(Translated from the Hebrew by W. Wynn Westcott)
(NOTE: The Sepher Yetzirah is one of the most
famous of the ancient Qabalistic texts. It was first put into writing
around 200 C.E. Westcott's Translation of the Sepher Yetzirah was
a primary source for the rituals and Knowledge Lectures of the Golden
Dawn. This is the Third Edition of Westcott's translation, first published
in 1887. A Fourth Revised Edition of
the Sepher Yetzirah by Darcy Kúntz, complete with Hebrew text,
notes and bibliography, is available from Holmes Publishing Group, P.O.
623, Edmonds, WA 98020.)
The "Sepher Yetzirah," or "Book of Formation," is perhaps
the oldest Rabbinical treatise of Kabalistic philosophy which is still
extant. The great interest which has been evinced of late years in the
Hebrew Kabalah, and the modes of thought and doctrine
allied to it, has induced me to translate this tractate from the original
Hebrew texts, and to collate with them the Latin versions of
mediaeval authorities; and I have also published An Introduction to
the Kabalah which may be found useful to students.
Three important books of the "Zohar," or "Book of Splendour,"
which is a great storehouse of Kabalistic teaching, have been
translated into English by S. L. MacGregor Mathers, and the "Sepher
Yetzirah" in an English translation is almost a necessary
companion to these abstruse disquisitions: the two books indeed mutually
explain each other.
The "Sepher Yetzirah," although this name means "The Book
of Formation," is not in any sense a narrative of Creation, or a
substitute Genesis, but is an ancient and instructive philosophical
treatise upon one aspect of the origin of the universe and
mankind; an aspect at once archaic and essentially Hebrew. The grouping
of the processes of origin into an arrangement, at
once alphabetic and numeral, is one only to be found in Semitic authors.
Attention must be called to the essential peculiarity
of the Hebrew language, the inextricable and necessary association of
numbers and letters; every letter suggesting a number, and every group
of letters having a numerical signification, as vital as its
The Kabalistic principles involved in the reversal of
Hebrew letters, and their substitution by others, on definite schemes,
also be studied and borne in mind.
It is exactly on these principles that the "ground-work
idea" 'of this disquisition rests; and these principles may be traced
throughout the Kabalistic tractates which have succeeded it in point
of time and development, many of which are associated
together in one volume known as the "Zohar," which is in the main concerned
with the essential dignities of the Godhead, with
the Emanations which have sprung therefrom, with the doctrine of the
Sephiroth, the ideals of Macroprosopus and
Microprosopus, and the doctrine of Re-incarnation.
The "Sepher Yetzirah," on the other hand, is mainly concerned
with our universe and with the Microcosm. The opinions of
Hebrew Kabalistic Rabbis and of modern mystics may be fitly introduced
The following interesting quotation is from Rabbi Moses
Botarel, who wrote his famous Commentary in 1409:--"It was
Abraham our Father--blessed be he--who wrote this book to condemn the
doctrine of the sages of his time, who were
incredulous of the supreme dogma of the Unity. At least, this was the
opinion of Rabbi Saadiah--blessed be he--as written in
the first chapter of his book The Philosopher's Stone. These are his
words: The sages of Babylon attacked Abraham on
account of his faith; for they were all against him although themselves
separable into three sects. The First thought that the
Universe was subject to the control of two opposing forces, the one
existing but to destroy the other, this is dualism; they held
that there was nothing in common between the author of evil and the
author of good. The Second sect admitted Three great
Powers; two of them as in the first case, and a third Power whose function
was to decide between the two others, a supreme
arbitrator. The Third sect recognised no god beside the Sun, in which
it recognised the sole principle of existence."
Rabbi Judah Ha Lévi (who flourished about 1120),
in his critical description of this treatise, wrote: "The Sepher Yetzirah
teaches us the existence of a Single Divine Power by shewing us that
in the bosom of variety and multiplicity there is a Unity and
Harmony, and that such universal concord could only arise from the rule
of a Supreme Unity."
According to Isaac Myer, in his Quabbalah (p. 159), the
"Sepher Yetzirah" was referred to in the writings of Ibn Gebirol of
Cordova, commonly called Avicebron, who died in A.D. 1070.
Eliphas Levi, the famous French Occultist, thus wrote
of the "Sepher Yetzirah," in his Histoire de la Magie, p. 54: "The Zohar
is a Genesis of illumination, the Sepher Jezirah is a ladder formed
of truths. Therein are explained the thirty-two absolute signs
of sounds, numbers and letters: each letter reproduces a number, an
idea and a form; so that mathematics are capable of
application to ideas and to forms not less rigorously than to numbers,
by exact proportion and perfect correspondence. By the
science of the Sepher Jezirah the human spirit is fixed to truth, and
in reason, and is able to take account of the possible
development of intelligence by the evolutions of numbers. The Zohar
represents absolute truth, and the Sepher Jezirah provides
the means by which we may seize, appropriate and make use of it."
Upon another page Eliphas Lévi writes: "The Sepher
Jezirah and the Apocalypse are the masterpieces of Occultism; they
contain more wisdom than words; their expression is as figurative as
poetry, and at the same time it is as exact as mathematics.
In the volume entitled La Kabbale by the eminent French
scholar, Adolphe Franck, there is a chapter on the "Sepher
Yetzirah." He writes as follows:--
"The Book of Formation contains, I will not say system
of physics, but of cosmology such as could be conceived at an age and
in a country where the habit of explaining all phenomena by the immediate
action of the First Cause, tended to check the spirit
of observation, and where in consequence certain general and superficial
relations perceived in the natural world passed for the
science of Nature."."Its form is simple and grave; there is nothing
like a demonstration nor an argument; but it consists rather
of a series of aphorisms, regularly grouped, and which have all the
conciseness of the most ancient oracles."
In his analysis of the "Sepher Yetzirah," he adds:--"The
Book of Formation, even if it be not very voluminous, and if it do not
altogether raise us to very elevated regions of thought, yet offers
us at least a composition which is very homogeneous and of a
rare originality. The clouds which the imagination of commentators have
gathered around it, will be dissipated, if we look for, in
it, not mysteries of ineffable wisdom, but an attempt at a reasonable
doctrine, made when reason arose, an effort to grasp the
plan of the universe, and to secure the link which binds to one common
principle, all the elements which are around us."
"The last word of this system is the substitution of the
absolute divine Unity for every idea of Dualism, for that pagan philosophy
which saw in matter an eternal substance whose laws were not in accord
with Divine Will; and for the Biblical doctrine, which
by its idea of Creation, postulates two things, the Universe and God,
as two substances absolutely distinct one from the other.
"In fact, in the 'Sepher Yetzirah,' God considered as
the Infinite and consequently the indefinable Being, extended throughout
things by his power and existence, is while above, yet not outside of
numbers, sounds and letters--the principles and general
laws which we recognise."
"Every element has its source from a higher form, and
all things have their common origin from the Word (Logos), the Holy
Spirit.. So God is at once, in the highest sense, both the matter and
the form of the universe. Yet He is not only that form; for
nothing can or does exist outside of Himself; His substance is the foundation
of all, and all things bear His imprint and are
symbols of His intelligence."
Hebrew tradition assigns the doctrines of the oldest portions
of the "Zohar" to a date antecedent to the building of the Second
Temple, but Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai, who lived in the reign of the Emperor
Titus, A.D. 70-80, is considered to have been the
first to commit these to writing, and Rabbi Moses de Leon, of Guadalaxara,
in Spain, who died in 1305, certainly reproduced
and published the "Zohar."
