Were we to find within the present circumscribed limits of our investigation a people, distinguished by its civilization as well as by its political power, which exercised an immediate and lasting influence upon the Hebrews, we could evidently find within the bosom of such a people the solution of the problem we have raised. We find these conditions complied with, even beyond the unreasonable demands of the critic, in the Chaldeans and Persians who were united into one nation by the arms of Cyrus and by the religion of Zoroaster. And, indeed, can we think of a more appropriate event in the life of a people that could change its moral constitution and modify its ideas and customs as the memorable exile that has been called the Babylonian captivity? Is it possible that the seventy years sojourn of the Israelites, priests and laymen, teachers and common people, in the land of their conquerors, exerted no influence on either side? We have already cited a talmudical passage wherein the elders of the synagogue openly acknowledge that their ancestors brought with them from the land of their exile the names of the angels, the names of the months and even the letters of the alphabet.
It is impossible to suppose that the names of the months were not accompanied by certain astronomical knowledge, 1 probably
of such a nature as we have met in the Sefer Yetzirah, and that the names of the angels were separated from the entire celestial and infernal hierarchy adopted by the Magi. It has also long since been noted that Satan appears for the first time in the sacred writings in the story of the Chaldean Job. 2 This rich and learned mythology, which has been adopted by the Talmud and spread in the Mishnah, constitutes also the poetical part and, if I may use the expression, the outer cover of the Zohar. But we do not wish to insist upon this long known fact. Disregarding the Chaldeans, who left no visible or reliable trace, and who, besides, were morally and materially conquered by the Persians before the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, we shall prove the presence, if not of the most general principles, but of nearly all the elements of the Kabbalah in the Zend Avesta and the religious commentaries depending upon it.
We wish to remark, incidentally, that this vast and admirable monument which has been known to us for more than a century, at this epoch, when we so eagerly follow up all sources, did not yet render all the service to historic philosophy--the true science of the human mind--which the latter justly expects of it. We do not pretend to fill the gap; but we hope to show the trans-mission of ideas between Persia and Judea, as we have already done in part, with reference to Judea and Alexandria.
We must first point out that all chronologists, whether Jewish
or Christian, 3 agree that the first deliverance of the Israelites who remained captives in Chaldea since Nebuchadnezzar (Ezra, I, 1) took place during the first years of the reign of Cyrus over Babylon, 536 to 530 before the Christian era. The divergence of opinion confines itself to this very limited period. If we are to believe the calculations of Anquetil-Dupperon, 4 Zoroaster had already commenced his religious mission in 549, that is at least fourteen years before the first return of the captive Hebrews to their fatherland. Zoroaster was then forty years old; the most brilliant epoch of his life had begun, and continued until 539. During these ten years Zoroaster converted to his law the entire court and kingdom of king Gustasp, believed to have been Hystaspis, father of Darius. During these ten years the reputation of the new prophet dismayed even the brahmins of India, and when one of these came to the court of Gustasp for the purpose of overpowering the one he called impostor, he and all that were with him were compelled to yield to the irresistible power of their adversary. From 539 to 524, finally, Zoroaster openly taught his religion in the capital of the Babylonian empire, which he converted entirely by connecting wisely his own teachings with the already existing traditions. 5
Is it reasonable to suppose that the Israelites, who witnessed such a revolution, and returned to their fatherland at a time when that revolution spread its most vivid brilliancy and, consequently, must have left the strongest impression upon their minds--is it possible, I say, that they took with them no trace of it, not even in their most secret opinions and ideas? Must not
the great question of the origin of evil, which until then remained untouched by Judaism, and which is, so to speak, the centre and starting point of the religion of the Persians, must it not have acted powerfully upon the imagination of these people of the Orient, who were accustomed to explain everything by divine intervention and to ascend in similar problems to the source of things? It can not be argued that because they were crushed under the weight of their misfortune they remained strangers to all that happened around them in the land of their exile. The Scriptures themselves point to them with some satisfaction as being instructed in all the sciences and, consequently, in all the ideas of their conquerors, and admitted with the latter to the highest dignities of the empire.
This is just the character of Daniel, Zerubabel and Nehemia, 6 the two latter playing such an active part in the deliverance of their brethren. But this is not all. Besides forty thousand people who returned to Jerusalem under Zerubabel, a second emigration, headed by Ezra, took place under the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus, about seventy years after the first emigration. During this interval the religious reform of Zoroaster had time to spread to all parts of the Babylonian empire, and to take deep root in the minds of the people. From the return to their land until the conquest by Alexander the Great the Jews always remained the subjects of the Persian kings. And even after this event, until their total dispersion, they seemed to have looked upon the Euphrates, the banks of which they once bathed with their tears, as their second fatherland when their eyes and minds turned to Jerusalem. The Babylonian Synagogue arose under the civil and religious influence of the "Heads of Captivity" (ריש גלותה--Raysh G’lutho), and it co-operated with the one in Palestine for the definite organization of Rabbinic Judaism. 7
Wherever they found an asylum, at Sura, at Pompadita and at Nehardea, they founded religious schools which flourished no less than those of the metropolis. Among the teachers who sprang from their midst we mention Hillel the Babylonian, who died about forty years before the advent of Christ, and who was the teacher of that Yohanan ben Zakai who played such a great role in the Kabbalistic stories previously quoted. These same schools produced also the Babylonian Talmud, the final and most complete expression of Judaism. From the enumeration of these facts alone we may conclude that no nation exerted upon the Jews such deep influence as the Persians; that no moral power could have penetrated so deeply into their spirit as the religious system of Zoroaster with its long train of traditions and commentaries.
