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Abadon. Hebrew. “ Destruction ” personified as the Greek

Apolluōn (Revelat. ix, 11), and as Asmodeus (see Asmodeus) called

by Rabbis Ashmadai (see Job xxvi, 6); and in the Book of Wisdom

(xviii, 25) Olothreuōn in the Greek.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abaddon


Abel. It is necessary to distinguish Abel the second son of Adam

(Hebrew Habl), from Habāl or Hobāl the great Arabian deity,

though the letters seem the same (see Habāl). Abel is usually

supposed to be the Babylonian word Ablu “ son.” The Hebrew Ābel

is again different—a common term for “ meadow.” Arabs and

Persians call Abel and Cain, Habīl and Ḳ abīl. No very satisfactory

explanation of their legends in Genesis has been given (see Ḳain).

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) at Saint Bavo Cathedral.

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) at Saint Bavo Cathedral.

Aben. Hebrew Eben, “ a stone.” Perhaps the root is found in

Banah “ to build,” as Ban or Ben (“ a son ”) is builder of the family

(see Ben). Ebenezer (“ stone of help ”) was a stone emblem of the

god, like those of Arabia (see Arabia). Jeremiah tells his tribe that

a stone begat them, and that they committed adulteries with stones

Jer. ii, 27 ; iii, 9. See also Gen. xxxi, 48 ; and 1 Sam. iv, 1 ;

vii, 12). Āban (says Delitzsch) has the sense of a “ peak ” or “ pointed

thing ”—the Assyrian Ubanu “ peak, rock, or finger ” (see Finger).


Abhi-Marsin. Sanskrit. Courting, inciting.


Abi-Kāma. Sanskrit. “ Love primeval,” intense desire, struggle,

war.


Ablathanabla. See Abraxas.


Abors. Bors. The Asamese term for the wild race, calling

themselves Padams or Pagdams, inhabiting the N.E. frontier of British

territory at the bend of the Brāhmapūtra River (N. and N.W.), and

embracing the greater and lesser Dihong river valleys, north of

Sadiya. The term Abor is said to mean “ savage,” “ non-tribute

payer,” or “ fierce man ” : for Abors are a much-feared people who

hunt down even the “ wild cow ” (or Nilgau), and eat buffalo beef,

but not cows—showing a Hindu influence. They worship Nāts or

fays, spirits of the woods and waters : they tattoo their bodies, and

clothe themselves in skins and bark, but go naked in the hot season.

They are never without their bows and arrows—the latter poisoned

(for war) with the powdered root of the wild aconite, or with blood.

They wear a dhār, or long cutlass, at the waist, or slung (as by

Burmese) over the shoulder.

These people are scarcely as yet out of the communal stage, and

pay scant respect to chiefs, with some 250 of whom the Government had to deal in 1859-1870, and to try to keep them quiet by

subsidies. They are all sullen, clownish, and violent when roused,

like their congeners of Tibet and Barmah. Families are distinguished

by totems, or by marks on the forehead. The poorer are often

polyandrous : the richer are polygamous ; and sometimes they are

communists, a group of men living with a group of women. There

are barracks for bachelors and women, where considerable licence is

practised ; and chastity consists in having no intercourse outside the

clan. As regards religion, they believe in a life hereafter, with rewards

and punishments ; and sacrifices are said to please and propitiate the

spirits, and to be necessary to prevent famine and pestilence.


Abram. Abraham. There is no very satisfactory etymology of

this mythical patriarch’s name. Abram (Babylonian Ab-ramu) is

usually rendered “ high father,” that is to say, a deity like Brahmā.

Abraham is compared with the Arabic rahām, “ a host—a “ Lord of

Hosts” like Gānesa, or Yahveh. Hindus call a loving brother Rāmu.

The tablets of Esarhaddon’s days give such names as Abi-ramu and

Am-ramu. If we take the root to be Abr “ strong,” as in Abir a

“ bull ” or “ hero,” the m is only a suffix—as in Hebrew, Sabean, or

Babylonian speech. Some think this word connected with ’Abr (see

Gen. xiv, 13, and Exod. v, 3) ; for Abraham is especially called the

“ Hebrew,” and descendant of ’Eber, father of Peleg. Coming from

Padan-Aram he would naturally worship the “ high God ” (El-’Eliūn),

and seek his shrine at Ieru-salem (“ the abode of salvation ”). There

stood (no doubt) his symbol, a sacred stone (menhir or lingam) ; and

naturally he dedicated to this the agent of creation by circumcision,

swearing solemn oaths thereby, as we read that Abram and Isaac did

by what is euphemistically called the “ thigh.” See the Jewish World

(3rd April 1885), where the learned writer says: “ Abraham is a title

applied to the Creator only ” ; and if so, based on the root Bra “ create “

(Gen. i, 1).

