From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve, Twelve, Twelve

Dodecahedron (by DTR) 
Twelve is not only highly composite and superfactorial, but it is also superabundant and sublime.

It's no wonder then that twelve shows up in all kinds of religious paradigms.  Wikipedia reports that the number 12 is especially important within Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but is also a significant part of many other faith traditions.

Within the Hebrew Bible there are 12 sons of Jacob, who in turn became progenitors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. explains that "in the celestial city, there were twelve gates and twelve types of precious stones."  There were also 12 sons of Ishmael, 12 priests of the Chronicles, 12 stones on the altar of Elijah, 12 explorers sent to Canaan, 12 crops of fruit from the Tree of Life (one each month), 12 names engraved on the pectoral, and 12 "loaves of enduring offerings" on the golden table.

The Christian tradition also includes many duodecuple references.  There were Twelve Apostles of Jesus, 12,000 people sealed from each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (resulting in a total of 144,000), and Twelve Days of Christmas.  Revelation states that "the kingdom of God had twelve gates that were
guarded by the twelve angels."

The Twelvers are the adherents of Shia Islam who believe that "there are twelve Imams [Ali, Hasan, Husayn, and nine of Husayn's descendants], legitimate successors of the prophet Muhammad."  Twelvers also believe these Imams to be "possessed of supernatural knowledge, authority, and infallibility."  Sura 12 of the Qur'an "narrates the story of Prophet Yusuf [Joseph] and his 12 brothers."

In Hinduism, there are Twelve Jyotirlingas ("epitome of God Shiva" in Shaivism), 12 petals in the Anahata ("heart chakra"), and 12 names of the Sun god Surya.  Within other spiritual paths, there were Twelve Labors of Hercules, Twelve Olympians, and Twelve Sons of Odin.  


Copyright December 12, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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