But all doubt vanishes when we pass from the purely external relations to a comparison of the ideas which represent in the two nations the most exalted results and the very foundations of their respective civilizations. However, to avoid the suspicion that we have founded beforehand the origin of the Kabbalah upon isolated and purely incidental resemblances, we shall point out in a few words and by some examples the influence of the Persian religion upon Judaism in general, before demonstrating all the elements of the Kabbalistic system in the Zend Avesta. Far from being a digression, this part of our research will contribute no little to the strengthening of our opinion, and I hasten to add that I do not at all intend to speak of the fundamental dogmas of the Old Testament. For, since Zoroaster himself continually refers to traditions much older than he, it is not necessary, yes, it is even not permissible from the standpoint of impartial criticism, to regard the following as having been borrowed from his doctrine: the six days of the creation, so easily recognized in the six Gahanbars; 8 the earthly paradise and the
ruse of the demon who, in the shape of a serpent, kindled the revolt in the soul of our first parents; 9 the terrible punishment and the increasing forfeiture of the latter who, after having lived like angels, were obliged to cover themselves with the skins of animals, to wrest the metals from the bowels of the earth and to invent all the arts by which we subsist; 10 finally, the last judgment with its accompanying terrors, with the resurrection in spirit and flesh. 11 All these beliefs are found, it is true, in
just as explicit a form in the Bundehesh 12 and in the Zend Avesta as in Genesis; 13 but we repeat again that we are fully convinced that the source is to be looked for at a much earlier age. 'We can not say the same of Rabbinical Judaism, which is much more modern than the religion of Zoroaster. The traces of Parseeism are here, as we shall soon ascertain, very visible, and we shall soon see what light can be thrown upon the origin of the Kabbalah when we keep in mind that the oldest teachers of this mysterious science are also counted among the doctors of the Mishnah and among the most venerated elders of the Synagogue.
When side by side with the wisest maxims on the application of life, when alongside the most consoling thoughts on mercy and divine justice, we find also in Judaism traces of the darkest superstition, we must look for the cause of these, especially in the terror instilled by its demonology. The power the latter ascribes to the evil spirits (שדים--Shaydim, רוחות--Ruheth) is so great that at every moment of his life man may think himself surrounded by invisible enemies who are set upon the loss of his body as well as of his soul. Man is not yet born, and they await him already at the cradle to contend with him for God and the tenderness of a mother. Hardly may he see the light of this world, when they assail his head with a thousand perils, and his thoughts with a thousand impure visions. In short, woe to him if he does not resist forever! For, before life has yet completely left the body, they come to take possession of their prey.
Now then, in all ideas of such a nature there is a perfect similarity between the Jewish traditions and the Zend Avesta. According to this latter monument the demons or the devils,
those children of Ahriman and darkness, are just as numerous as the creatures of Ormuzd. There are more than a thousand species who present themselves under all kinds of forms, and who wander over the earth to spread disease and sickness among man. 14 "Where," asks Zoroaster of Ormuzd, "is the place of the male, where the place of the female devis; where roam the devis in mobs from fifty, from a hundred, from a thousand, from ten thousand, and, finally, from all sides? . . . 15 Destroy the devis that enfeeble man and those that produce sickness, those that carry off the human heart as the wind sweeps away the clouds." (Zend Av., vol. II, p. 113.)
This is the way the Talmud expresses itself on the same subject: "Abba Benjamin said: 'No creature could withstand the evil creatures (מזיקין--Mazikin), had the eye the faculty of seeing them.' Abbaye adds: "They are more numerous than we, and surround us as a ditch surrounds a field." "Every one of us," says Rab Hunna, 16 "has a thousand of them to the left and ten thousand to the right side. When we feel ourselves pressed in a crowd, it is because of their presence; when our knees give way under our body, they alone are the cause; when we feel as though our extremities had been broken, it is to them again that we must attribute this suffering." 17 "The devis," says the Zend Avesta, "unite with one another and reproduce themselves as man does." (Zend Av., vol. II, p. 336.) But they reproduce themselves also through our own impurities, through the disgraceful acts of self-abuse, and even through the involuntary licentiousness provoked by a voluptuous thought during sleep. According to the
[paragraph continues] Talmud the demons resemble the angels in three things, and in three other things they resemble man. Like the angels they read the future, have wings and fly in a moment from one end of the world to the other; but they eat, drink, reproduce and die as man does. 18 Furthermore, they all originated from the lascivious dreams that troubled the nights of our first father during the years passed in solitude, 19 and the same cause even today produces the same effect in his descendents. 20 Certain formulated prayers, therefore, were adopted by Jews and Parsees, whose power is to avert such calamity. 21 The same phantoms, the same terrors, finally, besiege these as well as the others at their last moment.
Man scarcely dies, say the Zend books, when he is taken possession of and questioned by the demons. (Zend Av., vol. II, p. 164.) The Daroudj (the demon) Nesosh comes in the form of a fly, places himself upon the head and beats him mercilessly. (Zend Av., vol. II, p. 316.) The soul, separated from the body, arrives then at the bridge Tchinevad, which separates our world from the invisible world; there it is judged by two angels, one of whom is Mithra, of colossal proportions, with ten thousand eyes, and holding a club in his hand. 22 The rabbis, retaining
the same basic idea, picture it still more frightfully. "When man," they say, "who is about to leave this world, opens his eyes, he notices in his house an extraordinary light, and standing before him he sees the angel of the Lord clothed in light, his body studded with eyes and his hand holding a flaming sword. At the sight of this the dying man is seized with fright which. permeates his body and spirit. His soul flees gradually to all the extremities, as one desiring to change his place. But when he comes to know that it is impossible for him to escape, he looks into the face of the one standing before him and delivers himself entirely into his power. If the dying man is a righteous one, the divine presence (Shekinah) appears to him and the soul soon disappears beyond the body." 23
This first test is followed by another, which is called the torture or the ordeal of the grave (היבוט הקבר--; Hibut Hakover). 24 "As soon as the dead is put in his grave, the soul unites again with him, and opening his eyes, he sees two 25 angels who come to judge him. Each holds in his hand two fiery rods (others say fiery chains), and the soul and the body are judged at the same time for the evil they have done together. Woe to the man when he is found guilty, for no one will defend him! At the first blow all his limbs are dislocated; at the second, all his bones are broken. But his body is soon reconstructed and the punishment begins anew." 26
We must value these traditions the more, since they have been taken nearly literally from the Zohar, from where they
passed into the purely rabbinical writings and into the popular collections. We can add to these beliefs a host of religious customs and practices, equally commanded by the Talmud and the Zend Avesta. Thus the Parsee, when leaving his bed in the morning, must not make four steps before having put on the holy girdle which is called the Kosti, 27 under the pretext that during the night he had been contaminated by contact with the demons, and he must not touch any part of his body before having washed his hands and face three times. 28 We shall find the same duties, based upon the same reasons, with the followers of the rabbinical law; 29 with the difference that the Kosti is replaced by a garment of another shape. The disciples of Zoroaster and the followers of the Talmud consider themselves duty bound to greet the moon at its first quarter with prayers 30 and thanksgivings. 31 The practice of keeping from the dead or from the newborn the demons who try to take possession of them, are nearly the same with both. 32
The Parsee as well as the Jew carry their devotion, if I may say so, even to profanation. There are prayers and religious duties for every moment, for every action, for every situation of the physical and moral life. 33 Although we do not lack material for further expansion on this subject, 34 we think it time to finish this parallel. But even the fantastic and eccentric facts which we have collected lend greater certainty to the conclusion which we draw from them. For it is surely not in such beliefs and in such actions that we can invoke the general laws of the human mind. We believe, though, we have demonstrated that the religion, that is to say the civilization of ancient Persia, left numerous traces in all parts of Judaism; in its celestial mythology as represented by the angels; in its infernal mythology, and, finally, in the practice of the outward cult. Are we now to believe that its philosophy, that is, the Kabbalah, alone escaped this influence? Is such an opinion probable, when we know that the Kabbalistic tradition developed in the same manner, in the same time, and, like the oral law of the Talmudic tradition, it rests upon the same names? Far be it from us to content
ourselves with a simple conjecture, no matter how well founded, on a subject of such a grave nature. We shall take up one by one all the essential elements of the Kabbalah, and show their perfect resemblance with the metaphysical principles of the religion of Zoroaster. This method of procedure, although not very learned, must appear at least as most impartial.
