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The Bab and Judaism II : Doctrinal Influences

An example of the special `Chair of Elijah' (Heb."kisse shel Eliyyahu"),

Stephen Lambden, University of Newcastle upon Tyne - UC Merced.

In Progress and  under revision and correction  - last uploaded 21-07-2021.

The Bab and Judaism II: Possible Doctrinal Influences 


The Paragraphs below date to the 1980s and are now under revision and correction

 The question of Jewish influence upon the writings of the Bāb.
Jews are very seldom mentioned in the writings of the Bāb. Nothing in any of the texts I have seen throws direct or substantial light upon the question of his probable association with them. While it is not impossible that the Bāb held converse with and was  influenced by Jews, his writings contain very little clear evidence of such links. Little or no detailed knowledge of Jewish history or practise such as might have been mediated through Jewish contacts is in evidence in the massive Bābī canon. The Hebrew Bible is quoted neither in Arabic nor in Persian translation. References to the tawrat (Torah I Pentateuch) and Zabor (psalter) are infrequent and these qur'ānic terms do not necessarily refer to any part of the Judaeo-Christian Bible. References to Jews, to the "people of Meses" and the "people of David" tend to occur in contexts that undeline the folly of their rejection of the continuing succession of divine manifestations with a view to highlighting the error of rejecting the Bāb or man yuzhiru-hu Allah when he appears.
Though frequently idiosyncratic, the legalistic pronouncements of the Bāb are for the mast part rooted in Shi`i fiqh. They sometimes have something of a biblical or talmudical flavour though beyond a detailed comparative study of Jewish legalism and Shī'i fiqh  a categorical rejection of Jewish influence on certain of the Bāb's legalistic and other pronouncements (unlikely though it is) would be hasty. The following injunctions set forth in the Arabic Bayan (X: 5, 49) of the Bāb are examples of those that have something of a biblical or Talmudical flavour:

"Do not ride cattle (al-baqara, or cows/oxen) or burden them with anything... Do not drink the milk of [she-] asses (laban al-hamir) or burden them or any other animal beyond its capacity. Do not ride animals without a bridle and stirrup„ Do not ride that [animal] which you cannot master [a dangerous animal]. Do not crack eggs before cooking them, otherwise the interior will spoil. Eggs are what God hath made for the First Point (nuqtat al-awwal  = the Bāb ) and those who have arisen to serve him, perchance you may be thankful. You need not abstain from [eating] eggs with blood in the centre since they are [pronounced] pure; though you need not [feel obliged to] eat them if you deem it distasteful (makruh)." (cf. Q. 16:7-8; 36:71-3; 40:79; 43:12-13).

Aside from possible lslamic parallels it is interesting that eggs figure promintly in the Jewish halakah. lf they are beginning to 'form an embryo' or have a bloodspot on the yoke they are forbidden to Jews (see Bab. Tai., Hullin 64af. cf. Rabinowitz,'Eggs', EJ 6:474-5; Freedman, 1974 11:613f).

`ELIJAH, CHAIR OF -  Editorial Staff of the Encyclopedia Judaica 

(Heb."kisse shel Eliyyahu"),

The chair of Elijah and a seat for the Bābi messiah .

The "empty chair"  for the messianic  `Man Yuzhiru-hu Allah' (Him whom God shall make manifest') motif in the writings of the Bab, may well reflect the Jewish (Heb.) "kisse shel Eliyyahu". An example of this `empty chair' of the sometimes messianic Elijah, now fit for the Babi messianic  figure may well have been known to the Bab as his home was so close, apparently adjecent to a Jewish synagogue in Shiraz. This synagogue was adjacent to or next to the house in which he was born and declared his mission (now destroyed or levelled).


Add texts here.
One quasi-ritualistic aspects of the messianism of the Bāb recalls Jewish practise and echoes the early $afawid practise of keeping a horse for the expected Mahdī-Qā'im.  Yāqūt records that in 7th/13th century Kāshān every morning the authorities, expectant ofthe advent of the warior Mahdī, would lead a saddled horse outside the walls. The Khurāsānī Sarbadārids (737-88/1337-86) revived this custom as did certain of the Safavids (see CHI 6:613). ln his Mission to the Lord Sophy of Persia (1539-1542) Michele Membre records that "The King [= Shāh Tahmāsp 1, 1930/1524] has a sister in his house who he does not want to be married, because, he says, he is keeping her to be the wife of the Mahdī.. Thus, too, he has a white horse, which he keeps for the said Mahdi, which has a cloth of crimson velvet, and silver shoes; sometimes pure gald ones. No one rides this horse and they always put it in front of all his horses" (25- 26).

ln various writings of the Bāb it is directed that an unoccupied maqad, a seat or chair 2or vacant place(s) be left in gatherings perchance man yuzhiru-hu Allāh (Him whom God will make manifest) should be present or appear, with or without his disciples, his eighteen 'Letters' who make up his Wāhid, the 'Monad', 'Pleroma' or Unicity.

2 The Bāb viewed the European use of the chair in a very positive fashion. ln a variety of contexts the use of maq'ad (pl. maqā'id, lit. 'places for sitting', 'chairs' or 'seats') is recommended by the Bāb. ln P. Bayān Vl:11, for example, it is advised that children sit upon chairs and in P. Bayān Vll:11 the use of chairs is favoured above pulpits.

The Arabic synopsis which introduces P. Bayan IX:1 reads as follows:

The first section (bāb) of the ninth Unity (wāhid) concerns [the fact] that the magnificence of the whole earth (izz kull al-ard)  belongs to God as does the uniqueness of the cities (fard al-madā'in) and the houses which aforetime were the domain of the kings. Whoso offers devotion therein from among the inmates of the Bayān must vouchsafe [token payment] of a mithqāl of silver. This lest any dweller therein appropriate what properly belongs to the letters of the wāhid ('one', abjad = 19) or the witnessess of the Bayān (shuhāda' al-bayan). [ln gatherings] from amongst all of the seats of honour (maqā'id al-`izza) leave them vacant as accords with the number of the wāhid (= 19) which indicates the station of Logos-Seif (maqam al-nafs). This if the area is extensive (ai-ard  al-wasi`a) otherwise understand wāf:Jid (one) without (abjad) numeration (= simply as one) for such shall suffice all the worlds ... (P. Bayan IX:1, 211-212 ).