Ginsburg, speaking of the Zoharic doctrines of the Ain
Suph, says that they were unknown until the thirteenth century, but
does not deny the great antiquity of the "Sepher Yetzirah," in which
it will be noticed the "Ain Suph Aur" and "Ain Suph" are not
mentioned.I suggest, however, that this omission is no proof that the
doctrines of "Ain Suph Aur" and "Ain Suph" did not then
exist, because it is a reasonable supposition that the "Sepher Yetzirah"
was the volume assigned to the Yetziratic World, the
third of the four Kabalistic Worlds of Emanation, while the "Asch Metzareph"
is concerned with the Assiatic, fourth, or lowest
World of Shells, and is on the face of it an alchemical treatise; and
again the "Siphra Dtzenioutha" may be fittingly considered to
be an Aziluthic work, treating of the Emanations of Deity alone; and
there was doubtless a fourth work assigned to the World
of Briah--the second type, but I have not been able to identify this
treatise. Both the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmuds
refer to the "Sepher Yetzirah." Their treatise, named "Sanhedrin," certainly
mentions the "Book of Formation," and another
similar work; and Rashi in his commentary on the treatise "Erubin,"
considers this a reliable historical notice.Other historical
notices are those of Saadya Gaon, who died A.D. 940, and Judah Ha Levi,
A.D. 1150; both these Hebrew classics speak of it
as a very ancient work. Some modern critics have attributed the authorship
to the Rabbi Akiba, who lived in the time of the
Emperor Hadrian, A.D. 120, and lost his life in supporting the claims
of Barchocheba, a false messiah: others suggest it was
first written about A.D. 200.
Graetz however assigns it to early Gnostic times, third
or fourth century, and Zunz speaks of it as post Talmudical, and
belonging to the Geonim period 700-800 A.D.; Rubinsohn, in the Bibliotheca
Sacra, speaks of this latter idea as having no
The Talmuds were first collected into a concrete whole,
and printed in Venice, 1520 A.D.
The "Zohar" was first printed in Mantua in 1558; again
in Cremona, 1560; and at Lublin, 1623; and a fourth edition by Knorr
von Rosenroth, at Sulzbach in 1684. Some parts are not very ancient,
because the Crusades are mentioned in one chapter. Six
extant Hebrew editions of the "Sepher Yetzirah" were collected and printed
at Lemberg in 1680. The oldest of these six
recensions was that of Saadjah Gaon (by some critics called spurious).There
are still extant three Latin versions, viz., that of
Gulielmus Postellus; one by Johann Pistorius; and a third by Joannes
Stephanus Rittangelius; this latter gives both Hebrew and
Latin versions, and also "The Thirty-Two Paths" as a supplement.
There is a German translation, by Johann Friedrich von
Meyer, dated 1830; a version by Isidor Kalisch, in which he has
reproduced many of the valuable annotations of Meyer; an edition in
French by Papus, 1888; an edition in French by Mayer
Lambert, 1891, with the Arabic Commentary of Saadya Gaon; and an English
edition by Peter Davidson, 1896, to which are
added "The Fifty Gates of Intelligence" and "The Thirty-Two Ways of
Wisdom." The edition which I now offer is fundamentally
that of the ancient Hebrew codices translated into English, and collated
with the Latin versions of Pistorius, Postellus, and
Rittangelius, following the latter, rather than the former commentators.
As to the authenticity of "The Sepher Yetzirah," students
may refer to the Bibliotheca magna Rabbinica of Bartoloccio de Cellerio,
Rome, 1678-1692; to Basnage, History of the
Jews, 1708; and to The Doctrine and Literature of the Kabalah, by A.
B. Waite, 1902.The following copies of the "Sepher
Yetzirah" in Hebrew, I have also examined, but only in a superficial
1. A Version by Saadiah, Ab. ben David, and three others,
Mantua, 1562, 4to.
2. A Version with the commentary of Rabbi Abraham F. Dior,
Amsterdam, 1642, 4to.
3. A Version with preface by M. ben J. Chagiz, Amsterdam,
1713, 16mo.4. A Version, Constantinople, 1719, 8vo.
5. " " Zolkiew, 1745, 4to.
6. " " by Moses ben Jacob, Zozec, 1779, 4to.
7. " " Grodno, 1806, 4to.
8. " " Dyhernfurth, 1812, 8vo.
9. " " Salonica, 1831, 8vo.
10. A MS. copy dated 1719, in the British Museum.
I add here the full titles of the three Latin versions;
they are all to be found in the British Museum Library.
"Abrahami Patriarchae Liber Jezirah sive Formationis Mundi,
Patribus quidem Abrahami tempora praecedentibus revelatus,
sed ab ipso etiam Abrahamo expositus Isaaco, et per pro prophetarum
manus posteritati conservatus, ipsis autem 72 Mosis
auditoribus in secundo divinae veritatis loco, hoc est in ratione, quoe
est posterior authoritate, habitus." Parisiis, 1552.
Gulielmus Postellus."Id est Liber Jezirah, qui Abrahamo, Patriarchae
adscribitur, una cum Commentario Rabbi Abraham F.D.
super 32 semitis Sapientiae, a quibus Liber Jezirah incipit: Translatus
et notis illustratus a Joanne Stephano Rittangelio, Ling.
Orient. in Elect. Acad. Regiomontana Prof. Extraord," Amstelodami, 1642.In
Tomas Primus of "Artis Cabalisticae hoc est
reconditae theologiae et philosophiae scriptorum." Basileae 1587, is
found "Liber de Creatione Cabalistinis, Hebraice Sepher
Jezira; Authore Abrahamo. Successive filiis ore traditus. Hinc jam rebus
Israel inclinatis ne deficeret per sapientes Hierusalem
arcanis et profundissimis sensibus literis commendatus." Johannes Pistorius.
The "Sepher Yetzirah" consists of six chapters, having
33 paragraphs distributed among them, in this manner: the first has
then follow 5, 5, 4, 3, and 4.
Yet in some versions the paragraphs and subject-matter
are found in a different arrangement. The oldest title has, as an
addition, the words, "The Letters of our Father Abraham" or "ascribed
to the patriarch Abraham," and it is spoken of as such
by many mediaeval authorities: but this origin is doubtless fabulous,
although perhaps not more improbable than the supposed
authorship of the "Book of Enoch," mentioned by St. Jude, of which two
MSS. copies in the Ethiopic language were rescued
from the wilds of Abyssinia in 1773 by the great traveller James Bruce.
In essence this work was, doubtless, the crystallisation
of centuries of tradition, by one writer, and it has been added to from
time to time, by later authors, who have also revised it.
