23. Exodus – The Desert – Magic and Theurgy

Moses' plan was one of the most extraordinary and courageous that man has ever conceived. He was to tear a people from the yoke of a nation as powerful as Egypt, to take it to the conquest of a country occupied by hostile and better-armed inhabitants, to lead it for ten, twenty, forty years in the desert, to consume it with thirst, to weaken it with hunger, to torment it like a blood-horse under the arrows of the Hittites and Amalakites, ready to cut it to pieces, to isolate it with its Tabernacle of the Lord in the midst of these idolatrous nations, to impose monotheism upon it with a rod of fire and to instill in it such a fear and veneration of this One God that He would become incarnate in its flesh, that He would become its national symbol, the goal of all its aspirations and its reason for being. -- Such was the amazing work of Moses.

The Exodus was coordinated and preparations made well in advance by the prophet, the chief Israelite leaders, and Jethro. To put his plan into effect, Moses took advantage of a moment when Menephtah, his former study-companion, now Pharaoh, had to repel the mighty invasion of Mermaiu, king of the Lybians. The entire Egyptian army was occupied on the western borders of the country and could not stop the Hebrews. Thus the mass emigration occurred peacefully.

Now we see the Beni-Israel on the march. The long file of caravans, with tents carried on camels' backs and followed by great herds, prepares to go around the Red Sea. They still number only a few thousand men. Later the emigration will grow larger "with all kinds of men," as the Bible says. They will include Canaanites, Edomites, Arabs, Semites of all kinds, attracted and fascinated by the desert prophet, who calls them from all directions and shapes them to his liking. The nucleus of his people is formed of the Beni-Israel, straightforward men, but rough, obstinate and rebellious. Their hags or their leaders have taught them the cult of the One God. This religion constitutes a high patriarchal tradition among them. But in those primitive and violent natures, monotheism is still only a better and intermittent consciousness. As soon as their evil passions reawaken, the instinct toward polytheism, so natural for man, takes the upper hand. Then they fall back into the superstitions, witchcraft and idolatrous practices of the neighboring peoples of Egypt and Phoenicia. Moses will fight this with Draconian laws.

Around the prophet who leads this people is a group of priests presided over by Aaron, Moses' initiate brother, and by the prophetess Miriam, who already represents feminine initiation in Israel. This group constitutes the priesthood. With them, seventy elected leaders or lay initiates press around the prophet of Ieve. Moses will entrust to them his secret doctrine and his oral tradition, will transmit to them a part of his powers and sometimes will make them sharers in his inspirations and visions.

In the midst of this group is carried the golden Ark. Moses borrowed this idea from the Egyptian temples where it served as the secret place for the theurgic books, but he refashioned it in line with his personal plans. The Ark of Israel is surrounded by four cherubim in gold, similar to sphinxes and resembling the four symbolic animals of Ezekiel's vision. One cherubim has the head of a lion, another, of a bull, the third, of an eagle and the fourth, of a man. These personify the four elements of the universe: earth, water, air and fire, as well as the four worlds represented by the letters of the sacred Tetragrammaton. With their wings the cherubim cover the mercy seat, the throne of God.

This Ark will be the means of producing electrifying and splendid phenomena. The latter will be brought about by the magic of the priest of Osiris. These phenomena, exaggerated by legend, will produce the Biblical accounts. In addition, the golden Ark enclosed the Sepher Bereshith, or Book of Cosmogony, written by Moses in Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the magic wand of the prophet, called the rod by the Bible. Later it will also contain the Book of the Covenant, or the law of Sinai. Moses will call the Ark the throne of Elohim, for in it rests sacred tradition, -- the mission of Israel, the idea of leve.

What political constitution did Moses give to his people? Here it is necessary to refer to one of the strange passages of Exodus. This passage appears older and all the more authentic just because it shows us Moses' weak side, his tendency to priestly pride and theocratic tyranny, being reprimanded by his Ethiopian initiator.

. . . On the morrow, Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.

And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, "What is this thing that thou doest to the people? Why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto evening?

And Moses said unto his father-in-law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God:

When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God and his laws.

And Moses' father-in-law said unto him, the thing that thou doest is not good.

Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.

Hearken now Unto my voice. I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:

And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.

If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.

So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.

It is clear from this passage that in Israel's constitution, established by Moses, the executive power was considered an emanation of judicial power and placed under the control of priestly authority. Such was the government willed by Moses to his successors, at the wise advice of Jethro. It remained the same under the Judges from Joshua to Samuel, until the usurpation by Saul. Under the kings, the disparaged priesthood began to lose the real tradition of Moses, which survived only in the prophets.

