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The Boundaries of Divine Ontology: The Inclusion and Exclusion of Meṭaṭron in the Godhead*

  • Daniel Abrams (a1)

One of the central aspects of Jewish theology, and Jewish mysticism in particular, is the conception of the nature of God's being and the appearance of the divine before humanity. No one view has dominated the spectrum of Jewish interpretations, since the biblical text is the only common frame for the wide variety of speculations. At issue is whether the one God depicted in the Hebrew Bible is manifest to humans directly or through the agency of a divine, semidivine, or created power. Even the nature of angelic figures in the Bible remains a matter of debate, both in its original context and through later interpretations. Does the angelic figure physically represent God's form, or is it a literary device that metaphorically describes God's presence? The same is true of divine anthropomorphism in the Bible. Do the descriptions of God's hands or feet imply that God possesses a definite shape similar to that of human bodies, or should these descriptions also be viewed metaphorically, reinforcing a similar view to that expressed about angelic figures: no physical characteristics can be attributed to anything heavenly or divine? Finally, how does this accord with the spatial manifestation of God in the tabernacle through his kavod or glory?

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1 See for example, Levine, Baruch, “On the Presence of God in Biblical Religion,” in Neusner, Jacob, ed., Religions in Antiquity: Essays in Memory of Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough (Leiden: Brill, 1968) 7187.

2 Fishbane, Michael, “The Measures of God's Glory in the Ancient Midrash,” in Grünwald, Ithamar, ed., Messiah and Christos: Studies in Jewish Origins of Christianity Presented to David Flusser (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1992) 5374.

3 See the profound discussion of Smith, Morton (“The Image of God: Notes on the Hellenization of Judaism, with Especial Reference to Goodenough's work on Jewish Symbols,” BJRL 40 [1985] 473512, esp. 473–81), who offers many examples in rabbinic literature of the dynamic between the three. Of note is the text of the Passover Haggada which stresses that according to the biblical account of the Exodus from Egypt, God alone, without the assistance of any celestial being, performed the miracle. See the opposing midrashim on this issue contained in the Bird's Head Haggada and the later gloss proclaiming the contradiction and errant view, Goldschmidt, Daniel, “The Text of the Bird's Head Haggada,” in The Bird's Head Haggada of the Bezalel National Art Museum in Jerusalem, vol. 2: Introductory Volume (Jerusalem: Tarshish, 1967) 116–17. I would like to thank Tamar Abrams for this reference. See further, Judah Goldin, “Not By Means of an Angel and Not by Means of a Messenger,” in Neusner, Religions in Antiquity, 412–24.

4 See Idel, Moshe, “Enoch is Meṭaṭron,” Immanuel 24/25 (1990) 220–40; and idem, “Meṭaṭron—Comments on the Development of Jewish Myth,” in Ḥaviva Pediah, ed., Myth in Jewish Thought (Ber Sheva: Ber Sheva University Press, forthcoming) [Hebrew]. While the former study focuses on the boundaries between human and angel, the latter emphasizes the nature of the angel as a manifestation or extension of God, a point that will be explored in the present study through different and later texts. On the association of the divine “face” with angelic manifestations, see EleḤazar ha-Darshan (Sefer Gematriol, Munich MS 221, 157a): “the numerical equivalent of ‘his face’ is ‘the angels’ [= 146]”; אידםסיב ויבפ סכאלםך.

5 The depiction of this event in 3 Enoch is also ambiguous. See Schäfer, Peter, ed., Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1981) 1011 (§20); and Elior, Rachel, ed., Hekhalot Zuṭarti (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1992) 23. See further Schäfer, Peter, The Hidden and Manifest God (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992) 74; bar Azri’el, R. Abraham, Arugat ha-Bosem (ed. Urbach, Efraim E.; 4 vols.; Jerusalem: Mekiẓe Nirdamim, 1947) 2. 195; and Kuyt, Annelies, “Heavenly Journeys in Hekhalot, The Yeridah: Towards a Description of its Terminology, Place, Function and Nature” (Ph.D. diss., University of Amsterdam, 1991) 234–36.

6 See below nn. 7–11 for a bibliography concerning the various studies. Most interesting is Gedaliahu Stroumsa's explanation of the appellation “other” against a possible gnostic background. See his article, “Aḥer: A Gnostic,” in Layton, Bentley, ed., The Rediscovery of Gnosticism (2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1981) 2. 808–18; see also Leibowitz, Nehemiah, Doresh Reshumot ha-Aggadah (Jerusalem: Darom, 1929) 2324.

7 Segal, Alan, Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism (Leiden: Brill, 1977) x. See more recently, Hayman, Peter, “Monotheism—A Misused Word in Jewish Studies,” JJS 42 (1991) 115, esp. 12.

8 As outlined by Halperin, David, The Merkabah in Rabbinic Literature (New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1980) 78; and idem, Faces of the Chariot (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1988) 31–37, 202–5. See further, Liebes, Yehudah, Elisha's Sin: The Four Who Entered into the Pardes and the Character of Talmudic Mysticism (2d ed.; Jerusalem: Akademon, 1990) chaps. 1–3, esp. pp. 1618 [Hebrew]; Assaraf, Albert, L'hérétique: Elicha ben Abouya ou l'autre absolu (Paris: Balland, 1991).

9 Liebes, Elisha's Sin, 34–35.

10 Odeberg, Hugo, 3 Enoch or the Hebrew Book of Enoch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1928) 82, 188–92.

