"Sefer Yetsirah and Jewish Mysiticsm Time Line
Compiled by Robert Zucker (c) All rights reserved.
17th Century (1600AD-1699AD)
1602 Rabbi Loew of Prague dies.
ed. 1603 MS Halberstam 444 .i, (in
the Jewish Theological Seminary in NY) Fol. 7b, and MS Florence,
Laurantiana, Pl. II, Cod. 41, Fol 200. The Halbertam MS, or a copy of
it, is the source of the Latin translation in J. Reuchlin's "De Arte
Cabalistica," ed 1603, col 759 (Gershom, Kabblah, 180)
Friedrich Brenz reports that Jews had a magical device "which is called
Hamor Golem (!) they make an image of mud resembling a man, whisper or
mumble certain spells in his ears, which make the image walk." Cf
Rosenfield, p39, Scholem Kab & Sym. 199.
Zevi of Aufenhausen, "The apostate said that there are those among the
Jews who take a lump of clay, fashion it into a man, and whisper
incantations and spells, whereupon the figure lives and moves. In the
reply which I wrote for the Chrisitian I made the turncoat look
ridiculous, for I said that he himself must be fashioned from just such
kneaded lumps of clay and loam, without any sense or intelligence, and
that his father must have been such a wonder worker, for as he writes,
we call such an image a homer golem [an unshape, raw mass of material],
which may be rendered "a monstrous ass" [a really good pun], which I say
is a perfect description of him. I myself have never seen such a
peformance, but some of the sages possessed the power to do this, by
means of the "Book of Creation"...
We German Jews have lost this mystical tradition, but in
Palestine there are still to be found some men who can perform great
wonders through the Kabbalah. Our fools [another pun on the word golem]
are not created out of clay, but come from their mother's wombs."
Basically, it says it can be done, but not by us any longer because the
knowledge is lost." Even though he puts it down, he admits at the end
the Jewish attitude on the subject- it can be done, but no longer by us.
Italian-Jewish doctor, scientist and encyclopedic scholar Joseph Solomon
Del Medigo, in his journeys through Germany, Poland and Lithuania,
wrote, "many (golem) legends of this sort are current, particularly in
Germany." He quotes above story about Abraham ibn Ezra and continues
about Solomon ibn Gabirol (11thc poet) who created a golem and was
denounced by the government, but proved the creature was not real by
reducing her to the wood and hinges. Solomon Ibn Gabirol,
earliest known written legend of a contemporary figure creating a golem.
Anonymous MS. It does not mention R. Loew, but recounts story of R.
Eliahu of Chelm who used the "Sefer Yetzirah" to create a golem. The
golem continued to grow that the rabbi had to destroy it by erasing the
"A" aleph, first letter from the word emet (truth). Other legends date
as late as 1660.
(1642, Waite) 1648 or 1653 "Emek
ha-Melekh," Amsterdam, by Kabalist R. Naphtali ben Jacob Bacharach of
Frankfurt who included a set of incomplete instructions in one of his
Kabalistic texts. (Scholem, "Kab. & Symbol"., p. 185)
third Latin edition of "Sefer Yetzirah", with Hebrew translation (same
one published by Rittangelius? Date used by Waite), with commentary by
Rabbi Abraham F. ben Dior, Amsterdam. He translated it and added notes.
(see "Emek"), included the commentary by Abraham ben David Ha Levy the
younger (Dior). Titled "Liber Jesirah quie Abrahamo patriarchae
adscribitur, una cum commentario Rabbi Abraham F.D. (ie, Ben Dior) super
32 Semitis Sapientiae...Translatus et Notis illustratus a Joanne
Stephano Rittanhelio ...Amstekodami, 1642."
The 32 Paths are given in Hebrew and Latin,
followed by part of the commentary by R. Abraham (about the Paths of
Wisdom), in Latin and Hebrew. and an explanation by Rittangelius quoting
many authorities including the Zohar and Supplements. After the Path
discussion is the "Sefer Yetzirah" text in Latin and Hebrew. The first
was in 1551 by Postel. The 2nd 25 years later.