We have said that Moses was not a patriot, but a civilizer of peoples, having before him the destinies of all humanity. Israel was but a means for him, -- universal religion was his goal, and far above and beyond the nomads his thought went out to future ages. From the departure from Egypt until Moses' death, the history of Israel was but one long struggle between the prophet and his people.

Moses first led the tribes of Israel to Sinai in the barren desert, before the mountain dedicated to Elohim by all the Semites, where he himself had had his revelation. There where his Genius seized the prophet, the latter wanted to take possession of his people and engrave the seal of Ieve upon their forehead. This seal was the Ten Commandments, the mighty summary of the moral law, the complement of transcendent truth, enclosed in the hermetic book of the Ark.

Nothing is more tragic than this first dialogue between the prophet and his people. Strange, bloody, terrible scenes took place, which left, as it were, the imprint of a hot iron in Israel's mortified flesh. Beneath the amplifications of Biblical legend one divines the possible reality of the facts.

The elite of the tribes camped on the plateau of Pharan, at the entrance to a wild gorge which leads to the rocks of Serbal. The threatening summit of Sinai overlooks this stony, volcanic, rough terrain. Before the entire assembly Moses solemnly announces that he is going to go to the mountain to consult Elohim, and that he will bring back the Law, written upon a stone tablet. He commands the people to watch and fast, to wait in chastity and prayer. He leaves the Ark, hidden by the tent of the Tabernacle, under the watch of the seventy Elders. Then he disappears into the gorge, taking with him only his faithful disciple, Joshua.

Days pass; Moses does not return. The people are anxious at first, then they murmur, "Why did he lead us into this terrible desert and expose us to the arrows of the Amalakites? Moses promised to lead us to the land of Canaan where milk and honey flow, and here we are dying in the desert! Slavery in Egypt was better than this miserable life! Would to God that we still had the food that we ate back there! If the God of Moses is the true God, let him prove it; let all his enemies be scattered, and let us immediately enter the Promised Land." These complaints increase; the people rebel; even the leaders become involved.

Here comes a group of women who are whispering and murmuring among themselves. They are the daughters of Moab, dark-skinned with supple bodies and full figures, the concubines or servants of several Edomite leaders allied with Israel. They recall that they were priestesses of Astaroth, that they celebrated orgies of the goddess in the sacred forests of their native land. They feel that the time has come to reclaim their empire. They are adorned with gold and wear transparent garments; with a smile on their lips they resemble beautiful serpents coming out of the earth in order to display their sinuous forms and glittering reflections in the sun. They mix with the rebels, captivate them with their shining eyes, encircle them with their arms, resounding with copper bracelets, seducing them with their golden speech: "After all, who is this priest from Egypt, and his God? He will die on Sinai. The Refaim have probably thrown him in the abyss. It is not he who will lead the tribes into Canaan! But let the Children of Israel call upon the gods of Moab: Belphegor and Astaroth! They are gods that can be seen, and who perform miracles! They will lead Israel to the land of Canaan!" The mutineers listen to the Moabite women. They incite one another, and the shout goes up from the multitude: "Aaron, fashion gods for us who will walk before us; as for Moses who made us come up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him!"

In vain Aaron tries to calm the crowd. The daughters of Moab call upon the Phoenician priests who have arrived with a caravan. The latter bring wooden statues of Astaroth and raise them upon an altar of stone. Under threat of death the rebels force Aaron to cast a golden calf, one of the forms of Belphegor. The bulls and goats are sacrificed to the foreign gods; the people begin to drink and eat, and, led by the daughters of Moab, the lewd dances begin around the idols to the sound of nebels, kinnors and tambourines.

The seventy Elders chosen by Moses for the care of the Ark have tried to stop the disorder, but in vain. Now they are sitting on the ground, their heads covered with sackcloth and ashes. Grouped around the Tabernacle of the Ark, with consternation they hear the savage cries, the voluptuous songs, the invocations to the cursed gods, demons of lust and cruelty. With horror they view this people deep in debauchery and in rebellion against its God. What is to become of the Ark and the Book of Israel if Moses does not return?

But Moses does return. From his long meditation, from his solitude on the mountain of Elohim he brings back the Law, carved upon tablets of stone.43 Entering the camp he sees the dances, the bacchanal of his people before the idols of Astaroth and Belphegor. Catching sight of the priest of Osiris, the prophet of Elohim, the dancers stop, the alien priests flee, the rebels hesitate. Anger seethes in Moses like a consuming fire. He breaks the tablets of stone, and one feels that in this way he would break this entire people. One knows that God possesses him.

