Twelve has always been a symbolic (see Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture) number of organization


A. outside the Bible

1. twelve signs of the Zodiac

2. twelve months of the year

B. in the OT (BDB 1040 plus 797)

1. the sons of Jacob (the Jewish tribes)

2. reflected in

a. twelve pillars of the altar in Exod. 24:4

b. twelve jewels on the high priest's breastplate (which stand for the tribes) in Exod. 28:21

c. twelve loaves of bread in the holy place of the tabernacle in Lev. 24:5

d. twelve spies sent into Canaan in Numbers 13 (one from each tribe)

e. twelve rods (tribal standards) at Korah's rebellion in Num. 17:2 

f. twelve stones of Joshua in Jos. 4:3,9,20

g. twelve administrative districts in Solomon's administration in 1 Kgs. 4:7

h. twelve stones of Elijah's altar to YHWH in 1 Kgs. 18:31

C. in the NT

1. twelve apostles chosen

2. twelve baskets of bread (one for each Apostle) in Matt. 14:20

3. twelve thrones on which NT disciples sit (referring to the 12 tribes of Israel) in Matt. 19:28

4. twelve legions of angels to rescue Jesus in Matt. 26:53

5. the symbolism of Revelation

a. 24 elders on 24 thrones in 4:4

b. 144,000 (12x12,000) in 7:4; 14:1,3

c. twelve stars on the woman's crown in 12:1

d. twelve gates, twelve angels reflecting the twelve tribes in 21:12

e. twelve foundation stones of the new Jerusalem and on them the names of the twelve Apostles in 21:14

f. twelve thousand stadia in 21:16 (size of new city, New Jerusalem)

g. wall is 144 cubits in 21:17

h. twelve gates of pearl in 21:21

i. trees in new Jerusalem with twelve kinds of fruit (one for each month ) in 22:2


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