Abulafia, Abraham Ben-samuel

Abulafia, Abraham Ben-Samuel, the founder of, a Cabalistic school called the school of Abulafia, was born at Saragossa in 1240, and died about 1292. For thirty years he devoted himself to the study of the Bible, the Talmud, philology, philosophy, and medicine, making himself master of the then existing philosophical writings. Finding no comfort in philosophy, he gave himself entirely to the mysteries of the Cabala in their most fantastic extremes. At Urbino, he published in 1279 a prophecy, in which he records his conversations with the Deity, calling himself Raziel and Zechariah, because their names were numerically the same as his own name (Abraham =248), and preached the doctrines of the Cabala. In 1281 he undertook to convert the pope, Martin IV, to Judaism, for which he was thrown into prison, and narrowly escaped a martyr's death by fire. Seeing that his holiness refused to embrace Judaism, Abulafia went to Sicily, accompanied by several of his disciples. In Messina he imagined that it was revealed to him that he was the Messiah, a belief which he published in 1284, together with the announcement that the restoration of Israel would take place in 1296, and so great was the faith which the people reposed in it that thousands prepared themselves for returning to Palestine. Those, however, who did not believe in him raised such a violent storm of opposition against him that he had to escape to the island of Comino, near Malta (cir. 1288), where he remained for some time, and wrote sundry Cabalistic works. Of his many works only the Seven Paths of the Law, (שבע נתיבות התורה ) has as yet been published, namely, by A. Jellinek, in his Auswahl kabbalistischer Mystik (Leips. 1853), pt. 1, p. 13, etc. See Furst, Bibl. Jud. i, 16; De' Rossi, Dizionario Storico (Germ. transl.), p. 25; Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden, 7:208-213; Jost, Gesch. d. Judenth. u. s. Seken., 3, 75; Ginsburg, The Kabbalah, p. 114 sq.; Landauer, in the Literaturblatt d. Or. 1845, No. 24, 27; Steinschneider, Jewish Literature, p. 111, 112. (B. P.)

 
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