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Judaic Mysticism in Biblical Times
Although the Kabbalah is not specifically mentioned in the OLD TESTAMENT, there are many passages that allude to this secret knowledge.
The inherent danger, and the rewards, of studying these mysteries is emphasized in legends that have been spawned from several biblical and TALMUDIC passages.
The original teachings are attributed to biblical ancestors like Adam, Moses, and Abraham. One legend of the Kabbalah claims that Moses “received” the Oral Law, also called the Oral TORAH, along with the Written Torah on Mt. Sinai.
Moses communicated this verbally to Joshua, his successor. Joshua shared it with the Elders, who shared it with the Judges, who shared it with the Prophets.
This privileged knowledge was only passed on by word of mouth. It was never written down until about the turn of the 1st century CE (Common Era) when a manuscript called SEFER YETZIRAH (“BOOK OF CREATION” OR THE “BOOK OF FORMATION”) began to circulate among select circles of learned men.
Among this group might have been the Essene’s who lived throughout the land of Judah from about the 2nd century BCE (Before the Common Era) through the 1st century CE. The Dead Sea Scrolls may have been a part of the Essene’s uncovered library.
At the turn of the 1st century CE during the 2nd Temple Period, Johanan ben Zakaai and his pupils were among the first to circulate a written manuscript outlining the teachings of the Oral Tradition.