Topic Study: Seventy and 144,000

(April 2005, and May 2012)

Continued From

This topic, because of it’s length, is continued from Topic Study: Seventy

I             Why The Number 70

In conclusion, it now becomes clear why Jesus chose two sets of disciples, the twelve and the seventy. The twelve bore an obvious relation to the tribes of Israel, the seventy to the gentile nations of the earth as well as to an inner structural entity that existed within the tribal system of preexilic Israel. Because of its numerical link to Genesis 10, the figure seventy itself, when applied to Jesus’ disciples, anticipated that the gospel message would be taken to the gentile nations after his ministry. In our own time, the seventies have been given by the Lord the monumental, yet distinctive, task of bearing the gospel to the gentile nations of the world, “thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling” (D&C 107:25).  (“The Seventy in Scripture” S. Kent Brown, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, By Study and Also By Faith, vol. 1 of Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990): 25–45. or on

Brother Brown also points out that there is a discrepancy between the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of biblical texts.  The Greek often has 72, whereas the Hebrew has 70.  He concludes that 70 is the right number, but in some cases perhaps Greek translators changed the numbers to 72 to try to reconcile to other numbers.  (At the conclusion of this section, see the listing of the 70 individuals from Genesis 10)

II            144,000

This raised a question in my mind, wondering if perhaps the 144,000 had been adjusted as well.  144,000 divided by 72 = 2000, a nice even number.  Perhaps the 144,000 was adjusted from 140,000 = 70 * 2000.  Of course, the 144,000 was described by John as 12,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel (including Manassas but not Dan for some unexplained reason).  140,000 divided 12 is not an even number.

Joseph Smith taught.

Calling of Seventies

If the first Seventy are all employed, and there is a call for more laborers, it will be the duty of the seven presidents of the first Seventy to call and ordain other Seventy and send them forth to labor in the vineyard, until, if needs be, they set apart seven times seventy, and even until there are one hundred and forty-four thousand thus set apart for the ministry.

The Seventy are not to attend the conferences of the Twelve, unless they are called upon or requested so to do by the Twelve. The Twelve and the Seventy have particularly to depend upon their ministry for their support, and that of their families; and they have a right, by virtue of their offices, to call upon the churches to assist them. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Two 1834–37, p.75)

Perhaps Joseph was referring to the missionary aspects of the Seventy’s call, and thus the 144,000 may be the number of missionaries called at some particular time.  But it may be he was thinking of seventy specifically.

From: Kip M Twitchell []

Sent: Friday, May 06, 2005 7:49 AM


Subject: Quick Question

Bro Brown:

Having just read your interesting article on the Seventy (Reprinted by permission from By Study and Also By Faith, vol. 1 of Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990): 25–45.), I wondered if you thought the same scribes that may have changed 70 to 72 in Luke, may have adjusted 140,000 to 144,000 in Revelations?  140,000 divided by 70 is an even 2000, and 144,000 divided by 72 is 2000.  I understand that 140,000 divided by 12 is not evenly divisible.

Kip Twitchell

Brother Brown’s Response

“S. Kent Brown” <>

05/06/2005 02:59 PM

To Kip M Twitchell/Chicago/IBM@IBMUS



RE: Quick Question

Bro. Twitchell,

You are very perceptive to see possible connections between numbers in different parts of the NT text. I have not pursued which groups of the Greek NT manuscripts exhibit the changes in Luke 10. Only if the same group of manuscripts have preserved the 72/144,000 numbers could a person suggest that there was a purpose behind the variant numbers. From a quick look at C. Tischendorf’s NT Greek text of Rev. 14:1, he notes no variant to 144,000 in a known text of Revelation, though one may exist. I don’t find a variant noted in either the Aland edition of the Greek NT, nor the one published by the United Bible Society. I would be interested if you know of a text with the reading 140,000.

Brother Brown

My Response:

No, I don’t know of such a text.  But as a lowly IBM computer consultant who studies the gospel, I am very flattered that you would even ask.

My question came from my study of the Seventy recently.  This week’s announcement about the formation of the 7th and 8th quorums of the Seventy, and the following statement from Joseph Smith caused me to ponder upon the ultimate number of Seventies quorums and the 144,000.  “If the first Seventy are all employed, and there is a call for more laborers, it will be the duty of the seven presidents of the first Seventy to call and ordain other Seventy and send them forth to labor in the vineyard, until, if needs be, they set apart seven times seventy, and even until there are one hundred and forty-four thousand thus set apart for the ministry.”  (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Two 1834–37, p.75).  As I noted, the relationship between 144,000 and 70 is not very direct.