The sometimes detailed Persian text which follows that Arabic summary translated above hardly departs therefrom. It is stated that if a "mighty assembly" (majlis-i `izza) is convened it is necessary that sitting places "to the number of vāhid [abjad =19]" be left vacant. Then, if the "hour" should come and man yuzŗhiru-hu Allāh appear with his "letters" (=18 disciples+1 = 19) all would be in order. lf the gathering place is consticted it is only necessary that a specific single place or chair be left vacant for the messianic presence.
The corresponding Ar.B IX.1 commences with some theophanic claims and repeats similar messianic directives about having a vacant chair or chairs in gatherings:

Say: The magnificance of every land belongs to [the messianic] whomsoever We shall make manifest (man nuzhiru-hu). Yet, on the Day of his theophany, you shall surely repudiate him ...

Say: O Thou [convened] in a mighty assembly (majālis ai- `izz)! Keep empty places for nineteen persons perchance on the Day of His [messianic] theophany (yawm al-zuhur) you shall make any move contrary to them. Do this if the [gathering] be extensive; otherwise one single (wahid an ) [vacant seat] shall suffice you, perchance you might be saved on that Day of the [messianic] theophany (yawm al-zuhur) ..." (Ar. Bayan IX:1, 98).

These passages in which a vacant seat or chair is left at gatherings perchance the Bābī messianic parousia should reminiscent of an aspect of the Jewish circumcision ritual. The Jewish circumcision ceremony is representative of a child's entrance into the covenant of Abraham when an unoccupied kisse shel Eliyyahu ("Chair of Elijah" see above) is placed at the right of the sandak (godfather). This vacant chair is symbolic of the possible presence of the celestial Elijah (cf. II Kings 2:11), the "Angel [Messenger] of the Covenant [of circumcision]" (Mal. 3:1). Van Seters has explained this Jewish custom as follows, "At the ceremony of the circumcision a chair is set for him [Elijah] in order to invoke his presence as "angel of the covenant" of Abraham to oversee and, by proxy, to carry out the requirments of the law" (Van Seters, 'Elijah' Enc. Rel 5:[91-] 93).


ln the Abrahamic religions Elijah is a figure of central messianic importance. 1 He is preeminently the forerunner of the messianic age or the first one of twin end-time messiahs.2 It is possible that this aspect of Jewish ritual practise reflects the Bāb's (childhood?) experience of a Jewish circumcision ceremony with its messianic overtones.

1 Refer Mal. 3:23; Mk. 9:11-13; Matt. 11 :13-4;17:10-13; Jeremias. TDNT 11:928-41; cf. Augustine, City, XX.19-30, trans Wand, 1963: 373).
2 This vacant chair motif is again reminiscent of the (undrunk) 'Cup of Elijah' placed of the table when the Seder (Passover eve) is commemorated in expectation of the (messianic) figure of Elijah, the eschatological resolver of unanswered halakhic questions (see Wiener, 1978:132-135;[ed.] 'Elijah, Cup of, JE 6:646; Passover Haggadah, Kahn, 1969:18,22).

Lettrist or `Qabbalistic'  mysticism and the esotericism of the Bāb.

Reading certain of the Bāb's works is somewhat reminiscient of ploughing one's way through such Jewish mystical classics as the Sepher ha-zohar (Book of Splendour) of the Spanish mystic Moses de Leon (d.1305) and such other texts as the earlier (pre-lslamic?) pseudepigrahpical, pseudo-Abrahamic Sepher Ha-Yetsirah (The Book of Formation). ln these and other Jewish works such as the Enochian cycle of writings biblical texts and names of God are expounded in all manner of unusual gematric ways. They are particularly reminiscent, for example, of the Bāb's early Arabic Khutba a/-Jidda (Literary Oration [delivered] nigh Jeddah, 1845? or parts of his later Kitab al-asmā' (Book of Names, c. 1849).
More of an esoteric composition rather than a sermonic discourse, the almost certainly never uttered khuļba al-Jidda (Homily, Literary Oration ["Sermon" composed] nigh Jeddah) of the Bāb is a medium length Arabic work dating to the first year of his mission (1845). ln terms of its content it is far from what one would imagine a homily or sermon to be although it opening is partly inspired by the khutba al-Tutunjiyya (attributed to lmam 'AIi) and dimly echoing Gen.1:1f  and partially cites those qur'ānic texts which speak about the Throne of God being established upon the celestial Water (Q. 11:7, etc). At the opening his Khufba al-Jidda ('Literary Oration nigh  Jeddah') the Bāb gives a good impression of his difficult quasi-qabbalistic style:

ln the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

[1] Praised be to God! Who raised up the Celestial Throne (al-`arsh) upon the watery expanse (al-mā') [2] and the atmosphere (al-hawā') above the surface (wajh) of the watery expanse (al-mā'). [3] And He separated between these two through the word "Benefits" (alā' - first letter - alif "A"). [4] Then he divided the  firmaments from the sphere of the theophanic Cloud (`ālam al-`amā'). [5] Betwixt these twain a division (ḥifẓan) suggestive of the (Arabic) letter "H" (al-hā' = ه  ). And [6] And  from this atmosphere (al-hawā') there emerged the Sinaitic Tree (shajarat al-sīnā'), its subtle graciousness  overshadowing the ocean of laudation  (baḥr al-thanā') nigh the watchtower of the Light of radiant Glory (li-maṭla` nūr al-bahā') above the  crimson Thrones (sarā'ir al-hamrā'). [7] This that all might hearken through the Dawning-Place of the Snow-white Script (khaṭṭ al-bayḍā) at the black Horizon (`ufq al-sawdā') [8] unto the Call of the crimson leaves (waraqāt al-ḥamrā') upon the Green Tree (al-shajarat al-khuḍrā'), [saying] [9] `God, there is no God except Him, the Lord of the Celestial Throne (al-`arsh) and of the heavenly realm (al-samā')' (Kh.Jedda, INBMC 91 :60 + revised Lambden trans. 2007).

