The Number 200

The symbolic meaning of 200 in the Bible is that of insufficiency.

A man named Achan, seeing among the spoils of Jericho 200 shekels of silver and other goods, takes them in spite of the Lord’s command not to do so. Joshua finds out about the theft and, after finding the goods in Achan’s tent, has him stoned to death (Joshua 7). This teaches the insufficiency of money to save someone from the consequences of sin.

The mother of a man named Micah had 200 shekels of silver melted and turned into an idol. Micah used his mother’s idol to start his own ‘house of worship.’ Over time the idolatrous worship grew and was adopted by the tribe of Dan, which became the very first Israelite tribe devoted to idolatry (and may be the reason Dan is not found in Revelation). This show the insufficiency of a man-made religion to please God.

Jews, who hate Paul, start a riot at the temple when they accuse him of breaking one of their (not God’s) laws concerning who was allowed to enter certain temple areas. The Romans learn about the riot and take Paul into custody.

After Paul’s initial testimony before the Sanhedrin, some Jews take a vow to murder Paul as his travels to his next meeting with the Jewish leaders. After the plot against Paul’s life is discovered, the Romans use 200 soldiers to ensure the apostle is safely transported out of Jerusalem and to Caesarea (Acts 21 – 23).

Ezra records that there were 200 “singing men and women” who came out of Babylonian captivity and returned to Judea (Ezra 2:65).

King David’s son Absalom tried to take the throne from his father. David sent an army to oppose him and won. As Absalom was fleeing on a mule his hair, which was recorded as weighing 200 shekels (2Samuel 14:26), got him stuck in a tree he was riding under. After Joab, one of David’s military captains, found out that Absalom was stuck in a tree he had him killed (2Samuel 14).

Most people are aware that Jacob tricked his twin brother Esau out of his birthright (using a bowl of red soup, Genesis 25:29 – 34) and blessing (by pretending to be him when their virtually blind father Isaac gave the family blessing, Genesis 27). Esau’s vow to kill his brother (Genesis 27:41) is enough for Jacob to flee Canaan.

Years later, God commands Jacob to go back home. The idea of running into his brother while traveling, however, scares Jacob. Messengers sent to his brother return to Jacob with the news that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men!

Afraid of his brother exacting revenge on him and his family, Jacob sends him a large gift that includes 200 she-goats and 200 ewes (Genesis 32:14). Ultimately, through God’s grace, the twin brothers meet peaceably and Jacob is able to return home safely.

King Saul, when his hatred for David began to grow because he saw God was with him, devised a way for someone other than himself to kill the future king. Saul’s plan was to use the Philistines, Israel’s sworn enemy, as the means by which David could lose his life.

The king offers David the hand of his daughter Michal (who loved David) in marriage IF he brought back the foreskins from 100 slain Philistines. David not only accepts the challenge, he and his men kill DOUBLE the number of Philistines required for Michal’s hand. David returns to Saul with a bag of 200 Philistine foreskins and marries Michal (1Samuel 18).

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