11 Scholem, Gershom Gerhard, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism and Talmudic Tradition (2d ed.; New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1965) 4950; idem, “Über eine Formel in den koptisch-gnostischerṅ Schriften und ihren jüdischen Urpsrung,” ZNW 30 (1931) 170–76; idem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (3d rev. ed.; New York: Schocken, 1954) 68. See also Jonas Greenfield “Prolegomenon,” in Odeberg, Hugo, 3 Enoch or the Hebrew Book of Enoch (1928; reprinted New York: Ktav, 1973) xxxi; Segal, Two Powers in Heaven, 65–66; Lieberman, Saul, “Meṭaṭron, the Meaning of His Name and His Functions,” in Grünwald, Ithamar, Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism (Leiden: Brill, 1980) 238–39; Alexander, Philip S., “Comparing Merkavah Mysticism and Gnosticism: An Essay in Method,” JJS 35 (1984) 12. Finally, see Tardieu, Michel (Porphyre, La Vie de Plotin [2 vols.; Paris: Vrin, 1992) 2. 532–33), where Meṭaṭron's name refers to ascension into heaven. I would like to thank Charles Mopsik for this last reference.

12 Scholem, Jewish Gnosticism, 16 n. 6.

13 See Scholem, “Addenda,” in ibid., 127.

14 Urbach, Efraim E. claimed (“The Traditions about Merkabah Mysticism in the Tannaitic Period,” in Studies in Mysticism and Religion Presented to Gershom Scholem [Jerusalem: Magnes, 1967] 1314 [Hebrew]), for example, that the pardes referred to the vision of the merkabah, wherein the “cutting” is the sin of revealing the secrets he learned there. In his detailed study of the textual traditions of this passage, David Halperin (The Merkabah in Rabbinic Literature, 90) agreed that it outlines a metaphor, but maintained that “the referent of the metaphors remains a mystery.” Henry Fischel (Rabbinic Literature and Greco-Roman Philosophy [Leiden: Brill, 1973] 19) criticized any consensus that “the cutting of the shoots” refers to a mystical experience, but “corresponds to the death and insanity of the two visitors … it indicates what happened to Aḥer after he left.”

15 Mopsik, Charles, Le Livre hébreu d'Hénoch ou livre des palais (Paris: Verdier, 1989) 3037, 247.

16 To be sure, the “cutting” alone does not constitute the heresy described, but rather the independence of will or governance that is implied in isolating a hypostasis, as noted already in geonic literature (Liebes, Elisha's Sin, 11).

17 This idea was already forwarded by Neumark, David (Geschichte der jüdischen Philosophie des Mittelalters [2 vols.; Berlin: Reimer, 1907] 1. 93) at the beginning of this century; and compare Fossum, Jarl, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1985) 310. In a tradition from the Sar-Torah material of the Hekhalot texts (Schäfer, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, 124 [§ 279 = 678]), Meṭaṭron is described as “Meṭaṭron, Lord God of Israel, God of the heavens and the Earth.” In the Book of Illumination written by the first known kabbalist in Castile, R. Ya‘acov ben Yaʿacov ha-Kohen, Meṭaṭron is called םךיסא, logos. See my study of this text and figure (“The Book of Illumination of R. Jacob ben Jacob ha-Kohen: A Synoptic Edition From Various Manuscripts” [Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1993]).

18 Pines, Shlomo, “God, the Divine Glory and the Angels according to a 2nd Century Theology,” in Dan, Joseph, ed.. The Beginnings of Jewish Mysticism, vol. 6 (34): Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1987) 114 [Hebrew]. See also Idel, Moshe (“In the Light of Life: A Study in Kabbalistic Eschatology,” in Gafni, Isaiah and Ravitzky, Aviezer, eds., Studies in Memory of Amir Yekuti’el [Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish Studies, 1992] 208 [Hebrew]), who shows that the “form” that God illuminates can be found a century earlier in the works of Philo.

19 Justin Martyr Dial. 128.3.

20 For a comparison of Nahmanides' view with that of Maimonides, see Al-Nakawa, Efraim, Sha‘ar Kavod ha-Shem (Tunis: Castro, 1802) 45b50a; and Wolfson, Elliot, “The Secret of the Garment in Nahmanides,” Da‘at 24 (1990) xxvxlix.

21 Pines, “God, the Divine Glory,” 1–14; and Mopsik, Le Livre hébreu d'Hénoch, 30–37.

22 Compare with Stern, David, “Imitatio Hominis: Anthropomorphism and the Character(s) of God in Rabbinic Literature,” Prooftexts 12 (1992) 151–74, esp. 164–67. Forthe early usage of hypostatic terms, see Flusser, David and Safrai, Samuel, “The Essene Doctrine of Hypostasis and Rabbi Meir,” in Flusser, David, Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1988) 306–16.

23 See Segal's extensive note (Two Powers in Heaven, 5–6), where he argues this point on the issue of the “two authorities” theology among the rabbis.

24 See Scholem, Major Trends, 80–118; and Dan, Joseph, The Esoteric Theology of Ashkenazi Hasidim (Jerusalem: Mosad Byalik, 1968) [Hebrew].

25 Elliot Wolfson, “Meṭaṭtron and Shi‘ur Qomah in the Writings of Haside Ashkenaz,” Proceedings of the conference on Mystik, Magie und Kabbala im Aschkenasischen Judenlum, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt, West Germany, 9–11 December 1991.

26 See, for example, Urbach, Efraim E., The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (trans. Abrahams, Israel; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1975) 43.

28 For sources see Kasher, Menahem, Torah Shelema (42 vols.; New York: n.p., 1960) 19. 228–29; and see further in the following notes.

29 Moore, George (“Intermediaries in Jewish Thought,” HTR 15 [1922] 74) argues for the force of this idea, independent of this scriptural exegesis. See further Goldreich, Amos, ed., Me’irat Einayim (Jerusalem: Institute for Advanced Studies, 1981) 112–13.

30 I was not able to locate this passage in the text.

31 Concerning this etymology of the name Meṭaṭron, see Gen. R. 5.4 and Nathan ben Yihi‘el's dictionary as discussed by Scholem, Gershom G., Origins of the Kabbalah (trans. Arkush, Allan; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987) 299. See also Lieberman, Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism, 235–41.

