Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 14, 2007
Seven: it's a number linked with good luck the world over. It permeates our culture, from television shows (“Seventh Heaven”) to Broadway shows (“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”) to soft drinks (7-Up) and convenience stores (7-Eleven).
Ask the average person to name a number between one and ten. The odds are, the answer will be “seven.” And 7-7-7 is the common winning line on one-armed bandits.
Were you born on Sunday, the seventh day of the week?
If so, according to the old rhyme, you came into this world “fair, wise, good and happy.” The seventh son in a family is said to be a gifted fellow indeed.
Yes, seven is one popular number.
Why is that so?
The number seven has long been significant in the major world religions. In Judaism, God rested on the seventh day. A seven-day purification period is required by the faith. The Menorah, a seven-branched candelabra, is one of the oldest symbols of Jewish celebration. Its seven candles represent the burning bush of Moses. There are seven blessings recited by the couple during the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony.
King Solomon spent seven years building the temple, which was dedicated on the seventh month, with a festival lasting seven days.
And it was on the seventh day of the seventh month of 1947, that European Jews began boarding the ship “Exodus” in France to return to Israel.
In Christianity, the Scriptures refer to the seven churches of Asia. Jesus, who was 77th in line according to the genealogy of Luke, told Peter he should forgive 70 times seven. In the Roman Catholic faith, there are seven sacraments, seven virtues – and seven deadly sins.
If you add up the letters in CHRIST based on their location in the alphabet, the numbers add up to 77.
And when Joshua and his men “fight the battle of Jericho,” they circled the city seven times before the walls “came tumbling down.”
In other religions, Buddha is said to have walked seven steps at his birth; and there are exactly seven sages in Hindu mythology.
In Japanese folklore, a group of delightful little deities make up the Seven Gods of Luck, the personification of happiness in their folk religion.
In the classical world, there were the Seven Hills of Rome, Seven Liberal Arts, The Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, the Seven Sages and the Seven Sisters.
Perhaps ancient people looked up to the sky to find inspiration for all this: after all, there are seven stellar objects visible to the naked eye - the sun, moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Saturn. There are seven colors in the rainbow.
And Pythagoras considered seven to be the perfect number, the combination of three and four, the triangle and square - the perfect figures.
Perhaps the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year was a perfect day for couples to marry.
After all, the number for a woman is traditionally four, and the number for a man is three. And that adds up to a “perfect” seven.