Comparing the Bible's Old Testament with the Talmud

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Rabbinic Theology and Literature

(From Appendix 5 of Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
by Alfred Edersheim, 1886)

1. The Traditional Law

The brief account given in vol. i. p. 100, of the character and authority claimed for the traditional law may here be supplemented by a chronological arrangement of the Halakhoth in the order of their supposed introduction or promulgation.

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In the first class, or 'Halakhoth of Moses from Sinai,' tradition enumerates 55, [The numbers given by Maimonides, in his Preface to the Mishnah, and their arrangement, are somewhat different, but I prefer the more critical (sometimes even hypercritical) enumeration of Herzfeld. They are also enumerated in Peiser's Nachlath Shimoni, Part I. pp. 47 - 49 b.] which may be thus designaterd:
18 ordinances are ascribed to Joshua, of which only one is ritual, the other 17 being agrarian and police regulations. [Baba K 81a; Tos. Baba M 11; Jer. Baba K 3:2.

Among the police regulations is this curious one, that all were allowed to fish in the Lake of Galilee, but not to lay down nets, so as not to impede the navigation.] The other traditions can only be briefly noted. Boaz, or else 'the tribunal of Samuel,' fixed, that Deut. 23:3 did not apply to alliances with Ammonite and Moabite women. Two ordinances are ascribed to David, two to Solomon, one to Jehoshaphat, and one to Jehoida.

The period of Isaiah and of Hezekiah is described as of immense Rabbinic activity. To the prophets at Jerusalem three ritual ordinances are ascribed. Daniel is represented as having prohibited the bread, wine and oil of the heathen (Dan. 1:5). Two ritual determinations are ascribed to the prophets of the Exile.

After the return from Babylon traditionalism rapidly expanded, and its peculiar character more and more clearly developed. No fewer than 12 traditions are traced back to the three prophets who flourished at that period, while four other important legal determinations are attributed to the prophet Haggai individually. It will readily be understood that Ezra occupied a high place in tradition. 15 ordinances are ascribed to him, of which some are ritual.

Three of his supposed ordinances have a general interest. They enjoin the general education of children, and the exclusion of Samaritans from admission into the Synagogue and from social intercourse. If only one legal determination is assigned to Nehemiah, 'the men of the great Synagogue' are credited with 15, of which 6 bear on important critical and exegetical points connected with the text of the Scriptures, the others chiefly on questions connected with ritual and worship. Among the 'pairs' (Zugoth) which succeeded the 'Great Synagogue,' three 'alleviating' ordinances (of a very punctilious character) are ascribed to Jose, the son of Joezer, [According to tradition (Sot. 47a, b) the Eshkoloth, or 'bunches of grapes,' ceased with Jose.

The expression refers to the Rabbis, and Herzfield ingeniously suggests this explanation of the designation, that after Jose they were no longer undivided in their opinions. For other explanations comp. Deren'ourg, u s pp. 88, 456 - 458.] and two, intended render all contact with heathens impossible, to him and his colleague. Under the Maccabees the feast of the dedication of the Temple was introduced. To Joshua the son of Perachya, one punctilious legal determination is ascribed. Of the decrees of the Maccabean High - Priest Jochanan we have already spoken in another place; similarly, of those of Simon the son of Shetach and of his learned colleague. Four legal determinations of their successors Shemayah and Abhtalion are mentioned. Next in order comes the prohibition of Greek during the war between the Maccabean brothers Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. This brings us to the time of Hillel and Shammai, that is, to the period of Jesus, to which further reference will have to be made in another place.

2. The Canon of Scripture

Reference has been made in the text (vol. i. p. 107) to the position taken by Traditionalism in reference to the written as compared with what was regarded as the oral Revelation. Still, nominally, the Scriptures were appealed to by the Palestinians as of supreme authority. The views which Josephus expresses in this respect, although in a popular and Grecianised form, were substantially those entertained by the Rabbis and by his countrymen generally (comp. Ag. Apion, i. 7, 8). [For a detailed account of the views of Josephus on the Canon and on Inspiration, refer to the article in 'Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography,' vol. iii pp 453, 454.] A sharp distinction was made between canonical and non canonical books.