Some of the additions, which were rejected even by mediaeval students,
I have not incorporated with the text at all, and I
present in this volume only the undoubted kernel of this occult nut,
upon which many great authorities, Hebrew, German, Jesuit
and others, have written long Commentaries, and yet have failed to explain
satisfactorily. I find Kalisch, speaking of these
Commentaries, says, "they contain nothing but a medley of arbitrary
explanations, and sophistical distortions of scriptural
verses, astrological notions, Oriental superstitions, a metaphysical
jargon, a poor knowledge of physics, and not a correct
elucidation of this ancient book." Kalisch, however, was not an occultist;
these commentaries are, however, so extensive as to
demand years of study, and I feel no hesitation in confessing that my
researches into them have been but superficial. For
convenience of study I have placed the Notes in a separate form at the
end of the work, and I have made a short definition of
the subject-matter of each chapter. The substance of this little volume
was read as Lecture before "The Hermetic Society of
London," in the summer of 1886, Dr. Anna Kingsford, President, in the
chair. Some of the Notes were the explanations given
verbally, and subsequently in writing, to members of the Society who
asked for information upon abstruse points in the
"Sepher," and for collateral doctrines; others, of later date, are answers
which have been given to students of Theosophy and
Hermetic philosophy, and to my pupils of the Study Groups of the Rosicrucian
Society of England.
SEPHER YETZIRAH The
Book of Formation CHAPTER I
Section 1. In thirty-two (1) mysterious Paths of Wisdom did Jah, (2)
the Jehovah of hosts, (3) the God of Israel, (4) the Living
Elohim, (5) the King of ages, the merciful and gracious God, (6) the
Exalted One, the Dweller in eternity, most high and
holy--engrave his name by the three Sepharim (7) --Numbers, Letters,
2. Ten are the ineffable Sephiroth. (9) Twenty-two are
the Letters, the Foundation of all things; there are Three Mothers,
Double and Twelve (10) Simple letters.
3. The ineffable Sephiroth are Ten, as are the Numbers;
and as there are in man five fingers over against five, so over them
established a covenant of strength, by word of mouth, and by the circumcision
of the flesh. (11)
4. Ten is the number of the ineffable Sephiroth, ten and
not nine, ten and not eleven. Understand this wisdom, and be wise by
the perception. Search out concerning it, restore the Word to its creator,
and replace Him who formed it upon his throne. (12)
5. The Ten ineffable Sephiroth have ten vast regions bound
unto them; boundless in origin and having no ending; an abyss (13) of
good and of ill; measureless height and depth; boundless to the East
and the West; boundless to the North and South; (14) and
the Lord the only God, (15) the Faithful King rules all these from his
holy seat, (16) for ever and ever.
6. The Ten ineffable Sephiroth have the appearance of
the Lightning flash, (17) their origin is unseen and no end is perceived.
The Word is in them as they rush forth and as they return, they speak
as from the whirl-wind, and returning fall prostrate in
adoration before the Throne.
7. The Ten ineffable Sephiroth, whose ending is even as
their origin, are like as a flame arising from a burning coal. For God
is superlative in his Unity, there is none equal unto Him: what number
canst thou place before One.
8. Ten are the ineffable Sephiroth; seal up thy lips lest
thou speak of them, and guard thy heart as thou considerest them; and
thy mind escape from thee bring it back to thy control; even as it was
said, "running and returning" (the living creatures ran and
returned) (19) and hence was the Covenant made.
9. The ineffable Sephiroth give forth the Ten numbers.
First; the Spirit of the God of the living; (20) Blessed and more than
blessed be the Living God (21) of ages. The Voice, the Spirit, and the
Word, (22) these are the Holy Spirit.
10. Second; from the Spirit He produced Air, and formed
in it twenty-two sounds--the letters; three are mothers, seven are
double, and twelve are simple; but the Spirit is first and above these.
Third; from the Air He formed the Waters, and from the
formless and void (23) made mire and clay, and designed surfaces upon
them, and hewed recesses in them, and formed the
strong material foundation. Fourth; from the Water He formed Fire (24)
and made for Himself a Throne of Glory with
Auphanim, Seraphim and Kerubim, (25) as his ministering angels; and
with these three (26) he completed his dwelling, as it is
written, "Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flaming
11. He selected three letters from among the simple ones
and sealed them and formed them into a Great Name, I H V, (28) and
with this He sealed the universe in six directions.
Fifth; He looked above, and sealed the Height with I H
Sixth; He looked below, and sealed the Depth with I V
Seventh; He looked forward, and sealed the East with H
Eighth; He looked backward, and sealed the West with H
Ninth; He looked to the right, and sealed the South with
V I H.
Tenth; He looked to the left, and sealed the North with
V H I.
12. Behold! From the Ten ineffable Sephiroth do, proceed--the
One Spirit of the Gods of the living, Air, Water, Fire; and also
Height, Depth, East, West, South and North. (29)
Section 1. The twenty-two sounds and letters are the Foundation
of all things. Three mothers, seven doubles and twelve
simples. The Three Mothers are Aleph, Mem and Shin, they are Air, Water
and Fire Water is silent, Fire is sibilant, and Air
derived from the Spirit is as the tongue of a balance standing between
these contraries which are in equilibrium, reconciling and
mediating between them.
2. He hath formed, weighed, and composed with these twenty-two
letters every created thing, and the form of everything which
shall hereafter be.
3. These twenty-two sounds or letters are formed by the
voice, impressed on the air, and audibly modified in five places; in
throat, in the mouth, by the tongue, through the teeth, and by the lips.
4. These twenty-two letters, which are the foundation
of all things, He arranged as upon a sphere with two hundred and
thirty-one gates, and the sphere may be rotated forward or backward,
whether for good or for evil; from the good comes true
pleasure, from evil nought but torment.
5. For He shewed the combination of these letters, each
with the other; Aleph with all, and all with Aleph; Beth with all, and
with Beth. Thus in combining all together in pairs are produced the
two hundred and thirty-one gates of knowledge. (32)
6. And from the non-existent (33) He made Something; and
all forms of speech and everything that has been produced; from the
empty void He made the material world, and from the inert earth He brought
forth everything that hath life. He hewed, as it
were, vast columns out of the intangible air, and by the power of His
Name made every creature and everything that is; and the
production of all things from the twenty-two letters is the proof that
they are all but parts of one living body. (34)
Section 1. The Foundation of all the other sounds and
letters is provided by the Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem and Shin; they
resemble a Balance, on the one hand the guilty, on the other hand the
purified, and Aleph the Air is like the Tongue of a
Balance standing between them. (35)
2. The Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem and Shin, are a great
Mystery, very admirable and most recondite, and sealed as with six
rings; and from them proceed Air, Fire, and Water, which divide into
active and passive forces. The Three Mothers, Aleph,
Mem and Shin, are the Foundation, from them spring three Fathers, and
from these have proceeded all things that are in the
3. The Three Mothers in the world are Aleph, Mem and Shin:
the heavens (36) were produced (37) from Fire; the earth from the
Water; and the Air from the Spirit is as a reconciler between the Fire
and the Water.
4. The Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem and Shin, Fire, Water
and Air, are shown in the Year: from the fire came heat, from the
waters came cold, and from the air was produced the temperate state,
again a mediator between them. The Three Mothers,
Aleph, Mem and Shin, Fire, Water and Air, are found in Man: from the
fire was formed the head; from the water the belly; and
from the air was formed the chest, again placed as a mediator between
5. These Three Mothers did He produce and design, and
combined them; and He sealed them as the three mothers in the
Universe, in the Year and in Man--both male and female. He caused the
letter Aleph to reign in Air and crowned it, and
combining it with the others He sealed it, as Air in the World, as the
temperate (climate) of the Year, and as the breath in the
chest (the lungs for breathing air) in Man: the male with Aleph, Mem,
Shin, the female with Shin, Mem, Aleph. He caused the
letter Mem to reign in Water, crowned it, and combining it with the
others formed the earth in the world, cold in the year, and
the belly in man, male and female, the former with Mem, Aleph, Shin,
the latter with Mem, Shin, Aleph. He caused Shin to
reign in Fire, and crowned it, and combining it with the others sealed
with it the heavens in the universe, heat in the year and the
head in man, male and female. (38)
Section 1. The Seven double letters, Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh,
Resh, and Tau have each two sounds associated with
them. They are referred to Life, Peace, Wisdom, Riches, Grace, Fertility
and Power. The two sounds of each letter are the
hard and the soft--the aspirated and the softened. They are called Double,
because each letter presents a contrast or
permutation; thus Life and Death; Peace and War; Wisdom and Folly; Riches
and Poverty; Grace and Indignation; Fertility and
Solitude; Power and Servitude.
