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John Ibn-Saba: The precious pearl, on ecclesiastical knowledge (2006).  Extract


CHAPTER XVII -- The offering of sacrifices in the tabernacle. 

God gave this order to Moses: "Speak to the children of Israel and tell them that whoever has sinned and transgressed the law must bring a ram which will be immolated by a Levite, while the priest holds it by the horns with his hands.  The priest will take the blood of this ram, will sprinkle the altar with it, will dip his fingers in it and will put it on him who offers the ram for his sins; then I will forgive him for it." "The sin of man has never been forgiven but by the effusion of blood." The Lord gave them great commandments, as is told in the book of the Torah, but to discuss it would be very long. 

CHAPTER XVIII -- The tablets preserved in the Ark of the Covenant. 

Among these [commandments], there are those which God traced with the finger of His power on the tablets which came to them by the hand of Moses.  These are: "Hear, O Israel, your God, He alone is the Lord.  You will serve no others but Him.  You will not covet the wife of your neighbour, nor his field, nor his ass, nor the things in his house.  God also says: You shall not kill.  You shall not commit adultery at all.  You shall not steal.  You shall not bear false witness.  You shall not cheat.  Honour your father and your mother.  Love your neighbour like yourself.  Observe the sabbath of the Lord." And in another place: "You shall not mix wool with cotton, nor cotton with wool. You shall not cook a kid in itrs mother's milk" and other precepts which it would take too long to discuss. 

As for this word: "You shall not mix wool with cotton, nor cotton with wool," this expresses the complete justice of God Almighty, who does not wish cotton to be corroded by wool, which is stronger than it.  And if God, in the Torah, did not permit mixing wool with cotton, for fear that one would have the advantage of the other, this was to establish among men a justice which would prohibit anyone from doing violence to his neighbour. When He came to save man by His divine power, He did not provoke Satan to anger, He did not treat Him with violence, taking man from him by force; but He abased his grandeur, He hid His divinity from the devil and his minions. 
The latter entered the princes of the Jewish priests and pushed them to crucify Our Lord (to Him be glory!), so Christ purchased man at the price of His own shed blood. He did not take Satan by violence, but by justice. 

The word: "You shall not eat a kid with the milk of his mother" is said, because God Almighty had ordered that the first fruits of all things be given to Him. This was an way to extract the first-born of the herd, for fear that man, from covetousness, would not want to give it up to Him. 

Next, the people forgot the Lord their God, and worshipped idols, while saying that they were the mediators between them and the spirits of the stars.

CHAPTER XIX -- On the sect of the Sabaeans, worshippers of the stars.

The people returned to the sect of the Sabaeans who worshipped the stars. For the call to this worship had been launched earlier by some important personages.

Among these was Feridoun who worshipped Mercury ('OtÍrid). He presented him with offerings, sacrificed victims to his spirit and burned incense to him, so that this spirit descended upon him in the form of a spark of fire and spoke to him. Feridoun said to the people that surrounded him what this spirit had said to him: "I will give you power, greatness and the direction of affairs in the eyes of the men. I will provide for your needs and for those of my worshippers, if they and you, you do all that I will order you, if you offer me victims, oblations and incense."

Similarly, the spirit of Saturn (Zohal) appeared to a man named Zoroaster (Zar‚dacht). His doctrine has been spread for one thousand five hundred years. He sent out on a mission seventy men on whom seventy spirits coming from the spirit of Saturn had come down and who invited the people to the worship of this star. Zoroaster said to them in the hour of his death: "If you do not eat my body and do not drink my blood, you will have no part in salvation." After his demise, his disciples did therefore boil his body and drank of this turbid fluid. He thus obtained the accomplishment of what he had said to them.

It was the same for Benderitous, born from the two spirits of the moon and Jupiter (Al'Mochtari) : he is the king of talismans; he is the first that taught magic to men, sorcery, astrology, the knowledge of white magic, the knowledge of hidden things and who mentioned in reality the conjunctions of the celestial spheres and all the ways in which men can make contact with them, rendering worship to the stars and seeking to make their spirits descend.

