I’ve noticed Final Fantasy VII seems to have a paranoia of Abrahamic religions.
We’re all aware of Final Fantasy VII’s reference to Jewish mysticism, most notably the Kabbalah:
Final Fantasy VII draws heavily from the Lurian Kabalā (Jewish Mysticism), a medieval Jewish variant of Gnosticism. Both Gnosticism and its Kabbalist branch proclaim that humans have inside their bodies a spark of divine light from the Absolute, which returns there upon death. This Absolute is an infinite wellspring of spiritual energy, knowledge, and goodness, mirroring the function of the Lifestream. The Kabbalah states the Absolute is the Judeo-Christian God, whereas early Gnostics believed him to be an incompetent or malicious false god known as the Demiurge (“artisan” in ancient Greek) who merely believed himself the uncreated deity because he was shielded from the Absolute by his “mother,” an emanation from the Absolute (known as an Aeon) who fell from the skies. This demiurge, trapped in the material world, cannot create anything good, and instead corrupts the sparks of light, just like Jenova’s corruption of the Lifestream and of human beings.
Sephiroth, the main villain, is a portmanteau of Sephirot, “meaning emanations, are the 10 attributes/emanations in Kabbalah, through which Ein Sof (The Infinite) reveals Himself and continuously creates both the physical realm and the chain of higher metaphysical realms (Seder hishtalshelus).”
Jenova is a portmanteau of Jehova(h), “a Latinization of the Hebrew יְהֹוָה, one vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH), the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible.” We also know that Sephiroth is infused with Jenova cells, in a type of mockery of the Hebrew Messiah (the one chosen to lead the world and thereby save it) and Jesus Christ (the “Son of God”).
But what makes this anti-semitic? Short answer: Sephiroth and Jenova, two characters with Abrahamic sounding names, are among the villains of Final Fantasy VII. Long answer: the story unfolds as an extended allegorical myth about Judaism’s intrusion into non-Jewish cultures.
Take Midgar for example, which is a portmanteau of Midgaard the Norse name for “Earth”. And also Nibleheim, which literally means home of the dwarves, but is actually supposed to stand in for Niflheim. Both towns carry Nordic/Saxon naming conventions. Both suffer from Sephiroth or Jenova.
Let’s take the latter for illustration purposes. Niflheim, as you remember, is burned to the ground by Sephiroth. Notice how Niflheim, one of the conceptions for Hell, is primarily a realm of primordial ice and cold. Sephiroth’s involvement signifies a change in the Anglo-Saxon conception of hell, from freezing cold to scorching hot with fire and brimstone. Remember, the Christian hell is a place of suffering, torment, and fire. Sephiroth definitely causes agony to the inhabitants. This is “the savior’s” final judgment to those who wronged him.
Years later, Niflheim is a dark place with Sephiroth’s “Clones” (i.e. cult members). They mindless await Sephiroth’s return (i.e. Christians waiting for Jesus’ Return).
Sephiroth murders them anyways.
Also consider Cosmo Canyon, which represents a pagan/new age philosophy as opposed to one “beyond this world”.
But as a slap in the face, Final Fantasy VII suggests that they might not actually be who they think they are. Sephiroth was convinced he was an ancient.
However, he was wrong. The real ancient, Aerith (i.e. Earth) Gainsborough, belongs to the Cetra who fought against Jenova. Aerith, being an ancient, is in touch with the Earth, signifying a type of Paganism countering Judaism and Christianity.
Aerith is also the key to the “Promise Land”.
The Promised Land (約束の地, Yakusoku no Chi?) in the world of Final Fantasy VII is a quasi-mythical location believed to hold infinite amounts of Mako deposits. The Promised Land is part of the Cetra legend. The Cetra were a race who traveled the Planet, healing and cultivating it, and at the end of their journey would find the Promised Land, a land of supreme happiness.
The Promised Land is part of the Cetra legend. The Cetra were a race who traveled the Planet, healing and cultivating it. At the end of their journey, they would find the Promised Land, a land of supreme happiness. Sephiroth travels the world looking for the “Promised Land” as the best location to summon the Meteor (i.e. the Apocalypse). He uses the land itself to create destruction.
From here we can see how parts of the story are somewhat of a rejection of Abrahamic religions. Blonde haired, blue-eyed, light-skinned Cloud is the main protagonist of Final Fantasy VII. Sephiroth influences his mind to the point where Cloud begs to be just another number in a cult.
What does this mean for Final Fantasy VII? Probably nothing. It’s a reinterpretation of world history, using characters to make a new myth about humanity. Could we see Final Fantasy VII superseding the myths of world religion?
It’s definitely more entertaining nowadays at least.
This doesn’t mean the developers themselves are Anti-Semitic, and I don’t think they are. If anything, they may not have realized these parallels. Still, it’s interesting to note.