IS THIS AN ERROR?
[Lucifer, Vol. II, No. 12, August, 1888, pp. 492-95]
In the Editors’ notes to the article on “The Crucifixion of Man,” in the May number of Lucifer, a quotation is given from the Key to the Hebrew-Egyptien Mystery in the Source of Measures. I have not seen this work and do not know the name of its author, but, judging from this specimen of his writings, he is very far from being a safe guide. From his way of treating the subject of the quotation, he is evidently not aware that the two Evangels in which the exclamation has been preserved reproduce the Chaldee translation or Targum of Psalms, xxii, 1. This would have been more familiar than the Hebrew
This passage, as found in The Secret Doctrine, spells the second name as Bakhan-Alearé. The Hall of the Ancestors was taken from the Temple of Karnak generations ago to Paris, and was later moved from the Bibliothèque Nationale to the Louvre. It depicts Thutmose (or Totmes) III worshipping his royal ancestors, those former kings of Egypt whom he deemed specially worthy of such worship. None of these kings has a name resembling Bakhan-Alenré or the other form of this name, and no such name is listed in the complete surveys of royal names of Egypt (such as Henri Gauthier, Le Livre des rois de l’Egypte, Cairo, 1908-17), in any catalogue of Egyptian names (such as Hermann Ranke, Die ägyptischen Personennamen, Glückstadt, 1935 ff.), or any listing of ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses. So we are at a loss to understand what is meant by the above remarks on this subject.—Compiler.]
* [This refers to Ammianus Marcellinus’ History, Book XXIX, i,15.—Compiler.]
original to a Jew of the period in the habit of mixing with and teaching the people, and might well have fallen from the lips of such an one dying under such circumstances. To confront the Chaldee with the Hebrew here, and claim that the one is a falsification of the other is to make an unwarranted statement. But there is a still greater mistake even than this in the quotation, for, to get the reading, “My God, my God, how thou dost glorify me!” out of the Chaldee translation, the author substitutes : for :, and, by so doing, himself falsifies the accepted utterance. When it is realized that the exclamation handed down by the Evangelist is a Chaldee version of a Hebrew original, it cannot but be admitted that the meaning of the Chaldee is determined by that of the Hebrew, of which it is a translation. This unquestionably is “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In the attributed rendering of the author, the Hebrew word he has adopted, to support preconceived views, only signifies “glorify” in the sense by singing the praises (and not by the illumination) of the glorified subject.
I have never met with an example of the use of the Hebrew formula referred to in the sense “My God, my God, how thou dost glorify me!” Will the learned Editors of Lucifer, or any of its readers, who may have been more fortunate in this regard, kindly point one out to me?
8th June, 1888.
[The above having been sent to the U.S.A. for the author of The Source of Measures to reply to his critic, the following is his answer. —Editor, Lucifer.]
The paper of “Euphrates” finds me in the country without books of reference. The reason of the novel translation of the words “eli eli, lama sabachthani” is as follows:—The record of the New Testament must stand as its own original authority, for it has no other authentic source. We are bound, therefore, to take, accept, and follow, its own statements for what they appear. A Greek sentence, lettering Hebrew words, must be rendered into the Hebrew agreeably to the equivalents of the letters in the Greek text. For instance, and in this case, there are two words in the Hebrew square letter, of the same sound but of different letters and meaning. One is the Chaldee : and the other is the Hebrew . The first is, anglicé, “shâbâk,” meaning to forsake, and the other is shâbâch, meaning to glorify. These words are the ones supposed to be substituted for the word used in the Psalm, azabthani, the pure word for “forsaken me.” If in the Greek text, which is the only guide and authority we have, the word is found as , it cannot properly he rendered otherwise in the Hebrew, or square letter, than by :, or, anglice, shâbâch.
The real word of the Greek text is , or in proper conversion :, or shâbâchthani, which does mean “glorify me,” and nothing else. Any change from this must and can be only by perversion, and by way of correction of the text of the New Testament. As used in the climacteric sentence of the whole symbolic fabricated drama, it was taken from the Mysteries, and never had any reality whatever. The matter has been referred to very learned Jews, and surprise has been expressed that in such a manifest difference between the indicated word and the correction adopted, no comment should exist of the fact of discrepancy, probably because it was thought best to slur, rather than lay the symbolic jugglery bare to the unthinking, ignorant herd.