1644 Latin version of the 1562 "Sefer Yetzirah" with a commentary by Vorstius.
another Latin edition with commentary published by Joanne Stephano
Rittangelio Rittangehus (Rittangel, Rittanhello) (Latin vers. "Sefer
Yetzirah") "Liber Yezirah qui Abrahamo patriarche adscribitur, una cum
commentario R . Abraham F.D. (filii Dior) super 32 Semitiis Sapientiae, a
quibus liber Yezirah incipit." This was issued in 1830.
1663 R. Eliahu of Chelm dies.
1660-1718 Cacham Zvi, the great-grandson of Rabbi Eliahu of Chelm, He wrote that his ancestor, R. Eliahu of Chelm, created a golem.
Christoph Wagenseil published a letter from Christoph Arnold who wrote
end of his "Sota hoc est Liber Mischnicus de uxore adulterii suspecta,"
retranslated by Johann Jakob Schudt, in Frankfort, 1714, which was
taken from W.E. Tentzel, 1689, p145, trans by Scholem "Kaba. Symb, p200)
Wulfer ("Animadversiones to Sol. Zevi Uffenausen's "Theriaca Judaica,
Hanover 1675, p69) wrote that in Poland there were "excellent builders
who can make mute famuli from clay inscribed with the name of Gd." He
could not find any eyewitnesses (, Scholem, "Kaba. Symb., 200)
1680 6 Hebrew editions of "Sefer Yetzirah" collected and printed at Lemberg. Oldest contains the recensions of Sa'adya Gaon.
Schmidt, wrote "apart from speaking," these creatures "perform all
sorts of human activities for forty days and carry letters like
messengers wherever they are sent, even a long way. But if after 40 days
the parchment is not removed from the forehead, they inflict great
damage upon the person or possessions of their master or his family."
1684 4th edition of "Sefer Yezirah" published by Knorr von Rosenroth at Sulzbach.
18th Century (1700AD-1799AD)
1713 An edition published in Amsterdam with preface by M. ben J. Chagiz, (2nd Amsterdam edition, 1642 was the first)
1718 German, anti-Semitic Orientalist, Johann Jakob Schudt wrote
"Judische Merkwur-digkeiten," ("Jewish Marvels"): Frankfort, Pt II, Book
IV, p. 206ff (taken from Tentzel, 1689 and (1682) Johann Schmidt,
quoted Schudt, p. 67-9. C. Arnold's
1674 account was reported in Schudt's book. This become the source for Jacob Grimm's' version published almost 100 years later.
"The present-day Polish Jews are notoriously
masters of this art, and often make the golem, which they employ in
their homes, like Kabolds or house spirits for all sorts of housework."
1719 A version of "Sefer Yetzirah," published in Constantinople now in British Museum.
1745 an edition of "Sefer Yetzirah" published in Zolkkiew.
About mid-18th c.
the golem legend about R. Chelm moved to Prague and became related with
the "Great Rabbi" Loew of Prague (c.1520-1609) In the Prague legend
certain special features of the Sabbath eve were associated.
1779 an edition of "Sefer Yetzirah" published in Korzec, by Moses ben Jacob, Zozec.
the entire commentary on "Sefer Yezirah" by Abraham Abulafia (Munich
Ms. 58) is in the "Sefer ha Peli'ah" (Koretz, 1784, fols. 50-56).
1786 the legend of Jeremiah and Ben Sira, c. 1350 is copied in the Kabbalistic book "Peli'ah." (c. 1350), cf. ed Koretz, 1786, 36a.
