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Raziel, Sefer

by Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis
An influential book of scholarly magic. Tradition credits it with be given to Adam by the angel Raziel. Heavily indebted to Greek magical papyri, the title itself is mentioned in another magical work of late antiquity, The Sword of Moses. Still, critical historians consider it a medieval work, probably having origins among the Chasidei Ashkenaz, for citations from it begin to appear only in the 13th century. Sections of it are no doubt older. The likely compiler of the medieval version is Eliezer of Worms. It draws heavily on Sefer Yetzirah and Sefer Ha-Razim. There are multiple manuscript versions, containing up to seven tractates. The printed version of Sefer Raziel, like the Torah, is divided into five books, some of it in the form of a mystical Midrash on Creation. It features an elaborate angelology, magical uses of the zodiac, gematria, the names of God, protective spells, and how to write amulets.

Article copyright 2004 Geoffrey Dennis.

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