Kitab al Khazari/Part Four
1. THE Rabbi: ELŌHIM is a term signifying the ruler, or governor of the world, if I allude to the possession of the whole of it, and of a portion, if I refer to the powers either of nature or the spheres, or of a human judge. The word has a plural form, because it was so used by gentile idolators, who believed that every deity was invested with astral and other powers. Each of these was called Elōah; their united forces were therefore, called Elōhim. They swore by them, and behaved as if bound to abide by their judgments. These deities were as numerous as are the forces which sway the human body and the universe. 'Force' is a name for any of the causes of motion. Every motion arises from a force of its own, to the exclusion of other forces. The spheres of the sun and moon are not subject to one force, but to different ones. These people did not take into account the prime power from which all these forces emanated, because they did not acknowledge its existence. They asserted that the sum total of these forces was styled Elōah, just as the sum total of the forces which control the human body was called 'soul.' Or they admitted the existence of God, but maintained that to serve Him was of no use. They considered Him too far removed and exalted to have any knowledge of us, much less to care about us. Far from God are such notions. As a result of their theories they worshipped, not one being, but many, which they styled 'Elōhim.' This is a collective form which comprises all causes equally. A more exact and more lofty name is to be found in the form known as the Tetragrammaton. This is a proper noun, which can only be indicated by attributes, but has no location, and was formerly unknown. If He was commonly styled 'Elōhim,' the Tetragrammaton was used as special name. This is as if one asked: Which God is to be worshipped, the sun, the moon, the heaven, the signs of the zodiac, any star, fire, a spirit, or celestial angels, etc.; each of these, taken singly, has an activity and force, and causes growth and decay? The answer to this question is: 'The Lord,' just as if one would say: A. B., or a proper name, as Ruben or Simeon, supposing that these names indicate their personalities.
2. Al Khazari: How can I individualise a being, if I am not able to point to it, and can only prove its existence by its actions?
3. The Rabbi: It can be designated by prophetic or visionary means. Demonstration can lead astray. Demonstration was the mother of heresy and destructive ideas. What was it, if not the wish to demonstrate, that led the dualists to assume two eternal causes? And what led materialists to teach that the sphere was not only eternal, but its own primary cause, as well as that of other matter? The worshippers of fire and sun are but the result of the desire to demonstrate. There are differences in the ways of demonstration, of which some are more extended than others. Those who go to the utmost length are the philosophers, and the ways of their arguments led them to teach of a Supreme Being which neither benefits nor injures, and knows nothing of our prayers, offerings, obedience, or disobedience, and that the world is as eternal as He himself. None of them applies a distinct proper name to God, except he who hears His address, command, or prohibition, approval for obedience, and reproof for disobedience. He bestows on Him some name as a designation for Him who spoke to him, and he is convinced that He is the Creator of the world from nought. The first man would never have known Him if He had not addressed, rewarded and punished him, and had not created Eve from one of his ribs. This gave him the conviction that this was the Creator of the world, whom he designated by words and attributes, and styled 'Lord.' Without this he would have been satisfied with the name Elōhim, neither perceiving what He was, nor whether He was a unity or many, whether He was cognizant of individuals or not. Cain and Abel were made acquainted with the nature of His being by the communications of their father as well as by prophetic intuition. Then Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and the prophets called Him intuitively 'Lord,' as also did the people, having been taught by tradition that His influence and guidance were with men. His influence also being with the pious, they comprehended Him by means of intermediaries called: glory, Shekhinah, dominion, fire, cloud, likeness, form, 'the appearance of the bow,' etc. (Ezek. i. 28). For they proved to them that He had spoken to them, and they styled it: Glory of God. Occasionally they addressed the holy ark by the name of God, as it is written: 'Rise up, O Lord,', (Numb. x. 35, 36), when they made a start, and 'Return, O Lord' when they halted, or 'God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of the trumpet' (Ps. xlvii. 6), With all this only the ark of the Lord is meant. Sometimes the name 'Lord' was applied to the connecting link between God and Israel, as it is written: 'Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?' (Ps. cxxxix, 21). By 'haters of the Lord' are meant those who hate the name, or covenant, or the law of God. For there exists no connexion between God and any other nation, as He pours out His light only on the select people. They are accepted by Him, and He by them. He is called 'the God of Israel,' whilst they are 'the people of the Lord,' and 'the people of the God of Abraham.' Even supposing some nations had followed Him and worshipped Him, their conversion being the result of hearsay and tradition, yet where do we find His acceptance of them and His connexion with them, His pleasure in their obedience, His anger for their disobedience? We see them left to nature and chance by which their prosperity or misfortune are determined, but not by an influence which proves to be of divine origin alone. Thus also we alone are meant in the words: 'So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him (Deut. xxxii. 12). The Tetragrammaton is a name exclusively employable by us, as no other people knows its true meaning. It is a proper name which takes no article, as is the case with Elohim in the form hāelōhim. It belongs, therefore, to the prerogatives by which we are distinguished. Although its meaning is hidden, the letters of which it is composed speak. For it is the letters alef, hē, wāv and yōd which cause all consonants to be sounded, as no letter can be pronounced as long as it is not supported by one of these four, viz. a by alef, and hē, u by wāv, and i by yōd. They form, so to speak, the spirit in the bodies of the consonants. The name Oh is like the Tetragrammaton (Exod. iii. 14). As to EH’YEH, it can be derived from the latter name, or from the root hāyāh, and its tendency is to prevent the human mind from pondering over an incomprehensible but real entity. When Moses asked: 'And they shall say to me, What is His name?' the answer was: Why should they ask concerning things they are unable to grasp? In a like manner the angel answered: 'Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?' (Judg. xiii. 18). Say to them eh’yēh, which means: 'I am that I am,' the existing one, existing for you whenever you seek me. Let them search for no stronger proof than My presence among them, and name Me accordingly. Moses therefore answered: 'Eh’yēh has sent me to you.' God had previously given a similar proof to Moses in the words: 'Certainly I will be with thee, and this shall be a token unto thee,' etc. (Exod. iii. 12), viz. that I have sent thee, and am with thee everywhere. This is followed by a similar phrase, viz. 'The God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob,' persons known to have been favoured by the Divine Influence perpetually. As regards the terms: Elōhē hāelōhim, it is a designation for the fact that all creative forces are depending upon God, who arranges and guides them. 'Lord of lords' has the same meaning. EL is derived from ayālūth, being the source of the forces [of nature], but exalted above them. The expression: 'Who is like unto thee among the ēlim,' is, therefore, permissible, placing ēl into the plural form. HOLY expresses the notion that He is high above any attribute of created beings, although many of these are applied to him metaphorically. For this reason Isaiah heard an endless: 'Holy, holy, holy,' which meant that God is too high, too exalted, too holy, and too pure for any impurity of the people in whose midst His light dwells to touch Him. For the same reason Isaiah saw him 'sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.' Holy is, further, a description of the spiritual, which never assumes a corporeal form, and which nothing concrete can possibly resemble. God is called: the Holy One of Israel, which is another expression for the Divine Influence connected with Israel himself and the whole of his posterity, to rule and guide them, but not to be merely in external contact with them. Not everyone who wishes is permitted to say, 'My God and Holy One!' except in a metaphorical and traditional way. In reality only a prophet or a pious person with whom the Divine Influence is connected may say so. For this reason they said to the prophet: 'Pray to the Lord, thy God' (1 Kings xiii. 6). The relation of this nation to others was to have been like that of a king to ordinary people, as it is written: 'Holy shall ye be, for holy am I the Lord, your God' (Lev. xix. 2). ADONAI, spelt alef, dalēth, nūn, yōd points to something which stands at such an immeasurable altitude that a real designation is impossible. Indication is possible in one direction only. We can point to things created by Him, and which form His immediate tools. Thus we allude to the intellect, and say that its seat is in the heart or brain. We also say 'this' or 'that intellect.' In reality we can only point to a thing enclosed by a space. Although all organs obey the intellect, they do so through the medium of the heart or brain, which are its primary tools, which arc considered as the abode of the intellect.
