What is the Biblical Meaning of the Number 16 in the Bible?

The Bible is full of meanings and symbolism. However, the meaning behind different things is not always clear. It can be hard to tell what the meaning of numbers and names is. If you’ve asked the question, “What is the Biblical Meaning of the Number 16 in the Bible?” you’ve come to the right place. 

The number 16 in the Bible is used many times. It is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Each instance of 16 in the Bible, reveals a different Biblical meaning for the number. The meaning of the number 16 is that God uses young people, is organized, fulfills his promises, and loves people. 

All of these meanings unveil the glory of the Lord. In this article, we will unpack the Hebrew word for 16, and talk about the symbolic meaning of the number 16. As we talk about the significance of the number, we will also discuss how you can apply its meaning to different areas of your life. 

16 in Hebrew

The number 16 is in the Hebrew language. There are two Hebrew words for 16, and each Hebrew word has a gender. 

These two words contain letters from the Hebrew alphabet. Although these words don’t have specific meanings, this is a good starting point for understanding the meaning of the number 16 from the Bible. 

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, so these words appear. They are present a few times, each revealing a spiritual meaning. 

16 In the Old Testament

16 as a Year of Youthful Anointing

One instance of the number 16 being used in the Bible is in 2 Kings. 2 Kings recounts some of the history of the people of Israel. It tells about the historic kings who ruled over the nation of Israel. 

The number 16 is revealed in 2 Kings 14:21. 2 Kings 14:21 says, “Then all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah.”

In this bible verse, we see Azariah being set as a king of Israel. At this point, Israel has been split into two nations, and Azariah is the king of Judah, the southern nation. 

Something that is noticeable about this is Azariah’s age. Azariah is only 16 years old when is made king. 16 is a very young age to be ruling a nation. 

As it applies to us today, we learn that we don’t have to wait to be great. Azariah was given authority and responsibility in God’s kingdom at a young age. 

We have a tendency to doubt if God can use us where we are, but Azariah shows otherwise. He did not have to be a certain age to have an impact on God’s kingdom. 

That is good news for both young people and teachers. Young people don’t have to wait to start on their spiritual path. Teachers can believe that their students are capable of doing great things, even though they are young. 

16 is a reminder that God can use anyone at any age. 

16 as a Number of Fulfilment of God’s Promise

Another appearance of the number 16 happens in the book of Genesis. God created a covenant with Abraham’s family, and He promised Abraham’s family would become a great nation. Abraham had Isaac, and then Isaac had Jacob. Jacob then had a large family. God’s promise was fulfilled through Jacob when he had 16 family members. 

Abraham was promised land and a huge family, even though his wife was barren. He trusted in God, and God provided him with a son. Then his son had two sons, and one of those two sons had 16 family members. 

It says this in the King James Bible, “These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.” Genesis 46:18

There were 16 total people given to Jacob. That is a huge blessing and the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise that God gave Abraham. The Lord God was looking at Abraham and his family. 

Jacob was also named Israel, so that is where the term Children of Israel comes from. Israel’s children were the continuation of the promise. Eventually, the children of Israel would inherit the land of Canaan, which God had promised Abraham. 

As it relates to spiritual life, we can trust in God’s promises today. In everyday life, we can believe that God’s promises are true. 

God promises in John 3:16 that whoever believes in Jesus, will not die, but he will have eternal life. That is a promise worth clinging to, so this number can remind us of God’s promise-keeping character. 

16 as a Symbol of Godly Organization 

The number 16 is also a number that reminds us of Godly organization. God is an orderly God, we see it through the Easter, creation, and Israelite stories. He acts on purpose and with wisdom. 

The Israelites grew into a great nation. They conquered the land of Canaan and fulfilled God’s promise.  God had originally organized himself to be king, and He had appointed judges to help enforce his rule. 

However, they wished to look for a king to rule them. The eyes of these men saw what others were doing, and they yielded to it. As a result, they appointed a sole ruler, King Saul. 

The number 16 comes into play, as there were 16 judges before there had been a king. God’s organization equipped judges to do his will, but the people of Israel were not satisfied. 

As a result, King Saul became the ruler, and he was not a good king

Here is a list of the 16 Judges of Israel: 

  • Joshua
  • Othniel
  • Ehud
  • Deborah
  • Barak
  • Eli 
  • Gideon
  • Abimelech
  • Tola
  • Jephthah
  • Samson
  • Samuel
  • Ibzan
  • Jair
  • Elon
  • Abdon

The Jewish tradition was the God-appointed judges. He appointed 16 of them, but the Israelites rejected it. The judges were supposed to act as elders of Israel. Judges had the purpose of protecting and upholding the rule of God throughout Israel. Israel, however, was not keen on being distinct from the other nations. They went their own way, and they fell because of it. 

This story can be a reminder to us that Jesus Christ is our king. The people of Israel forgot that God was their king, so they looked for an earthly substitute. 

As Christians, we can be tempted to glorify people over God, but Jesus is clearly our high priest and king. We don’t need anyone that God hasn’t appointed in our lives. 

When we are dependent on others and forget about God, we fail. 

16 in the New Testament

Not only does the number 16 present itself in the Old Testament, it is also revealed in the New Testament. Although it is more frequent in the Old Testament, there is power in the instance in the New Testament. 

16 as a Number of Love 

Within the New Testament, the number 16 represents love. It is a symbol of love and how we should love others. The love of God is true love. It is perfect love, and it is described in the New Testament. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

The apostle Paul wrote about the characteristics of true love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. He wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

The 16 Characteristics of Love 

In this passage, there are 16 characteristics of true love. They are worth memorizing because they can help us to love others better. 

When we practice these characteristics, we can believe that perfect love, casts out all fear. 

Furthermore, love is a part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. When we abide in the Holy Spirit, love should be evident in our lives. That means that we should be kind, patient, and humble. 

If we are constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit, the characteristics in 1 Corinthians 13 should follow. 

The number 16 is a symbol of love because it reminds us of the 16 characteristics of love. It shows us what unconditional love looks like. 

All of these characteristics can also reveal that God’s love is this way. The love of God aligns with all of these characteristics. His never-ending love is revealed in this passage.

This does not just apply to romantic love relationships either. This love is a love that we should have for every person.

Closing Thoughts about the Number 16 

Understanding the symbolism of numbers in the Bible is helpful to our spiritual walk. When we understand the meanings of specific numbers, we can be reminded quickly of God’s word. 

Next time you see the number 16, you can remember that God uses young people, is organized, fulfills his promises, and loves everyone. 

I hope that this article has encouraged you in your faith. That has taught you the meaning of the number 16, and helped you to learn more about God. 

God is a caring and passionate God about every person, and that character is revealed throughout scripture. Even through the simple use of numbers, God’s character is shown to us. 

If you are looking for other meanings of numbers check out our article on the meaning of the number 9. We look at the various uses of 9 in the Bible.

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