Volume I[867 pages]
VOLUME I - BOOK II - CHAPTER I
THE ANCIENT PERSIANS OF THE RELIGION OF ABRAHAMFIRST BOOKS OF GENESIS DISINGENUOUS CONDUCT IN THE TRANSLATORY OF THE BIBLEABRAHAM ACKNOWLEDGED MORE THAN ONE GOD
Although it may not be possible to make out a connected and complete system, yet it will be no difficult matter to shew, that, one particular time, the worship of the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, Babylonians, was that of one Supreme God; that the Sun was worshipped as an emblem only of the divinity, and that the religions of Abraham, of the children of Israel, and of these Eastern nations were originally the same.
In the first verse of the first book [Genesis], the ALEIM, which will be proved to be the Trinity, being in the plural number, are said by Wisdom to have formed, from matter previously existing, the ..: smim, or planetary bodies, which were believed by the Magi to be the rulers or directors of the affairs of men. This opinion I shall examine by and by. From this it is evident, that this is in fact a Persian, or still more Eastern, mythos.
Again, in the first book, man and woman are created at the same time; in the second, they are created at different times. Again, in the first book, the fruit of ALL the trees is given to man; in the second, this is contradicted, by one tree being expressly forbidden. These are in fact two different accounts of the creation.
The beginning of the fifth chapter, or third tract, seems to be a repitition of the first, to connect it with the history of the flood. The world is described as being made by God, (Aleim,) and not as in the second by Jehovah or the God Jehovah or Jehovah Aleim; and, as in the first, the man and woman are made at one time, and not, as in the second, at different times. The account of the birth of Seth, given in the twenty-fifth verse of the fourth chapter, and the repetition of the same event in the third verse of the fifth chapter, or the beginning of the third tract, are a clear proof that these tracts are by different persons; or, at least, are separate and distinct works. The reason why the name Seth is given here, and not the names of any of the later Adam's children, is evidently to connect Adam with Noah and the flood, the object of third tract. The permission, in the third tract, to eat animals implying that it was not given before, is strictly in keeping with the denial of it in the first.
The histories of the creation, both in the first and in the second book of Genesis, in the sacred books of the Persians, and in those of the Chaldeans, are evidently different versions of the same story. The Chaldeans state the world to have been created not in six days, but in six periods of timethe lengths of the periods not being fixed. The Persians, also, divided the time into six periods.
In the second book, a very well-known account is given of the origin of evil, which is an affair most closely interwoven with every part of the Christian system, but it is in fact nothing more than an oriental mythos, which may have been taken from the history of the Brahmins, in whose books the principal incidents are to be found; and, in order to put this matter out of doubt, it will only be necessary to turn to the plates, to Figs. 2, 3, 4, taken from icons in the very oldest of the caves of Hindostan, excavated, as it is universally agreed, long prior to the Christian æra. The reader will find the first to be the seed of the woman bruising the serpent's head; the second, the serpent biting the foot of her seed, the Hindoo God Cristna, the second person of the trinity; and the third, the spirit of God brooding over the face of the waters. The history in Genesis is here so closely depicted that it is impossible to doubt the identity of the two.
Among the Persians and all the oriental nations it has been observed, that the Creator or God was adored under a triple formin fact in the form of a trinity. In India, this was Bramah, Cristna or Vishnu, and Siva; In ersia, it was Oromasdes, Mithra, and Arbimanius; in each case the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destoyer.
The fact that Abraham worshipped several Gods, who were, in reality, the same as those of the Persians, namely, the creator, preserver, and the destroyer, has been long asserted, and the assertion has been very unpalatable both to the Jews and many Christians; and to obviate or disguise what they could not account for, they have had recourse, in numerous instances, to the mistranslation of the original, ...
The doctrine of a plurality, shewn above in the Pentateuch, is confirmed in the later books of the Jews.
BOOK II - CHAPTER II
ON THE WORD ALEIM OR JEWISH TRINITYSADDAI ADONISTRINITY OF THE RABBISMEANING OF THE WORDS AL AND EL
Perhaps there is no word in any language which has been more written about than the word Aleim; or as modern Jews corruptly call it, Elohim. But all its difficulties are at once removed by considering it as a representation of the united Godhead, the Trinity in Unity, the three Persons in one God.
The meaning of mediator, preserver, or intervener, joined to its character of a noun of multitude, at once identifies it with the Trinity of the Gentiles. Christians will be annoyed to find their God called by the same name with that of the Heathen Gods; but this is only what took place when he was called $: Sdi, Saddi, Saddim, or "+! adni, Adonai, or Adonis, (+! adun, or -3" bol, Baal : so that there is nothing unusual in this.
It seems not unlikely that by the different modes of writing the word -! al, a distinction of sexes should originally have been intended to be expressed. The Heathen divinities, Ashtaroth and Baal-zebub, were both called Aleim. And the Venus Aphrodite, Urania &c., were of both genders. TheGod Mithra, the Saviour, was both male and female.
It appears that in these old books, God is called by names which are sometimes singular, sometimes plural, sometimes masculine, and sometimes feminine. But though he be occasionally of each gender, for he must be of the masculine or feminine gender, because the old language has no neuter; he is not called by any name which conveys the idea of Goddess or a feminine nature, as separable from himself. My idea is very abstruse and difficult to explain, he is, in fact, in every case Androgynous; for in no case which I have produced is a term used exclusively belonging to one sex or the other. He is never called Baaltes, or Asteroth, or Queen of heaven.
