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By the Pythagoreans the heptad–7–was called “worthy of veneration.” It was held to be the number of religion, because man is controlled by seven celestial spirits to whom it is proper for him to make offerings. It was called the number of life, because it was believed that human creatures born in the seventh month of embryonic life usually lived, but those born in the eighth month often died. One author called it the Motherless Virgin, Minerva, because it was nor born of a mother but out of the crown, or the head of the Father, the monad. Keywords of the heptad are fortune, occasion, custody, control, government, judgment, dreams, voices, sounds, and that which leads all things to their end. Deities whose attributes were expressed by the heptad were Aegis, Osiris, Mars, and Cleo (one of the Muses).
Among many ancient nations the heptad is a sacred number. The Elohim of the Jews were supposedly seven in number. They were the Spirits of the Dawn, more commonly known as the Archangels controlling the planets. The seven Archangels, with the three spirits controlling the sun in its threefold aspect, constitute the 10, the sacred Pythagorean decad. The mysterious Pythagorean tetractys, or four rows of dots, increasing from 1 to 4, was symbolic of the stages of creation. The great Pythagorean truth that all things in Nature are regenerated through the decad, or 10, is subtly preserved in Freemasonry through these grips being effected by the uniting of 10 fingers, five on the hand of each person.
The 3 (spirit, mind, and soul) descend into the 4 (the world), the sum being the 7, or the mystic nature of man, consisting of a threefold spiritual body and a fourfold material form. These are symbolized by the cube, which has six surfaces and a mysterious seventh point within. The six surfaces are the directions: north, east, south, west, up, and down; or, front, back, right, left, above, and below; or again, earth, fire, air, water, spirit, and matter. In the midst of these stands the 1, which is the upright figure of man, from whose center in the cube radiate six pyramids. From this comes the great occult axiom: “The center is the father of the directions, the dimensions, and the distances.”
The heptad is the number of the law, because it is the number of the Makers of Cosmic law, the Seven Spirits before the Throne.
The number seven is of various, and manifold power, for it consists of one, and six, or of two, and five, or of three and four, and it hath a Unity, as it were the coupling together of two threes: whence if we consider the several parts thereof, and the joining together of them, without doubt we shall confess that it is as well by the joining together of the parts hereof, as by its fullness apart most full of all Majesty.
And the Pythagorians call it the Vehiculum of mans life, which it doth not receive from its parts so, as it perfects by its proper sight of its whole, for it contains body, and soul, for the body consists of four Elements, and is endowed with four qualities: Also the number three respects the soul, by reason of its threefold power, viz. rational, irascible, and concupiscible.
The number seven therefore, because it consists of three, and four, joins the soul to the body, and the virtue of this number relates to the generation of men, and it causes man to be received, formed, brought forth, nourished, live, and indeed altogether to subsist. For when the genital seed is received in the womb of the woman, if it remain there seven hours after the effusion of it, it is certain that it will abide there for good: Then the first seven days it is coagulated, and is fit to receive the shape of a man: then it produces mature infants, which are called infants of the seventh month, i. e. because they are born the seventh month. After the birth, the seventh hour tries whether it will live or no: for that which shall bear the breath of the air after that hour is conceived will live. After seven days it casts off the relics of the Navel.
After twice seven days its sight begins to move after the light: in the third seventh it turns its eyes, and whole face freely. After seven months it breeds teeth: After the second seventh month it sits without fear of falling: After the third seventh month it begins to speak: After the fourth seventh month it stands strongly, and walks: after the fifth seventh month it begins to refrain sucking its Nurse:
After seven years its first teeth fall, and new are bred fitter for harder meat, and its speech is perfected: After the second seventh year boys wax ripe, and then is a beginning of generation: At the third seventh year they grow to be men in stature, and begin to be hairy, and become able, and strong for generation: At the fourth seventh year they begin to barnish, and cease to grow taller: In the fifth seventh year they attain to the perfection of their strength: The sixth seventh year they keep their strength; The seventh seventh year they attain to their utmost discretion, and wisdom, and the perfect age of men.
But when they come to the tenth seventh year where the number seven is taken for a complete number, then they come to the common term of life, the Prophet saying, Our age is seventy years.
The utmost height of mans body is seven feet. There are also seven degrees in the body, which complete the dimension of its altitude from the bottom to the top, viz. marrow, bone, nerve, vein, artery, flesh, skin. There are seven, which by the Greeks are called black members, the Tongue, the Heart, the Lungs, the Liver, the Spleen, and two Kidneys. There are also seven principle parts of the body, the head, the breast, the hands, the feet, and the privy members.
It is manifest concerning breath, and meat, that without drawing of the breath the life doth doth not endure above seven hours: and they that are starved with famine, live not above seven days.
