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‘The Binding of Isaac’
- On Ritual Abuse -
by Michelangelo da Caravaggio (1571–1610)
Abraham had to learn that the initiation rites are an abomination to God. Horrific human sacrifice was not uncommon in the Middle-East delta, accompanied perhaps by torture and gruesome self-chastisement, comparable to practices in other parts in the world. We only need to think of the Mesoamerican culture, some two thousand years later, that developed around the metropolis of Teotihuacan, a city-state in many ways comparable to Babylon, the city of ancient Mesopotamia. Teotihuacan served as precursor of, among other things, the Aztec empire. In my article “The Conquest of Mexico” this is dealt with. Obviously, initiation differs in our time, even though we retain vivid memories of the German debaucheries, which in my view belonged to a kind of initiation practice. The modern type is generally more subtle and not that conscious, but it remains idolatrous all the same. It is generally more subtle indeed, but in the wake of the ongoing dechristianisation of our societies the pagan rites are crawling out of their caverns and graves again.
1 - Ritual Child Abuse still exists
That the pagan rites are becoming ever more prevalent is not too farfetched. On the occasion of the infamous Dutroux case (1) the Louvain psychotherapist Dirk Vanmarcke brought into the open the question of ritual child abuse, which can be defined as paganism under the guise of unrestrained passions. Commenting on the case and based on confessions of his patients, Vanmarcke is convinced, just like the trauma psychologist Marry van der Feen and the criminologist Els Lecompte, that satanic torture of children and ritual child killings do exist. In 1994, after a year of thorough inquiry, a committee instituted by the Belgium government concluded that the stories of ritual abuse are probably based on suggestion. “We just do not want to know that children are being raped, tortured and abused, not to mention sacrificed”,
says Sofie, a 26-year-old victim from Limburg (South Netherlands), who in 1997 dares for the first time to confront the public with her gruesome experience. “Sometimes even I cannot grasp what happened. Why should anyone else believe me?” We would rather deny this kind of experience for it forces us to contemplate ourselves. But sadly enough the ‘concentration camp of the family’ too often really exists - in all its forms, so not only ritual - and just imagine that it should have been the ‘little church of the family’! Sofie tells (Telegraaf, March 1st 1997): «« I was tied up to a table. A man cut my wrist and collected the blood in a cup that was passed from hand to hand. My father too sipped from it. I was in utter despair, but knew there was no escape. I had become one of them. My father made me pregnant - or someone else. How could I know? A friend, a physician, did the abortion. The little child was sacrificed. Just like chickens and goats. While being abused I felt the blood warmly sticking between our bodies. (…) For many years I had to split my life in two as a means of survival: a normal day-time world with a father, mother and little sister, school and work; the mysterious night-time world with sex, violence and death. »» As long as Sofie could remember, she had been sexually abused by her father. Furthermore: «« First they urinated on me and forced me to drink from it. Then they cut open a little rabbit in front of my very eyes. It was awful. They put a knife in my hands on which a woman joined hands. The knife disappeared into a kitten. Afterwards I was abused with the same knife at my throat. I would be next, they told me, while I felt a trickle of blood. After a number of times I begged them to let me die. No way, those animals could die because they were innocent. And meanwhile I had become as bad as the whole bunch of them. »» And so it kept on escalating.
The American folk singer, Joan Baez, sings a song recalling childhood abuse as the amnesiac barriers had fall down and the – ‘her’ memories come flashing back. The song captures the feelings of such people (see “Joan Baez.Play Me Backwards - 1991” taken from her performance, with her son Gabe and the santana conga player Michael Carabello, at Berkeley’s Leopold’s Records in order to promote her Nashville record, called “Play Me Backwards”):
You don’t have to play me backwards, To get the meaning of my verse, You don’t have to die and go to hell, To feel the Devil’s curse.
Well I thought my life was a photograph, On the family Christmas card. Kids all dressed in buttons and bows, And lined up in the yard. Were the golden days of childhood, So lyrical and warm? Or did the picture start to fade, On the day that I was born. Let the night begin, there’s a pop of skin, And the sudden rush of scarlet, There’s a little boy riding on a goat’s head, And a little girl playing the harlot. There’s a sacrifice in an empty church, Of sweet li’l baby Rose, And a man in a mask from Mexico, Is peeling off my clothes. I’ve seen them light the candles, I’ve heard them beat the drum, And I’ve cried Mama, Mama, I’m cold as ice, And I’ve got no place to run. So I’m paying for protection, Smoking out the truth, Chasing recollections, Nailing down the proof. I’ll stand before your altar, And tell everything I know, I’ve come to claim my childhood, At the chapel of baby Rose.