Satan suggested making idols that would serve as an intermediary between men and the spirits of the stars. He resided in these idols and, from their interior, spoke with the people, attributing what he said to the spirits of the stars. This last error was worse than the first, for all the ancients believed because of the action of the spirits of the stars and accustomed themselves to render them worship to provide for their needs. These influences propagated themselves among men for long centuries, while the appeal spread of those who attributed to themselves the divinity in this world. The name of [Benderitous] was so great among the philosophers that they believed that all that they did was accomplished only by the glorification of the name of the stars and thanks to the offerings that they made to them and to the adoration of their names.

Because of their power over minds, these ideas left innumerable tracks. Their principles imprinted themselves on the intelligent, and their traces affixed themselves most intimately, holding their place, believing in their words and devoting themselves to the worship of their divinities, with evident signs and the most extraordinary miracles. This is how they saw that might unite the astral forces with ordinary elements in special forms and special duties. And it resulted from this strange consequences that stunned human intelligence. This is thus for example that they made a figure with this rock under such a horoscope, in a valley infested with lions and absolutely no lion would any longer pass through this place. They similarly acted to drive away ferocious beasts, birds, vipers, insects, etc., according to the teaching that they had received from the astral spirits of which we spoke. On the treasuries full of money and of various gems they constructed engines in the form of a sword, or of ferocious beasts, of floods of water or of vipers; and no one could approach unless they had their knowledge. In respect of talismans, enchantments and services obtained from demons, they did what the language is powerless to express.

Aristotle did similar things for Alexander, when the latter went into the country of the Persians, and it is necessary for us to relate this. "Know, O king," said Aristotle, "that Persia is an immense region in which there are waterless and uninhabited deserts. As your army is numerous, you need talismans that will help you to attain your goal and will facilitate your great enterprises. You will carry therefore an iron coffer in which you will place your effigy in iron, as well as the effigies in iron of your army mounted on iron horses. You will carry also the effigies in lead of your enemies each of which will carry, in their hand, a sword of lead curved behind on the back of the hand, and, in the other hand, a lead lance, the point downwards; to each of them you will give a bow of which the string will be broken. You will place, between the army and the coffer, an iron curtain; then you will offer a sacrifice and incense to BenderÓtous, king of talismans, you will glorify him and will exalt him the most possible. You will carry this coffer with you in your army wherever you camp, wherever you go; every step you take, you will place the coffer in your hand and no one will touch it but you. Thus, you and yours, you will be secure against the tricks of the enemy, against his pitfalls, against his deceptions and against the stratagems that he will employ against you with all his army. ---. You will carry another talisman to let fountains flow in the waterless deserts. By this means, you will have springs gushing in the dried out deserts; you will be able to quench the thirst, of both your army and all its beasts."

Seeing that the intelligence of men led them to the worship of other gods than Him and that they were accustomed to look at only the things that they could see and touch, as He wanted only their salvation in the abundance of his mercy and of his compassion, God (let him be glorified!) resolved to bring back to him these intelligences by the objects that were familiar to them and He opposed the works of Satan, attributed to sidereal spirits, by similar works derived progressively from his mercy. He opposed to the flame that, coming from the spirit of Saturn, had showed itself to Fťridoun and his troop and had said: "I will give you the power and the force and I will provide for your needs," the flame that He showed to Moses in the incombustible bush. When Moses had directed himself towards Him, He heard the voice of God that cried to him: "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."

---. It was the same for Zoroaster, when there lived in the seventy men that he had established the seventy spirits originating from the spirit of Saturn and engaging the men to render worship to him. The Christ, the eternal Son, divine person, the Word, sent similarly seventy disciples to urge men to believe in Him and He said to them: "Heal the sick, revive the dead, purify the lepers, expel the demons. You received freely, give freely."

CHAPTER XX -- The signs of God placed in opposition to the signs attributed to the stars.

God put next in opposition the ark, covered with leaves of gold, containing the stone tablets written by his finger, with the iron coffer that Aristotle had made for Alexander against his enemies of the desert. Moses and Aaron established priests for the ark, like those that were intended for the service of this coffer. Moses struck the earth with his staff and the water of twelve fountains gushed forth, in opposition to the talismans that, in the desert, had made waters gush for Alexander.

