Zohar (זוֹהִר, i.e., light) is the name of the standard and code of the cabalistic system, and has been called "the Bible of the cabalists." The titles of the book vary: Midrash of R. Simnon ben-Jochia, from its reputed author; Midrash, Let there be light, from the words in Ge 1:4; but more commonly Sepher haz-Zohar, from Da 12:3, where the word Zohar is used for "the brightness of the firmament." The title in full is, Sepher haz-Zohar al hat-Torah, me-ish Elohim Kodesh, hu nore meod hat-tana R. Simon ben-Jochai, etc., i.e., "The book of Splendor on the Law, by the very holy and venerable man of God, the Tanaite rabbi, Simon ben-Jochai, of blessed memory."
I. Contents. — The body of the work takes the form of a commentary, extending over the Pentateuch, of a highly mystic and allegorical character. But the Zohar is not considered complete without the addition of certain appendices, attributed either to the same author, or to some of his personal or successional disciples. These supplementary portions are,
1. Siphra de Tseniutha (מפרא ד צניעותא), — i.e., "the book of mysteries," given in volume 2, pages 176b-178b. It contains five chapters, and is chiefly occupied with discussing the, questions involved in the creation. It has been translated into Latin by K. v. Rosenroth, in the second volume of Lis Kabbala Denudata (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1684).
2. Iddera Rabba (אדרא רבא), i.e., "the Great Assembly," referring to the community or college of Simon's disciples, in their conferences for cabalistic discussion. It is generally found in volume 3, pages 1217b-145a, and has also been translated into Latin by Rosenroth, 1.c. SEE IDDERA.
3. Iddera Zuta (אדרא זוטא ), i.e., "the Small Assembly," referring to the few disciples who still assembled for cabalistic discussion towards the end of their master's life, or, after his decease. Tills treatise is given in 3:287b- 296b (ed. Amsterdam, 1805), and is also found in Latin in the Kabbala Denudata, l.c. To these three larger appendices are added fifteen other minor fragments, viz.:
4. Saba (סבא), "the aged man," also called Saba demishpatim (סבא דמשפטים), or the discourse of the aged in mishpatim, given in 2:94a-114a. The aged is the prophet Elias, who holds converse with R. Simon ben-Jochai about the doctrine of metempsychosis, and the discussion is attached to the Sabbatic section, called משפטי. i.e., Exodus 21:1-24:18.
5. Midrash Ruth (מדרש רות), a fragment.
6. Sepher hab-bahir (ספר הבהיר), "the book of clear light."
7 and 8. Tosephta and Mattanitan (תוספתא and מתניתן), or "small additional pieces," which are found in the three volumes.
9. Raia mehemna (רעיא מהימנא), "the faithful shepherd," found in the second and third volumes.
10. Hekaloth (היכלות), i.e., "the palaces," found in the first and second volumes, treats of the topographical structure of paradise and hell.
11. Sithre Torah (סתרי תורה), "the secrets of the law."
12. Midrash han-neelam (מדרש הנעלם), i.e. "the concealed treatise." 13. Raze de Razin (רזי דרזין)1 , i.e., "mysteries of the mysteries," contained in 2:70a-75a.
14. Midrash Chazith (מדרש חזית), on the Song of Songs.
15. Maamar ta Chazi (מאמר תא חזי ), a discourse, so entitled from the first words "come and see.''
16. Yan-uka (ינוקא), i.e., "the Youth," and is given in 3:186a-192.
17. Pekuda (פקדא), i.e., "illustrations of the law."
18. Chibbura kadmaah (חבורא קדמאה), i.e., "the early work." The body of the work is sometimes called Zohar Gadol (זוהר גדול), and the other portions Zohar Katoon (זוהר קטון). The editio princeps is that of Mantua (1558-1560, 3 volumes), which has often been reprinted. The best edition of the book of Zohar is that by Christian Knorr von Rosenroth, with Jewish commentaries (Sulzbach, 1684, fol.), to which his rare Kabbala Denudata (1677-1684, 4to) forms an ample introduction. This edition was reprinted with an additional index of matters (Amsterdam,,1714, 1728, 1772, 1805, 3 volumes 8vo). To this last- mentioned issue the references in this article apply. The latest editions are those of Breslau (1866, 3 volumes, large 8vo), Brody (1873, 3 volumes 8vo).