2. These Seven Double Letters point out seven localities;
Above, Below, East, West, North, South, and the Palace of Holiness
in the midst of them sustaining all things.
3. These Seven Double Letters He designed, produced, and
combined, and formed with them the Planets of this World, the
Days of the Week, and the Gates of the soul (the orifices of perception)
in Man. From these Seven He bath produced the
Seven Heavens, the Seven Earths, the Seven Sabbaths: for this cause
He has loved and blessed the number Seven more than
all things under Heaven (His Throne).
4. Two Letters produce two houses; three form six; four
form twenty-four; five form one hundred and twenty; six form seven
hundred and twenty; (39) seven form five thousand and forty; and beyond
this their numbers increase so that the mouth can
hardly utter them, nor the ear hear the number of them. So now, behold
the Stars of our World, the Planets which are Seven;
the Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. The Seven are
also the Seven Days of Creation; and the Seven
Gateways of the Soul of Man--the two eyes, the two ears, the mouth and
the two nostrils. So with the Seven are formed the
seven heavens, (41) the seven earths, and the seven periods of time;
and so has He preferred the number Seven above all things
under His Heaven. (42)
Supplement to Chapter IV
NOTE.--This is one of several modern illustrations of
the allotment of the Seven Letters; it is not found in the ancient copies
the "Sepher Yetzirah."
He produced Beth, and referred it to Wisdom ; He crowned
it, combined and formed with it the Moon in the Universe, the first
day of the week, and the right eye of man.
He produced Gimel, and referred it to Health; He crowned
it, combined and joined with it Mars in the Universe, the second
day of the week, and the right ear of man.
He produced Daleth, and referred it to Fertility; He crowned
it, combined and formed with it the Sun in the Universe, the third
day of the week, and the right nostril of man.
He produced Kaph, and referred it to Life; He crowned
it, combined and formed with it Venus in the Universe, the fourth day
of the week, and the left eye of man.
He produced Peh, and referred it to Power; He crowned
it, combined and formed with it Mercury in the Universe, the fifth day
of the week, and the left ear of man.
He produced Resh, and referred it to Peace; He crowned
it, combined and formed with it Saturn in the Universe, the sixth day
of the week, and the left nostril of man.
He produced Tau, and referred it to Beauty; He crowned
it, combined and formed with it Jupiter in the Universe, the Seventh
Day of the week, and the mouth of man.
By these Seven letters were also made seven worlds, seven
heavens, seven earths, seven seas, seven rivers, seven deserts,
seven days, seven weeks from Passover to Pentecost, and every seventh
year a Jubilee.
Mayer Lambert gives:--Beth to Saturn and the Hebrew Sabbath--that
is Saturday; Gimel to Jupiter and Sunday; Daleth to
Mars and Monday; Kaph to the Sun and Tuesday; Peh to Venus and Wednesday;
Resh to Mercury and Thursday; and Tau to
the Moon and Friday.
1. The Twelve Simple Letters are Héh, Vau, Zain,
Cheth, Teth, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samech, Oin, Tzaddi and Qoph; (43) they
are the foundations of these twelve properties: Sight, Hearing, Smell,
Speech, Taste, Sexual Love, Work, Movement, Anger,
Mirth, Imagination, (44) and Sleep. These Twelve are also allotted to
the directions in space: North-east, South-east, the East
above, the East below, the North above, the North below, the South-west,
the Northwest, the West above, the West below,
the South above, and the South below; these diverge to infinity, and
are as the arms of the Universe.
2. These Twelve Simple Letters He designed, and combined,
and formed with them the Twelve celestial constellations of the
Zodiac, whose signs are Teth, Shin, Tau, Samech, Aleph, Beth, Mem, Oin,
Qoph, Gimel, Daleth, and Daleth. (45) The Twelve
are also the Months of the Year: Nisan, (46) Yiar, Sivan, Tamuz, Ab,
Elul, Tishri, Hesvan, Kislev, Tebet, Sabat and Adar. The
Twelve are also the Twelve organs of living creatures: (47) the two
hands, the two feet, the two kidneys, the spleen, the liver, the
gall, private parts, stomach and intestines.
He made these, as it were provinces, and arranged them
as in order of battle for warfare. And also the Elohim (48) made one
from the region of the other.
Three Mothers and Three Fathers; and thence issue Fire,
Air and Water. Three Mothers, Seven Doubles and Twelve Simple
letters and sounds.
3. Behold now these are the Twenty and Two Letters from
which Jah, Jehovah Tzabaoth, the Living Elohim, the God of Israel,
exalted and sublime, the Dweller in eternity, formed and established
all things; High and Holy is His Name.
Supplement to Chapter V
NOTE.--This is a modern illustration of the allotment
of the Twelve Letters; it is not found in the ancient copies of the
1. God produced Hé predominant in Speech, crowned
it, combined and formed with it Aries in the Universe, Nisan in the
Year, and the right foot of Man.
2. He produced Vau, predominant in mind, crowned it, combined
and formed with it Taurus in the Universe, Aiar in the Year,
and the right kidney of Man.
3. He produced Zain, predominant in Movement crowned it,
combined and formed it with Gemini in the Universe, Sivan in the
Year, and the left foot of Man.
4. He produced Cheth, predominant in Sight, crowned it,
combined and formed it with Cancer in the Universe, Tammuz in the
year, and the right hand of Man.
5. He produced Teth, predominant in Hearing, crowned it,
combined and formed with it Leo in the Universe, Ab in the Year,
and the left kidney in Man.
6. He produced Yod, predominant in Work, crowned it, combined
and formed with it Virgo in the Universe, Elul in the Year,
and the left hand of Man.
7. He produced Lamed, predominant in Sexual desire, crowned
it, combined and formed with it Libra in the Universe, Tishri in
the Year, and the private parts of Man. (Kalisch gives "gall.")
8. He produced Nun, predominant in Smell, crowned it,
combined and formed with it Scorpio in the Universe, Heshvan in the
Year, and the intestines of Man.
9. He produced Samech, predominant in Sleep, crowned it,
combined and formed with it Sagittarius in the Universe, Kislev in
the Year, and the stomach of Man.
10. He produced Oin, predominant in Anger, crowned it,
combined and formed with it Capricornus in the Universe, Tebet in
the Year, and the liver of Man.
11. He produced Tzaddi, predominant in Taste, crowned
it, combined and formed with it Aquarius in the Year, and the gullet
12. He produced Qoph, predominant in Mirth, crowned it,
combined and formed with it Pisces in the Universe, Adar in the
Year, and the spleen of Man.