The test of the former was inspiration, which had ceased in the time of Artaxerxes, that is, with the prophet Malachi. Accordingly, the work of the elder Jesus the son of Sirach (Jeshua ben Sira, ben Eliezer) was excluded from the Canon, although it is not unfrequently referred to by Rabbinic authorities in terms with which ordinarily only Biblical quotations are introduced. [Comp. Zunz, Gottesd Vortr. pp. 101, 102, and c. Seligmann, d Buch d Weish d. Jesus Sirach. The Talmudic quotations from the work of the elder Jesus have been repeatedly collated. Refer to the collection translation of them in Append. II. to the 'History of the Jewish Nation.'] According to the view propounded by Josephus, not only were the very words inspired in which a prediction was uttered, but the prophets were unconscious and passive vehicles of the Divine message (Ant. iv. 6. 5, comp generally, Ant ii. 8. 1; vi. 8, 2; viii. 13, 3; ix. 3, 2, 8, 6; x. 2, 2; 4, 3).

Although pre eminence in this respect was assigned to Moses (Ant. iv. 8, 49), yet Divine authority equally attached to the sayings of the prophets, and even, though perhaps in a still inferior degree, to the 'Hymns,' as the Hagiographa generally were called from the circumstance that the Psalter stood at the head of them (comp. Philo, De Vita contempl., ed. Mangey, voi. ii. p. 475; Luke 24:44). Thus the division of the Bible into three sections, the Law, the Prophets, and the other 'Writings', which already occurs in the prologue to the work of Jesus the son of Sirach, [Comp. also Macc. 2:13, 14.] seems to have been current at the time. And here it is of great interest, in connection with modern controversies, that Josephus seems to attach special importance to the prophecies of Daniel as still awaiting fulfillment (Ant. x 10. 4; 11. 7).

That the Rabbis entertained the same views of inspiration, appears not only from the distinctive name of 'Holy Writings' given to the Scriptures, but also from the directions that their touch defiled the hands, [The general statement that this decree was intended to prevent a common or profane use of the Scripture does not explain its origin. The latter seems to have been as follows: At first the priests in the Temple were wont to deposit the Terumah near the copy of the Law there kept (Shabb 14a). But as mice were thereby attracted, and damage to the Sacred roll was apprehended, it was enacted that the Sacred Roll in the Temple rendered all meat that touched it unclean. This decree gave rise to another, by way of further precaution, that even the hands which touched the Sacred Roll, or any other part of the Bible became unclean (so that, having touched the latter they could not touch the Terumah).

Then followed (in the course of development) a third decree, that such touch defiled also outside the Temple. Finally, the first decree was modified to the effect that the Sacred Roll in the Temple did not defile the hands., while all other Scriptures (anywhere else) defiled them (Chel 15:6) The explanation offered to the Sadducees by R Jochanan b. Zakkai is evidently intended to mislead (Yad iv. 6), Comp. Levy, Neuhebr Worterb. vol. ii. pp. 163, 164.] and that it was duty on the Sabbath to save them from conflagration, and to gather them up if accidentally scattered, and that it was not lawful for heirs to make division of a sacred roll (Comp. Shabb. 16:1; Erub. 10:3; Kel. 15:6; Yad. 3:2 - 5; 4:5 [where special reference is made to Daniel] 6).

From what we know of the state of feeling, we might have inferred, even if direct evidence had not existed that a distinctive and superior place would be ascribed to the Books of Moses. In point of fact, no amount of ingenuity can conciliate the Maccabean application of Da. 9:24 - 27 with the chronology of that period, [This is admitted even by Mr. Drummond ('Jewish Messiah,' pp. 246, 245 - 257, 260). Mr. Drummond's book is quoted as representing the advocacy by a distinguished English scholar of Maccabean theory of the authorship of Daniel.] while the messianic interpretation fits in with it, [Drummond, u. s. p. 261.] other, and seemingly insuperable difficulties are in the way of the theory impugned.

It implies, that the Book of Daniel was not an Apocryphal, but a Pseudepigraphic work; that of all such works it alone has come down to us in its Hebrews or Chaldee original; that a Pseudepigraphic work, nearly contemporary with the oldest portion of the Book of Enoch, should not only be so different from it, but that it should find admission into the Canon, while Enoch was excluded; that a Pseudepigraphon younger that Jesus the Son of Sirach should have been on the Khethubhim; and, finally, that it should have passed the repeated revision of different Rabbinic 'Colleges', and that at times of considerable theological activity, without the suspicion being even raised that its authorship dated from so late a periods as a century an a half before Christ. And we have evidence that since the Babylonish exile, at least four revisions of the Canon took place within periods sufficiently distant from each other.

