‘The sun-orb sings, in emulation,
‘Mid brother-spheres, his ancient round:
His path predestined through Creation,
He ends with step of thunder-sound.’FAUST — Prologue in Heaven.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
The three great sacrifices of Zarathustra in the service of Christ; Abraham and the mission of the Hebrews
Before passing on to our main theme, I should like to make a slight addition to something mentioned yesterday. This was, that when human evolution, especially the most important events in our existence, are described, this can best be done in a language drawn from cosmic events. I showed how impossible it was to clothe these mighty mysteries in ordinary words, or to give any clear idea of the wonderful interchanging activities of Hermes or Thoth and Moses, the two great pupils of Zarathustra. We represent them best when we treat them as a repetition of cosmiic events, accepting them altogether in the sense of occult science
Let us glance back in thought to the separation of the Earth from its Sun, after which each pursued its further life in the cosmos with an independent center. In a primeval past the whole substance of Earth and Sun may be pictured as forming one whole, one great cosmic body, which later divided into Sun and Earth. Parallel to this, other cosmic events took place, namely, the separation of the other planets of our solar system. These need not be considered here; for our present purpose it is sufficient to consider such a separation as the Sun forming the one center, and the Earth the other.
In those remote times, it must be remembered, the Earth still contained the substance of the present Moon, so that really the Sun and the Earth-Moon confronted one another. All the spiritual and physical forces that had existed as one heavenly body were now divided — the coarser elements, the denser, grosser activities, remaining with the Earth, the finer, more spiritually-etheric ones, going out with the Sun. It must be realized that for long ages the Earth and Sun continued each to develop its separate life, and that what streamed from the Sun toward the Earth was quite different from what comes from it today. There was at first a kind of earthly existence and earthly life of an inward nature, secluded, contracted, and receiving little from the life of the Sun — little of that which spiritually (though expressed physically) streams from the Sun to the Earth today. The Earth, in this first period of the separation between Sun and Earth, experienced a drying-up, hardening, mummifying process. If this had continued, if the Earth had retained the Moon within it, the human life of today would never have evolved. As long as the Earth contained the Moon within it, the life of the Sun could not fully manifest its activities. This it could only do later when the Earth had parted with the Moon and its substance, and the spiritual Moon-beings. But something else was bound up with the separation of Moon and Earth.
We must clearly realize that life on the Earth has evolved very slowly and gradually. The stages of this evolution are described in Occult Science: first, the existence of ancient Saturn, then that of the ancient Sun, followed by that of the ancient Moon, and lastly that of the Earth. What has just been described as the separation of the Sun from the Earth or the earlier union of Sun and Earth was preceded by all these other evolutionary states, which were of a quite different kind. When the Earth first came into existence in its present form, it still had united with it the substances of all the planets of our solar system; these only differentiated from the Earth later, which differentiation was the result of forces active during the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods of existence.
Now, we know that during the ancient Saturn existence, matter or substance, as it is today, did not exist; neither solid bodies, fluid or watery bodies, misty, or even gaseous or atmospheric bodies existed on Saturn. In its whole composition Saturn consisted merely of warmth; it was nothing but differentiated warmth. Saturn had a body of heat, and everything that developed upon it was within this element of warmth. It is hardly necessary to repeat that such a statement is not made without recognition of the attitude of modern physics, which regards the existence of a body consisting solely of heat as an impossibility. Heat to modern physics is a condition, not a substance, but our concern here is not with modern physics but with truth.
Evolution continued from the heat body of the Saturn evolution, and passed on to the next state, that of the ancient Sun. As described in my book Occult Science, the heat body now in part condensed to the gaseous vapory condition found on ancient Sun, and a part of it became more rarefied, evolving upward toward light, where there was not only a process of condensation but one of rarefication. Passing on from the condition of ancient Saturn to that of the ancient Sun, we find a globe containing air, heat, and light. At the next stage, that of the ancient Moon, a further densification took place, and a further rarefication: a densification, on one hand, to water, and a rarefication, on the other, to sound-ether or chemical-ether.
This sound-ether is not what we are aware of in physical sound, which is but its reflection. Sound-ether is known to clairvoyant perception as the harmony of the spheres, the etheric tone which lives within and permeates all space. It is something much more spiritual, more etheric, than ordinary sound.
