Foreword to Sefer Yetziryrah

Q&A and discussion on the Hermetic Qabbalah

Moderator: Moderators - Public

Foreword to Sefer Yetziryrah

Postby Jim Eshelman » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:34 am

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

It occurred to me that some of the questions whch arise from time to time about Rabbinical vs. Hermetic Qabalah, history of certain traditions, etc. are points that I've discussed in the Foreword to my translation of the Sefer Yetziyrah - and it might be useful to some if I posted that Foreword.

It seems a little strange to provide the Foreword out of the context of the work itself - but, having acknowledged that strangeness, here it is anyway.

The following is Copyright 2007 by James A. Eshelman, all rights reserved etc. Content may be quoted on this forum for the purpose of discussing it.
Last edited by Jim Eshelman on Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
Love is the law, love under will.
Yours in L.V.X.,
Jim Eshelman
www.jeshelman.com
"Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch!" - CCXX 3:42
User avatar
Jim Eshelman
Lost His Marbles
 
Posts: 9567
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:41 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Postby Jim Eshelman » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:37 am

FOREWORD

Sefer Yetziyrah, “The Book of Formation,” is the oldest known Kabbalistic text. It is the key to The Zohar, which it precedes by many centuries.

Sefer Yetziyrah is also the key to the most important attributions of the Tarot, that pictorial codification of the initiated wisdom of the Hermetic Qabalistic tradition. A long-standing teaching within the Western mystery schools, supported by abundant internal evidence, is that the Greater Arcana of Tarot were designed intentionally to conform to the technical attributions of the 22 Hebrew letters as detailed in Sefer Yetziyrah. The most important of these attributions and correspondences are summarized in an Appendix to the present monograph.

II

How old is Sefer Yetziyrah? Nobody exactly knows. Compounding the question is the fact that this small book grew over the centuries, some parts of it existing long before some of its later appendages.

We know the following:

A work called Sefer Yetziyrah is mentioned as early as the 1st century C.E., with a history that would have taken it back at least a century before. Sefer Yetziyrah also is mentioned in the Talmud, which was written down between 3rd century and very early 5th century C.E. However, there is no certainty that this early work was the same document that we know today as Sefer Yetziyrah.

As early as the 5th or 6th century C.E., the text itself was quoted in other works. What is then quoted is recognizable as part of the present manuscript.

I have come to accept the earliest of these dates (1st century B.C.E. or, in any case, a pre-Talmud date) for the following reason: The Hebrew of Sefer Yetziyrah is, almost without exception, Biblical Hebrew. It does not rely on the characteristic rabbinical vocabulary emerging in the first millennium C.E. such as was catalogued by Jastrow in his Sefer Meliym [<SPhR MLYM: Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literarure compliled by Prof. Marcus Jastrow, Ph.D. Litt. D., Philadelphia, 1903.]. This stands in sharp contrast (for example) to The 32 Paths of Wisdom, which relies heavily on the post-Diaspora rabbinical vocabulary.

The earliest surviving commentaries on Sefer Yetziyrah date from the 10th century C.E. or a little earlier. Commentaries to three versions of Sefer Yetziyrah (the Saadia, Long, and Short versions, respectively) appeared in 931, 946, and 956 C.E. The oldest surviving manuscripts of the work itself date from almost immediately thereafter. Of the four main variant versions of Sefer Yetziyrah, the oldest manuscript of the Long Version (now in the Vatican Library) dates from the 10th or 11th century; that of the Saadia Version, from the 11th century; and that of the Short Version, from the 13th century. However, earlier copies than these existed, as proven by the 10th century commentaries.

The so-called Gra-Ari Version came much later. It was edited down from numerous variant manuscript versions in the mid-16th century by Rabbi Moshe Cordevero, and later refined further by Rabbi Yitzkchak Luria, called the Ari. The resultant “Ari Version” was edited further by Rabbi Eliahu (called the Gra) in the 18th century, and was thereafter known as the Gra-Ari (or simply the Gra) Version.

