Hebrew Foundations of Pythagoras



Damien F. Mackey


Whilst it is almost universally thought and taught, in the western world at least, that philosophy was a discovery of the ancient Greeks, I have, at the site:


Lost Cultural Foundations of Western Civilisation


based on the New Testament teaching that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22) – and that God’s salvation is wholly civilising – returned to the Patristic view that the Greeks (and Romans) were, in turn, philosophically influenced by the Hebrews – at least to some degree. Thus I, in my:


Re-Orienting to Zion the History of Ancient Philosophy


noted that: “… the Fathers of the Church appreciated at least the seminal impact that the Hebrews had had upon Greco-Roman thinking”.
However, I then took this basic conception a large step further, “though without [the Fathers] having taken the extra step that I intend to take in this article, of actually recognising the most famous early western (supposedly) philosophers as being originally Hebrew”.
This was an attempt to begin a re-writing of the history of ancient philosophy.
The most seminal supposedly ‘Greek’ (non mainland) philosophers, THALES and PYTHAGORAS, I had concluded in this article, were basically a muddled western version of the great Hebrew patriarch, Joseph of Egypt, historically Egypt’s Old Kingdom Imhotep and Ptahhotep. Thus it was with great interest that I recently read Dr. Ed (Ewald) Metzler’s discussion of Pythagoras in his:

The Impact of Israel on Western Philosophy


beginning with this quote from Theophrastus (C4th BC):

“The Jews are a people of philosophers!”

I have often quoted from Dr. Metzler’s ground-breaking article, “Conflict of Laws in the Israelite Dynasty of Egypt” (http://moziani.tripod.com/dynasty/ammm_2_1.htm) which is, in my opinion, one of a relatively few (considering the amount of versions that are currently being poured out) genuinely useful modifications of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky’s revised ancient history in relation to the Bible. Velikovsky’s important pioneering work did stand in need of modification. But not that many, as I see it, have managed to do something effective to develop it. Metzler’s “Conflict of Laws” is a fine exception.
Now, his article on western philosophy has also some most valuable insights, I believe. Though, in this regard, Dr. Metzler would be closer to Patristic thought than to mine, considering that he would maintain the standard view that the likes of Thales and Pythagoras were what the history books say they were, and not Hebrews. What is important about this article is the decided Hebrew influence upon Pythagoras. Apparently he was saturated in it. Not surprising, according to my view, that he was indeed a Hebrew.

Dr. Metzler’s Thesis

Though he begins with the textbook view of Thales, and Pythagoras, there is this twist to it:

§ 1. The history of western philosophy begins
in ancient Greece with men like Thales of Miletus
and Pythagoras. Yet, their dependence on Jewish
thought as well as the cultural impact of Israel
on Greece during its formative period generally,
remained shrouded in mystery as long as no exact
information was available about the central cult object in the Holy of Holies of the First Temple,
built by King Solomon in Jerusalem as depository
for the Ark of the Covenant with the two stone
Tablets of the Law of the Torah of Moses from
the Sinai. As a legal scientist I discovered in 1983
all I ever wanted to know about the Mosaical
Tablets of the Law, thus shedding new light on
the impact of Israel on western philosophy, as
I already mentioned in my last book entitled
the Scientific Study of the Law of Moses and
Mosaical Antiquity.”1)

This leads Dr. Metzler to this interesting quest so compatible with my own: “Under these circumstances, it appears legitimate for a lawyer to inquire into the origins of western philosophy”. I have done likewise in “Re-Orienting to Zion”. But, in Metzler’s case, the Mosaïc Law is of the essence of his inquiry:

My discoveries in the field of legal history led to the complete recon-
struction of the Mosaical Tablets of the Law,
including the graphical details of their inscription,
and the original alphabet, in which it was written,
their geometry, and their exact weights and
measures.3) This important source of ancient law,
which I once called the Magna Charta of antiquity,
exerted an influence on western culture that went
far beyond the proper sphere of law.4)

The very holiness of the Mosaïc Law was what inspired the philosophy of Israel and also of the rest, hence it was fundamentally mystical:

Being deposited in the Holy of Holies of the Solomonic
temple in Jerusalem, the Mosaical Tablets of the
Law were transformed from a legal document
into an object of religious worship, and it was in this mystified form that they were to inspire
the philosophy of future generations, both in
Israel and abroad.5)

Included amongst those influenced was the great Pythagoras himself:

A. The Mosaical Tablets of the Law
as the Jewish Blueprints of
Pythagorean Philosophy

§ 3. According to Hermippus of Smyrna
Pythagoras owed all of his theories to the Jews.6)
Best known are the Pythagorean theorem and the Pythagorean numbers 3, 4, and 5, forming
a right triangle.

