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Solomon’s Harem and Idolatry

Chapter 34

CHAPTER XXXIV

SOLOMON BEGUILED AND SEDUCED

SOLOMON RAINS FORTH WISDOM. Seeing this, I begged my guides to allow me to see what was going to happen. Mr. Ubiquitous consented at once and we set out with the interpreter. We found Solomon with his retinue in the street of the learned, where he was expounding, to the general astonishment, the nature of plants, beginning with the cedars of Lebanon down to the moss growing on the wall; similarly he taught them about beasts, birds, reptiles, and fishes, as well as about the fundamental nature of the world, the power of the elements, the arrangment of the stars, the power of human thought, and so forth. Men from all nations came to listen to his wisdom. He gained surpassing fame thereby, so that he began to feel pride in himself; particularly when Affability and Craftiness, insinuating themselves carefully among his company, began to extol his virtues before all men.

2 HE INVENTS CRAFTSMANSHIP. He then rose up and set out to investigate the other parts of the world; and entering the street of craftsmen and examining their work, he was delighted with their various arts, and, he himself with his great ingenuity invented extraordinary methods pertaining to the scientific care of gardens, orchards, and fishponds as well as to the building of houses and cities. In general, he busied himself with the increase of all human comfort.

3 HE IS ENTANGLED INTO THE STATE OF MATRIMONY. When, however, he finally entered the matrimonial street, crafty Delight met him with a company of the most charming maidens, wearing gorgeous dresses and accompanied with melodious music. A few of the most exquisite beauties welcomed him with great honor, calling him the light of humankind, the crown of the nation of Israel, and the ornament of the world: as the learned class and craftsmen–they continued–had gained much knowledge and enlightenment from the effulgence of his presence, so also the married state hoped to gain benefit from his glory.

Having made a courteous reply, Solomon announced that he decided to honor the matrimonial state by participating in it; thereupon, selecting from the whole group of maidens one who seemed to him the best suited to his station (she was called the Pharaoh’s daughter), he was weighed and fettered with her. But having been fascinated by her beauty, he spent more time dallying and lovemaking with her than in his labors of wisdom.

Moreover (something I should have never expected) he began to cast amorous glances at the crowd of other sportive young maidens, (of whom crafty Delight brought an ever increasing number before his eyes), and having been captivated by the beauty and the charm of one after another, he took to himself the choicest wherever he found them, even dispensing with the weighing ceremony; hence, in a short time seven hundred of them were seen about him, and besides these, three hundred of the unattached; he regarded it part of his glory to surpass even in this regard all who had been before him or were to come after him. Thereafter, nothing but frivolity of all kinds was to be witnessed in his company, so that his own people were soon saddened and sighed over it.

4 HE ENTIRELY LAPSED INTO THE STATE OF IDOLATRY. He and his following then crossed the street to that of the religious; for he permitted himself to be drawn wherever his wretched company to which he was fettered dragged him. There he amused himself, along with his companions among animals and reptiles, dragons and poisonous worms.

–John Amos Comenius, Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth_of_the_World_and_Paradise_of_the_Heart

Prudence Advises Affability, Craftiness, and Delight

Chapter 33

CHAPTER XXXIII

SOLOMON REVEALS THE VANITIES OF DECEPTIONS OF THE WORLD

ECCL 1,2.15: THE MASK OF WORLDLY WISDOM IS UNCOVERED. Thereupon Solomon, who had been hitherto sitting quietly, observing everything, could contain himself no longer, and cried out with a loud voice: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity! Can that which is crooked be made straight? and can the deficiencies be numbered?” Then rising, and with a great tumult, followed by all his retinue, he went directly to the throne of the Queen (for neither was the fierce Warner nor the two guards able to prevent his approach; they were intimidated by his shouting and his brilliance, as was the Queen and her counsellors).

He stretched out his hand and tore the veil from her face; the veil, although at first it seemed costly and splendid, was found to be nothing but a spider’s web. And behold, her face appeared blanched and bloated, with painted rouge spots on her cheeks, as was apparent from the fact that they peeled off in places; her hands were scabby, her entire body loathsome and her breath mephitic. The entire company, myself included, was terrified at the sight and stood as if paralysed.