Most Syrians and Arabs considered Abraham to be a Messiah ;

and prayers are still addressed to him (at his tomb in Hebron), as

Christians pray to Christ or to Mary. Abraham, as Ab-ram, “ the high

father,” was both a Malaki-ṣadī ḳ (Melchisedec), or “ King of righteousness,”

and a Shem—“ sign ” or “ mark.” Yet, says the Rev. Dr Cheyne

(Hibbert Lectures, 1892), “ Abraham must be given up as an historical

figure . . . some one must confess this truth, which ought, long ago,

to have found its way into our schools and colleges.”

This view is corroborated by the various widely different periods

assigned as the age of Abraham. The Samaritan and Greek Bibles say

he lived in 2605 B.C. Josephus said 2576, and the Vulgate, 2015 B.C.

Prof. Hommel (in 1896-7), says he “could not have lived earlier

than 1900 B.C.,” and Archbishop Ussher makes him 175 years

old in 1821 B.C. According to this Biblical chronology, he left Padan

Ararn in 1921 B.C. (see Bible), and went to Egypt on account of a

famine. But by Egypt we may understand the south of Palestine,

then perhaps an Egyptian province. Thence, about 1917 B.C., he

went to settle with Lot, “ towards Sodom.” In 1913 B.C. Chedorlaomer,

King of Elam, came, with ’Aniraphel, King of Shinar, Tidal king of

nations, and Arioch, King of Ellasar (Larsa), to quell a rebellion in

Eastern Palestine, which had been under Elam for twelve years.

The Biblical legend runs that Abraham (apparently 83 years old),

pursued this Babylonian army with three hundred and eighteen armed

retainers, defeating it, and taking the spoil and prisoners (Lot among

them), near Ḥ obah, “ north of Damascus.” This Hebrew fable, however,

enables us to test the dates. A tablet from Tell Lo ḥ (Revue Assyr. iv, p.

85, 1897), has been supposed to mention ’Amraphel (as Ḥ ammurabi),

with Arioch (Eriaku),and Tidal (Tudkhal), in which case Abraham would

live about the 22nd century B.C. [This translation is, however, rejected

by most specialists ; and the tablet is late, and probably refers to events

about 648 B.C.—ED.] Ḥ ammurabi (Kha-am-mu-ra-bi), is usually

supposed to have acceded in 2139 B.C. (the date given by Dr Peiser,

and by Col. Conder in his Hittites, p. 175). He ruled over “ the

west ” (Martu in Akkadian), like his successor Ammi-satana

(2034-2009 B.C.).

It has puzzled some commentators that Abraham went “ south ”

from Egypt on his way to Bethel [see Gen. xiii, 3. But the Hebrew

word so rendered is Negeb, a term applying to the “ dry ” country—as

the word means—near Beersheba.—ED.] The fatherland of Abraham

was at “ Ur of the Chaldees ” (Hebrew “ Ur of the Kasdīm ”), the later

Edessa, now Orfah. Ignoring this site, scholars have placed Ur at

Mugeiyer in Chaldea (near the mouth of the Euphrates), and have been

puzzled to explain why he went to Ḥ aran (near Edessa); but that

Ḥ aran was his fatherland, we see by his sending his confidential servant

there to seek a wife for Isaac. [The error is due to following the Greek

translation of Kasdīm by Khaldaioi (whom Herodotos mentions in

Babylon), and identifying them with the Kaldu, a people of Kaldea,

south of Babylon. Kasdīm appears to mean “ conquerors ” in Assyrian.—

ED.] The author of Acts vii, 2-4 calls Padan-Aram (Mesopotamia), the

“ land of the Ohaldeans.” Ṭ eraḥ called his youngest son also Ḥ aran ; and

there are still many legends of the patriarchs in this region—such as that

Orham, King of Or (Edessa), called Abram Ab-or-ham—reminding us of

Pater Orchamus (Ovid. Metam. iv, 212), the fabled son of Zeus, founder

of the empire of the Anatolian Mineans, who ruled Boiōtia and North

Greece from their capital Orkhomenos. M. Renan (Hist. Israel, i,

p. 63), even says, “Orham has lent his name, and several characteristic

traits, to the history of Abraham.”