Terminological, conceptual and other parallels certainly exist between works of the Bāb and certain Jewish qabbalistic writings. Such echoes of BābT terminology as exist in these qabbalistic mystical texts are also echoedl paralleled in the works of lslamic mysticism, gnosis and theosophy which have themselves been subject to Jewish influence. Notable in this respect is al-Bünī's Shams al-ma`ārif  which at certain points has a definiate Jewish substrate (Vajda, XX:XX). The question is whether the Bāb is predominantly influenced by lslamic irfāni literature or by Jewish mystical texts. It will be argued here that it is the lslamic
writings which form the most direct and central background to the Bāb's esoteric, qabbalistic type style. Some preliminary thoughts will be registered in the paragraphs to follow focused very largely upon the motif the the nuqtah ("Point") in the qabbalah and in the theophanology of the Bāb.

The Zoharic doctrine of emanation from a            (Aram. Noqteh), a "primordial point".

 Zohar 1. 25a.f.and other texts and passages within the Sepher ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) furnish   good examples of a motif that is common to both the Bāb and the qabbalistic mysticism of the Sepher ha-zohar and other writings. The following extracts from this 'Book of Splendour' must suffice to indicate the terminological parallels regarding the Bāb's concept of the "Primordial Point" as the dot(•) beneath the Arabic letter "B" (al-bā')      ( cf. Heb.       the first letter of the Torah). 1  

"(Be-reshit), In the beginning (Genesis 1:1).
At the head of potency of the King,1 He engraved engravings 2 in luster on high.3 A spark of impenetrable darkness4 flashed within the concealed of the concealed,5 from the head of Infinity 6 —a cluster of vapor forming in formlessness, thrust in a ring,7 not white, not black, not red, not green, no color at all. 8 As a cord surveyed,9 it yielded radiant colors. Deep within the spark gushed a flow, splaying colors below, concealed within the concealed of the mystery of Ein Sof.10 It split and did not split its aura,11 was not known at all, until under the impact of splitting, a single, concealed, supernal point shone. Beyond that point, nothing is known, so it is called ראשית (Reshit), Beginning,12 first command of all.13"  (Zohar 1:15af trans. Daniel C. Matt in The Zohar, Pritzker edition, Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2004 - for all of the footnotes see the printed text).

Select footnotes of Daniel C. Matt to the above extract which opens Zohar 1:15a.

1. potency of the King הורמנותא דמלבא (Hurmanuta de-malka), “Authority [or: decree] of the king.” The phrase הרמנא דמלכא (harmana de-malka), “authority [or: decree] of the king,” appears in BT Berakhot 58a, Gittin 57b, Bava Metsi’a 83b–84a, Ḥullin 57b. See Zohar 1:76b, 97a, 108a, 109b (all ST), 147a (Tos); 2:123a; ZḤ 67c (ShS), 121d. Here the King is Ein Sof, arousing Itself to manifest through the process of emanation.

2. engraved engravings These engravings eventually manifest as the sefirot. See Zohar 1:3b, 38a; 2:126b; 3:128a (IR)...

6. Infinity Hebrew, אין סוף (Ein Sof), “there is no end,” the ultimate divine reality. On the evolution of this term, see Scholem, Kabbalah, 88–89...

10. concealed within the concealed... The flow of emanation has just begun; everything is still hidden within the mystery of Ein Sof.
11. It split and did not split... בקע ולא בקע (Beqa ve-la beqa). The flow somehow broke through, but the nature of the breakthrough is impossible to describe, so the act is stated and immediately denied. See Scholem’s remarks on expressions of this kind in Major Trends, 166–67.

12.a single, concealed, supernal point... Beginning The flow of emanation manifests as a point of light. This is the second sefirah: Ḥokhmah (“Wisdom”), which is called Beginning because it is the first ray of divine light to appear outside of Keter, the first aspect of God that can be known.
The identification of ראשית (reshit), beginning, with Wisdom appears widely. See Targum Yerushalmi (frag.), Genesis 1:1; Wolfson, Philo, 1:242–45, 266–69; Bereshit Rabbah 1:1; Azriel of Gerona, Peirush ha-Aggadot, 81; Naḥmanides on Genesis 1:1; Zohar 1:2a, 3b, 16b, 20a, 145a; Moses de León, Sheqel ha-Qodesh, 21–22 (25–26); Scholem, Major Trends, 391, n. 80.


ln the Zohar we read: י (yod),

"ln the beginning" (Genesis 1:1a) - At the very beginning the king made 1 The dot ( •) in some respects corresponds to the locus of smallest Hebrew letter yod ' ("Y") which is the first letter of the tetragrammaton, YHWH engravings in the supernal purity. A spark of blackness emerged in the sealed within the sealed, from the mystery of En-Sof... It penetrated, but did not penetrate„. until from the pressure of its penetration a single point shone, sealed, supernal. Beyond this point nothing is known, and so it is called reshit (beginning): the first word of all.. Zohar [brightness] is that from which all the words were created, through the mystery of the expansion of the point of this concealed brightness„. thus did En-Sof burst out of its air and reveal a single point:       [ cf. the Hebrew letter yod = י ] ..." (Zohar 1, 15aff. in Tishby 1 : 309-315)

"And there was light—light that already was.114 This light is concealed mystery, an expansion expanding, bursting from the mysterious secret of the hidden supernal aura.115First it burst, generating from its mystery a single concealed point,116 for Ein Sof burst out of its aura, revealing this point: י (yod). Once this yod expanded, what remained was found to be: אור (or), light, from that mystery of concealed אויר (avir), aura.117After the primordial point, yod, emerged from it into being, it manifested upon it, touching yet not touching.118 Expanding, it emerged; this is אור (or), light remaining from אויר (avir), aura, namely, the light that already was. This endured, emerged, ascended, was treasured away, and a single point remained, so that by a hidden path it constantly touches that point, touching yet not touching, illumining it through the primordial point that emerged from it.119 So all is linked, one to another, illumining this and that.120 As it ascends, all ascend, merging in it.121 Attaining the realm of Ein Sof, it is hidden away, and all becomes one.