In a like manner we point to heaven, because it is employed to carry out the divine will directly, and without the assistance of intermediary factors. On the other hand we cannot point to compound objects, because they can only operate with the assistance of intermediary causes, and are connected with God in a chain-like manner. For He is the cause of causes. He is also called 'He who dwelleth in heaven' (Ps. cxxiii. 1), and 'For God is in heaven,' (Eccl. v. 1). One often says, 'Fear of heaven,' and 'fearing heaven in secret,' 'mercy shall come for them from heaven.' In a similar way we speak of the 'pillar of fire,' or the 'pillar of cloud,' worship them, and say that God is therein, because this pillar carried out His will exclusively, unlike other clouds and fires which arise in the air from different causes. Thus we also speak of the 'devouring fire on the top of the mount' (Exod. xxiv. 17), which the common people saw, as well as of the spiritual form which was visible only to the higher classes: 'under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone' (ver. 10). He is further styled: Living God. The holy ark is alluded to as 'The Lord of the whole earth,' because miracles happened as long as it existed, and disappeared with it. We say that it is the eye which sees, whilst in reality it is the soul that sees. Prophets and pious Sages are spoken of in similar terms, because they, too, are original instruments of the divine will which employs them without meeting with unwillingness, and performs miracles through them. In illustration of this the Rabbis said: 'The words: Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God,' include the learned disciples. He who occupies such a degree has a right to be styled 'a man of God,' a description comprising human and divine qualities, and as if one would say: godly man. Now in speaking of a divine being we use the appellation, Adōnāi--alef, dalēth, nūn, yōd--as if we wished to say: 'O Lord.' Metaphorically speaking, we point to a thing encompassed by a place as: 'He who dwells between the cherubim,' or 'He who dwells in Zion,' or, 'He who abides in Jerusalem.' The attributes of this kind are many, although His essence is only one. The variety arises from the variety of places where God's essence dwells, just as the rays of the sun are many whilst the sun is everywhere the same. This simile is not quite complete. Were only the rays of the sun visible, but not the sun itself, their origin would have to be demonstrated. I must enlarge on this subject a little more, because there are debatable points about it, viz. firstly, how it is possible to speak of space in connexion with a being that has no place; secondly, how can one believe that a subject to which one can point could be the Prime Cause? In reply to these objections we say in the first instance, that the senses can only perceive the attributes of things, not the substrata themselves. In a prince e.g., thou perceivest his external and visible form and proportions. It is not these to which thou must render homage. Thou seest him in war in one habit, in his city in another, in his house in a third. Following thy judgment rather than thy perception, thou sayest that he is the king. He may appear first as a boy, then as a youth, then in his prime, and finally as an old man; or as a healthy or sick man, his appearance, manner, disposition and qualities being changed. Still thou considerest him to be the same and the king, because he has spoken to thee and given thee his commands. The royal side of him is but the intellectual and rational one, but this is essence, not limited to space and not to be pointed to, although thou dost so and sayest that he is the king. But if he is dead, and thou seest the same old form, thou wilt conclude that this is not the king, but a body which can be moved by whoso wishes, which depends upon chance and other peoples’ humour, like a cloud in the air which one wind brings hither and another drives away, one wind gathers, another disperses. Previously he was a body which was subject to the royal will alone, resembling the divine pillar of cloud which no wind was able to disperse. Another instance is offered by the sun, which we see as a round, flat body, resembling a shield and giving forth light and heat, being in repose. Reason considers it to be a globe a hundred and sixty-six times larger than the globe of the earth, neither hot nor immovable, but moving in two opposite directions, from west to east, and from east to west, under conditions it would lead us too far to discuss. The senses have not the faculty of perceiving the essence of things. They only have the special power of perceiving the accidental peculiarities belonging to them which furnish reason with the arguments for their essence and causes. Why and wherefore are accessible to pure reason only. Everything that shares active intellect, like the angels, grasps the subjects in their true essence without requiring the medium of accessories. But our intellect which a priori is only theoretical, being sunk in matter, cannot penetrate to the true knowledge of things, except by the grace of God, by special faculties which He has placed in the senses, and which resemble those perceptible accessories, but are always found with the whole species. There is no difference between my perception and thine that this circumscribed disc, giving forth light and heat, is the sun. Should even these characteristics be denied by reason, this does no harm, because we can derive from it arguments for our purposes. Thus also a sharp-eyed person, looking for a camel, can be assisted by a weak-eyed and squinting one who tells him that he has seen two cranes at a certain place. The sharp-eyed person then knows that the other has only seen a camel, and that the weakness of his eyes made him believe that it was a crane, and his squint that there were two cranes. In this way the sharp-eyed person can make use of the evidence of the weak-eyed one, whilst he excuses his faulty description by his defective sight. A similar relation prevails between senses and imagination on one side, and reason on the other. The Creator was as wise in arranging this relation between the exterior senses and the things perceived, as He was in fixing the relation between the abstract sense and the uncorporeal substratum. To the chosen among His creatures He has given an inner eye which sees things as they really are, without any alteration. Reason is thus in a position to come to a conclusion regarding the true spirit of these things. He to whom this eye has been given is clear-sighted indeed. Other people who appear to him as blind, he guides on their way. It is possible that this eye is the power of imagination as long as it is under the control of the intellect. It beholds, then, a grand and awful sight which reveals unmistakable truths. The best proof of its truth is the harmony prevailing among the whole of this species and those sights. By this I mean all the prophets. For they witnessed things which one described to the other in the same manner as we do with things we have seen. We testify to the sweetness of honey and the bitterness of the coloquinth. and if anyone contradicts us, we say that he has failed to grasp a fact of natural history. Those prophets without doubt saw the divine world with the inner eye; they beheld a sight which harmonized with their natural imagination. Whatever they wrote down, they endowed with attributes as if they had seen them in corporeal form. These attributes are true as far as regards what is sought by inspiration, imagination, and feeling; they are untrue as regards the reality which is sought by reason, as we have seen in the parable of the king. For anyone who says that he is a tall, white figure clothed in silk, and wearing the royal insignia on his head has spoken no untruth. Whilst he who says that this is none other than the intelligent, sagacious person, who issues commands and prohibitions, in this city, in this age, and rules this people, has not spoken an untruth either. If a prophet sees with his mind's eye the most perfect figure ever beheld in the shape of a king or judge, seated on his throne, issuing commands and prohibitions, appointing and deposing officials, then he knows that this figure resembles a powerful prince. But if he sees a figure bearing arms or writing utensils, or ready to undertake work, then he knows that this figure resembles an obedient servant. Do not find it out of place that man should be compared to God. Upon deeper consideration reason might compare him to light, because this is the noblest and finest of all material things, and which has the greatest power of encompassing the component parts of the world. If we reflect on the attributes (which are essential whether they be taken in metaphorical or real sense) such as: living, omniscient, almighty, omnipotent, guiding, arranging, giving everything its due, wise and just, we shall find nothing resembling God more closely than the rational soul--in other words, the perfect human being. But here we must lay stress on his human character, not on his corporeality (which he has in common with the plant), or on his being endowed with life (which he has in common with the animals). Philosophers compared the world to a great man, and man to a small world. If this be so, God being the spirit, soul, intellect and life of the world--as He is called: the eternally Living, then rational comparison is plausible. Nay, a prophet's eye is more penetrating than speculation. His sight reaches up to the heavenly host direct, he sees the dwellers in heaven, and the spiritual beings which are near God, and others in human form. They are alluded to in the verse: 'Let us make man in our image after our likeness' (Gen. i. 26). The meaning is: I have displayed wisdom in arranging the creation in the following order: elements, metals, animals which live in the water as well as in the air, and those with fully developed senses and wonderful instincts. Next to this class there is only one which approaches the divine and celestial. God created man in the form of His angels and servants which are near Him, not in place but in rank, as we cannot speak of place in connexion with God. Even after these two comparisons, imagination can give him no other form than that of the noblest human being, who arranges order and harmony for the rest of mankind, in the same systematic way as God has done for