Buxtorf (Lexicon of the Talmud) defines the Cabala to be a secret science, which treats in a mystical and enigmatical manner of things divine, angelical, theological, celestial, and metaphysical; the subjects being enveloped in striking symbols and secret modes of teaching.
Much use is made of it in the advanced degrees, and entire Rites have been constructed on its principles.
As they were preparing for his obsequies, a voice was heard from heaven, saying, " Come ye to the marriage of Simon ben Jochai; he is entering into peace, and shall rest in his chamber!
" A flame preceded the coffin, which seemed enveloped by and burning like fire.
After the Fall, the angels most graciously communicated this heavenly doctrine to the disobedient child of earth, to furnish the protoplasts With the means of returning to their pristine nobility and felicity.
From Adam it passed over to Noah, and then to Abraham, the friend of God, who emigrated with it to Egypt, where the patriarch allowed a portion of this mysterious doctrine to ooze out.
It has been supposed to be derived originally from the system of Zoroaster, but whether its inventors were the contemporaries or the successors of that philosopher and reformer it is impossible to say.By the aid of this mysterious science, the lawgiver was enabled to solve the difficulties which arose during his management of the Israelites, in spite of the pilgrimages, wars, and the frequent miseries oi the nation.He covertly laid down the principles of this secret doctrine in the first four books of the Pentateuch, but withheld them from Deuteronomy.It has sometimes been used in an enlarged sense, as comprehending all the explanations, maxims, and ceremonies which have been traditionally handed down to the Jews; but in that more limited acceptation, in which it is intimately connected with the symbolic science of Freemasonry, the Cabala may be defined to be a system of philosophy which embraces certain mystical interpretations of Scripture, and metaphysical and spiritual beings.In these interpretations and speculations, according to the Jewish doctors, were enveloped the most profound truths of religion, which, to be comprehended by finite beings, are obliged to be revealed through the medium of symbols and allegories.Of all who formed the unbroken line of tradition, David and Solomon were first initiated into the Cabalah.No one, however, dared to write it down till Simon ben Jochai, who lived at the time of the destruction of the second Temple.The Literal Cabala is the science which teaches a mystical mode of explaining sacred things by a peculiar use of the letters of words, and a reference to their value.Each of these divisions demands a separate attention.Hence it demands a place in any general work on Freemasonry.In what estimation the Cabala is held by Jewish scholars, we may learn from the traditions which they teach, and which Doctor Ginsburg has given in his exhaustive work ( Kabbalah, page 84) in the following words: The Cabalah was first taught by God himself to a select company of angels, who formed a theosophic school in Paradise.