Expository Footnotesof Daniel C. Matt to Zohar XX (from Vol.1:

"112. Father and Mother... Ḥokhmah and Binah, symbolized by the first two letters of יהוה (YHVH), which are also the first two letters of יהי (yehi), let there be. See Zohar 2:22a.
113. afterward turning back... The final letter of יהי (yehi), let there be, is once again י (yod), symbolizing the primordial point of Ḥokhmah, from which emerges the first of the lower seven sefirot: Ḥesed, known as light.
114. light that already was The primordial light emerging from the depths of the first sefirah..." (Zohar. English. The Zohar translation and commentary by Daniel C. Matt.– Pritzker ed. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, Zohar Education Project, Inc.,  2004 

From the very beginning of his mission the Bāb claimed to be the nuqta. (Point). Thus in QA 108, we read,

"This [Bāb] is undoubtedly the nuqta (Point) of genesis (fi'l-badā '). It was assuredly made manifest upon the centre of the [cosmic] seal (markaz al-khatm)"(QA 108:432). ln another early letter dealing with the science of letters ('ilm a/-huruf) there are some interesting statements about the nuqta (Point).The Bāb speaks of God as the one who "created in the nuqta the line (al-khatf}' which leads to "the knowledge of the letters and of all things". The essence of the nuqta is said to be its alpha (awwāl), its omega or end being the "knowledge of its luminous letters and darkened letters (huruf a/-nurāniyya wa'l-xxxamāniyya)" (INBMC 91 :[30-36] 31-2).
The Bāb made very frequent use in his later writings of this adopted title al-nuqta (the Point) expressed in various genitive forms including, al-nuqta al-awwal (The Primordial Point), nuqta al-bayān (The Point of the Bayān) and nuqta al-haqq (The Point of Ultimate Reality).
This is frequently evidenced in the two Bayāns and, for example, in one of his several epistles to Muhammad Shāh (d. 1264/1848) where the Bāb boldly claims to be the origin of creation (cf.Jn 1 :3), "I am the Point (al-nuqta) from which the atoms burst forth" (L. Muh.51 INBMC 64:109).
These claims of the Bāb are most centrally rooted in a famous  hadrth ot lmām 'AIi in which it is stated that the totality of the Q. is contained in its locus, in the nuqta (the Point= •) of the letter "B" (  ) with which the basmala commences.1 Suf and Shi`i tradition has it that lmām 'AIi himself claimesd to be the nuqta ot the letter "B" (al-Nuqtat al-Kahf, 5ff; Bursī, Mashsriq, 23; Schimmel, 1978 App.1, 1987: 1 ff). At various points in his writings the Bāb cites and interprets this hadrth (e.g. PB 3:12, 89-90 ). He sometimes rewrites it applying it to the new basmalah ot the Bayān, to himself as its locus and to the future disciples of man yuzhiru-hu
Allah. Thus, in Ar.B 3:11-12 we read:

[3:11] Whatsoever descended therein [the Bayān] is in the first [19 letter] verse ofthe Bayān =], Bismillāh al-amna· al-aqdas [as you would realize] if you should observe the letters of the one (huruf a/-wahid = the 19 letters of the new basmalah)„. [3: 12] whatsoever is therein is in the point ( • al-nuqta) ot the first letter (the   = "B") (Ar. Bayān, 86) Such relates to man yuzhiru-hu Allāh and the hurufat-hayy (18 'Letters of the Living') [future disciples] nigh unto him who are the basmalah which occurs at the outset of most sūras of the Q., is Bismillāh al-rahmān al-rahīm (= 'ln the Name of God, the Merciful the Compassionate')  even as mirrors before the Sun .. " (Ar. B 3:11-12, 86; cf. PB 3:2;11-12).

lslamic mystical statements about the  "B"  and its •  subdot have a long history within lslam going back beyond the time of the Suti martyr Ibn Mansurr al-Hallāj (d.c. 304/922). ln the fifth section of al-Hallaj's K Tāwasin (The Book of the "T" [Tā] and "S" [Sīn]) about the Tā-Sin  al-Nuqta (The "T"-"S" of the Point) there are some cryptic statements about this nuqfa (Point) as something supremely subtle or focused (adaqq) in that it is the basis or foundation (al-asI) beyond any notion of augmentation, diminution or passing away (l:lallāj, Dīwān, [Tā'waSīn] 127). Massignon, in dealing with the 'Metaphysical data' of Hallāj, translates the following
passage from Hallāj's Akhbar(No. 4) in illustration of his the "notion of the point, nuqta :

The point is the origin of every line, and the entire line is nothing but points joined together. Now, the line cannot do without the point nor the points without the line. And every line that one draws, perpendicular or oblique, departs, by a movement, from this same point. And everything on which a person's look falls is a point, between two other points. This indicates clearly that God makes Himself explicit through everything which is perceived and considered; everything that one sees face to face signifies Him. And this is why 1 have said: 1 have seen nothing in which 1 have not seen God" (tr. Massignon, Passion 111:68).

