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What is 7?

Updated on October 23, 2014
kerbev profile image

I love everything weird and colorful in this world and I try to live a life that will make the world a little better once I'm gone.

Is it just a number?

When I was in college, on the first day of class one of my professors wrote on the board "7". He turned to the class and asked "What does that mean?" He got the most obvious response first "seven". That student was then asked "What does THAT mean?"

The next few answers included "The number after six", "the integer equal to three plus four", "the square root of forty nine". The professor responded, "Is that it? That's all that can be? When I say 'the 7' I must be discussing math?"

It took just a moment, but then it came: "It is how many days there are in a week". He turned and raised an eyebrow.

It is...

"It's the dwarfs that Snow White lived with."

"It's the hills of Rome."

"It's the deadly sins."

"It's the Wonders of the Ancient World."

"It's nitrogen on the periodic table"

"It's Mickey Mantle's jersey number."

"It's July"

Always Look for the True Meaning

His response

"You were all so happy to just dismiss it as just a number. You were content with not looking further, with accepting it at face value. You didn't even seem to care what it MEANS, just what it was. I challenge you in this class to look closer - to dig for meaning - inner meaning. I don't want you to accept what you are handed - I want you to question it. Take the definition and put it in context. Examine not just what it is, but what it can be. Look for the MEANING, or else why else be here."

The Seven Sages of Greece (aka The Seven Wise Men) - seven great Greek philosophers.

The Seven Gods of Fortune (aka The Seven Lucky Gods) are the seven gods of good fortune in Japanese mythology and folklore. These gods are often depicted on netsuke carvings and other representations.

The Seven Virtues: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, kindness, patience, and humility

The Seven Deadly Sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.

Seven days of Creation

The seven colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet

The Seven against Thebes is a play by Aeschylus with an account of the battle between the Seven led by Polynices and his supporters against the Eteocles and the army of Thebes.

The seven sayings of Jesus on the cross are a traditional collection of seven short phrases that Jesus uttered at his crucifixion immediately before he died, gathered from the four Gospels.

The Professor

So, do I think this professor was a genius who passed down nuggets of wisdom to his reverent students three times a week? No. I think he was kind of an ass. The rest of the course was a waste, but that first class stuck in my memory.

By the way, since the professor later proved himself to be not all that good, I am curious if he took this discussion from elsewhere. If this lesson was in a book somewhere, I'd love to know.


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