1. The part played in the Kabbalah by the Ayn Sof, the infinite without name and without form, is given by the theology of the Magi to eternal time (Zervane Akerene), and, according to others, to limitless space. 35 We want to note right here that the term "space" or "absolute place" (מקום--Mokaum) has become with the Hebrews the very name of the divinity. Furthermore, this first principle, this only and supreme source of all existence, is only an abstract God, without direct action upon the beings, without active relation to the world, and consequently, without any appreciable form to us; for good as well as evil, light as well as darkness are still huddled together in His bosom. 36 According to the sect of the Zervanites, whose opinion has been conserved by a Persian historian, 37 the principle we just mentioned, Zervan himself, would be, like the crown of the Kabbalists, but the first emanation of the infinite light.
2. The "Memra" of the Chaldean translators is easily recognized in the following words by which Ormuzd himself defines the "Honover" or the creative word: "The pure, the holy, the speedy Honover, I tell it to you, O wise Zoroaster! was before the heavens, before the waters, before the earth, before the herds, before the trees, before the fire, the son of
[paragraph continues] Ormuzd, before the pure man, before the devis, before all the existing worlds, before all the good things." But the very same word Ormuzd created the world, and by it he acts and exists. (Zend Av., vol. II, p. 138.) But the word existed not only before the world; although "given by God,"--as the Zend books say-- 38 it is eternal as He is. It takes the part of mediator between limitless time and the existences that flow from its bosom. It embraces the source and model of all perfection, and has the power to realize them in all beings. 39 What establishes, finally, its resemblance with the Kabbalistic "Word," is that it has a body and a spirit, that is to say, that it is the Spirit and the Word at the same time. It is the Spirit, because it is no less than the soul of Ormuzd, as he himself expressly said; (Zend Av., vol. II, p. 415) it is the Word or the body, that is to say the spirit become visible, because it is at the same time the law and the universe. (Zend Av., vol. III, p. 325, 595.)
3.. In Ormuzd we find something that resembles fully what the Zohar calls "person" or "face" (פרצוף--Partsuf). He, Ormuzd, is in fact the highest personification of the creative word, of that "excellent word" of which his soul is made. It is in him also rather than in the highest principle, in the eternal time, that we are to look for the union of all the attributes ordinarily ascribed to God, and which make up His manifestation, or, in the language of the Orient, the most brilliant and purest light. "In the beginning," say the sacred books of the Parsees, "Ormuzd, elevated above everything, was with the supreme wisdom, with the purity and in the light of the world. This luminous throne (מרכבה--Merkaba), this place inhabited by Ormuzd, is the one called the primitive light." (Zend Av., vol. III, p. 343.) Like the celestial man of the Kabbalists, he combines in him the
true knowledge, the highest intelligence, the greatness, the goodness, the beauty, the energy or the strength, the purity or the splendor; it is he, finally, who had created, or formed at least, and who nourishes all beings. 40 These qualities in themselves and their resemblance to the Sefiroth can not, of course, lead us to any conclusion; but we can not help noticing that they are all united in Ormuzd, whose role, in relation to infinity and to unlimited time, is the same as that of the Adam Kadmon in relation to the Ayn Sof. Indeed, if we are to believe an already quoted historian, there existed among the Persians a very numerous sect in whose estimation Ormuzd was the divine will manifested in a highly resplendent human form. 41 It is also true that the Zend books say nothing of how Ormuzd brought forth the world, in what manner he himself and his enemy sprang from the bosom of the Eternal, and, finally, what constitutes the primitive substance of things. 42 But when God is compared to light, when the efficient cause of the world is subordinated to a higher principle, and the universe considered as the body of the invisible word, we must necessarily consider the beings as isolated words of that infinite light. We wish also to remark that the gnostic pantheism is more or less connected with the fundamental principle of the theology of the Parsees. 43
4. According to the Kabbalistic belief, as well as according
to the Platonian system, all beings of the world existed at first in a more complete form in the invisible world. Each one of them has in the divine thought its invariable model, which can come to light here below only through the imperfection of matter. This conception, wherein the dogma of pre-existence is mingled with the principle of the theory of ideas, is found also in the Zend Avesta under the name of "Ferouer." The greatest orientist of our days explains this word as follows: "It is known that by "Ferouer" the Persians understood the divine type of each intelligently endowed thing, its idea in the thought of Ormuzd and the higher spirit that breathes in it and watches over it. This meaning is supported by the tradition as well as by the texts." 44
The interpretation of Auquetil-Duperron agrees perfectly with this one, 45 and we shall not cite all the passages of the Zend Avesta that confirm it. We would rather point out a very remarkable coincidence on one particular point of this doctrine between the Kabbalists and the disciples of Zoroaster. We still recall that magnificent passage in the Zohar where the souls, about to be sent to earth, represent to God how they will suffer while away from Him; what misery and contamination awaits them in our world. Well then, in the religious traditions of the Parsees the Ferouers make the same complaint, and Ormuzd answers them nearly as Jehovah answers those souls which are grieved over leaving heaven. He tells them that they were born for struggle, to combat evil and make it disappear from the creation, that they can only then enjoy immortality and heaven, when their task upon earth shall have been accomplished. 46 "Think what advantage you will have when, in the world, I shall permit you to stay in bodies. Fight and make the children of Ahriman disappear. In the end I shall rehabilitate you in your first estate and you
will be happy. In the end I shall set you again in the world, and you will be immortal, ever young and faultless." (Zend Av., vol. II, p. 350). Another feature that reminds us of the Kabbalistic ideas, is that the nations have their ferouers just as the individuals, and thus the Zend Avesta often invokes the ferouer of Iran where the law of Zoroaster was recognized first. However, this belief, which we meet also in the prophecies of Daniel, (Ch. X, 10 ff.) was probably long since widely spread among the Chaldeans before their political and religious fusion with the Persians.