III

The four main versions of Sefer Yetziyrah have more similarities than differences, although the Saadia Version differs most from the others – enormously in places, especially with regard to the arrangement of text material. It also excludes altogether much of the attributive text that is of the greatest interest to us. The other three are fairly similar, with the Short Version and Long Version being the most similar (except that the latter is, well, longer), and the Gra Version strongly resembling the Long Version (but with numerous changes of attributions to the letters).

If popularity were the issue, the Short and Gra versions would clearly rise above the others. The Short Version is probably the most frequently published, whether in ancient or modern times. In comparison, the Gra Version was the synthetic creation of Hebrew Kabbalists from the 16th to 18th centuries, who were particularly careful to bring its technical details into conformity with certain particulars of The Zohar.

It was, thus, the Gra Version that the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan used in his superb Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation in Theory & Practice. This popular work is one of the finest practical texts on the traditional Hebraic Kabbalah, and deserves every serious student’s attention.

However, those teachings that evolved into the Hermetic Qabalistic tradition of Europe, the real foundation of the whole Western Mystery Tradition from Medieval times forward, broke away from the Hebrew Kabbalah centuries before the synthetic production of the Ari Version of Sefer Yetziyrah. There is no reason to presume that the subsequent synthetic Hebraic tradition was any more true to the original teachings than were the non-Hebraic repositories of Wisdom Teachings. So far as there is significant practical difference between the Gra and Short versions of Sefer Yetziyrah, it is in the attributions by which the 22 Hebrew letters are characterized; and the Hermetic tradition, as far back as it can be traced, has employed the same attributions given in the original Short Version, not the later ones of the Ari or Gra.

IV

I first began working on this present translation in the late 1980s and published a stable version in 1996. Originally, I had a far less grand vision of where my efforts would lead. Decades back, my primary exposure to Sefer Yetziyrah involved the 1887 English translation by William Wynn Westcott (who went on, later that same year, to become one of the founders of the Order of the Golden Dawn). The brief article on Sefer Yetziyrah, written by Westcott during this same period and included in H.P. Blavatsky’s Theosophical Glossary, summarized the work as follows:

Sepher Yetzirah (Heb.). “The Book of Formation”. A very ancient Kabbalistic work ascribed to the patriarch Abraham. It illustrates the creation of the universe by analogy with the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, distributed into a triad, a heptad, and a dodecad, corresponding with the three mother letters, A, M, S, the seven planets, and the twelve signs of the Zodiac. It is written in the Neo-Hebraic of the Mishnah.

Westcott’s translation was based on several Hebrew codices cross-compared with three leading Latin manuscripts. The net effect most closely resembled a variation of the Short Version, with additional segments inserted from later editions and marked as supplemental. For many decades, Westcott’s translation was the most generally available, and the most important to any who follow in the mystical and magical footsteps of the Golden Dawn.

My initial gripe concerning Westcott’s translation was small yet pointed: When the text referred to “God,” Westcott did not always say which “God” the Hebrew texts intended. Being a budding student of Qabalah at the time, I wanted to know what the original Hebrew was for the various technical titles of Deity, including those that Westcott did not see fit to give.

Therefore, I was first and most excitedly attracted to Rabbi Kaplan’s edition, when it first appeared in 1990, because he included the complete Hebrew text of one version of the work (the Gra Version). However, through many hours of frustration, I discovered many typographical errors in his published Hebrew text (and some errors that were clearly no more than the publisher’s incorrect paste-up of the Hebrew on the page). This is unfortunate, and required a certain amount of time to catch and correct.

I was quickly able to answer my original questions about the God-Names and, along the way, developed high regard for Rabbi Kaplan’s work. To my students in the College of Thelema and Temple of Thelema I would have heartily recommended Kaplan’s volume as the definitive translation were it not for one consideration: By his reliance on the Gra Version, favored by later Hebrew Kabbalists, Kaplan was seriously at odds with the Hermetic Qabalistic tradition with respect to basic attributions of the Hebrew letters.

