Basilides, the head of the Egyptian sect of Gnosties, taught that there were seven outflowings, emanations, or aeons, from the Supreme God ; that these emanations engendered the angels of the highest order; that these angels formed a heaven for their habitation, and brought forth other angels of a nature inferior to their own ; that in time other heavens were formed and other angels created, until the whole number of angels and their respective heavens amounted to 365, which were thus equal to the number of days in a year; and, finally, that over all these an omnipotent Lord-inferior, however, to the Supreme God - presidented, whose name was Abraxas. Now this word Abraxas, in the numerical force of its letters when written in Greek, ABPAZAE, amounts to 365 the number of worlds in the Basilidean system, as well as the number of days in the year thus A,1...,B,2..,P,100...,A,1...,Z,60...,A,1...,E 200 = 365. The god Abraxas was therefore a type or symbol of the year, or of the revolution of the earth around the sun. This mystical reference of the name of a god to the annual period was familiar to the ancients, and is to be found in at least two other instances. Thus, among the Persians the letters of the name of the god Mithras, and of Belenus along the Gauls, amounted each to 365.
M = 40
E = 5
I = 10
O = 9
A = 1
Z = 200
B = 2
A = 30
E = 5
N = 50
O = 70
Z = 200
The word Abrazas, therefore, from this mystical value of the letters of which it was composed, became talismanic or magical. This was frequently inscribed, sometimes with and sometimes without other superstitious inseriptions, on stones or gems as amulets. Many of these have been preserved or are continually being discovered, and are to be found in the cabinets of the curious.
There have been many guesses and beliefs among the learned as to the source of the word Abrazas.
Beausobre, in his History of Manicheism, volume 2, derives it from the Greek, A., signifying the magnificent Savior, He who heals and preserves.
Bellermann, Essay on the Gems of the Ancients, supposed it to be compounded of three Coptic words signifying the holy word of bliss. Pignorius and Vandelin think it is composed of four Hebrew and three Greek letters, whose numerical value is 365, and which are the initials of the sentence: saving man by wood, that is, the Cross.
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