2 – The Scarf Game
Even without this streak of paganism, as regards that which is happening in our ordered society, we are in the grip of a mentality still causing us to cast ourselves on the ancient altar of the sea-monster Poseidon. Look at what is now happening in our schools. There the game with the shawl, deadly dangerous, where the victim loses consciousness because of a strangulation technique. On January 27, 2001, when interviewed at Radio France International, in the program “Les Maillons du Savoir” (the links of knowledge), a certain Ludwikas answered a question by Emmanuelle Bastide. “You live in Isère, you are 17 years old, during how many years have you practiced this game of the shawl?” His answer: «« During three years. I know it since five years, and during three years, when in highschool, I practiced it every day. It’s a girlfriend who has shown it to me. The first time I felt so good that I could not do without it any more. When sleeping in, it was like in a state of happiness, all surrounded by happiness, you had no pain any more, you did not feel anything, and I wanted that happiness. At first I did my thing in a group and afterwards all alone. I guess it was the same for my playmates. In my circle more girls are doing it. I did not know of the danger. They had told me, there was no risk involved.
I stopped this game after having read that some died because of it. I went on to a job and found another happiness, so I don’t need it any more. »» Françoise Cochet, an ordinary housewife, has written a book about it, that appeared in 2001: “Our kids are playing… in secret, to strangle each other: The scarf game”. (2) On the book cover she tells: «« …Almost a year ago we lost our son Nicolas of fourteen and a half, who fell prey to a new practice that caught us by surprise and yet is extremely popular among young people, which consists of strangling each other covertly and in small groups of friends, as a way of exploring hallucinatory types of experience. It was indeed necessary and urgent to publish a book that sets out the discovery of these practices, which to us - and to most parents – are unimaginable. Using the most important testimonies that I got, it also presents a chronological account of our involvement in the course of nine months, comprising the response of a more or less disengaged government in the face of a real danger that was threatening our youth. »» Anne Correã Geudes, professor at the University of Lisbon, explains in the foreword: «« Ask around and continue doing so, and sure enough you will find sooner or later someone who knows about the ‘scarf game’ or was asked to participate, for these are not isolated cases, peripheral phenomenons that are certainly mysterious but not contagious, coming from nowhere or from the incomprehensible and are destined to return to it, as the proponents of the systematic prevention of panic would have us believe. The argument ‘that raises the wrong kind of ideas in someone’s mind’ is assuredly false and is no less than a malicious excuse to deter from serious questioning. No less intriguing, but more telling or richer in purpose, are the names used by kids in their own parlance to typify this extraordinary practice: “coma, cosmos, Indian dream, Indian sleep, blue dream, the frog (a term that refers to a jump in emptiness)”. These names, except the last one, irresistibly recall the euphoric communion with the universe, the exaltation of the pure conscious with all objects, the fusion of the subject with the All, the absolute wholeness - according to the (often erroneous) conception we have of the East – perhaps even mystic visions. »» Here follows a summary of an article of December 27, 2000 by Nicolas Léonard, a Belgium reporter of Sud Presse (Liège): «« Nathan B. lives in Arlan and will soon be 14 years old. Unknowingly he regularly gambled with his life in these past months. Like other juveniles he practised some time voluntary strangulation, just for the fun of it. With his two thumbs he firmly presses his aorta or that of a friend after having drawn breath a couple of times. The loss of consciousness is almost immediate; the key to it is a number of strong sensations. “It was in Spain during a football camp that they showed me the trick”, explains Nathan. “A friend told us that he could make us pass out. We tried (…) it was fun. You fancy that you are sleeping for hours but it only lasts a few seconds (…) In addition you get dreams. You fall down in the most clumsy ways. But when you wake up it hurts…” Shocking!… Upon hearing that this game has killed already, he answers matter of factly that he did not consider that this could be dangerous. Nonetheless, one of his friends had serious problems. “He did it all the time. He always wanted to sleep and as long as possible. At one time, however, he went crazy. When unconscious he knocked his fists against the walls. When he came round his hands were covered in blood, his skin torn. But this didn’t stop him. Nathan on his part affirms that he does not do it anymore after my mother told me the risks.” »» Another witness of this horrible game is Hélène Marin, the mother of Yohan, who died on 8th of November 2000, whose letter appears in a chapter of Françoise Cochet’s book:
«« My very dear Françoise, What a terrible fate we both share, now that we have lost our children in such a dramatic way. All those questions that are haunting us won’t be answered and we will have to live with this suffering. In my view adolescents are fascinated by death and they like to challenge danger at its last frontier. In a society that applauds the enjoyment of the extreme, strong sensations, the bent for adventure, the notion of a jump into the unknown, pushing the limits, Yohan decided to try this game out, which he learned I don’t know where. Our society greatly encourages them via the media that glorifies the benefits of extreme sports like bungee jumping, off-piste skiing, mountain climbing without gear, etc. When children get involved our arguments become childish and we as parents remain helpless. I have always detested these morbid video games (that Yohan found so great) and the typical Halloween – so many horrors that, in the minds of our children, have contributed to trivialise danger and death. And now these media that destroy the psyche of our children refuse to admit it. They prefer to think that our children were suicidal and that we are neurotic. »»
