4 – The Numbers

The Candidate Numbers

According to the Man in Black and Ilana, a number of select individuals were chosen as candidates to replace Jacob in the job of protecting the Island. The Man in Black further alleges that Jacob is responsible for bringing the candidates to the Island. Those chosen as candidates appear to enjoy a special protected status among the Others. As of 2007, according to Ilana, there are only six candidates remaining. (“The Substitute”)  (“Lighthouse”)  (“Dr. Linus”) Two candidates, Sayid and either/both Jin or Sun, were subsequently killed due to a trap set up by the Man in Black. Jacob revealed that the candidates are chosen because they are flawed and the names are crossed out because they fulfill a meaning, e.g. Kate becoming a mother. However, if a candidate wanted the position then the job would be theirs and their name being crossed off is “just a line of chalk”. Due to this any one of the Candidates could have become the protector of the island. (“The Candidate”) In late 2007, Jack Shephard accepted the job to replace Jacob, becoming the new protector of the Island. (“What They Died For”) Shortly after, Jack realized that he was not supposed to protect the Island, but to die saving it, since he said himself the Island was all he had left. Before he died, he named Hurley as his successor. (“The End”)

Inside Jacob’s cliffside cave, the numbers were revealing to represent the candidates.


The Candidate’s and Corresponding Number Symbolism

#4 - John Locke

#8 - Hurley Reyes

#15 - James Sawyer

#16 - Sayid Jarrah

#23 - Jack Shephard

#42 - Kwon

#42 - Kwon

Four (#4) 

4 is the first of the Numbers. Below is a list of appearances on the show, by episode chronology.

4 Number Symbolism

#4 - John Locke




Fertility (Water)

Sun (Fire)

Occurrences in LOST

  • Jack told the pilot that at least 48 people survived the plane crash.
  • The doubling cube showed number 4 while Locke explained backgammon to Walt. (This changed to a 16 in the same scene.) (“Pilot, Part 2”)
  • Locke blew the whistle 4 times before Vincent came running out of the jungle. (“Tabula Rasa”)
  • Locke had lived with his paralysis for 4 years. (“Walkabout”)
  • Sawyer told Kate, “It’s about time. I made this birthday wish 4 years ago.” (“White Rabbit”)
  • Boone’s T-shirt had the number 84 on it (in the form of a Japanese kanji symbol). (“Solitary”)
  • Sayid said the beach would be eroded in 4 days.
  • Hurley said Charlie shot Ethan 4 times. (“Homecoming”)
  • The Number 4 appeared on a jersey of a rugby player shown on the television in the bar where Sawyer met Christian Shephard. (“Outlaws”)
  • Leonard Simms was playing the game Connect Four. (“Numbers”)
  • Martha Toomey told Hurley that Sam Toomey had been dead for 4 years. (“Numbers”)
  • Hurley’s grandpa, Tito, was the 4th relative he introduced to reporters after winning the lottery. (“Numbers”)
  • Hurley said his grandpa Tito had a pacemaker put in him “4 years ago.” (“Numbers”)
  • Sarah’s PJs had the number 44 printed onto the left shoulder and back (“Do No Harm”)
  • Charlie said that only 4 people at the camp knew their blood type. (“Do No Harm”)
  • Sawyer read a car magazine to calm a crying Aaron. The text he read included the words 400 Horses and 4.4 Ltr power plant into a 6 speed transmission. (“The Greater Good”)