NOTE.--Mediaeval authorities and modern editors give very
different allocations to the twelve simple letters.
Section 1. Three Fathers and their generations, Seven
conquerors and their armies, and Twelve bounds of the Universe. See
now, of these words, the faithful witnesses are the Universe, the Year
and Man. The dodecad, the heptad, and the triad with
their provinces; above is the Celestial Dragon, T L I, (49) and below
is the World, and lastly the heart of Man. The Three are
Water, Air and Fire; Fire above, Water below, and Air conciliating between
them; and the sign of these things is that the Fire
sustains (volatilises) the waters; Mem is mute, Shin is sibilant, and
Aleph is the Mediator and as it were a friend placed between
2. The Celestial Dragon, T L I, is placed over the universe
like a king upon the throne; the revolution of the year is as a king
over his dominion; the heart of man is as a king in warfare. Moreover,
He made all things one from the other; and the Elohim
set good over against evil, and made good things from good, and evil
things from evil: with the good tested He the evil, and with
the evil did He try the good. Happiness (50) is reserved for the good,
and misery (51) is kept for the wicked.
3. The Three are One, and that One stands above. The Seven
are divided; three are over against three, and one stands
between the triads. The Twelve stand as in warfare; three are friends,
three are enemies; three are life givers; three are
destroyers. The three friends are the heart, the ears, and the mouth;
the three enemies are the liver, the gall, and the tongue; (52)
while God (53) the faithful king rules over all. One above Three, Three
above Seven, and Seven above Twelve: and all are
connected the one with the other.
4. And after that our father Abraham had perceived and
understood, and had taken down and engraved all these things, the
Lord most high (55) revealed Himself, and called him His beloved, and
made a Covenant with him and his seed; and Abraham
believed on Him (56) and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.
And He made this Covenant as between the ten toes of the
feet--this is that of circumcision; and as between the ten fingers of
the hands and this is that of the tongue. (57) And He formed
the twenty-two letters into speech (58) and shewed him all the mysteries
of them. (59) He drew them through the Waters; He
burned them in the Fire; He vibrated them in the Air; Seven planets
in the heavens, and Twelve celestial constellations of the
stars of the Zodiac. ----- The End of "The Book
of Formation" -----
THE FIFTY GATES OF INTELLIGENCE
Attached to some editions of the "Sepher Yetzirah" is
found this scheme of Kabalistic classification of knowledge emanating
from the Second Sephira Binah, Understanding, and descending by stages
through the angels, heavens, humanity, animal and
vegetable and mineral kingdoms to Hyle and the chaos. The Kabalists
said that one must enter and pass up through the Gates
to attain to the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom; and that even Moses only
passed through the forty-ninth Gate, and never entered
the fiftieth. See the Oedipus Aegyptiacus of Athanasius Kircher, vol.
ii. p. 319.
First Order: Elementary
1. Chaos, Hyle, The first matter.
2. Formless, void, lifeless.
3. The Abyss.
4. Origin of the Elements.
5. Earth (no seed germs).
9. Differentiation of qualities.
10. Mixture and combination.
Second Order: Decad of Evolution
11. Minerals differentiate.
12. Vegetable principles appear.
13. Seeds germinate in moisture.
14. Herbs and Trees.
15. Fructification in vegetable life.
16. Origin of low forms of animal life.
17. Insects and Reptiles appear.
18. Fishes, vertebrate life in the waters.
19. Birds, vertebrate life in the air.
20. Quadrupeds, vertebrate earth animals.
Third Order: Decad of Humanity
21. Appearance of Man.
22. Material human body.
23. Human Soul conferred.
24. Mystery of Adam and Eve.
25. Complete Man as the Microcosm.
26. Gift of five human faces acting exteriorly.
27. Gift of five powers to the soul.
28. Adam Kadmon, the Heavenly Man.
29. Angelic beings.
30. Man in the image of God.
Fourth Order: World of Spheres
31. The Moon.
38. The Firmament.
39. The Primum Mobile.
40. The Empyrean Heaven.
Fifih Order: The Angelic World
41. Ishim--Sons of Fire.
48. Beni Elohim--Angels.
Sixth Order: The Archetype
50. God. Ain Suph. He Whom no mortal eye bath seen, and
Who has been known to Jesus the Messiah alone.
NOTE.--The Angels of the Fifth or Angelic World are arranged
in very different order by various Kabalistic Rabbis.
THE THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM
Translated from the Hebrew Text of Joannes Stephanus Rittangelius,
1642: which is also to be found in the "Oedipus
Aegyptiacus" of Athanasius Kircher, 1653.
(These paragraphs are very obscure in meaning, and the
Hebrew text is probably very corrupt.)
The First Path is called the Admirable or the Hidden Intelligence
(the Highest Crown): for it is the Light giving the power of
comprehension of that First Principle which has no beginning; and it
is the Primal Glory, for no created being can attain to its
The Second Path is that of the Illuminating Intelligence:
it is the Crown of Creation, the Splendour of the Unity, equalling it,
it is exalted above every head, and named by the Kabalists the Second
The Third Path is the Sanctifying Intelligence, and is
the foundation of Primordial wisdom, which is called the Creator of
and its roots are AMN; and it is the parent of Faith, from which doth
The Fourth Path is named the Cohesive or Receptacular
Intelligence; and is so called because it contains all the holy powers,
and from it emanate all the spiritual virtues with the most exalted
essences: they emanate one from the other by the power of the
Primordial Emanation. The Highest Crown.) (1)
The Fifth Path is called the Radical Intelligence, because
it resembles the Unity, uniting itself to the Binah, (2) or Intelligence
which emanates from the Primordial depths of Wisdom or Chokmah. (3)
The Sixth Path is called the Mediating Intelligence, because
in it are multiplied the influxes of the emanations, for it causes that
influence to flow into all the reservoirs of the Blessings, with which
these themselves are united.
The Seventh Path is the Occult Intelligence, because it
is the Refulgent Splendour of all the Intellectual virtues which are
perceived by the eyes of intellect, and by the contemplation of faith.
The Eighth Path is called the Absolute or Perfect Intelligence,
because it is the means of the primordial, which has no root by
which it can cleave, nor rest, except in the hidden places of Gedulah,
(4) Magnificence, from which emanates its own proper
The Ninth Path is the Pure Intelligence, so called because
it purifies the Numerations, it proves and corrects the designing of
their representation, and disposes their unity with which they are combined
without diminution or division.
The Tenth Path is the Resplendent Intelligence, because
it is exalted above every head, and sits on the throne of Binah (the
Intelligence spoken of in the Third Path). It illuminates the splendour
of all the lights, and causes an influence to emanate
from the Prince of countenances. (5)
The Eleventh Path is the Scintillating Intelligence, because
it is the essence of that curtain which is placed close to the order
the disposition, and this is a special dignity given to it that it may
be able to stand before the Face of the Cause of Causes.
The Twelfth Path is the Intelligence of Transparency,
because it is that species of Magnificence called Chazchazit, (6) the
whence issues the vision of those seeing in apparitions. (That is the
prophecies by seers in a vision.)
The Thirteenth Path is named the Uniting Intelligence,
and is so called because it is itself the Essence of Glory. It is the
Consummation of the Truth of individual spiritual things.
The Fourteenth Path is the Illuminating Intelligence and
is so called because it is that Chashmal (7) which is the founder of
concealed and fundamental ideas of holiness and of their stages of preparation.
