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Kabbalistic treatise

Sefer Raziel HaMalakh (Book of Raziel the Angel)

Amsterdam, Abraham Mendes Coutinho, 1701

Printed book, 23 x 19 cm


Ouvrage kabbalistique, Sefer Raziel ha-Maleakh (livre de l’ange Raziel), Amsterdam, Abraham Mendès Coutinho, 1701

This book is a manual of practical Kabbalah, a practice close to white magic used for procuring protection, based particularly on the presumed power of divine names and certain angels. As the title page indicates: “This is the book that the angel Raziel gave to the first man.” This angel, whose name is derived from the Persian raz (secret), is said to have given Adam a magical book containing the secrets of creation three days after his expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The book is a compilation of cosmogonical texts and ancient legends and also includes numerous formulae and magical seals for making amulets. Although anonymous, it is generally attributed to an Ashkenazi scholar, Eleazar ben Juda ben Kalonymos, known as Eleazar of Worms (Mainz, 1176 – Worms, 1238), the last major representative of a group of Rhenish Jewish pietists formed in reaction to persecutions during the Crusades. There were numerous handwritten copies of this book before it was first printed in Amsterdam in 1701, the first of a long series of editions. It soon inspired Christian Kabbalists, including the Liber Razielis Archangelis written at the court of Alphonso X of Castille (1221-1284), and also influenced the Heptameron by the Italian Pietro de Abano (circa 1250-1307).

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