The question hitherto treated has been exclusively of the date of the composition of the Book of Daniel, without reference to who may have been its author, whether its present it exactly the same as its original form, and finally, whether it ever belonged to those books whose right to canonicity, though not their age, was in controversy; that is, whether it belonged, so to speak, to the Old Testament. As this is not the place for a detailed discussion of the canonicity of the Book of Daniel, or, indeed, of any other in the Old Testament canon, we shall only add, to prevent misunderstanding, that no opinion is here expressed as to possible, greater or less, interpolations on the Book of Daniel, or in any other part of the Old Testament.

We must here bear in mind that the moral view taken of such interpolations, as we would call them, was entirely different in those times from ours; and it may perhaps be an historically and critically unwarranted proposition, that such interpolations were, to speak moderately, not all unusual in ancient documents. In each case the question must be separately critically examined in the light of internal and (if possible) external evidence. But it would be a very different thing to suggest that there may be an interpolation, or, it may be, a rearrangement in a document (althoug at present we make no assertions on the subject, one way or the other), and to pronounce a whole document a fabrication dating from a much later period. The one would, at any rate, be quite in the spirit of those times; the other implies, beside insuperable critical difficulties, a deliberate religious fraud, to which no unprejudiced student could seriously regard the so called Pseudepigrapha as forming any real analog on.

But as regards the Book of Daniel, it is an important fact that the right of the Book of Daniel to canonicity was never called in question in the ancient Synagogue. The fact that it was distinguished as 'versions' (Chezyonoth) from the other 'prophecies' has, of course, no bearing on the question, any more than the circumstance that later Rabbinism, which, naturally enough, could not find its way through the Messianic prophecies of the book, declare that even Daniel was mistaken in, and could not make anything of the predictions concerning the 'latter days' (Ber. R 98). [And yet there are frequent indications that Rabbinism sought guidance on these very subjects in the prophecies of Daniel.

Thus, in the Pirqe de R Eliezer there are repeated references to the four monarchies, the Persian, Median, Macedonian, and Roman, when, in the time of the fifth monarchy, that of the children of Ishmael, after a terrible war against Rome, the Messiah would come (comp. Pirqe de R El. 19, and especially 28, 30, and 48).] On the other hand, Daniel was elevated to almost the same pinnacle as Moses, while it was said that, as compared with heathen sages, if they were all placed in one scale, and Daniel in the other, he would outweigh them all. We can readily understand that, in times of national sorrow or excitement, these prophecies would be eagerly resorted to, as pointing to a glorious future.

But although the Book of Daniel was not among the Antilegomena, doubts were raised, not indeed about the age, but about the right to canonicity of certain other portions of the Bible.

Thus, certain expressions in the prophecies of Ezekiel were questioned as apparently incompatible with statements in the Pentateuch [Among them the following may be mentioned (Chull. 37b): Ezek. 4:14 etc., and (Mop 45a), Ezek. 14:31 were regarded as suggesting that these prohibitions applied only to priests; (Moed. K 5a) Ezek. 44:19, seemed to imply that an ordinary Israelite might perform sacrifical service, while Ezek. 14:18 appeared to enjoin a sacrifice nowhere mentioned in the Pentateuch.] (Men. 45a), and although a celebrated Rabbi, Chananyah, the son of Chizkuyah, the son of Garon (about the time of Christ), with immense labour, sought to conciliate them, and thus preserved the Book of Ezekiel (or, at least, part of it) from being relegated among the Apocrypha, it was deemed safest to leave the final exposition of the meaning of Ezekiel, 'till Elijah come,' as the restorer of all things.

The other objections to canonicity apply exculsively to the third division of the Old Testament, the Kethubhim of Hagiorgrapha. Here even the Book of Proverbs seems at one time to have been called in question (Ab. R Nathan 1), partly on the ground of its secular contents, and partly as containing 'supposed contradictory statements' [For ex. Prov. 26:4, 5] (Shabb. 30b). Very strong doubts were raised on the Book of Ecclesiates (Yad. 3:5; Eduy. 5:3), first, on that ground ot its contradiction of some of the Psalms [As for ex. Ps. 115:17 compared with Eccl. 4:2 and 9:4.] (Sabb. 30a); secondly, on that of its inconsistencies [For Eccl. 2:2 comp. with 7:3; and again, 7:15, or 4:2 comp. with 9:4] (Shabb. 30b); and thirdly, because it seemed to countenance the denial of another life, and, as in Eccl. 11:1, 3, 9, other heretical views (Vayyikra R 28, at the beginning). [The school of Shammai was against, that of Hillel in favour of the Canonicity of Ecclesiastes (Eduy. 5:3).