  • Kate counted to 4 before she noticed light shifting as she was being lowered in to the hatch. (“Man of Science, Man of Faith”)
  • Jack mentioned that there were still 4 guns left (1 being with the raft crew). (“Man of Science, Man of Faith”)
  • Locke told Desmond that their plane crashed 44 days ago. (“Man of Science, Man of Faith”)
  • Kate retrieved 4 Apollo candy bars from the hatch pantry when she attempted to go through the vents. (“Adrift”)
  • The alarm sounded 4 minutes before the countdown timer expired, where the numbers must be entered. (“Adrift”)
  • Libby told Ana Lucia that Donald would be the “fourth one to go” if they didn’t help with his injury. (“The Other 48 Days”)
  • Goodwin said to Ana Lucia, “I’m worried about you Ana. You’ve had him down there for 4 days.” (“The Other 48 Days”)
  • Ana Lucia’s mother said that Jason put 4 bullets into Ana Lucia. (“Collision”)
  • Matthew Reed had been working with Ana Lucia for 4 months when he allowed her to rejoin the police force. (“Collision”)
  • Sun said she was told what to do for 4 years. (“The Hunting Party”)
  • Henry Gale told Sayid that his balloon crashed on the island 4 months ago. (“One of Them”)
  • In The Staff there were 4 planes hanging over the baby cradle. (“Maternity Leave”)
  • The Blast Door map featured the expression “√16. √64. √225” beneath The Flame which evaluates to 4, 8, and 15. (“Lockdown”)
  • Ben says “4 months ago, I was part of the search party” (“Dave”)
  • Ana Lucia asked Christian Shepard, “You’re ready to go now? After 4 days of drinking?” (“Two for the Road”)
  • The September 22nd System Crash occurred at 4:16. (“?”)
  • Mrs. Klugh gave Michael a list of 4 names. (“Three Minutes”)
  • Libby gave Desmond 4 dollars to buy his coffee. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”)

  • Zander was missing for 4 months before Cliff began to search for him. (Bad Twin)
  • Cliff began his search for Zander on April 15th (4/15) (Bad Twin)

  • The number of the locker that housed Kate’s dress was 841. (“A Tale of Two Cities”)
  • Eddie Colburn’s Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department ID number was 84023. (“Further Instructions”)
  • Sawyer’s prisoner ID number was 840. (“Every Man for Himself”)
  • Munson’s prisoner ID was 248 in the prison that Sawyer was also in. (“Every Man for Himself”)
  • Eko found his youth photo in the 4th chapter of Isaiah. (“The Cost of Living”)
  • 4:8:15 was carved into Eko’s stick. (“The Cost of Living”)
  • 4 chimes were heard while Desmond was inspecting the ring. (“Flashes Before Your Eyes”)
  • Mikhail said that after the purge, 4 men appeared on the lawn. (“Enter 77”)
  • Nikki had a role in the 4th Season of Exposé. (“Exposé”)
  • Juliet said it was the 4th time her shoulder was dislocated. (“Left Behind”)
  • The Man in Black flashed 4 bright white lights at Kate and Juliet as they were hiding in the trees. (“Left Behind”)
  • Ben released toxic gas in the van at 4 in the afternoon, killing his father. The rest of the Purge ostensibly occurred at the same time. (“The Man Behind the Curtain”)
  • Charlie claimed he held his breath for 4 minutes. (“Greatest Hits”)
  • Charlie was the 4th person to pass Nadia on the streets. (“Greatest Hits”)

  • Penelope Widmore’s home address was 423 Cheyne Walk. (“The Constant”)
  • Ben said he was going to see “Mr. and Mrs. Kendrick in 4E”. (“The Shape of Things to Come”)
  • Jack resuscitated Desmond after compressing his chest 4 times, attempting to revive him after the helicopter crashed. (“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 2”)
  • There were 4 dogs in cages as Sayid walked to meet Ben in the veterinarian’s office. (“The Economist”)
  • The phone number Penny gave Desmond was 7946 0893 (“The Constant”)
  • Each DHARMA van moved around using 4 tires.