For Dr. Metzler, accepting the conventional view here, Thales and Pythagoras were amongst the influenced, rather than being amongst the originators: “But absolutely nothing was known
about Jewish mathematics at the time of the
destruction of the First Temple (586 B. C. E.),
– when Thales lived and Pythagoras was born …”.
Then Dr. Metzler believed himself to have found the key, he being the one who:

…. discovered the three-dimensional structure
of the Ten Commandments.7) As a legal scientist,
convinced that Jewish legal and scribal tradition
would not change one jot or tittle of the law of
the Torah of Moses from the Sinai, I found the
distribution of the letters on the original stone
inscription.8) They were entered into squares like
those of a crossword puzzle, which disclosed the
proportions of the Tablets of the Law containing
the Pythagorean numbers, as did their box, the
Ark of the Covenant.9)

Dr. Metzler has to struggle with a certain weirdness in the conventional Pythagoras that is the result of not knowing who was the prototypal philosopher from which this Greek hybrid emerged: namely the genius Joseph (Imhotep): Ҥ 4. Of course, Pythagoras might have gotten his theorem somewhere else, if it were not for his
other teachings, which make him look like a man
of weird idiosyncrasies.10) But the Hebrew element is, as he sees it – and I think rightly – what holds it all together:

However, the bond
which ties his various theories together is the
fact that they all refer to the Tablets of the Law
in the Holy of Holies of the First Temple in
Jerusalem, such as the holiness of the ten spheres
(Decalogue), the Tetraktys (Tetragrammaton), and
the so-called Pythagorean numbers 3, 4, and 5 of the tablets and their box.11) The Pythagoreans
swore their holy oath by the Tetraktys, i. e. by the
Tetragrammaton Y.H.W.H. or YaHUH (Yahuweh),
“by him who has given to our people the Ten
Commandments”, the ten boustrophedon lines
(Devarim “logoi” or Sephirot “spheres”) of the
Torah “theoria” of Moses, – as the Jews even
today bless “him who has given the Torah to
his people Israel.”12)

So much so, that Metzler must conclude: Ҥ 5. Obviously, Pythagoras was a convert
to Judaism …”. However, his attempt to sort out the difficult name, Pythagoras”, is far from being linguistically convincingly: “Pytha-” standing for Israel in the land of Canaan
or “Put” (= Phoenicia), and “-goras” for “Giyora”
meaning a Ger or proselyte.13) Preferable for me is an Egyptian origin for his name, with Pyth being a Greek version of Ptah, based upon the ancient sage, Ptahhotep.
And I would adjust Dr. Metzler’s view that: “[Pythagoras] taught in Greek what he had learned in Hebrew about a kosher
life-style, reminiscent of the vegetarianism of his
biblical contemporary Daniel in Babylon, about
the geometry of the Mosaical Tablets of the Law …” – {especially considering that I do not believe he was anywhere near being a contemporary of Daniel’s, whose career was similar to Joseph’s} – to his having been raised as a Hebrew, and who probably taught much in Egyptian during his long sojourn in that country.
The great Pythagoras is sometimes referred to as a “mathemagician”. He was based upon a man of great genius, but a non Greek, Joseph/Imhotep – the latter sometimes referred to, in turn, as the Leonardo Da Vinci of the ancient world. As I wrote in “Re-Orienting to Zion”, regarding this Imhotep:

PYTHAGORAS, based on traditions of the great antiquity of his doctrines; the possibility that he may even have hailed from Syria (Tyre) and was hence a barbarian (that is, a non-Greek); his being circumcised; his concerns with dietary laws; his abstention from illicit sex; and the very Egyptian looking first syllable in his name, Pyth (= Ptah?); was probably once again the great Ptah-hotep, or Imhotep, of Egypt, who I am saying was the biblical Joseph. We have already considered the lack of sure knowledge about [Pythagoras]. Here is another sample (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pythagoras/):

Pythagoras … spent his early years on the island of Samos, off the coast of modern Turkey. At the age of forty, however, he emigrated to the city of Croton in southern Italy and most of his philosophical activity occurred there. Pythagoras wrote nothing, nor were there any detailed accounts of his thought written by contemporaries. By the first centuries [BC], moreover, it became fashionable to present Pythagoras in a largely unhistorical fashion as a semi-divine figure, who originated all that was true in the Greek philosophical tradition, including many of Plato’s and Aristotle’s mature ideas. A number of treatises were forged in the name of Pythagoras and other Pythagoreans in order to support this view. Likewise, did the genius Imhotep (Joseph) become a semi-divine figure.

Imhotep was an ancient Egyptian genius who achieved great success in a wide variety of fields. Inventor of the pyramid, author of ancient wisdom, architect, high priest, physician, astronomer, and writer, Imhotep’s many talents and vast acquired knowledge had such an effect on the Egyptian people that he became one of only a handful of individuals of nonroyal birth to be deified, or promoted to the status of a god.

Imhotep is sometimes referred to as ―the Egyptian god of medicine and healing”. (http://www.landofpyramids.org/imhotep.htm). It is not surprising to find, then, that (http://www.ict.griffith.edu.au/~johnt/1004ICT/lectures/lecture02/Sleepwalkers-pp26-42.html): “The Pythagoreans were, among other things, healers; we are told that ‘they used medicine to purge the body, and music to purge the soul”.


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