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The Sepher Ha-Zohar Or The Book of Light

Nurho de Manhar


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This is the only extensive translation of a portion of the Zohar, the longest and one of the most important texts of the Kabbalah, in the public domain. The Zohar is a Kabbalistic commentary on the Hebrew Bible. Long before the 'Bible Code,' Jewish scholars were attempting to wring deep meaning out of every syllable of the text of the Hebrew Bible, using numerology, gematria, and other techniques. Dozens of pages in this book are devoted to analyses of the hidden meaning behind first few letters of Genesis. Seemingly unimportant details and turns of phrase, which you may have read long ago and forgotten, lead to immense vistas of a mysterious world inside the world. This is not a critical edition; written by a pseudonymous Theosophist, probably British, it is laced with out-of-place terminology such as 'Karma' and 'Planes.' It nevertheless gives us a glimpse of one of the most magical of the world's sacred texts.

This book has 375 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1914.

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Excerpt from 'The Sepher Ha-Zohar Or The Book of Light'

AS a preliminary to the translation of the great Kabbalistic work, "The Sepher Zohar, or Book of Light," we purpose to sketch in brief outline the history of its origin, the nature and purpose of its doctrines and teachings, as also the great influence of its philosophy which is reflected in the writings of Albert the Great, Reuchlin, Raymond Lully, Boehmen, More the Platonist, Spinoza, Balzac, and many others whose names are famous in the annals of literature and learning. To the readers of the late Madame Blavatsky's works, "Isis Unveiled" and "The Secret Doctrine," this will doubtless prove acceptable and enable them to understand and comprehend those parts in which she has incorporated the philosophy respecting the Sephiroth and shown its close similarity in many of its aspects with Eastern teachings. There is scarcely a page in which some reference to it is not found, with Hebrew words, the explanation of which would have enhanced the value of the above works and added to the enjoyment and edification of theosophical students in general. To supply this desideratum it will be necessary to give details respecting Kabbalah of which the Zohar is justly considered to be the prolific fountain from which has flowed that stream of occult philosophy that has entered so largely as an element in the teachings of mystics of ancient and modern times.

The ancient Jews were not different from other nations in having occult schools and institutions in which secret doctrines were inculcated and imparted to neophytes, or the sons of the prophets, as they are termed in the Bible. These teachings were twofold in their nature and character, and denominated Beresith, or the science of the natural world; also Mercaba, which had relation to heavenly or spiritual science, and which was esteemed and regarded as most sacred and never to be revealed except to initiates, and then only orally, as amongst the ancient Druids. That which was received was termed "Kabbalah," a Hebrew word, signifying reception, or, rather, what is received and handed on to others in short aphorisms and mnemonical words, the meaning of which could only be deciphered and comprehended by those who had successfully passed through a long course of esoteric studies. For instance, A D M, or Adam, taught that the soul of Adam the first was incarnated in David the King and will eventually appear in the form of the Messiah. It is said that Kabbalah first originated after the expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden, and was communicated to him by the angel Raziel in order that he might be better able, through attending to its teachings, to regain his lost estate. The common tradition and most generally accepted is that Moses himself was the real author of Kabbalah, having received it during his residence of forty days and nights on Mount Sinai. After his descent therefrom he imparted it to Aaron, who in turn handed it on to his sons, through whom it was given to the seventy elders of the children of Israel and coadjutors of Moses in juridical government and polity. Through the judges, especially the prophet Samuel, it was delivered to David and Solomon, the latter becoming renowned throughout the East for his extensive and profound knowledge of Kabbalah, by which he was able to perform marvelous things and acquire control over all beings, demons, spirits of the air, fire and water, and make them his obedient and subservient ministers.

During the reigns of the various kings of Israel and Judah we gather that this Kabbalah was widely taught and studied in the schools or colleges of the prophets, presided over by hierophants, of whom Elijah and Elisha were remarkable examples, and distinguished not only by their loftiness of character, but also for their knowledge and manipulation of nature's occult forces and powers, by which they stand out boldly and prominently in Jewish history. These occult societies were generally distinguished by the wearing of some special badge or emblem indicative of the peculiar occultism of which they were the professed followers and adherents, such as a raven or hawk, eagle or dove, a lion, a wolf, an ox or a Iamb. Their members, whenever sent out on any benevolent expedition or political mission, always went in couples, similar to the rule of custom in vogue at the present time with monks and nuns in the Roman Catholic community. From this fact we obtain a satisfactory and rational explanation of the extraordinary and miraculous feeding of Elijah by two ravens, who brought him in his place of retirement and concealment bread and meat for his daily sustenance. Instead of two birds noted for their thievish propensities, we see how two members of an occult school, who were perfectly acquainted with the whereabouts of Elijah, and so ministered to the bodily wants and necessities of their great hierophant. It is also related of Alexander the Great, on his entering into one of the chief cities of Egypt, that he was welcomed by twelve doves at the head of a large procession of the citizens, and who greeted his presence with some remarkable signs of congratulation, the strangeness of which vanishes and disappears when we recognize in these doves members of some occult institution held in veneration by the general populace, and thus qualified to be the exponents of their good wishes and feelings toward the conquering Alexander. The Babylonian captivity brought the Jews into immediate contact with Chaldean and Persian philosophy, which introduced a great change in their speculative ideas of the creation and divine government of the world, Chaldean magic and occult science became objects of deep interest and study, and ultimately resulted in the formation of new societies and sodalities, in which secret rites and ceremonies were performed and celebrated. All knowledge of their teachings was jealously guarded, and their members were bound by the most solemn oaths not to divulge or reveal them to the profane or common people. These esoteric schools abounded throughout the East, especially in parts of Arabia and adjacent countries.

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