5. If the psychology of the Kabbalists has some resemblance with that of Plato, it has greater resemblance with that of the Parsecs, as represented in a collection of very old traditions which have been, for the most part, reproduced by Auquetil-Duperron in the "Mémoires de l’Académie des Inscriptions." (Vol. 38, p. 646-648.) Let us first recall that according to the Kabbalistic theories there are in the human soul three powers, perfectly distinct one from another, which are united only during earthly life. On the highest level is the spirit proper (נשמה--N’shamah), the pure emanation of the Divine Intelligence, destined to return to its source, and unaffected by earthly contaminations; on the lowest level, immediately above matter, is the principle of motion and sensation, the vital spirit (נפש--Nefesh) whose task ends at the brink of the grave. Between these two extremes, finally, is the seat of good and of evil, the free and responsible principle, the moral person (רוח--Roo-ah). 47
We must add that several Kabbalists and some philosophers of great authority in Judaism have added to these three principal elements two others, one of which is the vital principle (הוח--He-hoh), the intermediary power between the soul and the body, apart from the principle of sensation; the other is the type, or, we may say, the idea which expresses the articular form of the individual (יחידה--Y’hidah, צלם--Tselem, דוגמא--Dougma).
[paragraph continues] This form descends from heaven into the womb of the woman at the time of conception and leaves thirty days before death. During this period (of thirty days) it is replaced by a shapeless shadow.
The theologic traditions of the Parsees set up precisely the same distinctions in the human soul. We easily. recognize the individual type in the ferouer which, having existed in heaven in a pure and isolated state, is compelled, as we have seen above, to unite with the body. In no less evident manner do we find again the vital principle in the Dian, whose part it is, as the author our guide says, to conserve the forces of the body and to maintain the harmony in all its parts. Like the "He-yah" of the Hebrews, it takes no part in the evil of which man is guilty; it is but a light vapor that comes from the heart, and which must mix with the earth after death. The Akko, on the contrary, is the highest principle. It is above evil, as the preceding principle is below it. It is a kind of light that comes from heaven, and which must return thither when our body is returned to the dust. It is the pure intelligence of Plato and of the Kabbalists, but restricted to the knowledge of our duties, to the prevision of future life and to resurrection, in short, to moral consciousness. We finally come to the soul proper or the moral person, which is one, notwithstanding the diversity of its faculties, and which alone is responsible to divine judgment for our actions 48 Another distinction, though much less philosophical but equally admitted by the Zend books, is the one which makes man the image of the world and which recognizes in his consciousness two opposite principles, two Kedras, one, coming from heaven, leads us to good, while the other, created by Ahriman, tempts us to do evil. 49 These two principles which, nevertheless, do not exclude liberty
of action, play quite a prominent role in the Talmud where they become the good and the evil desire (יצר טוב--Yetzer Tov,יצר הרה--Yetzer Ha-rah); possibly also the good and the evil angel.
6. Even the conception of Ahriman, notwithstanding its purely mythological character, was preserved in the doctrines of the Kabbalah; for darkness and evil are personified in Samael, just as the divine light is represented in all its splendor by the heavenly man. As to the metaphysical interpretation of this symbol, namely that the evil principle is matter, or, as the Kabbalists say, the "shell," the last degree of existence, it is found, without straining the subject, in the sect of the Zerdustians who established between the divine light and the kingdom of darkness the same relation as between the body and its shadow. 50
But another fact, more worthy of our attention, because not to be found elsewhere, is that we find in the oldest parts of. the religious codes of the Parsees the Kabbalistic view that the prince of darkness, Sama-el, by losing half of his name, becomes at the end of days, an angel of light, and, together with all that was cursed, returns to divine grace. A passage in the Yacna reads: "This unjust, this impure, this gloomy king who knows but evil, will say Avesta at the resurrection, and, fulfilling the law, he will establish it even in the dwelling of the damned (the derwands). (Zend Av., vol. II, p. 169.) The Bundehesh adds that at the same time Ormuzd and the seven first genii on one side, and Ahriman with an equal number of evil spirits on the other side, will be seen together offering a sacrifice to the Eternal, Zervane Akerene. (Zend Av., vol. III, p. 415). We shall add, finally, to all these metaphysical and religious ideas a very peculiar geographical system which is found with some slight variations in the Zohar and in the sacred books of the Parsees. According to the Zend Avesta (Vol. II, p. 70) and the Bundehesh (Zend Av., vol. III, p. 363) the earth is divided into seven parts (keshvars), which are watered by just as many great rivers, and separated
from one another by the "water spilled in the beginning." Each of these parts form a world in itself and supports inhabitants of different nature; some are black, some are white; these have their bodies covered with hair, like animals, the others differentiate themselves by some other more or less fantastic formation. Finally, only one of these great parts of the earth received the law of Zoroaster.
