Sepher Yetzirah: The Book of Formation

Sepher Yetzirah - Book of Formation

Sepher Yetzirah
The Book of Formation And The Thirty Two Paths of Wisdom


The Sepher Yetzirah is one of the most famous of the ancient Qabalistic texts.  The name “Sepher Yetzirah,”translates as “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. Though knowledge of this pre-Kabbalistic text is purported, by the Sefer Yetzirah itself, to reside and have been used by the patriarch Abraham, its composition is more typically relegated to between the third and sixth centuries C.E.

The Sefer Yetzirah begins by telling us that God’s name, the creator is El Shaddai.  The name El Shaddai is conventionally translated as God Almighty but while the translation of El as “god” or “lord” is straightforward, the literal meaning of Shaddai is the subject of debate.

On theory suggests that the root word “shadad” (שדד) means “to overpower” or “to destroy”. Interestingly, The termination “ai“, typically signifying the first person possessive plural.  We find this in other titles for the Hebrew deity including Elohim (“gods”) and Adonai (“my lords”).   Another theory suggests that it is a derivation of a Semitic word which means mountain or mountain-dweller.  According to this theory, God is seen as inhabiting a holy mountain.  A final theory links the term Shaddai to the concept of fertility.  Regardless, El Shaddai is identified explicitly with the God of Abraham.  By the time of Moses, the concept of God had moved from being associated with mountains to the sky and God revealed himself to Moses as Yahweh.

This Rabbinical treatise is one of the earliest of Kabalistic philosophy and is one of the most important founding works of Qabalah.


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