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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.
He covertly laid down the principles of this secret doctrine in the first four books of the Pentateuch, but withheld them from Deuteronomy.
The origin of the Cabala has been placed by some scholars at a period posterior to the advent of Christianity, but it is evident, from the traces of it which are found in the Book of Daniel, that it arose at a much earlier day.
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.
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.
the Rabbi; whilst a burning fire appeared outside, forming as it were a sentinel at the entrance of the cave, and denying admittance to the neighbors.
It was not till the light inside, and the fire outside, had disappeared, that the disciples perceived that the lamp of Israel was extinguished.
The Cabala is divided into two kinds, the Practical and the Theoretieal.
The Practical Cabala is occupied in instructions for the construction of talismans and amulets, and has no connection with Masonic science.
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.
Having been condemned to death by Titus, Rabbi Simon managed to escape with his son, and concealed himself in a cavern, where he remained for twelve years.