The Veins also, and arteries (as Physicians say) are moved by the seventh number. Also judgments in diseases are made with greater manifestation upon the seventh days, which Physicians call critical, i. e. judicial.
Also of seven portions God Creates the soul, as divine Plato witnesses in Timeus. The soul also receives the body by seven degrees.
All difference of voices proceeds to the seventh degree, after which there is the same revolution. Again, there are seven modulations of the voices, Ditonus, Semiditonus, Diutessaron, Diapente with a half-tone, Diapente with a half-tone, and Diapason.
There is also in Celestials a most potent power of the number seven. For seeing there are four corners of the Heaven Diametrically looking one towards the other, which indeed is accounted a most full, and powerful aspect, and consists of the number seven. For it is made from the seventh Sign, and makes a Cross, the most powerful figure of all, of which we shall speak in its due place. But this you must not be ignorant of, that the number seven hath a great Communion with the Cross. By the same radiation, and number the solstice is distant from Winter, and the Winter equinox from the Summer, all which are done by seven Signs.
There are also seven Circles in the Heaven, according to the longitudes of the Axle tree. There are seven Stars about the Arctic Pole, greater, and lesser, called Charles’ Wain also seven Stars called the Pleiades, and seven Planets, according to those seven days constituting a week. The Moon is the seventh of the Planets & next to us observing this number more than the rest, this number dispensing the motion, and light thereof. For in twenty eight days it runs round the Compass of the whole Zodiac, which number of days, the number seven, with its seven terms, viz. from one to seven, doth make, and fill up, as much as the several numbers, by adding to the Antecedents, and makes four times seven days, in which the Moon runs through, and about all the longitude, and latitude of the Zodiac by measuring, and measuring again: with the like seven of days it dispenses its light, by changing it;
For the first seven days unto the middle as it were of the divided world, it increases; the second seven days it fills its whole Orb with light; the third by decreasing is again contracted into a divided Orb; but after the fourth seven days, it is renewed with the last diminution of its light, and by the same seven of days it disposes the increase, and decrease of the Sea, for in the first seven of the increase of the Moon, it is by little lessened; in the second by degrees increased: but the third is like the first, and the fourth doth the same as the second.
It is also applied to Saturn, which ascending from the lower, is the seventh Planet, which betokens rest, to which the seventh day is ascribed, which signifies the seven thousandth, wherein (as John witnesses) the Dragon, which is the Devil, and Satan, being bound, men shall be quiet, and lead a peaceable life.
Moreover the Pythagorians call seven the number of Virginity, because the first is that which is neither generated, or generates, neither can it be divided into two equal parts, so as to be generated of another number repeated, or being doubled to bring forth any other number of it self, which is contained within the bounds of the number ten, which is manifestly the first bound of numbers, and therefore they dedicated the number seven to Pallas.
It hath also in Religion most potent signs of its esteem, and it is called the number of an oath. Hence among the Hebrews to swear is called Septenare, (i. e.) to protest by seven. So Abraham, when he made a Covenant with Abimelech, appointed seven Ewe Lambs for a testimony. It is also called the number of blessedness, or of rest, whence that,
O thrice, and four times blessed!
viz. in soul, and body.
The seventh day the Creator rested from his work, wherefore this day was by Moses called the Sabbath (i. e.) the day of rest; hence it was that Christ rested the seventh day in the grave. Also this number hath a great communion with the Cross, as is above shewed, as also with Christ. For in Christ is all our blessedness, rest, and felicity besides, it is most convenient in purifications.
Whence Apuleius saith, and I put my self forthwith into the bath of the Sea, to be purified, and put my head seven times under the Waves.
And the Leprous person that was to be cleansed, was sprinkled seven times with the blood of a Sparrow; and Elisha the Prophet, as it is written in the Second Book of the Kings, saith unto the Leprous person; Go, and wash thy self seven times in Jordan, and thy flesh shall be made whole, and thou shalt be cleansed, and it follows a little after, And he washed himself seven times in Jordan, according to the Prophets saying, and he was cleansed.
Also it is a number of repentance, and remission: Hence was ordained the seventh years repentance for every sin, according to the opinion of the wise man, saying, And upon every sinner seven fold: Also the seventh year there were granted remissions, and after full seven years there was giving a full remission, as is read in Leviticus.
And Christ with seven petitions finished his speech of our satisfaction: hence also it is called the number of liberty, because the seventh year the Hebrew servant did challenge liberty for himself.
It is also most suitable to divine praises. Whence the Prophet saith, Seven times a day do I praise thee, because of thy righteous judgments.
It is moreover called the number of revenge, as saith the Scripture, and Cain shall be revenged seven fold. And the Psalmist saith, Render unto our Neighbors seven fold into their bosom, their reproach. Hence there are seven wickednesses, as saith Solomon, and seven wickeder spirits taken, are read of in the Gospel.
It signifies also the time of the present circle, because it is finished in the space of seven days.
