Here we are: Quarante days of quarantine.* Forty days and forty nights of confinement. That biblical expression, by the way, wasn’t meant as a specific number; it actually just means “a really long time.” The ancient Jews were on to something there.
The number forty has significance in many religions. Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights, and ascended to heaven after 40 days. Moses and his people wandered the desert for 40 years. The Quran mentions 40 as the age when you have reached your intellectual perfection, and also suggests 40 days as a period of purification and repentance. Like Lent for Christians.
The number 40, when used in terms of time for these religions, represents a period of probation, trial, even chastisement. Hitting home, my fellow confined peoples?
The thing about 40, if you’re into numerology, is that it’s the product of 5 (grace) and 8 (new beginnings). But when you apply 40 to an extended period of time, then you’re looking at creation (4) resulting in perfection and completeness (10). Promising.
Think of this as your time in the desert. Transformation might not happen on day 41 but after this “really long time” of trial, we will come out better than before. Just ask Moses, and Jesus, and Muhammad.
*The word “quarantine” comes from “quarantena,” which means a period of 40 days in the Venetian dialect, and was used during the Black Death for ships entering their ports. The passengers and crew had to stay aboard for 40 days before they could come ashore. (Thanks to reader Catadromy for this etymological tidbit.)