Under the highly significant title, Israël vengé, d’Holbach edited in 1770 a substantial part of Orobio’s treatise, composed in 1670, Prevenciones divinas contra la vana idolatria de las gentes, which was meant by its real author to bely the Christian interpretations of the Old Testament prophecies and to deny that they could be applied to Jesus Christ so as to make of him the promised Messiah. On the other hand, the same d’Holbach was the author of an unambiguously anti-Jewish polemic: L’Esprit du judaïsme ou Examen raisonné de la loi de Moïse, which contains one of the most straightforward demolitions of the religion and the history of Israel. The study of this latter work exempts d’Holbach from the accusation of anti-Semitism, because his polemic is equally aimed at demolishing the pretentions of Christianity and Judaism, aiming at an ideal of universal emancipation in the name of reason.
Research made by Schuhmann and Bredekamp has pointed up the unsuspected links between Hobbes and one of the ancient traditions best loved by Renaissance philosophy: Hermeticism. Our goal will be to proceed further and to stress the Hermetic significance implicit in the formula "mortal God". If Asclepius can act as a source for the theme of the fabrication of gods, it does not fit in with the antithesis ("mortal god/immortal God") typical of the Leviathan. A proper source for this topic can rather be found in treatise X ("Clavis") of the Corpus Hermeticum, well known to Ficino and to Iustus Lipsius. We must also stress one capital difference: whereas in the Hermetic texts man's apotheosis passes through gnosis and the exercise of the intellect, reserved in practice for a few selected people, in Leviathan on the contrary it is the holder of sovereignty who acquires the features of the "mortal god". Divinisation passes through politics, with the delicate artificial process of "generating the state"; knowledge only provides the tools for the rational technique needed to elaborate sovereignty, through stipulating pacts and the convention of impersonation. The "artificial man" as a mortal God is the apotheosis of the common man who enters into the founding pact with his ordinary intellectual and motivational faculties.