  • Miles sensed the graves of 4 dead U.S. soldiers. (“Jughead”)
  • Juliet fired 4 shots at the people in the outrigger. (“The Little Prince”)
  • On the beach, Rousseau fired the gun 4 times – once at Robert, three times at Jin. (“This Place Is Death”)
  • The donkey wheel blinked 4 times before John Locke turned it the final time. (“This Place Is Death”)
  • Desmond told Ms. Hawking that going to the Island had cost him 4 years of his life. (“316”)
  • Jack’s Grandfather, Ray, made 4 failed attempts to escape from his retirement home. (“316”)
  • Jack saw a photo of the Island dated September 23, 1954. (“316”)
  • The death date on the headstone John Locke visited was April (month number 4) 8, 2006. (“The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”)
  • Widmore asked John Locke how long it had been since he walked into the Others’ camp. Locke replied, 4 days. (“The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”)
  • The final time flash landed the survivors in 1974 (“LaFleur”)
  • LaFleur beeped the horn 4 times for Miles to come outside. (“LaFleur”)
  • The water tank at the flame bore the number 4 (“Namaste”)
  • Young Miles found the dead body of Mr. Vonner in apartment 4. (“Some Like It Hoth”)
  • Sawyer directed Miles to erase security monitor 4 where Sawyer and Kate appeared. (“Some Like It Hoth”)
  • Horace told Miles to deliver a package to Radzinsky at grid 334. (“Some Like It Hoth”)

  • Kate and Edward Mars went through security at LAX at a booth labeled 4F. (“LA X, Part 2”)
  • The license plate of the taxi that Kate carjacked was 4DQ5554. (“What Kate Does”)
  • John Locke was number 4 on Jacob’s list on the cave wall. (“The Substitute”)
  • John Locke told his Physical Education students to turn to chapter 4 on reproductive study. (“The Substitute”)
  • Richard Alpert had the Bible open to Luke chapter 4 when he was in jail. (“Ab Aeterno”)
  • Lightning struck 4 times before the Man in Black appeared to Richard. (“Ab Aeterno”)
  • There were 4 mirrors at the Lighthouse. (“Lighthouse”)
  • Ilana returned from the Black Rock with 4 sticks of dynamite. (“Everybody Loves Hugo”)
  • When Desmond was tied to the tree, the rope was wrapped around his chest 4 times. (“Everybody Loves Hugo”)
  • When Hugo and Libby were talking at Santa Rosa, a patient was playing Connect 4 in the background (“Everybody Loves Hugo”)
  • There were 4 blocks of C4. (“The Candidate”)

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Four (#4)

The meaning of Four serves as a backbone to the anatomy of numbers we experience in our lives and in our Tarot readings.

If it were not for the number Four, we would be lifted into the energy realms like helium balloons: Unfettered, ungrounded, and hopelessly lost. We need structure, we need to be grounded, and the number Four is a necessary vibration attesting to this vital need.

To illustrate this necessity, consider just a few of the corner stones linked with the meaning of Four.

  • Four Elements: Water, Earth, Fire, Air
  • Four Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Four Directions: North, South, East, West

Furthermore, consider the pyramids – these phenomenal temples are constructed upon a base of four. Similarly, our homes are founded upon square (four) angles. This is no coincidence. Over the ages humankind has recognized the stability presented by the number Four and has utilized it to his greatest advantage.

Likewise, as spiritual practitioners, we can utilize the philosophic meaning of Four to advance our progress on a soul-level.

We do this by recognizing the grounding energy of number Four. When we find ourselves out of synch, and feel ourselves spiraling out of control (like the helium balloon lost in forever with no clear direction) the concept of Four can get us back on the ground.

Granted, floating high above the mundane can be a pleasurable experience, but being in this state will never serve us full-time. We simply must have anchors and stabilizers in our lives in order to function.

Not only do Four’s ask these tough questions of us, Four also answers these questions with calm authority. When we are in doubt, and directionless, the energy of Four can settle us and assure us that indeed, we do have the ability to establish an energetic foundation that will enable steady progress on our path.

From a Tarot perspective, the meaning of Four is highly significant as we see its foundation represented in the four suits of the deck. The minor arcana is separated into four suits: Cups, Swords, Pentacles, and Wands. This lends further evidence of the immense stability of the Four. It is the architectural basis of a powerful oracle, and as such should be given great consideration in our spiritual practices.