32 Moshav Zeqenim al ha-Torah (ed. Sassoon, Solomon David; London: Honig, 1959) 198. Another tradition concerning Meṭaṭron in the name of R. Tam, which also cites the Pesiqta, can be found in the b. Yebamot 16b as cited in Katz, Reuven b. Hoschke, Yalkut Reuveni (Prague: n.p., 1660) 82a. Another possibility is that דוטיט refers to Mentor, Telemachus's teacher in Homer's Odyssey, the paradigmatic guide, whose name has entered the English language as a synonym to “tutor” or “teacher.” Lamberton, Robert (Homer the Theologian: Neoplatonist Allegorical Reading and the Growth of the Epic Tradition [Berkeley: California University Press, 1989] 56) recently published a thorough study of the uses of Homer in classical and medieval philosophy. I find there no information, however, which could be used to support our suggestion. It thus requires further research. My thanks to Tzvi Langermann for this comment. On the issue of Meṭaṭron's identification as “prince of the world” see further b. Ḥul. 60a and t. Ḥul 60a. The interpretation of Meṭaṭron as naʼar using Ps 37:25 can already be found in the Talmud and throughout kabbalistic works. See, for example, Shuʼaib, Yehoshuʼa Ibn, Derashot al ha-Torah (Krakow: n.p., 1575) 24b; and the anonymous Sefer Maʼarekhet ha-Elohut (Mantua: Me’ir ben Efrayim, 1558) 72b. It may be that the various midrashim of God appearing as a young warrior at the Red Sea (the Exodus) and as an old man at Mount Sinai (the giving of the Torah) may already be predicated to Meṭaṭron in b. Yebamot through the scriptural proof. This would suggest that, as later texts state explicitly, Meṭaṭron refers to the various physical manifestations or representations of God. See Idel, Moshe, The Mystical Experience of Abraham Abulafia (trans. Chipman, Jonathan; Albany: SUNY Press, 1988) 117–19; and Gedaliyahu Stroumsa, “Polymorphic Divine et Transformations d'un Mythologème, l'Apocryphon de Jean et ses Sources,” in idem, Savoir et Salut (Paris: Cerf, 1992) 57–59. Compare to Segal, Two Powers in Heaven, 67 n. 24.

33 Abrams, Daniel, “‘The Secret of Secrets’: The Concept of the Divine Glory and the Intention of Prayer in the Writings of R. Eleʻazar of Worms,” Daʻat 34 (forthcoming) n. 25 [Hebrew]. Joseph Dan suggested (The Esoteric Theology, 220 n. 5) that the two versions (other than the one under discussion) may be the products of R. Yehudah he-Hasid and R. Eleʻazar of Worms, respectively. See further Steinschneider, Moritz, “Einzelschriften: Hebraica,” Hebräische Bibliophile 14 (1874) 68, 33; Ben-Menaḥem, Naftali, “Sefer ha-Ḥesheq,” Pitḥei Sheʻarim, Diyuqim ve-Iyunim Bibliografiyim (Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Quq, 1976) 300302; Dan, Joseph, “The Seventy Names of Metatron,” Proceedings of the Eighth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division C (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 1981) 1923. See also Mopsik, he Livre hébrou d'Hénoch, 362; and Rohrbacher-Sticker, Claudia, “Die Namen Gottes und die Namen Metatrons: Zwei Geniza Fragmente zur Hekhalot-Literatur,” Frankfurter Judaistische Beiträge 19 (1991–92) 95168.

34 This role is often assumed by the angel Sandalfon. For sources see Wolfson, Elliot, “Mystical-Theurgical Dimensions of Prayer in Sefer ha-Rimmon,” in Blumenthal, David, ed., Approaches to Judaism in Medieval Times (3 vols.; BJS 134; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1988) 3. 77 n. 146.

35 Rome MS, Angelica 46, fol. 36b, printed with slight variations in Ḥamai, R. Avraham, Sefer Bet ha-Din (Livorno: n.p., 1858) 199a. Similar traditions to the name Miton can be found in the prayerbook of Hirz, Naftali Treves, Meleʻah ha-Areẓ deʻah (Thiengen: Eliʻezer Hirz, 1560) 191a and in Jerusalem MS 8° 1136, fol. 26b.

36 It is not fully clear who is the subject of this clause, offering the praise—Meṭaṭron or the shekhina. I have suggested that Meṭaṭron offers the praise, based on the context of the traditions in this version of the text. On Meṭaṭron's functions and place in the divine world relative to the throne see Ilan, Meir Bar, “The Throne of God: What is Under it, What is Opposite It and What Is Near It,” Daʻat 15 (1985) 2136 [Hebrew].

37 Rome MS, Angelica 46, fol. 38a. The final words concerning Meṭaṭron's praising God are absent from the printed edition, but can be found in the manuscripts, including its later reworkings; for example, Berlin MS, fol. 116b and Firenze ms, fol. 243b (see n. 39 below). On the importance of Meṭaṭron's praise, see Daniel Abrams, “The Shekhina Prays Before God: A New Text Toward the Theosophic Orientation of the German Pietists and Their Method for the Transmission of Esoteric Doctrines,” Tarbiẓ (forthcoming) [Hebrew].

38 See Abrams, “The Shekhina Prays Before God”; and idem, “‘The Unity of God’ of R. Eleʻazar ha-Darshan,” Qoveẓ al Yad 12 (1994) 149–60 [Hebrew].

