• Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

The Lost Egyptian Origins of the Superstitious Numbers 13 and 18


Jan 14, 2023

The superstitious numbers 13 and 18 each have an extended historical past reaching again millennia. The primary is often considered unfortunate, the latter, fortunate – however why? What are the precise origins of those uncommon numbers, and why do they carry such various connotations? Allow us to delve into the traditional beginnings of those magical numbers, and uncover their actual royal pedigrees.

Transformative 13

“13 is probably the most enigmatic of all numbers, as it’s the variety of transformation. (Pythagoras).

When 13 falls on a Friday, thousands and thousands of individuals around the globe are genuinely fearful, most buildings skip the thirteenth flooring, and no person desires to be the thirteenth visitor invited to a dinner, lest they die earlier than the 12 months is completed. That is due largely to Christian affect within the Western World.  In accordance with the Gospels, Judas Iscariot was the thirteenth visitor on the Last Supper , the visitor who finally betrayed his grasp.

Judas retiring from The Final Supper, portray by Carl Bloch, 1834-1890. ( Public Domain )

On Friday, October 13, 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of the Knights Templars , most of whom finally died. Christianity additionally downplayed the significance of this quantity due to its affiliation with pagan faith (for instance, there must be 13 witches in a coven, and so forth). Curiously, there’s a Norse story through which the god Loki was thirteenth to reach at a feast in Valhalla, the place he tricked one other attendee into killing the god Baldur.

13 can be the dying card within the tarot deck, however removed from a adverse signal, the cardboard often means a serious change in an individual’s life. “It’s unusual that this card really represents a bodily dying, relatively it usually implies an finish, presumably of a relationship or curiosity, and subsequently an elevated sense of self-awareness.” (Eden Grey, The Full Information to the Tarot, 1970).

In accordance with numerologists, the quantity 13 is taken into account to be very karmic, related to the divine, and is believed to carry good luck and prosperity to those that embrace it. The truth is, many individuals imagine that the quantity 13 brings about change, which might usually result in a constructive outlook. An excellent instance of that is Taylor Swift, who’s arguably probably the most profitable feminine music artist in historical past. 13 is her fortunate quantity. “I used to be born on the thirteenth. I turned 13 on Friday the thirteenth. My first album went gold in 13 weeks. My first #1 music had a 13-second intro,” the singer informed MTV in an interview.

New Beginnings of 13

The concept of 13 being a lot of change, of transformation, appears to return from its place following twelve, which has lengthy been seen in historical cultures as representing completeness, perfection, entirety and even cosmic order. There are two twelve-hour durations in a day, twelve lunar months within the photo voltaic 12 months, twelve Olympian gods , Twelve Labors of Hercules, twelve sons of Jacob, twelve tribes of Israel , twelve disciples of Jesus, and even the twelve days of Christmas. Nonetheless, hiding behind the so-called “full” quantity twelve is the quantity representing “un”-completeness, or one thing new, one thing simply starting: 13.

The idea of recent beginnings related to 13 can be prevalent in Judaism, which doesn’t see 13 as an unfortunate quantity, however relatively as an vital quantity representing new beginnings and luck. Jewish youngsters change into full adults at age 13 (on the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ), answerable for obeying all Jewish legal guidelines ( mitzvoth). When Israel was established in 1948, its first provisional authorities had 13 members as a result of its founders stated they “wanted all of the luck they may get”.

Additional vital Jewish makes use of of this quantity embody: the 13 Attributes of Hashem/Mercy- שלושה עשר מידיא (in Exodus 34:6-7), the 13 Jewish Rules of Religion based on Maimonides, and the variety of days of Festivals in a 12 months within the diaspora. Additionally, Adar II (or the thirteenth month in a bissextile year) is taken into account additional fortunate as a result of the month of Adar based on custom is a “fortunate month”.

Luck and New Life in Egypt

13 was additionally thought-about fortunate in Egypt. In accordance with Kathy Padden:

“The Historical Egyptians believed life was a religious journey that unfolded in phases. They believed that 12 of these phases occurred on this life, however the final, the thirteenth, was a joyous transformative ascension to an everlasting afterlife. So the quantity 13 represented dying to the Egyptians, however not dying as in decay and concern, however as acknowledgement of a wonderful everlasting life.”