There is no more historical evidence that the Hermetic attributions are correct than there is that the Hebraic ones are correct. There is, however, clear documentation that the modern Hermetic (non-Hebraic) attributions are centuries older than the rabbinical model, and antiquity is the usual basis for the Hebrew Kabbalah’s claim to authenticity. The fact that a particular Kabbalistic teaching is Hebraic speaks per se neither for its authenticity nor even for its historic precedence. The Gra version of Sefer Yetziyrah preferred by Kaplan and his rabbinical colleagues was produced by a committee more than half a millennium after Sefer Yetziyrah is KNOWN to have existed. If we were to rely on the available historical record, and reasonable conclusions based thereon, we would have to conclude that the attributions of the 22 letters as listed in the Short Version are very likely the correct ones.

But we need not come to so final a conclusion. We need not even question the rabbinical approach within its own context. Ultimately, we need only assert that the initiated Hermetic Qabalistic tradition, of which Temple of Thelema is a recipient, employs a set of attributions which are those of the Short Version of Sefer Yetziyrah, and which frame a self-contained system of tremendous efficacy. We need not apologize for employing what has been proven, on many interlocking levels, to work.

Therefore, for this present edition, I relied primarily on the Gra Hebrew version published by Kaplan – the best and most complete Hebrew text of Sefer Yetziyrah [then] available to me – and altered the attributions in certain passages to conform to those given in the Short Version. When this was done, it is indicated in the footnotes. I retranslated the entire Hebrew text into English for the first edition in 1996. With the more mature perspective that time and further initiation have provided, I reviewed and revised it considerably in 2007 for this third revised edition. [Chapter titles are not in the original and have been provided by the translator.]

Chapter 4, verses 8 through 14 are among those that were added by unknown parties late in Sefer Yetziyrah's history. They summarize attributions of the seven Double Letters, and differ widely from edition to edition. The same is true for verses 7 through 10 of Chapter 5, with respect to the twelve Simple Letters. Following a long-standing Kabbalistic tradition, I also have included these verses, substituting my own preferred attributions (those that have been handed down through the esoteric Hermetic tradition). The difference between my doing it and their doing it is – that I am telling my readers what I am doing!

V

With these few explanations, I offer and dedicate this annotated translation of Sefer Yetziyrah to those who seek to know that they may serve.

James A. Eshelman
Los Angeles, California
July 29, 2007 E.V.
User avatar
Jim Eshelman
Lost His Marbles
 
Posts: 9567
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:41 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Postby daredevil92103 » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:19 am

much thanks Jim,
again you just saved me a few years of work!
from where i am in kaplans version, i agree with you on all points.
it's a great book, but like you said, it has it's flaws.
much appreciated, brother.
fraternally,
Patrick.
Fear is Failure.

"Enough of Because! Be he damned for a dog!"
-The Book of The Law
93's
daredevil92103
Silver Member
Silver Member
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:55 pm

Re: Foreword to Sefer Yetziryrah

Postby h2h » Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:57 am

Jim Eshelman wrote:It occurred to me that some of the questions whch arise from time to time about Rabbinical vs. Hermetic Qabalah, history of certain traditions, etc. are points that I've discussed in the Foreword to my translation of the Sefer Yetziyrah - and it might be useful to some if I posted that Foreword.