39 It is important to note that the esoteric doctrine of Eleʻazar of Worms, Yehudah he-Ḥasid's main student, can be found in the longer version(s), particularly in the Sefer ha-Ḥesheq. The longer text itself can be found in different versions, a point that cannot be fully explored in this context. See Abrams, “The Concept of Divine Glory.” It should also be noted that Asi Farber has already commented on the affinity between the dual nature of Meṭaṭron in Sefer ha-Ḥesheq and the doctrine of the sanctified cherub; see Farber, “The Concept of the Merkabah in Thirteen-Century Jewish Mysticism: ‘Sod ha-Egoz’ and its Development” (Ph.D. diss., Hebrew University, 1986) 559 [Hebrew]. The printed version of Sefer ha-Ḥesheq (Lemberg: Epstein, 1865; reprinted in Sefarim Qedoshim mi-Talmidei ha-Besht ha-Qadosh, vol. 34: Sefer ha-Ḥesheq [Union City, NJ: Gross, 1984]), if not written at least in part by Eleʻazar of Worms, was composed by a student who was familiar with his doctrine and the emergence of a new and developing esoteric theology. While all the versions of the Seventy Names of Meṭaṭron touch upon the issue of prayer, there is a stronger concentration of traditions on this matter in the printed version which parallels certain manuscripts. I shall therefore discuss Meṭaṭron's role according to this text, while citing in the notes parallel traditions from the other versions. As noted by Liebes, Yehudah (“The Angels of the Shofar and Yeshuʻa Sar ha-Panim,” Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 6 (1987) 171–96 [Hebrew]), the manuscripts of Sefer ha-Ḥesheq differ from the printed edition (Lemberg, 1865), the text-tradition of which can be found as well (with variations) in Oxford ms 1748, fols. 25a–44a. Dan (“The Seventy Names of Metatron,” 19–23) compared the printed edition to Berlin-Tübingen ms Or. 4° 935, fols. 112a–118a and concluded that they were composed by R. Yehudah he-Ḥasid and R. Eleʻazar of Worms. Yehudah Liebes noted further differences between the various textual traditions. It seems, however, that the versions discussed by Dan represent the second and possibly third stages of the text's literary development with little change between the last two. Moreover, Firenze-Lurziana ms 2.5, fols. 237a–246a also differs from the versions mentioned here. It displays strong parallels to passages found only in the printed version. It must be noted that the texts may not necessarily reflect a linear development, but could have been reedited simultaneously by different authors. Further study is required to identify all of the additions and editings that altered the order of the passages. Finally, the more readily available Lemberg edition shows strong similarities to the very rare edition of Ayin Shemot de-Metatron (Williamsdorf: Moshe Graff, 1677) and may have been printed from it. In this volume, the text is preceded by selections from 3 Enoch 5–15. See further Brüll, Nehemiah, “Miscellen,” Jahrbücher für Jüdische Geschichte und Literatur 1 (1874) 221–25; and Alexander, P. S., “The Hebrew Book of Enoch,” in Charlesworth, James H., ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1983) 1. 224. Dr. Klaus Herrmann has kindly informed me that the textual tradition found in the 1677 edition can be found exclusively in Oxford ms 1748, fols. 25a–44a.

40 Sefer ha-Ḥesheq § 19 of the Lemberg edition (p. 3b). This theme recurs various times throughout this work and is stated in different language in § 43 (pp. 5b–6a) also found in Firenze ms, fol. 244a.

41 Sefer ha-Ḥesheq § 23 (p. 4a). Firenze ms, fol. 241: “When Israel pray with intention to their father in heaven, he [Meṭaṭron] opens for them the gates of prayer and the gates of mercy. And he extends his hand below the throne of glory and receives the prayers of Israel.”

42 Sefer ha-ṭesheq § 24 (p. 4a). Firenze ms, fol. 242b. Of note is the personification of the Memra of the Targum (Tg. Yer. I Deut 4.7) which sits on the throne of God and receives the prayers of Box, Israel. George Herbert, “The Idea of Intermediation in Jewish Theology: A Note on Memra and Shekinah,” JQR 23 (1932) 111.

43 Sefer ha-Ḥesheq § 38 (p. 5b). Berlin ms, fol. 116a; Firenze ms, fol. 243a. On this theme see Odeberg, 3 Enoch, 115–16.

44 Sefer ha-Ḥesheq § 22 (p. 3b). Firenze ms, fol. 243b.

45 See Maḥzor Rosh ha-Shana (ed. Goldschmidt, Daniel; Jerusalem: Koren, 1979) 77.

46 This is a common wordplay on “defy” and “substitute” which have similar written forms (רמת רימה).

47 Sefer ha-Ḥesheq § 13 (p. 3a). This passage is also found with slight variations in Firenze ms, fol. 246a. In a separate passage in Berlin ms, fol. 113a, the numerical equivalent to “will be” (היהי) is offered: “by the power” (חכב) which is then interpreted “because after the power of the Creator, his [Meṭaṭron's] power is very great.” Compare § 13 with the similar comment of Eleʻazar ha-Darshan in his Sefer Gematriot (Munich ms 221, fol. 152b).

48 Berlin ms, fol. 113b. This text is lacking in the printed edition.

49 Literally, “after the Creator, there is no other archon [רש] who is more than he.”

50 See Wolfson, Elliot, “God, the Demiurge and the Intellect: On the Usage of the Word Kol in Abraham Ibn Ezra,” REJ 149 (1990) 77111.

51 See Dan, Joseph, “Anaphiel, Meṭaṭron and the Demiurge,” Tarbiz 52 (1983) 447–57 [Hebrew].

52 See for example, Abulafia, Todros b. Yosef, Sefer Ozar ha-Kavod ha-Shalem (Warsaw: 1879) 24a: הןמ הן םדידפהן םידחןימה םירכרה ץצקש“that he cut the two distinct beings and separated them from each other.” For a fuller listing of sources, see Abrams, “The Shekhina Prays Before God,” n. 45. On the broader issue in the context of prayer, see Zimra, R. David Ibn, Qizur Sefer Peliʻah (Jerusalem: Mussayef, n.d.) 14a: “The first man (ןושארה םרא) thought that it was sufficient [to pray] to the prince of the world [Meṭaṭron], and prayed to him and did not extend his prayer to Her [the shekhina].”