2 ALSO HER COUNSELLORS ARE UNMASKED. Solomon then turned toward the counsellors of the pretended Queen and tore their masks off as well: “I perceive that instead of Justice, Injustice reigns, ” he cried, “and in the place of Holiness, Abomination. Your Caution is Suspicion; your Prudence is Cunning; your Affability is Flattery; your Truth is a mere Appearance: your Zeal is Fury, your Valor is Foolhardiness; your Love is Lust; your Labor is Slavery; your Knowledge is Conjecture; your Religion is Hypocrisy. Are you worthy to rule the world on behalf of Almighty God? He will bring every act into judgement, with every hidden thing, whether it be good or evil. But I will go and proclaim to all the world that it no longer permit itself to be led astray and beguiled.”

3 SOLOMON PROCLAIMS THE VANITY OF THE WORLD THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE WORLD. And turning, he departed in anger, followed by his retinue; but when he began to cry out in the streets, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” nations and peoples of various languages, kings and queens from distant lands gathered about him from all directions; and pouring out his eloquence before them, he taught them. For his words were like goads and like firmly driven nails.

4 THE COUNSEL AGAINST SOLOMON IN ORDER TO OUTWIT HIM. I did not follow him, however, but remained standing with my horror-stricken guides at the palace to see what was to follow–thererupon, the Queen recovering her stupefaction, immediately consulted with her counsellors as to what should be done. Then Zeal, Earnestness, and Valor urged that the entire force should be mobilized and sent straightway in pursuit of Solomon that he might be seized.

But Prudence advised, on the contrary, that no good would come from the use of force, for not only was he himself powerful, but he had drawn almost the whole world after him (as couriers, returning one after another, reported).

She advised him that Affability and Craftiness, taking with them Delight from the Castle of Fortune, be dispatched after him, and whenever they found him, should by flattery win him by exhibiting and extolling the beauty, glory, and charms of this kingdom. It might be possible to ensnare him in some such way; otherwise she professed to know of no other way whatever. This advice was approved and the three were adorned to set out at once.

John Amos Comenius, Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth_of_the_World_and_Paradise_of_the_Heart

The Fate of Solomon the Wise

Chapter 35

CHAPTER XXXV

SOLOMON’S COMPANY IS DISPERSED, CAPTURED, AND PUT TO GRUESOME DEATH

SOLOMON’S COMPANIONS INCENSED. Seeing him so deluded, the most eminent among his retinue, such as Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, were greatly incensed, protesting before heaven and earth that they would have no part in such abominations and admonishing the whole company to leave such vanities and follies. But because not a few still followed Solomon’s example, they grew more zealous in their denunciations and thundered still more fiercely: especially Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Stephen, and Paul. Besides, Moses began to gird on his sword, Elijah to call fire from heaven and Hezekiah to order the silly idols to be destroyed.

2 THEIR DISREGARD FOR FLATTERY. When those who had been sent out to seduce Solomon, Affability, Craftines, and Delight, saw this, they associated with themselves a few philosophers, such as Mammon and others, and confronting the denunciators, exhorted them not to forget themselves, and to act with greater moderation; since the wisest of men, Solomon, submitted his mind and accommodated himself to the customs of the world, as all could see, why should they stand apart and insist on playing the wiseacre? The protesters paid no heed; but seeing that Solomon’s example continued to seduce and delude many, they became still more zealous and ran about, shouting and shrieking; which caused an immense uproar.

3 PUBLIC UPRISING AGAINST THEM. The Queen, having been notified by her emissaries, sent out proclamations by which she instigated a public uprising. Then naming her bodyguard Force her commander-in-chief, she ordered, as a spectacle for all, the seizure and punishment of those rebels. The alarm was sounded and a multitude quickly gathered, ready for the combat, they were recruited not only from among the soldiers but also from among the ruling class, officials, village elders, judges, craftsmen, philosophers, physicians, jurists and even the priests, indeed, even women who were clad in a great variety of costumes and were armed with different kinds of weapons; (for they said that against such public rebels who threatened the world, everybody, whether young or old, must assist). Seeing the rushing armies, I inquired of my interpreter: “What will happen now?” “You will learn what happens to those who by their philosophizing stir up riots and storms in the world!” my interpreter answered.

4 BATTLE, SEIZURE, MURDER, BURING AND OTHER TORTURES. All at once the armies fell upon the company, attacking one here, another there, then a third, a tenth; they struck and cut, felled, trampled, seized, and bound, according to the particular fury of each assailant, and dragged them off to prison: at which my heart almost burst with pity. But fearing their ferocity, I refrained from uttering the slightest sound, and trembled all over. I saw that some of those captured and fallen stretched out their clasped hands, and begged forgiveness for their deeds: but others, the more cruelly they were treated, the more firmly they held to their convictions. Some of them were cast into fire before my very eyes, others were thrown into water, or hanged, beheaded, stretched on a cross, torn with pincer, sawed asunder, pierced, hacked, roasted on gridirons. Nor am I able to enumerate all the gruesome kinds of death which they suffered, while multitudes of worldly people exulted and shouted with glee at the sight.