II. Authorship. — The Zohar pretends to be a revelation from God, communicated through R. Simon ben-Jochai (q.v.), to his select disciples, according to the Iddera Zuta (Zohar, 3:287b). This declaration and the repeated representation of R. Simon ben-Jochai, as speaking and teaching. throughout this production, made R. Simon the author of it, an opinion maintained not only by Jews for centuries, but even by such distinguished Christian scholars as Lightfoot, Gill (A Dissertation concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowel-points, and Accents: Lond. 1767), Bartolocci (Magna Bibl. Rabb. 4:230 sq.); Pfeiffer (Critica Sacra), Knorr von Rosenroth (Kabbala Denudata), Molitor (Philosophy of History, volume 3, Munster, 1839), Franck (La Kabbale, Germ. transl. by A. Jellinek, Leipsic, 1844), and Etheridge (Introduction to Hebrew Literatture, Lond. 1856, page 314). On the other hand it has been clearly demonstrated by such scholars as Zunz (Gottesdienstl. Vortrage, Berlin, 1831, page 405), Geiger (Melo Chofnajim, ibid. 1840, introd. page 17), Sachs (Religiose Poesie der Juden in Spanien, ibid. 1845, page 327), Jellinek (Moses ben-Shem-Tob de Leon, Leipsic, 1851), Gratz (Gesch. d. Juden, ibid. 1863, 7:73-87; 442-459; 487-50,7),. Steinschneider (Jeuish Literature, Lond. 1857, pages 104-122; 249-309), Ginsburg (The Kabbalah, pages 85-93), and a host of others, that it is not the production of R. Simon, but of the 13th century, by Moses de Leon (q.v.). For Simon ben-Jochai was a pupil of R. Akibah; but the earliest mention of the book's existence occurs in the year 1290; and the anachronisms of its style, and of the facts referred to, together with the circumstance that it speaks of the vowelpoints and other Masoretic inventions, which are clearly posterior to the Talmud justify J. Morinus (although too often extravagant in his wilful attempts to depreciate the antiquity of the later Jewish writings) in asserting that the author could not have lived much before the year 1000 of the Christian era (Exercitationaes Biblicae, pages 358-369). This later view of the authorship is sustained by the following reasons,
1. The Zohar most fulsomely praises its own author, calls him the Sacred Light (בוצניא קדישא), and exalts him above Moses, "the true shepherd" (Zohar, iii, 132n, 144a), while the disciples deify R. Simon (ii, 38a).
2. The Zohar quotes and mystically explains the Hebrew vowel-points (1:16b, 24b; 2:116a; 3:65a), which were introduced for the first time by R. Mocha of Palestine (q.v.).
3. The Zohar (רעיא מהימנה, "the faithful shepherd") — borrowed two verses (sect. קדושים, 3:82b) from Ibn Gabirol's (q.v.) celebrated hymn, "the royal diadem" (כתר מלכות ); comp. Sachs, l.c. page 229.
4. The Zohar (1:18b, 23a) quotes and explains the interchange, on the outside of the Mezuza (q.v.), of the words (יהוה אלהינו יהוה) Jehovah our God is Jehovah for (כוזו במוכסז כוזו ), Kuza Bemuchsaz Kuza, by substituting for each letter its immediate predecessor in the alphabet, which was transplanted from France into Spain in the 13th century (Ginsburg).
5. The Zohar (3:232b) uses the expression Esnoga which is a Portuguese corruption of synagogue, and explains it in a cabalistic manner as a compound of two Hebrew words, i.e., אש נוגה, brilliant light.
6. The Zohar (2:32a) mentions the Crusades, the momentary taking of Jerusalem by the Crausaders from the Infidels, and the retaking of it by the Saracens.
7. The Zohar records events which transpired A.D. 1264.
8. The doctrine of the En-Soph and the Sephiroth (q.v.), as well as the metempsychosian retribution, were not known before the 13th century.
9. The very existence of the Zohar, according to the stanch cabalist Jehudah Chayoth (fl. 1500), was unknown to such distinguished cabalists as Nachmanides (q.v. and Ben-Adereth (1235-1310); the first who mentions it is Todros Abulafia (1234-1306).
