The Ineffable Name
the symbolism of freemasonry
albert gallatin mackey
Another important symbol is the Ineffable Name, with which the series
of ritualistic symbols will be concluded.
or Ineffable Word,—the Incommunicable Name,—is a
symbol—for rightly-considered it is nothing more than a symbol—that has
more than any other (except, perhaps, the symbols connected with
sun-worship), pervaded the rites of antiquity. I know, indeed, of no
system of ancient initiation in which it has not some prominent form and
But as it was, perhaps, the earliest symbol which was corrupted by the
spurious Freemasonry of the pagans, in their secession from the primitive
system of the patriarchs and ancient priesthood, it will be most expedient
for the thorough discussion of the subject which is proposed in the
present paper, that we should begin the investigation with an inquiry into
the nature of the symbol among the Israelites.
That name of God, which we, at a venture, pronounce Jehovah,—although
whether this is, or is not, the true pronunciation can now never be
authoritatively settled,—was ever held by the Jews in the most profound
veneration. They derived its origin from the immediate inspiration of the
Almighty, who communicated it to Moses as his especial appellation, to be
used only by his chosen people; and this communication was made at the
Burning Bush, when he said to him, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children
of Israel: Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God
of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this [Jehovah] is
my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations."
123 And at a subsequent period he still more
emphatically declared this to be his peculiar name: "I am Jehovah;
and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of
El Shaddai; but by my name
Jehovah was I not known unto them."
It will be perceived that I have not here followed precisely the
somewhat unsatisfactory version of King James's Bible, which, by
translating or anglicizing one name, and not the other, leaves the whole
passage less intelligible and impressive than it should be. I have
retained the original Hebrew for both names. El Shaddai, "the Almighty
One," was the name by which he had been heretofore known to the preceding
patriarchs; in its meaning it was analogous to Elohim, who is described in
the first chapter of Genesis as creating the world. But his name of
Jehovah was now for the first time to be communicated to his people.
Ushered to their notice with all the solemnity and religious
consecration of these scenes and events, this name of God became invested
among the Israelites with the profoundest veneration and awe. To add to
this mysticism, the Cabalists, by the change of a single letter, read the
passage, "This is my name forever," or, as it is in the original, Zeh
shemi l'olam, זה שמי לעלם as if written Zeh shemi l'alam, זה
שמי לאלם that is to say, "This is my name to be concealed."
This interpretation, although founded on a blunder, and in all
probability an intentional one, soon became a precept, and has been
strictly obeyed to this day.125
The word Jehovah is never pronounced by a pious
Jew, who, whenever he meets with it in Scripture, substitutes for it the
word Adonai or Lord—a practice which has been followed by
the translators of the common English version of the Bible with almost
Jewish scrupulosity, the word "Jehovah" in the original being invariably
translated by the word "Lord."
126 The pronunciation of the word, being thus
abandoned, became ultimately lost, as, by the peculiar construction of the
Hebrew language, which is entirely without vowels, the letters, being all
consonants, can give no possible indication, to one who has not heard it
before, of the true pronunciation of any given word.
To make this subject plainer to the reader who is unacquainted with the
Hebrew, I will venture to furnish an explanation which will, perhaps, be
The Hebrew alphabet consists entirely of consonants, the vowel sounds
having always been inserted orally, and never marked in writing until the
"vowel points," as they are called, were invented by the Masorites, some
six centuries after the Christian era. As the vowel sounds were originally
supplied by the reader, while reading, from a knowledge which he had
previously received, by means of oral instruction, of the proper
pronunciation of the word, he was necessarily unable to pronounce any word
which had never before been uttered in his presence. As we know that
Dr. is to be pronounced Doctor, and Mr. Mister,
because we have always heard those peculiar combinations of letters thus
enunciated, and not because the letters themselves give any such sound; so
the Jew knew from instruction and constant practice, and not from the
power of the letters, how the consonants in the different words in daily
use were to be vocalized. But as the four letters which compose the word
Jehovah, as we now call it, were never pronounced in his presence,
but were made to represent another word, Adonai, which was
substituted for it, and as the combination of these four consonants would
give no more indication for any sort of enunciation than the combinations
Dr. or Mr. give in our language, the Jew, being ignorant of
what vocal sounds were to be supplied, was unable to pronounce the word,
so that its true pronunciation was in time lost to the masses of the
There was one person, however, who, it is said, was in possession of
the proper sound of the letters and the true pronunciation of the word.