Also it is consecrated to the Holy Ghost, which the Prophet Isaiah describes to be seven fold, according to his gifts, viz. the spirit of wisdom, and understanding, the spirit of counsel, and strength, the spirit of knowledge, and holiness, and the spirit of the fear of the Lord, which we read in Zachariah to be the seven eyes of God.
There are also seven Angels, spirits standing in the presence of God, as is read in Tobias, and in the Revelation; seven Lamps did burn before the Throne of God, and seven golden Candlesticks, and in the middle thereof was one like to the son of man, and he had in his right hand seven Stars.
Also there were seven spirits before the Throne of God, and seven Angels stood before the Throne, and there were given to them seven Trumpets. And he saw a Lamb having seven horns, and seven eyes, and he saw the book sealed with seven Seals, and when the seventh seal was opened, there was made silence in heaven.
Now by all what hath been said, it is apparent that the number seven, among the other numbers, may deservedly be said to be most full of all efficacy.
Moreover, the number seven hath great conformity with the number twelve; For as three, and four make seven, so thrice four make twelve, which are the numbers of the celestial Planets, and signs, resulting from the same root, and by the number three partaking of the divinity, and by the number four of the nature of inferior things.
There is in sacred writ a very great observance of this number, before all others, and many, and very great are the mysteries thereof; many we have decreed to reckon up here, repeating them out of holy writ, by which it will easily appear, that the number seven doth signify a certain fullness of sacred mysteries. For we read in Genesis, that the seventh was the day of the rest of the Lord; & Enoch, a pious, holy man, was the seventh from Adam, and that there was another seventh man from Adam, a wicked man, by name Lamech, that had two wives; and that the sin of Cain should be abolished the seventh generation: As it is written, Cain shall be punished seven fold: and he that shall slay Cain, shall be revenged seven fold, to which the Master of the History collects, that there were seven sins of Cain.
Also of all clean beasts seven, and seven were brought into the Ark, as also of Fowls: And after seven days the Lord rained upon the Earth, and upon the seventh day the fountains of the deep were broken up, and the waters covered the Earth.
Also Abraham gave to Abimelech seven Ewe Lambs: and Jacob served seven years for Leah, and seven more for Rachel: and seven days the people of Israel bewailed the death of Jacob.
Moreover, we read in the same place, of seven Kine, and seven Ears of Corn, seven years of plenty, and seven years of scarcity.
And in Exodus, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, the holy rest to the Lord, is commanded to be on the seventh day.
Also on the seventh day Moses ceased to pray.
On the seventh day there shall be a solemnity of the Lord, the seventh year the servant shall go out free: seven days let the Calf, and the Lamb be with its dam; the seventh year let the ground that hath been sown six years, be at rest: the seventh day shall be a holy Sabbath, and a rest: the seventh day, because it is the Sabbath, shall be called holy.
In Leviticus the seventh day also shall be more observed, and be more holy: and the first day of the seventh month shall be a Sabbath of memorial.
Seven days shall the sacrifices be offered to the Lord, seven days shall the holy days of the Lord be celebrated, seven days in a year everlastingly in the generations.
In the seventh month you shall celebrate feasts, and shall dwell in Tabernacles seven days: seven times he shall sprinkle himself before the Lord, that hath dipped his finger in blood: he that is cleansed from the Leprosy, shall dip seven times in the blood of a sparrow: seven days shall she be washed with running water, that is menstruating: seven times he shall dip his finger in the blood of a bullock: seven times I will smite you for your sins: In Deuteronomy seven people possessed the Land of promise.
There is also read of a seventh year of remission, and seven Candles set up on the South side of the Candlesticks.
And in Numbers it is read, that the sons of Israel offered up seven Ewe Lambs without spot, and that seven days they did eat unleavened bread, and that sin was expiated with seven Lambs & a Goat, and that the seventh day was celebrated, and holy, and the first day of the seventh month was observed, and kept holy, and the seventh month of the feast of Tabernacles, & seven Calves were offered on the seventh day, and Baalam erected seven Altars; seven days Mary the sister of Aaron went forth leprous out of the Camp, seven days he that touched a dead Carcass was unclean. And in Joshua seven priests carried the Ark of the Covenant before the Host, and seven days they went round the Cities, and seven trumpets were carried by the seven Priests, and on the seventh day the seven Priests sounded the Trumpets.
And in the book of Judges, Abessa reigned in Israel seven years, Sampson kept his nuptials seven days, and the seventh day he put forth a Riddle to his wife, he was bound with seven green withes, seven locks of his head were shaved off, seven years were the children of Israel oppressed by the King of Maden.
