Biblical vector illustration series, the temptation of Jesus Christ


4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.       Matthew 4:1-11


Buddha could resist the powers of the prince of evil. This Angelic-Buddha-Messiah was tempted by the devil, and he fasted for forty-seven days and nights, without taking an atom of food.  This story taken from “Siamese Life of Buddha,” by Moncure D. Conway, also found in the Fo-pen-hing, and other works on Buddha and Buddhism.

“The Grand Being (Buddha) applied himself to practice asceticism of the extremest nature. He ceased to eat (that is, he fasted) and held his breath. . . . Then it was that the royal Mara (the Prince of Evil) sought occasion to tempt him. Pretending compassion, he said: ‘Beware, O Grand Being, your state is pitiable to look on; you are attenuated beyond measure, . . . you are practicing this mortification in vain; I can see that you will not live through it. . . . Lord, that art capable of such vast endurance, go not forth to adopt a religious life, but return to thy kingdom, and in seven days thou shalt become the Emperor of the World, riding over the four great continents.'”

To this the Grand Being, Buddha, replied: “‘Take heed, O Mara; I also know that in seven days I might gain universal empire, but I desire not such possessions. I know that the pursuit of religion is better than the empire of the world. You, thinking only of evil lusts, would force me to leave all beings without guidance into your power. Avaunt! Get thou away from me!’ “The Lord (then) rode onwards, intent on his purpose. The skies rained flowers, and delicious odors pervaded the air.” 

Jesus about to “begin to preach” when he was tempted by the evil spirit.  Buddha about to go forth “to adopt a religious life,” when he was tempted by the evil spirit.  

Jesus fasted, and was he “afterwards an hungered”  So did Buddha “cease to eat,” and was “attenuated beyond measure.”

With Jesus, The evil spirit took him and showed him “all the kingdoms of the world,” which he promised to give him, provided he did not lead the life he contemplated, but follow him, the devil.  With Buddha, the evil spirit said to Buddha: “Go not forth to adopt a religious life, and in seven days thou shalt become an emperor of the world.”

With Jesus, he resisted these temptations, and said unto the evil one, “Get thee behind me, Satan”?  With Buddha, he resisted the temptations, and said unto the evil one, “Get thee away from me.”

With Jesus, after the evil spirit left him the “angels came and minister unto him”.  With Buddha, after the evil one had left him “the skies rained flowers, and delicious odors pervaded the air.”

Zoroaster, the founder of the religion of the Persians, was tempted by the devil, who made him magnificent promises, in order to induce him to become his servant.  He did not oblige.

Quetzalcoatle, the virgin-born Mexican Saviour, was also tempted by the devil, and a forty days’ fast is among the stories.


Jesus fasted for 40 daysand 40 nights.

 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry    Matthew 4:2

Moses did the same when he stayed on top of the mountain.

  18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.     Exodus 24:18

Elijah also had a long fast, which, of course, was continued for a period of forty days and forty nights. 

So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.    1 Kings, 19:8

St. Joachim, father of the “Holy Bessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God” had a long fast, which was also continued for a period of forty days and forty nights. The story is to be found in the apocryphal gospel Protevangelion.

The ancient Persians had a religious festival which they annually celebrated, and which they called the “Salutation of Mithras.” During this festival, forty days and fourty nights were set apart for thanksgiving and sacrifice.

“The ancient Mexicans had a forty days’ fast, in memory of one of their sacred persons (Quetzalcoatle) who was tempted (and fasted) forty days on a mountain.”

“The ancient Mexicans had a forty days’ fast, in memory of one of their sacred persons (Quetzalcoatle) who was tempted (and fasted) forty days on a mountain.”  Lord Kingsborough says:

The temptation of Quetzalcoatle, and the fast of forty days, . . . are very curious and mysterious.”  

The ancient Mexicans were also in the habit of making their prisoners of war fast for a term of forty days before they were put to death.  The Spaniards were surprised to see the Mexicans keep the vernal forty days’ fast.

The Tammuz month of Syria was in the spring. The forty days were kept for Proserpine.

The India tribes of the New World, the females of the Orinoco would fast 40 days before marriage.

Among the Carib-Coudave tribe, in the West Indies, “when a child is born the mother goes presently to work, but the father begins to complain, and takes to his hammock, and there he is visited as though he were sick. He then fasts for forty days.”

The females belonging to the tribes of the Upper Mississippi, were held unclean for forty days after childbirth.

The prince of the Tezcuca tribes fasted forty days when he wished an heir to his throne, and the Mandanas supposed it required forty days and forty nights to wash clean the earth at the deluge.

At the end of forty daysand fourty nights Noah sent out a raven from the ark. 

After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark.   and sent out a raven …   Genesis 8:6-7

Isaac and Esau were each forty years old when they married.

20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram[a] and sister of Laban the Aramean.    Genesis 25:20

34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.   Gen 26:34

Forty days were fulfilled for the embalming of Jacob.

taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

The spies were forty days in search of the land of Canaan.

25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.    Numbers 13:25

The Israelites wandered forty years in the wilderness. 

The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died …   Joshua 5:6

The land “had rest” forty years on three occasions. 

11 So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.     Judges 3:11

31 ….. Then the land had peace forty years.      Judges 3:31

28 Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon’s lifetime, the land had peace forty years.     Judges 8:28

The land was delivered into the hand of the Philistines forty years.  

13 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.    Judges 13:1

Eli judged Israel forty years.

18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years.    Samuel 4:18

King David reigned forty years.

11 He had reigned forty years over Israel—seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem.      1 Kings 2:11

King Solomon reigned forty years. 

42 Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years.    1 Kings 11:42

Goliath presented himself forty days.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.      1 Samuel 17:16

The rain was upon the earth forty days at the time of the deluge.

12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

Moses was on the mount forty days and forty nights on both occasions.

18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.      Exodus 24:18

28 Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.        Exodus 34:28


The number forty was used by the ancients in constructing temples. There were forty pillars around the temple of Chilminar, in Persia; the temple at Baalbec had forty pillars; on the frontiers of China, in Tartary, there is to be seen the “Temple of the forty pillars.” Forty is one of the most common numbers in the Druidical temples, and in the plan of the temple of Ezekiel, the four oblong buildings in the middle of the courts have each forty pillars.  Most temples of antiquity were imitative—were microcosms of the Celestial Templum—and on this account they were surrounded with pillars recording astronomical ideas.