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The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

by 'Alfred Edersheim'

Book 6 — Appendix -

Chapter 6 —

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Pereq I.

Mishnah 1. In thirty-two wonderful paths of wisdom, Jah, Jehovah Tsebhaoth, the God of Israel, the Living God, and King of the World, God merciful and gracious, High and Exalted, Who dwelleth to Eternity, high and holy is His Name, hath ordered [established, created?] (the world) by three Sepharim [books]: by Sepher [the written Word], Sephar [number, numeral] and Sippur [spoken word]. Others, pointing the worlds differently, render these mysterious terms: Number, Word, Writing; others Number, Numberer, Numbered; while still other see in it a reference to the threefold division of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, of which more afterwards.

Mishnah 2. Ten Sephiroth [emanations] belimah 1 [without anything, i.e. before these, the sole elements out of which all else evolved], twenty-two letters of foundation (these constitute the Hebrew Alphabet, and the meaning seems that the Sephiroth manifest themselves in that which is uttered): three mothers (Aleph, the first letter of Avveyr, air; Mem, the first letter of Mayim, water; and Shin, the last letter of Esh, fire - although this may represent only one mystical aspect of the meaning of the term 'mothers,' as applied to these letters), seven duplex 2 (Pronounced 'soft' or 'hard,' viz. Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Pe, Resh, Tau, which are, or where in Hebrew capable of modification by a Dagesh - but this also must be mystically understood) and twelve simple ones 3 (the simple letters of the Hebrew Alphabet).

Mishnah 3. Ten Sephiroth belimah (the analogy is now further traced in God and in man), the number of the ten fingers, five against five, and the covenant of the One Only (God) placed between them (the covenant relationship between God and man in the midst, even as it is symbolised in the person of man which is between the twice five fingers) by the word of the tongue (this, the relation Godward) and by the word of sexualness [nuditas] (the relation earthwards - the one has become dual.)

Mishnah 4. Ten Sephiroth belimah - ten and not nine, ten and not eleven - be informed in wisdom, and be wise in information; examine in them, search out from them, and put the thing in its reality (certitude, proper state?), and place again the Creator in His place.

Mishnah 5. Ten Sephiroth belimah - their measurement ten, which have no end (limitation): depth of beginning (past) and depth of ending (future), depth of good and depth of evil, depth of height and depth of profundity (or, above and beneath), depth of east and depth of west, depth of north and depth of south - One only Lord, God, the true (approved) King, Who reigneth over all from His holy dwelling and unto all eternity.

Mishnah 6. Ten Sephiroth belimah - their appearance like the sheen of lightning (reference here to Ezek. i. 14), and their outgoings (goal) that they have no end, His word is in them (the Logos manifest in the Sephiroth), in running and in returning, and at His word like storm-wind they pursue (follow), and before His throne they bend (in worship).

Mishnah 7. Ten Sephiroth belimah - their end is joined to their beginning, like the flame that is bound up with the coal, for the Lord is One only, and there is no second to Him, and before him what countest thou?

Mishnah 8. Ten Sephiroth belimah - shut thy mouth, that is speak not, and thy heart, that it think not, and if thy heart run away, bring it back to its place, for on this account is it said (Ezek. i. 14) 'they run and return,' and on this condition has the Covenant been made.

Mishnah 9,10. Ten Sephiroth belimah - One: the Spirit of the living God, blessed and again blessed be the Name of Him Who liveth for ever - Voice and Spirit and Word, and this is the Holy Ghost.

Two: Wind (air, spirit?) from (out of) Spirit - thereby ordered and hewed He the twenty-two letters of foundation, three mothers, and 7 duplicate, and 12 simple ones, and one Spirit from (among) them. Three: Water from beneath (wind), He designed and hewed in them thou vavohu, slime and dung - designed them like a bed (a garden bed), hewed them like a wall, covered them like pavement. Four: Fire from water, He designed it and hewed in it the throne of glory, the Ophanim and Seraphim, the sacred living creatures, and the angels of service, and of these three He founded His dwelling place, as it is said, He maketh His angels breaths (winds), and His ministers a flaming fire.

Mishnah 11. Five: Three letters from out the simple ones: He sealed spirit on the three, and fastened them in His Great Name why(Jehovah, of which these three letters are the abbreviation; what follows shows how the permutation of these three letters makes the varied relationship of God to creation in time and space, and at the same time, so to speak, the immanence of His manifestation in it). And He sealed with them six outgoings (ends, terminations): He turned upwards, and He sealed it with why. Six: He sealed below, turned downwards, and sealed it with hwy. Seven: He sealed eastward, He turned in front of Him, and sealed it with wyh. Eight: He sealed westward, and turned behind, and sealed it with ywh. Nine: He sealed southward, and turned to His right, and sealed it with hyw. Ten: He sealed northward, and turned to His left, and sealed it with yhw.