53 Joseph Dan has termed these works the writings of the “special” or “exceptional cherub circle” (Dan, Joseph, “The ‘Exceptional Cherub’ Sect in the Literature of the Medieval German Hasidim,” Tarbiz 35 [1966] 349–72; reprinted in idem. Studies in Ashkenazic-Hasidic Literature [Ramat Gan: Massada, 1975] 89–111 [Hebrew]). I have chosen a different rendering of רחוימ due to the role of the cherub in these works, as will be discussed below (p. 313).

54 Dan has made an inventory of these works in “The ‘Exceptional Cherub’ Sect,” 349–72. In New Manuscripts to the Book of Secrets of R. Shem Tov bar Simha and the Sources He Possessed,” Asufot 9 (1995) (forthcoming) [Hebrew], I have discussed numerous unknown manuscript witnesses to the texts that have been edited by R. Shem Tov and which until now could be found only in part in an Alder manuscript housed in the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. See also Abrams, Daniel, “The Evolution of the Intention of Prayer to the ‘Special Cherub’: From the Earliest Works to a Late Unknown Treatise,” Frankfurter Judaistische Beiträge 21 (1995) (forthcoming). For a published section of the Adler manuscript New York ms (microfilm, JTSA) 2430, fols. 65b–66a, see Dan, Joseph, “Prayer Intentions from the Tradition of R. Yehudah he-Ḥasid,” Daʻat 10 (1983) 4856 [Hebrew]. In the following discussion, citations will be given from Zurich ms 102, Moscow ms 737, and Cambridge ms 858.

55 Scholem, Major Trends, 113. See the fuller explanations provided by Farber, “The Concept of the Merkabah,” 556–60.

56 Moscow ms, fol. 184a; Zurich MS 20b: דחא חככ םיבר חכ דחיל; compare to New York ms Microfilm JTSA 2430, fol. 66a, in Dan, “Prayer Intentions,” 50: דיחי הככ םיבר חכ דחיל.

57 See Moscow ms, fols. 187b and 189a. Pesaq ha-Yirʻah influenced various other texts, including Ẓioni, Menaḥem, Commentary on the Torah (Lemberg: Zis, 1882) 35a, 39a; and Nuremberg ms, Cent V. App. 5/2, esp. fols. 82a, 90a–91a, an anonymous text that repeatedly cites the Pesaq. For further discussion see Dan, Joseph, “Pesaq ha-Yirʼah ve-ha- Emunah and the Intention of Prayer in Ashkenazi Esotericism,” Frankfurter Judaistische Beiträge 19 (1991–92) 185215.

58 Moscow ms, fol. 183a; and Zurich ms, fol. 20b. See also the later tradition stemming from these works as cited by Idel, Moshe, “Between the Kabbalah of Jerusalem and the Kabbalah of R. Yisraʼel Saruq: Sources for the Doctrine of the Garment of R. Yisraʼel Saruq,” Shalem 6 (1992) 168 [Hebrew].

59 Moscow ms, fol. 180b; and Zurich ms, fol. 20a.

60 Literally, “think in his heart.”

61 Zurich ms, fol. 20a mistakenly reads “creator.”

62 Literally, “those who understand.”

63 Moscow ms, fols. 181b–182a; and Zurich ms, fol. 20a. Compare to the significantly different reading in New York ms (Microfilm, JTSA) 2430, fol. 65b published in Dan, “Prayer Intentions,” 48. In this reading the efflux is replaced with the sefirot and the cherub is that which was emanated. In what may be an intended corruption of the text, the distinction between the two “Israels” is eliminated. See Scholem's comment (Origins of the Kabbalah, 215), bracketed inside his translation of this passage from the New York ms. See the alternative French translation and discussion by Corbin, Henry, Le paradoxe du monotheisme (Paris: Herne, 1981) 185; Vajda, Georges, A Hebrew Abridgement of R. Yehudah b. Nissim Ibn Malka's Commentary on the Book of Creation (Ramat Gan: University of Bar-Ilan Press, 1974) 31 [Hebrew]; and Goetschel, Roland, “Les metamorphoses du Cherubin dans la pense juive,” in Adelie, and Rassial, Jean-Jacques et al. , eds., L'lnterdit de la representation (Paris: Seuil, 1984) 104.

64 Moscow ms, fol. 183a; and Zurich ms, fol. 20a. Later in this text (Moscow ms, fol. 190a and Zurich ms, fol. 24a), the cherub is called Adonai ha-Qaṭan, the “little YHWH.” Of note is Jacob ha-Kohen's terminology of the YHWH ha-Qatan and the YHWH ha-Gadol, the former being identified with Meṭaṭron. See Schoken ms (kabbalah) 14, fol. 61b; and New York ms (Microfilm, JTSA) 1849, fol. 1b in Abrams, The Book of Illumination, 392 n. 18. See further Goldreich, Meʻirat Einayim, 397.

65 In a different work that holds to the sanctified cherub doctrine, the distinctions between these symbols are almost blurred: “Behold, for he who understands, the visible power is also called angel, and that the Shekhina [is called] the cherub” (Moscow-Günzberg ms 1403, fol. 10b). Compare to the view of the author of Sefer ha-Navon (Dan, Joseph, “Sefer ha-Navon by a Member of the German Pietists,” Qovez al Yad 6 [1966] 209–10 [Hebrew]) where the shekhina is equated with the physical form that appears to humans, the angel, the divine glory, and the divine name.

66 Moscow ms, fol. 184a–b and Zurich ms, fol. 20b preserve better readings than New York MS (Microfilm, JTSA) 2430, fol. 66a (see Dan, “Prayer Intentions,” 50). The distinction between the cherub and Meṭaṭron is present in Hirz, Meleʻah ha-Arez deʻah, 48a–b.

