H. P. Blavatsky tells us that the Old Testament is not a homogeneous
composition; that Genesis alone is of immense antiquity; that it is
prior to the time when the Libra of the Zodiac was invented by the
Greeks, for it has been noticed that the chapters containing the
genealogies have been touched up so as to adapt them to the new
zodiac, and this is the reason that the rabbis who compiled them twice
repeated the names
of Enoch and Lamech in the Cain list. The other
parts seem to be of a comparatively recent date and to have been
completed about 150 B.C.
The first part of the Book of God--as the Scriptures were then
called--was written by Hilkiah, jointly with the prophetess Huldah; this
disappeared at a later date, and Ezra had to begin a new one which was
finished by Judas Maccabaeus. This was recopied some time after, with the
object of changing the pointed letters into square ones, and in this way
was quite disfigured. The Masoretes ended by mutilating it completely.
The result is that the text we now possess is one not more than nine
hundred years old, bristling with premeditated omissions,
interpolations, and perverted interpretations.
By the side of this initial difficulty we find another, quite as
important. Almost every page of the Old Testament contains veiled
meanings and allegories, as is frankly confessed by the rabbis
"We ought not to take literally that which is written in the story of
the Creation, nor entertain the same ideas of it as are held by the
vulgar. If it were otherwise, our ancient sages would not have taken
so much pains to conceal the sense, and to keep before the eyes of the
uninstructed the veil of allegory which conceals the truth it
Does not Saint Paul, speaking of the hidden meaning of the Bible, say
that Agar is Mount Sinai? Origen and Saint Augustine are of the
opinion that the Old Testament must be regarded as symbolical, as
otherwise it would be immoral; the Jewish law forbade anyone to read
it who had not attained the age of thirty years; Fenelon would have
liked it to be thrust away in the recesses of the most secret
libraries; the Cardinal de Noailles says that Origen, so full of zeal
on behalf of the Holy Scriptures, would not allow anyone to read the
Old Testament, unless he were firmly anchored in the practice of a
virtuous life; he affirms too that Saint Basilius, in a letter to
Chilon, the monk, stated that the reading of it often had a harmful
influence; for the same reasons, the Index expurgatorius forbids the
publication of the Bible in the vulgar tongue, and orders that no one
be allowed to read it without the written permission of his
A third difficulty arises from the fact that the Old Testament--its dead
"letter" and its commandments, at all events--is no longer suitable to
our own race. It was intended for a nation that was composed of young
souls, at a low stage of evolution, for whom nothing more than the
rudiments of instruction were necessary, and on whom stern rules of
morality, suitable for advanced souls, ought not to be imposed. This is
why divorce, polygamy, slavery, retaliation, lex
talionis, the blood of sacrifice are instituted; it is the
reason God is represented as a being to be dreaded, punishing those who
do not obey him, wicked, jealous, bloodthirsty. Bossuet understood
all this when he said that the primitive Hebrew race was not
sufficiently advanced to have the immortality of the soul taught to it.
This, too, is the only explanation we can find for the sensual
materialism of Ecclesiastes.
Consequently one need not be astonished to find that the Old Testament
nowhere deals--directly, at all events--with the doctrine of Rebirth.
All the same, here and there we come across a few passages that point
in this direction. For instance, we read in Genesis, chapter 25,
regarding the birth of Jacob and Esau:
"And the children (of Rebecca) struggled together within her.
"And the Lord said unto her: Two nations are in thy womb, and two
manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels, and the one
people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall
serve the younger.
"And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold there were
twins in her womb."
This passage has been the occasion of lengthy commentaries on the part
of certain Fathers of the Church--more especially of Origen. Indeed,
either we must acknowledge divine injustice, creating, without any
cause, two hostile brothers, one of whom must submit to the rule of
the other, and who begin to strive together even before birth, or we
must hark back to the pre-existence of the human soul and to a past
Karma which had created inequality in condition.
David begins the ninetieth Psalm with a verse which only a belief in
reincarnation can explain:
"Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations...."
The dwelling-place of the soul, at death, is in heaven, whence it
returns to earth when the hour of rebirth has struck; thus, in all
generations, that is, from life to life, "the Lord is our
In Chapter 8 of the Book of Wisdom, Solomon says in more explicit
"For I was a witty child, and had a good spirit, yea, rather, being
good, I came into a body undefiled."
This clearly points to the pre-existence of the soul and the close
relation that exists between the conditions of its rebirth and the
merits or demerits of its past.
Verse 5 of the first chapter of Jeremiah is similar to verse 23 of
the twenty-fifth chapter of Genesis:
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest
forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a
prophet unto the nations...."
It is the deeds done in the past lives of Jeremiah that accompany him
on his return to earth; God could not, in an arbitrary fashion, have
conferred on him the gift of prophecy had he not acquired it by his
efforts in a past life; unless, here too, we altogether abandon reason
and go back to a capricious or unjust--consequently altogether