Let us now have the view of the Kabbalists on the same subject. In quoting it, we shall confine ourselves to the role of a translator only. "When God created the world, he stretched above us seven heavens, and formed beneath our feet as many lands. He made also seven rivers, and set up the week of seven days. Now, as each of these heavens has its separate constellation and angels of a particular nature, so also have the lands here below. Placed one above the other, they are all inhabited, but by beings of different nature, as it was said of the heavens. Among the beings, some have two faces, some four, and others but one. They differ just as well in their color; some are red, some black and some white. These have clothes, the others are naked like worms. If the objection be raised that all the inhabitants of the world descend from Adam, we ask if it is possible that Adam travelled in all these regions for the purpose of populating them with his children? How many wives did he have? But Adam lived only in that part of the earth which is the most elevated and which is enveloped by the higher heaven." 51 The only difference that separates this opinion from that of the Parsees is that instead of considering the seven parts of the earth as natural divisions of the same surface, they represent them as enveloped one in another, like the layers of an onion אלין על אלין כנלדי בשלים, as the text says.
These are, in their full simplicity and without any systematical arrangement, the elements that constitute the common foundation of the Kabbalah and the religious ideas brought forth under the influence of the Zend Avesta. No matter how numerous and how important they may be, we would still retreat before the deduction that follows from this parallel if we had not found also in the sacred books of the Parsecs all the heavenly and infernal mythology, part of the liturgy and even some of the most essential dogmas of Judaism. Nevertheless, God forbid that we accuse the Kabbalists of having been but servile imitators, of having adopted strange ideas and beliefs without examination or, at least, without modification, and of having confined themselves to clothing them with the authority of the sacred books.
As a general rule there is no instance of a nation, no matter how strongly the influence of another nation may act upon it, giving up its true existence--the exercise of its inner faculties--and being content with a borrowed life, and if I may also say, with a borrowed soul. We can not possibly consider the Kabbalah as an isolated fact, as accidental in Judaism; on the contrary, it is its heart and life. 52 For, while the Talmud took possession of all that relates to the outward practice and the material execution of the Law, the Kabbalah reserved for itself exclusively the domain of speculation and the most formidable problems of the natural and revealed theology. It was able, besides, to arouse the veneration of the people by showing inviolate respect for their gross beliefs, and in giving them to understand that their entire faith and cult rested upon a sublime mystery. By carrying the principle of the allegorical method to its last consequences, the Kabbalah had no need of trickery to accomplish this.
We have also seen to what rank it has been raised by the Talmud, and what influence it exerted upon popular imagination. The sentiments it once instilled have remained to the days nearest to us; for it was by depending upon the Kabbalistic ideas that the modern Bar Kochba, Sabbathai Zebi, had disturbed for a while all the Jews of the world. 53 The ideas also caused the liveliest agitation among the Jews of Hungary and Poland towards the close of the eighteenth century by giving birth to the sect of the Zoharites and Neo-Hassidim, and by leading thousands of Israelites into the bosom of Christianity. When we now consider the Kabbalah, per se, we can not help seeing therein an immense advance upon the theology of the Zend Avesta. Here, indeed, dualism is the cornerstone of the structure, although not as absolute as commonly thought, and although born as a principle in a religion which acknowledges one Supreme Being. Ormuzd and Ahriman alone exist in reality, with a divine character and with real power; while the Eternal, that limitless time from which both of them sprang, is, as we said, a pure abstraction. With the desire to relieve Him (the Eternal) of the responsibility for evil, the management of the world was taken from Him, and consequently all participation in good; nothing but a name with a shadow of existence was left to Him. But this is not all. All ideas relating to the invisible world, all the great principles of the human mind in the Zend Avesta, and in the later traditions connected with it, are still wrapped in a mythological veil through which they appear as visible realities and as distinct persons made in the image of man.
The doctrine of the Kabbalists presents quite a different character. Here monotheism is the foundation, the basis and the principle of all; dualism and all other distinctions of whatever nature exist only formally. God alone, God, One and Supreme, is at once the cause, the substance and the intelligible essence,
the ideal form of all that is. Only between Being and Not-being, between the highest form and the lowest degree of existence is there an opposition, a dualism. That one is light, this one is darkness. Darkness, therefore, is but a negation, and light, as we have shown several times, is the spiritual principle, the eternal wisdom, the infinite intelligence which creates all that it conceives, and conceives or thinks by its very existence. But if this be so, if it be true that at a certain height the being and the thought blend, then the great conceptions of the intelligence can not exist in mind alone, then they do not represent mere forms from which abstractions are made at will; on the contrary, they have a substantial and an absolute value, that is to say, they are inseparable from the eternal substance. This is precisely the character of the Sefiroth, of the Heavenly Man, of the Great and Small Face, in short, of all the Kabbalistic personifications which, as we see, differ greatly from the individual and mythological realizations of the Zend Avesta.
The frame, the outline of the Zend Avesta, still remained the same, but the background completely changed its nature, and the Kabbalah offers, by its very birth, the peculiar spectacle of a mythology passing into the state of metaphysics under the very influence of religious sentiment. However, the system which was the fruit of that movement, does not belong as yet, notwithstanding such volume and depth, among the works where human reason makes free use of its rights and powers. Mysticism, per se, does not show itself there in the most elevated form, for it still remains chained to an external power--the revealed word. No doubt that this power is more apparent than real; undoubtedly also that allegory soon made of the sacred letter a compliant sign which expresses whatever one wishes, a docile instrument at the service of the mind and its most liberal inspirations. But it can not be denied that such a procedure--whether due to deliberation or to sincere illusion--this art of shielding new ideas under some venerable text, is the sanctioning of fatal prejudice against true philosophy. Thus it is that the Kabbalah has a religious and
a national character, although born under the influence of a strange civilization, and notwithstanding the pantheism that underlies all its doctrines.