Thanks for the posting the above. It's very helpful to read the background on the Rabbinical vs. Hermetic Qabalah.
h2h
 

Re: Foreword to Sefer Yetziryrah

Postby dominic » Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:56 pm

I've read Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's book and find it an invaluable resource. It sheds light on many concepts when seen from a jewish perspective, as well as gnostic qabalah material gives yet another perspective, and Dion Fotune's Mystical Qabalah, another priceless work, gives a more mystical veiw (this veiw appeals to my particular nature).
Once again I've strayed greatly, fogive my writing, I attended a vocational high school followed by four years in "punk school" ( International Association of Bridege Structual Ornamental and Reenforcing Ironworkers apprenticship program), neither of wich stressed litterary skills.
Anyhow, my question is in your translation your's reads, not verbatim mind you, Mem is silent, Shin hisses... In Rabbi Kaplin's book the translation is mem hums and shin hisses. Can you help clarify this? I confess my knowledge of Hebrew is sparse. I've only recently found a Rabbi willing to teach. I thought Aleph and Ayin were silent? I only ask to learn from one whose knwledge on the subject far surpasses that of my own (and a scant bit that is!).
dominic
Forum Neophyte
Forum Neophyte
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:42 pm

Re: Foreword to Sefer Yetziryrah

Postby Jim Eshelman » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:56 pm

dominic wrote:Anyhow, my question is in your translation your's reads, not verbatim mind you, Mem is silent, Shin hisses... In Rabbi Kaplin's book the translation is mem hums and shin hisses. Can you help clarify this? I confess my knowledge of Hebrew is sparse. I've only recently found a Rabbi willing to teach. I thought Aleph and Ayin were silent?

Give me the verse and I can look it up. It's been well over a decade since I did the translation. (And I think that passage, or something similar, occurs two or three times in the book.)

Well, one place it appears is SY 2:1. The word characterizing Mem is DVMMTh. That one's easy: DVMM, doomam, means "silence."
Love is the law, love under will.
Yours in L.V.X.,
Jim Eshelman
www.jeshelman.com
"Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch!" - CCXX 3:42
User avatar
Jim Eshelman
Lost His Marbles
 
Posts: 9567
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:41 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Foreword to Sefer Yetziryrah

Postby dominic » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:19 am

Give me the verse and I can look it up. It's been well over a decade since I did the translation. (And I think that passage, or something similar, occurs two or three times in the book.)

Well, one place it appears is SY 2:1. The word characterizing Mem is DVMMTh. That one's easy: DVMM, doomam, means "silence."

IN 2:1 Kapan's translation is Mem hums, Shin hisses and Alef is the Breath of air deciding between them.
Kaplan translates as Damam (DMM), looking back at the hebrew I see DVMMTh, as in your quote above. Kaplan also uses damamah to mean hum. Mem is MM, certainly a humming sound. I'm not saying you're wrong ,you can see my hebrew is horrible. I just find this matter to of great impotance. In kaplan's translation Mem is attributed to Chokmah, and Shin to Binah, the opposite of the R.C. tradition. This is where the confuion sets in. Binah being Marah (the bitter or great sea), I have to agree with the R.C. tradition.
My main point is that the qabbalah came to us from the Jews, where did the deviation, or split occur? Are these deliberate blinds? I know these are two systems of Qaballah, the problem is the atrributions of the paths in Kaplan's system is appealing 3 Mothers for the three reciprical paths, 7 doubles for 7 horizontal paths, 12 elementals for 12 diagonal paths. I have to say I find it appealing, but when you add the tarot it all breaks down, at least for me. As an example, the reciprical path between Chesed and Gevurah is , in Kaplan's system, is Aleph the Fool, in the R.C. it is Teth Strenght (Lust in Thelema). Lust/Strength seems, to me to be a better mediator between mercy and severity, Lust being the attraction of the opposites, and Strenght is what one needs to balence the two. Not to mention (altough I guess I just did), what becomes of the concept of the Qaballistic Zero?
Also, the planetary attributions in 4:8 through 4:14 the planetary attributions are also different. B = moon, G = mars, D = Sol, K= venus, P= mercury, R= saturn, Th=jupiter. Yet the signs of the Zodiac are the same as the R.C. system and differ only form Thelema due to the revelation "Tzaddi is not the Star", where aries and aquarius are exchanged. Once more I see truth in the Thelemic system. It seems right that the mediator between the Father and the Son should be the Mother. That's how it worked in my family, when my father and I butted heads (and that was quite often) mom was the mediator. I know this is a bad example, but its the best I could come up with.
Perhaps I am making too much fo all of this. It may just be the Qabalah like humanity, the universe, and all that exists evolves over time. I may be mistaken the dead letter for the living ( thus evolving) truth. Should it not be that the glyph that represents the macro and microcosoms also be "ever becoming" ?
Once again I must repeat I AM NO INITIATE! So, I may and am almost sure I am missing some vital information. Thus the difficulty in chosing a system. I've an enormous respect for the Jewish tradition, the liniage , the continuity is awesome! Yet, something, and not just alittle something draws me back to Thelema.
I just don't get the point of blinds, I mean if you can't reveal something due to an Oath, don't mislead me, JUST TELL ME YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO DO SO and I shall ask no more. Here I do not refer to you, Jim, but to all teachers on the path.
Yours in Light and Love,
Dominic
P.S. I konw I used the term Kaplan's system in error, this is for lack of a better term. I can not say this is the Hebrew system, or any other term as I'm not a part of that tradition. Sorry for the sloppy terminology.
dominic
Forum Neophyte
Forum Neophyte
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:42 pm