Thus, the will of Moses accomplished what corresponded to all the things attributed to the sidereal spirits, because mankind was accustomed only to the acts that it could sense. When God (may He be glorified!) had seen that human intelligences were led to another worship than His and that they were accustomed only to the things they could sense and see, He sent His Holy Spirit on the Sages, before the coming of the Law; after the Sages, came the Law and the Prophets.

CHAPTER XXI -- On the Sages established to prophesy about Our Saviour the Christ and on their words.

Among the Sages, one of them, speaking in conformity to wisdom, said: "It is necessary that a man applies his soul to justice and purity and that he strips it of all defilement. In this manner, he disposes himself to know the name of six letters and to see the Word, the son of God, who did not suffer and who suffered."

Commentary on these words. ---. These words: "He disposes himself to know the name composed from six letters" designate the name of the Messiah that contains 'a l m s Ó h': i.e. six letters. According to these other words: "He will see the Word, the Son of God, who did not suffer and who suffered", [it is necessary to notice that] the Messiah pulls this name from two different sources, the one his divinity, the other his humanity; these two sources form together a single Messiah and a single Lord. The Messiah suffered, during his crucifixion, in His humanity, but He did not suffer in His divinity. He became then the single Messiah, as was prophesied, by an inspiration of the Spirit of wisdom or the Holy Spirit, the Sage in question, when he said that He suffered and that He did not suffer.

Nason (NÍsoun) the Sage said also: "The Father spoke first, when He sent to the world his Son by his will. The latter is the voice of the Father, his unique Word."

Iloun the Sage said: "The very great Son of God will come clothed in flesh and will resemble the mortal ones on earth."

Porphyry (BarfounÓs) the Sage said: "The light, the substantial intelligence, when it will have come out and descended, will climb back up; this is a light that would remain inaccessible, if it did not descend into the world."

BatarnÍtis the Sage said: "Thus the Word is God, He has everything in His hand. When He descended from the sky and had clothed Himself in flesh, He published his humanity and showed his magnitude. More, He is God, as He always had been before his coming."

Ormuz the Sage said: "The Word [comes] from the first Father. When He was born being already perfect in light, He obtained not a complement in his nature. He is son and agent in his descent [on earth]; his incarnation of a virgin [results] from the shadow on the water."

Manes (Mani) the Sage said: "When the fire that exists before the darkness appears and descends on the earth, when He shows Himself in an earthly body, a lot of people will not understand it. He will return then and will climb back up to his first position of which the glory is sublime."

The Sage Sabla said: "Inthe sixth era, a powerful king will arise who will see in the sky the sign of the cross on which God, son of God, must be suspended. In the east a God will be seen whose mother will not have known man. A king will raise his head who will be incapable to save himself and will kill the young children because of the one that will have been born in a city of Judah."

Ormuz the Sage said: "A star, rising in the east, will travel from the East towards the West, for two years and a half, then will return to his post: this will be the star of the good news. It will travel before the sages that will come from the East towards the eternal King to worship him and to offer him their presents. Because of him, little children will be slaughtered, and that, after hundred eighty-three revolutions of the old Saturn (Kaiw‚n).Ē

Commentary on this passage. ---. According to Kaiw‚n Al-' AtÓq, this is the planet of Saturn (Zohal). It is called 'AtÓq, because this is the first of the celestial spheres from the top down. It crosses the sky in a revolution that lasts thirty years. If one multiplies thirty by hundred eighty-three one obtains 5490 years; and in the ten years that complete the 5500 years of the age of the world appeared Our Lord the Christ in the flesh, as the other prophets and sages had announced.

Plato said in the Book of the Mysteries: "The Most High will appear on the earth; He will revive the dead and will manifest his divine signs. Then He will return to his redoubtable throne and will be seen no more until the day of the great judgement."

Aristotle said in his book entitled the Treasure of Treasures: "The treasure of life lies in the God AdonaÔ who will appear in the world in which we live. Those who are in their tombs will hear his voice and will revive."

Such are the indications contained in the words of the Sages.

CHAPTER XXII -- The predictions of the Prophets concerning the coming of our Lord the Christ (to Him the Glory!) OUR LORD THE CHRIST.


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This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2008. This file and all material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.  Translation made from the French in the Patrologia Orientalis 16.

Greek text is rendered using unicode.


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