Israel trembles, but the rebels dart looks of hatred and fear toward Moses. One word, one gesture of hesitation on the part of the leader-prophet and the hydra of idolatrous anarchy will lift its thousand heads against him and sink the holy Ark, the prophet, and his idea beneath a storm of stones. But Moses is there, and behind him are the invisible Powers which protect him. He understands that above all it is necessary to build up the spirit of the seventy elect to their rightful stature once again, and through them all the people. He calls upon Elohim-Ieve, Male Spirit, the Fire-Principle, in his own heart and in the heights of heaven.

"Let the seventy come to me!" cries Moses. "Let them take the Ark and climb with me to the mountain of God! As for this people, let them wait and tremble! I shall return with the judgment of Elohim upon them!"

The Levites take the golden Ark, covered with its wings, from the tent, and the procession of the seventy disappears with the prophet into the narrow passes of Sinai. One cannot tell who trembles the more, the Levites at what they are going to see, or the people at the punishment Moses leaves hanging over their heads like an invisible sword.

O if only they could free themselves from the terrible grip of this priest of Osiris, this prophet of evil! This is the wish of the rebels. And hastily half of the camp folds the tents, harnesses the camels, and prepares to flee. But a strange twilight, a veil of dust spreads over the sky; a sharp breeze blows over the Red Sea, the desert assumes a wild, red appearance and behind Sinai huge clouds pile up. Finally the sky becomes dark. Gusts of wind bring waves of sand, and lightning causes the whirlwind of clouds enveloping Sinai to burst in torrents of rain. Soon the flashes of lightning and the voice of thunder reverberating through all the gorges of the mountain mass bursts upon the plain in successive reports with a fearful din. The people have no doubt that this is the anger of Elohim, invoked by Moses. The daughters of Moab have disappeared. The idols are overturned, the leaders kneel, the children and women hide under the camels. All night and all day this continues. Lightning strikes tents, killing men and beasts, and thunder continues to rumble.

Toward evening the tempest subsides, but the clouds continue to roll over Sinai, and the sky is still black. At the entrance to the camp the seventy now reappear, with Moses at their head. And in the dim twilight the faces of the prophet and his elect shine with a supernatural light, as if they have brought with them the reflection of a shimmering and sublime vision. Over the golden Ark, over the cherubim with wings of fire, quivers an electrical ray, like a phosphorescent pillar. At this extraordinary spectacle, the Elders and the people, men and women, kneel at a distance.

"Let those who are for the Lord come to me," commanded Moses.

Three-quarters of the leaders of Israel group themselves around Moses; the rebels remain hidden in their tents. Then the prophet moves forward and orders his faithful to put their swords through the instigators of the revolt and the priestesses of Astaroth, so that Israel may tremble forever before Elohim. He orders this so that Israel may remember the law of Sinai and its first commandment, "I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth."

By means of this mixture of terror and mystery, Moses imposed his law and his cult upon his people. It was necessary to impress the idea of leve on their soul in letters of fire, and without these inexorable measures, monotheism would never have triumphed over the invading polytheism of Phoenicia and Babylon.

But what had the seventy seen on Sinai? Deuteronomy 33:2 speaks of a tremendous vision, of thousands of saints appearing in the midst of the storm on Sinai, in the light of leve. Did the wise men of the ancient Cycle, the ancient initiates of the Aryas, of India, Persia, and Egypt, all the noble sons of Asia, the land of God, come to assist Moses in his task of exercising a decisive pressure upon the consciousness of his associates? The spiritual Powers who watch over humanity are always present, but the veil separating us from them is rent only at decisive moments and for the few chosen ones.

Moses caused the divine fire and energy of his own will to enter the seventy. They were the first temple before that of Solomon; they were the living temple, the temple on the march, the heart of Israel, the royal light of God.

By means of the visions of Sinai, through the mass execution of the rebels, Moses acquired an authority over the nomadic Semites, whom he held in his iron grip. But similar events, followed by new manifestations of power, had to take place during the journey toward the land of Canaan. Like Mohammed, Moses had to manifest simultaneously the genius of a prophet, of a man of war, and of a social organizer. He had to fight against lassitude, calumny and conspiracies. After the revolt of the people he had to level the pride of the Levite priests who wanted to make their role equal to his, to have themselves considered, like him, as men directly inspired by leve. On the other hand, Moses had to face the more dangerous conspiracies of a few ambitious leaders like Core, Datan and Abiram, who fomented insurrection in order to overthrow the prophet and proclaim a king, as the Israelites did later with Saul, despite the resistance of Samuel. In this struggle, Moses experiences alternations of indignation and pity, the tenderness of a father and the roarings of a lion against the people who fight among themselves, but who, in spite of all, will submit to him. We find the echo of this in the Biblical dialogues between the prophet and his God, dialogues which seem to reveal what took place in the depths of his consciousness.

