Before tackling the symbolism of the number fourteen in the Bible, let us first consider the number seven, since fourteen is a multiple of seven. In Hebrew, the word for seven is sheba (shibah), but this word also means promise, oath, or covenant. Hence in Genesis 22:15, 16, we find God swearing (or literally sevening) to Abraham that, because the latter did not waver in his faith in the Lord and was willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac, God would greatly multiply his seed and bless all the families of the earth through it. Similarly, in Genesis 21:29-31, Abraham offers seven ewes to Abimelech in order to secure an oath made between them: “Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because there the two of them took an oath. So they made a covenant at Beersheba…”
The number seven in the Bible denotes perfection, completion, also God’s assurance or oath that His word and purposes stand firm. Accordingly, the number fourteen, the second multiple of seven, simply reinforces this completeness, or seals it in concrete by doubling it. Jacob worked for Laban seven years, received Leah through trickery, and then worked another seven years or fourteen years in all to obtain Rachel as his wife. When Solomon’s first temple was finished, the dedication feast lasted “seven days and seven more days, even fourteen days. On the eighth day (eighth after the second seven day period) he sent the people away and they blessed the king,” (I Kings 8: 65, 66).
The most significant use of the number fourteen is found in the date Nisan 14; on this date occurred the deliverance of Israel from bondage to Egypt, as well as the deliverance of the first born from death by means of the blood of a lamb sprinkled on the doorposts. This event of paramount importance foreshadowed the future deliverance of the entire world of mankind from slavery to sin and death through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. The Jews were commanded to keep this observance called the Passover until the advent of Christ, the Messiah, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1: 29).
Furthermore, we find in the first chapter of Matthew additional references to the number fourteen. In addressing the genealogy of Christ, Matthew writes: “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations,” (Matthew 1: 17). All three generation spans are multiples of the perfect number seven. By this symbolic delineation of time leading to the advent of Christ, the Redeemer, we are assured that God’s plan moves unwaveringly toward its completion. (It is also noteworthy that the name David, broken down into its consonants D-V-D in Hebrew has a numerical value of 4-6-4, totaling 14.) Thus, in repeating the number 14, Matthew is demonstrating that Jesus is, in fact, the Son of David, (Matthew 22: 42, 44).