In Tos. Yad. ii. Ecclesiates is said to be uninspirited, and to contain only the wisdon of Solomon.] But these objections were finally answered by great ingenuity, while an appeal to Eccl. 12: 12, 13, was regarded as removing the difficulty about another life and future rewards and punishments. And as the contradictions in Ecclesiastes had been conciliated, it hopefully argued deeper study would equally remove those in the Book of Proverbs (Shabb. 30b). [But it must be admitted that some of these conciliations are sufficiently curious.] Still, the controversy about the canonicity of Ecclesiastes continued so late as the second century of our era (comp. Yad. 3:5). That grave doubts also existed about the Song of Solomon, appears even from the terms in which its canonicity is insisted upon (Yad. u. s.), not to speak of express statements in opposition to it (Ab. de. R Nathan 1).

Even when by an allegorical interpretation, it was shown to be the 'wisdom of all wisdom, the most precious gem, the holy of holies, tradition still ascribed its composition to the early years of Solomon (Shir haSh. R 1). It had been his first work, and was followed by Proverbs, and finally by Ecclesiastes. [But on this subject opinion differs very widely (see Shir haSh. R 1, ed Warshan 3b, 4a) the only point on which all are agreed being that he wrote Ecclesiastes last, Rabbi Jonathan irreverently remarking that when a man is old he utters dibhre hadhalim, vain words!]

But perhaps the greatest objections were those taken to the Book of Esther (Meg. 7a). It excited the enmity of other nations against Israel, and it was outside the canon. Grave doubts prevailed whether it was canonical or inspired by the Holy Spirit (Meg. u. s.; Yoma 29a). The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were anciently regarded as one, the name of the latter author being kept back on account of his tendency to self exaltation (Shanh. 93b). Lastly, the genealogical parts of the Book of Chronicles were made the subject of very elaborate secret commentation (Pes. 62b).

Two points still require brief mention. Even from a comparison of the LXX Version with our Hebrew text, it is evident that there were not only many variations, but that spurious additions (as Daniel) were eliminated. This critical activity, which commenced with Ezra, whose copy of the Pentateuch was, according to tradition, placed in the Temple, that the people might correct their copies by it, must have continued for many centuries. [In Jer. Tann. 68a we read three codices of the Pentateuch, respectively named after one word in each codex, the reading of which was either rejected or adopted on comparison with the others.] There is abundant evidence of frequent divergences, though perhaps minute, and although later Rabbinism laid down the most painfully minute directions about the mode of writing and copying the rolls of the Law, there is such discrepancy, even where least it might be expected.

[Thus, we have different notices about the number of verses in the Bible, the arrangement of the psalter, the medial letter and medial word in the Pentateuch, and the number of its sections and chapters (Kidd. 30a; Yalkut i 855). But the sum total of verses in the Bible (23,199) differs by 99 from that in our present text. Similarity, one of the most learned Rabbinic critics of the third century declares himself at a loss about the exact medial letter, word, and verse of the Pentateuch, while in Palestine that Pentateuch seems to have been arranged into 1,085, in Babylonia into 378 chapters (comp. Furst, Kultur - u. Liter. Gesch. p. 62)] as to show that the purification of the text was by no means settled. Considering the want of exegetical knowledge and historical conscientiousness, and keeping in view how often the Rabbis, for Haggadic purposes, alter letters, and thus change the meaning of words, we may well doubt the satisfactory character of their critical labours.

Lastly, as certain omissions were made, and as the Canon underwent (as will be shown) repeated revision, it may have been certain portions were added as well as left out, and words changed as well as restored.

For, ancient tradition ascribes a peculiar activity to certain 'College', as they are termed, in regard to the Canon. In general, the well known Baraita (Baba B 14b, 15a) bears, that:

['History of the Jewish Nation,' p. 418.]

Loose and uncritical as these statements may appear, they so far help our investigations as to show that, according to tradition, certain portions of Scripture were compiled or edited by one or another Rabbinic 'College,' and that there were several 'College' which successively busied themselves with the codification and revision of the Canon. By these 'College,' we are not to understand gatherings of certain members, who discussed and decided a question at one or more of their meetings. They rather indicate the learned activity of the authorities during a certain period, which are respectively designated by the generic names of 'the Sanhedrin of Hezekiah,' 'The men of the Synagogue,' the 'Legal Court of the Maccabees,' and finally, 'Chananayah and his College.'