Here Hallāj relates the nuqta to the writing of a line; a line being a succession of conjoined points. Human perception of God is a vision of directness in a context of multiplicity. That God makes himself "explicit" in everything perceived "face to face" is tangentially pantheistic. ln the Bāb's Persian Bayan  3:11-12 Hallāj's statements are echoed though the realtionship between
the nuqta (Point) and the letters (of the alphabet = the major disciples) is given something of an anti-pantheistic or anti-extremist theophanological slant. It is as if in Persian Bayan III:11-12 the Bāb follows then corrects the implications of these Hallajian type statements. The Arabic title and summing up and parts of Persian Bayan  III:12 read as follows:

"Whatsoever is in this verse [of the Bayān] is in the basma/ah [which is] 'ln the Name of God theMost lnacessible, the Mast Sanctrified' (Bismillāh a/-amna · a/aqdas).The summation of this section (gate 12) is this that relative to the point (li-nuqfa) all the letters are generated through the point (bi-nuqfa mutakawwin mrgardad). Their spirits (arwālJ) exist by virtue of the Point of Reality (nuqfa-yi haqiqat). ln the Criterion (Furqān = Q.) this [Point] is Muhammad the Apostie of God„ ln the Bayān it [the Point] is the locus of the seven letters (='AIi Muhammad). ln the theophany (zuhur) of man yuzhiru-hu Allāh that [Point] is the divine Reality (haqrqat-i ilāhiyya) and Essential Lordly Beingness (kaynuniyya-yi rābāniyya jawhariyya)... (Persian Bayan III:12).

Here the nuqfa (Point) is explicitly centered in the mazhar-i ilāhi (manifestation of God) not related to a potentially pantheistic mystical concept of God as a nuqta (Point) made "explicit" in vision. While a non-pantheistic understanding of the locus of the Point is given here it is more explicit in Persian Bayān III: 12 where the likeness of the Point (mithl al-nuqta) is that of the "Sun" which
is representative of Reality not the essence of Divinity. The "Letters" ((lurūf) which symbolize the locus of the eighteen major disciples are likened to "mirrors" arrayed before the "Sun" and merely reflecting its light. The "letters" see naught in themselves but what derives from the "Sun". Looked at in this way 'AIT would not have been seen to be equal to Muhammad Iet alone been
identified with Divinity. Perhaps the Bāb is here countering quasi-pantheistic and extremist ideas he had encountered as a youg man in Shīrāz-Bushire. Perhaps he had association with Sufis who understood Hallāj's statements in a pantheistic manner and wanted to outrule this. ,
The background of the Bāb's nuqta speculations is in the abovementioned (hadīth of 'Alī and in related Sufi or Shi`i high imamological and gnostically inclined exponents of the esoteric traditions. Rajab al-Bursi in his Mashāriq, for example, identifies the al-faydI a/-awwāl (The Primal Emanation) as the "Presence of the Divine Unicity" (hadrat a/-ahadiyya) which is the (primordial) al-nuqta (Point) corresponding to the rūh Allāh (the Spirit of God), the letter of which is a/-bā' "B" (   )· For him the nuqta is focused in the qabbalistic (hijāb (Veil) which,outwardly, is the al-nuqta al-wahdat ("Point of Singularity") and is also the primogenitor of the
letter "A" (alif) (Bursī, Mashāriq, 37; cf. Corbin, 1996:101).
It is Sufi and irfānr Shi`i speculations about the nuqta which provide the primary background to the Bāb's cosmogonic and theophanological ideas about the nuqta (Point) as centered in himself and others. Jewish mystical parallels are almost certainly secondary. The Jewish parallels may in fact have lslamic origin. Though the Zohar was not unknown in 19th century Jewish circles in lran and lraq, there is at present no conclusive evidence that the Bāb was directly influenced by the Zohar or other similar Jewish qabbalistic speculations.
The qabbalistic, mystical secrets of the hekha/ot (tempies) of the Merkabah world, find some parallel in the Bāb's cosmology, his ideas about manifestations of the mashiyya (Primal Will) and what he has to say about talismanic pentacles ('tempies', hayāki/) and circles (dā'ira) (Scholem, 1960:205ff; MacEoin, 19XX:). Though registering detailed aspects of this background material and its possible parallels or echoes in the thought of the Bāb is beyond the scope of this thesis, such Judaic sources of the Bāb's thought would appear to be relatively few and far between. Many are best accounted for in the Shaykhī-Sufi milieu within which the Bāb meandered as it were for some years.
The Bāb's cosmogonical and theophanological statements about the nuqta were taken over and adapted by Baha'u'llah in numerous of his a/wāh or scriptural Tablets. The origins of creation are related to the realization of the nuqta as a primordial, blackened teardrop in his L. Hurūfāt al-muqatta`a (c.1857-8; see Ma;ida=yi asmani 4:50). During the Edirne period in particular he, as the following passage from the Law(l-i Sayyāh (c. 1271/1864? for Muhammad 'AIi   Mahallatī, Sayyāh, the Traveller [d. Cyprus, 1871]) must suffice to illustrate, claimed to be the "Point" as, among other things the  spiritual "retum" of the Bāb:

"Say: This is the Point (al-nuqta) from which the words of God (kalimat Allāh) were realized, and the sacred, pristine scriptures (sahāif quds tajarrud) and mighty Preserved Tablets were made manifest." (L. Sayyāh: X, INBMC 36:521 Haifa ms.1 ).