Elijah, the Gaon of Vilna, Lithuanian rabbinical authority, owned to his
student R. Hayim, founder of the Talmudic academy of Volozhin, said
that as a young boy, under 13, he undertook making a golem. In the
middle of his preparations, a form passed overhead and he stopped. (In
R. Hayim's introduction to the commentary of the "Vilna Gaon" on the
"Sifra de-Tseni'utha", a part of the Zohar, ed Vilna, 1819 (Scholem,
"Kabalah Symbolism" 204)
At end of 18th century,
R. Pinhas Eliahu Horowitz composed the "Sefer ha-Berit," an
encyclopedic work of Kabalah and science. He discusses the creation of
a" golem by the Divine Names and holy letters in the "Sefer Yezirah". He
also wrote about it in the book "Beit ha-Yozer", which he composed the
"Sefer Yezirah". ["Sefer ha-Berit", 1799]
19th Century (1800AD-1899AD)
The golem legend is a favorite literary
subject among Jews and non-Jews. It begins in German, then Hebrew and
Yiddish legends which was changed in various ways. Later, they mostly
deal with the golems ability to save the Jews from persecution of the
libelous accusations placed by their enemies to arose fears. Those
legends were probably composed after the resurgence of accusations of
ritual murder in the 1890's.
1806 an edition published at Grodno, with 5 commentaries.
23 Jakob Grimm published a golem story in the "Zeitung fur Einsiedler
(Journal for Hermits)". The story was derived from the 1714 version by
Schudt, which was adapted from the 1674 account by C. Arnold. of R.
Eliahu of Chelm. This story by Grimm influence many people.
Germany, Ludwig Achim von Arim's tale "Isabella von Agrpten" ("Isabella
of Egypt"), "Kaiser Karls de Funften erste Jugendliebe" (Novelle),
written in 1811 and published in 1812. Use of the golem as a
doplleganger. He learned of the golem legend from Grimm and dedicated
Isabella to them.
1812 an edition printed in Dyhernfurth.
influenced by Grimm's tale, Ludwig Achim von Arnim incorporated golem
into his characters. Heinrich Heine's discussion of Arnim made the golem
1822 German edition of Hoffman, E. T. A., "Die Deheimnisse" (Novelle).
edition of "Sefer Yetzirah" published by John (Johann) Friedrich von
Meyer D.D. "Yetzirah" in Hebrew with German explanatory notes in
Leipzig.1836 states another source. Rittangelius edition issued by
Meyer, at Lepsic. German with Hebrew text.
1831 an edition of "Sefer Yetzirah" printed at Salonica (Salonika)
1837 Auerback, Berthold, Spinoza, ein poetisches Lebenagemalde (Roman)
1841 Philippson, Gustav, "Der Golem" (Gedicht)
1842 Tendlau, Abraham, "Der Golem des Hoch-Rabbi-Lob" (Gedicht)
1842 Horn, Uffo Daniel (Psued.: Therese von M.) "Der Rabbi von Prag" (Novelle)
1844 Skepsgardh, Otto von, Drei Vorreden, ".iRosen un Golem-Tieck" (Roman)
1844 Droste-Hulshoff, Annete von, i."Die Golems" (Gedicht- "poem")
1846 Weisel (Sippulrim), "Der Golem"(Erzahlung)
1847 the first known account of R. Loew's golem, by Leopald Weisel, published by Wolf Pascheles in "Sippurim" (1847-1856)
1849 German translation and commentary at Frankfort. Christian theologian. Leipezig. By L. Goldschmidt.
1851 Edition by Storm, Theodor, "Ein Golem" (Gedicht).
Since 1856, there have been a continuous flow of stories about Rabbi Loew and his golem.
1858 Hebbel, Freidrich, "Ein Steinwurf oder Opfer um Opfer" (musik. Drama)
book "Yetzirah" published in Lemberg with commentaries from Saadia Gaon,
Rabbi Abraham ben Dior Halevi, Rabbi Moses ben Nacham, Elieser of
Germisa, Moses Botarel, Rabbi Eliah Wilna.
origin, rise) der Verlagspoesie (publication, poetry, verse)" in
Kleinere Schriften von Jakob Grimm, 4. Band (Berlin, 1869), p22.
