The Sepher Yetzirah is also known as the "Book of Formation" and the "Book of Creation." It is the oldest known Kabbalistic writing from which the Zohar is derived. It "describes a total of 32 intelligences or emanations that make up the body and mind of God."1 Kabbalistic traditions says that the origins of the Book of Formation go back to Abraham. Others say it goes back to Rabbi Akiva of the first century. However, modern scholarship dates the book as originating in the fifth century A.D.
The Sepher Yetzirah is not a creation narrative. It is a writing on one aspect of the formation of the universe and mankind and is considered to be a compilation of Hebrew Kabbalistic rabbis. It expounds on the basic structure of Kabbalah, describes creation, through the 32 paths, the ten sephiroth (from the Tree of Life), and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew Alphabet.
- 1. Hopking, C.J.M., The Practical Kabbalah Guidebook, New York: Sterling Publishing, 2001, p. 26.