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In many ancient cultures, Hebrew included, the number seven often signifies completeness and/or perfection (for more information see either Numerical Sayings in the OT, W. Roth or IVP New Bible Dictionary, ed. Marshall, Miller, Packer, Wiseman, p834). Therefore, it is often used in an emphatic sense. This is seen in Peter's question: "should I forgive seven ...


Your two examples are two different numbers. Lamech speaks of seventy-seven times (77), while Jesus says seventy times seven (490). It's hard to say exactly what Lamech meant, as his story is badly incomplete--it doesn't say who he killed or why, or what happened after that. So it's difficult to draw any conclusions here. As for Jesus's answer to Peter, ...

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