And in the books of the Kings, Elias prayed seven times, and at the seventh time, behold a little cloud! seven days the children of Israel pitched over against the Syrians, and in the seventh day the battle was joined: seven years famine was threatened to David for the peoples murmuring; and seven times the child sneezed, that was raised by Elisha, and seven men were crucified together in the days of the first harvest. Naaman was made clean with seven washings by Elisha, the seventh month Golias was slain.
And in Hester we read, that the King of Persia had three Eunuchs: and in Tobias seven men were coupled with Sara the daughter of Raguel: And in Daniel Nebuchadnezzar’s Furnace was heated seven times hotter then it was used to be, and seven Lions were in the den, and the seventh day came Nebuchadnezzar. In the book of Job there is made mention of seven sons of Job, and seven days and nights Jobs friends sate with him on the Earth; and in the same place.
In seven troubles no evil shall touch thee. In Ezra we read of Artaxerxes his seven counselors: and in the same place the trumpet sounded: the seventh month of the feast of tabernacles were in Ezraes time, while the children of Israel were in the Cities: and on the first day of the seventh month Esdras read the Law to the people.
And in the Psalms David praised the Lord seven times in a day: silver is tried seven times; and he renders to our neighbors seven fold into their bosoms. And Solomon saith, that wisdom hath hewn her self seven Pillars; seven men that can render a reason, seven abominations which the Lord abhors, seven abominations in the heart of an enemy, seven overseers, seven eyes beholding.
Isaiah numbers up seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, and seven women shall take hold on a man. And in Jeremiah, she that hath born seven, languishes, she hath given up the ghost.
In Ezekiel, the Prophet continued sad for seven days.
In Zachariah seven lamps, and seven pipes to those seven lamps, and seven eyes running to and fro throughout the whole Earth, and seven eyes upon one stone, and the fast of the seventh day is turned into joy.
And in Micah, seven shepherds are raised against the Assyrians.
Also in the Gospel we read of seven blessednesses, and seven virtues, to which seven vices are opposed; seven petitions of the Lords prayer, seven words of Christ upon the cross, seven words of the blessed Virgin Mary, seven loaves distributed by the Lord, seven baskets of fragments, seven brothers having one wife, seven disciples of the Lord that were fishers, seven water pots in Cana of Galile, seven woes which the Lord threatens to the Hypocrites, seven devils cast out of the unclean woman, and seven wickeder devils taken in after that which was cast out.
Also seven years Christ was fled into Egypt; and the seventh hour the Fever left the Governors son.
And in the Canonical Epistles, James describes seven degrees of wisdom, and Peter seven degrees of Virtues.
And in the Acts are reckoned seven Deacons, and seven disciples chosen by the Apostles.
Also in the Revelations there are many mysteries of this number: for there we read of seven Candlesticks, seven Stars, seven Crowns, seven Churches, seven Spirits before the Throne, seven Rivers of Egypt, seven Seals, seven Marks, seven Horns, seven Eyes, seven Spirits of God, seven Angels with seven Trumpets, seven horns of the Dragon, seven heads of the Dragon, which had seven Diadems: also seven plagues, and seven Vials, which were given to one of the seven Angels, seven heads of the scarlet Beast, seven Mountains, and seven Kings sitting upon them, and seven thunders uttered their voices.
Moreover this number hath much power, as in natural, so in sacred, Ceremonial, and also in other things: therefore the seven days are related hither, also the seven Planets, the seven Stars called Pleiades, the seven Ages of the World, the seven changes of man, the seven liberal Arts, and so many mechanic, and so many forbidden, seven Colors, seven Metals, seven holes in the head of a man, seven pairs of nerves, seven Mountains in the City of Rome, seven Roman Kings, seven Civil Wars, seven wise men in the time of Jeremiah the Prophet, and seven wise men of Greece.
Also Rome did burn seven days by Nero.
By seven Kings were slain ten thousand Martyrs.
There were seven sleepers, seven principal Churches of Rome, and so many Monasteries did Gregory build: So many sons Saint Felicity brought forth: there were seven Electors of the Empire appointed, and seven solemn Acts in crowning the Emperor; the Laws in the Testament require seven witnesses, there are seven civil punishments, and seven canonical, and seven canonical hours, the priest makes seven obeisances in the Mass; seven Sacraments, and seven orders of the Clergy, and a boy of seven years may be ordained by the lesser order, and may obtain a benefice sine Cura. There are seven penitential Psalms, and seven commands of the second table, and seven hours were Adam, and Eve in Paradise, and there were seven men foretold by an Angel before they were born, viz. Ismael, Isaac, Sampson, Jeremiah, John Baptist, James the brother of the Lord, and Christ Jesus.
Lastly, this number is most potent of all, as in good, so evil; of this Livy, the most ancient Poet sang,
The seventh light is come, and then all things
T’absolve the father of all light begins
The seaventh’s of all things originall,
The first seventh, seventh seven we call
Perfect, with wandring Stars the heavens pol’d,
And with as many circles are round roll’d.