The world, the ancients believed, was governed by Seven Secondary Causes; and these were the universal forces, known to the Hebrews by the plural name ELOHIM(The High Priests Around the World). These forces, analogous and contrary one to the other, produce equilibrium by their contrasts, and regulate the movements of the spheres. The Hebrews called them the Seven great Archangels, and gave them names, each of which, being a combination of another word with AL, the first Phœnician Nature-God, considered as the Principle of Light, represented them as His manifestations. Other peoples assigned to these Spirits the government of the Seven Planets then known, and gave them the names of their great divinities.
So, in the Kabala, the last Seven Sephiroth constituted ATIK YOMIN, the Ancient of Days; and these, as well as the Seven planets, correspond with the Seven colors separated by the prism, and the Seven notes of the musical octave.
Seven is the sacred number in all theogonies and all symbols, because it is composed of 3 and 4. It represents the magical. power in its full force. It is the Spirit assisted by all the Elementary Powers, the Soul served by Nature, the Holy Empire spoken of in the clavicules of Solomon, symbolized by a warrior, crowned, bearing a triangle on his cuirass, and standing on a cube, to which are harnessed two Sphinxes, one white and the other black, pulling contrary ways, and turning the head to look backward.
The vices are Seven, like the virtues; and the latter were anciently symbolized by the Seven Celestial bodies then known as planets. FAITH, as the converse of arrogant Confidence, was represented by the Sun; HOPE, enemy of Avarice, by the Moon; CHARITY, opposed to Luxury, by Venus; FORCE, stronger than Rage, by Mars; PRUDENCE, the opposite of Indolence, by Mercury; TEMPERANCE, the antipodes of Gluttony, by Saturn; and JUSTICE, the opposite of Envy, by Jupiter.
The Kabalistic book of the Apocalypse is represented as closed with Seven Seals. In it we find the Seven genii of the Ancient Mythologies; and the doctrine concealed under its emblems is the pure Kabala, already lost by the Pharisees at the advent of the SaviOUR. The pictures that follow in this wondrous epic are so many pantacles, of which the numbers 3, 4, 7, and 12 are the keys.
The Cherub, or symbolic bull, which Moses places at the gate of the Edenic world, holding a blazing sword, is a Sphinx, with the body of a bull and a human head; the old Assyrian Sphinx whereof the combat and victory of Mithras were the hieroglyphic analysis. This armed Sphinx represents the law of the Mystery, which keeps watch at the door of initiation, to repulse the Profane. It also represents the grand Magical Mystery, all the elements whereof the number 7 expresses, still without giving its last word. This “unspeakable word” of the Sages of the school of Alexandria, this word, which the Hebrew Kabalists wrote; יהוה [IHUH], and translated by אראריתא, [ARARITA,] so expressing the threefoldness of the Secondary Principle, the dualism of the middle ones, and the Unity as well of the first Principle as of the end; and also the junction of the number 3 with the number 4 in a word composed of four letters, but formed of seven by one triplicate and two repeated,–this word is pronounced Ararita.
The vowels in the Greek language are also Seven in number, and were used to designate the Seven planets.
Tsadok or Sydyc was the Supreme God in Phœnicia. His Seven Sons were probably the Seven Cabiri; and he was the Heptaktis, the God of Seven Rays.
Kronos, the Greek Saturn, Philo makes Sanchoniathon say, had six sons, and by Astarte Seven daughters, the Titanides. The Persians adored Ahura Masda or Ormuzd and the Six Amshaspands, the first three of whom were Lords of the Empires of Light, Fire, and Splendor; the Babylonians, Bal and the Gods; the Chinese, Shangti, and the Six Chief Spirits; and the Greeks, Kronos, and the Six great Male Gods, his progeny, Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Arēs, Hēphaistos, and Hermes; while the female deities were also Seven: Rhea, wife of Kronos, Hērē, Athēnē, Artemis, Aphroditē, Hestia, and Dēmētēi. In the Orphic Theogony, Gaia produced the fourteen Titans, Seven male and Seven female, Kronos being the most potent of the males; and as the number Seven appears in these, nine by threes, or the triple triangle, is found in the three Mœraê or Fates, the three Centimanēs, and the three Cyclopēs, offspring of Ouranos and Gaia, or Heaven and Earth.
The metals, like the colors, were deemed to be Seven in number, and a metal and color were assigned to each planet. Of the metals, gold was assigned to the Sun and silver to the Moon.
The palace of Deioces in Ecbatana had Seven circular walls of different colors, the two innermost having their battlements covered respectively with silvering and gilding.
And the Seven Spheres of Borsippa were represented by the Seven Stories, each of a different color, of the tower or truncated pyramid of Bel at Babylon.
Pharaoh saw in his dream, which Joseph interpreted, Seven ears of wheat on one stalk, full and good, and after them Seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the East wind; and the Seven thin ears devoured the Seven good ears; and Joseph interpreted these to mean Seven years of plenty succeeded by Seven years of famine.
Connected with this Ebn Hesham relates that a flood of rain laid bare to view a sepulchre in Yemen, in which lay a woman having on her neck Seven collars of pearls, and on her hands and feet bracelets and ankle-rings and armlets, Seven on each, with an inscription on a tablet showing that, after attempting in vain to purchase grain of Joseph, she, Tajah, daughter of Dzu Shefar, and her people, died of famine.