Pharaoh Seti I meets Osiris, in a scene from his tomb, KV 17, in the Valley of the Kings, Thebes, Egypt. (Jonathon Perrin)

Pharaoh Seti I meets Osiris, in a scene from his tomb, KV 17, within the Valley of the Kings, Thebes, Egypt. (Jonathon Perrin)

In Egyptian mythology, the deceased soul needed to cross via twelve gates within the afterlife earlier than it might arrive on the thirteenth realm, that of Osiris, ruler of the afterlife and Egypt’s first mythic Pharaoh. Right here the soul was judged earlier than Osiris and the 42 gods, and the guts was weighed in opposition to a feather of fact. Mark Oliver from Historical Origins explains what occurred to a pure soul:

“The harmless had been reunited with the a part of the soul left behind within the physique. They’d be granted everlasting life and passage into paradise, the place they might reside with the gods in a land the place the fields grew in an countless abundance.”

The quantity 13 is thus related to Osiris and the resurrection of the lifeless (identical to the Loss of life card, sarcastically).

Osiris first seems within the Pyramid Texts – mortuary inscriptions from the Outdated Kingdom’s fifth Dynasty, (2465-2325 BC). He seems as the primary pharaoh of Egypt, and the primary king to be resurrected from the lifeless to reside eternally. Within the Osiris myth , Set kills his brother, the king, and cuts his physique into fourteen items, which he scatters throughout Egypt.

His sister Isis hunts far and huge and finally finds 13 of the grizzly items. Sadly, she by no means finally ends up discovering the final piece – his penis – which is eaten by a fish within the Nile. She decides to sever her personal thumb to make use of as a phallus for her brother, and binds collectively his items utilizing linen wrappings, creating the world’s first “mummy”. After reciting magical spells, Osiris is magically resurrected, changing into the archetype of all future resurrections. He finally turns into God of the Duat, Choose of the Useless, and Lord of the Afterlife. Moreover, Isis takes the type of a chicken and impregnates herself on Osiris, creating Horus, who finally avenges his father and kills his uncle.

Detail of Osiris from the Temple of Seti I at Abydos. Isis lands on his penis in the form of a bird, to impregnate herself with Horus. According to the myth, the reassembled and resurrected body of Osiris only had thirteen original pieces, because the fourteenth piece, his penis, was eaten by a fish. (© Jonathon A. Perrin)

Element of Osiris from the Temple of Seti I at Abydos. Isis lands on his penis within the type of a chicken, to impregnate herself with Horus. In accordance with the parable, the reassembled and resurrected physique of Osiris solely had 13 unique items, as a result of the fourteenth piece, his penis, was eaten by a fish. ( © Jonathon A. Perrin)

Osiris was the god with which Pharaohs “fused” after they died – to reside eternally each within the stars and the Fields of Aaru. For instance, within the Osiris complicated of the Medinet Habu mortuary temple of Ramses III at Luxor, we see a picture of the Pharaoh as Osiris within the afterlife, holding the criminal and flail, demonstrating “his revival and coronation within the realm of Osiris, Chief of the Westerners and Ruler of Eternity, the god par excellence of the lifeless” (Invoice Murnane).

Thus, 13 is a quantity steeped in historical delusion, representing the resurrection of Osiris, his realm of eternity reached by the pure soul after twelve gates (or hours) of darkness and demons, and finally of non-public transformation.

Esoteric Eighteen

The quantity eighteen has lengthy been a famously fortunate quantity in Judaism. Donations are sometimes given in its multiples, reminiscent of 36 and 72, as an expression of blessing for lengthy life. The explanation often given for this luckiness is that the Hebrew phrase for “life”, chai (חי), has a numerical worth of 18 (as all phrases in Hebrew even have a numerical equal). Thus, presents and cash are given in multiples of 18 as a result of Jews imagine it encourages lengthy life.

