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Raziel

RAZIEL

RAZIEL , an important angel who, according to his name, is connected with "the mysteries of God." In midrashic and magical literature he is mentioned only in sources going back to the esoteric teachings of the talmudic period, where he appears in three sources. When Moses is ascending to heaven in order to receive the Torah, he encounters on his way the angel Galliẓur ("he who reveals the hidden reasons of the Rock"; i.e., God), who is also called Raziel because he hears from behind the divine curtain all that is going to happen in the world, and this he reveals to Elijah, who "spreads the voice" over all the world. The angel Raziel also appeared to Adam three days after he had been expelled from paradise and had fallen into despair. Then Raziel revealed to him a magical textbook containing the mysteries of the workings of creation. This version of an old esoteric aggadah was incorporated into a collection of cosmological and angelological material culled mainly from the writings of *Eliezer b. Isaac of Worms and some other 13th-century kabbalists, and published in Amsterdam in 1701 under the title, "This is the book of the first Adam which the angel Raziel delivered to him," commonly called "Sefer Razi'el" (see below). It had a wide circulation, being reprinted nearly 40 times. The third source is the apocryphal Sefer *ha-Razim, known in manuscript form in post-talmudic times. This purported to be the book of mysteries which the angel Raziel taught to Noah in the year he entered the ark and which Noah later wrote down on tablets of sapphire. It is a handbook of magic, both Jewish and syncretistic, giving a detailed account of the angels in the seven heavens and the magical practices connected with them and their conjuration. Whereas the first part is of a strictly Jewish character, the magical practices contain strong pagan elements. In the opinion of the editor, Mordecai Margalioth (1966), the text goes back to the talmudic period, perhaps even to the earlier part, especially because of its close connection with some texts in the Greek magical papyri. The age of the book is still a matter of controversy. According to the Zohar, Adam received his book while he was still in paradise, and the angel Raziel was none other than the archangel *Uriel who revealed the deep mysteries of the Torah. The numerical value of the Hebrew name is 248, corresponding to the number of the positive commandments of the Torah and the name Abraham. The kabbalist Abraham b. Samuel *Abulafia used this name as a pseudonym in several of his books.

bibliography:

M. Margalioth, Sefer ha-Razim (a newly recovered book of magic from the talmudic period) (19669); M. Schwab, Vocabulaire de l'angélologie (1897), 246; R. Margalioth, Malakhei Elyon (1945), 280–2; J. Dan, in: Tarbiz, 37 (1967/68), 208–14; F. Secret, in: rej, 128 (1969), 223–45.

[Gershom Scholem]

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