This was the high priest, who, receiving it from his predecessor,
preserved the recollection of the sound by pronouncing it three times,
once a year, on the day of the atonement, when he entered the holy of
holies of the tabernacle or the temple.
If the traditions of Masonry on this subject are correct, the kings,
after the establishment of the monarchy, must have participated in this
privilege; for Solomon is said to have been in possession of the word, and
to have communicated it to his two colleagues at the building of the
This is the word which, from the number of its letters, was called the
"tetragrammaton," or four-lettered name, and, from its sacred
inviolability, the "ineffable" or unutterable name.
The Cabalists and Talmudists have enveloped it in a host of mystical
superstitions, most of which are as absurd as they are incredible, but all
of them tending to show the great veneration that has always been paid to
Thus they say that it is possessed of unlimited powers,
and that he who pronounces it shakes heaven and earth, and inspires the
very angels with terror and astonishment.
The Rabbins called it "shem hamphorash," that is to say, "the name that
is declaratory," and they say that David found it engraved on a stone
while digging into the earth.
From the sacredness with which the name was venerated, it was seldom,
if ever, written in full, and, consequently, a great many symbols, or
hieroglyphics, were invented to express it. One of these was the letter י
or Yod, equivalent nearly to the English I, or J, or Y, which was
the initial of the word, and it was often inscribed within an equilateral
the triangle itself being a symbol of Deity.
This symbol of the name of God is peculiarly worthy of our attention,
since not only is the triangle to be found in many of the ancient
religions occupying the same position, but the whole symbol itself is
undoubtedly the origin of that hieroglyphic exhibited in the second degree
of Masonry, where, the explanation of the symbolism being the same, the
form of it, as far as it respects the letter, has only been anglicized by
modern innovators. In my own opinion, the letter G, which is used
in the Fellow Craft's degree, should never have been permitted to intrude
into Masonry; it presents an instance of absurd anachronism, which would
never have occurred if the original Hebrew symbol had been retained. But
being there now, without the possibility of removal, we have only to
remember that it is in fact but the symbol of a symbol.128
Widely spread, as I have already said, was this reverence for the name
of God; and, consequently, its symbolism, in some peculiar form, is to be
found in all the ancient rites.
Thus the Ineffable Name itself, of which we have been discoursing, is
said to have been preserved in its true pronunciation by the Essenes, who,
in their secret rites, communicated it to each other only in a whisper,
and in such form, that while its component parts were known, they were so
separated as to make the whole word a mystery.
Among the Egyptians, whose connection with the Hebrews was more
immediate than that of any other people, and where, consequently, there
was a greater similarity of rites, the same sacred name is said to have
been used as a password, for the purpose of gaining admission to their
In the Brahminic Mysteries of Hindostan the ceremony of initiation was
terminated by intrusting the aspirant with the sacred, triliteral name,
which was AUM, the three letters of which were symbolic of the creative,
preservative, and destructive principles of the Supreme Deity, personified
in the three manifestations of Bramah, Siva, and Vishnu. This word was
forbidden to be pronounced aloud. It was to be the subject of silent
meditation to the pious Hindoo.
In the rites of Persia an ineffable name was also communicated to the
candidate after his initiation.129
Mithras, the principal divinity in these rites, who
took the place of the Hebrew Jehovah, and represented the sun, had this
peculiarity in his name—that the numeral value of the letters of which it
was composed amounted to precisely 365, the number of days which
constitute a revolution of the earth around the sun, or, as they then
supposed, of the sun around the earth.