the universe. At times the prophet sees princes deposed and others raised to the throne, and kingdoms judged, 'till the thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days did sit' (Dan. vii. 9); at other times he sees wrath poured out and the people in mourning on account of their threatened abandonment by Him, 'Who is sitting upon a throne high and lifted up . . . above it stood the seraphim.' (Is. vi. 1 sq.). At other times, even outside the confines of prophecy, he sees the departure of the chariot as Ezechiel saw it, and retained it in his memory. For when the geographical limits of the land of prophecy were fixed, 'from the Red Sea, till the sea of the Philistines,' the desert of Sinai, Paran, Seir and Egypt were included. This area was also privileged. Whenever a person was found in it who fulfilled all the necessary conditions, these sights became distinctly visible to him, 'apparently, and not in dark speeches,' just as Moses saw the Tabernacle, the sacrificial worship, and the land of Canaan in all its parts; or in the scene when, 'the Lord passed by before him.' Elijah had a vision also within this area. These things, which cannot be approached by speculation, have been rejected by Greek philosophers, because speculation negatives everything the like of which it has not seen. Prophets, however, confirm it, because they cannot deny what they were privileged to behold with their mind's eye. Such a number of them, living as they did in various epochs, could not have acted upon some common understanding. These statements were borne out by contemporary sages who had witnessed their prophetic afflatus. Had the Greek philosophers seen them when they prophesied and performed miracles, they would have acknowledged them, and sought by speculative means to discover how to achieve such things. Some of them did, so especially gentile philosophers. The name Adonāi, (spelt alef, dalēth, nūn, yōd) must be understood in a similar way, because of the idea of divine sovereignty which it conveys. We say: 'O my Lord,' or, 'Messengership of the Lord,' which is another name for divine ordination. Some angels are only created for the time being from fine elementary corpuscles, others are lasting, and are perhaps those spiritual beings of which the prophets speak. We have neither to refute nor to adopt their views. Concerning the visions seen by Isaiah, Ezechiel, and Daniel, there is some doubt whether their objects were newly created, or of the number of those lasting spiritual beings. 'Glory of God' is that fine substance which follows the will of God, assuming any form God wishes to show to the prophet. This is one view. According to another view the Glory of God means the whole of the angels and spiritual beings, as well as the throne, chariot, firmament, wheels, spheres, and other imperishable beings. All this is styled 'Glory,' just as a king's retinue is called his splendour. Perhaps that was what Moses desired, when he said: 'I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory.' God fulfilled his wish on the condition that he should not see His face which no mortal could endure, as He said: 'And thou shalt see My back parts, but My face shall not be seen.' This includes the glory which the prophet's eye could bear, and there are things in its wake which even our eye can behold, as the 'cloud,' and 'the devouring fire,' because we are accustomed to see them. The higher degrees of these are so transcendental that even prophets cannot perceive them. He, however, who boldly endeavours to do so impairs his constitution, even as the power of sight is impaired. People with weak eyes only see by subdued light after sunset, like the bat. Weak-eyed people can only see in the shadow, but people with strong eyes can see in sunlight. No eye, however, can look into the bright sun, and he who attempts to do so is stricken with blindness. Such is the explanation of the 'Glory of God,' 'the Angels of the Lord,' and the 'Shekhinah of the Lord,' as they are called in the Bible. Occasionally they are applied to objects of nature, e.g., 'Full is the whole earth of His glory,' (Is. vi. 6), or, 'His kingdom ruleth over all' (Ps. ciii. 19). In truth, glory and kingdom do not become visible except to the pious, and the pure, and to the prophets who impart the conviction to the heretic that judgment and rule on earth belong to God, who knows every action of man. If this be so, it can truly be said, 'The Lord is King,' and 'the Glory of God shall be revealed.' 'The Lord shall reign for ever, thy God O Zion, unto all generations,' 'Say ye to Zion, thy God reigneth,' 'the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.' Now thou wilt not reject everything that has been said concerning such verses as: 'The similitude of the Lord shall he behold' (Num. xii. 8), 'they saw the Lord of Israel,' nor ma‘asēh merkābāh and Shēur Kōmàh, because in the opinion of some interpreters the reverence of God is implanted in the human mind, as it is written: 'That His fear may be before your faces.'
4. Al Khazari: If there be conviction in the mind that God's is the kingdom, the unity, omnipotence, and omniscience, and that everything is dependent upon Him, He being dependent upon no one, then is not reverence and love for Him a necessary consequence, without such anthropomorphisms?
5. The Rabbi: This is a doctrine of philosophers. We see that the human soul shows fear whenever it meets with anything terrible, but not at the mere report of such a thing. It is likewise attracted by a beautiful form which strikes the eye, but not so much by one that is only spoken of. Do not believe him who considers himself wise in thinking that he is so far advanced that he is able to grasp all metaphysical problems with the abstract intellect alone, without the support of anything that can be conceived or seen, such as words, writing, or any visible or imaginary forms. Seest thou not that thou art not able even to collect the burden of thy prayer in thought alone, without reciting it? Neither canst thou reckon up to a hundred without speaking, still less if this hundred be composed of different numbers. Were it not for the sensible perception which encompasses the organization of the intellect by means of similar sayings, that organization could not be maintained. In this way, prophets’ images picture God's greatness, power, loving kindness, omniscience, life, eternity, government, and independence, the dependence of everything on Him, His unity, and holiness, and in one sudden flash stands revealed this grand and majestic figure with its splendour, its characteristics, the instruments which typify power, etc., the up-lifted hand, the unsheathed sword, fire, wind, thunder and lightning which obey his behest, the word which goes forth to warn, to announce what has happened, and to predict. Many angels stand humbly before Him, and He gives them according to their requirements without stint. He raises the lowly, humbles the mighty, and holds out His hand to the repentant, saying to them: 'Who is conscious [of a sin] shall repent' (Jonah iii. 9). He is wroth with the wicked, deposes and appoints, whilst before Him 'thousand thousands minister unto Him' (Dan. vii. 10). Such are the visions which the prophet sees in one second. Thus fear and love come to him naturally, and remain in his heart for the whole of his life. He even yearns and longs to behold the vision again and again. Such a repetition was considered a great event for Solomon, in the words: 'The Lord who has appeared to him twice' (1 Kings xi. 9). Will a philosopher ever achieve the same result?
6. Al Khazari: That is impossible. Thinking is like narrating, but one cannot recount two things at the same time. Should this even be possible, no one who hears them, can absorb them simultaneously. The details of a country and of its inhabitants which it is possible to see in one hour would not find room in a large volume, whilst in one moment love or hatred of a country could enter my heart. If all this were read to me from a book it would not impress me so greatly, but would, on the contrary, confuse my mind, being mixed up with errors, fancies and previous impressions. And nothing would be completely clear.
7. The Rabbi: We are like those weak-eyed persons who cannot bear the brightness of the light. We, therefore, imitate the sharp-eyed who lived before us and were able to see. Now just as a person with sound eyes can only look at the sun, shew it to others and observe it from certain elevated spots, and at a certain hour of the day when it rises, so also he who may gaze at the divine light, has his times and places in which he can behold it. These times are the hours of prayer, especially on days of repentance, and the places are those of prophecy.
8. Al Khazari: I see, then, that thou dost admit the dominion of hours, days, and places, as the astrologers do.
9. The Rabbi: We cannot deny that the heavenly spheres exercise influence on terrestrial matters. We must admit that the material components of growth and decay are dependent on the sphere, whilst the forms take their origin from Him who arranges and guides them, and makes them the instruments for the preservation of all the things which He wishes should exist. The particulars are unknown to us. The astrologer boasts of knowing them, but we repudiate it, and assert that no mortal can fathom them. If we find that any element of this science is based on the divine law, we accept it. But even then we must rest satisfied with such astronomical proficiency as was possessed by the Sages, since we desire that it be supported by divine power, and correct withal. If this be wanting, it is but fiction, and there is more truth in our earthly lot than in the celestial one. He who is capable of gauging these matters is the real prophet; the place where they are visible is the true place of worship. For it is a divine place, and the law coming forth from it is the true religion.
10. Al Khazari: Certainly, if later religions admit the truth, and do not dispute it, then they all respect the place, and call it the stepping stone of the prophets, the gate of heaven, the place of gathering of the souls [on the day of judgment]. They, further, admit the existence of prophecy among Israel, whose forefathers were distinguished in a like manner. Finally they believe in the work of creation, the flood, and nearly all that is contained in the Tōrāh. They also perform pilgrimages to this hallowed place.