10. Isaac of Akko (fl. 1290) affirms that "the Zohar was put into the world from the head of a Spaniard." To the same effect is the testimony of Joseph ibn-Wakkarl, who, in speaking of later books which may be relied upon, recommends only those of Moses Nachmanides and Todros Abulafia, "but," he adds, "the Zohar is full of errors, and one must take care not to be misled by them." This, says Dr. Steinschneider, "is an impartial and indirect testimony that the Zohar was recognised scarcely fifty years after its appearing as one of the 'latter' works, and not attributed to Simon ben- Jocha " (Jewish Literature, page 113).
11. That Moses de Leon was the author of the Zohar, we have already stated in the art. MOSES EZ LEON, and the account given there is confirmed in the most remarkable manner by the fact that —
12. The Zohar contains whole passages which Moses de Leon translated into Aramaic, from his works, e.g. ס8 המשקל, ס8 הרמון, as the erudite Jellinek has demonstrated in his Moses de Leon, page 21 sq.; comp. also Gratz, 1.c. page 498 (2d ed. 1873, page 477 sq.). It is for these and many other reasons that the Zohar is now regarded as a pseudograph of the 13th century, and that Moses de Leon should have palmed the Zohar upon Simon benJochai was nothing remarkable, since this rabbi is regarded by tradition as the embodiment of mysticism.
III. Diffusion and Influence of the Book. — The birth of the Zohar formed the great landmark in the development of the cabala, and the history of this theosophy divides itself into two periods, the pre-Zohar period, and the post-Zohar period. During these two periods different schools developed themselves, which Dr. Gratz classifies as follows:
1. The School of Gerona. — To this school, which is the cradle of the cabala, belong Isaac the Blind (fl. 1190-1210) (q.v.), Ezra and Azariel his disciples, Jehudah b. Jakar, his pupil Moses Nachmanides (q.v.), and Jacob ben-Sheshet (q.v.). The characteristic feature of this school is that it, for the first time, established and developed the doctrine of the En Soph (אין סוŠ), the Sephiroth (ספירות ), metempsychosis (סוד העבור), with the doctrine of retribution (סוד משיח) belonging thereto, and a peculiar christology (סוד משיח). It is the creative school; the cabalistic mode of exegesis is still subordinate in it.
2. The School of Segovia. — To this school belong Jacob of Segovia, his two sons Isaac and Jacob, jr., Moses ben-Simon of Burgos, Isaac ben- Todros, teacher of Shem-Tob Ibn Gaon (d. 1332), Todros Abulafia (d. 1305), and his son Joseph, the author of מערכת אלהות, and Isaac of Akko (fl. 1290). It is the exegetical school, endeavoring to interpret the Bible and the Hagada perfas et nefas in accordance with the cabala.
3. The Quasi-Philosophical School of Isaac ben-Latif or Allatif (q.v.), which in its doctrines stands isolated.
4. The School of Abulafia, so called after Abulafia, the founder (born in 1240, and died about 1292). To this school also belonged Joseph Gikatilla ben-Abraham (fl. 1260). The characteristics of this school are the stress laid on the extensive use of the exegetical rules called Gematria (גמטריא), Notaricon (נוטריקון) (q.v.), and Ziruph (צירוŠ). In this employment of commutations, permutations, and reduction of each letter in every word to its numerical value, Abulafia and his followers are not original.
5. The Zohar School, which is a combination and absorption of the different features and doctrines of all the previous schools, without any plan or method; and we must not be surprised at the wild speculations which we so often find in the writings of the post-Zohar period. In Spain especially the study of the Zohar took deep root, and found its way to Italy, Palestine, and Poland.