Visually, the meaning of Four illustrates (inverted too):

  • Right angle – Structure, Base, Foundation
  • Cross – Faith, Source, Centering
  • Triangle – Creativity working with a plan, Union of balance
  • Straight lines – Walking the straight and narrow path

Common associations with the meaning of Four:

  • Tarot Cards: The Emperor, Hanged Man (not necessarily numerically, but consider the crossed legs of the featured hanged man – they are in the formation of a Four – food for thought), Four of Wands, Four of Cups, Four of Swords, Four of Pentacles
  • Colors: Green
  • Letters: D, M and V
  • Qabalah symbol: Daleth
  • Astrological: Mars, Mercury

Potential Personality of Four:

As we might expect, people who resonate with the number Four frequency are stable, mature, and solid leaders among us. If something needs to get done thoroughly with an eye for detail, go to a number Four personality. They will get the project done in an orderly, methodical way with casual ease (and likely it’ll get done on time, and within a nice budget too). Four people know they need structure in their lives and sometimes feel misunderstood. However, this is okay with them because they know the importance of their dispositions, and recognize the role they play in the lives of others is necessary for progress.

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The Emperor (IV) 

The Emperor (IV) is the fourth trump or Major Arcana card in traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.

Description and symbolism

A. E. Waite was a key figure in the development of modern Tarot interpretations. However, not all interpretations follow his theology. Usually all Tarot decks used for divination are interpreted through personal experience and standards.

Some frequent keywords used by card readers are:

  • Fathering —– Stability —– Authority —– Power
  • Control —– Discipline —– Command —– Common sense
  • Status quo —– Order —– Structure —– Egocentrism
  • Tradition —– Rigidity —– Leadership —– Experience
  • Inflexibility —– Conservative ways —– Organization

The Emperor sits on his throne, holding a scepter, accompanied by the heraldic Eagle of the Holy Roman Empire. This is usually on his shield though the heraldic eagle is sometimes a free-standing statue or live bird. He symbolizes the top of the secular hierarchy, the ultimate male ego. The Emperor is the absolute ruler of the world.


The essential features of the design for The Emperor card have changed very little through the centuries. The Emperor sometimes got caught up in the censorship placed on the Papess (The High Priestess) and the Pope (The Hierophant), as when the Bolognese card makers replaced the Papess (High Priestess), Pope (Hierophant), Empress, and Emperor with four Moors or Turks. In the Minchiate, the first of the two Emperors are assigned number III because of the removal of the Papess (High Priestess) from the deck.


The Emperor symbolizes the desire to rule over one’s surroundings, and its appearance in a reading often suggests that the subject needs to accept that some things may not be controllable, and others may not benefit from being controlled.

As with all Tarot cards, multiple meanings are possible. Where the Empress is the Feminine principle, the Emperor is the Masculine. Most individuals will relate to this card in the same way they relate to their own father.

Mythopoetic approach

The Emperor is Key Four of the Major Arcana. Fours are stable numbers; four walls, four seasons, four corners. It takes a massive amount of energy, comparatively, to move them. The strength of The Emperor is the stability he brings. The weakness is the risk of stagnation.

Emblematic of the power of The Emperor is the origin of the god Zeus. After Gaea (see also The Empress) created the world, she created a consort, Uranus (sky). Uranus imprisoned Gaia’s youngest children in Tartarus, deep within Earth, where they caused pain to Gaia. She created the archetypal scythe and gave it to Kronos, who ambushed his father and castrated him.

Kronos followed in the sins of his father, only he let his children be born, then swallowed them. In the end, his son Zeus (through the good offices of another avatar of The Empress, Rhea) escapes being consumed and engineers a revolution.

Instead of eating his children, Zeus eats the Goddess destined to bear the child who will engineer his downfall, Metis. And he becomes the Emperor.