11. The Rabbi: I would compare them to proselytes who did not accept the whole law in all its branches, but only the fundamental principles, if their actions did not belie their words. Their veneration of the land of prophecy consists chiefly in words, and at the same time they also revere places sacred to idols. Such is the case in places in which an assembly happened to meet, but in which no sign of God became visible. Retaining the relics of ancient idolatry and feast days, they changed nothing but the forms. These were, indeed, demolished, but the relics were not removed. I might almost say that the verse in the Bible, occurring repeatedly: 'Thou shalt not serve strange gods, wood and stone. (Deut. xxviii. 36, 64), contains an allusion to those who worship the wood, and those who worship the stones We, through our sins, incline daily more towards them. It is true that they, like the people of Abimelech and Nineveh, believe in God, but they philosophize concerning God's ways. The leader of each of these parties maintained that he had found the divine light at its source, viz., in the Holy Land, and that there he ascended to heaven, and commanded that all the inhabitants of the globe should be guided in the right path. They turned their faces towards the land in prayer, but before long they changed and turned towards the place where the greatest number of their people lived. This is as if a person wished to guide all men to the place of the sun, because they are blind and do not know its course. He, however, leads them to the south or north pole, and tells them: "the sun is there, if you turn towards it, you will see it." But they see nothing. The first leader, Moses, made the people stand by Mount Sinai, that they might see the light which he himself had seen, should they be able to see it in the same way. He, then, invited the Seventy Elders to see it, as it is written: 'They saw the God of Israel (Exod. xxiv. 10). Then he assembled the second convocation of Seventy Elders to whom he transferred so much of his prophetic spirit, that they equalled him, as is written: 'And he took of the spirit that was upon him and gave it unto the seventy elders' (Num. xi. 25). One related to the other concerning what they saw and heard. By these means all evil suspicion was removed from the people, lest they opined that prophecy was only the privilege of the few who claimed to possess it. For no common compact is possible among so many people, especially where large hosts of them are concerned, and equally well-informed as Elisha, who knew the day on which God would remove Elijah, as it is written: 'Knowest thou, that the Lord will take away thy master . . . to-day?' (2 Kings ii. 5) Each elder served as a witness for Moses, and admonished the people to keep the law.
12. Al Khazari: But the followers of other religions approach you more nearly than the philosophers?
13. The Rabbi: They are as far removed from us as the followers of a religion from a philosopher. The former seek God not only for the sake of knowing Him, but also for other great benefits which they derive therefrom. The philosopher, however, only seeks Him that he may be able to describe Him accurately in detail, as he would describe the earth, explaining that it is in the centre of the great sphere, but not in that of the zodiac, etc. Ignorance of God would be no more injurious than would ignorance concerning the earth be injurious to those who consider it flat. The real benefit is to be found only in the cognizance of the true nature of things, in order to resemble the Active Intellect. Be he believer or free-thinker, it does not concern him, if he is a philosopher. His axiom is that: 'God will do no good, neither will He do evil' (Zeph. i. 12). If he believes in the eternity of matter, he cannot assume that there was a time when it did not exist prior to its creation. He opines that it was never non-existing, that it will never cease to exist, that God can only be called its creator in a metaphorical sense. The term 'Creator,' and 'Maker' he explains as cause and prime mover of the world. Effect lasts as long as the cause does. If the latter is only potential, the former is potential; if real, real. God is cause in reality; that which is caused by Him remains, therefore, so long in existence as He remains its cause. We cannot blame philosophers for missing the mark, since they only arrived at this knowledge by way of speculation, and the result could not have been different, The most sincere among them speak to the followers of a revealed religion in the words of Socrates: 'My friends, I will not contest your theology, I say, however, that I cannot grasp it; I only understand human wisdom.' These [speculative] religions are as far removed now as they were formerly near. If this were not so, Jeroboam and his party would be nearer to us, although they worshipped idols, as they were Israelites, inasmuch as they practised circumcision, observed the Sabbath, and other regulations, with few exceptions, which administrative emergencies had forced them to neglect. They acknowledged the God of Israel who delivered them from Egypt, in the same way as did the worshippers of the golden calf in the desert. The former class is at best superior to the latter inasmuch as they prohibited images. Since, however, they altered the Kibla, and sought Divine Influence where it is not to be found, altering at the same time the majority of ceremonial laws, they wandered far from the straight path.
14. Al Khazari: A wide difference should be made between the party of Jeroboam and that of Ahab. Those who worship Baal are idolators in every respect. In reference to this Elijah said: 'If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him' (1 Kings xviii. 21). For this reason the Sages are in a dilemma as to how Josaphat could partake of Ahab's food. They have no such doubts concerning Jeroboam. Elijah's protest had no reference to the worship of the calves, since he said: 'I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of Israel' (1 Kings xix. 10). The party of Jeroboam considered itself belonging to the Lord, the God of Israel,' also all their actions, their prophets were the prophets of God, whilst the prophets of Ahab were Baal's prophets. God appointed Jehu to destroy the works of Ahab. He proceeded with much zeal and cunning, saying: 'Ahab served Baal a little, Jehu will serve him much' (2 Kings x. 18). He destroyed all vestiges of Baal, indeed, but did not touch the calves. The worshippers of the first calf, the party of Jeroboam, and the worshippers of the heights and the image of Micah had no other idea than that they were serving the God of Israel, though in the way they did it they were disobedient and deserved death. This is as if a man marries his sister either under compulsion or from lust, and yet observes the marriage regulations as commanded by God. Or if one would eat swine's flesh, but carefully observe the rules concerning slaughtering, blood and ritual.
15. The Rabbi: Thou hast called attention to a debatable point, although there is no doubt about it for me. But we have wandered from our subject, viz. the attributes. To return to it, let me explain the matter to thee by a simile taken from the sun. The sun is only a single body, whilst those receiving their light from it are in many ways dependent on each other. The most fitted to annex its lustre are the ruby, crystal, pure air and water, and their light is therefore called transparent. On glittering stones and polished surfaces it is called luminous; on wood, earth, etc., visible light, and on all other things it is simply designated light without any specific qualification. This general term, light, corresponds to what we call Elōhim, as is now clear. Transparent light corresponds to 'Eternal,' a proper name which describes especially the relation between Him and His earthly creatures, I mean, the prophets, whose souls are refined and susceptible to His light, which penetrates them, just as the sunlight penetrates the crystal and ruby. Their souls take their origin and development (as has been explained before) from Adam. Essence and heart [of Adam] reappear in every generation and age, whilst the large mass of mankind are set aside as husks, leaves, mud, etc. The God of this essence is only and solely Adōnāi, and because He established a connexion with man, the name Elohim was altered after the creation into Adonāi Elōhim. This the Sages express in the words: A 'full name over a full universe' (Ber. Rabbāh chap. xi.). The world was but completed with the creation of man who forms the heart of all that was created before him. No intelligent person will misunderstand the meaning conveyed by 'Elōhim,' although this is possible with regard to 'Adōnāi,' because prophecy is strange and rare in single individuals, and much more so in a multitude. For this reason, Pharaoh disbelieved and said: 'I know not the Lord' (Exod. v. 2), as if he interpreted the Tetragrammaton in the way penetrating light is understood, and was reminded by it of God whose light is intimately attached to man. Moses supplemented his words by adding: 'the God of the Hebrews,' in order to call to mind the patriarchs who testified by means of prophecy and marvels. Elōhim was a name well known in Egypt. The first Pharaoh said to Joseph: 'Forasmuch as Elōhim has shewn thee all this,' (Gen. xli. 39), and A man in whom the spirit of Elōhim is' (ver. 38). This is as if one man alone sees the sun, knows the points of its rising and course, whilst we others never behold it and live in shadow and mist. We find, then, that his house has much more light than ours, because he is acquainted with the course of the sun and can arrange his windows according to his desire. We also see his crops and plantations thriving, which, as he says, is the consequence of his knowing the course of the sun. We however, would deny this, and ask: 'What is the sun? We know the light and its manifold advantages, but it comes to us merely by accident.' 'To me,' he would answer, 'it comes as much and as frequently as I desire, because I know its cause and course. If I am prepared for it and arrange all my plans and works for their proper seasons, I reap the full benefit of it.--A substitute for Adonāi is Presence, as in the verse: 'My Presence shall go with thee' (Exod. xxxiii. 14, sq.), or 'If thy Presence go not with me.' The same is meant in the verse: 'Let my Lord, I pray Thee, go among us' (ibid. xxxiv. 9). The meaning of Elōhim can be grasped by way of speculation, because a Guide and Manager of the world is a postulate of Reason. Opinions differ on the basis of different speculations, but that of the philosophers is the best on the subject. The meaning of Adonāi, however, cannot be grasped by speculation, but only by that intuition and prophetic vision which separates man, so to speak, from his kind, and brings him in contact with angelic beings, imbuing him with a new spirit, as it is written: 'Thou shalt be turned into another man,' 'God gave him another heart' (1 Sam. x. 6. 9), 'A spirit came over Amasai' (1 Chron. xii. 18). 'The hand of the Lord was upon me' (Ezek. xxxvii. 11). 'Uphold me with Thy free spirit' (Ps. li. 14) All these circumscribe the Holy Spirit which enwraps the prophet in the hour of his ministry, the Nazirite, and the Messiah, when they are anointed for priesthood, or for the royal dignity by a prophet; or when God aids and strengthens him in any matter; or when the priest makes prophetic utterances by means of the mystic power derived from the use of the Urim and Tummim. Then all previous doubts concerning Elōhim are removed, and man deprecates those speculations by means of which he had endeavoured to derive the knowledge of God's dominion and unity. It is thus that man becomes a servant, loving the object of his worship, and ready to perish for His sake, because he finds the sweetness of this attachment as great as the distress in the absence thereof. This forms a contrast to the philosophers, who see in the worship of God nothing but extreme refinement, extolling Him in truth above all other beings, (just as the sun is placed on a higher level than the other visible things), and that the denial of God's existence is the mark of a low standard of the soul which delights in untruth.