3 – A Martyr Typology
In a little known periodical at the time the Christian Jew Louis Goldberg mentions something that no one thinks about any more: “Contrary to what many people believe, it was the task of the offerer to kill the animal (himself) under the guidance of the officiating priest who caught the blood and applied it in the appropriate place.” (3) It was not the priest who killed the animal but the Israelite, who did the task under the watchful eye of the priest. What sin could the Israelite have committed that required the killing by him of a replacement animal? Maybe the hidden powers beneath the psyche drew him to suicide or at least to a state of mental depression. So, instead of destroying himself, he killed a beast. Obviously the process cannot be compared with simple suicide, but the result is the same. This is terrifying. Animal and death happen to be related to one another. In death you find the animals, or at least the spirits of the ancestors in animal form. Had our Israelite taken part in ritual baptism? Did he want to have himself initiated? Was it once more a question of the cosmogony and contact with the cosmos in the fertility rites? Was an antitype baptism involved against the powers of the dead that had to be counteracted? Equally we may call it the powers of death. God must have wanted to make clear that contact with the powers of death is forbidden. Earlier, during the burnt offering of Isaac, God made clear that no man should be sacrificed, but animals instead. Actually, He Himself would descend as animal to the kingdom of the dead. God’s lamb would descend for our reconciliation and preach to the imprisoned spirits. The story of Isaac, who, in the end, was not sacrificed but replaced by an animal, is called in Hebrew the Aqedat Yitzchaq - the binding of Isaac. (4) This is a martyr typology. The real martyrs of God are those who receive a similar Abraham-Isaac task and accept the terrible descent into their diminution. Martyrdom is a service of substitution for the people, for this world that is heading on a disaster course. The martyrs are willing to face this terror because
they have put their trust in God. They know that somehow their sufferings will serve a purpose and that He will join and support them during their heavy pilgrimage. They know that He has something better in store than this place full of anguish and sorrow. God joins them in His Sonship, in His own Aqedat Yitzchaq. Sonship means a descent together with His companions in their vocation, the ‘chosen ones’ who stand guarantor for the others in total reduction. Their experience is that of the descent into the bottomless stinking pit. It seems to them as if all sorrow is poured out onto them. The heavens look like iron, but can we blame God for all that people do to each other? The fact that, in spite of these troubles, better times lie ahead is a lesson learned from Isaac’s sacrifice with emphasis on ‘as if’ and ‘instead of’. Here we discover the profile of a martyr. Who can demonstrate this better than the ‘Son’, who is martyr together with the martyrs, who in a spirit of complete agreement is working for a better world? In this way each martyr has a self-transcending and nature-transforming task, a task trusted to each tsaddik (just) without regard of culture or background, but it is nowhere better shown than in the martyr. The victims derive consolation from the inner conviction that their tears are collected in a dish and will not be forgotten. David says: put my tears in Your bottle. Their seas of tears will serve a higher purpose, some time to be revealed. The individual martyr has a self-transcending, nature-transforming task. Each martyr in his service of substitution is connected in a long line that reaches back to prehistoric times. Evidently, in the ocean of eternity nothing is lost but retains its full value with God. The precious tears once shed for the restoration of the staff of loveliness and the staff of unity (Zech. 11:7-14) run into the New Covenant in His Blood, the Blood that speaks of better things than the blood of Abel. Their tears are not spilled but collected by God to participate in the great restoration. The Son is martyr with the martyrs. That is how He is shown in Hebrew and that is how He carries His Aqedat Yitzchaq or Akeda Isaac. Standing in as a substitute – to pay for others, which means suffering, is always for the good of the people, for something greater than oneself. They who volunteer, usually are not chosen. God does not cherish Tammuz-bewailers, those who eagerly seek self-chastisement. (5) That is not the same as mortification and self-containment. The victims know nothing beforehand, but they discover and learn from their distress. They are mostly people who, like Job, argue with God over their fate and have sought out their fate in tears. There also exists a collective martyrdom. Who has experienced this more than the Jewish people? The desire for reconciliation is lodged deeply in the Jewish national character and so it is taught: precious are the things that cause righteousness, for as sacrifices reconcile so do sufferings. (Mekilta Bahodesh 7) In contrast to what many Christians believe, the Jews do not believe that the suffering itself will bring about the messianic age. Yet they realize that the coming of the messianic age provokes much suffering; that the Messiah, in the way the Jews like to see him, shows solidarity with that suffering is to them, in this line of reasoning, besides the point. In view of these considerations it is really very sad that in our era the Christian-European nations have been instrumental in the sorrowful fate of