67 See Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, 214.

68 Commentary to the Barukh Sheʼamar (Zurich ms, fol. 24a; Moscow ms, fol. 185b; Cambridge ms, fol. 17a). The distinction between the sanctified cherub and Meṭaṭron can also be found in R. Reʼuven Ẓarfati, Commentary to the Book Maʻarekhet ha-Elohut. For sources and treatment of this issue see Elkayam, Avraham, “Issues in the Commentary of the Book Maʻarekhet ha-Elohut” (M.A. thesis, Hebrew University, 1987) 4648 [Hebrew].

69 This adds a new dimension to the theology of the sanctified cherub and distinguishes it from the tradition recorded in the name of R. Avraham b. David. Scholem (Origins of the Kabbalah, 211–12) who understood the special cherub texts through the lenses of Provençal texts, because he placed the former texts in an early stage of the development of the kabbalah and believed that the author or authors were influenced by the kabbalists in Provence. See also Schatz, R., ed., Ha-Qabbalah be-Provence (Jerusalem: Akademon, 1963) 185.

70 See Abrams, “The Shekhina Prays Before God,” n. 38; and Goldreich, Meʼirat Einayim, 79, 112, 114–15. See also the tradition Vatican ms 228, fol. 17a: “For my name is in him, this is the angel called Meṭaṭron whose name is like his master. That is, the numerical equivalent of Meṭaṭron is Shaddai [ידש = 314]. And when the shekhina emanates to the created angel then it is called Meṭaṭron.” Although the manuscript witness does not record the difference in Meṭaṭron's name, it can be assumed that the latter Meṭaṭron should be transcribed with a yod. See also Vatican ms 236, fol. 153b concerning the related tradition of Meṭaṭron “ascending with six [letters] and descending with seven.” For further sources see Abrams, “The Book of Illumination,” 207.

71 Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, 212–14. It is important to note the anonymous comment added to this passage in Paris ms BN 799, fol. 3a (Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, 213 n.7) which objects to Meṭaṭron's equal status to the sefirot while not being identified as one: “ten sefirot, but not the prince of the countenance.”

72 See Odeberg, 3 Enoch, 111–24; and Mopsik, Le Livre hebreu d'Hénoch, 49–57. In a passage from a commentary to the prayers (London ms, British Library 751, fol. 5a) published by Margoliouth, George (“The Doctrine of the Ether in the Kabbalah,” JQR 20 [1908] 834), Meṭaṭron is termed the primal ether (ןומדקה ריוא), which apparently lies at the beginning of the emanative system. See Idel, Moshe, “Abraham Abulafia's Works and Doctrine” (Ph.D. diss., Hebrew University, 1976) 77 [Hebrew]; and R. David Ibn Zimra, Sefer Qizur Sefer Pliʼah (Jerusalem ms, Mussayef 68, fol. 3b) where Meṭaṭron is termed both ןוילע דחכ and הרפע, the beginning and the end of the sefirotic theosophy respectively. Finally, Mopsik, Charles (Les grandes textes de la Cabale [Lagresse: Verdier, 1993] 392–93) notes a tradition where the shekhina and Meṭaṭron are two angels separate from the tenth sefirah.

73 This basic difference in symbolism appears already in the works of Ezra of Gerona and Nahmanides, as noted by Tishby in Menaḥem, R. Azriʼel ben, Commentary to the Aggadot (ed. Tishby, Isaiah; Jerusalem: Mikiẓe Nirdamim, 1945) 17, 71 [Hebrew]; see also Idel, Moshe, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988) 132–34; Saperstein, Marc, Decoding the Rabbis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980) 84. See further the later kabbalistic commentary to the ten sefirot (London ms, British Library 1074, fol. 247a) which includes Nahmanides' identification of the two cherubim, and further identifies הרפע, the tenth sefirah, with the second cherub, naʻar (youth) and Meṭaṭron. In Sefer Toldot Adam (Paris ms, BN 841, fol. 202), the two cherubim are identified alternatively with the ninth and tenth sefirot. Finally, see Yosef of Hamadan's symbolism concerning Meṭaṭron and shekhina as discussed by Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives, 230.

74 Maimonides Guide of the Perplexed 1.63.

75 Translated from the better text found in New York ms (Microfilm, JTSA) 1686, fol. 24b.

76 Idel, Moshe, “We Have No Kabbalistic Tradition on This,” in Twersky, Isadore, ed., Rabbi Moses Nahmanides (Ramban): Explorations in His Religious and Literary Virtuosity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983) 1134; Wolfson, Elliot, “By Way of Truth: Aspects of Nahmanides' Kabbalistic Hermeneutic,” AJS Review 14 (1989) 103–78.

77 In R. Shem Tov Ibn Gaʻon's supercommentary to Nahmanides’ Commentary to the Torah, entitled Keter Shem Tov, Meṭaṭron is identified with the lowest sefirah because of its designation as “prince of the world,” that is, the lowest grade that has contact with the world: “And the shekhina is prince of the world and because of this he is called the great prince, as the sages have said his name actually [שממ] is like his as is found in the aggada: ‘The holy one blessed be he said: I took Enoch’ until ‘I have raised his throne [to be] like mine’ [יאםככ ואסכ] and I have called him Lord [ʻיי]” (Parma ms 2425, fol. 67b; printed in Sefer Maʼor Va-Shemesh [ed. Koriat, Avraham, Livorno: Eliʻezer Ottolenghi, 1798] 26a). R. Yiẓḥaq of Acco (Oẓar Ḥayim, Moscow-Günzberg ms 775, fol. 80a) identifies Meṭaṭron with the sefirah Tifʼeret. See the related traditions in Goldreich, Meʻirat Einayim, 116. The author of the anonymous supercommentary to Nahmanides' work also identifies Meṭaṭron with Tifʻeret (Escorial ms G.I. 15, fol. 150a). In an apparent reworking of the cherub doctrine by kabbalists outside known circles, the sanctified cherub is identified with Tifʻeret (London ms, British Library 752, fol. 39a). This manuscript was first cited by Scholem, Major Trends, 374 n. 85; conversely, see the reworking of a kabbalistic tradition according to the doctrine of the special cherub, where the cherub receives efflux from Tifʻeret (Kaufman MS 399, fol. 89a; published in Azriel, Avraham Ben, Arugat ha-Bosem [ed. Urbach, Efraim; 4 vols.; Jerusalem: Mekize Nirdamim, 1963] 104 n. 96).