Many Christians no doubt, will be much alarmed and shocked at the idea of the word ale being of the feminine gender. But why should not the Hebrew language have a feminine to the word -! al, as the English have a feminine to the word God, in Goddess, or the Romans in the words Deus and Dea ? And why should not God be of the feminine gender as easily as of the masculine ? Who knows what gender God is? Who at this day is so foolish as to fancy that God is of any gender ? We have seen that all the Gods of the Gentiles were of both genderss. We find God called Al, Ale, Alue, Alim, and Aleimmore frequently Aleim than any other name.
The God Baal was both masculine and feminine, and the God of the Jews was once called Baal.
The word Aleim .%-! has been derived from the Arabic word Allah God, by many learned men; the Alah, articulo emphatico alalah (Calassio) of the Arabians, is evidently the -! Al of the Chaldees or Jews;
In the first verse of Genesis the word Aleim is found without any particle before it, and, therefore, ought to be literally translated Gods formed; but in the second chapter of Exodus and 23rd verse, the emphatic article % e is found, and therefore it ought to be translated, that "their cry came up to the Gods," or the Aleim. In the same manner the first verse of the third chapter ought to have the mountains of the Gods, or, of the Aleim, even to Horeb, instead of the mountains of God.
Persons who have not given much consideration to these subjects will be apt to wonder that any people should be found to offer adoration to the evil principle; but they do not consider that, in all these recondite systems, the evil principle, or the destroyer, or Lord of Death, was at the same time the regenerator. He could not destroy, but to reproduce. And it was probably not till this principle began to be forgotten, that the evil being, per se, arose; for in some nations, this effect seems to have taken place. Thus Baal-Zebub is in Iberno Celtic, Baal Lord, and Zab Death, Lord of Death; but he is also called Aleim, the same as the God of the Israelites; and this is right, because he was one of the Trimurti or Trinity.
If I be correct respecting the word Aleim being feminine, we here see the Lord of Death of the feminine gender; but the Goddess Ashtaroth or Astarte, the Eoster of the Germans, was also called Aleim. Here again Aleim is feminine, which shews that I am right in making Aleim the plural feminine. Thus we have distinctly found Aleim the Creator (Gen. i. 1,) Aleim the Preserver, and Aleim the Destroyer, and this not by inference, but literally expressed. We have also the Apis or Bull of Egypt expressly called Aleim, and its plurality admitted on authority not easily disputed. Aaron says, $%-! %-! ale aleik, these are thy Aleim who brought thee out of the land of Egypt.*
* Parkhurst, p.221
The 26th verse of the first chapter of Genesis completely establishes the plurality of the word Aleim. And then said Aleim, we will man in OUR image according to our likeness.
On the 22nd verse of the third chapter of Genesis, my worthy and excellent old friend, Dr. A. Geddes, Vicar Apostolic of the Roman See in London, says,* "Lo ! Adamor manis become like one of us. If there be any passage in the Old Testament which countenances a plurality of persons in the Godhead; or, to speak more properly, a plurality of Gods, it is this passage. He does not simply say, like us; but like one of us&1.. $(!,. This can hardly be explained as we have explained %:31 Let us make, and I confess it has always appeared to me to imply a plurality of Gods, in some sense or other. It is well known that the Lord or Jehovah, is called in the Hebrew Scriptures, 'The God of Gods.' He is also represented as a Sovereign sitting on his throne, attended by all the heavenly host;" in Job called the sons of God. Again he says, "Wherever Jehovah is present, whether on Sinai or Sion, there he is attended by twenty thousand angels, of the Cherubic order. When he appeared to Jacob, at Bethel, he was attended by angels, and again when he wrestled with the same patriarch."
* Crit. Rem. Gen. iii., pp. 48, 49.
The God of the Jews is also known by the name of Adonai 1+!. But his is nothing but the God of the Syrians, Adonis or the Sun, the worship of whom is reprobated under the name of Tammuz, in Ezekiel viii. 14.
From these examples it is evident that the God of the Jews had several names, and that these were often the names of Heathen Gods also. All this has a strong tendency to show that the Jewish and Gentile systems were, at the bottom, the same.
Why we call God masculine I know not, nor do I apprehend can any good reason be given. Surely the ancients, who described him as of both genders, or of the doubtful gender, were more reasonable. Here we see that the God of the Jews is called +: Sdi, and that this Sdi is the Dea Multimammia, who is also in other places made to be the same as the -! al or %-! ale. Therefore, it seems to follow, that the Gods of the Israelites and of the Gentiles were in the originals the same. And I think by and by my reader will see evident proof, that the religion of Moses was but a sect of that of the Gentiles; or, if he like it better, that the religion of the Gentiles was but a sect of the religion of Jehovah, Ieue, or of Moses.
Dr. Alix, on Gen. i. 10, says, that the Cabalists constantly added the letter jod, being the first letter of the word Ieue to the word Aleim for the sake of a mystery. The Rabbi Bechai says, it is to shew that there is a divinity in each person included in the word. This is, no doubt, part of the Cabala, or esoteric religion of the Jews. Maimonides says, the vulgar Jews were forbidden to read the history of the creation, for fear it should lead them into idolatry; probably for fear they should worship the Trimurti of India, of the Trinity of Persia. The fear evidently shews, that the fearful persons thought there was a plurality in Genesis.
