Since ancient times, the number seven (7) has always held a special significance in our universe, the creation of human kind, and in religion. The number 7 is often called the holy number, lucky number, the prophetic number, or the mystical number.
In Eastern Philosophy there are the seven heavens of the Mohammedans and Hindoos, with the seven hells. The Christians in the West have the seven virtues and seven deadly sins, or what those in the New Age movement might call our seven light bodies, the seven chakras, or the seven states of being.
Plato had written in Timseus, that from the number seven was generated the soul of the World, Anima Mundana (Adam Kadmon). To the Greek Mathematician Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans, the number seven is “the essence or first principle of things,” which they applied to the secrets of the universe and creation.
They had called the number seven in Greek ‘heptad’, and thought of it as a religious and perfect number. The Heptad was said to be from the Greek verb ‘sebo’, to venerate (and from the Hebrew Shbo, seven, or satisfied, abundance), being Septos ” Holy”, “divine”, “motherless”, and “a Virgin.” Hipporcrates said the number seven, a sepentary number had occult virtues, which “lends to the accomplishment of all things, and is the dispenser of life and foundation of all its changes.”
The significance of the number seven in math is explained eloquently in The Works of Philo Judaeus: The Contemporary of Josephus, by Philo of Alexandria;
“But seven alone, as I said before, neither produces nor is produced, on which account other philosophers liken this number to Victory, who had no mother, and to the virgin goddess, whom the fable asserts to have sprung from the head of Jupiter: and the Pythagoreans compare it to the Ruler of all things. For that which neither produces, nor is produced, remains immovable. For generation consists in motion, since that which is generated, cannot be so without motion, both to cause production, and to be produced.
And the only thing which neither moves nor is moved, is the Elder, Ruler, and Lord of the universe, of whom the number seven may reasonably be called a likeness. And Philolaus gives his testimony to this doctrine of mine in the following words:—”For God,” says he “is the ruler and Lord of all things, being one, eternal, lasting, immovable, himself like to himself, and different from all other beings.””
Shakespeare has written on life and the number seven: “And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. Closely allied, of course, is the ‘seven years’ apprenticeship’, and that dreaded ‘seven years’ penal servitude’—made so conspicuous in the case of Adolf Beck—which, when the sin merits such severity, becomes twice and three times seven.”
The first reference we have to creation and the number seven comes down to us from Babylonia, discovered in the Sumerian creation myth and flood myth that was found on a tablet excavated in Nippur. These tablets are dated to approximately 1600 B.C. After the Sumerians, the tradition of the number 7 was carried on by Assyrians, with evidence of this found on their Tablets such as 7 gods of sky; 7 gods of earth; 7 gods of fiery spheres; 7 gods maleficent; seven phantoms; spirits of seven heavens, spirits of seven earths. There were the seven attendants to Osiris, whose body was divided into seven and twice seven parts; to Apollo (the Sun), between his seven planets.
The Israelites regarded the number 7 as sacred. Their Levitical purifications lasted seven days, the three great feasts lasted seven days, and between the first and second of these feasts were seven weeks. When someone dies, they perform a ceremony where they walk seven times round the body of the dead repeating prayers, in the belief that this will drive away evil spirits.
They also believed, that to cure the body of a sick man, they had to be anointed seven times with purifying oil. All their oaths were witnessed by seven people. In the bible, the number seven is encoded all through the Old and New Testaments, such as the seven days of creation, the seven vices and seven virtues, and Noah who had seven days’ warning from God to build the Ark before the great Flood; all the way to the seven seals of the Revelation of St John.
Seven is also a sacred number in Masonic symbolism. It is said that in the last century, it took seven members to make a lodge perfect, although today 5 may hold one. The seventeeth degree, called the apocalyptic degree of the “Knight of the East and West,” there in the symbology is the Tracing Board with a man clothed in a white robe and surrounded by seven stars, that is direct reference to Revelation i. 16; “and he had in his right hand seven stars.” .
Let us explore the mythical and mysterious number seven below, with examples of how the number 7 has been used in various ways throughout his-story. I’m sure you will also come up with more 7’s to add to this list.
THE NUMBER SEVEN AND OUR BODY
* Our body has seven parts, the head, chest, abdomen, two legs and two arms
* Our 7th body part that rules all else, is the head with the mind that has seven parts for external use, two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and a mouth.