Translation above, Plank.
harmonikale Symbolik des Altertum" (Cologne), p 370-395, by Albert von
Thimus argues that "Sefer Yetzirah" probably originated from the periods
shortly before the end of the Babylonia exile. "Sefer Yetzirah" is
mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud.
1872 Kalisch, Ludwig, "Die Geschichte von dem Golem" (romanzen)
1874 an edition of "Sefer Yetzirah" published in Jersulaem.
1874 commentary on "Sefer Yezirah" by Elijah b. Solomon, the Gaon of Vilna.
Scholem), Rev. Dr. Isidor Kalisch, "Sefer Yetzirah, A Book on Creation
or The Jewish Metaphysics of Remote Antiquity, with English translation,
Preface, Explantory notes and Glossary by Rev. Dr. Isidor Kalisch."
First English translation. Rosecrucian, Masonic. Reproduced many of
Meyer's annotations. Hebrew side by side with English. Says, "contains
nothing but a medley of arbitrary, mystical explanations and
sophisticated distributions of scriptural verses, astrological notions,
oriental superstitions, a metaphysical jargan, a poor knowledge of
physics..." in reference to the book "Yetzirah," published 1860. Draws
from Mayer and mentions Rittangelus, Postell., Saadya, etc. Said to be
first English translation. by Dr. Kalisch. Some material courtesy of the
"Secrect Teachings of All Ages"
1880 a 3rd
commentary from the 10th century written by Shabbetai Donnolo was
published by D. Castelli, Firenze, with a comprehensive introduction.
1880 M. Gudermann, "Gescgichte des Erziehungswesens und der
Cultur der Juden, I, Wien, p.169. from MSS Munich (1268) discusses the
creation of a man using earth as its basic element.
1882 Bermann, Moritz, "Die Legende von Golem " (Erzahlung)
1883 (Scholem), translation, with commentary by A. Edersheim.
Warsaw, Poland, most popular version. with 9 commentaries. Scholem says
its distorted. Polish I and Polish II versions. Most of today's
circulated sources are no earlier than this version.
1885 S.Z. Halberstamm (Berlin) publishes the 12th century work by Judah b. Barzillai of Barcelonia.
(1911, Scholem), 1890 "Sepher Yetzirah, The Book of Formation," W. Wynn
Westcott, MB. JP. Supreme Magus of the Rosicrucian Society of England.
3rd edition Samuel Wesier, Inc. Translated from the Hebrew. Follows
Golden Dawn. Translates Hebrew into English, and collated with Latin
versions of Pistorius, Postellus and Rittangelius, following the latter,
rather than former commentaries.
1887 Abraham Epstein, "Beitage zur judischen Altertumskunde,"
Vienna, p122-3, reprinted in Gershom, Kabbalah, 179, Students of Rabbi
Judah the Pious (d.1217) of Speyer in Regensburg write down a version of
the legend regarding Ben Sira from "Sefer Gematrioth".
by Waite) French edition by Dr. Papus. He added the 32 Paths of Wisdom
and 50 Gates of Intelligence. Followed Pistorius, Postellus,
Rittangelius, Golden Dawn and Rosecrucian,
1889 Eleazar b. Judah of Worms, one of the several Hasidei Ashkenaz who wrote on the "Sefer Yetzirah," in its entirety in Przemysl.
1891 or 92
Mayer Lambert, Paris, Arabic edition "Commentaire Sur le Sefer Yetzirah
Par le Gaon Saadya, edited French version of Sadaaya Gaon on display in
Bodleian Library, translated into French and printed in Paris from the
MS Oxford 1533 Mantua edition.