78 This passage is the correct reading of the tradition recorded in various manuscripts of the secrets of Nahmanides' kabbalah by members of his school. For the various readings and manuscript witnesses, see Abrams, “New Manuscripts to the Book of Secrets.”

79 For this interpretation see Al-Nakawa, Shaʻar Kavod ha-Shem, 97a, and the concluding sentences of the “Commentary to the Ten Sefirot” attributed to Rabbi Yaʻaqov ha-Kohen (published by Gershom Scholem, Madaʻei ha-Yahudut 2 [1926] 230) where it is said in the name of Nahmanides that the angel of the Lord is the tenth sefirah. Compare to the description of Nahmanides' doctrine in Wolfson, “By Way of Truth,” 138; see also Wolfson, “Metatron and Shiʼur Qomah”; and Idel, Moshe, “On the Concept of Ẓimẓum in Kabbalah and its Research,” Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 10 (1992) 6568 [Hebrew].

80 Goldreich, Meʼirat Einayim, 84, 89.

81 This comment is copied in the margin of sodot to the prayers recorded in the name of Nahmanides (New York ms [Microfilm, JTSA] 2430, fol. 68a).

82 New York ms (Microfilm, JTSA) 1884, fol. 18a. This work was in all likelihood written by Yosef Hamadan; see Idel, Moshe, “Additional Remnants From the Writings of R. Yosef of Hamadan,” Daʻcat 21 (1988) 49 [Hebrew]. See also the version of this text in Verman, Mark, The Books of Contemplation (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992) 9495, 232–33. On Meṭaṭron who opens and locks the gate for prayer, see Sefer Maʻarekhet ha-Elohut, 72b.

83 See Idel, “Additional Remnants,” 49. Meṭaṭron is also described as “the beginning of his powers [ןיתודימ]” (New York ms [Microfilm, JTSA] 1884, fol. 18b), and presides over the angelic beings (fol. 18a). Compare to R. Azriʼel ben Menahem, Commentary to the Aggadot, 11, where the angel of glory [דןבכה ךאלמ] is identified with the cherub and the shekhina. This text is lacking in the printed edition of Ezra's commentary to the aggadot, Likutei Shikheḥah u-Feʼah (Ferara: n.p., 1556) 3b.

84 Scholem, Gershom Gerhard, Reshit ha-Kabalah (Tel Aviv: Shoken, 1948) 252–53. This text follows London ms 746 and not 146 as misprinted in Scholem; it can be found as well, without variation, in Paris ms, BN 974, fols. 108b–109a.

85 According to the text he is the seventh, apparently the last of the lower seven (Scholem, Reshit ha-kabalah, 253 n. 1).

86 See Robinson, Ira, “Abraham ben Eliezer Halevi: Kabbalist and Messianic Visionary of the Early Sixteenth Century” (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1980) 208 n. 70; and at length in my dissertation, “The Book of Illumination” 61–64. See further Fira, Rephael Isaac, Prayers for the Western Wall (Jerusalem: n.p., 1881) 32b [Hebrew].

87 On prayers imitating the shekhina and prayers directed toward the shekhina, see Sack, Beracha, “Some Remarks on Prayer in the Kabbalah of the 16th Century,” in Goetschel, Roland, ed., Prière, Mystique et Judaisme (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1987) 179–86.

88 Parma ms 1221, fol. 5b. See also the related traditions there on fols. 4b, 10b, 185a. Compare to Yiẓḥaq of Acco, Oẓar ha-Ḥayim, Moscow-Günzburg ms 775, fol. 14a: “And indeed according to the esoteric doctrine the cherubim refer to Meṭaṭron and Sandalfon.”

89 I was not able to locate this tradition.

90 Al-Ashqar, R. Yosef ben Moshe, Sefer Tsafnat Paʻaneakh (Jerusalem: Misgav, 1991); facsimile (Jerusalem ms, Jewish National University Library 4° 154) 106b.

91 Bietenhard, Hans, Die himmlische Welt im Urchristentum und Spätjudentum (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1951).

92 Murtonen, Almo, “The Figure of Meṭaṭron,” VT 3 (1953) 409–11. Further parallels have been shown in Segal, Alan, “Ruler of this World: Attitudes about Mediator Figures and the Importance of Sociology for Self-Definition,” in Sanders, E. P. et al. , eds., Jewish and Christian Self-Definition (London: SCM, 1981) 245–68. For Jesus as the logos see also Blau, Joseph L., The Christian Interpretation of the Cabala in the Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1944) 48.

93 Stroumsa, Gedaliahu, “Form(s) of God: Some Notes on Meṭaṭron and Christ,” HTR 76 (1983) 269–88, esp. 279. See also Fishbane, Michael, “Some Forms of Divine Appearance figin Ancient Jewish Thought,” in Neusner, Jacob et al. , eds., From Ancient Israel to Modern Judaism: Intellect in Quest of Understanding (BJS 159, 173–75; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989) 261–70. Most recently, see Mopsik, Charles, “La datation du Chiʼour Qomah d'après on texte néotestamentaire,” RevScRel 68 (1994) 131–44.

94 Stroumsa, “Form(s) of God,” 287. See also Quispel, Gilles, “Ezekiel 1:26 in Jewish Mysticism and Gnosis,” VC 34 (1980) 113; McGinn, Bernard, The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism, vol. 1: The Foundations of Mysticism (New York: Crossroad, 1992) 17; for a similar conclusion derived through the study of Samaritan texts, see Jarl Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord, 307–31.