In the Mysteries introduced by Pythagoras into Greece we again find the
ineffable name of the Hebrews, obtained doubtless by the Samian Sage
during his visit to Babylon.130
The symbol adopted by him to express it was, however,
somewhat different, being ten points distributed in the form of a
triangle, each side containing four points, as in the annexed figure.
The apex of the triangle was consequently a single point then followed
below two others, then three; and lastly, the base consisted of four.
These points were, by the number in each rank, intended, according to the
Pythagorean system, to denote respectively the monad, or active
principle of nature; the duad, or passive principle; the
triad, or world emanating from their union; and the
quaterniad, or intellectual science; the whole number of points
amounting to ten, the symbol of perfection and consummation. This figure
was called by Pythagoras the tetractys—a word equivalent in
signification to the tetragrammaton; and it was deemed so sacred
that on it the oath of secrecy and fidelity was administered to the
aspirants in the Pythagorean rites.131
Among the Scandinavians, as among the Jewish Cabalists, the Supreme God
who was made known in their mysteries had twelve names, of which the
principal and most sacred one was Alfader, the Universal Father.
Among the Druids, the sacred name of God was Hu132—a
name which, although it is supposed, by Bryant, to have been intended by
them for Noah, will be recognized as one of the modifications of the
Hebrew tetragrammaton. It is, in fact, the masculine pronoun in Hebrew,
and may be considered as the symbolization of the male or generative
principle in nature—a sort of modification of the system of Phallic
This sacred name among the Druids reminds me of what is the latest, and
undoubtedly the most philosophical, speculation on the true meaning, as
well as pronunciation, of the ineffable tetragrammaton. It is from the
ingenious mind of the celebrated Lanci; and I have already, in another
work, given it to the public as I received it from his pupil, and my
friend, Mr. Gliddon, the distinguished archaeologist. But the results are
too curious to be omitted whenever the tetragrammaton is discussed.
Elsewhere I have very fully alluded to the prevailing sentiment among
the ancients, that the Supreme Deity was bisexual, or hermaphrodite,
including in the essence of his being the male and female principles, the
generative and prolific powers of nature. This was the universal doctrine
in all the ancient religions, and was very naturally developed in the
symbol of the phallus and cteis among the Greeks, and in the
corresponding one of the lingam and yoni among the
Orientalists; from which symbols the masonic point within a circle
is a legitimate derivation. They all taught that God, the Creator, was
both male and female.
Now, this theory is undoubtedly unobjectionable on the score of
orthodoxy, if we view it in the spiritual sense, in which its first
propounders must necessarily have intended it to be presented to the mind,
and not in the gross, sensual meaning in which it was subsequently
received. For, taking the word sex, not in its ordinary and
colloquial signification, as denoting the indication of a particular
physical organization, but in that purely philosophical one which alone
can be used in such a connection, and which simply signifies the mere
manifestation of a power, it is not to be denied that the Supreme Being
must possess in himself, and in himself alone, both a generative and a
prolific power. This idea, which was so extensively prevalent among all
the nations of antiquity,133
has also been traced in the tetragrammaton, or name of
Jehovah, with singular ingenuity, by Lanci; and, what is almost equally as
interesting, he has, by this discovery, been enabled to demonstrate what
was, in all probability, the true pronunciation of the word.
In giving the details of this philological discovery, I will endeavor
to make it as comprehensible as it can be made to those who are not
critically acquainted with the construction of the Hebrew language; those
who are will at once appreciate its peculiar character, and will excuse
the explanatory details, of course unnecessary to them.
The ineffable name, the tetragrammaton, the shem hamphorash,—for it is
known by all these appellations,—consists of four letters, yod, heh,
vau, and heh, forming the word יהוה. This word, of course, in
accordance with the genius of the Hebrew language, is read, as we would
say, backward, or from right to left, beginning with yod [י], and
ending with heh [ה].
