"Sefer Yetsirah and Jewish Mysiticsm Time Line

Compiled by Robert Zucker (c) All rights reserved.

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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)

1614 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.

1615 Zalman 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.

1625 the 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,

1630 The 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)

1642, a 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.

1652 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.

1674 Johann Christoph Wagenseil published a letter from Christoph Arnold who wrote end of his "Sota hoc est Liber Mischnicus de uxore adulterii suspecta," Altdorf,

1674 p118-9., retranslated by Johann Jakob Schudt, in Frankfort, 1714, which was taken from W.E. Tentzel, 1689, p145, trans by Scholem "Kaba. Symb, p200) .

1675 Johann 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.

1682 Johann 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)

1714 or 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.

1784 nearly 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.

1797 R. 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.

1808 April 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.

1811 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.

1812 influenced by Grimm's tale, Ludwig Achim von Arnim incorporated golem into his characters. Heinrich Heine's discussion of Arnim made the golem more known.

1822 German edition of Hoffman, E. T. A., "Die Deheimnisse" (Novelle).

1830 German 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)

1860 The 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.

1869 ("Entstehung, origin, rise) der Verlagspoesie (publication, poetry, verse)" in Kleinere Schriften von Jakob Grimm, 4. Band (Berlin, 1869), p22. Translation above, Plank.

1868 "Die 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.

1877 (1873, 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.

1884 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.

1887, 1893 (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".

1888 (1887, 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.

1895 Text 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")

Next: 1900-present

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"Sefer Yetzirah"

"The Book of Formation" or "The Book of Creation"

By Aryeh Kaplan

The 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

Sepher Yetzirah

Author: W. Wynn Westcott

Sefer Yetzirah

Author: Shabbetai Donnolo

Sefer Yetzirah

Author: Isidor Kalisch

Sefer Yetzirah - El Libro de La Creacion

Sefer Yesirah (Yezirah) en espanol (in Spanish)

Author: Aryeh Kaplan

Robert Zucker's "Spirit of Kabbalah (Qabalah)" copyright 1976Kabbalah Index

My Top Choice Sefer Yetzirah Books

These are the most popular, and available, books on Sefer Yetzirah. Although other editions have been printed by other authors, it is getting harder to find them.

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

Book of Formation or Sepher Yetzirah: Attributed to Rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph

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.

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 other.

Sepher Yetzirah (Paperback: 48 pages)
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (December 30, 2005)
Language: English

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

The Sepher Yetzirah
or Book of Creation

by Charles F. Horne (Editor)

Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (December 30, 2005)
Language: English

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