When it comes to biblical numerology there is a principle I like to use. That any numbers we consider should only be used to support a principle that already exists in the bible, numbers have a supporting role not a primary one. So in answer to our question: why 10 virgins, we need to look at what is already in scripture to see if there is a parallel with the number ten. Well, it just so happens that there are a few, but I want to draw our attention to two in particular and then I’ll share what I believe is the closest reason for ten virgins. The first parallel is the number ten leading to judgement day. There were ten generations which passed from Adam to Noah when God judged the sin of mankind by sending the great flood, and there are ten virgins which are to be ready for when the Bridegroom comes, which is also the day of the Lord. Jesus himself said “just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26),. The second parallel is the number of ten commandments which represent the marriage covenant given by the Lord to Israel on Mount Sinai. In Leviticus 26:3,12 it reads ‘If you walk in my statutes and are sure to obey my commandments ….. I will walk among you, and I will be your God and you will be my people.”
Whilst these parallels hold interest, I think ultimately the significance of the number ten in this parable is that in Jewish custom ten was and is the minimum required number to form a congregation or assembly which can1 officiate certain religious ceremonies including reading the marriage blessing. Interestingly Ruth 4 gives the account of Boaz assembling ten elders at the city gate to oversee the redemption of Ruth to be his wife. This number ten is when individuals become a collective body and illustrates the corporate nature of the bride, that though she is made up from many individuals, she is one. Paul writes in Romans 12:5 Though we are many we are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.