Re: Foreword to Sefer Yetziryrah

Postby Alien696 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:42 am

I use a different set of trees all together. :)
Years and years ago I sat behind my screen to see an astral tree of life, yet the motion of me sitting down had the whole tree crumble before I could study it.
It however seemed to be the tree i had learned.. There after I sought to make a tree that could stand much more than such slight tremors in the astral.
As such i spec years designing all sorts of schema or drawing that incorporated the teachings of the used alphabet like a mirror. Showing, if perfect, evidence withoin itself that outdoes one's expectations massively.
The sepher is flawed imho because of the fact that they could not observe the night sky like we do and therefore where not aware of three more plants.
Fitting these obn anexisting tree of life means I must have a manifest daath or sephirah of daath there.. connected and all.
This is possible in a variety of ways.
But the most fitting is with 26 and 27 letters, albeit that the first suits the tree of knowledge much more.
Ahh well... the sepher mentions seven planets.. and not ten.. This is also mirrored in the use of the end-letters.
They all have a symbolic value attributed to them in the form of numbers.
Going from 500 to 900.
However, since there was no need to use three of these, there certainly seemed no use in the other two of the five end letters.
However, doing so get's one a tree that earths one's magick like a lightning rod.
I attest to this in that my entire life came tumbling down after i objected to the sheer flow of magical energy in my life.
I feel swamped, over burdened and flat out outdone.
Maybe this also is why the hebrew qabalists have opted for 22 instead of 27.
Alien696
Copper Member
Copper Member
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:13 am

Re: Foreword to Sefer Yetziryrah

Postby SteveM » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:00 am

Great to see a Thelemic redaction of the SY interpreted direct from the hebrew!

Thank you Jim, nice work!

SteveM

ps: Hi everybody, nice to be on board - looks to be some interesting discussions and meditation projects going on around here :)
I am a diviner, but a poor one.
SteveM
Forum Neophyte
Forum Neophyte
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:05 am
Location: Turkey, Nr, Ephesus

Re:

Postby SteveM » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:19 am

Hi Jim

Jim Eshelman wrote:and the Hermetic tradition, as far back as it can be traced, has employed the same attributions given in the original Short Version, not the later ones of the Ari or Gra.

If I am following this right this would mean that the Hermetic tradition employed the attribution of double letters to planets with reference to the planets Chaldean order?* I am not sure who you mean by those of the Hermetic tradition, but certainly the attributions of the GD et al seem unique?