By taking refuge, first under the authority of the Bible and then under the oral law, it retained all the appearances of a theological system, and especially of a Jewish theology. Before admitting it, therefore, into the history of philosophy and humanity, those appearances had to be wiped out and the Kabbalah had to be shown in its true light, that is to say as a natural product of the human mind. This course was accomplished, as we already said, slowly but surely, in the capital of the Ptolomeans. There, for the first time, the Hebrew traditions stepped over the threshold of the sanctuary, and mingling with many new ideas, but losing none of their own substance, they spread into the world. Desiring to recover a property which they considered their own, the guardians of these traditions welcomed ardently the most noble results of the Greek philosophy and mingled them more and more with their own beliefs. The pretended heirs to the Greek civilization, on the other hand, became gradually accustomed to this mingling, and thought only of bringing it into an organized system where Reason and Intuition, Philosophy and Theology would be equally represented. Thus it was that the Alexandrian school developed that brilliant and profound summary of all the philosophical and religious ideas of antiquity. Thus is explained the resemblance, yes, I dare say, the identity we have found in all the essential points or Neoplatonism and of the Kabbalah. But the Kabbalah having entered by this path the common ground of the human mind, was nevertheless transmitted among the Jews of Palestine in a small circle of the elite and was considered the secret of Israel. In this manner it was introduced into Europe, and in this manner it was taught until the publication of the Zohar. Here begins a new order of research, viz.: What influence did the Kabbalah exert upon the hermetic and mystic philosophy which attracted such attention from the beginning of the fifteenth to the end of the seventeenth
century, of which Raymond Lullus may be considered the first, and Francis Mercurius van Helmont the last representative. This may be the subject of a second work that will be considered perhaps as a complement to the present work. We believe, though, we have attained the aim we have set with reference to the Kabbalistic system proper, and we have only to point out in a quick recapitulation the results which we believe we have attained.
1. The Kabbalah is not an imitation of the Platonic philosophy; for Plato was unknown in Palestine where the Kabbalistic system was founded. Furthermore, notwithstanding the several resembling traits which strike us at first glance, the two doctrines differ totally in the most important points.
2. The Kabbalah is not an imitation of the Alexandrian school. First, because it antedates the Alexandrian school, and secondly because Judaism has always shown a profound aversion to and an ignorance of Greek civilization even when it raised the Kabbalah to the rank of divine revelation.
3. The Kabbalah can not be regarded as the work of Philo, although the doctrines of the philosophical theologian contain a great number of Kabbalistic ideas. Philo could not transmit these ideas to his Palestinian compatriots without at the same time initiating them into the Greek philosophy. Because of the nature of his mind, Philo was not capable of founding a new doctrine. What is more, it is impossible to find in the monuments of Judaism the least trace of his influence. Finally, Philo's writings are of more recent date than the Kabbalistic principles, the application as well as the substance of which we find in the Septuagint, in the Proverbs of Ben Sirach and in the Book of Wisdom.
4. The Kabbalah has not been borrowed from Christianity, for all the great principles upon which it stands antedate the coming of Christ.
5. The striking resemblances which we have found between this doctrine and the religious beliefs of the several sects of Persia, the numerous and odd relations which it presents to us
with the Zend Avesta, the traces that the religion of Zoroaster has left in all parts of Judaism, and the outward relations which existed between the Hebrews and their old teachers since the Babylonian captivity, force us to the conclusion that the materials of the Kabbalah were drawn from the theology of the ancient Persians. But we believe we have demonstrated at the same time that this loan did not destroy the originality of the Kabbalah; for the Kabbalah substituted the absolute unity of cause and substance for the dualism in God and in nature. Instead of explaining the formation of beings as an arbitrary act of two inimical forces, it presents them as divine forms, as successive and providential manifestations of the Infinite Intelligence. The ideas, finally, take in its bosom the place of realized personifications, and the mythology is supplanted by metaphysics. This seems to us to be the general law of the human mind. No absolute originality, but also no servile imitation from one nation and from one century to another. Whatever we may do to gain unlimited independence in the domain of moral science, the chain of tradition will always show itself in our boldest discoveries; and no matter how motionless we sometimes appear to be under the sway of tradition and authority, our intelligence paves the way, our ideas change with the very power that weighs them down, and a revolution is about to break loose.
282:1 I should also have said "astrological;" for the influence of the stars played at that time quite an important role in the religious ideas of the Jewish people. The Talmud distinguishes auspicious and inauspicious p. 283 days; and even to-day the Jews wish one another a lucky influence of the stars (מזל טוב--Mazol Tov) at any important event in their life when they wish to show mutual interest. *
282:* Although this fact is correct, yet it does not prove what the author has in mind. For, just as little as the German thinks of the astrological origin of the word "Unstern," or the French of "desastre," or the Italian of "disastro," so little does the Jew think of the influence of the stars when wishing מזל טוב.מזל (Mazol) in the Jewish idiom has a meaning identical with "luck." a--Jellinek
282:a The author probably meant the מזלות ככבים (Mazoleth K’chovim)--astral fates--; by which the Jews designate the Zodiacal signs.--Transl.
283:2 Compare Zunz, "Religious Sermons of the Jews," p. 158.--Jellinek
284:3 Scaliger, Emendatio tempor., p. 576. Alph. Desvignoles, Chronology, vol. II, p. 582. Bossuet, General History, vol. II. Seder Olam Raba, ch. XXIX, p. 86. David Ganz, liv. I., year 3392, and liv. II, 3390. Zunz, the twenty-four books of the Holy Scriptures, chronological table reproduced in Vol. XVIII of Cahn's Bible. To convince ourselves of the harmony between the Jewish and the Christian chronologists we need only note that the Jews fixed the advent of Christ on the conventional date of 3760 after the creation.
284:4 Zend Avesta, vol. II, Life of Zoroaster.
284:5 Zend Avesta, vol. II, Life of Zoroaster.
285:6 Daniel, I, 1, Ezra, I, 2; II, 1. Josephus, Antiquities, Book XI, ch. IV, V.
285:7 Yost, General History of the Israelites, Book X, ch. XI and XII,--Same author, History of the Israelites since the Maccabees, vol. XIV, the entire XIVth book.
286:8 The word Gahanbars denotes the six creative epochs as well as the six festivals established as reminders for the faithful (M. Burnouf, Commentary to the Yacna, p. 309). In the first epoch Ormuzd created p. 287 the heavens; during the second he made the waters; in the third, the earth; in the fourth, the vegetations; in the fifth, the animals; and, finally, in the sixth, man was born. (Auquetil-Duperron, Zend Avesta, vol. I, part 2, p. 84; Kleuker, vol. II, No. XXVIII.) This system of creation was taught already before Zoroaster by another Median or Chaldean prophet, called Djemshid.--Auquetil-Duperron, Life of Zoroaster, p. 67; Kleuker, vol. III, p. 59.