 Bābism and Judaism: the number eighteen and the crypto-Shabbatian Donmeh
ln Jewish and lslamic esotericism as related to number-letter mysticism the numbers eighteen and / or nineteen are of considerable importance. This as has been noted by Rosethal (1959), Schimmel (1975App.1;1994:81, 230) and others. The latter writers have set down some of the basie significances of nineteen in Judaism and lslam. To some degree nineteen obtains its importance in the light of other numbers which when added together make it up; including 12+7 (=19) and 18+1 (=19). For the Bāb the frequent qur'ānic Arabic phrase kull shay' (lit.·ali things', · everything') is foundational. He taught that Q. 65: 12 which twice contains the phrase kul/u shay' enshrines the whole of the Q. (Per. Bay. IV:10, 131). The Bāb directed that verses including kul/ shay' be placed on the fingers of the deceased (Per.B Vlll:11, 292; cf. Browne, ICPB: lxxxviii; MacEoin, Rituals, 4). Kullu shay' indicates a kind of totality, a unitative fully integrating p/eroma (fullness). This especially in that it has an abjad numerical value of 361 which is the square of 19 (19X19=361). ln the Bābī religion everything revolves around the number nineteen. His new calendar adopted by BA* was based on the 361+4 (intercalary) days in the (365 day) solar calendral year. The remnanat of original Bābīs who became neither Azalis or Bahā'ī identified themselves as Kullu shay'r ("All-thingers") after the Bāb's frequent addresses to his followers in later writings by this means (Ar. Bayān????; K.asmā'; K.Panj: 00000 cf. Browne, 1909:307; Materials, 148, 233).

The Bāb's fascination with 19 and 361 (= 19x19) mest likely, as Goldziher realized, has its background in the gnosis of the school of lbn 'Arabī. The importance of kull shay' is evident when the Great Shaykh in his K. Tadblrāt a/-ilāhiyya ff fs/ā/J a/-mam/akāt a/-insāniyya (???) cites the Andalusian mystic lbn Barrajān (d. 536 /1141). The position of the KhalTfa is related to the imām mubrn (Clear register), manifest imam in Q, 36:11 and to the Law!J malJfO.ŗ(Preserved Tablet) which is described as containing kul/ shay'
in Q. 7:142.

ln both the Hebrew Bibe and the Q. the divine name the "Living" is important. Within Judaism the numerical value of the Hebrew adjective ')n chai ("Living", x 224)1 is eighteen (n= 8 + ') =10, total = 18) as is its exact Arabic equivalent !Jayy ("Living") (Ringgren, TDOT IV:324-344) as calculated by Jews and Muslims.
It is significant in lslam that one of the asmā' a/-husnā', the 99 most beautiful names of God, is (ai-) Hayy (    = 8+10 total = 18 'the Living'). It occurs several times in the Q and has been commented upon by numerous Muslim exegetes including al-Ghazālī. It is present, for example, in the phrase "He [God] is the Living One (al-IJayy); there is no God but He" (Q. 40:65; see also Kassis, Concor. 568-572) and is often associated with the name of God al-qayyum (The self-Subsistent') and with most Mighty Name of God (ism Allāh al-a zam,· 7.X).
ln an lslamic context it is well known that there are nineteen letters in the basmalah (= Bismillāh al-rahman al-rahim, ·1n the Name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate') and that there are said to be nineteen angelic guardians who oversee hellish Sarkar (Q.74:30). Schimmel has noteci in this respect that in Shn thought nineteen occupied a prominent place as the sum of the 12 zodiacal signs (= the 12 lmams) and the seven planets ( = seven Prophets figures).
ln this latter respect it should be noteci that in his PB 2:4 the Bāb also associates the five 'Letters of Hellfire' and the five 'Letters of Paradise' 2 which ·expand' to nineteen as evidenced in the qur'ānic phrase, "Over it [Hell] are nineteen" (Q. 7 4:30). For the Bāb it is also very important that 19 is the abjad value of the Arabic word wāhid, meaning `one'. Nineteen rather than 18 is of key numerical significance for the Bāb (Noghabai, nd, A 'dād, 50-51)
ln his R&R Amanat has noteci the correspondence between the Bāb's thought about the number eighteen (the abjad value of       = 18) and certain kabbaliatic notions of the crypto-Shabbatian Donmeh centering upon this number as the numerical vale of the Hebrew word ')n chai, (living) (Amanat, R&R: 191 fn.211 ). Donmeh, a Turkish word meaning, ·convert' or ·apostate' (cf. Span. ·marranos' = 'pigs'). It denotes followers of the Jewish pseudo-messiah Shabbetai Tzevi (d.1676). He attracted many disciples in the Ottoman Empire and beyond 1 ln the Hebrew Bible, this word occurs in the oath formula i11i1') 'n and other expressions indicative of Yahweh as the ·uving God', D"n 0'i1"N, 'e/6him chaiyim.
2 These twice five letters make up the ten Arabic 'letters' which spell aut the negative and positive halves of the phrase 'The is no God except Him'.
even after his 1666 espousal of lslam in preference to martyrdom.1 Some of his followers emulated his example voluntarily embracing lslam yet secretly preserving aspects of their Jewish beliefs and rituals. Remnants of these crypto-Jews, the Donmeh still exist today. They are the descendants of the 300 or so Sabbatians who converted to lslam in Salonika in 1687 and who subsequently "split into three sub-sects, differeing in customs and beliefs" (Hirschberg,  RME 1:171; Scholem, 1971:142ff. Perlmann, 'Donmeh' El2 [CD]). Several writers have affirmed
the fact that the movement of Shabbetai Zevi "made an impact on Persian Jewry" (Fischel, EJ 13:315) though little appears to have been written on precisely this matter. It has recently been stated by Fenton that "the last significant contact between Jewish and Muslim mystics took place during the religious turmoil brought about by the mystical messiah Shabbatay Zevi" (HIP 1 :755).
Whether or not the thought of the crypto-Shabbatian Donmeh reached 19th century Shīrāz and or Bushire remains to be established. This is very unlikely to have been the case such that it influenced the thought of the Bāb regarding 18/19 as associated by him with the words al-Hayy and al-wāhid. Crypto-Shabbatian Donmeh influence upon the Bāb is essentially unnecessary anyway since the Arabic al-Hayy is a centrally important qur'ānic name of God in lslam.
Al-Büni several times deals with this Name in his Shams al-ma'ārif (XXX refs). While it is possible that Donmeh existed in lran in first half of the the 19th century there is no known evidence of the Bāb's association with such a group or the means by which he might have assimilated Donmeh ideas about the number eighteen. As one deeply interested in
the abjadvalue and sifnificances of the Names of God the Bāb would have been well aware of this number eighteen relative to "the Living" (al-t:iayy). It is quite true, however, that BābT and Donme speculations are both closely associated with the fact that 18 is the numerical value of the (Heb.) ')n fJayy ("life", numerical value 8+10= 18) and its Arabic equivalent Hayy. ln itself this correspondence is not enough to confidently posit the Bāb's direct or even
indirect appropriation of Donme ideas. Varieties of Jewish and lslamic letter mysticism exhibit parallels and similarities. The letter-number numerical values in these languages are often the same (abjad EI X:XXX). The Hebrew and Arabic words of "living" in both the Hebrew bible and Q. have the same numerical value (18). It is not at all suprising that this number has significance in both traditions. It was not, however, the number 18 that was of primary sigificance to the Bāb.
This was 19 and 18 secondarily. The fact that 18+1 = 19 the number of the Bābi pleroma that is unicity through wāhid, (abjad 19) "one". Few if any of the abovementioned conceptual parallels are concrete enough to furnish proof of the Bāb's association with or assimilation of mainstream or even heterodox Jewsh

