People have been fascinated with numbers in the Bible for thousands of years. Some readers look for deeper meanings in any number that appears in the Bible, whether Old or New Testament writers use them literally or figuratively. Some non-Jewish and non-Christian religions are also interested in numbers in the Bible and interpret them with New Age spiritual meanings.
The three-digit number 555 doesn’t appear in the Bible. The closest number, which appears several times, is 500. The closest number in relation to individual digits is 55, which occurs twice. Page numbers and chapter and verse references, like Isaiah 55:5, are not original to the Bible.
How many times does 500 appear in the Bible, and what does it refer to? When do Jesus and Paul use the number in the New Testament? How many times does 55 appear in the Bible, and what does it refer to when writers use it? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
The Number 500 Appears 15 Times in the Bible
500 is the closest number to 555 in the Bible. It appears 14 times in the Bible, 12 times in the Old Testament, and twice in the New. Though the writer may have rounded the number in some passages, the intent is for readers to take it literally, not figuratively. No writer intends for readers to look for a deeper spiritual meaning behind the number. Sometimes “500 bulls” means 500 bulls.
Dividing the spoils of war
Numbers 31:28 is about Israelites dividing up the enemy’s possessions after warfare. “And levy for the Lord a tribute from the men of war who went out to battle, one out of five hundred, of the people and of the oxen and of the donkeys and of the flocks” (emphasis added).
Men in the tribe of Simeon
1 Chronicles 4:42 refers to a group of Jewish men from the tribe of Simeon. “And some of them, five hundred men of the Simeonites, went to Mount Seir, having as their leaders Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi” (emphasis added).
Bulls for the Passover offering
2 Chronicles 35:9 mentions 500 sacrificial bulls. “Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethanel his brothers, and Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, the chiefs of the Levites, gave to the Levites for the Passover offerings 5,000 lambs and young goats and 500 bulls” (emphasis added).
Esther 9:6 mentions how many people the Israelites killed amid threats of extermination. “In Susa the citadel itself the Jews killed and destroyed 500 men” (emphasis added).
Oxen and donkeys Job owned
Job 1:3 refers to 500 twice as it describes Job’s wealth regarding certain kinds of animals he owned. “He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.”
Cubits on each side of the new temple
500 is used four times in Ezekiel 42:15-20. It describes the length of the temple’s exterior walls. “Now when he had finished measuring the interior of the temple area, he led me out by the gate that faced east, and measured the temple area all around” (Ezek. 42:15).
Verse 20 summarizes: “He measured it on the four sides. It had a wall around it, 500 cubits long and 500 cubits broad, to make a separation between the holy and the common” (emphasis added).
|East side||500 cubits (v. 16)|
|North side||500 cubits (v. 17)|
|South side||500 cubits (v. 18)|
|West side||500 cubits (v. 19)|
When the measurement is not in cubits, 500 doesn’t appear. For example, the NLT says, “875 feet.”
Denarii that a debtor owed
In Luke 7:41, Jesus says, “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty” (emphasis added). His point is that God forgives both of them: “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).
People the resurrected Jesus appeared to at one time
In 1 Corinthians 15:6, Paul writes, “Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep” (emphasis added).
The Number 55 Appears Twice in the Bible
55 is the only time consecutive fives appear in the Bible. It occurs twice, both times in the Old Testament. In both instances, it refers to the same thing.
The number of years Manasseh reigned
2 Kings 21:1 reads, “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah” (emphasis added).
The number of years Manasseh reigned
2 Chronicles 33:1 reads, “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem” (emphasis added).
Numbers in the Bible
Certain numbers in the Bible have symbolic meanings in some passages. The passage’s context and the author’s intent determine whether the reader should understand the number literally or figuratively.
Yet even when an author uses a number symbolically, it has no hidden meaning. Instead, the author is transparently using the number in a non-literal way. There is no deeper meaning.
The New International Bible Dictionary states: “Numbers were used conventionally and symbolically. Certain numbers and their multiples had sacred or symbolic significance: 3, 4, 7, 10, 12, 40, and 70. For example, three expressed emphasis, as in ‘A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin!’ (Ezek. 21:27). From early times seven was a sacred number among the Semites (Gen. 2:2; 4:24; 21:28).”
It continues: “Ten was regarded as a complete number. Forty was often used as a round number (Exod. 24:18; 1 Kings 19:8; Jonah 3:4). Some of the higher numbers also seem sometimes to have been used as round numbers: 100 (e.g., Gen 26:12; Lev. 26:8; 2 Sam. 24:3), 10,000 (e.g., Lev. 26:8; Deut. 32:30).” 
 The New International Bible Dictionary. p. 713.
 The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary
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