BOOK II - CHAPTER III
ESDRAS AND THE ANCIENT JEWISH CABALAEMANATIONS. whatMEANING OF THE WORD BERASITSEPHIROTHS AND EMANATIONS continuedORIGIN OF TIMEPLANETS OR SAMIMOBSERVATIONS ON THE PRECEDING SECTIONS
As all ancient Heathen nations had their mysteries or secret doctrines, which the priests carefully kept from the knowledge of the vulgar, and which they only communicated to a select number of persons whom they thought they could safely trust; and as the Jewish religion was anciently the same as the Persian, it will not be thought extraordinary, that, like the Persians, it should have its secret doctrines. So we find it had its Cabala, which, though guarded like all ancient mysteries, with the most anxious care, and the most solemn oaths, and what is still worst, almost lost amidst the confusion of civil brawls, cannot be entirely hidden from the prying curiosity of the Moderns.
The doctrine here alluded to was a secret onemore perfect, the Jews maintain, than that delivered in the Pentateuch; and they also maintain, that it was given by God, on Mount Sinai, to Moses verbally and not written, and that this is the doctrine described in the fourth book of Esdras, ch. xiv. 6, 26, and 45, thus :
These words shalt thou declare, and these shalt thou hide.
And when thou hast done, some things shalt thou publish, and some things shalt thou shew secretly to the WISE.
. . . the Highest spake, saying, The first that thou hast written publish openly, that the worthy and the unworthy may read it : but keep the seventy last, that thou mayest deliver them only to such as be WISE among the people. For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of WISDOM.
The following passage may serve, at present, as an outline of what was the general nature of the Cabala :
"The similarity, or rather the coincidence, of the Cabalistic, Alexandrian, and Oriental philosophy, will be sufficiently evinced by briefly stating the common tenets in which these different systems agreed; they are as follow : All things are derived be emanation from one principle : and this principle is God. From him a substantial power immediately proceeds, which is the image of God, and the source of all subsequent emanations. This second principle sends forth, by the energy of emanation, other natures, which are more or less perfect, according to their different degrees of distance, in the scale of emanation, from the First Source of existence, and which constitute different worlds, or order of beings, all united to the eternal power from which they proceed, Matter is nothing more than the most remote effect of the emanative energy of the Deity. The material world receives its form from the immediate agency of powers far beneath the First Source of being. Evil is the necessary effect of the imperfection of matter. Human souls are distant emanations from Deity, and after they are liberated from their material vehicles, will return, through various stages of purification, to the fountain whence they first proceeded."*
* Dr. Rees' Encyclopedia, art. Cabala
The ancient Persians believed, that the Supreme Being was surrounded with angels, or what they called Æons or Emanations, from the divine substance. This was also the opinion of the Manicheans, and of almost all the Gnostic sects of Christians.
Perhaps in the languages of the world no two words have been of greater importance than the first two in the book of Genesis, (:!$ " B-RASIT; (for they are properly two not one word;) and great difference of opinion has arisen, among learned men, respecting the meaning of them. Grotius renders them, when first; Simeon, before; Tertullian, in power; Rabbi Bechai and Castalio, in order before all; Onkelos, the Septuagint, Johathan ben Uzziel, and the modern translators, in the beginning.
But the official or accredited and admitted authority of the Jewish religion, The JERUSALEM TARGUM, renders them by WISDOM.
To the celebrated and learned Beausobre I am indebted for the most important discovery of the secret doctrine in this word. He says, "The Jews, instead of translating Berasit by the words in the beginning, translate it by the Principle (par le principe) active and immediate of all things, God made, &c., that is to say, according to the Targum of Jerusalem, by WISDOM, (par la sagesse,) God made, &c."*
* Beausobre, Hist. Manich. Liv. vi. Ch. i. p.290.
Beausobre also informs us, Maimonides maintains, that this is the only LITERAL and TRUE meaning of the word. And Maimonides is generally allowed to have been one of the most learned of modern Jews. (He lived in the twelfth century.) Beausobre further says, that CHALCIDIUS, METHODIUS, ORIGEN, and CLEMENS ALEXANDRINUS, a most formidable phalanx of authorities, give it this sense. Beausobre gives us the expression of Clemens, "This is what St. Peter says, who has very well understood this word : 'God has made the heaven and the earth by the Principle. (Dieu a fait le Ciel et la Terre dans le Principe.) This principle is that which is called Wisdom by all the prophets.'" Here is evidently the doctrine of the Magi or of Emanations.
According to the Jewish Cabala a number of Sephiroths, being Emanations, issued or flowed from Godof which the chief was Wisdom. In Genesis it is said, by Wisdom God created or formed, &c. Picus, of Miraudula, confirms my rendering, and says, "This Wisdom is the Son."* Whether the Son or not, this evidently the first emanation, MINERVAthe Goddess of Wisdom emanating or issuing from the head of Jove, (or Iao or Jehovah,) as described on a Etruscan brass plate in the Cabinet of Antiquities at Bologna.** This is known to be Etruscan, from the names being on the arms of the Gods in Etruscan letters, which prove it older than the Romans, or probably than the Grecians of Homer.