Difficulties arising from some fatal obstacle to the conversion of a fixed and necessary symbolic real reading, and some plausible popular rendering to cover the symbolism, are not infrequent either in the Hebrew or Greek. Such an one is in the Hebrew sentence descriptive of the first child born into the world, wherein the child is said to be Jehovah himself, and where the vulgar are thrown off by the interposition of the word “from,” so as to be read: “a child from, or the gift of, Jehovah.” A singular instance of a deceptive reading is as follows: Margoliouth, a very learned Jew, calls attention to the fact that the wearing of the “fringes” is alluded to in the New Testament—in the case of the woman troubled with an issue of blood, who thought that if she should but touch the “hem of his garment” she would recover. Here he says the Greek word is “Craspedon,” meaning, literally, if she could but touch the “fringes” of his garment. The wearing of the fringes had been commanded, to keep one in mind of the laws and ordinances, to obey them, but in lapse of time the custom had merged into a superstitious use, and the fringes were thought of as possessing a potent magical virtue, in, and of themselves. By this the woman thought that she could be cured by the magical virtue if she but touched them. Then it is that perceiving that virtue had gone out of him, the Master said the woman was right, and thus endorsed the fetish and its curative property. But by the same reception the garment on which the fringes were worn was esteemed to be a much stronger fetish, and possessed of magical virtues far more potent than the fringes themselves. This garment had a name, and was specifically called the “Talith.” Now in the Gospel of Mark the narrative is such as to set forth the conviction of the magical properties of both the fringes and the Talith on which they were worn. While the woman having the issue of blood is being cured by her touch of the fringes, the ruler enters the crowd with information that his daughter is dead, and then follows the recital. He takes the girl by the hand and says “Talitha cumi,” which, being interpreted, is Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.” The word “Talith,” is from the Hebrew tâlâl, meaning, to clothe, and means “a garment,” and that garment on which the fringes were worn. It has no such meaning as “damsel.” The sentence seems only proper as a command to a person addressed by a proper
name, as “Talitha arise!” But in the connection, to mention the word itself, was to give the whole symbolism away as embracing the Talith and the Fringes worn on it, as a favourite fetish, therefore the word was given to those who understood, and the paraphrase of “Damsel, I say unto thee, arise,” was made for the vulgar and the unlearned. It was an easy and cheap piece of innocent cheat. “Cheap John” miracles were performed with just as much ease as the fabrication of a nursery story to cover a corner puzzle or conundrum. It was of a piece with the story of boys making mud pies and birds, as to which the birds of one of the boys flew away. In another passage of the Greek we read “why are ye baptized for the dead?” where the broad unmeaning is placed in the margin for the real word of the text meaning “for the salvation of”; the real significance having reference to a custom of vicarious baptism by placing the dead unbaptised on a bench, with a live person underneath. The question was asked of the corpse: “Wilt thou be baptised?” with answer of proxy “I will,” and the live man was baptised , in place of, or for the benefit or salvation of the dead. So transparent a fraud would not do for an average public, although it might tend to lead the stupid towards “High Church.”
But one of the most interesting and instructive pieces of imposition is one recorded outside the sacred record, by a shepherd of the flock. It is contained in the rare history of that king of butchers Constantine, and of that chief theological diplomatist Eusebius. Constantine was a worshipper of Mithras, the Sun-God, whose priests were the Magi, who observed the natal day of that God every 25th of December or Christmas day, and whose mode of religion embraced baptism, a eucharistic feast, confession, resurrection from the dead, and angelology with hell: so running on all fours with the Christianity which Constantine co-adapted with his Mithraic observance, that the Christian fathers had to claim, to save themselves from the charge of theft, that the Devil with his usual cunning and astuteness had prophetically anticipated the whole business, to make a claim of priority when the time should come to ply his little game of thimble rig. Constantine was either for Mithras or the other, agreeably to circumstances, standing as he did half-way betwixt with the difference only of a name to call the thing by. His coin bore on the reverse, “To the invincible Sun, my guardian,” while the other “first called Christians at Antioch,” was lord of the eighth day, or the day of that same invincible Sun, called Sunday. Now the time came for this goody-goody to die, and he wished to make the work of his statesmanship complete, in the consolidation of the empire by the cementing influence of a new form of a very old Persian and Hebrew religion, to be enforced by the strong hand of the civil government. For this purpose he is baptised with great pomp and ceremony on Whitsun Sunday. And as to this, that arch-fraud Eusebius comments as follows: “And on the Pentecostel Sunday itself, the seventh Lord’s day from Easter, AT THE NOONTIDE HOUR of the day, BY THE SUN, Constantine was received up to HIS GOD.” Let us paraphrase the “lay” of our “Now you see it and now you don’t.” The sun being in the South as the
beauty and glory of the day—at high noon—on the meridian, the soul of our brother Constantine ascended in a plumb line directly to his God; and so says the master of the Lodge, Amen.”
Let us, to close, refer to a bare-faced interpolation in the sacred record, serving by deceiving locution the commendable purpose of a chain to bind the edifice of the Church of Constantine and Eusebius more firmly and compactly together. When the Master says to Peter: “Thou art Peter the stone and on this stone I will found my Church, and the gates of Hell,” etc., there was nothing known but the Temple and Synagogue. The word Synagogue meant the Congregation, whereas it was long after, that the faction or split or separation was formed which was called Ecclesia, Church, or Separatists or Come-outers. Peter must have had an exceedingly stupid vacant look as he listened to this Hottentot statement. Now a very learned divine, who caught on to the difficulty, said that this was evidently an expression used prophetically, which by the assistance of the power of the Holy Spirit Peter was enabled to understand by clairvoyance. But “Go to! Go to!” It displays irreverence to look too closely into the make-up of the sacred text, for its composition. We should accept the broad ideal without any vain and prurient curiosity.
* [J. Ralston Skinner.]
“Euphrates” certainly appears to assume a good deal. For why should there be introduced an entirely imaginary Chaldee version, of which no one ever heard before? It is generally held that the dialect of Galilee in the time of Jesus was Aramaic or Syriac. Euphrates’ substitution of the Chaldee 8 (koph) for the Hebrew ; (cheth) simply makes the whole passage inscrutably unintelligible.
The Editors of Lucifer regret that they cannot give Euphrates chapter and verse in support of the words in question being a sacramental formula used in initiations, since such details can be found only in secret books. But one of the said Editors can give her personal assurance that these words are so given in the secret works on initiation, and that she has herself seen them. Moreover, they were
common to all the greater Mysteries—those of Mithra and India, as well as the Egyptian and the Eleusinian. It is not improbable that a careful examination of the old Hindu works, and especially of the Egyptian papyri, may afford evidence of their use in the rites.—ED.*
* [It is evident that the Note is from the pen of H.P.B., the other Editor of Lucifer being at the time Mabel Collins.—Compiler.]