The principle prayer of the Jewish liturgy is known as the Shemoneh Esrei (“eighteen”) and is recited by observant Jews thrice day by day. It dates again a minimum of two thousand years, and recounts eighteen requests for God, reminiscent of asking God to assist grant knowledge and understanding. Additionally it is generally known as the Amidah, and right this moment features a remaining nineteenth blessing, asking God for peace, goodness, blessings, kindness and compassion. We thus know eighteen has been a well-liked quantity in Judaism for expressing a want for an extended life.

The query stays: why?

The phrase chai, or “life”, probably derives from the traditional Egyptian phrase hai, which interprets as “rejoicing”. For instance, the well-known Pharaoh Amenhotep III constructed himself a palace on the West Financial institution at Thebes and referred to as it the Per Hai, or the “Home of Rejoicing”. There should have been nice jubilation and pleasure on this illustrious palace, which has been partially excavated. In accordance with Arielle P. Kozloff:

“The title was no understatement, judging from the superabundant potsherd present labels discovered there, many inscribed with 12 months dates.”

The Prince of Egypt, the soon-to-be monotheistic Pharaoh Akhenaten, ultimately constructed his personal Per Hai at his new metropolis of Akhet-Aten (trendy Amarna).

A depiction of Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and their young daughters, from the Tomb of Aye, #25, Amarna, Egypt. Do you notice the ankh sign for “life” being bestowed on the king’s nostrils by the loving hands of the Aten sun disk? An embrace of life (as the king understood it), as opposed to the usual Egyptian focus on death, was the new guiding principle at Amarna. (© Jonathon A. Perrin)

An outline of Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and their younger daughters, from the Tomb of Aye, #25, Amarna, Egypt. Do you discover the ankh signal for “life” being bestowed on the king’s nostrils by the loving arms of the Aten solar disk? An embrace of life (because the king understood it), versus the standard Egyptian give attention to dying, was the brand new tenet at Amarna. ( © Jonathon A. Perrin)

Eighteen to Life

This proof is additional supported by a peculiar fascination of those Pharaohs with the ankh, the well-known image of life in historical Egypt. This was particularly beloved by Akhenaten, who continuously depicted himself being given the present of life by his sole god, the Aten solar disk. Life to those pharaohs was all vital, and quite a few hieroglyphic inscriptions grant an extended life to Pharaoh, in a really Jewish sense: “Lengthy reside the Good God, who’s happy with Fact, Lord of all of the Aten encircles, Lord of Heaven, Lord of Earth, and Nice Residing Aten who illuminates the Two Banks. Lengthy reside the Father, the Aten, given life eternally regularly – Nice Residing Aten …” (Inscription from the Tomb of Ay, #25, Amarna).

The writer has written beforehand that Akhenaten was intent on changing into a new Osiris – “Akhenaten upended centuries of custom in all areas of Egyptian life, and depicted himself as a “new Osiris”, an Osiris “of the day” – personally providing his folks sebayt, ma’at, and ankh: “the way in which, the reality, and the life”. Opposite to Osiris being the supply of all new development, below his new paradigm and based on Amarna inscriptions, this high quality had been transferred to the Aten. We learn within the Nice Hymn to the Aten from the tomb of Ay, the king’s basic:

“You (Aten) who rise and make all creation develop for the king … You (Aten) make the inundation from the underworld … as for all distant international locations, you make their life… how useful are your plans, O Lord of Continuity! (Lord of Continuity was a title of Osiris).

A depiction of Aye and his wife Tey, above which is inscribed the famous Hymn to the Aten. Tomb of Aye, #25, Amarna, Egypt. In this ground-breaking hymn, written by Akhenaten, the Aten assumes the role previously held in Egyptian myth by Osiris: “You (Aten) who rise and make all creation grow for the king … You (Aten) make the inundation from the underworld … as for all distant countries, you make their life… how functional are your plans, O Lord of Continuity!” (a title formerly held by Osiris). (© Jonathon A. Perrin)

An outline of Aye and his spouse Tey, above which is inscribed the well-known Hymn to the Aten. Tomb of Aye, #25, Amarna, Egypt. On this ground-breaking hymn, written by Akhenaten, the Aten assumes the function beforehand held in Egyptian delusion by Osiris: “You (Aten) who rise and make all creation develop for the king … You (Aten) make the inundation from the underworld … as for all distant international locations, you make their life… how useful are your plans, O Lord of Continuity!” (a title previously held by Osiris). ( © Jonathon A. Perrin)