SteveM

note: As I understand it there are three extent recensions, known as the Short, the Long and the saadia, that have been recognised since the 10th century. There is an extent 10th century manuscript of the long version [Vatican Library (Cat. Assemani)299(8), fols.66a-71 b), the 1263 Baghdad copy of the Saadia Gaons text and commentary originally written in 931 [Oxford, Bodleian Library Pococke 256 (Cat. Neubauer 1533)] was the oldest extent copy of the Saadia known until the discovery in the 20th century of the 10/11th century copy of the same [The Geniza Scroll, Cambridge University Library, Taylor-Schechter K21/56 + Glass 32/5 + Glass 12/813]. These are the oldest extent manuscript copies of the Long and Saadia recensions and include the attributions of the double letters to the planets in chaldean order. While the letter to planet attribution is not present in most extent short versions the order as infered from para 62 [Hayman] is also extent in at least two short version manuscripts, including the oldest extent [Param 2784.14 (Bibliotheca Palatina 2784/14). De Rossi 1390, fols.36b-38b. 1286]. Manuscripts 'A', 'C', 'Z' and 'K' in Hayman.

Sefer Yesira : 41 [Gruenwald]

Saadia [Manuscripts C and Z Hayman]:
1 He made Bet King and bound to it a crown and combined one with another, and formed of it: Saturn in the universe, the Sabbath in the year, and the mouth in the soul.
2 He made Gimel King and bound to it a crown and combined one with another, and formed of it: Jupiter in the universe, Sunday in the year, and the right eye of the soul.
3. He made Dalet King and bound to it a crown and combined one with another, and formed of it: Mars in the universe, Monday in the year, and the left eye of the soul.
4. He made Kaf King and bound to it a crown and combined one with another, and formed of it: Sun in the universe, Tuesday in the year, and the right nostril of the soul.
5. He made Peh King and bound to it a crown and combined one with another, and formed of it: Venus in the universe, Wednesday in the year, and the left nostril of the soul.
6. He made Resh King and bound to it a crown and combined one with another, and formed of it: Mercury in the universe, Thursday in the year, and the right ear of the soul.
7. He made Tav King and bound to it a crown and combined one with another, and formed of it: Moon in the universe, Friday in the year, and the left ear of the soul.

Long [Manuscript A Hayman]
1 He made Bet King and bound to it a crown and combined one with another, and formed of it: Saturn in the universe, the Sabbath in the year, and the mouth in the soul.
2 He made Gimel King and bound to it a crown and combined one with another, and formed of it: Jupiter in the universe, Sunday in the year, and the right eye of the soul.
3. He made Dalet King and bound to it a crown, and formed of it: Mars in the universe, Monday in the year, and the left eye of the soul.
4. He made Kaf King and bound to it a crown, and formed of it: Sun in the universe, Tuesday in the year, and the right nostril of the soul.
5. He made Peh King and bound to it a crown, and formed of it: Venus in the universe, Wednesday in the year, and the left nostril of the soul.
6. He made Resh King and bound to it a crown, and formed of it: Mercury in the universe, Thursday in the year, and the right ear of the soul.
7. He made Tav King and bound to it a crown, and formed of it: Moon in the universe, Friday in the year, and the left ear of the soul.

Sefer Yesirah : 62 [Gruenwald]

Manuscript K [Hayman] Short recension {attributions do not appear in majority of short version manuscripts, but do so in this the earliest extent manuscript of the short recension}:
2: Saturn, Sabbath, the mouth. --- Jupiter, Sunday, right eye. --- Mars, Monday, left eye. --- The Sun, Tuesday, right nostril. --- Venus, Wednesday, left nostril. --- Mercury, Thursday, right ear. ---Moon, Friday, left ear: these are Bet, Gimel, Dalet, Kaf, Peh, Resh and Tav.

Manuscript A [Hayman] Long recension:
Saturn, Sabbath, the mouth. --- Jupiter, Sunday, right eye. --- Mars, Monday, left eye. --- The Sun, Tuesday, right nostril. --- Venus, Wednesday, left nostril. --- Mercury, Thursday, right ear. ---Moon, Friday, left ear: these are Bet, Gimel, Dalet, Kaf, Peh, Resh and Tav.

