FORTY. One of the favorite numbers of the Israelites, often having symbolical significance. It was frequently used as the approximate time span of a generation and to designate an extended period of testing, repentance, vigil, or punishment. It is associated with important new developments in the unfolding drama of redemption (e.g. the Flood, the Exodus, Elijah and the prophetic era, the life of Christ, and the birth of the church).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
See Four (5); NUMBER.