I I) is difficult to explain, though Maimonides perhaps correctly regarded the law as a protest against heathenism (on the magical use of representatives of the animal and vegetable kingdom, in conjunction with a metal ring, see I.
Its merits are its recognition of the helplessness of the old heathenism to satisfy human aspiration after the divine, and the impressive simplicity with which it presents the unfailing argument of the lives of Christians.
Asia Minor and the West developed the strict ecclesiastical forms by means of which the church closed her lines against heathenism, and especially against heresy; in Alexandria Christian ideas were handled in a free and speculative fashion and worked out with the help of Greek philosophy.
As set forth in their own sacred book, the Majmu`, it seems to be a syncretism of Isma`ilite doctrines and the ancient heathenism of Harran.
It is a curious process by which the monster that symbolized heathenism conquered by Christianity has been evolved out of the first great rival of the God of Israel.