1883 A translation of "Sefer Yezirah" in English by A. Edersheim.
1894 (Scholem), Edition by L. Goldschmidt published.
of Isaac Luria (Loria) according to L. Goldschmidt: also Goldschmidt
text from an Arabic Commentary on "Sefer Yetzirah." Accord. to "Jewish
Quartly Review, 19:1928. Goldschmidt constructed a poor text from four
existing versions instead of any one version.
1896 Peter Davidson, English version, which adds the "50 Gates of Intelligence" and "32 Paths of Wisdom"
1894 "Sefer Jezirah- Das Buch der Schopfung"
(Frankfurt am Main), p 12, says "Sefer Yetzirah" originated to 2nd c BCE
1898 Lilieneron, Detlev von, "Der Golem (Novelle)"
Late 19th century visual
artists brought the golem legend into development. The earliest work
was in 1897 or 99 by Czech, Mikolas Ales, a non-Jew, depicting Rabbi
Loew of Prague conjuring a golem with Hebrew letters GLM on its forehead
instead of the letters "emet" (truth")
© 2007-2011 Bob Zucker. EMOL.org All rights reserved. . No part may be copied, reproduced, republished or
digitally stored without permission from author.
"The Book of Formation" or "The Book of Creation"
By Aryeh Kaplan
authoritative English text on the study of the "Sefer Yetzirah" or Book
of Formantion (Book of Creation). Kaplan's explanations are easy to
understand and make sense. A must have manual for anyone ready to
decifer this ancient manuscript.
• Paperback: 398 pages
• Publisher: Weiser Books; Rev Sub edition (May 1997)
• Language: English
Book of Formation
or Sepher Yetzirah: Attributed to Rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph
Author: Knut Stenring
The Book of Formation
(Sepher Yetzirah Including : the 32 Paths of Wisdom, Their Correspondence With the Hebrew Alphabet and the Tarot Symbols)
Author: Akiba Ben Joseph
Author: W. Wynn Westcott
Author: Shabbetai Donnolo
Sefer Yetzirah - El Libro de La Creacion
Sefer Yesirah (Yezirah) en espanol (in Spanish)
My Top Choice Sefer Yetzirah Books
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available, books on Sefer Yetzirah. Although other editions have been
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The authoritative text on the
study of the "Sefer Yetzirah" or Book of Formantion (Book of Creation).
Kaplan's explanations are easy to understand and make sense. A must
have manual for anyone ready to decifer this ancient manuscript.
• Paperback: 398 pages
• Publisher: Weiser Books; Rev Sub edition (May 1997)
• Language: English
by R. A. Gilbert (Foreword),
Arthur Edward Waite (Editor, Introduction),
sKnut Stenring (Translator)
Stenring has made a
word-for-word translation from several texts, choosing only those parts
which he believed to be authentic. He reveals the text’s secrets in his
diagrams, tables, and extensive notes. His "Master Key to the
Theoretical and Practical Kabala" is a diagram of the correspondences
between the English and Hebrew alphabets and is not found in other
translations of the Sepher Yetzirah. Also unique in this translation is
Stenring’s assignment of certain tarot cards to the paths on the Tree of
Life. Several authors have done this before, but Stenring asserts that
he arrived at his correspondences on his own. The introduction by Waite
surveys the historical background of the Sepher Yetzirah translations
and the import of this foundational Kabbalistic text.
About the Author
R. A. Gilbert's foreword provides background information on
Waite's interest and involvement with Stenring's translation.
Knut Stenring was a Swedish Hebrew scholar. He published this work in 1923.
by W. Wynn Westcott (Author)
A selection from INTRODUCTION:
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 1ate 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
Sepher Yetzirah (Paperback: 48 pages)
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (December 30, 2005)
Sepher Yetzirah (Kindle) (Format: Kindle Edition)
File Size: 226 KB
Print Length: 112 pages
Publisher: Oak Grove (March 20, 2008)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
by Charles F. Horne (Editor)
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (December 30, 2005)