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WITH the exception of the notice in Basnage's Histoire
des Juifs, which has been translated into English, * and . the defective descriptions given by Allent and Etheridge 1 of the Kabbalah in their respective works, no Treatise
exists in English on this esoteric doctrine.
It is this
desideratum in the literature of our language which led
me to bring the subject beforo the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool, in the form of an Essay. Intending it to be a guide for those who wish to be initiated
into the mysteries of this theosophy, I have aimed to be as elementary as possible in the Essay, and have, therefore, frequently explained allusions to points in Jewish
* The History of the Jews, by M. Basnage, translated into English by Thom. Taylor, A.M. London, 1708.
+ Modern Judaism, pp. 69–96, second edition. London, 1830.
Jerusalem ad Tiberias ; Sora ad Cordova, p. 300, &c. London, 1856.
history and literature with which the more advanced
scholar is perfectly familiar, but which are unknown to
tyros in these departments.
If, in the perusal of this Manual, the student experiences any difficulty in understanding the technical terms of the Kabbalah, or if he is unable to remember the meaning of any phrases, he will find the difficulty obviated by referring to the Indices and Glossary, which have been
appended to aid him in this respect.
For the Index of matters I am, to a great extent, indebted
to my friend, JOHN NEWTON, Esq., M.R.C.S.E.
Liverpool, July 7th, 1865.
BY THE REV. CHRISTIAN D. GINSBURG, LL.D.
(Read 19th October, 1863.)
A SYSTEM of religious philosophy, or more properly of theosophy, which has not only exercised for hundreds of years an extraordinary influence on the mental development of so shrewd a people as the Jews, but has captivated the minds of some of the greatest thinkers of Christendom in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, claims the greatest attention of both the philosopher and the theologian. When it is added that among its captives were Raymond Lully, the celebrated scholastic, metaphysician and chemist (died 1315); John Reuchlin, the renowned scholar and reviver of oriental literature in Europe (born 1457, died 1522); John Picus di Mirandola, the famous philosopher and classical scholar (1463-1494); Cornelius Henry Agrippa, the distinguished philosopher, divine and physician (1486-1535); John Baptist von Helmont, a remarkable chemist and physician (15771644); as well as our own countrymen Robert Fludd, the famous physician and philosopher (1574-1637), and Dr. Henry More (1614-1687); and that these men, after restlessly searching for a scientific system which should disclose to them " the deepest depths ” of the Divine nature, and show them the real tie which binds all things together, found the cravings of their minds satisfied by this theosophy, the claims of the Kabbalah on the attention of students in literature and philosophy will readily be admitted. 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. How can it be otherwise with a theosophy which, we are assured, was born of God in Paradise, was nursed and reared by the choicest of the angelic hosts in heaven, and only held converse with the holiest of man's children upon earth. Listen to the story of its birth, growth and maturity, as told by its followers.
The Kabbalah was first taught by God himself to a select company of angels, who formed a theosophic school in Paradise. 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 it 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 the 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. This constitutes the former the man, and the latter the woman. 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