In the Pentateuch, Moses triumphs over all obstacles because of miracles which are excessively unrealistic. Jehovah, conceived of as a personal God, is always at his call. He appears above the Tabernacle like a shining cloud, which is called The Glory of the Lord. Moses alone can enter the Tabernacle; the impure who approach it are struck dead. In the Biblical account the Tabernacle of the congregation, which houses the Ark, plays the role of a gigantic electric battery which once charged with the fire of Jehovah, strikes the masses of the people with lightning. First the sons of Aaron, then two hundred fifty followers of Core and Datan, and finally fourteen thousand people are killed by its discharges. Moreover, at a set hour, Moses brings about an earthquake, which swallows up the three rebel leaders along with their tents and their families. This last account is related in wonderful, grandiose poetry. But it is marked by such exaggeration, by such an obviously legendary character, that it would be childish to discuss its reality. A particularly unreal quality is given to these accounts by the role Jehovah plays as an irascible, changeable God. He is always ready to strike and destroy, while Moses represents mercy and wisdom. Such a childish, contradictory concept of Divinity is no less strange to the consciousness of the initiate of Osiris than to that of a Jesus.

Nevertheless these fantastic exaggerations seem to stem from certain phenomena resulting from Moses' magic powers, and are not without analogy in the tradition of the ancient temples. Here it is possible to express one's thoughts regarding the so-called miracles of Moses in the light of a rational theosophy and esotericism. The production of various forms of electric phenomena at the will of powerful initiates is not only attributed to Moses by antiquity. Chaldean tradition attributed it to the Magi, Greek and Latin traditions, to certain priests of Jupiter and Apollo.44 In similar cases the phenomena are indeed of an electric nature. But the electricity of the earthly atmosphere would be put in motion by a more subtle and universal force active everywhere, and which the great initiates agreed to attract, to concentrate and to project. This force is called akasa by the Brahmans, the fire element by the Magi of Chaldea, the great magic agent by the Kabbalists of the Middle Ages. From the point of view of modern science it can be called etheric force. One can either attract it directly or invoke it through the intermediary of invisible agents, conscious or semi-conscious, of which the earthly atmosphere is full, and which the will of the Magi knows how to control. This theory is in no way contrary to a rational concept of the universe, and it is even indispensable in explaining a large body of phenomena which would remain incomprehensible without it. It is necessary only to add that these phenomena are governed by changeless laws which are always proportioned to the intellectual, moral and magnetic strength of the initiate.

An anti-rational and anti-philosophical event would be the setting in motion of the First Cause of God by any being whatsoever (or the direct activation of this cause by Him), which would amount to an identification of the individual with God. Man only relatively rises to Him through thought or prayer, through action or ecstasy. God exercises His activity in the universe only indirectly, through the Hierarchies, by means of universal and unchangeable laws which express His thought, as it were, through earthly and divine humanity, who partially and proportionately represent Him in the world of space and time.

In harmony with these points of view we think it perfectly possible that Moses, sustained by the spiritual Powers who protected him, and manipulating the etheric force with consummate art, could have used the Ark as a sort of receptacle, a magnetic concentrator for the production of electric phenomena of a lethal nature. He isolated himself, his priests and his trusted friends by clothing of linen and by aromatics, which protected them from the discharges of etheric fire. But these phenomena could only be rare and limited. Priestly tradition tends to exaggerate them. Doubtless for Moses' purposes it was necessary to destroy only a few rebel leaders or a few disobedient Levites by means of the projection of fluid, in order to terrorize and subdue all the people.


Notes for this chapter:

43. In antiquity, words inscribed on stone were considered the most sacred of all. The hierophant of Eleusis read to the initiates from tablets of stone, things which they swore not to repeat to anyone, and which were written nowhere else.

44. Twice an attack on the temple of Delphi was repelled in the same circumstances. In 480 B.C. the troops of Xerxes attacked it and withdrew, frightened by a storm accompanied by flames coming from the sun and the fall of great blocks of rock. -- Herodotus. In 279 B.C. the temple was again attacked by an invasion of Gauls and Cymri. Delphi was defended by only a small group of Phoceans. The barbarians attacked, but at the moment they were about to enter the temple, a storm broke out and the Phoceans routed the Gauls.

(See the excellent account in The History of the Gauls by Amedee Thierry, Book II.)


24. The Death of Moses

The Great Initiates