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The Practical Cabala is occupied in instructions for the construction of talismans and amulets, and has no connection with Masonic science.The Literal Cabala is the science which teaches a mystical mode of explaining sacred things by a peculiar use of the letters of words, and a reference to their value.Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, was first initiated into it in the land of his birth, but became most proficient in it during his wanderings in the wilderness, when he not only devoted to it the leisure hours of the whole forty years, but received lessons in it from one of the angels.By the aid of this mysterious science, the lawgiver was enabled to solve the difficulties which arose during his management of the Israelites, in spite of the pilgrimages, wars, and the frequent miseries oi the nation.Here in this subterranean abode, he occupied himself entirely with the contemplation of the sublime Cabalah, and was constantly visited by the prophet Elias, who disclosed to him some of its secrets, which were still concealed from the theosophical Rabbi.Here, too, his disciples resorted to be indicated by their master into these divine mysteries, and here Simon ben Jochai expired with this heavenly doctrine in his mouth, whilst discoursing on it to his disciples.It has been supposed to be derived originally from the system of Zoroaster, but whether its inventors were the contemporaries or the successors of that philosopher and reformer it is impossible to say.The doctrine of emanation is, says King (Gnostics, page10), "the soul, the essential element of the Cabala; it is likewise the essential element of Zoroastrism.
Of all who formed the unbroken line of tradition, David and Solomon were first initiated into the Cabalah.It was not till the light inside, and the fire outside, had disappeared, that the disciples perceived that the lamp of Israel was extinguished.As they were preparing for his obsequies, a voice was heard from heaven, saying, " Come ye to the marriage of Simon ben Jochai; he is entering into peace, and shall rest in his chamber!From Adam it passed over to Noah, and then to Abraham, the friend of God, who emigrated with it to Egypt, where the patriarch allowed a portion of this mysterious doctrine to ooze out.
It was in this way that the Egyptians obtained some knowledge of it, and the other Eastern nations could introduce it into their philosophical systems.
No one, however, dared to write it down till Simon ben Jochai, who lived at the time of the destruction of the second Temple.