As it penetrated all branches of life and literature, voices were also raised against the Zohar. The first among the Jews who opposed its authority was Elia del Medigo, of Candia, who, in his philosophical treatise entitled An Examination of the Law (בחינת הדת), which he wrote in 1491, brings forth three arguments against the genuineness of the Zohar, but his voice and those of others had no power to check the rapid progress of the cabala. One of the most daring opponents was Leon da Modena (q.v.). In the meantime the Zohar had been published; Christians became somewhat acquainted with its contents by the extracts of the Zohar translated into Latin by Joseph de Voisin, in his Disputatio Cabalistica (Paris, 1635), and afterwards by the celebrated work entitled The Unveiled Cabalah, or Kabbala Denudata of Knorr v. Rosenroth (Sulzbach, 1677-78, 2 volumes; Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1684). With the 18th century a new sera in the criticism of the Zohar commenced, and without quoting the different scholars who made the criticism of the Zohar their special study, we can only state, what has already been said above, that almost the unanimous result of criticism is that the Zohar was not written, as has hitherto been believed, by R. Simon ben-Jochaim but by Moses de Leon.
IV. Literature. — Besides the authorities already quoted, we will mention Furst, Bibl. Jud. 3:329-335; Jellinek, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Kabbala (Leipsic, 1852); Ben-Chananja, volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, where a most thorough and instructive analysis of the Zohar is given by Ignatz Stern (Szegedin, 1858-61); Jost, Gesch. d. Judenthums u.s. Sekten, 3:70 sq.; Munk, Melanges de Philosophie Juive et Arabe (Paris, 1859), page 275 sq.; Pauli, The Great Mystery, or How can Three be One (London, 1863), an endeavor to prove the doctrine of the Trinity from the Zohar; Wuinsche, Die Leiden des Messias (Leipsic, 1870), page 95 sq., gives some passages relating to the atonement and the Messiah. See also the article in the Theol. Universallexikon (B.P.)
V. Doctrines. — The treatise of the Zohar is difficult and fantastic, embracing, moreover, not merely the origin of the world, but likewise speculating on the essence of God and the properties of man; in other words, covering at once cosmology, theology, and anthropology. It sets out with the conception of divinity as the self-existing, eternal, all- embracing first cause, the active as well as passive principle of all being, for which thought has no adequate measure, or language a fit name, although, while other systems have therefore styled it the great Naught or Void, the Zohar terms it the Boundless or Infinite (אֶון סוֹŠ). Deity at length emerges from this absolutism and reveals itself, i.e., becomes at once active and capable of being known; and thus, through the division of its essence into attributes (which before did not separately exist, because they imply a reduction incompatible with the absolute), is established a connection between the infinite and the finite, or real creator. These attributes are ten, called Sephiroth (ספַירוֹת, numbers), constituting so many vessels of the infinite, which contain and are forms of its manifestation, subject always to the contained, like colored glasses that receive the light and irradiate it. The impartation of the contents — in other words, the creation of the Sephiroth, is thus also beaming or emanation; a fundamental principle of the speculation, as we shall see. The idea is further illustrated by various figurative applications, e.g. the cube, with its three dimensions and six surfaces, making up the perfect decade; and so man, with his limbs (the ten Sephiroth hence being sometimes designated as the first man, אָדָם קִדמוֹן, or ideal form of divinity, in accordance with Eze 1:26; Da 7:13), whose shape is represented by the so-called "cabalistic tree" as follows:
3. בַּינָה (Intelligence). 2. חָכַמָה (Wisdom).
5. דַּין (Judgment). 4. חֶסֶד (Mercy).
6. תַּפַאֶרֶת (Beauty).
8. הוֹד (Majesty). 7. נֶצִח (Splendor).
9. יסוֹד (Foundation).
