The multiple of two perfect numbers four and ten. This was deemed a sacred number, as commemorating many events of religious signification, some of which are as follows:
The alleged period of probation of our first parents in Eden; the continuous deluge of forty days and nights, and the same number of days in which the maters remained upon the face of the earth; the Lenten season of forty days' fast observed by Christians with reference to the fast of Jesus in the Wilderness, and by the Hebrews to the earlier desert fast for a similar period; of the forty years spent in the Desert by Moses and Elijah and the Israelites, which succeeded the concealment of Moses the same number of years in the land of Midian. Moses was forty days and nights on the Mount. The days for embalming the dead were forty.
The forty years of the reign of Saul, of David, and of Solomon; the forty days of grace allotted to Nineveh for repentance; the forty days' fast before Christmas in the Greek Church; as well as its being the number of days of mourning in Assyria, Phenicia, and Egypt, to commemorate the death and burial of their Sun God; and as well the period in the festivals of the resurrection of Adonis and Osiris; the period of forty days thus being a bond by which the whole world, ancient and modern, Pagan, Jewish, and Christian, is united in religious sympathy. Hence, it was determined as the period of mourning by the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of the Northern Jurisdiction, United States of America.
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