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The Jewish Roots of Kabbalah

To: alt.magick,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.pagan.magick,alt.occult
From: (hara)
Subject: The Jewish Roots of Kabbalah (was gematria discussion)
Date: 15 Dec 1998 14:56:02 -0600

49981215 IIIom 

catherine yronwode :
>...The Kaballah *IS* Jewish in root, origin, core, and sum. 

I have said as much, yes.  the Hermetic qabalah is not, however.
in fact I think there are valuable questions to ask about the
'root' of these mystical tradition (so much so that I have to
couch my words like 'appears').  I omit the balance of your
text for lack of time (I hope that my subsequent response to
occult/Tim was more clear to you) and provide this text in
response to your request for an assertion about the nonJewish
roots of some aspect of kabbalah (gematria):

I liked "The Pythagorean Tarot: An Interpretation of the Major 
and Minor Arcana on Pythagorean and Alchemical Principles", by
John Opsopaus ( copyright 1996 at the following URL:

enough to print out a great quantity of it and discuss it 
with friends.  I am not sure that it is wholly accurate,
but the author appears to be substantiating many of his claims
with citations to reputable books (Fideler, for example).

of which what follows is a brief excerpt on kabbalah (Jewish
QBL) and gematria (which Mr. Opsopaus claims was used by a
variety of cultures -- my main contention when posting to
the Occult Elist and responding to "occult" (, 
as we were talking about gematria until "occult" brought up 
kabbalah, which I have always agreed is Jewish in manifestation 
and by name).

I'd love to hear the review of those more wide-read than
myself with an acute analysis of his sources and assertions:

[from ]

   Finally, we have to consider the Qabalistic use of gematria: the
   esoteric interpretation of Hebrew words by means of the numerical
   values of their letters. This is not a major part of traditional
   tarot interpretation, but it is a standard esoteric technique, so
   I have used it to reinforce the symbolic analyses of the trumps.
   However, since I have used isopsephia ("Greek gematria") rather
   than the better known gematria based on the Hebrew alphabet, a
   few words of explanation are necessary. There are several reasons
   for this.

   First, an analysis based on the Greek alphabet is more
   appropriate to a Pythagorean tarot than one based on the Hebrew
   alphabet since, presumably, that is the alphabet Pythagoras would
   have used for isopsephia. Second, there is considerable evidence
   that the Hebrew practice is later than the Greek and probably
   derived from it. We'll consider the evidence briefly.

   First, the Greek use of their alphabet for numeration goes back
   at least to the end of the fourth century BCE, whereas use of the
   Hebrew alphabet for numeration goes no earlier than the end of
   the second century BCE (Ifrah, chs. 16, 17). Indeed, Fideler (75)
   argues that the standard spellings of the Greek gods' names were
   formulated according to isopsephic principles under the influence
   of the Pythagorean League c. 500 BCE. He further argues (216-9)
   that many Greek temples, such as the Parthenon (447 BCE) and
   Apollo's temple at Didyma (300 BCE), were constructed
   isopsephically. The Greeks may have learned the idea from the
   Babylonians, who as early as the eighth century BCE constructed
   buildings according to an isopsephia based on their syllabic
   writing system.

   Second, the only explanation for the word gematria is that it
   derives from the Greek word gametria, which is an alternative
   spelling for geometria, "geometry," but literally, "land
   surveying" (LSJ s.v. gametria, geometria; OED s.v. gematria).
   This is suggestive of its use (in Greece, Babylonia and perhaps
   other places) for laying out temples and other important

   Third, the archaic Greek alphabet had 27 letters; thus it divided
   naturally into three Enneads (groups of 9), which were assigned
   to the numbers 1-9, 10-90 and 100-900 in order.

		  A B G D E F Z E Q
		  I K L M N X O P q
		  R S T U F C Y W 3

   The later alphabet dropped one letter from each group (F q 3),
   resulting in three Ogdoads (groups of eight), which was also
   considered to be esoterically significant. However, the three
   Enneads were retained for writing numbers, which is the basis of
   isopsephia. In contrast, the Hebrew alphabet had only 22 letters,

   so there were no numerals for 500, 600, 700, 800 or 900. (The use
   of the final forms of the letters for these numbers cannot
   predate their appearance in the Square Hebrew alphabet of the
   first or second century BCE; Diringer 135-7.)

   How much significance should be attached to isopsephia? We cannot
   fail to be astonished when we discover that a square around
   Apollo's temple at Didyma has a perimeter of 1415 Greek feet, and
   that 1415 is the numerical value of O QEOS APOLLWN (ho Theos
   Apollon, the God Apollo); or that a hexagon inscribed in the same
   temple has a perimeter of 1061 feet, which is the numerical value
   of APOLLWN (Fideler 216-7). But should we consider these facts
   "mere coincidences"? Here Jung's concept of synchronicity is
   helpful, for we realize that if the coincidence is symbolically
   meaningful, then it is a synchronous event bridging the physical
   and psychic worlds. Therefore, if these isopsephic connections
   are significant to you, then they are ipso facto meaningful. For
   this reason the Pythagorean Tarot includes analyses according to
   the principles of isopsephia.
   the "Qabalah" section within the work cited above

-- (emailed replies may be posted); cc me replies;;

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