RAZIM, SEFER HA-
RAZIM, SEFER HA- (Heb. סֵפֶר רָזָא רַבָּא; "Book of Secrets"), early work of Jewish mystical literature. Sefer ha-Razim is remarkable for its systematic treatment of magic, witchcraft, incantations,
In this work, Raziel is mentioned as the angel who stands on the seventh step of the Second Heaven. Scholars differ on the extent of the role and influence which mystical doctrines wielded over the rabbis and their schools, but it may definitely be assumed that these doctrines, which were accepted in the Orient as well as by the Greeks and Romans, were not basically foreign to the Jews of Palestine during the Second Temple period and the generations which followed the destruction of the Temple. According to *Origen (third century), such Hebrew names as Ẓeva'ot, Eloha, etc. were mentioned along with the names of the archons, and Gabriel, Raphael, Michael, and Soriel with the demons of the Gnostic sect of the Ophites (Contra Celsum I, 22, 26; II, 6; IV, 33–34; V. 9, 42, 45, etc.). Those engaged in magic recited the prayer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob while invoking demons (Contra Celsum, IV, 33). Greek amulets which have been preserved show a marked relation to Jewish concepts. The pagans even attributed the worship of the sun and the moon to the Jews, but Origen pointed out their error. Some of the themes of the Sefer ha-Razim are also discussed in the apocryphal books of the Bible, especially in II *Enoch (the Slavonic version), and in the Apocalypse of *Baruch: others are mentioned in talmudic literature (Seven Heavens, dreams, amulets in Shab. 8:2; remedies in Ber. 40a; and "Hezekiah burned the Book of Remedies" in Pes. 4:8), while parallels to them can be found in various Midrashim, Heikhalot, *Merkabah, and Ma'aseh Bereshit literature.
On the grounds of contents and style, his work should be dated to no later than the talmudic period, a dating corroborated by the chronology of Greek kings mentioned in it, which A.S. Rosenthal explained as referring to the Indictio of the middle or possibly the beginning of the fourth century. However, further study may perhaps reveal the later inclusion of Greco-Egyptian magical texts to eighth-century Arabic literature.
M. Margalioth (ed.), in: Sefer ha-Razim (1966), 1–62; H. Merhavia, in: KS, 42 (1967), 297–303; E.E. Urbach, in: Studies in Mysticism and Religion presented to G.G. Scholem (1968); G. Scholem, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism and Talmudic Tradition (19652), 101–17; idem, Kitvei Yad be-Kabbalah (1930), 12; J. Dan, in: Tarbiz, 37 (1968), 208.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.