Forty is the number to be counted, and the number to be counted shall be forty. JB, in his comment in Nick's liturgy sheet for Ascension points out several biblical instances where time is measured by "forty". I like this - this is interesting.
JB scribbles (the word "scribbles" has been this funny habit for me lately, no evil intentions):
- In the story of Noah and the Great Flood, it rains for "forty days and forty nights" (Gen 7:4, 12, 17; 8:6).
- It takes a full forty days to embalm the body of Jacob, according to Egyptian practice (Gen 50:3).
- Moses spends "forty days and forty nights" on Mount Sinai when receiving the Law from God (Exod 24:18; cf. Deut 9:9-25).
- Moses spends another "forty days and forty nights" on the mountain, encountering God a second time (Exod 34:28; cf. Deut 10:10)
- The Israelite spies scout out the Promised Land for forty days (Num 13:25, 34);
but due to their lack of faith, God requires the Israelites to wander in the desert for forty years (Num 14:33-34).
- The Philistine Goliath taunts the Israelite army for forty days before David fights him (1 Sam 17:16).
- The prophet Elijah travels forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb to encounter God (1 Kings 19:8).
- The prophet Ezekiel lies on his right side for forty days to symbolize the sins of the people of Judah (Ezek 4:6).
- The prophet Jonah preaches in the Assyrian capital, "Forty days more, and Ninevah shall be overthrown" (Jonah 3:4).
- Jesus spent "forty days" in the desert before beginning his public ministry (see Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2). Matthew's Gospel even specifies that it was "forty days and forty nights" (Matt 4:2). - After his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples for forty days, before ascending into heaven (Acts 1:3).
To that you can add such devotional citations as the "Forty Hours Devotion" - when's the last time you've seen one of those? And even in the secular life, the average American work week is forty hours. And in a cross-breeding of entertainment and finances, Krusty the Klown once promised young viewers, "Every time you watch my show, I'll give you FORTY DOLLARS", though the disclaimer states that the checks are not negotiable.