* Kircher d. Egypt. Syntag. II. Cap. vii
** A copy of the plate may be seen at Montfaucon.
M. Basnage says, "Moses Nachmanides advanced three Sephiroths above all the rest; they have never been seen by any one; there is not any defect in them nor any disunion. If any one should add another to them, he would deserve death. There is, therefore, nothing but a dispute about words : you can call three lights what Christians call Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That first eternal number is the Father : the WISDOM by which God created the heavens is the Son : and Prudence or Understanding, which makes the third number of the Cabalists, is the Christian Holy Ghost."*
* Book iv. Ch. v. Sect. vii.
Wisdom was the first emanation from the Divine power, the protogonos, the beginning of all things, the Rasit of Genesis, the Buddha of India, the Logos of Plato and St. John, as I shall prove. Wisdom was the beginning of creation. Wisdom was the primary, and beginning the secondary, meaning of the word.
The meaning of wisdom, which the word Ras bore, I can scarcely doubt was, in fact, secret, sacred, and mystical; and in the course of the following work my reader will perceive, that wherever a certain mythos, which will be explained, was concerned, two clear and distinct meanings of the words will be found : one for the initiated, and one for the people. This is of the first importance to be remembered.
That the angels are in fact emanations from the Divine substance, according to the Mosaic system, is proved from Deut. xxxiii. 2. Moses says, according to the Septuagint, The Lord is come from Sinai : he has appeared to us from Seir : he shineth forth from Paran with thousands of saints, and having his ANGELS ON HIS RIGHT HAND. But M. Beausobre* has shewn, (and which Parkhurst, p.149, in voce, (+ dt, confirms,) that the Hebrew word (+:! asdt, which the Septuagint translates angels, means effusions, that is, emanations, from the Divine substance. According to Moses and the Seventy translators, therefore, the Angels were Emanations from the Divine substance. Thus we see here that the doctrines of the Persians and that of the Jews, and we shall see afterwards, of the Gnostics and Manichean Christians, were in reality the same.
* Hist. Manich. Liv. ix. Ch. ii.
I think the author of Genesis had more philosophy than to write about the beginning of the world. I cannot see any reason why so much anxiety should be shewn, by some modern translators, to construe this word as meaning beginning. I see clearly enough why others of them should do so, and why the ancient translators did it. They had a preconceived dogma to support, their partiality to which blinded their judgment, and of philosophy they did not possess much. However, it cannot be denied that, either in a primary or secondary sense, the word means wisdom as well as beginning, and, therefore, its sense here must be gathered from the context.
The two words called in the first chapter of Genesis ..:% e-smim, the heavens, ought to be translated the planets. In that work the sun, and moon, and the earth, are said to be formed, and also separately from them the samim or planets; and afterward the stars also. Dr. Parkhurst has very properly explained the word to mean disposers. They are described in the Chaldean Oracles as a septenary of living beings. By the ancients they were thought to have, under their special care, the affairs of men. Philo was of the opinion, and even Maimonides declares, that they are endued with life, knowledge, and understanding; that they acknowledge and praise their Creator. On this opinion of the nature of the planets, all judicial astrology, magic, was foundeda science, I believe, almost as generally held by the ancients, as being of a God is by the moderns.*
* See Faber, Vol. II. p.226.
Persons are apt to regard with contempt the opinion, that the planetary bodies are animated or rational beings. But let it not be forgotten that the really great Kepler believed our globe to be endowed with living faculties; that it possessed instinct and volitionan hypothesis which Mons. Patrin has supported with great ingenuity.* Among those who believed that the planets were intelligent beings, were Philo, Origen, and Maimonides.**
* Vide Jameson's Cuvier, p.45, and Nouveau Dict. d'Histoire Naturelle.
** Faber, Pag. Idol. Vol. I p.32.
The conduct of the Christian expositors, with respect to the words ..: smim and (:!$ rasit, has been as unfair as possible. They have misrepresented the meaning of them in order to prevent the true astrological character of the book from being seen. But, that the first does mean disposers, the word heavens making nonsense, and the words relating to the stars, in the 16th verse, shewing that they cannot be meant, put it beyond a question. My reader may, therefore, form a pretty good judgment how much Parkhurst can be depended upon for the meaning of the second, from the striking fact that, though he has filled several columns with observations relating to the opinions of different expositors, he could not find room for the words, the opinion of the Synagogue is, that the word means WISDOM, or the Jerusalem Targum says it means WISDOM. But it was necessary to conceal from the English reader, as already stated, the countenance it gives to judicial astrology and the doctrine of emanations.
Indeed, I think the doctrine of Emanations in the Jewish system cannot be denied. This Mr. Maurice unequivocally admits : "The Father is the great fountain of the divinity; the Son and the Holy Spirit are EMANATIONS from that fountain." Again, "The Christian Trinity is a Trinity of subsistences, or persons joined by an indissoluble union."* The reader will be pleased to recollect that hypostasis means subsistence, which is a Greek word
* Maurice, Ind. Ant. Vol. IV. p.49.
Whatever trifling differences or incongruities may be discovered between them, the following conclusions are inevitable, viz. that the religion of Abraham and that of the Magi, were in reality the same; that they both contained the doctrine of the Trinity; and that the oriental historians who state this fact, state only what is true.
