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 <https://www.hermeticgoldendawn.org/Studies.htm> by Darcy Kúntz, complete with Hebrew text, notes and bibliography, is available from Holmes Publishing Group, P.O. 623, Edmonds, WA 98020. –Soror S.J. This HTML version © 1997, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.® All rights reserved. SEPHER YETZIRAH
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.
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
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 literal meaning.
The Kabalistic principles involved in the reversal of Hebrew letters,
and their substitution by others, on definite schemes, should 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 here.
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
“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 all 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 he 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 real basis.
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
- A Version by Saadiah, Ab. ben David, and three others, Mantua, 1562, 4to.
- A Version with the commentary of Rabbi Abraham F. Dior, Amsterdam,
- A Version with preface by M. ben J. Chagiz, Amsterdam, 1713, 16mo.4.
A Version, Constantinople, 1719, 8vo.
- ” ” Zolkiew, 1745, 4to.
- ” ” by Moses ben Jacob, Zozec, 1779, 4to.
- ” ” Grodno, 1806, 4to.
- ” ” Dyhernfurth, 1812, 8vo.
- ” ” Salonica, 1831, 8vo.
- 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 12, 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.
The Book of Formation
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, and Sounds.^(8)
- Ten are the ineffable Sephiroth.^(9) Twenty-two are the Letters, the
Foundation of all things; there are Three Mothers, Seven Double and
Twelve ^(10) Simple letters.
- The ineffable Sephiroth are Ten, as are the Numbers; and as there are
in man five fingers over against five, so over them is established a
covenant of strength, by word of mouth, and by the circumcision of the
- 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)
- 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
- 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.
- The Ten ineffable Sephiroth, whose ending is even as their origin,
are like as a flame arising from a burning coal. For God^(18) is
superlative in his Unity, there is none equal unto Him: what number
canst thou place before One.
- Ten are the ineffable Sephiroth; seal up thy lips lest thou speak of
them, and guard thy heart as thou considerest them; and if 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.
- 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.
- 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 fire.”^(27)
- 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 V.
Sixth; He looked below, and sealed the Depth with I V H.
Seventh; He looked forward, and sealed the East with H I V.
Eighth; He looked backward, and sealed the West with H V I.
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.
- 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.
- He hath formed, weighed, and composed with these twenty-two letters
every created thing, and the form of everything which shall hereafter be.
- These twenty-two sounds or letters are formed by the voice, impressed
on the air, and audibly modified in five places; in the throat, in the
mouth, by the tongue, through the teeth, and by the lips.^(31)
- 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.
- For He shewed the combination of these letters, each with the other;
Aleph with all, and all with Aleph; Beth with all, and all with Beth.
Thus in combining all together in pairs are produced the two hundred and
thirty-one gates of knowledge. ^(32)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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 world.
- 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.
- 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 the others.
- 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)
CHAPTER IV *
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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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 of the “Sepher
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.
- 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.
- 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
Three Mothers and Three Fathers; and thence issue Fire, Air and Water.
Three Mothers, Seven Doubles and Twelve Simple letters and sounds.
- 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 “Sepher Yetzirah.”
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.”)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- He produced Tzaddi, predominant in Taste, crowned it, combined and
formed with it Aquarius in the Year, and the gullet in Man).
- He produced Qoph, predominant in Mirth, crowned it, combined and
formed with it Pisces in the Universe, Adar in the Year, and the spleen
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
- 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 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.
- 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./
- Chaos, Hyle, The first matter.
- Formless, void, lifeless.
- The Abyss.
- Origin of the Elements.
- Earth (no seed germs).
- Differentiation of qualities.
- Mixture and combination.
/Second Order: Decad of Evolution./
- Minerals differentiate.
- Vegetable principles appear.
- Seeds germinate in moisture.
- Herbs and Trees.
- Fructification in vegetable life.
- Origin of low forms of animal life.
- Insects and Reptiles appear.
- Fishes, vertebrate life in the waters.
- Birds, vertebrate life in the air.
- Quadrupeds, vertebrate earth animals.
/Third Order: Decad of Humanity./
- Appearance of Man.
- Material human body.
- Human Soul conferred.
- Mystery of Adam and Eve.
- Complete Man as the Microcosm.
- Gift of five human faces acting exteriorly.
- Gift of five powers to the soul.
- Adam Kadmon, the Heavenly Man.
- Angelic beings.
- Man in the image of God.
/Fourth Order: World of Spheres./
- The Moon.
- The Firmament.
- The Primum Mobile.
- The Empyrean Heaven.
/Fifih Order: The Angelic World./
- Ishim–Sons of Fire.
- Beni Elohim–Angels.
/Sixth Order: The Archetype./
- 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 essence.
The Second Path is that of the Illuminating Intelligence: it is the
Crown of Creation, the Splendour of the Unity, equalling it, and it is
exalted above every head, and named by the Kabalists the Second Glory.
The Third Path is the Sanctifying Intelligence, and is the foundation of
Primordial wisdom, which is called the Creator of Faith, and its roots
are AMN; and it is the parent of Faith, from which doth Faith emanate.