Manuscript C [Hayman] Saadia recension
Saturn, Sabbath, the mouth. --- Jupiter, Sunday, right eye. --- Mars, Monday, left eye. --- The Sun, Tuesday, right nostril. --- Venus, Wednesday, left nostril. --- Mercury, Thursday, right ear. ---Moon, Friday, left ear: these are Bet, Gimel, Dalet, Kaf, Peh, Resh and Tav.

So the earliest extent manuscripts of the SY in all three recensions include planet to letter attributions, and they are in the Chaldean order.

Kircher, a primary source for those following the Christian Cabalistic and Hermetic Qabalistic traditions gives:

Beit - Sun
Gimel - Venus
Daleth - Mercury
Kaph - Luna
Peh - Saturn
Resh - Jupiter
Tau - Mars

[source: notes to the Sefer Yetzira by William Wynn Westcott]

(note: Kircher's planetary attributions appear in this order in para 42 and 43a [Gruenwald] of both the short and long versions of manuscripts K and A (as classified in Hayman):

para 42 and 43a:(Gruenwald)

Short version [K] And with them were carved out seven firmaments, seven earths, seven hours and seven times. Therefore he loved the seventh under heaven.

These are the seven planets in the universe: Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars. And the days in the years: the seven days of creation. And the seven apertures in mankind: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth.

Long version [A] And with them were carved out seven firmaments, seven earths, seven hours and seven days. Therefore he loved the seventh above everything under heaven.

These are the seven planets in the universe: Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars. And the seven days: the seven days of creation. And the seven apertures in mankind: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth.)


So Kircher too follows the Chaldean order, but starts with the first 7 planetary hours [counting from sunrise] of the first day of creation [the first seven hours from sunrise of Sunday].

Hayman writes [p.143]:

"Despite the fact that he was working with a defective printed text of SY...Soloman Ganz has correctly observed that the author of SY in pp 41 and 44 has "connected the seven planets in the natural order Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Venus Mercury Moon with the first seven days instead of the first hours of creation." Consequently, 42 and 43a with their reference to the "seven hours" and the order Sun Venus Mercury Moon Saturn Jupiter Mars must be "the gloss of an editor who wished to reconsile the theory of the Book of Creation with the accepted theory of the planetary week". So the later editor "mentions the seven hours and changes the sequence Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Venus Mercury Moon into the sequence Sun Venus Mercury
Moon Saturn Jupiter Mars to correspond with the first seven hours of the first day of the week".


(As pointed out by Kaplan, in biblical reckoning evening precedes day; a day thus runs from evening to evening in Jewish tradition, not morning to morning. The first 7 hours of the first day in biblical reckoning and Jewish tradition would thus be Mercury Moon Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Venus. However, Kircher is following the Christian tradition.)

Judah Ha-Levi retains the Chaldean order commencing with Saturn but gives days to correspond with accepted planetary week: 'In the year: Sabbath, Thursday, Tuesday, Sunday, Friday, Wednesday, Monday" (Kuzari 4:25, row F in table 33 on p.179 of Kaplan). Sheirat Yosef 10a gives planetary order according to the planetary week (saturday, saturn; sunday, sun; monday, moon; tuesday, mars; wednesday, mercury; thursday, jupiter; friday, venus - row G, table 33 on p.179 Kaplan).

Variations appear early on (Shabbetai Donnolo in one of the earliest of the commentaries on the SY is aware of the discrepancies and "expressed the necessity of correcting the aberrant contents of SY at this point" [Hayman]). But while it is true there is confusion in these manuscripts of the SY, it is also clear that the basis is the chaldean order with confusion specifically related to the relationship between the planetary hours and days of the week (so I find it hard to give much credence to 'historical authority' for making variations based on these apparent examples of confusion, especially with variations unrelated to the Chaldean order, which is clearly at the of all these old variations).

