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The Real Necronomicon: Rabbi Jacob Eliezer

Sator

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Nov 30, 2017
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#1
Good day everyone,

I'm doing some research about the Necronomicon and I read about a certain Jacob Eliezer, called "The Black Rabbi", but I didn't found any real person with this name in the history. Where does Jacob Eliezer came from? A book? An article? A Lovecraftian story?

We only know he fleed from Italy and went to Prague, where he gave (or sold) a copy of the Necronomicon to John Dee. On various biographies of the necromancer John Dee you can actually find the name of Jacob Eliezer, so this is my question: did he actually exist or was just a character in a story?

Can you help me to find more info about this person?
 

Extollager

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#2
It appears that someone is mixing Lovecraft's fantasy (there was no such thing as the Necronomicon till after Lovecraft's death, when various people picked up the name for fun and/or profit) with fact. Jacob Eliezer appears to be the same as Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, a real person from 2000 years ago, about whom the scholar Jacob Neusner has written. Misinterpretations of Eliezer (wilful or inadvertant) are likely because gentiles know so little about authentic Jewish history. I really am disgusted by how, for all the cant about "multiculturalism" and "affirming diversity," one almost never sees recommendations that we gentiles learn and appreciate Jewish culture -- which, from the little I do know, seems rich and complex. In my own university, I get the impression that most of the students know almost nothing about Jews except that Hitler tried to murder them all. When this is almost all that gentiles know about the Jews, then the Nazis have, in a sense, won. Jewish culture is far from extinct, but for all that a lot of gentiles know, that extinction might as well have been accomplished by the Nazis. It's quite possible to get a liberal arts education at a university and graduate nearly as ignorant about the Jews and their astonishing contributions to civilization as one was when one went in. To such institutions, such as my own university, the grade of F must be assigned, as far as this subject goes. Any person who aspires to becoming an educated person needs to address this problem -- probably by study on her or his own. Me? At the moment I'm reading Paul Johnson's A History of the Jews.

I've been writing about the situation in the USA as it appears to me, and of course what I say wouldn't be true of all places in the US. This would relate to our ignorance of history (really, even including our own), whether of the ancient East or of European history.

Perhaps some Chrons people will be able to tell me that in their experience of school and academy, the situation wasn't so wretched in this regard as it has been in mine. Likewise, non-US Chrons people may be able to report that education is much better where they live. But that should probably be discussed on a separate thread!

Sator, welcome! I hope you feel that a little of this comment, anyway, relates to your topic.
 
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Sator

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#3
Thank you Extollager, I agree with you.

I'm actually reading a big anthology of Jewish legends, mainly inspired by the Talmud and the Kabbalah, and I find them fascinating. Besides, at the moment I'm living in Prague and let me tell you how much I love the history of the Maharal (Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel) and his secrets!

I'm studying some jewish text and (speaking of my topic) the diary of John Dee the alchemist. I found something about where he lived in Prague: a strange house near Bethlehem Square, proprety of Tadeáš Hájek z Hájku and full of writing on the walls concerning alchemical symbols and formulas. Tadeáš Hájek was actually in Italy for some times and apparently he gave Dee a mysterious text. He's also believed to have created the Voynich Manuscript, whose is commonly associated with the Necronomicon (or its real-life version: an eldrich manuscript about necromancy).

Nevertheless, I didn't find any mention of the Necronomicon or similar in Dee's Catalogue. He had heaps of nameless books...maybe the story of Jacob Eliezer contains a kernel of truth. And if not I would like to know who invented this story the first time.

  • In 1570s there was a man named Eliezer (or Eleazer) ben Isaac Ashkenazi, a Jewish printer renowed in Prague.
  • Another one was Eliezer Avraham Ulmo-Günzburg, born in Italy and died in Prague (his son's name was Jakub).

Maybe the inspired the story of the Necronomicon, instead of Eliezer ben Hyrcanus?
 

Extollager

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#4
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Sator

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#5
Rabbi Loew was not only known for the Golem (even if that's a pretty interesting story), but in Jewish tradition he's a real legend!
I'm reading a book about Prague in general, "77 Prague Legends" by Alena Ježková and "Lilith's Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural" curated by Howard Schwartz.

Facts about the Maharal not everybody know:
  • The Old-New Synagogue in Prague is the only synagogue in the world in which the psalm 92 is sang 2 times. That's because in the past the Maharal had to stop in the middle of it: he forgot to 'deactivate' the Golem on the Sabbath day and it began to make a mess around the city. So, after he resolved the matter, Loew had to sang it another time, and this tradition has persisted to the present day.
  • He enchanted the Emperor Rudolph II with a strange show of an ancient version of the magic lantern (first analized by Giovanni Battista Della Porta in his "Magia Naturalis")
  • There is a secret passage behind the Maharal's seat in the Synagogue, which leads to the attic where the Golem was finally destroyed.
  • Rabbi Loew thwarted a terrible wave of infant plague comunicating with the spirit of a child, killed by his own mother.
  • It's said the Maharal met the Death one day, at the gates of the cemetery, and ripped off a paper with his own name, gaining another 5 years of life. The Death fooled him becoming a dewdrop on a rose and when the Maharal sniffed it, the Death took him.
  • They believe he is still sitting in his tomb, not dead and not alive, reading his beloved books and waiting...
  • Everyone believe that if you leave a message with a wish on the tomb of Rabbi Loew, it will come true (it's strange, but it worked for me...3 times! But don't forget to put a small rock or a coin on the tomb too: is a sign of respect)
 

Toby Frost

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#6
This makes me think that we should have a thread for the "real" inspirations for the Necronomicon.
 

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