the Jewish people, in which these nations were confirmed and stimulated by a deviant theology. This explains the Jewish expression: to suffer at Europe’s gate, at the Rome gate. Fortunately initiatives are being deployed to turn the tide. For example, on March 12 2000, during Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope or Pontiff (the ‘bridge builder’) prayed in front of the world forum for the forgiveness of two thousand years of sins by the Roman Catholic Church in which he specifically mentioned the sins committed against God’s beloved children, named Israel. This act of contrition at the threshold of the new millennium might, by a special disposition of destiny, also fall at the threshold of the messianic age. As regards the messianic expectation, both viewpoints of the Jewish and Christian traditions look very different. But on closer scrutiny, they show remarkable similarities. Wiesel considers the ground of the German annihilation camps to be holy, since the suffering of the just is so excessive and indescribable, that it may only be trodden in bare feet. Wiesel was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 in recognition of his unceasing efforts on behalf of human dignity. Though primarily known as a writer, the price was not awarded for his literature. The Nobel committee saw his writings and actions on behalf of the Holocaust as an appeal to world consciousness to prevent this kind of calamity from happening again. Wiesel continuously struggled with the agonizing question of God’s silence during the persecution of His people. In “Night” (1966) he portrays the evolution of his despair during his time in Auschwitz. He declares: “The Eternal, Lord of the Universe, the all-powerful and terrible was silent. Why should I bless His name? What had I to thank Him for?” In the cantata “Ani Maamin” (1973) he writes: “What kind of Messiah is a Messiah who demands six million dead before He reveals himself?” But in the end of the cantata God does not remain silent. God weeps and whispers: “My children have defeated Me, they deserve My gratitude.” The expression “they have defeated Me” is not a literary invention of Elie Wiesel, but a typical piece of Hasidic philosophy based on a Cabalistic reinterpretation of a famous rabbinic discussion that is found in the Talmud. (Baba Meziah 59b) The “Book of Jasher” (Sefer Ha-yashar) offers an interesting case in point. It gives a truly moving account of Isaac’s sacrifice, which emphasises that there was no sadism involved, on the contrary, and it supports the thesis that human sacrifice was in those days a not uncommon practice. It was the opposite to this practice that God wanted to teach (exception made for God’s only begotten Son). The Talmud identifies the Book of Jasher with the books of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, known as the upright. Sefer Ha-yashar literally means Book of the Upright. This also refers to the book Genesis. I should point out that in Jewish practice Genesis is commonly known as Brei’sheet after the first words used in Genesis. Jasher is the source of Joshua 10:12-13 and 2 Samuel 1:17-27. It follows the books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua. The book was first printed in Venice in 1613 and translated from Hebrew in English for the first time in 1839. This masterpiece is hardly known yet, even amongst scholars, and so the appendix gets into detail as concerns its origins. An interesting part is the story of the binding of Isaac, also shown in the appendix, which was borrowed from the first English edition of 1840. Hubert Luns See also the excellent and well documented article on the topic by Daniel Ryder: “Satanic Ritual Abuse - The Evidence Surfaces”, originally published in 2001 for the newsletter of the International Council on Cultism and Ritual Trauma.
This article is partly based on a not published manuscript of Jacqueline Wels from 1986.
(1) Marc Dutroux (born 1956 in Brussels) was convicted of having kidnapped, tortured and sexually abused, in 1995 and 1996, six girls ranging in age from 8 to 19, two of whom he murdered. He was also convicted of having killed a former accomplice, Bernard Weinstein. He was arrested in 1996. His widely publicised trial took place in 2004. (2) “Nos enfants jouent à s’étrangler… en secret: Le jeu du foulard” by Françoise Cochet – F.X. de Guibert, Paris # 2001. (3) “Whatever Happened to the Substitute Atonement of the Torah?” by Louis Goldberg Issues: A Messianic Jewish Perspective # vol. 5:7, Jan. 1988, published by Jews for Jesus, which became one of the world’s best-known Christian ministry to the Jewish people with international headquarters in San Fransisco. (4) I should mention that the Aqedat Yitzchaq is not sadistic, although Isaac will certainly have been traumatised. Abraham was also convinced that he was acting rightly, believing God might bring Isaac back to life. So the incredible thing happened that Abraham was reckoned just and is even called the father of the believers (Gal. 3:6-9 and Hebr. 11:17-19). 3,500 years have passed since, while God revealed Himself to this world in many ways. The filthy devils who these days dare to commit these crimes are more guilty than ever and they do know it! (5) Bible dictionaries tell us that Tammuz was a Syro-Phoenician god, also called Adonis. He presumebly dies every year when the fields turn brown, and rises again when they once more turn green. And the fields turn green ‘because’ Tammuz rose from the dead, and so this god’s resurrection was considered essential for the world’s survival. So you got the question for the followers of this cult: how do you ensure this god’s resurrection? Part of the answer lied in a wailing ritual each time the god died.