287:9 Ormuzd himself tells his servant Zoroaster that he, Ormuzd, has given (or created) a place of delight and of abundance, called Eeriene Veedjo. This place, more beautiful than the entire world, resembled the Behesht (the celestial paradise). Ahriman then created in the river that watered this place the Great Adder, mother of winter (Zend Avesta Vendidad, vol. II, p. 264). At another place Ahriman himself descends from heaven to earth in the shape of an adder. It is also Ahriman who seduces the first man, Meshiah, and the first woman, Meshiane. "He crept over their thoughts, he overthrew their minds, and said to them: It was Ahriman who gave the water, the earth, the trees and the animals. Thus Ahriman fooled them at the very beginning, and until the end this cruel one endeavored to seduce them."--Zend Avesta, vol. III, p. 351 and 378.
287:10 "Devi, whose speech is all lie (Ahriman), becoming still bolder, came a second time and brought them (to the first couple) fruit of which they ate, and thus only the advantage of all the advantages was left to them." (Ib., supr.). Our first parents, seduced for the third time, then drank milk. At the fourth time, they went hunting, ate the meat of the animals and made for themselves garments from the skins, just as the Lord made coats from leaves for Adam and Eve. They then discovered iron, made an axe, felled trees and made tents for themselves; they finally united carnally and their children inherited their misery. (Ib. supr.)
287:11 On the day of resurrection the soul will appear first; it will know its body and all men will recognize one another. They will be divided into two classes, the righteous and the darwands (the wicked). The righteous will go to the Gotatman (the paradise); the darwants will again be precipitated into the Duzakh (the inferno). For three days the first ones will taste, bodily and spiritually, the joys of paradise; the others will in the some manner suffer the tortures of hell. The dead will then be purified, and there will he no more wicked ones: "All men will be united into the same work. At that time Ormuzd will have p. 288 completed all creations and will do nothing more. The resurrected dead will enjoy the same rest. This could be called the seventh epoch of the creation, or the Sabbath of the Parsees.--Zend Avesta, vol. II, p. 414.
288:12 According to the Zend Avesta, the Bundehesh is the oldest religious book of the Parsees.--Zend Avesta, vol. III, p. 337.
288:13 All, except the last two. Although resurrection has been put down by Maimonides as one of the "Thirteen Articles of Faith."--Transl.
289:14 Zend Avesta, vol. II, p. 235; vol. III, p. 158.
289:15 Vendidad Sade, vol. II, of the Zend Avesta, p. 325.
289:16 This scholar was generally influenced by many Persian views. Compare Sanhedrin, fol. 07.--Jellinek
289:17 Tract. Berakoth, fol. 6a. Another doctor even accuses the demons of wearing out the clothes of the rabbis by rubbing against them, * הני מאני דרבנן דבלן מחיפיה דידהו.--Ib.
289:* דידהו is the possessive pronoun, talmudic for דידהין. The author who translates with "par le frottement de leur mains" found the noun די "hand" in דידהו.--Jellinek.
290:18 This passage was translated into Latin by Buxtorf in his "Lexicon Talmudicus," p. 2339. *
290:* It is found in Tractat Haggigah, fol. 16a. I have already corrected the original French text where the author omits the words "and die." For corroboration I quote literally from the Talmud:
ששה דברים נאמרן בשדים. שלשה כקלאבי השרת ושלשה כבני אדמ. שלשה כמלאכי השרת, יש להם בנפים במלאבי השרת, ומסין מסוף העולם ועד סופו כסלאבי השרת, ויודעין את שעתיד להיות במלאכי השרת; ושלשה כבני אדם, אוכלים ושותים כבני אדם, ומתים כבני אדם.
The phrase תנן רבון (our rabbis taught) and the expression נאמרו (it was said) may testify to the old age of this translation.--Jellinek
290:19 Ib. supr. **
290:** Compare also Tract. Erubin, fol. 18h. בל אותן שנים שהיה אדם הראשון בנדוי הוליד רוחין ושדין ולילין--Jellinek
290:20 See in the קיצור שני לוחות הברית, (p. 108a of the Amsterdam ed.) quite a curious extract from Rabbi Menahem, the Babylonian.
290:21 Zend Avesta, vol. II, p. 408. Kitzur, in the edition quoted in the previous note, p. 92b, 45a.
290:22 Zend Avesta, vol. II, p. 114, 151. Ib., vol. III, p. 205, 206, 211-222.
291:23 Zohar, part III, sect. (blank--JBH) p. 126b, Amsterdam ed. While taking the foundation of this scene from the Zohar we have added a few details from the Kitzur, p. 20, 21.
291:24 According to the Kabbalists there are seven ordeals: 1, the separation of body and soul; 2, the recapitulation of the deeds of our life; 3, the time of burial; 4, the ordeal or judgment of the grave; 5, the time when the dead, still animated by the vital spirit נפש.--Nefesh), feels the biting of the worms; 6, the punishment of hell; 7 the metempsychosis.--Zohar, ib. supr.
291:25 According to the Zohar text there are three angels. תלתא בי דינא ממנן על דינא דקברא ותלת שרביטא דאשא בידייהו.--Jellinek
291:26 The same passage of the Zohar and of the Kitzur.
292:27 Zend Avesta, vol. II, p. 409, Vendidad Sade.
292:28 Thomas Hyde, Religio veterum Persarum, p. 465, 477.
292:29 Orach Haim, directions for the washing of the hands (הלכית נטילת ידים), p. 54. The same is recommended by the Kabbalists. According to the latter, the higher soul leaves us during sleep, and we thus remain only with the vital soul which is incapable of defending the body against impure spirits and deadly emanations.--Zohar, part I, sect. וישב. See also the Talmud, Tract. Sabbath, ch. VIII.