The other problem with 140,000, as I noted, is that it is not easily divisible by 12, thus suggesting that the scribe would have had to change the number of tribes listed or the number of Seventies per tribe as well.  Looking for a manuscript that includes the tribe of Dan in the listing would increase the list to 13.  However, 140,000 isn’t easily divisible by 13 either.  A double portion to Ephriam making the number 14 would be simpler math, but I don’t have any evidence of that either.

I also don’t know how the seven presidents of the Seventy would affect the number of quorums either.   If there were 2000 quorums (144,000 / 72), and every quorum had 7 presidents, then that would make 14,000 (2,000 * 7) [presidents of seventy].  That is an interesting number, particularly if subtracted from 144,000, making 130,000, which is easily divisible by 13 tribes.  But there is no support for the 72, nor the 2000, nor for 10,000 per tribe, nor is 130,000 divisible by 70 or 72.  As you can see, this is beginning to look a little bit like numerology.  I think perhaps I should move into firmer ground for my gospel study.

So, I haven’t solved this little riddle yet.  I’ll look for any results of your able scholarship to help solve it some time in the future.

Thank you for your response.

Ultimate Quorums of the Seventy

[May 6th, 2012].

It seems to me that perhaps the 2000 quorums * 70 per quorum equaling 140,000, could leave the remaining 4000 for a hierarchy of presidencies.  But 4000 is not equally divisible by 7.  7 * 571 = 3997, or 7 * 572 = 4004.  I wonder if perhaps the number would include the Quorum of the 12, the first presidency, totaling 15.  If it also included the Presiding Bishopric, that would be 18.  None of those possible additions solves the problem in a straight forward way either.  None of them allows for creating a number   Based upon the below, I don’t think there is a good reason to try to include the old role of Patriarch to the Church in the count; that isn’t going to solve this either.

So if I were asked by the president of the church today to organize this, and to explain to the membership of the church why I had done so, what would I do?

I would create 2000 quorums.  What tribe designation would I use?  I don’t think I would worry about that too much.  The tribe designation is intended to speak to them coming from all the tribes of Israel.  Because the callings would be issued to brethren worldwide, that would happen.  Their tribe designation is more about the country of origin than their designated linage from patriarchal blessings.  It would be an interesting combination of the tribes of Israel and the world of the gentiles from Noah’s descendants.

Thinking about how this is likely organized today, with one presidency of the seventy for the current 8 quorums, (I suspect the 1st quorum of the seventy is some what independent of the presidency, serving more in administrative positions in church headquarters, and thus taking direction more directly from the Twelve,) I would have one president for every quorum of 70 men at the first level.   This would be then 2000 men.

That number isn’t divisible by 7, so I can’t simply form those into groups of 7 presidents.  So I then see perhaps a hierarchy of presidents, whereby a president presides over 7 quorums, and then another presides over 7 of these “groups” and so on.

I just opened the scriptures, and found this about the presidents of the Seventy.

93  And it is according to the vision showing the order of the Seventy, that they should have seven presidents to preside over them, chosen out of the number of the seventy;

94  And the seventh president of these presidents is to preside over the six;

95  And these seven presidents are to choose other seventy besides the first seventy to whom they belong, and are to preside over them;

96  And also other seventy, until seven times seventy, if the labor in the vineyard of necessity requires it.

D&C 107:93 – 96

I was surprised to see it supports where my mind is going on this.  Is that how one comes to 4000 total presiding presidents?  That can’t be right, because there won’t be as many in the higher orders as there are in the lowest order of presidents.

So I just calculated in Excel that there would be

  • 285 second level presidents, with a remainder of 5 quorums with no second level president
  • 40 third level, with a remainder of 5 second level presidents with no third level president
  • 5 fourth level, with a remainder of 5 third level presidents with no fourth level presidents

But that only leaves presidencies of four.  And it leaves me with 330 + 2000 presidents, for a total of 2330 presidents.  The constant remainder of 5 is interesting.

I wonder how many quorums there would be if there were 7 presidents in the hierarchy?

I haven’t quite got that, but there is an interesting way to get to 3 more seventy needed:  If there is one president at the top of the hierarchy, and 2 at the next level down, then that would add 3 total.    If there are 571 complete presidencies, and three more brethren, that would equal 4000 exactly.

Well, attempted to calculate that, but there was no way to decide where the numbering from 1, to 2 to what at the next level before going to sets of 7 reporting to presidents, or 7 with remainder of 5, or whatever.  Here’s what gets me sort of close.  Total quorums would be 3488.