Remark: The entire text of “The Ancient Book of Jasher” from the first English edition of 1840 is here available, with its introductory notes. Those notes are made available, because they do not appear in modern editions. The last chapter of: “The ArchkoVolume – an appraisal” (by Hubert Luns) discusses the Book of Jasher, and answers the question whether we can take it to be the true Book of Jasher.
• An excerpt from the Book of Jasher on ‘the binding of Isaac’
(ch. 23:3-6) And Abraham said within himself, how shall I separate my son Isaac from Sarah his mother, in order to bring him up for a burnt offering before the Lord? And Abraham came into the tent, and he sat before Sarah, his wife, and he spoke these words to her: “My son Isaac is grown up and he has not for some time studied the service of his God, now tomorrow I will go and bring him to Shem, and Eber his son, and there he will learn the ways of the Lord, for they will teach him to know the Lord as well as to know that when he prayeth continually before the Lord, He will answer him, therefore there he will know the way of serving the Lord his God.” And Sarah said: “Thou hast spoken well, go my lord and go unto him as thou hast said, but remove him not at a great distance from me, neither let him remain there too long, for my soul is bound within his soul.” (ch. 23:40-90) And Abraham went with Isaac toward the place that God had told him. And on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place at a distance which God had told him of. And a pillar of fire appeared to him that reached from the earth to heaven, and a cloud of glory upon the mountain, and the glory of the Lord was seen in the cloud. And Abraham said to Isaac: “My son dost thou see in that mountain, which we perceive at a distance, that which I see upon it?” And Isaac answered and said unto his father: “I see and lo a pillar of fire and a cloud, and the glory of the Lord is seen upon the cloud.” And Abraham knew that his son Isaac was accepted before the Lord for a burnt offering. And Abraham said unto Eliezer and unto Ishmael his son: “Do you also see that which we see upon the mountain which is at a distance?” And they answered and said: “We see nothing more than like other mountains of the earth.” And Abraham knew that they were not accepted before the Lord to go with them, and Abraham said to them: “Abide ye here with the ass whilst I and Isaac my son will go to yonder mount and worship there before the Lord and then return to you.” And Eliezer and Ishmael remained in that place, as Abraham had commanded. And Abraham took wood for a burnt offering and placed it upon his son Isaac, and he took the fire and the knife, and they both went to that place. And when they were going along Isaac said to his father: “Behold, I see here the fire and wood, and where then is the lamb that is to be the burnt offering before the Lord?” And Abraham answered his son Isaac, saying: “The Lord has made choice of thee my son, to be a perfect burnt offering instead of the lamb.” And Isaac said unto his father: “I will do all that the Lord spoke to thee with joy and cheerfulness of heart.” And Abraham again said unto Isaac his son: “Is there in thy heart any thought or counsel concerning this, which is not proper? Tell me my son, I pray thee, O my son conceal it not from me.” And Isaac answered his father Abraham and said unto him: “O my father, as the Lord liveth and as thy soul liveth, there is nothing in my heart to cause me to deviate either to the right or to the left from the word that He has spoken
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to thee. Neither limb nor muscle has moved or stirred at this, nor is there in my heart any thought or evil counsel concerning this. But I am of joyful and cheerful heart in this matter, and I say, blessed is the Lord who has this day chosen me to be a burnt offering before Him.” And Abraham greatly rejoiced at the words of Isaac, and they went on and came together to that place that the Lord had spoken of. And Abraham approached to build the altar in that place, and Abraham was weeping, and Isaac took stones and mortar until they had finished building the altar. And Abraham took the wood and placed it in order upon the altar which he had built. And he took his son Isaac and bound him in order to place him upon the wood which was upon the altar, to slay him for a burnt offering before the Lord. And Isaac said to his father: “Bind me securely and then place me upon the altar lest I should turn and move, and break loose from the force of the knife upon my flesh and thereby profane the burnt offering.” And Abraham did so. And Isaac still said to his father: “O my father, when thou shalt have slain me and burnt me for an offering, take with thee that which shall remain of my ashes to bring to Sarah my mother, and say to her, this is the sweet smelling savor of Isaac; but do not tell her this if she should sit near a well or upon any high place, lest she should cast her soul after me and die.” And Abraham heard the words of Isaac, and he lifted up his voice and wept when Isaac spake these words; and Abraham’s tears gushed down upon Isaac his son, and Isaac wept bitterly, and he said to his father: “Hasten thou, O my father, and do with me the will of the Lord our God as He has commanded thee.” And the hearts of Abraham and Isaac rejoiced at this thing which the Lord commanded them; but the eye wept bitterly whilst the heart rejoiced. And Abraham bound his son Isaac, and placed him on the altar upon the wood, and Isaac stretched forth his neck upon the altar before his father, and Abraham stretched forth his hand to take the knife to slay his son as a burnt offering before the Lord. At that time the angels of mercy came before the Lord and spake to Him concerning Isaac, saying: “O