Of these letters, the first, yod [י], is equivalent to the
English i pronounced as e in the word machine.
The second and fourth letter, heh [ה], is an aspirate, and has
here the sound of the English h.
And the third letter, vau [ו], has the sound of open
Now, reading these four letters, י, or I, ה, or H, ו, or O, and ה, or
H, as the Hebrew requires, from right to left, we have the word יהוה, יהוה,
which is really as near to the pronunciation as we can well come,
notwithstanding it forms neither of the seven ways in which the word is
said to have been pronounced, at different times, by the patriarchs.134
But, thus pronounced, the word gives us no meaning, for there is no
such word in Hebrew as ihoh; and, as all the Hebrew names were
significative of something, it is but fair to conclude that this was not
the original pronunciation, and that we must look for another which will
give a meaning to the word. Now, Lanci proceeds to the discovery of this
true pronunciation, as follows:—
In the Cabala, a hidden meaning is often deduced from a word by
transposing or reversing its letters, and it was in this way that the
Cabalists concealed many of their mysteries.
Now, to reverse a word in English is to read its letters from right
to left, because our normal mode of reading is from left to right.
But in Hebrew the contrary rule takes place, for there the normal mode of
reading is from right to left; and therefore, to reverse the
reading of a word, is to read it from left to right.
Lanci applied this cabalistic mode to the tetragrammaton, when he found
that IH-OH, being read reversely, makes the word HO-HI.135
But in Hebrew, ho is the masculine pronoun, equivalent to the
English he; and hi is the feminine pronoun, equivalent to
she; and therefore the word HO-HI, literally translated, is
equivalent to the English compound HE-SHE; that is to say, the Ineffable
Name of God in Hebrew, being read cabalistically, includes within itself
the male and female principle, the generative and prolific energy of
creation; and here we have, again, the widely-spread symbolism of the
phallus and the cteis, the lingam and the yoni, or their equivalent, the
point within a circle, and another pregnant proof of the connection
between Freemasonry and the ancient Mysteries.
And here, perhaps, we may begin to find some meaning for the hitherto
incomprehensible passage in Genesis (i. 27): "So God created man in his
own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female
created he them." They could not have been "in the image" of IHOH, if they
had not been "male and female."
The Cabalists have exhausted their ingenuity and imagination in
speculations on this sacred name, and some of their fancies are really
sufficiently interesting to repay an investigation. Sufficient, however,
has been here said to account for the important position that it occupies
in the masonic system, and to enable us to appreciate the symbols by which
it has been represented.
The great reverence, or indeed the superstitious veneration,
entertained by the ancients for the name of the Supreme Being, led them to
express it rather in symbols or hieroglyphics than in any word at length.
We know, for instance, from the recent researches of the
archaeologists, that in all the documents of the ancient Egyptians,
written in the demotic or common character of the country, the names of
the gods were invariably denoted by symbols; and I have already alluded to
the different modes by which the Jews expressed the tetragrammaton. A
similar practice prevailed among the other nations of antiquity.
Freemasonry has adopted the same expedient, and the Grand Architect of the
Universe, whom it is the usage, even in ordinary writing, to designate by
the initials G.A.O.T.U., is accordingly presented to us in a variety of
symbols, three of which particularly require attention. These are the
letter G, the equilateral triangle, and the All-Seeing Eye.
Of the letter G I have already spoken. A letter of the English
alphabet can scarcely be considered an appropriate symbol of an
institution which dates its organization and refers its primitive history
to a period long anterior to the origin of that language. Such a symbol is
deficient in the two elements of antiquity and universality which should
characterize every masonic symbol. There can, therefore, be no doubt that,
in its present form, it is a corruption of the old Hebrew symbol, the
letter yod, by which the sacred name was often expressed. This
letter is the initial of the word Jehovah, or Ihoh, as I
have already stated, and is constantly to be met with in Hebrew writings
as the symbol or abbreviature of Jehovah, which word, it will be
remembered, is never written at length. But because G is, in like
manner, the initial of God, the equivalent of Jehovah, this
letter has been incorrectly, and, I cannot refrain from again saying, most
injudiciously, selected to supply, in modern lodges, the place of the
Having, then, the same meaning and force as the Hebrew yod, the
letter G must be considered, like its prototype, as the symbol of
the life-giving and life-sustaining power of God, as manifested in the
meaning of the word Jehovah, or Ihoh, the generative and prolific energy
of the Creator.
