The symbolism which is derived from numbers was common to the Pythagoreans, the Cabalists, the Gnostics, and all mystical associations. Of all superstitions, it is the oldest and the most generally diffused. Allusions are to found to it in all the systems of religion; the Jewish Scriptures, for instance, abound in it, and the Christian shows a share of its influence. It is not, therefore, surprising that the most predominate of all symbolism in Freemasonry is that of numbers

The doctrine of numbers as symbols is most familiar to us because it formed the fundamental idea of the philosophy of Pythagoras. Yet it was not original with him, since he brought his theories from Egypt and the East, where his numerical symbolism had always prevailed. Iamblichus tells us (On the Pythagorean Life, 28) that Pythagoras himself admitted that he had received the doctrine of numbers from Orpheus, who taught that numbers were the most provident beginning of all things in heaven, earth, and the intermediate space, and the root of the perpetuity of Divine beings, of the gods and of demons

From the disciples of Pythagoras we learn, for he himself taught only orally, and left no writings, that his theory was that numbers contain the elements of all things, and even of the sciences. Numbers are the invisible covering of beings as the body is the visible one. They are the primary causes upon which the whole system of the universe rests; and he who knows these numbers knows at the same time the laws through which nature exists.

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