The number 42 appears in various contexts in Christianity. There are 42 generations (names) in the Gospel of Matthew’s version of the Genealogy of Jesus; it is prophesied that for 42 months the Beast will hold dominion over the Earth (Revelation 13:5); 42 men of Beth-azmaveth were counted in the census of men of Israel upon return from exile (Ezra 2:24); God sent bears to maul 42 of the youths who mock Elisha for his baldness (2 Kings 2:23), etc.
42 also occurs in other religions. There are 42 principles of Ma’at, the Ancient Egyptian personification of physical and moral law, order, and truth. In the judgement scene described in the Egyptian and the Book of the Coming/Going Forth by Day (the Book of the Dead (which evolved from the Coffin Texts and the Pyramid Texts)), there are 42 Gods and Goddesses of Egypt, personifying the principles of Ma’at, who ask questions of the departed, while Thoth records the answers, and the deceased’s heart is weighed against the feather of Truth (Ma’at). These 42 correspond to the 42 Nomes (Governmental Units) of Egypt. If the departed successfully answers all 42, s/he becomes an Osiris.
In Judaism, the number (in the Babylonian Talmud, compiled 375 AD to 499 AD) of the “Forty-Two Lettered Name” ascribed to God. Rab (or Rabhs), a 3rd century source in the Talmud stated “The Forty-Two Lettered Name is entrusted only to him who is pious, meek, middle-aged, free from bad temper, sober, and not insistent on his rights”. [Source: Talmud Kidduschin 71a, Translated by Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein]. Maimonides felt that the original Talmudic Forty-Two Lettered Name was perhaps composed of several combined divine names [Maimonides “Moreh”]. The apparently unpronouncable Tetragrammaton provides the backdrop from the Twelve-Lettered Name and the Forty-Two Lettered Name of the Talmud.
42 is the number with which God creates the Universe in Kabalistic tradition. In Kabbalah, the most significant name is that of the En Sof (also known as “Ein Sof”, “Infinite” or “Endless”), who is above the Sefirot (sometimes spelled “Sephirot”). The Forty-Two-Lettered Name contains four combined names which are spelled in Hebrew letters (spelled in letters = 42 letters), which is the name of Azilut (or “Atziluth” “Emanation”). While there are obvious links between the Forty-Two Lettered Name of the Babylonian Talmud (see further up this page) and the Kabbalah’s Forty-Two Lettered Name, they are probably not identical due to the Kabbalah’s emphasis on numbers. The Kabbalah also contains a Forty-Five Lettered Name and a Seventy-Two Lettered Name.