16. Al Khazari: Now I understand the difference between Elōhim and Adonāi, and I see how far the God of Abraham is different from that of Aristotle. Man yearns for Adonāi as a matter of love, taste, and conviction; whilst attachment to Elōhim is the result of speculation. A feeling of the former kind invites its votaries to give their life for His sake, and to prefer death to His absence. Speculation, however, makes veneration only a necessity as long as it entails no harm, but bears no pain for its sake. I would, therefore, excuse Aristotle for thinking lightly about the observation of the law, since he doubts whether God has any cognizance of it.
17. The Rabbi: Abraham bore his burden honestly, viz. the life in Ur Kasdim, emigration, circumcision, the removal of Ishmael, and the distress of the sacrifice of Isaac, because his share of the Divine Influence had come to him through love, but not through speculation. He observed that not the smallest detail could escape God, that he was quickly rewarded for his piety and guided on the right path to such an extent that he did everything in the order dictated by God. How could he do otherwise than deprecate his former speculation? The Sages explain the verse: 'And He brought him forth abroad,' as meaning: 'give up thy horoscopy!' That is to say, He commanded him to leave off his speculative researches into the stars and other matters, and to follow faithfully the object of his inclination, as it is written: 'Taste and see that the Lord is good' (Ps. xxxiv. 9). Adonāi is, therefore, called rightly the God of Israel, because this view is not found among Gentiles. He is also called God of the land, because this possesses a special power in its air, soil and climate, which in connexion with the tilling of the ground, assists in improving the species. He who follows the divine law, follows the representatives of this view. His soul finds satisfaction in their teachings, in spite of the simplicity of their speech and ruggedness of their similes. This is not the case with the instructions of philosophers, with their eloquence and fine teachings, however great the impressiveness of their arguments. The masses do not follow them, because the human soul has a presentiment of the truth, as it is said: 'The words of truth will be recognised.'
18. Al Khazari: I see thee turning against the philosophers, attributing to them things of which just the opposite is known. Of a person who lives in seclusion and acts rightly, it is said, he is a philosopher, and shares the views of philosophers. Thou deprivest them of every good action.
19. The Rabbi: Nay, what I told thee is the foundation of their belief, viz. that the highest human happiness consists in speculative science and in the conception by reason and thought of all intelligible matters. This is transformed into the active intellect, then, into emanating intellect, which is near the creative intellect without fear of decay. This cannot, however, be obtained except by devoting one's life to research and continual reflection, which is incompatible with worldly occupations. For this reason they renounced wealth, rank, and the pleasure of children, in order not to be distracted from study. As soon as man has become acquainted with the final object of the knowledge sought for, he need not care what he does. They do not fear God for the sake of reward, nor do they think that if they steal or murder they will be punished. They recommend good and dissuade from evil in the most admirable manner. And in order to resemble the Creator who arranged everything so perfectly, they have contrived laws, or rather regulations without binding force, and which may be overridden in times of need. The religious law, however, is not so except in its social parts, and the law itself sets down those which permit exceptions and those which do not.
20. Al Khazari: The light of which thou speakest has not gone out without hope of its being re-kindled. It has completely disappeared, and no one is able to trace it.
21. The Rabbi: It is only extinguished for him who does not see us with an open eye, who infers the extinction of our light from our degradation, poverty and dispersion, and concludes from the greatness of others, their conquests on earth and their power over us, that their light is still burning.
22. Al Khazari: I will not use this as an argument, as I see two antagonistic religions prevailing, although it is impossible that the truth should be on two opposite sides. It can only be on one or on neither. I have explained to thee in connexion with the verse: 'Behold My servant shall prosper' (Is. lii. 13), that humility and meekness are evidently nearer to the Divine Influence than glory and eminence. The same is visible in these two religions. Christians do not glory in kings, heroes and rich people, but in those who followed Jesus all the time, before His faith had taken firm root among them. They wandered away, or hid themselves, or were killed wherever one of them was found, suffered disgrace and slaughter for the sake of their belief. These are the people in whom they glory, whose ministers they revere, and in whose names they build churches. In the same way did the 'Helpers,' and friends of Islām bear much poverty, until they found assistance. In these, their humility and martyrdom do they glory; not in the princes who boasted of their wealth and power, but rather in those clad in rags and fed scantily on barley bread. Yet, O Jewish Rabbi, they did so in the utmost equanimity and devotion to God. Had I ever seen the Jews act in a like manner for the sake of God, I would place them above the kings of David's house. For I am well aware of what thou didst teach me concerning the words: 'with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit' (Is. lvii. 15), as well as that the light of God only rests upon the souls of the humble.
23. The Rabbi: Thou art right to blame us for bearing degradation without benefit. But if I think of prominent men amongst us who could escape this degradation by a word spoken lightly, become free men, and turn against their oppressors, but do not do so out of devotion to their faith: is not this the way to obtain intercession and remission of many sins? Should that which thou demandest of me really ever take place we should not remain in this condition. Besides this, God has a secret and wise design concerning us, which should be compared to the wisdom hidden in the seed which falls into the ground, where it undergoes an external transformation into earth, water and dirt, without leaving a trace for him who looks down upon it. It is, however, the seed itself which transforms earth and water into its own substance, carries it from one stage to another, until it refines the elements and transfers them into something like itself, casting off husks, leaves, etc., and allowing the pure core to appear, capable of bearing the Divine Influence. The original seed produced the tree bearing fruit resembling that from which it had been produced. In the same manner the law of Moses transforms each one who honestly follows it, though it may externally repel him. The nations merely serve to introduce and pave the way for the expected Messiah, who is the fruition, and they will all become His fruit. Then, if they acknowledge Him, they will become one tree. Then they will revere the origin which they formerly dispersed, as we have observed concerning the words: "Behold My servant prospers." Consider not their abstention from idolatry, and energetic declaration of the unity of God, as a reason to praise; nor cast a reproving glance at the Israelites because their history tells of idol worship. On the other hand consider that many of the former incline towards heresy and endeavour to spread it, that they praise it in popular songs which are in everybody's mouth, and which are loud in asserting that there is no king who rules over the actions of man, none who rewards or punishes them, a doctrine never mentioned in connexion with Israel. The people only sought to derive advantages from talismans and spirits, in addition to the practice of their faith of which they observed the laws, because the adoption of magic practices was universally prevalent at their time. Had this not been so, they should not have become converted to the belief of the peoples amongst whom they lived as exiles. Even Manasseh and Zedekiah and the greatest apostates in Israel had no particular wish to forsake the religion of Israel. They did it chiefly for victory and worldly gain which they hoped to obtain by means which they considered effective in spite of divine prohibition. If these things were so lightly considered to-day, thou wouldst see us and them deceived by them, as we are deceived by other vanities, such as astrology, conjuring, magic practices, and other tricks which are rejected as completely by nature as by the Law.
24. Al Khazari: I ask thee now to give me an explanation of the relics of the natural science which thou hast stated existed among you.