Lord, Thou art a merciful and compassionate king over all that Thou hast created in heaven and in earth, and Thou supportest them all; give therefore ransom and redemption instead of thy servant Isaac, and pity and have compassion upon Abraham and upon Isaac his son, who are this day performing Thy commands. Hast thou seen, O Lord, how Isaac the son of Abraham Thy servant is bound down to the slaughter like an animal? Now, therefore let Thy pity be roused for them, O Lord.” At that time the Lord appeared unto Abraham, and called to him from heaven, and said unto him: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God in performing this act, and in not withholding thy son, thine only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, a ram was caught in a thicket by his horns; that was the ram which the Lord God had created in the earth in the day that He made earth and heaven. For the Lord had prepared this ram from that day, to be a burnt offering instead of Isaac. And this ram was advancing to Abraham when Satan caught hold of him and entangled his horns in the thicket, that he might not advance to Abraham, in order that Abraham might slay his son. And Abraham, seeing the ram advancing to him and Satan withholding him, fetched him and brought him before the altar, and he loosened his son Isaac from his binding, and he put the ram in his stead, and Abraham killed the ram upon the altar, and brought it up as an offering in the place of his son Isaac. And Abraham sprinkled some of the blood of the ram upon the altar, and he exclaimed and said: “This is in the place of my son, and may this be considered this day as the blood of my son before the Lord.” And all that Abraham did on this occasion by the altar, he would exclaim and say: “This is in the room of my son, and may it this day be considered before the Lord in the place of my son.” And Abraham finished the whole of the service by the altar, and the service was accepted before the Lord, and was accounted as if it had been Isaac; and the Lord blessed Abraham and his seed on that day.
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And Satan went to Sarah, and he appeared to her in the figure of an old man very humble and meek, and Abraham was yet engaged in the burnt offering before the Lord. And he said unto her: “Dost thou not know all the work that Abraham has made with thine only son this day? For he took Isaac and built an altar and killed him, and brought him up as a sacrifice upon the altar, and Isaac cried and wept before his father, but he looked not at him, neither did he have compassion over him.” And Satan repeated these words, and he went away from her, and Sarah heard all the words of Satan, and she imagined him to be an old man from amongst the sons of men who had been with her son, and had come and told her these things. And Sarah lifted up her voice and wept and cried out bitterly on account of her son; and she threw herself upon the ground and she cast dust upon her head, and she said: “O my son, Isaac my son, O that I had this day died instead of thee.” And she continued to weep and said: “It grieves me for thee, O my son, my son Isaac, O that I had died this day in thy stead.” And she still continued to weep, and said: “It grieves me for thee after that I have reared thee and have brought thee up; now my joy is turned into mourning over thee, I that had a longing for thee, and cried and prayed to God till I bare thee at ninety years old; and now hast thou served this day for the knife and the fire, to be made an offering. But I console myself with thee my son, in its being the word of the Lord, for thou didst perform the command of thy God: for who can transgress the word of our God, in whose hands is the soul of every living creature? Thou art just O Lord our God, for all thy works are good and righteous; for I also am rejoiced with thy word which Thou didst command and whilst mine eye weepeth bitterly my heart rejoiceth.” And Sarah laid her head upon the bosom of one of her handmaids, and she became as still as a stone. She afterwards rose up and went about making inquiries till she came to Hebron, and she inquired of all those whom she met walking in the road, and no one could tell her what had happened to her son. And she came with her maid servants and men servants to Kireath Arba, which is Hebron, and she asked concerning her son, and she remained there whilst she sent some of her servants to seek where Abraham had gone with Isaac; they went to seek him in the house of Shem and Eber, and they could not find him, and they sought throughout the land and he was not there. And behold, Satan came to Sarah in the shape of an old man, and he came and stood before her, and he said unto her: “I spoke falsely unto thee, for Abraham did not kill his son and he is not dead.” And when she heard the word her joy was so exceedingly violent on account of her son, that her soul went out through joy: she died and was gathered to her people. And when Abraham had finished his service he returned with his son Isaac to his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba, and they came home. And Abraham sought for Sarah, and could not find her, and he made inquiries concerning her, and they said unto him: “She went as far as Hebron to seek you both where you had gone, for thus was she informed.” And Abraham and Isaac went to her to Hebron, and when they found that she was dead they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly over her; and Isaac fell upon his mother’s face and wept over her, and he said: “My mother, my mother, why hast thou forsaken me?” (6) Where hast thou gone? O how, how hast thou left me!” And Abraham and Isaac wept greatly and all their servants wept with them on account of Sarah, and they mourned over her a great and heavy mourning.