From the condition of ancient Moon, evolution passed on to that of the Earth. Here condensation to solid matter took place for the first time, and also a corresponding rise to life-ether. So on the Earth there was now warmth, gaseous or atmospheric bodies, watery or fluid bodies, and solid bodies; and on the other hand light-ether, sound-ether, and life-ether. All this has come to pass in the evolution of the Earth. While on Saturn there was but one condition — the middle one, that of warmth — on the Earth there are seven elemental conditions.
We must picture the Earth as living and weaving within these seven conditions of elemental life when at the beginning of its present existence it emerged from cosmic night, wherein it was still one with the Sun and the other planets. With its separation from the Sun, something very remarkable took place.
Among the influences and conditions streaming today from the Sun to the Earth, and affecting external life, we certainly find heat and light, but among these influences which belong to the world of sense perception, the externalization and manifestation of sound-ether and life-ether do not belong. This is also the reason why the activities of sound-ether are only manifested in the chemical combinations of material existence. What we call the forces of life-ether, streaming down as they do from the Sun, cannot be perceived directly by sense perception, that is, by the means employed by man to distinguish between light and darkness. Life is perceived by him in its results, in living beings; he cannot see the downward streaming life-ether directly. Hence science is forced to state that life, as such, remains a riddle.
So we find that the two highest etheric manifestations, life-ether and sound-ether, though proceeding directly from the finest substances of the Sun, are not directly perceptible on Earth. We have here something which, though proceeding from the Sun, is hidden from ordinary perception. Yet even under present conditions there is something corresponding to what lives in sound-ether and life-ether, something in man's inner being that is perceptible. Though the direct effects of these life-ethers and sphere harmonies are not seen, what is at work on the whole constitution of man is perceptible.
This can be explained most simply by referring to man's evolution on Earth. It is known to spiritual science that in ancient times, down to the Atlantean age, man was gifted with direct clairvoyance, and beheld not merely the world of the senses but also the whole spiritual background of physical existence. This was possible because for the man of those times there was an intermediate condition between our present-day waking consciousness and our sleeping consciousness. When awake, man perceives the physical world of the senses; when asleep, nothing is perceptible — at least to the majority. Man then merely lives. But the spiritual investigator makes strange discoveries about the life of man during sleep, discoveries especially strange to those who only regard life externally. During sleep the astral body and ego of man are outside his physical and etheric bodies, but these should not be pictured as resembling a nebulous cloud floating near the physical body. That which is compared to a ‘cloud’ and is apparent to lower astral clairvoyance, and is sometimes called the ‘astral body,’ is merely the coarsest, first beginnings of what is revealed of a human being during sleep. If this cloud is accepted as the whole of what can be seen, then it is certainly viewed from the lowest form of astral clairvoyance. The reality of man's being during sleep extends to far distances. The fact is that at the moment of falling asleep, the inner forces in the astral body and ego begin to expand over the whole solar system, they become part of the solar system. From the whole of this solar system the man draws into his astral body and ego, during sleep, forces for the strengthening of his life, and on awakening, when he again passes within the confines of his own physical body, he bears with him what he has absorbed during the night from the solar system.
It was because of this that mediaeval occultists named this spiritual body of man the astral body; for it is associated with the world of the stars, whence it draws its forces. So we can say that during the night man is actually extended over the whole solar system.
What is it that permeates our astral body while we sleep? It is the music of the spheres. The sphere-harmonies live and move within the human astral body when at night man is outside his physical and etheric sheaths — harmony which otherwise can only be found in the sound-ether. As a metal disc on which sand has been scattered responds to the vibrations in the air when it is struck by a violin bow, disclosing in the sand what are known as the Chladnic sound-forms, so man trembles and pulsates nightly in response to the sphere-harmonies, which bring form and order into what, through his sense perceptions, he has brought into disorder during the day. And that which lives in the life-ether is also active in man during sleep, but he is quite unaware of this inner life of his sheaths when separated from his physical and etheric bodies. Normally he is only conscious when he plunges down again into his two lower sheaths, and can use the external organs of his etheric body for thought, and those of his physical body for sense perception.
