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Author Topic: The number four  (Read 2242 times)

The number four
« on: August 26, 2018, 03:42:03 pm »
Em hotep,

So, the number four is the Kemetic number of completion... but is there anything else that is known about this? Why four? Is there anything particularly symbolic of the number four, or does it play a major role in some myths?

Thank you :)

Offline Temseniaset

  • Sema Kau Bak
  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: The number four
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2018, 05:56:53 pm »
Where did you get your information from?
Sat Aset Serqet
Meryt Wesir Sokar, Yinepu Wepwawet, Khepra, Heru Sa Aset, Ra
Fedw diviner

Offline Lita45

  • Remetj
  • Country: eg
Re: The number four
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2018, 06:11:28 pm »
Famous IV Dynasty
Old Kingdom
Golden Age
« Last Edit: August 26, 2018, 06:15:25 pm by Lita45 »

Offline Temseniaset

  • Sema Kau Bak
  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: The number four
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2018, 06:17:18 pm »
I don't think the IV Dynasty is the answer they are looking for.
Sat Aset Serqet
Meryt Wesir Sokar, Yinepu Wepwawet, Khepra, Heru Sa Aset, Ra
Fedw diviner

Re: The number four
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2018, 06:35:26 pm »
The only information I know of is given when applying for the beginner's class.
It says, "Before answering the following questions, spend four days (the Kemetic number of completion) from the day you decide to apply thinking the decision through." I'm interested in how we know this, or if there's any more info on it at all.

Offline Djehutyendy

  • Guest
  • Country: us
Re: The number four
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2018, 07:32:36 pm »
Em hotep!

This is a great question! I don't have a detailed answer but I know it has to do with duality times itself (2 x 2 = 4). Duality is an important component of Kemetic thought (i.e. The Netjeru and Their consorts, union of Upper and Lower Egypt, etc).

I hope that helps! Hopefully someone else will come along with more information :)

Daughter of Djehuty | Beloved of Hethert-Sekhmet and Geb
Please feel free to reach out to me if you ever need anything or just want to talk! (Email: ; Discord: Djehutyendy#5816)

Offline Maen

  • Shemsu
  • Country: 00
Re: The number four
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2018, 04:37:28 am »
em hotep,

First, let me state that I don't know any Egyptian text that explicitly talks about the symbolical meaning of numbers (though there might well be one?)
So what I write is inferred from the use of certain numbers in ancient texts, in certain contexts.
 And it is my personal interpretation, not an official statement of the HoN, and not something I can support with academic citations (I'd need to do way more research for that)

I believe the way to understand the meaning of the numbers 4 and 9 follows from understanding 2 and 3 first.

two - "senu"
The two is in itself a number of completion already.
It has its own grammatical form in the Egyptian language, the dual. (English has singular and plural only: it's "dog" or "dogs". Egyptian has "dog", "two-dogs", and "dogs")

I'm sure you have observed how the dualisms in Kemetic religion are not so much about opposites, but about complementary pairs.
Things that come in pairs are usually large, important, and/or "wholeness" of this thing
is being stressed. Prominent examples would be the Two Lands, the primordial pairs (Nun/Naunet etc), Nut&Geb, the Two Ladies, the two Ma'at, or even the two eternities (djed and neheh)

The concept of dualism to indicate wholeness is even deeply ingrained in the rhythm of speech. Read ancient hymns carefully, and you'll notice that many times, the same
basic statement is said two times in slightly different wording. Titles of Gods are also often given in pairs.

Now let's look at three
3 is the symbol for "many" - quite literally, since the hieroglyphic plural form is denoted by 3 strokes or by repeating a glyph 3 times. 3 means that things are diverse and come in great number and many variations.
So 2 is for complementary halves, that together form a whole, complete thing
3 is for plurality, for things that come in manyfold variation.
However, when talking about unimaginably great numbers, the Egyptians tend to use words
like "thousands" and "millions" - these are often things that get repeated many times, like offerings being repeated "a thousand times".
So, if 3 is the basic plural form, but "really great numbers" have their own, separate symbols, I would tend to see the "3-fold" mainly as a symbol of a manyness that is still
countable, like a group of people rather than the number of grains of sand in the desert.

And in this manyness, I would see the root of plurality and variation (but that is now very
much my personal interpretation)
The One is the creator - unified, but alone. The Two are the complementary halves, a balance, a partnership - they need each other to be complete. The Three are the branches, the children, they are still loosely connected as a group, but they now explore the possibilities of variation, each being again unique in some way.

And now lets look at the 4 and the 9.
Both are "superlatives", increased and exaggerated forms of their bases.
They are not used very often, but if found, the context usually suggests that the
more common "2" or "3" were considered to be "not quite enough".
3x3, the 9, is found when a " great multitude", a maximum of number and diversity is
to be expressed. So the Enneads, the 9-fold groups of Gods are in themselves a symbol
for a great number and variation. (again, however, remember that "infinite, uncountable numbers" are usually represented as "millions" rather than "9")

Now the four logically expresses an increased level of completion as being 2x2.
We often find the "four" in the context of purifications, and other Heka. It is used
when we feel that 2, the Dualism, is not enough.
The Gods are usually fine with a Duality - only rarely do they come in groups of four, such as the 4 primordial pairs (the primordial is incredibly vast, after all) or the four Sons of Heru (the Dead require a maximum level of protection)

But we humans often need to put a little extra effort in, try to cover all bases, in order to reach our goals.
So we tend to use the 4 in our spells, to increase on the concept of wholeness that is
already present in the dualism, and make it a true "completion"
If we did 2 purifications, we would imply that we a "all pure"
If we did 3 purifications, we would imply that we are pure "many times"
But by doing 4, we imply instead that we are pure "thoroughly and completely"

so that would be my interpretation...


Ma'a-en-Hethert ("rightly belonging to HetHert")
Daughter of HetHert-Sekhmet, beloved of Nut, Djehuty and Nit-NebtHet-Seshat

Offline TahekerutAset

  • Shemsu
  • Country: 00
Re: The number four
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2018, 01:47:55 pm »
Em hotep.

Others have already explained it.  So I'll just mention a book:

Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art by Richard H. Wilkinson talks about symbols of numbers and colors and other things.
TahekerutAset "Aset's Jewel"
Sat Aset
Meryt Nebet Het, Wepwawet, Sekhmet-Mut, Ra, Mut,  Bast-Mut, Shu, Tefnut

Website:  Fiercely Bright One


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