We have thus somewhat firmer historical ground. If in Prov. 25: 1, we read of the activity about the Canon of 'the Men of Hezekiah,' and bear in mind the Scriptural account of the religious revival of that reign (for ex. 2 Chron. 29: 25 - 30; 2 Chron. 30:1), we scarely required the frequent and elaborate glorification of tradition to lead us to infer that, if the collection of the Book of Proverbs was due to their activity, they must have equally collated the other protions of Scripture then existing, and fixed the Canon at their time. Again, if we are to credit the statement that they equally collected and edited the Prophecies of Isaiah, we are obliged to infer that the contiuance of that College was not limited to the life of Hezekiah, since the latter died before Isaiah (Tos. Baba Bathra; Yeb. 49b).

What has just been indicated is fully confirmated by what we know of the activity of Ezra (Ezra 7:6, 10), and of his successors in the great Synagogue. If we are to attach credit to the notice in 2 Macc. 2:13, [The expression 'the epistles of the kings concerning the holy gifts' must refer ot the official Persian documents concerning gifts to the Temple, etc.] it points to such literary activity as tradition indicates. That the revision and determination of the Canon must have been among the main occupations of Ezra and his successors of 'the Great Synagogue', whatever precise meaning may be attached to that institution, seems scarcely to require proof.

The same remark applies to another period of religious reformation, that of the so called Asmonaean College. Even if we had not the evidence of their exclusion of such works as those of Ben Sirach and others, there could be no rational doubt that in their time the Canon, as presently existing, was firmly fixed, and that no work of comparatively late date could have found admission into it. The period of their activity is sufficiently known, and too near what may be called the historical times of Rabbinism, for any attempt in that direction, without leaving traces of it. Lastly, we come to the indications of a critical revision of the text by 'Chananyah and his College,' [Shabb. 13b; Chag. 13a; Men. 45a.] shortly before the time of our Lord. Thus we have, in all, a record of four critical revisions of the Canon up to time of Christ.

3. Any attempt to set forth in this place a detailed exposition of the Exegetical Canon of the Rabbis, or of their application, would manifestly be impossible. It would require almost a treatise of its own; and a cursory survey would neither be satisfactory nor instructive. Besides, on all subjects connected with Rabbinic exegesis, a sufficient number of learned treatises exists, which are easily accessible to students, while the general reader can only be interested in such general results as have been frequently indicated throughtout these volumes.

Lastly, the treatment of certain branches of the subject, such as a criticism of the Targumim, really belongs to what is known as the science of 'Introduction,' either to the Old Testament, in manuals of which, as well as in special treatises, all such subjects are fully discussed. Besides these the student may be referred, for a general summary, to the labours of Dr. Hamburger (Real - Encycl.). Special works on various branches of the subject cannot here be named, since this would involve an analysis and critical disquisition. But for a knowledge of the Rabbinic statements in regard to the Codices and the text of the Old Testement, reference may here be made to the short but masterly analysis of Professor Strack (Prolegomena Critica), in which, first, the various codices of the Old Testament, and then the text and existing in Talmudical times, are discussed, and the literature of the subject fully and critically given.

The various passages are also mentioned in which the Biblical quotations in the Mishnah and Gemara differ from our present text.

[there are in the Mishnah 16 variations: Lev. 11:33; 25:36; Numb. 28:5; 32:22; Deut. 24:19; Josh. 8:33; 2 Sam. 15:6; Isa. 10:13; Ezek. 46:21; Amos 9:14: Mal. 3:16, 23; Ps. 68:27; Job 1:1; Prov. 22:28; 2 Chron. 28:15.

In the Talmud 105 such variations occur, viz.,

Gen. 7:8, 23; 15:2; 25:6, 35:18;

Ex. 12:3, 6; 13:16; 24:5; 25:13; 31:1;

Lev. 4:25, 30, 34; 10:12; 15:10; 18:18;

Numb. 5:19; 18:16;

Deut. 6:7, 9, 20; 23:1; 25:7; 33:27; 34:6;

Josh. 3:17; 10:11; 14:7, 10; 16:6; 23:15;

Judg. 15:20; 16:31; 1Sam. 2:24; 2 Sam. 3:25; 24:15;

2 Kings 17:31; 23:17; Is 2:3; 38:16; 42:5; 68:7;

Jer. 3:22; 29:11; Ezek. 11:48; 44:9; 47:1; Hos. 4:11;