Level                7th       6th       5th       4th       3rd       2nd      1st                    Total

Presidents        1          2          4          11        72        499      3488                 4077

Remainder                                                        5          5          5                      15

[May 7, 2012]

If there are 2000 quorums containing 140,000 members in total, and we divide 4000 by 7, we end up with 571 quorums, and a remainder of 3.  2000 quorums divided by 571 presidencies means each presidency covers 3.5 quorums on average; one would not split a quorum and have it presided over by two presidencies; instead some presidencies would preside over four quorums, others 3.  This would provide flexibility as well, in densely populated areas some may preside over 7 quorums and others over only 2.

If there is no hierarchy, then each president would be responsible for approximately 35 men.

So here is what I would do with a hierarchy:

1st        2nd      3rd       4th       5th       6th       7th                   Total

Presidents        1          2          4          28        112      448      3405                 4000

Presidencies                             1          4          16        64        487                  572

There is one president of the Seventy; he has two “counselors” in a sense; and there are four others that form the Presidency of First Quorum of the Seventy.  Each of the four would have a single presidency reporting to him.  Each of these 28 men at the 4th level would have four presidents reporting to him, and the same for the 5th level.  The 6th level would have approximately 7 presidents-one presidency—reporting to him.  The 7th level would then have individual quorum’s reporting to them, approximately 40 quorum members on average for each president—some might have a full quorum of 70 reporting but, others would have 20 to 30.  Because each presidency would be responsible for approximately 4 quorums, the numbers reporting to each president can vary easily..

Interesting to ponder that an area presidency of a president and two counselors could easily become an area presidency of seven presidents, with the 1st, his two “counselors” and four others assisting in that presidency.  That is likely how this would be done, converting today’s areas in something managed by Quorums of Seventy in each geography.

This seems like a pretty practical approach to the problem, and yet is consistent with the revelations as I know them.


Based upon my reading of this scripture this morning:

8  And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the Twelve Disciples of the Lamb, who are chosen to minister unto thy seed.

1 Ne. 12:8

I modified the table above to reflect the following:

Level                1st        2nd      3rd       4th       5th       6th       7th                   Total

Type                 1 Pres  Q 12     Discpls 70        70        70        70

Presidents        3          12        72        7          42        448      3503                 4000

Presidencies                                         1          6          64        501                  572

Span of ctrl                                           6          10.6      7.8       40

If the 1st Presidency is the top 3; today’s Quorum of the 12 is the next level; because there are six continents what if there was a set of disciples, ordained to the office of Apostle, for each continent.  That would mean there are 84 total Apostles, which is nicely divisible by 7, which is the same as the number of presidents in a seventies presidency.  The 4th level is the Presidency of the 1st Quorum of the 70.

The 5th level would be a similar 70’s presidency on each continent, supporting the Quorum of the 12 Disciples in a similar manner.  These presidents would have a dual reporting relationship to the Presidency of the 1st Quorum and to the local 12.  The next level down (6th level) was calculated so that there is approximately a 1 – 7 span of control from these presidents to the 7th level president; effectively each president in level 6 having one presidency on average reporting to him in the 7th level.  (The span of control from 4th to the 5th level is 6, and from 5th to 6th level is 10, perhaps just a bit high but tolerable).

The lowest level of presidents, the 7th level, was calculated such that each president has a span of control of 40 people.  This is a very interesting way of looking at the problem.  It would also be possible to look at area presidents which shadow the 1st presidency as well (3 * 6 = 18 additional people).  If I were to add that, I would move the Presidency of the 1st Quorum of Seventy down one level, to the 5th, and insert these new individuals as the 3rd level.

The next thing to ponder on this would be the question of what all this man power would do.

  • 2000 quorums is more than all the missions in the world right now, by many times.  70 members is lower than the average number of missionaries in each mission, since there are only a total of perhaps 60,000 missionaries now.  So this is a doubling of the missionaries in the world.
  • There aren’t 4000 stakes yet, I don’t believe.  So imagine a quorum of 70 dedicated to every two stakes.  That’s a lot of man power.

There would have to be some substantial increase in the type of work the church takes on to justify such leadership demands if it is a very near-term sort of thing.  Or, conversely, it could be out a ways, but I remember the creation of the 1000 stake in 1979 or so, so 30 years for creation of another 1500 stakes might mean something on the order of 200 years before this kind of man power would be needed from natural growth at today’s rates.


I learned last night that there are almost 4000 stakes in the church at present, and only about 500 missions.  The manpower considered in the 144,000 would overwhelm that organization.

I realized that the title of 70 means something different.  The Quorum of the Twelve really are about those inside the church, and gathering those into the church.  But the Seventy:

25  The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.

D&C 107:25

There mission is outward facing.  The name comes from Noah’s descendents in Genesis 10.  Thus they represent everyone, whether covenant Israel or not.  The work the 70 will likely be called upon to do will be more than church work; it will be work that has implications for all people, whether members of the church or not.  There will be a dramatic increase in what the church does, and the 70 will be the key to doing that throughout the world.

