From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

and he thinks it possible that Rabbi Eliezer carried the license of figurative speech too far. (Ch. xxvi.).

The theory of the creatio ex nihilo does not involve the belief that the Universe will at a future time be destroyed; the Bible distinctly teaches the creation, but not the destruction of the world except in passages which are undoubtedly conceived in a metaphorical sense. On the contrary, respecting certain parts of the Universe it is clearly stated "He established them for ever." (Ps.cxlviii. 5.) The destruction of the Universe would be, as the creation has been, a direct act of the Divine will, and not the result of those immutable laws which govern the Universe. The Divine will would in that case set aside those laws, both in the initial and the final stages of the Universe. Within this interval, however, the laws remain undisturbed (ch. xxvii.). Apparent exceptions, the miracles, originate in these laws, although man is unable to perceive the causal relation. The Biblical account of the creation concludes with the statement that God rested on the seventh day, that is to say, He declared that the work was complete; no new act of creation was to take place, and no new law was to be introduced. It is true that the second and the third chapters of Genesis appear to describe a new creation, that of Eve, and a new law, viz., that of man's mortality, but these chapters are explained as containing an allegorical representation of man's psychical and intellectual faculties, or a supplemental detail of the Contents of the first chapter. Maimonides seems to prefer the allegorical explanation which, as it seems, he had in view without expressly stating it, in his treatment of Adams sin and punishment. (Part I. ch. ii.) It is certainly inconsistent on the one hand to admit that at the pleasure of the Almighty the laws of nature may become inoperative, and that the whole Universe may become annihilated, and on the other hand to deny, that during the existence of the Universe, any of the natural laws ever have been or ever will be suspended. It seems that Maimonides could not conceive the idea that the work of the All-wise should be, as the Mutakallemim taught--without plan and system, or that the laws Once laid down should not be sufficient for all emergencies.

The account of the Creation given in the book of Genesis is explained by the author according to the following two rules: First its language is allegorical; and, Secondly, the terms employed are homomsyms. The words erez, mayim, ruah, and hoshek in the second verse (ch. i.), are homonyms and denote the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire; in other instances erez is the terrestrial globe, mayim is water or vopour, noah denotes wind, and botbek darkness: According to Maimonides, a summary of the first chapter may be given thus; God created the Universe by producing first the reshit the "beginning" Gen. i. s), or hathalah, i.e., the intellects which give to the spheres both existence and motion, and thus become the source of the existence of the entire Universe. At first this Universe consisted of a chaos of elements, but its form was successively developed by the influence of the spheres, and more directly by the action of light and darkness, the properties of which were fixed on the first day of the Creation. In the subsequent five days minerals, plants, animals, and the intellectual beings came into existence. The seventh day, on which the Universe was for the first time ruled by the same natural laws which still continue in operation, was distinguished as a day blessed arid sanctified by the Creator, who designed it to proclaim the creatio ex nihilo (Exod. xx. xi). The Israelites were moreover commanded to keep this Sabbath in commemoration of their departure from Egypt (Deut. v. ii), because during the period of the Egyptian bondage, they had not been permitted to rest on that day. In the history of the first sin of man, Adam, Eve, and the serpent represent the intellect, the body, and the imagination. In order to complete the imagery, Samael or Satan, mentioned in the Midrash in connexion with this account, is