25. The Rabbi: To this belongs the 'Book of Creation' by the Patriarch Abraham Its contents are very profound, and require thorough explanation. It teaches the unity and omnipotence of God by means of various examples, which are multiform on one side and uniform on the other. They are in harmony with regard to the One, their Director. This results in the three factors: S’fār, Sēfer, and Sippūr (Jesīrāh i. 1). As to S’fār it means the calculation and weighing of the created bodies. The calculation which is required for the harmonious and advantageous arrangement of a body is based on a numerical figure. Expansion, measure, weight, relation of movements, and musical harmony, all these are based on the number expressed by the word, S’fār. No building emerges from the hand of the architect unless its image had first existed in his soul. Sippūr signifies the language, or rather the divine language, 'the voice of the words of the living God.' This produced the existence of the form which this language assumed in the words: 'Let there be light,' 'let there be a firmament.' The word was hardly spoken, when the thing came into existence. This is also Sēfer, by which writing is meant, the writing of God means His creatures, the speech of God is His writing, the will of God is His speech. In the nature of God, therefore, S’fār, Sippūr, and Sēfer are a unity, whilst they are three in human reckoning. For man wills with his reason, speaks with his mouth, and writes such speech with his hand. These three factors characterize one of God's creatures. Man's will, writing, and word are marks of the thing, but not the nature of the same. The will, however, expressed in the word of God signifies the essence of the thing, and is at the same time His script. Imagine a silk weaver considering his work The silk obeys him, accepts the colours and patterns which he has contrived. The garment therefore comes into existence by his will and design. If we were able when speaking of, or drawing a human figure, to produce a human form, then we should have the word of God in our power and could create, just as we are able to do partially in forming objects in the mind. Spoken or written words have certain advantages over each other. In some cases the name fits the object exactly; in others less so. The language created by God, which He taught Adam and placed on his tongue and in his heart, is without any doubt the most perfect and most fitted to express the things specified, as it is written: 'And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof' (Gen. ii. 19). This means that it deserved such name which fitted and characterized it. This shows the excellence of the 'holy tongue' as well as the reason why the angels employed it in preference to any other. Writing is judged from a similar point of view. The shapes of the letters are not the result of accident, but of a device which is in harmony with the character of each letter. Thou shouldst not, now, deem it impossible that names and combinations of letters, whether spoken or written, have certain effects. In either case, calculation, viz. the thought of the pure, angelic soul precedes the act. Thus the three factors: S’fār, Sippūr, and Sēfer become a unity, and the calculation appears as if a being, endowed with a pure soul, had made, spoken, and written it. The book further states with regard to God: He created His world with three Sefīrāh factors: S’fār, Sippūr, and Sēfer. In God's nature they are all one, but this one forms the beginning of the 'thirty-two miraculous and mysterious ways of the divine wisdom,' composed of the ten Sefirōth and the twenty-two letters [of the Hebrew alphabet]. This points to the actuality of existing things and their differences with regard to quantity and quality. Quantity means a number. The mystery of the number is in the number ten, as is expressed in the passage: 'Ten Sefīrōth without anything else; ten and not nine, ten and not eleven' (ibid. i. 4-5). A deep secret lies in the fact that the counting stops at ten, neither more nor less. The next sentence, therefore, runs: 'Understand judiciously and judge intelligently, examine and search them, mind, weigh, and consider, render everything lucid, and place the Creator in His sphere; their measure is ten in endless progression' (ibid. 4-5). This is followed by a division as to quality. The twenty-two letters are divided into three groups, viz. three mothers, seven double, twelve single [consonants]. The three mothers are alef, mem, shin. They cover a great and profound secret; for from them emanate air, water, and fire by means of which the universe was created. The grouping of these consonants united with the order of the macrocosm and the microcosm, viz. man, and the order of time into one line, called 'true witnesses,' viz. universe, soul, year. This also demonstrates that the one order is the work of a one-Master, who is God. And although things are multifarious and different from each other, their difference is the result of the difference of their material, which is partly of higher and partly lower order, and of impure or pure character. The giver of forms, designs and order, however, has placed in them all a unique wisdom, and a providence which is in complete harmony with this uniform order, and is visible in the macrocosm, in man, and in the arrangement of the spheres. It is this that is called the 'true witnesses' of His Oneness, viz. universe, soul, year. This yields approximately the following table--
In the Universe: Air, Water, Fire.
In the Soul: Chest, Belly, Head.
In the Year: Moisture, Cold, Heat.
SEVEN DOUBLE [CONSONANTS].
Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaf, Pe, Resh, Tāv.
In the Universe: Saturnus, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon.
In the Soul: Wisdom, Wealth, Government, Life, Grace, Progeny, Peace.
In the Year: Sabbath, Thursday, Tuesday, Sunday, Friday, Wednesday, Monday.
In the Universe: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo.
In the Soul: Organs of Sight, Hearing, Smelling, Speaking, Tasting, Feeling.
In the Year: Nisān, Iyyār, Sivān, Tammuz, Ab, Ellul.
TWELVE SIMPLE [CONSONANTS].
In the Universe: Libra, Scorpio, Arcitenens, Caper, Amphora, Pisces.
In the Soul: Organs of Working, Walking, Thinking, Being Angry, of Laughing, and Sleeping.
In the Year: Tishri, Marheshwān, Kislēv, Tēbēth, Shebat Adār.
'One upon three, three upon seven, and seven upon twelve' (ibid. vi. 3). All these organs have one spot in common, e.g. counselling kidneys, laughing spleen [angry liver], sleeping stomach. It cannot be denied that the kidneys have the faculty of giving good advice, as we know a similar circumstance to be connected with other organs. A eunuch is of weaker intelligence than a woman; both lack the beard and sound judgment. The spleen is called 'laughing' because it is its nature to cleanse both blood and spirit from unclean and obscuring matter. If they are pure, cheerfulness and laughing arise. The 'angry liver' is so termed on account of the gall which takes its origin from it. 'Stomach' is the name for the digestive organs. The heart is not mentioned because it is the principal organ, neither are the diaphragm and the lung, because they serve the heart especially, but the rest of the body only incidentally, and were not originally so intended. The brain's task is to collect the different senses connected with it. The organs which are situated below the diaphragm have another secret, because they represent primary nature. The diaphragm separates the physical world from the animal one, just as the neck separates the animal world from the rational one, as Plato points out in the Timaeus. Primary matter originates in the physical world, and here is to be found the origin of existence. From here the seed is sent forth and the embryo produced out of the four elements. Here also God selected the parts which are used as offerings, viz. fat, blood, the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys. He selected neither the heart, nor the brain, nor the lung, nor the diaphragm. This is a most profound secret, the lifting of which is prohibited. It is therefore taught: 'One should not examine the work of creation' except under rare circumstances. The book says further: 'Seven double [consonants], six plains for the six sides, and the holy Temple placed in the middle. Blessed be He from His place; He is the Place of the universe, but the universe is not His place' (ibid. iv. 2). This is an allusion to the Divine Influence which unites the contrasts. The book compares Him to the central point of a body, with six sides and three dimensions. As long as the centre is not fixed, the sides cannot be fixed. Attention is further called to the relation between these and the power which bears the universe, and through which contrasts are united by eliciting comparisons between Universe, Soul, and Year. To each of these a something is given which comprehends and arranges its component parts. 'The dragon in the universe is as a king on his throne; the sphere in the year is as a king in the country; the heart in the soul is as a king in war' (ibid. vi. 2). 'Dragon' is the name of the moon sphere, and is employed as an appellation for the world of reason, because things hidden and imperceptible by the senses are called dragon. The 'sphere' relates to the ecliptic of the sun sphere, because it regulates the seasons of the year. The 'heart' regulates the animal life, and directs its divisions. The meaning of the whole is that the wisdom visible in all three is one, and the Divine Influence is one, whilst the difference existing between them is based on the difference of matter. The authority ruling the spiritual world is compared to a king on his throne, whose commands, or even smallest hints, are obeyed by his servants, high and low, who know him, without any movement on his part or on theirs. When directing the spheres he is compared to the king in the country. For he must show himself at the borders in order that all parts should see him as a redoubtable and benevolent ruler. When controlling the animal world, he is compared to 'a king in war,' who is swayed by contradictory feelings; he wishes success to his friends and defeat to his enemies. Wisdom, however, is one only. But the wisdom displayed in the spheres is not greater than in the smallest animals. The former, it is true, is of a higher class, because it consists of pure and lasting matter which cannot be destroyed except by its Creator, whilst animals are made from a matter which is susceptible to contradictory influences, such as heat, cold, and others which affect its nature. Time would have destroyed them, had not Providence instituted the masculine and feminine principles in order to preserve the species, in spite of the decay of the individual. This is a consequence of the revolution of the sphere as well as of the rising and setting [of the heavenly bodies]. The book calls attention to this circumstance, and says that there is no physical difference between woman and man except certain external and internal organs. Anatomy teaches that the female genitals are but the inverted male ones. The book expresses this thus: 'Man is alef, mēm, shin; woman is alef, shin, mēm; (ibid. iii. 5) the wheel turns forwards and backwards; nothing better above than pleasure, nothing worse below than injury.' This means that the letter groups alef, mēm, shin, and alef, shin, mēm; ‘aynh, nūn, gimel, and nūn, gimel, ‘ayn (ibid. ii. 2) are always the same, only differently grouped, just as the rising and setting of the sphere remain stationary, only appearing to us to move forwards and backwards. Then the book allegorises the human organs in the following manner: 'Two mumbling, two rejoicing, two counselling, two jubilant. He put them in contrast, placed them in opposition, one part of one side being allied to one of the other, standing up for each other, or against one another; some are nothing without others, but all are linked to each other' (ibid. v. 2). The allusion is clear when considered in its entirety, however difficult it may be to explain it in detail,--to explain that the animal needs contrasts, that its preservation is the result of this strife, and that it could not exist without the latter. Counting up the creatures which are headed by the noblest, viz. 