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