Sunday, February 27, 2011

equations, giants and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Do you remember a basketball player named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?  He was born with the name Lew Alcindor but as he matured he embraced Islam and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  He starred in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. This guy was a giant.  7 feet, 2 inches tall!

You know what else is a giant?  The constellation Orion which dominates our winter sky is a giant.  You can't miss it in its nightly voyage across the southern night sky as he rises in the east and eventually sets in the west.  Many ancient cultures referred to Orion as a giant.  To the Jews Orion was known as Gibbor, the giant who they considered Nimrod the great hunter, and this Nimrod was bound to the sky for rebellion against Yahweh.  The Syrians referred to Orion as Gabbara the giant and the Arabians knew Orion as Al Jabbar the giant.

We turn again to the Online Etymology Dictionary to start connecting some dots:

1550s, from M.L. algebra, from Arabic al jebr "reunion of broken parts," as in computation, used 9c. by Baghdad mathematician Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi as the title of his famous treatise on equations ("Kitab al-Jabr w'al-Muqabala" "Rules of Reintegration and Reduction"), which also introduced Arabic numerals to the West. The accent shifted 17c. from second syllable to first. The word was used in English 15c.-16c. to mean "bone-setting," probably from Arab medical men in Spain.

So Algebra comes from the Arabic Al Jebr, refers to bone setting, and is etymologically correlative to Al Jabbar.  Those familiar with the ancient Egyptian story of Osiris and Isis will remember Osiris being hacked to pieces by his brother Set and then re-assembled by the love of his wife Isis.  How this all interestingly enough adds up is Osiris is equated many times in the Pyramid texts to Orion.  For example text 820 states  “Behold Osiris has come as Orion.”

The action of Al Jabbar refers to the setting of broken bones while the thing it refers to is a giant in the sky and that giant is Orion.  This is only scratching the surface as what we have just learned branches off in many interesting directions that are well worth following.  I'll just follow one branch for now and that is concerning the stars that make up the constellation of Orion and how they relate back to our friend Osiris.

In old Arabia the belt of Orion stood out in the night sky and was given the designation Al Jauzah, which was a term used to describe a black sheep with a white spot in the middle of its body.  The left leg of Orion, known to us as the star Rigel, was known as Rijl Jauzah al Yusrāʽ.  The right shoulder of Orion, known to us as Betelgeuse, was known as Ibt al Jauzah - "the armpit of the Central One."  In Egypt the Great Pyramid of Khufu along with the pyramids Khafre and Menkaure were built on a plateau that is called today the Giza Plateau and is known in Arabic as Al Jizah.  Somehow the Arabs that named this area Al Jizah knew what this sacred plateau represented, as Al Jizah easily correlates with Al Jauzah.  There is a popular theory about the three pyramids representing Orion's belt, made most famous by author Robert Bauval in his book "The Orion Mystery". This has been disputed by leading Egyptologists most likely because it didn't dawn on them first.  The pyramids are symbols of re-birth and to the ancient Egyptians this was part of becoming.  Re-birth was the vehicle that allowed you to fulfill this act of becoming.  The pharaoh was a living Horus, which is telling us that the King had achieved a spiritual becoming while on earth and had the authority to rule as the enlightened one among us.  In physical death the Pharaoh would become Osiris again and await re-birth while being entombed in his great symbol.

Next I will follow the path that explains the setting of broken bones.

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