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IN the "Cabala," or ancient mystic philosophy of the Jews, much importance is attributed to the combination of certain numbers, letters, and words. According to one tradition, the earliest Cabala was given by the angel Raziel to Adam, and orally transmitted through generations until the time of Solomon, by whom it was first embodied in written form. Another report alleges that the cabalistic secrets of nature were received from God by Moses in the Mount, and afterwards taught to Joshua, who communicated them to the seventy elders, and they have since been treasured by the initiated among the Jews.

According to the doctrine of the Pythagoreans, the unit or monad was regarded as the father of Numbers, while the duad, or two, was its mother; and thus is explained one source of the general predilection for odd numbers, the father being esteemed worthy of greater honor than the mother, and the odd numbers being masculine, while the even numbers were feminine. Moreover, the unit, being the origin of all numbers, represented Divinity, as God was the creator and originator of all things. It was also the symbol of Harmony and Order, whereas the duad signified Confusion and Disorder, and represented the Devil.

Plutarch remarks in his "Roman Questions" that the beginning of number, or unity, is a divine thing; whereas the first of the even numbers, Deuz or Deuce, is directly opposite in character. As for the even number, said this writer, it is defective, imperfect, and indefinite; whereas the uneven or odd number is finite, complete, and absolute.

The belief in the lucky significance of odd numbers is of great antiquity, and reference to it is made by Virgil in the eighth Eclogue, and by Pliny, who comments on its prevalence in his time, but offers no explanation therefor. The Roman king, Numa Pompilius, is said to have added days to certain months in order to make an odd number.

It is related, moreover, that the Emperor Julius Caesar (B. C. 100-44), having once been thrown out of his chariot through some mishap, refused thereafter to set out upon a drive or journey until he had thrice repeated a magic formula; and this practice appears to have been commonly in vogue in those days.

The persistency of a traditional belief is exemplified by the modern association of luck with uneven numbers; and probably the Goddess Fortune herself preferred a three-legged stool. However this may be, it is evident that the legions of her worshipers to-day are firmly convinced of the mystic charm inherent in triplets. The Chinese pagodas, or sacred towers, built by devout persons with the object of improving the luck of a neighborhood, have always an odd number of stories, being from three to thirteen floors high. In Siam, also, this superstition holds universal sway, and its influence in the construction of buildings is especially noticeable; for the Siamese religiously adhere to odd numbers in architecture, and every house must have an uneven number of rooms, windows, and doors; each staircase must have an uneven number of steps.

In the early literature and mythology of the Northern nations much importance was attached to the numbers three and nine, which were held especially sacred and dear to the gods. This fact is shown in their religious ceremonies, and more particularly in their sacrifices, which occurred every ninth month. Each sacrifice, moreover, lasted nine days, and each day nine victims, whether men or animals, were offered up.

Next: II. The Number Three