10. מִלכוּת (Kingdoms)
To each of these Sephiroth correspond certain appellations of the Deity. To the first, which is the concentration and partial development of all the others (called also figuratively the old or the long face, אֲרַיך אִנפַּון , a title indicative of personality), is assigned the undefined name אֶהיֶה, "I am." The second and third are the active and passive forms of being growing out of the first, and are considered as the male (father) and female (mother), the knowing and the known, the subject and the object, which with their result, perception (דִּעִת, included as a son or product), or else with the unit at the head, make up the metaphysical trinity of the divine essence. To these are attributed the sacred names יָהּ, Jah, and יהֵוַה, Jehovih; and they constitute the shoulders of the mystical body. The fourth and fifth (equivalent to Grace and Right, also called Greatness, גּדוֹלָה, and Power, גּבוּרָה) represent the arms (still duplicate, or male and female, active and passive, external and internal, soul and body, like all the others), with the sixth as an intermediate principle combining them, like the heart. These correspond to the higher or ethical principles, and are respectively designated by the sacred epithets, אֵל El, אֵֹלהַים, Elohim, and יַהוֹד, Jehovah (otherwise שִׁדִּי, Shaddai). The lower, or physical trinity, consisting of the seventh, eighth, and ninth Sephiroth (equivalent to Radiance [according to another exposition, Triumph], Glory, and Stability), and respectively corresponding to the divine appellations יהוֹה צבָאוֹת, Jehovah Sabaoth, אֵֹלהֵי צבָאוֹת, Elohe Sabaoth, and אֶל חִי, El Chai, represent the hips and genitals of the body, and are apparently the symbols of motion, quantity, and strength. The last Sephirah, to which the name אֲדֹנָי , Adonai, is attached, is a sort of joint conception of all the others, as the feet or basis of the whole.
By further combinations of the different Sephiroth according to the above diagram or chart, the male triad (Nos. 2, 4, 7), or right column, separates from the female triad (3, 5, 8), or left column; but the middle column (Nos. 1, 6, 10), in which No. 9 is omitted, or included in No. 10, gives three fundamental conceptions, namely, absolute existence, ideal existence, and immanent strength, as the three phases of pre-worldly existence; or, if preferred, the three conceptions of Matter, Thought, and Life. In this connection, the sixth Sephirah is sometimes called the King or Messiah; and the tenth, the Queen or Matron, q.d. inhabitation (שׁכַינָה). These two are also called the two persons (פִּרַצוּפַין, i.e., πρόσωπα). Elsewhere there are five persons counted, the first three Sephiroth being added to these (in both enumeriations the residue are included under those named). If we notice that the 6th, as a consequence of the 2d, is called Son, and the 10th, as a consequence of the 3d, the Spirit (the latter is also considered as female or mother), we will find at once the point of contact of the Gnostic speculation with the Christian, and also the unsolved question of the manner of this connection.
These ten sephiroth or "vessels" (כֵּלַים) of the Infinite, in so far as they are considered at once in their pluratlity and in their unity, are also called a world (עוֹלָם), and, in contradistiniction from the other worlds, of which we will speak hereafter, the world of effluence (or emanation, אִצַּילוּת). This does not mean to imply that the origin of things outside of that world was in any special manner different from it, which would render the system inconsistent, but rather seeks to establish between the infinite and matter what is the object of every system of emanation — a medium by which, in spite of distance (in every sense of the word, not merely with regard to space) between effect and cause, this working could be understood. Now this medium is established by the two middle worlds, namely, the world of creation (בּרַייאָה) and the world of formation (יצַירָה ), in which we are not yet led to substantial elements. The first is described as the world of the pure spirit, the latter as that of the angels or heavenly bodies. We can already perceive by this distinction that neither of these names is to be taken in its popular acceptance. In fact, the one treats of ideas, the other of power, physical as well as ethic, but not of actual beings. In both worlds the decade is again found as a representative element. Each is considered as ma production of the preceding, which is therein improved, and, at the same time. reflects the original light in a more diffuse and imperfect manner, each also establishing for itself a new unity. Neither must we understand the expressions "creation " and "formation in their common acceptance. There is no mention made in either of any pre-existing matter, or a creation from nothing as usually understood. The Cabalist generally speaks of such, but mean thereby the original void, the En-soph, i.e., the absolute, which is the source of the whole metaphysics. But as by this the pre-existence of all things is implied, we consequently arrive at the principle of the immutability of existing things, while by means of the parallel propositions that these are the same, notwithstanding the mode of their origin, there is established a relative independence, which contains the possibility and cause of the fall and corruption of mind and nature.
