shows you how the designer of the Egyptian hieroglyphic numeral system from over five thousand years ago used its signs for the powers of ten to tell two creation stories in superbly condensed symbolic shorthand.
The sequence of these signs depicted the simultaneous creations of the world and of the numbers themselves. It is posted here, together with the chapters on the first few signs, as a partial summary and preview of the e-book in preparation about the beliefs behind this clever system which illustrated the perceived interactions of humans and gods in the Egyptian religion, and their ultimate purpose.
The interwoven creations in that system could well be the root, or rather the earliest surviving expression, of the saying attributed to the later Greek mathematician and number mystic Pythagoras that "all is number".
Genesis 1 in quasi-equations
introduces the symbolic use of constants by ancient mathematicians and mathemagical artists. One of their masterpieces appears to have provided the template for the creation account in Genesis 1. This account matches step by step a series of unique quasi- equations between functions of four constants that involve their numerical and property- related symbolic values.
Moreover, the results of these quasi- equations turn up in the main dimensions of the Jerusalem Temple precinct, as transmitted in the Bible and in the Rabbinic literature from the second century of our era.
Though they date from shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple, these records seem to refer not to this late building project of the hated Herod but to the original design king David is said to have given to his son Solomon.
The precision of the fit seems to imply that the Temple layout as well as the narrative to which it referred with its most important distances were meant to reflect those numerical relationships.
Numbers were believed to have been made by God. The first ten numbers were his fingers and also his tools for creation, so this proposed origin of the layout in numerical relationships matches David's comment when he said in 1 Chronicles 28:19:
"All this was drafted by the Lord's own hand; my part was to consider the detailed working out of the plan."
Since the Hebrews had no numerals but wrote numbers as letters, the numerical creation story also explains the tradition about the biblical craftsman Bezalel, who had been assigned by God in Exodus 31:3 to build the Tabernacle. The Talmud said about him that he “knew how to permute the letters with which heaven and earth were made”1, and the quasi- equations now show how the world had indeed been made with numbers.
As to the biblical verses about the creation, judge with your own eyes the fit of the story and of the Temple plan to that mathematical draft.
The e-book is still in progress, but you can read some of the initial chapters online, linked to its starting page.
This e-book is also still in preparation. However, the portions posted here already offer circumstantial yet cumulative evidence that three major mathematical constants had important religious and magical meanings in the ancient Fertile Crescent and were incorporated into many ceremonial number groups.
These constants were the golden mean phi, the circle constant pi, and the compound growth ratio e.
Although the knowledge of these constants is not attested in the relatively few surviving written papyri or clay tablets about ancient mathematics, and although any such early knowledge is often categorically denied by Euro- centric scholars resolved to assert Greek priority, these constants and some of their functions turn up consistently in building proportions as well as in many royal booty lists and other skillfully composed number groups with large precise- looking entries.
This mathemagic by conjugations of constants was common throughout the ancient Near East, from the time of the first pharaohs to the Ptolemies and possibly beyond. It is comparable to the almost equally old practice of composing the better known "magic squares" that harness integers instead. Magic squares have that name because they were long deemed to have magical powers, and it seems that quasi- equations of constants may have had a similar reputation.
The evidence for these compositions of constants opens a new window on the shared background of many ancient Near Eastern religions, and it puts to rest the colonialism- inspired but still common view that the analytical thinking required for the discoveries of these constants had to wait for the unique genius of the Greeks and of later Europeans.
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