Amos. 4:6; 8:11; 9:14; Hag. 2:8; Mich. 4:2; Zech. 12:10;

Mal. 2:12; Ps. 5:5; 16:10 (where the difference is important);

26:5, 6; 37:32; 56:11; 62:12; 68:21; 95:5; 97:7; 127:5; 139:5;

6; 8; 13:4; 14:16; 36:5, 11; Ruth, 3:15; 4:11;

Eccl. 9:14, 15; 10:5; Dan. 2:29; 4:14; 6:18; 10:13;

Ezr. 4:3; Neh. 4:16; 8:8 (bis), 15, 17;

1 Chron. 3:17; 4:10; 5:24; 16:5; 17:9; 26:8, 23; 27:34;

2 Chron. 26:2; 31:5, 13]

Most of them are, however, of no exegetical importance. On the exegesis of the Rabbis generally, refer to the sketch of it given in the 'History of the Jewish Nation,' ch. xi., and especially in App. V, on 'Rabbinical Exegesis,' where all its canons are enumerated. Some brief notices connected with Rabbinic Commentaries quoted in this work will be found at the beginning of vol. i.

4. Somewhat similar observations must be made in regard to the mystical Theology of the Synagogue, or the so called Kabbalah. Its commencement must certainly be traced to, and before, the times described in these volumes. For a discussion of its origin and doctrines, refer to the account given in the 'History of the Jewish Nation' (pp. 435, etc.). The whole modern literature of the subject, besides much illustrative matter, is given in the Italian text annexed to David Castelli's edition of Sabbatai Donnolo's Hebrew Commentary on the Book Yetsirah, or the Book of Creation. For, the Kabbalah busies itself with these two subjects: the History of the Creation (Yetsirah, perhaps rather 'formation' than Creation), and the 'Merkabhah,' or the Divine apparition as described by Ezekiel.

Both refer to the great question, underlying all theosophic speculation: that of God's connection with His creatures. They treat of the mystery of Nature and of Providence, with especial bearing on Revelation; and the question, how the Infinite God can have any connection or intercourse with finite creatures, is attempted to be answered. Of the two points raised, that of Creation is of course the first in the order of thinking as well as of time, and the book Yetsirah is the oldest Kabbalistic document.

The Sepher Yetsirah is properly a monologue on the part of Abraham, in which, by the contemplation of all that is around him, he ultimately arrives at the conviction of the Unity of God.

We distinguish the substance and the form of creation; that which is, and the mode in which it is. We have already indicated that the original of all that exists is Divine. 1st, We have God; 2nd, God manifest, or the Divine entering into form; 3rd, That Divine in its form, from which in turn all original realities are afterwards derived. In the Sepher Yetsirah, these Divine realities (the substance) are represented by the 10 numerals, and their form by the 22 letters which constitute the Hebrew alphabet, language being viewed as the medium of connection between the spiritual and the material; as the form in which the spiritual appears.

At the same time, number and language indicate also the arrangement and the mode of creation, and, in general, its boundaries. "By 32 wonderful paths," so begins the Sepher Yetsirah, "the Eternal, the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, the Living God, the King of the World, the merciful and gracious God, the glorious One, He that inhabiteth eternity, Whose Name is high and holy, has created the world." But these 10 numerals are in reality the 10 Sephiroth, or Divine emanations, arranged in triads, each triad consisting of two opposites (flowing or emanating from a superior triad until the Divine Unity is reached), and being reconciled in a middle point of connection. These ten Sephiroth, in the above arrangement, recur everywhere, and the sacred number 10 is that of perfection. Each of these Sephiroth flows from its predecessor, and in this manner the Divine gradually evolves.

This emanation of the 10 Sephiroth then constitutes the substance of word; we may add, it constitutes everything else. In God, in the world, in man, everywhere we meet these 10 Sephiroth, at the head of which is God manifest, or the Memra (Logos, the Word). If the ten Sephiroth give the Substance, the 22 letters are the form of creation and of revelation. "By giving them form and shape,. and by interchanging them, God has made the soul of everything that has been made, or shall be made." "Upon those letters, also, has the Holy One, Whose Name be praised, founded His holy and glorious Name." These letters are next subdivided, and their application in all the departments of nature is shown. In the unit creation, the triad; world, time and man are found. Above all these is the Lord. Such is a very brief outline of the rational exposition of the Creation, attempted by the Sepher Yetsirah.' ['History of the Jewish Nation,' pp. 435, 436.]


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