Mishnah 12. These are the Sephiroth belimah - one: Spirit of the living God, and wind (air, spirit? the word ruach means all these), water, and fire; and height above and below, east and west, north and south.

Pereq II

Mishnah 1. Twenty-and-two letters of foundation: three mothers, seven duplex, and twelve simple ones - three mothers #m), their foundation the scale of merit and the scale of guilt, and the

tongue of statute trembling (deciding) between them. (This, to be mystically carried out, in its development, and application to all things: the elements, man, &c.)

Mishnah 2. Twenty-two letters of foundation: He drew them, hewed them, weighed them, and interchanged them, melted them together (showing how in the permutation of letters all words - viewed mystically as the designation of things - arose), He formed by them the nephesh of all that is formed (created), and the nephesh of everything that is to be formed (created).

Mishnah 3. Two-and-twenty letters of foundation: drawn in the voice, hewn in the wind (air, spirit?) fastened on the mouth in five places: (hx)(the gutturals among the Hebrew letters), Pmwb(the labials), qkyg(the palatals), tnl+d(the linguals), Cr#sz(the dentals).

Mishnah 4. Twenty-two letters of foundation, fastened in a circle in 231 gates (marking how these letters are capable of forming, by the permutation of two of them, in all 231 permutations); and the circle turns forwards and backwards, and this is the indication of the matter: as regards what is good, there is nothing higher than gn((oneg), 'delight,' and nothing lower than hgn(negah), 'plague' (stroke). In such manner He weighed them and combined them, with them all, and them all with )with them all, and them all with ) bwith them all, and them all with b, and thus the rest, so that it is found that all that is formed and all that is spoken proceeds from one Name (the name of God being, as it were, the fundamental origin of everything).

Mishnah 5. He formed from Tohu that which has substance, and made that which is not into being, and hewed great pillars from the air, which cannot be handled; and this is the indication: beholding and speaking He made all that is formed and all words by one Name - and the indication of the matter: twenty-two numbers and one body.

Pereq III

Mishnah 1. Three mothers - #m): their foundation, the scale of guilt and the scale of merit, and the tongue of the statue trembling (deciding) between them.

Mishnah 2. Three mothers - #m)- a great mystery, marvellous and hidden, and sealed with six signets, and from them go forth fire and water, and divide themselves into male and female. Three mothers, #m)their foundation, and from them were born the fathers (rerum naturę semina), from which everything is created (fire is regarded as the male principle, water as the female principle, and air as combining the two: )is the first letter of the Hebrew word for air, mfor that of water, #the last for that of fire).

Mishnah 3. Three letters, #m)- in the world: air, water, fire; the heavens were created in the beginning from fire, and the earth was created from water, and the air trembles (the same word as that in regard to the tongue between the scales of the balance, indicating the intermediate, inclining to the one or the other) between the fire and the water.

Mishnah 4. Three mothers, #m)- in the year: fire, and water, and wind. Heat is created from fire, cold from water, and moderate from the wind (air) that is intermediate between them. Three mothers, #m)- in the nephesh: fire, water, and wind. The head was created from fire, and the belly from water, and the body from wind that is intermediate between them.

Mishnah 5. Three mothers, #m)- He drew them, and hewed them, and melted them together, and sealed with them the three mothers in the world, the three mothers in the year, and three mothers in the nephesh - male and female.

(Now follows a further mystical development and application.) The letter )He made King in the Spirit, and bound upon him the crown (this refers to farther mystical signs indicated in the Kabbalistic figure drawn on p. 438 of the 'History of the Jewish Nation'), and melted them one with the other, and sealed with them: in the world the air, in the soul life, and in the nephesh (living thing) body - the male with #m), the female with M#). mHe made King in the waters, and bound on it the crown, and melted them one with the other, and sealed: in the world earth, and in the year cold, and in the nephesh the belly - male and female, male in #)m, and female in )#m. #He made King in the fire, and bound on it the crown, and melted them one with the other, and sealed with it: in the upper world the heavens, in the year heat, in the nephesh the head - male and female.

Pereq IV

Mishnah 1. Seven duplex letters, trpk dgb(it will here be noticed that we now proceed from the numeral 3 to the further mystic numeral 7), accustomed (habituated, adapted, fitted) for two languages (correlate ideas); life, and peace, and wisdom, and riches, grace, and seed, and government (the mystic number 7 will here he noted), and accustomed (fitted) for two tongues (modes of pronunciation) `bb `tt `rr `pp `kk `dd `gg, - the formation of soft and hard, the formation of strong and weak (the dual principle will here be observed); duplicate, because they are opposites: the opposites - life and death; the opposites - peace and evil; the opposites - wisdom and folly; the opposites - riches and poverty; the opposites - grace and ugliness; the opposites - fertility and desolation; the opposites - rule and servitude.