The Fifteenth Path is the Constituting Intelligence, so
called because it constitutes the substance of creation in pure darkness,
and men have spoken of these contemplations; it is that darkness spoken
of in Scripture, Job xxxviii. 9, "and thick darkness a
swaddling band for it."
The Sixteenth Path is the Triumphal or Eternal Intelligence,
so called because it is the pleasure of the Glory, beyond which is no
other Glory like to it, and it is called also the Paradise prepared
for the Righteous.
The Seventeenth Path is the Disposing Intelligence, which
provides Faith to the Righteous, and they are clothed with the Holy
Spirit by it, and it is called the Foundation of Excellence in the state
of higher things.
The Eighteenth Path is called the Intelligence or House
of Influence (by the greatness of whose abundance the influx of good
things upon created beings is increased), and from its midst the arcana
and hidden senses are drawn forth, which dwell in its
shade and which cling to it, from the Cause of all causes.
The Nineteenth Path is the Intelligence of the Secret
of all the activities of the spiritual beings, and is so called because
influence diffused by it from the most high and exalted sublime glory.
The Twentieth Path is the Intelligence of Will, and is
so called because it is the means of preparation of all and each created
being, and by this intelligence the existence of the Primordial Wisdom
The Twenty-first Path is the Intelligence of Conciliation
and Reward, and is so called because it receives the divine influence
which flows into it from its benediction upon all and each existence.
The Twenty-second Path is the Faithful Intelligence, and
is so called because by it spiritual virtues are increased, and all
dwellers on earth are nearly under its shadow.
The Twenty-third Path is the Stable Intelligence, and
it is so called because it has the virtue of consistency among all
The Twenty-fourth Path is the Imaginative Intelligence,
and it is so called because it gives a likeness to all the similitudes
are created in like manner similar to its harmonious elegancies.
The Twenty-fifth Path is the Intelligence of Probation,
or Temptation, and is so called because it is the primary temptation,
which the Creator trieth all righteous persons.
The Twenty-sixth Path is called the Renewing Intelligence,
because the Holy God renews by it all the changing things which are
renewed by the creation of the world.
The Twenty-seventh Path is the Active or Exciting Intelligence,
and it is so called because through it every existent being
receives its spirit and motion.
The Twenty-eighth Path is called the Natural Intelligence;
by it is completed and perfected the nature of all that exists beneath
(This Path is omitted by Rittangelius: I presume by inadvertence.)
The Twenty-ninth Path is the Corporeal Intelligence, so
called because it forms every body which is formed in all the worlds,
and the reproduction of them.
The Thirtieth Path is the Collective Intelligence, and
Astrologers deduce from it the judgment of the Stars and celestial signs,
and perfect their science, according to the rules of the motions of
The Thirty-first Path is the Perpetual Intelligence; but
why is it so called? Because it regulates the motions of the Sun and
in their proper order, each in an orbit convenient for it.
The Thirty-second Path is the Administrative Intelligence,
and it is so called because it directs and associates the motions of
seven planets, directing all of them in their own proper courses.
NOTES TO THE SEPHER YETZIRAH
It is of considerable importance to a clear understanding
of this Occult treatise that the whole work be read through before
comment is made, so that the general idea of the several chapters may
become in the mind one concrete whole. A separate
consideration of the several parts should follow this general grasp
of the subject, else much confusion may result.
This hook may be considered to he an Allegorical Parallel
between the Idealism of Numbers and Letters and the various parts
of the Universe, and it sheds much light on many mystic forms and ceremonies
yet extant, notably upon Freemasonry, the
Tarot, and the later Kabalah, and is a great aid to the comprehension
of the Astro-Theosophic schemes of the Rosicrucians. To
obtain the full value of this Treatise, it should he studied hand in
hand with Hermetic attributions, the "Isiac Tablet," and with a
complete set of the designs, symbols and allocation of the Trump cards
of the Tarot pack, for which see my translation of The
Sanctum Regnum of the Tarot, by Eliphas Levi.
Note that the oldest MSS. copies of the "Sepher Yetzirah"
have no vowel points: the latest editions have them. The system of
points in writing Hebrew was not perfected until the seventh century,
and even then was not in constant use. Ginsburg asserts
that the system of vowel pointing was invented by a Rabbi Mocha in Palestine
about A.D. 570, who designed it to assist his
pupils. But Isaac Myer states that there are undoubted traces of pointing
in Hebrew MSS. of the second century. According to
A. E. Waite there is no extant Hebrew MSS. with the vowel points older
than the tenth century.
The words "Sepher Yetzirah" are written in Hebrew from
right to left, SPR YTzYRH, Samech Peh Resh, Yod Tzaddi Yod
Resh Heh; modes of transliteration vary with different authors. Yod
is variously written in English letters as I, Y, or J, or
sometimes Ie. Tzaddi is property Tz; but some write Z only, which is
misleading because the Hebrew has also a true Z, Zain.
The twelve sections of this chapter introduce this philosophic
disquisition upon the Formation and Development of the Universe.
Having specified the subdivision of the letters into three classes,
the Triad, the Heptad, and the Dodecad, these are put aside
for the time; and the Decad mainly considered as specially associated
with the idea of Number, and as obviously composed of
the Tetrad and the Hexad.
1. Thirty-two. This is the number of the Paths or Ways
of Wisdom, which are added as a supplement. 32 is written in Hebrew
by LB, Lamed and Beth, and these are the last and first letters of the
Pentateuch. The number 32 is obtained thus--2 x 2 x 2 x
2 x 2=32. Laib, LB as a Hebrew word, means the Heart of Man.
Paths.The word here is NTIBUT, netibuth; NTIB meant primarily
a pathway, or foot-made track; but is here used
symbolically in the same sense as the Christian uses the word, way--the
way of life: other meanings are--stage, power, form,
effect; and later, a doctrinal formula, in Kabalistic writings.
2. Jah. This divine name is found in Psalm lxviii. 4;
it is translated into Greek as kurios, and into Latin as dominus, and
commonly into the English word, Lord: it is really the first half of
the word IHVH or Jehovah, or the Yahveh of modern
3. Jehovah Tzabaoth. This divine name is printed in English
Bibles as Jehovah Sabaoth, or as "Lord of hosts" as in Psalm xxiv.
10. TzBA is an army.
4. God of Israel. Here the word God is ALHI, which in
unpointed Hebrew might be God, or Gods, or My God.
5. The Elohim of the Living. The words are ALHIM ChIIM.
Alhim, often written in English letters as Elohim, or by Godftey
Higgins as Aleim, seems to be a masculine plural of the feminine form
Eloah, ALH, of the divine masculine name EL, AL; this is
commonly translated God, and means strong, mighty, supreme. Chiim is
the plural of Chi--living, or life. ChIH is a living
animal, and so is ChIVA. ChII is also life. Frey in his dictionary gives
ChIIM as the plural word lives, or vitae. The true
adjective for living is ChIA. Elohim Chiim, then, apart from Jewish
or Christian preconception, is "the living Gods," or "the
Gods of the lives, i.e., living ones." Rittangelius gives Dii viventes,
"The living Gods," both words in the plural. Pistorius omits
both words. Postellus, the orthodox, gives Deus Vivus. The Elohim are
the Seven Forces, proceeding from the One Divine,
which control the "terra viventium," the manifested world of life.