We must also recollect, that when I translate the first word of Genesis by the word Wisdom, I am giving no new theory of my own, but only the orthodox exposition of the Jewish religion, as witnessed in the Jerusalem Targum, read in their synagogues, supported by the authorities of the most eminent of the Jewish Rabbis, Maimonides, &c., and the most learned of the Christian fathers, Clemens, Origen, &c. All this is of importance to be remembered, because a great consequence will be deduced from this word Wisdom. It was, as it were, the foundation on which a mighty structure was erected.
It was by what may be called a peculiar Hypostasis, denominated Wisdom, that the higher principle operated when it formed the world. This is surely quite sufficient to shew its great importancean importance which we shall see demonstrated hereafter, when I treat of the celebrated Buddha of India.
BOOK II - CHAPTER IV
WHY CYRUS RESTORED THE TEMPLEMELCHIZEDEKABRAHAM, WHAT HE WASABRAHAM THE FATHER OF THE PERSIANSDANIELBOOK OF ESTHER, PERSIANZOROASTERVARIATION BETWEEN PERSIANS AND ISRAELITESSACRIFICESRELIGION OF ZOROASTERRELIGION OF ZOROASTER CONTINUEDZENDAVESTAOBSERVATIONS ON THE RELIGION OF JEWS AND PERSIANSALL ANCIENT RELIGIONS ASTROLOGICAL
From the striking similarity between the religion of Moses and that of the Persians, it is not difficult to see the reason why Cyrus, Darius, and the Persians, restored the temples of Jerusalem and Gerizim, when they destroyed the temples of the idolaters in Egypt and other places, which, in fact, they did wherever they came.
Dr. Shuckford not only agrees with me that Abraham and the Canaanites were of the same religion, and that Melchizedek was their priest, but he also shews that Abimelech and the Philistines were at that time of the same religion.* He also gives some reason to suppose that the Egyptians were the same.**
* Book v. pp. 309, 310.
** Ibid. pp. 312, 313.
Shuckford says, "Melchizedek, the King of Salem, was a priest of the most high God, and he received and entertained Abraham as a true servant and particular favourite of that God, whose priest he himself was; blessed (said he) be Abraham, servant of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth."*
* Gen. xiv. 19; Shuckford, Book v. p.310.
Respecting the rites or ceremonies performed by the priest, few particulars are known. It appears his votaries paid him tithes. Abraham, we have seen, paid him tithes of all the plunder which he took from the five kings whom he had defeated. This contribution is enforced in the religion of the ancient Persians, and also in the religious ordinances of the Jews. It is very singular that exact tenth should be found in all the three religions to be paid. The second of the rites of Melchizedek's religion which is known, is the offering or sacrifice of bread and wine,
There is much reason to believe this Melchizedek was the priest of the Temple of Jove, Jupiter, or Iao, without image, spoken of by the Greeks, to which Pythagoras and Plato are said to have resorted for study; the place where Joshua placed his unhewn stones. The mountain Carmel, probably, extended over a considerable extent of country. Hargerizin was probably looked on as a mount of Carmel, as Mount Blanc is a mount of the Alps.
Melchizedek could not be king of the city of Jerusalem in the time of Abraham, because it was not built;
The Persians also claim Ibrahim, i.e. Abraham, for their founder, as well as the Jews. Thus we see that according to all ancient history the Persians, the Jews, and the Arabians, are descendants of Abraham.
But Abraham was not merely the founder of the Persians, but various authors assert, that he was a great Magician, at the head of the Magi, that is, he was at the head of the priesthood, as our king is, and as the Persian kings always were, and as the Roman Emperors found it necessary to become in later days : no doubt a sound and wise policy. The standards of the tribe of the Israelites, the ornaments of the Temple, the pillars Joachim and Boaz, the latter with its orrery or sphere at the top of it, the Urim and Thummin, in short, the whole of the Jewish system betrays judicial astrology, or, in other words, magic, in every part. The Magi of Persia were only the order of priestsMagi in Persia, Clergymen in England.
There can be no doubt that judicial astrology, or the knowledge of future events by the study of the stars, was received and practiced by all the ancient Jews, Persians, and many of the Christians, particularly the Gnostics and Manicheans. Eusebius tells us, on the authority of Eupolemus, that Abraham was an astrologer, and that he taught the science to the priests of Heliopolis or On. This was a fact universally asserted by the historians of the East. Origen was a believer in this science as qualified above; and M. Beausobre observes, it is thus that he explained what Jacob says in the prayer of Joseph : He has read in the tables of heaven all that will happen to you, and to your children.*
* Beausobre, Hist. Manich. Liv. vii ch. i p.429.
When the Jews were carried away to Babylon, Daniel is said to have been one of the prisoners, and to have risen to a very high situation at the court of the great king; and in fact to have become almost his prime minister. (Dan. ii. 48.) On the taking of the city, he appears to have been a principal performer : he was occupied in explaining the meaning of the writing on the wall at the very moment that the city was stormed. After the success of the Persians, we find him again in power with the new king, who was of his own sect or religion, and as bitter against idolators as himself. We also find that the Jews were again almost immediately restored to their country.
I suspect that Daniel was a Chaldee or Culdee or Brahmin priesta priest of the same order of which, in former times, Melchizedek had been a priest.
Perhaps in the Old Testament there is not a more curious book than that of Esther. It is the only remaining genuine specimen of the ancient chronicles of Persia.