1 This was exactly 200 years before and in the same place (Edirne in Ottoman Turkey) that BA*'s put out his open declartaion of his prophethood (1866). 41 concepts such as those of the Donmeh. Before these parallels can be accepted there must be evidence of theBāb's assocation with such groups or his being indirectly influenced by their
ideas through their literature. Proof of this is lacking. Such parallels as have already been briefly pointed out can mostly if not wholly be explained on the basis of lslamicate versions of Jewish mystical-magical traditions. lslamicate sources are sometimes infused with Judaic concepts. (See further X.X Joseph and 2 Davids, etc).
 4. X Jews, Talismans, Jafr and `ilm al-Huruf (The Science of Letters)
One area which invites serious attention in the light of the possibility of direct or indirect Jewish influence upon the Bāb is that relating to his evident fascination with talismanry, the esoteric science of the construction of talismans and the associated jafr (loosely, gematria) or numerological speculations associated therewith (<--2.9).1 ln this respect the Bāb's probable knowlege of such Jewish influenced material as is contained in the Shams al-ma 'ārif of al-Bünī
(<--1.5.X) should be borne in mind. Yet it is important to also take into account the fact that many Jews resident in the province of Fars earned their living by fashioning talismans. It is probable that the Bāb was influenced by this popular talismany as well by the more lslamicate esoteric aspects of it associated with jafr and such ideas as are contaimned in the Shams al-ma 'ārif of al-Bonī.
Certain of the cryptographic, alphabetic signs used in Bābī talismans are also found inscribed on Jewish as well as Shn Muslim charms and amulets. This according to certain Shn traditions of the lmams (Majlisi, Bihar,2 94:296-7). Having said this it is not impossible there were Jewish fashioners of talismans in Shīrāz and I or Bushire influenced by the Jewish mystical traditions with whom the Bāb had come into contact.
ln considering this issue of possible Jewish talismanic influence it should be noted that members of the lranian Jewish communities were occupied in the writing and distribution of talismans. Jewish comunities in and around Shīrāz and Bushire were so occupied.2 So too some of the Jews of Kazerun (about 20m NW of Shiraz), a few of whom spoke Hebrew (Wolf. MJ 111:32). Extremely poor and with strong messianic hopes one of their learned men, Mullā
(Rabbī?) David, said to Wolff, "We are now exiles on earth, and there are no people on earth so troubled as we 1 ln raising the possibility of Jewish influence in this area of the Bāb's teachings, 1 am fully aware that sometimes Jewish rooted lslamic talismanic and qabbalistic-numerological streams of tradition were drawn on by the Bāb (cf. 1.5.X). On this see for example, B.Carra de Vaux, 'Charms and Amulets'; Schimmel, 1975: Appendix 1 (= Letter Symbolism in Sufi Literature) 411ff.
2 Wolff in early 1825 found 30 families of Jews at Zarqun, 20 families at Kazerun and 30 families at Boruzjan ?? (see MJ 111:??).
are: we are considered as less than dogs and the Gojim [Gentiles], the Persians, trample upon us .. We must earn our livlihood by telling lies -- by writing talismans in fictitious characters and telling them [the Muslims] that they are written in Hebrew." (MJ. 111:33.)
By the time Stern visited these hunbdred or so Jews in 1848 they were somewhat better off. Though mest of them were still engaged in fortu ne telling and the writing of talismans for their Muslim neighbours, a few had acquired some wealth by dealing in 'antiquities' (see Stern, 1854: 114-5). Spector it will be relevent to note has observed that certain 19th cent. lranian Jews practised the "supernatural arts as a profession, often with substantial profīts" (1975:215).
A fair proportion of the Jews (and Jadīd al-lslam crypto-Jews ?) of Fārs, including Shirāz Kazerun as well as other localities in this region were, during the lifetime of the Bāb, earning a living by selling amulets or talismans to their Muslim neighbours. While this was apparently also the practise of some lranian Muslims (Wills.1891 :290) from pre-Christian times Jews have had a reputation for being especially adept at this. Amulets are frequently mentioned in talmudic and associated literatures. For many centuries Jews have evinced something of a a fascination with
occult, magicical and qabbalistic practises C Charms and Amulets' ERE. IV:457ff + bib.).
Sometimes obscure gematric and talismanic teachings are to be found in a good many
of the writings of the Bāb. Througout his six year ministry the Shirāzi Siyyid incorporated talismanic and alchemical teachings into his doctrines and ritual stiplations. Numerological qabbalistic type expositions of the Q. and other writings are not uncommon. The Bāb himself owned and wore a talismans. One of them is on view to select visitors to the Bahā'T archives in Haifa, lsrael at the time of the Bahā'T nine day pilgrimage. As MacEoin has already shown the
Bāb in several of his major works, encouraged his followers to wear talismanic devices.
The Bāb not infrequently gave itfānr (gnostic-esoteric) interpretations to already complex talismanic theory. It is associated with the messianism of the Bāb and his claim to unique, divinely revealed knowledge of jafr, of the gematric and qabbalistic sciences. Such an esoterically informed hermeneutic stream is evident in many aspects of the Bāb's developed cosmology, prophetology, legalism and messianism.1
ln many of his works the Bāb shows a knowledge and concern with popular as well as established aspects of religious learning and al-IJikmat a/-i/āhiyya ('theosophical Sufism'). ln an early Persian response to questions relating to the Bāb and Bābism by one of the major amaneunsis of the Bāb, the ShaykhT and BābT believer Mīrzā Mut:iammad 'AIT Zunūzī (entitled Anīs, 'lntimate';d.1850) it is lndicated that from the outset of his mission from the Bāb fashioned
1 For some details on this largely unstudied aspect of Bāb's doctrine see MacEoin, SI 14 (1985) 77-95 43 hayākil ('talismanic pentacles','amulets') al}ra~ (sing. l}irz, 'protective talismans', 'charms') and filismāt ('talismans') afterthe practise ofthe people (KZH 111:32; cf. MacEoin, Sources, 99). That talismanic knowledge was important to the Bāb from the very outset is evidenced by the fact that two consecutive suras of his Qayyūm al-asmā' are possibly in allusion to his name entitled, Surat al-tathlrth (QA. 90 'Sūra of the Threefold [Name?]' cf. the three letter of Alī) and Surat al-tarbr' (QA. 91 ·sara of the Fourfold [Name?]' cf. the four letters of Mut:iammad}'1 ln the 29th Sorat al-l}uriyya ('Sura of the Maiden) of this first major work he refers to himself as this al dhikr al-fil[/]ismr ai- 'arabr (this Arabic Talismanic Remembrance; QA. 29: 105) a statement which echoes the epiphet "talismanic" (!ilismanr an) applied to Muhammad in a prayer attributed to lmām 'AIT towards the beginning of the semi-gnostic Khufbat al-futunjiyya (Bursī, Mashāriq,166). Echoes of this sermon are found through out the Bāb's writings   ..