'spirit of the living God,' the book goes on to say: 'Firstly, the spirit of the living God; secondly, air emanating from the spirit; thirdly, water from the wind; fourthly, fire from water' (ibid. i. 9, 10). The earth element is not mentioned, because it forms the gross material of the creatures which are all made of earth. One says rather: 'This is a fiery body, or an atmospheric one, or an aquaeous one.' For this reason the three mothers, fire, water, and air, are placed in front, but they are preceded by the spirit of God, which is the Holy Ghost, of which were created the angels and with which the soul is connected. After this comes the perceptible atmosphere, then the water which is above the firmament, and neither grasped nor acknowledged by philosophic speculation. A solution might be found in the circumstance that this is the zone of intense cold which forms the limit of the clouds. Above this is the ether, which is the place of the elementary fire, as the book hath it: 'Fire from water,' or as the Bible says: 'And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the water' (Gen. i. 2). This water is the primary matter, not qualified, but tōhū wabōhū, which, by the encompassing will of God, assumed a certain character and the name 'Spirit of God.' The comparison of the primary matter with water is most suitable, because no compact substance can arise from a material which is finer than water. But a substance which is of greater density than water does not, on account of this density, admit the influences of nature. Earthly matter alone can be wrought, because in handling it only the surfaces of the material are concerned, but not all its particles. Nature however, penetrates the atoms. There is consequently no product of nature which did not, at one time, exist in a liquid condition. If this had not been so, it could not have been called a natural, but only an artificial coin-pound, or accidental formation. Nature can only exercise her influence on liquid matters, which she can form at her will, but leave alone as soon as it is necessary for them to become hard. Concerning this the book says: 'He made substance from chaos, and the non-existent existing. He carved great pillars from intangible air.' Further: 'Water from air; he has carved and hewn tōhū and bōhū, mud and clay; he made them into a kind of flower bed, raised them like a wall, covered them like a floor, poured water over them, and they became dust' (ibid. i. 9 sq.; ii. 4). Tōhū is the green line which surrounds the whole universe. Bōhū are the mud-covered stones which are submerged in the ocean, and from between which water comes forth.' In the following portions light is shed on the secret of the holy name, viz. the Tetragrammaton, which corresponds to the nature of the One God, which is without quiddity. For the quiddity of a thing is outside its essence, whilst the existence of God is identical with His quiddity. The quiddity of a thing is its definition, and the latter is composed of the species and divisibility of the thing defined. The primary cause, however, has neither species nor divisibility. He therefore can be nothing but He. The book, then, shows that the revolution of the sphere is the cause of the variety of things, in the following words: 'The wheel turns forward and backward' (ibid. ii. 4). This is compared to the combination of single letters, viz. alef placed in combination with all the others, all the others with alef; bēth with all the others, all the others with bēth (ibid. 5). This continued through the whole alphabet results in two hundred and thirty-one combinations?' The variety would be greater in groups of three and four letters [which is expressed in the following formula]: 'Three stones build six houses, four stones build four-and-twenty houses; go and calculate that which the human mouth cannot express nor the ear hear.' An inquiry is also necessary into how things multiplied prior to the revolution of the sphere, the Creator being One, whilst the sphere, so to speak, has six sides. The book, then, in spiritual language, finds a name for the Creator, choosing, in order to express it in physical speech, the slenderest consonants which are as a breath in comparison to the other letters, viz. hē, wāw, yōd. The book says that the divine will, when going forth under this great name, carries out everything God wishes. There is no doubt that He and the angels speak that spiritual language, and knew, even before the world was created, everything that was to happen in the physical world, as well as how speech and intelligence would emanate from Him on mankind, which was to be created in the world. From this it follows that the physical world was created in a manner congruous to the tangible element of the holy and spiritual name, which, in its turn, is congruous to the tangible name, JHW, JWH, HWJ, HJW, WJH, WHJ. Each of these groups was responsible for one direction of the universe, and thus arose the sphere. This, however, is not satisfactory, because the object of research is either too profound to be fathomed, or our minds are inadequate, or for both reasons simultaneously. Philosophers speculating on these things arrive at the conclusion that from one only one can issue. They conjectured an angel, standing near to God, and having emanated from the Prime Cause. To this angel they attributed two characteristics; firstly, his consciousness of his own existence by his very essence; secondly, his consciousness of having a cause. Two things resulted from this, viz. an angel and the sphere of fixed stars. From his recognition of the Prime Cause a second angel emanated, and from his consciousness of his existence emanated the sphere of Saturnus, and so forth to the moon, and the Creative Intellect. People accepted this theory, and were deceived by it to such an extent, that they looked upon it as conclusive, because it was attributed to Greek philosophers. It is, however, a mere assertion without convincing power, and open to various objections. Firstly, for what reason did this emanation cease; did the Prime Cause become impotent? Secondly, it might be asked: Why, from Saturnus' recognition of what was above, did not one thing arise, and from his recognition of the first angel another thing, so that the Saturnine emanations counted four? Whence do we know altogether that if a being became conscious of its essence a sphere must arise, and from the recognition of the Prime [Cause], an angel must arise? When Aristotle asserts that he was conscious of his existence, one may consistently expect that a sphere should emanate from him, and when he asserts that he recognised the Prime Cause, an angel should emanate. I communicated these rudiments to thee lest philosophers confuse thee and thou think that by following it thou might satisfy thy soul with a clear demonstration. These rudiments are as unacceptable to reason as they are extravagant in the face of logic. Neither do two philosophers agree on this point, unless they be disciples of the same teacher. But Empedocles, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Plato, and many others entirely disagree with each other.
26. Al Khazari: Why should the letters H W J or an angel or a sphere or other things be required if we believe in the Divine will and creation, and if we believe that God created the immense variety of things and species in one moment, as is related in the Book of Genesis--that He placed in everything the faculty of preservation and propagation, and sustains them every moment by His divine power? Do we not say: 'His bounty renews every day for ever, the work of creation?'
27. The Rabbi: Just so, O King of the Khazars, by God! This is the truth, the real faith, and everything else may be abandoned. Perhaps this was Abraham's point of view when divine power and unity dawned upon him prior to the revelation accorded to him. As soon as this took place, he gave up all his speculations and only strove to gain favour of God, having ascertained what this was and how and where it could be obtained. The Sages explain the words: 'And he brought him forth abroad' (Gen. xv.), thus: Give up thy horoscopy! This means: Forsake astrology as well as any other doubtful study of nature. Plato relates that a prophet, who lived at the time of the king Morinus, said prophetically to a philosopher who was zealously devoted to his art: Thou canst not reach me on this road, but only those whom I have placed as intermediaries between me and mankind, viz. the prophets and the true law. The Book Jeṣīrāh is constructed on the mystery of ten units equally acknowledged in east and west, but neither from natural causes, nor rational conviction. The following sentences are a Divine mystery: 'Ten Sefirōth without anything else; close thy mouth from speaking, close thy heart from thinking. If thy heart runs away, return to God' (Jez. i. 8); for with reference to this [the prophet] says: 'Running and returning' (Ezek. i. 15). On this basis the covenant was made.--Their measure is ten in endless progression, (ibid. i. 7) the end being linked to the beginning, and the beginning to the end just as a flame which is attached to the coal. Know thou, think and reflect that the Creator is one, without another, and there is no number which thou canst count before 'one.' (vi. 4). The book concludes as follows: As soon as Abraham had understood, meditated, discerned and clearly grasped, the Lord of the universe revealed Himself to him, called him His friend and made a covenant with him between the ten fingers of his hand, which is the covenant of the tongue; and between the ten toes of his feet, which is the covenant of circumcision, and He pronounced upon him the word: 'Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee' (Jer. i. 5).
