. God allowed this to happen, as He needed to prove to the Hebrews that He alone was their deliverer. The parting of the Red Sea should have convinced the Hebrews, but they soon forgot.

Number 120 in Numbers

The next reference to the number 120 comes in the Tabernacle of Moses, the holy place where God placed His name. Major themes in the Tabernacle were sacrifice, representing Christ’s death on Calvary, and incense, representing God’s people offering worship and prayers. Moses was given fine, detailed instructions for every aspect of the building and operation of the Tabernacle. It takes many hours for serious students to study the depths if the Tabernacle, which was the shadow of things in heaven, Hebrews 10:5. This can lead to some interesting rabbit-holes to explore.

The reference we are looking at is 12 gold pans full of incense, Numbers 7:86. The gold of the pans weighed 120 shekels. There were three metals used in the Tabernacle. Brass, representing judgement, silver representing redemption and gold representing deity.

Moses Died at 120

Moses lived in luxury as a son of Pharoah for 40 years. He spent the next 40 years tending his father-in-law’s sheep in the backside of the desert, Genesis 3:1. Called of God he returned to Egypt and led the captives out of captivity. For 40 years they wandered in the wilderness because of the people’s lack of faith. They ended up taking 40 years to cover what should have been an 11-day journey, Deuteronomy 1:2.

Finally, at the age of 120, Moses knew it was time to appoint a successor, Deuteronomy 31:2. Moses would not enter the Promised Land because of his own disobedience, Deuteronomy 20:12. He had had the task of leading the people to the edge of the Promised Land but he would not enter with them. His job was finished. He entered into his eternal rest, aged 120 years, though his eyes were not dim and his vigour had not abated, Deuteronomy 34:7. What a way to go – in full health! The next time we see Moses is when he and Elijah are seen with Christ on what we call Mt Transfiguration, Matthew 17:2.

Priestly Line

King David tried to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, but that ended in a dismal failure, because of a lack of respect for the holiness of the Ark, 1 Chronicles 15:13. They had tried to transport it on an ox cart.

It took three months before David tried again. He assembled all Israel together as he prepared for his second attempt to move the Ark. This time he would do it God’s way, on the shoulders of the priests. First on the list of were the descendants of Kohath, chief of the Levitical priests, 1 Chronicles 15:5. Their number were120, giving reference to the intense presence of God, for the Ark was the heart and soul of Israel.

Solomon and the Number 120

At the dedication of Solomon’s Temple there were 120 priests sounding trumpets, 2 Chronicles 5:12. King Solomon also gave massive amounts of offerings at the dedication of the Temple, including 120,000 sheep, 2 Chronicles 7:5.

Solomon sold 20 cities in the northern part of Galilee to Hiram, the king of Tyre. The king was dissatisfied with the ‘worthless’ cities, but he paid Solomon 120 talents of gold, 1 Kings 9:14. Why would he pay a significant amount for something that was useless to him?

King Hiram had had a significant relationship with Solomon’s father, King David. Hiram played a crucial role in supporting David in the preparation of the Temple in Jerusalem. Cedar logs, carpenters and stone masons were all sent from Tyre for the project. Solomon’s task, after his father’s death, was to build the Temple and he too appealed to the king of Tyre for the same assistance Hiram had given his father, 2 Chronicles 2:3ff. Hiram was instrumental in the success of this project that would for ever characterize Israel. He again provided materials and skilled workers, up to 153,600 people.

After all that, it appears that Solomon gave the king of Tyre a sour deal by selling him poor villages. Hiram honoured the deal in remembrance of the unique relationship he had had with David, but his relationship with Solomon would never be the same again.

Sheba, the ravishingly beautiful queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, was amazed at the wisdom, and power of Solomon when she visited him with a very large retinue. Among the many gifts she gave Solomon, there were 120 talents of silver, 1 Kings 10:10. She was keen to impress and seduce the most powerful man in the known world.

Both Solomon and Sheba had their own agendas. The warning: be wary of riches.

Ezra and the Number 120

It is estimated that between 14,000 – 18,000 Jews were taken captive to Babylon, if you include all the women and children, Jeremiah 52:28-30. The Israelites were in bondage in Babylon for 70 years, Jeremiah 29:10, before they were finally allowed to return to Israel. Led by Ezra, 42,360 were prepared to return to the hardship of life in Israel, Ezra 2:63. The number 42,360 is 353 x 120.

Having made the arduous journey of 805 kilometres back to Israel, they were met with a sorry sight of a land that had been totally ravaged. Ezra set his heart to study the law of the Lord and practice it and teach the statutes and ordinances in Israel, Ezra 7:10. Tradition says Ezra headed 120 Jewish elders of Priests and Levites to officially collect the writings that would become the Old Testament.

Daniel and 120

The Persian ruler, Darius, set 120 princes to rule over the largest kingdom that was ever established. The Jewish prophet, Daniel, was the first of three presidents that the princes had to answer to, Daniel 6:1.

Daniel remained true to His God, while serving one of the most powerful men in the known world. Captured as a youth of 17, he was carried off to Babylon. Daniel found favour and rose to become a highly influential figure. The story of Daniel proves how faithful God remains to those who honour Him.

Day of Pentecost

A 120 people gathered in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost to vote in someone to replace the traitor, Judas, Acts 1:15. It was 50 days since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Spirit fell and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. This was the beginning of the Christian church, who should operate in the absolute power of God.

Paul is a Prisoner

Paul was a prisoner and being taken to Rome to appear before Caesar. The ship encountered a massive storm that threatened to shipwreck them. Paul received a message in the night that they would all survive if they headed to a certain island. After 14 days they took a sounding and found the Adriatic Sea was 120 feet deep and the ocean bed was shelving.

This 120 points to God’s power in that no matter how bad the situation is, God is always near and in control.

Bible Trivia

The number 120 appears 14 times in the Bible. Fourteen has a representation of double measure of spiritual perfection and covering, besides the Day of Passover.

The word King is written 120 times in the New Testament. The Greek word ‘dunamis’ meaning unlimited power, appears 120 times in the original text of the New Testament.

The life of the red globule of blood is 120 days and 120 x 3 equals 360, the days in a year.


The conclusion of any study of the Bible is that God is always working for the good of those who love Him. The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose’, Romans 8:28.

So, the theme of 120 ends, but the message always remains the same. God will judge a sinful world, He is all-powerful and ever-mindful of those who trust Him. Make a firm decision to follow Him in this world of utter chaos. He will never leave you or forsake you, Deuteronomy 31:8. You are not alone.

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Wendy Stenberg-Tendys is a freelance writer who enjoys researching a topic and sharing words of encouragement, particularly from the Word of God.

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