But in ancient times there were intermediate conditions between waking and sleeping which can only be induced today by abnormal means; and these ought never to be employed in ordinary life, for they are fraught with danger. In Atlantis these intermediate conditions of perception were evolved normally. Through them man was able to place himself within that which lived and moved in the harmony of the spheres and the life-ether. In other words, the man of ancient times, through his clairvoyance, could perceive the harmony of the spheres streaming to him from the Sun, and life as it pulsates through space, even though the sphere-harmonies were only manifest in the earthly effects and life was only perceptible in living beings. The possibility of this experience gradually diminished. With the closing of the door on the old clairvoyance these revelations disappeared, but something else appeared in their place: the capacity for inner knowledge and the inner powers of understanding. All that in waking life is called contemplation and the thought connected with sense-perception — the whole of the individual inner life — began to evolve with the disappearance of clairvoyance. The inner life of today, our feelings, perceptions, thoughts, and ideas, which are fundamentally the origin of all that is creative in our civilization, were not yet possessed in the earliest Atlantean times. Man lived in the intermediate states between sleeping and waking poured out into a spiritual world, and the sense-world he beheld as in a mist; he lived entirely without the power of human understanding, or any inner reflected images of external life.
With the gradual disappearance of the old clairvoyance, external life came more and more into prominence. Slowly something developed in man's nature that was a feeble reflection of the harmony of the spheres and the activities of the life-ether. In the same measure as man became inwardly aware of feelings and perceptions reflecting the outer world and forming his inner life as it is today, the music of the spheres sounded ever more faintly to him. As his realization of himself, of his ego-hood, became clearer, his perception of the divine life-ether filling all space became fainter. Present conditions had to be paid for by the loss of a certain part of what had been man's outer life. As earthly being he felt life enclosed within himself, he ceased to feel it streaming to him from the Sun; and in his inner life there remains today but a faint reflection of that mighty cosmic life, of sphere-harmony and life-ether.
What gradually evolved as human understanding was like a recapitulation of the Earth's evolution. When separated from the Sun, the Earth would have become enclosed within itself and hard, had it retained all the substances left within it. The influences of the Sun could not penetrate at first into the development of the Earth; they failed to do so until the Moon had separated from it. In ‘Moon’ we must recognize those rejected substances that made it impossible for the Earth to receive the direct influences of the Sun. By ejecting the Moon, the Earth really opened her whole nature and being for the first time to the influences of the Sun, from which she had been parted. She sent part of her being back toward the Sun, in the opposite direction to that from which she had herself gone forth from it, and this part — the Moon — reflects back the Sun-nature to the Earth as outwardly it reflects its light.
The separation of the Moon from the Earth must be regarded as an event of the greatest importance; it was a voluntary opening of the Earth to the influences of the Sun. This cosmic event had now to be enacted again in the life of humanity. A long time after the Earth had thus opened herself to the reception of the Sun-forces, the moment arrived when man himself had to be cut off from these forces.
By means of their clairvoyance, the direct solar influences could still be perceived by the Atlanteans; but just as at a certain stage in its evolution the Earth began to harden, so a time came when man withdrew within himself and began to develop an inner life of his own. Like the Earth, he became unable to open himself to the direct influences of the Sun. The process of developing an inner life by ceasing to be susceptible to solar influences, and only of developing in himself what was a faint reflection of the activities of the life-ether and sound-ether, continued for long into post-Atlantean times. Direct perception of the solar forces, which was characteristic of the early Atlanteans, was eventually lost. As the effects of these forces could no longer penetrate to the consciousness of mankind, his inward life continued blossoming more and more. Then came the time when it was only in the Mysteries that man's spiritual powers could be developed. There, by means of Yoga, a pupil of the Mysteries could be withdrawn from earthly conditions and made directly aware of the solar influences. Therefore during the second half of the Atlantean period what were rightly called ‘Oracles’ appeared. They were places where a class of people, who no longer perceived the activities of the higher ethers normally, were received as pupils and trained in sacred wisdom. Here, through training, they learnt to suppress mere sense-perceptions and to become conscious of the revelations of the sound-ether and life-ether. The power to do this was preserved in the true centers of occult science. Indeed, the possibility of this endured so powerfully that even external science, without understanding it, still retains a tradition from the school of Pythagoras that one can hear the harmony of the spheres. Science, ignorant however of what the true ‘Harmony of the Spheres’ was, has changed it into a mere abstract idea. The pupils of Pythagoras understood as the power to perceive the harmony of the spheres the actual reopening of a man's being to the tone-ether and the divine life-ether.
Zarathustra, or Zoroaster, was the first who taught in the most sublime way that behind the activities of the Sun streaming to the Earth as light and warmth there was something else, something which as the activity of sound-ether and life-ether is feebly reflected in the inner life of man. Were we to translate his teaching into modern words, it might read: ‘When you look up to the Sun you are aware of its beneficial warmth and light flowing down to Earth; but when you have evolved higher organs, when you have developed spiritual perception, you will behold the Being of the Sun, Who lives behind the physical Sun. You will then perceive the activities of sound, and within these the meaning of life!’ This, the first thing of a spiritual nature to be perceived behind the physical activity of the Sun, was described by Zarathustra to his pupils as Ormuzd, or Ahura Mazdao, the mighty aura of the Sun.