* We have seven internal organs, stomach, liver, heart, lungs, spleen and two kidneys.
* An adult is made up of around 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms.
* The Seven DNA Polymerase Families that can be further subdivided into seven different families: A, B, C, D, X, Y, and RT.
* Seven endocrines glands in the human body
* Seven Senses or Chakras
* The Seven bodies of the Human microcosm.
* Our voice is made in seven tones
* The Alchemists of the middle ages counted the following seven bodies: Sun- Gold, Moon- Silver, Mars- Iron, Mercury- Quicksilver, Saturn- Lead, Jupiter- Tin, Venus- Copper.
IN THE HEAVENS
* 7 classical planets
* The Moon passes through stages of 7 days in increase, full, decrease, and renewal.
* 7 colors on the rainbow
* 7 days on a week
* 7 sisters on the pleiades
* The Seven Seals
* The Seven Churches
* Seven years for Repentance;
* Seven churches of Asia (or Assiah)
* Seven Angels with Trumpets
* Seven candlesticks of the Holy Places
* Seven Spirits stand before the Throne of God: Michael, Gabriel, Lamael, Raphael, Zachariel, Anael, and Oriphel. (Gustavini.)
* Seven trumpets
* Seven lampstands
* Seven stars
* Seven kings
* Seven thousands slain,
* Seven vials of wrath to be poured out, pace the Apocalypse
* Seven vices
* Seven dips in Jordan, to cleanse himself from Leprosy
* The seven spirits of God: 1. The Spirit of Wisdom. 2. The Spirit of Understanding. 3. The Spirit of Counsel. 4. The Spirit of Power. 5. The Spirit of Knowledge. 6. The Spirit of Righteousness. 7. The Spirit of Divine Awfulness.
* The seven deadly sins are: Pride, Wrath, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Avarice and Sloth.
* The seven virtues are: Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. The first three are called “the holy virtues.” (See Seven Deadly Sins.)
* The seven joys of the Virgin Mary are: The Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Presentation in the Temple, Finding Christ amongst the Doctors, and the Assumption.
* The seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary are: Simeon’s Prophecy, the Flight into Egypt, Christ Missed, the Betrayal, the Crucifixion, the Taking Down from the Cross, and the Ascension, when she was left alone.
* Whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days. – Numbers 19:11
* Jericho were encompassed seven days, by seven priests, bearing seven rams’ horns
* Solomon was seven years building the Temple, which was dedicated in the seventh month
IN CLASSIC MYTHOLOGY
Seven against Thebes
Seven Kings of Rome
Seven Emperors (and period; Rome, history)
Julius Caesar, Augustus, Galba, Hadrian, Nerva, Sallust, Vespasian
Seven hills of Rome
Seven Liberal Arts
Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove in China
Seven Wise Masters, a cycle of medieval stories
The seven wise men of Greece were:
Bias who said, ” Most men are bad,” B.C. 550.
Chilo „ “Consider the end,” B.C. 590.
Cleobulos,, “Avoid extremes,” B.C. 580. .
* Periander „ “Nothing is impossible to perseverance,” B.C.
* Pitticus „ “Know thy opportunity,” B.C. 569.
* Solon „ “Know thyself,” B.C. 600.
* Thales „ “Suretyship is ruin,” B.C. 550
NUMBER SEVEN IN LITERATURE
In Irish mythology, the epic hero Cúchulainn is associated with the number 7. He has 7 fingers on each hand, 7 toes on each foot, and 7 pupils in each eye.
ROMULUS IS 1ST OF 7 KINGS OF ROME
Rome was founded 21 April 753 BC from settlements around a fjord on the River Tiber by Romulus and Remus, sons of the Trojan prince Aenas. Romulus killed Remus and became the first of the seven kings of Rome.
BENEDICT RULED THE MONESTARY FOR 7 YEARS
Accordingly, St. Ceolfrid, appointed by St. Benet Biscop, “completed and ruled the monastery of St. Paul’s seven years, and afterwards ably governed…….the single monastery of St. Peter and Paul in its two separate localities.”
BEDE IS 7 AT SAME TIME AND CAME TO THE MONESTARY
About the same time as the dedication of St. Paul’s, there came to the monastery; Bede, then a child of seven. He was born, as he himself tells us “in the territory of that same monastery” and was sent there to be educated by Abbott Ceolfrid.