Editorials

The magic of seven

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7072.1570 (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1570
  1. Ian Stewart
  1. Professor Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL

    Signifies creation, the sum of the spiritual three and the material four

    The seven ages of man, the seven seas, the seven deadly sins (p 1592), the seven league boot, seventh heaven, the seven wonders of the world, the seven pillars of wisdom, Snow White and the seven dwarves, 7-up…. There are an awful lot of sevens around. Numerologists see seven as the sum of the spiritual three and the material four, signifying creation. The Old Testament tells us that the world was created in seven days. The seventh generation after Adam produced Lamech, who lived for 777 years and was to be avenged 77 fold. Psalm 90 sets the human life span at seven decades. Solomon's temple has seven steps, and Noah's dove returns after seven days.

    In the Hippocratic tradition the number seven …

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