Many years after the above was first written appeared the

valuable paper by Mr Hormazd Rassam, the old explorer of Nineveh

(Proc. Soc. Bib. Arch., February 1898), which proves that “ Ur of the

Ohaldees ” was Edessa, or Orfah. Cappadocia (Kappadokia) proves to

have been early entered by the Babylonians, who spread all over

North Syria. The name Khaldaioi (in the Septuagint) may thus be

connected with that of Khaldis on the Vannic inscriptions [applying

to a deity.—ED.]. From Ur, Ṭ era ḥ ’s family went to Ḥ aran, which is

only some two days’ journey from Edessa. In Judith (v, 6, 7), Jews

are called descendants of the Arameans, “a belief prevalent among all

Hebrews in Biblical lands at the present day” (Rassam). It is not

known, however, why the Septuagint translators changed the Hebrew

Kasdīm into “ Chaldeans.” According to Ezekiel (i, 3), the “ land

of the Kasdīm ” was by the River Chebar (or Khabūr River), a great

tributary of the Euphrates, one affluent of which rises in the Aram

or “ high land ” near to where Edessa is situated. It was the country

of Bal’aam (Deut. xxiii, 4), and was higher up the Euphrates than

Babylon, whereas Mugeiyer is near the mouth of that river, far below

Babylon. All this, and more, is ably set forth by Mr Rassam, who

only follows in the track of many other Oriental scholars.

In the Book Zohar (see Ḳ abbala) Abraham is called an “ incarnation

of love, mystery, and divine unity ” : he is symbolised by a pillar

(p. 41) as were Zeus, Yahveh, etc. He was the first to teach the

Ḳ abbala to Egypt, and received the mysteries “ from Noah, who

received them from Adam, who received them from God ” (Ginsburg’s

Zohar). Moses had personal intercourse with Abraham, as had most

legislators down to David and Solomon (p. 80). In the Book Jetzira

(“ Creation ”) the Ḳ abbala is called “ a monologue of Abraham,”

whereby he is induced to accept the true faith; and he is there said

to have invented writing and the Hebrew characters (p. 65). Elsewhere

he is described as a “ giant, a monster, having the strength of

seventy-four men, and requiring the food and drink of the same.”

The Arabian El Kindy (in our 8th-9th century) says, “ Abraham

lived seventy years in Ḥ aran, worshipping Al’Ozzah, who is still

revered in Arabia ” (see Royal Asiatic Society Journal, January 1882 ;

and Sir W. Muir’s El Kindy). He says that the inhabitants were

given to human sacrifice—which Abram wished to continue in

Palestine, whence the early rite of devoting the first-born to Yahveh.

The sacrifice of Isaac (or, as the Arabs say, of Ishm’ael) has now been

whittled down by Ezra-itic writers, who were evidently ashamed of it,

as making their God a bloodthirsty fiend, and their patriarch the

heartless murderer of his innocent boy. Tradition, and the persistence

of race barbarism, are however too strong for the would-be cleansers of

history ; and God and man still appear cruel and deceitful, while

multitudes still commemorate the half-enacted rite (see Sacrifice).

Abraham is represented as trying to hide his murderous purpose from

his son and servants by a lie, saying he would return with the child.

The deity doubts his sincerity till the knife is raised, when the wouldbe

murderer is lauded for wondrous “ Faith.” Faith in a God ?

—nay, in a dream. His God then promises him wealth, and offspring,

in abundance.

The sacrifice was originaJly commemorated in autumn, when

human sacrifices were common ; and what would be more orthodox

than that a great Sheikh, entering on a new land to found a colony,

should begin by offering his first-born to the god of the land ? Did

not the Christian Saint Columba bury his brother, St. Oran, in the

foundations of his church ? (Rivers of Life, ii, p. 340.)

Abraham, however, seems to have been anything but wealthy

when he died, possessing only the burial-place that he is said to have

purchased. He had given “ all he possessed ” to Isaac, and “ the

rest ” to numerous children by two stray wives. Islāmis say that he

travelled in both Arabia and Babylonia, but chiefly in Arabia ; and

that he assisted Ishm’ael in building the fourth shrine of Makka, and

in establishing the “ Black Stone ” (see our Short Studies, p. 539).

Hebrews and Arabs have reverently called him the Khalīl, or “ friend ”

of Allah (see Gen. xv, 17 ; Isaiah xli, 8).

Among arithmetical errors in the Bible is the statement that he

was born when Ṭ era ḥ was 70 years old, yet was 75 when (apparently)

Ṭ era ḥ died at the age of 205 years. He is also said not to have

known Yahveh, but only the tree gods—Āle-im or Elohim. He twice

dissembled to save his life by endangering his wife’s chastity, which

he seems to have valued little, as she lived some time in the harīms of

Pharaoh and Abimelek, who heaped riches on Abraham. It is untrue

to say that Sarah was “ without shame or reproach,” for Genesis

xii, 19 should read, “ she is my sister though I have taken her for

my wife.”

