In scripture (especially in Revelation) there are so many references to the number 7. Why is the number 7 thought to be a holy number or God’s number? Why is the number 6 associated with the devil? Also is there any significance in there being 12 tribes of Israel? If there had only been 11 sons or 13 would it have made any difference? I guess what I’m saying is, did the Lord plan for there to be 12 sons or did he just bless Jacob with sons and it happened that there were 12 or is there some kind of significance in the number 12 that made the Dord divinely intervene so there would be 12.
You are absolutely correct that these numbers have special significance. It is extremely difficult to really find the origin of the significance and I don’t know that it has been found. What is known is that these numbers consistently show up with the same associations over and over again. Once that pattern is found it is then further perpetuated, solidifying that meaning. When I was little, I learned about the color indigo because surely something as naturally perfect as a rainbow was composed of 7 colors – 6 would be imperfect, and for whatever reason they didn’t want to introduce us to the concepts of spectrum and color ranges.
Seven (7) is associated with perfection or completeness, and covenant or oaths. 6, by contrast is associated with man and his imperfection. John’s revelation takes this to an extreme and identifies the number of the beast as the number of a man – not terribly unlike King Benjamin’s natural man.
Twelve (12) is associated with the Government of God, or Priesthood. Jehovah build his covenant nation upon the foundation of 12 tribes. Israel had 12 sons, but gave Joseph a double portion that was divided among Ephraim and Manasseh. When the tribes are listed, Ephraim will often replace Joseph in the list and Manasseh gets added on. To prevent the list from now being 13, one of the other sons gets bumped – Levi (who doesn’t inherit land in the Promised Land), Simeon (who is omitted from Moses’ blessing of the tribes in his farewell address), or Dan (who is not represented among the 144,000).
Some other numbers that you may find again and again are 4 (representing the world and worldliness), 5 (grace, favour, and mercy), 8 (baptism, rebirth, and resurrection), and 40 (testing and trial).