RHETORICAL AND LITERARY SIGNIFICANCE OF NUMBER SEVEN
Whatever it is in numbers, the numerical attribute of 7 is the most intriguing. It seems like in the olden times there exist numbers when it fact it was only a creation in India and improved by Arab merchants during their trade. And this was during the movement of civilization, several years after of Biblical times. How it happened could have been some kind of interpretative presumptions.
Let us assume that we got the correct interpretation, that is, “God rested on the seventh day.” Although in effect this is difficult to believe because God as Almighty never gets tired in the first place. But then again, let us assume that the Biblical suggestion is again correct just so we can proceed. Biblical lore would indicate the numerical superiority of seven.
There is basis for this consideration actually. If we are to divide man’s lifespan by seven, we can deduce significant layers, momentous and overt physical manifestations depicting major changes. From 0 age to seven, a kid is in his cutest stage. He is a baby through and through, lovable, huggable, adorable and enchanting. This is when his mind is to be moulded by environment, his biological genes are there merely for his looks and some physical attributes only. It is at this time when his psychology is to be formed.
Then comes the second seven-year stage, 8 up to 14, The child begins to have formed his memory bank. He could easily absorb anything around him from music to physical attributes of those around him. His power of recall begins at this stage. His instinct rescinds in favour of intelligent absorption of event surrounding his environment. If his environment is consistently laid out, then his intellectual life is assured.
From age 15 to 21, his youthful bliss begins to unfold. The child has physical attributes almost at par with his adult counterpart. It is here where beauty resides. No one from this age group is considered ugly. He has bloomed around this period. It is likewise a period when the person exhibits superhuman ideas about himself. He is too old to be a child, too young to be an adult. It is at this juncture when his capability to be responsible is to be defined. This is the last stage of his physical formative years. His bones, muscles and every biological attributes are firmly developed. At the end of this period, a generation has been completed.
The second generational phase comes around from age 22 to 28. The person as expected has fully matured physically and intellectually. Despite this advantage, this stage marks the beginning of his quest for emotional maturity. His fixation with youthful innocence and idealism is clearly defined during this period but lacking in pragmatism. Hence, heroes, rebels and game changers begin their quest at this stage regardless of threats and dangers. They are at the front line always.
Then comes 29 to 36. This is the height of his strength. Perseverance, determination and diligence are his hallmarks. Those in this range are good leaders or good followers. They seldom break down. They have a balanced world view. Their idealism is tempered. Their practicality is filled with sensitivity. Their physical attribute borders that of athleticism. Adventure is their second nature.
37 to 44 is the age of fulfilment. They have a sense of accomplishment at this stage—whatever their calling is. This is a period when they can assess the height of their ambition. Their minds, bodies including personal biases and predisposition are heretofore ingrained in their respective personalities. One can already feel success or failure after reaching this range.
45 onwards is a period for retirement, of reinventing oneself depending on one’s persuasion. It is a few paces away from midlife, the golden year, 50. This is the seventh stage, the completion of a generation, the fulfilment of a fad, the lifespan of mankind from the standpoint of antiquity. This ushers in the beginning of another period, another generation, another life given the same stages once again. This is likewise what can be appreciated as rebirth, a second wind, a second life.
Indeed, number seven aside from the stars rule man’s given life in this temporary refuge we call home, we also refer as our planet.
NOTE: In Scripture, seven symbolizes completeness or perfection. On the seventh day God rested from his labors and creation is finished (Gn 2:2). Pharaoh in his dream saw seven cattle coming from the Nile (41:2). Samson’s sacred Nazirite locks were braided in seven plaits (Jgs 16:13). Seven devils left Mary of Magdala, signifying the totality of her previous possession by Satan (Lk 8:2); “seven other devils” will enter the purified but vacant life of a person (Mt 12:45). However, on the positive side, there were the seven spirits of God (Rv 3:1). In the seventh year the Hebrew slave was to be freed (Ex 21:2), having completed his time of captivity and service. Every seventh year was a sabbatical year (Lv 25:4). Seven times seven reiterates the sense of completeness. In the Year of Jubilee (at the completion of 7 x 7 years = the 50th year), all land is freed and returns to the original owners (Lv 25:10). Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, is seven times seven days after Passover. “Seventy,” which is literally “sevens” in Hebrew, strengthens the concept of perfection. There are 70 elders (Ex 24:1) in Israel. Israel was exiled to Babylon for 70 years (Jer 25:12) to complete its punishment. “Seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) reiterates this still further. The Lord was not giving Peter a mathematical number of times that he should forgive another person, but rather was insisting on limitless forgiveness for a brother’s sin.