6. God. In this case we have the simple form AL, EL.
7. Sepharim. SPRIM, the plural masculine of SPR, commonly
translated book or letter: the meaning here is plainly "forms of
8. Numbers, Letters and Sounds. The three Hebrew words
here given are, in unpointed Hebrew, SPR, SPR and SIPUR.
Some late editors, to cover the difficulty of this passage, have given
SPR, SPUR, SIPR, pointing them to read Separ, Seepur,
The sense of the whole volume appears to need their translation
as Numbers, Letters and Sounds. Pistorius gave "Scriptis,
numeratis, pronunciatis." Postellus gave "Numerans, numerus, numeratus,"
thus losing the contrasted meanings; and so did
Rittangelius, who gave "Numero, numerante, numerato."
9. The Ineffable Sephiroth. The words are SPIRUT BLIMH,
Sephiruth Belimah. The simplest translation is "the voices from
nothing." The Ten Sephiruth of the Kabalah are the "Ten Primary Emanations
from the Divine Source," which are the primal
forces leading to all manifestation upon every plane in succession.
Buxtorf gives for Sephiruth--predicationes logicae. The word
seems to me clearly allied to the Latin spiritus--spirit, soul, wind;
and is used by Quintilian as a sound, or noise. The meaning of
Belimah is more doubtful. Rittangelius always gives "praeter illud ineffabile."
Pistorius gives "praeter ineffabile." Postellus evades
the difficulty and simply puts the word Belimah into his Latin translation.
In Frey's Hebrew Dictionary BLIMH is translated as
nothing, without any other suggestion; BLI is "not," MR is "anything."
In Kabalistic writings the Sephiruth, the Divine Voices
and Powers, are called "ineffbilis," not to be spoken of, from their
10. The classification of the Hebrew letters into a Triad,
Heptad and Dodecad, runs through the whole philosophy of the
Kabalah. Many ancient authors added intentional blinds, suds as forming
the Triad of A.M.T., Ameth, truth; and of AMN,
11. The Two Covenants, by the Word or Spirit, and by the
Flesh, made by Jehovah with Abraham, Genesis xvii. The
Covenant of Circumcision was to be an outward and visible sign of the
Divine promise made to Ahraham and his offspring. The
Hebrew word for circumcision is Mulah, MULH: note that MLH is also synonymous
with DBR, dabar,--verbum or word.
12. Rittangelius gives "replace the formative power upon
his throne." Postellus gives restore the device to its place."
13. Abyss; the word is OUMQ for OMQ, a depth, vastness,
14. My Hermetic rituals explained this Yetziratic attribution.
15. The Lord the only God. The words are ADUN IChID AL,
or "Adonai (as commonly written) the only El."
16. Seat. The word is MOUN, dwelling, habitation, or throne.
17. Lightning flash. In the early edition the words "like
scintillating flame" are used: the Hebrew word is BRQ. Many Kabalists
have shown how the Ten Sephiroth are symbolised by the zig-zag lightning
18. God; the Divine name here is Jehovah.
19. The text gives only RTzUAV ShUB--"currendo et redeundo,"
but the commentators have generally considered this to be a
quotation from Ezekiel i. 14, referred to H ChIVT, the living creatures,
20. The Spirit of the Gods of the Living. RUCh ALHIM ChIIIM;
or as R. gives it, "spiritus Deorum Viventium." Orthodoxy
would translate these words "The spirit of the living God."
21. AL ChI H OULMIM; "the Living God of Ages"; here the
word God really is in the singular.
22. The Voice, Spirit and Word are QUL, RUCh, DBR. A very
notable Hebrew expression of Divinatory intuition was BATh
QUL, the Daughter of the Voice.
23. Formless and Void. THU and BHU; these two words occur
in Genesis i. 2, and are translated "waste and void."
24. Note the order in which the primordial elements were
produced. First, Spirit (query Akasa, Ether); then Air, Vayu; then
Water, Apas, which condenses into solid elementary Earth, Prithivi;
and lastly from the Water He formed Fire.
25. The first name is often written Ophanim, the letters
are AUPNIM; in the Vision of Ezekiel i. 16, the word occurs and is
translated "Wheels." ShRPIM are the mysterious beings of Isaiah vi.
2; the word otherwise is translated Serpent, and in
Numbers xxi. 6, as "fiery serpents": also in verse 8 as "fiery serpent"
when Jehovah said "Make thee a fiery serpent and set it
upon a pole." Kerubim. The Hebrew words arc ChIVTh H QDSh, holy animals:
I have ventured to put Kerubim, as the title of
the other Biblical form of Holy mysterious animal, as given in 1 Kings
vi. 23 and Exodus xxv. 18, and indeed Genesis iii. 24.
Bible dictionaries generally give the word as Cherubim, but in Hebrew
the initial letter is always K and not Ch.
26. Three. In the first edition I overlooked this word
three; and putting and for as, made four classes of serving beings.
27. This is verse 4 of Psalm civ.
28. Here follow the permutations of the name IHV, which
is the Tetragrammaton--Jehovah, without the second or final Heh:
IHV is a Tri-grammaton, and is more suitable to the third or Yetziratic
plane. HVI is the imperative form of the verb to be,
meaning be thou; HIV is the infinitive; and VIH is future. In IHV note
that Yod corresponds to the Father; Heh to Binah, the
Supernal Mother; and Vau to the Microprosopus--Son.
29. Note the subdivision of the Decad into the Tetrad--four
elements; and the Hexad--six dimensions of space.
This chapter consists of philosophic remarks on the twenty-two
sounds and letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and hence
connected with the air by speech, and it points out the uses of those
letters to form words--the signs of ideas, and the symbols
of material substances.
30. Soul; the word is NPSh, which is commonly translated
soul, meaning the living personality of man, animal or existing thing:
it corresponds almost to the Theosophic Prana plus the stimulus of Kama.
31. This is the modern classification of the letters into
guttural, palatal, lingual, dental and labial sounds.
32. The 231 Gates. The number 242 is obtained by adding
together all the numbers from 1 to 22. The Hebrew letters can he
placed in pairs in 242 different positions: thus ab, ag, ad, up to at;
then ba, bb, bg, bd, up to bt, and so on to ts, tt: this is in
direct order only, without reversal. For the reason why eleven are deducted,
and the number 231 specified, see the Table and
Note 15 in the edition of Postellus.
33. Non-existent; the word is AIN, nothingness. Ain precedes
Ain Suph, boundlessness; and Ain Suph Aur, Boundless Light.
34. Body; the word is GUP, usually applied to the animal
material body, but here means "one whole."
This chapter is especially concerned with the essence
of the Triad, as represented by the Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem, and
Shin. Their development in three directions is pointed out, namely in
the Macrocosm or Universe; in the Year or in Time; and in
the Microcosm or Man.
35. The importance of equilibrium is constantly reiterated
in the Kabalah. The "Siphra Dtzeniouta," or "Book of Mystery,"
opens with a reference to this Equilibrium as a fundamental necessity
of stable existence.
36. Heavens. The Hebrew word Heshamaim HShMIM, has in
it the element of Aesh, fire, and Mim, water; and also Shem,
name; The Name is IHVH, attributed to the elements. ShMA is in Chaldee
a name for the Trinity (Parkhurst). ShMSh is the
Sun, and Light, and a type of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. Malachi
37. Were produced. The Hebrew word BRA, is the root. Three
Hebrew words are used in the Bible to represent the idea of
making, producing or creating.