28. Al Khazari: Give me now an idea of the Sages' accomplishments in natural science.
29. The Rabbi: I have already called thy attention to the fact that they were so skilled in real astronomical observations that they knew the revolution of the moon which, according to Davidian tradition, amounts to twenty-nine days, twelve hours and seven hundred and ninety-three fractions. No flaw has been found in it hitherto. They also calculated the solar year, taking care that Passover should not fall till after the Tekūfāh of Nisān, as some of them explained: 'If you see that the equinox of Nisān would be on the sixteenth of Nisān, make the year an embolismic one,' lest Passover fell in the winter season. God's command fixed the feast in the words: 'Observe the month of Abīb.' (Deut. xvi. 1). The Tekūfāh, as accepted by the people, is not the true one, but only approximate, on account of the division of the year into four seasons, viz. ninety-one days, seven and a half hours. According to this calculation Passover would fall in the winter. This induced the Christians to attack the Jews and to think that the latter had lost the basis of their belief. They themselves are without a basis, since their Easter would, according to their calculation of the commonly known equinox, take place before the beginning of spring. They did not, however, pay attention to the true equinox, which was kept secret and not given up to common knowledge. According to their calculation Passover never falls otherwise than when the sun has reached the head of Aries, though only by one day. For the last thousand years no mistake has occurred, and this agrees with the calculation of Al Battāni, being most correct and accurate. Can the revolutions of sun and moon be calculated otherwise than by a most intimate knowledge of astronomy? The problem of the sentence: 'If the new moon appears before noon, etc. . .' has been discussed before. There exists a book on this special subject, styled Chapters of R. Eliezer,' in which we find dissertations on the extent of the globe and every sphere, the nature of the stars, the signs of the zodiac, constellations, houses, happy omens, good and evil influences, ascensions and descensions, elevations and the extent of their movements. He was one of the best known doctors of the Mishnāh. Samuel, one of the doctors of the Talmud said: 'The roads of heaven are as familiar to me as the streets of Nehardaea'. They devoted themselves to this study only in the service of the Law, because the calculation of the revolution of the moon with the disturbances of her course did not completely tally with the calculation of the time of her conjunction with the sun, viz., the Mōlād. The time when the moon is not visible prior to the Mōlād and immediately after it also, can only be calculated with the help of sound astronomical knowledge. Similarly, the knowledge of the changes of the four seasons can only be properly obtained with the aid of a knowledge of the lowest and highest points and the various ascensions of stars as well as their variations. He who occupies himself with this study must bring to bear on it also the knowledge of spheres. The remarkable knowledge of natural history displayed in the sayings of the Sages, without any intention on their part of teaching this science, is quite astonishing. What books, in thy opinion, must have been at the disposal even of the students among them?
30. Al Khazari: I wonder how it is that the books written for the purpose were lost whilst these incidental sayings were saved.
31. The Rabbi: Because their contents were retained in the minds of a few people, only one of whom was an astronomer, another a physician or an anatomist. If a nation perishes it is first the higher classes which disappear, and literature with them. There only remain the law books which the people require, know by heart, copy and preserve. Whatever element of those sciences was embodied in the Talmudical law codes was thus protected and preserved by the zeal of many students. To these belong everything appertaining to the rules for slaughtering cattle, or making them unlawful to be eaten. A large amount of this remained unknown to Galen If this were not so, why does he not mention easily recognisable diseases to which the Law calls attention. Among these are diseases of the lungs and heart, growths on the latter and on its sides, the growing together of the lobes of the lung, deficiency or redundance of the same, or if they are dried up or lacerated. Their acquaintance with the vital and vegetative organs is shown in the following sentence: The brain has two skins to which correspond two on the testicles. Two bean-shaped growths are situated at the lower end of the skull; inside them is the brain, outside is the spine. Further: There are three arteries; one leads to the heart, the second to the lung, and the third to the liver. They distinguished between fatal diseases and less dangerous ones in the following words: If the skin of the spine is preserved, the marrow remains intact. He whose marrow becomes soft cannot beget children. Further: a skin formed in consequence of a wound on the lung is no real skin. The regulation concerning the 'sinew that shrinks' does not apply to birds, because they have no hollow of the hip. Worth mentioning are the following regulations: The contents of the stomach of a lawful animal suckled by an unlawful one is unlawful, but the contents of the stomach of an unlawful animal suckled by a lawful one are lawful, because the milk becomes compact in the entrails. Very profound, though beyond our grasp, is the following prohibition: Five cuticles are unlawful, viz. that of the brain, testicles, spleen, kidneys and lower end of the spine, all these it is unlawful to eat. They have also very skilfully determined the height from which a fall would make an animal unlawful on account of 'shattering of limbs,' which means the tearing of limbs which endangers its life. They say as follows: 'If one has left an animal above [a structure], and finds it below, shattering of limbs is not to be feared, because the animal 'measures itself,' which means that the animal measures and prepares for the leap, without damage. This would not be the case if it were pushed. Leaping is assisted by presence of mind, whilst a push produces fear. The following regulation is also interesting: The naturally reduced lung is lawful, the artificially reduced one is unlawful on account of 'shrinking.' This can be examined by keeping it in tepid water for four and twenty hours. If it re-assumes a healthy appearance, it is lawful, but not otherwise. If the lung has the colour of antimony it is lawful, if it is like ink it is unlawful, because this blackness is a morbid transformation of red. The yellow lung is lawful. If a lung is partially red, it is lawful, but unlawful if it is completely red. A child of a yellowish tint was brought before R. Nathan of Babylon who decided: 'Wait until the blood has gone down.' He meant to say that the circumcision should not take place till the blood had spread through the whole body. This was done and the life of the child was saved, although other children of the same mother had died soon after the circumcision. Subsequently a child was brought before of a reddish hue, and he said: 'Wait till the blood has been absorbed.' The child was saved in consequence and was called after him: Nathan Habbabli. They further said: Lawful fat can close up an internal wound, but not unlawful fat. A very acute decision is the following: If a needle is found in the thick wall of the stomach together with a drop of blood, [it must have entered before the animal was killed] if no blood is visible, it must have entered afterwards. The issue of this effects the validity of the sale, because after the killing no blood could approach the needle, as the blood does not flow in a dead animal. The buyer cannot, therefore, return the animal to the seller. If, however, blood is found, he can return it with the plea: 'Thou hast sold me an animal liable to die.' A scab on a wound shows that the latter was three days old before the animal was killed, if no scab is to be seen the plaintiff must bring other evidence. The characteristics of a clean bird are the following: Place the bird on a stretched rope; if it divides its claws two by two, it is an unclean bird, if it divides them three by one, it is a clean one. Further: Every bird that catches its food in the air is unclean, a bird that lives with notoriously unclean ones, as the starling among ravens, is of the same character. A symptom of birth among small cattle is a flow of blood; among big cattle after-birth; in a woman: placenta and after-birth. Very strange are the sayings concerning the poison contained in the claws of certain animals: a cat, a sparrow-hawk, and martin strike poison into kids and lambs; the weasel wounds birds. The fox and the dog convey no poison. This poisoning is conveyed by the claw, but not by the teeth; only by the forefoot, but not by the hindfoot; only when the animal does it purposely, and is alive. All this means that an animal can only poison any other by striking it purposely, but not accidentally, or if the claw remains sticking in the flesh without any tearing intention. The addition 'living animal' is therefore most remarkable. For it the striking foot were cut off and the claw remained in the flesh of the wound of the other animal, no poisoning takes place, because the poison is not conveyed till the claw is withdrawn For this reason the words 'while living' are placed intentionally after 'on purpose.' They say further: If the liver is missing excepting the size of an olive near the gall, its natural place, the animal is lawful. Matter is harmless on the lung, but not on the kidneys. Clear water and a hole are harmless on the kidney but fatal for the lungs. If an animal has been skinned, a piece as large as a coin remaining on the spine suffices to make the animal lawful. The Mishnāh also contains regulations concerning unlawful food, defects of first-born animals, defects of priests, too many to enumerate, not to speak of commenting on them. Apart from this the anatomy of the skeleton is given in very concise, yet clear description. An admirable saying is: If the intestines protrude, but show no hole, the animal is lawful. This, however, the Mishnāh adds, is only the case if they have not been inverted. If this has taken place, the animal is unlawful; for it is written: 'He has made thee and established thee' (Deut. xxxii. 6), which means that God has created man as a well established being. If one of his organs were inverted, he could not live. The Sages further distinguish the various appearances of blood of issue or wounds and haemorrhoids, the rules of menstruation and male issue, symptoms of leprosy, and other matters too deep for our capacity.
Finished is Part Four, and we begin –
Next: Part Five
- The Ptolemaean planetary system in reversed order.