This book of six very brief chapters, dating from some time between the third and the sixth centuries A.D., is the cornerstone of Qabalistic literature, and the document in which the word Sephiroth first appears. It is a work which describes the creation of the universe in terms of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and in terms of symbolic number undoubtedly related to neo-Pythagoreanism. The Sepher Yetzirah is apparently a summation of earlier ideas in Jewish mysticism, similar in form to Gnosticism and the Pistis Sophia.
The precise origin and intention of the Sepher Yetzirah is a matter of speculation. One writer of the early nineteen hundreds, with all good intentions, even suggested that this mystical text was no more than a book of grammar and "as the earliest Hebrew grammar contains not only the fundamental rules of Hebrew orthography, but also an account of the origin of letters and numerals."27 Of course, this theory is not to be taken seriously, but it does demonstrate the extremes of interpretation to which Qabalistic documents have been subjected. On the other hand, The Sepher Yetzirah is a very difficult and obtuse work, so abstract that it demands an approach atypical of that taken to most literature. And, when used in concert with the Tarot, the work becomes remarkably comprehensible.
Ideally, the Sepher Yetzirah should be read in the original Hebrew, but a number of translations have been made into English. It should also be noted that a later document entitled the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom is usually included with the Sepher Yetzirah.28
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