As to leadership, and span of control, it’s silly to think that higher level president do not also have quorum responsibilities.  The easies way to think about it is that there is 140,000 members, and 4,000 presidents, and each president, in addition to any reporting relationship he has from another president, also has 35 members of the seventy reporting to him as well.  That’s it.  Whether there is seven hierarchy levels in the presidents or three, I don’t know, and I don’t think the scriptures were that specific.  I guess it would be likely that there would be about 3,500 presidents (500 presidencies) on the lowest level of the hierarchy, 420 at the next level (60 presidencies), about 70 at the next (10 presidencies), and then 1 at the top, with a remainder of 3 presidents.

I realized my analysis above didn’t include the president Bishopric.  Perhaps because of the nature of the responsibilities of the seventy could actually be more temporal—dealing with things outside the church—perhaps all the seventy will report to the presiding bishopric, and they will be dual ordained as presiding Bishops and Presidents of the Quorum of the Seventy.  Not much support for that in the scriptures though that I can think of.

The tribe representation is not an organizing principle of the 144,000; it is simply something that will happen internally in them as they are called.

Interesting analysis I think.

Original Listing of 70 Nations

The following is my personal analysis, verification of the count of the descendants of Noah.  Kent Brown, professor of ancient scripture at BYU suggests that the number 70 originated from the count of the descendants of Noah:  “The number itself, arrived at by counting the names appearing in Genesis 10, is seventy, and both traditions accept this implicitly.”  (“The Seventy in Scripture” S. Kent Brown, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, By Study and Also By Faith, vol. 1 of Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990): 25–45. or on  I after looking over the list for an hour and checking various internet sites (none of which said it explicitly), I have concluded that Noah and his four sons are not included in this list.  Note that, because multiple levels of fathers and sons are included in the list, and the listings of sons seems to be exhaustive, that this doesn’t constitute a neat break up into distinct bodies or tribes; there would be no one except the father and his wife and perhaps daughters in some of the tribes.  Pursuing organizing the families of the earth into groups of 70 is probably not productive; rather the number 70 is indicative of a large group of people meant to encompass all the peoples of the earth, all the gentiles.

1  NOW these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.

2  The sons of Japheth;

  1. Gomer, and
  2. Magog, and
  3. Madai, and
  4. Javan, and
  5. Tubal, and
  6. Meshech, and
  7. Tiras

3  And the sons of Gomer;

  1. Ashkenaz, and
  2. Riphath, and
  3. Togarmah

4  And the sons of Javan;

  1. Elishah, and
  2. Tarshish,
  3. Kittim, and
  4. Dodanim

5  By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

6  ¶ And the sons of Ham;

  1. Cush, and
  2. Mizraim, and
  3. Phut, and
  4. Canaan

7  And the sons of Cush;

  1. Seba, and
  2. Havilah, and
  3. Sabtah, and
  4. Raamah, and
  5. Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah;
  6. Sheba, and
  7. Dedan

8  And Cush begat

  1. Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.

9  He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.

10  And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.

11  Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,

12  And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.

13  And Mizraim begat

  1. Ludim, and
  2. Anamim, and
  3. Lehabim, and
  4. Naphtuhim,

14  And

  1. Pathrusim, and
  2. Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and
  3. Caphtorim

15  ¶ And Canaan begat

  1. Sidon his firstborn, and
  2. Heth,

16  And the

  1. Jebusite, and the
  2. Amorite, and the
  3. Girgasite,

17  And the

  1. Hivite, and the
  2. Arkite, and the
  3. Sinite,

18  And the

  1. Arvadite, and the
  2. Zemarite, and the
  3. Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.

19  And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.

20  These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.

21  ¶ Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.

22  The children of Shem;

  1. Elam, and
  2. Asshur, and
  3. Arphaxad, and
  4. Lud, and
  5. Aram

23  And the children of Aram;

  1. Uz, and
  2. Hul, and
  3. Gether, and
  4. Mash

24  And Arphaxad begat

  1. Salah; and Salah begat
  2. Eber

25  And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was

  1. Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was
  2. Joktan

26  And Joktan begat

  1. Almodad, and
  2. Sheleph, and
  3. Hazarmaveth, and
  4. Jerah,

27  And

  1. Hadoram, and
  2. Uzal, and
  3. Diklah,

28  And

  1. Obal, and
  2. Abimael, and
  3. Sheba,

29  And

  1. Ophir, and
  2. Havilah, and
  3. Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.

Gen. 10:1 – 29

2 thoughts on “Topic Study: Seventy and 144,000

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.