We shall not attempt to record the voluminous legends (in the

Talmud, etc.) concerning Abraham, of which the Old Testament does

not give a tithe. He is said to have visited Nimrod, and to have

converted him by the old feeble argument: “ Fire must not be worshipped

for water quenches it ; nor water because clouds carry this ;

nor clouds because winds drive them.” He might have added, “ Nor

Yahveh because we invented him.” According to other traditions,

Yahveh found great difficulty in calling (or killing) Abraham. He

sent the archangel Michael several times, to break the command to

Abraham as gently as possible : for the patriarch loved life. The

archangel—whom he fed—told his mission to Isaac, who tried to

explain it, deploring that both sun and moon (Abram and Sarah)

must ascend to heaven. The patriarch then accused Michael of

trying to steal away his soul, which he said he would never yield up.

The Lord then reminded him, by Michael, of all that he had done

for him ; and that, like Adam and others, he must die. Abraham

asked that he might first see “ all peoples and their deeds ” ; but,

when carried up in a chariot, he was so disgusted, by what he saw,

that he begged the earth might open and swallow all peoples. God

then shut his eyes lest they should all be destroyed, saying, “ I do not

wish it so, for I created all, and will only destroy the wicked.”

Abraham then saw a narrow road with few people on it, and a man

on a gold throne, “ terrible and like God,” though it was only Adam :

and again a broad road thronged with people, and with pursuing

angels. The man (or god) tore his hair and beard in sorrow, and

cast himself and his throne to the ground ; but, as people increased

on the narrow way, he rose rejoicing though “ in 7000 years only

one soul is saved.” The angels were scourging the wicked with

whips of fire ; and at the door of heaven sat one “ like the Son

of God,” though he was only Abel, having before him a table, and

a Bible twelve yards long and eight yards wide. He wrote down

the virtues and sins of all, and then weighed the souls (like Thoth).

The Lord had commanded Abel to judge all till the final judgment,

which is to be by the Son of God. Some souls were however set

aside as wanting an extra good deed, and “ Abraham prayed for such,

and the Lord saved them because of Abraham’s holiness.” He also

saved, at his request, all whom Abraham had cursed on earth. The

patriarch was then taken back to his house, to the great joy of his

family, and commanded to settle his worldly affairs, and to give up

his soul to Michael. This Abraham again refused to do; so the

Angel of Death was told to visit him—which he was very unwilling

to do. He was however commanded to disguise himself as a gentle

and beautiful spirit ; but he confessed to Abraham that he was the

“ poison of Death.” He argued long that he could not depart

without Abraham’s soul ; and he assumed many horrid forms, but

did not frighten the patriarch, who accused Death of killing even

boys and girls, and made him kneel down with him and pray for

their restoration. Death continued to torment the patriarch, who

was 175 years old ; and at last he slept on his bed, and kissed

Death’s hand, mistaking it for that of his son, so receiving “ the

poison of death.” Michael and innumerable angels “bore away his

pure soul, and placed it in the hands of the Lord ; and his body was

swathed in pure white linen, and buried in ‘ Dria the Black ’ or Elonē-

Mamre.” (From a Roumanian text, published by Dr Gaster, who

gives this interesting Apocalypse in the Transactions, Bib. Arch.

Soc., ix, 1.)


Abraxas. Abrasax. Abracadabra. Ablathanabla.

Abanathabla. Various terms on Gnostik charms—see Rivers of

Life, i, p. 511. [The translations are much disputed. Probably

they are Aramaic sentences: Abrak ha dabra, “ I bless the deed ” :

Ablaṭ ha nabla, “I give life to the corpse” : Abana thabla, “ Thou

our father leadest.”—ED.] The Persian sun-god was seen in the

Greek letters Abraxas, representing in numbers 365—the days of

the solar year. This word, placed on an amulet or seal, exorcised

evil spirits, and was eXplained by Semites as meaning Abra-Shedabara,

“go out bad spirit out” [or perhaps better, Abrak ha āsh, “I

bless the man.”—ED.] In Syria Abraxas was a form of Iao (Yahveh),

Mithras, Ṣ abaoth, or Adonis, figured as a lion-headed solar serpent

with a rayed glory (Rivers of Life, ii, p. 274) : or as a cock-headed

serpent, or the eastern serpent (Sesha) biting his own tail as Ananta

“ the Eternal.” In Egyptian Abrasax was thought to signify “hurt me

not ” ; and the pious Christian Marullus bequeathed to his children

an amulet, with this name on the one side, and a serpent on the

other, of jasper enclosed in a golden Bulla shaped like a heart—the

seat of emotions. Such bullæ are said to be the origin of the “ Sacred

Heart,” and to explain the name of Papal “ Bulls,” though these had

leaden “ seals ” later (Rivers of Life, ii, pp. 237-8). Such amulets

cured bodily pains, and averted the evil eye. We read of the

physician of Gordian II. as prescribing one for his patient (see King’s

Gnostics, pp. 105-6). Basilides the Gnostik is said to have invented

Abraxas, to denote the spirit presiding over the 365 days of the year.

But the radical idea was that of fecundity, for the image is found as

a bearded Priapus grasping his organ like Osiris.


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