Lexicon of Hebrew terms. Articles on aspects of Kabbalah tree of life, metaphysics, the soul, visions of Ezechiel, merkabah etc. Additional portions of the Zohar partly translated, discussed and summarized. Napthali Hirtz and Chaim Vital.
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The first questions which the non-qabalistical reader will probably ask are: What is the Qabalah? Who was its author? What are its sub-divisions? What are its general teachings? And why is a translation of it required at the present time? I will answer the last question first. Therefore this work should be of interest to every biblical and theological student.
And who can calculate the vastness of the harm done to impressionable and excitable persons by the bigoted enthusiasts who ever and anon come forward as teachers of the people? How many suicides are the result of religious mania and depression! Given a translation of the sacred Hebrew Book, in many instances incorrect, as the foundation, an inflamed and an ill-balanced mind as the worker thereon, what sort of edifice can be expected as the result?
I say fearlessly to the fanatics and bigots of the present day: You have cast down the Sublime and Infinite One from His throne, and in His stead have placed the demon of unbalanced force; you have substituted a deity of disorder and of jealousy for a God of order and of love; you have perverted the teachings of the crucified One.
Therefore at this present time an English translation of the Qabalah is almost a necessity, for the Zohar has never before been translated into the language of this country, nor, as far as I am aware, into any modern European vernacular. The Qabalah may be defined as being the esoteric Jewish doctrine.
As in the present work a great number of Hebrew or Chaldee words have to be used in the text, and the number of scholars in the Shemitic languages is limited, I have thought it more advisable to print such words in ordinary Roman characters, carefully retaining the exact orthography. I therefore append a table showing at a glance the ordinary Hebrew and Chaldee alphabet which is common to both languages , the Roman characters by which I have expressed its letters in this work; also their names, powers, and numerical values.
There are no separate numeral characters in Hebrew and Chaldean; therefore, as is also the case in Greek, each letter has its own peculiar numerical value, and from this circumstance results the important fact that every word is a number, and every number is a word. I shall refer to this subject again. Another difficulty of the Hebrew alphabet consists in the great similarity between the forms of certain letters e.
With regard to the author and origin of the Qabalah, I cannot do better than give the following extract from Dr. I have adopted the form Qabalah, as being more consonant with the Hebrew writing of the word.
When it is added that among its captives were Raymond Lully, the celebrated scholastic metaphysician and chemist died ; John Reuchlin, the renowned scholar. And reviver of Oriental literature in Europe born , died ; John Picus de Mirandola, the famous philosopher and classical scholar ; Cornelius Henry Agrippa, the distinguished philosopher, divine, and physician ; John Baptist Von Helmont, a remarkable chemist and physician ; as well as our own countrymen, Robert Fludd, the famous physician and philosopher ; and Dr.
The claims of the Kabbalah, however, are not restricted to the literary man and the philosopher; the poet too will find in it ample materials for the exercise of his lofty genius.
Listen to the story of. Its birth, growth, and maturity, as told by its followers. After the Fall the angels most graciously communicated this heavenly doctrine to the disobedient child of earth, to furnish the protoplasts with the means of returning to their pristine nobility and felicity. From Adam it passed over to Noah, and then to Abraham, the friend of God, who emigrated with it to Egypt, where the patriarch allowed a portion of this mysterious doctrine to ooze out.
It was in this way that the Egyptians obtained some knowledge of it, and the other Eastern nations could introduce it into their philosophical systems.
Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, was first initiated into the Qabalah in the land of his birth, but became most proficient in it during his wanderings in the wilderness, when he not only devoted to it the leisure hours of the whole forty years, but received lessons in it from one of the angels.
By the aid of this mysterious science the lawgiver was enabled to solve the difficulties which arose during his management of the Israelites, in spite of the pilgrimages, wars, and frequent miseries of the nation. He covertly laid down the principles of this secret doctrine in the first four books of the Pentateuch, but withheld them from Deuteronomy. Moses also initiated the seventy elders into the secrets of this doctrine, and they again transmitted them from hand to hand. Of all who formed the unbroken line of tradition, David and Solomon were the most deeply initiated into the Kabbalah.
No one, however, dared to write it down, till Schimeon Ben Jochai, who lived at the time of the destruction of the second temple. The practical Qabalah deals with talismanic and ceremonial magic, and does not come within the scope of this work.
The literal Qabalah is referred to in several places, and therefore a knowledge of its leading principles is necessary. It is based on the relative numerical values of words, as I have before remarked. Words of similar numerical values are considered to be explanatory of each other, and this theory is also extended to phrases.
Thus also the passage, Gen. I think these instances will suffice to make clear the nature of Gematria, especially as many others will be found in the course of the ensuing work. Notariqon is derived from the Latin word nothrius, a shorthand writer.
