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Lee writes:
 
>Perhaps this is begging the question, but which came first?  The
>alphabetic order, or the association between numerals and letters?
>The Greeks used letters for counting: alpha = 1, beta = 2, and so
>on. This would seem to impose a natural order on many of the
>letters.
 
I'd suggest that the association between numerals and letters was
determined by the use of the alphabet to reveal numerological
significances in the names of deities, etc. This is still the case in
the semitic languages (for instance, with the Arabic 'abjad' and
Qabbalistic systems), where names can be interpreted and decoded to
give hidden meanings, etc. Whatever one thinks of this, the congruity
between 'obvious' and 'concealed' meanings suggest some degree of
quasi-mathematical construction behind their letter order.
 
Robert Graves also gives some interesting (if perhaps speculative)
interpretations of letter order in 'The White Goddess', positing a
relationship between the letters of the Irish Ogham alpahbet and a
calendar myth.
 
It seems reasonable to me to suppose that religious or mythological
significance was more important to the compliers of these alphabets
than mathematical or commercial usage.
 
James