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Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning

Page: 35

born blind, how else could he sin, unless in some former state? These passages result from the fact, which we have already noticed, that some of the Jewish and Christian sects believed in the doctrine of Metempsychosis.

According to some Jewish authors, Adam was re-produced in Noah, Elijah, and other Bible celebrities.[44:4]

The Rev. Mr. Faber says:

"Adam, and Enoch, and Noah, might in outward appearance be different men, but they were really the self-same divine persons who had been promised as the seed of the woman, successively animating various human bodies."[44:5]

We have stated as our belief that the vision which the writer of the twenty-eighth chapter of Genesis has made Jacob to witness, was intended to strengthen the belief in the doctrine of the Metempsychosis, that he was simply seeing the souls of men ascending and descending from heaven on a ladder, during their transmigrations.

We will now give our reasons for thinking so.

The learned Thomas Maurice tells us that:

[Pg 45]

The Indians had, in remote ages, in their system of theology, the sidereal ladder of seven gates, which described, in a symbolical manner, the ascending and descending of the souls of men.[45:1]

We are also informed by Origen that:

This descent (i. e., the descent of souls from heaven to enter into some body), was described in a symbolical manner, by a ladder which was represented as reaching from heaven to earth, and divided into seven stages, at each of which was figured a gate; the eighth gate was at the top of the ladder, which belonged to the sphere of the celestial firmament.[45:2]

That souls dwell in the Galaxy was a thought familiar to the Pythagoreans, who gave it on their master's word, that the souls that crowd there, descend and appear to men as dreams.[45:3]

The fancy of the Manicheans also transferred pure souls to this column of light, whence they could come down to earth and again return.[45:4]

Paintings representing a scene of this kind may be seen in works of art illustrative of Indian Mythology.

Maurice speaks of one, in which he says:

"The souls of men are represented as ascending and descending (on a ladder), according to the received opinion of the sidereal Metempsychosis in Asia."[45:5]

Mons. Dupuis tells us that:

"Among the mysterious pictures of the Initiation, in the cave of the Persian God Mithras, there was exposed to the view the descent of the souls to the earth, and their return to heaven, through the seven planetary spheres."[45:6]

And Count de Volney says:

"In the cave of Mithra was a ladder with seven steps, representing the seven spheres of the planets by means of which souls ascended and descended. This is precisely the ladder of Jacob's vision. There is in the Royal Library (of France) a superb volume of pictures of the Indian gods, in which the ladder is represented with the souls of men ascending it."[45:7]

In several of the Egyptian sculptures also, the Transmigration of Souls is represented by the ascending and descending of souls from heaven to earth, on a flight of steps, and, as the souls of wicked men were supposed to enter pigs and other animals, therefore pigs, monkeys, &c., are to be seen on the steps, descending from heaven.[45:8]

"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it."

[Pg 46]

These are the words of the sacred text. Can anything be more convincing? It continues thus:

"And Jacob awoke out of his sleep . . . and he was afraid, and said . . . this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

Here we have "the gate of heaven," mentioned by Origen in describing the Metempsychosis.

According to the ancients, the top of this ladder was supposed to reach the throne of the most high God. This corresponds exactly with the vision of Jacob. The ladder which he is made to see reached unto heaven, and the Lord stood above it.[46:1]

"And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillow, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it."[46:2]

This concluding portion to the story has evidently an allusion to Phallic[46:3] worship. There is scarcely a nation of antiquity which did not set up these stones (as emblems of the reproductive power of nature) and worship them. Dr. Oort, speaking of this, says:

Few forms of worship were so universal in ancient times as the homage paid to sacred stones. In the history of the religion of even the most civilized peoples, such as the Greeks, Romans, Hindoos, Arabs and Germans, we find traces of this form of worship.[46:4] The ancient Druids of Britain also worshiped sacred stones, which were


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