Ii. the Literal Cabala
This division of the Cabala, being, as has already been said, occupied in the explanation of sacred words by the value of the letters of which they are composed, has been extensively used by the inventors of the advanced degrees in the symbolism of their significant words. It is divided into three species : Gematria, Notaricon, and Temura.
1. Gematria. The word, which is evidently a rabbinical corruption of the Greek geometric, is defined by Buxtorf to be "a species of the Cabala which collects the same sense of different words from their equal numerical value." The Hebrews, like other ancient nations, having no figures in their language, made use of the letters of their alphabet instead of numbers, each having a numerical value. Gematria, is therefore, a mode of contemplating words according to the numerical value of their letters.
Any two words, the letters of which have the same numerical value, are mutually convertible, and each is supposed to contain the latent signification of the other. Thus the words in Genesis xlix, 10, "Shiloh shall come," are supposed to contain a prophecy of the Messiah, because the letters of ''Shiloh shall come, " and of "Messiah," both have the numerical value of 358, according to the above table.
By Gematria, applied to the Greek language, we find the identity of Abraxas and Mithras, the letters of each word having in the Greek alphabet the equal value of 365. This is by far the most common mode of applying the literal Cabala.
2. Notaricon is derived from the Latin notarius a shorthand writer or writer in cipher. The Roman Notarii were accustomed to use single letters, to signify whole words with other methods of abbreviation, by marks called notae. Hence, among the Cabalists, notaricon is a mode constructing one word out of the initials or finals of many, or a sentence out of the letters of a word, each letter being used as the initial of another word. Thus of the sentence in Deuteronomy xxx, 12, "Who shall go up for us to heaven?" in Hebrew, the initial letters of each word are taken to form the word circumcision, and the finals to form Jehovah; hence it is concluded that Jehovah hath shown circumcision to be the way to heaven. Again : the six letters of the first word in Genesis, ''in the beginning, " are made use of to form the initials of six words which constitute a sentence signifying that "In the beginning God saw that Israel would accept the law,"
3. Temura is a rabbinical word which signifies permutation. Hence temura is a Caballstic result produced by a change or permutation of the letters of a word.
Sometimes the letters are transposed to form another word, as in the modern anagram ; and sometimes the letters are changed for others, according to certain fixed rules of alphabetical permutation, the first letter being placed for the twenty-second the second for the twenty-first, the third for the twentieth, and so on. It is in this way that Babel, is made out of Sheshach, and hence the Cabalists say that when Jeremiah used the word Sheshach, xxv, 26, he referred to Babel.
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