If Akhenaten, who envisioned himself as a brand new Osiris, lived on to change into Moses, as this writer has argued, we will higher perceive his emphasis on lengthy life, one residing God, and rejoicing – all features of the well-known lawgiver. For instance, Akhenaten was usually described in up to date texts as promulgating a moral-ethical, commandment-based Instructing of life , practically equivalent to the Torah of Moses ( “How affluent is he who hears your Instructing of Life, for he can be fulfilled …” Tomb of Ay).

Torah in the meantime has been described as a instructing for all life, and, utilizing remarkably Amarna-esque language: “The aim of Jewish life is to embody Torah, the residing phrase of the residing God addressed to all creation via the life and expertise of Am Yisrael, the Jewish folks.” (Rabbi Lewis Eron).

Eighteen Enemies of Egypt

The quantity eighteen represented Egypt’s enemies, a minimum of in an allegorical sense. The primary line of the well-known Merneptah Stele reads: “Yr 5, third month of the third season (eleventh month), third day, below the majesty of Horus: Mighty Bull, Rejoicing in Fact; King of Higher and Decrease Egypt: Binre-Meriamon, Son of Re: Merneptah-Hotephirma, magnifying may, exalting victorious sword of Horus, Mighty Bull, smiter of the 9 Bows , whose title is given eternally and ever.”

Likewise, the Sphinx Stele of Amenhotep II offers a hanging textual description of Pharaoh smiting his enemies: “He sure the heads of the 9 Bows… He has gathered all of them into his fist, his mace has crashed upon their heads…”

In accordance with Jimmy Dunn: “The determine “9” represented thrice three, which was the “plurality of Pluralities”, thus designating the whole lot of all enemies.” That is curiously echoed within the Psalms of the Outdated Testomony. For instance, Psalm 110:1 reads: “… till I make your enemies your footstool.” Amazingly, a footstool with depictions of those enemies was discovered by Carter within the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Additionally discovered throughout the well-known tomb had been sandals with depictions of the 9 bows on every foot, making a complete of eighteen enemies of Pharaoh (eight bows had been drawn on the sandals, whereas the strap represented the ninth and remaining bow). Ancient Origins contributor Cecilia Bogaard notes :

“What’s much more shocking is the depiction of sure enemies on multiple pair of sandals included inside King Tut’s tomb … the internal soles of a pair of elaborate marquetry veneer sandals depict an African prisoner on one sandal and an Asiatic prisoner on the opposite, representing the enemies of King Tut’s kingdom. Taking into consideration that inventive representations had been used to manifest actuality in historical Egypt, the message was fairly clear. Each time the pharaoh took a step, he would have actually been stepping on the faces of his enemies.”

Tutankhamun actually walked on his eighteen enemies day by day, reminding the world that Pharaoh, regardless of his youth, dominated all.

Sandals of Tutankhamun, showing foreigners alongside eight bows, with the ninth bow being represented by the sandal strap itself. Thus, the king walked on eighteen symbolic enemies. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. (Ovedc, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Sandals of Tutankhamun, displaying foreigners alongside eight bows, with the ninth bow being represented by the sandal strap itself. Thus, the king walked on eighteen symbolic enemies. Now within the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. (Ovedc, CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Eighteen in Artwork and Structure

Ever because the Outdated Kingdom, virtually 5,000 years in the past, the human determine has been depicted in artwork utilizing grid squares. For instance, when a wall was about to be painted, the artists “started by overlaying the wall with a grid, enabling them to repeat faithfully from a design drawn up on papyrus. They then traced the define of the figures in pink paint …human figures had a regular variety of squares.” (Strudwick, 2006). This occurred to be eighteen grid-squares from foot to eye-level (thus permitting for any-sized headdress).

Eighteen was thus the magic quantity to depict all gods and other people within the Egyptian artwork canon for 1000’s of years.

