Instagram Follow

The Sacred Number 8

According to research done by Val Brinkerhoff, the number 8 seems to be tied to the concepts of rebirth and purification, both in scripture and sacred architecture. Below are a few examples:

To the Israelites, the 8th was the day after the Sabbath and was the first day of a new week, indicating a completed cycle

On the 8th, the Israelites  sacrificed the firstlings of their flocks.

  • 8 souls were saved by the ark of Noah.
  • Israels solemn assemblies were on the 8th day.
  • The High Priest of the temple wore 8¬†different articles of clothing: 1 crown, 2 breastplate, 3 robe, 4 apron, 5 white undergarments, 6 belt, 7 turban, 8 pants.
  • Circumcision was done on the 8th day.
  • Christ was resurrected on the 8th day.
  • The shape of the New Jerusalem, as described in the Book of Revelation, is described as an 8-sided cube.
  • The 8th millennium will be the beginning of the new age of our eternity.
  • The resurrection of some will be in the 2nd resurrection in the 8th millennium before the final judgment.
  • The Brother of Jared built 8 barges.
  • Nephi and his family spent 8 years wandering in the wilderness.
  • Alma and his people traveled 8 days to escape King Noah and his army.
  • The Book of Mormon golden plates had 3 as well as 8 other witnesses and were 8 inches long.
  • The Interpreters or Urim and Thummim that Joseph Smith had were 8 inches long and the silver bow was bent into a figure 8 shape.
  • In LDS theology, a person must be a minimum of 8 years old to be baptized.
  • Many LDS chapels feature 8 lights, 8 pillars (4 on each side of the entrances), octagon-shaped clocks, and other 8-sided architectural motifs.
  • LDS temples commonly feature 8-sided motifs.

Several of the sources above came from the book series “The Day Star: Reading Sacred Architecture” which I highly recommend.

One of the things I learned from the books listed above, was that each number can be tied to a particular shape (this may be covered in more depth in a future post); 3 is tied to a triangle, 4 a square, 6 a hexagon and so forth. The number 8 is tied to the shape of an octagon. We can see these physical shapes being used in scripture, but more dramatically used in the sacred architecture of LDS Temples.

So the next time you are at a temple, pay a little closer attention t0 the number 8, or the octagon and think about why it may have been placed there and what the Lord is trying to teach you by the symbols, or the “architectural representations of doctrinal themes” as Boyd K. Packer put it once.

——-

Updated: August, 20, 2010

  • Janet

    Just found your site and have started reading. I knew about the meaning of the number 8, but didn’t realize all the places it occurred. Very interesting!

    • oneclimbs

      I didn’t even dig that deep either, if you can find any other interesting occurrences let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

  • DurangoUT

    Take a close look at a pic of the SL Temple. At the top of the wall along the roofline on the sides you will see a feature that looks like the cap of the colums. It gives the temple the look of battlements of a medievel structure. (Sorry I can’t describe it any better than that). There are 8 of those features. In fact as you look closely at the towers on the ends of the temple you will see that each tower has 8 as well. In total that is 8 sets of 8. Interesting…

    http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1016&sid=21293552 (I had to chuckle when I read the title of this aritcle)

    • oneclimbs

      Haha, that’s awesome, I had to laugh too when I noticed the part that said the model of the Salt Lake Temple was 88 inches tall!

      When it comes to the role of Christ as mediator, you will always find the number eight, the octagon, octagram, eight-pointed stars, etc.

  • DurangoUT

    I recently noticed in Isa 58 that Isaiah lists the blessings associated with keeping the law of the fast. Is it a coinsidence that he listed 8 blessings? No–I don’t believe in conincidences within scriptural content.

    • oneclimbs

      I don’t believe it is a coincidence either, especially where there are so many other examples. Often things relating to mortal existence and commandments for man are listed in groups of four while divine things come in threes.

      It is important to remember that in these old languages that didn’t employ punctuation, they used different methods of illustrating concepts like chiasmus, parallelism, numerical patterns and what not.

      It’s more practical than mystical for the most part. Most of these things are lost to the average observer, especially when we take the text, add in punctuation, break up the flow with verses all without the capacity to render a perfect translation.

      The number 8 is associated with renewal, rebirth and “starting over”. It is significant that you noticed it in verses discussing fasting, a practice that is intended to make us firm, fixed and immovable, literally transforming and recreating ourselves.