The object of putting this book into the canon of the Jews is to record, for their use, the origin of their feast of Purim. Michaelis is of the opinion, from the style of the writing and other circumstances, that the last sixteen verses of this book were added at Jerusalem. This seems very probable. It is pretty clear, from this book, that the religion of Persia in the time of Ahasuerus, as he is named in scripture, had begun to fall into idolatry; and that it was reformed by Mordecai, who slew seventy-five thousand of the idolators, and restored it to its former state, when it must have been in all its great features like that of the Jews, if not identically the same.
No person who has carefully examined will deny, I think, that all the accounts which we have of Zoroaster are full of inconsistencies and contradictions. Plato says, he lived before him 6000 years. Hyde and Prideaux and others, make him contemporary with Darius Hystaspes, or Daniel. By some he is made a Jew; Astre, Zur, or Syr. Here is the star or celestial body Syr or Sur, which we shall presently find, is, without any great violence, the celestial body, the Bull or the Sun. Hence we arrive at an incarnation of the Deity, of the Sun, or of Taurusa renewed incarnation. This accounts for the antiquity assigned to him by Plato, and for the finding of him again under Darius Hystaspes. In short, he is a doctrine, or a doctrine taught by a person. He was the founder of the Magi, who were priests of the religion of the Sun, or of the Being of whom the Sun was the visible form or emblem.
The Persians have a sacred book, called Sohfi Ibrahim, or the book of Abraham, but which ought to be called the book of the WISDOM of Abraham. The Jews also have a sacred book, called the book of Moses, and the first of which, known to us under the name of Genesis, is called by them (:!$ rasit, or the book of wisdom.
Learned men have exercised great ingenuity in their endeavours to discover the origin and reason of sacrifices, (a rite common to both Jews and Heathens,) in which they have found great difficulty. They have sought at the bottom of the well what was swimming on the surface. The origin of sacrifice was evidently a gift to the priest, or the cunning man, or the Magus or Druid,* to induce him to intercede with some unknown being, to protect the timid or pardon the guilty; a trick invented by the rogues to enable them to cheat the fools; a contrivance of the idle possessing brains to live upon the labour of those without them. The sacrifice, whatever it might be in its origin, soon became a feast, ... (See Lev. vii. 8.)
* Druid is a Celtic word and has the meaning of Absolver from Sin.
At first the sacrifice was a feast between the priest and devotee, but the former very soon contrived to keep it all for himself; and it is evident from Pliny's letter to Trajan, that when there was more than the priest could consume, he sent the overplus to market for sale.
Such is the account given of this disgusting practice. Very well has the Rev. Mr. Faber described it, as apparently an irrational notion struck out by a wild fanatic,an arbitrary and inexplicable mode hit upon by fanatics of propitiating the Deity. As he justly says, why should that righteous man (meaning Abel) have imagined that he could please the Deity, by slaying a firstling lamb, and by burning it upon an altar ? What connexion is there betwixt the means and the end ? Abel could not have known, that God, as a merciful God, took no pleasure in the sufferings of the lamb. How, then, are we to account for his attempting to please such a God, by what abstractedly is an act of cruelty ?*
What strange beings men, in all ages, have made their
Gods ! ! !
* See Faber, Pagan Idol. B. ii. Ch. viii. pp. 466, 482.
I cannot ascribe such things to my God. This may be will worship; but a belief is not in my power. I am obliged to believe it more probable that men may lie, that priests may be guilty of selfish fraud, than that the wise and beneficent Creator can direct such irrational, fanatical, cruel proceedings, to use Mr. Faber's words.
That in later times the practice of sacrifice was very general cannot be denied; but I think a time may be perceived when it did not exist, even among the Western nations. We read that it was not always practised at Delphi. Tradition states that in the earliest times no bloody sacrifice took place there, and among the Buddhists, who are the oldest religionists of whom we have any sacred traditions, and to whom the first book of Genesis probably belongs, no bloody sacrifices ever prevailed. With Cristna, Hercules, and the worshippers of the Sun in Aries, they probably arose. The second book of Genesis came from the last. No doubt the practice took its rise in the Western part of the world, (after the sun entered Aries,) even among the followers of the Tauric worship, and was carried to a frightful extent. But the prevalence of the practice, as stated by Mr. Faber, is exaggerated. It never was practised by the followers of Buddha, though they have constituted, perhaps, a majority of the inhabitants of the world.