–John Amos Comenius, Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth_of_the_World_and_Paradise_of_the_Heart

The Children of Eve

“And she tied a scarlet thread on the middle of the door of [the house of] her gods, and she brought three locusts and set them in the house of her gods. And she said unto Solomon, “Come to me without breaking the scarlet thread, bend thyself and kill these locusts before me and pull out their necks”; and he did so. And she said unto him, “I will henceforward do thy will, for thou hast sacrificed to my gods and hast worshipped them.” Now he had done thus because of his oath, so that he might not break his oath which she had made him to swear, even though he knew that it was an offence (or, sin) to enter into the house of her gods.

Now God had commanded the children of Israel, saying, “Ye shall not marry strange women that ye may not be corrupted by them through their gods, and through the wickedness of their works and the sweetness of their voices; for they make soft the hearts of simple young men by the sweetness of their gentle voices, and by the beauty of their forms they destroy the wisdom of the foolish man.”

Who was wiser than Solomon? yet he was seduced by a woman. Who was more righteous than David? yet he was seduced by a woman. Who was stronger than Samson? yet he was seduced by a woman. Who was handsomer than ‘Amnon? yet he was seduced by Tamar the daughter of David his father. And Adam was the first creation of God, yet he was seduced by Eve his wife. And through that seduction death was created for every created thing. And this seduction of men by women was caused by Eve, for we are all the children of Eve.”

The Kebra Nagast, by E.A.W. Budge, [1922], pg. 104, at sacred-texts.com

Divine Language Influencing Reality

“The Christian kabbalists were most impressed by the Jewish nonsemantic treatment of language…the various names of God and the celestial powers were for them a new revelation. The various transmutations of the Hebrew alphabet, as well as the numerological methodologies, which are essentially midrashic rather than kabbalistic, became the center of their speculations. The Hebrew concept of language as an expression of infinite divine wisdom contrasted….with the Christian attitude towards scriptures.”

He then cites Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim, secretary to Emperor Charles V, and his De Occulta Philosophia (1531).

“The meeting with the Jewish conception of divine language enabled the Christian kabbalists to adopt the belief in the ability of language–especially names, and in particular divine names–to influence reality.”

He then cites, “Venetian scholar Francesco Giorgio (1460-1541), especially in his well-known De Harmonia Mundi (1525).”

–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 64-6.

Swiss Army Kabbalah

Joseph Dan claims that kabbalah transformed from a uniquely Jewish religious tradition into a European concept, “integrated with Christian theology, philosophy, science and magic, at the end of the fifteenth century.”

He stresses that there is no unanimity about the definition of the term “kabbalah,” that it is used differently, to refer to different things, by Christian cabalists, Jewish orthodox thinkers and others. “The confusion is increased by the fact that there is no unanimity in the usage of the term either within Judaism or outside of it, so that various, different and conflicting conceptions of what the kabbalah is prevail in both cultures.”

–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 61.

You Say Kabbalah, I Say Cabala

Christian kabbalah can be traced to the “school of Marsilio Ficino in Florence, in the second half of the fifteenth century.”

“Ficino is best known for his translations of Plato’s writings from Greek to Latin, but of much importance was his translation to Latin of the corpus of esoteric, mysterious old treatises known as the Hermetica. These works, probably originating from Egypt in late antiquity, are attributed to a mysterious ancient philosopher, Hermes Trismegistus (The Thrice-Great Hermes), and they deal with magic, astrology, and esoteric theology.”

Ficino and his followers considered magic as “an ancient scientific doctrine, the source of all religious and natural truth.”

Dan mentions Count Giovani Pico de la Mirandola, a “great thinker, young scholar and theologian, who died at age thirty-three in 1496.”

He also observes that Pico’s interest in Hebrew was facilitated by the Latin translations of the Jewish Christian convert, Flavius Methredates.”

Pico’s most famous work, the Nine Hundred Theses, proclaims that Christianity’s truth is best demonstrated by the disciplines of magic and kabbalah.” In Pico’s work, magic and kabbalah are often indistinguishable. He interpreted kabbalistic texts as “ancient esoteric lore, conserved by Jews, at the heart of which was the Christian message.”

–Joseph Dan, Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, pg. 62-3.

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