St. Holbytla’s Monastery

Reading Tolkien in the Light of Faith

Biblical numerology in the birthday party of Bilbo and Frodo: 111 and 33

with 3 comments

In the “Long Expected Party” we read:

Bilbo was going to be eleventy-one, 111, a rather curious number, and a very respectable age for a hobbit (the Old Took himself had only reaced 130); and Frodo was going to be thirty three, 33, an important number: the date of his ‘coming of age’. (Fellowship of the Ring, p. 22)

Christ died at the age of 33.  Just as Christ carried the cross in his 33rd year, Frodo also carried his cross–the One Ring.  Christ was wrapped in linen cloth and placed on the Sepulchre; Bilbo was wrapped in spider silk in Shelob’s lair.  The ‘resurrection’ of Frodo ushered the Third Age of Gondor.  The Resurrection of Christ ushered the Third Age–the Age of the Gentiles, the Age of the Church.

The number 333 is the symbol of the Holy Trinity.  As Our Lady spoke to Fr. Gobbi:

The number 333, indicates the divinity. Lucifer rebels against God through pride, because he wants to put himself above God. 333 is the number which indicates the mystery of God. He who wants to put himself above God bears the sign, 666, and consequently this number indicates the name of Lucifer, Satan, that is to say, of him who sets himself against Christ, of the Antichrist.

What does Bilbo’s 111 years mean?  If Lucifer wants to be greater than God and makes his mark as the 666, Bilbo recognizes that he is not a God nor a Wizard nor an Elf Lord nor a King of Gondor but a mere hobbit.  So his number is 111.  This is the reason why the Ring has no lust for domination that it can amplify, as what happened to the Ring-wraiths.  This holds true for Frodo as well, and even Gollum.  But the 111 may have another meaning: the One Ring.  If the angels praise the Holy Trinity by singing, “Holy, holy, holy”, the lore of the Ring also repeats the ‘One Ring’ thrice:

One Ring to rule then all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them…

The number 111 + 33 = 144, which is one Gross (Fellowship of the Ring, p. 29).  The number 144 = 12 x 12.  In the Bible, 12 is the number of the sons of Jacob (Israel) and that of the Apostles.  The 12 sons of Jacob begot the Israelite nation.  The 12 apostles begot the Church.  Their sum is 24 = 12 + 12, which is the number of elders around the throne of God (Rev 4:4).


Written by Quirino M. Sugon Jr

December 19, 2009 at 10:52 am

3 Responses

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  1. i thought the church forbade all kinds of divination and soothsaying…why the numerology stuff?


    May 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm

  2. Cam,

    Numerology is simply the study of numbers, specifically the properties of counting numbers 1, 2, 3, …. . In math, this study is called Number Theory.

    If you use numerology to predict the future (e.g. the numerical value of your name is 24, so you will die in your 24th year) or to tame occult powers (e.g. draw a 5-pointed star inside a circle to protect yourself from demons), then the Church forbids this (c.f Catechism of the Catholic Church Art. 2115-2117). But if you use numerology to meditate on the Scriptures, I don’t think this is forbidden.

    In the Bible, 3 (prime number) is for perfection because Hebrew denotes the superlative by thrice-repetition (holy, holy, holy).

    The 7 (prime number) is for graces because there are 7 sacraments and 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. The 7 is also for perfection since God rested on the seventh day, Christ told Peter to forgive his neighbor 70 x 7 = 490 = 7 x 7 x 10, and the Jubilee year is the year after 7×7 = 49 years.

    The 10 may be expressed in terms of 7 and 3: 3 + 7 = 2*5 (note that 2 + 5 = 7 and 5 – 2 = 3). The 10 is for judgment because there are 10 commandments and 10 plagues of Egypt.

    The 12 may be also be expressed in terms of 7: 12 = 4 x 3 (note that 4 + 3 = 7). The 12 is for government since there are 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles.

    Quirino M. Sugon Jr

    May 17, 2010 at 3:28 am

  3. Hi! Is there something wrong with your monkshobbit blog? My posts can’t seem to get in.


    March 20, 2011 at 9:19 am

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