The All-Seeing Eye is another, and a still more important,
symbol of the same great Being. Both the Hebrews and the Egyptians appear
to have derived its use from that natural inclination of figurative minds
to select an organ as the symbol of the function which it is intended
peculiarly to discharge. Thus the foot was often adopted as the symbol of
swiftness, the arm of strength, and the hand of fidelity. On the same
principle, the open eye was selected as the symbol of watchfulness, and
the eye of God as the symbol of divine watchfulness and care of the
universe. The use of the symbol in this sense is repeatedly to be found in
the Hebrew writers. Thus the Psalmist says (Ps. xxxiv. 15), "The eyes of
the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry,"
which explains a subsequent passage (Ps. cxxi. 4), in which it is said,
"Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."
On the same principle, the Egyptians represented Osiris, their chief
deity, by the symbol of an open eye, and placed this hieroglyphic of him
in all their temples. His symbolic name, on the monuments, was represented
by the eye accompanying a throne, to which was sometimes added an
abbreviated figure of the god, and sometimes what has been called a
hatchet, but which, I consider, may as correctly be supposed to be a
representation of a square.
The All-Seeing Eye may, then, be considered as a symbol of God
manifested in his omnipresence—his guardian and preserving character—to
which Solomon alludes in the Book of Proverbs (xv. 3), when he says, "The
eyes of Jehovah are in every place, beholding (or as it might be more
faithfully translated, watching) the evil and the good." It is a symbol of
the Omnipresent Deity.
The triangle is another symbol which is entitled to our
consideration. There is, in fact, no other symbol which is more various in
its application or more generally diffused throughout the whole system of
both the Spurious and the Pure Freemasonry.
The equilateral triangle appears to have been adopted by nearly all the
nations of antiquity as a symbol of the Deity.
Among the Hebrews, it has already been stated that this figure, with a
yod in the centre, was used to represent the tetragrammaton, or
ineffable name of God.
The Egyptians considered the equilateral triangle as the most perfect
of figures, and a representative of the great principle of animated
existence, each of its sides referring to one of the three departments of
creation—the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral.
The symbol of universal nature among the Egyptians was the right-angled
triangle, of which the perpendicular side represented Osiris, or the male
principle; the base, Isis, or the female principle; and the hypothenuse,
their offspring, Horus, or the world emanating from the union of both
All this, of course, is nothing more nor less than the phallus and
cteis, or lingam and yoni, under a different form.
The symbol of the right-angled triangle was afterwards adopted by
Pythagoras when he visited the banks of the Nile; and the discovery which
he is said to have made in relation to the properties of this figure, but
which he really learned from the Egyptian priests, is commemorated in
Masonry by the introduction of the forty-seventh problem of Euclid's First
Book among the symbols of the third degree. Here the same mystical
application is supplied as in the Egyptian figure, namely, that the union
of the male and female, or active and passive principles of nature, has
produced the world. For the geometrical proposition being that the squares
of the perpendicular and base are equal to the square of the hypothenuse,
they may be said to produce it in the same way as Osiris and Isis are
equal to, or produce, the world.
Thus the perpendicular—Osiris, or the active, male principle—being
represented by a line whose measurement is 3; and the base—Isis, or the
passive, female principle—by a line whose measurement is 4; then their
union, or the addition of the squares of these numbers, will produce a
square whose root will be the hypothenuse, or a line whose measurement
must be 5. For the square of 3 is 9, and the square of 4 is 16, and the
square of 5 is 25; but 9 added to 16 is equal to 25; and thus, out of the
addition, or coming together, of the squares of the perpendicular and
base, arises the square of the hypothenuse, just as, out of the coming
together, in the Egyptian system, of the active and passive principles,
arises, or is generated, the world.