How many Zoroasters there were, or whether more than one, it is difficult to determine; but one of them was thought by Hyde, as we have already shewn, to have lived in the time of Darius Hystaspes;
The following is Dean Prideaux's account of the religion of Zoroaster : "The chief reformation which he made in the Magian religion was in the first principle of it; for whereas before they had held the being of two first causes, the first light, or the good god, who was the author of all good; and the other darkness, or the evil god, who was the author of all evil; and that of the mixture of those two, as they were in a continued struggle with each other, all things were made; he introduced a principle superior to them both, one supreme God who created both light and darkness, and out of these two, according to the alone pleasure of his own will, made all things else that are, according to what is said in the 45th chapter of Isaiah, ver. 5-7.In sum, his doctrine, as to this particular, was, that there was one Supreme Being, independant and self-existing from all eternity; that under him there were two angels, one the angel of light, who is the director of all good; and the other the angel of darkness, who is the director of all evil; and that these two, out of the mixture of light and darkness, made all things that are; and that they are in a perpetual struggle with each other; and that where the angel of light prevails, there the most is good, and where the angel of darkness prevails, there the most is evil; that this struggle shall continue to the end of the world; that there shall be a general resurrection, and a day of judgment, wherein just retribution shall be rendered to all according to their works : after which, the angel of darkness and his disciples shall go into a world of their own, where they shall suffer in everlasting darkness the punishment of their evil deeds; and the angel of light, and his disciples, shall also go into a world of their own, where they shall receive in everlasting light the reward due unto their good deeds : and that after this they shall remain separated for ever, and light and darkness be no more mixed together to all eternity. And all this the remainder of that sect which is now in Persia and India, do, without any variation, after so many ages, still hold even to this day. And how consonant this is to the truth is plain enough to be understood without a comment. And whereas he taught that God originally created the good angel only, and that the other followed only by the defect of good, this plainly shews, that he was not unacquainted with the revolt of the fallen angels, and that the entrance of evil into the world that way, but had been thoroughly instructed how that God at first created all his angels good, as he also did man, and that they that are now evil became such wholly through their own fault, in falling from the state which God first placed them in. All which plainly shews the author of this doctrine to have been well versed in the sacred writing of the Jewish religion, out of which it manifestly appears to have been taken."*
* Prid. Con. Part I. Lib. iv. p.267. 8vo.
It is said that Zoroaster pretended to have been taken up into heaven, and to have heard God speak from the midst of a flame of fire; that, therefore, fire is truest shekinah of the Divine presence; and that the sun is the most perfect firefor which reason he ordered them to direct their worship towards the sun, which they called Mithra. He pretended to have brought fire from heaven along with him, which was never permitted to go out. It was fed with clean wood, and it was deemed a crime to blow upon it, or to rekindle it except from the sun or the sacred fire in some other temple. Thus the Jews had their shekinah or sacred fire in which God dwelt, and which came down from heaven upon their altar of burnt-offerings : and Nadad and Abihu were punished with death for offering incense to God with other fire. The Jews used clean peeled wood for the fire, and, like the Persians, would not permit it to be blown upon with the mouth.
Zoroaster retired to a cavern where he wrote his book, and which was ornamented on the roof with the constellations and the signs of the Zodiac; whence came the custom among his followers of retiring to caves which they called Mithriatic caves, to perform their devotions, in which the mysteries of their religion were performed. Many of these caves of stupendous size and magnificence exist at this day in the neighbourhood of Balck, and in different parts of upper India and Persia.
They had several orders of priests like our parochial priests and bishops, and at the head of them an Archimagus or Archpriest, the same as the Pope or the High Priest of the Jews : the word Magus, in the Persian language, only means priest : and they did not forget that most useful Jewish rite, the taking of tithes and oblations. At stated times the priests read part of their sacred writings to the people. The priests were all of the same family or tribe, as among the Jews.
The religion of Persia became corrupted, and so did the Christian. Zoroaster reformed one, Luther, &c., the other.
The religion of Abraham was that of the Persians, and whether he were a real or a fictitious personage (a matter of doubt) both the religions must have been derived from the same source. If Abraham really did live, then the evidence both Jewish and Persian shews that he was the founder of both nations. If he were an allegorical personage, the similarity of the religions shews them to have had the same origin.
The difference between the religion of Moses and that of the surrounding nations, consisted merely of this : the latter had become corrupted by the priests, who had set up images in allegorical representation of the heavenly bodies or Zodiacal signs, which in long periods of time the people came to consider as representations of real deities. The true and secret meaning of these emblems, the priests, that is the initiated, took the greatest pains to keep from the people. The king and priest were generally united in the same person : and when it was otherwise, the former was generally the mere toll and slave of the latter. But in either case, the sole object of the initiated was, as it yet is, to keep the people in a state of debasement, that they might be more easily ruled. This did the Magi in ancient and thus do the chief priests in modern times wallow in wealth on the labour of the rest of mankind.
The priests in almost all ages have found that the more gloomy and horrible a religion is, the better it has suited their purpose. We have this account of the state of the religion, not only from the history of the Jews, but from that of the Gentiles, therefore it can scarcely be disputed.
Every ancient religion, without exception, had Cabal or secret doctrine : and the same fate attended them all. In order that they might not be revealed or discovered, they were not written, but only handed down by tradition; and in the revolutions of centuries and the violent convulsions of empires they were forgotten. Scraps of the old traditions were then collected, and mixed with new inventions of the priests, having the double object in view, of ruling people and of concealing their own ignorance.
The twelve signs of the Zodiac for the standards of the twelve tribes of Israel, the scorpion or typhon, the devil or emblem of destruction, being changed for the eagle by the tribe of Dan, to whom it was allotted; the ark, an exact copy of the ark of Osiris, set afloat in the Nile every year, and supposed to sail to Byblos, in Palestine; the pillars Joachim and Boaz; the festival of the Passover at the vernal equinox, an exact copy of the Egyptian festival at the same time; almost all the ornaments of the temple, altar, priest, &c., all these clearly astrological.
