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.
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. This word is frequently written Kabbala, which see. The mystical philosophy or theosophy of the Jews is called the Cabala. The inner as well as the outer structure receives its name from Ka'ab, meaning cube (see Allah).The origin of the Cabala has been placed by some scholars at a period posterior to the advent of Christianity, but it is evident, from the traces of it which are found in the Book of Daniel, that it arose at a much earlier day.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.And when the remains were deposited in the tomb, another voice was heard from heaven, saying, "This is he who caused the earth to quake and the kingdoms to shake!
" His son, Rabbi Eliezer, and his secretary, Rabbi Abba, as well as his disciples, then collated Rabbi Simon ben Jochai's treatises, and out of these composed the celebrated work called Sohar, that is, Splendor, which is the grand storehouse of Cabalism.
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.
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.
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.
Each of these divisions demands a separate attention.
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.