In the mediaeval history of the Christian church, the great ignorance
of the people, and their inclination to a sort of materialism, led them to
abandon the symbolic representations of the Deity, and to depict the
Father with the form and lineaments of an aged man, many of which
irreverent paintings, as far back as the twelfth century, are to be found
in the religious books and edifices of Europe.137
But, after the period of the renaissance, a better
spirit and a purer taste began to pervade the artists of the church, and
thenceforth the Supreme Being was represented only by his name—the
tetragrammaton—inscribed within an equilateral triangle, and placed within
a circle of rays. Didron, in his invaluable work on Christian Iconography,
gives one of these symbols, which was carved on wood in the seventeenth
century, of which I annex a copy.
But even in the earliest ages, when the Deity was painted or sculptured
as a personage, the nimbus, or glory, which surrounded the head of the
Father, was often made to assume a triangular form. Didron says on this
subject, "A nimbus, of a triangular form, is thus seen to be the exclusive
attribute of the Deity, and most frequently restricted to the Father
Eternal. The other persons of the trinity sometimes wear the triangle, but
only in representations of the trinity, and because the Father is with
them. Still, even then, beside the Father, who has a triangle, the Son and
the Holy Ghost are often drawn with a circular nimbus only."
The triangle has, in all ages and in all religions, been deemed a
symbol of Deity.
The Egyptians, the Greeks, and the other nations of antiquity,
considered this figure, with its three sides, as a symbol of the creative
energy displayed in the active and passive, or male and female,
principles, and their product, the world; the Christians referred it to
their dogma of the trinity as a manifestation of the Supreme God; and the
Jews and the primitive masons to the three periods of existence included
in the signification of the tetragrammaton—the past, the present, and the
In the higher degrees of Masonry, the triangle is the most important of
all symbols, and most generally assumes the name of the Delta, in
allusion to the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet, which is of the same
form and bears that appellation.
The Delta, or mystical triangle, is generally surrounded by a circle of
rays, called a "glory." When this glory is distinct from the figure, and
surrounds it in the form of a circle (as in the example just given from
Didron), it is then an emblem of God's eternal glory. When, as is most
usual in the masonic symbol, the rays emanate from the centre of the
triangle, and, as it were, enshroud it in their brilliancy, it is symbolic
of the Divine Light. The perverted ideas of the pagans referred these rays
of light to their Sun-god and their Sabian worship.
But the true masonic idea of this glory is, that it symbolizes that
Eternal Light of Wisdom which surrounds the Supreme Architect as with a
sea of glory, and from him, as a common centre, emanates to the universe
of his creation, and to which the prophet Ezekiel alludes in his eloquent
description of Jehovah: "And I saw as the color of amber, as the
appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins
even upward, and from his loins even downward, I saw, as it were, the
appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about." (Chap. 1, ver.
Dante has also beautifully described this circumfused light of Deity:—
"There is in heaven a light whose goodly shine
Makes the Creator
visible to all
Created, that in seeing him, alone
Have peace; and
in a circle spreads so far,
That the circumference were too loose a
To girdle in the sun."
On a recapitulation, then, of the views that have been advanced in
relation to these three symbols of the Deity which are to be found in the
masonic system, we may say that each one expresses a different attribute.
The letter G is the symbol of the self-existent Jehovah.
The All-Seeing Eye is the symbol of the omnipresent God.
is the symbol of the Supreme Architect of the
Universe—the Creator; and when surrounded by rays of glory, it becomes a
symbol of the Architect and Bestower of Light.