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 essence.
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
The Eleventh Path is the Scintillating Intelligence, because it is the
essence of that curtain which is placed close to the order of 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 place 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 the 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 of the
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 becomes known.
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 numerations.
The Twenty-fourth Path is the Imaginative Intelligence, and it is so
called because it gives a likeness to all the similitudes which 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, by 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
The Twenty-eighth Path is called the Natural Intelligence; by it is
completed and perfected the nature of all that exists beneath the Sun.
/(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 stars.
The Thirty-first Path is the Perpetual Intelligence; but why is it so
called? Because it regulates the motions of the Sun and Moon 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 the 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.
- /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.
- /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 scholars.
- /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
- /God of Israel/. Here the word God is ALHI, which in unpointed Hebrew
might be God, or Gods, or My God.
- /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.
- /God/. In this case we have the simple form AL, EL.
- /Sepharim./ SPRIM, the plural masculine of SPR, commonly translated
/book/ or /letter/: the meaning here is plainly “forms of expression.”
- /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, Saypar.
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.”
- /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 sacred
- 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, Amen.
- 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.
- Rittangelius gives “replace the formative power upon his throne.”
Postellus gives restore the device to its place.”
- /Abyss/; the word is OUMQ for OMQ, a depth, vastness, or valley.
- My Hermetic rituals explained this Yetziratic attribution.
- /The Lord the only God./ The words are ADUN IChID AL, or “Adonai (as
commonly written) the only El.”
- /Seat./ The word is MOUN, dwelling, habitation, or throne.
- /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
- /God/; the Divine name here is Jehovah.
- 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, kerubic forms.
- 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.”
- AL ChI H OULMIM; “the Living God of Ages”; here the word God really
is in the singular.
- 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.
- Formless and Void. THU and BHU; these two words occur in Genesis i.
2, and are translated “waste and void.”
- 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.
- 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.
- Three. In the first edition I overlooked this word /three/; and
putting /and/ for /as/, made four classes of serving beings.
- This is verse 4 of Psalm civ.
- 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
- 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.
- /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.
- This is the modern classification of the letters into guttural,
palatal, lingual, dental and labial sounds.
- /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
- /Non-existent/; the word is AIN, nothingness. Ain precedes Ain Suph,
boundlessness; and Ain Suph Aur, Boundless Light.
- /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.
- 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
- /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 iv. 2.
- /Were produced/. The Hebrew word BRA, is the root. Three Hebrew
words are used in the Bible to represent the idea of making, producing
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.”
/Emanation./ /Shin./ /Aleph./ /Mem./
Macrocosm. Primal Fire. Spirit. Primal Water.
Universe. Heavens. Atmosphere. The Earth.
Elements. Terrestrial Fire. Air. Water.
Man. Head. Chest. Belly.
Year. Heat. Temperate. Cold.
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.
- 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. 2×1=2, 2×3=6, 6×4=24, 24×5=120,
- In associating the particular letters to each planet the learned
Jesuit Athanasius Kircher allots Beth to the Sun, Gimel to 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
- 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.
- 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 (Dominatio)–servitus.
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.
- It is necessary to avoid confusion between these letters; different
authors translate them in different manners. Heh or Hé not 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.
- Postellus gives /suspicion/ and Pistorius, /mind/.
- These letters are the initials of the 12 Zodiacal signs in Hebrew
nomenclature. They are:
Teth Telah Aries Mem Maznim Libra
Shin Shor Taurus Oin Oqereb Scorpio
Tau Thaumim Gemini Qoph Qesheth Sagittarius
Samech Sartan Cancer Gimel Gedi Capricornus
Aleph Aryeh Leo Daleth Dali Aquarius
Beth Bethuleh Virgo Daleth Dagim Pisces
- The month Nisan begins about March 29th. Yiar is also written Iyar,
and Aiar: the Hebrew letters are AIIR.
- The list of organs varies. All agree in two hands, two feet, two
kidneys, liver, gall and spleen. Postellus then gives, intestina,
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
- 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
- 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.
- /Happiness/, or a /good end/, or simply /good/, TUBH.
- /Misery/, or an /evil end/, or simply /evil/, ROH.
- 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.
- /God/. In this case the name is AL, EL.
- This last paragraph is generally considered to be less ancient than
the remainder of the treatise, and by another author.
- 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.”
- /Him/. Rittangelius gives “credidit in Tetragrammaton,” but this
word is not in the Hebrew.
- /Tongue./ The verbal covenant.
- /Speech/. The Hebrew has “upon his tongue.”
- 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
- The Highest Crown is Kether, the First Sephira, the first emanation
from the Ain Suph Aur, the Limit-less Light.
- Binah, or Understanding, is the Third Sephira.
- Chokmah, Wisdom, is the Second Sephira.
- Gedulah is a synonym of Chesed, Mercy, the Fourth Sephira.
- Metatron, the Intelligence of the First Sephira, and the reputed
guide of Moses.
- This word is from ChZCh, a seer, seership. Chazuth is a vision.
- 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 Paths.