(6) The expression “My mother, my mother, why has thou forsaken me?” shows a remarkable similarity with Mark 15:33-34, when Jesus dies on the Cross: «« Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”, which is translated: ‘My God, My God, why have Your forsaken Me?’ »»
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THE ANCIENT BOOK OF JASHER IN A TRANSLATION BASED ON THE ORIGINAL HEBREW WITH THE ORIGINAL INTRODUCTORY NOTES TO THE ENGLISH EDITION.
THE ANCIENT BOOK OF JASHER
referred to in
JOSHUA AND SECOND SAMUEL
FROM THE ORIGINAL HEBREW INTO ENGLISH -------
NEW YORK: PUBLISHED BY M. N. NOAH & A. S. GOULD,
AT 144 NASSAU-STREET
First edition 1840.
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• Introductory notes to the first edition of the Book of Jasher
The Hebrew preface to the first printed edition of 1613 adds the following: It has at this time been ascertained by us that when the holy city Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus [in 70 AD], all the military heads went in to rob and plunder, and that amongst the officers of Titus was one whose name was Sidrus, who went in to search, and found in Jerusalem a house of great extent, and took away all the spoils which he found there; when he wished to go out of the house, he looked at the wall and fancied that he saw treasures there, so he broke down the wall in the building and found a cask full of various books of the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, also books of the kings of Israel, and of the kings of other nations, as well as many other books of Israel, together with the books [later] adopted and established by the Mishnah; many rolls were also lying there; he also found there all sorts of provision and wine in abundance, and discovered an old man sitting there, who was reading in those books. When the officer saw this great sight he was greatly astonished, and said to the old man: “Why dost thou sit alone in this place, without any person remaining with thee?” So the old man answered: “For many years was I aware of this second destruction of Jerusalem, so I built this house and made for myself a porch, and I brought with me these books to read, and I brought also sufficient provision, thinking thereby to save my life.” And God caused the old man to find favor in the eyes of the officer, who brought him forth with respect with all his books, and they went from city to city and from country to country until they reached Sevilia; and the officer found that this old man was possessed of wisdom and understanding and acquainted with various kinds of science, upon discovering which he raised and honored him, was constantly in his house and was taught by him all sorts of wisdom, and they built for themselves a lofty and spacious house in the suburbs of Sevilia and placed there all those books. This house is yet in Sevilia unto this day, and they wrote there all the events that would hereafter take place amongst the kings of the world unto the coming of our Messiah. And it came to pass that when God carried us away with a mighty captivity by the hands of the kings of Edom, from city to city and from country to country in bitter anxiety, this book, called “The Generations of Adam” together with other books came into our hands, for they came from that house in Sevilia, and they came afterward to our city Napuli, which city is under the sway of the king of Spain, (whose glory may be exalted). And when we saw these books, that they were books of all wisdom, we resolved in our minds to print them like all the books that came to our hands. Now this book is the best and most valuable of all, and of this book twelve copies have reached us, and we searched in them and found them all of one copy, there was no difference, nothing added and nothing deficient, nor any alteration in letters, words or events, for they were all alike as it were of one copy. Since, therefore, we saw in this book great merit urging us to this resolve, we are determined to print it. It is found written that this book is called the “Book Jasher”. All its transactions are in that order as they had taken place in the world as regards priority and succession, for thou wilt not find in this book any postponement of events that were anterior, or priority of those that were posterior, but every thing is recorded in its place and time. Thou wilt thus find that it relates the death of such a one at the particular time of the life of another and thus throughout. Owing to this it was called “Sefer Ha-yashar”, but it is customary to call it the “Generations of Adam”, the reason of which is that they call it by that with which it commences, but the chief name thereof is the “Book Jasher” owning to the reasons we have assigned. Now it is found that this book is translated into Greek, entitles “Lo libris de los divitiis”. (…) May God teach us the good way and direct us in a prosperous path for the sake of His mercies and kindnesses, and may He graciously fulfil the desires of our hearts, Amen, and so be His will.