And now, after all, is there not in this whole prevalence of the name
of God, in so many different symbols, throughout the masonic system,
something more than a mere evidence of the religious proclivities of the
institution? Is there not behind this a more profound symbolism, which
constitutes, in fact, the very essence of Freemasonry? "The names of God,"
said a learned theologian at the beginning of this century, "were intended
to communicate the knowledge of God himself. By these, men were enabled to
receive some scanty ideas of his essential majesty, goodness, and power,
and to know both whom we are to believe, and what we are to believe of
And this train of thought is eminently applicable to the admission of
the name into the system of Masonry. With us, the name of God, however
expressed, is a symbol of DIVINE TRUTH, which it should be the incessant
labor of a Mason to seek.
122. From the Greek
τετρὰς, four, and γράμμα, letter, because it is composed of four Hebrew
letters. Brande thus defines it: "Among several ancient nations, the name
of the mystic number four, which was often symbolized to represent
the Deity, whose name was expressed by four letters." But this definition
is incorrect. The tetragrammaton is not the name of the number four,
but the word which expresses the name of God in four letters, and is
always applied to the Hebrew word only.
123. Exod. iii. 15.
In our common version of the Bible, the word "Lord" is substituted for
"Jehovah," whence the true import of the original is lost.
125. "The Jews have
many superstitious stories and opinions relative to this name, which,
because they were forbidden to mention in vain, they would not
mention at all. They substituted Adonai, &c., in its room,
whenever it occurred to them in reading or speaking, or else simply and
emphatically styled it השם the Name. Some of them attributed to a
certain repetition of this name the virtue of a charm, and others have had
the boldness to assert that our blessed Savior wrought all his miracles
(for they do not deny them to be such) by that mystical use of this
venerable name. See the Toldoth Jeschu, an infamously scurrilous
life of Jesus, written by a Jew not later than the thirteenth century. On
p. 7, edition of Wagenseilius, 1681, is a succinct detail of the manner in
which our Savior is said to have entered the temple and obtained
possession of the Holy Name. Leusden says that he had offered to give a
sum of money to a very poor Jew at Amsterdam, if he would only once
deliberately pronounce the name Jehovah; but he refused it by
saying that he did not dare."—Horae Solitariae, vol. i. p. 3.—"A
Brahmin will not pronounce the name of the Almighty, without drawing down
his sleeve and placing it on his mouth with fear and trembling."—MURRAY,
Truth of Revelation, p. 321.
126. The same
scrupulous avoidance of a strict translation has been pursued in other
versions. For Jehovah, the Septuagint substitutes "Κύριος," the Vulgate "Dominus,"
and the German "der Herr," all equivalent to "the Lord." The French
version uses the title "l'Eternel." But, with a better comprehension of
the value of the word, Lowth in his "Isaiah," the Swedenborgian version of
the Psalms, and some other recent versions, have restored the original
127. In the
Talmudical treatise, Majan Hachochima, quoted by Stephelin
(Rabbinical Literature, i. p. 131), we are informed that rightly to
understand the shem hamphorash is a key to the unlocking of all mysteries.
"There," says the treatise, "shalt thou understand the words of men, the
words of cattle, the singing of birds, the language of beasts, the barking
of dogs, the language of devils, the language of ministering angels, the
language of date-trees, the motion of the sea, the unity of hearts, and
the murmuring of the tongue—nay, even the thoughts of the reins."
128. The gamma, Γ,
or Greek letter G, is said to have been sacred among the Pythagoreans as
the initial of Γεωμειρία or Geometry.
129. Vide Oliver,
Hist. Init. p. 68, note.
130. Jamblichus says
that Pythagoras passed over from Miletus to Sidon, thinking that he could
thence go more easily into Egypt, and that while there he caused himself
to be initiated into all the mysteries of Byblos and Tyre, and those which
were practised in many parts of Syria, not because he was under the
influence of any superstitious motives, but from the fear that if he were
not to avail himself of these opportunities, he might neglect to acquire
some knowledge in those rites which was worthy of observation. But as
these mysteries were originally received by the Phoenicians from Egypt, he
passed over into that country, where he remained twenty-two years,
occupying himself in the study of geometry, astronomy, and all the
initiations of the gods (πάσας θεῶν τελετάς), until he was carried a
captive into Babylon by the soldiers of Cambyses, and that twelve years
afterwards he returned to Samos at the age of sixty years.—Vit. Pythag,
cap. iii., iv.