Mishnah 2. Seven duplex letters, trpk dgb; corresponding to the seven out goings; from them seven outgoings: above and below, east and west, north and south, and the holy Temple in the middle, and it upbears the whole.

Mishnah 3. Seven duplex, trpk dgb; He drew them, and hewed them, and melted them, and from them, in the world the stars (the planets), in the year the days, in the nephesh the issues, and with them He drew seven firmaments, and seven earths, and seven Sabbaths, therefore

He loves the seventh under all heavens.

Mishnah 4. Two letters build two houses (here the number of possible permutations are indicated). Three letters build six houses, four build twenty-four houses, five build 120 houses, six build 720 houses, and from thence go onward and think what the mouth is not able to speak, and the ear not able to hear. And these are the in the world - seven: the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars. And these are the days in the year; the seven days of creation; and the seven gates of issue in the nephesh: two eyes, two ears, and a mouth, and the two nostrils. And with them were drawn the seven above all that is delight under the heavens.

Pereq V

Mishnah 1. The properties of the twelve simple letters (or their attributes) - y+xzwh qc(s Nl- their foundation: sight, hearing, smell, speech, eating, concubitus, working, walking, anger, laughter, thinking, sleep. Their measurement twelve boundaries in the hypothenuse (points in transverse lines), the boundary N. E., the boundary S. E., the boundary E. upwards, the boundary E. downwards; the boundary N. upwards, the boundary N. downwards, the boundary S. W., the boundary N. W., the boundary W. upwards, the boundary W. downwards, the boundary S. upwards, the boundary S. downwards, and they extended and go on into the eternal (boundless space), and they are the arms of the world.

Mishnah 2. Twelve simple letters, qc (s Nl y+x zwh. He drew them, and melted them, and formed of them the twelve constellations in the world (sign of the Zodiac): Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces (these are expressed in the original in an abbreviated, contracted form). These are the twelve months of the year: Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Abh, Elul, Tishri, Marcheshvan, Kislev, Tebheth, Shebhat, Adar (thus the number twelve is marked, first in the functions of man, then in the points of the compass, then in the starry skies, and then in the year). And these are the twelve leaders in nephesh (living beings): two hands, and two feet, and two kidneys, the spleen, the liver, the gall, the intestine, the upper stomach, the lower stomach (perhaps gullet, stomach, and intestine - at any rate, three organs connected with deglutition and digestion). He made them like a land (province), and set them in order like war, and also - this as against that, ordered God. Three mothers, which are three fathers, because from them issue fire, wind, and water. Three mothers, and seven duplicate, and twelve simple ones.

Mishnah 3. These are the twenty-two letters with which the Holy One has founded (all), blessed be He, Jah, Jehovah Tsebhaoth, the living God of Israel, high and lifted up, dwelling eternally, and holy is His Name, exalted and holy is He.

Pereq VI

Mishnah 1. Three fathers and their generations, seven subduers and their hosts (planets?), seven boundaries of hypothenuse - and the proof of matter: faithful witnesses are the world, the year, and the nephesh. The law (statute, settled order) of the twelve, and of the seven, and of the three, and they are appointed over the heavenly dragon, and the cycle, and the heart. Three: fire, and water, and wind (air); the fire above, the water below, and the wind (air) the statute intermediate between them. And the demonstration of the matter: the fire bears the water, mis silent, #hisses, and )is the statute intermediate between them (all these have further mystic meaning and application in connection with words and ideas).

Mishnah 2. The dragon is in the world like a king on his throne; the cycle is in the year like a king in his land; the heart is in the nephesh like a king in war. Also in all that is pursued God has made the one against the other (opposite poles and their reconciliation): the good against the evil; good from good, and evil from evil; the good trying the evil, and the evil trying the good the good is kept for the good, and the evil is kept for the evil.

Mishnah 3. Three are one, that standeth alone; seven are divided, there as against three, and the statute intermediate between them. Twelve are in war: three loving, three hating, three giving life, three giving death. The three loving ones: the heart, the ears, and the mouth; the three hating ones: the liver, the gall, and the tongue - and God a faithful king reigning over all: one (is) over three, three over seven, seven over twelve, and they are all joined together, the one with the other.