Then we have the Gra (18th century) redaction, the attributions of which have become the standard in Jewish Kabbalah since the late 19th century:

Beit - Moon
Gimel - Mars
Daleth - Sun
Kaph - Venus
Peh - Mercury
Resh - Saturn
Tau - Jupiter

(These attributions are used in some 20th century Spanish decks, making them as far as I am aware the only ones to correspond to any Jewish Kabbalistic redaction of the SY, albeit a late one. Decker/Dummet suggest the source for the attributions of these Spanish decks is Westcott's essay on the 'Isiac Tablet of Bembo' in which he uses the Gra attributions. They do not give their reasons for this suggestion.)

While the variations in the early version may be due to error and misunderstanding, that of the Gra redaction is as you say somewhat different, in that they were changed purposely to make them more consistent with the Zohar and teachings of the Ari (and to remove elements important in Shabbatean kabbalistic tradition, such as the attribution of Saturn to Binah) - so I think there is credible historical 'precedent' in the example of the Gra redaction. All such variations applied only to the double letters however (which may be appropriate in reference to planets as 'wandering star', in contrast to the 'fixed stars' of the zodiac), so Crowley's variation among the single letters remains without historical precent. Regardless of any historical authority however, such is secondary to the primary authority of the revelation on which the Thelemic redaction is based.

ref:
Aryeh Kaplan Sefer Yetzira (Weiser Books 1997)
Peter Hayman Sefer Yesira (2004 Mohr Siebeck, Tubingen, Germany).
William Wynn Westcott Sefer Yetzira
Ronald Decker/Michael Dummet History of the Occult Tarot
I am a diviner, but a poor one.
SteveM
Forum Neophyte
Forum Neophyte
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:05 am
Location: Turkey, Nr, Ephesus

Re:

Postby Zalthos » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:35 pm

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

It is wonderful to see such a clear, simple distinction made between the Jewish Kabbalah and the Hermetic Qabalah. I applaud your work.

Jim Eshelman wrote:... Therefore, I was first and most excitedly attracted to Rabbi Kaplan’s edition, when it first appeared in 1990, because he included the complete Hebrew text of one version of the work (the Gra Version). However, through many hours of frustration, I discovered many typographical errors in his published Hebrew text (and some errors that were clearly no more than the publisher’s incorrect paste-up of the Hebrew on the page). This is unfortunate, and required a certain amount of time to catch and correct.


Have these corrections ever been included in any of the most recent editions of Kaplan's version? Would you mind giving more insight into how you confirmed the correct God-Names?

I've always found the Medieval and Renaissance time periods to be so fascinating, with the flowering of the Arthurian Romances, Alchemy, and so much of the practical basis of all that is Western Tradition. Reading your translation has been a refreshing experience that has empowered me with reverence towards my own European heritage.

Love is the law, love under will.
Last edited by Zalthos on Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
Love is the law, love under will.
User avatar
Zalthos
Gold Member
Gold Member
 
Posts: 153
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:29 am

Re: Re:

Postby Jim Eshelman » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:23 am

Zalthos wrote:
Jim Eshelman wrote:However, through many hours of frustration, I discovered many typographical errors in his published Hebrew text (and some errors that were clearly no more than the publisher’s incorrect paste-up of the Hebrew on the page).

Have these corrections ever been included in any of the most recent editions of Kaplan's version? Did you go through all the names your self and replace letters by trail-and-error?

I haven't seen any later versions, so I don't know. I discovered them pretty much the way you discover a typo: a word is spelled wrong. (Sometimes you can see that this was physical paste-up for publication, with the correct letter twisted off to the side on white space or partially covering another letter.)
Love is the law, love under will.
Yours in L.V.X.,
Jim Eshelman
www.jeshelman.com
"Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch!" - CCXX 3:42
User avatar
Jim Eshelman
Lost His Marbles
 
Posts: 9567
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:41 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA


Return to Qabbalah

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron