Jewish Gnosis

Jewish Gnosis




Gnosticism grow out of the Jewish mystic schools 


During the second temple period the Jewish understanding of knowledge stared to take a more esoteric view in the Pseudepigrapha and Dead Sea Scrolls community. at the same time within Judaism Cosmogonic-theological speculations, started to develop

The Cosmogonic-theological are based on the first sections of Genesis and Ezekiel, for which there are in Jewish speculation two well-established and therefore old terms: "Ma'aseh Bereshit" and "Ma'aseh Merkabah."

The Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice from the Dead Sea Scrolls Qumran community The Songs describe worship around the throne of God in the heavenly realms. Jewish apocalyptists engaged in visionary exegeses concerning the divine realm and the divine creatures A small number of texts unearthed at Qumran indicate that the Dead Sea community also engaged in merkabah exegesis.

From 300–100 BCE, in Apocalyptic literature like the Book Of Enoch we can see that the Merkabah doctrine is being developed. 


The book of Enoch is divided into ninety chapters, and begins with the preface: "In the Name of God, the merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and of great mercy, and holiness. This Book is the Book of Enoch the prophet. May blessing and help be with him who loves Him, for ever and ever. Amen. Chapter I. This word is the blessing of Enoch with which he blessed the chosen and the righteous that wore of old. And Enoch lifted up his voice and spoke, a holy man of God, while his eyes were open, and he saw a holy vision in the heavens, which the angels revealed to him. And I heard from them everything, and I understood what I saw." After this follows the history of the angels, of their having descended from heaven, and produced giants with the daughters of men; of their having instructed them in the arts of war, and peace, and luxury.

1 enoch 41:1 And after that I saw all the secrets of the heavens, and how the kingdom is divided, and how the 2 actions of men are weighed in the balance. And there I saw the mansions of the elect and the mansions of the holy, and mine eyes saw there all the sinners being driven from thence which deny the name of the Lord of Spirits, and being dragged off: and they could not abide because of the punishment which proceeds from the Lord of Spirits. 3 And there mine eyes saw the secrets of the lightning and of the thunder, and the secrets of the winds, how they are divided to blow over the earth, and the secrets of the clouds and dew, and there 4 I saw from whence they proceed in that place and from whence they saturate the dusty earth. And there I saw closed chambers out of which the winds are divided, the chamber of the hail and winds, the chamber of the mist, and of the clouds, and the cloud thereof hovers over the earth from the 5 beginning of the world. And I saw the chambers of the sun and moon, whence they proceed and whither they come again, and their glorious return, and how one is superior to the other, and their stately orbit, and how they do not leave their orbit, and they add nothing to their orbit and they take nothing from it, and they keep faith with each other, in accordance with the oath by which they 6 are bound together. And first the sun goes forth and traverses his path according to the commandment 7 of the Lord of Spirits, and mighty is His name for ever and ever. And after that I saw the hidden and the visible path of the moon, and she accomplishes the course of her path in that place by day and by night-the one holding a position opposite to the other before the Lord of Spirits.



[Chapter 52] 
l And after those days in that place where I had seen all the visions of that which is hidden -for 2 I had been carried off in a whirlwind and they had borne me towards the west-There mine eyes saw all the secret things of heaven that shall be, a mountain of iron, and a mountain of copper, and a mountain of silver, and a mountain of gold, and a mountain of soft metal, and a mountain of lead. 3 And I asked the angel who went with me, saying, 'What things are these which I have seen in 4 secret?' And he said unto me: 'All these things which thou hast seen shall serve the dominion of His Anointed that he may be potent and mighty on the earth.' 5 And that angel of peace answered, saying unto me: 'Wait a little, and there shall be revealed unto thee all the secret things which surround the Lord of Spirits. 


In the literature of the Dead Sea Sect. Common to both gnosticism and the Dead Sea Scrolls is the view of esoteric "knowledge" as a redemptive factor, which enables a group of select people to bridge the abyss separating the human from the divine, and to rise "from a spirit perverse to an understanding of you and to stand in one company before you with the everlasting host and the spirits of knowledge, to be renewed with all things that are and with those versed in song together" 


 The Community Rule (Serekh ha-Yachad, 1QS)

From the God of Knowledge comes all that is and shall be.
Before ever they existed He established their whole design, and when, as ordained for them, they come into being, it is in accord with His glorious design that they accomplish their task without change.
The laws of all things are in His hand and He provides them with all their needs.
He has created man to govern the world, and has appointed for him two spirits in which to walk until the time of His visitation: the spirits of truth and injustice.
Those born of truth spring from a fountain of light, but those born of injustice spring from a source of darkness.
All the children of righteousness are ruled by the Prince of Light and walk in the ways of light, but all the children of injustice are ruled by the Angel of Darkness and walk in the ways of darkness.
The Angel of Darkness leads all the children of righteousness astray, and until his end, all their sin, iniquities, wickedness, and all their unlawful deeds are caused by his dominion in accordance with the mysteries of God.


the thanksgiving hymns

Because I know all these things I will utter a reply of the tongue praying and entreating and turning back from all my sins and searching your spirit of Knowledge and clinging fast to your holy spirit and adhering to the truth of your Covenant and serving you in truth and with a perfect heart, and loving your truth.

For you shall instruct your servant with your holy spirit to know the spirits of man for you have cast their lot according to the spirits between good and evil to accomplish their task.
You have favoured me, your servant, with a spirit of knowledge, that I may choose truth and goodness and loathe all the ways of iniquity.

Hebrew words and names of God provide the makeup for several gnostic systems

Iao Perhaps from Yahu, Yahweh, but possibly also from the magic cry iao in the Mysteries.

The Old Testament phrase Yahweh sabaoth or 'Jehovah of Armies' was thought a proper name, hence Jupiter Sabbas.

Adonaios  From the Hebrew term for "the Lord", used of God; Adonis of the Syrians representing the Winter sun in the cosmic tragedy of Tammuz. In the Mandaean system Adonaios represents the Sun.

From Elohim, God (El). Elaios, or Ailoaios, or sometimes Ailoein

 A 2nd-century figure, Justin (not to be confused with the more famous Justin Martyr), taught that there were three original entities, a transcendent being called the Good, a male intermediate figure named Elohim (the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament), and an earth-mother figure named Eden or Israel. 

According to Hippolytus, Justin taught that all things came from three unbegotten principles, two male and one female. The first male principle, and the most transcendent of the three, is a principle who alone is called “Good.” This is an allusion to some version of the saying attributed to Jesus about there being “only one who is Good,” though the “Good” as highest principle was also found in Platonic philosophy.26 The second male principle is Elohim, which is of course one of the names used of God in Jewish Scripture. In Baruch, Elohim is indeed the God of creation and Lord of heaven, but he is a secondary divine power. Unlike the Good, who has foreknowledge of all things, Elohim lacks foreknowledge and, at first, also lacks any knowledge of the existence of the Good. The third principle, who is female, is named Eden or Israel. Like Elohim, Eden is also without foreknowledge. She is Mother Earth and is described as looking like a young woman down to the groin, but like a serpent below that. In the beginning, creation results from the marriage of heaven and earth. Elohim and Eden desire one another with genuine love and from their union are begotten a company of twenty-four angels. Twelve of these belong to Elohim: Michael, Amen, Baruch, Gabriel, Essadaios (the remaining seven names are missing in the manuscript); twelve belong to Eden: Babel, Achamoth, Naas, Bel, Belias, Satan, Sael, Adonaios, Kavithan, Pharaoth, Karkamenos, and Lathen. According to Baruch, these angels are the true allegorical meaning of the trees of Paradise that “God planted in Eden.” Baruch asserts that the tree which Scripture calls the tree of life is actually the angel Baruch, while the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the same as the angel Naas, the Hebrew word for “serpent.” In this garden, the angels then create the first humans. The human beings are created from the finest portion of the earth, that is, from the humanlike regions of Eden above the groin; animals are created from the beastly regions of Eden below the groin. Then into each of the first humans, Adam and Eve, the angels place some soul from Eden and some spirit from Elohim. Possessing these elements from both Elohim and Eden, the first human couple are nothing less than living symbols of the marital unity and love of Eden and Elohim. The couple is commanded to “increase and multiply and inherit the earth, that is, Eden” (cf. Gen. 1:28). Eden brings all of her power, as a sort of estate, and gives it to Elohim in the marriage arrangement. “Whence,” according to Justin, “in imitation of that first marriage wives offer a dowry to husbands to this very day, obeying a divine and ancestral law that originated with the dowry to Elohim from Eden” (Hippolytus, Ref. 5.26.10). 



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