Mishnah 4. And when Abraham our father had beheld, and considered, and seen, and drawn, and hewn, and obtained it, then the Lord of all revealed Himself to him, and called him His friend, and made a covenant with him and with his seed: and he believed in Jehovah, and it was imputed to him for righteousness. He made with him a covenant between the ten toes, and that is circumcision; between the ten fingers of his hand, and that is the tongue; and He bound two-and-twenty letters on his tongue, and showed him their foundation. He drew them with water, He kindled them with fire, He breathed them with (air); He burnt them in seven; He poured them forth in the twelve constellations.

The views expressed in the Book Yetsirah are repeatedly referred to in the Mishnah and in other of the most ancient Jewish writings. They represent, as stated at the outset, a direction long anterior to the Mishnah, and of which the first beginnings and ultimate principles are of deepest interest to the Christian student. The reader who wishes to see the application to Christian metaphysics and theology of the Kabbalah, of which Yetsirah is but the first word, is referred to a deeply interesting and profound work, strangely unknown to English scholars: Molitor, Philosophie d. Gesch. oder

uber d. Tradition, 4 vols. English readers will find much to interest them in the now somewhat rare work of the Rev. John Oxley: The Christian Doctrine of the Trinity and Incarnation (London, 1815,2 vols.)

The principles laid down in the Book Yetsirah are further carried out and receive their fullest (often most remarkable) development and application in the book Zohar ('Splendour' - the edition used by us is the 8vo. edition, Amsterdam, 1805, in 3 vols, with the Amsterdam edition of the Tikkune Zohar; other Kabbalistic books used by us need not here be mentioned). The main portion of the Zohar is in the form of a Commentary on the Pentateuch, but other tractates are interspersed throughout the volumes.


These are the days on which it is not lawful to fast, and during some of them mourning must also be intermitted.

I. Nisan.

II. Iyar.

5. We abstain from giving historical notes. For the different explanations of the commemorative dates the reader is referred to the books already mentioned.

III. Sivan.

IV. Tammuz.

V. Abh.

VI. Elul.

VII. Tisri.

VIII. Marcheshvan.

IX. Kislev.

X. Tebheth.

XI. Shebhat.

XII. Adar.

On these days every one who has before made a vow of fasting is to give himself to prayer.

(In extenuation of the apparent harshness and literality of our renderings, it should be stated, that both the Sepher Yetsirah and the Megillath Taanith are here for the first time translated into English.)


Appointed by

Herod the Great ... 1. Ananel. 2. Aristobulus. 3. Jesus, son of Phabes. 4. Simon, son of Boethos. 5. Matthias, son of Theophilos. 6. Joazar, son of Boethos.

Archelaus ... 7. Eleazar, son of Boethos. 8. Jesus, son of Sie.

Quirinius ... 9. Ananos (Annas).

Valerius Gratus ... 10. Ishmael, son of Phabi. 11. Eleazar, son of Ananos. 12. Simon, son of Camithos. 13. Joseph (Caiaphas).

Vitellius ... 14. Jonathan, son of Ananos. 15. Theophilos, son of Ananos.

Agrippa I. ... 16. Simon Cantheras, son of Boethos. 17. Matthias, son of Ananos. 18. Elionaios, son of Cantheras.

Herod of Chalcis ... 19. Joseph, son of Camithos. 20. Ananias, son of Nedebaios.

Agrippa II. ... 21. Ishmael, son of Phabi. 22. Joseph Cabi, son of Simon. 23. Ananos, son of Ananos. 24. Jesus, son of Damnaios. 25. Jesus, son of Gamaliel. 26. Matthias, son of Theophilos.

The People during the last war ... 27. Phannias, son of Samuel.


3 B.C. to 66 A.D. ... 1. Ethnarch Archelaus. 2. Coponius. 3. M. Ambivius. 4. Annius Rufus. 5. Valerius Gratus. 6. Pontius Pilate. 7. Marcellus. 8. King Agrippa. 9. Cuspius Fadus. 10. Tiberius Alexander. 11. Ventidius Cumanus. 12. Antonius Felix. 13. Porcius Festus. 14. Albinus. 15. Gessius Florus.


6 B.C. to 69 A.D. ... 1. P. Quinctilius Varus. 2. M. Lollius. 3. C. Marcius Censorinus (?) 4. L. Volusius Saturniuns. 5. P. Sulpic. Quirinius. 6. Qu. Caecilius Creticus Silanus. 7. Cn. Calpurn. Piso. 8. Cn. Sent. Staurninus (?) 9. Aelius Lamia. 10. L. Pompon. Flaccus. 11. L. Vitellius. 12. P. Petronius. 13. C. Vibius Marsus. 14. C. Cass. Longinus. 15. C. U. Quadratus. 16. [Domitius Corbulo. 17. C. Itius (conjoined).] 18. Cestius Gallus. 19. C. Lic. Mucianus.

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