292:30 This grouping of the Talmudists with the followers of the Zoroastrian doctrine is incorrect. The Parsee praises the moon as an "Umshaspand that has light in it," while the Jew praises God Who "renewed the moon." To the Parsee the moon is in itself an object worthy of devotion; the Jew, on the other hand, says: "Praised be He Who formed thee, praised be He Who made thee, praised be He Who owns thee, praised be He Who created thee." It is true that we must refer the origin of the benediction of the moon (ברכית לבנה) to Parseeism, but only in so far as the Rabbis were compelled to consider the influence of Parseeism upon the people.--Jellinek
292:31 Zend Avesta, vol. III, p. 313. This custom is still extant to-day under the name of "Sanctification of the moon" (קידוש לבנה).
292:32 As soon as a Parsee woman has been delivered of a child, a burning lamp or a fire is maintained in her room for three days and three nights. Zend Av., vol. III, p. 565. Th. Hyde, I. c. p. 445. The Jews observe the same custom at the death of a person. The ceremony of keeping away the demon Lillith from the newborn is still more complicated. But the reason for and the description of it are given in the book of Raziel.
293:33 In the litany collection called "Yeshts Sades" we find prescribed prayers which the Parsee must say when cutting his nails, before and after attending to the call of nature, and before attending to conjugal duty.--Zend Av., vol. III, p. 117 120, 121, 123, 124. Similar prayers for the same circumstances are prescribed for the Jews. See Joseph Karo, Schulchan Aruch, p. 2, הנהנות בית הכסא, and Kitzur, p. 32 עניני זיננב
293:34 I want to emphasize a few points where the influence of Parseeism upon Judaism appears very plainly. Three steps backward are to be taken after finishing the "eighteen benedictions" (שמונה עשרה) Compare Tract. Yoma 53b; Orach Hayim, CXXIII, par. 1. This custom is often mentioned in the Zend Avesta. The Parsee does not speak during a meal (Kleuker, Zend Av., III, 235); this was also the custom among the Talmudists. Compare Tract. Taanit, fol. 56: .אמר ׳ר יוחנן אין מסיתין בסעודה R. Yohanan said: "Speaking during a meal is not customary." Compare also Orach Hayim, CLXX, part Q. But we must hold on here to the viewpoint I established in my foregoing note. Because of the long sojourn in the Babylonian empire and because of the constant intercourse with it, the Jews adopted the Persian superstition and disbelief. The superstition rooted deep in the people, while the strange source whence it came was forgotten and vanished from memory. The talmudical teachers, therefore, could do no better than instigate religious feeling and reverence to God by utilizing, with some modifications, the popular superstition. Jellinek
294:35 Auquetil-Duperron, in the "Memoires de l’Academie des Inscriptions," vol. XXXVII, p. 584.
294:36 Vol. II of the Zend Av., Vendidad. Ib., vol. III, Bundehesh. Ormuzd and Ahriman are called in this book a single people of limitless time.
294:37 Sharistani, ap. Thomas Hyde, de Veter. Pers, relig., p. 297. "Altera magorum secta sunt Zervanitae qui asserunt lucem produxisse personas ex luce, quae omnes erant spirituales, luminosae, dominales. Sed quod harum maxima persona, cui nomen Zervan, dubitavit de re aliqua, ex ista dubitatione emersit Satanas."
295:38 Memoires de l’Academie des Inscriptions, vol. XXXVII, p. 620.
295:39 Ib. supr. Here are the words of the author: "The Honover combines, according to Zoroaster, the source and the model of all the perfection of the beings, the power to produce, and it manifests itself only by a kind of prolation of infinite time and of Ormuzd."
296:40 See Eugene Burnouf, Commentaire sur le Yacna, ch. I, to p. 146.
296:41 This is the sect of the Zerdustians. The following is their view as given by Sharistani in the Latin translation of Thomas Hyde (de Vet., Pers. rel., p. 928): "et postquam effluxissent 3000 anni, transmisisse voluntatem suam in forma lucis fulgentis in figuram humanam."
296:42 They say that Ormuzd and Ahriman were given by Zervan, the eternal time. That Ormuzd has given the heavens and all its products. But the sense of this important word is nowhere determined clearly.
296:43 It is nevertheless important to note that in the Zend Avesta (Vol. II, p. 180) Ormuzd is called the "body of the bodies." Is it not, perhaps, the "substance of the substances," the "basis" (יסוד--Y’sod) of the Kabbalists? Burnouf mentions also a very old Phelvic commentary, where we find, as in the Sefer Yetzirah and in the Zohar, both worlds represented by the symbol of a burning coal; the higher world is the flame, and the visible nature is the burning matter.--Comment. sur le Yacna, p. 172.
297:44 Comment. sur le Yacna, p. 270.
297:45 See "Explanatory compendium of the Theological system of Zoroaster," Zend Av., vol. III, O. 595, and the Memoires de l’Academie des Inscript., vol. XXXVII, p. 623.
297:46 Mem. de l’Acad. des Inscript., vol. XXXVII, p. 640.
298:47 See Part II, ch. III.
299:48 The soul proper or the moral person, is itself composed of three faculties; 1, the principle of sensation; 2, the Roe or intelligence proper; 3, the Rouan, which holds the centre between the power of judgment and imagination. These three faculties are inseparable and make up the one soul. Otherwise, I admit that this part of the psychology of the Parsees is not very clear to me.
299:49 Mem. de l’Acad. des Inscript., passage quoted.
300:50 Thomas Hyde, work cited, p. 296, 298, ch. XXII.
301:51 Zohar, part III, p. 9b, 10a, sect. ויקרא, Amsterdam ed. We consider it our duty to note here that the ideas do not follow one after the other in the text. We were obliged to omit many repetitions and digressions which were not only useless, but extremely wearisome and entirely too long.
302:52 The author should have added: "Judaism after the return from the Babylonian exile until the conclusion of the Talmud." For the present-day Judaism the Kabbalah is an entirely strange element a--Jellinek
302:a A rather unfortunate remark by the German translator. Can any one deny the preponderant influence of the Kabbalah upon Judaism during the Middle Ages, and even now through its direct descendant--Hassidism?--Transl.
303:53 See Lacroix, Memoires de l’empire Ottoman, p. 259 ff--Peter Beer, work cited, vol. II, p. 260 ff. Basnage, Histoire des Juifs, Book IX, etc.