Of Notariqon there are two forms. In the first every letter of a word is taken for the initial or abbreviation of another word, so that from the letters of a word a sentence may be formed. These have all a Christian tendency, and by their means Prosper converted another Jew, who had previously been bitterly opposed to Christianity.
The second form of Notariqon is the exact reverse of the first. By this the initials or finals, or both, or the medials, of a sentence, are taken to form a word or words.
Temura is permutation. According to certain rules, one letter is substituted for another letter preceding or following it in the alphabet, and thus from one word another word of totally different orthography may be formed. Thus the alphabet is bent exactly in half, in the middle, and one half is put over the other; and then by changing alternately the first letter or the first two letters at the beginning of the second line, twenty-two commutations are produced.
To make any of these, a square, containing squares, should be made, and the letters written in. Besides all these, there is the method called ThShRQ, Thashraq, which is simply writing a word backwards. Thus the right angle, containing AIQ, will answer for the letter Q if it have three dots or points within it. Again, a square will answer for H, N, or K final, according to whether it has one, two, or three points respectively placed within it.
So also with regard to the other letters. But there are many other ways of employing the Qabalah of the Nine Chambers, which I have not space to describe. Besides all these rules, there are certain meanings hidden in the shape of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet; in the form of a particular letter at the end of a word being different from that which it generally bears when it is a final letter, or in a letter being written in the middle of a word in a character generally used only at the end; in any letter or letters being written in a size smaller or larger than the rest of the manuscript, or in a letter being written upside down; in the variations found in the spelling of certain words, which have a letter more in some places than they have in others; in peculiarities observed in the position of any of the points or accents, and in certain expressions supposed to be elliptic or redundant.
In Isaiah ix. Thus, by writing the M final instead of the ordinary character, the word is made to bear a different qabalistical meaning. In Deuteronomy vi. There are many other points worthy of consideration in this prayer, but time will not permit me to dwell on them.
It was, however, necessary to be thus explicit, as much of the metaphysical reasoning of the ensuing work turns on its application. I may say no more on this point, not even whether I myself have or have not received it. The Dogmatic Qabalah contains the doctrinal portion. It treats of the cosmogony as symbolized by the ten numbers and the twenty-two.
A species of commentary is also given, which is distinguished from the actual text by being written within parentheses. It treats of angels, demons, elemental spirits, and souls. Equilibrium is that harmony which results from the analogy of contraries, it is the dead center where, the opposition of opposing forces being equal in strength, rest succeeds motion. It is the central point. It is the living synthesis of counterbalanced power. Thus form may be described as the equilibrium of light and shade; take away either factor, and form is viewless.
The term balance is applied to the two opposite natures in each triad of the Sephiroth, their equilibrium forming the third Sephira in each ternary. I shall recur again to this subject in explaining the Sephiroth.
This doctrine of equilibrium and balance is a fundamental qabalistical idea. What is positive existence? The distinction between these two is another fundamental idea. To define negative existence clearly is impossible, for when it is distinctly defined it ceases to be negative existence; it is then negative existence passing into static condition. Yet, if we think deeply, we shall see that such must be the primal forms of the unknowable and nameless One, whom we, in the more manifest form speak of as GOD.
He is the Absolute. But how define the Absolute? Even as we define it, it slips from our grasp, for it ceases when defined to be the Absolute. Shall we then say that the Negative, the limitless, the Absolute are, logically speaking, absurd, since they are ideas which our reason cannot define? No; for could we define them, we should make them, so to speak, contained by our reason, and therefore not superior to it; for a subject to be capable of definition it is requisite that certain limits should be assignable to it.
How then can we limit the Illimitable? They consider God as the intelligent, living, and loving Infinite One. He is for them neither the collection of other beings, nor the abstraction of existence, nor a philosophically definable being. He is in all, distinct from all, and greater than all. His very name is ineffable; and yet this name only expresses the human ideal of His Divinity.
What God is in Himself it is not given to man to know. God is the absolute of faith; existence is the absolute of reason, existence exists by itself, and because it exists. The reason of the existence of existence is existence itself. I will then believe in the Infinite when I am sure that the Infinite does not exist. I will believe in the vastness of the ocean when I shall have seen it put into bottles. Am that which is and that which is not. See wonders in numbers, unseen before.
See to-day the whole universe, including everything movable and immovable, all in one. O Thou who pervadest the universe! Thou art the Indestructible, that which is, that which is not, and what is beyond them. By Thee is this universe pervaded, O Thou of the infinite forms. Thou art of infinite power, of unmeasured glory; Thou pervadest all, and therefore Thou art all!
THE KABBALAH UNVEILED
Knorr von Rosenroth's
Christian Knorr von Rosenroth