Symbolisms were used in the Old Testament to distinguish between good and evil. The symbols portray a likeness between the entities used as a symbol and usually have a parallel to follow. Symbols can be drawn from historical and/or cultural backgrounds. Apocalyptic literature popularly applied to a group of fourteen books whose place in the canon of the Old Testament is affirmed by the Roman Catholic Church but is denied by Protestant Churches.
The period of transition and decay followed the return of the Jews from Babylon, being written chiefly, if not entirely, between 300 and 30 BC. A few of the outstanding characteristics are the absence of the prophetic element, a somewhat romantic treatment of the past, involving errors, and anachronisms, and a much-elaborated doctrine of angels and demons. Never were they a part of the Hebrew canon and nowhere are they quoted in the New Testament.
While the value of some of the historical documents is universally recognized as repositories of religious truth, they are inferior to the canonical scriptures. “Ancient writers assumed that their listeners would correctly interpret a symbol by making the necessary comparison. Actual settings of the literary genres used by ancient writers is necessary for interpretation of the Bible’s many and marvelous symbols.”
Some forms of Dramatic Symbolism are “Fire,” “Numbers,” “Colors,” and “Animals,” and “Objects.” The use of numbers was widely used to represent symbolic significance. In the Hebrew Old Testament and largely in the Greek New Testament numbers are represented not by numerals or letters of the alphabet but by words spelled out in full. One of the often-used numbers is the number One where God is supreme and there is none other like Him. A true example is the Trinity, where God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one. (Matt. 28:19) This triple grouping of names of the Divine Persons appears also in one of the early apostolic benedictions. (2 Cor. 13:14) While the three persons are distinct within a unified Godhead, they are not separated from each other as three individuals.
Much use is made in the Bible of round numbers, as 100 or 1000, to represent figures of approximate accuracy. The much-used forty is frequently associated with, as forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24:18; I Kings 19:8) Symbolic meaning is attached to certain numbers. Seven is regarded as the perfect number, largely because of its connection with the Sabbath (Gen. 2:2) there were seven Angels, seven Spirits, seven Stars, seven Candlesticks, seven Churches of Asia (Rev. 1:4,12,16,2:1). Multiples of seven were also, as fourteen generations, seventy descendants of Jacob, seventy and sevenfold vengeance (Gen. 4:24; Exodus 1:5; Matt. 1:17). Jubilee was the year following seven times seven years (Lev. 25:8-15).
Ten represented completeness, as ten Patriarchs before the flood and Ten Commandments (Gen. 5; Exodus 34:28). The frequent use of twelve is attributable to the fact that...