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The translator says in the preface to the publication of 1839: Whatever may have been written and published by commentators, relative to the fabrications of Jasher, I am persuaded they had no reference to this work, although this is the work slightly touched upon by Dr Horne, as the publication of Venice, on the first discovery of printing; but of its origin and history he knew nothing beyond the rumor that it had originally been brought from Jerusalem. There are some events recorded in Jasher that are found in the Talmud, no doubt copied from Jasher; for although we find in the Talmud, the Mishnah, and Gemara, many parables and fanciful tales, to effect moral and religious purposes, yet every thing that we have in Jasher we find recorded in the Bible, with this difference, that in Jasher the occurrences of the Bible are amplified and detailed at length. The celebrated philosopher, Mendelssohn, expresses a high opinion of this work. (7) (…) Without giving it to the world as a work of divine inspiration, or assuming the responsibility to say that it is ‘not’ an inspired book, I have no hesitation in pronouncing it a work of great antiquity and interest, and a work that is entitled, even regarding it as a literary curiosity, to a great circulation among those who take pleasure in studying the Scriptures. (…) If commentators upon the holy Scriptures have sought for illustrations in the works of Homer, Pliny, Herodotus, and other profane writers; if they have anxiously caught at glimmerings among the absurdities of paganism, and the obscurities of heathen fables, the translator humbly and respectfully hopes that they will now grant a favorable reception to evidence of an entirely opposite character, which is presented in the “Book of Jasher”. He does not recommend it to their notice as a work of inspiration, but as a monument of history, comparatively covered with the ivy of the remotest ages; as a work possessing, in its language, all the characteristic simplicity of patriarchal times; and as such, he conceives it peculiarly calculated to illustrate and confirm the sacred truths handed down to us in the Scriptures. But in making these observations, he is far from offering it as a perfect record. Like all other ancient writings, (except the inspired volume), it has in some respects suffered from the consuming hand of time; and there is reason to believe that some additions have been made to it. In fine, it contains a history of the lives and memorable transactions of all the illustrious characters recorded in sacred history, from Adam down to the time of the Elders, who immediately succeeded Joshua.
(7) This must be Moses Mendelssohn who lived from 1729 to 1786 and was the most celebrated German Jew of his time. However, and sadly enough, this Moses was ‘ordained’ in 1761 by Jonathan Eibeschutz, who was excommunicated five years earlier by the supreme Rabbinical Court of European Jewry. The reason cited in the proceedings was seduction to Sabbatian Frankist idolatry. The ordination certificate, in the files now of the Schiff collection at the New York Public Library, reeks of Sabbatian vile concepts. Mendelssohn translated the Bible into German, which he published along with a Hebrew commentary in an effort, so he told, to upgrade Jewish education. For this he was severely criticized in Orthodox circles because they feared that instead of disseminating knowledge of the Bible it was propagating German language and through it German culture, which by this means would suffocate the Jewish way of life. Because of his Sabbatian affiliation we may assume that indeed this was his true object. In the view of orthodox Jewry (also my view), culture, language and religion are interwoven and therefore they regarded this as such a serious issue. Mendelssohn scorned at the idea of a national home for the Jewish people for in his words the Jewish nation was irrevocably dead. He advocated an “artificial cosmopolitism”.
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The ‘Ancient Book of Jasher ’ (67:21-49)
The Lord chose the Hebrews as the lot of His inheritance from amongst all the nations of the earth, and who is there to stretch his hand against them with impunity ? ( … )
And Pharao said unto Balaam : "What shall we do unto Israel ? Surely after a certain
manner did we at first counsel against them and could not prevail over them. Now therefore give you also advice against them by which we may prevail over them." (…) And Balaam answered Pharao : "Of all that the King has counselled against the Hebrews they shall be delivered, and the king will not be able to prevail over them with any counsel. For if thou thinkest to lessen them by the flaming fire, thou canst not prevail over them, for surely their God delivered Abraham their father from the oven of fire of the Chaldeans ; and if thou thinkest to destroy them by the sword, surely Isaac their father was delivered from it, and a ram was placed in his stead. And if by hard and rigorous labor thou thinkest to lessen them, thou wilt not prevail even in this, for their father Jacob served Laban in all manner of hard work, and prospered. Now therefore, O King, hear my words, for this is the counsel which is counselled against them, by which thou wilt prevail over them, and from which thou shouldst not depart. If it please the King, let him order all their children that shall be born from this day forward, to be thrown into the water, for by this canst thou wipe out their name, for none of them, nor of their fathers, were tried in this manner." [They did not have an escape from water yet — but during the Exodus from Egypt, at the time of crossing the Red Sea, God saved them miraculously. ]
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