Therefore Ahura Mazdao is sometimes translated as ‘The Great Wisdom,’ to distinguish it from the little wisdom evolved by men today. Man perceives ‘The Great Wisdom’ when he perceives the spiritual Being of the Sun, the great Sun Aura.
In these words a poet, gazing back into the ancient days of human evolution, refers to what is a fact to the spiritual investigator. But the ‘resounding’ of the Sun is to some people not a fact but a pleasing fancy, a poetic license. They do not realize what a poet, in the sense in which Goethe was a poet, really is. He describes reality when he says ‘The Sun-orb sings his ancient round,’ that is, as ancient humanity heard it, and as it still sounds today for those who are initiates. Truths such as these were given by Zarathustra to his pupils, and above all to his two most intimate disciples, those who later incarnated as Hermes and Moses. But to each he gave a separate and different instruction concerning the Sun aura. Hermes was instructed in a way that led him to remain within the influence that emanated directly from the Sun: Moses was inspired so that he retained the secret of the Sun-wisdom as in a memory.
If, in accordance with occult science, we picture the Earth after her separation from the Sun and the Moon, and see her opening her being to greet the Sun, we have in Venus and Mercury that which stands in between the Sun and the Earth. If we now divide the whole space between the Sun and the Earth into three parts, we might say: The Earth parted from the Sun; she then thrust out from her the Moon toward the Sun; then Venus and Mercury separated from the Sun and came toward the Earth. We have to see therefore in Venus and Mercury something which approaches the Earth from the Sun, and in the Moon, something that approaches the Sun from the Earth.
The conditions of human evolution are thus seen to resemble the conditions of cosmic relationships; they reflect them as in a mirror. If we regard the teaching of Zarathustra as ‘Sun-wisdom,’ which he imparted, on one side to Hermes, and on the other to Moses, then because Hermes had received the astral sheath of Zarathustra, the wisdom which dwelt in him may be likened to the streaming out of the Sun-wisdom; while the wisdom that lived in Moses was, as it were, cut off, like a separate planet of wisdom, and had to go through a further development before it could receive those outpourings coming directly from the Sun.
Just as with the Moon's departure the forces of the Earth opened to receive those coming from the Sun, so the wisdom of Moses opened to receive the direct Sun-wisdom as it streamed from Zarathustra. These two — the Earth-wisdom of Moses, and the Sun-wisdom of Zarathustra as given to Hermes — met in Egypt, where the teaching of Moses came into contact with that of Hermes. The wisdom developed by Moses, which he acquired through being separated from Zarathustra, might be compared with the throwing-off of the Moon-substance by the Earth. The wisdom he imparted to his people can also be called the wisdom of Jahve or Jehovah, for when rightly understood this name is like a resumé of the whole Moses-wisdom. Accepted in this sense you can understand why, according to ancient tradition, Jehovah is called the Moon Deity. This fact is to be found in many records, but is only comprehensible when we begin to realize these far-reaching connections.
As the Earth thrust what it contained within it as Moon toward the Sun, so the Earth-wisdom of Moses had to go out to meet that of Hermes, who possessed in his astral sheath the direct wisdom of Zarathustra, and afterwards had to carry on its own evolution.
It has already been explained how after the meeting with Hermes, Mosaic wisdom continued to develop up to the time of David, and how a revised form of Hermetic or Mercury-wisdom appeared in the kingly warrior and divine singer of the Hebrew people. And we have seen how once more the content of the teaching of Moses came in touch with the Sun-element during the Babylonian captivity when the reincarnated Zarathustra or Nazarathos taught the initiates among the Hebrews.
So in the course of the development of the wisdom of Moses we have to see a repetition of cosmic events: the separation of the Earth from the Sun and all its subsequent development. Such correspondences were regarded with deep veneration and awe by the wise men of the Hebrew race, and by all who had understanding. They felt something like a direct revelation streaming toward them from cosmic spaces and cosmic life. To them, a personality such as Moses seemed like a messenger from the cosmic powers themselves. They felt him to be this, and as such he must be regarded by us if we would rightly understand these ancient times — otherwise it all remains an empty abstraction.