The Emperor is connected to Key 13, Death, through its cross sum (the sum of the digits). Emperors maintain their power through death and through their relationship with the other 13 of the tarot; The Queens (who legitimate their rule and bear their heirs). He is also strongly associated with Life; his scepter is an ankh, the symbol of life. But he is in the mountains, separated from the pulse of life. The sign of the Emperor is associated with the sun sign of Aries. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac and is the leader. The Emperor, like Aries, is fiery, powerful, authoritative and very egotistical.

King Minos is another aspect of this archetypal image. He was, mostly, a good king who increased and protected Crete for many years. But he took his kingdom by means of a trick. He and his brothers disputed who should rule, and he prayed to Poseidon to send a sign from the sea that he was the chosen of the gods, which he promised to immediately sacrifice to the god. Poseidon sent a magnificent bull, and Minos was proclaimed king. But he balked at fulfilling his promise to slay the animal, and substituted a bull from his own herds. In so doing, as Joseph Campbell put it he “converted a public event to personal gain, whereas the whole sense of his investiture as king had been that he was no longer a mere private person. The return of the bull should have symbolized his absolutely selfless submission to the functions of his role.” And the consequences were catastrophic; Poseidon afflicted the Cretan queen, Pasiphae, with an unquenchable desire for the bull. Their coupling produced the Minotaur, who was fed on human flesh.

The Emperor’s power and apparent stability bring great comfort, self worth, power. But the danger, as Minos discovered, is that we may gain a sense of personal entitlement beyond our actual rights. That way leads to corruption, material or spiritual.

Generally, when the Emperor appears in a spread, he is something to be overcome. Some rigidity of thinking, some inflexibility of approach, some external force keeping us from our destiny. A comforting myth the Querent has outgrown.

Sometimes, he represents the exterior forces we must accommodate. Sometimes, he is the superego.

The two rams on each sides of his throne represent Aries presenting him as a powerful dictator for his time and showing his potential thirst for conquering in war.

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The Hanged Man (XII) 

The Hanged Man (XII) is the twelfth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.

Description and symbolism

Modern versions of the tarot deck depict a man hanging upside-down by one foot. The figure is most often suspended from a wooden beam (as in a cross or gallows) or a tree. Ambiguity results from the fact that the card itself may be viewed inverted.

In his book The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, A. E. Waite, the designer of the Rider-Waite tarot deck, wrote of the symbol:

The gallows from which he is suspended forms a Tau cross, while the figure—from the position of the legs—forms a fylfot cross. There is a nimbus about the head of the seeming martyr. It should be noted (1) that the tree of sacrifice is living wood, with leaves thereon; (2) that the face expresses deep entrancement, not suffering; (3) that the figure, as a whole, suggests life in suspension, but life and not death. […] It has been called falsely a card of martyrdom, a card a of prudence, a card of the Great Work, a card of duty […] I will say very simply on my own part that it expresses the relation, in one of its aspects, between the Divine and the Universe.

He who can understand that the story of his higher nature is imbedded [sic] in this symbolism will receive intimations concerning a great awakening that is possible, and will know that after the sacred Mystery of Death there is a glorious Mystery of Resurrection.

Waite suggests the card carries the following meanings or keywords:

  • Sacrifice —– Letting go —– Surrendering —– Passivity
  • Suspension —– Acceptance —– Renunciation —– Patience
  • New point of view —– Contemplation —– Inner harmony
  • Conformism —– Non-action —– Waiting —– Giving up


The Hanged Man’s symbolism points to divinity, linking it to the Passion in Christianity, especially The Crucifixion; to the narratives of Osiris in Egyptian mythology, and Mithras in Ancient Persian mythology and Roman mythology. In all of these archetypal stories, the destruction of self brings life to humanity; on the card, these are symbolized respectively by the person of the hanged man and the living tree from which he hangs bound.

The Hanged Man is also associated with Odin, the primary god in Norse mythology. Odin hung upside down from the world-tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days to attain wisdom and thereby retrieved the runes from the Well of Wyrd, which in Norse cosmology is regarded as the source and end of all sacred mystery and knowledge. The moment he glimpsed the runes, he died, but the knowledge of them was so powerful that he immediately returned to life.

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