Abraham ben Isaac of Granada

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ABRAHAM BEN ISAAC OF GRANADA , Spanish kabbalist, putative author of Berit Menuḥah ("The Covenant of Rest"), one of the main works of the *Kabbalah. Nothing is known of his life or of the era to which he belongs. In the introduction to his commentary on Sefer *Yeẓirah, Moses *Botarel gives a long quotation from Sefer ha-Berit ("The Book of the Covenant") written by a scholar called Abraham b. Isaac of Granada. But both language and contents prove that this book was not written by the author of Berit Menuḥah, which was without doubt composed in Spain during the 14th century. It explains the innermost meaning of the vocalization of God's name in 26 different ways. However, only the first ten ways were printed, and this only in a very corrupt form (Amsterdam, 1648): Ḥ.J.D. *Azulai saw more than twice this number in a manuscript. The actual content of this work is very enigmatic as, in many respects, its symbolism and mysticism do not correspond with the conventional Kabbalah. The influence of Abraham *Abulafia's Kabbalah is recognizable but the language-and-letter-mysticism of Abulafia is combined with a complicated light-mysticism. Moreover, the book's aim was to provide a systematic basis for the so-called Practical Kabbalah. The few clear passages reveal the author as a profound thinker and visionary. In eight places, he quotes his own thought process as the words of "the learned Rabbi *Simeon bar Yoḥai," mostly in Aramaic. But these quotations are not to be found in the *Zohar, and in view of their style and contents do not belong there. The work was highly regarded by later kabbalists, especially by Moses *Cordovero and Isaac *Luria, who read their own thinking into Abraham's symbolism. Cordovero wrote a lengthy commentary on part of the book. Abraham quotes two more of his own works, Megalleh ha-Ta'alumot ("Revealing Hidden Things") and Sefer ha-Gevurah ("The Book of Power"), on the names of God and Practical Kabbalah. His Ḥokhmat ha-Ẓeruf ("Science of Letter Combinations"), 12 chapters in the spirit of Abulafia, is preserved in manuscript form (Margoliouth, Cat, no. 749, vi), but he is not the author of the Sefer ha-Ḥeshek ("The Book of Desire," ibid., 748); Aaron *Marcus endeavored to prove that Abraham was identical with Abraham b. Isaac of Narbonne, author of Eshkol, and in doing so he tried to date the Berit Menuḥah two centuries earlier, however, his argument is not tenable.


Margoliouth, Cat, 3 (1935), 24–27; Jacob ha-Levi, Kunteres She'elot u-Teshuvot min ha-Shamayim, with commentary Keset ha-Sofer by A. Marcus (1895), 18–26; G. Scholem, in: Soncino Blaetter (Festschrift Aron Freimann) (1935), 54–55.

[Gershom Scholem]

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Abraham ben Isaac of Granada