71 is the Number of God’s Government According to the Bible
Rabbi Tuly Weisz
Last year, there was much hype around the 70th anniversary of Israeli independence, that the 71st birthday seems anti-climatic. The Ministry of Culture had designed a special logo for the occasion and, of course, the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem. From a Biblical perspective as well, 70 was a significant number as it represented the nations of the world at a time when Israel successfully was developing relationships with new countries and gulf states for the first time. No new logo was revealed this year, no major diplomatic breakthroughs were achieved, yet, from a Biblical perspective, 71 is also a number with great significance.
The Book of Numbers describes the travails of the People of Israel in the wilderness. Following the exalted Exodus from Egypt, the nation quickly falls from their lofty perch. They are tired, hungry and thirsty, they complain to Moses.
God recognizes that Moses had reached his limit and instructs him, “Gather for me 70 elders of whom you have experience as elders and officers of the people, and bring them to the Tent of Meeting and let them take their place there with you.”
Moses, along with the 70 elders, form the first government of Israel according to the divine directive, and the next verse sanctifies the hallowed arrangement: “I will come down and speak with you there, and I will draw upon the spirit that is on you and put it upon them; they shall share the burden of the people with you, and you shall not bear it alone.” (Numbers 11: 16,17 The Israel Bible)
No one person can lead a nation by themselves and so God takes some of the spirit (“ruach”) that He had given to Moses and places it upon the elders so that all 71 members of this first government can jointly bear the burden of responsibility.
What was the spirit of Moses? Numbers 12:3 explains that Moses was the most humble of any man. This is precisely why he speaks to God face to face. He doesn't let his ego get in the way of God’s message. All too often, we try to fit God’s word into our agenda. Moses teaches us humility, that as leaders we must fit our agenda into God’s word. As leaders, we are not here for the people to serve us for our glory, but for His glory. Leadership requires humility according to the Bible.
The importance of humble leadership is reinforced when the qualifications of the 70 elders is outlined in Exodus 18:21. The first requirement is not brains, nor charisma nor any other so-called “leadership skill” but “fear of heaven.” Standing humbly before God is what made Judah the natural leader over his other brothers, and what made King Saul and King David stand out as well.
Moses and the 70 elders became the basis for the 71 member Sanhedrin which ruled over Israel for hundreds of years. During the period of the Second Temple, the Sanhedrin met on the Temple Mount since justice and governance were central features of the Temple.
The 71st year of Israel thus presents an opportunity to further incorporate Biblical principles into the governance of the Jewish State. Israel already has laws in place that safeguard Shabbat and Kashrut, that uphold the language of Hebrew and the Jewish calendar and honor the sanctity of life based on Torah principles. As the only Jewish State in the world, these laws are entirely unique and a great source of national pride.
However, in this age of increasing Biblical illiteracy and secularization, there is a danger that Biblical values are eroding, both in Israel and the United States. In America, President Trump formed a Faith Council that meets regularly to discuss governance according to Biblical principles.
Members of Trump’s Faith Council were in Israel this week and met with members of Knesset to encourage them to remain faithful to Biblical principles.
Pastor Jim Garlow and his wife, Rosemary Schindler Garlow, spoke at an event co-sponsored by the Schindler Society and Israel365 and hosted by MK Karen Barak (Likud) and addressed several new members of the Knesset. “We want you to know that we believe strongly that God has elevated President Trump because of his fervent support for Israel. We know that God blesses nations that stand with Israel and we will urge the President to continue to stand with you and we will pray for the success of the new members of Knesset.”
I had the opportunity to share about the importance of the number 71 to the new members of Knesset along with the leaders from President Trump’s Faith Council who lobbied hard last year on behalf of the embassy relocation to Jerusalem and the recent recognition of the Golan Heights. This year, has the potential of achieving even greater milestones in Israeli history, if we recognize that our national destiny is fundamentally linked to our Biblical heritage.
71 was the Bible’s original number for God’s government and like everything in the Bible, every number has infinite significance for the present and the future as well.
According to Jewish tradition, in the future there will be an in gathering of the exiles from the four corners of the world. Check.
And then the Bible says the land will be transformed from a desolate wasteland to a beautiful Garden of Eden. Check.
And finally, we will build the Third Temple and the Messiah will come who will usher in an era of peace on earth where the wolf will lie with the lamb and we will beat our plow- shares into pruning hooks.
Check? Not yet.
According to Jewish tradition, in order to build the Third Temple and even in order to anoint the Messiah, we need a government, a Sanhedrin of 71 to be convened once again so that the spirit of the lord can rest upon the leadership.
Today we have Jewish and Christian leaders standing together for the first time in history. While we might sometimes disagree, when it comes to Israel, we all can agree that pray fervently for the day God restores our government and that the Knesset plays a significant role in bringing peace to Jerusalem the “City of Righteousness”, to this vital region and to the entire world.
Rabbi Tuly Weisz is the director of Israel365 and editor of “The Israel Bible” the first Bible to highlight the connection between the Land and the People of Israel.