Lockdown in Paris: Day 40

Forty days of that same view. ©Nomadic Frames

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.)

Get caught up on my diary, here.


The image at the top of this page is a still from my series, My (Part-Time) Paris Life, produced by Nomadic Frames.


On today’s bookshelf

40 days to personal revolution. Click book to buy.

My personal wanderings in the desert. Click book to buy.

7 responses to “Lockdown in Paris: Day 40

  1. Returning to the Old Testament, specifically, the Great Flood; it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. There’s the number 40 again. It seems to keep turning up, over and over again.

    I like your idea about 40 as a stand in for a really, really long time. I know the word ‘quarantine’ has its root in the Italian quaranta. Lord knows, this thing seems to be interminable.

    It’s broiling hot here in LA now (90s and counting). But I have a bottle of Aperol and champagne (not Prosecco) and plan on adjourning to Playa Backyardia for the duration. Spritzes up!

    • Yes “40 days and 40 nights” is all over the bible—proof that it was a popular expression. And it’s not my idea (“a really long time”); it’s actually what that expression meant. Similar to saying “a dog’s age,” I figure. 😉 Yes to the link between quarantine and “quarantena”—I completely forgot. I’m going to add that! My readers are full of great ideas today. (You go with that Champagne spritz! Why not?)

  2. Christ was “resurrected” on the 3rd day. I did find this note:


    “Forty days was the period from the resurrection of Jesus to the ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:3).”

    Also for more clarification:

    “ Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated the 40th day after Easter Sunday, that commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven according to Christian belief. … The Bible says Jesus promised the disciples that they would soon receive the Holy Spirit, and asked them to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit had come.”

    • Of course! “On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures…”. How could I forget? I’ve only said that prayer my entire life. And again, even Jesus had to spend “a very long time” (40 days) atoning before he could go to heaven. Even more to my point. I’ve made the correction. Thank you, Tina, for keeping me on point!


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