It was supremely important that the wisdom of Zarathustra, which had developed through Hermes and Moses, should evolve further and afterwards appear at a higher stage and in another form. In order that this might come to pass, Zarathustra, the individuality who had already offered up his astral and etheric bodies, had himself to appear again in a physical body, so that this might also be sacrificed. What he thus experienced was an ascent, a beautiful ascending progress. First, in very ancient times, Zarathustra lived in his own being and gave the impulse to post-Atlantean civilization in ancient Persia and Iran; he then sacrificed his astral body so that through Hermes the next civilization might be established, and to Moses he bequeathed his etheric body. These two sheaths he had already sacrificed. An opportunity for the sacrifice of his physical body had yet to come, for the great mystery of human evolution demanded that one individual should sacrifice his three bodies. The sacrifice of the physical body required special preparation, and to this end the physical body of Zarathustra had to be specially prepared.
I showed in the last lecture how, through the peculiar life of the Hebrew people, this special physical body had been in preparation for many generations. This was then offered up by Zarathustra as his third great sacrifice. In order that this could happen it was necessary that all the force formerly employed by the Hebrew people for direct spiritual perception, the forces that had fallen into decadence among the Turanian peoples, should be turned inward and become inwardly constructive. This is the secret of the Hebrew people. While among the Turanians the ancient forces, lingering as an heirloom, served to prepare external organs of clairvoyance, in the Hebrews they turned inward and organized their inner physical nature, so that this people was chosen to perceive and feel inwardly what in Atlantean times had been seen behind the different objects of the sense-world. Jehovah, as he was consciously named by the Hebrews, focused to a single point, was the ‘Great Spirit’ who was seen by an earlier clairvoyance behind all things and all beings. I also showed how the progenitor of the Hebrew people — as Father of the race — had been endowed with this inner organization in a very special way.
I have often remarked, and may well repeat it again, that myths and legends, telling in a pictorial way of long-ago events, come nearer the truth than many results of modern anthropological investigations which piece together tales of the origin of the world drawn from recent excavations and fragmentary remains. For the most part ancient legends are corroborated by the facts of spiritual science. I say ‘for the most part,’ for I have not investigated them all, though the content of all really old legends is probably true. Research into the origin of the Hebrew people leads us not to the conjectures of modern anthropological research, but to an original progenitor, to the Father of the Hebrew race mentioned in the Bible. Abram, or Abraham, is a real figure, and what the Talmud legends relate of him is true. We are told in these legends that the father of Abraham was a captain in the service of that legendary but real person described in the Bible as Nimrod. To Nimrod it was foretold, by those who could read the signs of the times in dreams, that the son of his captain would dethrone many kings and rulers. Nimrod was afraid when he heard this, and ordered that his captain's son should be killed. After presenting another man's child, not his own, to Nimrod, the father of Abraham fled; his own child was reared in a cave. Occult investigation confirms this legend; it contains the truth. It indicates that Abraham was actually the first to turn inward the powers formerly used in external clairvoyance and transform them into organizing forces which led to an inward consciousness of God. This reversal of the whole sum of forces is indicated in the legend, which tells that during the three years the child dwelt in the cave it sucked milk, by the grace of God, from the fingers of its own right hand. This self-nourishment, this turning inward of the forces formerly used in ancient clairvoyance, and the employment of them for organizing man inwardly, is explained to us wonderfully in the story of Abraham, the ancestor of the Hebrew people. Such legends, when experienced profoundly, have a powerful effect, making us realize that the ancient teachers of mankind could communicate true wisdom in no other way than by images. Such images were able to give rise, if not to a consciousness, yet to a feeling for these mighty events, and this was sufficient for those ancient times.
Abraham was thus the first to develop the inward reflection of divine wisdom, of divine perception, in a truly human way, as human thoughts concerning the Godhead. Abram, or Abraham as he was called later, had actually a different physical organization from other men living at that time. This is always insisted upon by occult investigation. The men around him were neither capable of nor organized for forming thoughts inwardly, by means of a special instrument. They could form thoughts when free of the body, through the forces of their developed etheric bodies, but they had no instrument for the formation of thoughts within the physical body. Abraham was the first to develop such an instrument; hence he is not wrongly called the inventor of arithmetic — though this statement must naturally be taken cum grano salis — as arithmetic is pre-eminently the science of physical thought. Arithmetic, on account of its inner certainty, approaches closely to clairvoyant knowledge; but it is dependent upon a physical organ.