131. "The sacred
words were intrusted to him, of which the Ineffable Tetractys, or name of
God, was the chief."—OLIVER, Hist. Init. p. 109.
132. "Hu, the
mighty, whose history as a patriarch is precisely that of Noah, was
promoted to the rank of the principal demon-god among the Britons; and, as
his chariot was composed of rays of the sun, it may be presumed that he
was worshipped in conjunction with that luminary, and to the same
superstition we may refer what is said of his light and swift
course."—DAVIES, Mythol. and Rites of the Brit. Druids, p. 110.
133. "All the male
gods (of the ancients) may be reduced to one, the generative energy; and
all the female to one, the prolific principle. In fact, they may all be
included in the one great Hermaphrodite, the ἀῥῤενοθηλυς who combines in
his nature all the elements of production, and who continues to support
the vast creation which originally proceeded from his will."—RUSSELL'S
Connection, i. p. 402.
134. It is a
tradition that it was pronounced in the following seven different ways by
the patriarchs, from Methuselah to David, viz.: Juha, Jeva, Jova, Jevo,
Jeveh, Johe, and Jehovah. In all these words the j is to
be pronounced as y, the a as ah, the e as a,
and the v as w.
135. The i is
to be pronounced as e, and the whole word as if spelled in English
136. In the
apocryphal "Book of the Conversation of God with Moses on Mount Sinai,"
translated by the Rev. W. Cureton from an Arabic MS. of the fifteenth
century, and published by the Philobiblon Society of London, the idea of
the eternal watchfulness of God is thus beautifully allegorized:—
"Then Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, dost thou sleep or not? The Lord
said unto Moses, I never sleep: but take a cup and fill it with water.
Then Moses took a cup and filled it with water, as the Lord commanded him.
Then the Lord cast into the heart of Moses the breath of slumber; so he
slept, and the cup fell from his hand, and the water which was therein was
spilled. Then Moses awoke from his sleep. Then said God to Moses, I
declare by my power, and by my glory, that if I were to withdraw my
providence from the heavens and the earth for no longer a space of time
than thou hast slept, they would at once fall to ruin and confusion, like
as the cup fell from thy hand."
137. I have in my
possession a rare copy of the Vulgate Bible, in black letter, printed at
Lyons, in 1522. The frontispiece is a coarsely executed wood cut, divided
into six compartments, and representing the six days of the creation. The
Father is, in each compartment, pictured as an aged man engaged in his
Iconography, Millington's trans., vol. i. p. 59.
139. The triangle,
or delta, is the symbol of Deity for this reason. In geometry a single
line cannot represent a perfect figure; neither can two lines; three
lines, however, constitute the triangle or first perfect and demonstrable
figure. Hence this figure symbolizes the Eternal God, infinitely perfect
in his nature. But the triangle properly refers to God only in his quality
as an Eternal Being, its three sides representing the Past, the Present,
and the Future. Some Christian symbologists have made the three sides
represent the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; but they evidently thereby
destroy the divine unity, making a trinity of Gods in the unity of a
Godhead. The Gnostic trinity of Manes consisted of one God and two
principles, one of good and the other of evil. The Indian trinity,
symbolized also by the triangle, consisted of Brahma, Siva, and Vishnu,
the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, represented by Earth, Water, and
Air. This symbolism of the Eternal God by the triangle is the reason why a
trinitarian scheme has been so prevalent in all religions—the three sides
naturally suggesting the three divisions of the Godhead. But in the Pagan
and Oriental religions this trinity was nothing else but a tritheism.
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