The number seven plays a unique role in the Bible, from the seven-day creation account in Genesis to the seven seals broken in Revelation. Two consecutive sevens also occur in Scripture, like when Jesus Christ told his followers to forgive others 77 times. But what does the Bible say about three straight sevens?
The number 777 only appears once in the Bible. According to Genesis 5, it’s the age at which Lamech, the son of Methuselah, and the father of Noah, dies. The number occurs in a genealogical record that lists Adam’s descendants to Noah. In context, 777 has no symbolic or figurative meaning.
What is the purpose of the family tree mentioned in Genesis 5? Why is Lamech important to it? What did he say about Noah when he was born? Was Lamech a prophet? What is the symbolic meaning of the single digit seven in the Bible? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
777 in Genesis Chapter Five
Genesis 5:1-32 records the family line of 10 patriarchs who lived before the worldwide flood God sent in Noah’s lifetime. They are Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. The list of names in this chapter bridge the gap between Adam’s narrative and Noah’s.
Note: Bible readers shouldn’t confuse the Lamech of Genesis 5 with the Lamech of Genesis 4. They have the same name, but they are different men.
There are three reasons for the genealogy
(1) The list preserves the record of God’s people from Adam to Noah, including details about their ages and families. The details of the chapter locate the record in history. There are no features or elements in the list that suggests that readers understand symbolically or in a non-literal manner.
(2) The names are the product of God’s command to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). It informs readers that the entrance of sin into the world (Gen. 3) didn’t thwart God’s plan.
(3) Unlike other genealogies in the Bible, Genesis 5 includes the patriarch’s ages at their deaths. For example, the section on Adam concludes, “Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died” (Gen. 5:5). This informs readers that death was the consequence God established for disobedience (Gen. 2:17), and it had become a reality. (Enoch is the one exception.)
Lamech dies at the age of 777
The genealogy’s section on Lamech includes how old he was when his wife gave birth to Noah, the unique role Noah had in God’s plan, and how long Lamech lived after Noah was born.
“When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, ‘Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.’ Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died” (Gen. 5:28-30, ESV, emphasis added).
There is no symbolic or hidden significance to Lamech living for 777 years. Sometimes numbers in the Bible only have a literal meaning. Scholars rarely even mention Lamech’s age when commenting on the list. The few that do mostly highlight that his father, Methuselah, outlived his son, Lamech, by five years.
Was Lamech a prophet?
When Noah was born, Lamech declared that his son would relieve people of the cursed ground and people’s painful toil upon it. This statement looks forward to Noah’s role in the worldwide flood (see Gen. 6-9).
The next chapter in Genesis explains that Noah’s righteousness spared him from God’s judgment: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9).
Some Genesis scholars believe that Lamech spoke like a prophet when Noah was born, foretelling the future for his son and giving hope to the world. Others believe his words were more like a prayer and that he was petitioning God to use his son in a special way that would help people that were suffering.
The symbolic meaning of seven in the Bible
One Bible scholar explains: “In addition to their usage to designate specific numbers or quantities, many numbers in the Bible came to have a symbolic meaning.”  Because numbers can have a symbolic meaning in the Bible, the reader needs to identify how to interpret them.
For example, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before Satan tempted him (Matt. 4:2). Should readers understand 40 literally or symbolically? One key indicator is the type of genre or writing style of the book and passage.
The apocalyptic genre of the Bible (e.g., Daniel 7-12, Revelation) contains a lot of symbols, including colors, animals, and numbers. For example, white can mean pure, and a horse can depict conquering.
However, most of Matthew, including chapter four, isn’t apocalyptic. Instead, it’s historical biography. This fact helps readers know that they should interpret 40 literally.
Not all numbers have symbolic meaning somewhere in the Bible. Yet, seven does. One scholar explains: “Seven came to symbolize completeness and perfection. God’s work of creation was both complete and perfect, and it was completed in seven days. All of mankind’s existence was related to God’s creative activity. The Sabbath was that day of rest following the workweek, reflective of God’s rest.” 
To be clear, this doesn’t mean that the seven-day creation is symbolic. Instead, it means that the seven-day creation account is the origin of the symbolic use of the number later in Israelite history.
Multiples of seven can have symbolic meanings. For example, the year of Jubilee came after the completion of every 49 years (Lev. 25:8-55). 49 years is literal, yet it likely came from multiplying seven and seven.
Jesus also sent out 70 disciples (Luke 10:1-17), which was also the length of the exile (Jer. 25:12). These numbers are literal, but they may have come from multiplying seven and ten.
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