BRIAH, Briah, giving shape, Genesis i. 1.
OShIH, Ashiah, completing, Genesis i. 31.
ITzIRH, Yetzirah, forming, Genesis ii. 7.
To these the Kabalists add the word ATzLH, with the meaning
of "producing something manifest from the unmanifested."
This is the special chapter of the Heptad, the powers
and properties of the Seven. Here again we have the threefold attribution
of the numbers and letters to the Universe, to the Year, and to Man.
The supplemental paragraphs have been printed in modern
form by Kalisch; they identify the several letters of the Heptad more
definitely with the planets, days of the week, human
attributes and organs of the senses.
39. These numbers have been a source of difference between
the editors and copyists, hardly any two editors concurring. I
have given the numbers arising from continual multiplication of the
product by each succeeding unit from one to seven. 2x1=2,
2x3=6, 6x4=24, 24x5=120, 120x6=720, 720x7=5040.
40. In associating the particular letters to each planet
the learned Jesuit Athanasius Kircher allots Beth to the Sun, Gimel
Venus, Daleth to Mercury, Kaph to Luna, Peh to Saturn, Resh to Jupiter,
and Tau to Mars. Kalisch in the supplementary
paragraphs gives a different attribution; both are wrong, according
to clairvoyant investigation. Consult the Tarot symbolism
given by Court de Gebelin, Eliphas Levi, and my notes to the Isiaic
Tablet of Bembo. The true attribution is probably not
anywhere printed. The planet names here given are Chaldee words.
41. The Seven Heavens and the Seven Earths are printed
with errors, and I believe intentional mistakes, in many occult ancient
books. Some Hermetic MSS. have the correct names and spelling.
42. On the further attribution of these Seven letters,
note that Postellus gives: Vita--mors, Pax--afflictio, Sapientia--stultitia,
Divitiae (Opus)--paupertas, Gratia--opprobrium, Proles--sterilitas,
Imperium--servitus. Pistorius gives: Vita--mors,
Pax--bellum, Scientia--ignorantia, Divitiae--paupertas, Gratia--abominatio,
Semen (Proles)--sterilitas, Imperium
This chapter is specially concerned with the Dodecad;
the number twelve is itself pointed out, and the characters of its
component units, once more in the three zones of the universe, year
and man; the last paragraph gives a recapitulation of the
whole number of letters: the Supplement gives a form of allotment of
the several letters.
43. It is necessary to avoid confusion between these letters;
different authors translate them in different manners. Heh or Hé
be confused with Cheth, or Heth, Ch. Teth, Th also must be kept distinct
from the final letter Tau, T, which is one of the double
letters; the semi-English pronunciation of these two letters is much
confused, each is at times both t and th; Yod is either I, Y, or
J; Samech is simple S, and must not be confused with Shin, Sh, one of
the mother letters; Oin is often written in English Hebrew
grammars as Ayin, and Sometimes as Gnain; Tzaddi must not be confused
with Zain, Z; and lastly Qoph, Q, is very often
replaced by K, which is hardly defensible as there is a true K in addition.
44. Postellus gives suspicion and Pistorius, mind.
45. These letters are the initials of the 12 Zodiacal
signs in Hebrew nomenclature. They are:
46. The month Nisan begins about March 29th. Yiar is also
written Iyar, and Aiar: the Hebrew letters are AIIR.
47. The list of organs varies. All agree in two hands,
two feet, two kidneys, liver, gall and spleen. Postellus then gives,
vesica, arteriae," the intestines, bladder, and arteries; Rittangelius
gives the same. Pistorius gives, "colon, coagulum (spleen) et
ventriculus," colon--the large intestine, coagulum and stomach. The
chief difficulty is with the Hebrew word MSS, which is
allied to two different roots, one meaning private, concealed, hidden;
and the other meaning liquefied.
48. The Elohim--Divine powers--not IHVH the Tetragrammaton.
This chapter is a resumé of the preceding five; it calls the
universe and mankind to witness to the truth of the scheme of
distribution of the powers of the numbers among created forms, and concludes
with the narration that this philosophy was
revealed by the Divine to Abraham, who received and faithfully accepted
it, as a form of Wisdom under a Covenant.
49. The Dragon, TLI, Theli. The Hebrew letters amount
in numeration to 440, that is 400, 30 and 10. The best opinion is that
Tali or Theli refers to the 12 Zodiacal constellations along the great
circle of the Ecliptic; where it ends there it begins again, and
so the ancient occultists drew the Dragon with its tail in its mouth.
Some have thought that Tali referred to the constellation
Draco, which meanders across the Northern polar sky; others have referred
it to the Milky Way; others to an imaginary line
joining Caput to Cauda Draconis, the upper and lower nodes of the Moon.
Adolphe Franck says that Theli is an Arabic word.
50. Happiness, or a good end, or simply good, TUBH.
51. Misery, or an evil end, or simply evil, ROH.
52. This Hebrew version omits the allotment of the remaining
six. Mayer gives the paragraph thus:--The triad of amity is the
heart and the two ears; the triad of enmity is the liver, gall, and
the tongue; the three life-givers are the two nostrils and the
spleen; the three death-dealing ones are the mouth and the two lower
openings of the body.
53. God. In this case the name is AL, EL.
54. This last paragraph is generally considered to be
less ancient than the remainder of the treatise, and by another author.
55. The Lord most high. OLIU ADUN. Adun or Adon, or Adonai,
ADNI, are commonly translated Lord; Eliun, OLIUN, is
the more usual form of "the most high one."
56. Him. Rittangelius gives "credidit in Tetragrammaton,"
but this word is not in the Hebrew.
57. Tongue. The verbal covenant.
58. Speech. The Hebrew has "upon his tongue."
59. The Hebrew version of Rabbi Judah Ha Levi concludes
with the phrase, "and said of him, Before I formed thee in the belly,
I knew thee." Rabbi Luria gives the Hebrew version which I have translated.
Postellus gives: "He drew him into the water, He
rose up in spirit, He inflamed him in seven suitable forms with twelve
signs." Mayer gives: "Er zog sie mit Wasser, zundet sie an
mit Feuer; erregte sie mit Geist; verbannte sie mit sieben, goss sie
aus mit den zwolf Gestirnen." "He drew them with water, He
kindled them with fire, He moved them with spirit, distributed them
with seven, and sent them forth with twelve." Notes to the Thirty-Two
Paths of Wisdom
1. The Highest Crown is Kether, the First Sephira, the
first emanation from the Ain Suph Aur, the Limit-less Light.
2. Binah, or Understanding, is the Third Sephira.
3. Chokmah, Wisdom, is the Second Sephira.
4. Gedulah is a synonym of Chesed, Mercy, the Fourth Sephira.
5. Metatron, the Intelligence of the First Sephira, and
the reputed guide of Moses.
6. This word is from ChZCh, a seer, seership. Chazuth
is a vision.
7. This word means "scintillating flame."
The "Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom" refer to the Ten Sephiroth
and the Twenty-two letters, each supplying a type of divine
power and attributes. In my Introduction to the Kabalah will be found
a diagram showing how the Paths from Eleven to
Thirty-two connect the several Sephiroth, and are deemed to transmit the
divine influence. Some teachers of Occult Science
also allot the Twenty-two Trumps of the Tarot Cards to the twenty-two