Upon what had been these eighteen squares primarily based?  Effectively, it was the human “palm”, or 4 fingers (the well-known “royal cubit” was equal to seven palms, or simply below 21”). These eighteen squares had been divided into eleven squares from toes to waist (really 11.1 from toes to navel, crucial to the Egyptians), and 7 squares from waist to eye-level. They’re additionally in a golden ratio (Φ) with one another (18:11.1 is a superb approximation of Φ). Two portions are within the “golden ratio” if their ratio is similar because the ratio of their sum to the bigger of the 2 portions, or 1.618. It has lengthy been acknowledged in geometry and nature, and has been utilized in artwork on account of its aesthetic pleasantness.

A detail of the Astronomical Ceiling, Tomb of Senenmut (TT 353), facsimile drawing by Charles Wilkinson, now in the MET, New York. The ceiling is unfinished, and the grid for body proportions is still visible overlain on the gods. (Charles Wilkinson / CC0)

A element of the Astronomical Ceiling, Tomb of Senenmut (TT 353), facsimile drawing by Charles Wilkinson, now within the MET, New York. The ceiling is unfinished, and the grid for physique proportions remains to be seen overlain on the gods. (Charles Wilkinson / CC0)

Wanting deeper, researcher Christopher Bartlett believes these numbers are current throughout the dimensions of the nice Pyramid itself. For instance, its base to peak ratio is 11:7, precisely the identical ratio because the human physique.

“The Egyptians had a predilection for easy golden ratio proportions of their artwork and structure. Because the figural system they employed gave a main golden ratio division of 7:11, then it follows that if the identical human proportion was used for the design of the Nice Pyramid the golden ratio would seem as its consequence relatively than its trigger.”

There are additional examples of this ratio throughout the large construction. Rudolf Gantenbrink, utilizing his small robotic Upuaut, found in 1997 a number of 14:11 and 11:7 proportions within the inside measures and within the horizontal exit factors of the pyramid shafts. For instance, they’re positioned at a 14:11 division of the vertical peak, creating an angle of 51.843°, the identical because the aspect of the pyramid. Additional, the shafts meet at a degree on the base of the King’s Chamber that’s 11:18 of the horizontal distance between the outer openings of the 2 shafts.

The Great Pyramid, south face. The Great Pyramid incorporated the numbers seven, eleven, fourteen and eighteen, as well as pi and the Golden Ratio. (© Jonathon A. Perrin)

The Nice Pyramid, south face. The Nice Pyramid integrated the numbers seven, eleven, fourteen and eighteen, in addition to pi and the Golden Ratio. ( © Jonathon A. Perrin)

Bartlett notes that earlier research, reminiscent of Badawy’s in 1965, have recognized proof of the easy golden ratio proportion (1:1.6) utilized to a minimum of 55 Egyptian temples. In the meantime, R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz demonstrated in his 1998 e book The Temple of Man that Luxor Temple utilized the golden ratio and the aesthetic proportions of the human determine; and its architectural plan corresponded to very important anatomical elements of the physique, such because the navel akin to the Peristyle “Solar” Court docket of Amenhotep III.

Thus eighteen is probably a very powerful quantity in defining the proportions of individuals and gods and even the grandest pyramids from 5 thousand years in the past, in addition to an extended life effectively lived. 13 in the meantime challenges us to simply accept new issues in life, to change into like Osiris and rework ourselves with divine assist. (Curiously, Akhenaten dominated his new metropolis Amarna for 13 years).

The subsequent time you see a 13 or an eighteen, contemplate it fortunate. You might be syncing with a particular secret symbolism that stretches again millennia, and tapping into the identical sacred numbers that constructed the Pyramids, the identical symmetry that outlined historical artwork and sweetness, and the identical powers of resurrection harnessed by the very gods and pharaohs of Egypt.

High picture: The Nice Pyramid, south aspect. Supply: © Jonathon A. Perrin

By Jonathon A. Perrin

Jonathon Perrin is the writer of 4 books, together with Moses Restored , accessible in print and as e-books from Amazon. His upcoming e book can be a photograph journey via Egypt, from Cairo to Amarna to Luxor.

Go to www.jonathonperrin.com for extra.


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