BOOK II - CHAPTER V
CHARACTER OF THE OLD TESTAMENTNATURE OF THE ALLEGORY IN GENESIS
What in the result is the truth respecting the Old Testament ? It is the produce of deep learning and profound wisdom, hidden under the veil of allegory, or is it mere literal history of transactions of past events, as believed by the Christians and modern Jews ? It is probably both : a collection of tracts mixed up with traditions, histories or rumours of events, collected together by the priests of an ignorant, uncivilized race of shepherds, intermixed also with the allegories and fictions in which the ancient philosophers of the eastern nations veiled their learning from the eyes of the vulgar. The Pentateuch is evidently a collection of different mythological histories of the creation, and of the transactions of Moses, the chief of a tribe of wandering Arabs, who was believed to have brought his tribe from the borders of Egypt and to have conquered Palestine : and there is little doubt that it contains a considerable portion of truth.
The treatises in the Pentateuch are put together, or connected with one another, in so very awkward and unskilful a manner, that they would have passed as the work of one person with none but such uncivilized barbarians as the Jews, if they had related to any of the common concerns of life, and where the reasoning faculty of the human mind could be brought into fair action; but in matters connected with religion this has never been done, and never will be done : reason has nothing to do with the religion of the generality of mankind.
That many parts of the books of the Jews are allegorical, cannot be for a moment doubted, and, as was said before, no doubt the true knowledge of these allegories constituted their first Cabala, and the learning of their priests. But as they are made up of loose, unconnected accounts, very often different accounts of the same history or allegory, it is not possible that any complete and regular system should be made of them. For instance, Genesis contains two histories of the creation; Deutoronomy a history of the promulgation of the law by Moses, different from that given in Exodus, which was evidently written by a different author from that of Genesis.
But as far as concerns the generality or industrious class of the Jews and modern Christians, they are taken literally. In this sense they were and are yet received. Whether the later Jewish collectors of them into one code understood the allegorical meaning of any of them, remains doubtful; probably they might be in part. But it is equally, if not more, probable, that they would care very little whether they understood them or not, so long as they assisted them in establishing their temple, their tithes, and their order. Perhaps after these objects were secured, they would amuse themselves in their leisure hours, like our own priests and bishops, in endeavouring by explanations to make order out of disorder, sense out of nonsense. Hence arose their modern Cabala. And as they were generally men of the meanest capacities, though perhaps men understanding several languages, the modern Cabal is just what might be expected.
M. Dupuis, in the first chapter of his third volume, has made many curious observations on the book of Genesis, tending to prove that it was an allegory descriptive of the mythology of the oriental nations in the neighbourhood of Palestine. That is was allegorical was held by the most learned of the ancient fathers of the church, such as Clemens Alexandrinus and Origen, as it had been by the most learned of the Jews, such as Philo, Josephus, &c., so that its allegorical nature may perhaps be safely assumed, notwithstanding the nonsense of modern devotees.
The following extract from the work of Maimonides, called More Nevochim,* exhibits a fair example of the policy of the ancient philosophers : "Taken to the letter, this work (Genesis) gives the most absurd and extravagant ideas of the Divinity. Whoever shall find the true sense of it ought to take care not to divulge it. This is a maxim which all our sages repeat to us, and above all respecting the meaning of the work of the six days. If a person should discover the meaning of it, either by himself or with the aid of another, then he ought to be silent : or if he speak of it, he ought to speak of it obscurely, and in an enigmatical manner as I do myself; leaving the rest to be guessed by those who can understand me."**
* Pars. II. Cap. xxix.
** Dupuis, sur tous les cultes, Vol. III, p.9, 4to.
To admit the accounts of Genesis to be literal, would be to admit facts directly contrary to the moral attributes of God. Fanatical as the ancient fathers were, their fanaticism had not blinded them, as it has blinded the moderns, so far as to admit this. But the story of the garden of Eden, the trees of knoweledge and of life, the talking serpent, and the sin of Adam and Eve were allegorical, redemption from the atonement from the consequences of his allegorical fault could not but be equally allegorical. This, it is evident, instantly overthrows the whole of the present orthodox or fashionable scheme of the atonementa doctrine not known in the early ages of the religion, but picked up in the same quarter whence several doctrines of modern Christianity will be found to have been derived.
In reasoning from cause and effect, this seems to be a necessary consequence. From this difficulty arose a great mass of contradictions and absurdities. It is impossible to deny, that it has always been a part of modern corrupt Christian religion, that an evil spirit rebelled against God, and that he having drawn other beings of his own description into the same evil course, was, for his conduct, expelled along with them from heaven, into a place of darkness and intense torment. This nonsense, which is no part of the religion of Jesus the Nazarite, came from the same quarter as the atonement. We shall find them both in India.
It is quite impossible, that the doctrine of the fallen angels can be taken from the Pentateuch; for not a word of a kind is to met with there : but it is the identical doctrine of the Brahmins and late Magi. The Devil is the Mahasoor of the Brahmins, and the Ahriman of the Magi; the fallen angels are the Onderah and Dewtahs of the Brahmins, and the Dowzakh and Dews of the Magi. The vulgar Jews and Christians finding the story of the serpent, did not know how to account for it, and in consequence went to the Persians for an explanation. They could not have gone to a better place, for the second book of Genesis, with its serpent biting the foot of the woman's seed, is nothing but a part of a Hindoo-Persian history, of which the story of the fallen angels, &c., is a continuation.
Link to Volume I - Book III.