Thus we have here a deep inward connection between the external forces, employed until then for the purpose of clairvoyance, and those now employed by an inner organ, for thought. This is what is referred to when Abraham is described as the inventor of arithmetic. He must be regarded as the man in whom the physical organ of thought was first implanted, that organ by which man was able to raise himself through his physical thinking to the contemplation of divinity. Before this time men could only learn of God and of divine existence through clairvoyance. In order that they might rise in thought to the divine, a physical instrument was necessary, and this organ was implanted for the first time in Abraham. The fact that thoughts had now to be apprehended through a physical organ meant that the whole relationship of these thoughts concerning divinity to the objective world, and to the subjective nature of man, was completely changed.
Formerly, thoughts concerning God were conceived in the divine wisdom of the Mystery Schools, and from there were passed on to others able to receive them — that is, to those who had been freed from the organs of the physical body and rendered capable of etheric perception. There is but one way of passing on a physical instrument from one to another: through physical descent. In order that a physical organ of such importance as that possessed by Abraham could be preserved, it had to be propagated through physical inheritance from one generation to another. It can be easily realized why the handing down of this physical attribute through the blood of the race mattered so much to the Hebrew people. The organ that in the first place had been shaped and crystallized in Abraham for the comprehension of divinity, had to be established. As it was handed down from generation to generation, it entered ever more deeply into human nature, and it grasped this the more deeply, the more it was inherited. For a physical organ can only be perfected when through inheritance it is passed on from one generation to another.
If he whom we have learnt to know as Zarathustra was to have the most perfect body possible (and this means a body with a physical organ capable of becoming an instrument for the conceiving of thoughts of God), the physical instrument implanted in Abraham had to be brought to the highest degree of perfection. It had to be so fully established and developed inwardly through inheritance that a fitting instrument could be evolved for Zarathustra. The development of such a perfect physical body through inheritance inevitably meant the perfection not only of one but of the other sheaths as well: the etheric and the astral sheaths. They too had to be perfected through inheritance.
Now, there is a certain fixed law in evolution which has often been described. From birth to his seventh year is a very special time in the development of man — in it he develops his physical body; from the seventh to the fourteenth–fifteenth, his etheric; and from then to the twenty-first — twenty-second year, his astral body. The evolution of the individual man is expressed in a law that is governed by the number seven. A similar law exists for the evolution of humanity as a whole, and affects the outer sheaths of men as they pass from one generation to another. The more profound working of this law will be considered later.
Whereas the individual man undergoes a stage of evolution every seven years and as the physical body becomes more perfect during the first seven years, so the whole structure of the physical body improves throughout the generations until the seventh generation, when it attains a certain state of perfection. But qualities are not transmitted directly from a man to his next descendant: inheritance does not work in this way, but from father to grandson. Important qualities do not pass directly from father to son, or mother to daughter, but to the second generation, then to the fourth, and so on. Inheritance is of necessity connected with the number seven, but as every other generation is missed, it is really the number fourteen that has to be considered. It was only after fourteen generations that the physical qualities implanted in Abraham could reach perfection.
If the etheric and astral bodies were to be associated with this advance, their evolution had also to continue through seven — or rather, fourteen — generations, in the same way as the etheric and astral bodies of the single individual evolves from the seventh to the fourteenth year, and from the fourteenth to the twenty-first. This means, therefore, that the physical organization which had been implanted in Abraham, the father of the race, had to pass through three times seven — or rather, three times fourteen — generations, for not until then could it completely lay hold of the physical, etheric, and astral bodies. After forty-two generations it was possible for a man to have developed perfectly in his physical, etheric, and astral bodies the aptitude first received by Abraham. Only such a body as this would be suitable for Zarathustra. This is the fact given out by the writer of the Gospel of St. Matthew. In his table of descent he points expressly to this by enumerating fourteen generations from Abaham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian captivity, and fourteen from the captivity to Christ. During this long period the mission of the Hebrews, which began with Abraham, reached full development; by then it had been indelibly impressed on the different principles of the people of the race, so that from them a body meet for Zarathustra could be found in an age when something entirely new was to be revealed to men.
From such profound depths as these the Gospel of Matthew has its beginning — depths that can only be realized when they are understood. We must recognize that in the story of these three times fourteen generations we are shown that in the body inherited from Joseph by Jesus of Nazareth there dwelt the essence of what in its first beginnings existed in Abraham; that this essence then spread from him through the whole Hebrew people, and was then concentrated in a single instrument — in a single sheath. This was the sheath for Zarathustra, in which the Christ could incarnate.