Next Monday, May 14 will mark 70 years (in the Gregorian calendar) since David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence.
It’s amazing how far that young state has come in just 70 years, from a primitive country to one of the world’s leading technology innovators. That alone is remarkable. So is that fact that Israel has continued to exist — and indeed grow — being surrounded by neighbors largely hostile.
In this 70th year of independence, there has been much talk about the significance of the number 70, specifically in the Jewish tradition. So Rocky Mountain Jew did a little digging and here’s what we found:
- It is said that there are 70 nations in the world, 70 languages and 70 princely angels.
- 70 souls went down to Egypt to begin the Israelites Egyptian exile
- There were 70 men in the Great Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of ancient Israel
- According to the Jewish Aggada, there are 70 perspectives (“faces”) to the Torah
- 70 elders were assembled by Moses on G-d’s command in the desert
- Psalms says a man’s life is three score and ten (70 years), and the Mishnah attributes that age to “strength,” as one who survives that age is described by the verse in Psalms as “the strong”
- The Roman numeral seventy, LXX, is the scholarly symbol for the Septuagint, the first translation of the Torah into Greek
Of course the ultimate number is 7, as it represents creation — and thereby G-dliness — itself. Multiply that by 10 — representing the Ten Commandments — and you wind up at 70.
Most of these 70s have positive connotations, although one is associated with the start of an exile and eventual slavery, and the 70 language exist because according to the Bible humanity couldn’t get along (perhaps that one does relate to Israel though, it being a society with stark divisions.)
What other 7s or 70s are we missing?
Mazal tov, Israel!