Alice C. Linsley
The Ten Sefirot of Semitic mysticism is sometimes called the "Tree of Life." It is found in Kabalah, but Kabalah is not the source of the number symbolism. Ka-Ba is an Egyptian reference to body-soul and this mystical number symbolism originates with the Nilotic peoples, Abraham's Kushite ancestors who spread over the Arabian Peninsula. In other words, the origin is Afro-Arabian. This is evident from its binary structure based on the cardinal directtions and male and female principles.
The notion here is that of a shuttle moving back and forth. The weave requires redoubling to make the fabric or the web strong. The English web is likely derived from the word keb or kab. Kab pertains to weaving with a shuttle. Weavers are called the ka, those who kab. Ka also refers to the the body which is "knit" in the womb. Ka-ba refers to the relationship of body and soul. Kab also implies a doubling or redoubling to strengthen.
This movement between points corresponds to the ancients' observations of the stars and constellations. They were adept at sidereal astronomy. Horus of the two horizons (east-west) and Horus of the two crowns (north-south) are examples of how meaning is derived by holding 2 points in view. We see this in the Passover sacrifice at twilight, what is called in Hebrew ben ha-'arbayim, meaning "between the two settings." Rabbinic sources take this to mean "from noon on." According to Radak, the first "setting" occurs when the sun passes its zenith at noon and the shadows begin to lengthen, and the second "setting" is the actual sunset (p. 55, vol. 2, The Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary, "Exodus").
The tradition teaches that we are to be rightly oriented. Right orientation means having a right relationship to God and to other humans. A young teacher of the Law stood up and asked Jesus, "Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your nieghbor as yourself." This is sometimes called "the New Law" but it represents the old tradition of the Horite rulers and priests and it is symbolized by a vertical line connecting heaven and earth and by a horizontal line connecting people and horizons. The perpendicular lines form a cross, which the Church Fathers called "The Tree of Life."
Praying toward the East symbolizes right “orientation” (orient means east) toward God. That is why the priest faces east and church altars are on the east wall. Respecting the male and the female aspects of life (male and female principles) is one way we show respect for one another. In this binary system, males and females are complementary and supplementary. The numbers and qualities associated with the eastern half/right side of the diagram represent the Male Principle. The numbers and qualities associated with the western half/left side of the diagram represent the Female Principle. The Male and Female Principles are completely balanced and in harmony. In this context, homosexual and autoerotic acts are regarded as wrong orientation toward God and wrong relations among humans, disturbing the balance and destroying the harmony.
The association of north and east with Yahweh/Re is based on the number symbolism of the Afro-Arabian peoples, some of which is evident in the Ten Sefirot of Kabbalah. The numbers and lines shown on the diagram connect the cardinal points. Looking closely at the diagram above one sees a cross.
North is always the positon of priority and is assigned the number 1, symbolizing the Uncreated One who Creates, the Cause of all Causes, Hidden God, I AM WHO I AM.
West is assigned the numbers 3, 9 and 10. The number 10 is actually the beginning of a new sequence as the Afro-Arabian number system was based on 9. The number 3 symbolizes the Spirit moving. The number 9 symbolizes the Bridegroom, and 10 sybolizes the birth of a New Reality or a New World.
East is assinged the numbers 7 and 8. These symbolize the Risen One/the One who Ascends/the Promised Royal Son
True south is assigned the number 6 and is associated with mortality, fleshly desires, the way of all flesh, marriage, and reproduction/fertility.
The number 4 symbolizes God's tender love, grace and mercy shown to the four corners of the earth. Halfway between west and south is the number 5. Kabbalah teaches that 5 may go to 1. The person who is not consumed by the things of this world may go to God. The number 5 symbolizes judgment/strength and determination. The virtues of 4 and 5 are generally associated with the opposite gender to which they are assigned on the diagram. We usually associate judgment, strength and determination with the male and associate tender love, grace, mercy and with the female. Here we have a reversal. Reversals speak of supplementarity and meaning is mediated through the relationship of the opposites. Unlike Western metaphysics, which grants privilege to one side of an opposition and marginalizes the opposition, the Afro-Arabian system maintains the male and female principles as inseparable and supplementary and derives meaning from their relationship.
You may be wondering what happened to number 2? It resides half way between 1 and 7/8, or we could say, halfway between north and east. Two is Logos, Generative Word that comes from the Father. Christians will be reminded of Genesis 1 and of John’s Prologue: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…”
The ancient symbolism points to Jesus Christ, The Logos of God (2) who by the Spirit (3) became incarnate of the Virgin Mary (5), lived on earth among men and died (6) but rose from the dead, showing great mercy to all the world (4) and ascended as the Royal Son of God (7) who becomes the Royal Bridegroom (8) who enters the bridal chamber to consummate the marriage to his pure and spotless Bride, the Church (9) and from that union will be born a new reality, a new world (10).
Related reading: Gender Reversal and Sacred Mystery; The Importance of Binary Distinctions; Who Were the Kushites?; Who Were the Horites?; The Christ in Nilotic Mythology; Abraham's Kushite Ancestors; Jesus From Lamb to Ram