Skip to main content

Hekhalot and merkabah

Hekhalot and merkabah. Early Jewish magic and mysticism connected with the palaces of heaven (hekhalot) and the chariot (merkabah) of Elijah by which he was carried up to heaven. Contemplation of the chariot chapters of Ezekiel are at least as early as Johanan ben Zakkai, and, following the discovery among the Cairo Genizah Fragments of an early text describing Johanan's experience, it seems clear that Saul (who became Paul) practised this mysticism, and that this was the foundation of his many reported experiences, including the vision on the Damascus road. The other surviving treatises date from the 3rd to 7th cents., of which five were of particular importance in subsequent Jewish mysticism: Hekhalot Zutartei (The Smaller Book of Palaces), describing the ascension of Akiva to heaven; Hekhalot Rabbati (The Greater Book …), describing the ascension of R. Ishmael; Maʿaseh Merkabah (The Work of the Chariot), an anthology of hymns sung by mystics during their ascent; Sefer Hekhalot, known also as the Third Book of Enoch, in which R. Ishmael describes his ascension and meeting with Metatron, Sar ha-Panim, the Prince of Countenances; and Shi'ur Komah (The Measurement of the Height), in which the vision of God is described in anthropomorphic terms derived particularly from Song of Songs. These early texts and practices profoundly influenced kabbalah and such movements as Ḥasidei Ashkenaz.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hekhalot and merkabah." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . 23 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Hekhalot and merkabah." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . (March 23, 2019).

"Hekhalot and merkabah." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved March 23, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.