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The Gnostics and Their Remains, by Charles William King, [1887], at


Of this "Great Name," many etymologies have been proposed. Of all these the most satisfactory is perhaps the one offered by Rabbi Abraham Geiger, making it the Grecised form of Ha-Brachah, "The Blessing." For there is good reason for believing that the Ξ had the sound of SH, which explains the strange metamorphoris of the Persian "Artashir" into "Artaxerxes." By the same rule the Rabbi interprets the talismanic ΕΛΞΑΙ as representing El-Chai, "The Living God." The same interpretation is again confirmed by the true solution (so long sought in vain, and now suggested by Mr. W. A. Wright) of the mighty spell abracadabra, which receives a

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most fitting sense when rendered by Ha-Brachah-dabarata, "Pronounce the Blessing," where "Blessing" stands for the name of the Blessed One, that most potent of exorcisms.

Another derivation, extremely acute, but probably untenable, had been previously offered by Bellermann in the Coptic compound signifying "The Blessed Name," made of the word ab or of, "let it be," Rah, "adore," and Sax for Sadsh, "name." This formula would agree in a remarkable manner with the regular Jewish synonym for the Ineffable Name Jehovah, viz., shem Hamephorash, "The Holy Word"; which the Rabbins compress into "The Name" or "The Word." It is, besides, a singular coincidence that the Egyptian word Abrak should be used by Moses (Gen. xli. 43), where Pharaoh commands that Joseph shall ride in his own chariot, and that they shall cry before him Abrak, "kneel down!" where the Coptic word is actually retained in the Hebrew text, and not rendered by an equivalent in that language. * A precedent for expressing a sacred title in an unknown tongue is furnished by St. John (Rev. xix. 12): "His eyes were as a flame of fire, and upon his head were many crowns, and he had a name written (upon them) that no man knew but himself: and he was clothed in a vesture dipped in blood, and his name was called The Word of God." And again (iii. 12): "He that overcometh will I make a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall go no more out, and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the City of my God."

All this supplies a reason for the occurrence of the word abra in so many sacred titles. A very remarkable instance is to be seen in the wall-painting of the tomb of Vincentius and Vibia, in the Catacomb of Prætextatus at Rome. Now this Vincentius is described in his epitaph as priest of Sabazius, a title connected with the Iao-worship; and the name Abracura is inscribed over the head of the consort of Dispater, the two Rulers of the Shades into whose presence Vibia's soul is ushered by Hermes. In the first title, cura is plainly the Latinised κούρη Virgin,

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the regular synonym for Proserpine, whilst Abra seems to have the same deeper meaning in which it was employed by the talisman-makers.

The efficacy of a Mystic Name is set forth in the Book of Enoch (lxviii. 19): "This is the Number of the Kesbal, the principal part of the oath which the Most High dwelling in glory revealed unto the holy ones. Its name is Beka: He spoke to holy Michael to deliver to them the Secret Name, that they might understand that secret name and thus remember the oath; and that those who pointed out every secret thing to the children of men might tremble at that Name and oath. This is the power of that oath, for powerful is it and strong. And he established the oath of Abrac by the instrumentality of the holy Michael. These are the secrets of this oath, and by it were they confirmed. Heaven was suspended by it before the world was made for ever. By it has the earth been framed upon the flood, whilst from the concealed parts of the hills the agitated waters proceed forth from the creation unto the end of the world. By this oath the sea has been formed and the foundation of it. . . . By this oath the sun and moon complete their progress, never swerving from the command given to them for ever and ever. By this oath the stars complete their progress. And when their names are called they return an answer for ever and ever . . . And with them he establishes this oath by which their paths are preserved, nor does their progress perish. Great was their joy."


252:* Sharpe, however, makes Abrasax a pure Egyptian phrase, signifying "Hurt me not," as addressed to the deity represented on the gem.--('Egypt. Mythol.' p. xii.)

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