This point, however, belongs to the obscure parts of the system, as it does not agree well with the premises, and the modern formula of its explanation has not yet been found (but, on the contrary, a different one, if we are to consider the fall as a materialization itself). Generally it is just ill the cosmology we find the greatest obscurity, the least development, so much so that the question as to its being absolutely or only relatively pantheistic is not yet decided. It is also in this part of the system that the poetic garb of personification is the most abundant; for instance, when the stars are represented as the hieroglyphics of the active (speaking divinity). It is often perplexing; as, for instance, when a number of angels' names, virtues, natural forces, etc., become personified as regents of separate spheres of the universe. We will here remark that the second world is called also the throne of God; the divine, spiritual element of it, which other philosophical systems would perhaps call the soul of the world, is here called Sandalphon (συνάδελφος). It is similar to the third world, that of the natural forces, or the assembling, governing principle, and is then called the angel Metatron (מֵטָטַרוֹן, i.e., μετὰ θρόνον). The expression "throne" brings us back to Ezekiel, from whose well-known vision the figurative expressions are here employed; so that the first world represents the Glory, and the third the four beasts. These are followed by the four wheels of God's chariot, by the fourth world, or that of action (עֲשַיָּה), i.e., the material, the rind of the spiritual, the residium of the substance of the divine light, As we had just now tell classes of angels, which were leaders of the natural and vital forces, and which were retained in the ethic sense, although not to be considered as endowed with personality, or as angels popularly so called, so are there also ten classes of devils as integuments of existence, i.e., as limits to intelligence and life. These last ten Sephiroth are, first, Wilderness (תֹּהוּ), Void (בֹּהוּ), and Darkness (חשֵׁך); then the seven houses of corruption (the lapse). Their chief, or principal unity, is Sammael (poison-god), the angel of death; next to him, as personification of evil, is the harlot, the former representing the active, the other the passive conception of the idea; while both, as a whole, are called the beast (חֵיוָא) From. all these metaphysical ground-ideas spring original views of the mature and destiny of man. From the foregoing scheme itself it follows, in, short, that man, in the union of his soul and body, is a representation of the universe, a microcosm, while his body is, a raiment of his soul, as the world is of God; and this comparison is sometimes carried out with a greater number of poetical figures. But as more closely united to God himself, according to his divine essence, main in this system attains a higher standing, as was indicated from the first; for the self-manifesting divinity itself was called the original man, because all nature could produce no more noble image for the idea. Thus man is next the image of God, and, like him, a unit and a triad, the latter being spirit (נשָׁמָה), soul (רוּחִ), and life (נֶפֶשׁ). The first is the principle of thought, the second of feeling, the third of, passions and instincts (we think the last call be so understood, although some consider it as a coarser organ of the soul, and some even as the body; at all events, the material substance is not meant thereby). All three are likewise unmistakable consequences of the three middle Sephiroth, from which they at the same time derive their relative dignity. By this, what we may call the pre-existence of the soul is established, and not only it, but also, in one sense, the pre-existence of the body so far as it is a prototype of corporealness — and even of a particular one for each, therefore called in later days יחַידָה (individual). The entrance into life, and the latter itself, are not considered as an evil or as a state of exile, although the souls would certainly prefer remaining always with God. It is a means of education for the soul, and of redemption for the world: for while the spirit descends even to being mixed up with matter, it still possesses at one point a clear consciousness of itself and of its origin, and is thus the more eager to return to its former position; but, on the other hand, it elevates the matter with which it is combined, enlightening and purifying it. God knows beforehand the destiny of each individual soul, so far at least as it will be affected by this combination with matter, but he does not determine that destiny. In other words, the Cabalist does not speak of predestination, nor, on the other hand, does he solve the problem of the relation between free- will and omniscience; but, in order to afford full scope to this free-will, and yet maintain the apokatastasis, or restoration (a consequence of its fundamental idea), it introduces the wandering (גַּלגּוּל) of the soul, i.e., an infinite range of probationary life, which is to end only on reaching the aim above mentioned. The souls in their pre-worldly existence are already male and female, and even bound in couples; appearing sometimes to enter into life separately, but they will unite again in matrimony, by which they are completed and merged into one essence: thus they strive jointly towards the great end, which is their junction in heaven, in the temple of love (הֵיכִל אִהֲבָה), with God, who takes them to himself with a kiss (earthly death); and by perfecting themselves in him in thought and in will they become partakers of eternal holiness.
See Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v. "Kabbalah," and comp. Aharon Selig, עִמּוּדֶי שֶׁבִע (Cracow, 1636), which is a full commentary on the Zohar. SEE CABALA.