The early Sāhifā bayn al-haramayn (Epistle Between the Two Shrines; late Dec.1845) of the twenty-six year old Bāb dates to about six months after the QA. A multi-faceted Arabic work it was written in reply to questions of the leading Shaykhī, Mirzā Muhammad Husayn, Mut:iīt-i Kirmāni (d.12XX/18xx). lncluded with it is a roughly ten page section about talismanic matters which MTrzā Mut:iīt had apparently heard (or read) in connection with the Bāb and about which he desired clarification. The Bāb's response to these matters illustrates that for him the parameters of talismanic gnosis went far beyond any mundane concern with amulets and charms. For the Bāb, talismans encapsulated cosmological, prophetological and other recondite mysteries:

[The second section concerning the secondary verses]
As for the matter which the questioner has (re) cited from my [own] tongue respecting the path[s] of the triangular and the quadrangular [talismanic configurations] (min subul al-tathlrth wa'l-tarbi) and that which comes forth, with the sanction of thy Lord according to the straight Path ('alā Ģirat al-qawrm), in connection with talismans (al-filismāt). Know of a certainty! Be aware through the knowledge of certainty! Then bear witness with the eye of certainty [unto] the decree of thy Lord in the Manifest Book. Had you gazed upon the Countenance of the [Divine] Will (wajh al-mashiyya) the [two] limits [of this world and that] (haddayn) would have been negated for you with respect to the [acquisition of the] knowledge of the two [aforementioned] talismans ( 'ilm al-tilismayn cf. Q.28:88; 55:26-27). And it would have been demonstrated that they are the (two) ancestors (fathers= archetypes?, robes] of origination ( al-ābā al-ibdā ') and that the path of their secret [mystery] (ff sabrl sirrihā) is attained [in the journey] unto God, the Originator, the Chosen ..... And there would be manifest from the inmost heart of the letters (fu`ād al-huruf) in the [celestial] world of laudation (ālam al-subuhāt) what hath not been encompassed by the science which originates with the people of the Book (ilm min ahl al-kitāb) for such is the decree of God respecting the [Muslim] believers whom God made upon [to sit upon] the Throne of the divine lntention ('arsh ai- irada)

1 Allusion is perhaps made to the {Arabic) name of the Bāb Alī Muhammad {= 3 letters [Alī]+ 4 letters [Muhammad] name).
44 irāda). So be conscious of the decree [Cause] of God if you [aspire to] be [numbered] among the righteous. (Sahifa bayn al-Haramayn [INBA Ms. 6007C] 360ff; Browne Coll. Or. F7(9), 27ff)

ln consideration of the triangular (al-tathlrth) talisman the Bāb counselled Kirmānī not to be misled by the heretical implications of the Christian cross as this is especially related to the tritheistic heresy. Such passages as those translated above must suffice to attest the Bāb's early fascination with numerology and talismans and certain of their cosmological, theosophical and other implications. Aside from possible Jewish influence such pasages again find some reflection in certain works of Shihāb al-Dīn Suhrawardī, in the writings of lbn al-'Arabi, Muhyi al-Dīn al-Büni and the first two Shaykhs of emergent Shaykhism . ln the complex lshrāqi (lllumationist) philosophy spelled out in his Hikmat a/-ishrāq, Suhrawardī, for example, saw everything in the universe as a tilasm (talisman) or XXXX (image) of the angels associated with the latitudinal order (Hikmat al-Ishrāq, 143-5; Netton, 1999:233).

Jews, Judaism and the Bāb : a concluding note While it is possible that something of the form and content of the talismanic devices of the Bāb derive from his very probable association with contemporary Jews (or Jadīd al-lslam) the speculations he derived from it are thoroughly lslamic.