95 See Yeruhim, Salmon ben (The Book of the Wars of the Lord Containing the Polemics of the Karaite Salmon ben Yeruhim Against Saadia Gaon [ed. Davidson, Israel; New York: Bet midrash ha-Rabanim be-Amerika, 1934] 124 [Hebrew]), who seems to misquote a passage from the Shiʼur Qomah traditions purposefully: “Anyone who knows the measure of the body of the demiurge will be saved [עשןי].” By offering the reading, “saved,” instead of “will enter the world to come” אבה םלוע ןכ (Schäfer, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, 191 [§ 484], 260 [§710], 296 [§952]) Salmon could very well be equating what he believes to be the rabbinic view of anthropomorphism with that of the Christian doctrine of the incarnation of God. See Salmon's comment on Elisha's viewing of Meṭaṭron, The Book of Wars, 113; see also Halperin, Faces of the Chariot, 518–22; Scholem, Major Trends, 366 n. 107.

96 Liebes, “The Angels of the Shofar and Yeshua Sar ha-Panim,” 171–96.

97 Liebes, Yehudah, “Who Makes the Horn of Jesus Flourish,” Immanuel 21 (1987) 5567; translation from the Hebrew published in Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 3 (1984) 313–48; with additional remarks in Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 4 (1985) 341–44.

98 See Scholem, Gershom, “Zur Geschichte der Anfänge der christlichen Kabbala,” in Essays Presented to Leo Baeck (London: East & West Library, 1954) 175; Benz, Ernst, “La Kabbale Chrétienne en Allemagne du XVIe au XVIIIe Siécle,” in Faivre, Antoine and Tristan, Frédérick, eds., Kabbalalistes Chrétiens (Paris: Michel, 1979) 96; de Viterbo, Egidio, Scechin e Libellus Litteris Hebraicis (ed. Secret, François; 2 vols.; Roma: Centro Internazionale di Studi Umanistici, 1959) 2. 13; Idel, Moshe, “Egidio da Viterbo e gli scritti di Avraham Abulafia,” Italia 2 (1980) 4850 [Hebrew]; idem, Studies in Ecstatic Kabbalah (Albany: SUNY Press, 1988) 53; and Wirszubski, Chaim, Between the Lines: Kabbalah, Christian Kabbalah and Sabbateanism (ed. Idel, Moshe; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1990) 77 [Hebrew]. See also the response to the Christian interpretation that the angel mentioned in Exod 23:21 is the forgiving power in Natan, R. Yosef ben Official, Yosef ha-Mekane (ed. Rosenthal, Yehudah; Jerusalem: Mekitse Nirdamim, 1970) 86 [Hebrew]. If the specific source of these traditions does not stem from far more ancient sources, as outlined for example by Stroumsa (“Form[s] of God,” 269–88, esp. 279) and Fossum (The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord, 313 n. 139) one must ask whether this identification is a product of the exegesis of Jewish kabbalists who apostasized, therefore reinterpreting their kabbalistic world view according to new doctrines, or the product of Christians who saw parallels to their own models of the divine ontology in Jewish symbolism. While examples of both could exist side by side, the former might prove that the Christian kabbalists were influenced by the works of early converts to Christianity. See further Idel, Moshe, “Notes on Medieval Jewish-Christian Polemics,” Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 3 (1985) 689–98 [Hebrew].

99 Uppsala ms 24, fol. 115a. I would like to thank Professor Moshe Idel for bringing this manuscript to my attention. Shifra Assulin is currently preparing a study of this and other works by Kemper.

100 Ibid., fol. 120a.

101 Ibid., fol. 149b.

102 Ibid., fol. 152a.

103 Ibid., fol. 120a.

104 Odeberg, Hugo, “Fragen von Meṭaṭron Schekina und Memra,” Bulletin de la Societé Royale des Lettres de Lund (1941–42 [2]) 3146. I would like to thank Joe Forman for providing me with photocopies of the original Leipzig edition.

105 Scholem, Gershom, “Collectanea to the Bibliography of the Kabbalah,” Kiryat Sefer 30 (1945) 412 [Hebrew].

106 Odeberg, “Fragen von Meṭaṭron,” 45–46 (Halle edition, 113–14).

107 One prominent example of this is the Barcelona Disputation involving Nahmanides. See Chazan, Robert, Daggers of Faith: Christian Missionizing and Jewish Response (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989) 86114. The work from Halle stands in contrast to the numerous works written by Christian Hebraists of the same period who debate the trinitarian or unitarian nature of Christian belief. See for example, Peter (Pierre) Allix, , The Judgment of the Ancient Jewish Church, Against the Unitarians in the Controversy upon the Holy Trinity (London: n.p., 1699). On the Memra (the divine presence) and shekhina as understood through Nahmanides, see pp. 164–65; and on Meṭaṭron, see pp. 454–56. I would like to thank Matt Goldish for bringing this work to my attention. See further Reuchlin, Johann, De Arte Cabalistica (Hanau: n.p., 1517) 67b.

108 Oxford ms 2289, fol. 42b. For a portion of this text according to an abridged version found in Paris, ms BN 1408, see Rosenthal, Yehudah, Studies and Texts in Jewish History, Literature and Religion (Jerusalem: Mas, 1967) 368–72 [Hebrew].

109 A text from the Hekhalot literature that provides the measurements of God's body. See Cohen, Martin, The Shiur Qomah: Liturgy and Theurgy in Pre-Kabbalistic Jewish Mysticism (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983) esp. 150.

110 Literally, “that they speak of an impossibility.” Compare to the statement of Agobard, the archbishop of Lyon from 816–824 ce, as discussed in Sharf, Andrew, The Universe of Shabbetai Donnolo (New York: Ktav, 1976) 80.

111 A term for the third sefirah.

112 Oxford ms 2289, fol. 43a.

* This article is dedicated to Professor Elliot Wolfson; the study was made possible through grants from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and a Warburg post doctoral fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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